The Travel & Leisure Magazine November 09

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The Travel & Leisure Magazine November 09

  1. 1. The Travel & Leisure Magazine NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2009 £2 BRAZIL Carnival times JAMAICA Reggae island FESTIVE TRADITIONS SLOPING OFF Europe's Christmas markets Family skiing holidays November/December 2009 FULL OF EASTERN PROMISE SCOT FLEE Far East, Australia and world cruises Winter breaks in Scotland’s cities PLUS ★ WIN one of 10 CEWE Photobooks & 5 copies of Where to Ski and Snowboard ★ Reader offer on a charming Dorset hotel AND: Exploring London’s ethnic communities, Christmas activities and golf on the Costa del Sol
  2. 2. MBER 2009 £2 NOVEMBER/DECE BRAZIL Carnival times JAMAICA Reggae island G OFF SLOPINing holidays ITIONS ly skiFami FESTIVE TRAD markets istmas Europe's Chr SCOT FLEE s RN PROMISE in Scotland’s citie FULL OF EASTE world cruises tralia and Winter breaks Far East, Aus PLUS T R A V E L Photobooks & 5 # WIN one of 10 CEWE and Snowboard s of Where to Ski copie t hotel charming Dorse # Reader offer on a unities, n’s ethnic comm AND: Exploring Londo golf on the Costa del Sol ies and Christmas activit FROM THE EDITOR BANISH THE GLOOM W elcome to the new issue of P&O Cruises The Travel & Leisure Magazine. The news and weather may be gloomy, but we hope you GETTING TO KNOW Jamaica 6 will find the pages packed with items to lift ESCAPE TO European Christmas markets 15 your spirits and brighten your horizons. Getting into the reggae OFF THE BEATEN TRACK Brazil 20 groove, we look at Jamaica, famous for its beaches, all-inclusive resorts and the endur- ALL ABOARD Far East, Australia & World cruises + News 26 ing legacy of Bob Marley. The musical theme continues with a focus on samba LET’S TRY Family skiing holidays 31 nation Brazil, which will welcome the world to Rio for the World Cup and READER OFFER – special offer on Where to Ski and Snowboard 2010 Olympic Games. For those planning a holiday in the com- PACK YOUR CLUBS Costa del Sol 37 ing weeks and months, we look at breaks taking in traditional Christmas markets TRAVEL UPDATE Travel news 43 across Europe and winter getaways in Scotland’s cities. We also put the spotlight on family skiing holidays with a feature ON YOUR DOORSTEP Winter breaks in Scotland’s cities 45 written by ski guru Chris Gill, co-editor of skiers’ bible Where to Ski and Snowboard. Five copies of the guide’s 2010 edition can be won, while prizes in other competitions include tickets to Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show. Our regular cruising feature looks at the Far East and Australia as well as world cruises, while Spain’s ever-popular Costa Estonia Tourist Office del Sol is the featured golf destination. We hope you enjoy the read, and may we wish you a merry Christmas – and happy travels in 2010, wherever they may take you. . Peter Ellegard German National Tourist Board 4 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  3. 3. Sunvil Lerendu Avoriaz/Stephane SuperClubs L E I S U R E COMPETITION AND READER OFFER 25 WIN – 10 pairs of tickets to Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show READER OFFER – special offer on tickets to Destinations COMPETITIONS 36 WIN – one of 10 CEWE Photobooks worth £100 each WIN – one of 5 copies of Where to Ski and Snowboard 2010 OUT & ABOUT What’s on outside London 50 Embratur LONDON REVIEW London’s ethnic communities + News 52 READER OFFER – special offer on a luxury stay in Dorset 59 EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Peter Ellegard Writers Peter Ellegard, Keeley Gordon, Julie COMING NEXT What’s in store in the next issue 62 Stevens, Sara Macefield, Dave Richardson, Chris Gill and Robin McKelvie Design Nick Blaxill Advertising Team Jeannette Cumbers, Beverley Sennett & Elaine Smith Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Admin/Accounts Wendy Barfoot Production Keeley Gordon, Loretta Prince Publisher Terry Stafford von Essen Hotels Digital Publisher Peter Lewsey Published bi-monthly by Travel & Leisure Magazines Ltd Suite 421, 1-3 Coventry Road Ilford, Essex IG1 4QR Tel: 020 8518 3937 Email: info@tlmags.com Printed by Wyndeham Heron READERS’ LETTERS © Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited 2009 The publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Whilst every care is taken, all material submitted to Travel We want to hear from you. & Leisure Magazines Limited is done so at its owner’s MAY/JUNE 2009 Let us have your thoughts on £2 where sold risk and neither Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited nor its agents can accept any liability for loss or damage. The Travel & Leisure Magazine’s Timeless wond er Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited is a completely inde- pendent company and can hold no responsibility for the new look, or on any topic. REYKJAVIK Cool – and afforda ROCK STAR ble CALYPSO actions of outside agents. No part of this magazine may be CRUISING The best letter will win a The Isle of Wight TRAVELLING Caribbean island hopping reproduced without prior written consent. IN STYLE TEE TIME IN Magica l railway SCOTLAND All private advertisers are totally responsible for their own STAR PRIZE. journeys Perfect days in NEWFOUNDLAND the home of golf Nature’s playgro und wording within their advertisement, and Travel & Leisure Email us at WIN #A week’s holiday for Canada’s Newfound two worth £4,000 to Magazines Limited can therefore take no responsibility as # £1,500 of Pride PLUS: Steam Heritage land of Britain hotel vouchers to their content. Please seek legal advice and thereafter letters@tlmags.com Royal Albert Hall Guide 2009 tours and more copies, verify all the details of your purchase in writing before proceeding. Front cover photo: Atout France November/December 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 5
  4. 4. Island of Marley’s spirit With its lush mountains, waterfalls, stunning beaches, all-inclusive resorts and a history rich in buccaneer mystique, Jamaica is a swashbuckling cut above many Caribbean rivals. Sara Macefield explores the island whose famous son Bob Marley gave the world reggae music “G et your legs up, ple of cables hundreds of feet up in the air. up, up”, screamed Having reached the other side in one my Jamaican piece, my trepidation was swiftly replaced guide. It wasn’t by elation and I felt ready to tackle anything. the usual sort of After all, this is just one of the adrenalin- command you’d busting activities designed to tempt holiday- expect, but as I was racing along a zip-wire makers off Jamaica’s beautiful beaches and at full pelt towards the landing platform into its rugged, jungle-filled interior. – it seemed a sensible request! As the third-largest island in the Caribbean, Only a few seconds earlier, I’d Jamaica offers much to entrance visitors, from stood at the top of the tropical the misty peaks of the Blue Mountains with river gorge, knowing I would their beautiful landscapes of rivers and water- be skimming across the falls, to the rocky cliffs and wide open sandy treetops held up by noth- beaches of the laid-back resort of Negril, the ing more than just a cou- coolest of all chill-out zones. 6 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  5. 5. getting to KNOW JAMAICA Jamaica Tourist Board Sandals Jamaica Tourist Board I At your service – a Sandals butler I A taste of I Hanging around Jamaica on a canopy tour Jamaica is where you’ll find historic old hub of the city is Gloucester Avenue, the so- plantation houses rubbing shoulders with called “Hip Strip” full of restaurants, bars, Healing waters luxurious hotels and sprawling all-inclusive art galleries and duty-free shops. Jamaica’s waters have healing powers. resorts; where you can hide away in chic Mo Bay, as it is called by the locals, has The most famous – and touristy – are at boutique hotels tucked into rocky cliffs or on its own marine park which covers 10 miles Doctors Cave Beach where the mineral lush mountain slopes. of coral reefs. There is also the springs are said to be therapeutic. It is a place of local legends of bucca- famous white-sand Doctors Then there are the mineral waters of neering pirates and murderous witches, of Cave Beach and its mineral Milk River, said to be the most romance tinged with royalty and old spring, said to have therapeu- radioactive in the world with high levels Hollywood glamour. tic powers. Nearby is the of magnesium, calcium, sulphate and But underpinning it all is the raw reggae attractive town of Falmouth, noted natural chloride. vibe that dominates this island and envelops for its well-preserved Georgian The baths here date from 1794, but its culture, stemming from Jamaica’s most buildings, dating from the users are warned not to stay in the famous son Bob Marley, who planted his dis- 1700s. waters for more than 10 or 20 minutes tinctive beat across the world. Ocho Rios – at a time because of their potency. “Ochi” as it is Jamaica even has a town called Bath Tourist areas affectionately which was founded because of the Most of Jamaica’s tourist resorts are along called, is more nearby mineral springs which are high in the north coast, though one or two resorts tourist-friendly than sulphate. have sprung up on the lesser-developed Montego Bay with its craft In the 18th century, Bath was popular south coast. These are the island’s tourist market, duty-free shops, with the European elite who flocked areas: restaurants and cafes and here for the healing powers of the Montego Bay – Jamaica’s second city more relaxed atmosphere. scalding hot waters and elegant botanical after the capital, Kingston – which is bigger Visitors should aim for the gardens – the first on the island. and busier than the other tourist resorts. The outdoor Island Village shopping I Frenchman’s Cove Image: Jamaica Tourist Board November/December 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 7
  6. 6. SuperClubs Sandals I Diving off Jamaica I Canoeing Water sports With more than 600 miles of coastline and over 100 rivers Jamaica offers ample opportunity for water sports fans to make a big splash. From river tubing and river rafting to diving, sailing and under-sea tours on a semi-sub reef explorer, Jamaica has plenty of watery attractions. As well as the usual range of water sports and boat trips, there’s the Kool Runnings water park in Negril, which claims to be the largest in the Eastern Caribbean and is packed full of thrilling aqua rides. Alternatively, sun-worshippers wanting to bare all can choose Sandals from a wide selection of naturist spots – Jamaica claims to I Sailing a catamaran offer more nude beaches than any other Caribbean island. centre in the heart of the resort which English-speaking city in the Waterfalls houses the Reggae Xplosion Caribbean. It sits at the head of The island’s scenic beauty and colourful museum that tells the fasci- one of the world’s biggest history have always helped it to attract nating story of how natural harbours which in legions of visitors, but in recent years Jamaican music has years past was home to Jamaica has turned up the thrill factor to influenced the world. buccaneering pirates offer an adrenaline-pumping alternative to Negril – the so- who based themselves adventure-seekers wanting to explore the called “capital of at nearby Port Royal. stunning rugged interior. The top natural casual” is famous for The old city, described attraction has to be Dunn’s River Falls having the best beach in the 17th century as (www.dunnsriverfallsja.com) near Ocho on Jamaica and the the “wickedest city in the Rios. These 600ft falls were just made for most beautiful sunsets. west”, was destroyed by climbing, and it is great fun to scramble over This is a place to kick off earthquake and now lies huge boulders and plunge into the tempting your shoes, sit back and chill I Sunset over Jamaica underwater in the bay. Kingston pools. out. Some of the hippest boutique Jamaica Tourist Board may have a tough reputation, but its You need to be reasonably agile and you hotels in the Caribbean are tucked into the location on the south of the island means it have to concentrate, especially at some of rocky cliffs behind the beach, offering a real is far removed from the main tourist areas. It the steepest points, but the reward is the laid-back escape. However, more active trav- also has a number of its own visitor great sensation of standing ellers can take advantage of the excellent attractions under one of the many choice of water sports or try out the local South Coast – this is one of waterfalls and gasping restaurants. the most unspoilt parts of for breath from the Port Antonio – set on the north-east coast, the island and one of the sheer power of the this is the romantic heart of Jamaica where most beautiful with its torrent. the Blue Mountains sweep down to the sea. deserted beaches, tiny If you only do Less touristy than the other resorts, this lush fishing villages and tradi- one thing when retreat is known for its beautiful setting tional towns. This is the you’re in Jamaica – which decades ago attracted film-stars, most place to come crocodile- do this. It’s unique, notably Hollywood swashbuckler Errol spotting on wildlife safaris invigorating and Flynn, who declared it “more beautiful than along the Black River or unforgettable. any woman I have ever seen”. splash around in the cascading Just a few words of I Romantic bridge Kingston – Jamaica’s capital is the largest waters of the 120ft YS Falls. warning….try to avoid visiting Jamaica Tourist Board 8 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  7. 7. when cruise ships call, other- Bob Marley drive from Ocho Rios. wise the falls are mobbed But it’s the beautiful Blue Nearby is Goldeneye, the former hide- with cruise passengers. Mountains that were made for away of James Bond author Ian Fleming, Aim for the morn- exploring and hikers; bikers and Firefly, the beautifully-located retreat of ings too, as these and adventurers can dis- famous English playwright Noel Coward tend to be less cover a rich array of flora which has been preserved and is well worth busy than after- and fauna. visiting, if only for the views. noons. For serious walkers, Visitors looking for a more local flavour For a quieter the seven-mile hike to the should step out on hikes in Maroon Country alternative, visit summit takes three to four in the east of the island where there’s the Somerset Falls hours, while chance to meet local maroons – descen- near Port Antonio, cyclists can get dants of runaway slaves who made which are less-known, a lift up one of their home in the or the Mayfield Falls the mountains and mountains. I The Bob Marley Museum near Negril which are in a enjoy the 18-mile But probably the perfect area for cave diving, cliff- Jamaica Tourist Board downhill ride which finishes most famous local is jumping or simply messing about in the with a refreshing waterfall dip. Bob Marley. He may water. Wildlife fans can swim with have died nearly 30 And if you want a true chill-out, try river dolphins at Dolphin Cove years ago, but nowhere rafting on one of the long bamboo rafts that (www.dolphincovejamaica.com) Jamaica Tourist Board drift lazily down the Rio Grande or the Great near Ocho Rios or at the Half Moon or Martha Brae rivers. resort near Montego Bay Daredevils can visit Mystic Mountain (www.halfmoon.com/dolphin- (www.rainforestbobsledjamaica.com), encounters.php). one of the island’s newer attractions near Alternatively they can splash Ocho Rios where they can soar through the around with stingrays at Stingray City treetops on a chairlift, hurtle through the for- (www.stingraycityjamaica.com) on est on a bobsled or swing through the forest James Bond Beach, near the north on a zip-wire. coast village of Oracabessa, a 25-minute All-out fun at Jamaica’s It was almost midnight and I was being given a severe dressing down by the two girls manning the doorway I wanted to all-inclusive resorts enter. So severe, they made me strip down to my underpants before they would let me pass. But then they were virtually as nature intended, save for some tiny scraps of cloth and strategic body painting. I should have expected nothing less. After all, it was the official opening night of Jamaica’s adult-only Hedonism III resort and the event I was trying to get into was the late-night disco following the Neptune-themed opening party. This was clearly not going to be a night for the self-conscious or prudish. A fact underlined by the sight that caught my eye when I stepped up to the bar. As the sea of near-bare flesh gyrated on the dance floor, a naked body suddenly flashed past just above the crowd’s heads in a large, clear plastic tube hung from the ceiling. The resort’s flume tube goes straight through the disco, and revellers had obviously decided to discard all their clothing to try it out. It may have been 10 years ago, but the experiences from that visit are etched SuperClubs vividly in my memory. Perhaps none more I Hedonism III disco and flume tube so than during the golf tournament the 10 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  8. 8. I Pool-side at Sandals Sandals Negril does his spirit live on more strongly than in popular tourist attractions, drawing thou- One of his former homes in the Jamaica. sands of visitors wanting to pay homage to Trenchtown area of the capital, called His birthplace and final resting place in the music legend. Culture Yard, is also open to the public. the rural district of St Ann near Ocho Rios The Bob Marley Museum is located in His final resting place is the Bob Marley and the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston the superstar’s original recording studio in Mausoleum (www.ninemilejamaica.com) (www.bobmarley-foundation.com/ New Kingston where he recorded many of which comprises the tiny house in the vil- museum.html) are among Jamaica’s most his songs. lage of Nine Mile where he was born. model had dispensed with her bikini and was being body painted by any golfers who fancied giving her a lick of paint. All very distracting as you tried to hit your ball from the nearby tee. Back at the resort, things continued in similar vein. A stage show ended with a member of the audience being covered in whipped cream and volunteers sought to SuperClubs Half Moon remove it without using their hands. On the way to the beach, I walked I Water sliding at Hedonism III underneath a see-through Jacuzzi – I Fern Tree Falls at Half Moon next day. Organised by the resort’s parent diverting my eyes from the naked German underpants, to the wind. company, SuperClubs, it featured guests whose bodily bits were wobbling in The two Hedonism resorts represent hospitality tents by the tees of several the bubbles.There were actually two one extreme of the all-inclusive scene in holes, each hosted by a different resort beaches: one labelled the Nudes Beach, Jamaica.There are family resorts, such as branch. At the first tee, chefs in white hats and the other the Prudes SuperClubs’ Starfish Trelawny Resort & cooked up breakfast while uniformed Beach. Spa or the Beaches resorts masseuses gave golfers a pre-game Of course there operated by Sandals. Some are massage in the tent hosted by its were many other romantic escapes popular with upmarket Grand Lido Resorts & Spas. A activities and honeymooners or couples few holes along, the Cuban resorts were parts of the getting married, while others serving up lashings of rum while a salsa resort that did appeal to the sporty and band laid down infectious rhythms. not involve active types.The choice is Then there was the Hedonism tent, disrobing. It was yours. hosted by the new resort and its more just an option if And of course, if you really established and equally-outrageous sibling, you had no want to, you can let it all hang Hedonism II. Outside, two bikini-clad inhibitions and out... I Snorkelling at Hedonism III models wearing giant angel wings sat on wanted to throw the edge of a hot tub, while inside another caution, and your Peter Ellegard SuperClubs November/December 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 11
  9. 9. All photos: Jamaica Tourist Board I Jamaica’s waterfalls are among its top attractions I Rafting on the Martha Brae Where to stay Large family-orientated resorts, chic upmar- Jamaica facts ket retreats, trendy boutique hideaways and small independent hotels – Jamaica has them all. When to go But it is most famous as the birthplace of The best weather is from December to April, the all-inclusive concept which started with which is the high season. July and August are the opening of the Jamaican resort, Couples, also popular, but are in the hurricane season in the Seventies. which runs from June to September/October. Couples Resort is still open, but it has since been joined by a huge choice of other Visa all-inclusives, namely those owned by the UK passport holders do not need a visa for Sandals/Beaches group and SuperClubs – stays of up to 90 days. both of which are owned by Jamaican fami- lies and have several resorts on Jamaica and Getting there other Caribbean islands. British Airways (www.ba.com) flies from Gatwick to Kingston and Montego More recently, Spanish hotel chains such Bay and Virgin Atlantic (www.virginatlantic.com) operates from Gatwick to as Riu, Iberostar and Barcelo have built a Kingston and Montego Bay.There are also charter flights with Thomsonfly string of modern all-inclusive hotels, but (www.thomsonfly.com) and Thomas Cook Airlines holidaymakers wanting something more (www.thomascookairlines.co.uk). Flight time is around 10 hours. unusual should head for the mountains. Strawberry Hill in the Blue Mountains is Tour operators an 18th century plantation house that UK operators featuring Jamaica include British Airways Holidays became the hideaway of record mogul Chris (www.ba.com),Thomas Cook Holidays (www.thomascook.com),Thomson Blackwell and the place where Bob Marley (www.thomson.co.uk),Virgin Holidays (www.virginholidays.co.uk), First recuperated after being shot in the 1970s. Choice Holidays (www.firstchoice.co.uk), ITC Classics It offers rustic, laid-back luxury along (www.itcclassics.co.uk), Kuoni (www.kuoni.co.uk), Hayes & Jarvis with stunning views over Kingston. (www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk) and Harlequin Holidays Other one-off gems include Rockhouse, (www.harlequinholidays.com). The Caves, Jake’s (described as the chic-est shack in the Caribbean) and Tensing Pen – Getting around built into the cliffs overlooking Negril’s Choose from domestic flights between Kingston stunning white-sand beach. and Montego Bay, local buses, JUTA tourist buses Well established upmarket alternatives (www.jutc.com), taxis or hire cars.Travelling that still hold traditional charm include around can be an adventure, but it gives visitors Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, plus Round Hill a great flavour of the island. Make sure you and Half Moon near Montego Bay. TL travel only on licensed buses and taxis. Jamaica has a good network of roads but they may not always be in the best condition, Sara Macefield has been writing about plus other drivers tend to drive fast and furiously – so be warned! the Caribbean for the last 15 years, visiting so many times she has been nicknamed the Tourist information “Caribbean Queen”. She has been to most islands, but Jamaica is one of her favourite Jamaica Tourist Office: call 020 7225 9090 or visit www.visitjamaica.com places to relax with a rum punch. 12 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  10. 10. ESCAPE to… CHRISTMAS MARKETS In the market for Chr stmas ■ Christmas in Augsburg Bavaria Tourism Traditional Christmas markets in towns and cities throughout the Continent and farther afield are now hugely popular for festive get-away breaks. Dave Richardson explores their attraction C onsidering that I’m not ancient Polish city of much of a shopper, my Krakow, and the tem- first experience of a tradi- perature was 20ºC tional Christmas market below freezing. came as a revelation. It was Yet more snow dust- nearly 20 years ago in the ed Krakow’s many spires ■ Children with toffee apples in Lemgo German National Tourist Board November/December 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 15
  11. 11. Cologne's Prague market and Christmas cathedral market Leonardo Mediabank Leger Holidays Bruges at Christmas Rostock market German National Tourist Board Dertour ■ Christmas in Liege as darkness fell in mid afternoon, creating a although many of these are not traditional Jesus. This is the case at Nuremberg, one of true Christmas card scene. I followed the and as far away as Japan, Canada and the the best markets, also home of gingerbread crowds to the vast Market Square – said to USA. Germany and France both have about which is one of the favourite festive foods. be the largest in Europe – and made straight 80 listings, with Austria having 29 and The market at Munich, held on the for a stall selling hot mulled wine. Belgium 16. Marienplatz in front of the guildhall, is one Everyone around me seemed happy and In Germany – as in Krakow, no doubt – of the most impressive with over 120 stalls. soon I forgot about the cold as I wolfed this year’s markets will have an extra reason Many stalls still concentrate on traditional down sausage and fried cheese, before buy- to celebrate. November marked 20 years toys and festive fare, although inevitably ing some woollen slippers and wooden toys since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end they have been infiltrated by modern gadg- at bargain prices. I went away feeling warm of Communism in Europe, which led to the ets and clothing. and also the warmth of humanity, and ever revival of many traditions including a festive Look for regional variations, such as a since I try to visit a European Christmas Christmas. Glühwein (a warm mulled wine) Christmas pastry at Frankfurt’s Christmas market far from the blandness and rip-off and eierpunsch (an alcoholic drink with market. Bethmännchen is made from marzi- prices in Britain. eggs) can be found everywhere. pan with almonds and sugar, and young men I’m not alone in wanting to flee these used to send it as a token of their love. If a shores as Christmas approaches, despite the “Nearly one person in four is girl kept it they could remain hopeful – if increasing number of festive markets in this planning a festive break” not, they had to look elsewhere. country. According to research by Leger Cologne is another highly popular German Holidays, nearly one person in four is plan- Christmas markets started around 1400 in market, being held near the immense cathe- ning a festive break and a key reason is the German-speaking part of Europe, with dral which is one of the world’s largest. Many wanting to escape the over-commercialisa- Dresden (1434) being one of the first and of the most charming traditional markets are tion of Christmas. now attracting two million visitors a year. in smaller places, such as Trier, Mainz, Krakow is actually a fairly unusual Opening of the markets in early December Koblenz, Kaiserslautern, Speyer and Worms choice, as the most popular traditional mar- or late November coincides with the Advent – which call themselves the Romantic Cities kets are in Germany. The website religious festival, and some are called of Germany. Historic Highlights of Germany, Christmasmarkets.com offers information Christkindel Markt (Christ child market) a group of 14 cities, has four recommended on over 400 markets in 22 countries, with a child playing the role of the boy routes taking in the markets. 16 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  12. 12. ■ Tallinn Christmas market Estonia Tourist Office Out of the Ordinary Here are a few more ideas for a Christmas market break with a difference: Tallinn, capital of the tiny Baltic country of Estonia, has revived a festive market which was popular long ago but abolished during Soviet rule.The 64 wooden stalls are set out in the medieval Town Hall Belgian Tourist Office Square around a huge Christmas tree, as Father Christmas and his elves – Scribble and Scrabble – work the crowd. Choirs, dance groups, poets and musicians keep you entertained.The market runs from November 29-January 7. Christmas markets in Belgium, in its central Just across the Baltic from Tallinn is ■ The Christmas square and adjacent Place du Marché. In the Helsinki, capital of Finland, a country angel at Nuremberg Flanders part of Belgium you will find mar- which claims Santa Claus for its own (as kets in every city, including Bruges (a great does Greenland, among others).The city break destination in itself) and – just Ladies Christmas Market runs from across the Channel – Ostend. The snow and December 2-6 with handicrafts made by ice sculptures in Bruges are an added attrac- Finnish women, followed by the main tion from November 20-January 10, while in market in Esplanade Park. the Belgian capital Brussels, a large ice rink The Hungarian capital of Budapest is can be enjoyed as well as the market. another ex-Eastern bloc city to revive its You can reach Brussels in less than two Christmas traditions.The venue is hours by Eurostar train from London, while Vörösmarty Square, which is decorated German National Tourist Board the journey to Lille in northern France is with a huge Christmas tree and an even faster at 80 minutes. Lille’s market is advent calendar. one of the best in France, a highlight being when Father Christmas descends an 80- ■ Traditional metre-high belfry on December 19. Christmas tree decorations If you prefer to fly then there are more countries to choose from, where you can Many visitors gravitate towards larger combine a Christmas market with a histori- cities as there is so much more to do, espe- cal city or even some skiing. Markets are cially during the long evenings at the darkest held in most Austrian cities including time of the year. Another reason some cities Vienna (a very cultural choice in the run-up are very popular is ease of access from the to Christmas), Salzburg and Innsbruck. UK , which is why Belgian and French mar- Vienna’s market is in front of City Hall, kets come into their own. where children can create their own presents Liege holds one of the oldest and largest at Santa’s Workshop, and dispatch them German National Tourist Board November/December 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 17
  13. 13. ■ Salzburg Christmas market Salzburg Tourist Office from a special post office without the possi- Christmas market facts bility of postal strikes! Musical programmes with choirs and pastoral plays are performed on the steps of Salzburg Cathedral, while in When to go Innsbruck, a daily attraction at 5.30pm is the Christmas markets take place from late November or early December. Many Turmbläser, a brass band which plays close just before Christmas but some continue until New Year’s Eve and even Christmas songs from the city tower. into January. Innsbruck’s main market is in the medieval Old Town by the 14th century balcony Getting there German National Tourist Board known as the Golden Roof, with dozens of You can fly from main UK airports to major German stalls decked out with Christmas decora- cities including Munich and Frankfurt, and Frankfurt tions, locally-crafted wood and glassware, airport has an inter-city rail terminal for trains all over and typical Tyrolean clothing. the country. Brussels and Prague also have good UK air Prague has several Christmas markets, connections, but remember that low-cost airlines have strict the most important being in Old Town limits on baggage with big supplements to pay if you stock up on Christmas Square and Wenceslas Square. Brightly-dec- goodies.This makes rail a good option, including Eurostar to Lille and Brussels, orated wooden huts sell traditional Czech with easy connections in Brussels to Cologne and other German cities.Also products from handicrafts to corn on the consider coach tours, or drive yourself using Eurotunnel or ferries. Fred Olsen cob, sausages and other local specialties, and is one of the cruise lines with a Christmas Markets theme departure. in Old Town Square children can stroke sheep, goats and even a llama – although Tour operators include what connection a llama has with Christmas, Shearings (0844 824 6352, www.shearings.com), Dertour (020 7290 1105, or the Czech Republic, is not clear. As with www.dertour.co.uk or www.christmasmarkets.co.uk), Leger Holidays most markets, however, it has a Bethlehem (0845 408 07 69, www.legerbreaks.info),Travelsphere (0800 567 7372, crib scene depicting Mary, Joseph, baby www.travelsphere.co.uk), Newmarket Holidays (0845 226 7756, Jesus and the Three Kings. www.newmarket.travel), Short Breaks Ltd (0844 482 2940, Whether the Three Kings arrive on www.short-breaks.com),Titan HiTours (0800 988 5823, camels or even llamas, you can be sure of a www.titanhitours.co.uk), Great Rail Journeys (01904 521 936, lot more atmosphere when visiting a www.greatrail.com) European market than if you stay in Britain – despite the best efforts of home-grown Sample prices Christmas markets such as York, Lincoln or Dertour’s huge choice in Germany and other countries includes a two-night Bath. They operate throughout December break to Nuremberg by air costing from £339 and extra nights from £53. and fares are usually low at this time of year Leger Holidays’ two-night break to Brussels and Bruges, by coach, costs from £149. – especially midweek. Most cities’ other Great Rail Journeys features a three-night trip to Cologne for £445, including main attractions are a lot less crowded than first-class travel by Eurostar and a Rhine cruise to Rudesheim market. in the summer. Maybe, like me, you’ll find that visiting More information German National Tourist Board Christmas markets becomes the habit of a The website www.christmasmarkets.com has a lifetime. You certainly won’t be pining for comprehensive listing, with hotel and travel offers. Britain’s dreary shopping malls, with a glass German National Tourist Office: 020 7317 0908, of steaming glühwein in one hand and a siz- www.germany-tourism.co.uk and zling bratwurst sausage in the other! TL www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk Historic Highlights of Germany: www.historicgermany.com Dave Richardson got fed up with Christmas shopping in Britain at a very early age, when he Romantic Cities of Germany: www.romantic-cities.com had to queue for an hour to meet Santa at a Austrian markets: www.christkindlmarkt.co.at and department store in Liverpool. In over 30 years of travelling he has visited nearly every country www.weihnachtsmarkt-salzburg.at in Europe, and has a particular interest in Central Bruges: www.winterinbrugge.be Europe including the former Communist countries. Tallinn Christmas Market: www.christmas.ee 18 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  14. 14. Samba Sunvil party With the Olympic Games heading to Rio in 2016 and the World Cup there two years earlier, ■ A carnival dancer carnival-mad Brazil will be partying like never before as it welcomes the world. Dave Richardson gets into the samba spirit to discover what makes the country so special W hen a traffic light turns have hoisted the white flag of surrender. on coming relentlessly. Turn it to amber and to amber or red, you Marius is one of the best churrascaria they ease off a bit. Only when you turn it to might get annoyed at restaurants in Rio, specialising in barbecued red does your belly get some respite. the hold-up. But in beef, pork and chicken. After helping your- Food is not, of course, the main reason for Marius restaurant, on self to a lavish buffet of starters, you lick visiting Rio. We go for the beautiful views, the Copacabana beach in your lips as waiters cut the meats at your samba beat, carnival, beach, football and the Rio de Janeiro, I turned the “lights” to table from long vertical skewers. Keep your whole crazy exuberance of Brazilian life, which amber and then red myself. I might as well “traffic light” card on green and they keep has attracted runaways from the
  15. 15. off the beaten TRACK BRAZIL ■ New Year fireworks ■ Beach in over Rio north-east Brazil Christian KnepperEmbratur Sunvil John Cleese character Archie Leach (A Fish All I can say from personal experience is cost supports community projects. Called Wanda) to train robber Ronnie Biggs. that a tourist is no more likely to be attacked Without doubt Rio is a beautiful city, and Many more people will be heading for or robbed in Rio than any other big city, as as it is set around a series of bays divided by Rio soon, as Brazil will be hosting the 2014 long as you take the usual precautions. The mountains it doesn’t seem that big. The best World Cup (with some matches in Rio’s only machetes I saw being wielded were to known mountain is of course Corcovado, famous Maracana stadium) and it will be behead coconuts on Ipanema beach. topped by the statue of Christ the Redeemer host city of the 2016 Olympic Games. But which has been declared one of the new there is of course a down side to Rio, as por- New wonder Seven Wonders of the World. The ascent is trayed in films such as the ultra-violent City But I did join a guided favela (slum) tour, to usually by rack railway through the rainfor- of God. Within days of Rio being awarded the notorious slum of Rocinha, to find out est covering Rio’s mountains, whereas you the Olympics, a police helicopter was shot about life for the vast majority of residents go by cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain for down during another bout of drug gang war- who live in poverty. Call it “voyeur tourism” even better views. fare. if you must, but I learned a lot and the tour There’s much more to see in Rio – from ■ Rio de Janeiro Embratur/Angelo Cavalli
  16. 16. ■ Rio's carnival is regarded the world’s best Embratur/Secretario de Turismo do Recife ■ Carnivals are the high point Kuoni of the year ■ The Rio Carnivals Sambadrome Brazil’s hedonistic lifestyle is why many people want to visit, and carnivals are the high point of the year not only in Rio but in many other cities. It’s said that when people aren’t actually at a carnival, they are preparing for it – with samba schools competing all year round. The Rio carnival (February 13-16, 2010, and March 5-8, 2011) is generally considered to be the world’s best, but you need to book early and air fares and hotel rates are sky-high.The Sambadrome is the heart of the action, where 65,000 people pack in to watch samba schools perform and countless parades.You can visit a samba school any time – ask your hotel concierge. Salvador, on the north-east coast, runs Embratur/Rudy Huhold Rio close for sheer indulgence. Here the carnival is very African influenced – not surprising when you look at a world map. Recife and Sao Paulo also hold major events. museums and a wonderful Botanic Garden to because of the different vantage points. largest, the Devil’s Throat, having the high- chic districts such as Santa Teresa – while the Crossing the border is simple if you book a est volume of water per second of any water- nearby coast also has some charming resorts, tour, with the views from the Argentine side fall in the world. such as colonial Paraty.You could easily spend being more panoramic. a week around here, but the fifth largest coun- Iguacu consists of 275 individual falls Amazon try in the world is awaiting you….. stretching for nearly two miles with the You might see iguanas and many species of Sao Paulo – the biggest city but not the birds around the falls, but not the jaguars capital, which is Brasilia – offers little by portrayed in tourist literature. Wildlife is also comparison, but this is the main internation- one of the reasons visitors head for the al gateway and hub for internal flights. From Amazon, although the best wildlife viewing Sao Paulo the whole of Brazil is accessible, is in the Pantanal wetlands in western Brazil. and it covers nearly half of South America I flew to Manaus, the main gateway to the including 4,600 miles of coast. Amazon, which is a flight of three and a half A “must see” is Iguacu (or Iguassu) Falls, hours from Sao Paulo. Visions of thatched Sunvil reached by flights to Foz do Iguacu which is huts and barefoot natives proved to be an 90 minutes from Sao Paulo or three hours illusion as Manaus is a major city, and from Rio. Here you get two or even three although it is about 1,000 miles from the countries for the price of one, as Iguacu is Atlantic coast it is reachable by large cruise on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. ships in about two days. Viewing the falls from both the Brazilian ■ The Amazon Preparing to land in Manaus is much like and Argentine sides is highly recommended, arriving at any other tropical island destina- 22 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009
  17. 17. tion as you fly low over lush tropical vegeta- tion, soft white sandy beaches and endless blue sea – except that the water is the Amazon river! It’s about five miles wide here, but during the wet season from December to June the beaches are sub- merged as the river spreads into the sur- rounding jungle. A few miles from Manaus is a natural phenomenon called Meeting of the Waters, which you experience on a boat trip. The Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes, both parts of the Amazon system, are distinct in colour and density because of the minerals they carry. Where they join, the dark water of the Rio Negro and muddy water of the Solimoes flow side by side for several miles. Most people spend only a night or two in Manaus before heading deeper into the Amazon on a small cruise ship, or to stay at a jungle lodge. There are about 15 lodges ■ Iguacu Falls Sunvil around Manaus, ranging from the simple and rustic to glitzy, air-conditioned hotels. The activities they offer are much the same – only the ambience is different. Brazil facts I opted for Salvador Lake Lodge about one hour’s trip across the Rio Negro. A When to go night trip revealed the red eyes of small alli- Year-round, but July to December are the drier months.There are major gators, but daytime excursions yielded only climatic variations in such a big country, from the tropical Christian KnepperEmbratur a single toucan and much rustling in the north to temperate south. undergrowth. I plan to return for deeper exploration. Getting there and getting around Direct flights to Sao Paulo and Rio are operated by Wonderful beaches Brazilian airline TAM (www.tam.com.br) and British Was it worth coming all this way for what I Airways (www.ba.com), with only BA operating non-stop saw? It all depends on your priorities, and to Rio.TAM offers a cost-effective air pass on its internal the same applies to visiting north-east network, with prices from US$532 for up to four flights. Many internal routes Brazil. British tour operators used to fly are flown by low-cost airline GOL (www.voegol.com.br). Express coach direct charters to Salvador, Recife and Natal services are viable over shorter distances and car hire is available. in only eight hours, but since they were axed you face a three-and-a-half-hour flight Accommodation back from Sao Paulo, although you can also Major hotels of international standard operate in main cities and resorts, fly to the north-east via Lisbon. where global chains are present. Resort-style hotels are widely available in These are all major cities, but there are beach resorts, and eco-lodges are developing in the Amazon and some other many smaller beach resorts such as Porto de areas. A word of warning: a “motel” in Brazil is where couples go for sex Galinhas near Recife, Ponta Negra near (also called “love hotels”)! Natal, and Praia do Forte near Salavdor. The Costa do Sauipe, 50 miles from Salvador, Tour operators Christian KnepperEmbratur has large all-inclusive hotels. Many companies offer packages and tailor-made tours. The beaches of the north-east are simply For example, Kuoni (01306 747002, wonderful, while Genipabu near Natal has www.kuoni.co.uk) offers a seven-night combination immense dunes where you can go sand- of Rio and a Salvador beach resort from £1,565. Sunvil boarding and even ride a camel. (8568 4499, www.sunvil.co.uk) has a 13-day Diverse Beautiful, vibrant, inspiring, expect-the- Brazil tour for £3,990, including Rio, Iguacu, the Pantanal unexpected Brazil – there aren’t enough and Paraty.Travelbag (0871 703 4698 www.travelbag.co.uk) includes three days in a lifetime to experience it all. TL nights in a jungle lodge in its Rio and Amazon Adventure tour (10 days, £1,299). Dave Richardson first visited Latin America over 30 years ago and has now visited six countries in the region, including several trips to Tourist information Brazil. He sometimes visits a churrascaria Brazilian Tourist Office (Embratur): www.braziltour.com, 020 7396 5551. restaurant in his home town of Oxford – but it ■ Inset pictures show Olinda’s Convent de São Francisco (above right) and Paraipaba beach. isn’t quite the same as in Rio... 24 The Travel & Leisure Magazine November/December 2009

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