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The Travel & Leisure Magazine Sept/Oct 2009


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In this edition of The Travel & Leisure Magazine you have the chance of winning a fantastic holiday to the Azores worth £1,500. Also discover Sri Lanka, The Lake District, The Canary Islands, Toronto and Middle East cruises.

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The Travel & Leisure Magazine Sept/Oct 2009

  1. 1. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2009 £2 where sold SRI LANKA Small miracle LAKE DISTRICT In praise of poets’ corner VOLCANIC WONDERS The Canary Islands TAKING THE PLUNGE Learn to dive holidays TORONTO Maple leaf metropolis ARABIAN NIGHTS Middle East cruises WIN # A £1,500 Azores holiday for two and a Bournemouth boutique hotel stay # Moccis slippers, soup and canal books, Flip video cameras and netbook sleeves PLUS: Hunting for bargains in London’s markets, Halloween hang-outs and Lisbon’s Golf Coast
  2. 2. T R A V E L FROM THE EDITOR SUNNY OUTLOOK W elcome to the latest issue of Toronto Tourism The Travel & Leisure Magazine. With Sunvil the children back at school the summer seems a dis- tant memory now, espe- cially as it didn’t live up to GETTING TO KNOW The Canary Islands 6 the “barbeque summer” billing the Met Office had ESCAPE TO Toronto and Niagara Falls 15 originally predicted and then had to sheepishly retract. OFF THE BEATEN TRACK Sri Lanka 20 But we can help you get back into the holi- day spirit with lots of ideas for where to go and what to do, whether you are looking for some- TRAVEL UPDATE Travel news 25 where to spend a day with the family, take a WIN – one of five copies of the Cool Canals guide break or really push the boat out on a cruise or exotic, long-haul beach vacation. ALL ABOARD Middle East/Indian Ocean cruises + news 28 In this issue, we explore the Canaries, Spain’s sunny Atlantic islands which make an ideal get- away destination any time of year. We visit the IN YOUR FLIGHT BAG 33 enchanting island of Sri Lanka, back in favour WIN – one of two pairs of stylish adult Moccis moccasins with holidaymakers now that its civil war has WIN – grab one of four Be.ez netbook sleeves we are giving away ended. Canada’s cosmopolitan and easily- accessible city of Toronto comes under the microscope for short-break holidays, while IN YOUR SUITCASE 34 Wordsworth’s Lake District is the option for those wanting a “staycation” – the year’s buzz- LET’S TRY Learn to Dive holidays 36 word. Other topics cover golf around Portugal’s PACK YOUR CLUBS Lisbon Golf Coast + news 43 capital, Lisbon, cruises in the Middle East and Indian Ocean, holidays where you can learn to dive, plus London’s street markets. ON YOUR DOORSTEP The Lake District 49 As the nights draw in, we hope it will help give you a sunnier outlook. BEST FOR Hotel review 65 Peter Ellegard READER OFFER – half-price stays at Tankersley Manor 4 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
  3. 3. uises Celebrity Cr L E I S U R E COMPETITION 41 WIN – a £1,500 holiday for two to the Azores Islands READER OFFER – special offer on Sunvil holidays to the Azores OUT & ABOUT What’s on outside London 54 WIN – one of 10 copies of Soup for All Occasions COMPETITIONS 56 Turespana WIN – a two-night stay at Bournemouth’s Urban Beach hotel WIN – one of two Canada-branded Flip Ultra video cameras EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Peter Ellegard LONDON REVIEW London’s markets + London news 58 Writers Peter Ellegard, Keeley Gordon, Julie Stevens, Sara Macefield, Dave Richardson, Stephanie Sparrow and Adam Coulter COMING NEXT What’s in store in the next issue 68 Design Nick Blaxill Advertising Team Jeannette Cumbers, Beverley Sennett & Elaine Smith Admin/Accounts Wendy Barfoot FREE BOOKS for new subscribers – see page 68 READERS’ Production Keeley Gordon, Loretta Prince Publisher Terry Stafford Digital Publisher Peter Lewsey The next issue of LETTERS Published bi-monthly by Travel & Leisure Magazines Ltd The Travel & Leisure Magazine First Floor, 103 Cranbrook Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4PU will be out in November 2009. We want to hear from you. Tel: 020 8477 1529 Fax: 020 8514 4536 Let us have your Email: Printed by Wyndeham Heron Subscribe now and get thoughts on © Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited 2009 a FREE travel book. The Travel & MAY/JUNE 2009 £2 where sold The publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or Leisure omissions. Magazine’s Timeless wonde r Whilst every care is taken, all material submitted to Travel Take out a subscription REYKJAVIK Cool – and affordab ROCK STAR le CALYPSO CRUISING & Leisure Magazines Limited is done so at its owner’s new look, or The Isle of Wight Call 020 8477 1529 TRAVELLING IN STYLE Magical railway TEE TIME IN SCOTLAND Caribbean island hopping risk and neither Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited nor journeys Perfect days in its agents can accept any liability for loss or damage. 6 issues just £6, inc postage. on any topic. NEWFOUNDLAND the home of golf Nature’s playgrou nd Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited is a completely inde- WIN The best letter # #A week’s holiday £1,500 of Pride for two Canada’s Newfoundla worth £4,000 to PLUS: Steam Heritage Royal Albert Hall nd of Britain hotel Guide 2009 vouchers tours and more copies, pendent company and can hold no responsibility for the actions of outside agents. No part of this magazine may be Online edition subscription will win a reproduced without prior written consent. Subscribe to the online edition – and save All private advertisers are totally responsible for their own STAR PRIZE. wording within their advertisement, and Travel & Leisure up to 58%. Enjoy six issues for £6, or 12 Email us at Magazines Limited can therefore take no responsibility as issues for £24. to their content. Please seek legal advice and thereafter verify all the details of your purchase in writing before proceeding. Front cover photo: Peter Ellegard September/October 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 5
  4. 4. Islands at the end 6 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
  5. 5. getting to KNOW CANARY ISLANDS of the WORLD I Taking in the spectacular view at Senderismo, La Palma Main pciture:Turespana The islands lie off the coast of North Millions flock to the Canary Islands every year for winter-sun Africa with Lanzarote, the most easterly, holidays, yet as Dave Richardson reveals, there is far more to being only 60 miles from Morocco. Over 200 miles to the west is little-visited El these volcanic marvels than mass tourism resorts Hierro, once considered “the end of the known world”. Columbus called in at some I thought of the diary of parish Lanzarote, one of the seven Canary Islands. of the islands on his way to discover the new priest Lorenzo Curbelo as I drove Volcanoes are one of many reasons why world in 1492, and by 1496 they were to Timanfaya National Park in people visit the Canaries, and the Teneguia claimed by the Spanish crown. The original Lanzarote. “An enormous moun- volcano in La Palma last erupted as recently inhabitants, the Guanches, were a primitive, tain emerged from the ground with as 1971. But the main draw for British peo- fair-skinned people who have left little flames coming from its summit,” he ple, who make over three million visits a trace, apart from mummies in museums. wrote. “It continued burning for 19 days. year, is the mild climate. That has led to With beaches, dramatic landscapes and Some days later, a new abyss developed and mass tourism development in Tenerife, Gran lots to see and do, the Canaries don’t deserve an avalanche of lava rushed down over Canaria and, to a lesser extent, Lanzarote their sometimes tacky image. Avoid half a Timanfaya. All the western beaches and and Fuerteventura. But there are still plenty dozen of the biggest resorts and you’ll start shores were covered with an incredible of charming places away from the crowds. to discover what makes them so distinctive. number of dead fish of all species – some The average temperature hovers around with shapes which islanders had never 22ºC year-round, making the Canaries attrac- Tenerife known before.” tive for a winter break only four hours’ flying When I visited the Casa del Vino, a wine That volcanic eruption must have seemed time from the UK. But sunshine isn’t guaran- museum and restaurant in a dramatic like the end of the world back in 1730, espe- teed, and constant Atlantic winds mean win- clifftop setting near the town of El Sauzal, cially to farmers and fishermen living 800 ter days can be wet and a little chilly. In sum- it was full of locals rather than tourists. It’s miles from their motherland in Spain. The mer, however, the plus side is that you don’t one of the top restaurants in Tenerife, serv- eruptions continued for six years and creat- get the baking high temperatures you might ing delicacies such as stewed rabbit accom- ed many of the 300-plus volcanic cones in experience in the Mediterranean. panied by wines from the nearby hillsides. September/October 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 7
  6. 6. Food and wine You’ll be lucky to find Canaries wine in Britain, whereas 400 years ago plenty was imported – especially sweet Malvasia. Nowadays the limited production is consumed locally, but wine museums in Tenerife and Lanzarote focus on its importance.White wines are the more refined, and the islands also produce rum. Cuisine is mainly fish based but also includes stews made from pork, chicken or rabbit. Most typical dishes are served with salted new potatoes boiled in their skins, and accompanied by red or green mojo sauce made with paprika or coriander. Gofio is a cornmeal used to Turespana thicken soups and stews. Spanish and international cuisines are I Cafe culture in Las Palmas widely available, especially in resorts. Tenerife’s government has introduced a gastronomy plan – not just for visitors but to “The Canaries plenty to do rather than laze all day on a beach. Drive above the clouds to Mount keep alive traditions for its own people, who Teide and ride a cable car to the top, then start learning at school rather than getting don’t deserve take the steep road down to Garachico, a lit- stuck into turkey twizzlers. tle port with 18th century buildings and The largest and most popular of the Canary their sometimes great fish restaurants. Islands is only about 70 miles from north to south, yet it has two distinctive climates cour- tacky image” Gran Canaria tesy of Mount Teide which, at 12,195ft, is the This is probably the best choice for lovers of highest peak on Spanish soil. The high vol- beach resorts, as the south has great expans- canic crater surrounding the mountain traps es of golden sand including the vast dunes of the clouds, giving the north a mild but damp Maspalomas. But beaches inevitably attract climate with lush vegetation, as in the Orotava big development, and the few miles running valley with its banana plantations. from San Agustin to Playa del Ingles and In the north are the elegant resort of Maspalomas are highly urbanised. Puerto de la Cruz (no beach but an attractive Raucous nightlife makes Playa del Ingles lido) and the modern capital, Santa Cruz, especially popular with young people and which stages a chaotic and colourful carni- gays. If you are neither and not broad minded val claimed to be the largest in the world then choose another area – the dunes are after Rio (February 12-21 next year). The described as “very cruisey” by one website, former capital of La Laguna is nearby, with and we’re not talking about ships. Quieter a church dating from 1502 and some lovely resorts in the south include Puerto Rico and the 18th century mansions and convent. more-recently developed Puerto de Mogan. A motorway takes you from Puerto de la Gran Canaria has a similar but less- Cruz or Santa Cruz to the south in less than marked north/south climatic split to Tenerife, an hour, passing Tenerife South airport, but it’s worth visiting the north if only to see which is used by all flights from the UK. Las Palmas; the largest city and port in the The south is dry, absolutely barren and Canaries, it is home to about 375,000 people. much hotter than the north, with most mass It’s good for shopping, and most of the histo- tourism concentrated in the big resorts of ry is in the Barrio Vegueta district, which has Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. a 16th century cathedral, the Canary Islands More up-market resorts include Adeje and Museum and Columbus Museum. Los Gigantes, and throughout the south are The mountainous interior is traversed by five-star hotels, often with spas and some- one main route, which is well worth taking times golf courses attached. to discover a variety of landscapes that has Tenerife is the most diverse island but its given Gran Canaria the moniker “continent beaches are a disappointment, being mainly in miniature”. Deep ravines, fertile valleys, small and of dark volcanic sand. The golden artificial lakes and the Bandama crater are Turespana beach at Teresitas, near Santa Cruz, uses the highlights, with pretty villages such as I Timanfaya National Park on Lanzarote sand shipped in from the Sahara, but there’s Tafira and Tejada. You can take an organised 8 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
  7. 7. 4x4 trip to go off-road, or a walking holiday staying at small, rural hotels a world away from the coast. Lanzarote Despite reading what the priest had to say about the 1730 eruption, nothing prepared me for the bleakly-impressive Timanfaya National Park, or Fire Mountain. The well- worn “lunar landscape” cliché is actually a good way of describing the devastation wrought by the volcano, as much of the island is covered by black lava which is used for buildings and walls and contrasts pleasantly with whitewashed houses and blue sky. Timanfaya is not an experience you can enjoy in solitude, however, as it’s Lanzarote’s leading attraction. You drive up a mountain to a visitor centre and restaurant where meats are grilled over the intense heat still coming Turespana I Camel riding on Lanzarote’s “Fire Mountain” up from the earth, and where water poured into a hole shoots up as a plume of scalding steam just seconds later. The temperature just below the surface is 350ºC – more than I Puerto Mogan, Gran Canaria enough to do your sausages nicely. But to view the most impressive volcano you have to pile into a bus with dozens of others, and listen to a recorded commentary while “weird” music such as the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey is played. Although it’s more atmospheric to trek part of the way up on a camel, the views are more impressive on the bus tour. Don’t think Lanzarote is a wasteland, as there is some greenery in the north and the volcanic grit is very fertile; it is used to grow vines and vegetables around villages of the interior such as Yaiza and Teguise. Plants are protected from the prevailing winds by little semi-circular walls – made from lava, of course. Lava flows also created the Jameos de Agua caves, another major attraction. Lanzarote also has golden sandy beaches, the main resorts being Puerto del Carmen, Turespana Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise. There are no huge tourist complexes or high-rises Activities comparable with Tenerife or Gran Canaria, but development is marching steadily Sea sports are popular, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura being famous for windsurfing towards the virgin beaches of Papagayo, with world championships held in both islands. Fuerteventura is the best choice for near Playa Blanca on the southern tip. A diving, from Barlovento and Sotavento, with up to 400 species of fish on the coastal court ruled last year that 22 of the island’s shelf. major hotels had been built illegally with Hiking is popular on the mountainous islands, especially Gran Canaria and La Palma town hall corruption suspected, but it’s high- but also in Tenerife.Volcanoes, dormant or active, can be viewed on most islands but ly unlikely any will be demolished as some especially Lanzarote,Tenerife and La Palma.The islands have 600 native plant species, and campaigners demand. botanical gardens in Tenerife and Gran Canaria. The islands’ mild climate makes them ideal for golf.Tenerife has nine courses at eight Fuerteventura clubs including Spain’s second-oldest club, while Gran Canaria has half a dozen 18-hole Although it is the second largest island, it’s courses and Spain’s oldest golf club – Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas – which was also the least populated, with only about founded in 1891. 30,000 inhabitants. Lack of water, poor agri- cultural land and coastal erosion are the main 10 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
  8. 8. I Puerto del Carmen beach, Lanzarote Tenerife Tourism Corporation I Sunset over Tenerife’s Mount Teide Family fun Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the best choices for families, as they have theme attractions in addition to beach facilities and hotels catering for younger children. Loro Parque, near Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, is a world leader in parrot conservation and has many other wildlife exhibits and shows, including penguins. Siam Park is a new theme attraction based on Thailand, in southern Tenerife. Fun boat trips include whale watching cruises which operate year-round from Los Cristianos, to spot a large group of resident pilot whales and also bottle- nosed dolphins. In Gran Canaria, families will enjoy Palmitos Park for birds and tropical plants, and a replica of a Wild West town Turespana called Sioux City. reasons for this, but the big attraction for vis- Its popularity for day trips makes the port La Palma itors is simple – sand, sand and more sand. and capital, San Sebastian, crowded during When I stayed at a small hotel in Barlovento In parts of the island you can’t tell where the day, but once the trippers have gone it in the north of La Palma, I was surprised that the beach ends and the dunes begin, as it becomes, like the whole island, very tran- most of the guests trooped off after breakfast resembles the Sahara. Many of the 150 quil. kitted out with hiking boots and rucksacks. beaches are so long you’re almost guaran- Even on a day trip you should try to see But exploring is what this island is all about, teed a spot to yourself, and development is some of the interior, climbing through and the landscapes are spectacular. so far limited, mainly to Jandia in the far banana plantations built on steep terraces to It was just as well I hadn’t come for sun- south, and around Corralejo in the north. deep, wooded ravines. shine, as the eastern side of the island is Fuerteventura is very popular for wind- The Garajonay National Park is on a high often damp. The western side is sunnier, but surfing and also diving, including the off- plateau, with extensive forests of laurel and often battered by Atlantic winds. Puerto shore Isla de los Lobos. Inland there’s many unique botanical specimens. Playa de Naos (west) and Los Cancajos (east) are little to see, but the former capital of Santiago, with a pebble beach, is small resorts with strips of dark sand, but Betancuria, now a sleepy village, is the only resort of you’re making a mistake if you come here worth a visit. note. for a beach holiday. La Palma’s three national parks include La Gomera the Caldera de Taburiente, a huge You can’t fly directly to this island, but it’s volcanic crater over six miles easily reached from Los Cristianos in wide and nearly 5,000ft deep. In Tenerife by hydrofoil (40 minutes) or ferry the south is the Teneguia volcano, (90 minutes). which last erupted in 1971 and will Tenerife Tourism Corporation September/October 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 11
  9. 9. Turespana I Dunes at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria Did you know? Canaries facts G A BBC Horizon programme described La Palma as “a geological time bomb” When to go which could collapse into the sea Year-round, as temperatures are fairly constant. after another volcanic eruption.When this happens, it said, a mega-tsunami Getting there would devastate the US eastern Low-cost airlines are expanding and most other seaboard within hours. flights are charters. Flights operate to Tenerife G “Canary” wines are mentioned twice South and Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) from most by Shakespeare – in Twelfth Night and UK airports, while Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are now gaining more The Merry Wives of Windsor. Large routes. Monarch Airlines ( is operating an extra 64 quantities were imported in the flights a week to the Canaries this winter including new departures from 1500s and 1600s, to a London dock Gatwick and Luton to Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. EasyJet now famous as Canary Wharf. ( is adding Stansted to Fuerteventura, while Aer Lingus G People living in La Gomera’s remote ( adds Gatwick-Tenerife South. Other major carriers interior devised a whistling “language” include Ryanair (,Thomson Airways to communicate across deep ravines. ( and Thomas Cook Airlines G The islands are named not after birds ( operates the only direct but the large dogs – Canis in Latin – flights to La Palma, from Gatwick and Manchester. found by early explorers. Tour operators These include Thomson (,Thomas Cook (, Classic Collection (www.classic- erupt again one day. At present, though,, Prestige Holidays ( and all looks very peaceful….. Cadogan ( Hotel-only bookings can be made through Monarch ( and El Hierro ( Few people have visited this western out- post, only reachable by internal flight or Getting around ferry. The smallest and most remote of the Car hire is widely available, and bus services link main Canaries has no sandy beaches and a rocky towns and resorts. All islands are served by Binter coastline punctuated by cliffs, attracting a Canarias ( flights from few divers and hikers wanting to experience bases at Tenerife North (note – UK flights operate to the fertile El Golfo crater. We now know it Tenerife South) and Las Palmas. Inter-island ferries isn’t “the end of the known world”, but it serve routes including Santa Cruz (Tenerife) to probably feels like it. TL Agaete (Gran Canaria); Los Cristianos (Tenerife) to La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro; and Playa Blanca (Lanzarote) to Corralejo (Fuerteventura). Dave Richardson has made over 100 visits One of the main ferry operators is Fred Olsen ( to Spain in his 30-plus years as a travel writer. He first visited Tenerife when Playa Tourist information de las Americas was in its infancy and all Spanish Tourist Office: 020 7486 8077, around it was arid scrub, in contrast to today’s big hotel developments. Panel photos:Tenerife Tourism Corporation 12 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
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  12. 12. ESCAPE to… TORONTO Queen city on the lake I Towering over the lake OTMPC Canada’s largest city has many highlights for visitors stands over 1,800 feet high at its tip). And as we were led to a table next to the floor-to- – not least dining over 1,000ft high. Peter Ellegard ceiling windows and handed the menu, I pri- vately mused whether I might make only a goes up in the world to report passing acquaintanceship with my food before needing a quick trip to the bathroom. H aute cuisine is perhaps IArchitectural Yet the view was so amazing as we slowly not the first thing that blends in turned full circle, all negative thoughts and downtown springs to mind when you Toronto panic totally vanished. The city was laid out think of Canada. But dur- below us like a toytown model, the modern ing a recent visit to the glass and steel skyscrapers shimmering in the country’s biggest city the glorious setting sun, dwarfing grand, older dining experience was, in every sense, one edifices, many of them overlooking Lake of the high points of my stay. Ontario. From our man-made eyrie I could It was my first time back in Toronto for see why Toronto was nicknamed Queen City. some 15 years and my wife’s first visit to Tiny sailboats bobbed on the calm waters anywhere in Canada, and dinner on our first of the lake, which stretched as far as the eye night had been arranged at one of the city’s could see. The usually-busy ferry service landmarks – 1,150 feet up in revolving 360 linking the city with offshore Toronto Island Restaurant on the iconic CN Tower was idle, thanks to a strike by city municipal ( workers. But the Toronto City Centre I wondered whether I should have told Airport on the island’s western end buzzed Peter Ellegard my hosts of my morbid fear of heights as we with the frequent arrival and departure of rocketed skywards in the lift up what was aircraft. And as the sun disappeared, the city the world’s tallest building for 32 years (it turned into a twinkling fairyland. September/October 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 15
  13. 13. All the while, we had enjoyed a sumptu- I Maid of the ous feast of dishes highlighting produce Mist at the foot from Ontario and Eastern Canada, washed of the falls down by one of the more than 550 Canadian and international wines from its “cellar in the sky”. Executive chef Peter George and his team serve up food of the highest order – pun intended. Then, after a visit to the Sky Pod (the world’s second-highest observation deck) for some photographs and a fleeting one to the glass-floored observation deck (where I kept my eyes firmly shut), we were whisked back down to earth in a glass-sided elevator (eyes closed again). Terra firma never felt more welcome. We were lucky to have chosen our first evening to visit the CN Tower. The weather turned the next day, and for the rest of our Toronto stay it was often sheathed in rain OTMPC clouds. Unseasonal for July, we were told. But then I can make it rain anywhere I travel. Next morning, we left our city-centre Niagara and the falls hotel on a walking tour with one of the most knowledgeable and engaging guides I have No visit to Toronto would be complete without a side trip to the awe-inspiring Niagara ever met. Historian Bruce Bell is more than Falls.They are just 90 minutes by road around Lake Ontario, and you can rent a car to a guide, he is a Toronto legend. Thanks to visit, take a train or bus, or book an excursion tour. his tenacity and campaigning, many notable Nothing can prepare you for the awesome power and noise of the mighty falls. One- old buildings and sites in the heart of the fifth of the world’s fresh water cascades over them, 98% of over Horseshoe Falls.You can metropolis are now celebrated with historic get a close-up view of the torrents from the Table Rock terrace, while the Journey Behind marker plaques as part of the Bruce Bell the Falls tour has elevators taking you deep into the rock to viewing decks beneath the History Project. roaring curtain of water. They include Toronto’s old jail, in the You get a waterproof poncho to keep basement below bustling St Lawrence I Whirlpool Aero Car you dry, as you do aboard the Maid of the Market – once the city hall – where he took Mist, the evergreen boat tour which has us to show us chain rings still bolted to the been drenching passengers in Niagara’s brick walls. We walked through unassuming spray for 160 years.A popular new bank buildings to marvel at their unseen attraction at the Niagara Falls architectural splendour inside, from stucco entertainment complex at Table Rock is ceilings and chandeliers to grandiose statues Peter Ellegard Niagara’s Fury, an exciting simulator and wooden carvings. In their day, at the showing how the falls were created.You can beginning of the 20th century, they were the also dine in style overlooking the citadels of this brave new world across the Horseshoe Falls cascade at the new Elements on the Falls restaurant in the complex. Atlantic. Many were torn down in the name Undoubtedly the most spectacular way to experience Niagara’s majesty is by flying high of progress, as with most cities. Some are no overhead on a helicopter tour. Niagara Helicopters operates flightseeing tours of the falls longer banks; one of the grandest of them all from its base, just downriver. Nearby you can also feel the might of the Niagara River on now housing the Hockey Hall of Fame. the White Water Walk, while you can experience the swirling waters of the Whirlpool We also toured the city’s opulent Union suspended high above on the Whirlpool Aero Car, which first opened in 1916, or by Station and, just opposite, the elegant interi- getting wet and wild aboard the Whirlpool Jet Boats. or of another city landmark, the Fairmont In the evenings, watch Niagara Falls lit up by illuminations and regular fireworks displays. Royal York hotel. Bruce revealed he worked In winter, they become even more magical there as an elevator operator in the early I Fireworks when cloaked in ice.You can also explore over the falls 1970s. Years later, he has been made the the town with its many restaurants and hotel’s honorary historian. attractions, and stay in hotels overlooking The tour continued on to the historic the falls in quieter streets behind. Distillery District (, The Niagara Peninsula is a fertile region its old warehouses now a collection of of vineyards and orchards. Spend time cafes and boutique stores where you can leisurely following a wine trail and visiting take Segway tours, and ended with a cab Peter Ellegard historic Niagara-on-the-Lake as well as ride to the Royal Ontario Museum stopping off at a winery for brunch and to (, or ROM as it is affec- buy local produce. tionately known. In a city of striking architecture, it is one 16 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
  14. 14. I Old and bold, The Royal OTMP Ontario Museum of the most striking buildings of all. The largest collection of fossils and, as you known, of course, as AGO. Toronto’s own futuristic Michael Lee-Chin Crystal wing was would expect of Canada’s largest museum of Frank Gehry – the architect celebrated for grafted on to the venerable, ornate Italianate natural history and global culture, is packed structures including Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and opened in 2007 to mixed full of galleries where you can lose yourself Museum – was commissioned to transform reviews. Opinion is still divided today. You for hours. We visited the fascinating Dead and expand it. The result was unveiled in either love it, or you hate it. I must admit, Sea Scrolls exhibit, which is on until November 2008 and is utterly mesmerising, while the exterior is undoubtedly breathtak- January 3, 2010. from its titanium and glass south wing to the ing, I found the ultra-modern angles jutting Another old Toronto institution which has sinuous spiral stairway and wooden Galleria into the 95-year-old building rather ugly. undergone an avant-garde makeover is the Italia. The museum houses art ranging from However, the museum houses the world’s Art Gallery of Ontario ( – Old Masters and Renaissance treasures to Ontario’s I Muskoka chairs Underlining the region’s star appeal, the day I was playing golf on the Faldo course lake district I missed Kurt Russell wandering around the hotel lobby (he and wife Goldie Hawn Less than three hours north of Toronto is have a cottage in the area). Ontario’s own lake district, the holiday My wife and I took a canoe to paddle region of Muskoka.This is where anyone around a nearby island and get a close-up who is anyone in Canada, and many a view of its palatial cottages, and watched Hollywood star as well, has a cottage – in an old steam ship moor at the hotel’s reality luxury homes – alongside one of dock on a brief stop.We also toured the its thousands of lakes. Most people come area, visiting quaint towns, dining at here to rent smaller cabins for a few days. dockside restaurants and watching thrill- Peter Ellegard The Rosseau Resort & Spa is a new seeking youngsters jump off a railway oasis of luxury set on a granite bluff bridge into a lake and hurl themselves overlooking the sublimely-beautiful Lake into raging rapids, thankfully protected by Rosseau in 700 acres of private wilderness development which also includes adjacent lifejackets. preserve. A JW Marriott property and Nick Faldo-designed golf course,The A Muskoka side trip is highly part of the upmarket Red Leaves Rock, the final phase opened in August. recommended. September/October 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 17
  15. 15. I Casa Loma Toronto facts When to go Any time of year. Summers are warm and late spring to early autumn is best for exploring beyond Toronto.Winters are bitter, but Niagara Falls is spectacular sheathed in ice and Toronto has underground walkways. Getting there British Airways ( and Air Canada ( fly to Toronto from Heathrow, year-round. Flights are also offered year- round from Gatwick by Canadian Affair (, using partner carriers Thomas Cook Airlines and Air Transat, and by Flyglobespan ( to nearby Hamilton. Accommodation Among Toronto hotels are the Hyatt Regency Toronto (, in the city centre, close to the theatre district, and the historic Fairmont Royal York Peter Ellegard ( Niagara Falls has several big hotels overlooking the falls, some with casinos. For a quieter stay an easy walk from the falls, try the boutique Old Stone Inn ( In Muskoka, stay at The Rosseau, Canada’s first JW Marriott Resort & Spa ( OTMPC Tour operators Operators offering short breaks include Frontier Canada ( modern art and sculptures, but I found, Canadian Affair (,Thomas myself staring more at the building than its Cook (, Flyglobespan contents at times. The queue for the extended (, 1st Class Holidays evening opening stretched around the corner (, Key 2 Holidays as it was free entry, yet nobody minded. ( and Tailor Made Holidays One of our favourite city excursions was ( to Casa Loma (, an extravagant 98-room castle built by entre- Getting around/attractions preneur Sir Henry Pellatt. Toronto has excellent public transport including buses, streetcars and a Besides its many museums, among oth- subway system with four lines. Save money by buying blocks of tickets, ers the Ontario Science Centre single-day or week passes from the Toronto Transit Commission ( and ( tours: Bruce Bell Tours ( Museum of Inuit Art (, Niagara Parks ( operates many of the Niagara Toronto boasts the world’s third-largest the- Falls attractions, including the People Mover Bus which links major sites. A atre district, and in a short break you can combined Adventure Pass gives 40% savings on four catch top productions such as The Sound of top attractions. Fly high with Niagara Helicopters Music. ( Rent a car The city is also a pulsating cultural melting to explore Niagara and Muskoka from Dollar pot; a world within a city where immigrants Car Rental ( OTMPC have created a kaleidoscope of ethnic neigh- bourhoods. They include four Chinatowns, a Tourist information Greektown, a Little India and a Little Italy, Ontario Tourism: which is more Portuguese these days. Toronto Tourism: As the fifth most populous city in North Canadian Tourism Commission: 0870 380 0070, America and capital of Ontario (but not Canada – that is Ottawa, also in Ontario), shopping is a major pastime in Toronto. You can flash cash and credit cards at several shopping centres, including the sprawling the PATH system. A word of warning, Having scaled Toronto’s highs and got Eaton Centre. And even the bone-chilling though – it is easy to get disorientated in the lost in its lows, I found a city which had winters are no barrier. This is troglodyte maze of corridors, as we did. We had to be changed out of all recognition from my pre- city; its downtown is linked by nearly 17 rescued by a friend whose bank building we vious visit. I won’t leave it 15 years before I miles of underground walkways which form were trying, and failing, to find. pay a return visit. TL 18 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
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  17. 17. With the long civil war now Land of over and the tragedy of the Indian Ocean tsunami a fading memory, there is a new sense of optimism in Sri Lanka and its gracious people smiles have reason to smile again. Peter Ellegard reports Peter Ellegard I t was 4am on a late October morn- ing and I was being driven from Colombo Airport by my guide, Janaka, after the 10-hour flight from London. It seemed everyone in this south-western corner of Sri Lanka was slumbering as we passed through town after deserted town en route to my hotel at Hikkaduwa beach resort. Then, as we rounded a bend it was as though the whole island had come alive. Hundreds of people were lining the roadside and, in their midst, a procession was snaking its way past them and swaying to the beat of drums. Despite the blackness of the night, the costumed participants were clearly visi- ble as many of them were holding flaming torches and lanterns, lighting up the crowd as well. Driving slowly past the fiery human chain, Janaka explained that this was a procession to mark the start of Deepavali, or Diwali as it is also called – the Hindu festival of lights. At the front, several dancers were twirling large, wooden six-pointed stars, the extended points 20 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
  18. 18. off the beaten TRACK SRI LANKA I Fire walk I Stilt fisherman I Tea pickers in with me: Sri Lanka’s hill Deepavali country procession Peter Ellegard Peter Ellegard Peter Ellegard of which were alight so that as they span they died when it was engulfed as it passed through Indomitable spirit resembled giant Catherine wheels. the village of Peraliya just 2.5 miles north of And I was deeply touched by the indomitable It was a breathtaking way to arrive on an Hikkaduwa, making it the world’s worst-ever spirit of the island’s people. They showed an island I had long wanted to visit, my desire train disaster. I also saw the shells of wrecked unshakeable resilience and optimism to match fuelled since childhood by images of golden homes in the village where another 1,000 peo- their gracious hospitality, legendary friendli- sandy beaches, lush tea plantations, exotic ple had died – and where, unbelievably, a rebel ness and warm smiles. I found it quite disarm- wildlife and rich culture. ing at times; even those I spoke to who had My anticipation was tinged with apprehen- sion, too. Less than two years earlier, the “The new era of lost family members and homes in the tsuna- mi were confident Sri Lanka would bounce island’s south-west had suffered unimaginable back from that and from its bloody civil war. devastation and more than 30,000 lives had peace is now That optimism has proved correct. been lost in the infamous 2004 Boxing Day With the conflict ending this year, peace tsunami. Violence had also started to flare bringing tourists has now returned to this enchanting island and again in the long civil war which had ravaged while the tsunami will never be forgotten, the northern and eastern areas. surging back” regeneration is helping to heal its scars. The It seemed fitting that Sri Lanka was islanders have reason to smile again. teardrop-shaped; so many tears had been shed The new era of peace is now bringing by and for its people in recent years. Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew up a bus and tourists surging back to its beautiful beaches Yet what I encountered as I toured the killed nine people just weeks after my visit. and historic cities, and Sri Lanka’s tourist island was far removed from my fears. I did But I also saw the revitalisation of beach office is promoting the island with a rebrand- witness some of the horrific aftermath of the resorts and rebuilding of shattered communi- ed image and slogan – “Sri Lanka, Small tsunami, including the twisted wreckage of ties under programmes funded by internation- Miracle” – highlighting the island’s easy the Queen of the Sea train, in which 1,500 al governments, aid agencies and charities. accessibility and amazing diversity. I The beach at Hikkaduwa Peter Ellegard September/October 2009 The Travel & Leisure Magazine 21
  19. 19. I saw much of the island’s diverse attractions during my action-packed visit, which also included taking part in the annual two-day Sri Lankan Golf Classic tournament at Victoria Golf Club, in the hilly, green interior. Stunning beaches I walked barefoot on stunning beaches in the south-west, their beautiful sands devoid of other footprints. Off one beach, stilt fishermen perched precariously on poles as they dangled hooks from outstretched rods, then enthusias- tically showed me the tiddlers they were land- ing. It hardly seemed worth the discomfort. I watched other fishermen launch outrig- ger craft into the crashing surf from beaches near Galle, the pushers laughing and joking when the boats hit waves, drenching their occupants. Galle itself is fascinating to explore. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a small town full of wonderful old buildings set within the ramparts of a fort built by the Portuguese. The Dutch made it the headquar- ters of the Dutch East India Company after winning it in 1640, before it was taken in turn by the British in 1796. Inland from the south-west’s beaches you can visit cinnamon plantations and gemstone mines, little more than shafts dug deep into the alluvial soil where moonstones and other Peter Ellegard gems are sifted from the extracted silt. I Encounter at Pinnawela Elephant orphanage Leopards and elephants On the south-east coast, Yala National Park is Before 1800, Sri Lanka had around 15,000 Lanka’s most popular tourist attractions. Twice one of 14 national parks in Sri Lanka and one wild elephants. Today, protected parks are the a day, the herd is led to a river where the ani- of the best places in the world to see leopards. only places to see them in the wild. Uda mals bathe in front of tourists, who can pay Sadly, they eluded me on my visit. However, I Walawe National Park is home to some 500, extra to have their pictures taken with them or did see plenty of other inhabitants, including while up to 300 at a time can be seen in feed them. Stars of the show are always the crocodiles, monkeys, peacocks and elephants. Minneriya National Park. But a must on any tiniest youngsters. They melt your heart. Even here is a stark reminder of the tsunami. itinerary is the Pinnawela Elephant In the island's centre, Kandy is home to Sri Alongside the remains of the park ranger's Orphanage, 80km north-east of the capital, Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a house which once stood by the beach, a stain- Colombo. Set up by the government in 1975 tooth of Buddha himself. It is housed in the less steel sculpture graphically depicts the to care for injured and orphaned elephants, it Temple of the Tooth, in a beautiful, forested destructive waves. is home to 70 elephants and is one of Sri lake-side setting. The spectacular, annual (, founded in 1879. Chill or thrill Golfers have to stop to let trains cross the From sedentary to full-on, a holiday in Sri fairway on one hole. Lanka can be as relaxing or action-packed Being an island, water activities abound. as you want. Dive on beautiful reefs or explore caves If you want to chill out, some of the and wrecks off the south and west coasts. Sri Lanka Tourist Board best beaches on the planet stretch from Kayaking and white-water rafting are the far south up the west coast to popular.You can even raft past the hill Negombo, north of capital Colombo. Be country village used as the setting for the pampered with Ayurveda wellness classic wartime film, The Bridge on the River treatments, based on the ancient belief of Kwai. ensuring the five elements are brought I Taking an Ayurveda spa bath You can go whale and dolphin watching into harmony.You can have sessions in a along the south and west coasts. Prime traditional, local centre or in a spa at a visitors, from the cooler hills of Nuwara time is November to March. And you can luxury beach-side resort. Eliya to the country’s oldest course, the view Sri Lanka’s natural majesty from the The island has several golf clubs open to Royal Colombo Golf Club air on hot air balloon or helicopter trips. 22 The Travel & Leisure Magazine September/October 2009
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