Monthly Archives: December 2016
For sheer excitement, nothing compares to Stromboli. Sicily’s showiest volcanic island has been lighting up the Mediterranean for millennia, spewing out showers of red-hot rock with remarkable regularity since the age of Odysseus.
Set off a couple of hours before sunset for the spectacularly scenic trek (guide required) to Stromboli’s 924m summit. Climbing through a landscape of yellow broom and wild capers, the trail eventually opens onto bare slopes of black volcanic rock, revealing fabulous vistas of Stromboli town, the sparkling sea and the volcanic islet of Strombolicchio below, and a zigzag line of fellow hikers slogging steadily towards the summit above.
Round the last bend and emerge into a surreal panorama of smouldering craters framed by the setting sun. For the next hour you’re treated to full-on views of Stromboli’s pyrotechnics from a perfect vantage point above the craters. The periodic eruptions grow ever brighter against the darkening sky, changing with the waning light from awe-inspiring puffs of grey smoke to fountains of brilliant orange-red, evoking oohs and aahs that mix with the sound of sizzling hot rocks rolling down the mountainside.
Ready for one last moment of magic? Don your headlamp for the descent and begin plunging down Stromboli’s precipitous eastern slope, with the moonlit sea at your feet stretching clear to the twinkling lights of Italy’s mainland.
Fossa delle Felci, Salina, Aeolian Islands
Start/End: Valdichiesa | Length: 4km | Duration: three hours | Difficulty: moderate-demanding
The ancient Greeks dubbed this island Didyme (the twins) for its verdant pair of dormant volcanoes. These days Salina remains the Aeolian Islands’ greenest island, dotted with wineries that produce the region’s renowned Malvasia wine. For sweeping views of the vineyards and the surrounding seascape, climb Salina’s highest peak, Fossa delle Felci (962m).
Two museums dedicated to the iconic French designer are opening in Paris and Marrakesh.
When a trip involves Marrakesh or Paris, two of my favourite cities, I’m always excited. But add Yves St Laurent to the mix – the man who introduced ‘le tuxedo’ for women and whose influence on the catwalk today is still undeniable – and I’m storming the departure gates. This year two new museums are opening, celebrating the designer’s incredible legacy. His former Paris atelier, which is being refurbished to its former glory, allows visitors the opportunity to get a sense of his work process, while also immersing themselves in the city of haute couture. Or take a trip to Morocco to drink in the electric blue of the designer’s Jardin Majorelle, which he bequeathed to Marrakesh, and where the new museum will display his work. But why not make both pilgrimages? I know I will.
So much of St Petersburg’s allure lies in its wealth of history. But for me, New Holland Island, with its focus on public space and the arts, is a perfect addition to Russia’s cultural capital. The project seems poised to bring a burst of modernity to the historic city, providing a place for locals and travellers to go skating, visit food carts or even see a concert – the perfect way to kick back after a long visit to the Hermitage. Strolling onto the formerly restricted naval island will not only provide an interesting insight into the city’s past, but also a glimpse of its future.
As I’m a devoted follower of Prince’s music, the opening of his Minnesota estate Paisley Park is one of the most exciting new developments in travel for 2017. Fans of the iconic performer will no doubt be aware of the unique spirit and impressive output of His Royal Purpleness, who used the 65,000 square-foot complex as his creative sanctuary. From recording a string of hit records and feature films to the manufacturing of clothing for upcoming tours, everything was done on site either personally or under the watchful eye of the industrious perfectionist. Following his death, Paisley Park has grown to represent sheer creativity and artistic opportunity. The idea of getting a first-hand look at the inner sanctum of one of music’s most enigmatic characters will no doubt excite and inspire many travellers and music fans alike.
The newly opened visitor centre at Patrick Pearse’s Cottage lies in the heart of the Gaeltacht area where Irish is still a vibrant, living language in use by the locals. As well as paying tribute to one of the key figures of the country’s revolutionary history, it celebrates the local history and cultural impact of the native language. Set in the middle of an incredible windswept landscape, it’s a chance for visitors to experience an often hidden part of Ireland.
Ruta de Cafe, El Salvador
Go back to the source of the world’s favourite pick-me-up by exploring the Coffee Route. El Salvador’s dense coffee forests are opening up to tourism and are full of exciting opportunities for extreme sports, wildlife spotting and a chance to cultivate the beans themselves, all within sight of the countryside’s magnificent hills and mountains.
Get a taste of the future as the world’s first 3D printing restaurant (foodink.io) embarks on a world tour this year after a successful pop-up in London. Combining fine dining with the latest in technology, the results are visually stunning gourmet feasts. If you can’t book in for a full meal, you can visit during the day to taste the snacks and learn how the printers work.
If hiking the Bernese Alps isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush for you, it’s time to tackle Schilthorn Mountain’s new Thrill Walk. You’ll need nerves of steel to cross the tightrope with nothing but a net between you and a drop of nearly 3000 metres, but you’ll be rewarded with priceless views and stunning photos from the observation deck.
A long-standing heladeria institution in Seville, founded in 1980, Helados Rayas (facebook.com/heladería-rayas) closes down for the colder months – brave the queue from spring to early autumn, and you’ll be rewarded with cream and pine-nuts, dulche de leche and tocino del cielo (crème caramel). Two locations – in Reyes Catolicos near the main shopping area, and close to the contemporary architecture attraction Metropol Parasol and its mushroom-like shades known as the Setas.
Freskura for the boho scene
Catering to the hip Alameda crowd, Freskura (freskura.com) offers favourites including pistachio, chocolate (also available lactose-free) and cremino (mascarpone, hazelnut and cacao); in summer fruit concoctions stretch to passion fruit and pear, while home-made ice lollies in lemon, strawberry and orange will quench your thirst. Take a seat on a bench outside to absorb the vibrant atmosphere.
Coming up (ice-cream) roses at Amorino
With the highest prices of the city’s heladerias, Amorino (amorino.com/seville), the renowned Italian-owned chain (three branches, one built into the old city wall), needs to prove its quality – no problem there. Feast on delicate lime and basil, nocciola (hazelnut), or tangy Sicilian citrus. The pretty gelato rose, with ‘petals’ in different flavours, is a visual and gustatory delight. Opposite the cathedral, you can rest weary feet thanks to ample seating.
Porto Bello on the boulevard
A newcomer on the scene, Porto Bello (portobelloheladeria.com) has around 30 flavours, as well as smoothies and sundaes. Tastes worth sampling include the delectable house combination of mascarpone, caramel and fig, as well as boozy Malaga – cream, vino dulce (sweet Malaga wine) and raisins. Mojito and Sicilian lemon are among the lactose-free options. A big advantage here is the outside terrace with tables on the lively Alameda avenue – perfect for people-watching.