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Number 13

June 2017

Bangkok

BANGKOK

The new city of luxury

Journey to the eye of the storm

Adventure

Aqaba: an underwater world

BEACHES

Is New York really the city that never sleeps?

YOUNG PEOPLE

Contents

Magazine

CONTENTS

CONTENTS

Number 13

Bangkok

The new city of luxury

Exclusivity is what price-blind travellers are looking for. Luxury in the Thai capital encompasses everything from capsule massages to eating with your hands at the restaurant run by the best chef in Asia.

Gaggan Anand & Garima Arora

"I did not choose Bangkok, it was destiny"

The culinary scene in Bangkok is changing. We interview two of its brightest stars, Gaggan Anand, chef at the best restaurant in Asia, and his pupil Garima Arora, who is now going it alone.

Adventure

Journey to the eye of the storm

Attracted by the extreme weather, each year, storm chasers traverse the centre of the United States. Joining this adventure will let you get up close to these powerful air funnels - and maybe even wind up in Oz.

Long trips

The garden of South Africa

Shakespeare wrote that, ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. And what Africa calls a garden smells like a forest and is populated with whales.

GASTRONOMY

Designation of origin: Italy

Modena vinegar, Parmesan cheese, Genoan pesto, Neapolitan pizza... The celebrated names of Italian products are known all over the world. We let our taste buds guide us through Italy’s culinary traditions.

BEACHES

Aqaba: an underwater world

Jordan’s coastline may be small, but its maritime treasures are great. Its only port, Aqaba, reaches into a Red Sea and is made up of coral and an abundance of colourful underwater species.

YOUNG PEOPLE

Is New York really the city that never sleeps?

The buzz of “the city that never sleeps” is contagious. When there’s so much to do at night, who’d want to go to sleep?

Top 6A

Six examples of hell on Earth

Do you dare visit these geographic features for a taste of the underworld? Careful, it’s hot.

Travelbeats

Fashionable hotels and restaurants, ground-breaking galleries, new openings and the hottest hotspots on the planet all await you here.

Staff

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Report - Bangkok

Magazine

DESTINATION

Bangkok

The new city of luxury

Text:

Dúnya Yildiz

VIDEO:

Bakery Group

Exclusivity is what price-blind travellers are looking for. Luxury in the Thai capital encompasses everything from capsule massages to eating with your hands at the restaurant run by the best chef in Asia.\n

 “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” These words, by Marcel Proust, are exactly what you need if you want to travel Thailand with a new perspective. With “new eyes” you can distance yourself from clichés and preconceived images and explore with an open mind.\n

Bangkok is the world capital of street food. Resisiting it is tough.

Thailand is home to backpackers, with the 400 metres of Khao San Road serving as their private paradise (or ghetto). But, distancing ourselves from that type of traveller, our challenge was to find the top of Bangkok, literally. That is, the space occupied by 300 square metre suites, with skyline views of “the city of angels”, and soaring roof terraces with designer cocktails. We decided to explore the city through a lens that is closely linked to luxury: fine food. With excellent raw materials - spices, so many spices - and stall displays that look like works of art, Bangkok is the world capital of street food. Resisiting it is tough. Aromas whet your appetite and infuse the streets at all hours of the day. Exclusivity, however, is at odds with improvisation. It involves relaxing at a table in a restaurant, with river views, etiquette, a thousand pieces of cutlery and background music.\n

One of the best massage schools in Thailand is located in Wat Pho.

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When you arrive in the Thai capital, it can be difficult to get used to the heat and stickiness of a damp climate. Perhaps because of the constant feeling of being in a sauna, the city’s forte is relaxing spaces. Some stand out for their originality, like the Bangkok Float Center, where they shut you in an egg-shaped capsule, with water containing Epsom salts, which makes you float while you meditate. Alternatively, an unusual massage, inspired by the Thai national sport, Muay Thai, is available at the Mandarin Oriental hotel spa, considered one of the best in the world. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River—one of the most exclusive areas of the city to stay in —, this massage involves kicks and blows typical of this sporting discipline. If you want to completely lose all sense of time and space, however, try the Perfect Day treatment, which lasts five-and-a-half hours.\n

The Hangover Part II is the title of the film shot on the rooftop at Sky Bar.

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Photo: PeamOsk129 / Shutterstock.com

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The reclining buddha at Wat Pho temple is 46 m long and 15 m high, and coated in gold leaf.

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Photo: Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

Gaggan Anand is number one on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

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Haute cuisine in shopping malls

The large food courts in the shopping malls are home to food stands that seek to add a touch of luxury to the traditional concept of Thai street food. Pier 21, at Terminal 21 shopping mall, is one of the most exclusive. Another option is to go to a luxury restaurant. Paste is one of the best in Bangkok. Located on the third floor of Gaysorn Village, its menu is inspired by royal recipes and dishes from the Thai Golden Age, when King Rama IV reigned.\n

The top floors at The Landmark hotel have excellent views.

For those seeking the comforts only high-end accommodation can provide, the range of hotels is overwhelming. The Landmark Bangkok, where we stayed, is in Sukhumvit, the longest avenue in the capital and its main commercial artery. The size of the room is what strikes you when you walk in—the executive suite is 78 square metres. But, looking out of its windows, you will forget the vast space around you and instead be enthralled by the views of Bangkok and its sunsets. Dusk can also be enjoyed, and prolonged, in rooftop bars, like Above Eleven (floor 33), Vertigo and Moon Bar (floor 61), or the most-photographed bar in the city: Sky Bar, which rose to world fame after being featured in The Hangover Part II. We are on a terrace located on floor 63 (250 metres up from street level), of the luxurious Lebua hotel. Its most exclusive zone is Sirocco, one of the highest outdoor restaurants in the world.\n

After signature cocktails and endless nights, the dawn comes early in Bangkok. The aroma of spices saturates everything, and not even meditation can stop the flurry of activity. The calm associated with icons like the Temples of the Emerald Buddha and of the Reclining Buddha is at odds with the stress felt by disorientated tourists as they hunt for temples. Wat Pho is a must-see, but so is the Grand Palace, where you can still feel the influence of the king’s death. Bhumibol Adulyadej died in October 2016, but mourning lasts a year. Altars carrying his photograph and banners on skyscrapers help you understand the character of a city with deeply rooted values. It is this type of scene that will help you really get under the skin of Bangkok.

You will also find these images in the traditional Thai markets. Just over an hour from the capital, Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa are the best known and most touristy floating markets. More central, and specialising in local products, is Samyan Market. Even the most prestigious restauranteurs do their shopping there. Browsing her way through is Garima Arora, owner of Gaa restaurant. She opened her own business after working in the kitchens of the best chef in Asia, Gaggan Anand. This prestigious chef runs Gaggan restaurant, Bangkok, where the menu costs 5,000 bahts (about £115) and comprises 25 dishes. Diners eat 22 of them with their hands. 
 
Luxury is certainly possible in the city of backpackers. This is a destination of unexpected contrasts, of silent buddhas in packed and rowdy temples. That is the constant oxymoron of this large city, one of the most visited in the world. In Thailand, not only did we confirm that luxury and exclusivity exist, we also learnt that it is easy to find them if you travel with “new eyes”, like Proust. And with full pockets.\n

Water Library offers a fusion of Thai food and modern European cuisine.

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Authors' Lounge, Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

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Photo: Mandarin Oriental

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Photo: nimon / Shutterstock.com

Amphawa Market opens only on weekends.

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Photo: Water Library

Interview

Magazine

Interview

"I did not choose Bangkok, it was destiny"

PASSENGERS OF THE MONTH

Gaggan Anand and Garima Arora

The culinary scene in Bangkok is changing. We interview two of its brightest stars, Gaggan Anand, chef at the best restaurant in Asia, and his pupil Garima Arora, who is now going it alone.\n

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Why did you choose Bangkok to open Gaggan?\n

I did not choose Bangkok, it was destiny. I have no plan, it just happened. I just wanted to go to Bangkok and cook and take a job and do a better life. Five hundred dollars became what it’s become today.\n

How do you succeed with a high cuisine restaurant in a city well-known for its street food?\n

When I arrived in this country, there was no fine dining. The problem was that with one dollar you had great food on the street. Then I started Gaggan. I was part of the evolution. Not only me, many chefs, collectively. That’s why this year we have Michelin stars, last year we had ‘50 best Restaurants Awards’ in Bangkok. Despite this, this is still the street food capital. Nobody can change that. I am part of the fine dining scene, but at night, you will see me eating on the streets. That is everyday, Gaggan is one day in your life.\n

Your restaurant represents Bangkok’s high cuisine scene. Can you find luxury in this city?\n

Bangkok is famous for its cheap luxury. Cheap massages, hotels where you pay half the price you would pay in New York. In Thailand you can get a massage for $6 and a massage with a spa for $55. What is luxury for people from West or from big cities, is an everyday thing for us. For them taking a spa will be like once in their life or once a year. I can do it every day. Once a week I go to the movies. We have some luxurious movie theatres, with beds. You have a butler, you can have champagne. This is the new face of Thailand.\n

How would you describe the experience of eating at Gaggan?\n

It is different from every dining experience from all over the world. We have 25 courses, and 22 are eaten by hand. In India, you eat with your hands, that is my culture. The sensuality of the eating and touching the dish: hot, cold, temperature, texture… everything becomes real. Every three months, we come up with a menu, which is 90% eaten by hand.\n

You define your cooking as ‘progressive Indian cuisine’. What does this concept mean?\n

The word progressive means to “move forward”, step by step, from something that already exists. When I started doing this, many people thought I was a fool. “This is Indian cuisine, it’s been here for thousands of years, don’t change my curry, don’t change my naan bread”. But I am a progressive person, I’m carrying this to a new level, so I talk ‘progressive Indian cuisine’. From there to what it has become, is a journey.\n

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to become a chef?\n

The first thing they said was “good choice”. They knew I was not good at studies. I hate discipline, I am a rebel. So I became a chef. Chefs are crazy guys, no? All the crazy guys become chefs so I am in the right profession.\n

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What is your next big culinary challenge?\n

I am closing this restaurant. Ferran Adriá, my guru, taught me that all good things come to end. We are climbing a mountain and we are going to our peak. When we get to that peak (and I don’t say peak is an award, a peak is my food), then, I want to leave it there. The best memory. Gaggan closes june 2020, I decided it last week. I want to go to Japan and start a small restaurant, 12 seats, something very crazy. I like challenge. I don’t want to be boring in life.\n

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ach of their dishes include five flavours: sweet, hot, savoury, sour and, most importantly, surprise. In fact, surprise has become the main ingredient on the menu at Gaggan, the best restaurant in Asia, and number seven on the planet, according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. The diners don’t know what they are eating until the end of the meal. They can only guess, based on a mysterious menu comprising 25 emoticons. The chef says that when they are given the actual menu they exclaim, “Shit! I ate that?”. But, they don’t complain, “because they loved it,” he laughs. This risky approach would be unthinkable in another high-end restaurant, but not in the one run by this chef. Born in Calcutta and trained at elBulli, run by Ferrán Adrià, before Gaggan donned his apron, he was the drummer in a band. Progressive rock, like his cooking.\n

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She has passed through the best kitchens in the world. Now, she is opening her own restaurant in Bangkok, in the heart of a simmering culinary scene. Garima has just opened a restaurant in the same street as Gaggan. For her, this isn’t competition. He is “a member of the family who lives over the road,” since she spent a year in Gaggan Anand’s kitchens, learning from him. Born in Bombay, before moving to Bangkok, she trained at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris; Verre, run by Gordon Ramsay, Dubai; and Noma, Denmark. During that time, she learned culinary techniques from all over the world, which she now applies to 100% Thai products in her new home, Gaa.\n

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Your restaurant Gaa has just opened. What can ‘foodies’ expect from it?\n

It is a reflection of many different cultures, just like Bangkok is. We serve only hand processed local products, indigenous products that exist only within Thailand. But we use techniques from all over the world to reflect the best taste possible. So I think it’s local products with eclectic flavours.\n

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What do you think Gaa will contribute to Bangkok’s culinary scene?\n

What we try to do it’s we give a fresh set of eyes on what is available around us. It is looking at what’s available in Thailand with no preconceived notions, no already-existing ideas of what food should be like. Also, I think it’s important the way we choose our produce. We choose the ingredients that grow closest to the restaurant, so they are as fresh as possible. That’s the only way to guarantee good food. Our fish comes in live everyday, we don’t store anything in the restaurant in tanks or in freezers. Our first challenge is to be truly local.\n

What do you like the most about Bangkok?\n

The people. It is the people who make this city. I don’t think I have seen such energy anywhere else in the world. They are so hospitable, so full of life, so giving, so caring... Also, the city has a lot to offer. Right from a bowl of noodles at 2am to three-star French dining, you have everything. At the sixth month I was here, I fell in love with Bangkok and I did not want to leave.\n

How is your perfect ‘luxury day’ here in Bangkok?\n

I would start having brunch in one of the many 5-star hotels, maybe by the riverside. Get a nice massage, because you are in Bangkok and it doesn’t get any better than this, and end your day at a rooftop bar overlooking the city, have a few drinks and a nice dinner in a restaurant.\n

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Photo: Gaa Restaurant

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Photo: Gaa Restaurant

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Photo: Gaa Restaurant

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Photo: Gaa Restaurant

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Adventure

Magazine

Adventure

Journey to the eye of the storm

Attracted by the extreme weather, each year, storm chasers traverse the centre of the United States. Joining this adventure will let you get up close to these powerful air funnels - and maybe even wind up in Oz.
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“Stormy weather”. Those are the magic words that lead hundreds of storm chasers and weather lovers to get off their sofas and traverse the roads of the great plains that unfold across the centre of the United States. All are waiting for a storm in the troposphere, and for a big dark cloud that looks like a mother ship, to cover the sun and start the air funnel fury. That is their dream. And the moment comes between April and June, when warm air from the Gulf of Mexico clashes with polar air from Canada, creating explosive storms.\n

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Photo: jordanTrail.org

The United States records more than 1,000 storms each year.

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Every year, more than 800 tornadoes occur in what is known as Tornado Alley, a strip that extends across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Dakota and Minnesota. “When every instinct of a ‘normal’ person says to board up the windows, seek refuge in the basement, or evacuate their home and community, storm chasers cut fiercely against the grain and embrace the worst and most awesome of mother nature.” That is how Roger Hill, veteran chaser, describes the impulse that drives storm fans, in his book Hunting Nature’s Fury.\n

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But what if it is sunny?

If the weather isn't on your side, there’s no shortage of alternative options. Depending on where you are located, you can visit the Storm Prediction Center, Norma, Oklahoma; the Twister Museum, Wakita; Palo Duro Canyon, Texas; or Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.\n

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Every year, more than 800 tornadoes occur in what is known as Tornado Alley

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Joining a chase is now one of few holiday plans where rain is the best thing that can happen. Dozens of companies organise expeditions to chase these windy giants. The cost of these meteorological safaris is about $3,000 per head, and they take place in groups of between six and 14 people, divided between two vans that are fully equipped for this type of extreme activity.
 
Nick Drieschman, from Extreme Tornado Tours, one of the oldest agencies operating in Oklahoma, explains why it is important to use vehicles with 3M protection on the windows: to prevent damage caused by hail and severe gusts of wind. In one day, you may drive more than 400 km, and so the vehicles have Wi-Fi, batteries for electric devices and transmitters, like Sirius XM, with all types of music to keep you entertained in the calm before the storm.
 
Sleeping stops are in motels, just like on a road trip, and gas stations become meeting points, place for sharing experiences and information with other groups and locals. The Weather Channel is the soundtrack for the journey. If they announce a storm and the Doppler radar turns, the chase begins, which means the group must be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Within minutes, the fluffy white clouds transform into an opaque, grey ceiling, which announces a supercell storm, a brutal clash between two air currents, which start turning until they create a tornado.\n

Photo: James Smart

Most chasers use the RadarScope app, which lets them locate storms in real time.

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Photo: Extreme Tornado Tours

Texas is the state with the highest number of tornadoes.

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Safety is paramount and the groups must keep their distance from the vortex of these storms. In an F5 Tornado, the most destructive on the Fujita scale, the wind can be as strong as 500 km/h, enough to strip the roofs off houses, and create lightning and hail the size of golf balls.
 
 
The images from the video Vorticity, which photographer Mike Olbinski managed to film after following numerous kilometres and hours of shooting time, show the chaos and power of these air funnels. Being faced with the power of nature offers a big dose of humility. And the one piece of advice that expert chasers always give? “Hold on to your camera and shoes”. If not, then we may just go across to the other side, like Dorothy.\n

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Photo: Steve Lagreca/shutterstock.com

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The vans are always equipped with an emergency kit, with flares, towing cable and medical supplies.

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Long trips

Magazine

LONG TRIPS

THE GARDEN OF SOUTH AFRICA

Shakespeare wrote that, ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. And what Africa calls a garden smells like a forest and is populated with whales.\n

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The African road trip passes through enchanted forests and on paths that run along the edges of cliffs next to wild beaches. It is known as the Garden Route, ‘Tuinroete’ in Afrikaans, but on the way you’ll see more elephants than roses. It crosses a narrow stretch of coast between the Indian Ocean and the mountains that separate South Africa from the Karoo desert. A path cut out of the cliffs and suspension bridges that cross the sea, which let you appreciate its primitive beauty.
 
You’ll see most of the landscape while you drive along the N2 Road, on the 200km stretch that runs between Mossel Bay and Storms River, although contemplative travellers set off from Cape Town and continue for 800km, until they reach Port Elizabeth, a beach destination dedicated to water sports, where your fingers will become wrinkly after all the surfing, sailing, snorkelling and deep-sea diving.\n

The best season for doing the route is spring, which begins in September. After the rainy season, the ‘garden’ proudly shows off all its splendour. It is when the meadows fill with colour from proteas, daisies, and fynbos flowers, the natural vegetation of South Africa that is characterised by thin-leaved plants, all of which creates a multicolour contrast with the neighbouring desert land. However, there is no bad month here because the region has the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii, with temperatures that never drop below 10 ºC in winter nor go higher than 28 ºC in the summer.\n

Fantastic animals and where to find them

Along the route, in Knysna Elephant Park and Addo Elephant Park, you can see elephants in their natural surroundings. Penguins and dolphins inhabit the southern coast of South Africa and between July and December, particularly in Tsitsikamma, Southern Right whales can be spotted.\n

The Garden Route has lived through conflicts of the timber industry and the gold fever of the Boers, who settled in the humid forests of Knysna in the 19th century. The area became their way of life, which the South African writer Dalene Matthee later portrayed in her Forest Novels, a striking literary plea to preserve the region’s natural forests with characters such as the woodcutter, Saul Barnard.
 
The life described in Matthee’s tales no longer exists, but you can still hear the characteristic ‘kow kow’ of the turaco coming from the ferns. This exotic endemic bird has bright green feathers with a red crest and wings. The woodcutters have been replaced by hikers and adventure-hunters, who go down the rivers in kayaks or zip-line back and forth over the trees in the Garden Route National Park.
The park is divided into three sections: Wilderness, Knysna Lakes and Tsitsikamma. Woodcutter’s Walk and Millwood Mine Walk start in Knysna, amongst waterfalls and gigantic centenary trees. Two sandstone cliffs, known as the 'Heads’, keep watch over the entrance to Knysna Lagoon from the sea. Thanks to the Garden Route, this coastal area has turned into a lively tourist resort full of restaurants and leisure options, such as the Oyster Festival, which takes place every July.\n

The forest of Knysna is full of paths and trails that you can do on foot or by bike.

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The origin of humanity

According to anthropologists, human beings evolved from a settlement that lived near Mossel Bay 200,000 years ago. The guided tours to the archaeological site of Pinnacle Point are one of the attractions of climbing to this observation point with privileged views, where there’s also a golf course.\n

The varied accommodation in the Garden Route includes luxury hotels to shelters inside the animal reserves, like Knysna Elephant Park.

If you would like to see the forests in the same way as in Matthee’s works, then you can either walk or do it on horseback, though new experiences have appeared along the route, including submerging in the waters of Mossel Bay inside a cage surrounded by white sharks. The park’s varied fauna, which includes wild elephants and animal sanctuaries like the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, helps to build up the legend of this road trip.
 
Detours are a necessary part of the route. The Cango Caves, a labyrinth of underground marvels and South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction, are near Oudtshoorn, well known for its ostrich farms. In turn, the beaches of Plettenberg Bay attract surfers and now the place is also popular with wine tourists. One of the latest additions to the route are the Bramon vineyards, further proof that it’s impossible to do the Garden Route without stopping. Even if it’s not to smell roses.\n

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Seven kilometres from Plettenberg Bay is the Robberg Nature Reserve, where there are 120-million-year-old rocks.

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Gastronomy

Magazine

GASTRONOMY

Designation of origin: Italy

Modena vinegar, Parmesan cheese, Genoan pesto, Neapolitan pizza... The celebrated names of Italian products are known all over the world. We let our taste buds guide us through Italy’s culinary traditions.\n

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I always say my bones are made of Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar runs through my veins’. The statement could have been uttered by any Italian person, but it was said by Massimo Bottura, the chef at Osteria Francescana (three Michelin stars), named the best on earth in 2016 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.\n

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The Italians' devotion for food goes beyond the table and surpasses (or maybe just equals) their love of football, religion or politics. They boast the most international gastronomy on the planet and one with the widest cultural variety, from the Alps to the ‘heel of the boot’.
Firmly rooted in the quality of the raw ingredients, the country has known how to reincarnate itself through the most innovative Italian dishes. Today, far from reviling it, chefs like Bottura or Massimiliano Alajmo reinvent ‘nonna’s cuisine’ and demand that local produce be given the place it deserves on the table.

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The Italians' devotion for food surpasses (or maybe just equals) their love of football, religion or politics.

Just consider Modena balsamic vinegar, which for years was kept jealously hidden away in the attics and lofts of country homes. This is how it was in Acetaia del Cristo in 1849, although they no longer keep the vinegar to themselves. Erika, Daniele and Gilberto welcome anybody who wants to pay them a visit and they love showing off their 12-year-old ‘aceto tradizionale’, and their ‘extra-vecchio’, aged for a quarter of a century, as required by tradition.

Some of the most famous products are concentrated in the north of the country. ‘Parmiggiano-Reggiano’ has put Parma on the world cheese map and it is one of the most highly appreciated due to its intense flavour and culinary versatility. The cheese has played an important role in the development of the Reggio Emilia region, so much so that the Credito Emiliano bank accepts Parmesan cheese as surety guarantees for bank loans. A visit to some of the cooperatives where they are made, such as 4 Madonne Caseificio dell’Emilia, on the outskirts of Modena, will give you the chance to learn about the artisan production process.\n

Every year, Italy produces 3.4 million tonnes of dough, nearly a quarter of the world production.

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Photo: Francesco Tonelli

The dough of a Neapolitan pizza is baked at an extremely high temperature, over 400 ºC.

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Another ingredient that has contributed to promoting the gastronomy of the region –which has its own festival in September– is the ‘proscuitto’ of Parma. It is the undeniable star of the famous ‘salumerie’ or cured meats shops. One of the most popular such shops is Garibaldi which, apart from serving the iconic meat, also serves up full meals.
 
‘Everything you see I owe to spaghetti’ Sophia Loren once claimed, referring to her envied physique. Pasta is the most renowned and sought-after ingredient in the Italian recipe book, always cooked ‘al dente’, of course. It is accompanied by an endless list of ingredients that represent the personality of each region. In Reggio Emilia, they eat ‘tortellini’; in Venice they prefer ‘bigoli’, similar to spaghetti, but thicker; in Apulia they prepare the ear-shaped ‘orecchiette’… Each dish has to be served with a specific sauce and if you make a mistake here - ‘mamma mia!’ - the Italians will consider it to be a mortal sin. Each region also gives preference to ‘its own’ sauce: pesto in Genoa, carbonara in Rome, Amatriciana in Amatrice…Savouring some ‘tagliatelle’ accompanied by ‘ragù alla bolognese’ while you sit under one of the porticos in Bologna will always be a homage to your palate.
 
One in five of the restaurants in the world (that’s right, the world) are pizza restaurants, though the majority of them probably don’t distinguish a Pizza Romana from a Neapolitan. The pizza made in the Italian capital is thicker and crispier. Near Piazza Navona, Pizzeria da Baffetto (don’t let yourself be taken in by the humble appearance) makes the best in Rome. The people who queue for half-hour every day will testify to that.\n

Naples-style Neapolitan pizza

The designation of origin of Neapolitan pizza means that restaurants that claim they make the 'authentic' dish have to be decorated with a harlequin. The size of the packets of yeast, the pH of the dough or its maximum thickness (four mm) are strictly controlled. The ingredients - tomato, oil and cheese - must always be produced locally.\n

Photo: Acetaia Giusti

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The Neapolitan was the first and only pizza to possess the European designation of origin (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed). It is thinner and smoother, with high edges. If you want to find the ‘vera pizza napolitana’ you need to look for a pizza restaurant with a sign of a harlequin. L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele has the sign on the door and it’s impossible to get a table unless you book in advance. Everyone wants to try the Margherita and Marinara. The place opened in 1870 and since then five generations of pizza chefs have remained faithful to the original recipe.
 
If there’s enough time and there are matters to be discussed, after the Italians have finished eating their meal they stay sitting around the table and they bring out the ‘grappa’ and ‘limoncello’, a sweet, but strong, lemon liqueur. Both drinks help digest the abundant food that has quite probably been served and they add a sweet touch to the conversation, accompanied by an ‘espresso’ to banish any drowsiness.
Conversations after meals can last for hours because the Italians dedicate as much time as they need to the social act of eating and talking. It’s no surprise they invented ‘slow food’, a modern-sounding concept, but one that has always existed in Italy.\n

Photo: Francesco Tonelli

Whole Parmesan cheeses are called ‘forme’. They weigh about 40 kilos and each one requires more than 500 litres of milk.

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Coffee is sacred

From Le Giubbe Rosse in Florence to the Torino, in Turin. From Caffè Florian in Venice to the Greco in Rome, where in summer you can change the ‘espresso’ for a ‘granita di caffè’. If anything unites the Italians, it’s the culture of coffee. Like Woody Allen once said in reference to its intensity, ‘The Italians drink their coffee with a knife and fork’.\n

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Beaches

Magazine

BEACHES

Aqaba: an underwater world

Jordan’s coastline may be small, but its maritime treasures are great. Its only port, Aqaba, reaches into a Red Sea and is made up of coral and an abundance of colourful underwater species.\n

Many shops and restaurants in Aqaba close during the siesta.

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The beauty of Cleopatra

Aqaba is also known for the luxury spas of its hotels. These centres combine eastern and western techniques, and they offer rejuvenating treatments and cleansing baths that contain the famous Red Sea products. Cleopatra herself searched for the elixir of youth in these waters enriched with salts and minerals.\n

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f Lawrence of Arabia had decided to submerge his head in the sea instead of fighting against the Ottoman Empire, he would have discovered a multi-coloured world. The contrast with the arid deserts of the southwest of Jordan, would quite possibly have distracted him from the battle that ended up conquering the city. It was such an epic event that ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ became one of Hollywood’s most famous films, an epic movie that reflects the dry and dusty landscape. You would never guess that right there, under the water, there is a kaleidoscope full of life and vibrant colours.
 
The city lies at the southernmost point of Jordan, in the Gulf of Aqaba. It enters the Red Sea and, as a result, it is in a strategic location where three continents meet: Asia, Europe and Africa. It also marks the border of Jordan with Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. An area that, although it barely occupies 26km of coast, is full of ports, luxury hotels, beaches and diving clubs.
 
If you go a few kilometres to the south of Aqaba, after you have gone past the dock and the ferry terminal from where you can go to Egypt, you find the Aquamarina Dive Center and, a bit further on, the Visitor’s Center. Right opposite there is a layer of coral. The reefs are all over the gulf; they commence at the shore and turn into a deep underwater gulley. Consequently, just 100m from the shore, divers find a depth of 50m.
 
Even beginners will find it easy enough, the crystal-clear, warm water, together with the underwater flora and fauna, make this an unforgettable experience for divers of all levels. Swimming surprisingly near the coast are coloured fish, whale sharks, dolphins, manta rays and turtles. To complete the underwater landscape there are some extra decorative touches: a ship and three tankers (all sunk on purpose to enrich the underwater experience).\n

Some diving clubs also offer ‘an exclusive’ experience. A high number of hotels have private beaches and they offer diving courses with their own reefs. This is the case at the Murjan, 10 km to the south of Aqaba, which besides courses of all kinds, provides its clients with a pool where they can rest, a restaurant and other aquatic activities such as sailing, surfing or water skiing.
 
In the Gulf of Aqaba there is also a lot to do above the water. Sailing boats, surfers, windsurfers, water skiers, fishermen... Most of these water sports are offered by the hotels in the area; for example, by the Mövenpick Resort Residences Aqaba, and at clubs like the Murjan and Aqaba Surf Center. There are even options for people who don’t want to get wet, for instance huge boats with glass bottoms that let you see the seabed without having to submerge into the water.
 
Today Aqaba’s undeniable protagonist is the sea, so perhaps the next Hollywood success to be filmed in the city will be ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ or a new version of ‘Finding Nemo’.\n

Some diving businesses organise night diving courses, where you can see crabs, prawns, and lobsters in search of their supper.

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From the sea to the table

A wide variety of the fish you see swimming in the sea can be eaten later in local restaurants. Recipes prepared with fresh seafood are the star dishes in the region. You can also try Arab cuisine and the typical ‘syadeyeh’, rice cooked with fish and vegetables flavoured with local spices.\n

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Jóvenes

magazine

YOUNG PEOPLE

Is New York really the city that never sleeps?

The buzz of “the city that never sleeps” is contagious. When there’s so much to do at night, who’d want to go to sleep?\n

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Doctors, Sunday magazines and supermodels recommend getting eitght hours sleep a day. They don’t say when, though. Or where. Or what happens if you’re in NYC and options multiply at nightfall.

You can do almost anything in skyscraper city when the sun goes down. From buying an iPhone at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue to sweating it out in a 24-hour gym, as Wall Street yuppies tend to do. Most laundrettes, delis and 99¢/slice pizzerias stay open until the early hours. There’s also a bowling alley called The Gutter, in Williamsburg, where you can get your strike on well into the night, or at least until the 4am closing time. 
 
Salons and beauty centres are also jumping on the late-night bandwagon. Red Market Salon, for example, is known for offering late-night hours and a glamorous atmosphere, alongside perks like art exhibitions and sessions by local DJs. The salon was founded by David Cotteblanche and Reynald Ricard, who were so busy they started taking on clients into the evening in their apartment. They immediately saw a real market for late-night appointments. They have exported the idea to Miami and a number of salons have followed in their footsteps.\n

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Photo: Roman Arkhipov

McDonalds isn’t the only 24-hour option. Food stalls also offer late night snacks.

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Brooklyn’s House of Yes proves NYC is as sleepless as ever.

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For early birds (or night owls)

The first Wednesday of every month, MoMA opens its galleries from 7:30 to 9 am for visitors to take in art without the crowds. The programme is called ‘Quiet Mornings’ and also includes voluntary meditation sessions. Tickets are $12.\n

Pamper yourself before a night on the town by stepping into a beauty salon before you head out. Beauty Bar is the place to go if you’re looking for cosmetics and cocktails. This beauty salon with 1940s décor, including chrome dome hair dryers, serves up manicures and cocktails for $10 until 11pm every day of the week.
 


With so many different offers, partying sounds like a bit of a bore. But don’t underestimate the city that gave us Studio 54 and the Cotton Club. House of Yes is a unique option that combines circus shows, immersive film screenings, cabaret and burlesque with daytime raves and ‘brunch’.  Located in Brooklyn, every night it aims to “titillate the senses and broaden the mind.” And it never fails.
If you’re not into LED lights and blaring music, you can soak up some jazz. In venues like Smalls Jazz Club, the city’s other soundtrack oozes on well after midnight.\n

Photo: Joshua K. Jackson

Take in the city lights from the Empire State building. It stays open until 2 am.

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The Subway runs around the clock, although not all stations are open all night.

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Other relaxing options include Juvenex Spa, a luxury spa in Koreatown that opens 24/7. Or, if you really want to take it to the next level, schedule a session in a flotation tank at Lift. Here, you can float all night on Fridays and Saturdays and experience a “dreamlike” state.
 

However, you don’t need to float to feel this sensation. Anyone who’s spent a night out in NYC knows that. Streets, lined with neon signs and office lights, always seem to be on guard. Looking for adventure, regardless of the time of day (or night). As Simone de Beauvoir said, “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.” Amen to that. \n

The Subway runs all through the night. So does the ferry to Staten Island. The ferry departs from the financial district and offers some of the best views by day or night. First, the skyline slowly comes into view as the ferry pulls away from Manhattan, and then the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island steal the scene.\n

Not just yellow cabs

Salons and beauty centres are also jumping on the late-night bandwagon

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Top 6A

MAGAZINE

TOP 6A

Six examples of hell on Earth

Do you dare visit these geographic features for a taste of the underworld? Careful, it’s hot.

Darvaza (Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan)

Darvaza has been burning for more than 30 years in Karakum Desert. Known as ‘the door to hell,’ Darvaza is not a volcanic creation. It is the result of a perforation in a natural gas cave made in the 1970s.

Masaya Volcano (Granada, Nicaragua)

The smell of sulphur already hints at what is in store in Masaya. Visits cost 100 Córdobas (Nicaraguan nationals are charged 30). It is a hive of activity, with 120,000 visitors a year.

Dallol (Danakil Desert, Ethiopia)

Scorching lakes, smouldering geysers and temperatures over 60ºC. How’s that for an introduction to the Dallol crater? It’s located in the Danakil desert, the lowest point in the whole of the African continent.

Lanzarote (Canary Islands, Spain)

This Canary Island is famous for its volcanic origins. The landscape in places like Timanfaya National Park paints a red, ochre, black and orange picture created by several volcano eruptions that happened in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Kawah Ijen (Java, Indonesia)

This Indonesian volcano is home to a lake surrounded by rocks, painted yellow by the sulphur. Buzzing with miners by day, the combustion of sulphur creates stunning electric blue flames that light up the night.

Lake Natron (Rift Valley, Tanzania)

Located near a stratovolcano, the salt water lake between Kenya and Tanzania is loaded with chemical compounds. It’s so hot it can burn the skin and eyes.

Hell mouth

Home to bats

Africa on fire

Fire, ash and rocks

Blue boom

The burning lake

Travelbeats

Magazine

Travelbeats

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The cage of death

If you think swimming with sharks is passé, Crocosaurus Cove (Darwin, Australia) is the place for you. Here, you can dive for 15 minutes with an enormous crocodile. The saltwater crocodile is the biggest reptile and riverbank predator on the planet. The cage, designed for one or two people, is submerged 12 times a day, at feeding time, to increase both the reptiles’ activity, and the enjoyment of the brave divers. If you prefer a more passive experience, the park is home to the largest collection of Australian reptiles in the world, with more than 200 crocodiles to view.\n

Photo: Thierry Nava - Groupe F

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Welcome to the Sun King’s party

Louis XVI was really quite the party animal - or a ‘soirée’ animal, to use the French word. During his reign, the Palace of Versailles (20km outside Paris) hosted magnificent celebrations. The first party ever thrown lasted a whole week. How’s that for setting a high standard? The Versailles Festival (May 14 - July 14) allows contemporary ‘bon vivants’ to experience the splendour of the 17th and early 18th centuries for themselves.\n

Photo: Zoey Huang

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The most fashionable brunch in Hogwarts

Forget about The Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron, the coolest place for wizards and witches is now Platform 1904, in Singapore. The Harry Potter-inspired café-restaurant offers magical creations including “black magic” pannacotta or the Three Wizards Cup, a spongy home-made cupcake topped with white chocolate truffles.\n

Photo: jetalone via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

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The last samurais

If there's anywhere you could get the 47 Rōnin and Kurosawa's seven samurais together, it's Soma. In this city in Fukushima prefecture they've been breeding horses for generations. In fact, around 400 horses, with their riders' permission, are the leading players in one of the oldest customs kept alive in this part of east Japan, based on the samurai tradition. It's the Soma-Nomaoi festival, held every July over the course of three days (from 23 to 25). On the night of 22 July the festival kicks off with inaugural ceremonies at three sanctuaries: Ota, Odaka and Nakamura.\n

Photo: The Scallywags 1 / theadventurist.com

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The longest rally in the world

The Mongol Rally rules are simple: One: drive a small car no greater than 125cc. Two: you're on your own, there's no support from the organisers. Three: raise at least £1,000 for charity.
The world's longest overland rally kicks off under these three conditions. A journey of close to 15,000 kilometres starting out in the United Kingdom and finishing in Siberia, in the city of Ulan-Ude. The winner isn't the first to cross the line, it's all about just getting there. Quite an achievement if you bear in mind that there's no support from the organisers, or aid stations along the way, or even a fixed route.\n

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