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Cover

Number 8

November 2016

Santiago de Chile

Signature cities

SANTIAGO DE CHILE Y VALPARAÍSO

The highway to hell

Adventure

The clocks go forward in Oporto

Getaways

Let nature wash the stress away

Trends

Contents

Magazine

Contents

Contents

Number 8

Santiago de chile and valparaíso

Signature cities

The capital of the longest, narrowest country on the planet has reinvented itself on several occasions. Now cosmopolitan and welcoming, it invites us to discover its past and its and future.

Federico Sánchez

"When undressed, the man doesn’t exist."

On his television programme, City Tour, and as dean of the Creative Campus, Federico Sánchez teaches us to think about where and how we live.

Adventure

The highway to hell

The Danakil depression, in the Horn of Africa, is one of the hottest places in the world. It has only 60,000 inhabitants, and even fewer who dare to visit it.

Getaways

The clocks go forward in Oporto

A “cool” Oporto has been born. The city with the world’s most venerable “saudade” also has an artistic and “indie” fast beating heart of festivals, art and tapas.

Beaches

Bodrum, the Turkish Saint-Tropez

“Paradise of eternal blue”, according to Homer. More than 2,000 years later, there are other reasons why this Turkish port town attracts curious bon vivants and jet setters, who inflate the number of inhabitants each summer.

Trends

Let nature wash the stress away

If you need to unwind, forget the therapist's couch. In Japan, the best way of beating stress is a walk through the woods with all the five senses on high alert.

Culture

Walls born to be comic strips

The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Asterix, Tintin… A different way of reading comics does exist: just go for a stroll through Brussels.

Top 6a

Looking at life through rose-tinted glasses

As French singer Edith Piaf crooned, there is nothing like seeing “la vie en rose”. Some places take this literally.

Travelbeats

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

Bazar

Going on a trip? Before shutting your suitcase, make sure you haven't forgotten our essentials.

Staff

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Report - Santiago de Chile

Magazine

Destination

Signature cities

Santiago de Chile and Valparaíso

Text:

Martín García Almeida

Photos:

Kreativa Visual

Video:

Kreativa Visual

The capital of the longest, narrowest country on the planet has reinvented itself on several occasions. Now cosmopolitan and welcoming, it invites us to discover its past and its and future.\n

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antiago has conquered nature. Its skyscrapers defy the seismic lands, which architects and engineers have striven to tame. Tower 2 of the Costanera Center - which at 62 storeys and 300m high is the tallest building in Latin America - was erected as an icon of this struggle. You will find it in the financial district, endearingly nicknamed Sanhattan (a combination of Santiago and Manhattan), due to the sheer number and height of the new buildings. \n

It seems Santiago wanted to be many different cities to what it is today.

In the distance, the foothills of the Andes take the form of a massive natural wall, separating Chile from Argentina and making the metropolis look tiny in comparison. Similarly, when stood amid the forest of skyscrapers Santiago may seem a vast urban sprawl. But the city has a human side, with visitors invited to lose themselves in its most historic and authentic neighbourhoods. \n

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A tour through the different areas of Santiago reveal the varied styles of a metropolis that is now home to one thid of the Chilean population. Neoclassical buildings from the early 19th century evoke the historic centres of European cities. These sit comfortably alongside more eclectic styles, with both postmodernism and the market economy having left their mark on many of the main neighbourhoods. Alongside all the trends reflected in the façades, city streets and public spaces, Santiago offers exquisite examples of what we might call ‘signature architecture’. Mathias Klotz, Smiljan Radic, Sebastián Irarrázaval and Felipe Assadi and 2016 Pritzker prizewinner Alejandro Aravena are among the most revered representatives of a generation of architects that has positioned contemporary Chilean architecture among the best in the world.  \n

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Photo: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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The Nobel Prize of architecture

Alejandro Aravena (Santiago de Chile, 22 June 1967) was the winner of the 2016 Pritzker prize, considered the Nobel Prize of architecture. The architect is the manager of the group Elemental, whose headquarters are in Santiago, and he was artistic director of the 15th Architecture Biennale, Venice, 2016. His studio's philosophy is to offer real responses to real problems. That is why he is particularly interested in projects involving social impact and public interest, like social housing. Although the prize is for individual recognition, it demonstrates the global potential of Chilean architecture. \n

This continual modernisation of Santiago is also evident in the old centre, which was completely renovated in the early 20th century. It includes a very special feature: a network of indoor passageways lined with shops, which let you traverse the area without having to venture outside. Within this historic heart, unmissable destinations include Plaza de Armas, Casa de Gobierno and a stunning complex of squares, comprising Constitución and Ciudadanía, under which you will find La Moneda Cultural Centre, a fantastic architectural work and venue for a wide range of artistic events. \n

A more contemporary essential stop-off for visitors to Santiago is the Museum District, a complex where a short stretch of four or five city blocks serves to tell the story of Chile over the last century. Here, the Museum District complex plays host to the National Museum of Fine Arts, whose French architect, Émile Jéquier, took inspiration from the Petit Palace in Paris.
 
All of this is set within the Parque Forestal, a green space created to celebrate the first centenary of the Republic which borders the Alameda, Santiago’s most important avenue. Running for nearly 8 km along a dried-out arm of the Mapocho river, the busy thoroughfare is home to the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center, aka the GAM. Built in the 1970s, it was completed in record time through a collaborative volunteer system. It used to house the World Trade Center headquarters, and then became a pet project of Salvador Allende’s government, which earmarked it as a metropolitan cultural center in honour of poet and Nobel prizewinner Gabriela Mistral. During the dictatorship, however, it became home to several ministries, including the Ministry of Defence. In 2006, a fire provided the opportunity to rebuild and return it to its original function. Today, the GAM symbolises the rebirth of Chilean cultural and artistic life, which looks out to the world, while simultaneously embracing and transforming its own history.
 
Cerro San Cristóbal is the main metropolitan park of Santiago de Chile. Not only is it one of the largest in the world, but it is also a raised park. Its lofty position affords views of the entire city, including the many cerros (hills) surrounding Santiago. These include another essential stop, Cerro Santa Lucía, where the conqueror Pedro de Valdivia took refuge and set up his camp.
 
However, we set up our camp at Santiago’s Central Market, the fifth biggest in the world. Since its construction in 1972, it has become one of the city's main tourist attractions. Here you can sample traditional Chilean dishes and products such as picoroco, a crustacean found only on the coast of Chile and which, as Pancho Rojas—worker at one of the many shellfish stalls—insists, is "a much stronger aphrodisiac than love".  \n

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Chilean graffiti capital

Valparaíso is a graffiti fan’s paradise, an open-air museum with sea views. You can go on a guided tour of some of its cerros (hills), like Placeres, Alegre, Baron, Cordillera and Concepción, to discover the different artists and styles associated with this specialist genre of urban art. The traditional multi-coloured façades of Valparaíso have become a giant spray-paint canvas. And not just the buildings, all urban elements are susceptible to being graffitied. What for some is an aesthetic overdose, for others is a lure to enjoy the unique experience of Valpo. \n

Valparaíso: amidst hills and boats 

An hour-and-a-half from Santiago, you will find Valparaíso, a port town under continual reconstruction and a World Heritage City since 2003. It comprises 45 cerros (hills), each with its own name and personality, such as Alegre, which has the colourful houses; Placeres, the most popular among sailors after long voyages; and Concepción, now famous for its graffiti.
 
The structure of Valparaíso is similar to a Roman theatre, though here the stage is the sea. Its vertical, eclectic architecture was created using soil deposits and materials that used to arrive by boat. The early 20th century wooden houses, for instance, were built using Oregon pine and American oak, both used as ballast by the boats that came to load up with Chilean minerals. The sheet metal that encases many of the buildings also came from boat ballast. Even the multi-coloured façades associated with the identity of Valparaíso—or Valpo as the locals know it—are the result of locals making use of leftover paint from the shipping industry.

The lifts and cable cars used to climb the hills are more than a tourist attraction as they still serve their original purpose. While going up in one, you get a sense of the poetry that still envelops the city. It was here that Pablo Neruda wrote some of his best-known verses. At his home, La Sebastiana—currently open to the public—written in green ink, the poet’s favourite colour for his drafts, you learn "so far south are we that we are falling off the map".\n

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Interview - Federico Sánchez

Magazine

Interview

"When undressed, the man doesn’t exist."

This month's passenger

Federico Sánchez

On his television programme, City Tour, and as dean of the Creative Campus, Federico Sánchez teaches us to think about where and how we live.
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Federico Sánchez did not study architecture to become an architect. What really interested him was the architecture itself. The thought that goes along with the form, that coats and inhabits it. “I discovered that architecture was much more valuable and important than constructing a house or building or, in the best-case scenario, a bridge, even though bridges are magical; the wonder, as Heidegger says, of building land where there is none. I enjoy thinking. It is an activity almost on the verge of not being.”\n

He started out studying design, driven by a passion for cars. “The history of 20th century art is condensed into cars,” he claims. “The car is the ultimate expression of the process of democratising art.” His teachers advised him to move into architecture, but he asserts that training is a means of finding our own way, and this is not necessarily linear. “While studying architecture, I was still interested in design and art; I would go to all the etching and drawing classes. I was also interested in philosophy and literature. I wanted to learn, to genuinely learn. I was interested in systematically wasting time, as a commitment, and using that wasted time to open up a path to my self.”
 
These days he serves as dean of the Creative Campus, an academic initiative at the Andrés Bello University, which focuses on architecture, art, design, journalism and advertising degrees. Here he seems to have found the ideal place to coexist with some of his passions, and bring together different creative disciplines in a space for experimentation, creation and innovation.
 
Federico was just 14 when he moved from Argentina to Chile. “40 years ago, they were very different countries. In Argentina, being different was valued, while in Chile, during those years, being different was subject to severe punishment. I had to fight to become who I am.” His current image, so meticulous, elegant and intelligently designed, seems to be the result of different obsessions. It is a manufactured image, through which a truth materialises: “It is the outside that carries the essence of things. I don’t believe our essence is something transparent, on the inside, that I can reveal only at certain moments of enlightenment. It is what is on the outside that carries the essence, and in this sense, it is what structures my story and who I want to be. So, our clothes, our wardrobes, are a fundamental component of us, at an existential level. In fact, when undressed, the man doesn’t exist. The man exists when he is dressed.”\n

It is difficult to make your way through the streets of Santiago de Chile while in Federico’s company. He receives constant greetings, photo requests, and questions about the building he is trying to show us. Our Passenger6A has been presenting a television program, City Tour, for several years now. On the show, he underlines the architectural and urban values of Santiago. Using an informal format, clearly designed to educate, he shows the people of Chile the value of thinking about where and how we live.
 
And they love him. He guides us through the streets of the Museum District, the one part of Santiago he feels cannot be missed. “A series of hotels offering some very interesting services have sprung up here. There are excellent restaurants, entertaining bars and extraordinary nightlife, not to mention excellent art, photography and graphic design galleries. There is superb urban life and real cultural effervescence.” \n

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Federico adores his city and is a real advocate for the the global value of Chilean architecture. “We have a type of signature architecture in Chile that is one of the best in the world: Mathias Klotz, Smiljan Radic and now, Alejandro Aravena, a Pritzker prizewinner. There are numerous Chilean architects from an extraordinary generation who have raised our country’s architecture to among the best in the world. These architects know how to reinterpret a series of modern values and ideals. I would say that what is interesting about our country is that, just as English-speaking nations have embraced the concept of high tech, in Chile we have taken on low tech, and it would seem our architecture achieves marvellous sophistication from this low-tech angle. And that is fantastic.”\n

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Book Passenger 6A Stories

Adventure

Magazine

Adventure

The highway to hell

The Danakil depression, in the Horn of Africa, is one of the hottest places in the world. It has only 60,000 inhabitants, and even fewer who dare to visit it.\n

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he thermometer shows 51ºC at four in the afternoon. The Danakil Desert is known as ‘Hell on Earth’. To cross would be follwing in the footsteps of Rimbaud, who tried his hand as an arms dealer in Africa when he tired of writing poetry.\n

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Under the burning sun, the temperatures reach 63ºC and in summer never fall below 40º. Its climate is a real test of stamina for any ‘faranji’, the name bestowed on foreigners by the locals. Dallol is the volcanic crater located in the Danakil depression and holds the record for the highest recorded annual temperature. Venturing into this inhospitable place requires vital safety precautions. \n

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How to get to Danakil Desert

In order to visit this spectacular destination, you need a permit from the local authorities (which you can get once in the country) as well as hiring a small military escort (a minimum of two soldiers). It’s essential that you hire an all-terrain vehicle including the services of a driver or guide who knows the area well. \n

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Dallol is the volcanic crater located in the Danakil depression and holds the record for the highest recorded annual temperature.

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“Getting stuck with no back-up vehicle, no means of satellite communication or not enough water could become life threatening”, warns one of the guides. Eight people need 500 litres of water. Exploring Danakil in a group is not suitable for everyone, but travelling alone is not even an option. To visit it, you must also be accompanied by a military escort made up of three soldiers, hired to avoid incidents with the local inhabitants along the way.

The Danakil Desert is located in the same depression. It occupies part of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. The surreal nature of the landscape with its vivid colours and unbelievable contrours makes up for the harsh climate. The scenery changes drastically from the virgin white of its salt lakes to the colourful springs of Dallol, the volcanic area. Here, we are at the lowest point of Africa, at 125 metres below sea level. The lakes burn and are a mixture of bubbling oranges, greens, reds and yellows due to the high percentage of sulphide and sulphur, which ifills the air with an intense smell. The roars coming from inside the earth are the only noises that break the surrounding silence.
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The average annual temperature in Danakil is 34ºC. It is classified as a ‘sensitive area’ by the Ethiopian government.

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There are over 30 active volcanoes in Danakil and Erta Ale is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. Its nickname, ‘the gateway to Hell’, is somewhat intimidating, despite being one of the lowest volcanoes in the world, at 613 metres. At sunset, you can climb up to its caldera and see up-close the lava that accumulates in its crater, thereby forming a lake. There are four volcanoes like this in the world and this is the oldest.

Danakil is home to the Afar people, a semi-nomadic tribe of shepherds who live in this underworld. Ali Noor was 14 years old when he started to extract salt for a living. He does so with just a cane and a machete. “Sometimes you just forget the heat” he mutters, as he picks at the earth. When the water from the lakes evaporates, it forms a crust of salt, considered ‘white gold’. Workers cut it into blocks and load it onto camels which is followed by the journey to Berahile, where it is unloaded so that experts can convert the blocks into ingots. These are the salt caravans of the Danakil. The Afar live by repeating these patterns of the past, but it’s their only chance of a future.
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The last eruption by the Erta Ale volcano was in 2009.

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Sleeping under the stars

For experienced travellers and during the cooler months (November to February), there are tours that allow you to visit Erta Ale. You sleep in the open in a campsite at the entrance to the salt desert. You need to hire two vehicles: one as your form of transport and another for your support personnel and equipment. \n

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Getaways

Magazine

Getaways

The clocks go forward in Oporto

A “cool” Oporto has been born. The city with the world’s most venerable “saudade” also has an artistic and “indie” fast beating heart of festivals, art and tapas.\n

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Crafted ‘petiscos’

Portuguese aperitifs, petiscos, are in vogue in Oporto in restaurants such as Caldeireiros that offers a white meat sausage tapa, and Trasca, that offers a choice of aperitifs at prices from 1,50 euros, and Cantina 32, decorated with industrial motifs and offering futuristic servings to be shared. 
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porto heads backwards in time. The first time I was in the capital that gave birth to the future Portugal, it seems to me that everything had ground to a halt in the eighties: the style of print, the asphalt of the city streets, the decoration of the neighbourhood bars. On my most recent visit, we are further back in the sixties: the pace of living, the shops with fresh cod uncovered, exposed to the air, the ladies with their headscarves, and the shops themselves and their wares, selling the likes of mousetraps. With this as a background, it’s a paradox to me to discover a modern Oporto that attracts the young to its Primavera  Sound Festival.

The heart that first pumped modernity into this World Heritage city is in the Serralves Museum. This avant-garde museum, designed in the nineties by Pritzker award winner Alvaro Siza Vieira, has become the symbol of the country’s contemporary art. Sculptures proliferate in the 18 hectares of parkland around the art deco mansion. \n

Other examples of stylish contemporary art that scandalize the outmoded Oporto are: the diamond shaped Casa da Musica by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, or the colourfully decorated houses in the Ribeira district. Another Pritzer prize winner, Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, restored the Alfandego do Porto that houses the Ministery of Transport and Communications and gives access to the modern part of the city. From there, in the streets that surround the Clerigos Church, modern businesses are mixed in with bars, clubs, cuisine d’auteur restaurants, cupcake shops, wineries offering Duero, Alentejo or Dao wines, and boutiques.\n

Photo: SamuelZeller_Unsplash

The colourful facades of the houses in the Ribeira are made of various materiales including tiles, the classic decorative material in Oporto.

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In the Gallery Hostel, “every room tells a story”. The rooms of the main building pay tribute to the different generations of artists of the city.

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Joining in the mix are the small urban markets which, with patient searching, will finally yield a hand-crafted jewel. The Lello & Irmão bookstore, with its Neo-Gothic facade, stands out in Rua das Carmelitas. The Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, has been serving the arts since 1946, and some 4,000 tourists visit there every day. Nearby is BASE, an open-air garden-bar inviting you to lie down and enjoy the Oporto sun.

But the street that best shows off Oporto’s vitality at its coolest is Miguel Bombarda, said to be the street with the most art galleries in Europe. Cafés, workshops, ecological shops, patios, and gardens that overflow with visitors every second Saturday when the galleries inaugurate their exhibitions. Their catalogue includes O! Galeria, focused on Portuguese illustration and drawing; Serpente, where paintings and video-art are displayed, and Quadrado Azul, where we can find collages and photography. The whole area is rich in urban art, graffitti, stickers and mozaics. And there is space for design fashion in the bustling Muuda concept store; for crafted design pieces in the unique Aguas Furtadas; or for an exquisite ritual tea in Rota do Cha, an Asiatic sanctuary spread over three floors and garden in the heart of the original Atlantic capital.
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The heart that first pumped modernity into this World Heritage city is in the Serralves Museum

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Sleeping with art

Of all the hotels in Oporto, the one most fused with art is Gallery Hostel in Miguel Bombarda, an art gallery and hotel in an off beat 1906 building, and regularly used for cultural events. In Rua do Rosario, Rosa et Al Townhouse holds vintage style exhibitions in a homelike settings.
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Beaches

Magazine

Beaches

Bodrum, the Turkish Saint-Tropez

“Paradise of eternal blue”, according to Homer. More than 2,000 years later, there are other reasons why this Turkish port town attracts curious bon vivants and jet setters, who inflate the number of inhabitants each summer.\n

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our mood is your destination”, said Greek historian Herodotus, native of what was then known as Halicarnassus. In modern-day Bodrum, it is the destination that decides your mood, with its lust for life and exuberant madness.\n

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While this town has come to be associated with fun and the most exclusive pleasure, until very recently, it was a fishing village, where dissidents of the then newborn Republic of Turkey buried themselves away. One of those, writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, went to Bodrum in 1925. So enamoured was he that he passed his passion on to a generation of artists and writers, who have not ceased coming to this Aegean domain since the mid-40s.\n

Most visitors come for the climate, magnificent bay and clean waters.

This is what gave rise to the legend of Bodrum, but not to its history. You can still read its glorious past in its stones. Corners like the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the Castle of St Peter, built with the aid of the Order of Malta and which now serves as a Subaquatic Archaeology Museum, are two of its relics.\n

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Several international chains have resorts along the coast, with every comfort.

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However, most visitors don’t go looking for remnants of Alexander the Great’s invasion. They come for the climate, magnificent bay and clean waters, and as a result of the gentrification that has taken place here over recent years. Modern-day fashion archaeologists will find destinations like the most renowned nightclub in the country, Halikarnas, and its posh restaurant, Secret Garden, designed by Jade Jagger; or the Billionaire Club, which Flavio Briatore used to reinvent the standards for elitism and glamour. This club, which has a 700 m² swimming pool, is on a private island, where models, celebrities and beautiful people dance to the DJ’s beat.\n

For shopping victims

100 km north of Bodrum, you will find Kusadasi: a former fishing village and current spa resort, not to mention a stop-off for worldwide cruises, owing to its proximity to the ruins of Ephesus. It is well-known among shoppers for its leather goods, textiles, precious metals, ceramics and jewellery.\n

This part of the Aegean coast is known as the Turkish Riviera.

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Hundreds of tourists flock to Bodrum each day, most of them youngsters looking for entertainment. They invade its beaches, swim by day and, by night, they storm the open-air bistros, nightclubs and bars, on Cumhuriyet and Dr. Alim Bey, where they party until dawn. At Palmarina port, you will find rivals for the latest yachts presented at the Miami Yacht Show, halfway between elegance and the most ostentatious bling. Less affluent lovers of marine sports have the opportunity to rent a schooner for a day, and explore the gorgeous coves and islets along the coast.

The Bodrum peninsula is a collection of stunning beaches with names that foreigners find difficult to pronounce: Bardakçi, Gumbet, Akbuk, Aktur, Bagla, Akyarlar, the list goes on. The one at Ortakent seems endless, while Karaincir has a heavenly feel and its own style of dolce vita. These offer the greatest promise of days of dolce far niente, and lively evenings in the company of those dedicated to glorifying youth and beauty. That is the mood at Bodrum.
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Exclusive Sailing Club

8 km from the centre of Bodrum is Yalikavak, the town’s most exclusive hideaway. It combines the traditional charm of windmills, with the modernity of the sailing port of Palmarina, and an international culinary range. This is one of the real-estate gems in the country, where the villas and attics are the stuff of dreams.\n

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The Castle of St Peter was rebuilt using the stones of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

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Trends

Magazine

Trends

Let nature wash the stress away

If you need to unwind, forget the therapist's couch. In Japan, the best way of beating stress is a walk through the woods with all the five senses on high alert.\n

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llow nature to get into every pore of your skin.” That’s the meaning of the Japanese term Shinrin-Yoku, which is also the name of a therapy practiced by some three million people in across the Land of the Rising Sun. The formula is simple: a walk in the woods and direct communion with nature through all five senses. Listening to the rustle of the leaves, appreciating their colours, touching the trees and stones, breathing deeply and avoiding any outside distraction. No electronic devices are permitted to disrupt this connection. The walk lasts two hours and is sometimes led by a guide. At the ‘finishing line’, a cup of tree bark tea awaits us. It’s for the fifth sense, that of taste.\n

The first of the ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ walks – or Forest Bathing, as it also known – took place over 30 years ago (the term was introduced by the government in 1982). Originally based on Sintoist and Buddhist techniques, only recently have their health benefits started to be recognised: lower blood pressure, reduced glucose levels in the blood and strengthening of the immune system. Yoshifumi Miyazaki, an anthropologist at Chiba University, has carried out the main studies into Shinrin-Yoku.\n

A forest guide with a difference

In addition to organising forest walks, the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy also trains future guides. It’s a one-month immersion course followed by a six-month placement, to be taken in California, Massachusetts, Ireland, Ontario or New Zealand. \n

Nishizawa Valley is part of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.

He collected data from hundreds of people at the end of their forest walks, and in 2011 reported that the therapy could indeed alleviate stress. As he explained: “Throughout their evolution humans have spent 99.9% of their time in natural settings. Our physiological functions are still adapted to them. In our day-to-day life, we can get a sense of wellness if we synchronise our rhythms with those of nature.”

The Japanese Forestry Agency has a network of official Shinrin-Yoku centres in 50 forests, and plans to create more in the coming years to meet the increased demand for forest bathing therapy. The Japanese countryside offers many alternatives that contrast with the hectic rhythm of city life and some businesses encourage their staff to take forest bathing as an antidote to stress.
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Aromatherapy syrup

Aromatherapy is one of the many benefits of ‘Shinrin-Yoku. Some trees give off essential oils is that have many healing properties. In Japan, cypress oil is often used in humidifiers. \n

Photo:Shirakami Sanchi World Heritage_Japan

One of the most popular centres is in Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, located just 90 minutes from Tokyo. As well as its numerous spectacular peaks, the park has the highest concentration of deciduous trees in Japan and is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature. So too is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto. The sound of the wind as it blows through the towering bamboo stalks there has been voted by the country’s citizens as one of the “100 soundscapes that can save Japan”.

And it’s not just in Japan that people are going back to nature for their mental and physical wellbeing. The idea has caught on in the United States, where the practice is being promoted by the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy, founded in 2012. The Association is active in Pensylvania, North Carolina, and California where it organises forest walking days. Likewise in South Korea, not all that far from Japan, short nature retreats are common. The National Forest Therapy Center promotes ecotourism and access to forest areas for a “dip” in the woods. Or, salim yok as it is called by the Koreans.\n

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Forest bathing increases the activity of NK cells, one of the body’s first lines of defense.

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Photo: Sokcho Korea501room_Shutterstock.com

The South Korean Forest Institute endorses the health benefits of forest bathing.

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Culture

magazine

Culture

Walls born to be comic strips

The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Asterix, Tintin… A different way of reading comics does exist: just go for a stroll through Brussels.
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elgium has a famously sweet tooth. It’s no coincidence that Zaventem Airport, just outside of Brussels, reportedly sells more chocolate than any place on earth. But pralines and chocolate are not the sole passions of the Belgians, nor even their only claim to a world record. This small Northern European country boasts the largest number of comic strips per square kilometre, proof of their unconditional love of the ninth art. And, with a route of more than 50 façades traversing the city, Brussels is now paying tribute to leading comic book creators and characters.

Comic strips have a long tradition as an artistic language in Brussels. Their origins are linked to the press, and go back to the early 20th century. In 1929, the first Tintin comic strip was published in Le Petit Vingtième magazine. That is considered the start of the ‘Brussels school’, which would create a tidal wave of cartoonists in the 40s and 50s. From the 60s, characters like Blueberry (1963), written by Jean-Michel Charlier and illustrated by Jean Giraud ‘Moebius’, brought us the bold graphics characteristic of Belgian comics, still used today.

In Brussels, schools, museums and shops that buy, sell and exchange comics, interweave with street murals and galleries, like Petit Papiers, which exhibit the latest trends in the sector. Tintin and The Smurfs have their own spaces at Boutique Tintin and the Smurf Store. Comics, or BD (short for Bande Dessiné) as the graphic novel is known in French-speaking countries, represent more than 80% of turnover for publishers in Belgium. With more than 230 million copies sold, and his tales translated into 100 languages, Tintin is also the most coveted: 2.5 million euros is how much a Chinese ink illustration of Tintin and the Shooting Star fetched at auction.\n

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PHOTO: BRUSSELS©O.VAN DE KERCHOVE

Broussaille had the honour of being the first character to decorate a wall, in 1991.

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Brussels draws its biggest festival

Since 2010, the Fete de la BD Stripfest festival has packed the city’s streets with comicbook fans from all over the world. This leading celebration of the genre involves processions, book signings, workshops and exhibitions. The dates for this year are from 2 to 4 September.\n

The idea of painting façades in Brussels came about in 1991, as an alternative solution for decorating the walls left bare at the ends of rows of buildings. The highest concentration of these murals can be found in the city centre, between Grand Place, the Saint Géry quarter and the Palace of Justice viewpoint. You can come across them by accident or go hunting for them, following an organised route on a map.
If the murals had a homepage, it would be the Broussaille mural (Hergé). The teenager and his girlfriend rule Rue du Marché au Charbon. Retouches were made to the original mural in 1999, to make the character of Catherine more feminine, since both of them were painted with short hair and trousers. Since it is located near the gay district, it was thought to be a male couple.

Just opposite, Victor Sackville, the famous World War I spy, steps out of another time to confront the onlooker. Hergé’s most irreverent characters are the subject of the mural dedicated to Quique and Flupi (Rue Haute). Not many people know that the two young scoundrels appear in a cartoon strip in Tintin in the Congo and another in The Shooting Star.
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phOTO: SKYFISH/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

At Balloon’s Day Parade, comic book giants fly over the city.

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phOTO: BOTOND HORVATH/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

The Belgian Comic Strip Centre, a museum for ‘children’ of all ages.

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The half-metre statue of a urinating child, that Brussels icon known as Manneken Pis, can be found next to one of the most popular murals: Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock (Rue de l’Étuve) descend emergency stairs in a scene from The Calculus Affair. The adorable character Nero (Place Saint-Géry), is looking for problems near Les Halles market. Lucky Luke, and the Dalton gang occupy an entire building (Rue de la Buanderie). In the same street, you will find the mural of Asterix and Obelix, ‘those crazy Gauls’, fighting against the Romans.

Humour in homages to Manneken Pis can be found in the Spike and Suzy, and Cubitus murals (Rue de Flandre). The most adventurous bell-boy around, Spirou, is conspicuous in red, among the second-hand stores of the Marolles quarter.

But the city streets are not the only places to be adorned with illustrations. Frescoes can also be found at Metro stations. For Tintin enthusiasts, Stockel Station is unmissable, with its 140 characters escaping from 22 strips about the best travelled reporter in the history of the comic book.
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Modernist architecture and the ninth art come together at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre. Tintin and the Smurfs have their own rooms. More than 1,500 m2 dedicated to the characters, history and creators of comic strips. The giant rocket from Destination Moon presides over the entrance to this emblematic building, the work of Victor Horta. \n

Destination comic strips

More than 50 façades pay tribute to leading comic book creators and characters

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Top 6A

MAGAZINE

TOP 6A

Looking at life through rose-tinted glasses

As French singer Edith Piaf crooned, there is nothing like seeing “la vie en rose”. Some places take this literally.

Fuji Shibazakura FestivalJapan (Japan)

A colourful rug unfolds at the foot of Mount Fuji in April and May. It is made up of nearly 800,000 pink moss flowers (shibazakura), which bloom at this time of year.

Pink Beach (Komodo, Indonesia)

There is a simple explanation for its colour: a mixture of white sand and red coral pigments. It is located in Komodo National Park, home to the world’s largest lizard.

Coloured Lagoon (Uyuni, Bolivia)

The Bolivian lagoon isn’t always red: during summer in the southern hemisphere, it takes on a shade of pink as a result of the presence of thousands of Andean flamingos. It is their nesting site.

Putra Mosque (Putrajaya, Malaysia)

The building known as the Pink Mosque is visible from almost every part of the Putrajaya river, thanks to its unmistakable dome. It was completed in 1999.

Lake Hillier (Middle Island, Australia)

At 600 metres long, it was first mentioned in the diaries of explorer Flinders in 1802. Its special pigmentation comes from the presence of bacteria in its saline waters.

Jaipur (Rajastán, India)

Pink is the colour of hospitality. That is why the maharajah painted the city pink for Prince Albert Edward’s visit in 1876. Everything from Hawa Mahal Palace to the city walls.

PHoto: Powerbee-Photo / Shutterstock.com

The alternative to the cherry blossom

In the dragon’s den

Pink and red are in fashion

Made of pink granite

A bubble-gum lake

The pink city

Travelbeats

Magazine

Travelbeats

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For Tim Burton fans

The Beetle House, a themed bar in New York, based on films such as ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, is “inspired by all things dark and lovely”. Both the décor and menu are dedicated to his characters and films, so wrap yourself in the Burton universe while trying a ‘This is Halloween’ cocktail or ‘Edward Scissorhands’ hamburger.\n

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A slide for adults

The world’s ‘longest and highest tunnel slide’ is at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London. The installation is 76m high and 178m long, and the descent, full of twists and loops, lasts 40 seconds, during which you get to see a unique view of the city through the plastic-topped sections. Users must be at least 1.30m tall.\n

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Amish for a day

Lancaster (Pennsylvania) is America’s oldest Amish settlement, where people live isolated from modern-day comforts and technologies. This self-sufficient community opens its doors to the world through ‘The Amish Experience’. The VIP tour includes a visit to a farm, a shop selling handmade crafts (cheese, soap, toys, etc.) and a traditional Amish home. Will you be able to survive for a few hours without your smartphone?\n

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Luminous art

Today the dreary basements of the old beer factory in Unna (Germany) house the Centre for International Light Art, the first light art museum in the world. The sound of the machines and the workers has been replaced by the noise of visitors enjoying this visual sight made up of 14 permanent collections and several rooms with temporary exhibitions.\n

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Robotic cabaret

In the Robot Restaurant in the Shinjuku district (Tokyo) you can enjoy a music and colour-filled show while you dine. OK, so there’s nothing strange about that. But everything changes when the protagonists of the show are giant robots operated by women clad in bikinis. For 8,000 yens you can attend one of the four performances offered between 4pm and 11pm.\n

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Bazar

Magazine

Bazar

Ostrich Pillows

Good design and common sense come together in these original pillows from Studio Banana Things, developed by the Kawamura-Ganjavian for people who want to be able to sleep anywhere. Ostrich Pillow Light is more discreet than the version that covers the entire head. Both models are filled with silicone particles to reduce noise.\n

GoTenna portable antenna

This accessory for mobile devices makes it possible to send messages and share locations via Bluetooth, even when there’s no WiFi connection or mobile phone coverage. It’s perfect for excursions and open-air sports. Sold in packs of two.\n

HP Powerup backpack

The backpack hides a 22,400 mAh battery, enough energy for fully charging a laptop, three electronic tablets and 10 smartphones. It’s also padded to protect your gadgets. Cables included.\n

Photo: Off the Road, Gestalten 2015

‘Off the Road’, Gestalten

More and more people are hitting the road to the middle of nowhere, helped by a vehicle that’s at once a bed, kitchen, means of transport and travel companion. This book is a collection of trips that people have made through mountains and deserts in search of peace and adventure. \n

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