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Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018 Issue

Now in our 16th year of publishing, Canadian World Traveller explores the culture and history of worldwide destinations, sharing the adventure of discovery with our readers and motivating them to make their travel dreams a reality. Published quarterly, CWT helps sophisticated, independent Canadian travellers choose their next destination by offering a lively blend of intelligent, informative articles and tantalizing photographic images from our World’s best destinations, cruises, accommodations and activities to suit every traveller's taste.

Now in our 16th year of publishing, Canadian World Traveller explores the culture and history of worldwide destinations, sharing the adventure of discovery with our readers and motivating them to make their travel dreams a reality. Published quarterly, CWT helps sophisticated, independent Canadian travellers choose their next destination by offering a lively blend of intelligent, informative articles and tantalizing photographic images from our World’s best destinations, cruises, accommodations and activities to suit every traveller's taste.

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Greece Malawi Cruise News China Dominica

C A N A D I A N

Traveller

W O R L D

Already 16 Years

Summer 2018

EGYPT

Land of the Pharaohs

Mother of the World

Cleopatra and Horus

Come With Us & See The World!


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Publisher

Michael Morcos

Editor-in-chief

Greg James

Contributing Editor

David J. Cox

Graphic Department

Al Cheong

Advertising Department

Leo Santini

Marketing Department

Tania Tassone

Distribution

Royce Dillon

In this issue we start our world tour in

Colombia and find ‘Love at First Sight’

in the beautiful seaside city of

Cartagena. While in the Caribbean we go

island hopping, first to beautiful Dominica ‘The

Little Island that could’, then to find some

pleasant surprises on the island of Saba. Close

by, we indulge in the color and culture of the

Dominican Republic and then off to Cuba for

some ‘Serendipity in Villa Clara’. Lastly, we

board the newly launched magnificent ‘MSC

Seaside’ ship for more tropical island discoveries.

While still in the Americas, we head on up to

California to drive the wonderful coastal highways

and immerse ourselves in the famous

beaches and warm waves of the Pacific. Still on

the theme of the sea, this time in colder climes,

we embark on another fabulous cruise for an

adventure on the Poseidon Expedition ship that

takes us up to Greenland and beyond.

Next, we jet-off to our European leg. Our first

stop is Spain where we discover the beautiful

and historic town of Granada. In the ancient

lands of Greece we step onto the deck of

another cruise, Celestyal Crystal, who will carry

us to the many beautiful Greek islands to

savour the wonderful foods and indulge in

Mediterranean culture.

Onwards to Africa, where we explore the four

corners of Egypt and the region’s incredible

history, worldly culture and wonderfully diverse

landscape. Heading south, we visit Malawi, the

‘Warm Heart of Africa’, and lastly we enjoy

South Africa and its fabulous Eastern Cape

region.

Heading way east, we find the old quarters of

the ultra-modern Chinese capitol of Beijing. To

cap off our whirl-wind tour we fly down under

to experience the awesome glaciers of New

Zealand.

Happy travels!

Senior Travel Writers:

Susan Campbell

Steve Gillick

Regular Contributors:

Habeeb Salloum

Jennifer Merrick

Natalie Ayotte

Johanna Read

Jasmine Morcos

Olivia Balsinger

Ilona Kauremszky

Mike Cohen

Mathieu Morcos

Gregory Caltabanis

Anne-Marie Macloughlin

Contributors This Issue:

Dwain Richardson

Lisa Sonne

Elisabeth Easther

Disclaimer: World Traveler has made every effort to

verify that the information provided in this publication

is as accurate as possible. However, we accept

no responsibility for any loss, injury, or inconvenience

sustained by anyone resulting from the information

contained herein nor for any information

provided by our advertisers.

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China

Crusing section

37

Destination Features

Cartagena - Love at First Sight 8

Old Beijing Still Throbs With Life 10

Out of South Africa, Exploring the Eastern Cape 12

The Beaches of the Pacific Coast Highway 14

Surprising Saba 32

Life’s a Beach in Zakynthos 34

Destination Egypt 48

The DR - A Colorful, Cultural Caribbean Destination 66

Malawi - “Warm Heart of Africa” 68

Serendipity in Villa Clara, Cuba 70

Dominica - The Little Island that Could 72

Cruise News

MSC Seaside Cruise

Celestyal Cruise

Poseidon Expedition Cruise

Stay & Play - 56

Hollywood

Florida

Granada

Around the World 16


Love at First Sight

Cartagena

Article and photography by Michael Morcos

It is easy to love this beautiful city by the

sea. Sunny hot days, wonderful cuisine,

Caribbean beaches, an exceptional colonial

walled city, welcoming people and the list

goes on. It was love at first sight and the

romance with Cartagena kept on going.

The city was a major port founded in 1533,

located on the northern coast of Colombia in

the Caribbean Coast Region and became the

main hub for trade between Spain and its overseas

empire. Named after Cartagena, Spain,

its history can be traced by various indigenous

people back to 4000 BC. In 1984, Cartagena's

colonial walled city and fortress were designated

a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Carriage ride and Flamenco Show

On our first night, we would take horse carriage

ride throughout the Historic City, which

was a great way to see the old town with a

cooling breeze and wonderfully kept streets,

followed by dinner at El Burlados de Sevilla –

Flamenco Show.

Here you will find a menu inspired by Spanish

cuisine and the only flamenco show in the city

that evokes the traditions and magic of the

Iberian country every night.

We took advantage of the variety of fresh local

seafood, which were combined with the seasonings,

condiments, cheeses and sausages

brought directly from Spain.

Rosario Islands

A one hour boat ride brought us to the Rosario

Islands which was a great change of pace from

the city. The Islands are ideally close to the city

and are a scuba and snorkeling diver’s heaven

with many well-preserved coral reefs and

some wreck-dives to enjoy, scuba divers will

find endless adventures.

There is natural aquarium on one of the

islands, also known as the Oceanarium and is

a great place to visit if you’re not into diving.

With dolphins, sharks, and many more amazing

species, it’s a fun and educational way to

spend some time.

We snorkeled for almost one hour and then

had an amazing lunch. The seafood available

on the islands is fresh and delicious. Our snapper

come directly from a local fisherman and is

sold on the beach.

Speaking of which, the island’s beaches had

crystal clear and refreshing water. The rest of

the day we would lazy around beach chairs in

the shade. But the star feature is definitely the

phosphorescent plankton at the ‘Enchanted

Lagoon’ which, on a dark, star-free night,

glows and shimmers. Swimming with these

creatures is alone worth the trip to the Rosario

Islands.

Old City Tour

We would start our city tour at Castillo de San

Felipe de Barajas that dominants the skyline

and overlooks the harbour. Views and tours

were plentiful and gives many photo ops.

Another interesting stop was the Palace of

Inquisition, an eighteenth-century building that

was the seat of the Holy Office of the

Inquisition in Cartagena which now serves as a

museum showcasing historical artifacts.

The beautiful Customs square and clock tower

is the largest square in Cartagena. It was orig-


inally a parade ground and the mansion where

Pedro de Heredia, the founder of Cartagena,

lived. This is a history buffs dream.

Café Havana

To enjoy the nightlife of the city, there is a no

better place then Café Havana as it has dancing

to salsa music with a ten person band belting

out the rhythms of Latin America. The wonderful

Mojitos were perfect for the moment and

served around a gorgeous horseshoe bar surrounded

by wood-paneled walls and a ceiling

full of whirring fans. It was like a movie set.

Restaurants

Anyone who visits this corner of heaven will be

confronted by a vast array of gastronomical

greatness, and houses some of the best restaurants

in Colombia.

We enjoyed a dinner at Club Pesca which lies

over the San Sebastian Fort, a great outdoor

setting by the waterfront that specializes in

Cartagenian dishes. It serves a fantastic

Colombian grown beef with native ingredients

and has a modern, fresh kitchen.

Our lunch at El Santisimo was sensational. For

more than 18 years this restaurant has offered

little tastes of Caribbean flavor through

provocative recipes influenced by the French

techniques.

In a city perceived for its color, aroma, land

and its people, Candé restaurant typifies the

experience by flooding guests with innumerable

sensations. With live dances every night

and a menu filled with aboriginal influence

and colonial architecture, Candé offers you the

opportunity to enjoy Cartagena with all your

senses.

Colombian Paradise

Destinations just cannot get better than a visit

to Cartagena. This city is filled with fabulous

gastronomy, accommodations for every taste

and budget, wonderful year-long sunshine and

endless miles of sandy beaches. But hurry the

word is out, this little Colombian paradise will

soon be favorite of the masses.

www.colombia.travel

InterContinental Cartagena de Indias

The InterContinental Cartagena de Indias

has an ideal location in the waterfront`s

Bocagrande district, one of the most fashionable

neighborhoods in the city. It is also

located near the Ciudad Amurallada, a

very popular tourist attraction in the city,

with an old town, numerous cafes, museums

and theaters to visit.

It is also just a few blocks from the beautiful

bay of Castillogrande. This area was a

retreat for foreign oil barons in the 1950s,

and is now a meticulously planned district

lined with private clubs and resorts.

A short distance from here is the old town

and its unmatched colonial charm and rich

history. One of the best features is that the

hotel is just a short trip from Rafael Núñez

International Airport making it a great location

to jump right into your vacation.

We were blown away by the great breakfast

buffet filled with colorful exotic fruits and

juices with a wonderful setting overlooking

the pool and beach from the sixth floor of

the hotel. Lunches and dinners are delicious,

filling and well presented. Happy

Hour in the Oceanika Lounge Bar was an

experience itself.

Our well-appointed room had all the creature

comforts one would expect including

satellite TV, Wi-Fi services and wonderful all

marble washrooms with luxurious rainforest

shower. The sunsets were extremely beautiful

from the 21st floor, as were the views of

the ocean and beach, both night and day.

Their spa treatments were also second to

none, and I enjoyed a massage that was

perfect after a day of tourist-ing. We could

also relax in one of the most beautiful

swimming pools in Cartagena. An infinity

design, it offers a perfect way to enjoy a

spectacular sunset on the Sunset Pool

Terrace.

The InterContinental Cartagena de Indias

had all the amenities to make this a comfortable,

convenient and magnificent stay

and in the heart of it all.

www.intercontinental.com

9

Photo: IHG

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


10

Old Beijing Still Throbs With Life

by Habeeb Salloum

“Does Old Beijing still exist?” I thought

to myself as our taxi sped between towering

skyscrapers on the way to our

hotel. The efficient and modern spic and

span Beijing Airport through which we had

just passed, the wide impressive roadways

and the modern skyscrapers all around us

indicated a 21st century city with no signs of

the past. “Has history disappeared in this

city?”, I asked my Chinese acquaintance as

the taxi stopped to let us off at the door of

an ultra-modern five-star hotel. “It’s still

here - just hidden away by this mass of

newly-erected structures. You cannot erase

history! Just visit our Hutongs!” He assured

me.

In the days to come, I found that, as my

acquaintance had indicated, Old Beijing

was still thriving and well. The historic

pagodas, palaces and old courtyard-style

homes are still there, but tightly encircled by

the cement and steel world of our modern

age.

A great deal of the country’s history is also

preserved in the 200 museums that dot this

huge metropolis. City officials are making

sure that the rich heritage of China will not

be demolished and forgotten. The government,

in its renovation of historic landmarks

and development of the museums, is ensuring

that the past will be kept alive as the city

expands.

Beijing is fast galloping into the 21st century

and its days of bicycle traffic have been

replaced by streams of all types of autos;

old pavilions and pagoda spires are

dwarfed by sky-reaching edifices; the ageold

imperial cuisine of the city is being

offered along side the MacDonald’s and

Kentucy Fried Chicken assembly line foods;

old people swap tales over tea while their

children spend their time on the internet;

traditional Chinese music competes with

funk and techno-pop.


Yet, amid this unstoppable transformation,

there still remain many remnants from the

past. Besides the royal monuments, religious

structures and mausoleums, old

Beijing’s history continues in the Hutongs (a

Mongolian name meaning narrow alleyways)

with their 1 million inhabitants - a

reminder of Old Beijing when it was ruled

by Mongolian emperors (1280 to 1368

A.D.).

To explore this part of the city, I joined with

a group of eight travellers, accompanied by

a guide, for a tour by foot and rickshaw of

a part of the Xuanw District of the Hutong

area - once a part of the Outer City of Old

Beijing.

Riding two to a bicycle-powered rickshaw,

we were soon being peddled through the

WT Library Image

narrow streets of the Hutongs. Some of the

pleasure of the tour was taken away every

time that I looked at the young man peddling

our rickshaw. I would think of the men

who, in the past, would pull these rickshaws

and trot like beasts of burden through the

streets. I felt sorry for our bicycle man who,

for a few dollars a day peddled, mostly foreigners,

through the Hutongs.

I turned to my fellow rickshaw passenger,

“Don’t you think that we are no better than

the affluent Chinese or the colonial officials

who rode like this and thought of the rickshaw

men as no better than horses?” He

grinned, “It beats walking!”

Our rickshaws made their way to the home

of Mr. Wong, one of the Hutong’s residents.

The tour officials had arranged for our

group to dine on a traditional home cooked

meal at his home. Now, as we sat around a

table relishing a fine lunch that was prepared

by Mr. Wong’s mother, Madam

Zhang, I felt happy and content - we were

dining on authentic Chinese food.

Every one of the dozen dishes that Madam

Zhang served, ending with a divine dish of

dumplings, were, as the saying goes, ‘finger-licking

good’. For me, her home cooking

easily put restaurant food to shame.

Gracious and generous, always filling the

dishes after they emptied, our hosts truly

made us feel that we were their guests.

Back in the rickshaws and well sated, we

were again on our way. Every few minutes,

the rickshaw would stop and our guide

would explain something about the lives of

those who lived in the Hutongs. He

explained that about 10% of the homes in

the district were privately owned and the

remainder rented from the government at

very reasonable rates.

Our first stroll was to see a home some two

to three hundred years old. The portal of

the house, according to our guide, when first

built would have been at least a foot above

street level. Now, after the street had been

paved over and over again through the centuries,

it was at least two feet below street

level and, hence, is usually flooded during

any heavy rain. “Imagine the housewife’s

agony of cleaning up after every rain storm.

I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes!” One of

the ladies in our group remarked as we continued

our rickshaw journey.

The next stop was a treat. Before entering

the home of Mr. Ien and his wife Madam

Zung, a retired school teacher, our guide

described the old Hutongs’ homes, like the

one that we were entering.

The living quarters of the courtyard-houses

in the Hutongs, like the traditional homes in

Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and

Spain, are built around a courtyard and

could usually house two to three families.

There were no toilets inside the houses, but

there was a communal outhouse for all the

families outside the home. It was a way of

life from the past with some modern modifications.

He emphasized that in the bygone ages the

families living in a home were often relatives,

but today, the rooms were usually

rented to strangers. “Would that not make

easy to have affairs?” A young man in our

group smilingly asked. The guide grinned,

“Perhaps!”

Inside their home, we discussed with our

gracious hosts the advantages and drawbacks

of living in the Hutongs. They both

stated that they loved to live in their home

that the family had owned for many generations.

To them, family ties and friendships

were important - not the material wealth of

the modern city. In the words of Madam

Zung, “We love our home and we also love

to have guests from other countries. This is

why we invite tourists like yourselves to our

home.”

After leaving the pleasant abode of our

wonderful hosts, the rickshaws took us back

to our waiting bus. As I sat back, I reminisced

about the many families still living in

these ancient homes without many of the

modern amenities. The modern world had

encircled them, yet they seemed content.

Old Beijing still was a living city.

www.tourismchina.org

11

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


12

Out of South Africa

Exploring the Eastern Cape

WT Library Image

Article & Photography by Jennifer Merrick

Long before I heard the catchphrase

bucket list, I dreamt of going on safari.

I’d imagine myself driving through the

African plains in an open-air jeep, photographing

lions, outfitted like Meryl Streep in

the movie Out of Africa. Later Robert Redford

would shampoo my hair while quoting poetry…

(Okay, I digress.)

But now, decades later, I finally had the

chance to visit this great continent with a

dream trip to South Africa’s Eastern Cape,

located on the southeastern coast of the country.

Our safari at Amakhala Game Reserve

was magical with sights of graceful giraffes

rambling through the vegetation, so-uglythey’re-cute

warthogs darting about with their

tails up as straight as antennas and even lions

lounging at the edge of the cliff looking into

the sunrise --not to mention monkeys, zebras,

water buffalos, wildebeest and the rhinos.

These animals roamed through some of the

most picturesque landscape I’d ever encountered

with emerald green rolling plains that

dipped into a large basin lined with red sand

cliffs. At the bottom, was the Bushmans River

that wound through even more pristine velds.

(See the Stay and Play section for more information

on the reserve and our accommodation

at Safari Lodge).

Interestingly, as much as the safari experience

lived up to my expectations (with the exception

of the missing Robert Redford head massage),

there was so much more that I didn’t anticipate

on this trip to South Africa. Witnessing

rural village life, discovering a wild coastline

teeming with marine life and hearing so many

different accents spoken in urban centers with

diverse multi-cultural legacies were just as

much bucket list adventures as photographing

the big five.

Touring Mandela’s Childhood Playground

“Some of the happiest years of my boyhood

were spent in Qunu,” wrote Nelson Mandela

in his memoir Long Walk to Freedom. So it

was a thrill to see firsthand where his remarkable

life began on a Nelson Mandela early

childhood excursion with Imonti Tours.

Mandela would have been 100 this year, but

his heroic legacy lives on in South Africa and

throughout the world. In his compelling autobiography,

Mandela nostalgically described

the veldts and valleys of the village, located in

the former homeland of Transkei on South

Africa’s Eastern Cape.


“Nature was our playground,” Mandela

wrote, and what a scenic playground it is.

Greener than I expected, the rural countryside

stretched out hill after rolling hill. Some valleys

were shallow, while others fell deep into

the earth, and I found myself catching my

breath, looking down at the pastoral landscape

dotted with colourful, traditional round

homes, and a river wrapping around it all.

Animals were everywhere, and Velile needed

to be vigilant to avoid hitting the countless

sheep, as well as donkeys, pigs, chickens,

dogs and cattle.

“Cows are the Eastern Cape traffic lights,” our

good-natured guide joked as we came to a

stop yet again to wait for the animals to

saunter oh-so-slowly to the shoulder. Not that

we minded though, since it gave us a chance

to snap pics of the Watusi cattle, which looked

quite dignified with their distinctive long

horns.

As we drove down the bumpy roads, Velile

pointed out significant places of Mandela’s

childhood, like the railway (now in disuse),

where he fled to Johannesburg with his cousin

to escape an arranged marriage.

“I was a romantic,” Mandela wrote in his

memoir. “And I was not prepared to have anyone

select a bride for me.”

Other notable sites included the school he

attended, and of course, his village homes,

both the modern house Mandela had built

when he was released from prison and the

site of his childhood home. They’re not tourist

attractions in anyway –not even a commemorative

plaque, indicating that one of the greatest

heroes of our time once resided at these

very spots.

But Velile brought us as close as possible and

pointed them out. The village of Qunu is in

many ways the same as it was in the 1920s

when Mandela was a child, stick fighting with

his peers and sliding down rocks. An elderly

villager invited us into a Shebeen, a shanty

building, where homemade beer is served,

but we needed to move on and so we continued

down the bumpy, maze-like dirt roads.

“Even Google maps wouldn’t find it,” said

Velile. The picturesque rural landscape captivated

us, and it was hard to resist not getting

out for photo opps at every turn, but it’s time

for our next stop.

ICAMAGU Institute

Dr. Nokuzola Mndende, theologian, founded

the ICAMAGU Institute to educate people

about the Xhosa culture. Many of the approximately

8 million Xhosa people live in this

area, and it’s Mandela’s ethnicity as well. It’s

a fascinating culture, as we found out in the

next couple of hours, starting with a typical

lunch, consisting of samp (maize) and beans,

chicken stew and squash.

Next, we toured the traditional homes, the

same type of round, thatched huts that

Mandela lived in, and Dr. Nokuhzola’s son,

Andile, explained some of the Xhosa’s beliefs,

the core of which embodies a deep respect for

the environment. Andile showed us medicinal

plants, including a ‘dream plant’, and he

demonstrated how the remedy is used.

Kneeling on the floor, he placed the plant in a

wooden bowl full of water and rubbed a stick

between his palms until a frothy broth

appeared.

“You don’t drink the water itself, just the

foam,” explained Andile. “If you’re having

trouble with a dream, it will make it clear.”

His mother, a healer, passed down this knowledge

to him, which is an important responsibility

since, as Andile commented:

“Most youth today aren’t interested in preserving

the culture.”

Nelson Mandela Museum

In Umtata, the largest city in the area, is the

Nelson Mandela Museum, another interesting

stop on our tour. Divided into stages of

Mandela’s life: character, comrade, leader,

prisoner, negotiator and statesman, the exhibitions

encompass photographs and artifacts

from his childhood until his presidency.

Mandela himself opened the museum in

2000, and it’s a fitting tribute to the modernday

hero who dedicated his life to garnering

peace for this beautiful country. Quotes line

the museum’s walls, including one in which

Mandela defines his purpose:

“I will pass through this world but once,

and I do not want to divert from my task,

which is to unite the nation.”

Cultural Kicks on Port Elizabeth’s Route 67

Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape’s capital, is a

laid-back town with a layered history, a thriving

culinary scene and a remarkable coastline.

In town, we found out about Route 67,

an initiative to honour Mandela through

attractions of gardens, murals, sculptures and

other art-based projects, representing the 67

years Mandela spent in politics.

“It’s a journey that celebrates people, heritage

and culture,” said Ntina Khozi our guide from

Lungston Tours.

One compelling installation was a sculpture

showing people lining up to vote on the first

all-race election in 1994.

“Everybody remembers where they were on

that date,” said Khozi.

Raggy Charters Marine Safari

When I imagined my African safari, I certainly

never pictured myself bouncing around in a

boat with waves hitting the bow, splashing us

with the cold Indian Ocean waters. However,

this was not your average African Safari! We

embarked on a marine safari with Raggy

Charters in the coastal waters off Port

Elizabeth in the Algoa Bay, an area that

afforded outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities.

The big five we hunted on this excursion

were whales, dolphins, seals, sharks and

penguins. No sharks or whales made an

appearance, but it didn’t matter a bit because

the penguins stole the show, waddling in a

line going out to the water from their rocky

home on St. Croix Island out to the water.

Located four kilometres offshore, the island

has 22,000 breeding pairs of African penguins,

the largest colony in Africa. Who knew?

It was my first time, seeing a penguin in the

wild, a bucket list experience I never imagined

when I first dreamed of Africa many moons

ago.

www.southafrica.net/gl/en

13

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


14

La Jolla Cove Beach - Kanonsky

You’ll find the most colorful swath of

open road in America along its western

coast. The Pacific Coast Highway is

1,700 miles framed by golden sands and

turquoise waters, bordered by emeralds rainforests

and basalt rock formations, and

capped off with kaleidoscopic sunsets and

indigo night skies. Get ready for the wide variety

of West Coast beaches on an unforgettable

road trip.

Washington

At the most northern edge of the journey is

Washington state, a scenic wonderland composed

of some of the least-touched natural

areas in America.

Lake Crescent offers easy swimming and

access to boats and paddle boards. A sparking

sapphire set amid high-forested mountains

that seem to touch the sky, Lake Crescent

is named for its sickle shape. It is also famous

for its Beardslee trout, a 14-pound fish found

only at Lake Crescent.

Cannon Beach-Irina Silvestrova

Rialto Beach offers sea stacks, tidepools, and

best of all, solitude. Driving nine miles from

WA-110 as it splits west off US-101, you turn

right onto Mora Road to head to Rialto Beach,

which sits, desolate, across the Quillayute

River mouth from La Push. You can walk along

the beach for miles without anyone around.

Oregon

Dramatic and diverse scenery dominates the

shores of Oregon, making it one of America’s

most photographed coastlines.

Cannon Beach is one of the most picturesque

destinations on the coast and it’s home to

ever-popular, photogenic Haystack Rock. Walk

along the long, sandy beach or just enjoy the

view from the door of your beachfront suite;

there are plenty of lodging choices. But no

matter where you stay, Cannon Beach offers

more awe-inspiring views than imaginable,

making National Geographic’s list of “one of

the world’s 100 most beautiful places.”

Oswald West State Park is home to driftwoodladen

and surfer-friendly Short Sands Beach.

The park is south of Cannon Beach where the

scenic coastline rises high above the ocean

below, cutting into the mountains.

Northern California

California’s remote northern coastline showcases

charming coastal towns, breathtaking

seascapes, and strings of towering redwoods,

all leading up to the main attraction-the city of

San Francisco.

The ominous Black Sands Beach is one of the

most amazing and unusual–and

accessible–sights on the Lost Coast. It is composed

of crumbly volcanic rock and runs

along 20 miles south of Ferndale among

Mattole Road. The dark sands of this wide

beach also serve as the south end of the Lost

Coast Trail.

Stinson Beach is a broad 3.5-mile-long

sandy stretch of coastline that’s unusually (for

Northern California) congenial to visitors.

Although it’s as plagued by fog as anywhere

else in the San Francisco Bay Area, on rare

clear days Stinson Beach is the favorite destination

for San Franciscans seeking some surf

and sunshine.

Central California

The scenic coastline between San Francisco

and Los Angeles marries the sparkle of

Southern California beaches with the rolling

green hills and towering forests of the north.

Friendly pets can run free along the 1.5 miles

of soft sand and blue water at Carmel Beach.

Above the beach, the Scenic Bluff Path meanders

through rare Monterey cypress and landscaped

gardens to Carmel Point, offering

spectacular views of the rugged coastline.

Pfeiffer Beach is the best place to watch the

sun set along the Big Sur coastline. In fact,

some of the most dramatic views in Big Sur are

seen at Pfeiffer Beach (accessed via Sycamore

Canyon Rd., about 0.25 mile south of Big Sur)

which is one of the most photographed spots,

especially at sunset.


Hidden on an isolated stretch of CA-1 in Big

Sur, and down an unmarked one-lane road

(Sycamore Canyon Rd.), Pfeiffer Beach is not

the easiest to find, but you’ll kick yourself later

if you miss out on its impressive rock formations,

sea caverns, and unusual purple sands,

and most assuredly if you pass on the opportune

moment to witness the natural phenomenon

at Keyhole Arch.

For breathtaking views of seascapes, wildlife,

and tidepools, stroll the Moonstone Beach

Boardwalk. There are stairs to take you down

to the beach. Although you won’t find moonstone

here, you’ll find plenty of agates, and

possibly jasper and California jade as surfsmoothed

stones.

Southern California

If you’ve ever seen the cult classic film Earth

Girls are Easy, you’ll recognize legendary

Zuma Beach. Malibu’s classic beach party

site, offers surfing, boogie boarding, and volleyball

that fills up fast on summer weekends.

Crystal-clear water (unusual for the L.A. area)

makes it good for swimming. Grab a spot on

the west side of CA-1 for free parking, or pay

a little for one of the more than 2,000 spots in

the beach parking lot. Amenities include a

snack bar, boardwalk, and volleyball courts,

as well as restrooms and showers.

Huntington City Beach, a.k.a. Surf City,

USA, delivers waves, bikinis, volleyball nets,

and a long bike path. It constitutes 3.5 miles

of good surf and a pier in the center of the

beach leads into Main Street, where you’ll find

the Visitor Information Center and Kiosk, as

well as surf shops and rentals, restaurants and

bars. Huntington Beach is home to the

International Surfing Museum and hosts late

July’s U.S. Open of Pro Surfing.

La Jolla’s best beach may be found a couple

north of La Jolla village. La Jolla Shores is a

beautiful stretch of sparkling sand great for

families and beginning surfers. There’s a playground

for small children as well as swimming

and bodyboarding areas designated by

checkered flags. On the other side of those

flags, beginner surfers may find open space to

practice catching rides. More advanced riders

tend to head for the north end of the beach.

On the other side of the cliffs framing the

north end of La Jolla Shores, San Diego’s best

waves curl at Black’s Beach. Unless you want

to paddle the long way around from La Jolla

Shores, you’ll have to carry your board on a

hike down the cliffside trail originating at the

Torrey Pines Gliderport. Though gorgeous, the

cliff-backed beach remains less populated but

the reward is a secluded Southern California

beach backed by sandstone cliffs. You’re likely

to get an eyeful-its seclusion makes Black’s

a popular sunbathing spot for nudists.

Coronado Beach is a gorgeous 1.5 mile

stretch of sand set against the background of

the famous Hotel del Coronado, where lounge

chairs and cocktails are available. The familyfriendly

beach considered among the world’s

best.

When to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

If you’re ready to hit the road (or some waves),

the best time for this road trip is late spring to

early fall, when the weather is best. If you drive

the PCH at the height of the summer season,

expect heavier traffic and crowds.

The Pacific Coast Highway invites many travelers

to the natural beauty of its shores. Pick up

a copy of Moon Pacific Coast Highway from

your favorite bookseller, pack up the car, and

come find out why for yourself.

LakeCrescent - Galyna Andrushko

15

Adapted from Moon Pacific Coast Highway

by Ian Anderson. Copyright © 2018.

Available from Avalon Travel, an imprint of

Perseus Books, a Hachette Book Group

company.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


16

Around The World

(in 16 pages)

Granada’s Alhambra

The Magic of the Thousand and One Nights in Andalusia

Inca Rail Inaugurates

Peru’s Most Scenic Train to Machu Picchu

Inca Rail launched a new Machu Picchu train this March, the

360° Machu Picchu Train. The train offers some of the most

scenic views en route to Machu Picchu, with dome-like high

visibility panoramic windows with built-in UV protection.

The train carriages will be fully interconnecting, freeing passengers

to move between the carriages to an open-air observation

area at the centre of the train. By summer, passengers

will also able to download a GPS-activated app at the start of

their journey, which will provide information on local culture,

history and the passing countryside. An onboard trolley service

will feature local offerings of a light snack or lunch reflecting

the seasons and local regions. The train will carry up to 248

passengers each day on two routes between Poroy and Machu

Picchu, and between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.

www.incarail.com

China Tourism Introduces

New Brand Logo

China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) has made

“Beautiful China” the tag line of its tourism and introduced a

new global brand logo. With an overall look as a stamp, the

new logo integrates modern messaging with the ancient

Chinese art form of calligraphy. The hieroglyph in the background

means “travel” in ancient Chinese language, which shows a flag guiding a couple around.

The blue color represents the sky, delivering China tourism’s concepts - vitality, harmony and

green travel. The red color gives tribute to the Chinese civilization that has been going on for

thousands of years. Illustrating an international vision, the “Beautiful China” logo represents

China’s promising and welcoming tourism industry.

Discover the splendour of the Sultans of ancient Al-Andalus and

experience the magical world of the Thousand and one Nights in the

gardens and patios of the Alhambra. It is one of the most beautiful

monumental sites ever built by man, and Spain’s most visited.

The Alhambra and Generalife together form an impressive monumental

site, built atop a red-coloured hill that dominates the city and

plain of Granada. The Alhambra was once home to the Al-Andalus

Sultans and today it is Spain’s most visited monument. Every year,

millions of visitors come to admire the exquisite beauty of its many

rooms, patios and gardens.

Everything in the Alhambra was designed to reach perfection: from

the ancient “Alcázar”, or military fortress, to the Royal Nasrid Palaces,

decorated in plaster and tile work, with inscriptions from the Koran

that evoke the notion of Heaven on Earth. The famous Patio de los

Leones (Lions’ Patio) or the Cámara de la Sultana (Sultana’s

Chamber) are examples of this poetic architecture that feeds the

imagination.

Besides its intricate decoration, water is a fundamental element, everpresent

and used throughout the site as if it were another architectural

tool. The whisper of fresh water from the Alhambra’s numerous

fountains and ponds create a cool interior microclimate: you will

notice the difference in temperature between this magical site and the

rest of Granada.

Next to the Palaces, on the slopes of the “Cerro del Sol” (Hill of the

Sun) you will find the Generalife. The site is surrounded by intimate

gardens that provide a sense of peace and calm, with an abundance

of different flowers whose scent will overwhelm you. Here it is well

worth taking a moment to sit, rest and enjoy the shimmering tones of

light reflected in a host of water features.

Granada’s Andalusí heritage can also be experienced at the mirador

(viewpoint) de San Nicolás located in the old Moorish Albaicín neighbourhood.

This is the local people’s favourite spot to look out over

the Alhambra, jewel of the Nasrid kingdom. As the sun sets, the palatial

citadel is at its very best, seeming to emerge from the mountainside

– an imposing image, difficult to forget.

www.spain.info

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


18

Good to Go!

Great Travel Gear and Gadgets

Our travel specialists review the best travel gear and gadgets to get you on the go better

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


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to our print issue at

www.americanworldtraveler.com

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C o m e W i t h U s & S e e T h e W o r l d!


20

Intrepid Travel Launches Vegan Food Tours

Creating a More Inclusive Travel Option as Vegan Lifestyle Grows

Three New Tours Will

Spotlight Vegan

Culture in the Most

Celebrated Food

Destinations in the

World

In response to veganism growing at substantial

rates around the world, Intrepid

Travel, the world’s largest adventure

travel company, has just unveiled three new

tours specifically highlighting vegan food

culture in some of the world’s most popular

culinary destinations: India, Italy and

Thailand.

The new tours, departing in 2019, were

developed by Intrepid Travel’s experienced

destination and food product teams, with

insight from a team of vegan influencers

from around the world. Each trip will offer

delicious plant-based food experiences in

their respective locales and include insider

tips on where to find the best vegan eats.

Vegan culture in North America has been

rapidly growing over the past few years.

According to new research by Dr. Sylvain

Charlebois at Dalhousie University, 7.1 percent

of Canadians now consider themselves

vegetarian, and 2.3 percent consider themselves

vegan. British Columbians are at the

forefront of the movement, with the 2018

research showing that nearly 40 percent of

British Columbians 35 and under say they

follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.


According to TripAdvisor, food tours are one

of the fastest-growing experience categories

on the travel booking site, with Canada

boasting a 594 percent increase in 2017.

Similarly, Intrepid Travel noted a record 28

percent growth in North American bookings

on its food-themed trips in 2017.

“Whether you eat a vegan diet, or just want

to test the waters, this new line of vegan

adventures will offer authentic culinary

adventures and experiences you’ll only discover

with an Intrepid local leader. Food

travel is here to stay, and it’s our responsibility

as a leading travel company to provide

a range of offerings that can suit all tastes

and lifestyles,” said Neil Coletta, Brand &

Product Manager, Food Tours, Intrepid

Travel.

To cater to this growing market and offer

more variety in its culinary tours, Intrepid

Travel has designed its new line of vegan

food tours in destinations that are already

known for their culinary scenes. The three

new tours include:

India Vegan Food Adventure

This culinary adventure to Dehli, Jaipur and

Agra showcases why this corner of the subcontinent

is one of the greatest places in the

world for vegan travelers. The itinerary ventures

far beyond the masala dosas and veggie

samosas of the high street cafes and

includes vegan cooking classes and visits to

iconic sites like the Taj Mahal.

Italy Vegan Food Adventure

In a country known for its cheese, meats and

pizza, Italy is also where some of the world’s

most progressive and innovative vegan food

experiences can be had. Venturing from

Venice to Rome, highlights of the trip include

a dinner in Venice’s first vegan restaurant, a

farm-to-table vegan feast and two nights in

an all-vegan villa in Tuscany.

Thailand Vegan Food Adventure

Home to some of the world’s most flavorful

cuisine, this tour will highlight the legendary

and vegan-friendly cuisine of South East

Asia, with activities such as a palm sugar

demonstration at Tha Kha floating market

and preparing a vegan meal under the

guidance of a local during an authentic

homestay in Chiang Mai.

“While we recognize that it’s not realistic for

everyone around the world to adopt a

vegan lifestyle, as a responsible travel company

that values purpose initiatives and sustainability

in all aspects, we feel it’s important

to encourage and celebrate vegan cultures

and practices around the world as one

way responsible travelers can help save our

planet,” said Leigh Barnes, Chief Purpose

Officer, Intrepid Travel.

www.intrepidtravel.com/vegan-foodadventures

About Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel is a global adventure travel

company that has been taking travellers off the

beaten track to discover the world's most

amazing places for 29 years. The company

offers more than 1,500 trips in more than 120

countries and on every continent. Every trip is

designed to truly experience local culture - to

meet local people, try local food, take local

transport and stay in local accommodation. A

world leader in responsible travel, Intrepid’s

award-winning tour leaders, small group sizes

and included activities mean they offer travellers

great value for money.

www.intrepidtravel.com

21

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


New Zealand’s Gorgeous Glaciers

Cool Since the Beginning of Time

by Elisabeth Easther

Franz Josef Glacier, Photo: Fraser Clements

Some of the world's most accessible

and majestic ice formations are in

New Zealand, home to more than

3,000 glaciers.

There’s something undeniably impressive

about glaciers, bodies of ice so dense that

they’re constantly shifting under their own

enormous weight. Understandably, adventurers

are drawn to their beauty, travelling on

foot, by ski, or buzzing above them in helicopters

to steal a glimpse of nature’s majesty.

South Westland’s World Heritage Jewel

The bulk of New Zealand’s glaciers can be

found inside the 2.6 million-hectare World

Heritage Area known as Te Wahipounamu.

Comprised of four national parks –

Aoraki/Mount Cook, Westland Tai Poutini,

Mount Aspiring and Fiordland – this picturesque

wonderland is home to outstanding

glaciers, snow-fed rivers and air so pure you

wish you could bottle some to take home.

Admire Tasman Glacier by Boat

Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s largest, and

one of the few accessible glacial lakes on

earth where you can watch icebergs float

around you. Rugged up warmly, visitors set off

from Mount Cook Village before zipping

across the surface of the lake in custom-made

boats. Keep your eyes peeled for giant bodies

of frozen water as they fall from the glacial

face in a process know as “calving” while your

guides explain how these extraordinary formations

came to be.

Tasman Glacier, Photo: Glacier Explorers

Plane Sailing on Ice

Mount Cook Ski Planes’ founder Harry Wigley

started flying tourists around Aoraki/Mount

Cook and over the glaciers in the 1950s.

Necessity led him to invent a special

retractable ski that allowed planes to take off

from the airfield and land on the snow. The

company still takes tourists to the pristine

Southern Alps, Tasman Glacier and

Hochstetter Icefall. Choose to land on snow or

glaciers, or pick the more affordable but

shorter scenic flight option. If you’re fit and

feeling adventurous, the possibilities include

skiing, ice climbing and snowshoe adventures.

High Hopes with Fox Guides

Heli-hiking on Franz Josef Glacier is an experience

to treasure forever – an outing that

includes a helicopter ride and a three-hour

guided hike through this land of towering

peaks and ice of alpine blue. If you’re on a

budget, the Fox Trail Terminal Face Walk is an

easy two hours (complete with a chance to

check out the glacier’s “snout”) accompanied

by a guide who’ll share Maori legends and

scientific facts.

Sky’s the Limit

For pure perspective and eye-popping

scenery, little beats seeing glaciers from

above. Not only does a flight across Tasman,

Franz Josef or Fox glaciers give unparalleled

views of these natural wonders, you’ll also

understand how these masses of ice have

carved out spectacular glacial valleys. An Air

Safaris Grand Traverse scenic flight takes in

all three glaciers, as well as Aoraki Mount

Cook National Park, brilliant azure lakes, and

the spring and autumn colours of the vast

alpine sheep stations. Operating from Tekapo

or Franz Josef, the wings of the aircraft are

fixed above the windows to allow for maximum

viewing.

www.newzealand.com


24

Copious Commendations for Copa Airlines!

by Steve Gillick

The measure of any airline hinges on

three key factors:

Convenience refers to the network of destinations

that the airline services.

Customer Service relates to the ease of working

with the airline to book the flight, reserve

the seat, facilitate any necessary changes,

and even extends to how clients are greeted

at the airport check-in and then on the flight

itself.

Reliability is the factor that often determines

whether a client will return to the airline. Did

the flight take off and land on time? Was the

flight comfortable with satisfactory in-flight

service, entertainment and with pleasant

flight attendants looking after both comfort

and safety?

Happily, I can report that my first flights on

Copa passed the ‘three factors’ test and even

exceeded expectations. On two successive

business trips to Panama I learned that I

could fly direct from Toronto Pearson

International Airport to Tocumen

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018

International Airport in Panama. Tocumen is

Copa Airline’s “Hub of the Americas” as it

connects passengers with ongoing flights to

31 countries in North, Central and South

America, as well as the Caribbean.

My flights left exactly on time, and I later

learned that Copa has won the FlightStats

Award as “Latin America’s Most On-Time

Airline”, five years in a row. It was also

named in 2018 as “the world’s fourth most

on-time airline” by OAG (Official Aviation

Guide of the Airways). In fact, Copa Airline’s

91.69% on-time reputation has also garnered

a few other awards including “Best

Airline in Central America and the

Caribbean” (Skytrax), “Leading Airline in

Mexico and Central America” (2014 World

Travel Awards), and “Best Airline in South

America” (2018 On-Time Performance

Service Awards).

As far as the ‘Reliability’ factor, Copa Airlines

exceeded my expectations with courteous and

prompt responses during the booking

process and then ultra-friendly greetings by

the staff at the airport check-in at both

Pearson and Tocumen Airports. On the flight

itself, the service was commendable: comfortable

seats (in economy!), an offering of

the latest current movies (some still playing in

movie theatres) and the food and beverage

service that began shortly after the plane

reached flying altitude.

Copa Airlines uses the Boeing 737-800 for

the 5 hour and 42 minute flight from

Toronto’s Pearson Airport (and only 16 minutes

longer from Montreal’s Trudeau Airport).

The Airline joined the Star Alliance in 2012

and partnered with United Airlines to offer

the Mileage Plus Frequent Flyer Program. In

2015, Copa Airlines launched its own

“Connect Miles” program. Two years later,

the airline celebrated its 70th year of operation.

The other side of flying with an airline is to

learn a bit about how they treat their staff. In

the airline’s Corporate Social Responsibility

statement, Copa acknowledges their 9500

employees and the fact that 72% of management

openings have been filled internally.

The airline boasts benefits such as corporate

wellness programs, scholarship programs for

the children of employees, free health and

immunization services, while the “You Make a

Difference” program acknowledges outstanding

employee contributions where those

recognized get to visit the Boeing Factory in

the U.S. and welcome one of Copa’s new airplanes!

Flying Copa was a new experience for me but

one that will be repeated in the future with

return trips to Panama as well as connections

to other fascinating destinations in Central

and South America.

www.copaair.com


26

Going Further With

Turkish Airlines

Glowing reviews and exceptional

food are the order of the day for

this up-and-coming airline!

Part of the Star Alliance network, Turkish

airlines (THY) offers service to Canadians

from Toronto and Montreal, and connections

to destinations all over the world

from their hub in Istanbul.

Building on their international reputation,

THY has been climbing the ranks as a top

provider and doing very well in Canada.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018

With 200 destinations, and adding new

ones at a rapid pace, THY welcome travellers

with smiles and a friendly hello,

though often with a charming accent!

To help them usher in this growth, THY

has a massive, world-class training center

in Istanbul with numerous simulators.

Pilots, flight attends and support staff are

all trained well and are ready to go after

their courses are done.

Their aircraft include A330s, A340s,

B777s, B737-800s and B727-800s, all

well maintained and laid-out with the customer

in mind. Each section is designed

with creature comforts taking front and

centre. The seats throughout the plane are

comfortable and the facilities are kept

impeccably clean and organized. Most

Business Class passengers can expect

either fully lie-flat seats or angled lie-flat

seats that brings relaxation to a higher

level.

Comfort Class is Turkish Airlines' premium

economy section is highlighted by slightly

larger seats configured in two-by-three-bytwo

rows, a large video screen and entertainment

system with an iPod outlet and a

laptop power outlet for each seat.

Even passengers traveling in Economy

Class can enjoy an above average trip, as

all passengers enjoy the famed THY complimentary

meal. Though multi-course

meals are provided in Business Class on

extended range flights, all passengers are

treated to the award winning food served

on board. Considering that THY deals

with one of the world’s biggest (maybe the

biggest) catering service and are partners

with Do & Co., there is no surprise in the

quality THY can offer!

www.turkishairlines.com


28

The Top 7 Luxury Gold Experiences in India

As preparations are already

underway for next year’s Holi

Festival celebrations, Luxury

Gold wants travellers to get the most out of

the vibrant people, spirituality and cultural

kaleidoscope of India. With that in mind,

here are the Top 7 Luxury Gold experiences

that take place in the inimitable India with

an emphasis on local cuisine and wellness.

Leela Palace Udaipur

Called Udaipur’s only modern palace hotel,

Leela Palace is an exquisite stop on this journey.

Rated the #1 hotel on TripAdvisor in

2017, the 5-star accommodation offers

guests sumptuous suites with stunning views

of Lake Pichola, an artificial fresh water lake

created in 1392 AD. For weary travellers,

the hotel’s award-winning spa offers a

unique fusion of Ayurvedic and European

therapies to relax and restore the entire

body. From high quality skin care products

and oils to revitalizing seaweeds and

cleansing muds, every desire will be well

taken care of. Imperial Rajasthan Tour

Nahargarh Ranthambore Hotel

Nestled in the foothills of the spectacular

Aravalli Range, the 5-star Nahargarh

Ranthambore Hotel is a deliberately magnificent

place to spend a night or two (if you

can manage to make yourself leave, that is).

Built like a traditional Rajput hunting retreat,

the Ranthambore more so resembles an

extravagant 16th-century palace from a

fairy tale. Complete with three outdoor

swimming pools, sprawling Mughal-style

gardens, and rooms with individual court-

yards and private terraces with stunning

views of the National Park, this hotel is luxury

personified.

Essence of India with Ranthambore Tour

Baradari Restaurant – Jaipur

Designed by Delhi-based architect Ambrish

Arora and his team at Studio Lotus, Bardari

Restaurant has only been open for two

years, but has still amassed a reputation for

traditional and authentic cuisine that

delights the palate. Alongside delectable

dishes like Laal Maas with baati and pan

seared kasundi fish are choices for international

travellers like pesto pasta and pearl

barley risotto. Located at the City Place, a

museum housing an amazing collection of

works, the sights, sounds and smells of

Baradari Restaurant will never disappoint.

Essence of India with Ranthambore Tour


of the Taj Mahal sit majestically, the ultimate

backdrop for an unforgettable moment on

an unbelievable journey.

Imperial Rajasthan Tour

29

High Tea at Sukh Niwas – Jaipur

This VIP experience, available only to Luxury

Gold guests, sees guests enjoying a High

Tea in the private elegance of Sukh Niwas,

Jaipur’s City Palace. This grand tea time

transpires in a space of pure opulence, with

artwork and fantastical architecture everywhere

you glance. Most illustrious is the

renowned Lalique Peacock table made to

order for the Royal Family of Jaipur by the

world-famous artist Marc Lalique. Found in

a gilded room decorated with walls

adorned with gold work from over 200

years ago, the Lalique table is surrounded

by other stunning pieces of royal memorabilia

making this High Tea a once-in-a-lifetime

experience. Imperial Rajasthan Tour

Fairmont Jaipur – Jaipur

The 5-star luxury Fairmont Jaipur has an

entire vacation’s worth of experiences all

located on its own glorious site. From hot air

balloon rides to hiking through the famous

Aravalli hills, any incredible experience

guests can hope to have while in India is

attainable once they check in to this opulent

hotel. The jewel of the Fairmont might well

be the spa, a sanctuary offering a range of

therapeutic and rejuvenating massages

including traditional Indian massage. A host

of delectable restaurants can be found serving

authentic cuisine that will delight even

the pickiest eaters. ZARIN, the hotel's signature

restaurant, serves amazing Indo Persian

dishes, while ZOYA prides in offering a dedicated

menu featuring authentic Rajasthani

cuisine. Everything at the Fairmont Jaipur

from the rooms and food to the excursions

and wellness offerings will truly amaze

guests. Classical India with Nepal Tour

Rooftop Tea & Pakoras with Views of the

Taj Mahal – Agra

A breathtaking view has the ability to elevate

any dining experience, but something

about enjoying a refreshing cup of tea with

the dazzling Taj Mahal resting in the horizon.

Sitting on a rooftop in Agra, guests will

have the chance to taste an authentic India

favourite, pakoras, vegetables dipped in a

spicy batter and deep fried to make fabulous

fritters. In the distance, the iconic dome

Mughal Chamber Hotel – Agra

Sprawled over 35 acres of luxurious gardens,

and near the Taj Mahal, the Mughal

Chamber, a luxury hotel in Agra, is a fitting

tribute to the great Mughal builders of the

past. Comprised of 233 luxurious suites,

guests can enjoy Indian hospitality while

enjoying the opulence of an expansive room

whose doors open into a private wading

pool. The wellness and health spa is almost

10,000 square feet, surrounded by fountains

and courts full of greenery, with two

swimming pools and 43 spa treatments. A

popular treatment is the Himalayan Clay

Body Envelopment, a 90-minute escape that

detoxifies, purifies, heals and tones.

Classical India with Nepal Tour

www.luxurygoldvacations.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


30

Tropical Tidbits

by Sue C Travel

Bopping Around Isla Bonita

Belize has been on my bucket list for a long

time, so I jumped at the chance to visit a

brand new resort hotel development there

recently called Mahogany Bay Village- a

Curio Collection by Hilton- it’s the newest

destination within a destination complex to

be built on Ambergris Cay- Belize’s most

touristic island. (See feature in next Stay and

Play fall edition on Mahogany Bay Village.)

The best way to get to Ambergris Cay and its

capital of San Pedro aka “Isla Bonita” is via

Tropic Air from Belize City. It’s a fabulous little

airline, the flight takes around 20 minutes

and the views are spectacular. San Pedro

streets are a crazy colorful mélange of golf

carts - the preferred mode of transportationscooters,

bikes, a few taxis and trucks… and

the main roads have a gazillion hidden

speed bumps, so bouncing around facing

backwards in the golf cart was more like a

carnival ride than a town tour. Aromas

ranged from funky to fragrant depending on

what you’re passing, and the whiffs of fried

fish and seafood also assault your senses as

you drive by the multiple food stands and

restaurants. We didn’t spend a lot of time in

town but we did dine one night at landmark

Elvi’s Kitchen famous for its seafood and

Mayan feasts, it’s a must try when there.

Visit: www.elviskitchen.com

Did I swim with sharks on purpose?

You better Belize it!

Sadly, I did not have a chance to fly over the

big blue hole that Belize is famous for, but I

did get to try the second most famous pastime-

snorkeling in Shark and Ray Alley. I

thank the folks at Mahogany Bay for arrang-


ing our tour with Felicity Sailing; we adored

our little luxury catamaran with its great crew.

This vessel is ideal for small groups. Now

about those sharks.

A portion of Hol Chan Marine Reserve set

upon the second largest coral reef in the

world- was once an area where local fishermen

would clean their catch. The marine life

soon figured out that boats mean free lunch,

so nurse sharks and stingrays began frequenting

this area en masse. After fishing

was banned and the marine park established,

snorkel tours began to go there. Some

of the tour operators throw in a bit of chum

to attract the sharks (our boat did not,) but

they don’t need much encouragement. They

make a beeline for every newly arrived boat.

I wasn’t really afraid of swimming with this

type of shark, I’ve encountered them before,

and as our captain said, the worst you can

get is a big hickey as they suck in their food

like high-powered vacuum cleaners- they

don’t bite it outright. But with a frenzy of them

circling right beneath my feet I must admit I

was a tad intimidated. But then I saw three

magnificent rays waiting below and I decided

it was worth it. It was. And once we swam on

to the reef I actually forgot about them as we

explored the gorgeous healthy coral awash in

colorful tropical fish. On the way back however

I suddenly found myself smack dab in

the middle of over a dozen sharks!

Thankfully, they simply parted like the Red

Sea so I could pass through them without

incident. That was pretty cool. Later, we

stopped at Caulker Key for lunch and we

were joined by a pod of dolphins on our

return sail! It was an absolutely perfect day at

sea. If you go to Belize, this it is a must do

experience. It’s really not scary at all.

Visit: www.felicitysailingbelize.com

Puerto Rico Is Rising Like a Phoenix

Contrary to what some might think, the

tourism infrastructure of Puerto Rico has

bounced back big time. My insider sources

have confirmed that the port, downtown San

Juan and the Condando areas are more than

ready to receive visitors. The beaches are in

great shape and the majority of the major

hotels have reopened, and a brand new

resort Serafina Beach Hotel just opened in

March! The downtown core is abuzz with

music and nightlife, and the historic attractions

are welcoming all. The only major natural

attraction still not open to the public yet

is the El Yunque National Forest.

Miami public relations executive Maite Velez-

Coutu visited her family there recently, and

she says, “Actually I was very pleasantly surprised

at what good shape things were in.

Nature has done its job, and all the green

beauty is back. It’s still a bit ragged around

the edges in some parts- but the island is

absolutely ready for visitors. I was also VERY

excited to see a younger generation of entrepreneurs

popping up and pushing forward

in places like Calle Loíza and

31

Santurce. They’ve been busy opening

cool new restaurants, trendy bar and shop

concepts and areas that were not a ‘must

visit’ destination now have new life. That

bodes very well for the island’s future!”

So plan your visit to beautiful Puerto Rico

now, they are eagerly waiting for you.

Visit: www.seepuertorico.com

Amstar DMC –Terrific Tours & Transfers

As a frequent female solo traveller I’m often

asked about my concerns for safety, especially

in foreign countries where I don’t speak the

language. It’s a fair question, but one thing

I’ve learned is to find a reputable tour and

transfer outfit that you trust, and use them

whenever you can. I found such a company

in AmstarDMC. I always check to see if they

are operating where I am going, and I have

used them all over Mexico, in Jamaica, Costa

Rica and in the Dominican Republic. They

also operate in Hawaii. I find it worth paying

a little more than grabbing a local cabbie to

be assured of safe, professional reliable

transfers from the airport to the hotel or from

region to region. I also use them to book my

excursions, because they vet their sub-operators

well and use only the most reliable and

safety conscious outfits. I have booked amazing

experiences with them like whale shark

snorkeling in Cancun, rainforest tours in

Costa Rica and ruins tours in Tulum. My most

recent excursion with them was a cool swim

in a bioluminescent bay at night in Falmouth

Jamaica. It’s called luminous lagoon and the

water was warm as bath water and the effects

of the glow in the dark waves surreal. I highly

recommend them.

Visit: amstardmc.com

Award-winning travel journalist

Sue Campbell is based in Montreal but makes it

her business to be on top of everything cool, hot,

and new under the sun throughout the

Caribbean and Latin America.

World Traveler welcomes her as a

regular columnist.

Follow her on

Instagram and Twitter @suectravel

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


32

Surprising Saba

by Susan Campbell

Photo by Saba Tourism

An abrupt arrival

I am a tad white-knuckled as our tiny

Winair prop plane readies for landing after

its ten- minute flight from St. Maarten. The

apprehension comes from the knowledge

that at a mere 1,300 feet, the runway at

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is one of the

shortest on the planet, and it abruptly ends

on a cliff perched over the sea! We hit the

ground with a small thud, fishtailed a bit,

and then stopped cold, much to our collective

relief. This is one of the only ways to get

to Saba. The other is a ferry from St.

Maarten, but it can be a rough passage at

times, so if you are prone to seasicknesstake

the plane.

Saba (pronounced say-beh) rises out of the

Caribbean Sea like a giant Jurassic turtle,

ascending from the ocean’s depths with

jagged volcanic cliffs crawling up into

emerald slopes and culminating in an ethereal

white halo of cloud forest at its highest

peak. It’s a Dutch Caribbean island- once

part of the now dissolved Netherlands

Antilles- and now a special municipality of

the Dutch kingdom. But unless you’re an

avid diver or hiker, you’ve probably never

heard of it. And that’s a shame, because

it’s full of surprises. And it’s one quirky little

rock.

Photo by Saba Tourism

Photo by Sea Saba


Surprising first impressions

The first surprise is the road. And that’s

what they call it “The Road”, though it’s

officially named after Josephus "Lambee"

Hassell the Dutch engineer who built it

despite great odds. In fact, it was called

“the road that couldn’t be built.” And it’s

easy to see why.

Tightly coiled like an asphalt snake, the

road winds around to the top with an

impossibly vertical tilt. Visitors are best to

take a local cab because this road is no

easy drive. Along the way you can look

down on ”The Bottom” – a checkerboard

tablecloth of uniform white houses with red

roofs nestled in one of the rare valleys. But

this is not really “the bottom” of the island;

the port area is the lowest part of the

island. Some say the name came from the

Dutch word for bowl, which makes more

sense given that this settlement is actually

halfway up the mountain! Then you continue

the climb to reach the “top” settlement

which is called Windwardside, and that’s

where the majority of commerce, dining,

culture, and accommodations are located.

At every turn you can see how hard it must

have been to eke out an existence on this

rocky vertical outpost. Though the volcanic

soil is lush and fertile, which makes for

growing sustenance fairly easy, getting

things from the sea to the hillside communities

was very hard. Though you can take

a hike down to see it, the view of “The

Ladder” from the sea gives you the best

perspective on the sheer magnitude of difficulty

that they were up against. The ladder

is a steep set of 800 steps carved right into

the rock from the sea cliff where the ships

would unload cargo. “Butlers” would handcart

the goods straight up to a small customs

house which is actually still standing

there. Think pianos, mahogany furniture,

and the materials needed to build the huge

stone church at one of the island highest

peaks called “Zion”. The goods then had to

be transported by man and mule through

difficult winding trails up to their destination.

So one can understand why Zion was

renamed “Hell’s Gate”. But Sabans are

known for their grit and determination, and

they found all kinds of ways to create a selfsupporting

little nation out of this unforgiving

tropical outpost.

Pastimes and pleasures

Hiking is one of the main draws here, there

are many trails, but the most famous is the

1,000 plus steps up to the 2,877 ft. summit

of Mt. Pleasant. A guide is highly recommended

for all hikes and you can get all

the information at The Trail Shop in

Windwardside. Diving is also a very popular

pastime; the waters surrounding the

entire island are a protected marine park

and full of resplendent marine life and

underwater mountains. I am not certified

yet, so I opted for the snorkel trip with Sea

Saba. I especially enjoyed swimming with

the sea turtles. I saw over a dozen juveniles

that come to the shallow area they call “the

nursery”. It was an enchanting trip.

Dining on this island is also delightful. The

specialty being the Saban spiny lobster,

and their locally made Saba Spice Rum is

out of this world. (The recipe is a secret

handed down through the generations.)

Saba is also a very arty island, with the

most famous artist being Heleen Cornet

who has shown internationally. You can see

a lot of her work in the Five Square Gallery

in Windwardside. You’ll also find a few

museums in Windwardside, and the archeological

foundation SABARC at the

Heritage Centre gives guided history walks.

Visitors can also learn how to make glass

bead art with workshops at Jobean Glass

Cottage, and you can also watch the Saba

lace ladies at work at Kakona arts shop

Thursday afternoons. This unique lacework

was once one of the island’s most important

exports, and you can purchase lace

souvenirs at the island’s little gift shops.

And the Jewel Cottage has a seriously

impressive collection of fine handmade

pieces using gems from around the world.

More surprises

Another surprise you might note is that

almost every house has a graveyard in the

garden! The island has been populated

with many Irish and Scottish

33

settlers, and the tradition of keeping their

dearly departed close to home seems to

have stuck there. Also surprising is that this

tiny island boasts an extremely highly

regarded academic institution that attracts

international students. The Saba University

School of Medicine has garnered numerous

accolades for its very high standards.

But for me the biggest surprise of all was

the karaoke!

Every Friday night, Scout’s Place is the

place to be for state-of-the-art equipment,

a library of thousands of songs in multiple

languages, and special effects like smoke

machines- it’s a karaoke lover’s heaven.

And it’s very competitive! Each fall they

crown the annual “Sabaoke Idol” winner

with pomp and circumstance, so better

bring your A game because these singers

are in it to win it!

Where to stay

Most of the hotels are cozy cottage style

affairs, except the more upscale Queens

Gardens and some very unique boutique

properties like Spyglass Villa on a cliff, and

Villa Orchid, which is awash in over 200

species of those fragrant flowers. The

Pyramid House is also a boutique villa

rental, ideal for yoga retreats with a meditation

circle ensconced in nature. Then

there is Convent Cottage with its amazing

interior décor. Once a small home for

Dominican nuns- it’s a two-bedroom rental

house chock full of incredible antiques and

special finds personally curated from

owner Mark Johnson’s world travels.

I stayed at Julianna’s Hotel; I loved the view

from my charming little cottage overlooking

the lush cliffs to the sea, and their

“Tipsy Goat” pool bar there is also popular

spot for local happy hours. I was not there

long, but I found a stay on Saba to be

indeed like a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to

see why the island is dubbed “The

Unspoiled Queen” of the Caribbean. It

truly is.

www.sabatourism.com

Photo by Saba Tourism

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


34

Life’s a Beach in Zakynthos

Article and photography by Gregory Caltabanis

Zakynthos has gained notoriety in

recent years and is beginning to top

travellers’ wish lists across the globe

- and for good reason. Off the eastern part

of the Ionian sea, Zakynthos finds itself well

positioned to accommodate all globetrotters

wishing to take in Greece’s beauty and

many wonders.

Famous for its white sand beaches and

deep blue waters, Zakynthos - also known

as Zante - is an ideal hotspot for tourists

looking to relax with their significant others.

Despite the island’s many attractions and

sightseeing opportunities, its most famous

landmark is undisputedly the Navagio

beach. Only accessible by boat, the

Navagio is a cove located on the northwest

shore and is surrounded by high cliffs,

offering tourists some much needed exclusivity.

The Navagio is also known as the

Shipwreck beach after a freightliner in

1980 - the MV Panagiotis - was abandoned

there. To this day, the ship remains buried

in the beach for all its visitors to see, highlighting

its illustrious past. Over the years,

it’s also been rumoured that the MV

Panagiotis was smuggling contraband such

as cigarettes and wine before crashing into

the cove. As a result, the locals gave the

Navagio one of its most famous yet more

unknown nicknames: Smugglers Cove.

As the Navagio is secluded by nature due

to its cliffs, tourists are unable to go on their

own and an excursion is required. The tour

itself costs 30 euros a ticket, which is a

decent fee considering that it gets you there

and back. After a thirty minute bus ride,

you will then be escorted onto a speedboat

that will bring you directly on the Shipwreck

beach. Friendly tip: Be sure to go on the

second floor of the boat as it is far more

comfortable and spacious compared to the

main floor. To make matters better, you’ll


35

from Zakynthos town, it is more central

compared to the previous hotspots and is

much easier to get to. Host to a plethora of

water sports among other things, there is

no shortage of activities. Kalamaki beach -

which is essentially a continuation of

Laganas - is dominated by rock formations

and clear blue water. Note: bring your own

towel to take in the sun as chairs are largely

occupied by the early hours of the morning.

also be able to take in the sun on your way

to the beach.

Xigia Beach is another one of Greece’s

wonderful spots and should be a part of

any tourist’s Zakynthos itinerary. Off the

Eastern Coast of the island, this beach is

naturally divided into two by the surrounding

cliffs. The first Xigia beach has seen its

popularity rise in recent years and is mostly

known for its sulphuric water, as a result

of the minerals pouring into it from the cliff.

Other than the medicinal benefits of this

beach, it is an ideal spot to relax and sunbathe.

However, be warned: While the sulphur

is good for your skin, it results into a

strong smell on the beach. Also, two chairs

will run you about 10 euros for the day.

On the other side of the cliff, lies the more

hidden version of Xigia Beach. You will

need to follow the stairway to get down and

could even relax on the cove before

descending into the water via ladder. Atop

the stairway, there’s a lovely tavern which

offers some of Greece’s finest delicacies at

a relatively modest price. I would recommend

ordering the moussaka and risotto

and please - top it off with a chilling Mythos

beer. After you’re done eating, you could

also sunbathe on the many beach chairs

overlooking the water. All in all, it makes

for a wholly satisfying experience and is a

day well spent.

After visiting both Xigia and Shipwreck

beaches, tourists should also make time to

visit Kalamaki. Located a mere 6 kilometres

WT Library Image

A final, must-see destination in Zakynthos

is Marathonisi - also known as turtle island.

Marathonisi, located off Laganas bay, got

its name due to its unlikely turtle-shaped

formation and acts as one of the nesting

homes for loggerhead turtles called

Caretta Caretta. It’s important to note that

all excursions to this islet are handled by

the National Marine Park in order to preserve

the turtles’ nesting grounds. With that

being said, it’s quite easy to catch a boat

from either Laganas or Keris to get there

and will cost you approximately 25 euros.

Turtle spotting has become a common

touristic activity in Zakynthos and is made

easier by Marathonisi’s sparkling blue

waters.

As a whole, Zakynthos offers tourists a bit

of everything and has proven to be an ideal

vacation spot, be it for the family or even

for a lovers retreat. Its wonderful beaches,

authentic food and unique excursions on

offer ensure tourists could have a relaxing

time all-while immersing themselves into

the rich, Greek culture.

www.visitgreece.gr

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


Atlantic Arctic Indian Pacific Southern Ocean

C r u i s i n g w i t h

W O R L D

Traveler

C RUISING

Cruise News - pages 38 - 39

This Photo: MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview

SECTION

MSC Seaside, “the ship that follows the sun” - page 42

Sail Greece and Turkey Aboard Celestyal Crystal - page 44

Poseidon Expeditions, A Cool Cruise Never to Forget - page 46

Adriatic Aegean Mediterranean Caribbean Baltic Black South-China Sea

Danube Main Mekong Moselle Nile Rhine Rhône Saône Seine Yangtze

Come With Us & Sail The World!


38

AmaWaterways Avalon Azamara Carnival Celebrit

C r u i s e N e w s

Seabourn Launches New Ultra-Luxury Ship, Ovation

Seabourn Ovation is the fifth ultra-luxury vessel to join the Seabourn fleet over the

past decade, and the second of two ships designed for the line by hospitality

design icon Adam D. Tihany. Like Seabourn Encore before it, the ship features all

oceanfront suites with private verandas, along with modern design elements and

innovations in keeping with Seabourn’s reputation for understated elegance, as

well as one additional deck, newly expanded public areas and a brand-new, al

fresco dining venue, “Earth & Ocean at The Patio”.

The ship departed on its maiden

voyage May 5, for an 11-

day Inaugural Mediterranean

Spring cruise, bound for

Barcelona, Spain.

www.seabourn.com

AmaWaterways Offically

Welcomes AmaLea to

European Fleet

AmaWaterways has recently christened

its newest river cruise ship,

AmaLea in Vilshofen, Germany. Sister

ship to AmaViola, AmaStella and

AmaKristina, AmaLea will sail sevennight

cruises on the Danube between

Vilshofen and Budapest during the summer and fall before concluding her first

season with four Iconic Christmas Market Cruises.

The 154-guest AmaLea features AmaWaterways’ exclusive twin balconies– offering

panoramic views from both a French and outside balcony. Guests will enjoy

gourmet dining onboard, with free-flowing wines at multiple venues including The

Chef’s Table; a heated sun deck swimming pool with a swim-up bar; a fitness center

and spa; complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship; and in-room

Entertainment-On-Demand. www.amawaterways.com

Signature Land Programmes

Silversea Unlocks 9 New Remarkable Experiences for Guests

Enabling guests to travel deeper, Silversea unveils an exciting new collection of land programmes

in nine breathtaking destinations around the world, named the Signature Land

Programmes. Preserving Silversea’s hallmark of luxurious adventure and born from the

success of the cruise line’s momentous Couture Collection, the Signature Land

Programmes will unlock some of the world’s

most spectacular experiences from

September 2018.

The Signature Land Programmes will be led

by Silversea’s experience leaders and will

complement select voyages in: Iceland, Sri

Lanka, Canada’s Great Lakes, Bolivia,

Nepal, Chilean Wine Country, Beijing,

Myanmar and Vietnam.

www.silversea.com

G Adventures Launches New Sri

Lanka Itinerary Along the East Coast

Another ‘travel first’ as operator expands

sailing program

G Adventures announces the launch of

a new sailing trip along Sri Lanka’s east

coast, following the splash made by its

industry-first sailing trip along the south

coast of the island nation. The first itinerary

launched in February this year

and is already 90 per cent sold out in its

first season. This further demonstrates

Sri Lanka’s increasing popularity as a

travel destination, with the country also

experiencing a tripling of demand for G

Adventures’ land-based trips in 2017.

The new Sailing Sri Lanka – East Coast

itinerary is designed to complement the

existing Sailing Sri Lanka – South Coast

tour, meaning sailing trips will run in

the country throughout the year and

give travellers two different options.

Trips will travel the east coast from July

to September 2018, before heading to

the south coast from November 2018 to

April 2019.

Compared to the south which features

more on-land excursions, the east coast

is more deserted and secluded, with

some of Sri Lanka’s best snorkelling

opportunities. Both itineraries are timed

for optimal whale-watching and travellers

can also take advantage of the

two kayaks and two stand-up paddle

boards that are always onboard.

Both sailing trips take place on a brand

new 52-foot catamaran carrying up to

eight travellers. The boat was launched

this year for G Adventures and has four

double / twin cabins with ensuite bathrooms,

portholes, and pop-up skylights.

www.gadventures.com

Royal-Caribbean Scenic Seabourn SeaDream Si


y Costa Crystal Cunard Disney Holland America

39

Uniworld’s S.S. Beatrice Sets Sail on Maiden Voyage

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s newest Super Ship, the S.S. Beatrice, has

set sail on her maiden voyage along the Danube from Budapest to Giurgiu, with a land

extension in Bucharest. Debuting with a fresh, sleek yacht-like design, the S.S. Beatrice

is the first vessel in the brand’s award-winning fleet of floating boutique hotels to be

upgraded to a Super Ship.

“We’re thrilled to continue to offer guests the highest standard in river cruising with the

debut of S.S. Beatrice,” said Ellen Bettridge, Uniworld CEO and President. “We’ve seen

great success with all of our Super Ships and their level of luxury demonstrates the way

forward for the brand. We’re excited to bring all of our ships up to this impeccable standard,

with plans to upgrade the River Empress and River Royal to Super Ships in 2019.”

The S.S. Beatrice boasts yacht-style light wood with blue and white finishes throughout. Its renovated lobby features elegant mirrors, marble

floors, a white Murano chandelier with blue shades, and a grand staircase made of nickel and black iron – a signature design element

of Uniworld’s Super Ships. The ship’s redesigned lounge includes sofas and chairs with hand-made upholstery, a parquet floor and upholstered

ceiling panels, solar shades, and new USB ports allowing guests to charge anywhere they are sitting. The artwork throughout the ship

includes pieces from Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder and Pino Signoretto.

The ship offers four dining options all inspired by famous Austrian composers, including Mozart’s, the ship’s main restaurant; Wolfgang’s

bar and lounge and newly added Schubert’s and Max’s. For guests seeking an immersive culinary experience onboard the S.S Beatrice,

Max’s restaurant offers intimate cooking classes where guests can create local European cuisines alongside the chef. Menu highlights at

Max’s include broccoli coleslaw, regional Bohemian bread pudding dumplings and homemade apple strudel. Schubert’s, an 18-seat café

located at the bow of the ship, offers guests shared plates from lunch through dinnertime. The cozy Austrian-styled eatery features menus

reflecting the cuisine of the ship’s destinations, including brisket bouillon, Wiener Wurst with mustard, and an Austrian Kaiser Burger.

Additionally, the ship offers two new Grand Suites each measuring 310 square feet and a second 390 square foot Owner’s/Royal Suite.

Connecting rooms, ideal for friends and families travelling together, have also been added. The S.S Beatrice sails on six itineraries to destinations

including the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. www.uniworld.com

Viking’s Ultimate World Cruise

New 245-Day Itinerary Is Longest-Ever Continuous World Cruise

Viking has recently announced its most comprehensive itinerary to date with the new Ultimate World Cruise, which will span 245 days, six

continents, 59 countries and 113 ports, with 22 port overnights and a full circumnavigation of the globe – making it the longest-ever continuous

world cruise itinerary.

Departing from London on August 31, 2019 on Viking Sun®, this grand eight-month journey will mark Viking’s third voyage around the

globe and will nearly double the length of the company’s previous World Cruise itineraries. Within the 245-day Ultimate World Cruise

itinerary, Viking will also offer guests an option to sail one of two shorter segments during the cruise. Guest can choose between Viking

World Treasures, a 127-day sailing from London to Los Angeles that visits 33 countries and 61 ports, or Viking World Wonders, a 119-

day journey from Los Angeles to London that visits 29 countries and 55 ports. As with all Viking itineraries, guests receive a complimentary

shore excursion in each port and free unlimited Wi-Fi; World Cruise guests also receive Business Class airfare and all gratuities and

service fees, along with an extensive list of added-value included features in their cruise fare.

“For more than 20 years we have been offering guests the most culturally immersive journeys available in the industry and we are pleased

to announce the most extensive itinerary in our history,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “Our World Cruises offer guests the rare

opportunity to unpack once and explore dozens of the best destinations on earth – at a value that is unprecedented in the travel industry.”

Viking’s Ultimate World Cruise visits dozens of legendary cities, charming ports and idyllic

islands in one epic journey. Included excursions in every port allow guests to immerse

themselves in the world’s cultures, and The Viking Way of exploration offers additional,

optional excursions that provide unmatched insight into Local Life, Working World and

offer Privileged Access visits to cultural institutions. Overnight stays in 22 cities allow

guests to delve deeper into destinations; and Viking’s Culture Curriculum® offers additional

enrichment on board with regional entertainment and lectures, as well as learning

opportunities as part of the Viking Resident program. Full details on the Ultimate

World Cruise can be found on Viking’s website. www.vikingcruises.com

Hurtigruten MSC Norwegian Oceania Ponant Princess Regent

versea Star-Clippers Uniworld Viking Windstar


42

MSC Seaside

“the ship that follows the sun”

by Anne-Marie Macloughlin

With a steady increase in holidaymakers

opting to cruise the high

seas (a projected 27.2 million in

2018 according to data generated by Cruise

Line International Association, the cruise lines

are paying attention. Launching evermore

luxurious liners to satisfy even the most discerning

of tastes, these behemoths of the sea

provide multi-generational entertainment,

luxury and a once-in-a-lifetime experience as

they sail the four corners of the globe.

The Ship

With my only experience of cruising the high

seas limited to a brief jaunt out of New York

Harbour one balmy November, the siren

song of the Caribbean lured me to the MSC

Seaside, the newest flagship in the Italian

cruise fleet. A brand-new prototype, the

Seaside features unique design that brings

guests closer to the oceanic experience.

Inspired by Miami beach condo design, the

seaside boasts two glass-floored catwalks

and a 40m high ‘Bridge of Sighs’ affording

guests a stunning ocean view. Panoramic lifts

and a waterfront boardwalk further dissolve

the separation between guest and ocean.

Developed by MSC to fit the needs of today’s

cruise guest, this beautiful vessel is aptlynamed

as “the ship that follows the sun”.

With an itinerary that included Sint Maarten,

San Juan and Nassau, I was eager to put the

name to the test.

Food and Drink

As one would expect, food and drink options

are of considerable importance when catering

to the global community. The discerning

holidaymaker demands cachet in addition to

convenience, the buffet experience on board

as popular as ever but with more exclusive

options on the table. The Seaside’s premium

restaurants can compete with anything a

major city can offer. The Butcher’s Cut caters

to meat lovers as the name suggests but with

seafood and vegetarian options available

too. Attentive and knowledgeable staff will

demystify the menu and offer the appropriate

wine suggestions for your meal, almost psychic

in anticipating one’s needs. For someone

whose wine knowledge is embarrassingly

sparse, I was grateful for the educational

experience (and the delicious salmon).

The Ocean Cay is a seafood lovers nirvana,

the appetizers we ordered staggeringly generous,

the goat cheese tarte big enough to be

mistaken for an entrée. Again, we were presented

with a distinguished wine selection,

our server happy to make suggestions for the

overwhelmed. The ambience of the Cay is

tasteful, low key and intimate, the nautical

theme apparent but not stifling. It was

strange to remember we were sailing, such


was the effect after dark of a free-standing

establishment. Definitely a high point.

Bars abound on the seaside, be it an al fresco

cooler one desires while soaking up the

rays or a seductive cocktail at sundown. The

Atrium is a dazzling visual centrepiece spanning

three decks that houses several bars and

a variety of entertainment including piano

bar, DJ and live dance performances from

the versatile entertainment staff. As I experienced

on every deck, the bar staff are very

happy to recommend cocktails, beer or wine

as per one’s personal taste. Not a fan of

sweet beverages (the Bloody Caesar more my

speed), the bar staff created a fiery Bloody

Mary which more than made up for the lack

of Clamato! For the connoisseur, premium

liquor abounds, my Scotch-loving colleague

happy with the selection.

Entertainment

The Seaside has it all; from Broadway-style

theatrical magic to movie nights, bingo,

dance lessons and themed events, the only

“downside” is figuring out which option to

choose. Daily schedules are delivered to the

cabins to assist with such major decisions.

Time constraints dictated some very cunning

schedule surfing, the ever-helpful MSC staff

available for tie-breakers. My companion

and I opted to take in a show at the

Metropolitan Theatre, a 900 plus house with

state of the art lighting and sound. “Timeless”

had been described as a Michael Jackson

tribute; so far so good. What we did not

expect was a 40 minute multi-genre experience

with comedy, steampunk, contortionists,

musical theatre, aerial acts and yes, a tribute

to The King of Pop in the shape of a supernaturally

authentic dancer leading us through

some of MJ’s best loved hits.

For a more immersive entertainment experience,

the nightly themed parties hosted by

the Seaside’s animation team are excellent

ice breakers. From the decadence of a Great

Gatsby themed soiree to the Pirate Party on

our final evening (my personal favourite) it

makes sense to check in advance for costume

inspo. The entertainers are energetic, engaging

and talented. Amateurs need not fear the

dance floor; the staff are well-trained in communicating

simple yet impressive moves to

the non-professionals among us. Take note:

a visit to your local dollar store for cheap and

cheerful costume accents prior to sailing is

recommended. Al fresco fitness classes are

also hosted by the entertainers and a wonderful

way to burn off some of those calories

and soak up the vitamin D. For more familyoriented

endeavours the Doremi club provides

peace of mind for parents looking to

keep their little ones amused.

Ports – Sint Maarten, San Juan, Nassau

The Dutch/French island of Sint

Maarten/Saint Martin was our first stop. The

beaches are clean and pebble-free with the

option to rent a sun lounger or umbrella for

when things heat up. Strolling the boardwalk

is the perfect way to get one’s bearings and

find a spot for lunch or a cooling cocktail. We

stopped at The Lazy Lizard for some delightful

blackened chicken and Cajun fries where

we were welcomed like family, the open front

allowing us to enjoy the charming view as we

dined. Local vendors stroll the beach selling

their wares including colourful sarongs and

jewellery. For those in need of some pampering,

al fresco massage and hair braiding is

on offer from the friendly islanders. When

you remember this tiny island was battered

during Hurricane Irma in 2017 it’s hard to

fathom when all seems so idyllic; a testament

to the tenacity of the islanders and those who

came to their aid.

Approximately 200 land miles from Sint

Maarten lies sunny Puerto Rico (literally, “Rich

Port”), a major stop for cruise ships. It’s US

status was apparent within minutes of disembarking;

CVS and Walgreen pharmacies jostle

for space in the busy port. Vendors line the

waterfront, wares including ball caps and T’s

for that last-minute gift. It should be noted

that the shore excursions from the Seaside

are sold out fast so make your selections

early in order to make the best of your time

ashore. Local tour guides are many but all

timings and destinations are approximate; be

prepared for a long wait while they fill as

many seats as possible! History buffs will

enjoy a visit to the San Juan National Historic

Site featuring the imposing Castillo san Felipe

del Morro, a 16th Century Spanish citadel

with some interesting photo opps; the

43

day we went a 3-foot long iguana was

clinging to the side of the wall! The

summers are typically hot and humid, on this

May day the heat was such that a shady lunch

break was in order (and a cold beer). La

Cueva del Mar boasted the freshest fish in

town. Thanks to my travel companion who

has a nose for such things, we enjoyed the

best fish tacos in recent memory topped with

tangy coleslaw.

Our final port of call was sunny Nassau, a

Bahamian paradise and former pirate

stronghold. At one point the scoundrels outnumbered

the locals, amongst them the infamous

Blackbeard. Luckily, Nassau shows little

evidence of its scandalous past but for the

curious one may visit the site of Blackbeard’s

former residence. There are many tours one

may partake in but for those crunched for

time, a water taxi ride with an entertaining

local guide is a must. For a mere $4 each

way we escaped the busy cruise terminal and

caught some rays at Cabbage beach, a

stone’s throw from the manufactured

grandeur of the Atlantis resort where one

may rent a sun lounger and umbrella to

escape the searing UV rays. If it’s shopping

you’re after, non-guests of the resort are permitted

entry to the complex where tourist

trappings lie cheek by jowl with designer

watches and apparel. Taxis are in abundance

so we reluctantly left the beach and went souvenir

shopping before returning to the

Seaside. As with a lot of resorts the ubiquitous

made in China tat is overflowing but there

are some good local craft stores where we

found inexpensive shell jewellery and mini

bottles of local hot sauce.

As we finally set sail for Miami and home, the

vacation was not quite over yet. The wonderful

crew of the Seaside hosted a Pirate Party

to send us on our way, the entertainers in

authentic costume as they led the guests into

some rousing dance numbers. With the lingering

Bahamian vibe of piratical times past

still firmly in our minds, where better to connect

with one’s inner Blackbeard than on the

high seas?

www.msccruises.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


It’s All Greek to Me!

Sail Greece and Turkey Aboard

Celestyal Crystal

Aricle by Olivia Balsinger

Oia, Santorini

Few moments in life prove more blissful

thank sitting dozens of meres high

the edge of an off-white length in

Santorini, nursing a crisp Greek wine, belly

full from souvlaki and olives (of course!), as

you watch the colors of the sky melt into the

Mediterranean below. Yes, this may seem

like a scene setting for the climax of a cheesy

romantic movie. But, indeed, it was my reality

during my recent overnight in Santorini,

Greece as part of my seven-day journey on

The Celestyal Crystal through Greece and

Turkey. Though the company primarily sails

3, 4, and 7-day cruises in the Aegean,

guests have the option of combining programs

to customize the length of their stay

Though I have been fortunate to cruise

aboard many luxurious lines, Celestyal

stands apart for its commitment to maximizing

a guest’s time in port giving travelers as

comprehensive understanding and experience

of the destination possible. Celestyal

Cruises, a Greek owned and operated company,

is the company that delivers Greece in

the most authentic manner of all its competi-

tion. From the superior service, to the mouthwatering

menus, to the the attentive staff and

especially to the commitment to showing off

destinations, there is really no comparison.

Athens

One of the world’s most visited cities, our

Celestyal Cruise began in Athens—capital of

Greece arguably one of the most important

cities in human history. I arrived a few days

early, deciding to stay at the NJV Athens

Plaza, a five star property part of Preferred

Hotels & Resorts, within walking distance to

Athens treasures (and, bonus points: my

hotel room faced the Acropolis!) Both the

capital of Greece, the heart of ancient world,

Athens has become a prime destination for

tourists interested in discovering the roots

and the rise of Europe as it is known today;

it is the city where Classical civilizations intellectual

and artistic though originated; where

symposia were held to entice the spread of

ideas and healthy debate; where democracy

was developed and culture flourished. When

you travel there today, you can feel this

almost mythical quality permeating throughout

the air; where millennia old structures

stand proud against a bustling urban city

that is equal parts elegant and edge. The

boarding process onto the ship was seamless—it

was time to begin my adventure.

Santorini

You've most likely heard of the mesmerizing,

paradise shores of Santorini island, which for

decades has been the primary destination

for tourists to experience the idyllic beauty of

the Greek Islands. Its beauty is romantic, as

it combines a naturally gorgeous landscape

with villages that preserve its classical legacy

as well as cater to modern luxuries, such as

fine dining and truly fabulous shopping.

Sparkling turquoise water, beaches with

impossible mosaic of sand (such as black,

red and white), an active volcano, and spectacular

rock formations that provide a sense

of tranquil seclusion ensure that, no matter

which angle you view it, any picture of the

land will be postcard-worthy. But Santorini is

not just a feast for the eyes...it is also a feast


for the senses! It is home to some of the best

restaurants in Greece and boasts wine that

rivals the rest of the world and because

Celestyal spent a night in port here, I was

delighted by the many divers, delicious dishes

of the island.

During my overnight stay in Santorini, I had

the pleasure to visit Oia, which is famous for

being the most picturesque village in all of

the Cyclades. I was not able to put my camera

down, as seemingly every corner of this

quaint and colorful village is astonishingly

photogenic. The tour ended in Fira, located

on the caldera cliffs opposite the island's

active volcano. The capital of Santorini and

its largest town, some claim that it is here, on

the bottom of the Caldera cliffs, where one

can truly soak in all of the wonder that is

Santorini.

Milos

A hidden gem within the Cyclades island

group, Milos offers the more adventurous

tourists everything that one can ask for from

an idyllic Greek getaway. Scattered throughout

are spectacular views of its whitewashed

village architecture, picturesque beaches on

the shores of the Aegean, and quaint city

centers where one can experience the warm

hospitality of the local people. Milos is the

perfect destination for those looking for a

break from the other comparatively crowded

islands in the Cyclades.

I enjoyed what was sincerely the swim of my

life at the magnificent Firiplaka beach. I took

a refreshing dip in the crystalline green-blue

seas, and drifted ashore to the silver sand

beaches, where I laid back, gawking at the

gorgeous colored rock formations that line

its coastline. I also visited the picturesque

fishing village of Pollonia, which host numerous

events dedicated to the arts and music.

The area truly feels ass the fishing boats

moored by the quay to find that perfect spot

on the beach, hidden within the tamarisk

tree-lining. Luckily, I also had the time to visit

Sarakiniko Beach on the island's north shore,

whose north-wind waves result in greyishblue

rocks that are famously compared to a

moonscape.

Ephesus

I spent a day in the life of an Ancient Greek

with a visit to Ephesus, a place frozen in time,

reliving its extensive, fascinating history by

careening through its beautifully preserved

ruins—some dating back to the prehistoric

ages! Excavations spanning almost a century

and a half have marked Ephesus as

Europe’s most complete classical metropolis

(even though 80% of the city has yet to be

unearthed!), allowing modern eyes to see its

former glory as the capital of Roman Asian

Minor, and the fourth largest city during the

Roman period.

The highlight of our excursion was a visit to

the Terrace Houses, which gives the clearest

example of how the diversity of the

Mediterranean peoples historically embedded

in this area’s ruins. Located on a hilltop,

these structures were the “Houses of the

Rich,” and gives in-depth insight into the

lifestyle and living conditions of the empirical

Roman elite. I learned about the brilliant

planning and ingenious structure of Roman

domestic architecture, with original

frescoes and mosaic cycles intact.

Crete

Crete is the largest island in Greece, the fifth

largest in the Mediterranean Sea, and the

eighty-eighth largest island in the world.

Remnants of its brilliant past arrange themselves

like stage props against an aweinspiring

coastal landscape. Mythology tells

us that it was in the caves of Crete where

Rhea hid her newborn Zeus from his titan

father, but this mystical air transcends time,

and embeds itself in the bustling cities,

charming villages, splendid shores, and fascinating

archaeological sites. Celestyal

cruise excursions brought the exquisite cuisine,

delicious wine, and impossibly gorgeous

landscapes to life for me, giving me

free time to explore the island.

Onboard Experience

The Crystal boasts 476 staterooms (317 are

outside cabins and 163 are inside cabins.)

There are 15 cabin types to choose from

aboard the ship, accommodating individual

needs and budgets. Staterooms are

equipped with air conditioning, telephones,

televisions and hairdryers. Passengers may

pay for Wi-Fi to enjoy anywhere on board,

including their staterooms.

For more casual dining, guests may opt for

the 9th floor self-serve Leda Buffet for breakfast,

lunch or dinner. The two more formal

dining rooms on board, The Olympus

Restaurant and The Amalthia Restaurant, are

that perfect balance of sophistication and

authenticity. Especially being a Greek ship

and given the destinations of this particular

cruise, it is fitting that the majority of the

restaurants serve traditional Greek cuisine.

After dinner, I would often find myself in the

Eros Lounge, relaxing and unwinding among

a crowd of fellow passengers. With a martini

in hand and the onboard band's melody

in the air, I'd reflect on my day of adventures

and wander what next is in store.

www.celestyalcruises.com

45

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


46

A Cool Cruise Never to Forget

Article and photography by Lisa Sonne

In every direction, there is a gallery of icebergs,

frozen freshwater sculptures that

floated away from a parent glacier hundreds

of thousands of years old. I feel like a

great polar explorer. The front of my kayak

carves through the glistening “frazzle” –a thin

layer of sea ice that coated these Arctic waters

overnight. The frozen geometric patterns

crackle with the plowing bow, and cascading

crunching sounds join in as my paddle

plunges through and pushes back in this stunning

bay.

A group of us – from Canada, Russia, India

and the U.S. – are making an excursion from

an expedition ship in the largest and deepest

fjord system in the world. The Scoresby Sund

(Sound) of eastern Greenland is above the

Arctic Circle, in a remote, hard-to reach place

that is uninhabited and rarely visited by

humans. The horizon of waters and whites

are of densities and hues that defy any paintbox.

This is timeless, raw, gorgeous nature –

the same kind of seascapes that the intrepid

explorers braved in previous centuries.

Then I look down – and see the modern day

“dry suit” I am wearing to keep me waterproof

and warm, and the plastic kayak that

gracefully tolerates me. I twist as far as I can

and between me and an ancient glacier, the

MV Sea Spirit floats grandly. The 116-passenger

ship has an ice-certified hull and state of

the art communications and navigation

equipment. Even more important at the

moment, when the eight of us paddle back,

we can enjoy hot showers, fresh towels, wonderful

food, clean clothes, comfy beds, and

even an open-air jacuzzi. The famous polar

explorers – Shackleton, Stefansson, Peary,

Amundsen and Nansen – never had it so

good.

The “Arctic Sights and Northern Lights” cruise

of Poseidon Expeditions is well-named. By

day, we see polar bears foraging the steep

shores of a fjord and whales spouting. After

dark, fantastical swaths of light may swirl in

night skies. The cruise ship may not have

casinos or discos but I am happy instead to

bet on the weather, and look up to see light

dancing with the stars.

Our voyage begins and ends in Iceland’s

dynamic capital, Reykjavik, and the villages

and waterfalls of Iceland’s West Fjords and

the Snaefellsness Peninsula with great memories,

even if I can’t remember how to pronounce

the names: Isafjorour, Grundafjordur,

and Dynjandi Waterfalls.

Between these beautiful Icelandic bookends,

we will cross the Denmark Strait to visit a

remote Inuit outpost –Ittoqqortoormiit- at the

mouth of Scoresby Sund. Days five to ten are

for places without people. As the literature

says, “Scoresby Sund is a true Arctic

Wilderness and this part of the voyage is a

real expedition.” There are named islands

and fjords on the maps, but the itinerary is

always TBD (to be determined), depending on

weather and sea conditions, as well as wildlife


eports and passenger interests. When we

head to a place Poseidon has never been

(and perhaps no ship has visited), extra

excitement burbles onboard.

Every shore visit is done with thorough preparation.

A team of ship guides land first to set

up “perimeters,” where they are posted as

armed guards against polar bears, which are

dangerous, not cuddly, in their natural habitat.

Hikes of varying difficulty are offered,

providing Arctic flora and fauna, Thule archeological

sightings, and spectacular views.

Every kayaking day also gifted diverse highlights

like paddling between the pinnacles off

Red Island—the red-brown sandstone contrasting

dramatically with white, calving icebergs.

Another day, a chunk of iceberg thunderously

broke off. Although it happened fairly

far away, we were in a small bay and within

moments, we were cresting over the waves

it created when it fell.

My favorite kayak experience may have been

getting close enough to a large Musk Ox to

hear it biting off and chewing the vegetation.

We were mesmerized watching it move, with

its shambled fur swaying from side to side.

The musk ox, on the other hand, stared

straight at us and then returned placidly to

eating.

While at sea, the Russian captain and crew

skillfully navigate, while passengers look for

whales, visit the bar, settle in the ship’s library

of exploration books, or head to the ample

amphitheater, with its program of films and

lectures like, “Viking Discoveries in

Greenland,” “ The Cultural History of Whales

and Dolphins,” and “Mammal Identification

Tips.” Each crew-member wears multiple

hats. Many have deep knowledge-specialties

to share, on topics from wildflowers to glaciology.

When the crew offers a “Polar Plunge Party”

off the back of the boat, a doctor and defibrillator

stand by as intrepid / insane participants

are roped before jumping, just in case

they need to be hauled back in from the frigid

sea. Before reason set in, I had just enough

time to change from kayaking gear into my

swimsuit and be one of the last ones to jump

in and earn my Polar Certificate. Fortunately,

there were no heart attacks, just good-hearted

memories.

The transformations from day to night provided

another set of dramatic highlights. I’ve

been fortunate to see gorgeous sunsets from

cruise boats in French Polynesia, the

Galapagos, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and

many countries in Europe, but Arctic sunsets

can be in their own class ---beyond-

Photoshop colors-- as their bold vibrancy is

reflected in waters and icebergs.

After dark, the northern lights may provide a

magnetic light display – both in how they

draw us out of our lovely, warm suites onto the

cold decks to watch and in how they are created.

Solar winds send a field of magnetic

particles far into space. As some hit the

earth’s magnetosphere, they speed up around

the north and south pole, then plunge toward

earth and collide with the atmosphere, creating

energy in the form of light.

As we gather on decks for the intermittent

show, I love being surrounded by human spirits

speaking in different languages, but kindred

in our seeking awe. Sometimes there is

just reverential silence in the dark, and then a

chorus of international oohs and ahs and lots

of clicking camera noises.

Only some of the dancing colors are visible to

the human eye, but more appear through the

lens of a camera. When I am not clicking or

just staring with wonder, I enjoy standing

behind a talented Chinese woman with

greater lenses as she takes psychedelic videos

of the show. Not every night rewards us, but

several do – and with the lights, swirls a sense

of wonder and bewitchment.

More Polar Exploring

For those who want to try out their own exploration

fantasies in the Arctic or Antarctic,

Poseidon Expeditions offers great polar variety,

north and south. Poseidon even offers an

icebreaker journey that takes bucket-list travelers

straight to the North Pole.

For now, when summer heats up too much, I

remember back to the crisp, clean, cold air

and striking beauty of the Arctic—as well as

dream of someday heading far south and

kayaking with penguins.

www.poseidonexpeditions.com

www.LisaSonne.com

47

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


48

Temple of Ramses II, Abu Simbel


49

Destination

Egypt

At the Crossroads of History, Culture & Civilizations

by Dwain Richardson

Join us as in these eight-pages as we explore this

most beautiful, intriguing and mysteries corner of the world.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


50

King Tutankhamun's Mask


Egypt has been steeped into history

for the longest time. Because

there has been a lot of interest in

Egypt’s history, historians coined the term

“Egyptology,” which is the study of

pharaonic Egypt. Egyptology spanned the

period between c. 4500 BCE and CE 641.

How did Egyptology begin? Scholars going

with Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of

Egypt published the Description de l’Égypte

(1809–1828); this publication made huge

quantities of source materials about

ancient Egypt available for Europeans.

Did you know that written Egyptian documents

dated to c. 3150 BCE? This was the

first time that pharaohs developed the

hieroglyphic script in Upper Egypt. These

scripts provided the source material for

Egyptological study.

Following the Arab conquest, only the

Copts kept the ancient language alive (written

in Greek characters). Coptic texts taken

Egypt during the Renaissance awakened

interest in the Egyptian language. German

Jesuit Athanasius Kircher published a

Coptic grammar in 1643; European travellers

returned to Egypt with antiquities and

stories of wondrous ruins. What’s more,

Egyptology became an academic discipline

in France, England, and Germany.

American museums opened Egyptian collections

in the late nineteenth and early

twentieth centuries. The University of

Pennsylvania, the Metropolitan Museum of

Art, and the Brooklyn Museum are some of

music collections that have done a lot of

work in Egypt.

On the geographical front, Egypt has two

coastlines on the Mediterranean and Red

Sea. It borders Libya to the west, the Gaza

Strip and Israel to the east, and Sudan to

the south.

Egypt has an area of 1,001,449 square

kilometres. The longest straight-line distance

from north to south is 1,024 kilometres,

and the straight-line distance from

east to west is 1,240 kilometres long. The

country’s maritime boundaries measure

more than 2,900 kilometres of coastline

along the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of

Suez, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Red Sea.

Most of the country is made of desert.

Thirty-five thousand square kilometres

(3.5%) of the total land area is cultivated

and permanently settled. Most of Egypt is

located within the desert zone that runs east

from Africa’s Atlantic Coast and connects

with southwestern Asia.

Four leading geological regions are present

in Egypt: Nile Valley and Nile Delta,

Western Desert (also known as Libyan

Desert), Eastern Desert (an extension from

the Nile Valley until the Red Sea Coast),

and Sinai Peninsula. Of the geological

regions, the Nile Valley and Nile Delta are

the most significant areas, though they

cover only 5.5% of the country’s total area.

Cairo

While you’re in the country’s capital, be

sure to visit the following attractions:

Great Pyramid of Giza

This is the oldest and largest of three pyramids

in the Giza complex. It borders El

Giza. The Great Pyramid is one of the

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and is

the only structure that has remained intact

over the years. The Great Pyramid has

three chambers. The lowest chamber was

cut into the bedrock, which served as the

chamber’s foundation and was left unfinished.

The Queen’s and King’s Chamber

are the second layer of this structure. Lastly,

the upper layer is made of buildings that

used to include two mortuary temples to

honour Khufu, Egypt’s second pharaoh of

the fourth dynasty, three smaller pyramids

for Khufu’s wives, a “satellite” pyramid, a

raised causeway to join the two temples,

and small mastaba tombs. (Mastaba

means “house for eternity” or “eternal

house.”)

Great Sphinx of Giza

This is a national symbol for ancient and

modern Egypt. The sphinx is carved from

the Giza plateau’s bedrock. If you look at it

carefully, you’ll see that it looks like a lion’s

body. The head looks like that of a king or

god. The sphinx symbolizes wisdom and

strength. Visitors would be pleased to note

that the sphinx has been recently restored.

You can find the Great Sphinx at the Nile

River’s west tip, located near Cairo. While

visiting, let yourself be amazed by the many

temples that surround the sphinx. Some of

these temples contain multiple sphinxes.

Egyptian Museum of Antiquities

This is Egypt’s largest museum. It

opened in 1902. Visitors will be greeted

with 107 halls, huge statues (on the ground

floor level), small statues, jewels,

Tutankhamon treasures, and mummies (all

on the upper level). Interested in photos?

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities has

dedicated a section to photography. And if

you like books, periodicals, and other written

material, you’ll be able to visit the

library. Lastly, the museum dedicates seven

sections to treasures and monuments in

chronological order. See Tutankhamon’s

treasures in the first section. All pre-dynasty

and Old Kingdom monuments are found in

the second section. The third section presents

the first intermediate period and

Middle Kingdom monuments. In the fourth,

check out the Modern Kingdom monuments.

In the fifth section, find all the late

period monuments (including those of the

Greek and Roman periods). Find coins and

papyrus in the sixth section, and sarcophagi

and scrabs in the last section.

Mosque of Muhammad Ali

51

You can see this Ottoman mosque from a

mile away. It was built in the nineteenth

century and in honour of Tusun Pasha,

Muhammad Ali’s oldest son, who passed

away in 1816. Architect Yusuf Bushnak

completed the structure in 1848. The

mosque and citadel are some of many

attractions and landmarks in Cairo. Step

inside the mosque and you’ll see that its

architecture is typical of Turkish style. The

mosque has a main dome surrounded by

four small and semicircular domes. The

minarets are cylindrical and have two balconies

and conical caps (you’ll see these on

the mosque’s western side). The mosque is

made primarily of limestone. The lower

storey and forecourt, however, are made of

alabaster. The mosque’s western entrance

leads to the open courtyard. The courtyard

is surrounded by rounded arcades with

small domes. You will notice a marbled

fountain in the middle of the courtyard,

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


52

built by Ismail Pasha in 1828. One last

detail about the courtyard: Note an iron

clock on the western wall, presented to

Muhammad Ali by King Louis Philippe

(France).

The Hanging Church

(St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church)

This is one of Egypt’s oldest churches. The

history of this particular church dates back

to the third century A.D. Why is this attraction

known as the Hanging Church? It is situated

above a Babylon Fortress gatehouse,

and its nave is suspended over a passage.

Unlike most churches that may have as

many as ten steps, the Hanging Church has

twenty-nine. Be prepared for a long hike

up! Once you enter the church, be prepared

to see 110 icons. Of these icons, the

oldest dates back to the eighth century. The

others, however, hail from the eighteenth

century. The iconostases within the church

are made of ebony and ivory, just like the

main altar. The icons depict a number of

religious personalities, including the Virgin

Mary, the Twelve Apostles, and St. John the

Baptist.

Khan el-Khalili

Care to do some shopping during your stay

in Cairo? You’d want to stop by Khan el-

Khalili. This bazaar district is the city’s main

attraction for residents and tourists alike.

The bazaar, which was first a mausoleum,

used to be the heart of Cairo’s economic

activity; sultans would build businesses

nearby. Today, most Egyptians run businesses

here. Take advantage of buying

local products (souvenirs, antiques, jewellery).

But there’s more: take a sip of coffee

or shisha at one of the many coffeehouses

along the strip. If you’re feeling

hunger pangs, many restaurants are at

your fingertips. If you prefer to buy foods,

you’ll come across many food vendors

throughout the market.

Sinai Peninsula

Ras Muhammed National Park

This is the most famous park in the country

known for scuba diving. As you dive below

the crystal waters of the Red Sea, you’ll see

many coral reefs and various species. The

sea walls are breathtaking, too. Ras

Muhammed National Park became a protected

area in 1983. Divers, please note:

You cannot dive anywhere you please. You

need to dive in selected areas only. Another

important tip: Visitors must vacate the

premises by sunset. The best places for

scuba diving? Shark and Yolanda Reefs.


Both reefs are mountain-like peaks rising

from a sandy sea bed spread out below the

surface. You can also scuba dive at Satellite

Reef if the sea current isn’t too strong.

53

St. Catherine’s Monastery

Its official name is Sacred Monastery of the

God-Trodden Mount Sinai, and is located

at the foot of Mount Sinai. It is part of the

Church of Sinai, which is a member of the

wider Eastern Orthodox Church. Like other

churches in the country, St. Catherine’s

Monastery teems with iconic art, particularly

mosaics. Most of the art is in the form of

hot wax painting. In addition to mosaics,

visitors will find several liturgical objects,

chalices and reliquaries, and church buildings.

A few other points of note: The

monastery has the oldest operating library.

St. Catherine City, located around the

monastery, is a small town with hotels and

swimming pools. The monastery is a

UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sharm-el-Sheikh

This is a city located on Sinai Peninsula’s

southern tip and along the Red Sea coastal

strip. This is the economic hub for the country’s

southern governorate, and includes

cities such as Dahab and Nuweiba. You’ll

find St. Catherine’s Monastery and Mount

Sinai nearby. Most importantly, Sharm-el-

Sheikh is a holiday resort for tourists.

Watersport and scientific tourism enthusiasts

will appreciate this southern city a

great deal: it is possible to do snorkelling

and scuba diving, and those interested in

species will be happy to note that there are

250 various coral reefs and one thousand

types of fish. And let’s not forget the

resorts: Aqua Blu Sharm Resort is one of

many resorts tourists can choose from for

accommodation and meals. For the curious,

Aqua Blu is a four-star hotel resort.

Nile River

Many boating companies offer cruises

along the Nile River. Some companies of

note are Avalon Waterways, Emerald

Waterways, and Memphis Tours. Visit the

company websites for information on fares

and booking.

Luxor

Located in Upper Egypt and often characterized

as “the world’s greatest open-air

museum” (characterized as such because

the temple complex ruins in Luxor and

Karnak are in the modern city). Temples

and museums grace Luxor’s east bank.

Temples also make up the many attractions

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


54

in the west bank. In addition, you’ll find two

valleys of note—Valley of the Kings and

Queens—Tombs of the Nobles, Deir el-

Medina (workers’ village), and Malkata

(palace for Amenophis III, ninth pharaoh of

the eighteenth dynasty).

Valley of the Kings

This is the place where people constructed

tombs for pharaohs and powerful nobles

for five hundred years (sixteenth to eleventh

century B.C.). Visitors can find this valley on

the Nile’s west bank. The valley is divided

in two: East Valley and West Valley (most

tombs are in the eastern zone).

Unfortunately, most tombs are not open to

the public, and the tombs that are open

may sometimes close whenever restoration

work must be done. Only one tomb is

accessible to the public in the West Valley.

Visitors must have a ticket in hand to see

the site. Guides will show you around the

tomb, but they cannot talk while visiting

inside. Sorry, camera lovers: photography

is no longer permitted inside the tomb’s

walls.

Karnak Temple Complex

Come see a mix of temples, chapels,

pylons, and other buildings at this complex.

Construction began during the Middle

Kingdom period and continued into the

Ptolemaic period. Did you know that

Karnak is a common name in popular culture?

It’s been the feature location for a

number of movie scenes in Transformers:

Revenge of the Fallen and The Mummy

Returns. Agatha Christie’s Death on the

Nile takes place aboard the S.S. Karnak

steamship. And a number of music groups,

including the British symphonic metal band

Bal-Sagoth, make mention of Karnak in

songs like “Unfettering the Hoary Sentinels

of Karnak.” This is a UNESCO World

Heritage Site.

Aswan

This is another southern city in Egypt. What

makes Aswan special? It teems with tourists

year-round. In fact, Aswan is an ideal winter

destination for many, since the Nile

River offers breathtaking views. The river

flows through granite rocks, round emerald

islands covered in palm groves, and tropical

plants. And like most Egyptian destinations,

Aswan does not fall short of sites or

monuments. Interested in visiting the Agha

Khan Monastery? Sail across to the Philae

Temple. If you want to see more attractions,

why not take a trip to St. Simeon’s

Monastery? Another feature of this city is

culture. Take a bite into local fish produce


at a restaurant while listening to Nubian

music. Want to spice up your food? Stop by

at a local market and purchase local

spices. Up for a tattoo? You can get a

henna (flowering plant) tattoo while you’re

here. If you want to take a bit of Aswan with

you as you return home, be sure to buy

souvenirs and African handmade goods at

the Aswan Bazaar. Finally, if you ever have

arthritis or any type of pain during your

stay, you can bury your body aches in the

city’s sand. Aswan also has a number of

sites for people to relax and rejuvenate.

Abu Simbel Temples

These are two massive rock temples located

in Abu Simbel, a village in Nubia, near

the Sudan border. You can find the temples

on the western bank of Lake Nasser, 230

kilometres southwest of Aswan. To avoid

being submerged by Lake Nasser, the temples

were relocated in 1968. This is a

UNESCO World Heritage Site; the complex

is coined the “Nubian Mountains,” since

they run from Abu Simbel to Philae, near

Aswan. Two temples await visitors upon

their arrival. The Great Temple is the

largest. When you arrive at the entrance,

you will see a bas-relief representing two

images of the king worshipping Ra

Harakhti, a falcon head. Step inside the

temple and take a look at the layout. It is

triangular in shape, as are most ancient

temples in Egypt. The hypostyle hall is characterized

by pillars representing Ramses

linked to Osiris, the underworld god. This

indicates the pharaoh’s everlasting nature.

You’ll also see colossal statues; some of

them bear a white crown of Upper Egypt,

and others wear a double crown of Upper

and Lower Egypt. A pillared hall follows the

hypostyle hall. The pillared hall features

various scenes of royalty and victories in

past wars. The Small Temple is known for

its statues of a king and his queen. Here’s

one particularity with the Small Temple:

scenes with the queen playing instruments

adorn the walls. (The instrument in question

is the sinistrum.) Pillars and bas-reliefs

depict various scenes with pharaohs,

queens, gods, and goddesses.

The Western Desert

Siwa Oasis

This is an Egyptian oasis sandwiched

between the Qattara Depression and the

Egyptian Land Sea in the Libyan Desert. It is

one of the country’s most isolated settlements

with a population of 23,000.

Agriculture is the main industry in the oasis,

though tourism has become a runner-up in

recent times.

With respect to culture, Berber inhabitants

in the oasis were talented in creating

55

basketry, pottery, silverwork, and

embroidery crafts. Dress styles were

also of major significance, especially bridal

silver and silver ornaments/beads women

wore at events. As roads and television

services made headway in the Siwa Oasis,

all silver ornaments were eventually

replaced by gold ornaments.

Like most parts of Egypt, the Siwa Oasis

has its share of festivals. The Sihaya Festival

is by far the leading festival in the area. It

honours Saint Sidi Sulayman, the town’s

traditional patron. What happens during

this festivity? The local men assemble on a

mountain to eat, sing songs of thanks to

God, and make peace with one another.

The women remain in the village and celebrate

by singing, dancing, and playing

drums.

Here’s a brief list of sights you might want

to check out as you visit the Siwa Oasis.

Mud-brick houses in Shali, an old town

Desert sand dunes south of Siwa

Siwa salt lake

Temple of the Oracle of the Amun

www.egypt.travel

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


56

Luxury Hotels...Grand Resorts...Charming B&B...Opulent Villas...Quaint C

The Safari Lodge at Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa

Article by Jennifer Merrick, Photos: Safari Lodge

Stay & Play Section Sweet Dreams Around the World

We couldn’t have asked for a better welcome than the one we experienced at the

Safari Lodge on the Amakhala Game Reserve. Less than five minutes after arrival, as

we filled out registration forms, we heard someone say.

“It’s Norman!”

When we looked up, we saw an elephant lumbering up to the watering hole with its

big ears flapping as if to wave hello.

The animals at Amakhala, a 7500-hectare private conservancy, aren’t usually given a

name (it’s not a zoo), but Norman is an exception. This lone bull elephant, pushed

out by the dominant male in the herd, has earned a special place in the heart of

everyone here, and now mine, too.

The reserve, which began in 1999, is a joint conservation effort and has 10 individual

lodges each with their own personality, style and comfort level. The Safari Lodge

is all about luxury, relaxation and big-five adventure in a comfortable and authentic

ambiance.

Sleeping 24 in 11 safari suites, its four-star wilderness accommodation features private

plunge pools, lounge areas, stocked fridges, four-poster beds covered with mosquito

nets (though it’s located in a malaria-free zone so it’s not a necessity) and a

large bathtub complete with bubbles and sparkling wine on ice. Though even that

couldn’t compete with the view we had of impalas and antelope grazing outside.

It takes no time at all to get into the rhythm of safari life: coffee, early morning game

drive, full breakfast, relax and enjoy the surroundings, lunch, evening game drivebath

with aforementioned sparkling wine, dinner.

The game drives were led by professional, knowledgeable guides, and we spotted

wildlife ranging from large game, like rhinos, lions and giraffes, to smaller creatures,

like African slugs and tortoises.

And, of course, we couldn’t forget Norman, who we watched rolling around in the

mud, having a grand time, which was exactly what we had, too, at the Safari Lodge

on the Amakhala Game Reserve.

www.amakhala.co.za/lodges/safari-lodge

Hilton Comes to

Yunnan Province’s Shangri-La

Hilton Garden Inn Shangri-La is the 13th

location of the company’s mid-market

brand in China, and the first to bring the

Hilton name to Shangri-La in Yunnan

Province. Located in Shangri-La’s city center,

it features a Tibetan theme in its style

and a mix of modern amenities assisting

productivity and comfort in each of its 233

guest rooms. Dining options include a noodle

bar, international buffets, and a menu

featuring Western, Sichuan, Yunnan,

Cantonese, and Tibetan cuisine. A 24-hour

gym, self-service laundromat, and 24-hour

market are provided for the convenience of

guests, as is free high-speed WiFi throughout

the premises.

Marriott Introduces Fairfield Brand in China

Marriott International has opened its third

mainland China location of its recentlyacquired

luxury brand W hotels, already

established in Beijing and Guangzhou, on

The Bund in Shanghai. On the property are

374 guestrooms including 35 suites, an

indoor/outdoor pool, 5300 square meters

of event space with 17 meeting rooms, and

a grand ballroom. There will also be five

food and beverage outlets, including a

contemporary NYC-style bistro, a purveyor

of Cantonese cuisine, a destination cocktail

bar, and a bar serving the rooftop pool

deck, plus a bar that will double as a venue

for international DJs on another level of the

hotel.

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ountry Inns...Luxary Safari Camps...Ecolodges...Ice...Cave...Treetop... Hotels

57

board rentals, and the property's newest

addition, the Dip + Slide water play area.

Pool amenities include complimentary towel

service and full-service poolside lunch and

spa services, Conveniently, both pools are

open from sunrise to sunset. I had the

opportunity to experience a 50-minute

Diplomat Signature Spa Treatment, which I

must strongly recommend. Be sure to make

your spa reservations well in advance as

space is limited.

Exclusively designed for The Diplomat, specialty

cabanas created by fashion designer

Trina Turk are available for rent on the lower

floor of the pool deck, providing a relaxing

and stylish oasis for the day. We ordered

lunch from Playa, a Beachfront Nuevo-Latina

restaurant and bar featuring an extensive

rum and tequila selection.

The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida

From the Atlantic coast to the

Intracoastal, the reinvented Diplomat

Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida

pays homage to the hotel's storied past as a

social hub, with a modern take on design

and amenities, including a luxurious spa and

more than 10 new culinary concepts.

Fresh off a magnificent $100 million transformation,

this oceanfront, all-encompassing

destination resort is now part of Curio

Collection by Hilton, a global set of upscale

hotels handpicked for their unique character.

We stayed in a gorgeous Oceanview Double

Deluxe Room with a balcony, providing a

beautiful and completely unobstructed view

of the ocean.

There are no shortage of exceptional dining

options here. Let us certainly recommend

breakfast at Point Royal, a coastal restaurant

also open for lunch and dinner. This is a

by Alexandra Cohen

large dynamic buffet filled with almost every

breakfast option imaginable, from housemade

pastries and an inventive cereal bar, to

egg dishes, salads and grains Our first dinner

was also at Point Royal, part of famous

chef Geoffrey Zakarian's approachable

American cuisine, complete with indoor/outdoor

seating and a grand yet modern Raw

Bar. From the Diplomat seafood platter, a

fabulous yellowfin tuna tartare, roasted

Maine diver scallops and must try Black

Forest meringue pie, this dining establishment

is topnotch. The same can be said for

Monkitail (https://www.monkitail.com), which

won the top spot for Best Hotel Restaurant in

USA Today’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards.

The menu is a contemporary take on the classic

izakaya, featuring sharable small plates

and sushi as well as an array of specialty

cocktails and saké. Surrounding an open

robatayaki kitchen in the heart of the restaurant

is a private dining area overlooking the

Atlantic Ocean: hot Hamachi, toro caviar, the

big eye tuna special, Edamame dumplings,

Robitayaki lobster tail, skirt steak and short

rib skewers, a duck scrapple bao bun, a tempura

shrimp taco, an aged New York strip

and broiled sea bass with aioli and snap

peas headline some of the choices to go with

the fruit loop ice cream and almond joy for

dessert.

We were thrilled to discover that The

Diplomat partners with the award-winning

Boucher Brothers Management to pamper

guests during their day on the beautiful

Hollywood Beach. We got to spend a day

lounging in private daybeds and relaxing on

a chaise for a luxurious take on “fun in the

sun.” The team from the Boucher Brothers

team could not have been nicer in setting us

up, and they in fact came back several times

over our stay to adjust the umbrellas and

make sure everything was okay. Lunch and

drinks were available right at our chairs. This

service is available daily from 9 am to 6 pm.

www.diplomatresort.com

In addition to the two beachfront pools, there

is also jet skiing, ocean kayaking, paddle-

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Advertorial

Accommodations

Puntacana Resort & Club is the

Caribbean’s leading resort community on

the eastern shore of the Dominican

Republic. Tortuga Bay is member of the

Leading Hotels of the World and the only

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Dominican Republic, offering understated

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The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club,

guest enjoys all of Westin’s signature

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buyers can choose among elegant

homes perched above the Caribbean Sea

or overlooking scrupulously manicured

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Home and apartments are also available

at Puntacana Village.

Golf

With 45 holes of championship golf,

Puntacana Resort & Club is the

Caribbean’s premier golf & beach destination.

The P.B. Dye designed La Cana

Golf Course, consisting of 27 holes across

Tortuga, Arrecife and Hacienda, was

declared the number one course in the

Caribbean by Golf Magazine. Designed

by Tom Fazio and set between rocky cliffs,

coral reefs and the expansive Caribbean

Sea, the Corales Golf Course features six

oceanfront holes, multiple lines of

approach and picturesque canyons, making

for an exhilarating experience.

Activities & Spa

Puntacana Resort & Club offers a wide

range of adventures for guests of all ages

including golf, tennis, kite boarding, scuba

diving, horseback riding, fishing and

numerous excursions by sea, land and air.

The leading spa in the Caribbean, Six

Senses Spa at Puntacana Resort & Club

presents a range of innovative packages,

Signature treatments and Asian therapies.

Visit Galerías Puntacana to enjoy an

assortment of shops, restaurants, playground,

and our spirited nightlife.

Dining

Puntacana Resort & Club is home to 6

world class eateries with an indigenously

delectable cuisine. Tucked inside Tortuga

Bay, the AAA Four Diamond awarded

Bamboo blends modern cuisine with

Mediterranean influences. Specializing in

local seafood, The AAA Three Diamond

Award La Yola is located at the Marina. At

La Cana Golf & Beach Club is The Grill,

an American style grill offering views of

the sea. The Westin Puntacana Resort &

Club provides a variety or restaurants and

bars from Ananí to Brassa Grill. Next door

is Playa Blanca, a beachfront tropical

restaurant. Our Dine Around Program

offers the best sampling of our finest culinary

experience. All restaurants offer complimentary

shuttle service within the resort.

More dining options are available at

Puntacana Village.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We believe that in development there

needs to be equilibrium among the economic,

environmental and social components.

Our non-profit Grupo Puntacana

Foundation serves both natural and social

resources, while contributing to the sustainable

development of our Dominican

Republic. These practices have been guiding

principles of our company, and along

with vision, hard work and perseverance,

the key to our success.

Punta Cana International airport

Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ),

built, owned and operated by Grupo

Puntacana, the resort’s developers, and

located within Puntacana Resort & Club, is

just minutes away from check-in at any of

our hotels or private homes. Punta Cana

International Airport (PUJ) has direct service

from 98 different cities around the

world, making Punta Cana the most

accessible destination in the Caribbean.

Our VIP terminals service the needs of

guests flying in private aircrafts.

The Caribbean’s Premiere Golf

& Beach Resort Community

www.puntacana.com


60

The Castle in the Rockies

by Steve Gillick

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is

an experience like no other. Located

in Banff National Park (Canada’s

first National Park, created in 1885), the

hotel, built in the classic turn-of-the-century

Chateau Style, sits at the convergence of the

Bow and Spray Rivers at the foot of Sulphur

Mountain, with ‘just-outside-your-window’

views of Tunnel Mountain, Mount Rundle

and the Fairholme Range of the iconic

Rocky Mountains.

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018

Outside the Banff Springs Hotel, near the

Conference Centre, stands a statue of

Cornelius Van Horne who envisioned the

grand hotel in the Rockies that opened in

1888, the same year he became President

of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The hotel

would suffer hard times, including the great

fire of 1926 that resulted in a larger structure

being rebuilt on the site, but since the

re-opening in 1928 and despite a 3 year

closure during the 2nd World War, the hotel

adapted to the needs of domestic and international

travelers through expansion, renovation

and it’s first Winter opening in the

1970’s, making it a year-round destination.

The exterior of ‘the castle’ is impressive

enough but the interior, from the main entry

lobby to the shopping arcade, to the

accommodation floors, oozes a sense of

luxury and care that responds to all generations

of travellers looking for a more

upscale experience, without it being

haughty. For instance, as an alternative to

the many fine dining choices in the hotel,

there is the Stock Food and Drink restaurant

in the lobby that offers delicious, freshly

made sandwiches, salads, soups, quiche,

coffee, pastries and more, to either eat

casually in an adjoining room or take-out

and enjoy, along with the views. And I will

say that the hotel staff are smiling, friendly,

helpful, and make one feel at home from

the moment you arrive.

I was in a Fairmont room, with a plush

queen-size bed and an amazing view of the

mountains. Fairmont rooms, Deluxe rooms

and Suites are available with a variety of

bed types (King, Queen, Double, Twins) and

views ranging from the hotel and grounds

to the spectacular mountains surrounding

the property. The hotel offers seasonal and

regularly scheduled activities including a fitness

centre, tennis, bowling, skating, wilderness

hikes and campfire/marshmallow

roasts. Winter downhill skiing is available at

nearby Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake

Louise. For many, the hotel’s award-winning

Willow Stream Spa is an attraction on its

own with over 50 signature experiences plus

saunas, whirlpools and a mineral pool.

From the nearby Banff Gondola

Observation Deck near the summit of

Sulphur Mountain, you can see the Castle in

the Rockies and appreciate its location and

natural setting but you can also easily see

that the hotel is within walking distance (1.9

km) to the town of Banff. Along the way you

are accompanied by fantastic river and

mountain views and then in the town itself

there are number of restaurants, bars,

shops and the visitor information centre.

Clear signage points the way to everything

in the area.

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, the

Castle in the Rockies, is a truly unique

accommodation experience. William Van

Horne noted “Since we can’t export the

scenery, we’ll have to import the tourists”

and the result for over 130 years has been,

in a word, “Wow”!

www.fairmont.com


OceanZ Aruba

Boutique Luxury At Its Best

by Susan Campbell

61

Aruba is famed for it sprawling strips

of high-rise and low-rise resorts lining

some of the world’s best beaches,

but as far as avant-garde, boutique

stays on this island, there’s never been a lot

to choose from. But now there is a new

option for an upscale and sophisticated

escape at OceanZ Aruba- far from the

crowded tourist scene- but close enough to

everything so that you never feel isolated.

This stunning new complex offers 13 rooms

including two incredible oceanfront master

suites- all uniquely decorated and each

with a different character. The owner Eva

Zizzu is a well-known fashion designer

from Venezuela (but she has lived on Aruba

for many years,) and decided she would

like to create the kind of stay that she would

seek out when travelling away from her

adopted island home. A place where she

could entertain her guests in style, and

cater to a discerning clientele that expected

more than basic services. So she set out to

create curated experiences and elegant

extras in her new venture, which is

designed to exceed expectations, and she

has succeeded. It is indeed stunning at

every turn.

Though not directly on a beach, it’s close to

a secret swimming spot where you’ll find

some of the island’s best snorkeling, and

they provide transportation as well as

everything you’ll need for an ideal beach

day out at two popular stretches of sand

nearby as well. And the hotel’s location is

one of the best places on the island to view

spectacular sunsets over the water, which

you can also view from their indoor/outdoor

glassed-in dining room.

Full breakfast is included in the rate and

there is a private chef to cater to your needs

plus a trendy bar for excellent signature

cocktails. You can enjoy tapas and drinks at

their large saltwater infinity pool while you

lounge in high style as well.

One of the things I like most about this

place is that it’s very swanky without the

stuffiness you often find in this kind of stay.

It really is a refreshing oasis of friendly, and

it exudes barefoot luxury at its bes in every

way.

This spot is also ideal for a small destination

wedding, they can take care of every

detail from start to finish, and you just have

to show up!

www.oceanzaruba.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


64

InterContinental Presidente Cancun

by Susan Campbell

ALandmark Grande Dame

Built back in 1973, this is one of Cancun’s

original downtown hotels planned by

Mexico’s president of the time Luis

Echeverría -ergo the name “Presidente”.

This Grand Dame has weathered the years

well, and a recent comprehensive update

makes it worthy of its reputation as THE

upscale anchor of the entire Hotel Zone.

At first blush, the vast expanse of lobby in

muted earth tones seems more corporate

stay than tropical vacation mode. But don’t

let first impressions fool you. Though they

do excel at large groups, conventions and

events, if you simply keep walking right

through to the other end, down the stairs,

and out into the water circuit area everything

changes. Bam! You are instantly hit

with an absolutely postcard perfect vision of

paradise on arguably the broadest beach in

the region. All swaying palms, blindingly

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018

white sand and sparkling turquoise waters

flanked by pools, whirlpools, beach bars,

and plenty of shade palapas and daybeds.

But for me, one of the best features is the

wave conditions.

I love to float calmly in the sea, but most of

Cancun’s narrow hotel strip beaches are

battered by big waves- though lovely to look

at- they aren’t so much fun to swim in unless

you enjoy getting tossed around like a rag

doll. I don’t. So, I really enjoyed the placid

conditions in their bay. And an additional

bonus is that there are no hotels on one

entire side, so you aren’t sardined into a

constant party scene which is very much part

of the appeal there. And with such an

expansive beach, it never feels crowded

even when the hotel is full. I also enjoy the

fact that one of the pools is adult-only for

kid-free relaxation.

Accommodations, Eats, and Activities

Though all of the hotel’s recently refreshed

300 rooms offer an inviting stay, you might

want to upgrade your experience from a

classic to an executive room or spacious

suite in order to avail yourself of their classy

Club Lounge which includes complimentary

breakfast, evening drinks and refreshments

plus many additional amenities. But even if

you don’t, you’ll find plenty of fine food and

delightful drinks to choose from on-site.

Enjoy healthy fare and Mexican craft beers

at trendy little indoor enclave Café Urbano

for decadent eats El Caribeño’s big surfside

palapa offers an eclectic array of Caribbean

cuisine. Right on the sand, Le Cap Beach

Club’s outdoor emporium serves up

Mediterranean specialities, and the signature

cocktails at The Deck Bar are divine.

For late night drinks and your caffeine fix,

The Epicentre lobby bar is the spot. And

you’re also within easy access of all of

Cancun’s cosmopolitan downtown dining

and nightlife as well.

Activity wise, there’s a full-service watersports

centre, while the on-site Ikal Spa

offers Mayan inspired pampering treatments.

And a brand new urban cultural and

nature experience right in the Hotel Zone

called Parque Maya Cancun is a must visit

for an exciting combination of history,

ziplines, mangrove kayaking, ruins exploring,

and more…all just minutes away.

www.presidentecancun.com


Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa

by Susan Campbell

65

It wasn’t my first time to Cozumel, but past

trips I took the hour-long road transfer

from Cancun airport to Playa del

Carmen and then the ferry across to the

island. This time I hopped on a sweet little

affordable 20-minute flight on a tiny prop

plane with Maya Air from the Cancun airport

and was at my resort in no time. Live and

learn. More beach time!

An alluring tropical oasis

Set amid a lush jungle on an impossibly aqua

sea, Presidente InterContinental Cozumel

Resort & Spa has only 218 rooms, but it

seems much larger than that as it sprawls

along the coast and back into the jungle

through green labyrinths. I was thoroughly

enchanted with my room, all done in refreshing

tropical shades with interesting touches of

Mayan décor. So much so, I wouldn’t have

left my bed looking out on the aqua waves if

it wasn’t for those heavenly hammocks and

decadent daybeds beckoning me to come

relax closer to the sea. And once on the

beach there, I realized I was in prime snorkeling

real estate.

A Snorkelers Heaven

I have great memories of snorkeling in

Cozumel and have taken a few of the boat

trips, but this little rocky enclave off the beach

with stairs down into the sea has you

immersed in a whirlwind of tropical fish

swirling all around you in no time. No boat

required. I was in heaven. If you’d rather not

get wet to see the fish, they also have clear

bottom kayak rentals.

Dining and Pampering Delights

After working up an appetite in the water, the

huge buffet breakfast in the beachfront palapa

El Carabeno hit the spot and a lazy soak

afterward in the infinity pool beside it was

ideal. They also have deluxe cabana rentals

there. Children playing one too many games

of Marco Polo began to harsh my chill

though, so I simply escaped to their adultonly

pool in the tropical gardens. That’s also

where their luxe spa is located and though I

didn’t partake this time, the ancient ritual they

offer called Temazcal - a Mayan steam house

experience led by a shaman- looks intriguing.

Alfredo da Roma Trattoria is their signature

dining room specializing in fine Italian, but if

you’d rather go casual in an outdoor setting

under the tropical stars Faro Blanco and Le

Cap Beach Club are the spots to be. They

also can set up designer s’mores in an open

firepit by the sea at night. Loved that. They

also have a homemade candy store on site.

Local Culture

Though you might never want to leave this

oasis of seaside luxury, the main town is very

close, and you can use their coaster bikes to

get there and explore the colorful local culture

and do some souvenir shopping, too. It’s in

an ideal location for the best of both worlds.

www.presidenteiccozumel.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


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WT Library Image

The Dominican Republic

A Colorful, Cultural Caribbean Destination

by Olivia Balsinger

With multiple direct flights per day

from both the United States and

Canada, the Caribbean island of

the Dominican Republic allows seamless

access to your dream paradise getaway; a

mere number of hours transports you to a

world of color, of hospitality and of superior

hotels, among natural wonder and enriched

by fascinating culture. As soon as I touched

down in Punta Cana, I was greeted with a

pina colada and a smile, and, consequently,

the certainty that I would be enjoying this

journey as strongly as the sun beamed down

on my shoulders. The new slogan of the

Dominican Republic is that the destination

“has it all” – and as a recent visitor, I can

attest these words ring true.

Punta Cana

Punta Cana’s reputation for five-star luxury

is well deserved; nonetheless, the destination

is certainly more than just highways and

resort developments, having truly blossomed

into a dining, dancing, and glitzy hub of

excitement. One gem of the city’s nightlife is

the the Coco Bongo Punta Cana show — an

experience not to be missed. More than a

disco, this two story dynamic club boasts

mind-boggling shows every twenty minutes.

Acts include a Beatles cover band, snippets

from the Broadway show “Chicago” and

even a dazzling Spiderman show. And I

would be remiss to neglect mentioning

Punta Cana’s miles of pristine white sandy

beaches and Caribbean Sea—a relaxing

retreat.

Where to Stay: All-inclusive, affordable luxury

is located right beside one of the world’s

ten most stunning beaches in Bavaro Beach.

Barceló Bavaro Palace is five-star accommodation

that guarantees the highest degree of

rest and relaxation during an island getaway.

Paradise surrounds you, in all its natural

majesty — from the constant, energizing

sunshine, to the cool, crystal clear

waters, and the uplifting breeze that sweeps

through the lofty leaves of the palm trees.

Here I would begin a day of sheer paradise

by waking up in one of the hotel’s spacious,


comfortable rooms; 80% of which face the

oceans for breathtaking views of the beach

landscape.

With such a close proximity to the breathtaking

Bavaro Beach, the hotel gave me easy

access to the best that the island has to offer.

The beach is protected by a coral reef, which

ensures a perfect, calm current to explore

the beautiful water. And after a day of these

adrenaline-fueled experiences, unwind I

would appreciate unwinding in a comfortable

space in the resort’s spa, and refuel in

the evening at the casino, clubs and performances.

The Westin Punta Cana lines three miles of

the Playa Blanca shoreline, with white sand

beaches separating the resort paradise from

the surrounding turquoise water. Offering

everything fun under the Caribbean sun—

including two championship golf courses,

and a world class spa—this 26-square-mile

slice of paradise is the perfect place to check

all the ticks on your island-vacation getaway

bucket list.

Santo Domingo

The colonial city of Santo Domingo, the capital

of the Dominican Republic, is just 2.5

hours from Punta Cana, and home to some

of the best preserved structures of the area’s

heritage. One of the largest cities in the

Caribbean, Santo Domingo is home to over

4 million people and though as early as five

years ago it may have been dangerous to

even walk the streets of the city during the

day, it has undergone a renaissance of sorts

and continues to become safer and more

welcoming to tourists. Despite this change

being especially prominent in the Colonial

City, the authenticity of the heritage and culture

have remained remarkably steadfast.

New stores and bike tour companies now

neighbor an enormous, landmark castle,

once owned by the son of Christopher

Columbus. It also is home to innovative cultural

spaces, such as museum and galleries,

with unique additions such as micro theatres

and bookstores. There are two main colonial

monuments that have been built in the early

sixteenth century that have fully restored as

museums. I love that the city is alive with

vibrant colors, music and a vast array of

delicious, international dining options.

Where to Stay: En route to Santo Domingo,

the self-proclaimed “most exclusive resort in

the Caribbean” is the stunning 7,000-acre

Casa de Campo Resort and Villas. Guests

can spend their days on the ultra-secluded

secluded shores of the nearby Catalina and

Saona Islands. Casa de Campo is also

home to Teeth of the Dog—the #1 ranked

golf course in the Caribbean. There is also

superb tennis courts and polo facilities, as

well as an expansive list of daily activities,

such as water sports and outdoor excursions.

Additionally, Royal Hideaway Hotel is a luxury

accommodation conveniently located in

the capital of the Dominican Republic. It

offers five-star comfort for guests looking to

explore the historical and cultural trove that

is the stimulating, colorful, and multi-cultural

city of Santo Domingo. All of the El

Embajdor’s 298 rooms come complete with

spectacular views of either the sparkling blue

Caribbean Sea, the captivating cityscape of

the lively Santo Domingo, or the tranquil

scene of the resort’s exotic gardens.

Samana

Samana is situated on the northeast cost of

Dominican Republic, about a two hour’s

drive north from Santo Domingo and four

hours from Punta Cana. Samana lies on the

coast of the Atlantic Ocean, in the northeastern

part of the Dominican Republic. It is

formed almost entirely by mountains, whose

looming adjacency to the province’s endless

beaches, coves, bays, and waterfalls, makes

for a picture-perfect backdrop for your

island getaway. It is a trove of natural treasures

that does not only offer awe-inspiring

views, but also the perfect location to rejuvenate

your mind, body, and spirit.

En route to Samana, you would be remiss to

miss Cueva Fun Fun, an eight-hour or so

excursion that shows you the highlights of

popular activities in the area. The company

offers complementary pick-up and drop-off

between your hotel, and provides a comprehensive

itinerary of horseback riding, hiking,

repelling, and, finally, exploring the deep

trenches of the largest cave in the

Caribbean comprised of over 28 kilometers

of tunnels and underground

passages.

Samana is an entirely different world from

Punta Cana. Waterfalls and fjords replace

flashy five-star nightlife. One of the highlights

of the region is Los Haitises National

Park, a paradise made of limestone karst

plateau with conical hills, sinkholes and caverns,

all navigable by boat. My adventure

cap on—Indiana Jones style—I discovered

petroglyphs—fascinating and spooky at the

same time, dating back hundreds of years to

the time of the Taino people.

Where to Stay: The Luxury Bahia Principe

Samana, tucked into an unspoiled cliff along

the coast, features an adults-only, all-inclusive

experience, whose program is guided

towards your wellness and self-care. The

spa in the luxury Bahia Principe’s Samana is

a high-tech haven set against the cliff-side

view. It is complete with a Turkish bath,

Finnish sauna, tropical storm shower, and

dynamic pool. For those truly looking to

unwind, take advantage of the resort’s WE

Wellness Experience — an exclusive program

of intensive care. There is a choice of

the different types of therapies offered: WE-

Care for a relaxing experience, WE-Train for

sport’s therapy, and WE-Balance, a harmonic

senses therapy.

A short ferry ride away is the fantasy getaway

that awaits you at the Luxury Bahia

Principe Cayo Levantado, situated on the

idyllic island of Cayo Levantado. This allinclusive

escape offers an ideal environment

to unwind and collect unforgettable memories

of otherworldly beauty. The secluded

beach setting of Cayo Levantado is an aweinspiring

vision of transcendental beauty,

and includes the world-renowned, pristine

bay of Playa Rincon. It is a setting that

awards countless opportunities to become

intimate with the gorgeous nature that surrounds

you. Whether your trying it for the

first time or just shaking off the rust, the

resort’s water sport program has options

that I very much enjoyed.

www.godominicanrepublic.com

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Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


68

Malawi

“Warm Heart of Africa”

by Olivia Balsinger

You can spend an eternity in Malawi

and not discover it all. Though it may

be small in physical size, this southern

African is a fascinating country that is

just as culturally diverse as it is geographically

diverse. Amidst a mountainous landscape

and verdant scenery lies Africa’s

third-largest lake: Lake Malawi, a stunning

mass of water that is home to a wide array

of wildlife and where a plethora of activities

take place like swimming, diving and hiking.

Though Malawi hasn’t always been recognized

as a safari destination, luxury

lodges are becoming more prevalent. And I

would be remiss to not mention the welcoming,

kindhearted people of Malawi—after

all, it is nicknamed “Warm Heart of Africa”

for a reason. I recently spent a week discovering

the magic of Malawi and the following

are my recommendations.

Kumbali Country Lodge

Just ten minutes away from Malawi’s capital

city Lilongwe, at the end of a peaceful treelined

road, lies Kumbali County Lodge.

Located on a forest reserve and daily farm,

the lodge’s 650-hectare property provides a

gorgeous setting to enjoy nature walks,

exotic bird and wildlife spotting, or guided

tours down the Malawi River. A short, rather

beautiful walk brought me to Malawi

Cultural Village, where I entirely immersed

myself in the country’s traditional food,

dancing, singing, drumming, and arts &

crafts; there is also the Permaculture Center,

which offers education on practical solutions

for the growing food crisis on both the

national and international level. A perfect

stopover for excursions down Lake Malawi,

the lodge boasts cozy accommodations in

sixteen thatched suits that include ensuite

bathrooms and private verandas, as well as

world-class cuisine in their onsite restaurant.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

In the eastern region of Malawi, nestled in

the Chipata Mountain range is the

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, whose miombo

forests feed of a vast network of rivers

running along a rolling, verdant hillside.

The reserve is home to over 280 bird

species, making it one of the most important

aviary habitats in the country. More recently,

in July and August of 2016 and 2017,


Nkhotakota became poised as one of

Malawi’s most important wildlife sanctuaries,

when it hosted a translocation of 520

elephants and more than 1,400 game animals

from areas such as Liwonde and

Majete. This historic transfer came after

decades of poaching and timber harvested,

which left many key mammal species scarce

and its natural habitat destructed. Today,

however, the 19,000-hectare sanctuary

allows for the safe reintroduction of species,

and promotes sustainability within the local

communities to combat issues of poverty,

hunger, poaching, and environmental

destruction.

Tongole Wilderness Lodge

Located deep within the woodlands of the

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, the oldest

National Park in Malawi, is the Tongole

Wilderness Lodge. A model of eco-tourism,

the lodge’s commitment to local sustainability

and wildlife conservation, as its provision

of employment opportunities has brought

substantial amount of hope and pride to a

deprived part of the country. Billed as one of

Africa’s and possibly Malawi’s last remaining

pristine, unexploited wilderness, this

high-end lodge poised on the forested

banks of the Bua River was the perfect

haven to call home during my safari. It was

a perfect mix of all—I was able to partake

the activities offered onsite, such as wildlife

safaris, fly fishing, fly camping, and canoe

tours. Lodging consists of four luxury riverside

suites, with options for a super kingsized

bed or two twin beds, perfectly accommodating

two adults. The ensuite spaces

come equipped with a spacious shower,

twin marble basins, and hand-built sunken

bath that doubles as a plunge pool.

Mumbo Island

Situated in the middle of Lake Malawi is an

unspoiled, deserted tropical island, whose

pristine topography offers an off-the-grid

getaway, with accommodations that are

both extremely comfortable and inspiringly

eco-friendly. The camp ground itself is

perched on high, overlooking jagged rocks

and tranquil water. It is built of timer, thatch

and canvas, and only uses furnishings that

were locally sourced, made either in the village

or in Malawi. It is a small camp, catering

to fourteen people, with three reed

chalets and two walk-in tents. Each chalet

comes equipped with an en-suite bathroom,

deck with a hammock and a breathtaking

view of the placid waters. There is also a

dining area with a lounge, where I’d enjoy

a refreshing drink under the shade of a

baobab tree, and relax after participating in

one of the camp’s many activities, such as

kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and hiking.

Huntingdon House

It is hard to think of what could possibly be

“off the beaten path” when it comes to a

safari — an event that is itself one of the

most unique experiences that someone can

treat themselves to during their lifetime. A

stay at the Huntingdon House, however,

may very well redefine the safari experience

by offering lodging that is more akin to a

bed and breakfast, rather than the traditional

game lodges common to the area. The

house was built in the mod 1930s, following

the decision of its founder, Maclean Kay, to

halt her journey home back to Scotland and

begin instead a life in the African paradise

that had come to love. Now known as the

Satemwa Tea Estate, which also a working

tea and coffee estate, the House is still run

by Kay’s family. In fact, fourth generation

Kays can commonly be seen picking flowers

in the garden, or stealing cookies in the

kitchen — a touching, familiar aspect that

draws visitors to this gorgeous estate

throughout the year. Five spacious rooms

are yours to choose from—my favorite

aspect was waking up to the smell of freshly

baked biscuits every morn’.

Mvuu Lodge

Just of the Shire River, which runs through

the western border of Malawi’s Liwonde

National Park, sits Mvuu Lodge — an

accommodation comprised of eight elegant

lodgings where I would rest my head in luxury.

Its situation high above the water allows

for breathtaking panoramic views of the

surrounding wilderness, where I bore witness

to herds of majestic beasts gathering to

feed, drink and frolic. The name

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Mvuu, after all, does translate to

‘hippo’ in Chichewa, attesting to the

high numbers of the animals in the Shire

River. Each lodge includes an ensuite bathroom

facility, as well as a private viewing

platform where you can daydream in the

sun, gazing out upon the glistening lagoon.

Liwonde National Park

Despite its modest size of 220 square miles,

Liwonde National Park in central Malawi is

one of the area’s most popular game

reserves. And although it does not have the

largest number of big game animals compared

to other African countries, it is

nonetheless a national treasure not to be

missed: due to the River Shire flowing along

its western border, Liwonde attracts a large

number of hippos and elephants, as well as

kudu, sable, and bushbuck. There is also an

impressive population of elephants, as well

as the occasional leopard, hyena, lion, and

black rhino spotting — the latter of which

was recently re-introduced into the habitat.

The park’s smaller size allows for a more

intimate safari experience compared to

other parks in the area. Liwonde is also a

haven for bird enthusiasts, with one of the

best year-round bird watching opportunities

throughout Central and Southern Africa.

Rare species that call Liwonde home include

the Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Pel’s Fishing-

Owl, Spur-winged Lapwing, Lillian’s

Lovebird, and the elusive Brown-breasted

Barbet. The park may be accessed via

Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe. The most

common option for visitors, however, is to

travel via chartered plane from Blantyre —

a 30-minute journey.

Getting There

Though it may feel like an isolated and

unspoiled area of the world, travelling to

Malawi from North America is actually quite

simple. Travelers can fly to Johannesburg on

South African Airways (SAA) and then take a

connecting flight to either Lilongwe or

Blantyre.

www.malawitourism.com

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


Serendipity in Villa Clara, Cuba

Article and photography by Steve Gillick

The Driver’s Bar in the town of San

Juan de los Remedios, in the

northern Cuban province of Villa

Clara, has a 1950’s retro look, thanks to

the mural behind the bar. While they serve

beer, mojitos and sandwiches to locals and

visitors alike, the Bar is a magnet for curious

photographers and art lovers. And

luck would have it that as soon as I entered

the bar to take some photos, I was greeted

by the artist who had been commissioned

to paint the mural as part of the restoration

of the building in 2014. Roaidi Cartaya

Carbajal was born in Remedios in 1972

and has become a recognizable artist and

personality in Cuba for his depictions of life

in his home town.

As for the 1957 black Dodge Coupe with

bright yellow fins that was parked across

from the Bar, that’s also one of Carbajal’s

projects, where the cars of the 1950’s represent

art, design, memories, Cuban history

and Cuban culture. But as he was

explaining this to me we were interrupted

by a loud rumbling of motorcycles as a

number of rough and tough looking men

and women clad in leathers and Club colors,

parked down the street. The leader,

wearing mirrored sunglasses strode directly

toward us and I bravely asked “Are you a

friendly motorcycle gang or should I be

concerned”?

His immediate response, accompanied by

a charismatic smile, was “Oh we are very

friendly”. And after some conversation and

laughter, the Club members, who I later

learned were award winners at various


international and local competitions, lined

up outside the bar for photos.

While a chance meeting with a notable

artist and then a motorcycle club, within a

few minutes of each other, may seem

unusual, it’s a perfect example of what

travelers refer to as ‘serendipity’: the

unplanned occurrence of situations that are

both positive and memorable. And in

northern Cuba, serendipity comes in all

shapes and forms: tranquility, wonderful

food, smiling personalities, warm conversations,

pink flamingos, music and history.

The Province of Villa Clara is located in the

very north of central Cuba, not only touching

the Atlantic Ocean, but actually including

an archipelago or group of some 500

small islands (or Keys or Cayos). The original

name of this historical area was, Las

Villas or ‘The Cities’, referring to four cities

founded in the 16th and 17th centuries,

including San Juan de los Remedios which

is believed to be Cuba’s third oldest city,

dating to 1514.

But as Cuba fast-tracks the building of a

modern tourism infrastructure in response

to the needs of travellers, great emphasis

has been placed on the Cayos. A

Causeway, known as the Pedraplen, located

about one hour’s drive from Santa

Clara airport, joins Cayos Las Brujas, Cayo

Ensenachos and Cayo Santa Maria, bringing

visitors to a part of Cuba that many find

irresistible. Case in point, George and Lori

from Dieppe, New Brunswick, explained

that they spent three weeks at the Dhawa

Hotel on Las Brujas in 2017 and returned

in 2018 for peace and quiet, sunrise walks

on the beach, conversations with the

friendly resort staff, and to simply relax and

unwind from their busy ‘real-life’ schedules.

But the other value-factor for the couple

was the food. While some visitors to Cuba

have bemoaned the mediocre taste of food

in general, it seems that the further East –

and North – you travel in the country, the

fresher the ingredients become and the

better the preparation, presentation and

taste of the dishes. And this is accomplished

through training, international partnerships

and the passion and creativity of a

growing number of millennial chefs. We

visited several properties on the three

Cayos and not only were they well maintained

and architecturally pleasing to the

eye, but the food was quite commendable,

from the ‘amuse bouches’ to entrees such

as chicken, seafood, beef and pork, and on

to the vegetables, salads, soups, and

deserts. These hotels included Playa Cayo

Santa Maria, Hotel Iberostar Ensenachos,

Hotel Valentin Perla Blanca, Hotel Melia las

Dunas, and Las Terrazas.

And in northern Cuba visitors can also

enjoy farm fare at places such as the Hotel

Granjita in Santa Clara and El Curujet

Restaurant in Finca La Cabana outside of

Remedios, where freshly grilled chicken,

pork and corn are served with Moros

(Beans and Rice), steamed vegetables and

fruit for desert (bananas, papayas, pineapple,

watermelon, mangoes and more).

An ice-cold Bucanero or Cristal beer is perfect

on a hot Cuban afternoon but for the

cocktail crowd, it’s good to know that aside

from Cuban classics such as the Mojito,

Cuba Libre or Pina Colada, the cocktail

movement is very strong in this part of the

country through the efforts of talented,

trained mixologists.

They say that music is ubiquitous in Cuba

and in the north it ranges from the addictive

rhythms of Cuban folk tunes, to the

iconic songs of the Buena Vista Social Club

and Afro-Cuban rhythms and even

includes The Beatles and Leonard Cohen.

At a festival in the town of La Estrella, the

Conga La Salsa Drum troupe entertained

the crowds of locals and visitors with their

hypnotic beat, and every so often, the

drummers would form in a tight circle,

beating the drums even harder, feeding off

each other’s enthusiasm, and energizing

the spectators.

The towns and cities in Villa Clara are perfect

for exploring and soaking up the local

culture. Santa Clara is the capital city of the

province, best known for the Mausoleum of

Che Guevara, the resting place of

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the Cuban revolutionary hero and

some of his comrades, as well as the

Museo Historico de la Revolucion, where

visitors can learn more about Che’s life.

Sagua La Grande is a city in the western

part of the province. The downtown area

was declared a National Monument in

2011 in order to celebrate and preserve

the colorful neoclassic, eclectic, modern

and art nouveau architectural styles. A walk

through the plazas and the streets leads to

the Puente el Triunfo, the bridge that crosses

the eponymous river that has become a

symbol of the city.

Caibarien is the town near the southern

end of the Causeway. The Old Sugar Mill,

now a Museum, provides insight into the

sugar cane industry (along with a sampling

of freshly squeezed Sugar Cane Juice—

with optional rum, of course) but the museum

grounds also feature a collection of old

locomotives, some which are perfect for

photos and selfies. Visitors can even take a

short train ride on one of the steam trains

and get a glimpse of rural Cuba. A farmer,

laboriously tilling the soil with a wooden

plough and oxen took the time to wave at

me. That’s Cuba for you!

As we were heading back to our accommodation

on the Causeway, a bright flash of

pink in one of the swampy areas reminded

us that we were in the UNESCO-recognized

Buenavista Biosphere Reserve, where

nature-lovers, photographers and outdoor

enthusiasts can not only follow hiking trails

but also see flocks of American Pink

Flamingos, Cormorants, Egrets, Stilts,

Brown Pelicans and 270 or so other species

of birds and wildlife.

Villa Clara is a great area to relax, explore,

savour, converse, tap your feet, indulge in

history, put on your dancing shoes, or just

do nothing. For Cuba first-timers or return

visitors, it offers those serendipitous experiences

that translate into travel value.

www.gocuba.ca

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


72

Dominica

The Little Island that Could

Article and photography by Michael Morcos

Dominicans are one tough people!

They showed an incredible

resilience in the face of the worst

disaster to ever hit this island nation. This I

can say after a trip that showed how the

recovery from Hurricane Maria was taking

shape right before us. Yes, there were signs

of the destruction wreaked on the island,

but in certain places you would have to

look closely to find the evidence. In the

months after the Category 5 storm, the

Dominicans have reclaimed their beloved

Island.

Dominica is one of the greenest islands in

the Caribbean and an outdoor paradise to

the active traveler. Mother Nature has a

strong hold here, with a deep tropical forest,

hidden coves, colonial forts and more.

Although tourism has developed more

slowly than on neighbouring islands,

Dominica’s mountains, freshwater lakes,

hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots

make it attractive to adventurers and it is

quickly becoming a popular eco-tourism

destination.

With so many things to discover we were

excited to start our journey.

Picard Beach Cottages

Our first stay would be at the fabulous

Picard Beach Cottages. Located in the

north – west and facing the gentler

Caribbean side, the cottages are placed in

the heart of the best beaches of Dominica.

This is a destination on its own, where

guests can relax in tranquility by the sea or

in their own rooms.


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The accommodations were ocean front,

and I mean that literally. You just cannot get

closer to the beach without being in the

water. The all natural wood units have a

separate bedroom, large washroom, a

kitchen, and a living room, but the best

part of the cottages is the large shaded

patio where you can breathe in that beautiful

ocean air and watch the waves roll in.

This property is best known as the temporary

home of the crew, executives and

movie stars during the filming ‘The Pirates

of the Caribbean 2’ movie. Each cottage

had a name that corresponded to the person

that stayed there.

Indian River Experience

There is a special vibe that comes with the

island life. During this escapade, we would

be offered a chance to meet Cobra. A local

Dominican, he would lead us into the jungle

and discuss the flora and fauna with

admiration and passion. It was amazing to

watch him in action; he was a strong man

and had to be. There were many times he

had to row the boat with many passengers

up stream to a bush bar.

Once there, we would be treated to wonderful,

locally sourced rum and enjoy the

superb setting by the river bank and the

dense forest with reggae music playing in

the background.

Cabrits National Park – Fort Shirley

Fort Shirley stands in the north of Dominica

and is considered to be the island’s most

historic site. In 1802, African slave soldiers

took over the garrison and their action

helped to put in motion a revolution that

eventually resulted in all slave soldiers in

the British Empire being made free in

1807.

This historical value was an added bonus to

the spectacular views that it provided.

Thanks to its strategic placement high on a

mountain originally intended to spot invading

navies, we were treated to a unique

look at the bay below.

Visit to Kalinago Barana Aute

This is a local (first nation) tribe, and they

are one of the only such people left in the

West Indies. Sharing their history and traditions,

the Kalinago people offer an interpretation

center, snack bar, gift shop, and a

tour that begins after crossing a footbridge

and following a circular trail on the northern

side. The trail leads to a series of small

huts (ajoupas) that are located throughout

the site, all featuring traditional activities

such as canoe building, cassava root processing,

basket weaving and herb collection

and preparation. A central arrangement

of small huts with the main Karbet

(biggest hut) is used for cultural and theatrical

performances.

It is a world of colour and pageantry, where

the nation's first people's talent and pride

are abundantly on display.

see following page

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018


74

Islet View Restaurant

This was one of the best meals of the trip.

The setting was perfect as it sits high on top

of a hill overlooking the forest and built in

a wooden structure. We feasted on barbecued

chicken with vegetables and vast

selection of local rum and lots of reggae

music. A great island style meal and an

experience to remember.

Emerald Pool

The hurricane’s rampage left this hidden

cove damaged, but like the islanders, its

resilience has helped it rebound. Most of

the damaged trees have been cleared from

the area and the Emerald Pool has returned

to its former splendour.

After a short walk along a nature trail, we

found this magnificent piece of paradise. A

river flows fresh from the mountains and

over the 50-foot Emerald Falls plunge into

a swirling basin that collects the clear, inviting

water. Though it is quite cold, it is also

really refreshing.

Reggae surprise

The main languages in Dominica were

English and some French as this island has

changed hands many times in its history.

And still, while tourism is such a major

industry, there is a multitude of languages

spoken. If you can imagine we even heard

mandarin in a local eatery run by

Taiwanese.

However, the most internationally recognised

sound was the unmistakable Reggae

beat. The music was found in every corner

of the island and it was not pushed on to us

as tourists, but it is a favourite of the

Dominicans themselves. The dress and

dreadlocks of many of the locals attested to

the culture of the area as well.

Fort Young Hotel

This is the best the island has to offer. It is

built in an old fort right in the heart of the

capital and sits moments away from the

main marina with the ferry port and markets

just a few metres from its entrance. It

has spacious rooms and wonderful balconies

with ocean front views. The hotel

underwent many renovations and now has

all the modern amenities a traveller could

want and has also been able to keep its old

world charm. The luxury is coupled well

with ideal exposure to Dominica’s vibrant

culture and delicious cuisine.

Roseau

As the capital and largest city of Dominica,

Roseau is small and urban city surrounded

by the Caribbean Sea, the Roseau River

and Morne Bruce and is the oldest settlement

on the island.

The city is filled with tourist eye candy, with

its combination of modern and colonial

French architecture, reggae music playing

and the odors and scents of the exotic food

wafting through the air.

It is a great base of operations, and is close

to the second-largest hot lake in the world,

Boiling Lake, as well as waterfalls, thermal

springs, and scenic plateaus including

Morne Bruce, which provides panoramic

views of most of downtown Roseau and of

the Botanic Gardens at its base. There are

also magnificent views of the Caribbean

Sea, particularly spectacular when cruise

liners are in port.

The little island that could

Amazing welcoming people, world class

hotels, fabulous local and international cuisine,

warm climate, beaches, forests,

waterfalls, lakes, rivers, hiking and horseback

riding trials and wonderful diving

makes this little island the perfect vacation

destination. All this without the massive

resorts, congestion and overcrowded

touristic scenes. Dominica is a paradise

island still to be discovered. But be forewarned,

many have and come here for a

visit and some have stayed and made it

home.

www.dominica.dm

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2018

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