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Number 10

February 2017

Mauritius

Mauritius

The adventurer's dream

The German Costa Blanca

Beaches

Where cold comes from

Adventure

The longest trail in the world

With the family

Contents

Magazine

Contents

Contents

Number 10

Mauritius

The adventurer's dream

In the guise of the Caribbean in the Indian Ocean, with turquoise seas and sandy coral beaches, Mauritius hides the promise of many adventures to come.

Kathrin Ernest

“Mauritius is the opposite of a busy lifestyle”

Kitesurfing instructor Kathrin Ernest reveals the best places for practising water sports on Mauritius, one of the favourite locations in the Indian Ocean for sports enthusiasts.

Beaches

The German Costa Blanca

Rügen, the biggest island in Germany, hides a sweeping coastline, which overlooks the Baltic Sea and which has inspired artists and provided refuge for illustrious figures.

Culture

The New Face of Vienna

Vienna ‘forgets’ its aristocratic roots, sprouting innovative modern buildings. Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Peter Cookson are some of the architects shaping the new face of the city.

With the family

The longest trail in the world

24,000 km long, the Great Trail traverses Canada from coast to coast, making the country into a multi-adventure park.

48 hours in

Seoul, the fashion laboratory

In Seoul, you can do all the usual activities, like visiting museums and going to a jjimjilbang. Or you can go native and get carried away by hallyu, the Korean new wave.

Adventure

Where cold comes from

In eastern Siberia, thermometers normally hover at around -50°C. It is a white steppe, where towns like Oymyakon, the coldest in the world, somehow manage to survive.

Top 6A

#Foodporn temples

Slowly melting ice creams and four-storey hamburgers have become the kings of Instagram. Because food can be very sexy.

Travelbeats

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

Bazar

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

Staff

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Report Mauritius

Magazine

Destination

Mauritius

The adventurer's dream

Text:

Guadalupe Rodríguez

Photos:

Kreativa Visual and Shutterstock

Video:

Kreativa Visual

In the guise of the Caribbean in the Indian Ocean, with turquoise seas and sandy coral beaches, Mauritius hides the promise of many adventures to come.\n

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hen the Dutch settled on Mauritius in 1598 they thought they'd found the Garden of Eden. You could argue that an island formed from a volcanic inferno may not quite fit the image of a Biblical paradise, but it certainly fits that of a holiday paradise. \n

The coral reef barrier surrounding the island prevents sharks and jellyfish from getting through

A traditional honeymoon destination for its white sand, blue seas and luxury resorts, Mauritius has a range of active tourism options to satisfy thrillseekers and sunseekers alike.
 
In the limited space of 65 kilometres from north to south and 45 from east to west, there is a huge variety of landscapes, climates, relief, plant and animal life, all of which make Mauritius a superb travel destination. So superb that there aren't even any dangerous animals on the island; the snakes here aren't venomous and the coral reef surrounding the island prevents sharks and jellyfish from entering the permanently warm waters that bathe the pristine beaches of Trou aux Biches, La Cuvette, Mont Choisy, Péreybère, Grand Bay and Flic-en-Flac.\n

The old fishing village of Tamarin Bay, in the west of the island, is a very popular destination for surfers because of the waves there.

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Change your beach flip flops for walking boots to make the most of what Mauritius has to offer. You can't just stay sitting down and admiring the beauty of the Chamarel or Gran Bassin waterfalls when you could be canyoning in the Black River Gorges national park. The Maccabee hiking path, also the name of a famous viewpoint, leads up to the island's highest point, some 830 metres above a landscape of forests, gorges and waterfalls that make up the park. But this isn't the only summit you can climb on Mauritius, either on foot, on horseback, on a quadbike or in a 4x4. The pirate past of this island facing the Madagascar coastline can be seen in the names of mountain peaks like  Corps de Gard (the Bodyguard) or Trois Mamelles (known as the Three Tits). \n

At 83 metres high, the Chamarel waterfall is the tallest in the island.

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Tea with rum

Sugar cane plantations cover the whole island, whereas tea grows on the mountains inland. Together with cane rum, these products are exported all over the world. The elegance of the 19th century colonial architecture on the plantations of St. Aubin, surrounded by vanilla flowers, of Domaine des Aubineaux and Château de Labourdonnais, with its rum distillery, and the views over the tea plantations around a lagoon from the restaurant at the Bois Cheri tea factory, are all idyllic settings for tours that tell you more about how these products are made.\n

The Moka footpath, which climbs from the village of La Laura to the summit of Le Pouce, affords fabulous views of Port Louis, the capital. Although you'll need to get down there to enjoy the atmosphere, shopping and food in its bustling market and port area. To see the colourful Hindu temple of Ganga Talao and its 33-metre-high statue of Shiva, set alongside the lake formed in the crater of a volcano, you have to follow the Grand Bassin pilgrims' route. Another highly worthwhile mountain route is the one that climbs up to the summit of Le Morne Brabant, a basalt rock standing more than 500 metres on a peninsula in the south west of the island.\n

Form the top you can see some of the 330 kilometres of sandy beaches that make up the Mauritius coastline. Thrillseekers looking for excitement out on the sea can get their kicks in the Grand Baie area, where there are a wealth of opportunities to enjoy parasailing and kitesurfing, for example. Beneath the surface of the lagoons formed by the coral barrief reef their abundance of wildlife, there's plenty of excitement on board submersible scooters for one or two people as well as seabed diving trips.
 
Whilst searching for the dodo would be futile, watching dolphins and whales perfectly possible on any trip to Mauritius. Lots of boats set sail from the bay of Tamarin or Le Morne to swim with dolphins. Sports enthusiasts can also enjoy some big game fishing on board specially equipped boats and try to catch tuna, marlin or shark. Two rather quieter sailing options are day trips by speedboat, ferry or catamaran to the islands of Des Deux Cocos, Aux Cerfs and Aux Aigrettes in the Blue Bay Marine Park on the east side of the island. The dodo may have disappeared but the pleasure of exploring Mauritius is not yet extinct. \n

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Giant tortoises

Like the dodo and several of its fellow reptiles, the native tortoises on Mauritius became extinct with the arrival of settlers and other animals. But Charles Darwin suggested reintroducing giant tortoises brought over from the Seychelles. They can still be seen, and touched, in the Îlle aux Aigrettes nature reserve and in the nature park of La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes. The Aldabra giant tortoises live alongside 23,000 species of insects, monkeys, deer and around 2,000 Nile crocodiles. You can't touch the crocodiles but you can eat them. The Hungry Crocodile restaurant serves them up in vanilla sauce, in burgers, with curry...\n

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Trou aux Cerfs crater, in Curepipe, is a dormant volcano that could wake up again one day.

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Interview

Magazine

Interview

“Mauritius is the opposite of a busy lifestyle”

Passenger of the Month

Kathrin Ernest

Kitesurfing instructor Kathrin Ernest reveals the best places for practising water sports on Mauritius, one of the favourite locations in the Indian Ocean for sports enthusiasts.\n

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Kathrin Ernest teaches kitesurfing classes next to the C Beach Club at Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort.

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What made you decide to move to Mauritius?\n

Mauritius is a pearl in the Indian Ocean. A green, peaceful  little island where many cultures live side by side in a small space, but without being overcrowded. If you compare it to the hustle and bustle of life in a big German city, it's exactly the opposite, that's what I like about it. \n

Are conditions good for practising water sports?\n

The water temperature is warm all year round. It never drops below 22 degrees. In December it reaches 26 or 28 degrees. The wind is normally steady, even strong in some months. Although even if there's no wind you can practise a wide range of sports throughout the entire year. The usual ones are kitesurfing, surfing, windsurfing, snorkelling, diving and fishing.\n

They say that kitesurfing, practised with a kite and a surf board, is the most accessible extreme sport. Can tourists with no experience do it or do you need to have a certain level of fitness?\n

No, anyone can do it. That includes children from the age of six up to 70 year olds. It's for everyone because it requires technique rather than strength. There are harnesses and kites suitable for every weight and size. On Mauritius the conditions are ideal for practising wave kite out at sea, beyond the reefs. But beginners can stay in the lagoon separated from the open sea by the reefs, where the water depth is perfect and you don't even need a wetsuit. It's good for everyone. They should come and try it.\n

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A gymnast since her teenage years, and a globetrotter – she has worked in the United States, Greece, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands and Egypt – before embarking on her sports studies at Cologne University, German-born Kathrin Ernest took her biggest leap yet when she decided to settle on the island of Mauritius. She started a family and set up a business, KiteGlobing, in Bel Ombre, so she can devote time every day to practising one of her passions, kitesurfing.\n

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Which areas of the island are the best for practising water sports?\n

For sports needing wind, the south west all year round and the east coast in the southern hemisphere winter. For surfing and diving, Tamarin and the west coast, whereas the east coast, around Palmar and Belle Mare, is a lovely place for snorkelling and diving.\n

Do you like exploring the island?\n

I've seen a lot, but the place I always go back to is the south because it has some beautiful and very varied countryside, ranging from sugar cane plantations near the sea to mountains that you can climb to get some fantastic views. I also like driving along the east coast, going south from Palmar.\n

What is Mauritius' most underrated attraction?\n

I would recommend that everyone who comes here tries the food, whether from a street stall or a good restaurant, it's delicious. \n

What tips would you give visitors to Mauritius?\n

There are lots of reasons to come to Mauritius, including going to the the beach, climbing the mountains, browsing in the markets of Port Louis, exploring temples and its other attractions, like Chamarel. I can also recommend all kinds of waters sports, like kitesurfing, surfing, diving and dolphin watching trips. I'd also say don't be afraid to connect with people in the villages. Travelling with children is very safe, too.\n

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Beaches

Magazine

Beaches

The German Costa Blanca

Rügen, the biggest island in Germany, hides a sweeping coastline, which overlooks the Baltic Sea and which has inspired artists and provided refuge for illustrious figures. \n

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Ghost spa

One of the biggest constructions of Nazi Germany can be found in Prora. A holiday complex that never housed tourists—the plan was terminated at the end of World War II—, but which received the grand prize for architecture at the 1937 World’s Fair. Abandoned to fate, it awaits a conversion plan.\n

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tubbenkammer was a favourite spot of Caspar David Friedrich. The German painter immortalised the landscapes of this part of Rügen through his paintings. “All authentic art is conceived at a sacred moment and nourished in blessed hour, an inner impulse creates it, often without the artist being aware of it,” said Friedrich. He captured that moment of inspiration while painting the island on several occasions. The most famous work in this series is Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, completed in 1818. It reflects the feature for which this coastline is known, the almost pristine whiteness of its rocks.

Friedrich is not the only illustrious figure associated with Rügen. Scientists like Einstein, politicians like Bismarck and writers such as Thomas Mann all holidayed on Germany's biggest island (974 km2). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a popular destination for the German upper-class, and its spas were the main attraction. Some are still open, and so is Rasende Roland, a train that connects the coastal towns in the region; albeit at the leisurely speed of just 30 km/h..\n

Of the spa towns that pepper Rügen, Putbus is the oldest. Its architecture is its best feature: classical and lordly. East of Putbus, you will find Binz, home to another pearl of Rügen: Granitz Hunting Lodge. It was built at the highest point in the south-east of the island, and its focal piece is the winding staircase of 154 steps. About 14km from Binz is Sellin, known for its pier, another coastal icon. In 1998, it was rebuilt based on the historic design from 1927, which had become damaged by inclement weather. The bridge that leads out to the pier is 394m long, and there is a restaurant at the end.

Of the 574km of coastline on Rügen Ireland, 60 of the beaches have fine sand, while 27 are natural beaches. To discover them from a different perspective, it's a good idea to take to the water on a sailboat. What is more, the island has several protected areas: Jasmund National Park, Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park and Southeast Rügen (Biosphere Reserve). You can get around them on bike and by foot. If you want to travel on wheels, the Hamburg-Rügen tourist cycling route is the most popular option, although other routes are available on the coast, always with the Baltic in the background. For those who prefer to walk, Jasmund National Park has a route measuring 8.5km, which runs along the cliff - the same white wall that so fascinated and inspired Friedrich.\n

The Prora hotel complex was built with 10,000 bedrooms.

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Photo: © Störtebeker

Further to the festival, falconry demonstrations also take place at Störtebeker.

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Open-air theatre

The Störtebeker Festival adds a celebratory touch to summertime on Rügen. It is the most successful open-air theatre event in Germany (attracting an audience of 100,000 each year). The production this season is ‘Auf Leben und Tod’ and it will run until 3 September.\n

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culture

Magazine

Culture

The New Face of Vienna

Vienna ‘forgets’ its aristocratic roots, sprouting innovative modern buildings. Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Peter Cookson are some of the architects shaping the new face of the city. \n

Something is happening in Vienna. A galactic library designed by Zaha Hadid has touched down at the University, Vivienne Westwood is designing the State Ballet’s costumes in tartan and Scottish prints, and ‘viennacontemporary,’ Austria’s main international art fair, is getting its third edition ready for 2017. Meanwhile, in a section of the city’s 4th District, a group of three young architects has created ‘Urbanauts,’ a project that turns empty ground-floor shops into lofts designed as accommodation for tourists. The 7th District is filling up with chic boutiques and hipster cafés that are giving the famous ‘Sachertorte’ a run for its money.\n

Photo: Jean Léonard Polo via Visualhunt.com

Having a coffee at Le Loft, the rooftop bar at Hotel Sofitel Stephansdom, is an absolute must. It offers the best views of the historic quarter.

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Casting off its traditional image as a place dominated by imperial cafés and palaces, Europe’s most classic city is shaking things up by embracing the avant-garde. The new creative vibe is reflected in the city's art galleries, fashion, foodie culture and, in particular, an incredible architectural boom. The Austrian capital’s newest buildings have been designed by renowned architects, many of whom have received the prestigious Pritzker Prize, the ‘Nobel Prize of architecture.’\n

Memory and innovation come together in this new era of Viennese architecture.

Vienna remains a city where history has a strong presence, but on the Ringstrasse, which bears the indelible stamp of the Baroque and the palaces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, futuristic traces of the new century have begun to show up. Tellingly, the 700-year-old St. Stephen’s Cathedral is mirrored in the glass façade of the super-sleek Haas-Haus building, designed by star architect Hans Hollein, Austria's first winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1985. \n

Photo: Urania/shutterstock.com

The Danube Canal in Vienna

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Photo: Nick Fox/shutterstock.com

Zaha Hadid’s library: geometric patterns in white and a façade tilted at a 35-degree angle.

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Across the Danube, this new wave of architectural innovation has also swept the 2nd District, also known as Leopoldstadt. The best way to discover it is to wander round the streets on a bicycle (there’s a free public bike hire service), stopping to while away the time in one of its charming cafés. For this district, French architect Dominique Perrault designed ‘Donau City,’ where Austria's tallest DC tower stands. The elegant skyscraper measures 220 metres, with spectacular 360-degree views of the Danube River and Vienna City.
 
The same district is home to Hotel Sofitel Stephansdom, one of the projects designed for the city by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. This groundbreaking building with strongly artistic overtones features video panels and drawings on the ceilings by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist. “The aim is to try to enrich the city. If you’re working with a historic city like Vienna, you have to be ambitious if you want to add something,” says Nouvel, Along with other architects, he contributed to designing the Gasometer, a residential zone surrounded by industrial estates which was revamped for commercial and residential use.\n

The Lalibela Cross

Weighing in at 7 kg of solid gold, it is the most prized relic in Ethiopia, and is kept at Biete Medhani Alem. When it was stolen in 1997, the people “beat their chests and tore out their hair” for the pain of the loss. Years later, it appeared in the luggage of an art merchant. \n

Photo: franzj via VisualHunt

Hotel Topazz, which is dotted with oval windows offering views of the city, was designed by the BWM architectural studio, based on a shiny cylinder created by secessionist Koloman Moser.

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One of the most recent arrivals to the 2nd District is the campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business. It opened in 2013 and has already been included on tours showcasing Vienna’s modern architecture. In addition to the futuristic library designed by Zaha Hadid, the campus contains other buildings designed by Hitoshi Abe, Peter Cook and Laura Spinadel.
 
Outside of Leopoldstat, Vienna’s architectural designs continue to send a message of diversity. The new Central Station, which opened in 2015, is one of Europe’s most modern. It’s a cluster of overlapping rhombuses set above multiple open platforms, forming a hub that links the main railway lines for travel within Austria.
 
Memory and innovation come together in this new era of Viennese architecture. The svelte prism façade of Hotel Topazz, one of the most compelling in the city centre, reflects this blend with its aesthetic reminiscent of Adolf Loos. The moniker ‘laboratory of modernity,' which made Vienna famous at the end of the past century, is once again as fitting as ever.\n

DC Tower 1 is part of ‘Donau City,’ an urban development project featuring a hotel, sky bar, gym, restaurants, offices, shops and public spaces.

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The architectural firm Coop Himmelblau, which found fame in the 1980s with its groundbreaking creation for the Falkestrasse, designed one of the ‘Gasometers.’

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Photo: Lipskiy/shutterstock.com

With the family

Magazine

With the family

The longest trail in the world

24,000 km long, the Great Trail traverses Canada from coast to coast, making the country into a multi-adventure park. \n

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ity, mountain, sea and desert landscapes. Routes for bikes, hiking, skiing, snowmobile and boat. The Great Trail has it all. This recreational trail is the longest in the world and it will open this year, in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

Twenty-five years ago, the national and local governments teamed up with the Canadian people and got to work to complete their mission: to create the longest trail on the planet. In a few months, this project, by and for the people, will open, as a “gift from Canadians to Canadians”, according to its website. That is why 80% of the country’s inhabitants live less than 30 minutes from the trail. “It’s about creating a lasting legacy for Canada,” affirms Leslie Gaudette, who has been contributing through donations for more than a decade.\n

In 2015, filmmaker Dianne Whelan embarked on a professional and personal adventure. With the idea of producing a documentary and writing a book about the experience, she began following The Great Trail, based on planned timetables and stages. But, she soon changed her approach, abandoned “that burden” and focused “on the moment”. A year later, she is still walking and hasn’t reached her initial target, because she has learned that The Great Trail “isn’t something to conquer; it’s something to explore”.\n

An app to conquer the trail

The Great Trail has a mobile app that is really useful for travellers. It includes maps, points where you can access the trail, the option to measure distances and inclines, and up-to-date information about the status of tracks. It also lets you upload photos and monitor your activities and the stretches you have completed.\n

The trail connects the country’s three surrounding oceans: Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic.

The trail has been created by connecting nearly 500 existing routes: from bike paths to hiking routes. They have built new stretches to connect the existing ones together, and have recovered disused train lines and secondary roads. Once they have completed the path, the province of Ontario will have the longest stretch.

If “any landscape is a condition of the spirit,” as writer Henri-Frédéric Amiel said, The Great Trail has all of them. Connecting 15,000 communities, it crosses the country from east to west and stretches northwards into the Yukon area. It passes through Canada’s main cities, like Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa; circles National Parks, such as Banff and Wood Buffalo; and crosses lakes and rivers, like Lake Superior and the Strait of Georgia. In fact, 26% of the path is liquid, which is why rowing and jet skis are two of the six most popular activities enjoyed along the way.

Besides the aquatic options, the other four ways of exploring The Great Trail are by bike, hiking, by horse, and cross-country skiing. Given its length, it isn’t designed to be completed in one go, particularly if you are going with children. It is best to complete sections, to suit your time, needs and preferences.\n

Private donations from individual Canadians have been essential in enabling completion of the project in time for the 150th anniversary.

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The best itinerary for foodies

Lovers of good food will find a path of sensory pleasures in Cowichan Valley, north of Victoria. Those exploring The Great Trail in this area will be able to walk or pedal between farms and vineyards, stopping to do a cheese-making course or taste wine. \n

There are, however, pre-established routes, like the Route Verte, Quebec, which is so easy and colourful that it is ideal for biking with little ones. For families of walkers, the Banff Legacy Trail is an easy route, packed with places where you can stop to enjoy a picnic. Meanwhile, if you want to learn to row, the Marina Trail, near Vancouver, is an excellent option in summer.

The Great Trail is also about environmental conservation, and it promotes an active lifestyle, suitable for any type of traveller. “No matter your age, your beliefs or your passions, there is a link that connects us all.”\n

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The trail starts at the Railway Coastal Museum, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

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48 hours in

magazine

48 hours in

Seoul, the fashion laboratory

In Seoul, you can do all the usual activities, like visiting museums and going to a jjimjilbang. Or you can go native and get carried away by hallyu, the Korean new wave. \n

hina has had no choice but to submit. Fashion is being dictated by its eastern neighbour. There is even a name for the growing global influence of South Korean culture: hallyu. South Korea has become the Asian trendsetter, a leader in modernity and beauty. Impossible fringes, perfect skin and attention-grabbing accessories, for him and her. The country’s fascination with aesthetics—it has the most plastic surgery operations per capita in the world—has created a cosmetics industry worth billions of dollars.

This obsession has also reached the city. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is one of the clearest examples of this desire to be at the cutting edge. The building, designed by Zaha Hadid and Korean studio Samoo, was opened in 2014 as a multicultural complex. Art, fashion and the latest trends collide in this futuristic space. You can find it in Dongdaemun, the biggest shopping area in Korea, with more than 25 malls and 30,000 shops. That is where Seoul Fashion Week takes place twice a year, in March and October. The rest of the time, the catwalk is the street.\n

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Photo: KOREA.NET via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

The members of BIGBANG are considered the kings of K-Pop.

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Photo: Alex Finch

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The mothers of K-pop

The most interesting tour lets you discover cafés and restaurants run by the families of the stars. Italian restaurant Viva Polo, for instance, belongs to the mother of Chan Yeol, member of boy band EXO, and the entire restaurant is decorated with posters of the group. \n

A stroll through Sinsa-dong is all you need to understand why Koreans are the kings of street style. The most interesting spot of all is Garosu-gil, a short avenue, less than a kilometre long, flanked by ginkgo trees. It is bursting with cafés, boutiques, art galleries and fashionistas, in search of their latest object of desire, be it a photo for Instagram at a fashionable café or a vintage handbag. For the photo, you have to go to the Banana Tree, where the desserts are served in photogenic plant pots. For the bag, try Simone Handbag Museum, an original building, shaped like a handbag, which explores the history of this accessory going back to the year 1500.

The Sinsa-dong neighbourhood is part of the Gangnam district, the epicentre of Korean luxury, which shot to international fame through the catchy PSY song. “Gangnam Style” is still the most-viewed video in the history of YouTube, with more than 2.6 billion views. It has made him one of the most important international representatives of hallyu. The Korean wave is primarily based on K-pop (Korean pop music) and K-dramas (soap operas). Artists train almost as if they were elite athletes, before launching themselves to stardom, sometimes from as early as nine years old. Entertainment companies invest millions in manufacturing mass idols. They have to know how to sing, act, dance and even speak several languages, so they can triumph in other markets, like Japan and China.\n

Photo: Alex Finch

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Photo: Panom / Shutterstock.com

Just like the stars of K-drama My Love from the Star, couples go to N Seoul Tower to seal their love with a padlock.

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The Visit Seoul tourist office will suggest several hallyu routes, ranging from locations where they shoot the most successful series, to the beauty salons celebrities frequent. There is also a space for more classic tourist locations, like N Seoul Tower, where the stars of My Love from the Star go on a date. The successful series is based on a love story between an alien and a hallyu celebrity. Their first kiss takes place on the Hangang River ferry cruise.

To really understand the K-pop phenomenon, you have to experience it. And, at K-live, you can do it in 4D. This unique experience includes a photograph with life-size images of South Korean idols and tickets to a concert, performed by holograms. As we said, always at the cutting edge.\n

Samcheong-dong is becoming a refuge for artists and young people. Its creative side shines through in galleries, like Kukje Gallery, and in the windows of the cafés that flood its streets. It is home to Bukchon Hanok Village, where traditional Korean houses can be found. Some of them now host tearooms and boutiques. \n

The next fashion hotspot

South Korea has become the Asian trendsetter, a leader in modernity and beauty.

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Adventure

Magazine

Adventure

Where cold comes from

In eastern Siberia, thermometers normally hover at around -50°C. It is a white steppe, where towns like Oymyakon, the coldest in the world, somehow manage to survive.\n

L

egend says winter comes from the hands of Chys Khan, the master of the cold. It is passed from his hands to those of Father Christmas, who is responsible for distributing it throughout the rest of Europe. Both have a white beard, but Chys Khan is wrapped up even warmer. He ‘lives’ in the coldest inhabited region on the planet, in the Sakha Republic, Siberia. Although several towns contend for this honour, the -71.2 °C recorded at Oymyakon back in 1924 place it first on the world thermometer (or last, depending on how you look at it). It is located 750m above sea level, in a valley. This causes the air coming from the mountains to get ‘stuck’ there and make it even colder.\n

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Fish freeze as soon as they are caught.

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Here in Oymyakon, the average winter temperature hovers between -42°C and -50°C, with winter lasting nine long months. The toughest months are December and January, when there is light for just three hours a day. That is when school gets cancelled and the children stay at home. But only when the thermometers—which contain alcohol because the mercury freezes—drop below -52°C. Vladimir Putin was warned before visiting the region: cars have to be double glazed. Ignoring this recommendation meant he got no further than a few metres from the airport before he had to give up.\n

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Small, furry and wise

Yakutia horses (or yakutos) survive outside because of their thick, abundant hair. They stand no more than a metre-and-a-half tall, but have developed an excellent ability to find plants under the snow to nourish themselves whatever the weather. 
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Oymyakon is the coldest inhabited region on the planet

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New Zealand photographer Amos Chapple, who captured the extreme cold with his camera, describes what it’s like to take a trip to this rarely-visited part of the world.

“Occasionally my saliva would freeze into needles that would prick my lips.” Chapple had serious problems getting his camera to work properly in these temperatures. Inhabitants of Oymyakon get a break in July and August, with warm days of about 20 °C, sometimes peaking at 30 °C.

If you still want to brave it, be sure to pack provisions, with extra petrol and some notion of mechanics. And avoid turning off the engine when you stop, because petrol freezes below -45 °C.\n

Photo: © Amos Chapple

Inhabitants of this region melt enormous blocks of ice to get water to drink.

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Scientists study Yakutia horses because they adapt to the cold so quickly.

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The town has no hotel, but its inhabitants (numbering less than a thousand) are welcoming, and some will give shelter to visitors. They hunt and fish their own food, and many work breeding horses. They are also farmers, although this activity is limited to just a few weeks of the year. It is the same with the cows, which give milk only in summer. The milk is frozen for the rest of the year.

During the cold months, fires are kept continually lit. And the folk here don’t enjoy many amenities: there is no running water because the pipes would freeze and burst, and the bathrooms are outside, protected by wooden huts. These are the consequences of living in the place where cold comes from. However, the inhabitants of Oymyakon are proud of this claim, and there is a commemorative sign at the village entrance. Every adventurer that manages to get here is listed in a document that certifies they have visited the coldest town in the world. Adapt or die, as Darwin would say.\n

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Photo: © Amos Chapple

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On the banks of the river

Oymyakon is on the banks of the Indigirka River. With thermal waters, it continues to run all year. In fact, Oymyakon means “water that does not freeze”. This is where the locals go to fish and collect ice. Having no running water, they heat up large blocks for drinking, cooking and washing.  \n

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Top 6A

MAGAZINE

TOP 6A

#Foodporn temples

Slowly melting ice creams and four-storey hamburgers have become the kings of Instagram. Because food can be very sexy.

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (New York, United States)

New York is queen of #foodporn and the crown is worn by this chain, with two restaurants in Soho, one in Midtown and another in the Meatpacking District. Although its hamburgers are firm candidates for Instagram top models, the star is the XXL milkshakes. Cookies, cotton candy, lollipops and more than a packet of M&M’s overflow from the glass.

Wingmans (London, United Kingdom)

After being open for just one year, their extra-juicy wings were chosen as “the best in the United Kingdom” at Wing Fest. This pop-up restaurant has also worked with Gordon Ramsay and it promises to maintain its success, with homemade sauces and pure American-style side orders.

Sweet Mandy B’s (Chicago, United States)

Its old-fashioned desserts include tart, homemade cookies and cupcakes. There are also guest delicacies like these Matza Nutella S’mores, a reinvention of the traditional American dessert, with chocolate, crackers and marshmallows, in XL. You can order cakes for special occasions.

Ninja Bowl (Duxton Hill, Singapure)

Within #foodporn, healthy food occupies a place of honour. Avocado and salmon normally scoop up all the ‘likes’, but there is always room for new trends, like poké bowls, a sort of Hawaiian salad, with fresh fish, vegetables and rice, which is trying to become the fast food of the now.

Duck & Waffles (London, United Kingdom)

Breakfast, brunch and dessert, at any time of the day. Sweet and savoury, or even better, both. From octopus to chocolate fondant, but best of all are the waffles, served with impeccable presentation. Another plus: the views. It is on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, one of the tallest in London.

The Ainsworth (New York, United States)

$500 is the prize for eating three mac-and-cheese hamburgers, one portion of chips and a gherkin. The most photogenic creation by The Ainsworth is the star of this challenge, although the menu is full of gems, like Holy Sundae, with a crepe, several scoops of ice cream and a cornet crowned with two doughnuts.

Supreme sovereignty

Wing specialists

Sugar overdose

Asian gastro-lust

Elegant gluttony

The challenge

Travelbeats

Magazine

Travelbeats

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Photo: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

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The LEGO monuments

Until 3 March over a dozen giant structures made out of LEGO will be on display in the Museum of Science and Industry of Chicago. Some of the most outstanding models are the Colosseum, the International Space Station and an 18-metre-long Golden Gate Bridge. Apart from admiring the works, the building area is open to visitors so they can demonstrate their creative skills and test their structures on a surface that simulates earthquakes or in a wind tunnel.
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Bruges débuts beer pipes

“They thought it was a joke. No one believed it would be possible,” says Xavier Vanneste, CEO of the emblematic De Halve Maan brewery, Bruges. With the support of the Local Council and a successful crowdfunding campaign, he has built a pipe measuring 3,276 m, which transports the golden elixir from the brewery to the bottling plant, on the city outskirts. That is how they have solved the logistical problem that has already removed most of its competitors from the area. Around 500 lorries a year were pounding the streets of the city centre to transport its blonde, which now flows underground at a rate of 4,000 litres per hour. The reward for collaborating in the project? Beer for life. For those who love beer, but not quite that much, the factory organises guided tours with a tasting session.\n

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The wine cathedral

The walls in the Solar de Samaniego winery (Laguardia, Álava, Spain) almost talk to you. The columns of the old, 10-metre-high, concrete wine tanks have come to life thanks to the work of the Australian mural painter, Guido Van Helten, who has decorated the tanks with the faces of seven people from the area to reflect the creation processes of literature and wine.

The first face is that of Rafael Bauza, a winery employee who has worked here for 40 years. Van Helten has taken advantage of the uneven surface and the texture of the concrete to define his subject’s features, successfully managing to bring life to a place that up until now had been abandoned. He aims to ‘capture people by means of portraits and human elements, and combine them with industrial spaces’. ‘I want the figures to stand like statues in a cathedral, which I think are beautiful places to visit,’ he says. The project has been named ‘The Wine Cathedral’ and forms part of the winery’s extensive vino-cultural programme titled ‘Drinking Between the Lines’.\n

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The restaurant that changes with the seasons

When autumn turns to winter out in the street, the same thing happens inside the restaurant Park Avenue Winter in New York. Located right in the heart of Manhattan, the establishment undergoes a transformation as it adapts to reflect the unique moods of each of the four seasons. The leaves and deep orange shades of melancholic autumn give way to sober and elegant décor, which emphasises the stark bareness of nature and the characteristic points of light of the coldest season.

The menu includes hot dishes, such as pumpkin ravioli with hazelnuts, pecorino and pickled cranberries, or New Zealand salmon with pecan nuts and smoked miso. If you would like to dine in a wintry atmosphere, make sure you go before 21 March, the first day of spring, after which date the restaurant will turn into Park Avenue Spring.
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Artwork painted with bits

In the digital era, everything is ephemeral, and art even more so. One example is the new digital forest at the National Museum of Singapore. A computer creates it in real time, and it changes depending on the time of day, season and interactions with the public. Nothing that happens can be reproduced again. It is as fleeting as a tweet or a Snapchat photo. The work is by teamLab, a multidisciplinary Japanese group and experts in making dreams materialise through digital art. High-tech professionals, from programmers to architects, with wild imaginations.

The Story of a Forest installation is the star attraction at the renovated glass rotunda. It is inspired by the flora and fauna of Singapore. \n

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Bazar

Magazine

Bazar

Roxy x Courrèges

The two brands have come together to create a snow wear collection: jackets, sweaters, trousers, masks and hats. The hooded jacket is waterproof and can be worn with a helmet.\n

Calpack Astyll Suitcase

While it may look like marble from the outside, these cases are lightweight and durable. Its eight wheels rotate 360 degrees, so you get maximum mobility with minimum effort.\n

Bose QuietControl 30 Headphones

The new Bose headphone range, which isolates the wearer from the noise of conversations or even plane engines, so all you do is listen to music or answer the phone, is now wireless, with Bluetooth connection. The battery lasts up to ten hours.\n

Cord Taco

Headphones and mobile chargers tend to get tangled if you store them loose in handbags, pockets or suitcases. This simple piece of leather in the shape of a taco, available in different models and colours, keeps them organised and makes them easy to find. \n





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