Travel

Travel

The best of Switzerland’s city sights: readers’ tips

With Alpine backdrops, sparkling lakes and medieval hearts, these Swiss cities rank among some of the most picturesque destinations in Europe

Dramatically positioned on a glittering blue lake with mountains towering around, Lugano is a stunner. If arriving by train, take the little funicular down into the centre and soak up the rarefied air of the wealthy Italianate streets. Head 500 metres east through the elegant Giardini Pubblici to Castagnola, to pick up the Sentiero dell’olivo path, which leads 3.5km through shoreline olive groves to Gandria, a pretty cluster of houses clinging to the hillside just shy of the Italian border. It’s an enchanting walk (though beware Lycra-clad high-achieving Luganesi pounding past on their lunch break power jog) to a timewarp village with good lunch options and a convenient, scenic ferry ride back into town.
marthah

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Travel

In praise of the Norfolk coast: big skies, sandy beaches and subtle beauty

This coastline may not be always the most dramatic but its big skies, dunes, wildlife and colours have a unique charm that ‘seep into you’, says local Patrick Barkham

One evening last summer, I took an overgrown track to the iron-age fort at Warham, two miles from the Norfolk coast. I stood on its great banks of flowery chalk grassland, alone, and watched the sun disappear, two barn owls and a tawny owl the only other living presences in the landscape.

It was a tranquil experience but also unexpectedly exhilarating. I felt I had slipped through conventional time; I didn’t come face-to-face with Boudicca exactly, but the past felt unusually present: mysterious, powerful, unsettling.

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Music

10 of the best jazz clubs in Europe

Get in the groove at swingin’ jazz clubs from Berlin and Brighton to Paris and Madrid. Whether you want laid-back or out-there, you will find good vibes

Europe’s westernmost capital city has one of Europe’s oldest jazz clubs: Hot Clube, founded in 1948, has hosted legends such as Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan and Dexter Gordon. And on 22 and 24 February this 140-capacity club will host another elder statesman of jazz: 89-year-old Lou Donaldson, a soulful alto sax player influenced by Charlie Parker. So … old, old, old. Not so. Jazz reinvents itself and so has Hot Clube – literally, after its original premises went up in smoke in 2009. Happily, it reopened three years later two doors away thanks to the support of Lisbon residents and businesses and the work of the association that founded it.

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Travel

How to escape: tips and sites for working or volunteering abroad

If you dream of swapping the nine-to-five for more fulfilling work overseas, take a look at these courses and sharing websites that could see you teaching, farming, or looking after a millionaire’s pad, for free

Yoga instructors can work all over the world – and the initial training can be done abroad, too. The directory at yogaeverywhere.com lists residential training courses from France and Italy to India and Thailand. Would-be tour guides can gain qualifications from the Institute of Tourist Guiding and the Hospitality Guild, though many adventure travel companies are more interested in skills and attitudes. Exodus, for example, prioritises language skills, an interest in outdoor pursuits, experience of working with people of all ages and knowledge of a particular culture or region. Work as a massage therapist is another way to combine travel and earning. Well-regarded courses abroad include the Bali International Spa Academy and the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy. Or how about training as a chef or a mixologist, and getting a job in a beach resort or on a cruise ship?

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Travel

Hospitality sweet: meet the Brits who escaped to run hotels abroad

“We feel lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world …” From the Dordogne to the Philippines, Brits tell how they left homes and jobs in the UK to start new lives abroad – as hoteliers

Off-grid hideaways in the woods don’t get much better than these three cabins in the Dordogne. They’re the sort that inspire dreams of downsizing and doing important things with your life – like fishing and baking bread. They have just the right mixture of hobbity idiosyncrasy and complete practicality. The most difficult decision is whether to swim in the lake or fall asleep on the raft. Diane, 50, and Bob Kirkwood, 53, bought a ruined house on mad impulse during a trip to France and started working on the property as a holiday project.

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Travel

Travel dreams: how to make a new life abroad

Want to know what it’s like to give everything up and escape to more exotic climes? These inspiring travellers have made it work in all sorts of ways

Emma Robson, 35, from London is an adventure tour leader
I was a cardiac physiologist working at St Thomas’s hospital in London and had spent seven years working, studying and watching the NHS struggle. It was a rewarding job and I had great colleagues, but I was always restless. The idea that I could do something else came after I took a four-week overland trip to Africa with overland adventure specialist Dragoman. It was the longest time I could get off work and it was amazing. I cried when it finished – the idea had been to cure me of my wanderlust, but it backfired! The trip was led by two young women and I thought, “If they can do it, maybe I can”. I applied for a job with the company as soon as I got back. The interview went well, then there was a week’s trial before the training, which started last May. The hardest part was learning to drive a 13-metre long coach around London.

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Travel

The rise of travelling families and world-schooling

More families than ever are taking ‘edventures’ – long-term trips where children learn on the road. We talk to nomadic parents about the pros and cons of dropping out to travel the world

Would you take your kids out of school for an extended trip? Perhaps you have already taken the plunge? Share your experiences in the comments below

Read more tales of Brits who’ve quit their jobs and found a new life abroad this Saturday’s Travel section

World-schooling, edventuring, life-learning, whatever you call it, more parents are doing it – if the proliferation of blogs and books by families on round-the-world trips is anything to go by.

To our minds, they are learning in a more interesting way. We don’t know if we’re right, but it’s our gut instinct

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Travel

Discover Dublin’s Stoneybatter, a district on the rise

Temple Bar and Grafton Street get the tourist traffic but novelist Rob Doyle knows that Stoneybatter’s the cool neighbourhood to explore – if you want a taste of little Williamsburg by the Liffey

Until a few years ago, Dublin’s working-class neighbourhood of Stoneybatter and its environs, just north of the river Liffey, were run-down and little talked about. The O’Devaney Gardens high-rise flats – now eerily deserted amid fenced-off fields and wasteland – were particularly notorious. Following a surge of ambivalently received gentrification, Stoneybatter has become synonymous with Dublin hipsterism. Mountain beards and craft beers are de rigueur, and you needn’t look hard to find “hot yoga” venues, art spaces and community squats.

Related: Hidden City writer Karl Whitney on Dublin

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Travel

Top 10 wine bars and tasting rooms in Buenos Aires

Argentina’s taste for wine is on the rise, as is its capital’s bar scene. Here, we pick 10 places to discover hundreds of quality labels from as little as £1.60 a glass

Argentinians are now into wine more than ever before, thanks to new top-quality vintages that go beyond the purple, juicy malbec. Good spots to sample wines in Buenos Aires used to be relatively few, but that is now changing. Throw into the mix the fact that the government recently named fermented grape juice as Argentina’s national drink and you have the perfect sampling storm.

Here are 10 of the best new wine bars and tasting rooms around the capital, showcasing the wares of Argentina’s 884 bodegas.

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Travel

New travel challenges for the fit, fearless and freaky

Fancy doing something different in 2016? Ranging from the serious to the downright silly our pick of unusual new activities and trips includes survival schools and ‘snowga’, boozy marathons and extreme food challenges

Give something a new name and a new sport is born. Enter skyrunning, essentially going for a run somewhere very high up. The term has taken off in the Alps and describes a high altitude version of fell-running over rough ground, and snow at higher altitude. Icicle, a company based in Chamonix, has launched skyrunning weeks with guided runs of 15-20km a day and coaching, for runners capable of half-marathons.
£699pp B&B and activities, June-August

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Travel

Spain’s hot restaurants: the top new chefs and where to discover them

As the Madrid Fusión food festival begins, meet the country’s rising culinary stars and chew over a trip to their restaurants, where there are affordable menus to be enjoyed before fame strikes

All prices are for food only

In recent years Spain’s culinary scene has created a number of true food heroes: from Ferran Adrià’s molecular magic at the famed elBulli (which closed in 2011) and Juan Mari and Elena Arzak’s incredible reinvention of Basque specialities to Andoni Aduriz’s exquisite minimalism in the middle of the Basque countryside. Unfortunately, such high-end establishments are now too expensive for most us. So is there a way to enjoy Spain’s top cuisine at more affordable prices? Yes, as it happens, by tracking down the latest generation of chefs and getting a taste of their cooking before fame (or notoriety) takes them to the next level.

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Travel

My secret hideaway: foreign correspondents reveal all

Foreign correspondents know how to get under the skin of a country. But where do they go when they want to get away from it all? Here, well-travelled journalists reveal their ultimate holiday escapes

At first I felt critical of the many Africans I spoke to who had never heard of São Tomé e Principe. It is after all an African country, albeit one of the smallest (population 194,000) and remotest – an archipelago of tiny islands nestled in the watery armpit of west and central Africa, deep in the Atlantic, with Gabon to the east and Nigeria to the north.

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Travel

The scenic Welsh triathlon for the non-competitive

Forget sweaty Lycra and saddle sores, in Carmarthenshire they’ve invented a scenic, fun version of the triathlon that allows Kevin Rushby’s family to do a leg each, and factor in some pub time, too

I enjoy triathlons. Obviously not the initial immersion in freezing water: that is not fun. And not the subsequent half hour of being repeatedly kicked in the face by other swimmers before you jump on a bike, only to find the ride ruined by your cold, wet clothes. That sets up the chest infection, of course, that spoils the run. Actually, when I think about it, I only really enjoy the transitions, those few blessed minutes of rest between sports when you munch away contentedly at your sandwiches, swig some coffee, and gaze indulgently at the obsessive, furrowed faces of those who take it too seriously.

Precious moments! I’ve often wished they could be longer and a little bit more luxurious. And now, in Carmarthenshire, a county that clearly thinks like I do, they have come up with a great idea: triathlons done at your own speed, possibly over an entire weekend, and on a selection of routes. You can swap your least favourite activity with another: paddle-boarding or kayaking instead of swimming, for example. You can even replace yourself with another person which is what I plan to do: daughter Maddy, aged 12, loves swimming so she can do that section, while my partner Sophie likes running so that’s her sorted. All I have to do is get on my bike for a few hours. It’s a family tri, and the transitions are extended over several hours in cafes, pubs and accommodation. Carmarthenshire has, I reckon, done the impossible: they have perfected the triathlon.

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Travel

The armchair traveller … travel news and views – without the packing

Travel the world with our roundup of stories, news, and journeys into travel’s wild and weird side – and this week that means McChocolate Potatoes in Japan

You hanker after a remote winter adventure: pristine snow, northern lights, husky teams, beards, plaid shirts, log fires and cabins with a Sigur Rós-style soundtrack. But you’re unaccustomed to the extreme cold and don’t have all those warm, technical layers. Sounds pretty similar to the Australian film-makers who created this short in Abisko, northern Sweden.

“We found ourselves completely unprepared for -37C when we travelled to see the northern lights in Abisko on a whim. Our cameras froze, our heaviest clothes were jeans and a jumper.” Luckily, they managed to squeeze out a film that captures the ethereal beauty of the Arctic wilderness so stylishly that all you have to do is crank up the heating, sit back and enjoy.
@andypietra

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