Four fantastic escapes

The golden pavilion in Kyoto.
The golden pavilion in Kyoto.

Japan for all seasons

You’ve admired pictures of cherry blossoms in Tokyo’s central parks and the changing Autumn leaves of Kyoto shrines. Why not make 2015 the year of that trip to the land of sushi and samurai and a country where seasons are always in vogue and where a serene landscape is best appreciated from the window of a Shinkansen bullet train.

After that long flight to Tokyo, relax your weary limbs at an onsen: the steamy bath house where rest is ritual. Discover the capital riding the Tokyo Metro and the dazzling views from the front carriage of the circular Yamanote Line passing through palatial Maranouchi to the heart of Blade Runner frenzy with Shibuya’s digital towers and famous traffic light choreography. Two hours from Tokyo’s imposing central station, on the Shinkansen’s East to West corridor, is serene Kyoto, and an obligatory destination for any trip to this island nation. Enjoy beautiful views of Mount Fuji on a day trip from Tokyo’s cinematic Shinjuku neighbood to Hakone Park. Of course, you’ll be charmed by Japan’s gastronomy, from your corner ramen to elaborate green tea Soba noodles. Don’t miss out on the carrousels of sushi in Tokyo’s bustling Tsukiji’s fish market.

Route 66

This legendary road known by several names including “Mother Road,” “Main Street of America,” and the “Will Rogers Highway,” has served travelers for some 50 years before succumbing to a “new and improved” interstate system. Established in 1926, Route 66 is 3,000 kms of paved highway which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, and crossing the states of Illinois, Mis- souri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The most famous road in America for decades, was an historic path which served thousands migrating west during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and over the years, underwent many improvements and realignments until reaching it’s western most point in Santa Monica, CA. With direct flights to Dallas and Los Angeles from Bogotá, cruise the road immortalized by beatniks and live that adage: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

 Fields of Flanders

Last year marked the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War and a “war to end all wars”. From the beaches of Normandy to the Cenotaph in central London, commemorations were marked by a sea of poppies. But this year, leave France’s capital and plan a late summer trip to the battlefields of Flanders, with its picturesque towns of narrow streets nestled among the rolling hills of Belgium. Travel through the trinity cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges and where food is more than frites, and waffles come served in breakfast rooms overlooking canals.

 The Land of Fire

Cash in those air miles to journey to the Land of Fire, the southern most tip of South America and the Patagonian side of Argentina. Hit the slopes at the ski resort town of Bariloche on Route 40, the near mythical highway, which served as the escape route for outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, more than century ago. After the bustle of Buenos Aires, Bariloche is an escape to solitude hemmed-in by snow-capped peaks, lakes for cold water trout fishing and the chance to hike some of earth’s last remaining glaciers.

Patagonia is a lonely landscape, described by novelist Bruce Chatwin as having “an effect on the imagination something like the Moon.” With its earthly delights – Merlots to Bonarda – and fire pit grilling, the Patagonia is that backwater oasis which should restore your energies in an agenda filled year.




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