The Inside Track
If you're yearning to discover hidden corners of Europe beyond the likes of Paris or Rome, the choices are endless! That's why we asked seven specialists to tell us about a secret spot they just love. Illustration by Scott Chambers
SWEDEN FROM THE WATER
CHAMPION SNOWBOARDER DANIEL BIVESON
“I live in Stockholm and it’s a fabulous city. If I want to go snowboarding in town there’s an artificial slope called Hammarbybacken, but to find good snow I need to travel a couple of hours north-west. When I’m not away somewhere competing, I like to go to my favourite restaurant in Stockholm called Lydmar (www.lydmar.com), which overlooks the water. It’s a hotel, too, and there’s a great feel to the place. It’s brilliant being down on the water – I have a boat and there’s nothing better than taking it out on the archipelago. There are thousands of islands, many with restaurants and bars, so taking a ferry out is something everyone should do when they visit the city. Even better is to charter a boat for a day or two and really get a feel for the islands. By law you’re allowed to dock at them and camp for the night, and in summer, armed with some good hamburgers and a barbecue, there’s nothing better.”
A MAGICAL SCOTLAND
LEGENDARY BRITISH CLIMBER KENTON COOL
“Fly to Aberdeen and drive due west and you’ll arrive at the small Highland town of Ballater. Apart from being very picturesque, it’s famous for being really close to the royal estate of Balmoral. But it’s not the amazing estate that draws me to the area, it’s the walking and climbing that can be found on Lochnagar.
“As one of Scotland’s Munros, it attracts hill walkers all-year round, while in winter it becomes a climbers’ playground on its foreboding North Face, which gives some of Scotland’s hardest climbing. The area inspired Prince Charles to write the children’s book The Old Man of Lochnagar.
“After a hard day on the hill, I head straight to the Ballater chip shop.
Fish and chips have always been a weakness of mine and these are the best for miles around. Normally, I wash them down with a pint of local beer in one of the many nearby pubs. But for those with a finer palate there is an excellent single malt called Royal Lochnagar, which comes out of a distillery on the edge of the royal estate.
“The area holds many fond memories for me and, while I’ve moved onto the bigger mountains of the Himalaya, I always try to return every few years just to savour the ‘Old Man’ once again.”
KENTON SUPPORTS THE SCIENCE: (SO WHAT? SO EVERYTHING) CAMPAIGN. FOR MORE DETAILS, VISIT WWW.DIRECT.GOV.UK/SCIENCESOWHAT
TOP TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER SILVIA OTTE
“My work takes me out of Germany most of the time, but I will always have a soft spot for Duhnen and Döse, two small towns right next to each other on the Wadden Sea, an area of tidal flats and wetlands in the North Sea. Every year as a child I could make a wish and it would always be to have my family take me here. We would walk out when the tide was low, which can be quite dangerous because when the water comes back it does so quite quickly.
“Just wandering on the wide-open spaces of the sea floor was fantastic to me and left a deep impression. Whenever I’m in Bremen, where I grew up, I always go back to Duhnen and Döse, and I even went there on my honeymoon, walking on the beach, enjoying the incredible air. To me, the scenery has almost theatrical qualities, and there’s no doubt the landscape has influenced me professionally. It’s partly because I have a real love for wide-open spaces that I mostly shoot wide angle in my images.”
TURTLE BUNBURY, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF THE VANISHING IRELAND SERIES
“When it comes to southern Irish towns, the West Cork enclave of Clonakilty has a lot going for it. It’s tidy, busy, entertaining and proud. The streets of ‘Clon’ are lined with old-world shops and pubs, such as De Barras, a fantastic music bar where you might find Christy Moore strumming his guitar.
“The liveliest times of year are the country and bluegrass festival at the end of August, and the West Cork festival in June. Otherwise, the surrounding countryside is perfect for strolling, with neolithic caves, Norman ruins and lush lagoons stuffed with kingfishers and egrets. The coast is replete with romantic coves and long, sandy beaches, such as the surf-and family-friendly Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney Island. And if grilled pig’s off al is your thing, you’ll find the Clonakilty black pudding second to none!”
A SPECIAL PLACE IN ITALY
ALDO ZILLI, CELEBRITY SUPER CHEF
“My favourite spot is Pescara, where I go on family holidays. We stay at the Sporting Hotel Villa Maria (www.sportingvillamaria.it), which has a spa that my wife adores. And my kids love it, as it has beautiful green grounds surrounding a great swimming pool. It is only 15 minutes from Pescara airport and five minutes from the beach. I love this pocket of Italy, and I really like that it always makes me think of my brother, the priest, who christened my son here.
“My favourite time to visit is September because by then most of the tourists have left, but it is still very hot. When I’m in the city, I take the family to my favourite restaurant, Taverna 58 (www.taverna58.it) in Pescara old town – it serves the most amazing regional food. A must, if you’re in the area, is a trip to the Parco Nazionale della Majella, the truly beautiful national park that also has some brilliant little restaurants at very reasonable rates.”
ALDO’S NEW VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT, ZILLI GREEN, IS NOW OPEN IN LONDON’S SOHO, WWW.ZILLIALDO.COM
ANTXON OTAEGUI, WINDSURFING ACE
“It’s not easy to find, but to get to my favourite beach is well worth the effort. You need to drive towards Orzola, right at the top of Lanzarote, and if you get to a beautiful fishing harbour you’ve gone too far. You need to exit before that – you’re looking for a dirt road on the left about 3km long that will take you right to a tiny, 150m beach. It has magnificent white sand, is next to a high cliff, and the water is clear blue. It’s never crowded here and you’re surrounded by nature. There’s no construction anywhere nearby, the skies are always clear and because of the cliff the wind never really picks up.
“About 7km away is a town called Arrieta where there is a nice restaurant called El Amanecer. I always order the cherne, a kind of fish, and have it with papas arrugadas, a local potato dish. If I fancy a little activity, I will head down to the harbour at Orzola and take a boat to another island called La Graciosa. It’s so small it makes Lanzarote seem enormous!”
TAMARA ECCLESTONE, JET-SETTING MODEL
“Being half-Croatian means I spent a lot of my childhood in Croatia and most of my family still lives there. I holiday in the country most summers with my friends and my family. When people think of Croatia for holidays most of them will immediately talk about Hvar and Bol which are both amazing, but my favourite spot is a little-known place called Nin. Nin is about 10 miles from Zadar and is in the middle of a lagoon connected to the mainland by two very old bridges - and is surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches.
“There’s much to love about Nin, from the beaches to the culture and the architecture. For anyone wanting memorable sights it has the smallest cathedral in the world. For foodies like me there is the Sokol food fiesta, and for those that just want sand, sun and sea it has that in abundance, and the beaches are great for families. A little-known fact is that it’s also home to a unique mud called ‘peloid’, which has been used for medical purposes for more than 30 years.”
TAMARA ECCLESTONE IS AN AMBASSADOR FOR SPORT RELIEF 2010, WWW.SPORTRELIEF.COM