Rough Guide To…

The travel show presented by Julia Bradbury and Toby Amies concludes. In the final instalment, Toby has his taste buds tickled in the Mexican city of Oaxaca; and Julia loses herself in the magical ambience of Portugal’s very own fairytale town – Sintra.

This week, Toby endures a 14-hour flight from the United Kingdom to reach the Mexican city of Oaxaca, and he quickly realises that his destination has been worth the trip. “I can already tell this is a special place,” he says, as he wanders the wide boulevards and admires the colourful buildings. The city’s hodgepodge of architectural styles comes from both its Spanish colonisers and its indigenous Mayan and Zapotec people.

To kick off his Oaxacan adventure, Toby travels to the heart of the city for a visit to the bustling marketplace. A local chef educates Toby about the region’s unique ingredients – which include dried grasshoppers. The cooking lesson culminates in a wonderful meal incorporating vivid and contrasting colours – ceviche. This seafood dish is made from cubed rock fish which is seasoned with sea salt and marinated in lime juice. The chef dresses the simple stew with a mango salsa and serves it inside a hollowed-out chilli. The intense flavours have Toby impressed, if somewhat speechless. “Good hot – but hot hot,” he says of the spicy offering.

Next, Toby hires a car so he can sample a bit of the surrounding countryside. After a short while, he has the good fortune to come across a distillery that specialises in mescal. Like tequila, the spirit is distilled from the liquor of the agave cactus, but it possesses more of an earthy flavour than its better-known counterpart.

The traditional mescal fermenting process was introduced over 500 years ago by the Spanish. First the plant is baked for two to three days, before being left to brew. Finally, it is twice-distilled to produce a unique smoky flavour. Toby jumps at the chance to have a guided tour of the distillery. “It’s quite the boozy funk,” he says as he gets a whiff of the vats’ contents. Drinking mescal is thought to be a spiritual experience, so Toby takes a medicinal dram before reflecting on his time in Oaxaca. “It’s best appreciated by just sort of sitting down and letting it wash over you,” he concludes.

Julia is much closer to home this week as she finds the hidden holiday gem of Sintra just a 45-minute train ride from Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. The enchanting town dates back to the eighth centur when it was invaded by the Moors. Its palaces, castles, gardens and whimsical streets have long been popular with tourists, royalty and literary folk alike. Hans Christian Andersen described the town as the most beautiful place in Portugal. Julia gets into the magical spirit of things with a horse- drawn cart ride around the centre. “Every building is just like a fairytale,” she says of the Moorish touches and late-Gothic-style architecture.

Julia’s first stop is Sintra’s toy museum, which houses over 40,000 collectables. Staying in touch with her inner child, she then indulges her sweet tooth at a nearby café. The bakery produces over 2,000 mini cheesecakes a day, and as they are a local delicacy, Julia feels obliged to try at least one. “Tastes like Bakewell tart,” she enthuses. “Sweet, slightly treacly.”

Nestled in the hills around Sintra is the spectacular Pena National Palace, which was built in 1839 by King Ferdinand II. Surrounding the palace is a sprawling 200-hectare park, also created by the king. It is home to a dazzling array of exotic plants and Julia loses herself in its labyrinth of pathways. At the end of her walk through the forest, Julia is rewarded with breathtaking views of the palace itself. “Here it is – a fitting end to my journey, because it encapsulates what’s best about Sintra – stunning views and magical buildings.”

Continuing on Five this week is the travel show presented by Julia Bradbury and Toby Amies. In this instalment, Toby searches for respite from the heat in steamy Madrid, and Julia takes a peaceful break in Provence.

It is the height of summer and Toby finds himself in the sweltering centre of one of Europe’s sunniest cities – Madrid. “You’re practically guaranteed sunshine – and lots of it,” he says as he ducks into a shop to buy a Panama hat. Another novel way to dodge the searing rays is to take a tour on a Segway – a two-wheeled personal transport device that is available for hire.

Although a lot of Madrid’s sights can be appreciated on foot, Toby finds that this scooter-like method of transport is preferable to walking because it creates a bit of a breeze. To start with, Toby steers himself in the direction of the impressive Palacio Real, a royal palace dating back to the 18th century. Then it is on to the nearby Parque de Rosales, where Toby is greeted by the awe-inspiring sight of an authentic Egyptian temple. The Temple of Debod was originally situated near Aswan, but was gifted to Spain as a sign of gratitude for the country’s help in preserving a number of monuments during the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan in 1960.

All the sightseeing gets a bit much for Toby, so he decides to leave Madrid’s centre to get out on the open road. With its rolling countryside and sleepy villages, the Guadarrama Mountain region provides the perfect setting. Toby quickly upgrades from a Segway to a Vespa in order to make the most of the scenery. “All on our own out here, it feels like a voyage of discovery,” he says.

As evening falls, Toby heads back to central Madrid to sample the famous nightlife. The city’s bars begin to fill up with locals who have emerged from their homes into the pleasant cool of twilight. Following their lead, Toby hops from bar to bar enjoying the drinks and tapas on offer. “It’s like a pub crawl without the kebab shop at the end,” he says.

Across the border, Julia plans to spend a couple of relaxing days in Provence. She starts her break in the charming Gallo-Roman city of Arles. The city gained worldwide renown for being home to Van Gogh for 15 months from 1888. The Impressionist painted over 300 of his works in Arles, including ‘Sunflowers’. “You can see why he was so enraptured with the place,” observes Julia as she takes a leisurely evening stroll through the cobbled streets.

Thirty miles out of Arles lie the marshy plains of the Carmague region. The area is best known for its white horses, and Julia heads to a nearby riding school to harness one of the steeds for a tour of the local sights, which include protected marshlands and the beautiful Mediterranean coast. After becoming one with nature, Julia rounds off her relaxing holiday with a therapeutic abstract painting lesson with a local artist. “When you need to get away, sometimes it’s as important to have a mental escape as a physical one,” concludes Julia.

Continuing on Five this week is the travel show presented by Julia Bradbury and Toby Amies. In this instalment, Julia hits US Route 1 bound for Florida’s Key West; and Toby enjoys the sights of Bavaria from behind the wheel of a Porsche.

Julia begins her road trip in Miami, where she picks up her all-American Chrysler Sebring convertible. It is just four hours to Key West from Miami, but Julia plans to spend a leisurely two days to reach the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys. After cruising down Miami’s famous Ocean Drive, which is flanked on one side by South Beach and on the other by art deco eateries, Julia makes her first stop at Key Largo. “It takes a lot of work to make one place look so ugly,” she says of the town’s uniform shopping malls and petrol stations. However, Julia makes the best of a bad situation by splurging on a couple of inflatable pool toys to accompany her for the rest of the drive.

Twenty-three miles south of Key Largo is the pleasantly picturesque Islamorada, home to Robbie’s Marina. For just £2, tourists can feed the enormous wild tarpon fish that congregate around the jetty. Islamorada’s crystal-clear waters offer the perfect spot for snorkelling or diving, but Julia only has time for a short pit stop before she makes her way across the famous Seven Mile Bridge. The bridge, which is actually 6.79 miles long, provides the only road link between the mainland and Key West. Along the way, she breaks for a dolphin- spotting boat trip. Her guide, Captain Victoria, uses an unusual technique to ensure her customers are treated to a sighting of these beautiful marine mammals. With the help of meditation and singing, it is not long before Julia spies a school of dolphins. “They are so affecting and moving and just gorgeous, gorgeous creatures,” she gushes.

At the end of Route 1 lies Key West, the city which marks the southernmost point of the continental United States. “We are officially closer to Cuba than we are to mainland America,” says Julia as she pulls up to the famous Mallory Square. As well as providing the perfect place to watch the sun go down, the square is also home to food vendors and street performers. “I’m very glad that this pot of gold lies at the end of the Route 1,” says Julia.

In Europe, Toby is preparing for a classic road trip of his own – through Bavarian Germany. But it is not just the prospect of spectacular scenery and overflowing steins that has Toby’s motor running. He will be making the journey in a rented Porsche 911 Carrera 4 cabriolet. As he drives out of Munich bound for the autobahn, Toby’s excitement builds. “Every single piece of testosterone in my body is screaming at me to double the speed!” he exclaims.

After an hour on the road, it is time to pull over for a break from the midsummer sun. Toby’s chosen spot is Lake Starnberg, a sparkling glacial waterhole that attracts hundreds of daytrippers from Munich. But soon Toby is itching to get back behind the wheel for the next stage of his journey.

Back on the autobahn, Toby busies himself dodging caravans before he finally reaches the base of the magnificent Bavarian Alps. “There is a very welcome chill to the air,” he says as he wends his way up the mountainside in the gathering fog and cloud.

Toby’s final destination is the traditional Bavarian town of Bad Tölz. Once he arrives, he wastes no time in inviting himself to a village party, where the main source of entertainment is an oompah band. “I’m really growing to like Bavaria,” Toby remarks after donning some lederhosen and downing a few steins. “They’ve retained this incredibly strong sense of identity.”

Continuing on Five this week is the travel show presented by Julia Bradbury and Toby Amies. In this instalment, Toby enjoys some explosive action in the Aeolian archipelago; and Julia visits two island gems off the coast of Croatia.

For his Mediterranean adventure, Toby heads to the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago off the coast of Sicily. “I can guarantee you lots of volcanic activity,” he promises. Of the seven islands that make up the group, Toby is visiting just two – Stromboli and Vulcano. In the summer months, both of these can be accessed by ferry from Palermo, but Toby is travelling in style on a chartered catamaran. His sailboat is captained by husband and wife team Melissa and Francesco, so Toby is free to relax on deck.

As he sails towards Stromboli, Toby learns that the volcano on the island has been erupting for over 2,000 years. “I have to wonder – why do people live here?” Toby asks as they drop anchor near the black sand beach. After a quick poke around, Toby gets back on board the catamaran for the spectacular night-time pyrotechnics display put on by Stromboli’s smoking volcano.

The following morning, Toby catches a hydrofoil to Vulcano. In the blazing heat of the sun, he bravely hikes up the slope of the technically dormant volcano. Atop the peak, Toby is confronted with a barren, sulphurous landscape. “It is quite hellish up here,” he observes. “It feels like the end of the Earth.”

Meanwhile in Split, Julia jumps on a passenger ferry to explore two of Dalmatia’s outlying islands. Her initial impressions of her Croatian experience are not too favourable. “It’s like some sort of 70s bingo hall,” she says of her on-board surroundings. Fortunately, Julia’s first destination, Vis, more than compensates for the smoky ferry ride. With its clear seas, quiet coves and charming countryside, Vis provides the perfect place to unwind.

To get her tour underway, Julia hires Babe – a bright-yellow VW Beetle convertible. One fifth of Vis is covered in vineyards, so Julia’s first stop is a local winery. The distillery produces a white wine called Vugava, which comes from a grape unique to the island. Julia swills some of the organically grown brew, but is quick to spit it out. “I’m driving – what a waste!” she exclaims. Then Julia and Babe hit the road again in search of a secluded cove – and it is not long before they find just the place.

“You don’t find many spots like this in the world any more,” says Julia as she dives into the bay’s sparkling waters.

As evening falls, Julia has worked up a bit of an appetite, so she decides to dine out at the delightful Villa Kaliopa. With its outdoor tables and fine seafood and meat dishes, the restaurant is at the top end of the dining scale. Julia wants to try a bit of everything on offer, so she orders lamb, tuna carpaccio, pasta with clams and freshly caught fish. After her sumptuous meal, Julia is suitably impressed. “If that is the Vis way of doing things, it’s worth coming here,” she concludes.

The next day, Julia says goodbye to Vis and journeys to the region’s largest and most popular island – Hvar. From the bustling port, it is a short hop by water taxi to Carpe Diem Beach. The luxurious new resort comes complete with sun loungers and a seaside plunge pool. “It’s all very Ibiza cool,” notes Julia. After a relaxing day lounging by the sea, there is only one spot to while away the evening – the onsite bar. The place is packed to the gunwales, and the bartenders are serving up flaming cocktails. “I don’t need to tell you it’s boiling by the bar, but everybody’s loving it!” shouts Julia.

Continuing on Five this week is the travel show that profiles some of the most exciting destinations in the world, offering authoritative, opinionated and inspirational travel advice. In this instalment, Julia broadens her cultural education in Barcelona; and Toby explores the old and the new in Krakow.

Barcelona has long been a popular destination for a short break, but on this visit Julia shuns the traditional tourist pastimes of sightseeing, shopping and sunbathing. Instead, she sets about discovering the intricacies of life as a Catalonian. One traditional activity at a Catalonian festival is building ‘castells’ – or human towers. At the Castellers de Barcelona, Julia joins the experts for a practice session. She is part of the human base which forms the foundations of the precarious structure. “We are packed so tightly together you can feel the vibrations of other people’s bodies,” she says.

Julia regains her personal space with a spot of Sardana dancing in a nearby square. The Sardana is a traditional folk dance which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and nationalities. Helped along by a local man, Julia is soon ready to take part in the group dance. “I’ve got 15 left feet, let alone two!” she says.

After this relatively sedate pastime, Julia is ready for something more energetic so she heads to a correfoc. Correfoc translates as ‘running with fire’ and symbolises the battle between darkness and light. Participants don devil costumes and dart around letting off fireworks. “If you create a wall against the fire, you’re blocking the path of evil,” explains Julia. “This is one of the maddest scenes I’ve witnessed!”

Meanwhile, Toby heads eastwards to experience the cultural capital of Poland – Krakow. The city is becoming increasingly popular as a weekend destination, and Toby begins his trip with a guided tour in a Trabant – an East German family car. Although the car’s exterior has been given a zany paint job, there is still a modest two-stroke engine under the bonnet which makes for a leisurely drive.

Toby continues his history lesson at the impressive Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the beautiful countryside surrounding the city centre. As well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 1,000- year-old mine boasts 3,000km of tunnels set over 300m below the ground. After taking the lift down, Toby is given a guided tour – which comes complete with a taste test of the thick salty deposits that line the pit’s walls. However, the mine’s real attraction is the Chapel of St Kinga, a magnificent underground cathedral. Built by three devout miners who wanted to hear Mass regularly, the chapel is still used every Sunday. Absolutely everything in the church is made from salt, right down to its polished floors and sparkling chandeliers. “I’ve never been anywhere like here before,” says Toby.

That evening, Toby heads back to the city again to let his hair down in the Kazimierz district. Krakow’s impoverished Jewish quarter may seem an unlikely place to while the night away, but the neighbourhood has experienced a revival in recent times. Many of its old cellars have now been converted into bars and restaurants. “Apparently it’s at night that the city really comes alive,” says Toby. After indulging in few brews, Toby hunts down something to soak up the alcohol – and finds it in the form of Krakow’s famous pizza baguette, or zapiekanka. “These cost around £1.50,” he says. “What a bargain!”

Continuing on Five this week is the travel show that profiles some of the most exciting destinations in the world, offering authoritative, opinionated and inspirational travel advice. In this instalment, Julia and Toby head into the jungle for some thrilling safari adventures. While Toby takes the road less travelled in Tanzania, Julia opts for Kerala in southern India.

Toby begins his journey in Tanzania on the east coast of Africa. Home to a wide variety of wild animals, the Ngorongoro Crater is a hotspot for nature tourism. “It’s like a giant petri dish filled with a rich concentration of African wildlife,” says Toby. However, Toby is keen to get away from the hordes of tourists, so heads 60km south to the more remote Lake Manyara National Park. “Who said a safari has to take place on land?” he asks.

Far away from the noise of Ngorongoro, Toby and his guide, Herman, embark on a peaceful canoe trip onto the glassy lake. Here, tens of thousands of flamingos gather to feed in the algae-rich water, producing a spectacular scene. “Now I feel like I’ve been somewhere completely new,” says Toby.

Continuing their journey on foot, Toby and Herman get up close and personal with Africa’s most dangerous mammal – the hippopotamus. Standing on the edge of a watering hole, Toby looks down at over 200 bathing hippos. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he says. But the pair must beat a hasty retreat as the animals prepare to return to land.

Steering clear of four wheels yet again, Toby mounts a bicycle for another unconventional journey into the unknown. Costing £20 for a three- hour expedition, a bicycle safari provides an exciting alternative to the traditional Land Rover trip. “This is a much richer experience,” he says. “I feel like I’m having my own personal adventure.” After meeting a number of Masai warriors on the road, Toby and his guide stop off in a small town to sample the local banana beer. “This is not bad,” says Toby, before asking how much of the brew he would need to get drunk. Then it is back in the saddle for some more close encounters with the wilds of Africa. “I’m learning that the key thing with a safari is that it should be yours,” he concludes.

Over in southern India, Julia is on the hunt for the endangered Indian elephant. After two flights and a 200km drive, Julia arrives at the Periyar reserve in Kerala. “It’s not an easy journey,” she explains, “but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be worth it.” Her home throughout her Indian adventure is to be a beautiful resort called Spice Village, where the accommodation consists of wooden huts built using traditional techniques.

After a quick ride on a domestic animal at the aptly named Elephant Junction, Julia boards a boat that takes her deep into the heart of Periyar. The national park is spread out over nearly 800 square kilometres of mountains, forest and grassland, but Julia is lucky enough to glimpse a herd of wild elephants within just a few minutes. However, these animals can only be seen using binoculars, and Julia is keen to experience the real thing.

The next day, Julia teams up with local guide Ryan and heads west into the Ghats mountains. Wearing special garments to keep leeches at bay, the duo set off into the dense forest and have soon stumbled upon fresh elephant tracks. “We are right on their trail now,” says an excited Julia. However, just as they are about to catch sight of the animals, the pair are stopped by Indian bureaucracy – Ryan has reached the edge of his patch and is not allowed to encroach on another warden’s area. As the rain sets in, Julia and her guide have no choice but to turn back. “The weather is turning as black as my mood,” says a frustrated Julia.

Just as they are about to return to base, however, Ryan and Julia get lucky and spot a mother and baby elephant on top of a nearby hill. “Even though it’s peeing with rain and I’m covered in leeches, the important thing is we saw elephants!” says Julia.

Continuing on Five this week is the travel show that profiles some of the most exciting destinations in the world, offering authoritative, opinionated and inspirational travel advice. In this instalment, Toby uncovers the hidden delights of Zanzibar; and Julia retreats to tranquil Formentera, a stone’s throw from the madness of Ibiza.

Toby has a long list of requirements for his ideal island retreat this week. On Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, he hopes to find not only peace and tranquillity, but also an intriguing dose of liveliness and adventure. His first impressions of the archipelago are promising. “It has a unique identity that is founded on it being a mix of different cultures – the kind of mix you only find on an island,” he says.

After being colonised by Arabs, Persians and Indians, Zanzibar developed into a trading hub for ivory, spices – and humans. At the height of the trafficking, over 60,000 slaves a year passed through the island. In the capital, Stone Town, Toby wanders through labyrinthine streets on the hunt for the market, which now specialises in meat, fish, spices and herbs. “It’s one of those places you expect to see in a James Bond film,” he remarks as he loses himself in the dusty alleyways. The smell of the market reaches Toby first. “It’s an assault on the nostrils!” he declares. “It does smell delicious and exotic.”

In search of the source of the wonderful smells of Africa, Toby leaves Stone Town and heads north to tour a spice farm. His guide points out a cinnamon tree and explains how its bark is cut into strips before being dried in the sun to form sticks. Lunchtime sees Toby chowing down on a vegetable curry – made with fresh spices. Dessert is supplied by a nearby coconut palm.

Edging even further off the tourist trail, Toby hops on a scooter and heads to Nungwi. The fishing village is situated on the northernmost tip of Zanzibar and is home to a glut of luxury resorts. Despite the lavishness of his hotel suite, Toby decides that ultimately the area is too built-up for his liking. “I do wonder whether I can retreat further than this,” he says. To find out, Toby takes one last trip 25 miles southeast to the almost deserted stretch of sand at Pongwe. “This might actually be the best beach I have ever seen,” he enthuses.

On the hunt for her own quintessential island retreat, Julia touches down in Ibiza. While the frantic pace of this party resort is not quite what she is looking for, hope is in sight. Just a half-hour ferry ride away is the tranquil haven of Formentera. At 19km long, it is the smallest of the Balearic Islands, but what Formentera lacks in size it makes up for in serenity.

To kick off her restorative sojourn, Julia travels to the islet of Espalmador. Here, a four-hectare mud pool provides the perfect place for a do-it-yourself spa treatment. After slathering her body with warm mud, Julia lies down to let the clay work its magic. “Now I know what pigs feel like!” she says, before washing herself off in the sea. Hunger sets in after the swim, so Julia makes her way to the famous Juan y Andrea. The restaurant is world- renowned for its seafood and Julia’s lobster lunch does not disappoint.

While she is tempted to stay and enjoy the stunning views from the beachfront eatery, Julia wants to head south to find a place to rest her head. The southern part of Formentera does not attract as many daytrippers as the north and is a haven for hippies, so Julia decides to seek quiet solace there. “It feels as if you’re on a desert island,” she says when she reaches Playa Migjorn. “Just you and miles of ocean.” The following morning, Julia is feeling more energetic, so she jumps on her electric bicycle to go touring. Along the way, she bumps into Eric, a musician who has made Formentera his home. He shows Julia a magnificent cave where candlelit concerts were performed 25 years ago. “So these were like little illegal raves!” she says.

Continuing on Five this week is the travel show that profiles some of the most exciting destinations in the world, offering authoritative, opinionated and inspirational travel advice. In this instalment, Toby boards the Orient Express in Singapore; and Julia explores the villages that lie along the picturesque waterways of Kerala.

This week, Toby is at Singapore’s Keppel Road Station awaiting his ride to Bangkok. While this 1,262 mile journey can be made by plane in just under two hours, Toby has opted for the more luxurious and romantic option of train travel. When the Orient Express pulls up to the platform, Toby is impressed by what he sees. Inside the train are 66 beautifully appointed cabins and two opulently decorated restaurants. As well as meals and entertainment, the 52-hour journey includes several excursions. After nine hours of travel, the Express’s first stop is a brief one – 20 minutes in Kuala Lumpur. Toby stretches his legs before hopping back on board for a consultation with the train’s own fortune teller.

Day two brings a sojourn on the Malaysian island of Penang. This bustling British settlement is known for its diverse variety of authentic Asian cuisines – including Malaysian, Indian and Chinese. But Toby is keen to jump back on the Orient Express to savour some of the top quality grub on offer in the dining car. “The food is so good, it’s well worth approaching with a bit of ceremony,” he says as he dresses for dinner.

On the third and final day of the trip, Toby visits Kanchanaburi, the site of a section of the Death Railway – more commonly known as the Bridge on the River Kwai. During a sobering visit to the war cemetery and museum, Toby learns that up to 100,000 people died during the construction of the Burma-Thailand Railway. “I wasn’t sure about visiting a war grave on a holiday trip,” he says, “but the visit at Kanchanaburi has added an extra dimension to this journey.”

Meanwhile, Julia takes a watery passage through Kerala in southern India to get a glimpse of village life along the rivers, canals and lagoons of the region. Her vessel is a traditional rice barge which has been converted into a houseboat. When she hops on board, Julia is relieved to see that she will be travelling in style. As well as a comfortable bedroom, the boat boasts a fully equipped bathroom. “There’s a proper loo!” exclaims Julia.

As the afternoon approaches, Julia stops at a coir factory where mats, ropes and brushes are made using time-honoured methods. Even the houseboat is made out of this coarse fibre derived from coconut husks. Eager to see how this hardy textile is made, Julia tries her hand at using the loom. Then it is back onto the boat for a home- cooked tuna masala prepared by the vessel’s own chef. “I’ve never had this before. Mmm, it’s really good!” enthuses Julia.

As her Keralan junket comes to an end, Julia is invited to a Hindu wedding ceremony in one of the local settlements by the river. “The smell of incense and flowers is overpowering,” she observes, “and when you look to either side, it’s just a sea of smiling ladies’ faces.” After meeting the anxious bride-to-be, Julia quizzes her about her future husband. It transpires that the marriage has been arranged, but the girl has heard only positive things about her betrothed. “This is a really joyous occasion,” says Julia. “You can feel that.”

Saturday 15th –Friday 21st

Beginning this week is a new series of the travel
show that profiles some of the most exciting
destinations in the world, offering authoritative,
opinionated and inspirational travel advice. The
first episode focuses on tropical islands. Julia
Bradbury snorkels and swims in the beautiful
waters of the Cayman Islands while Toby Amies
explores the politics, history and culture of
Cuba’s capital city, Havana.
Presented by Julia Bradbury, the consumer
champion from BBC1’s ‘Watchdog’, and Toby Amies,
an independent filmmaker, photographer, DJ and
journalist, the show is inspired by the celebrated
Rough Guide travel books. No longer the sole
preserve of backpackers, Rough Guides are the
essential handbook of choice for independently
minded travellers of all generations on all budgets.
With a passion for knowledge and a desire to
reveal the heart of a destination in an in-depth and
engaging way, the series is witty, irreverent and
pulls no punches. This second run leaves no stone
unturned in its search for the world’s best
holidays. Each programme focuses on a different
type of travel experience. From exotic escapes to
unusual safaris, Far Eastern adventures to classic
road trips, the series features holiday destinations
to suit everyone.
This week’s programme heads to the tropical
waters of the Caribbean. Julia is in the Cayman
Islands to enjoy a holiday in this stunning British
overseas territory. There are three islands in total,
each boasting well-developed resorts, fantastic
beaches and great opportunities for scuba diving
year-round.
The Cayman Islands are renowned for their crystal-
clear waters, protected bays and underwater
‘walls’, just a short distance below the surface. Julia
dons a snorkel and goes under the waves to get a
look at the Bloody Bay Wall. At this world-famous
dive site, the sea floor ends abruptly at a depth of
about 20ft and plunges 6,000ft down a vertical
cliff, which teems with sea life and corals.
Less than 300 miles to the north, Toby is enjoying
a very different Caribbean experience in Havana,
Cuba. Under the socialist rule of Fidel Castro, Cuba
has spent the last 49 years isolated from its
nearest neighbours as the subject of a strict US
embargo. Now Castro has stepped down and the
signs are that the country may be about to ease
some of the restrictions on its citizens.

Such moves can only be good news for Cuba’s
burgeoning tourist industry, which already attracts
around two million visitors a year. Toby walks
Havana’s attractive streets and gets a feel for
Cuba’s rich history as a former Spanish colony and,
latterly, as a radical socialist experiment. He spars
with the locals in one of the city’s boxing rings,
visits a cigar factory and takes a ride in a 1957
convertible Cadillac. Colonial buildings and 1950s
cars give the impression of Havana as a city lost in
time – but the factors that make it unique may
soon disappear forever if it opens up further to the
outside world.

Continuing this week is the travel show that profiles some of the most exciting destinations in the world, offering authoritative, opinionated and inspirational travel advice. In this week’s instalment, the show celebrates the great outdoors, as Julia goes rock climbing, mountain biking and horse riding in the canyons and national parks of Utah. Toby, meanwhile, heads to Norway to explore some of the most unspoilt landscapes in Europe.

Presented by Julia Bradbury, the consumer champion from BBC1’s ‘Watchdog’, and Toby Amies,an independent filmmaker, photographer, DJ and journalist, the show is inspired by the celebrated Rough Guide travel books. No longer the sole preserve of backpackers, Rough Guides are the essential handbook of choice for independently minded travellers of all generations on all budgets.

With a passion for knowledge and a desire to reveal the heart of a destination, the series is witty, irreverent and pulls no punches. This second run leaves no stone unturned in its search for the world’s best holidays. Each programme focuses on a different type of travel experience. From exotic escapes to unusual safaris, Far Eastern adventures to classic road trips, the series features holiday destinations to suit everyone.

This week Julia explores the wide open spaces of Utah, western USA – a landscape of cacti, canyons and cliffs. She begins her trip at Snow Canyon state park, a 5,000-acre nature reserve of red sandstone plains and gullies. Julia samples the delights of this “rocky playground” with a challenging climb under the watchful eye of her guide, Todd, before embarking on a 8km cycle ride. “Don’t run into any of the vegetation,” warns Todd. “It’s all got spikes!”

After passing through the curious village of Virgin, where all homeowners are required to own a gun, Julia takes a tour of Grafton, a ghost town preserved by locals as a reminder of Utah’s pioneer past. “As serene as it seems, for those early settlers, it was really tough,” says her guide, Bruce. As the sun dips over the desert, turning the rocks a glorious shade of gold, Julia takes advantage of the cooler temperatures to play cowgirl. She enjoys a horseback ride along Zion canyon, a 15-mile long gash in the earth up to half a mile deep in places. It is the perfect wild-west ending to her Utah sojourn.

Toby, meanwhile, experiences a rather different taste of the great outdoors with a trip to the beautiful fjords of Norway. A 50-minute flight from Oslo takes him to Ålesund at the start of the Norwegian fjords, a 2,000-mile expanse of mountains and water-filled valleys that stretches all the way to Russia.

After taking to the waves in a speed boat, Toby enjoys one of the best trips money can buy with a visit to an exclusive lighthouse resort on an island in the North Sea. The easiest way to reach the island is by helicopter. Once there, Toby admires the stunning views of the mainland from the top of the lighthouse. “It’s like a landscape painting out of every window,” he says.

The helicopter then deposits Toby right in the heart of fjord land at a dairy farm perched high in the mountains. The site overlooks one of Norway’s most spectacular fjords, with cliff walls rising 1,400m above sea level. Toby makes a scary descent by foot and climbs into a canoe to enjoy the splendour of the fjords from the water. “This is the kind of landscape that inspires you,” he says. “You feel like you’re in the middle of a wonderful postcard!”

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