1-888-384-2669
514-344-8888

Journey to the bottom of the earth

Hiking in Southern Patagonia

The moment my husband and I arrive in El Calafate, an oasis town in Southern Patagonia’s desert, we know that our decision to travel to Argentina’s outback wilderness was right. It is exotic and exciting. Birds dig their webbed feet into the sand to keep from being blown away. Clouds swirl past the snow-capped Andean peaks. We came to explore remote hiking trails, gawk at wind-hewn icebergs, and walk on Perito Moreno—one of the southern hemisphere’s few advancing glaciers.

“That’s Cristina’s place,” announces our driver. He points to sprawling bungalows and an enormous villa. They are surprisingly lavish in this frontier town of slapdash clapboard buildings with corrugated metal roofs.

“Who’s she?” I ask, sounding quite ignorant, I later realize.

“The President. She vacations here. Owns the hotel.” Los Sauces belongs to Argentina’s first elected female leader, the glamorous and tough Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. I hadn’t realized that our accommodations and her private home would be so close together, sharing an elegant décor of British hunting lodge-meets-hearty ranch. The property originally belonged to her late husband and political predecessor, Néstor. The goal to transform the remote location into a premier travel destination is ongoing. Progressing from a one-runway airport to a four-terminal stop opened in 2012, all signs point to their success.

Patagonian supper After checking in, we bundle up for the trek to the hotel bar. Sand hits our faces like shards of glass. There’s an eerie quiet. We are aware of thethings that are missing more than what is there: an absence of city lights and neon signs leaves us in unfamiliar darkness. Because we are traveling off-season, the staff has time to chat while plying us with drinks. Chef Carlos whips up a parilla that includes a lamb chop the size of a rib steak and a steak resembling an entire side of cow. Excited by my limited Spanish, he rambles on about the region’s world-class cattle culture. In Argentina, animals roam great expanses of open land, chewing thick grasses and grey-leaved desert thorns. It takes six years—compared to one year in North America—to bring the meat to market. We savour the results—a reduced-fat beef with melt-in-the mouth tenderness.

Breakfast in Tuscany

Breakfast in Tuscany

Some mouth-watering delights from Italy

By Eva Stelzer

Starting breakfast with dessert is a slightly wicked Tuscan tradition that I thoroughly enjoy. At Florence’s Hotel Il Guelfo Bianco, the chef’s freshly baked crostata is a sensory delight. The sweet jam oozed in my mouth as the buttery crust crumbled onto my tongue. Manager Antonella Rocchini says the cheerful chef can be heard humming and whistling while baking. “Of all the treats on our menu, crostata is the most popular,” she adds. After devouring too many pieces of the lattice masterpiece, I understand the attraction.

The tiny, unadorned breakfast room hardly seems like the setting for such delicious food, but the morning buffet is filled with goodies from melt-in-the-mouth burratta cheese to warm apple tarts topped with smooth, creamy ricotta. As in most small Italian-owned hotels, a barista makes guests the perfect morning coffee. A barista is a professional coffeemaker who understands the important harmony between milk frothed into white airy peaks and the bitter dark espresso base. The combination of taste and texture creates the perfect balance.

“A barista is a professional coffeemaker who understands the important harmony between milk frothed into white airy peaks and the bitter dark espresso base.”

Costa Rica Volcanoes and Beaches Guanacaste

  • Discover rich ecological wonders as you walk or zipline above the treetop canopy on suspended bridges.
  • Gain firsthand knowledge of Costa Rica’s habitats as you explore with your highly trained naturalist guides, keeping an eye out for caimans, monkeys, river otters, toucans and butterflies.
  • Explore the Arenal region with a bird’s-eye view from numerous fixed and hanging bridges positioned at or above the tree line.
  • Relax on a sunset cruise along the ocean shores.

  • Basque in the warm sun of the Guanacaste’s wide open beaches while sipping a margarita.