This issue’s cover story was shot in Hokkaido by the Travelife team led by Managing Editor Ceia Ylagan and Creative Director Bryan Arevalo.
It was not quite winter but already freezing cold; nevertheless this northernmost outpost of Japan sufficiently worked its magic so that they were completely charmed.
“Sapporo is so laidback and relaxed,” said Ceia, upon returning from Sapporo, and already busy with preparations for another trip, this time to Istanbul (please read more about this in the February-March 2016 issue of Travelife). “I could live there.”
I hope their enthusiasm for this gem of an island comes across in this special feature, perhaps the first cover story on Hokkaido in a travel magazine in our part of the world.
JAPAN IS A TOP DESTINATION
Incidentally, we're back in Hokkaido in just a few weeks, this time for the Sapporo Snow Festival 2016. This is bound to be spectacular and also very cold, so I haven't put away my Heat Tech clothing from my pre-Christmas trip to Europe just yet.
And Japan will be on our minds and in our travel plans throughout 2016 as it continues as one of the most popular destinations for Southeast Asian travelers, especially with the relaxing of Japanese visa regulations and the weakening of the yen.
FROM NORTH TO SOUTH
ON THE SILVER DISCOVERER
In this issue, we're also featuring a new route the luxury cruise line Silversea launched last year for adventure travelers. It's a cruise that sails along some of the least-trodden parts of Japan and South Korea, along the remote Sea of Japan coast.
This cruise starts in the sleepy town of Otaru in Hokkaido and ends in livelier city of Kobe in Kansai.
So, for this, off I again went to Hokkaido, landing in Sapporo and driving to Otaru to catch the Silver Discoverer exploration ship of Silversea that then went on to dock in some of the most remote places in Japan.
These remote ports including at Sado Island in the Sea of Japan and Miyajima Island in the Japan Inland Sea. This was certainly an adventure for the books, as well as a voyage to consider in 2016, if you're looking for something new.
THE LOVELY CITIES OF
KOBE, OSAKA AND KYOTO
Travelife Business Development Manager Kevin Lapena also flew to Osaka just before we went to press to discover the many attractions of the Kansai region which includes Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.
Kevin said: "Kyoto really stuck to me. There was a genuine connection that was felt in being immersed in the old Japanese culture that made the whole experience truly unforgettable."
Within days of his return to office, he’d enthusiastically penned a most comprehensive story about why you should be planning a trip to Kansai sometime soon.
And when you do so, make sure you take this new issue of Travelife Magazine with you as a guide.
NAVIGATING THE BALKANS
Gel said: "Each country has its own rich culture and history. In 10 days, I saw beautiful landscapes, ancient churches and the most fascinating experience of all: a visit to Postojna Caves, a 21-kilometer deep cave."
She added: "This cave can only be accessed via an exciting train ride that took us through a mind-blowing underground karst world filled with limestones and stalactites."
Her narrative of the heady mix of cultures and colors she encountered in this historically rich area will definitely convince you to place this at the top of your bucket list for 2016.
MEMORIES OF MARRAKECH
Marrakech is another destination we can’t stop waxing rhapsodic about, especially after our most recent #Travelife there with 35 readers and friends. We’ve been there four times in the last 18 months.
TOM CRUISE IN MARRAKECH,
AND ABOUT A COZY LITTLE RIAD
In this new issue, you’ll find accounts of our stays in two very different but equally interesting hotels in Marrakech. The first is the same ultra-private villa at the foot of the Atlas Mountains that Tom Cruise had stayed in for five weeks while filming Mission Impossible 5.
Interestingly, we started this trip last October with a night at this simple riad and ended it with a pretty surreal weekend – including a lavish al fresco breakfast with Arabian thoroughbreds at this celebrity hideaway, the Selman Marrakech.
Talk about wonderful extremes.
We also give you the top destinations for 2016 in this issue, many of which are included in our own travel plans for this year.
Indeed, no one travels like us. Or writes like us. Wherever you are in this world, we wish you lovely holidays and an amazing Travelife of a year ahead.