For a bet­ter short break just fly long haul

For the ideal short break, go long haul. By Tom Bar­ber

Esquire (UK) - - Contents -

Way back in 2003, my co-founders and I launched Orig­i­nal Travel with what we felt then (and still do now) was a rather clever idea: the “Big Short Break”. Un­til that point, a long week­end away most likely meant a few nights in Paris, Barcelona or — if you were feel­ing par­tic­u­larly ad­ven­tur­ous — New York. We all sub­con­sciously re­alised that what our dear de­parted AA Gill once called, typ­i­cally suc­cinctly, “an es­presso break” could pro­vide us with a short sharp hit of oth­er­ness, but the op­tions just weren’t there.

En­ter three blokes with an idea in a spare be­d­room and a list of new flight routes, and the world was sud­denly our oys­ter. Ev­ery­where we of­fered had to work from a flight per­spec­tive for max­i­mum ex­pe­ri­ence from min­i­mum time off, but the key fac­tor had to be “braga­bil­ity”. Was the guy at next door’s desk on a Mon­day morn­ing go­ing to die a lit­tle on the in­side when you tell him you’d just been mush­ing your team of pure­bred Siberian huskies through the snowy forests of Swedish La­p­land at the week­end? If yes, job done.

Fif­teen years later, we of­fer much, much more but our Big Short Breaks re­main hugely pop­u­lar be­cause when ex­e­cuted per­fectly they can make it feel like you’ve been away for a week or more with­out hav­ing to tackle an email moun­tain on your re­turn. Joy un­con­fined.

So, here are a few ideas for Big Short Breaks em­pha­sis­ing long haul des­ti­na­tions. Be­fore we start, though, a few ba­sic prin­ci­ples: to make the most of the long week­end you have to hit the ground run­ning on ar­rival, so try to adapt to your des­ti­na­tion time a day be­fore, or push on through with a big first night. Se­condly, it re­ally helps to turn left on the flight be­cause a few hours kip in the pointy end of the plane can make all the dif­fer­ence, es­pe­cially on the re­turn leg if you want to look/feel even half hu­man as you walk into work.

Where first? Look no fur­ther than the quin­tes­sen­tial long-haul long week­end des­ti­na­tion, Cape Town. Overnight flights both ways and min­i­mal time dif­fer­ence mean that even though the flight is a good 12 hours you’ll ar­rive ready to take all the Cape can throw at you. Eat in­cred­i­bly well (and cheaply, rel­a­tive to the UK), drink ex­cep­tional lo­cal wines, cage dive with great white sharks, trek up Ta­ble Moun­tain (table­moun­tain. net) and stay in the stu­pen­dous new Silo

Ho­tel (theroy­al­port­fo­lio.com), stuffed with con­tem­po­rary African art, in the buzzy Water­front neigh­bour­hood. Tick.

Next there’s Hong Kong, where the ex­pat com­mu­nity still party like it’s 1996 and China has yet to re­gain con­trol of the ter­ri­tory. The flights ain’t so easy as Cape Town as you’re fly­ing west to east across sev­eral time zones, but on ar­rival the city’s sheer en­ergy will guar­an­tee a sec­ond wind. Eat the world’s best dim sum, drink in some of most jaw-drop­ping sky­scraper bars imag­in­able, see the ul­ti­mate laser show il­lu­mi­nate the har­bour (ide­ally on board a junk) in the evening, stay in the re­vamped and iconic Man­darin Ori­en­tal (man­dari­nori­en­tal.com) and re­peat for three full-on days be­fore a late night flight that lands in Lon­don in time for work the next morn­ing.

OK, with an eight hour-ish flight there burn­ing a day — not ideal on a hol­i­day al­lowance-scrimp­ing week­end — Wash­ing­ton DC is still worth it. Trump’s town (at time of go­ing to press) is a hive of in­trigue, gos­sip and power plays at the best of times, but the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion is pure the­atre. Pull up a front row pew at any of the many drink­ing dens where wonks and pol­icy-mak­ers in the world’s most pow­er­ful na­tion plot and pull their hair out. Get fresh air on a kayak pad­dle along the Po­tomac River flow­ing through town, be­fore the red-eye flight back to Lon­don.

In Wash­ing­ton DC’s his­toric Ge­orge­town dis­trict, find set­tler homes, art gal­leries and ar­ti­san cafés along­side the Po­tomac River

Camps Bay of­fers Cape Town res­i­dents and vis­i­tors golden sands and a tidal sea­wa­ter swim­ming pool right on the edge of town Hong Kong, a city that both works and plays hard, has a soar­ing sky­line that dom­i­nates both shores of the fa­mous har­bour

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