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The chef

Gringo Benedicto Siargao’s hungry surfers head to the cev restaurant after a long day in the water for a bowl of kinilaw – a Philippine version of ceviche – prepared by chef Gringo. Outside the kitchen the fun-loving Filipino swaps his filleting knife for a paintbrush: his colourful creations adorn the restaurant walls and a select few spots around town.

— Siargao, p152

The law

Lieutenant ‘Aziz’
Lieutenant “Aziz” believes he is firm but fair but there are few things finer than to set up a speed trap on a twisty road. There are two types of penalty: the drawn-out affair that involves a written notification of an infringement; or the easier, cash-in-hand job. No paperwork – so much better for the environment! Now, careful how you go, sir.

— The drive, p162

The retailers

Bonnie and Crystal Flynt
Having owned a gardening shop for seven years, Bonnie Flynt was no retail rookie when she opened Bon in 2005 with her daughter Crystal. A decade later the duo moved to their light-filled location at Tucson’s trendy Five Points and the shop remains the city’s best destination for a mix of goods. Read on for more about Tucson’s revival.

— Tucson, p196

The warm welcome

Kerry Keenan
We’ve all been there: waiting in line for a suspicious soul to glance ruefully at you and your passport picture before slowly waving you through for another round of checks. Not so in New Zealand. Immigration officer Kerry Keenan and her friendly team at Auckland Airport offer a warm welcome that more nations would do well to copy.

— Observations, p20

The meet and greet

Erik Erik has host and guard duties at Hotel Jungfrau Wengernalp in the Swiss Alps. He’s a fluffy three-year-old Leonberger mountain dog the size of a small lion (though, luckily, without the demeanour). Not only does he greet the guests, he keeps guard at night. Read on for more winners in our annual Travel Top 50 awards.

— Travel top 50, p107

The businesswoman

Laura Low Ah Kee
Hot tubs aren’t often a source of (good) inspiration but, for Low Ah Kee of Left on Friday and her co-founder Shannon Savage, they were the starting point for a successful business: swimsuits that can handle sports as well as sunbathing. Along with three other entrepreneurs, Low Ah Kee tells us what she’s learned since launching last year.

— A year after launch, p60

The mayor

Dario Nardella
The top job in the Tuscan capital has always been about mitigating the effect of the city’s popularity. We meet Nardella in his plush, frescoed 16th-century office in Palazzo Vecchio to talk tourism, travel and how to keep his city liveable for the residents who call it home all year round.

— Big interviews, p38

The whizz in the kitchen

Shigeru Koizumi

Chef Koizumi learned the ropes at Michelin-starred Singapore restaurant Odette before branching out on his own at Esora near Fort Canning Park. A spot at the 12-seat kitchen counter is the best place to sample his delicate kappo-inspired Japanese menu. Read on for our 12 favourite openings, from Sanlúcar to Sydney.

— 12 Top tables, p62

The singer

Anna Vissi

A Greek-Cypriot siren with killer vocals, Vissi has dominated Greece’s pop charts for more than 30 years. Her hits include “Dodeka” (1985) and “Treno” (2003) and she’s represented both Greece and Cyprus at Eurovision. We met her on a night out in Athens when she was performing at Hotel Ermou, a smoky club. She came onstage at 02.00.

— Athens, p206

The DJ

Rita Manzo
During her late-afternoon slot on Naples-based Radio Kiss Kiss, Rita Manzo stays true to her station’s remit of upbeat pop and a style of presenting that is, according to Manzo, like “talking to friends at a bar table”. She and two other Mediterranean-based DJs select the summer hits that will take you from sun-lounger to late-night beach bar.

— Med media players, p88

The host

John Powell
A Texan, Powell was visiting New York from his adopted Parisian home when a storm stopped him flying back to Europe. So he went on holiday to the Yucatán Peninsula, fell in love with it and moved to Mérida five years later, in 2001. Now in the hospitality business, Powell has strong opinions on the best (and worst) places to eat in Mérida. 

— Mérida, p144

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