Travel & Holiday Tips

Sweet Bali and Five Must-Dos when visiting

The emerald green rice fields of  Sidemen was a dream come true

Click large photos Sweet Bali

SWEET BALI: If you are dreaming about Bali, we will provide some more inspiration directly from the Land of the Gods, its sheer natural beauty of looming volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields, about peace, serenity and carved temples. Bali is the leader of exotic destination travels for quite some time now. Here is our unique perspective on all the things you should and shouldn’t do while you’re visiting.

Dessert in Ubud. If you happen to like food and Netflix, then you probably came across this little program called “Chef’s Table.” One of the chefs featured on the show is Will Goldfarb. Otherwise known as one of the former pastry chefs of ElBulli in Spain. Even though he might not need any extra publicity, his Room 4 Dessert in Ubud can offer you some tasty dishes.
According to the chef, he was playing around with local ingredients and came up with a whole new plethora of desserts. By plethora, we mean nine courses of dessert in one single night. If you’re lucky the Angel’s Kiss will be on the menu while you’re visiting. It’s an iconic dish, featuring soy, mango, jackfruit, pandan, and chamomile.Book in advance before you go if you want to visit this restaurant.

Not so Sweet. On the other hand, if you’re craving our classic Western fast food, and you want to visit a local fast food joint, just don’t. It’s not because we want to tell you to be immersive. Rather because the food there doesn’t really taste like the food you’re getting in Europe.
This is true for every corner of the world, but a cheeseburger in Germany is pretty much the same as the one in London. However, that’s not the case with Bali. If you want a cheeseburger that much, just go to McDonald’s.

Tanah Lot and Ulun Danu. Yes, Tanah Lot temple is one of the most famous attractions in Bali, but there is a good reason for that. It’s spectacular. First of all, it’s a Hindu temple that sits atop a huge, picturesque rock formation. Secondly, because of the unique position of the temple, the waves are crashing in the rock. Moreover, the sunsets are so beautiful, that people flock to the site during this time of the day. If that doesn’t make for a breathtaking Instagram picture, nothing does.
However, if you want an equally satisfying experience, but you don’t like big crowds, we have an alternative. It’s Ulun Danu temple at the brink of Baratan Lake in Bedugul. Since this is a very scenic and rather large area, you can catch your breath here and explore. In fact, the lake itself is very serene, and it’s the perfect place for contemplation and meditation. Moreover, this is a whole complex of small temples on water. They have a strong spiritual and historical meaning to Balinese people.

Dive or freedive. If you have an adventures spirit in you than perhaps this recommendation is the best one we can offer. Scuba diving or freediving in Pemuteran. Pemuteran, as a small fishing village is a bit secluded from the rest of Bali. That can be a good thing if you want to avoid crowds. However, that’s also important if you’re going to try freediving. This can be a challenging activity, and if you’re not up for it, then scuba diving is still an option. The underwater world is magical and filled with wonders no matter which way you choose to see it.

Drive off to see Sidemen. Our goal was to provide you with places you’re not going to find on every Bali list on the internet. That is how we came up with Sidemen, as an alternative to Ubud. Therefore, for any nature lovers, Sidemen is going to be a dream come true. The emerald green rice fields are almost untouched by man, or at least they look that way. Moreover, Mount Agung is nearby, and that’s a visual treat in itself.

Sacred Waters. Okay, it’s impossible to talk about Bali and not mention Eat, Pray, Love. However, Tirta Empul is so beautiful that we had to write about it here. Despite the popularity of the book, and the fact that it was used as one of the locations in the move. It’s a temple complex close to Ubud with small pools and fountains in the courtyards. You can swim here and see the temples from the water. Additionally, Balinese people believe the water has a healing effect. Moreover, our good ideas for a trip to Sweet Bali are for free.

This story was written by Sam Hoffman living in Bali

Legend Stenmark opened Elan alpine ski museum

Seventy years of history, Elan changed development of skiing numerous of times

BEGUNJE, SLOVENIA: This is the World´s first alpine ski producer museum showcasing 70 years of history. To celebrate the opening Elan invited the Swedish skier Ingemark Stenmark (61) to open Elan Alpine Ski Museum and to commemorate a 16-year career of racing with Elan skis on the World Cup circuit. Legend Stenmark is the best of all time with a record 86 World Cup- wins.

Stenmark competed on Elan skies his entire career and some of them are on display, included the first pair Ingemar competed in WC races. “I remember them with fondness, having won several races with that pair”, the legendary said.

CLICK large photos Legend Stenmark

Sporting history. With more than 70 years of history, Elan´s innovation have changed the development of skiing numerous of times. They were pioneers and the first commercial producer of skiing equipment. The museum is located in the factory at Begunje na Gorenjskem. Elan was founded in 1945 by the ski jumper Rudi Finzgar, a trend-setter from the very beginning. Perhaps one of the most important innovations of Elan was the first skis with a deep side-cut shape, also known as carving ski.

Past and future. Visitors can learn about the evolution of Elan ski technology, from yesterday’s wooden matchsticks to sleek alloys of tomorrow, as well as participate in interactive equipment simulations.

“The museum shows what we have done in the past and from where we get inspiration for the future”, ski division director Leon Korosee said.

Location. Museum is located in Begunje na Gorenjskem, inside of the Elan Sports shop. There is enough of parking space in front of the museum.
Nearby Draga Valley is the start point for numerous hikes in the Karavanke mountains.

READ MORE: LOVE, CASTLES AND VISIT TO HELL

 

South of Italy; Naples My City – That´s real amore!

My City: Naples or Napoli
My name: Pep Minichino
Profession: Creative Consultant

NAPLES MY CITY: Pep hand out a string of good reasons to visit Naples! Let´s start with the names. Italians named Napoli, before Parthenope, Palepolis, Neapolis. The final meaning of Naples is “New old city”. The first inhabitants decided to live in a fertile land, close to a explosive volcano, the Vesuvius, and an active caldera, the Phlegraean Fields. Actually, the nature of the people, the Neapolitans, is in the middle.

Click large photos Naples My City

Here I grew up: I have many names. Now it´s Pep, but before I was Giuseppe, Peppino, Peppe. A guy who left Naples at eighteen. No stamps of journeys on my passport. Too many changes in my life and places where I lived.
I study at the University of Bologna under the wing of professor Umberto Eco. Then I begin to work in advertising industry as art director. Now freelancing for agencies and direct clients. Finally, founder (September, 2009) of two local aggregators Campanica Kampanika about Campania, a coastal region near Naples in southwestern Italy.
My holidays on a green island – 19 miles from the city of Naples – as water is the element of my zodiacal sign and fire the ascendant.  All the benefits of the thermal waters on Ischia have high mineral salt content and are very hot.

Why Naples? When to recharge my battery, I walk along the lively market of Pignasecca, within popular neighbourhood of Montesanto, and it fill me with happiness. The life change in the oldest marketplace in the center of Naples.

My early memory: Too many different houses my family changed, up and down, but when we arrived to live in the Arenella district the statue in the middle of the square target my childish heart. A bronze sculpture representing the artist Salvator Rosa by long hair with brush and palette on his hand.

My favourite places to eat: Just gourmet street food every time, everywhere. Eccellenze Campane to taste the culinary excellence of the territory with a glass of Taurasi, the first southern DOCG wine. Occasionally in the Chiaia district, Ristorante da Dora to enjoy the Neapolitan seafood cuisine or Umberto to enjoy the dishes of a traditional restaurant.

What do you eat there? Carb and veggie addict – Neapolitans are called mangiafoglie – sometimes we like to order baccalà, fried fish, and black pig filet. My favourite: paccheri from Gragnano filled with buffalo ricotta, parmesan and San Marzano tomato sauce. Basil leaves and Vesuvius little tomato to complete the decoration of this vertical plate of pasta dish.

Typical local food? That’s amore! Pizza Margherita da Michele, Pizza Elena da Sorbillo, Calzone da Starita.

Meet the locals: Piazza Bellini nightlife crowded by bars and alternative people is the place to meet friends. Perditempo, Caffè Arabo and Intra Moenia our favourite date places in the historic centre of Naples. Close in Piazzetta Miraglia very funny is to watch a SSC Napoli game with tifosi azzurri and with a plastic glass of beer in hand: #forzanapolisempre.

My favourite bar: La Fonoteca start downtown to sell cd and vinyls, nowadays when we buy streaming music the founders decide to open, still selling music, an aperitivo and cocktail place for the young trendy people of the Vomero and around. A place useful to date some clients for a chat and a cup of coffee.

Best for a first date? The Belvedere of San Martino in Naples is where I twenty years ago began my life adventure with Enza.

My secret place in Naples: The port of my city, where is possible to discover continuously little secret places for some introspective reflections. The sea horizon, the volcanic mountain, the male castle is just the background scenography of my visual treasure objects. Not necessary the art of photography.

Best advice: A wild, colorful, sexy ode to the music and people of Naples.  ‘Passione’ is a documentary film directed by the American actor John Turturro on location in the city – just imagine that the Teatro San Carlo of Naples is the oldest opera house still functioning in Europe – with archival footage and accounts from Enrico Caruso to Pino Daniele.

Favourite shop: Where it`s possible to buy finest men’ clothing – ‘Old England’ in via Toledo, where to find some shirts, jacket or suits also from the Neapolitan tailoring school.

My favorite Event: Contemporary art opening in private galleries or at the MADRE, Museum of Contemporary Art Donnaregina. The art scene spread parties, shows and exhibitions even in others public places like the MANN, National Archaeological Museum of Naples, and Capodimonte, Royal Palace Museum and Park.

Taxi or other local transport? Proud, like everyone in the city of the beautiful metro stop of ‘Toledo’, we suffer the regularity of the public transport in the entire region. The population density and the fragility of the layered underground slow down a new transportation system.

Keep away of: The buttadentro! The chucker-in! A category of waiters outside bars, pizzeria and restaurants, almost situated in touristic locations, invite gently, sometimes with menu in a hand, to sit at the tables.

Read about Dolomites a skiing Theatre in Snow

 

Christmas in the sun don´t come cheap

Any of the five Canary Islands hold the highest temperature in Europe

Christmas and New Year holidays are popular time to get away for a dose of winter sun and some fun. Here are a few ideas, but remember this is high season and flights, hotels and charter tours don´t come cheap this part of the year. They are all overpriced just because it`s the end of December.

Click big photos of Christmas

Andalucía. Don´t overlook Andalusia as an option for winter sun. Malaga and Costa del Sol have many costal resorts and this area of Spain has pleasant winter temperatures. Visit Malaga or walk the streets of Seville, known as the city of Flamenco or walk Sierra Nevada mountains. As for Christmas, never underestimate Andalucía’s appetite for a fiesta.

Madeira. This island is located just off the coast of Africa, meaning temperature can still reach pleasant double figures even in winter.

Cyprus. This island has guaranteed sunshine and is a winter favourite for many Britain and Germans. Here Christmas traditions include carols and pie. Northern Cyprus is a part of the island that most tourists don´t visit.

Malta. This tiny island with a historic capital and perfect winter climate is another choice in the Mediterranean. Expect glittering decoration, carol singing and traditional displays around every corner. Take a boat trip to Gozo island or simply relax on a sandy bay. Malta is perfect for doing as little as you like – and that´s what holidays are all about.

The Canaries. When it comes to Christmas and New Year, any of the five Canary Islands hold the highest temperature, the sun and hot sea in Europe this time of the year. Swap snow for sand and temperatures that can reach up to 25 degrees. Take part in Canarias tradition and remember these three words: “La Noche Viejga”, the name for New Year Eve in the Canaries.

Speed up. Whatever destination, you need to get booking faster than Santa squeezing down the chimney – or else Christmas sun will be even more overpriced.

Read more: Grand Canaria better than a bad reputation

Read more: Malta – low price and high impression

First smart police stations opened in Dubai

Crime-rate down in Dubai. But not all crime is made for smart stations

DUBAI: Two smart police stations, which will provide around-the-clock services to the public without police officers on site, has so far opened in Dubai.
One station is located in a coastal residential area and divided into three areas: a waiting area, exhibition area and service area. After arriving at the smart police station, you draw a number. In the waiting area, residents can play a safety driving game to kill time. Next to the educational game is the service area.

Click big photos smart police stations

By clicking on an electronic board, residents can talk to police officers who are online around-the-clock in a private space. There are six service languages which support up to 60 kinds of services including paying traffic fines by cash or bank card, obtaining police certificates, reporting a case and reporting traffic accidents. In addition, people can submit recovered property, as well as search for lost property.

Cybercrime. This Self-Service allows the public to record a complaint regarding cybercrimes, whether for their persons or for their properties. To facilitate the procedures, you fill out a form and ensure that you have as much information as possible, so that Police can help you as quickly and as best as possible.

Speed limit and drugs. I don´t think all people know much about speed limit on Dubai´s roads, it is 110 km/h on the highway and 80 at most other roads. Statistic tells that crime-rate in Dubai has gone down. However, recently Dubai Police smashed three international drug gangs and sized 52Kg of heroin, cocaine and hashish. The drug dealers were from different nationalities and one gang was using shipping routes from Dubai in order to smuggle drugs to a large geographic region.
Not all crime is made for smart stations and nothing is like a crime-free holiday.

Philippines’ resort island Boracay reopen in October

This resort island is strictly informal with an easy atmosphere

Tourists are awaiting the island´s full recovery. Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. reiterated that the Department of Tourism (DOT) is well on track with its 7.4 million target as the island’s closure also became an opportunity to introduce and boost travellers’ awareness of other tourism destinations in the Philippines.

“The fact that we have kept ourselves afloat is a very strong reflection of how resilient the industry is”, Bengzon said.

Click large photos resort island Boracay

Despite the closure of one of the country’s flagship destinations, brand equity remains strong. The code in Boracay is strictly informal. There is an undeniable easy atmosphere in Boracay where walking barefoot than shod is the rule rather than the exception. White Beach is so fine, it feels like treading on miles of baby powder! No wonder, even swinging discos have the beach for a floor, giving dance a new twist.

There are no hang-ups either in this island. At daytime, tourists having a soothing massage under the shade of a coconut tree beside the shoreline is a common sight. And from dusk to dawn, Boracay turns into one big party place where everyone is welcome to join in.

Among these developments are the new Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and an evident buildup in the accommodation sector expected to expand the destinations’ capacity in welcoming visitors from all over the world visiting resort island Boracay

Ten Tips for Train Travel in Europe

In some countries, such as France, having a reservation is strongly advised

Tickets can be bought online, at the counter of a train station, at automated kiosks that take credit cards and sometimes even on the train from the conductor, although in this last case there will generally be a surcharge. Furthermore, on some trains, especially local trains, you are expected to have a ticket beforehand and a substantial fine will be levied if you do not.

Prices vary considerably, depending on when and how you make your purchase, whether you make a round trip or not and whether or not you go first or second class. A little advance planning can make a significant difference to your bank account.

Click big photo of Train Travel in Europe

Reservations. In some countries, such as France, having a reservation is strongly advised, even if you have a Eurail pass, because without one you will have trouble finding a seat. In other countries, such as Switzerland, trains will only be full to capacity during peak hours and even then you can stand in the space near the doors. In countries where reservations are advised, the earlier you can arrange them, the better, especially when you are planning a long trip. Although you may be able to do this online or at an automated kiosk, you may be best served by going to a train station with agents who can assist you with making plans.

Keep your ticket ready. You may need to show your ticket, your reservation and even personal identification to the conductor; you should keep these items readily accessible.

Food and drink. Although going to the restaurant car has its charms, sometimes the restaurant car is full, out of things that you want to eat, or closed due to maintenance. Sometimes the pushcart from which you’re planning to buy a coffee never arrives or its selection may be poor. The choices, whatever they are, are frequently more expensive on the train than off of it. Therefore, it is sensible to have a few extra provisions with you, at least for longer trips.
Note that frequently the water supplied in train restrooms is not guaranteed as being safe to drink. You can, however, usually buy bottles of water on the train, or else you can bring your own beverages.

WiFi access. Access to WiFi is changing and can be expected to continue to change. Many railway stations will offer access, frequently for a fee, You may not have access between cities, or if you do, it may only be on certain routes.

Luggage. You can put smaller pieces of luggage in racks above your head, under your seat, or depending on the arrangement of the train, between the seats. Larger pieces will need to be stored near the doors in a section luggage; if you are concerned about theft, you may want to choose a seat with a clear view of the luggage area.

Train types. For those who travel frequently, it can be useful to investigate the different trains in your region. Trains vary considerably. Some offer food and drink; some will have two floors; some will have power outlets; some small regional trains may not even have lavatories.

Cell phones. Cell phone reception has improved dramatically over the last few years, so that service is uninterrupted even in some tunnels. However, if you are entering a part of a country with lots of tunnels, this may not be the time to call any of your clients or your boss.

Note that in some “quiet” cars you are not supposed to use a cellphone. If you do receive a call, you should either end the conversation quickly or move to a part of the train where noise is not restricted.  Even in areas not restricted for noise, out of consideration for others it is polite not too speak too long or too loudly.
Remember that even if you do not speak the local language, you should assume that someone around you speaks, or at least understands, English. Be discreet.

Ear plugs or ear phones. Just because you are being considerate with respect to your noise level, does not mean that your fellow passengers will be, especially in cars that are not marked as quiet cars. If you are sensitive you may wish to bring ear plugs or noise-canceling earphones.

Border controls. Just because you’re crossing a border in a train does not mean that you won’t have to show your passport. Occasionally immigration and or customs police check identification and even come through with dogs sniffing for contraband. Of course, most of Europe is control-free with respect to passports, but if you’re American you may still need to show yours.

Train travel in Europe can be efficient, inexpensive, and good for the environment. While on a train, you can view the countryside or read or work. The tips will help make your journeys more comfortable and even fun.

Qantas and the non-stop Perth to London flight

No wi-fi on QF 9: The world´s longest flight without daylight

LONDON: ”It was non-stop till you drop!” The Sun-reporter Jacob Lewis said so after more than 17 hours on Flight QF 9 from Perth in Australia to London Heathrow. He sat in economy with 160 other people, while others were  booked into a world of beds and champagne.

Big photos of Qantas flight

During the flight Lewis spent time on this activity: He had 1 been, 2 wine, 1 fin and tonic, 7 waters, 4 bags of bar snacks, 1 chicken, rice and veg, 1 bread roll, 1 panna cotta, 1 breakfast, 1 yoghurt with granola, 1 mini banana loaf, 1 cup of tea, 1 orange juice, 4 toilet breaks, 1 movie, Take your pills, 2-hour sleep, 6 hours laying with eyes closed, 1 article written.

The route is holding the honor of being the world´s longest flight without daylight. During the nearly 18-hour flight there is time to watch eight Harry Potter films and listen to every one of The Beatles songs nearly twice over.

”I was groggy, aching and ready for bed”, Jacob Lewis wrote in The Sun – after 17 hours and 13 minutes on Flight QF 9, before he went to bed at home in London. The first class return ticket cost 5,127 UK-pounds.

The meals. There was a main meal, mid-flight, morning bakery and breakfast menus, as well as a free-for-all snack throughout the flight.  Dinner offerings included, cheese ravioli with leek and mushroom cream sauce; and chicken with red rice and roasted Mediterranean vegetables.

When the Kangaroo route first opened in 1947, people hoping to see Australia had to make seven stops over four days. Now we can do it in a single leap.
”This is absolutely fantastic, a real game changer for the world of aviation”, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said. He was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight. But to the dismay of many, free Wi-Fi was not available on the flight.

Chootad Beach – new one for the Beach Bums

KERALA, INDIA: A glorious strip of sand hidden between a lake and a gentle sea, overlooking the mighty Ezhimala Hills. That is Chootad Beach, a rare geographical combination which looks more like a painting out of an artist’s fantasy than a beach.

The beach is located a few kilometres away from Pazhayangadi town in Kannur, Kerala, and yet to figure in the tourism radar and one can easily spend a few hours here in privacy.

This stunning beach also boasts a long, gorgeous coastline backed by Casuarina trees.

Chootad Beach isn’t just for the romantics. It is for the adventurous and those who just want to picnic around as well. The Tourism Council maintains a park next to the beach. For beach bums, there is nothing more fulfilling than walking through this pristine stretch watching the waves crash at the shore, taking a dip or just settling into the sands and staring at the magnificent scene struck up by nature.

Attractions: Ezhimala, 11 kms away, Kavvayi, 18 kms away, Valiyaparamba,  14 kms away, Ezhara Beach, 38 kms away, Madayipara, 6 kms away, Payannur, 19 kms away, Kannur, 27 kms away, Bekal, 6 kms away

A village boozer is crowned UK`s best pub

“A delightful place, well run by a young, personable team”

BRILL:  Here is Pub of the Year, long time ago the Great Train Robbery was planned – and the stolen millions was divided here. Beating 460 other pubs across the UK and Ireland, The Pointer has been crowned the ultimate dining pub by Michelin´s new Eating Out in Pubs guide 2018.

Buckinghamshire’s The Pointer serves food produced at a 240-acre farm where they raise rare breed cattle and pigs.
Rebecca Burr, editor of the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs guide, said to The Mail: ‘Not only is it a delightful place, but it is exceedingly well run by a young, personable team. They really pay attention to detail and nothing is ever too much trouble for them.’

The regularly-updated food menu is carefully curated by the pub’s executive head chef James Graham. Popular options include new season lamb or roast loin of Cornish hake, which is served with gem lettuce, mussel and bacon chowder, but also credited for its broader vision. They just opened four brand new guest bedrooms in a refurbished red brick cottage directly opposite the pub.

Get there: Travel from Marylebone London to Aylesbury Vale Parkway, takes 70 minutes by train and the return-ticket will set you back 23,10 pounds – actually not a robbery.

Miniature Wonderland – small world, big impression 

Miniature Wonderland is the world’s biggest model railway

Visitors at Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg are taken on a journey through different countries and continents, through realistic miniature landscapes and worlds of fantasy.

Wonderland portrays stories big and small and discoveries are to be made everywhere you look. From Hamburg with its port, it’s just a few short steps to the Grand Canyon, intersected by a long-haul train crossing a huge wooden bridge. The America section takes you on a sightseeing tour of the United States, from the Everglades to the bright lights of Vegas and into the Rocky Mountains.

Then it’s onwards to Scandinavia, where cargo ships and cruise liners sail through 30,000 litres of real water and you can see Pippi Longstocking and a family of cave-dwelling trolls. This region also boasts a magical snowy landscape with lots of minute details.

The make-believe city of Knuffingen is another must-see with tiny lorries and cars driving through the little streets as if by magic. And it doesn’t end there. Other highlights include a rock concert, a fire brigade, a couple in a field of sunflowers and even the mythical Atlantis. Of course, as well as the Alps, Scandinavia, America and Switzerland, you also get to explore the city of Hamburg in miniature.

Miniature Wonderland is the world’s biggest model railway. By arrangement, wheelchair users and severely disabled people can enjoy exclusive access to Miniature Wonderland.

Avoid years with bad luck – and bad sex in Spain

When offering a toast, look every person in the group in the eye!

Superstitions in Spain are the same as in much of the western world, such as breaking mirror and not walking under a ladder. But some are unique to Spain, above all when it comes to drinking.

  • The rule in Spain is like this: Never toast with a glass of water. If you do, you’ll get seven years of bad sex!
  • However, rule number one is this: When offering a toast, look every person in the group in the eye!
  • Don´t ask why you are supposed to do this, it just seems polite and this rule is enforced in Spain suggest that some believe it is bad luck if you don´t meet eyes.

Tuesday. If you’re the kind of superstitious soul, remember; Tuesday the 13th, not Friday 13th, is considered unlucky in Spain. Don´t get married on a Tuesday 13th and never buy family or friends knives or scissors as a gift. Tradition says this means that the relationship will be broken. Breaking social conventions will bring you bad luck… or worse

Affordable art and hot young talents

LONDON: With art season in full swing, hot young talents will join household names as the Affordable Art Fair returns to leafy Battersea this October. The four-day event will see a diverse line up of artists showcasing a mix of contemporary paintings, editioned prints, sculptures and photography, all priced between £100 – £6,000.

Click for large pictures

As well as investing in contemporary art, visitors can get involved in some of the innovative workshops and tours set to take place at the fair. There will be CSM short courses on Collage, Drawing and Idea Generation across the four days, as well as tours by the London Art Salon where you can get tips on How to Own a Hirst or brush up on Sculptural Shapes.

The Affordable Art Fair Battersea opens its doors to the public on Thursday 19th October and runs until Sunday 22nd October.

For tickets and further information, visit Affordable Art Fair

 

 

Avoid heath, rain and high prices in Rio

Time for Rio. There’s no question that the busiest – and most expensive – time of year to visit Rio de Janeiro is during the southern hemisphere summer. When the city revels in the baking heat, lets its hair down and plays host to the unparalleled parties of New Year and Carnival, both of which send hotel prices shooting up into the stratosphere.

Hot and rain. If attending either of these events is not your main motive for visiting the city, you can really benefit from avoiding the peak Brazilian summer season. Not only is it almost too hot for sightseeing, it’s also the rainy season, and what with Rio’s climate being warm all year around we think the dry winter months of July to September are just as pleasant as the summer, if not more so. October and November are even warmer.

Taste of London; New Asian flavours

LONDON: Mei Ume is now open at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, incorporating both Chinese and Japanese dishes into its menu. The restaurant has a live sushi station and serves small plates such as Shanghai braised pork ribs and dim sum, alongside larger standout dishes including whole Peking duck and Wagyu beef from Kagoshima.

Chopsticks at the ready! London is getting two new Asian food courts. In July, Bang Bang Oriental opened in North London – a sprawling venue with a pan-Asian Street Food Market vibe, celebrating Asia’s vibrant culture with 33 individual kiosks under one roof, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Malaysian cuisine.

The Japan Centre – London’s iconic Japanese food shop established in the 1970s – is opening a new flagship food hall on Panton Street by Leicester Square. Its large dining hall will be surrounded by open kitchens.

A new Japanese-inspired fast food joint with a cheeky name has arrived on Soho’s Wardour Street. Ichi Buns are unique Asian-style burgers brought to you by Alan Yau – the man behind popular restaurant chains Wagamama and Busaba. Choices include a panko meatball burger and ‘Hokkaido’: two grilled patties, red onions, shiitake mushrooms and blue cheese fondue. Or, you can opt for ramen and spring rolls – but these aren’t your average spring rolls. These are cheeseburger spring rolls.

US-based ‘Asian Table’ casual dining chain P. F. Changs arriving Covent Garden The affordable   menu is inspired by Asian street food.
Mint Gun Club – a new tea house, bar and delicatessen from drinks expert Richard Hunt has opened in Stoke Newington. It specialises in apéritifs, globally-inspired cocktails and fine teas, and food inspired by Middle Eastern, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. Address: 4a Brooke Road, Stoke Newington, North London, N16 7LS

Jane Austen Festival bigger than ever

BATH: Jane Austen lived in Bath from 1801 – 1806 and Visit Bath marks the anniversary of her death with a Festival. Today Bath is a vibrant city with great shopping, spa culture, dining and plenty to see and do.

The 17th annual Jane Austen Festival (8.-17. September) expect nearly 4000 people to attend over 80 events, opening with a world-record setting Regency Costumed Promenade, raising money for the Cancer Care Campaign at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.

They have a huge range of events for film fans and book buffs alike, including workshops, dances, balls, readings, talks, concerts and theatricals. The theme book for this year is Northanger Abbey, first published in 1817 and set in the city of Bath, so expect a touch of the gothic about the Festival this year! They offer  Northanger Abbey themed tours, a theatrical production and will be reading through the book every day in Bath Central Library.

For those who love to dress up there will be plenty of opportunities to wear gorgeous costumes around the city at costumed Promenades.

Art; Guggenheim Bilbao celebrate in October

BILBAO: A spectacular public event has been announced by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the opening of the museum. Reflections will be an open, free-admission event made possible thanks to the collaboration of the City of Bilbao, the Provincial Council of Biscay, and Ibedrola.

Designed specifically for the occasion, Reflections—a large-scale projection mapping event—has been conceived as a unique, sensory experience for both locals and visitors alike as the final event of the celebration year, which is being marked by a special art program and numerous cultural activities.

From 11-14 October, Frank Gehry’s iconic building will be turned into an impressive public artistic intervention. The Museum will see its distinctive titanium curves and soaring glass atrium used as a vast canvas for a bespoke projection-mapping event for more than 200,000 spectators, free of charge across around 20 performances.

New Hotel in the Heart of Ras Al Khaimah

Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah opened in May and is located in the Al Nakheel area by the creek. A walking distance to two major shopping malls, the hotel is also a stone’s throw away from the souks and historical sites of the Emirates’ old city. Ras Al Khaimah Airport is 25 minutes away, and Dubai Airport is 70 minutes.

Dine anytime at the Garden Grille, or sip a cocktail at the Garden Lounge or Pool Bar plus 24-hour room service.  Relax under the sun in the outdoor pool or play on our tennis courts. The complimentary fitness center, business center and guest laundry room are available 24 hours. Host business meetings or social events in our stylish ballroom or outdoor function spaces. Hotel guests can enjoy Hilton´s private beach just 5 minutes’ drive away.

Local Attractions; Ras Al Khaimah old city, Al Sawan Camel Track, Al Hajjar Mountains and Shamal mountain village.

We all celebrate a Happy Bikini-day

LONDON: They show up and are for sale in all forms, shapes and colors. From the sporty style with high neck if you don´t want to show too much cleavage to Thong bikini for showing off the best asset on the beach.

Click for large photo

Its long time since designer Louis Reard in 1946 introduced the bikini in a public pool in Paris, saying it must be small enough to fit through a wedding ring. It was banned on beaches in Italy and Spain and by Miss World Contest having been declared sinful by the Vatican.

All changed in 1953 when French actor Brigitte Bardot wearing a bikini on the beach at the Cannes film festival. Playboy magazine features a bikini on its cover for the first time in 1962. The rest is history; bikini is the base in any holiday wardrobe.

What we celebrate?  The 71st anniversary of the teeny weeny bikini. Happy bikini-day!

Tour of winery Pares Balta south of Barcelona

Pares Balta produces wines and cavas with grapes from our 5 estates, situated around the winery and in the mountains of Penedès, Spain. The altitude varies from 170 to 750m and offers a diverse mixture of climates.

Parés Baltà is a family owned traditional winery that goes back to 1790. They are winemakers with a long tradition but with new and fresh ideas. The company is guided into a new era of high quality wine production under the management of Joan and Josep Cusiné and the in conditional help of their father Joan Cusiné Cusiné.

The tours are conducted in Catalan, Spanish, English, French or German. The winery and shop are open all year around. The Parés Baltà winery is situated in Pacs del Penedès, 55km south of Barcelona. Picture: The Pares Balta family at the vineyard

Garlic – one of the niche festivals in England

Summer and its new season of a fresh crop of brilliant food festivals popping up across the UK. Whatever your gastronomic preference, Britain has it covered. If there ever was a niche food festival, then the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival is it.

Where: Isle of Wight Garlic Festival southern England
When: 19 – 20 August 2017

Celebrating the endless versatility of the little white allium. Of course, it’s not just garlic, there’ll be other delicious local produce on offer, like meats, cheeses, honey and cider. Don’t miss the chance to tickle your taste buds and try some garlic fudge!
Getting there: The Isle of Wight sits four miles off the coast of Hampshire. Portsmouth in Hampshire is an hour and 40-minute train journey from London. Regular ferries run between Portsmouth Harbour and the Isle of Wight.

On foot by the network and coastline of Brittany

Here are some walks to enjoy the coast of Brittany, trails packed with history and the local spirit.

Tour of Brittany on foot is one of the most iconic pathways of the French hiking trail network and runs for more than 1,800 km along the entire Breton coastline, featuring stunning views over the sea. This trail was created back in 1791 and is packed with history.
Rocky outcrops, wilderness, marshland, dunes, beaches, creeks and flora and fauna will be a picture-postcard view at every turn and the best way to capture the spirit of Brittany and the wide-open air. Get ready for a visual feast: see Mont Saint-Michel Bay, the Emerald Coast and the Pink Granite Coast, the ‘Abers’ of Finistère, the Crozon peninsula, the Cornouaille coast and the Pointe du Raz, Southern Finistère and the Gulf of Morbihan.
You can also explore other Grande Randonnée trails that criss-cross the region from East to West, from Vitré to the Crozon peninsula, via the legendary forest of Brocéliande, the Nantes-Brest canal and the Monts d’Arrée mountain range. You could also explore the pathways of the Grande Randonnée de Pays (GRP) hiking trails: they form loops so you can return to your starting point. On the menu:  Brocéliande, the Pays Malouin and Pays de Morlaix areas.

Fresh seafood and Icelandic lamb on the menu

ICELAND: Here is advice from one of our readers: Step back in time and enjoy modern Icelandic cuisine in a setting rich in history. Restaurant Rauda Husid – means The Red House – is a countryside fine dining located in historical house in the fishing village of Eyrarbakki, half an hour drive from Reykjavik. This one is specialized in seafood delivered directly from the fishermen. Icelandic lamb is also on the menu. Address: raudahusid.is


Picture: Fish Trio. Two types of fish and langoustine tails with sautéed vegetable. Price: 5600 Icelandic krona – or 48euro/54 us dollar.

Ocean view for some few dollars’ extra

ITALY: This is the place for luxury villas perched into cliffs overlooking stunning blue water in a romantic setting. The Amalfi Coast continues to be a popular choice for couples seeking an amorous getaway overlooking the Gulf of Salerno or Bay of Naples.
This is the time for luxurious spas and pools overlooking the picturesque region. For those searching the best of the best, Carrington Italy representing a collection of some of the finest luxury villas in the region. In addition, the staff are experts providing travel experiences, local knowledge and happy to guide you to some of the hidden treasures of the Amalfi Coast. Or as they said in the Italian Spaghetti film from 1966: For some few dollars extra.

The People and Colors of Pride in Reykjavik

THIS YEAR Reykjavik Pride will go on from 8th -13th August. Since Reykjavik Pride was first held 19 years ago, it has been one of the biggest days on the local event calendar. Last year more than 60,000 people flocked downtown the capital to take part in the opening parade which is impressive when you consider that the entire population of Iceland is only 500,000. This year´s Pride will be as colorful as ever. Picture: from the opening in 2016.

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