# Food & leisure

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11.24.2017

While Italy has a superbly convenient national train system, road tripping allows for freedom and plenty of ease for traveling between destinations, especially if you have luggage and/or plan on shopping (don’t deny it). With this freedom comes flexibility to take as long as you want in any city or town to soak everything in. Here are a couple of tips for foreigners looking to take on Italy in the slow life way. If you want to hop from city to city, it’s much faster to take high speed trains and way less stressful. While Italian highways are easy to navigate (although tolls are expensive), driving in cities is very hectic. A direct quote from a Manhattan native who recently drove through parts of northern Italy says it all- “after this trip, I’ll never complain about driving in New York City again”. Things that many foreigners will find strange include but are not limited to: the apparent lack of lanes painted on the road and the fact that the traffic lights are only at the crosswalk on your side of the intersection, so if you pull up too far at a red light, you’re completely at the mercy of those honking their horns behind you (which will be everyone) as you’ll no longer be able to see when the light turns green. Just because there are a fraction of the driving rules as there are in the UK or the US for example, doesn’t mean you should be put off. It’s actually far more dangerous to be a timid driver than it is to be confident. All you need to know is that no one else is following any rules either, so if you can drive with confidence, you’ll fit right in. Assuming that the above applies to you, here’s what you need to know to make the most out of your self-assuredness. Always Take The Scenic RouteSince you have a car, you might as well make the most of it. A drive through Tuscany, the Dolomites, or along the Amalfi Coast is always a good idea. Always Have An Alternate PlanWe say “alternate” rather than “backup”, because backup plan implies that it’s second best. We say alternate instead because a last minute change in your original plan means that your alternate plan will be full of spontaneity and giving you an unexpectedly great time. For example, when in Florence and The Uffizi goes on strike the day of your reservation, and then you try to go to Boboli Gardens to find out it’s closed for “winter hours” (which isn’t stated on their website or any signs at the park) you’ll be wishing you had a backup plan. (As you can tell this might be based on personal experience.) That Being Said…Don’t micromanage your time. Because things are likely to close at unexpected times, don’t let it ruin your plan for the day. Just adjust what you want to do and try to see that sight the next day. This goes back to always having an alternate activity in mind. Welcome to Italy! As long as you’re flexible you’ll have a wonderful time. Plan To Spend More Time In Each Location Than You Think You NeedSee above. It’s inevitable that once you spend a day or two in any new city that you’ll discover more things that you want to do. This is especially true in a country with so much history. Having plenty of extra time means that you don’t have to rush or be so diligent about your schedule, meaning you can have a more leisurely (read: authentic) Italian experience.   

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11.22.2017

The most painful day at the height of consumerism (literally painful, considering that people regularly trample each other at Walmart) is only a few hours after the most famous day of the year for appreciating and giving thanks for what we have. Even though we know we are being manipulated, we still can’t bear to miss out on all those Black Friday deals! There is an element of competition that plays into all this- and not just the physical competition of running to the busiest display at Best Buy and hurdling past everyone else to get the last flat screen TV at 60% off. Some people relish nabbing a deal that others didn’t because they “won”. There is also a social aspect: everyone else is doing it, so we don’t want to be the only ones to miss out.  It’s practically impossible for one to be a “rational consumer” (looking at you, economic models and rational choice theory). When people are anxious they don’t always make rational decisions, and Black Friday campaigns play up this anxiety with phrases like “for a limited time only” and “while supplies last”. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t experienced a little buyer's remorse at some point in their lives? Our advice: be familiar with the return policy of each store you intend to go to ahead of time. Furthermore, don’t make a plan. Surprisingly enough, it is the people who plan the most who become the most aggressive and emotional. Those who are on a “mission” or need to “stick to the schedule” are more susceptible to being triggered by external factors like how long the checkout line is or how slowly some people walk. This causes cortisol (the stress hormone) levels to rise which is why we get so worked up and stressed out. This is because time-sensitive sales (which is basically every sale on Black Friday), give people a rush when they buy something at a price that is (significantly) less than what they value the item at. This rush is the result of an increase in dopamine which is triggered by novelty, thrill seeking, etc. While the term “thrill seeking” might seem more applicable to roller coasters, for example, we’d go so far as to say that finding a good deal on the perfect leather jacket is fairly thrilling. Dopamine without the presence of the other chemicals and hormones that influence happiness (serotonin, oxytocin) is actually at the core of addictions. So let’s be a little more forgiving regarding our friends’, family’s, (and even our own) impulse purchases this Black Friday- except for the select few people who trample others. Someone who is totally okay with physically competing against others for patio furniture and miscellaneous electronics needs to reevaluate their priorities.  

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11.20.2017

Located about 2 hours north of Tokyo, Nikko’s Tōshōgu is a World Heritage Site where the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was enshrined as Tōshō Daigongen, the Great Deity of the East Shining Light. The site lies on the holy grounds of the Nikkō mountain range, where the shimmering waters of the Daiya River, flowing from Lake Chūzenji, and the Inari River, flowing from Mount Nyohō, converge. The whole area is covered in a forest of cedar trees aged between 400 and 800, dotted with shrines. Within the boundaries there are 55 buildings, which include 8 National Treasures and 34 Important Cultural Assets. This site is regarded as one of Japan’s premier mystical locations. Tokugawa Ieyasu believed in the spiritual power of Nikkō and chose it as the burial ground for the members of the Tokugawa family as well as for himself. Tōshōgu was built according to the principles of fengshui, in such a way that the Yōmei entrance and the torii gate stand exactly below the North Star.Bold, vivid and colorful, Tōshōgu is a magnificent place with a strong impact. Animals like pheasants, dragons, tigers and dogs are carved in the wooden parts of the building, as symbols of peace. Nemurineko: the Sleeping CatNemurineko is the realistic depiction of a cat crouching and sleeping peacefully, while protecting Tokugawa Ieyasu’s sleep. On the opposite side of the carving, a sparrow is resting in the same manner as the cat, to emphasize the idea of peace and quiet: since the cat is sleeping, the bird too can sleep. Mizaru, Iwazaru, Kikazaru: the Three Wise MonkeysThere are eight carvings representing monkeys, which were considered the guardians of horses. Each carving contains a maxim on how to live in perfect harmony. The most popular carving is certainly the one of the so-called Three Wise Monkeys: Mizaru, covering its eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering its ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering its mouth, who speaks no evil. The maxim is about not learning from evil and not dwelling on thoughts of evil. Kegon FallsIt is said that there are 48 waterfalls in Nikkō, of which Kegon Falls are the most impressive. The waters flowing out of Lake Chūzenji and falling from a 97m height are a magnificent spectacle of nature.Shinkyō: The Sacred BridgeThe beautiful vermilion-lacquered Shinkyō Bridge stands at the entrance of Nikkō’s holy grounds, and belongs to Futarasan-jinja, which was built to enshrine the deities of Mount Nantai. Legend has it that towards the end of the Nara period, a priest and his followers climbed Mount Nantai, but found themselves unable to cross the fast-flowing waters of the Daiya River. The priest summoned Jinja-Daiō, the god of the river, who emerged from the waters and released two snakes, which morphed into a bridge covered in sedge. Kinugawa OnsenThe hot springs were discovered in the Edo period, and at the beginning only the monks and the feudal lords had access to them. After the Meiji period, they were opened to the public, along with numerous inns and hotels along the Kinu River, hence becoming one of the leading hot spring resorts in Kantō. Nikkō can be reached from Akasaka Station by “Kengo” limited express train in just two hours.   

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11.20.2017

Thanksgiving in America has strayed a bit from its roots as a harvest celebration into a day that praises eating so much that wearing stretchy trousers is often encouraged (if you wear real trousers and your buttons don’t pop off, you’re doing it wrong). That’s not to say that Americans don’t value the tradition of spending a day with friends and family to be grateful, but the holiday has become so commercial that occasionally the underlying sentiment becomes blurred by copious amounts of football and pumpkin pie. Here are some harvest festivals around the world that aren’t focused solely on eating: Korea - ChuseokThe literal translation of “chuseok” is “autumn eve”, and is a three day holiday on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar celebrated by visiting the graves of one's ancestors. This is one of the numerous ancestral memorials practiced by Koreans and it involves preparing special foods such as songpyeon to symbolize an offering to the spirits of their ancestors. Songpyeon is a semi sweet crescent shaped rice cake that is almost exclusively eaten during Chuseok, similar to how cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie is practically exclusive to Thanksgiving. Barbados - Crop OverThis exuberant summer festival that starts in June and ends in August, has been compared to Carnival in Brazil or Trinidad, but it’s linked to when Barbados was the world's largest producer of sugarcane. After the sugar harvest was over they would host a huge celebration. It temporarily ended as the sugar industry declined but it was resurrected in a fashion closer to its current incarnation in 1974. The grand finale, The Grand Kadooment Day, attracts people from all over the world (including Rihanna herself, the 21st century patron saint of partying) to join in calypso, drinking, eating and dancing competitions, incredible costumes, and the carnival paradeCanada - Thanksgiving Obviously we have to make an exception for Canadian Thanksgiving! It’s very similar to American Thanksgiving but is on the second Monday of October rather than the fourth Thursday of November. After the American Revolution, the pilgrims who were still loyal to the British went to Canada and brought American traditions such as Thanksgiving with them which is why they eat the same things in Canada as they do on American Thanksgiving. Pongal - India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and moreThis four-day celebration is one of the most important Tamil festivals, it takes place mid-January as this is the season when the most essential Tamil cooking ingredients are harvested (rice, sugarcane, turmeric, etc). Pongal (which means “overflowing” in Tamil) is a sweet rice dish (using the first rice of the season) with cardamom and raisins and is cooked during the festival to celebrate the sun god for a successful harvest. Each day has different celebratory activities such as getting rid of old clothes, painting cows, and decorating homes. Vendimia Festival - Mendoza, ArgentinaWhile this festival isn’t nationwide, it does celebrate one of the most important, and one of our favorite crops: grapes. It’s a relatively young festival, the first official celebration wasn’t until 1936 even though the easiest celebrations took place in the 17th centuries. It kicks off with the Archbishop of Mendoza blessing the first grapes of the season, followed a beauty pageant, parades, and dancing, all culminating with live entertainment in the local amphitheater. A month-long wine festival, endorsed by the regional archbishop- what’s not to like?  

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11.16.2017

Asian countries have been the primary consumers when it comes to snacking on crickets. For most of us in the west, the thought of casually crunching on insects isn’t very appealing. But the good news is that instead of eating crickets like popcorn, there are a lot of companies emerging who’ve made cricket flour, cricket powder, cricket protein bars, and various other cricket snacks to avoid actually putting whole crickets in your mouth. Although there’s plenty of whole cricket options out there if that sounds tasty to you. You’re probably wondering how we got from “global food crisis” to “good news- eating crickets just got easier!” so quickly…. A Little Background:The relationship between agriculture, the global food crisis, and global warming is complex. By 2050 there will be almost 10 billion people on this planet, that’s over 2 billion more than there is now. Food production levels must continue to rise, but we have a few problems: there is already an obscene amount of perfectly good food wasted each year because of inefficient practices, and the level of food production we’re currently at is stripping the soil of nutrients and is a major factor contributing to global warming.  You Already Eat Bugs Every Day, You Just Don’t Know ItOne forward thinking and incredibly cool solution is to mass produce food whose main ingredient is crickets. They're nutritionally dense, a great source of protein, environmentally friendly, and the best part is that you’re probably already eating crickets every day and don’t even know it. Yes, it’s true, believe it or not, the FDA has a certain threshold of bugs that are allowed to be in food before it becomes “unsafe”. For example: chocolate can have an average of 60 “insect fragments” per 100g, one cup of rice could theoretically have up to three whole insects, and the amount of pizza sauce it takes for one smallish pizza (100g) can have up to 30 flies or 2 maggots in it. These numbers are “Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans” according to the FDA’s Defect Levels HandbookWhy Crickets, Specifically?They’re much more sustainable than any vertebrate derived protein. They are more than 50% protein by volume AND no part of a cricket goes to waste (compare that with how much of a cow or chicken is wasted during the slaughtering process). Crickets have twice as much iron as spinach and every amino acid. They require virtually no water or feed compared to a cow and they produce just 1% of the greenhouse gasses that cows do. You could say these things about a lot of insects, though, so why crickets? Crickets don’t taste bad. Not all insects taste the same, and crickets are relatively mild. We would go so far as to say that if anything, it can be described as having a nutty flavor. Plus, whether it’s in the form of cricket flour or protein powder, when it’s mixed in with other flavors, it’s not particularly distinguishable. It’ll make your recipes taste different, obviously, but nobody is going to taste your homemade cricket flour cookies and say, “oh my goodness these cookies taste just like insect!” At this point we’ve established that crickets are more nutritionally dense than regular meat, far more sustainable, don’t taste bad, and that you’ve already eaten them before- you just didn’t know. So, what are you waiting for? We’re not suggesting you go to the park and root around in the grass looking for crickets to sauté for dinner tonight, but cricket based foods are becoming increasingly popular, so next time you see some BBQ crickets at the market, go for it!  

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11.14.2017

It is no surprise that cow milk is not exactly sustainable. The FAO states that the global dairy industry makes up about 4% of all greenhouse gas emissions. One gallon of plain old cow milk generates 17.6 lbs of carbon dioxide, and it takes over 800 liters to generate said gallon of plain old cow milk. This probably explains why so many people with a green lifestyle are turning to milk alternatives, and particularly to almond “milk”, which seems to be among the most popular ones today. Yet, even almond milk has its downsides. First of all, it takes over one gallon of water to produce one almond. To make one liter of (homemade) almond milk it would take nearly 400 gallons of water. California produces 80% of the world’s almond supply and basically all of the US’s almond supply. If we were to play a word association game, “drought” would be one of the first handful things people would think of when hearing the word California. It’s easy to conclude why almond milk can be seen as harmful, but it’s not that bad when you compare it to the carbon footprint of cow milk. Plus there’s all of the waste and air pollution caused by cows that needs to be taken into consideration, among a whole slew of other environmental and ethical factors. So why are we obsessed with almond milk anyway? There are other nut milks to choose from, in addition to soy, rice, oat, coconut, flax, hemp, and even quinoa milk on the market. All nuts, and plants in general for that matter, require a lot of water to produce, although cashews (technically a drupe, not a nut), hazelnuts, coconuts, etc, can be sourced from somewhere that’s not in the midst of a drought.  Is there really a “best” type of milk?Cow’s milk as a dietary staple is pretty much only a western phenomenon- the majority of the milk drinking world drinks goat milk, which has superior nutritional values and is less likely to cause digestive issues, among other things. If nutrition is the primary motivator for milk drinkers, they should switch to goat milk, if they can contend with the taste. In terms of plant based alternatives, pea (we know, weird, right?) or hemp milk are much better options in terms of nutrition and carbon footprint. But if you think about it, humans are the only species to drink milk after infancy. Once we’re all grown up, there may be better ways of acquiring the same nutrients found in milk in other foods that are both healthier and better for the environment. 

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11.08.2017

To ride a mountain coaster you sit in a sled like seat that’s attached to the track, but you can control the speed yourself. Not only is it ridiculously fun but you can also get a beautiful view of the landscape. Since you’re in control of the speed, even if your goal is thrill seeking (and taking corners as fast as possible, of course), it can also be a personal experience with nature. The most famous alpine coasters are in The Alps of course, so here are some of the best ones to pique your interest: Imst, AustriaOne of the best all around coaster experiences- the track is just over 2 miles/3.5km long, can go over 25 miles per hour/40 kph, and the chair lift up the mountain is lovely. What makes this one particularly unique is that the structure is more roller coaster like- the track is actually elevated so at some points you’re 10 meters/over 30 feet off the ground. There are bends, twists, and 450 degree loops. The coaster ride itself is exhilarating, but you can still have the best of both worlds because the chair lift ride is so relaxing. Aplyland, ItalyWhile it’s not the most intense coaster on this list, it’s in a great location. It’s just a funicular and a chair lift ride away from Lago Maggiore which is a popular summer destination, rather than a ski resort. If you’re spending an afternoon seeing the islands, it’s worth a little detour to go down the coaster. Even though the lake and it’s nearby town Stresa, are more spring and summer time weekend getaway spots, spending some time at the top of the mountain in autumn is a pleasant way to get out of the city and experience the changing of the season. Mieders, AustriaSimilar to the coaster at Imst, this also has an elevated track. We are highlighting the coaster at Mieders because it’s the steepest track in The Alps, with a 640 meter/over 2,000 foot vertical drop, and speeds up to 26 mph/42kph. You can expect beautiful mountain scenery too, of course. Alpine Coaster of Glacier 3000, SwitzerlandThis is the highest mountain coaster in the world (9,747 feet/2,971 m) and one of the most thrilling: it has jumps, waves, and 520 degree circles. Fast and beautiful gondola ride up, stunning views at the nearby peak walk, what more do you need to know?  There are so many coasters in the US that the areas with the highest concentration deserve to be mentioned: The area around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has several, but we recommend the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. It goes up to 27 miles per hour and is the longest downhill ride in the US. Plus, it’s close to Dollywood, if thats your thing.Even though they can’t compare to a Swiss or Austrian mountain coaster, it’s noteworthy that in New England so many ski resorts feature this activity. If you’re near one, definitely check it out, but don’t expect the coaster at Glacier 3000. Bonus: The Long Tom Toboggan in Sabie, South AfricaAt a full mile long, this coaster was carefully built on a South African National Heritage Site. It lasts for a full 3 minutes, reaches speeds of 26 miles per hour and allows you to experience a national heritage site, all of these combined makes this one of the most impressive coasters on this list. Tobotronc, AndorraEven though they call it a toboggan, the Tobotronc in Andorra is built like a typical mountain coaster. It is one of the longest alpine coasters in the world (3.3 miles) and it goes through the La Rabassa forest for a full five minutes (without breaking, that is). It located in Naturlandia which is mainly an animal / theme park catered to kids, but this coaster is worth the trip and will be enjoyed by people of all ages… as long as there is enough space between riders to go as fast as desired.   

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11.06.2017

Scotland is known for many of things: haggis, Braveheart, the Loch Ness monster, and Ewan McGregor, just to name a few. Many people picture Scotland as quite a dreary and cold place, and it is. There are a few exceptions, however, especially among the hundreds of Scottish islands. Many of these islands are home to some of the most profoundly significant archaeological sites in the world, and this is typically what comes to mind when people think of the islands where Gaelic can still be heard. We want to highlight these islands’ unexpected assets: scattered like cows in the highlands are stunningly Caribbean like beaches off the coast of Scotland. Here are just a few of the dozens of islands to spark your wanderlust: Shetland IslandsThe Shetland Islands have no shortage of prehistoric and mesolithic archaeological sites, which is what these islands are most famous for. However we must not forget about the heavenly beaches that these islands have to offer. St Ninian’s Ayre is perhaps the most well known beach for looking more like it belongs in the Lesser Antilles than it does in the UK. Also check out Meal Beach, Sands of Breckon (a hidden gem), Skaw Beach (on the island of Unst), Banna Minn, and the list could go on. Orkney IslandsThe 70 islands that can collectively be called Orkney have neolithic sights older than the ancient pyramids in Egypt, remarkable wildlife from rare birds to dolphins, whales, and puffins, and is one of the best places to view the northern lights. Also high ranking, are the many beaches, but considering the sheer number of individual islands we’ll only name a few: the Sands of Wright (South Ronaldsay) is the most popular, pretty much any beach on Sanday is reminiscent of Saint Kitts, Dingieshowe (East Mainland) could be on America’s West Coast,  followed by Grobust Beach (Westray), and Scapa Flow is a popular destination for scuba diving due to it’ clear waters. Outer Hebrides:Lewis and Harris have previously been voted into the top five islands in the world on TripAdvisor and best islands in Europe. In Harris the beaches tipping the scale from British to tropical: are Luskentyre, Scarista and Huisinis Beach; Caribbean blue water at the beach on Mangersta, Dalmore Beach on Lewis, Vatersay Bay and East Beach. And finally, even though Stornoway is known for its incredible black pudding, don’t miss the beach there either! Inner Hebrides:With 79 islands, you can expect more than a fair share of gorgeous beach spots. Here are the top picks: Martyr’s Bay (Iona) where there are a number of bed and breakfasts as this island is a popular destination for spiritual retreats, Kiloran Bay (Colonsay), on the Isle of Mull we recommend Langamull Beach and Ardalanish Bay Beach as they are the least touched by tourists. The Isle of Tiree has breathtaking beaches and is known for being a great place to windsurf, although you can do just about any water sport there. Isle of SkyeThe Isle of Skye is part of the Inner Hebrides, but since it is probably the most well known Scottish island in terms of tourism, it deserves its own section. There is a lot to do and see in the Isle of Skye but Claigan Coral Beach on a nice day could practically be one of the British Virgin Islands.     

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10.30.2017

The Bay Area is the birthplace of the hippie movement, and current San Franciscans are the children and grandchildren of those who hitchhiked across the country in the 1960s to SF’s Haight Ashbury to join their hippie brothers and sisters. This partially explains why today San Francisco is generally understood to be the heart of liberal activism in the US. But most people don’t know that it is also the home of American food activism, and the city which hosted the largest Slow Food USA gathering in 2008. Carlo Petrini, the Italian founder of the Italian movement born in 1986, was there himself.  The Thriving Food Truck IndustryAmong the most remarkable food trends in SF is the food truck phenomenon, a 1.2 billion dollar industry which actually started in LA with the Kogi BBQ food truck and developed hugely in San Francisco due to the insanely high rent, and the cultural diversity in the Bay Area that demands equally diverse food choices. Since food trucks are small businesses, you can think of them as start-ups, which is what the Bay Area is known for these days. Food trucks have lower expenses than an average restaurant, and they can more easily adapt to constantly changing food trends (remember the ramen burger?). Food trucks possess a quality that San Franciscans love - they’re independent and on a small scale. Keep in mind that one food truck alone probably isn’t doing enough business to require industrial sized ingredient purchases. And you have to admit - food trucks have a personal touch considering that the prepping, cooking, and plating of your meal all happens within arm’s length. There are parking lots all over the city dedicated to food trucks, with schedules online ahead of time so you can plan to go to your favorites. Food trucks have become a part of everyday life in SF. Not only is there the SF Street Food Festival, you can go to the SoMa StrEat Food Park anytime, accurately self-described as “a culinary carnival”, ad food trucks even travel around near workplaces during the lunch rush. The grassroots mentality of SF allows these independent small businesses to thrive. Dealing With Food WasteAs for the future of trends emanating from SF - assuming that the cruffin (thats croissant + muffin) has a shelf life similar to the cronut (no explanation necessary), than the trend making the most impact right now is that of eliminating food waste. San Francisco recently made composting mandatory. The overall goal is for the city to produce zero waste by 2020. While composting doesn’t seem very important, everyday 650 tons of waste is generated by compost alone in San Francisco. Globally, $1 trillion worth of food is wasted each year, and part of this problem is grocery stores rejecting 20% of fruits and vegetables because they’re not aesthetically pleasing enough. An asymmetrical apple? Ugly. A cucumber that curves a little to far to the left? Ugly. There is so much food waste that “freegans” became a thing. Freegans dumpster dive at grocery stores, bakeries, and other markets to retrieve the food that is thrown away at the end of every day. The fact that people in a leading city can survive off of food foraged from dumpsters is a pretty big sign that there is a problem. Fortunately, instead of having to go the lot behind Whole Foods yourself once the sun goes down, there is a San Francisco start up called Imperfect that can deliver a box of “blemished” produce directly to your door.  

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10.27.2017

Even though the modern incarnation of Halloween has a distinctly American influence, celebrations have risen in popularity all over the world. Some countries have similar traditions such as Día de los Muertos, and others, such as China, have adopted Halloween. We’re not social anthropology experts, but we’re pretty sure people just like to party in costume, no matter what country they’re from. Día de los Muertos in Oaxaca, MexicoOne of the most famous places to celebrate Day of the Dead is Oaxaca - there are altars and markets throughout the city to check out during the day, and carnival-like parades during the night (the best are in Etla). Perhaps the most unique thing to do, however, is explore the local cemeteries. In addition to the centrally located cemeteries such as San Miguel cemetery, try visiting the village of Xoxocotlan where a lot of locals still visit on Halloween night. Don’t worry about trying to fit everything in before Halloween, the celebrations extend a few days past the 31st. The comparsas (night festivals) go on for several nights, and be sure to see the San Felipe del Agua cemetery on the night of November 2nd. Transylvania, RomaniaYou might think visiting Dracula’s Castle is one of those “one day….” day dreams, but it’s actually quite attainable as long as you’re willing to travel to Transylvania. The region is beautiful anytime of the year, as it’s in the Carpathian mountain range, but it’s most popular around Halloween. Bran Castle hosts a Halloween party each year that also offers tours of the castle. There’s plenty of black vodka to go around and a prize that goes to the best costume- this is definitely something for your bucket list. Salem, Massachusetts, USAA family friendly option, Salem has a lot of events during the month of October to celebrate Halloween, in addition to the museums and historical tours that are open year-round. A lot of the events are geared towards kids, but there are some intense haunted houses (ages 18+), witch hunts and bar crawls for adults. If you’re ever going to go to Salem, make sure to go for Halloween! Hong KongThe hungry ghost festival may be over, but Hong Kong has fabulous Halloween parties for kids and adults. There’s Haunted Halloween at Disneyland, a 3D haunted house at Ocean Park theme park, and plenty of bars and parties to choose from in Lan Kwai Fong. If you want to go partying in Lan Kwai Fong, make sure you dress to impress as it is the biggest party district and the place to see and be seen. Halloween Parade in The Village, New York, USANo list of holiday celebrations is complete without mentioning New York! The world’s largest Halloween parade has been around since 1973 and is taken so seriously, that you won’t even be allowed to participate unless you’re in costume. Tens of thousands of people walk in this parade and anything (seriously, anything) goes, so step up your costume game and prepare to be shocked. This will be the most memorable parade of your life. New Orleans, Louisiana, USAThe French Quarter is famous for celebrating Mardi Gras but Halloween comes in at a close second in terms of best parties. There are a number of haunted hotel tours to look out for, but the most famous evil spot is the LaLaurie Mansion. If you didn’t catch American Horror Story Coven, Madame Delphine LaLaurie is famous for having brutally and slowly tortured her slaves back in the 1800’s. Currently, the mansion is being used for private housing so you can’t go inside, but it is among the best decorated houses for Halloween. If you’re an AHS fan, your next question is probably about voodoo queen Marie Laveau - you can visit her grave in the famous Saint Louis cemetery. There are a number of tours that stop at both of these locations, although New Orleans has a plethora of other sinister stories to keep you up at night well past Halloween itself. Dublin, IrelandThe moment you’ve all been waiting for… the city where Halloween originated. There are lots of large festivals and parades in Dublin around Halloween; in addition to the Samhain Festival (celebrating the Celtic harvest festival that Halloween evolved from), there is the Bram Stoker festival (the author of Dracula was born in a Dublin suburb). For those who want to be shook to their core, the Macnas Parade isn’t your typical procession as there are actors that jump out at you; if that’s not enough, there’s even a legitimate Horror Expo. Dublin definitely tops the list for being the most horrifying city for Halloween celebrations. 

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10.25.2017

Bali is celebrated as being a place to travel alone, get out of your comfort zone and have rewarding experiences. If you’re new to traveling solo, the key is this: don’t miss out on experiences you crave just because you “can’t find someone to go with”. With the wide range of things to do in Bali (whether it be lounging by the beach or at a resort, climbing a volcano, going to temples, checking out the art, etc.) traveling alone might just be the best way to go so that you can do as you please without compromise. You definitely won’t be the only one traveling solo there, and it’s very easy to meet people. As you’ll find out shortly, transportation can be tricky and works best in groups. But if hanging out with strangers isn’t your thing, you can still have a great time in Bali, it just requires a bit more planning. Finding the right location for your needs and having a good understanding of how to get around on the island are key to having the perfect solo trip to Bali. Whether you’re pushing yourself to get out there and socialize or striving to be more independent and reflective, traveling alone is empowering and Bali has something for everyone.Here is the inside scoop from someone who went to Bali for their first solo trip and loved it: 1. Try Yoga in UbudUbud is a particularly great place for yoga, you can expect there to be a lot of transplants from California, which is great if you’re into meeting new people. There’s also a fantastic selection of restaurants. If you want to Eat, Pray, Love, this is your place. 2. Skip the capitalDon’t feel bad for skipping the capital city. Denpasar is basically a tourist trap3. Get Wild in KutaIf you want to have a wild night, look no further than Kuta. Kuta attracts a young international crowd, many of whom are traveling solo, too. If you want to get out and meet people Kuta is a safe bet, and where better than strike up casual conversations with new people than a bar? 4. Ger Classier in SeminyakIf you want to avoid any kind of place that might attract “lads on tour”, try Seminyak instead. Kuta can bet a bit rowdy, but Seminyak (which is just down the road) is the classier more grown up version, still with noteworthy night life (all you need to know is Ku De Ta). It’s easy to stay in Seminyak and take a taxi to Kuta when you feel like partying, so you can have the best of both worlds if you want to shop and be pampered during the day but see what all the hype is about at night. 5. Learn About Bali’s History and Relax in Sanur Sanur is where you want to go if you goal is to relax further away from the crowds in peace, or if you want to spend more time observing the ancient local culture. You can wander around and see the homes of the high priests and the temples along the water, and Bali’s oldest artifact is located there. (Note: while an artifact from 914 AD sounds like a must see- you should know that the famous inscription on the Belanjong pillar isn’t very visible behind it’s protective case). Sanur is a perfect spot to appreciate the beach, you can do water sports like kitesurfing, free beach yoga is organized, and there’s even a turtle conservation center. When you feel like you need a little more flash, Kuta is just a 30 min drive away. 6. Get a MotorbikeThe best experiences in Bali are had by people who ride motorbikes. There is virtually no public transportation, buses are random (and scarce). Car hires and shuttles are very expensive unless you’re traveling with a group, if they even let you book a car as just one person. So, if you’re not keen on driving a motor bike or riding on the back of someone else’s motorbike, you should plan ahead. Even if you do manage a private car to take you everywhere, it’s fairly inconvenient if you’re going off the beaten path. And you probably won’t have cell service (even if you do buy a SIM card there), so if you’re in a remote area (as much of Bali is) you might be out of luck when you want to return to your personal villa and don’t have a reliable mode of transportation. 

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10.20.2017

The term “well traveled” doesn’t have as much weight as it used to. In the 1950s and 1960s flying was a luxury people would get dressed up for, and in 2017 small children are flying alone and navigating the airport with the help of a flight attendant or other airline employee. It’s almost more surprising to meet someone who hasn’t left their country than someone who has. From road trips in the ’90s to backpacking gap years in South East Asia, vacation trends are always changing. Cruising is one of those trends and it’s making a comeback: cruises are no longer just for kitschy honeymooners and buffet enthusiasts. There are cruises for people who just want to drink without the prospect of ruining their lives (there’s no cell signal at sea), and then there are luxury cruises. These are the ones offering around-the-world cruises, even though you don’t literally sail around the world. Occasionally you might not touch land for three or four days, but most mornings you wake up in an exciting new location. Cruise lines offer tours, excursions, and everything from the food to the wine to the water sports equipment is included. Six month itineraries are popping up across different cruise lines as society’s crave for experiences (rather than material objects) increases. Will around the world cruises be the next big travel trend? Before you let the glamorous idea of “around-the-world” sweep you away, keep in mind that you’d be at sea for 4+ months. Here are the most important questions to ask yourself before making the commitment: Do you like boats? Water?This one is obvious. Fortunately most cruise ships have stabilizers these days so you won’t get seasick. Do you like buffets and/or fine dining?This is how you’ll be eating, so if you like to maintain a strict diet, you might find it difficult. However, most people say that food is one of the highlights of a typical cruise experience (a good cruise experience, that is). Food is an important selling point on luxury cruises as the majority of meals are eaten on board. Usually cruise lines work with experienced and/or known chefs to keep everyone happy. And it’s not just the fine dining that that cruises are known for- they have very generous alcohol policies like unlimited beer and wine at meals. And if that’s not enough for you, you can purchase pre-priced drink packages to cover things like cocktails and premium spirits. Do you like convenience?You probably said yes to this because who doesn’t like convenience? With all your belongings in, what essentially is a hotel on water, you the stress of carrying your suitcases from hotel to hotel is eliminated. An experienced cruise goer once called it “mindless travel” as she could relax without having to worry about planning or timing everything correctly- everything had been taken care of for her. Do you like confined spaces?Yes, the cruise ship is like a traveling hotel, but you should prepare for it to feel like a pretty small hotel. As most people spend the majority of their time outside their rooms, you can expect the cabins to be “space efficient”. The public spaces however are more than accommodating. If you do start feeling claustrophobic you can always go for a run around the deck! (Side note: speaking of running, it’s not uncommon for cruise ships to have underwhelming gym facilities… keep this in mind if you can’t stand the thought of abandoning your workout routine). Is seeing a city enough for you, or do you need to experience it?This is a pro and a con, depending on how you see it. This kind of trip allows you to see dozens of cities in a relatively short amount of time which goes back to the convenience factor. But what if you can’t see everything you want in just one day? Now it’s time to decide what’s more important to you- the quantity of destinations or the quality of time spent in each. Some people consider cruises to be like “previews”, so they know which cities are worth going back to. Conversely, one of the great aspects of cruising is that traveling by boat allows you access to parts of a country that aren’t so convenient to get to otherwise, such as the pink beaches of Esperance- an hour and a half away from Perth by flight or over 7 hours away by car. Assuming you have no problem with traveling by boat, can spend at least $60,000 per person, and can answer three out of the remaining four questions with a solid yes, then you’re probably ready to contact a travel agent. Happy sailing!   

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10.18.2017

Berlin is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, and one of the best cities to get lost in. The capital of Germany has something for everyone, no matter what your interests are. Having a bird’s eye view of the city is one of the best ways we can think of to start or end your trip. It’s great to have a basic understanding of the city before you get lost in it, and alternatively it’s a lovely way to reflect on your experiences before you leave. Here are our favorite places to see the entire city at once. Berlin TV TowerThe tallest building in Germany is the TV Tower, where you can reach the top by elevator at only 6 meters per second. Built in the 1960’s, the shape of the tower was inspired by the Sputnik satellites launched by the Soviet Union in the 1950’s. Rather than wait in line (which can take an hour) to see the view, we recommend you skip the queue and dine at the 207 meters high Sphere restaurant which rotates a full 360 degrees in one hour. Experiencing the rotating views as you relax and dine is a truly unique experience. The Reichstag DomeWhile audio guides are boring and thus typically ignored, the one offered at the Reichstag Dome is more interesting than you’d expect! It is worth your while to get the full experience of this architectural marvel. It’s full of history- be sure to get a of the rest of the building when Parliament isn’t sitting. Give yourself at least an hour for this, and pro tip: you might want to hold the railings as you walk up the spiral walkway, the views into the building below make some people a little uneasy at first. To avoid the queue, you can book for free in advance on the German government website. The Berlin Victory ColumnTo get to the top you’ll have to walk up many narrow steps, but it’s worth it (don’t worry there are resting spots along the way). The view is incredible and is well deserved after making the effort to get up there to see it. The Victory Column is of the best and well earned views of the city and is only a mere 3 euros. Pro tip: be careful getting there - you’ll have to cross a very busy traffic circle to get there. PanoramapunktCentrally located in Potsdamer Platz is Europe’s fastest elevator- 24 floors in 20 seconds (surprise: there’s a 25th floor but you have to take the stairs). Once you’re up there, there is a lot of great information to read while you stroll and admire the view. There is an open air exhibit showing you how Berlin has evolved over the years. This is a particularly great spot as you can see all of the most famous landmarks and at half the height of the TV Tower, this is an altogether different experience. Humboldthain Flak TowerThis WWII bunker might not be the first place one would look for a view of the skyline, but it is arguably the best place in Berlin to watch the sun set. It’s somewhat hidden from plain sight but that just adds to the vibe. There are great tour companies operating there with very enthusiastic guides who make this experience very enjoyable even if you’re not a history buff. It’s right next to the S-bahn and there are lots of picnic tables in the well maintained park that surrounds the tower- lovely for a peaceful break from the city. If you’re looking for a hidden gem (and don’t mind more stairs), this is the place for you. TeufelsbergWhile there is an 8 euro fee, keep in mind that this is an abandoned Cold War building that’s decently maintained (well, better than you’d expect it to be) by the talented artists who use the space. If you like street art, this should be up there with East Side Gallery. Considering how underrated the view is, seeing as this manmade hill is the highest point of elevation in the city, it’s definitely worth it. If the weather is bad, however, you might want to reconsider depending on your priorities. The art is always changing though, so even if you do go on a less than ideal day, you can go again and not feel like it’s repetitive. Bonus: The WeltballonWeather permitting, this hot air balloon is a unique way to take in the city. If you’ve never been to Berlin, this is a great first day activity as it’s conveniently located next to Checkpoint Charlie and will help you get the lay of the land quickly. Most of us don’t ride in hot air balloons on a daily basis, so when the weather is nice this is definitely a fun and cool way to see Berlin. Just keep in mind that it’s always recommended to check ahead of time to see if it’s operating, especially if it’s cloudy or windy that day.  

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10.12.2017

“Farm to table” or “farm to fork” refers to part of a growing global movement promoting local food that is particularly popular in New York City. It means that restaurants buy their ingredients directly from the producer, typically somewhere local so that the ingredients are truly fresh. The term doesn’t refer strictly to a farm, it could be about wine from a local vineyard or a jam that has been bought at a farmer’s market. Eating local is all about knowing where your food comes from and whose hands it has been in. Why does the physical proximity of your food matter? Food that has to be shipped from far away not only has significantly diminished nutritional value, but more often than not it is lacking in flavor as well, since produce needs to be picked well before it is ripe so that it doesn’t rot during the transportation process. Furthermore, people are growing more and more concerned about the disappearance of small, family owned operations. With big business getting bigger and bigger, people increasingly want to support small businesses like “mom and pop” stores when they can as our country was built upon entrepreneurial spirit. Finally, locally sourced food also has a lower carbon footprint, because the CO2 emissions deriving from transport are significantly reduced. In addition to the social movement aspect of farm to fork dining, since many raw ingredients are seasonal, menus are constantly evolving. And this is kind of exciting, because it sparks culinary creativity and you can go to the same restaurant multiple times and never expect to experience the same exact flavors. Following is a brief list of places to start your journey of locally procured flavor combinations concocted by chefs who inherently understand that a dish is only as good as its ingredients. Blenheim, West VillageBlenheim is a Michelin starred restaurant whose owners own and operate their own farm in the Catskills. The land dates back to the 1700s, and had been used as a farm in the past, although it had been inoperative in recent years until owners Morten (who previously worked in design) and Min renovated it. They raise rare heritage breed pigs, Icelandic lamb, and even the restaurants furniture is handcrafted. The menu is heavy on different kinds greens that they’ve grown at their farm so don’t be disappointed if it looks like your waiter just gave you a plate of garden trimmings - the innovative combinations, hand raised meats and bottomless brunch will do the trick to satisfy you. This small restaurant with a modern feel and barn motifs is a youthful gem! Blue Hill, Greenwich VillageExecutive chef Dan Barber is a Michelin-starred multiple James Beard Award winner, was appointed by Obama to serve on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and that’s not all - he was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2009. Blue Hill owns a farm in the Berkshires which was in operation from the 1860s to the1960s prior to recent refurbishment, and two restaurants. The main one, off of Washington Square Park, offers a more-than-tasting menu called the “farmer’s feast” showcasing that week’s harvest. But if you prefer a little mystery you can head 30 miles out of the city to Blue Hill at Stone Barns where there is no menu. You simply must trust the chef. As enthralling as this all sounds, be prepared to wait: you can only book a month in advance at the Washington Square Park location and 60 days in advance at Stone Barns. Alternatively, you can get on the waiting list, or stop by their cafe and grain bar at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture next time you happen to be in Pocantico Hills (which also requires a reservation, by the way). ABC KitchenABC Kitchen is one of the three Jean-Georges restaurants curated by ABC Carpet & Home. For those of you don’t know who Jean-Georges is, he is one of the most famous chefs in the world and probably the most famous and influential one in New York. Needless to say, he’s a culinary visionary, an expert at creating restaurants which combine the architecture, design, and ambience to perfectly compliment his extraordinary creations. The focus of ABC Kitchen is to be sustainable all around. Not only do they not use produce that has been treated with pesticides and other chemicals, but even the wine, spices, and other pantry items are fair trade and organic. Jean-Georges’ ethos is about moving towards sustainability, and not just in terms of food apparently, he is very involved with every aspect of a restaurant he works with, even the interior of the restaurant features reclaimed, found, and recycled materials. The menu features classics like line caught tuna and pork confit, however, the use of micro greens from the rooftop garden (obviously), spice, and citrus, adds a bright and modern twist from the renowned French chef. Gentleman Farmer, Lower East SideWhile this restaurant looks like a hole in the wall (it is), don’t be put off: the food is absolutely fantastic. This cozy restaurant is run by a husband and wife duo who are passionate about the food and wine that they serve. Karim trained in Northern France and his wife Beverly is an enthusiastic sommelier, this is truly a family restaurant. The style is definitely French with a twist- the curried snails being a good example of the twist. The menu features a lot of game: ostrich steak, boar chop, braised rabbit. However, the bison tartare is probably the dish they are best known for. You already know that all of the establishments on this list procure their ingredients locally, but the game served at Gentleman Farmer is “beyond organic”, as the couple calls it. The meat is carefully curated from small farms that they have sought out, and cooked to perfection. If trying new meat (or game in general) is your thing, this restaurant is a must, and considering the size (it’s basically a hallway) - so aren't reservations. If you go early you have a good chance of being able to get a table, and failing that, there is also a location in Brooklyn.  PRINT, Hell’s KitchenIt’s easy to see why this restaurant is so popular with locals and filled with return customers - the menu is updated daily and they even have an in-house forager. Their motto is “if its grown in the region, we eat it in season”. Purely from a sustainability perspective, they are particularly good at substantiating how much the farm-to-table concept is flourishing. In certain parts of the year, PRINT procures 90% of ingredients from traceable, local sources. They even have protocol agreements with each individual farm or purveyor that they work with to assure the quality; and the ingredients that need to be sourced from further away are prioritized by traceability. Even though the menu is constantly being updated, you can almost always expect warm bread with ricotta upon being seated. The goat cheese gnocchi and short ribs are popular dinner choices, and the brunch menu has a wide variety outside of what you’d already expect for breakfast food. You can expect recycled and repurposed materials in the modern yet elegant dining room, and The Press Lounge on the rooftop is not to be missed- fortunately you can take your drink with you!   

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10.06.2017

In Meguro ward, Tokyo, lies the quiet neighbourhood of Yakumo, a name which literally means “eight clouds” and in fact represents a retreat from the noise of the city. A place in particular will make you feel on cloud nine – excuse the pun. This place is Yakumo Saryō, a teahouse featuring a unique atmosphere that combines sumptuous tradition and minimalistic modernity. Behind this concept is the creative mind of Shinichiro Ogata, the Japanese designer who conceived everything from the interiors to the tableware to offer a consistent and authentic Japanese experience. The food itself is something to be experienced with all five senses, either in the restaurant hall or in the tearoom. There is a different menu for each meal, breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. At breakfast, in the tearoom, you can taste kayu rice porridge and white rice paired with roasted tea, seasonal ingredients, dried fish and miso soup. On the lunch menu you will find kaiseki, the traditional Japanese multi-course meal, using only the finest ingredients of the season. At dinnertime – please note that to preserve the quiet atmosphere of the place, dinner is by invitation only, so you need to be introduced by someone in order to reserve - the warm light diffused by the noren (the curtain hung at the entrance) beckons to enter and spend the evening in a relaxing ambience. A meal that should not be overlooked is the afternoon tea, served with seasonal, handmade wagashi sweets, such as nut-based or azuki-based treats, or rice crackers coated in brown sugar. The sweets are also pretty and make the perfect gift. The salon, furbished in an exquisitely traditional Japanese style, is the venue for rotating exhibitions, like the Matsuzaki Urushi lacquerware exhibition, which will close on November 25.  

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10.02.2017

Air pollution, global warming, indiscriminate exploitation of water resources, uncontrolled urbanization: all of this is already under our eyes, but the consequences are not yet fully visible. Not for long, though, because according to the forecasts of experts and scientists, in the course of this and the next century many legendary places on our planet - places we take for granted because they have always existed in recent human history - are seriously at risk to be wiped off the face of the Earth. If we were to find a less negative spin on this sad reality, we might say that the time to visit them is now, so here’s a small list of places you should absolutely see before it's too late. The Great Chinese Wall Strange as it sounds, this incredible man-made landmark over 2,000 years old and nearly 7,000 kilometers long is in serious danger and likely to fade in the next 100 years. Why is that? Because of the natural erosion derived from constant exposure to winds and rains, but also due to the thousands of tourists who walk along it every day, and even to the horrible but apparently widespread habit of stealing bricks to build houses. The SeychellesOne of the most globally popular honeymoon destination, these beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean off the Kenya coast, with their turquoise waters and exotic postcard-perfect landscapes, are bound to sink into the sea over the next fifty years or so. And not because of the hordes of newlyweds who flock to their beaches, but because of climate changes, which cause drought and the rising of sea levels, with the consequent erosion of the coasts and the progressive destruction of the coral reef. The Great Barrier Reef And speaking of coral reefs, even the largest and most beautiful one in the world, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which extends for 2,300 kilometers off the coast of Queensland, is largely defunct. This natural wonder and its inhabitants have been severely affected by rising water temperatures, and although coral whitening is a natural phenomenon, global warming is deemed guilty of dramatically worsening the situationThe Madagascar ForestThe cute lemurs of Madagascar, who are among the characters of a famous series of animated films, are among the victims of deforestation that is destroying the lush vegetation of Madgascar. Already threatened by illegal hunting and poaching, in recent years the animals of the symbol of the biodiversity of this land are also losing their natural habitat because of the trading of precious woods and the transformation of large forest areas into rice fields. The same Madagascar forest is likely to extinguish largely over the next 35 years. The Dead SeaIncredible as it may seem, the Dead Sea is destined to disappear. Famous for its super salty water gifted with many beneficial properties, the Dead Sea receives water almost exclusively from the Jordan River. But if Israel and Jordan should continue to exploit the biblical river’s waters as much as they are doing today, its level is set to go down to drying. On top of that, water evaporation, accelerated by climate changes, is yet another threat to this huge salted lake. The MaldivesIf you have postponed your long-awaited trip to Maldives, it is advisable to arrange it within the next century. This island state whose tiny islets are only 1,5 meters above the ocean is facing several problems: in addition to risking being submerged over the next hundred years, it has to deal with rubbish mountains and with the pollution derived from the excessive use of diesel for lighting, despite the virtual abundance of solar energy available.  

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09.27.2017

Quoi, vous ne mangez pas de viande? This is an old refrain every vegetarian has heard at least a million times upon ordering at a regular Parisian restaurant or bistro. Not any more, though: these days, going meat-free in the city of foie gras and boeuf bourguigon is not such a big deal. Quite the opposite, actually: from sophisticated gourmet restaurants to counter-only little places, fast foods and street carts, the options for vegetarians and even vegans are exciting and diverse. Here’s our little selection just to give you an idea of how much things have changed. Gentle GourmetEstablished in 2009 in the Bastille area, Gentle Gourmet aims to offer an incomparable experience of vegan haute cuisine by combining the finesse of French gastronomy with an ethical and ecological dimension, all the while preserving that of pleasure. If you wish to try some astonishing vegan versions of classic French dishes and desserts in a sophisticated ambience, this is just the right place for you. Le Potager de CharlotteMother Charlotte and sons David and Adrien: this is the family/team behind le Potager de Charlotte, a cozy vegan restaurant not far from Gare du Nord whose ambition is offering a savory and hearty cuisine without meat, fish and dairy products. Mission impossible? Not really. The food here is creative, beautiful to look at, and delicious. The ingredients are 95% organic and preferably local. 42 Degrés42 Celsius degree is the maximum temperature that can be employed in vegan cuisine in order to preserve all the food’s nutritional properties perfectly intact. 42 Degrés, in the Poissonière area, specializes in raw “bistronomie”, a mix of bistro food and haute cuisine, naturally vegan and healthy. Go for Sunday brunch and you’ll be able to sample a huge variety of dishes from the buffet. SoyaJust a stone's throw from the beautiful Canal St. Martin, this post-industrial-style restaurant with three large windows and an open kitchen is housed inside the spaces of a former atelier and serves vegetarian cuisine (90% vegetable) based on organic products. Veget’HallesThis simple and cozy vegan and vegetarian place near Les Halles offers a mix of French recipes, street food-style delicacies and international dishes based on seasonal ingredients, along with organic fresh juices and desserts. Order the set lunch menu to try a little bit of everything. 

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09.25.2017

Chicago is mostly known for its architecture, deep dish pizza, sports teams and “The Magnificent Mile”. Yet there is more to the Windy City than the Navy Pier and the other typical tourist spot: the lesser known South Side, albeit often portrayed as a gang fueled death trap, has plenty of treasures to offer, especially in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Home to the beautiful University of Chicago campus and to a diverse community full of culture and history, Hyde Park has some truly remarkable places and attractions to be discovered, so if you have a day to spare on your next trip to Chicago, be sure not to miss a day in the neighborhood – it is easily accessible from downtown. The Most Important Meal Of The DayValois is a South Side staple, and not because it's Obama’s favorite diner in Hyde Park. It’s your average cash only cafeteria-style diner, but the typical comfort food speaks for itself. You can still expect to wait in line to order and find a table - Chicagoans have been loyally going there long before Obama was in the news. Beyond The Swiss Jolly BallThere aren’t enough words to describe how phenomenal the museums in Chicago are. The Art Institute and The Field Museum are world class, and the Shedd Aquarium is always a hit with tourists. One of Chicago’s biggest attractions is the Museum of Science and Industry. It’s right in Hyde Park next to Lakeshore Drive and Promontory Point (the most underrated view of the skyline can be seen here!). The interactivity of this museum is what makes it so great, but it’s not just for kids. The most memorable permanent exhibits are the chick hatchery where you can watch baby chickens hatch right before your eyes and the unmistakable Swiss Jolly Ball. What is a “Swiss Jolly Ball”? It’s the world’s largest pinball made out of scrap metal depicting the Swiss landscape- it’s something you can only appreciate by seeing it for yourself. 57th StreetIn the heart of the UofC campus is the renowned Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, arguably the most influential American architect. The Robie House is revered due to its unique architectural style; it is considered to be the prime example of the first purely American architectural style - the Prairie School. Fortunately, it is right around the corner from Medici on 57th Street. This restaurant is a UofC staple with typical American food, but the hidden gem on the menu is the Orzata float: a classic ice cream float made special with the addition of orgeat syrup. Just down the street is 57th Street Books, with small doorway popping out of the sidewalk and a few steps down, this little shop invites you into a cozy space that is beloved by the community. An Ode To Harold’sAny good article that mentions food in the South Side isn't complete until fried chicken has been covered. Hands down, the best fried chicken is from a local chain called Harold's. People will even go as far as to debate which individual location is the best. (Please note that the writer of this article is admittedly biased towards Harold’s, specifically the one on 53rd.)  

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09.22.2017

A man who is tired of London is tired of life - or maybe he just needs a little day trip out of the city to be reminded of how much beauty, art and amazing natural landscapes southern England has to offer. Here’s a bunch of places we truly love that are just a short drive or train journey from the capital. Osea IslandThis private tidal island on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, now a luxurious buen retiro and hip weekend destination, has a very fascinating story. Traditionally a retreat for alcoholics - from the “home for inebriates” it housed in the beginning of the 20th century to the detox clinic which hosted Amy Winehouse one century later – more recently it became home to music recording studios. The available accomodations include period cottages, apartments and two villas. It’s a two-hour car journey from central London. Alfriston, East SussexThis 800 inhabitant village in Cuckmere Valley is mostly known for its Clergy House, a Medieval timber-framed house with a thatched roof, a pretty cottage garden and orchard, property of the National Trust. Further amenities include three old pubs and a classic 'village green' - a huge lawn scattered with benches where you can sit and contemplate the comforting landscape. It’s 80 about miles from central London, or you can get there by train in about 1hr 15mins. The Henry Moore FoundationIf you’re looking for a unique experience, you might consider enjoying the view of Henry Moore’s giant sculptures by surrounded by a landscape of green rolling hills in Hertfordshire, barely one hour and a half by car from London. The Foundation is housed inside Moore’s studios and family home, with around 15,000 objects on display including sculptures, maquettes, drawings, prints, tapestries and textiles. St.Albans21 miles north of London, this beautiful cathedral city of Roman foundation is a not-to-be-missed classic day-trip destination. The main attraction include the majestic Cathedral whose architecture blends many different period architectural styles, the Museum displaying beautiful objects from the Roman City of Verulamium, the Roman Theater and the traditional street market dating back to the 9th century.  New ForestThis amazing place is just a two-hour car journey south of London and yet it looks like an entirely different world. Once the hunting ground of William the Conqueror, this ancient woodland offers southern England’s most intact natural scenery, a mosaic of ancient and ornamental woodland with wild ponies roaming freely, open heather-covered heaths, rivers and valley mires, a coastline of mudflats and saltmarshes, pretty historic villages and breathtaking cycling and walking routes.  

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09.13.2017

Up until a few years ago it might have sounded like a form of culinary extravaganza, but today fermentation is literally ubiquitous: from the kitchens of the world’s greatest restaurants, where it definitely seems to have overshadowed molecular gastronomy, to the homes of cooking and self-production enthusiasts, from magazines to food blogs. In short, the situation is getting out of hand, yet on the other hand among the many food trends of recent years, that of fermentation is undoubtedly the most reasonable. First of all because fermented food is extremely healthy: the microorganisms it contains are detoxifying and promote the balance of the intestinal flora, a virtue that contributes both to strengthening the immune system and to improving the mood thanks to the production of serotonin, one of the so-called "happiness hormones", by the digestive system. Secondly, because fermentation is a perfectly natural process that humanity has used for thousands of years to preserve food, as well as the basis of staple foods such as bread, cheese and yogurt - but also beer and wine. The term "fermentation" actually comes from the Latin word fervere (bubbling), referring to the must during the preparation of the wine. There are several types of fermentation - the one used for wine, for instance, is the alcoholic fermentation, in which the sugar of the must turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide - but the most widespread one is lactic fermentation, which is obtained by immersing the vegetables in water and salt - or more simply in their own liquids extracted through compression - in a jar. The process consists in the transformation of sugars and vegetable starch into lactic acid (which gives the fermented foods its unmistakable acidic flavor) through the action of bacteria. And although this may sound somewhat dangerous, it is in fact an infallible preservation system, because when acidity reaches a certain value, the bacterial proliferation stops and the environment in the jar reaches a stability that may last for years. Kimchi and the Korean art of food preservationOne of the most popular fermented foods today is Korean kimchi, a typical dish of Chinese cabbage leaves pickled in a mix of herbs and spices including onions, radish, red chili pepper, garlic, ginger, horseradish, dry fish and soy sauce.Although kimchi has only recently become a worldwide hit and cult food, in its homeland it has been popular for thousands of years, and it is so widespread and rooted in the Korean culture that there are hundreds of recipes - one for every small village or even family.Its origins date back to about 3,000 years ago when it started out as a food conservation technique based on the use of salt, particularly for vegetables that were scarce during the winter. With time, however, this practice gave birth to a proper recipe thanks to the addition of other ingredients, such as the spices to which kimchi owes its very special flavor.But kimchi is also the symbol of Korean gastronomy, a sort of sacred food whose preparation resembles a veritable ritual: traditionally, families used to gather to prepare it during the Fall, awaiting the most favorable weather conditions. The process lasted several days and ended with the digging of the jars used for conservation. Sandor Katz And The Fermentation RevivalSince he published his book Wild Fermentation in 2003, food author and DIY activist Sandor Katz has been promoting fermentation and its virtues through publications, workshops and interviews. Defined “one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene” by The New York Times has called it, Sandor is a retired policy wonk: after leaving native New York City in 1993 he moved to the rural community of Cannon County, Tennessee, where his enthusiasm for this ancient food preservation technique was prompted by the discovery of an old crock buried in the barn that he used to ferment cabbages and make sauerkraut. Sandor has been living with HIV since the 1980s and considers fermented foods to be an important part of his healing.  

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09.13.2017

Matsutake is an exquisitely Japanese ingredient mentioned in the Man’yoshū and Kokinwakashū anthologies of Japanese poetry, whose distinctive scent has made it famous worldwide. Matsutake mushrooms grow in red pine forests, as well as in forests were conifers are predominant. They appear at the end of August in cooler areas, whereas at warmer latitudes such as Kyūshū, you may have to wait until November. Matsutake cannot be grown artificially, which makes it rare and precious. They must be harvested before the cap opens completely, otherwise the scent and flavour will dissolve. Here is a list of restaurants where you can enjoy this wonderful seasonal ingredient paired with a glass of Japanese sake. Wakuta (Ginza)Wakuta’s autumn special is hamo eel and matsutake, a delicacy scrupulously prepared with the last eels of the season and the early mushrooms, served in a eel bone and konbu broth, seasoned with sake and soy sauce. Mao (Ginza)Located at only a three-minute walk from Ginza Station, Mao offers Japanese traditional food prepared with the freshest ingredients from Tsukiji Market. In autumn you can taste matsutake mushrooms steamed in earthenware pots (dobinmushi), in a friendly ambience, where you can relax and make yourself at home. Matsukawa (Roppongi)At Matsukawa, meticulously selected ingredients, remarkable preparation and pure Japanese style combine with the casual ambience of a counter bar, where you can savour grilled beef, with fragrant matsutake, mountain yam and gingko, in a set dinner menu or à la carte. Kikunoi (Akasaka)This restaurant is renowned for the richness of its ingredients, especially the vegetables, grown in and around Kyoto, where the chain is headquartered. The speciality is dobinmushi with matsutake and hamo eel from Awaji Island, served in a delicate Kyoto style soup. If you are sitting at the counter, you can observe the skilfulness of the kitchen staff preparing the quintessence of Kyoto’s culinary heritage. All the dishes are available in the set dinner menu. Gatō (Aoyama)It is a modern restaurant, with counter seats and carefully selected ingredients, which include Kuroge beef and freshly caught fish. Dobimushi is a speciality, prepared with ingredients that vary from season to season. Autumn is the undisputed apogee of matsutake soup, served in small earthenware pots

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09.11.2017

Among the many traces left in Sardinia by the Nuragic civilization, that ruled on the island between the Bronze Age and the 2nd century BC, the megalithic constructions to which it owes its name (and whose function still remains uncertain) certainly are the most famous. Nevertheless, besides the Nuraghs, the island is scattered with plenty of other fascinating and perhaps even more mysterious remains, such as the enigmatic Temples of Holy Water and the sandstone Statues of the Giants. To discover some of these treasures, you need to get off the most popular tourist routes and head to the western part of the island, and particularly to the province of Oristano and the peninsula of Sinis, where the inland is scattered with exceptional archaeological sites and the coastline is dotted with bays and beaches of pristine beauty.  The Nuragic Shrine of Santa CristinaOn the basaltic plateau of Abbasanta, in the province of Oristano, at the end of the nineteenth century Sardinian archaeologist Giovanni Spano discovered one of the first "sacred wells" ever found on the island. Built around the 11th century BC, this deep hole surrounded by a fence and preceded by a trapezoidal hall is one of the best-preserved, almost intact examples of its kind. Its original function is uncertain, but it presumably hosted cults and ceremonies devoted to water, the Mother Goddess and femininity, or, according to a less widespread theory, served as an astronomical observatory. The fact remains that this hypogeal construction appears to the eyes of a contemporary observer as something truly extraordinary, and even more fascinating because it is wrapped up in mystery. Nearby are also some Nuraghs and the village church of Santa Cristina, to which the site owes its name. The Giants of Mont'e PramaIt was the year 1974 when, in the fields at the foot of Mont'e Prama’s hill, not far from the Cabras pond on the Sinis peninsula, some farmers accidentally came across what would turn out to be the most important archeological discovery of the late 20th century in the Mediterranean. It was a burial ground dating back to the 8th century B.C. above which over 5,000 arenaceous limestone sculptural fragments were scattered, which were later reconstituted through a long restoration process and turned out to be part of some huge statues, around two meters high, and carved out of unique blocks that could weigh up to 400 kilos from a local quarry. Buried underground for 2,800 years, the "Giants" were partially rebuilt and turned out to be boxers, archers and warriors - and most likely the oldest in-the-round statues in the Mediterranean Basin, part of a funerary monument of unrivalled majesty in Italy. While the excavations in the site continue revealing new surprises on a daily basis, the reconstructed statues can now be admired at the Civic Archaeological Museum of Cabras, where they are housed inside a special room enriched by multimedia technology, and at the Archaeological Museum of CagliariThe Sand and Quartz Beaches In addition to its fascinating archaeological sites, this part of Sardinia also offers beaches of unmatched natural beauty. The coast of the Sinis peninsula houses some of the most beautiful quartz beaches of the island, particularly Is Arutas, Mari Ermi and Maimoni, characterized by pebbles resembling rice grains in the shades of white, pink, green and silver and washed by a crystal-clear sea. This peculiarity is the result of a natural process that took hundreds of millions of years, the gradual erosion of the granite rocks of which the coast was originally formed, of which quartz represents the very heart. Mari Ermi is a gently sloping two-and-a-half-mile-long beach along the Cabras coast, enclosed by sand dunes and sheltered by a large pond populated with pink flamingos. Just in front is the small island of Mal di Ventre, also dotted with magnificent beaches.A little further south, the Is Arutas "twin" beach has a deep seabed, clear waters and a truly remarkable marine fauna - the ideal combination for snorkeling. Further south you will find another quartz beach, Maimoni, near the archaeological excavations of Tharros, an ancient Phoenician city founded on a pre-existing Nuragic settlement.Maimoni is a a wonderful two-kilometer beach loved by surf enthusiasts and it can be reached via a long dirt road immersed in the Mediterranean scrub and ending on a small promontory; it owes its name to the Sardinian and Phoenician god of water and rain. Among the other famous beaches of the area are those of Sa Mesa Longa, in the northern of the peninsula, and that of San Giovanni di Sinis, in the south. Sa Mesa Longa, the "long table", is a large yellow beach with a pink shore and dark rocks facing it. San Giovanni di Sinis, near Tharros, is one of the most renowned beaches in Sardinia; it owes its name to an early Christian church and it is a strip of white sand and rocks dominated by an impressive Spanish tower. 

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09.07.2017

Jacopo Cinti is a young Italian creative professional based in London. As a long-time expat, we asked him to tell us about his vision of London and to give us a few insider tips for discovering some of the most exciting and authentic corners of the city. SJ: Tell us something about yourself in a few words.JC: My name is Jacopo Maria and I am a creative who specialises in luxury and high-end goods communication. Currently, I am the Art Director at MR PORTER, the men’s style destination which is now part of the Yoox Net-A-Porter Group.When I moved to London five years ago, I realised that no one could pronounce my name properly here (my name has been interpreted in many different ways – such as ‘Giacobbi’ or ‘Giakolo’) so I decided to opt for the simple version, ‘Jay’. I am so used to being called this, that when I go home and my mum calls me by my full Italian name it takes me a little while to get used to it again.  SJ: Why did you choose to live in London? Would you do it again?JC: I have lived in various different cities, but London is special. I love the hustle and bustle of this vast, multicultural hub, and the fact that you can find every type of food, go to any type of concert or visit the most incredible museums and galleries over the weekend. And when you crave a plate of homemade lasagna, you can take a flight back to Italy in less than two hours. SJ: You live in the Old Street area. Can you talk about your neighborhood and how it has changed over the last 15 years?JC: I lived in Old Street when I first moved to London in the late Nineties. It was a different neighbourhood back then, and I remember telling people at the time that I lived in Shoreditch and the reaction I received then, compared to now are very different.Now the EC1 area has had a resurgence and has become gentrified, with independent coffee shops on every corner (my favourite is FIX 126 on Curtain Road). It still has an edge though, otherwise it wouldn’t attract such a vast array of people every Saturday. SJ: How much has the city in general changed, for the better or for the worse?JC: The city of London, like most capitals, is constantly changing. Every time I go to New York, I am astonished by the way the city has changed and the same thing happens in London. Certain neighbourhoods that were off-limits a decade ago, are now trendy and hip. Places like Dalston, Stoke Newington, New Cross, Crystal Palace are now the places to live. SJ: Tell us three things to convince us to move to London tomorrow.JC: The food: you can find a variety of different foods in this city – my favourite is ‘La Famiglia’ in Chelsea. The art: I suggest a visit to the Barbican Centre where you can always find a diverse range of exhibitions from fashion, lifestyle, design and architecture. And if you’re into sports, you can play any sport in London. I currently participate in crossfit classes, my local centre is called 3 Aces CrossFitSJ: Can you give us some insider tip of unusual things to do, see, emerging districts yet to be discovered, restaurants or local?JC: If you want to discover some amazing independent shops, I suggest heading to Redchurch Street in East London where you will find a variety of different restaurants, bars, homeware and lifestyle stores.If you need an energy boost, I suggest a coffee stop at Allpress Espresso Bar, and if you have Italian food nostalgia, head to Burro e Salvia for a takeaway portion of ravioli or tortellini. If you need more tips, I suggest heading to the MR PORTER’s Style Council where you will find insider restaurant, bar and hotel tips from the world’s most stylish men. Illustration by Joe McKendry

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08.29.2017

Suppose you are in Tokyo, perhaps on a business trip. Suppose you are alone and hungry, but you are having a hard time booking a table. Counter bars will satiate you with taste and elegance. Katō Beef (Ginza)It is a restaurant specialised in Yamagata beef, which owner Mr Katō selected after carefully studying all the possible types of beef from each and every area of Japan. The shop is famous for its juicy Hamburg steaks and corned beef prepared with lean, gelatine-rich parts that melt in the mouth. You can sit at the counter and enjoy a tasty meat dinner. Tempura Kondō (Ginza)The owner of the restaurant is famed chef Fumio Kondō, who could be described as the master of tempura, which he prepares with the finest ingredients, dipped in a thin layer of batter and deep-fried, paying great attention to the colour and fragrance of the final dish. Everything happens behind the counter, before your eyes. The chef will be thrilled to tell you about the origin of the ingredients and the recipe. Vino Hirata (Azabu-jūban)It is an Italian restaurant whose concept is simple dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients and no further explanation needed. You will be invited to sit at the counter, laid with luncheon mats, where you can relax and savour the food, while chatting with the staff. As the name suggests, the shop is famous for its wide array of Italian wines that adds up to 150 brands. Masa’s Kitchen (Ebisu)When thinking of Chinese cuisine, one pictures a large meal laid out in small dishes. However, at Masa’s Kitchen you can have authentic Chinese delicacies in reasonable amounts’, seated at the counter and provided with stylish white tableware. Shaoxing rice wine, aged for 10 or 20 years, is an ideal pairing. While enjoying the food, you can observe the chef’s mastery in handling knives, cutting and chopping, in the open kitchen behind the counter. Le Japon (Shibuya)It is a French restaurant with a Japanese touch to it. Here you can sit at the counter and have a solo dinner, prepared with the freshest ingredients supplied by a farm in Mishima, which the chef got to know while still an apprentice at Hakone’s Auberge au Mirador. The vegetables are grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and you can certainly taste their pristine quality. The rice comes from Iwaki, where the chef was born. Kuikiri Hirayama (Ginza)Opened in Shōnan in 2009, this Michelin-starred restaurant offers the opportunity to sample each and every item listed in the menu. In 2014 it relocated to Ginza, but the motto has not changed: seasonal ingredients supplied every day and excellent junmai sake supplied directly by the sake makers. 

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08.28.2017

In the Caribbean breakfast and dinner are usually on par, and are defiantly not seen as a light affair. Caribbean cuisine in general is highly indicative of the blends of a variety of cultures such as African, Amerindian, Creole, French and Spanish when it comes to breakfast there is no exception of this fact. Many of the most renowned Caribbean cuisine dishes were indeed created for the consumption at breakfast time. These hearty breakfast dishes from Ackee and Saltfish to Doubles, Curry and Johnny cakes are one of the most satisfying ways to begin the day. The classic Jamaican breakfast tends to be savory and includes a wide variety of different dishes. The most iconic dishes of this sea, sand and sun island is ackee & salt fish and is also consider the national dish of the island. Ackee is a local fruit that when cooked has a similar consistency to scrambled eggs. The salt fish usually has to be soaked overnight to eliminate the salt concentration and is then sautéed with the ackee fruit along within onions, peppers, tomatoes and spices. Typically, this dish is garnished with bacon and can be served alongside fried plantain or dumplings. No Jamaican breakfast would be complete without some fried foods such as Johnny Cakes. These tasty delights are fluffy fried dumplings that almost resembling a tough sweet fried bread. Across the Caribbean Sea in Trinidad and Tobago, where breakfast is also seen as a big affair, they too indulge in a variety of dishes influenced by multicultural elements. Here, curry, which people often associate with lunch or dinner, is the hero ingredient for breakfast. Doubles gets their name from their sandwich-like appearance and are made from two baras (flat fried bread) filled with curry and chickpeas.  

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08.21.2017

Origins of alcoholic drinks are usually quite blurred, and in the case of vodka there is no exception to who the true inventor was. However, the word vodka today and in the past will always be synonymously associated with the Russian Empire. Despite the boozy battle of the Polish who tried to take claim the spirits origin, the word vodka comes from the Russian word voda, which means “little water”- confirming the doubts that its origins were indeed Russian. Often referred to as the ‘neutral tasteless spirit’, its body is mainly composed of water and ethanol with added notes of impurities and flavorings. Made through a distillation process of fermenting substances such as grains, potatoes and even fruits and sugar, vodka has long been considered on of the most loved and versatile spirits in the world. Beyond its versatility to be drunk straight on the rocks or also used as the main ingredient in popular cocktails, the divine benefit of drinking vodka is that its leaves no alcoholic smell on your body after consumption. Here are five classic vodka cocktails that will add a splash of flavor and zest to your vodka love affair- all the recipes are taken from the official archive of the IBA.  Moscow Mule The Moscow Mule is known for its simple and refreshing taste along with being a great entry level cocktail to enter the vodka-drinking playground.How to make it:  4.5 cl Vodka12 cl Ginger beer0.5 cl Lime juice, fresh1 slice lime in a highball glassCombine the vodka and ginger beer, add limejuice and garnish with a lime slice. Black Russian Created and crafted in the beginning of the Cold War, the Black Russian’s dark and mysterious composition was highly appropriate for the time.How to make it: 5 cl Vodka2 cl Coffee liqueurPour the ingredients into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes and stir gently.Note: for White Russian, float fresh cream on top and stir gently. Bloody MaryInvented by Fernand Petiot in the 1920s, this well-known hangover remedy cocktail was named after Queen Mary I of England. It features the perfect balance of heavy vegetable used to settle the stomach, salt to replenish the lost electrolytes and alcohol to relieve head and body aches.How to make it: 4.5 cl Vodka9 cl Tomato juice1.5 cl Lemon juice2 to 3 dashes of Worcestershire SauceTabascoCelery saltPepperPour all ingredients into highball glass and stir gently. Garnish with celery and lemon wedge (optional). Screwdriver One of the first vodka cocktails ever created, this cocktail got its name from the American oil workers who discreetly added vodka to their orange juice while working jobs. Lacking a spoon to stir the drink, these workers replaced it with a screwdriver.How to make it: 5 cl Vodka10 cl Orange juicePour all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Garnish with an orange slice. Sex on the beach As interesting as it name suggests, this cheeky cocktail has an interesting tail of its own. Created by a bartender in Florida in the 1980s during a competition amongst bartenders on who could sell the most peach schnapps, it was nameless until its inventor thought of the reasons why people come to Florida during spring break and resided at the conclusion of two things- the beach and sex.  4 cl Vodka2 cl Peach schnapps4 cl Cranberry juice 4 cl Orange juiceBuild all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with orange slice.  

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08.18.2017

Pools operating at night have become increasingly popular in Tokyo. People can swim, sip a cocktail on the poolside or enjoy a DJ set, against the dreamy backdrop of Tokyo’s night sky. Tokyo Prince Hotel Garden PoolMuch of the charm is owed to the outstanding location, with a marvellous view of Tokyo Tower. It is open from 6 pm to 9 pm, with differently coloured illuminations every night and Tokyo Tower in the background.  ANA InterContinental Hotel TokyoThe outdoor pool located on the fourth floor of the ANA InterContinental Hotel in Roppongi is an oasis you would never expect within the city, with plenty of facilities. It is open until 7 pm throughout the year, except for summer, when closing time is postponed to 9 pm. Hotel New OtaniWhen the sun goes down and the DJ gets behind their turntables and mixer, the pool acquires a totally different, resort-like ambience. Swimwear is allowed in the restaurant overlooking the pool, but you can also enjoy your drink on the poolside. Hotel East 21Located not too far from Tokyo Metro Tōyōchō Station, the hotel is noted for its luxurious pool area, designed to resemble the garden of a stately home. In addition to a 40m-long lap pool, you can choose whether to take a dip in the main pool or in the Jacuzzi, or just sit comfortably at the Garden Café. To be honest, this pool does not qualify as a night-time pool facility, since it closes at 6 pm. However, it is worth a try. Shinagawa Prince HotelThe outdoor pool on the third floor gives guests the impression they are in some exotic holiday destination far from the city. Open from 10 am to 9 pm, it has a night-time zone starting from 5 pm. You forgot your swimwear? No problem. You can always rent one from the hotel. 

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08.10.2017

Miraval is not your typical self-improvement resort. Located in the Sonoran Desert in Tucson Arizona, this magical getaway is the ultimate promised journey to wellness and life balance. The combination of services and hand-on workshop offered at Miraval Resort supports its ongoing mission to achieve the utmost excellence and serenity within the environment. Beyond the ordinary, Miraval offers an abundance of activities and experiences such as solo cooking classes with a personal chef, cocktail mixology, organic food harvesting, outdoor excursions and physical obstacle courses. One of the most enlightening activities offered at Miraval Resort is it's beekeeping program called “Honey: A Sensual Journey”- where beekeeping enthusiast Noel Patterson teaches the ins and outs of bees and their importance to the ecosystem and food chain.   Formerly a wine distributor, Mr. Patterson has curated Miraval’s very own bee community and resident apiary where he harvests honey to be used in the kitchen and for spa treatments. While educating guests about the current affairs of declining bee population globally is an crucial component to the workshop he also advises guests how to set up their personal backyard beehives to combat such effects. Like wine, honey reflects different notes and flavors depending on its region. Through sampling and tasting, guests are able to taste the honey straight from hive unveiling sensual notes and flavors they way you would when you sip a glass of wine. Bees have, and always will play a pivotal role in our daily lives. These small creatures are the reason why we enjoy fruits, vegetables and even a strong coffee in the morning. Miraval teaches us not to take these small but powerful creatures for granted.  

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08.07.2017

Unlike other classic spirits such as bourbon, scotch and tequila which can easily be differentiated through ingredients, location and origin, gin’s tale of definition is not as clean cut. Defined solely by its flavor, gin is made by distilling fermented grain and a number of different botanicals, including juniper - a female seed cone which has the appearance of a berry and can only be picked wild - which must be predominant in the taste. In other words, what gin is to one person may be completely different to another, as there is enormous diversity in how different gins taste. The best way to actually taste gin for comparisons is at room temperature diluted with equal amounts of water to unveil is flavors and flaws. Despite its sometimes misleading nature, gin represents one of the staple ingredients for the most classic cocktails in history. Here are five classic gin cocktails to inspire your summer boozing needs - all the recipes are taken from the official archive of the IBA.  MartiniContrary to popular belief, Martini is meant to be stirred and not shaken. Shaking a Martini actually binds ingredients that would normally be separated with stirring ,reducing the overall complexity of its flavors.How to Make It:  6 cl gin1 cl dry vermouthPour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain in chilled Martini glass. Squeeze oil from lemon peel onto the drink, or garnish with olive. NegroniBorn from the classic Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda), the Negroni was invented by Count Camillo Negroni in 1919, when he traded the club soda for gin to add a little extra zing to his drink.How to Make It: 3 cl gin3 cl Campari3 cl sweet red vermouthPour all ingredients directly into old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir gently.Garnish with half orange slice. GimletWho says medicine can’t taste delightful?  Originally created as a natural remedy to fight scurvy for sailors in the British Royal Navy, Gimlet is the simplest and most refreshing drink on a summer day.How to Make It: 6 cl gin1 cl rose lime cordialStir & strain into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with lime zest. Vesper A close contender to the Martini, the Vesper is composed of gin, vodka and Kina Lillet.  The Vesper was the first "martini" to introduce vodka to the mix. Unlike the classic Martini this drink should be "shaken, not stirred."How to Make It6 cl gin1.5 cl vodka0.75 cl Lillet BlondeLemon twist (garnish)Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish. Angel Face Inspired by the famous gangster of the American prohibition (Angel Face), this fully rounded and balanced cocktail has a sweet aftertaste thanks to fruity notes of apple and apricot. It pairs perfectly with a summer desserts such as tarts, apple crumble or cheesecake.How to Make It3 cl calvados3 cl gin3 cl apricot brandyPour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a cocktail glass. 

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08.07.2017

   Located in Kawagoe, prefecture of Saitama, Coedo Brewery boasts a history of craftsmen using the best ingredients to make unexcelled beer. The area of Kawagoe was called Koedo in the Edo period, and was considered as the kitchen of Edo At Coedo brewery, you can enjoy a wide range of beers world, from the unequalled red Japanese beer made locally from sweet potatoes, to the golden Pilsner.Coedo Beer has won several prizes, including the iTQi Superior Taste Award in Belgium, the World Beer Cup, the European Beer Star and the Monde Selection.The collection is composed of five different tastes. KyaraRich golden brown with tinges of red, Kyara is made with aromatic hop that gives a faintly bitter flavour with nuances of white grapes and spicy citrus fruits, and five types of malt, for a medium body and a slightly higher alcohol content. It is fermented at low temperature with lager yeast. RuriClear gold with soft bubbles. It is a refreshing premium Pilsner with a perfect balance between deep flavour and hop bitterness. It can be paired with practically any meal. ShiroA wheat beer characterised by non-filtered, bright and smooth white colour. The sweet fragrance of the wheat malt blends wonderfully with the fruity nuances of the yeast, making the beer rich and refreshing at the same time. ShikkokuA long-aged beer with a vibrant brownish-black colour, obtained from 6 types of malt, including two black. It was named one of the best beers in the world. BeniakaA premium ale with a reddish amber colour. Its sweetness is given by a blend of local sweet potatoes with fine malt. Bottled without filtration, it is a rich original ale of Kawagoe. The premises in Kawagoe where Coedo Brewery was established were renovated and transformed them into the Coedo Craft Beer 1000 Labo, where you can enjoy all types of beer, including the limited editions. Furthermore, at the annexed restaurant Xiang Mai, you can explore the brewer’s creativity, by accompanying the beer with some modern Chinese delicacies, such as dim sum and rice-porridge.  

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08.02.2017

As the most important meal of the day, breakfast sets the ultimate tone for a successful day ahead. Weather it’s sprinkled almond croissant in France, cold cuts in Germany or miso soup and rice in Japan; every country does the first meal of the day very differently. In this series we wish to explore the interesting breakfast meals and customs around the globe. Despite being world renowned for their rich high calorie meals and eating habits, Italians see breakfast as an unelaborate occasion and view this meal as a very quick start to the day. At home, they typically enjoy a light breakfast consisting of coffee paired with bread rolls, sweet dried biscuits or dried toast called fette biscottate spread with jam and butter. On the occasion they might opt for cereal with milk and yoghurt. When breakfast is eaten outside the home, at a bar or cafe it is typical to order a strong espresso, cappuccino or caffelatte accompanied by sweet pastries and viennoiseries such as cornetto (local version of the croissant). Regional variations of this fluffy treat include the Roman maritozzo which is filled with abundant whipped cream or the Neapolitan sfogliatella, a shell-shaped filled pastry also known internationally as ‘lobster tail’. Like any country, meals vary by region and season. Yet the classic Sicilian breakfast is probably the most tempting and refreshing one in Italy.  A delightful combination of a sweet soft bun (brioche) is complemented with a refreshing shaved ice sorbet known as granita. This summer loving sorbet is made in a variety of flavors, but to do and eat like a Sicilian, it is highly recommended to try the fresh lemon flavor.    

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07.31.2017

It is not unusual to lose one’s appetite in Tokyo’s sultry summer weather. Chilled noodles are a wonderful cure-all in such disagreeable conditions, refreshing to the throat and nutritious. Nowadays, hand-stretched noodles can be found all over the country, but Miwa sōmen are probably the most famous, with a history that goes back to 1,200 years ago. The name and shape may vary from place to place. By one name or another, sōmen are staples of the Japanese home in summer. A peculiar way of serving sōmen is nagashi-sōmen: the noodles are placed in flumes of bamboo, which run across the length of the restaurant, with cold water. As the sōmen pass by, customers pluck them from the flumes with their chopsticks and dip them in tsuyu, a sauce made with bonito flakes. The trendiest restaurants in the city also feature nagashi-sōmen. Here is where you can find them. Awa ya Icchō (Nakano)Run by a Tokushima-born owner, Awa ya Icchō is a restaurant open 24h/day serving handa sōmen, which are typical of Tokushima. The most popular entry on the menu is gomoku abura sōmen, noodles and vegetables in a flavourful broth. Other delicacies include sōmen with sudachi (a green citrus fruit) or tomato and yukke sōmen with marinated bigeye tuna and vegetables, paired with an excellent selection of sakés. Sakura (Nishi-azabu)All the dishes in the restaurant are made with carefully selected meat and vegetables grown with a reduced amount of pesticides. On the rooftop terrace you can enjoy “the beer garden course”, with sōmen and barbecued meat. Every year the owner goes to Tateyama and personally brings back bamboo flumes for the nagashi-sōmen, which customers can dip in a home-made tsuyu flavoured with ginger. Depending on what is in the kitchen that morning, you may have barbecued Saga beef, Sangen pork from Kagoshima or chicken from Miyazaki. Seasonal Cuisine Restaurant Funayado (Chōfu)The family of the owner has been involved in the farming business for generations. This reflected in the décor, which creates the retro atmosphere of an old private house, an interesting departure from everything else that you have seen in Tokyo. Bamboo is used to decorate the floor for a cooling effect. In summer sōmen come with tempura and chilled tomato, paired with beer or traditional ramune.  

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07.24.2017

From the herbs and flowers that grow in the mountains around Lake Como - and the passions of Marco Rivolta and his mother Gianna - a new gin called Rivo Gin has been born in Lombardy with a fresh, balsamic aroma, that is already promising to take the world by storm. We asked Marco to tell us more about this amazing venture. Why did you choose gin and not a more traditionally Italian spirit?MR: Gin is commonly perceived to be an English product but it must be said that the first traces of wine distillates with juniper infusions were born in Italy and date back to 1055. They can be found in the Compendium Salernitanum of Salerno's medical school. With Rivo Gin we wanted to create something that was different from Italian tradition but also tied to our region, Lake Como. And I think we succeeded. What are the secrets of a good gin, and yours in particular?MR: I think they're the same as any other product: ensure the highest quality throughout the production chain and be authentic. In Rivo we only use the best ingredients, and those which are local are selected and picked by hand from the mountains around Lake Como. We then take advantage of the one of the oldest distilleries in Italy's experience, to transform our botanical ingredients into a spirit. We always like to highlight this authenticity because it differentiates us from the world of more commercial gins. We know that behind the "foraging" mentioned on the label lies Mrs. Gianna Rivolta's work of picking and selecting ingredients. Is she a botanist by passion or profession? MR: Foraging is the art of sourcing herbs directly from nature. It is a task that requires patience and dedication and a team effort run by my mum, who is passionate about botany, along with a group of botany professionals and pickers. The fascinating and magical aspect of foraging, and botanical picking in general, is the ability to identify the botanicals. It seems obvious but in nature everything is green! Knowing how to recognise even the most obvious botanicals is not easy. Fortunately foraging is now growing in Italy, a few years behind the Nordic countries. In addition to the idea of picking, it brings in an intrinsic respect for nature and love of discovery. In their dishes, famous chefs are rediscovering many botanicals that were used by our grandmothers in the kitchen or for medical remedies. Gin is based on juniper however many other herbs (or "botanicals") contribute to the construction of the bouquet. Can you explain the process from picking to distillation?MR: We wanted RIVO's bouquet of flavours to come from local botanicals, in order to represent our and the product's connection to Lake Como, where we come from. We pick the botanicals 3-4 times a year but the wonderful thing is that it is influenced by many factors that are beyond our control and closely related to natural cycles: the rain, wind, sun and, not least, the timing of the seasons. Once picked, the various botanicals are individually distilled and subsequently put together. Let's talk about the label. It is really beautiful but also very complex and full of different references. Can you tell us about them? MR: For centuries, local women have searched the meadows around Lake Como for herbs and flowers to make medicines and remedies. The history books would call them witches. We consider them pioneers of unique potions. And it is the idea of witches and magic that inspired the packaging. Geometrical lines chase each other, creating abstract figures, which capture two elements of the region in their details: the mountains and the waves of the lake. In addition, the geometric lines hark back to Italian Rationalism whose birthplace was in Como. In general, the idea was to create a design that references Italian craftsmanship whilst still being modern and able to present itself on an international level. You have already been to London, the world's gin Mecca, with Rivo. How did it go?MR: I would say very well. We are being distributed in the UK. It is like going into the lion's den, but unlike other equally complex markets London is always open to new, and above all authentic, craft productsWhat is the perfect cocktail recipe to best appreciate gin, and Rivo Gin in particular? And what is your favourite recipe? MR: RIVO is quite a versatile product. My mum loves a classic gin & tonic. I love a Negroni. Just to level the playing field.  

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07.21.2017

A farm-to-table philosophy, a passion for innovative cooking techniques and a sustainable ethos: with these excellent ingredients, East Dining has definitely brought a breath of fresh air to the Australian restaurant scene.Located in Mount Martha, Melbourne, and surrounded by the stunning Mornington Peninsula, East Dining revolves around the idea of creating unique dishes where the ingredients such as seafood have been harvested fresh from the Peninsula waters and where the herbs used to garnish the dishes are foraged directly from the surrounding coastline.While allowing East Dining to create and enhance original and distinct flavors, using fresh locally sourced seasonal ingredients also reduces the restaurant’s overall impact on the environment, an aspect which is deemed very important as well as their ability to condone sustainable practices and minimize as much waste in the process. Beyond its sustainable ethos, East Dining uses innovative cooking techniques to create inspired dishes that reflect a sophisticated yet playful delight. The house favorites include their nitro caramel popcorn, which is drizzled with maple bacon, saltbush and chili, and their oysters, which are served with shaved scallop and beach herbs. The restaurant also offers foraging tours where staff members share their knowledge and expertise about hidden treasures from the ocean and land and what the surrounding area has to offer. These tours provide a great opportunity to gain insight about how natural ingredients of the peninsula can change cooking practices at home, unveiling the distinct potential for the use of fresh seasonal ingredients in your everyday life.   

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07.21.2017

Yakushima is a round-shaped island with a 130km circumference, located about 60km south-west of Cape Sata, forming part of the Ōsumi Islands, along with Tanegashima and Kuchinoerabu-jima. With an area of 500km², it is the seventh largest island in Japan. You can drive around Yakushima in about 2 hours. Despite being very small, Yakushima has as many as 46 mountains over1,000m-high, called the Offshore Alps. With 7,200-year-old cedars and a rich flora, Yakushima was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1993. 90% of the island is covered in approximately 1,500 plant species that make up 70% of the indigenous species in Japan. For its extraordinary biodiversity, Yakushima is known as “the Asian Galapagos”“It rains 35 days a month in Yakushima”. The saying was supposedly penned by author Fumiko Hayashi while doing research for her novel Floating Clouds, and clearly describes how rainy it can be in Yakushima. The steam rises from the warm Kuroshio Current over the mountains and forms clouds, causing heavy rainfalls from March to June. Even when the island is not struck by a typhoon, rain falls to different degrees at least once every other day in summer and autumn. Yakushima’s typical fauna includes the deer and the monkey, which are slightly smaller than common Japanese species, with an estimate of 3,000 deer specimens, and 2,000-3,000 monkey specimens. You can also see dolphins and large sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs from March to August. Trekking, climbing, waterfall explorations and photo tours are a few of the many activities you can do in Yakushima. If you are looking for something different and unique, you can take a tour, which includes a night walk in the woods and turtle watching, a mystical experience with Nature as a soundtrack. If you are lucky, you may see turtles coming ashore to nest and turtle eggs hatching. AccessEvery day there are five flights from Kagoshima Airport to Yakushima. It takes about 40 minutes by plane. There are also high-speed boats connecting Kagoshima and Yakushima in about 2.5 hours. Finally, there are also ferries which take about 3h45m. FoodThere are many specialities that you can have in Yakushima exclusively, like the flying fish, served both cooked and raw, or miso soup with shellfish and crustaceans. A popular ingredient, kibinago is a small fish of the herring family. Other delicacies include frog crab, broken-neck mackerel and deer. In addition to the local cuisine, a number of French and Italian restaurants, gelato shops and fancy cafés are available. AccommodationIn order to preserve the environment pristine, there are no large-size hotels and resorts. Guesthouses get the lion’s share. Notwithstanding its small size, Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima offers the amenities of a modern resort with spa. On the Yakushima Tourist Association website you can find information about guided tours and accommodation-Yakushima Tourist Association  

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07.19.2017

Its highest height is large enough to house an entire New York City block complete with 40 story skyscrapers, yet Hang Soon Dong Cave’s grand stature is not the only thing at large - it is also one of the world’s most in-demand tourist excursion, resulting in a two-year waiting list to experience this extraordinary sight up close and personal. Located in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam, the largest cave in the world is a fascinating natural cavity that was formed as a result of the mighty Rao Thuong River, which over time has eroded the limestone surface resulting in a craved out tunnel and later into an enormous sink hole in the earth’s surface.What make this cave even more mesmerizing are its magical openings to the sight of lush green jungles and fluffy clouds, which were created when the roof of the cave collapsed creating what is known as dolines. With its vast landmass and size it’s no wonder that that this underground eco-system has its own distinct localized weather system, lakes, rivers and jungle and has been described as something that offers a sort of out-of-body experience where one feels like they have been transported onto another planet. As caves goes, Hang Soon Dong Cave is considered to be fairly new. Its discovery was made by Ho Khanh, a native Vietnamese farmer in 1990. Despite his fascination with this unusual landscape and the sounds of underground water gushing, he was unable to find his bearing back to the Cave after his return. 18 years later, while hunting for food, Ho Khanh stumbled across the entrance to the enormous cave once again and was able to alert professional from the British Caving Research Association of the spectacular discovery. In 2013, the cave’s entrance opened to the public for the first time with Oxalis Adventure Tours having exclusive rights to providing 5-day tour excursions through the depths of the cave. This once in a lifetime experience is extremely physically demanding, involving a two-day jungle trek and river crossing in order to reach the entrance in which trekkers must first pass through the Ban Doong Ethnic minority village. The Oxalis Adventures tour includes two cave experts, three native guides, and two chefs to join along in every expedition to ensure a comforting “home away from home” feel.   

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07.17.2017

With lush rolling hills, breathtaking scenic views and a world of natural adventure, Carmeron Highlands represents the largest hillside landscape in Pahang, Malaysia. Today, as one of the more popular destinations for eco-travellers, much of the highland character remains untouched and altered reflecting its true British influence and charm that was infused through the British officers in the19th century during colonial encounters. What once was just a landmass of forest vegetation and hill sides is now home to a diverse population of inhabitants of indigenous, Chinese and Indian descent. However, human diversity is not the only one that flourishes in this landmass: the hillside are also home to an array of flora and fauna species along with extensive jungle trails that lead to cascading waterfalls, scenic spots and a variety of aboriginal villages. Due to its rich terrain and natural elements, the hillssides provided perfect opportunity for the local population to grow an abundance of tea plants, fruit and vegetables in the local farms, which they use to sustain their food supply. Other pleasurable and relaxing adventures to uncover in the hillsides are visiting the butterflies, strawberry and bee farms

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07.10.2017

An unusual site for the typical overcrowded vibrant coastline of Brazil, the serine sand dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park stretch for miles and miles with blindingly white natural landscape.It is no wonder that the literal meaning of Lençóis Maranhenses translates to “Bedsheets of Maranhão” in Portuguese: to the naked eye, this natural wonder resembles everything of picture perfect desert with horizons of white sand and little to no vegetation- but surprisingly its not.Located on the border of the Amazon Basin, Lençóis Maranhenses receives about 47 inches of rainfall annually. Here, the unique phenomenon occurs giving rise to this specular sight as fresh water collects in the valley between the dunes creating thousands of turquoise magical blue lagoons. At its peak, lagoon waters can reach up to 10 feet deep, making it ideal conditions for swimming and relaxing. Even though it’s hard to believe, life does exist on this park: interconnected lagoon link up with the neighbouring rivers creating a stream for fish to live amongst the temporary lagoons. In the dry season fish species such as wolfish spend the dry season dormant taking cover burred under the sand floors. With its immense beauty, these lagoons are only a temporary escapade. With the dry season approaching in the months starting In October, the winds begin to pick up and the sandy landscape becomes less bearable. The best time to visit the park is in July when the temperatures are scorching and the lagoons are at their deepest. To visit Lençóis Maranhenses​, it's best to fly into São Luís, the capital of Maranhão. From there, visitors can book tours or take public transportation to the town of Barreirinhas, which is located just outside the Park.   

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07.07.2017

The Caribbean, the land of pristine turquoise waters, magical reefs and the effortless and infectious island vibe. However, as one of the most popular tropical destinations in the world, it is sometimes hard to find peace and quiet among the large number of tourist jet setting from all over the world to enjoy these same pleasure. Have no fear; we have provided a list of three Caribbean under the radar destinations that offer everything from quaint seaside towns, plush beaches, slow paced mountain adventures and some of the world’s best underwater marine sites- all without the frustration of the crowd and masses.  Bequia – St. Vincent & the GrenadinesKnown as the “Small Little Island” this tiny under the radar paradise might only be 9.5 miles in size, but makes up for it with its enormous magical island charm. A true slice of paradise, Bequia (Beck-way) is the second largest island in the Grenadines and a popular destination for yachter, divers (over 300 diving sites around the island) and beach lovers alike. Its unique mountainous terrain makes it an ideal destination to enjoy the slow island pace, while been immersed in its lush natural flora and fauna. One of the more secluded and picturesque beaches these shores have to offer is Friendship bay.  Rarely ever crowded and only accessible by foot or water taxi, this beach will truly feel like it belongs to just you. AnguillaThis luxurious leeward isle will seem miles away from the crowed hustle and bustle typical of popular Caribbean islands. Anguilla’s rich local culture, beautiful beaches and scenic seaside towns makes it a popular destination among jet setters looking for a secluded genuine island experience. Though all Caribbean islands are synonymous for turquoise beaches, Anguilla is like no other. With more than 30 beaches island wide, each one perfectly unique and spectacular in one way or another, Anguilla provides nothing less than show-stopping beauty. Carriacou- Grenada Welcome to the island that uses the absence of things to enhance its meaning of genuine island life, just like it was 50 years ago. Carriacou (Carry-a-Cou), a small almost forgotten island of Granada, gives the perfect opportunity for pure relaxation and disconnection from the world as we know it. Here, most actives involve either being submerged under the crystal clear waters while snorkeling sensational reefs or experiencing the scenic view from the sandy white palm tree shorelines. All dive sights are graded based on proficiency; so beginners and more advanced divers can all enjoy the magical underwater marine flora and fauna.   

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07.07.2017

If you ask anyone, they will tell you that beer and gyōza are the best combination. Nowadays, from mere ramen side-dish, gyōza dumplings have become the pièce de résistance in a growing number of restaurants, where they are paired with wine and Japanese sake, in addition to the more traditional beer. This trend has brought about new variations on the theme, from traditional Japanese to ethnic, from casual to chic. Here below you will find a short list of gyōza shops to try out, alone, with your friends or on a date. Gyōza Shack (Sangenjaya)It is a New York style restaurant with wood-panelled walls, where the speciality is gyōza paired with wine and Japanese sake. The dumplings are prepared with Shōnai pork from Yamagata prefecture, garnished with organic vegetables and accompanied by a careful selection of wines and junmai daiginjō sake from Yamagata prefecture, such as TatenokawaGyōza & Tapas Rai-Mon (Shinjuku Sanchōme)Located at the heart of Shinjuku and operated by Marugo, Rai-Mon offers gyōza-based tapas and a rich selection of wines in a stylish ambience. Rai-mon’s forte is gyōza with no garlic that can be enjoyed without worrying about the morning after. On top of the usual hanetsuki grilled gyōza (“winged dumplings”), at Rai-Mon you can taste boiled gyōza seasoned with sesame, coriander or ginger, served with a Shanghai style sauce or in a spicy hot soup. Ikejiri Gyōza (Ikejiri)The restaurant was opened by famed chef Madame Rose after Higashi-Shinjuku’s Aoba closed down. Every item in the menu is a sure hit. The dumplings are strictly additive-free. They are served grilled and stuffed with shrimps, seasonal vegetables or chicken and coriander. The boiled version with ponzu sauce is pleasantly refreshing. Another recommendation is the tare sauce based on sambal from Bali and adjusted to the Japanese taste. As a starter, you can have a taste of one of each type, paired with a nice pint of beer. Chinkairō (Meguro)At this Asian-style shop located in Meguro you can have a beer and four types of gyōza: grilled, boiled, steamed or fried. The deep-fried dumplings stuffed with hand-squeezed vegetables are so irresistibly crispy you will just have another helping. Compared with the chive-rich boiled version, steamed gyōza have a softer dough and a clearer yet rich flavour. Finally, size is not something they skimp on at Chinkairō. Quality and quantity go hand in hand. Ryūkyū Chinese Tama (Shibuya)It is a famous shop named after its chef and owner Fumihiro Tamayose, whose grandmother was Shanghainese-born and whose mother was Okinawan-born. The cuisine is therefore a unique Shanghainese-Okinawan mix. The restaurant serves boiled shrimp wontons, with a soft texture and a rich flavour. The sesame and hot-chilli oil sauce will envelop your mouth with heat and extraordinary flavour. The drink selection is dominated by wine, with as many as 180 labels. 

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07.05.2017

New Orleans’ rich and vibrant cuisine is soaked in years of culture and history. Commonly referred to as the “melting pot” city, its distinctive cuisine is the result of the complex blending of cultural influences from African, European and Native American decent.   The quintessential New Orleans cuisine is defined through the tasty marriage of Cajun & Creole dishes and flavors, sharing interchangeable ingredients and commonly confused and mistaken as the same thing. However, there is a distinct cultural difference between the creations of these two styles.  For simplistic measures, Creole cuisine also known as “city food” originated from urban areas and it’s a unique mix of traditions, flavors and smells with influences from all over the world – France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Native America and Africa – relying on a wider variety of ingredients.  On the other hand, Cajun cuisine, referred to as “country food” originated from rural areas with influences from European and Native American cultures - the word Cajun stands for  Acadians, an ethnic group of former French colonists from the Acadia region of Canada who were later deported  to Lousiana - and its main feature is the abundance of seasoning.   Among the classics of Creole and Cajun are  gumbosoup, with shrimps, oysters, shellfish or meat,  po'boy  sandwiches filled with vegetables and fried seafood or meat, and  Jambalaya, a delicious spicy rice-based dish that somewhat reminds of Spanish  paella.  Since for many of these dishes there are both Creole and Cajun recipes, if you’re not an expert chances are you’ll keep mistaking one kind of cuisine for the other. Yet according to locals the best way to tell a Cajun from a Creole dish is the absence or presence of tomato, because Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and proper Cajun food does not.  As the only place to experience true authentic Cajun and Creole dishes is in Louisiana, here are three restaurants in New Orleans to whet your appetite.    R’evolution  Located in the heart of the French Quarter, R’evolution offers an imaginative interpretation of the classic Cajun and Creole ensemble. With a refined and elegant atmosphere, this eatery truly covers all bases with its exhaustible food choices and diverse flavors. On top of that, R’evolution features a custom-built glass and wood wine cellar featuring over 10,000 variations. A true cut above the rest and by far to most photographed and raved about dish is the famous “Death by Gumbo” which is spectacular in both flavor and presentation. This highly desired dish is made with boneless quail stuffed with rice, oysters and sauces served in a gumbo like soup.    Commanders  As one of the oldest continuously operating family restaurants in New Orleans, Commanders represents a true historic icon of restaurant royalty. Located in the middle of the tree-lined Garden District, this Louisiana Charm is highly distinguished by its commander blue stripes and historic storyline. A colorful and flavorful tribute to haute Creole cuisine, expect to experience the very best of classic New Orleans cuisine such as turtle soup, pecan-crusted gulf fish and the house favorite creole bread pudding soufflé drizzled with a whiskey cream sauce. Beyond its tasteful dishes, guest can enjoy up to three 25c martinis to accompany their meal- what a catch!    Galatoire’s  One of the most legendary and elegant restaurants; dinning in Galatorie is truly an experience to savor. Ushered and served by tuxedoed staff, this classic medley of French-creole cuisine is a hard one to come by and a favorite to the city’s most elite. With a no reservation policy for the main dinning room, guests are accepted on a first-come-first serve basis. A true local delicacy, the most popular time is on Fridays for lunch, where flocks of patrons gather in lines outside hoping to get a spot in the bustling vibrant main room where personal camaraderie between guest and waiters is the core of the dinning experience. The drinks are stiff and dishes such as stuffed eggplants and lump crabmeat blanketed by butter and artichokes are patrons most desired and loved. Galatoire is about as New Orleans as it gets.  

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07.03.2017

Australia, the land of iconic cityscapes, adventurous road trips and the wild outback is one of the most desired travel destinations in the world. It has immense diversity of breathtaking landscapes and terrains and an even more fascinating cultural history. Uncover its beauty from inside out with these five unusual places to visit on your journey through the outback.   The Pink Lake You truly have to see it to believe it: Australia is home to one of the world’s most astonishing mysteries, the pink lakes. Lake Hillier, a huge saline lake in Western Australia, is just one example of these bubble gum hue bodies of water that capture the imagination of many who witness them. This pink phenomenon is he pink colour is considered to be due to the presence of the organism Dunaliella salina. Explore it from the air and fully embrace this natural anomaly.   Camel Riding & Glamping  Saddle up and climb on board one of the many camels of the Australian Camel Experience. This tour takes you on a journey to the most breathtaking landscapes of Australia all in a comfortable ride. Explore the true natural environment from day to night with their overnight fully catered Camel Safari allowing for plenty of actives such as sightseeing, relaxing in a hammock or a fire wood dinner.      Slumber in an Underground Cave Hotel  With a vast abundance of aboveground natural landscapes to be discovered, Australia’s underground also deems to be a gem to be discovered. Transformed from an old opal mine, Desert Cave Hotels provides a unique 4 star quality accommodation to those willing to experience the “dug out style of living”.  Just like any other hotel, Desert Cave Hotels provides shops, bars, display areas and dining experiences all through the depth of the underworld.    Be In Two Places at Once    Ever wanted to be in two places at the same time? Cape Tribulation is the only place in the world where two World Heritage areas collide- The Great Barrier reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Not only does this give birth to a magnificent landscape scene where turquoise waters meet lush verdant forest, but also the Daintree is one of the world’s most ancient and primeval forests.    The Sinkhole to Eden Nothing might seem particularly magical about a natural sinkhole; however, Australia’s Umpherston Sinkhole has been transformed into a one of a kind fantasy garden. Known as the“ Sunken Garden”, this natural disaster formed when the ceilings of a number of small caves collapsed together leaving a large crater in the earth surface. Today, its depths and floors have been transformed into perfectly manicure rows of lush vegetation and blooms. At night, it comes alive with floodlights and is a regular gathering sight for locals and visitors.  

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06.29.2017

Resort trains are the latest trend in Japan, with all sorts of comforts, where the ride is more important than the destination. If you are in Tokyo, Izu Craile provides the perfect weekend getaway, offering a wondrous journey across the beautiful landscape of the southernmost part of Izu Peninsula, in a comfortable space and with the most delicious food. Izu Craile is a four-car train running from Odawara to Izukyū-Shimoda Station. You can enjoy the magnificent sea view while sitting back in different types of seating fashions, be they the ordinary face-to-face arrangement, the counter or the compartment seating. The ride also has a slow side to it, since a number of brief stops will allow you to fully enjoy the scenery from the train window. The interiors are elegantly decorated with sakura, sea breeze and ripple motifs. One further point of appeal is the bentō, assembled and packed under the supervision of Sakura Akimoto, the owner and chef of the renowned French restaurant Morceau, with the freshest ingredients of the area, original sweets and craft beer from Izu. The users of car no. 3 are also free to partake of the all-you-can-drink wine bar. The functional amenities and the tremendous attention to the details will make your Izu Craile ride a truly unique experience. 

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06.26.2017

A true reflection of its vibrant and booming downtown location in Beirut, Kaleo offers a contemporary and artful twist on European fine dining. This cosmic eatery was crafted through the talented vision of David/Nicolas design studio. Motivated by a retro-futuristic spirit and inspired by architectural details of Old Byblos Churches, this duo created a space where design ethos and fine details are the key ingredients to stimulate a culinary experience. Living in an abundance of color, hues of pale pink and blue are the main focus with balancing accents colors of fern green and white. As a crucial component of their visual codes, patterns and textures are seamlessly integrated through velvet fabrics on the furniture, popcorn-like texture finishes on the walls and geometric shape-like details on the walls, tables and floors. For Kaleo, the use of texture goes beyond perfecting interior aesthetics rather, acts as a human storyteller to unleash infinite emotions and arouse senses for their guest.   Specializing in creative European cuisine, dishes are prepared with the best sourced seasonal meat, fish and vegetables accompanied by delicate desserts that might seem too picturesque to consume. To spice things up, international chefs often visit for occasional residencies to provide their very own spin on European cuisine.  

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06.23.2017

“Aging well is an art, for men and rum alike”. This quote truly is an accurate depiction of the persisted craftsmanship, refinement and delicacy of rum making at Mount Gay Rum Distilleries in Barbados for the past 300 years. As the oldest active rum distillery in the world, Mount Gay prides itself on providing the best rum blends, using century old techniques and unparalleled excellence to carefully carve its distinct and complex edge in the spirit world. To understand a rum’s craft we must first know its history. Hundreds of years ago, settlers sailed the sea in search of lands with ideal climates and terrains for growing sugar cane -which they found on the island of Barbados. The knack and abundance of harvesting sugar cane soon developed into experimentation with rum distillation, setting the stage for Mount Gay Rum’s excellence for years to come. As complex as it is in taste and stature, crafting an exquisite rum only requires a few key ingredients. At Mount Gay, these hero ingredients consist of water, molasses (a byproduct of sugar refinement) and years of cultivated techniques and expert taste palates. One distinguishing element in the rum making process is the use of wooden barrels - specifically, American white oak barrels that once contained American whiskey. As the rum matures it becomes smoother and rounder, infusing and harmonizing smokey oak notes and hints of whiskey along the way. Such a thoughtful technique seems purpose driven, but this distinctive process was actually stumbled upon accidentally when wooden barrels were used to transport rum across the sea. On its arrival, the rum was considerably superior and complex in taste. Creating a master blend can be an unpredictable and delicate process, especially in a warm climate where evaporation occurs 5 time more than the average rate. According to the master blender at Mount Gay Allen Smith, equal amounts of persistence, balance, flavor and pleasant arrogate are the cornerstone to a perfect blend. How to Drink your Mount GayIn the first casino scene in Casino Royale, where Bond wins the Aston Martin DB5 in the One & Only Club, he orders “a Mount Gay Rum with soda”. How you drink the renowned Mouth Gay rum is totally up to you, and how your feeling, but the classic way to enjoy this invigorating drink is on straight ice or mixed with your desired soda. If you ever have the pleasure, add drinking a rum and coke at one of Barbados’s many rum shops island wide to your bucket list. Mouth Gay Rum offers a unique experience to tour the distillery in Barbados, inviting guests to discover the mysteries and secrets behind Barbados’ finest and most celebrated spirit - all while sipping on rum blends which date as far back as 1703. 

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06.21.2017

The domino effect of overproduction and food waste continues to haunt our environment daily. Toast Ale, a British brewer, has unlocked the creative solution to sustainable beer production by turning fresh bread scraps and surplus into crafted ale beer. Tristram Stuart, the mastermind behind this venture, has been battling issues surrounding food waste for over 15 years. As an environmental activist, Tristram founded Feedback, an international environmental organization that strives to fight food waste at every level of the food system. With 100% of Toast Ale’s profits going towards Feedback’s campaigning mission to influence governments, international institutions and change society’s attitude toward food waste, Stuart remains one of the most recognized and respected environmental activist of today.   We briefly spoke with Louisa Ziane, Chief Brand & Finance Office at Toast Ale, about how companies and consumers alike can reduce food surplus and its negative domino effect on the wider environment. “Food production is the biggest impact we have on the environment with huge amounts of resources - land, water, fuel and energy - going into producing our food resulting in negative consequences such as climate change.” Even though some levels of surplus are inevitable to prevent, she notes, “every effort should be made to keep it in the human food chain through redistribution or, where not possible, as animal feed”.  At Toast Ale, they stand by the statement: “if you want to change the world, you've got to throw a better party than those destroying it”. Through fun and inclusive means, their charitable initiative, Feedback, aims to create awareness and shift consumer expectations and preconceptions that “shelves can’t always be fully stocked with cosmetically perfect produce”. Creating an engaging community around a specific goal is at the core of their initiative, and “what better way to engage people than over a beer?”, Louisa Ziane remarks. With sustainability at the epicenter, Toast Ale sets the standard for eco- driven companies through distribution realignment and sustainable production processes. “We work with a sandwich maker situated very close to our brewery partner, and they deliver the bread as part of their usual distribution routes.” With expansion on the horizon, they plan to do so by setting up operations in the countries that they wish to expand, such as brewing American Pale Ale in New York rather than exporting it from the UK. In her final remarks, Louisa Ziane spoke about how we as consumers can participate in simple everyday rules and rituals to contribute towards the movement against food waste. “Consumers have huge buying power and can influence the practices of the supermarkets. The first step is to ask supermarkets to report their food waste figures, as this puts pressure on them to reduce whilst helping entrepreneurs identify opportunities to develop brilliant solutions. Also think about what you buy - we can prove consumers prefer taste and nutritional quality over cosmetic appearance by choosing to buy imperfect produce. And of course, do everything you can in your own home to reduce waste - only buy what you need and eat what you buy.”  

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06.19.2017

Situated in the heart and soul of Brooklyn,  1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge  provides a pure breath of fresh air to the bustling city life of the New York City. Committed to sustainability and preserving the environment, this sophisticated boutique hotel seamlessly combines eco-conscious designs and architecture with  refreshing nature inspired experiences  and services.  Entirely powered by wind energy, the hotel is conceived so that every facet and all its amenities speak to conserving the environment with complex rainwater reclamation systems, low energy light bulbs Throughout the hotel to custom blend hemp mattresses and  access to premium electric vehicles Tesla .  The 10-story sustainable oasis was thoughtfully constructed to preserve the environment, with more than half of the building materials being reclaimed  and woods and steel from old Sugar Factories and Distilleries Crow. Beyond its natural elements, most rooms of the hotel enjoy the luxury of  a full panoramic skyline view  of the iconic landmarks of New York City such as The Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty.  The use of pure and natural elements is diffused mindfully throughout the hotel interior. Crafted by landscape architecture firm Harrison Green, the lobby opens dramatically to a 25-foot green wall, featuring an abundance of lush botanicals and rich fauna that are used to set the mood of a nature haven. Thoughtful touches of nature are also incorporated into the guest rooms and into an array of experiences and rituals offered to guests, including the Lobby Farm Stand  featuring the freshest ingredients grown by local farmers and purveyors within the community. Last but not least, guests have full access to the Bamford Haybarn Spa offering a wide selection of holistic treatments along with the Botanically inspired roof top cocktail bar.   

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06.15.2017

As summer hits, ramen shops throughout the country will display the message “We now offer hiyashi chūka”, an excellent way to stimulate the appetite and to cool in the hot Japanese summer. Originally from China, hiyashi chūka is chilled ramen topped with a variety of ingredients and one of the must of the season. The recipes are countless. Here is a list of the best hiyashi chūka in Tokyo. Yōzusaikan (Kanda)Established in 1906, Yōzusaikan is the birthplace of the original hiyashi chūka, with the freshest ingredients beautifully laid out on top of the cold noodles. It is a dish prepared in the most orthodox fashion, definitely worth a try. Masa’s Kitchen (Ebisu) Masa’s hiyashi chūka blends Japanese tradition and Western innovation, in a dish full of umami, which is, unsurprisingly, very popular. The speciality is ramen topped with boiled chicken, spring onion and coriander, with a little bit of Japanese pepper for spicy flavour reminiscent of Sichuan. Cantonese Cuisine Ryūtenmon (Mita)Located inside Westin Hotel Tokyo, at Ryūtenmon serves hiyashi tantanmen – a reinterpretation of the spicy Sichuanese dandanmien – all through the year. An extremely popular version of tantanmen, which was not originally included on the official menu, consists of a creamy sesame-based soup with fine, smooth and firm to the bite noodles. There is a hot version of the dish. Keiraku (Yūrakuchō)Established in 1950, Keiraku also appears in Ginza Diary by famed writer and gourmet Shōtarō Ikenami. The restaurant is known for its tasty goma hiyamen, a bowl of fine noodles in a chilled soup of rich sesame tare and rice vinegar, a refreshing delight for the throat. Menkoidokoro Isoji (Yoyogi)Menkoidokoro Isoji is not the usual ramen shop, in that the home-made noodles are served in a fish and tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, flavoured with a rich sesame tare and topped with a sort of sorbet made with the same ingredients of the broth. The finishing touch consists in a colourful decoration of shiso leaves and seasonal vegetables.  

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06.14.2017

Tucked away in-between the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, Dominica's under the radar identity miles has worked to its advantage. Promoting itself as the Caribbean "Nature Isle", it attracts the new generation of conservative, tree loving eco-travelers looking to be immersed in all of nature's splendor and glory. A truly encapsulating nature haven, this lush verdant island is home to over 365 beautiful rivers, volcanic landscape and translucent waterfalls. Perched on top the cliff tops of the Dominican tropical rainforest, lies the secluded, eco-luxe resort paradise of Secret Bay . This hideaway treasure is made up of eight secluded villas and bungalows akin to sumptuous treehouse enveloped in an Eden of lush vegetation and surrounded by tranquil bays and beaches. Combining the perfect balance of sustainable practices, five star amenities and extraordinary experiences, Secret Bay invites its guest to slowly melt into the soul of the island through an experience of a lifetime for nature lovers alike. Beyond its immense beauty and design, what is interesting about Secret Bay is their ongoing responsibility and commitment to preserving the environment. All the materials used to build the resort are composed entirely of local, sustainably-sourced materials assembled by the hands of Dominican locals. Finally, as if staying in a luxury tree-house was not enough, Secret Bay offers a wide range of unfathomable experiences to truly embrace the moment. For the adventures, exploring caves, hiking, whale watching, kayaking, exploring river and even night snorkeling are just a few options to consider while visiting. Beyond adventurous activities, take the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate with yoga and meditation classes, stand-up paddle boarding or just a quick dip in the crystal clear beaches just minutes away. 

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06.07.2017

Judging from what has been happening in recent times on the Milan restaurant scene, ramen is no longer some niche delicacy for Japanese cuisine experts and enthusiasts, but rather all the rage - just like sushi used to be quite a few years ago. As the number of new restaurants specializing in the preparation of this traditional Japanese (although originally Chinese) bowl of hearty broth filled with noodles increases, people are growing to love it, although for us Westerners it can be pretty complicated to eat - especially for those who just can’t come to terms with the fact that, according to Japanese etiquette, ramen must be eaten quickly and slurped loudly, nonchalant of the occasional spatter. Yet what is it about this dish that allowed it to win even the most fastidious Milanese palates? First of all, it is basically a one-course meal: in its traditional version, it includes fish, meat or pork bone (tonkotsu) stock, wheat noodles and miso, and it is often enriched with seaweed, marinated eggs, sliced ​​roast pork, spring onion and spices. Secondly, there are many different ramen versions, either regional or creative, either more or less spicy, either with meat and or with vegetables. Not to mention the fact that its delicious hot broth is perfect to warm you up in winter, whereas in summer you can try cold ramen, without broth and topped with crisp veggies and meat. In short, this is a dish for all tastes and all seasons.Here is a list of the best only-ramen places in Milan. Casa RamenOddly enough, the pioneer of ramen-focused restaurants in Milan is actually Italian. His name is Luca Catalfamo and he learned how to master the art of ramen-making in the course of his many journeys to Japan. At his two Milan restaurants, Casa Ramen and Casa Ramen Super (both located in the Isola disctrict), you can try traditional ramen along with a bunch of variations including a brothless and a vegetarian one. The menu also features a small but inviting list of Japanese snacks and bites. Zazà RamenOverlooking the central via Solferino, Zazà is another very popular address for ramen in town, offering a laid-back atmosphere and a lot of interesting options; two types of flour for the noodles, three kinds of broth and six different ramen variations, including vegetarian and crab-based ramen. Among the snacks are Japanese gyoza dumplings and glazed chicken wings. MisoyaAlso in via Solferino, Misoya is the Italian branch of the Japanese ramen restaurant chain of the same name. It serves traditional ramen in various versions, including spicy, yasay (with mixed veggies) and vegetarian ramen in a casual ambience. RyukishinThe Milanese home of Japanese chef Tatsuji Matsubara, also owner of the Osaka, Kyoto and Valencia Ryukishin restaurants, is located in via Ariberto (Porta Genova district) and it offers various ramen variations along with a selection of popular Japanese comfort food dishes such as gyoza and fried chicken. Their signature ramen is called paitan ramen and its peculiarity is the creamy chicken and vegetable broth. They also have vegetarian options and a kids’ menu. Bottega del RamenClassic, vegetarian or with fish: these are the three ramen variations offered at this new all-ramen Navigli restaurant which marks the Milan debut of the Japanese catering giant Toridoll. The menu also includes a bunch of don (rice and meat) dishes and the summer ramen, served cold and without broth.   Niko Niko Ramen & SakeFrom traditional ramen to white or black sesame seed, tomato and cream broth ramen, this great place in via Garibaldi has a creative and fresh approach to its house specialty. Other options include Japanese appetizers, rice-based dishes and onighiri (rice balls with nori seaweeds). Vegetarian and summer ramen are also available. Mi-Ramen BistròAt this tiny Porta Ticinese eatery, ramen is served at a bunch of tables with high chairs. Options include pork, shrimp balls and vegetable ramen as well as a list of dim sum bites such as rolls, gyoza and kakuni bao, a steamed bun filled with braised pork belly and vegetables. 

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06.01.2017

White sand, warm turquoise water, and a magnificent coral reef. Thanda truly is the proverbial tropical island we all sometimes dream of - a small corner of the world that seems to have been subtracted from Paradise. And by small we mean really, really small: merely 8 hectares, 350 meters in width and one kilometer in diameter - yet there is no risk of feeling alone, because here nature is really a presence. In the context of a beautiful marine reserve located between mainland Tanzania and the island of Mafia, this private island only houses a villa with five suites and two bandas, the typical Tanzanian tents. The protection of the marine environment is the core of the island's philosophy: Thanda is deeply committed to the conservation of the region’s sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins, whale sharks and the rehabilitation of the coral reef, and its community partner, Sea Sense, works closely with the coastal communities to protect endangered marine species. Depending on the season, guests can swim with whale sharks, the good giants of the seas, and observe the nesting of turtles and hatching of eggs. Another great asset is the careful management of the island’s natural resources: the Island is powered by solar energy, while rainwater tanks maximize water storage and use of this precious natural resource, and an on-site desalination plant provides water, whilst grey water is recycled for the rehabilitation of the Island's vegetation. Of course, Thanda's guests can simply relax and practice a variety of water sports or enjoy other exploration activities. A special mention goes to the fresh cuisine of chef Melissa Macdonald, which uses strictly local ingredients including herbs, tropical fruits and a delicious homemade coconut milk. 

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05.29.2017

Versilia is a destination that has always looked to the sea as a place of fun and inspiration, conceiving summer vacations as an extension of the life in the nearby cities, Lucca and Florence, sharing their refinement and their taste for beauty. Here, the long and cozy beaches are the perfect counterpart to the clubs and the cafes of the city centers, where the Art Nouveau villas unequivocally reveal the golden era of these places, dating back to the late 19th and early 20th, when the rich families from the hinterland first took an interest in the shores. Versilia is part of the Apuane Alps, its virtual southern border being Tenuta San Rossore, an area of ​​extraordinary natural interest that is part of the Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli Natural Park, with its flooded forests, wetlands, its long and wild free beaches and the rich bird life, bordering the city of Pisa. From Forte dei Marmi to Pietrasanta and from Camaiore to Viareggio, this long stretch of coastline which was historically under the influence of the city of Florence has been able to mix worldliness and culture, the silence of the pine forests and the dunes (especially between Torre del Lago and Viareggio) and the frenzy of famous nightclubs such as La Capannina in Forte dei Marmi, which have truly left a mark on popular culture of 1960s Italy and whose legend still lives, making "the Forte" one of the most exclusive holiday resorts in the country, despite the undeniable fact that it has changed a lot since those glorious times. Yet this is also an area where culture and literature found a very fertile ground. Torre del Lago was home to the famous composer Giacomo in the second half of the nineteenth century, writer and Nobel Prize winner Gabriele D'Annunzio composed one of his most famous poems, The Rain in the Pinewood, in Pietrasanta, and poet Giosuè Carducci was born in Valdicastello, where his home is now a museum in his memory. Finally, Viareggio is the perfect incarnation of the twofold, fascinating soul of Versilia: on the one hand there are the beautiful Art Nouveau villas surrounded by pine forests and the splendor of the old cafés such as Gran Caffè Margherita, inspired by oriental architecture. On the other hand, there is the irreverence of the local Carnival, one of the richest and most beloved ones in Italy, the artsy invention of a group of young goliardic aristocrats who used to meet at local Caffè del Casinò back in 1873. 

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05.26.2017

Warm wooden surfaces, a post-industrial décor and London in its most contemporary version right beyond the huge windows. The view of the city, which becomes part of the interior design like a living picture, is undoubtedly one of the main assets of Bokan, the new scenic restaurant at Canary Wharf, in the former dockland area of Isle of the Dog, East End London. Located on the 37th floor of a Novotel, Bokan is the kind of place you want to go even if it is a hotel restaurant – because of the view and of the sophisticated design, of course, but also because of its European tasting menu designed by chef Aurélie Altemaire with an eye to the place and its essential role in London's history, which offers an affordable culinary journey between traditional and imported British ingredients accompanied by a rich list of wines and craft beers. Upstairs on the 38th floor is the bar, featuring the same spectacular view, where Italian bartender Danilo Tersigni offers an intriguing list of cocktails created by taking inspiration from the Docklands and their history, featuring exotic names like West Indiaman and Estivador. And speaking of unbeatable views, do not miss the chance to climb to the fantastic Roof Terrace on the 39th and top floor, where the atmosphere is informal and you can taste gin-based cocktails at the tables or lying on the daybeds. Definitely an unmissable address for anyone who is not yet tired of London and of its wonderful complexity as seen from above. 

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05.26.2017

Sun, sea, mountains and everything you can expect from an authentically cosmopolitan city. Cape Town, on the southern tip of the African continent, dominated by the imposing Table Mountain and overlooking the Ocean, is undoubtedly a unique city whose charm is hard to resist. Even the climate is different from what one would expect: pleasant, Mediterranean, ever so graceful in the Spring months, when a nice breeze blows. In addition to being beautiful, Cape Town also has a very special flair: not entirely African and at the same time not entirely European, it is a city not without contradictions, problems and social inequalities, yet, compared to the rest of South Africa, it definitely appears safer, more open, and more relaxed. Perhaps it is because its history has deep roots: the first European settlement in South Africa (and therefore also called the ‘Mother City’), Cape Town was founded by the Dutch in the seventeenth century, and it has retained many marks of that era, in particular the many "grachts "- Buitengracht, Heerengracht, Keizersgracht – former channels that used to collect water at the foot of Table Mountain and provide it to the newborn city, later covered over. And speaking of heritage, the British domination also left another major city landmark: the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the harbor built in 1860 by Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria, with its beautiful waterfront. The city center, also known as City Bowl, is compact and can be explored on foot – which is a very European feature, in a sense. Amongst the most lively streets are Long, Bree and Loop Streets, where most of the best, cafes and restaurants are - but it is also worthwhile venturing into the side streets because the atmosphere is really fantastic. And the finds continue far beyond City Bowl: east of the center, in the former industrial areas of Woodstock and Salt River, a combination of gentrification and urban regeneration programs has brought some new air, and there are plenty of cool areas like Albert Road and Victoria Road, crowded with galleries, cafes and design studios. Not to mention the many natural beauties around town, from the Table Mountain Natural Park to the beaches, particularly Boulders Beach with its penguin colony, vibrant Camps Bay and surfer paradise Llanduna Beach, but also the pristine Sandy Bay, and the quiet Glen Beach, protected by sand dunes and granite rocks. Not to be missed CultureDistrict Six MuseumA very special museum that will help you to better understand the history of the city. The Sixth District, founded in 1867, was a mixed and multiethnic neighborhood where liberated slaves, merchants, artisans, workers and immigrants lived together. At the beginning of the twentieth century, however, a process of marginalization (which started against black South Africans) began, leading to the eviction of the entire population of the area in the 1960s, with the demolition of their houses. The museum aims to preserve the memory of this community, remembering their houses - marked on a map om display and recalled by recreated interiors - and their touching stories. Cape Town International Jazz FestivalThe music scene in Cape Town is really vibrant, however you do not necessarily need to hit the underground clubs to listen to some good music: music is everywhere in the city, even in the streets. Yet the most important event is certainly this festival that takes place every year on the last weekend of March or on the first weekend of April at the Cape Town International Convention Center: 5 stages, over 40 artists (half South African and half international), 2 shows days and an average of 37,000 viewers. NatureTable Mountain National Park The territory of this protected area on the southern tip of the African continent stretches from Signal Hill, the famous flat-topped hill from on which you can climb to enjoy a magnificent view of the city, to the spectacular rocky promontory of Cape Point, north- east of Cape of Good Hope. The only place in the world where an area of such rich bio-diversity exist almost entirely within a metropolitan area, the Park is a succession of rugged peaks, sandy flats, valleys, bays and beaches. Besides taking scenic drives, you can catch the cableway to Table Mountain and the funicular to Cape Point. Kirstenbosch Botanical GardensThis magnificent 36-acre botanical garden on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain was created in 1913 to showcase the variety and richness of South African flora - over 7,000 species, many of which are rare or endangered. There is also a large greenhouse displaying plants from the arid regions that cannot survive outdoors. EatChef’s WarehouseThis unmissable address at 92, Bree Street is a small foodie paradise with a bookstore and a kitchenware shop where there are really special items. Loved by chefs, the restaurant offers gourmet tapas-style cuisine with elaborate presentations. The setting, albeit definitely cool, is informal, just as the service - the food is under the spotlight. No reservations accepted. Fish on the RocksPerched on the rocks at the end of Harbour Road in Hout Bay, this simple takeaway restaurant has been here for 30 years. It serves possibly the best fish & chips in town, traditionally served with salt, vinegar, lemon and tartar sauce. DrinkTjing TjingA cocktail bar in the attic of a historic City Bowl palace, where to enjoy a drink under wooden vaults or on the terrace, along with tapas and indie and electronic music. Mother’s Ruin Gin BarA sleek lounge bar entirely devoted to the cult of gin revival. There are 82 varieties available, from all over the world, along with classic and creative gin-based cocktails. SleepThe SiloHoused inside the former grain elevator portion of the historic grain silo complex overlooking the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, this spectacular design hotel designed by London-based architect Thomas Heatherwick occupies six floors above what will soon become the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA). The greatest visible change to the building’s original structure is the addition of pillowed glass windows inserted into the geometry of the hotel floors, bulging outward as if gently inflated. By night, this transforms the building into a glowing beacon in the harbour. Grand DaddyConsidered a true classic of Cape Town hospitality, this stylish Long Street boutique hotel has been here for 120 years, inside a heritage building that is now a landmark in the city. Its most famous features are the Flamingo Rooftop Cinema and the Thirty Ate restaurant, not to mention South Africa’s only rooftop Airstream Trailer Park.  

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05.24.2017

Adjacent to the exact center of the peninsula, the province of Perugia is the largest one in Umbria, an amazing region that seems to sum up all the best of continental Italy. Perugia literally showcases the very quintessence of Umbria itself: the plains framed by gentle hills, the mountains, the thick and lush forests and the great Lake Trasimeno. Scattered through these beautiful landscapes is an incredible amount of historic towns and art cities - not to mention the sacred architecture that made these places an must-go-to destination for Catholic pilgrims looking to explore the hige inheritance left by St. Francis, who was born here. Perugia, the gorgeous capital, is a vibrant and international city where culture, thanks to the ancient university, the University for Foreigners and the Academy of Fine Arts, remains the at the center of the public and social scene, strengthened by history whose traces are jealously guarded in the five downtown districts. A major Etruscan settlement and later a powerful medieval town, Perugia can be explored starting from its 450 meters high ancient Etruscan acropolis, on which the old town lies and from which it spreads on the ridge of the surrounding hills. The entrance to the Acropolis is the Rocca Paolina enclosing the Medieval city and crossed by a pedestrian path. Strolling through the old town’s steep alleys lined with tower houses, stop to contemplate the beauty of Piazza IV Novembre with its 13th century fountain, the Cathedral of Saint Laurence and the palazzo dei Priori, as well as the Etruscan Arch, one of the seven gates of the Etruscan walls dating back to the 2nd century B.C. Like a crown studded with precious gems, lots of beautiful places surround the city of Perugia, beginning with Città di Castello, the main village of the Upper Tiber Valley and the hometown of artist Alberto Burri, one of the major exponents of Italian informal art, whose works are collected at Palazzo Albizzini and Ex Essicatoi del Tabacco. A little further south there is Gubbio, an ancient Medieval city-state at the foot of Monte Ingino whose heart lies in its hanging square, Piazza della Signoria, surrounded by the 14th-century Palazzo dei Consoli, the remarkable XII century cathedral and the Convent of St. Francis, built on the site of the residence which hosted the Saint when he left his paternal home to devote himself to religious life. And speaking of St. Francis, the most important destination for his devotees certainly is Assisi, 26 km east of Perugia, hometown of the Saint and a UNESCO Heritage Site. Its stunning churches, and particularly the Saint Francis Basilica, represent an exceptional concentration of artistic and architectural masterpieces as well as a major spiritual destination. A little further south, the gaze is captured by the small hamlet of Spello, with its narrow streets lined with ancient churches, towers and old houses whose balconies brim with flowers. From here, the view of Mount Subasio and of the plain with Assisi in the distance is simply breathtaking. Galleria Nazionale dell’UmbriaHoused in Perugia’s Palazzo dei Priori, this gallery collects more than 3,000 paintings, sculptures, ceramics, fabrics and gold objects, including works by Beato Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Pinturicchio, Perugino, Orazio Gentileschi, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and more. Museo-laboratorio di tessitura a mano Giuditta Brozzetti Inside the 13th century church of San Francesco delle Donne, the first Franciscan settlement in Perugia, Giuditta Brozzetti founded her textile school back in 1921 with the aim of preserving the Medieval and Renaissance Umbrian textile traditions. Four generations later, Giuditta’s descendants continue to make art fabrics and reproductions of Medieval and Renaissance designs for tapestries, curtains, tablecloths, bedspreads, and lampshades on wooden handlooms dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. La Bottega di PerugiaA tiny and very popular place in the old town where you can taste authentic Umbrian products at more than affordable prices on the few available stools or at the counter. Sandwiches, salami platters, cheeses and of course wines and artisan beers, for casual dining or an aperitif with a local flavor. Basilica di San Francesco, AssisiBuilt starting from 1228 where the Saint had decided to be buried, the Basilica is the major monument in Assisi. It is actually made of two overlapping churches: the Gothic Upper Basilica, with its slender architectures, and the lower basilica, which has an almost Romanesque appearance. The latter houses the crypt and the relics of St. Francis, as well as works by the great masters of the Florentine and Senese school of 1300, particularly Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti. Piazza della Signoria, GubbioGubbio’s main square has a very unique feature: it is an authentic hanging square, a sort of panoramic terrace overlooking the city and the countryside supported by a sturdy wall on which four large arcades open. On this spectacular square sit the 14th-century Palazzo dei Consoli and the Neoclassical Palazzo Ranghiasci. 

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05.19.2017

The maze of medieval streets crowded with restaurants, cafés and boutiques of the Marais, which culminate in the romantic Place des Vosges where Victor Hugo once lived, remains one of the most pleasant neighborhoods in Paris. On the Rive droite, between the third and the fourth arrondissement, this area is both timeless and rich in history and inevitably fashionable thanks to its many hip nightlife spots. Among the positive implications of its being trendy, the Marais offers a number of really good places to sip a great cocktail surrounded by the bohemian atmosphere of the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, the Marais in not immune to the global cocktail bar and speakeasy revival that sees bartenders and their creations as the protagonists. Here are some places you should definitely consider for your next visit. Sherry ButtExposed bricks, wooden floors and velvet chairs. And a large counter on top of which is a blackboard where you can read the list of the cocktails prepared by super-expert creative bartenders. In short, there are all the ingredients to make this venue really cool, including DJ sets on weekends. Mary CelesteIn this beautifully designed nautical-style bar hidden behind a rue Commines door, cocktails have been conceived of as the excellent accompaniment to the real protagonist: the freshly-prepared fish cuisine, including oysters. Everything is served around the crowded counter in small, beautifully crafted portions, along with plenty of crispy vegetables. Little Red DoorA small corner of New York City in the heart of the Marais marked by the little red door it owes its name to, loved for the perfect and sophisticated atmosphere, for the beauty of the place but especially for the excellent cocktails, prepared with fresh ingredients from local suppliers. CandelariaAn authentic taqueria and a cocktail bar of the highest level: with this unprecedented formula, in 2011 Candelaria won over the Marais and the whole city. And it continues to be considered one of the best bars in the world. Le Vieux Comptoir du Cap HornA much-loved Chilean bar just a stone's throw from Place de Vosges where you can drink the authentic pisco sour, one Ernest Hemingway's favorite drinks. The few outdoor tables and the baroque interiors make it really unique. 

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05.18.2017

In 358 BC a group of Greek colonists chose a bull-shaped hill to build a new settlement: Taormina. It is impossible not to fall in love with this Sicilian town that clings to a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and which seems to be perfectly aware of its beauty and of the amazement aroused in anyone by the splendor of its nature and the harmonious overlapping of architectural styles witnessing the passage of Greeks and Romans, Normans and Spaniards, Savoys and Habsburgs. The spectacular main square houses the Baroque XVII century church of Saint Joseph, the Gothic church of Saint Augustine and the XII century clock tower: a thousand years of history at a glance, in the presence of an even more majestic nature which ranges from the sea to the Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano. Corso Umberto I is the town’s high street, lined with small artisan workshops and dotted with numerous aristocratic palaces including Palazzo Corvaja, whose Islamic-style cubic tower has been enriched over the centuries by the Gothic-Catalan-style double lancet windows and the 15th-century Norman hall. The fifteenth century St. Nicholas church with its austere stone facade and the Cathedral, featuring a decorated portal dating back to 1636, are the major artistic and architectural sights of Taormina, along with the 3rd century BC Roman Greek Theater, still used as an evocative backdrop for classical plays. Finally, do not leave the city without indulging in the delicious local cuisine, featuring the same mixed roots of the city and influenced by Spanish, Middle Eastern and Norman cuisine. Not to be missedTaormina’s Ancient TheaterSince the 1950s, this 3rd century BC theater has returned to its original function hosting various forms of entertainment ranging from plays to concerts and ceremonies. It is the major classical play theatre in Sicily after the Greek Theater in Syracuse. Corso Umberto IFormerly part of Via Valeria, which once connected Messina with Catania, Corso Umberto I is the old town’s high street, enriched by a large number of shops and artisan workshops, restaurants, cafes and beautiful squares and churches. Villa ComunaleThis pleasant and peaceful oasis in the heart the city owes its origin to Lady Florence Trevelyan, a Scottish noblewoman who married the mayor of Taormina Salvatore Cacciola in the late nineteenth century. The English garden, a maze of paths immersed in magnolias, ibisques and bougainvillea bushes, used to belong to their home, but it is now owned by the Municipality and anyone can explore it, also enjoying the marvelous landscapes of the Ionian coast and the Etna. FlavorsBam BarVia Giovanni di Giovanni, 45Decorated by artist Tino Giammona with reproductions of orange trees and Indian figs, this cafe offers some of the best granitas in SicilyCasa GiolìA family-run restaurant offering creative cuisine made with fresh and genuine ingredients. La CapineraEnjoy revisited Sicilian specialties prepared with catch-of-the-day fish, crispy vegetables, local olive oils and various delicatessen with a great sea view. All photos by Kirk Fisher  

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05.15.2017

When you think of New Yorkers' favorite destinations for a spring or summer weekend break, the first places that comes to your mind are probably the Hamptons and the beaches of Long Island. The truth, however, is that those areas can get annoyingly overcrowded this time of year. On the other hand, you just need to drive along the Hudson River to find yourself surrounded by the tranquility of the lush, varied and historically and culturally rich landscapes of the Hudson Valley, extending for about 150 miles north of Manhattan. These places, where the Dutch first landed in 1600, were subject to controversy with the British and then became the scenario of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, with the development of commercial and tourist steamboat travel along the Hudson, the Valley was the subject of a great industrial development, and at the same time it turned into a holiday and leasure resort for the families of New York aristocrats and tycoons - the Vanderbilt, the Roosevelt - whose magnificent Gilded Age villas can still be admired along the banks of the river.Today, the Hudson Valley, officially designated a National Heritage Area, is a renowned destination for the variety of experiences it can offer, from its magnificent natural landscapes to the amazing food & wine scene (it is the oldest wine-growing region of the country), as well as for its antique shops, museums, microbreweries, historic villages, castles and parks. Following the course of the river and making a few detours inland, the points of interest are so many that a weekend is certainly not enough to explore them all. So the best thing to do is choose the ones that best suit your taste. Here is a small selection of memorable experiences to try at least once in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Cruising down the riverThe easiest way to get a general idea of ​​the landscapes bordering the river is to embark on a small cruise on the Hudson, definitely a retro experience reminiscent of the golden age of steamboats. The two-hour tour aboard the luxurious Pride of the Hudson starts from Newburgh, 90 miles north of Upper Manhattan, and touches places of high historical and natural interest such as Washington's Headquarters, where George Washington settled during the Revolution, Mount Beacon, the highest point between the Catskill Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, Bannerman Castle, Breakneck Ridge with its rocky peaks much loved by hikers, the pretty town of Cold Spring, known for its restaurants and antique stores, and the West Point Military Academy.In Kingston, the capital of Ulster county, you can board the Rip Van Winkle (named in honor of Washington Irving's homonymous character) to discover the lighthouses and the opulent villas along the river - including the Wyndcliff, Vanderbilt and Ogden Mills mansions - and the old Rosemont tavern, previously the Tank & Tummy, dating back to 1740. Going to museums In Nyack, the hometown of Edward Hopper, the nineteenth-century home of the great American painter has been turned into a beautiful museum where, besides enjoying  temporary exhibitions dedicated to contemporary artists, you can visit Hopper's bedroom, discover his early works and various memorabilia and find out about the actual places depicted in his works thanks to the great research work of photographer Charles Sternaimolo.In Beacon, on the east bank of the river and opposite Newburgh, a former Nabisco factory now houses Dia: Beacon, a museum that collects contemporary artworks from the 1960s to today from the prestigious Dia Art Foundation collection.For a completely different museum experience, head to the other side of the Hudson and take a look at Newburgh’s Motorcyclopedia Museum, which as the name itself suggets is a place entirley dedicated to the history of motorcycles, told through an incredible collection of over 400 pieces owned by Gerald A. Doering and his son Ted, displayed across two floors in a former warehouse. Lanscapes & gardensAbout 130 km north of Manhattan is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge, the famous Walkaway over the Hudson, which connects Poughkeepsie on the east bank to Highland on the west bank. Once a railroad bridge built in the late 19th century, this impressive 2-km long steelwork only became a pedestrian bridge in 2009 and it’s a magnificent viewpoint from which to admire the surrounding landscape. West of Highland is yet another iconic Hudson Valley sight, Mohonk Mountain House. This luxurious Spa hotel that seems to have come out of a Wes Anderson film is housed inside a Victorian castle overlooking the lake and nestled in the beautiful Mohonk Preserve, 8,000 acres of mountain cliffs, forests, fields, farmland, streams, ponds and marshland where you can go hiking and enjoy summer and winter sports. Finally, when exploring the east bank of the Hudson it is worth stopping at the luxuriant Innisfree Garden, a magnificent American 19th century garden designed by landscape architect Lester Collins where romantic and modernist style blends with Chinese and Japanese inspirations in a sublime composition of rock, water, wood, and sky. Food & drinkThe abundance of fresh produce, the farmers’ markets, the artisan producers and the great restaurants of the Hudson Valley make this area a top-notch food and wine destination. The city of Hyde Park, on the eastern bank of the river, hosts the headquarters of the Culinary Institute of America, one of the world's leading cooking schools, which also houses several restaurants where its brilliant students train. Among them is the prestigious Bocuse Restaurant, a sophisticated French restaurant dedicated to the legendary chef of the same name.But the Hudson Valley is also the oldest winemaking region in the United States, and there are plenty of wineries where you can enjoy a visit, a tasting and buy some great bottles. The Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, south of Newburgh, boasts the title of America's oldest winery ; besides offering tastings, it hosts private dinners and other events is its historic spaces, including a beautiful and huge cellar. 

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05.08.2017

Although it is just 60 kilometers away from Milan, Bergamo is often inexplicably overlooked by international tourism - perhaps a little less since a busy airport has been built in its close vicinity - yet missing the chance to discover this beautiful city would be a real shame. Visiting Bergamo means starting from its intact Medieval plant, where history is readable in every corner, and growing to know its proverbially industrious soul (locals are traditionally believed to be very hard-working) and the many nuances of its tenacity and resilience in maintaining its own identity under many different foreign rules. The Venetians, the city's masters since 1428, erected the city's wall walls, built on a previous fortification with the aim of transforming Bergamo into an impenetrable fortress sheltered from the neighboring Spaniards, then the rulers of Milan. In this corner of piedmont Lombardy, history seems to be intact in spite of the many changes, just like the sacred site of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, reconstructed several times and yet located in the same spot ever since the VII century. The Basilica offers a synthesis of the historical and artistic heritage of the city, with paintings depicting Biblical scenes partly attributed to Lorenzo Lotto and the tomb of 18th century musician Gaetano Donizetti. To embrace the whole city from above, after hitting the winding cobbled streets or walking along via Colleoni - the locals’ favorite Sunday stroll – it is worth taking one of the funiculars, built precisely to facilitate trade between the two parts of the city, the Lower And the Upper one. At 10,00 pm every day, the Civic bell Tower still tolls a hundred times to evoke the Renaissance habit to mark the closure of the bridges on the Venetian walls. Bergamo also boasts a long tradition of generosity, civic sense and patronage, which is exercised with discretion and modesty. On the one hand, there is the Angelo Mai Civic Library, with its collection of volumes started back in the mid-eighteenth century, housed inside Palazzo Nuovo, in the heart of the Upper Town. On the other hand, Bergamo can count on an institution such as the Carrara Academy, a museum born out of a testamentary legacy and still able to attract top-notch private art collections entrusted to the Academy in order to be made available to the locals. Not to be missed The funicular to Bergamo Alta Via San VigilioThe Bergamo Alta funicular railway was built in 1887 to connect the Upper Town with the Lower Town. Over the years, several restorations and renovations took place: after WW1 two lifts were added, in the 1960s two further panoramic cars were installed, and by 1987 it finally gained its present appearance. Biblioteca Angelo MaiConsidered one of the richest Italian conservation libraries, it is located in the characteristic Upper Town, in a charming location in Old Town Square. It also functions as a Municipal Archives and music Library. Its archive comprises of about 700,000 volumes, including documentaries, paintings, busts, medals, and memorabilia. The Venetian WallsWalking around the Bergamo Walls is a fascinating experience. The walls enclose the Upper Town covering an overall length of over 5 kilometers, from which one can capture an exceptional view of the Lower City. Accademia CarraraEstablished in 1794 by local aristocrat Giacomo Carrara as a picture gallery and art school, to date the Carrara Academy is a major center for the conservation, study and exhibition of the artistic heritage. Originally including the Carrara Collection, the Academy has gradually been enriched by more than 2,000 private donations. La MariannaIf you are a fan of Stracciatella gelato, then you should definitely be paying tribute to this historic  cafe, restaurant and confectionery first opened in the 1950s. It was here that, in the year 1961, Enrico Panattoni invented Stracciatella after finding the right combination of cream and dark chocolate. The new gelato flavor was named after one of the most popular dishes among the restaurant’s patrons, namely Roman-style stracciatella, a simple soup of meat stock and eggs.  

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05.05.2017

While sightseeing the most scenic places throughout the country, it is also paramount that you find a memorable accommodation that will ease the daily fatigue immediately in a laidback ambience. A number of traditional inns that rely on the enchantment of the surrounding environment, history and culture have opened or are opening soon this year. Here is a tentative list. Hoshino Resort Kai Anjin (Itō, Shizuoka)It is a hotel built around a natural hot spring, which opened on 13 April. It is styled as the antique ship San Buena Ventura, the first Western ship ever built in Japan, under the supervision of William Adams, the famed 17th century English navigator. Tokugawa Ieyasu rewarded Adams for his contribution by giving him the Japanese name Miura Anjin, “the pilot of Miura”. All the rooms offer an ocean view and ocean-themed. An open-air bath overlooking sea will allow you to enjoy the spectacle of the sun rising and setting above the horizon. As for the meals, you will be served the most delicious seafood of Itō in a Japanese-style dining room with a British touchAshinoko Hanaori (Hakone, Kanagawa)It is an inn deeply immersed in the forest of Hakone where you can enjoy nature to the full, scheduled to open this summer. Hakone is one of the most popular hot spring destinations in Japan. Located on the banks of beautiful Lake Ashi, Hanaori is a sophisticated combination of Japanese and Western-style interiors, which create a relaxing space, completed by a hot spring, a terrace and a footbath café overlooking the lake. The wooden decorations contribute to the calm atmosphere of the guestrooms. The restaurant offers a rich buffet with the seasonal vegetables and seafood of the Hakone area. Attractions include the ropeway and the pleasure boat on Lake Ashi, as well as the Pola Museum exhibiting paintings and ceramic. Hotel Allamanda Kohamajima (Okinawa)It opened on 1 April 2017 on Kohamajima, in the middle of the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa prefecture. The 17km-diameter island is known for its sugar cane plantations, its nostalgic nature, its white sandy beaches and its vast coral reef, called Japan's Great Barrier Reef. It is the ideal place to go if you want to get away from more touristy areas and perhaps practice water sports. It can be reached from Ishigaki Island on a thirty-minute boat ride. The spa overlooking the sea uses typical seabed clay. It is really worth a try. Yufuin Villa Zakuro (Ōita)It is a luxurious hideaway with two double rooms only, located in Yufuin, Yufu, Oita prefecture, one of the most famous hot spring districts in Japan. Both rooms are provided with an open-air bath where guests can soak while admiring the ravishing landscape of Mount Yufu laid out before you. From the hotel you can see the Seven Stars Cruise Train, the first luxury sleeper train in Japan. Villa Zakuro is operated by Relux, a membership based booking site, offering a careful selection of top quality luxury ryokans and hotels, throughout the country. True luxury does not lie in luxurious decorations but in a hospitable space where you can unwind in total privacy. Ubusuna-no-sato TOMIMOTO (Nara)It is an inn opened on 1 March in the remodelled premises of Kenkichi Tomimoto Memorial Hall, located in the town of Ando, a place of historical and cultural interest. Kenkichi Tomimoto was a famed Japanese potter born in Ando, who was named a Living National Treasure, in addition to be a recipient of the Order of Culture. Closed in 2012, the Memorial Hall has been converted into an inn, a pottery studio and a gallery oozing the history of Yamato. Takebayashi Tsukiyo is a Japanese style cottage room, with a living room ideally overlooking the “moonlit bamboo forest”, hence the name. Nisshin is a modern style room equipped with a ceramic bath where you can soak while enjoying the view of a traditional Japanese garden. The meals are prepared with a selection of the freshest ingredients of the area. Kamishichiken Oku (Kyoto)Opened on 1 March, the hotel is composed of six tatami-decorated suites, where you can experience Kyoto at its finest. In addition to taking a walk around the precious sites of Kitano Shrine and Kinkaku-ji, you can learn more about the tradition of tea. Within the hotel, Kurosuke Restaurant offers the best of kaiseki dishes with small portions of different types of tofu, made with the renowned water of Kyoto, accompanied by seasonal ingredients.  

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05.04.2017

The origin of Venice, the Western Los Angeles neighborhood overlooking the Pacific south of Santa Monica, is indissolubly tied to its canals, promoted and designed in 1905 by young entrepreneur Abbot Kinney to reclaim the wetlands behind the beach and make them habitable. However, the Venice of California, inspired by the Italian one, has not always been as enjoyable as we know it today: if until the 1920s it was a place for fun and tourism, around the 1950s it experienced a long decadence period that saw it transformed into some sort of a slum until the 1980s, when the renovation reworks finally started.Today, the clear waters and leafy banks of Venice’s canals are one of the main attractions in the gentrified neighborhood, along with the beach, the graffiti, the cafes, restaurants, galleries and boutiques lining Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Main Street. The atmosphere is cool and yet pleasant and extremely relaxed, and on the streets locals mingle with surfers, celebrities, cyclists, tourists, street musicians and young skaters. There is something for everyone, in Venice, although sometimes it can be difficult to get away from the tourist traps and spot the most authentic places, the ones where locals head to to chill and enjoy life. Here are a few ideas to begin with. Coffee at Abbot’s HabitA simple cafe overlooking the vibrant Abbot Kinney Boulevard and reflecting the casual and relaxed spirit of the neighborhood. Sitting here in the morning and watching Venice waking up is always a good idea - maybe with good coffee and a plate of eggs and bacon. A delicious snack at GjustaA bakery and a super stylish cafe where you can choose from a huge variety of sweet and savory baked goods, from homemade sourdough loafs to croissants, cakes, bialys, avocado and chocolate mousse and more. Lunch or dinner at French Market CaféParis meets California: sitting in the patio of this French-style restaurant and ordering something to eat is definitely one of the things to put in your Venice to-do list. The food is in bistro-style, yet what really counts is the atmosphere. Record shopping at Time Warp RecordsIf you love old vinyls, then this music store is the place to be. Besides browsing its selection of vintage albums, you might also be able to discover something new and equally interesting. Vintage shopping at Animal HouseThis much-loved Venice boutique combines an ever eclectic collection of vintage pieces with an interesting selection of new garments. There are also sneakers and books in the back. Discovering contemporary art at LA LouverAdmiring the work of emerging Californian and international artists basically on the Venice Boardwalk is priceless. This contemporary art gallery is definitely an unmissable stop for those who want to get acquainted with the neighborhood's art scene.Image credit: Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA

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05.03.2017

Beautiful Syracuse, the gem of Magna Grecia in south-eastern Sicily, was founded by a group of settlers from Corinth in the eighth century BC, only to be conquered by the Romans in 212 BC. The ancient heart of the city lies on the sea, and particularly on the island of Ortigia, whose peculiarity lies in having natural water springs such as the Fonte Aretusa or the Slave Fountain, which have made the small island an ideal place for settling ever since the Bronze Age. Connected to the mainland via the Umbertino Bridge, Ortigia is guarded by the Castle of Maniace, whose name derives from that of the Byzantine commander who erected it to defend the city. From its first foundation in the year 1038 to today, the structure has undergone many modifications, additions and collapses, yet it remains one of the symbols of the island and the city. The 6th century Temple of Apollo, surrounded by porticoes and columns, is the oldest Doric temple of its kind in Western Greece, yet the most important sacred place in the city is the Cathedral, whose facade is distinguished by Baroque and Rococo-style features, and whose interiors reveal a complex stratification of styles. The Cathedral was in fact built on the site of a major temple dedicated to Athens, whose remains are still visible and blend with those of the church. Where to eatLe Comari Piazza San Giuseppe, 8 Close to the Duomo, this unique restaurant offers a delicious and unexpected vegetarian version of traditional Sicilian cuisine, with an ever-changing menu based on a careful selection of genuine local products. Ristorante Don CamilloWithin a quiet former religious building in one of the most beautiful streets of Ortigia, this small Sicilian gastronomic temple has been here ever since 1985. Le Vin de l’AssassinA sophisticated and welcoming French-style bistro with a delightful courtyard where the flavors of French cuisine meet the scents of Sicily. 

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04.27.2017

Located at the very heart of Tokyo and commemorating Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Consort Shoken, Meiji Shrine is surrounded by the ravishing landscape of a vast forest. At Meiji Shrine two major festivals are held in spring and autumn, but the spring festival is the grander by far, occurring from April 29 to May 3, with the greenery at its freshest. Inside the shrine, the worshippers perform Shinto rites. In front of the shrine, on a temporary stage, the most highly regarded artists from all over Japan will perform in a variety of arts of different genres, such as Bugaku (Japanese traditional dance), Noh (musical drama) and Kyōgen (comic intermezzos), Sankyoku (instrumental trio), traditional music and Satsuma Biwa (a sort of lute). The azaleas and kerrias in full spring bloom will make a walk in the precincts even more remarkable. Bugaku performances will start on 29 April in the morning; on 2 May Noh and Kyōgen will be shown in the morning, whereas the afternoon will be devoted to traditional music. From the early morning of 3 May, the archery competition will be held at the Shiseikan Dōjō. Other highlights include a tanka convention held on May 7 to close the string of consecutive holidays. Here are a couple of Japanese sweet shops, where you can find some delicious wagashi to munch on, between an event and the other. MizuhoOne of the best daifuku shops in Tokyo, Mizuho is specialised in daifuku rice cakes exclusively. Mizuho’s daifuku are pleasingly sweet, with a slightly salty taste, with a perfect balance between the rice skin and the anko filling. Toraya Café Omotesandō HillsOriginally established in Kyoto five centuries ago, Toraya is café and sweetshop selling a wide array of specialities with sweet bean paste, renowned all over Japan. 

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04.26.2017

It takes a romantic mood to fully enjoy the beauty of the Riviera dei Fiori, the extreme edge of the Ligurian Riviera di Ponente that spans from the town of Andora to France, beyond the border from Ventimiglia. The hills here are covered with terraces and olive trees: such is the landscape in Taggia, a town devoted to olive oil and blending earth cuisine and seafood in its delicious local gastronomy. The Medieval villages, stately mansions and castles show how the lords of every age have chosen this place to settle or to spend the winters, otherwise too rigid in the city. The cities, from Ventimiglia to Sanremo and Bordighera, are all pretty small, definitely on a human scale, yet the glitz of some of their buildings betrays a certain vocation for entertainment, culture and lightness. The leisure opportunities are not lacking: the Riviera boasts not only the hugely popular Italian Song Festival, but also the Milano-Sanremo bicycle race, whose very first edition was held on April 14, 1907, and the Flower Battle of Ventimiglia, an off-season carnival which sees floats brimming with flowers and featuring allegorical Papier-mâché characters side through the streets on the second half of June. Bordighera is a town that sums up more than any other the soul of these places and that links its history to that of Queen Margherita di Savoia, whose presence attracted a colorful crowd of members of the Italian and international nobility, artists and intellectuals in the second half of the Nineteenth century. Among the legacies of that golden period are the iconic palm trees that adorn the whole town and the beautiful chandelier in the Chiesa della Maddalena, a gift from the Queen. But this is also the land where writer Italo Calvino grew up and trained, and which inspired local poet and Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale; to these wasters is dedicated the Cultural Park of the Flower Riviera and Maritime Alps, dedicated to the lives and the works of those who have been able to describe these lands and their multifaceted nature. Finally, the Riviera is a stunning coastline with a crystal-clear sea, offering wider beaches as compared with other parts of the region, so as to leave all the space to those who want to play sports on the sand or simply enjoy the sun. Everyone can build their own journey through ancient and contemporary history, art, nature, culture, gastronomy, music and sports, and choose which tone to give their holidays under the wing of an ideal climate all year roundPhotos: Archivio Agenzia Regionale "In Liguria" 

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04.24.2017

It may sound strange, but in Munich spring and summer can be pretty warm and pleasant, despite the rather harsh winters. And with the arrival of the first warm days locals love to spend more time outdoors at the markets, in the parks and at the many beer gardens scattered around the city - or even along the banks of the Isar River, where it is not unusual to see groups of people sunbathing or having a barbecue. And when the city limits feel just too tight, green Bavaria offers many pleasant destinations just a short car ride away from Munich for day trip or a short break. Here are some ideas. Rothenburg ob der TauerAlong the famous Romantic Road, the nearly 400 kilometers-long route that links Füssen to Würzburg running through many historic and scenic places in Bavaria, this Medieval town built in the tenth century around the Castle of Rotherburg is famous for its charming corners, narrow streets, towers and typical half-timbered houses. Enclosed within the ancient walls, it has its heart in the Marktplatz, the Market Square, dominated by the Gothic/Renaissance building of the City Hall. From here, the main street of the city (Herrngasse), lined with colorful houses, shops and flower-filled balconies, leads up to the Castle GardensNeuschwansteinA short drive from Munich is a beautiful castle that looks like it appeared right out of a fairy-tale. It is the Neuschwanstein Castle, nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace that served as the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria,the cousin of Duchess Elizabeth 'Sisi' (who later went on to become the Empress of Austria),  it is part of a series of elaborate castles on which the king spent all his personal funds.Also known as der Märchenkönig ("the Fairy Tale King"), Ludwig had the castle built as a retreat erected to pay homage to the famous German composer Richard Wagner, of whom he was a patron. Set on a rugged hill overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, this fabulous structure has been prominently showcased in many famous movies like The Great Escape and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Today, the palace is very popular, receiving approximately 6,000 visitors per day in summer. Regensburg126 km north of Munich, this little gem is the oldest city in Germany (with nearly 2,000 years of history), and also the best preserved one, so as to have earned the designation of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site for its magnificent center so intact that it looks like a movie set made of narrow streets, ancient squares and historic buildings.The city, which was rich and powerful until 1245 and then remained on the borders of German history and economy for many centuries, was spared by the bombs of World War II, only to flourish starting from the 1950s thanks to industry and to the founding of the local University. Among its most important sights are the Romanesque bridge Steinerne Brücke and the Gothic cathedral of St Peter, in addition to the many churches and ancient monasteries and the Town Hall. Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest)It takes nearly three hours to reach the Obersalzberg area from Munich, yet this pleasant Alpine resort on the border with Switzerland is worth the journey. Incidentally, the fame of these beautiful places is mostly associated with Adolf Hitler, who used to spend his summers here. And the chalet/fortress donated to the German dictator in 1939, built at an altitude of 1,834 meters on the peak of the Kehlstein (“Eagle's Nest”), is actually one of the major attractions of the area: turned into a restaurant with a very nice belvedere, it can be reached by climbing a 7 kilometer-long winding road, passing through a tunnel and finally taking a scenic elevator. 

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04.20.2017

Who said aquariums are for children only? In recent years, aquariums have become an attraction for adults, too, with cutting edge-technologies, shows and spaces that create the illusion of a deep-sea immersion. If you are as fond of marine life as the Japanese are, you will certainly enjoy the amenities listed below, nationwide. Aqua Park Shinagawa, TokyoRenewed and re-opened in the summer of 2015, Aqua Park is one of the most representative aquariums in Tokyo and its location within the premises of Shinagawa Prince Hotel, near Shinagawa Station, makes it also one of the most accessible. It is a large-scale facility, divided into 11 areas, including Magical Ground, with a water tank equipped with a touch panel and mapping scenarios creating a fascinating world of digital flowers interweaving with the aquatic life in the tank, Dolphin Party, a 12m-tall merry-go-round equipped with LED lights and music, and Port of Pirates, which offers visitors the experience of a gigantic weightless pirate ship. Other must-see spots include the Jungle Zone, the square, where you can take a close-up look at the sea creatures, the Stadium with the dolphin shows, the 20m long tunnel illuminated by a skylight and the Jellyfish Ramble, a mesmerizing jellyfish display. Sumida Aquarium, TokyoThe aquarium, located on the 5th and 6th floor of the West Yard in Skytree Town, uses exclusively artificial seawater, which reduces CO2 emissions released when seawater is transported in large water tankers, and allows the aquarium to maintain a consistent water quality throughout the year, ensuring a comfortable environment for the aquatic creatures living in its tanks. One of the main attractions is a 50 meters-long slope with eight jellyfish tanks aligned and about 5,000 square and triangular mirrors placed on the walls and the ceiling, transporting the viewer into the submarine scene. Sumida Aquarium also houses one of Japan's largest indoor, open pool-type tanks, holding approximately 350 tons of water, LED-illuminated and inhabited by a large crowd of Magellan penguins. Kamo Aquarium and Jellyfish Dream Theatre, Tsuruoka City, YamagataKamo Aquarium ranks top in the world by number of jellyfish varieties and it participates in the Palau Project with the Faculty of Science of Yamagata University, housing and displaying rare Palauan jellyfishes. The Jellyfish Dream Theatre is a 5m-diameter water tank with approximately two thousand common jellyfish, tempting the viewer into a fantastic worldKaiyūkan, OsakaOpened in 1990, this is one of the most famous aquariums in Japan. The main concept is the earth and all the living creatures interacting with each other, participating in the same organism. Here you can experience a trip through various areas of the Pacific Ocean.Highlights include Aqua Gate, where you’ll be able to experience an underwater stroll inside a transparent submarine tunnel surrounded by colourful tropical fish, a space dedicated to the Forest of Japan and the Aleutian Islands area, where you can see the sea otters living in a scrupulous reproduction of North American natural rock. Monterey Bay is the home of sea lions and seals. Panama Bay recreates the ecosystem of the Tropical Rain Forest that used to cover the area almost entirely. The Ecuadorian Forest provides the habitat to animals and plants of the Amazon River. You will be amused by the view of the penguins marching rapidly in the Antarctica space or the dolphins swimming in the Tasman Sea, and amazed by the corals and colourful fish of the Great Barrier Reef or the world’s largest crab in the sea of JapanEchizen Matsushima Aquarium, FukuiOpened in 1959, the aquarium is located near the scenic Tōjinbō, within the boundaries of Echizen-Kaga Kaigan Quasi-National Park, housing dolphins, sea turtles, and deep-sea fish. The see-through glass flooring in the Coral Sea zone will give you the illusion of floating in the sea, amongst creatures such as sunfish. After closing, it is also possible for you to rent out the aquarium for 10,000 yen and experience the enchanting marine world by yourselfShimonoseki Marine Science Museum “Kaikyokan”The aquarium is located in Shimonoseki in the banks of the Kanmon Straits. One of its unique features is the Kanmon Strait Tidal Water Tank that reproduces a 2m-high vortices and tides of Kanmon Strait. When you walk in the underwater tunnel, you can observe how the wave front crushes with the splashing of the water above the head. The unique charm of the aquarium consists in the over 100 different species of fugu blowfish on display. Other rare varieties include the tiger puffer, the porcupine fish and the sunfish. 

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04.12.2017

In a sense, volcanoes are small yet sometimes frightful glimpses into what’s happening below our feet. As the most spectacular surface manifestations of the processes acting in the Earth interior, despite representing an actual and unforseeable threat – as history has tragically taught us - volcanoes have always fascinated humankind. To make things even more complicated, volcanologists cannot agree on how to define an "active" volcano, mainly because the lifespan of a volcano can be so long (up to millions of years) that such a distinction appears meaningless when compared to the human lifespan. Most volcanoes live many thousands of years and erupt many times - however, most don't erupt even once in a human lifespan, so while given their long lifespan they could be considered very active, they are not by human lifespan. Today there are over 1,500 potentially active volcanoes, and approximately 500 million people live near them. This may sound scary, and yet being lucky enough to enjoy a magnificent view on these natural wonders – even if just for a few moments - can be a unique and desirable experience. Hence, hre are four volcanoes that are worth seeing at least once in a lifetime. Eyjafjöll, IcelandBetter known as Eyjafjallajökull – which is actually the impossible-to-pronounce name of the glacier covering it – this volcano 76 miles southeast of Reykjavik hit the world news in 2010 when a huge ash cloud raised cause plenty of international flights to be delayed and cancelled. The volcano can be visited by foot, on skis or riding in a jeep, yet always accompanied by a guide as the crevasses can be dangerous.www.visiticeland.com Popocatépetl, Mexico43 miles southeast of Mexico City, at 61,507 feet this stunning active volcano with a snowy peak known as “El Popo” is Mexico’s second-highest peak (after the Ixtaccíhuatl  or “Pico de Orizaba”). Quite consistently with its name – which is Atzec for “Smoking Mountain” - only last year it spewed ashes and rocks over the capital, so climbing is currently not an option. To enjoy the best view on both volcanoes, head to the Izta-Popo National Park and reach Paso de Cortés, the saddle between the two peaks.www.visitmexico.com Krakatoa, IndonesiaThis volcanic island and its archipelago located between Java and Sumatra in the Sunda Strait are the result of a massive eruption which destroyed the pre-existing island and its 3 volcanic peaks back in 1883. The eruptive activity is now limited to constantly smoking peak of Anak Krakatau island, which emerged in 1927 from the 1883 caldera. The island of Anak Krakatoa is a National Park, so to land on it and hike tourists need an official permit (usually included in the guided tours). You may also sail around the archipelago, enjoy the view and a snorkeling session in the coral reefs.www.indonesia.travel Mauna Loa, HawaiiThe name means “Long Mountain” in Hawaiian, and this is actually not only the largest volcano on our planet, but also the highest mountain in the world; although it rises only about 13,448 feet above sea level, its long submarine flanks descend to the sea floor an additional 16,400 feet, which makes the volcano's summit about 56,000 feet above its base. Covering half of the Big Island, Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843, the most recent one being in 1984. There is a 17-mile scenic drive that can be done in any car taking you up to the Weather Observatory on the side of the volcano. From there you can start your hike to the summit.www.gohawaii.com

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04.10.2017

Soho, or South of Houston Street, is a synonym for shopping and dining. This exciting corner of Lower Manhattan, a former manufacturing area whose perfectly preserved industrial buildings now house fashion boutiques, restaurants and galleries, has been riding high ever since the 1970s, and although it has changed a lot through the years it does not seem to have lost its primal vibe. Hanging out in Soho means having the opportunity to take your pick among some of the city’s best places to eat & drink, yet with such a vibrant restaurant and bar scene it would be almost impossible to make a list of the very best addresses. So we’ll just follow our heart and recommend some of our favorite places in the neighborhood. Fanelli CafeA Prince Street institution dating back to the mid-1800s that truly captures the vibe of the "old" Soho. Patrons here vary from well-dressed tourists to locals who work in the neighborhood and artists who haven't left Soho since the '70s. Sit at the bar and have a beer on-draft (or a whiskey - neat, of course) and, if you're hungry, the pub fare here is excellent.  EmporioIn the heart of Nolita among a collection of solid yet low-key Italian restaurants lies Emporio, a neighborhood favorite for an after-work drink, a Roman-style dinner or, if you can make it, weekend brunch. Their wood-oven pizzas are among the best in Manhattan but it's the atmosphere (think "trendy" yet quintessentially Rome) that can't be replicated. If you're unable to grab a table for dinner, sit at the bar and have a glass of wine or a classic cocktail (hint: their Aperol spritz is fantastic) - you may even catch one of their daily happy hour deals. Fantastic gluten-free options as well.(foto chiesta) The DailyA hidden yet not-so-hidden gem connected to Michelin star-winner Public, this cocktail bar has the atmosphere of a 1920s speakeasy that many others try and fail to capture. The cocktail menu here is small and changes daily, so just sit at the bar and give the bartender an idea of what you're into: they're guaranteed to whip up an incredible cocktail served properly. Watching the craftsmen at work behind the bar is half the fun. (foto chiesta) Sanctuary THealthy contemporary American cuisine, artisanal tea blends and signature cocktails: here’s the basic formula behid this sleek and cozy restaurant in the heart of Soho whose name was inspired by owner Dawn Cameron’s goal to provide customers with a brief retreat from the clamor of city life, centered around the rituals and sensuousness of tea. And tea is king indeed, with 50+ different brews to choose among. Thanks to Chris Chavez for the recommendations 

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04.05.2017

Ten-don is rice topped with a gorgeous tempura mix of deep-fried shrimps and seasonal vegetables, which add a touch of colour. No wonder ten-don is considered the King of rice-bowl dishes. There are various theories around its origin. Ten-don may have been first served at San-Sada, a restaurant established in Asakusa, close to Kaminarimon in 1837. Another story has it that the dish made its first appearance on a food stand in Shimbashi in 1831. Either way, ten-don is an extant expression of the Edo culture. Nowadays, it is rather common to find ten-don at soba or tempura shops inTokyo. It may be difficult to make a reservation in any of the most renowned restaurants. However, lunchtime may be a good time for you to savour a juicy bowl of rice and tempura. San-Sada (Asakusa)Established more than 180 years ago not far from Kaminarimon, it is believed to have been the birthplace of ten-don and used to be a popular stop-over amongst the people of Edo, on their way back from Sensō-ji, the temple located nearby. The founder Sadakichi came from the old Mikawa province (today’s Aichi prefecture), set up a tempura shop opposite his home in Nigyōchō and named it Mikawa-ya Sadakichi, which was later abbreviated into San-sada, being “san” another reading of the character “mi” in Mikawa. At present, you can taste Edo-style ten-don served with sesame oil in three sizes. San-Sanda is famous for its seafood and vegetable mixed tempura. Tempura Masa (Ginza)It is an extremely exclusive restaurant with only ten dishes on the menu, but the place itself is good value for the money. The speciality is crispy tempura of shrimps and seasonal ingredients served on a bowl of rice, freshly prepared across the open counter. Ten-don Kaneko-Hannosuke (Nihombashi)The restaurant serves ten-don only, consisting in hearty portions of boiled rice, with conger eel tempura sticking out and topped with deep-fried squid, surf clams, shrimps and small green peppers, soft-boiled eggs and dried nori seaweed. All the seafood comes from fresh from Tsukiji market every morning. The secret of the excellence is the Edo-style tare sauce, attracting crowds. Since the shop is not very big, it is not unusual to encounter queues outside. Yama no Ue Hotel (Surugadai, Kanda)It is located near the area in Kanda formerly known for its concentration of publishing houses. For this reason the hotel was a haven for a number of great writers, such as Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima and Shōtarō Ikenami. Ten-don used to be one of the great writers’ favourite dishes, with carefully selected ingredients of the season, cooked in two pans different in temperature. The seafood is fried at a higher temperature, to make it nice and crunchy, whereas the vegetables acquire a pleasantly crispy texture at a lower temperature. 

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03.30.2017

Crispy rolls (Semmel) stuffed with butter and jam or ham and cheese, a slice of marble cake donut (Gugelhupf) or a Kipfel, the ancestor of the croissant, all of it accompanied by a nice steaming coffee. The classic Austrian breakfast is huge and hearty, yet for those who prefer something lighter or more international, the best cafes in Vienna, just like in all the other great capitals of the world, have much more to offer; you can choose a sweet breakfast of tasty pastries, a salty one with eggs, bacon and all, or maybe a whole brunch. Here are some of our favorite addresses in town. Haas & HaasIt is practically impossible not to find your own favorite breakfast among the over 30 options offered by this legendary and sophisticated Stephansplatz cafe, which takes you on a journey around the world exploring the breakfast traditions of different countries. To accompany the food, go for tea, coffee or their delicious hot chocolate. No shortage of vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options as well. Das AugustinThis charming little place slightly off the beaten track, not far from the U-Bahn Johnstrasse station, is a foodie's paradise. Wheather permitting, it is great to have breakfast or brunch alfresco in their beautiful ‘secret’ courtyard, choosing among the classic Austrian menu, the American one or the most exotic international dishes. Including, of course, coffee (espresso, American, au lait) or maybe a chai, a lassi, a Sencha... UlrichWithin walking distance of the Museum District, Ulrich is a contemporary and laid-back cafe-restaurant where breakfast ranges from eggs & bacon to the the vegan platter. Their Viennese breakfast is called Tabula Rasa and it is super rich (Semmel, salami, cheese, eggs, yoghurt, granola and everything else). The drink list includes some very nice smoothies and fresh juices too. Motto am FlussIf what you want is a breakfast with a view, then this is the right place. Motto is housed inside the futuristic ferry terminal on the Danube Canal. The beautiful cafe on the terrace offers a great all-day breakfast ranging from croissant with café au lait  to the breakfast sandwich and proper brunch - plus homemade bread, jams and lemonade and smoothies. Cafe AnsariNot far from Motto, at the quietest end of Praterstrasse, this cafe owned by Georgian artist  Nana Ansari and her husband Nasser offers a decidedly original cuisine that mixes Georgian tradition and Oriental inspirations. All of this is obviously reflected on the breakfast, available in the Russian, Oriental or Viennese variation. In summer, make your best to grab an outdoor table.  

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03.29.2017

Yet another restaurant in Trastevere? Well, actually yes. While the opening of a new place to eat or drink on the cobbled streets of Rome’s most vibrant nightlife destination is certainly no sensational news, occasionally someone comes up with an idea that manages to stand out from the crowd. The latest notable and unusual business that appeared in the neighborhood is called Eggs and it is a bistro that opened its doors just this month in vicolo del Cedro with a uniquely ‘themed’ offer. Here's why, in our humble opinion, it is definitely worth a try. 1. Because there is not only one kind of Carbonara.At Eggs the classic Roman dish based on pasta, eggs and bacon is available in 10 different color & taste variations, from the ‘violet’ one with vitelotte potatoes to the ‘green’ with crispy artichokes and the ‘orange carbonara’ with zucchini flowers. And altough purists might wrinkle their nose, by ‘eggs’ they quail, ostrich and sea urchin eggs as well – and of course caviar. 2. Because their chicken eggs are top notch.The local and organic chicken eggs used in the restaurant all come from small local farmers, namely Paolo Parisi, Peppovo and L'Uovo e la Canapa3. Because the Zum girls are behind it.Chef Barbara Agosti and her partners in crime Laura Iucci and Dominika Kosik, who created the very first cafe in Rome room entirely dedicated to artisan tiramisu. A close-knit group which is very keen to create unusual and original concepts. 4. Because the furniture is special.Or rather created by a special person, Simona Iucci, the Lisbon-based architect who involved a group of inmates from the Lisbon penitentiary in the production of customized furniture made from construction materials. 5. Because Puntarella Rossa is a partner.And judging by the frankness of the opinions expressed by the famous Italian restaurant review website, we bet that in embracing this partnership they kept an eye on quality. Puntarella is also responsible for the selection of natural and artisan wines served at Eggs and the presentations and conferences chefs and with local producers held at the restaurant.  

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03.22.2017

Swimming, sailing, water sports and even diving a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam. Who would have thought that this was even possible? And yet it is: when the warm weather comes, all you need to do is drive 18 kilometers southwards from the Dutch capital to the pretty village of Vinkeveen, overlooking an area known as Vinkeveen Plassen, characterized by the presence of artificial lakes born from massive peat extraction activities. Easily accessible and close both to the Amstel River and the highway, the lakes of Vinkeveen Plassen are a favorite among the capital’s residents, and they can be the ideal base for visiting Amsterdam or a good starting point for a cruise through its canals. Not surprisingly, many VIPs and prominent figures of the Dutch society moved here over the years, to enjoy the tranquility, the privacy and the nature of the place, while remaining very close to Amsterdam. For those who decide to spend a summer weekend on the lakes, there are endless opportunities for recreation: from water sports - surfing, sailing, canoeing, diving, water skiing and flyboarding - to the bike paths and trails running along the shores. There are some very pretty classic houseboats available for a romantic stay on the water, and boats for rent to sail among the sand islands. As a matter of fact, besides the typical flora and fauna of the wetlands (before the extractions this area was essentially a swamp), one of the peculiarities of these water basins is the presence of 44 small islands that are actually thin strips of sand, where you can stop to relax or have a picnic while exploring the lakes by boat. Because they are subject to constant erosion from water, the islands are likely to disappear, and it is precisely for this reason that the local Municipality has recently decided to put them on sale. Starting April, it will be possible to purchase them for a price between 10,000 and 50,000 euro each, and of course prospective owners will have to carry out repair works as part of the deal. At the end of a relaxing day on the lakes, it is a must to enjoy the sunset while sipping a drink in one of the many cafes and marinas overlooking the water, and to experience the local cuisine at one of the nice restaurant of the area. In particular, we recommend Villa Lokeend, a hotel and restaurant housed inside an old traditional building in Scandinavian style once devoted to wild duck hunting, and restaurant Bowen Water, which offers a tasting menu composed of sophisticated dishes based on local ingredients. 

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03.21.2017

Often portrayed in films, paintings and literary works, Ferrara has been discovered by mass tourism only in recent times, and this makes it a city as fascinating as it is still authentic. Its undoubtedly unique charm, made of misty narrow cobbled streets and gorgeous squares looking like open-air living rooms, is the result of an ancient miracle - that of the transformation of a small village on the river Po into a Renaissance jewel full of nobility and splendor performed by the Este dynasty. A gradual process indeed, whose traces remain in the clear separation between the Medieval city and the Renaissance addition. The first one, in the southern part of the old city, includes the beautiful and narrow Via delle Volte, Trento-Trieste Square, the Cathedral with its Romanesque-Gothic façade and the imposing and perfectly intact castle, complete with a moat, towers and drawbridges. The second one, the result of a huge and pioneering 15th century project, includes airier architectures such as that of Piazza Ariostea and of the wide Corso Ercole I d'Este which reaches from the city center to the ancient walls, lined with historic landmarks such as the ‘Diamond Palace’ and the monumental Certosa cemetery. And it is precisely along the nine-kilometer-long border of the walls surrounding the old town that runs one of the most fascinating discovery routes through the city, to be covered either on the top of the embankment or down in the sottomura, either on foot or by bicycle - one of the symbols of this city still living on a human scale. Built in the Middle Ages and rebuilt between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the walls feature a number of ramparts, gates, steps and towers which were built in different ages to defend the city. Today, these ancient barriers lined with ancient trees are the green lung of Ferrara, beloved in equal manner by joggers and pedestrians, and bordered by a huge urban park. Not to be missedVia delle VolteYou just can’t help being charmed by this Middle Ages corner the old city where time seems to have literally stopped. The ancient cobblestone street crossed by arches and suspended passages (the Volte) that once used to followed the course of river Po must have looked dark and almost hostile in a very distant past, but today it is simply picturesque. Palazzo Schifanoia23, Via Scandiana "To avoid boredom": faithful to this motto, in the late fourteenth century Borso d'Este commissioned Palazzo Schifanoia specifically for the entertainment and leisure time of the court. Its most famous feature is the Hall of the Months, characterized by a Renaissance cycle of frescoes by different Ferrarese painters from the Cosme Tura school depicting pagan deities, scenes from daily life, and astrology symbolsMura degli AngeliImmortalized in the famous novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by local writer Giorgio Bassani, this peaceful, green and charming section of the city walls north of the center definitely has some magic to it. The nickname is a reference to Porta degli Angeli, a lookout tower built in the sixteenth century, and to the former name of Corso Ercole I d'Este, formerly Via degli Angeli, that reaches here from the old city. The Jewish cemeteryVia delle VigneSheltered by the walls, this old Jewish cemetery is a small and quiet corner of countryside in the city, very close but separate from the Christian burial ground, the Certosa. In the shade of its huge trees, popular writer Giorgio Bassani rests among other eminent personalities of the local Jewish community. To enter, you must ring the bell of the gatekeeper, who will escort you through the great portal and to the bare old gravestones adorned with stones left by visitors in memory of the deceased. Comacchio and its lagoonsA 50 km ride from Ferrara, Comacchio is a picturesque lagoon town looking like a small-scale Venice, crossed by canals lined with ancient pastel-colored houses. Its hallmark is the Pallotta Bridge, better known as Trepponti, built in the seventeenth century as a fortified gate for those entering the city from the sea along the waterway. The beautiful nearby Comacchio Lagoons, in the Po Delta Natural Park, can be explored by boat on a guided tour that reveals the history and the natural features of the place, stopping at two old fishing stations where you can visit the fishermen's huts and see their traditional fishing equipment. These areas are also home to a huge variety of aquatic birds, including flamingos

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03.20.2017

Martini, Negroni, Cosmo: for anyone who’s into cocktails and the mixology scene, these names are so familiar that it is as if they had always existed. Yet most of the drinks that are still hot today were born around the late nineteenth century - not such a remote time - and some even more recently. However, it rarely occurs to us to ask ourselves why they are called like that and who invented them - which is why we decided to retrace the stories that led to the birth of five of the most famous cocktails of all time. Here is what we found out. Dry Martini: American or Italian?The famous gin and dry vermouth aperitif served with an olive, much loved by the Americans and featured in so many memorable scenes from popular movies and TV series, has a rather debated origin. According to some, its name derives from Martinez, a nineteenth-century cocktail, yet others argue that it was actually invented by an Italian bartender working at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York, who specially created it for John D. Rockefeller. Finally, a less elaborate version of the story suggests its name might simply refer to Martini&Rossi, a famous Italian brand of alcoholic beverages founded in the nineteenth century. Manhattan, it all started with a partyWhiskey, sweet red vermouth and angostura bitters. The origin of the world’s most famous red aperitif (actually, given the ingredients, it would also be perfect as a digestive) must also be traced back to nineteenth-century New York. According to a fascinating theory, it was created in 1874 for a reception at the Manhattan Club (hence the name) thrown by Jennie Churchill, the soon-to-be mother of Winston Churchill, in honor of Samuel J. Tilden, the new governor of the State of New York. Cosmopolitan, sleek & feminineAfter the planetary success of Sex & The City, this popular cocktail is often referred to as fictional fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite drink. But the fame of the ‘Cosmo’ – a mix of vodka, cointreau, lime and cranberry juice - actually dates back to the 1970s, when it became popular in the cocktail bars of Miami and New York City, although its origins are probably to be found further back, around the 1930s. Because of its fruity flavor and its red-rosy color, it is generally considered a ladies’ drink. Negroni, a revisitation of the Americano It was the year 1920 in Florence when Count Camillo Negroni, a regular at Caffè Casoni, asked his bartender to add a dash of gin to his Americano to replace the usual dash of soda. What he probably could not imagine is that this idea would give birth to the most famous Italian cocktail ever, which soon quite fairly took his name. Ever since then, red vermouth, Campari bitters and gin have been the basic ingredients of this robust drink - also known in its lighter version, the Sbagliato, with dry sparkling wine replacing the gin. Daiquiri, from Cuba to the worldA favorite of Ernest Hemingway’s, who sipped it in large quantities at the counter of the El Floridita bar in Havana, this mix of white rum, lime juice, and cane sugar syrup is the object of many legends related to its origin. The most imaginative one involves a US marine who supposedly landed in Playa Daiquiri so thirsty and craving for a drink that he invented a cocktail right there on the spot. A slightly more credible story is that of the Italian engineer working in Cuba who, faced with the challenge of offering a drink to an unexpected guest, improvised a recipe with whatever he had at home, accidentally creating a legendary mixed drink. What we know for sure, though, is that the Daiquiri became officially popular around 1914 thanks to the skilled Catalan bartender of the Floridita, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert

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03.20.2017

Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, flourished as the capital of Kaga Domain during the Edo period. After Toshiie Maeda’s takeover, the city was never affected by any war or earthquake. For this reason, the earthen walls and cobbled roads still retain the charm and the beauty of the old downtown. Kanazawa was built around the castle, in the area flanked by the Sai and Asano rivers. In the 16th century, the population of Kanazawa was the fourth largest after Edo, Osaka and Kyoto. The Kaga domain was the wealthiest in the whole nation. The eight Maeda families of the Kaga clan and their entourage took up residence in the castle and the neighbouring estate. Nowadays, the area has become an artistic promenade with a museum and a memorial house. In addition to the samurai residence, the Kaga clan left a number of famous gardens. The Maeda-Kaga clan promoted culture and collected an enormous amount of books and written material, and, decades later, Meiji literature prospered with the work of the Three Greatest Writers from Kanazawa: Kyōka Izumi, Murō Saisei and Shusei Tokuda. Furthermore, a number of contemporary writers was born or is based in Kanazawa, like Hiroyuki Itsuki and Kei Yuikawa. One of Kanazawa’s major attractions is the food, prepared with the freshest and highest-quality ingredients, both from the sea and the mountains. Every season offers different tastes of the refined Kaga culinary tradition.Here is a list of sceneries and eating establishment where you can enjoy the beauty of Kanazawa to its fullest, in the cherry blossom season. Nagamachi Bukeyashiki DistrictIn this district, which is still inhabited and used as a shooting location for photo-calls, films and television dramas, you’ll be able to see the ancient residence of the samurai supported by the Kaga-Maeda clan. You can also visit the museum and the original houses for a small fee. Oyama ShrineBuilt in 1873 in memory of Tohiie Maeda, who died in 159, this shrine has a beautiful main gate completed in 1875 and distinguished by an interesting mix of traditional Japanese, Chinese, and European architectural elements, currently designated one of Japan’s Important Cultural Properties. The glasswork fitted in the third layer is a must-see both during the day when the sunlight is shining through it and with the evening illumination, until ten. The garden is characterised by a pond with island and bridges shaped like a koto and other instruments of the ancient Japanese court music. The East Gate connects the shrine grounds to the ones of Kanazawa Castle. Maedatosanokamike MuseumThe museum displays several collections belonging the Maeda Tosanokamike family line, inaugurate by Toshiie Maeda’s second son Toshimasa. In the initial stages of the Kaga-Maeda clan, eight families who had distinguished themselves for their deeds were elevated to the status of Elders. Among these was the Maeda Tosanokamike. You can still admire the black-lacquered armour and helmet used by Toshimasa Maeda, as well as books and other precious memorabilia. Kenroku-enBuilt for the House of Maeda, Kenroku-en is one of Japan’s three greatest landscape gardens, along with Okayama’s Kōraku-en and Mito’s Kairaku-en. The name stands for the six attributes of a perfect landscape: spaciousness, silence, artifice, antiquity, waterways and natural scenery. It is also known as Kanazawa’s best cherry blossom viewing spot. Nagamachi YuzenkanYuzen is name of the traditional technique of hand-painting kimonos, devised by and named after Yuzen Miyazaki, which flourished in the Kaga Domain in the middle of the Edo period. Kaga Yuzen has distinctive features, such as the painting style with motifs of nature and the classics, and the use of colour, which is based on Kaga Five Colours (deep blue, dark brown, ochre, grass green, Tyrian purple). There are dyeing workshops and also kimonos available for rental. Crafts HirozakaIt is an atelier gathering the twenty traditional crafts that constitute Kanazawa’s inestimable heritage. At Crafts Hirozaka you can find exhibits, workshops and a gift shop. Kutaniyaki Art MuseumThe timeline of Kutani ware can be roughly divided into the four periods: the early Edo period, late Edo period, Meiji to early Showa period, and late Showa to the present. The craft of Kutani porcelain was devised in 1655 under the supervision of Toshiharu Maeda, the first Lord. Kutani ware made in that era is called “old Kutani”, and it is regarded as a special masterpiece among porcelain craftsmen and intellectuals for the Aote and Iroe decorative styles. This museum exhibits Kutaniyaki works with a history of about 360 years. The museum is located in the city of Kaga, not too far from Kanazawa. The Delicacies of KagaBecause it is close to the sea and the mountains, Kanazawa is a trove of fresh ingredients throughout the year. Spring is the season of bamboo shoots and a number of recipes featuring the small Japanese fluvial sculpin. Ohmicho Ichiba – nicknamed “Kanazawa’s kitchen” – is a market where you can find fresh foods and other general merchandise. The tea ceremony has been in vogue since the days of the Maeda clan and the wagashi (“Japanese sweets”) created for it are just countless and are still made and sold in a great deal of shops. At the Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism Hall, you can even experience wagashi making.Last but not least, sake is one of Kaga’s jewels in the crown, prepared with the rice from the Kaga Plain and the fresh spring water from Mount Haku. If you go to the Higashi Chaya District, you may want to pay a visit to Higashiyama Shuraku, taste about 120 types of local sake and buy the ones that you like the best. 

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03.15.2017

Thick forests, lagoons, mountainous peninsulas that arise from a crystal-clear sea, tufa cliffs, long sandy beaches, ancient thermal springs, plains and rolling hills covered in fields and vineyards: with its huge area nestled between Tuscany and Lazio, Maremma offers the visitor an incredible variety of landscapesThe Alta Maremma, including the province of Livorno and the Follonica Gulf, ranges from the gentle Val di Cornia slopes scattered with fortresses, castles and charming medieval villages to the metalliferous hills. The gem of the area is the beautiful medieval town of Massa Marittima, which dominates the landscape with its wonderful white Duomo. Further south, the city of Grosseto, protected by majestic Walls, is the ideal starting point for exploring the area’s archeological sites as well as its most popular seaside resorts: Marina di Grosseto, Principina, Castiglione della Pescaia and Punta Ala. In the hinterland, at the foot of Mount Amiata, among woods and hills hide small treasures such as the lovely village of Scansano, home of the fruity ruby red Morellino wine. In the so-called Bassa Maremma, on the border with Lazio, new surprises await the traveler especially along the coast, where the last stretch of the Tuscan sea, lapped by the Uccellina Natural Park, is dotted with gems like the Orbetello lagoon, the ancient village of Capalbio and the gorgeous Talamone fortress jutting towards the sea. Not to mention the rugged cliffs of Monte Argentario and the pristine Giglio and Giannutri islands. Back inland, the Bassa Maremma acquires an entirely different character: here you will find the impressive ancient Etruscan roads excavated in the tuffaceous rock (vie cave) and a bunch of magnificent fortified towns such as Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana. In the vicinity, the waters from the natural hot springs of Saturnia, Tuscany’s most popular thermal resort, flow into the small Gorello river that carries them through a cane field and up to a beautiful waterfall surrounded with calcareous tanks, where everyone can enjoy their healing properties for free. Not to be missed Piazza Garibaldi in Massa MarittimaLooking like the scenery of a film set in the Middle Ages, the main square of Massa Marittima is dominated by the white and solemn San Cerbone Cathedral, whose monumental staircase and diagonal positioning across the triangular paved square creates an unusual perspective. There is no trace of cars, and all around sit historic palaces, old shops and ancient arcades. Most of the buildings are made of travertine marble, which turns pink in the sunset making the view even more sublime. The tuff villagesIn the hinterland south west of Grosseto, the so-called "tuff villages” - Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana -  are the fascinating heritage of the Etruscan civilization, just like the vie cave, ancient roads excavated in the tuffaceous rock. Start your exploration from the beautiful Pitigliano, and then on to Sovana, famous for its Etruscan necropolis, and finally to Sorano, also known as "the Tuscan Matera”ScansanoBest known for its ruby​​-red fruity wine, Morellino, this village on the hills in the hinterland of Grosseto is a maze of narrow streets lined with picturesque houses and balconies brimming with flowers that climb towards the old town, dominated by ancient churches and historic buildings. The view on the vineyard-lined valley below is amazing. CapalbioThe last village in the Tuscan Maremma, a few kilometers from the border with Lazio, is a popular holiday resort with sandy beaches and a beautiful sea, exuding all the charm of a Medieval village. Giannutri IslandLess known than the nearby Giglio Island, this little island of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park is a veritable gem, merely 500 meters wide and 5 kilometers long but fringed with coves, surrounded by beautiful backdrops, embellished by the ruins of an ancient Roman villa and enriched by two beautiful beaches, Cala Maestra and Cala Spalmatoio. Photo creditsOpening image (sunfowers): photo by Giovanni under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseLe cascate del Gorello: photo by Waugsberg under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseCapalbio: photo by Yellow Cat under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseMonte argentario: photo by Markus Bernet under the CC BY-SA 2.5 licensePorto romano, Giannutri: photo by Aldo Ardetti under the  CC BY-SA 3.0 license

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03.13.2017

A ryokan and the warmth of its wooden interiors make travelling around Japan a unique experience. Last week we presented a few rules you should follow when you are staying at one. This week we have a few recommendations for you. Notoya Ryokan, YamagataGinzan Onsen has a long history going back to 500 years ago, when it was prospering as a silver mine. The place feels like a journey back in time, to the first decades of the twentieth century, when the Japanese culture recombined the hues of the Western world into the so-called Taishō Roman style. Among the extant wooden buildings stretching along the Ginzan River, stands the beautiful Notoya Ryokan, decorated with makie lacquer and wooden panels. You can enjoy the early spring in the ravishing nature of Yamagata, while soaking in the original rotenburo, a stone-carved open-air bath. Hoshi Onsen Chojukan, GunmaLocated on the site of a secret hot spring in Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park, Hoshi Onsen Chojukan has a 140-year history and has been registered as a tangible cultural property. The colonnade at the entrance of the traditional wooden premises is decorated according to the season. There is also a hearth the like of which are rarely seen nowadays, burning all through the year and providing the hot water for the tea ceremony. The peculiarity of this ryokan is the mixed bath, that is a bath shared by men and women, albeit with separate changing rooms. The hot thermal water constantly springing from the bottom of the bath will keep you warm throughout your long, relaxing soak, in the midst of a wondrous landscape. Kanaguya, NaganoThe name Kanaguya comes from the blacksmith businesses that used to be there at the time of the Matsuhiro Domain during the Edo Period (1603-1868). The place was known as an inn town on the Kusatsu Kaido, the road connecting Zenkoji and Kusatsu on the Shiga Highlands. Two of the extant blacksmith’s shops have been registered as a tangible cultural property. In the evening, guests can enjoy the stories about the architecture and history of the buildings and the techniques of shrine construction. Furthermore, there are eight hot-spring baths, which include open-air baths. Apparently, the setting for the Ghibli animation hit Spirited Away was inspired by Kanaguya. Gero Onsen Yunoshimakan, GifuIt is an old-fashioned inn established in 1931 in a grove of 50,000 tsubo (1 tsubo = 3.3m2), overlooking Gero Onsen. The entrance, the bridge corridor, the wooden three-storeyed main building are registered as one of the evening sceneries that participate in the National Cultural Festival. The stained glass in the hall is also perfectly preserved. The ryokan is a haven where you can completely unwind to the voices of different birds, surrounded by flowers and plants of ravishing beauty. Gero hot springs, together with Arima and Kusatsu, are regarded as one of Japan’s three famous fountain springs, and are said to date back to the early tenth centuryKayabukinosato Kawaba Onsen Yutorian, GunmaIt is like a step back in time into an old village dotted with seven thatched cottages, connected by a monorail. Built, destroyed and re-built throughout the centuries, these houses are an outstanding example of the craftsmanship of Japanese builders from the Edo, Meiji and Taishō period (1868-1926). 

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03.09.2017

Genoa is a seaside and a frontier town - not simply because it sits by the water but mostly because it has always been projected towards the elsewhere, as if pushed by the mountains that surround its shoulders. Even today, the city conveys a certain sense of adventure, of unexplored opportunities and possibilities floating in the air as numerous and diverse as its many faces: the imposing ancient palaces of the rich seafaring families along the aristocratic via Garibaldi, the somewhat grimy darkness of the Carruggi - alleys so narrow that not a single ray of sun will reach them - the profiles of the elevated roads, the gorgeous beaches that suddenly appear along the coast, rimmed by the bright colors of the traditional sailors’ houses perched on the rocks. From Genoa, Christopher Columbus departed to what he thought was Asia, and thousands of migrants left towards every continent, carrying along a little bit of the city - so that, for instance, the colorful La Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires owes its name to Genoa’s Boccadasse, the beach near which Genoese ships sailed to the Americas back in the nineteenth century. Within the boundaries of the city, on the other hand, to those who did not leave the good life has always been a cherished tradition, jealously presreved by the seemingly gruff character of its citizens, and certainly helped by the perfect climate, whose long summers and mild winters make Genoa the perfect destination for a visit or a short holiday in every seasonNot to be missedVia GaribaldiHere is where the beating heart of the city lies - in this beautiful historic street lined with ancient noble palaces. Do not miss a visit to Palazzo Doria Tursi, Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Spinola, home of the National Gallery. The CarruggiIt would be simply impossible to speak about Genoa without mentioning the Carruggi, the famous (and infamous) narrow alleys of the old city. Athough the chance of running into unpleasant encounters is not exactly remote, wandering around these narrow meandering streets will also give you the unique opportunity of plunging into the city’s past, recognizing the ancient trades and the faces so magnificently described in the songs of the late local singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André. Genoa BoccadasseThis ancient fishing village bordered by Corso Italia and the Cape of Santa Chiara, offers a breathtaking view from its cove bordered by colorful old housesTrattoria OsvaldoSince the late 1940s, the small Trattoria Osvaldo has been serving home cooking, seafood specialties and typical Genoese dishes in the beautiful Genoa Boccadasse quarter. A must-try for anyone willing to savour the taste of the old city. 

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03.06.2017

If you are travelling around Japan, a ryokan offers a perfect accommodation, where you can experience the country’s traditional beauty and hospitality, and ease the fatigue of a long day exploring the most famous historical sites. The traditional Japanese inns have become increasingly popular amongst travellers. A ryokan is a different kind of accommodation. You can have your meal either in your room or sharing a table with the other guests. You will sleep in a futon that will be unrolled in the evening and rolled up the next morning. You will take a long, relaxing bath with the other guests. In other words, time spent with other people staying at the inn is increased. As a consequence, you will need to know a few simple rules of etiquette that will allow you to spend the best time possible. Arrival and dinnertimeYou will usually be asked for your dinnertime preference when booking at a Japanese inn. As the ryokan prepares dinner according to the arrival of the guests and their dinnertime preference, if your arrival is delayed or you want to change your dinnertime, it is highly recommended that you contact the staff and inform them beforehand. Do not step on the threshold and on the edge of the tatamiLike in a Japanese-style private home, please refrain from stepping on the threshold and on the edge of the tatami. KokorodzukeJapan is not a tipping culture. However, there is a custom of giving tips in Japan, which is known as kokorodzuke and is still in fashion in some ryokans, where guests are expected to express their gratitude to the nakai-san, “waitress”, who has just greeted and shown them to their room. If you want to tip the nakai-san, please make sure you have a pochi-bukuro with you. Pochi-bukuro is a type of envelope the Japanese use on occasions such as New Year’s. You will find pochi-bukuro envelopes in any convenience store. Use them for kokorodzuke. It is extremely bad form to just hand in the moneyDo not take yukata and towels from your roomThe yukata robes and towels provided in the room are property of the inn. If you like them, you can try and talk the nakai-san into giving them to you at a reasonable price. Some establishments even sell them in their souvenir shop. Whatever you do, please refrain from sneaking objects out of the ryokan. It is regarded as boorish to a very great degree, like in the rest of the world. Do not bring beverages to your roomAt dinner you can have all the drinks you like. Please refrain from taking any beverage to your room. If you do, make sure you tidy up and do not leave any rubbishIn the bathJust like at onsen hot-spring resorts and sentō public bathhouses, when you soak in the ryokan’s communal bath, especially if you have long hair, please make sure you do not leave any hairs behind. Clean yourself thoroughly and pour warm water on yourself before entering the bath. Do not use any towel in the bath. And please do remember a bath is not wash house: do not do your laundry in the bath. When you get out of the bath, do not go back to the changing room all wet, but please make sure your body is dry and you do not leave behind a long wake of water on the floor.  

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03.02.2017

To really get to know Palermo, Sicily, one needs to let the city itself be the guide, to walk along its streets plunging from one era into another, from sunny squares into dark alleys, from silence into loud chatter, and from the majesty of its ancient churches into the green of its beautiful parks. Palermo has been much loved and often betrayed by the peoples and the kings who conquered it: they all attempted to make the city their own, yet no one ever managed to leave more than a mark, later incorporated into the urban maze teeming with life and people. The majestic palaces of the historic neighborhoods surrounding the old port are just the superficial layer that hides what lies beneath: the streets, the true place where everything happens in this town, because nothing explains the unique beauty of Palermo more than the life, the faces and the stories that crowd the city streets. The ideal day in Palermo starts with an early awakening to hit the markets and immerse yourself into the sounds, the smells and the colors that take over the streets of the city almost every morning. These are the places where locals meet and chat, the center of social life, a privileged viewpoint from which to observe the city, and last but not least, a veritable street food paradise. Of course, even the historic sights and monuments in Palermo are a source of constant amazement: from Palazzo dei Normanni, the oldest royal residence in Europe, to Palazzo d'Orleans, home of the Regional governement; from the magnificent Cathedral with its monumental arches to Palazzo Abatellis, housing the Sicilian Regional Gallery. And then of course there is the fairly famous octagonal square know as Quattro Canti, a seventeenth-century architecture and sculpture masterpiece with statues and columns chiseled on convex facades to protect the four fountains at the corners, each representing one of the four seasons. And finally, the nineteenth-century Viale della Libertà, graced by beautiful Art Nouveau houses and the two main city theaters: Teatro Massimo and Politeama Garibaldi. Not to be missedThe markets The markets of Palermo are the perfect place for a taste of authentic local culture. The most important ones the Vucciria, Mercato del Capo, Borgo Vecchio and Ballarò, the latter being the oldest one in the heart of the city. Each of them belongs to the history and the culture of the city, yet what they really share is the pleasant mixture of voices, smells and noises that will give you the impression to be part of an old black and white photograph. Of course, even the clamor of street vendors inviting passers-by to try and taste their products is a crucial part of the local color and charm. Chiesa della Martorana A UNESCO World heritage site since 2015, this incredible Byzantine church is one of the most important places in the history of Palermo, as well as a unique piece of architecture: completed in 1143 at the request of Admiral George of Antioch, it is a rare example of surviving Eastern religious and artistic monument in Italy. The church, which has been enriched over the centuries by various artists belonging to different cultures, is characterized by a unique diversity of stylesFranco U’ Vastiddaru 102, Via Vittorio Emanuele Mixed fry, panelle, crocché, pane ca’ meusa: the quintessential Sicilian street food siciliano in one of the most historic streets of the city, available till late night. Pasticceria Cappello Founded in 1944 as a dairy shop, in the 1990s this confectioner’s has become one of the most prestigious ones in Italy. Following the local tradition, the pastry chefs offer all of the great classic Sicilian classics along with a delicious selection of high-end patisseriePanificio GrazianoAccording to many, this bakery makes the best pizza slices in the city, to be strictly enjoyed strictly on paper trays and with a humble plastic fork. The queue can be massive, but this baby is really worth the wait - and anyway the sweet smell that emanates from the shop is absolutely irresistible. Photo creditsPalermo from above: photo by Xerones under the CC-BY-SA 2.0 licenseThe Cathedral: photo by Antonio Manfredonio under the CC-BY-SA 2.0 licenseChiesa della Martorana: photo by Fabio P. under the CC-BY-SA 4.0  licenseQuattro Canti: photo by Bjs under the CC-BY-SA 2.5 license 

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02.27.2017

Mixology is more alive than ever. The revival of the art of cocktail-making, which started back in the 1980s thanks to the rediscovery of vintage cocktail recipes and the birth of dedicated bars in New York City, gradually spread to Europe and the world. Even in Munich, where thousands of people flock every year come Fall to attend the world’s major beer festival, Oktoberfest, the cocktail culture offers an exciting alternative to the ubiquitous Mass – the classic 1-litre beer mug - with retro, speakeasy-style and contemporary bars offering the luxury of in-house mixologists and excellent bartenders. Here are a few of our favorite ones. Schumann’s Tagesbar“A café bar, a before-work meeting place to start the day, or for lunch or an aperitif”. This how Charles Schumann, the city’s most charismatic and fascinating barkeeper, describes Schumann's Tagesbar (6, Maffeistrasse), one of his four beautiful bars in Munich. Oozing a cool international and contemporary atmosphere, Schumann’s is a classic American cocktail bar where things are kept simple, with only a few, top-quality ingredients. Charles himself has had quite a life – he lived in France where he worked in various clubs and nightclubs, came back to Munich to become the barkeeper at Harry's New York Bar, wrote cocktail books, designed a collection of bespoke barware and even modeled for Baldessarini and Yohji Yamamoto. Mauro’s Negroni ClubAnother world-known bartender, Mauro Mahjoub, who’s been leading the bar scene for over 25 years with his Negroni Bar- and also giving seminars as a bar historian, and judging and founding competitions – is the owner of this comparatively new Haidhausen bar offering more than 15 Negroni cocktail variations in a warm atmosphere with dark wood paneled walls and vintage bar tools. Loretta's BarWhilst being a heaven for breakfast and coffee lovers at daytime, Loretta Bar turns into a cocktail connaisseur's paradise at nights. Located at one of the main gates to Munich's nightlife-hot-spot Glockenbachviertel, Loretta is a real gem, that can be easily overseen between all those neon signs on busy Müllerstrasse, shouting out for customers to go for Kebap or Currywurst. With its laid back atmosphere though, its modern-classic, vintage furniture and pretty staff the bar has been a landmark for more than a decade now. But don't expect any hazy memories of post-90ties-drinks, like creamy Swimming Pools or sugered Pina Coladas. Owner Kris Krolo is a bartender, who prefers the pre-prohibition-way of mixology. And even if a classic Hanky Panky or a straight Old Fashioned should be too strong for you: Loretta holds one of Germany's biggest collections of Amaros from all around Europe. Hundreds of herbal delights for body and soul. Goldene BarInside the iconic Haus der Kunst, this 80-year-old establishment still features its original wall murals painted by Karlheinz Dallinger on gold leaf in the 1930s, along with contemporary artworks, furniture from the 1950s and 1960s and a 1920s chandelier. In 2010, the bar was taken over by Leonie von Carnap and award-winning mixologist Klaus St. Rainer, who brought it back to the fore of the international bar scene. The cocktail list includes classic drinks with a modern twist, such as a new and exciting version of an authentic 1930s classic, Blood & Sand. ZephyrHere’s a place where the decor leaves all the spotlight to the drinks, so don’t expect a fancy vintage-themed ambience or a sleek contemporary design space, but grey walls and simple seating. On the bright side, enjoy the amazingly unique cocktail creations made with fresh, exotic ingredients, rare bottles and creativity by the skilled and friendly bartenders. 

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02.27.2017

Travelling on a bus is generally thought of as narrow and uncomfortable. In Japan, luxury buses have been challenging such preconceptions. The purpose of the trip is not just to arrive early. High-speed buses have evolved into luxurious, private, safe and extremely comfortable means of transport, usually equipped with Internet connection, electric outlets and sometimes even television. Here is how you can travel in absolute comfort, while watching the view from your window or just enjoy the ride. JR Bus Premium SeatsThis highway bus offers a comfortable ride with two rows of spacious, reclining seats, which will make you feel as though you were resting in an elegant single room. Wi-Fi connection, electric outlets, slippers and towels are also available. There are day rides connecting Tokyo and Nagoya as well as overnight rides between Tokyo, Gifu and Nagoya. Dream SleeperDream Sleeper, which runs daily between Yokohama and Hiroshima, is a luxury bus with only 14 seats arranged in two rows, partitioned with curtains, which provide a private, relaxing space, completed by comfy seats, LED lamps, soft music, aromatherapy, and adjustable footrestsMy FloraMy Flora is perhaps Japan’s most luxurious bus, with only twelve seats arranged in a space worth of fifty. The seats are partitioned with curtains that create the feeling of a private room, equipped with TV screens, blankets and slippers. My Flora is operated by Kaifu Kanko and runs from Tokyo Station to Tokushima Station overnight. 

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02.23.2017

If back in the 1940s the southern Italian city of Matera was considered a national disgrace due to the conditions of extreme poverty in which its inhabitants lived inside the town’s insalubrious cave-houses, today its value coincides precisely with these notorious dwellings known as "Sassi", whose massive restoration over the last 30 years turned the city into a major tourist destination. With the inclusion in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and the consecration as the 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera seems to have finally freed itself of a difficult and controversial past. One of the reasons that make the Sassi so fascinating is their highly stratified architectural structure: on the one hand you have the visible part made of palaces, churches, stairs, courts and galleries built through the centuries and spectacularly criss-crossing. On the other hand there is the unseen part made of caves, water cisterns and tunnels, often hidden underground or inside the buildings. Representing the core of the old town, the Sassi include two large districts, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, separated by the Civita hill, a spur of rock that guards the heart of the medieval city. The Sasso Caveoso, arranged in the shape of a Roman amphitheater with dwellings carved into the rock descending in terraces, is the ideal spot from which to admire the ravine, particularly from Piazza Caveoso, dominated by St. Peter's church. Also in this part of town are the spectacular rocky outcrop of Mount Errone, housing the cave church of Madonna dell'Idris, the religious complex of Santa Lucia delle Malve and Musma, an outstanding contemporary sculpture museum set in the caves. Walking down Via Madonna delle Virtù and along the ravine’s edge you will get to the Sasso Barisano district, almost completely restored, home to San Pietro Barisano, the largest cave church of the city, and to most of the cave hotels and restaurants. The old town also stretches along the Piano above the Sassi and in the Civita district, where you will find major sights such as the Piazza Vittorio Veneto viewpoint, the beautiful thirteenth-century Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum and the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art. Not to be missedCasa NohaInside an aristocratic mansion carved into the rock overlooking the Sasso Caveoso close to the Cathedral, this unique multimedia project offers an immersive introduction to the history and soul of Matera told through spoken words and images projected onto the walls. Palombaro LungoThe largest water tank of Matera is a deep pit dug 15 meters below the old part of the city in the first half of the nineteenth century to cater for the needs of the community. The water - 5,000 cubic meters - came this far through a network of canals that allowed it to flow all the way from the spring near Castle Tramontano. Today, the tank can be visited thanks to a fascinating guided walking tour of the caves and the cisterns beneath the city. MUSMA – Museo della Scultura ContemporaneaAn exceptional museum dedicated to sculpture housed inside sixteenth century Palazzo Pomarici and the surrounding tuff hypogeums. Its uniqueness lies in the fascinating juxtaposition of the ancient spaces carved into the rock and the contemporary sculptures. The collection, which ranges from the late 19th century to today, comprises of around 500 works including sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, drawings, prints and art books. Castello TramontanoAtop the de Montigny hill, south-east of the old town, this impressive 16th century castle dominates the landscape with its cylindrical towers. Commissioned by Count Giancarlo Tramontano to assert his domination over the city, it was left unfinished when the Count died in the course of a violent popular uprising. L’Abbondanza LucanaVia Bruno Buozzi, 11 To sample a sophisticatedly revisited version of the traditional local cuisine based on top-quality ingredients and matched with a rich wine list, this nice restaurant in the Sassi district can be a good option. The charming environment is yet another asset. La Gatta BuiaA wine bar offering 80 different labels including local and national wines and local seasonal cuisine. In spring and summer, sit at one of the outside tables and enjoy the view on the Piazza del Sedile. 

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02.21.2017

21 years of history, over 1,200 breweries and almost 7,500 different beers: these are the figures of the craft beer market in Italy, a phenomenon whose origin can be traced back to 1996 with the birth of the first brewpubs - namely pubs which first started producing their own beer. Renowned brands like Baladin (from the province of Cuneo) and Birreria Lambrate (from Milan) were born back then, and later grew into micro breweries taking the road of entrepreneurship and starting to sell throughout Italy and abroad, thus turning craft beer into a huge trend.Today, even large beer companies have started to create their own ‘craft’ lines and brands, and craft beer can be found everywhere from bars and pubs to supermarkets and specialized beer stores. Therefore, sometimes it can hard to tell beers made by truly independent craft brewers from those owned by large companies, especially if you’re not an expert. And the Italian craft beer scene has become so crowded and complex that finding your bearings among thousands of breweries and qualities is basically a nightmare. So where should you start from? Maybe from this basic list of breweries mixing classic and emerging brands.   BaladinGiven its international status, the dedicated pub chain (Open) and the recent opening of new large plant which can produce up to 50,000 hectoliters per year, this is not exactly your average microbrewery. Still, Baladin and its founder and owner Teo Musso keep ruling the Italian craft beer scene, with the solid background of an enterprise that begun in the late 1980s with a brewpub to gradually become a small empire. Birrificio LambrateIt was the year 1996 when three guys from Milan got together to produce their first two beer labels. 21 years later, these unmistakable beers with names inspired by the city’s culture and history have become a true classic, growing to include 34 different qualities available all over Italy and exported to Germany, Estonia, Spain and even Norway and Thailand. Birrificio ItalianoBorn in 1996 as Lombardy’s first brewpub ever, this brewery founded and run by Agostino Arioli remains synonymous with a sincere and genuine brewing passion. Its 15 beers qualities, produced with meticulous care and no additives, can also be purchased in England, Spain, Germany and Japan. Barley This 2006-born brewery in the province of Cagliari, Sardinia, is the pioneer of the one and only 100% Italian beer style, ‘Italian Grape Ale’, officially recognized by the US Beer Judge Certification Program and referring to beers made from grapes or grape must. Barley’s grape ales are made from local grapes such as Cannonau, Nasco and Malvasia. 32 Via dei BirraiBold, Oppale, Admiral, Nectar... These are just a few of the fascinating names chosen for the 100% Made in Italy beers produced near Treviso and distinguished by the unique look of their colorful labels. Founded in 2006, 32 Via dei Birrai focuses on top-quality ingredients and meticulous production, so much so that it has earned the slowBREWING certification, ensuring the quality of raw materials through all production stages and the respect of traditional manufacturing procedures, hygienic requirements and environmentally friendly distribution methods. CanediguerraThe fresh and compelling image of their beautiful psychedelic patterned labels is the best introduction to the great beers created by young brewer Alessio Gatti, who has been working at some of the major Italian craft breweries before launching his own brand. With 11 amazing qualities, Canediguerra represents the new generation of Italian craft brewers. 

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02.20.2017

Spring is coming, but it may still take a little while before sakura cherry trees blossom. However, the beauty of Japan does not lie in cherry blossoms only. The deep-pink plum flower has been an important element of the Japanese culture, since as far back in time as the Nara Period (710-794 AD), appearing in a number of family emblems and proverbs. The plum flower is sacred to Tenjin, the Shinto kami of scholarship, a deification of Sugawara-no-Michizane, who was a prominent scholar, poet and politician in the Heian period (794-1185). It is currently retained as a symbol of the prefectures of Ibaraki, Wakayama, Fukushima and Osaka. There are supposed to be over five hundred types of plum flowers, which can be seen all over the country. Here below you will find a selection of places where you can admire the Japanese plum trees. Yushima Tenjin FestivalYushima Shrine has been a plum blossom viewing spot since the Edo period (1603-1868). This year’s will be the 60th edition of the Yushima Tenjin Matsuri, the first having been held in 1958. The festival has grown larger and larger, with approximately thirty thousand participants. From 8 February to 8 March you can enjoy the spectacle of the plum blossoms, with a small entrance fee. Mido Plum FestivalThis year’s festival will be at its 121st edition. The venue is Kairaku-en, which is one of Japan’s three greatest landscape gardens, along with Okayama’s Kōraku-en and Kanazawa’s Kenroku-en. The garden was built by the ninth Lord or Mito, Nariaki Tokugawa, as an public place of recreation. At Kairaku-en you can admire 3,000 plum trees of about one hundred different types, blooming in different times of the month. The festival opened on 18 February and will close on 31 March. Plum Grove at Osaka Castle ParkIn 1974 the Plum Grove opened to the public, with 880 trees of 22 different types, donated to mark the 100th anniversary of Osaka Prefectural Kitano Senior High School. In this period, you can admire 1,270 plum trees of approximately one hundred varieties, blooming over a 1.7 ha surface in different times of the months of February and March, with the majestic main tower of the castle in the background. Forest Garden of SuzukaThis botanical garden in Suzuka is centred on the Gofuku-shidare double-flowering plums, which can be admired from 18 February to 31 March. The opening time is 9:00 am – 4 pm. 

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02.16.2017

The name, Hongdae, is derived from the prestigious private university Hongik Daehakgyo, currently home to over 20,000 students, which has been at the heart of the neighborhood since 1946. And it is thanks to the current and former students, many of whom have specialized in fine arts and later opened their own studio or workshop in the area, that Hongdae has become perhaps the most lively, eccentric and pleasurable Seoul neighbothood, loved by locals, tourists and expats alike, the ideal place to kick back and relax after visiting the many historic and cultural beauties of the city. So what is so special about Hongdae? First and foremost, its vibrant nightlife: the bars, the cafes and the clubs where you can dance and listen to music all night long - especially on the second and last Friday of each month, when the Club Day ritual allows you to get into all the clubs paying for a single entrance ticket (and an affordable one as well, since this is a university district). Then there are the shops lining the pedestrian streets of the neighborhood - from small independent boutiques to emerging designer stores, offering plenty of opportunities to those who like to hunt for unique objects, unusual souvenirs and unique gifts. Not to mention the exciting street food scene, the beautiful graffiti, and the young local crowd of young people sporting bizarre and elaborate outfits and the craziest haircuts. The fil rouge is undoubtedly the creativity that has always pervaded Hongdae and that makes it so unique as well as an authentic must-see. To help you discover it, we selected some of our favorite places in the area. SeeHongdae PlaygroundThis simple children playground, with walls covered in colorful graffiti and little more, opposite the university building, has become the heart of the neighborhood’s life, and definitely the right place to start from if you are willing to experience the spirit and the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere of Hongdae. Young musicians gather here to improvise gigs, especially on weekends, stalls sell street food, gadgets and second-hand clothes, and people sit or stroll leisurely. Aa Design Museum (& Café)A hybrid space entirely devoted to design - part museum, part design furniture showroom, and part café. Spread across many floors with different styles and functions, it's a place where everyone can get familiar with the history of design between past and present times, before relaxing in the café among more beautiful pieces. Behind the amazing project of aA Design museum is the idea of offering vistors and customers the chance to find design furniture they will hardly be able to see anywhere else in South Korea. The collections are constantly updated with new pieces from some of the most outstanding names of the international design scene Trickeye MuseumHard to resist the kitschy madness of this most unusual interactive ‘museum’ featuring three-dimensional trompe l'oeil reproduction of world-famous paintings. Of course, you can interact with the works, touch them and take thousands of crazy selfies. ShopHongdae Free MarketEvery Saturday during the summer months, the Hongdae creative and artistic community gathers at this remarkable flea market in the Playground, where art objects and original creations are sold as well, including some interesting contemporary reinterpretations of traditional Korean crafts. Design squareOn the fifth floor of the unmistakable Sangsangmadang glass and concrete building, where students can attend movies, concerts and exhibitions, is an amazing crafts and design shop selling handmade objects and accessories. Eat & DrinkThanks Nature CafeThis amazing themed cafe around the corner from the university is all dedicated to nature. References include plenty of greenery, portraits of animals hanging on the walls, animal figurines, stuffed animals and... a couple of actual sheeps happily grazing in the outside patio and occasionally bleating. Street FoodThe pedestrian streets of the neighborhood are lined with stalls selling all different and constantly changing kinds of street food - a real must for those who want to experience traditional Korean food and sample the most absurd food trends. There is truly everything, from the classics Tteokbokki (chewy rice dumplings dipped in plenty of moderately spicy red sauce) to chicken skewers covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. AnhWhy go to a Vietnamese restaurant in Seoul? Because at Anh’s, provided that you have enough patience to deal with the perennial queue, you can sample authentic Vietnamese home cuisine; only a few dishes, prepared according to family recipes. The BeastroFrom Vietnamese cuisine to modern American gastronomy? Why not! As the name itself suggests, this beloved neighborhood restaurant that serves fine US cuisine made based on hearty and not exactly low-calorie ingredients. The weekend brunch is usually very packed. Nightlife The VaultAction movie-themed escape rooms, a restaurant and a nice list of cocktails: what else could you ask for? This is the definitive Hongdae night destination. NB2 A nightclub specializing in hip hop sounds that has literally conquered the neighborhood and the entire city - so that is crowded not only on weekends, but every night of the week. Photo creditsCover photo: Travis Estell under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseThe market: Emily Shin under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseGraffiti: Dawn Lim under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license 

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02.15.2017

Bologna is an authentic Italian gem, perhaps not as well-known as it would deserve, especially abroad. It has the world’s most ancient University, historic taverns and great food, and its radial plan and long straight streets make it so easy to tour that, as late Bologna-born singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla used to sing, “not even a child would get lost” in the old city. Wherever you end up, you just know that sooner or later, crossing one of the medieval gates along the ancient walls, you will walk straight the two towers, the emblem of the medieval city. Although Bologna is comparatively small, it has many different faces. There is the historical town dating back to late Middle Ages, with the towers and the majestic palaces, and of course with those 38 kilometers of arcades that make Bologna so unique. There is the pleasure-loving city with its renowned local cuisine and delicacies – mortadella (known worldwide simply as Bologna), tagliatelle, lasagne and tortellini, just to name a few. There are the picturesque hilly outskirts of the city, just beyond the medieval walls, and the Giardini Margherita, the green lung of the city, where families and students mingle come spring. Yet perhaps the real essence of the city lies in the intersection of all these different souls, in its ability to mix its village feel with the cosmopolitan spirit of a town crowded with thousands of students from all over Italy and the world, and enriched by an exciting diversity of languages, dialects and nationalities. Not to be missedSquare of the Seven Churches24, via Santo StefanoThe square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica, also known as ‘Square of the Seven Churches’, is one of the city’s most fascinating and remarkable sights. Built on the site of an ancient pagan temple, the Basilica’s complex has a unique feature that attracts tons of tourists every year: it includes the remains of seven churches in different styles and from different eras. Four of them are still recognizable: the Church of the Holy Crucifix, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Church of Saints Vitale and Agricola, and the Church of the Trinity. Mercato di Mezzo12, via ClavatureNestled in the area between Piazza Maggiore, Via Rizzoli, Piazza della Mercanzia, Via Castiglione, Via Farini, Piazza Galvani and Via dell'Archiginnasio is what the locals call Quadrilatero, a place where grocery stores and stalls have been thriving ever since the Middle Ages, home to the gastronomic tradition of the city and the definitive foodie destination in town. Arranged on three levels, the newly restored Mercato di Mezzo was created to allow people to do their food shopping any time of the day, being able to choose from a wide choice of products: fish, meat, cold cuts, cheeses, bread, pasta, fruits, wine, beer and dessertsSalita San Luca36, via di San LucaOn top of Colle della Guardia, one of the hills surrounding Bologna, stands the beautiful Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of San Luca, which can be reached on foot by climbing up a 4 km long stairway under the 666 arches of one of the most beautiful arcades in the world, built between the late seventeenth and the early eighteenth centuries. Pastificio Paolo Atti e figli Since its birth in the 1880s, this historic pasta workshop has been selling bread, pasta, and sweet delights in one of the most beautiful streets of the city. The shop has preserved its original signs, as well as its cherished tradition handed down from generation to generation. Osteria BottegaVia Santa Caterina, 51In the heart of the city, between Porta Saragozza and via Barberia, is the most famous restaurant in town, a renowned tavern which is very popular among locals and regular visitors as well. The main reason behind its undying fame is the delicious traditional Emilian cuisine, which of course includes the inevitable tortellini and the savory Bolognese cutlet, along with a wide choice of local cured meats, such Ennio Pasquini’s mortadella, Parma ham, and the famous culatello di Zibello. 

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02.13.2017

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a true chocolate festival throughout Japan. According to the Economic Research Institute, in 2016, confectionery sales in Japan amounted to 1 trillion 981.1 billion yen (about 16.4 billion euros), a 102% increase compared with the previous year, of which chocolate accounted for more than 50%. These figures are attributable to the expansion of the market targeting adults, in a decreasing birth-rate and aging population scenario. Nowadays, not only is it customary on Valentine’s Day to exchange chocolate gifts between - or among - lovers, but it is also good form for women to give the so-called giri-choco to their male superiors. This means that the  “obligation chocolate” market is also expanding, from the most famous and refined brands to the more common types, with a wealth of options in terms of design and taste. This Valentine, you may want to try the exquisitely Japanese taste of Kyoto’s chocolates, in the shops listed below. Assemblages KakimotoLocated near Kyoto Gyoen, it is a patisserie, chocolaterie and bar opened in April 2016 by Chef Akihiro Kakimoto, one of the contestants who made it to the finals at Paris’s World Chocolate Masters 2013. After working for many hotels, restaurants and patisseries, Kakimoto opened his own shop, where gourmets can savour chocolate and sweets incorporating traditional ingredients, such as Japanese ginger and shiso leavesChōgorōmochiNamed after the rice cake popularised by the Great Kitano Tea Party, thrown by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Chōgorōmochi is a historical cake shop, headquartered near the Kitano Tenmangū Shrine. For a limited period of time the shop will serve its renowned Valentine’s chocolate-flavoured mochi, for a bite of traditional Kyoto. Cacao 365 Gion ShopThe shop is an extension of the Western sweetshop Malebranche, acclaimed for its fondant au chocolat with thick matcha. In no other shop can you taste the delicate flavour of Malabranche’s flagship chocolates and éclairs, or the limited-edition Valentine chocolates, a morsel of Kyoto’s elegance and refinement. Nama Chocolat Organic TeahouseLocated near the Heian Shrine, it is a teahouse serving chocolates hand-made by New York-trained master chefs. Flavours include sweet Australian herb liqueurs. bitter Amami Ōshima brown sugar shōchū and bittersweet Uji matchaMunianMunian is a luxury French-style chocolatier located in Shijō, renowned for the delicious Munian truffles, available in this shop only. The most representative dessert is perhaps the Premium Gâteau Chocolat aux Truffes. 

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02.09.2017

Trieste is a city of unique beauty and many contrasts - suspended between the roughness of the Karst and the sea, lashed by the Bora wind and sun-soaked, torn between immense bright and aristocratic squares and narrow steep alleys. Much of its appeal comes from its being a border town with a rather painful history, which has often been the object of territorial disputes and torn apart by war, until it was eventually returned to Italy in 1954, safe for its Istrian extension. From the airy and majestic sea-facing “gate” of Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia (dedicated to Italy’s reunification) to the Jewish ghetto with its network of narrow streets, from Piazza della Borsa to Venice-inspired Canal Grande, from the ancient Roman Arch in the old town to the Hill San Giusto, dominated by the fifteenth-century cathedral of the same name, Trieste is a city of many faces and landscapes, which reveals its beauty only to the attentive and curious visitor. And then of course there's the waterfront where the people from Trieste love to lie down and sunbathe as soon as the air gets warm, lined with historic buildings and enriched by contemporary statues celebrating the city's characters and crafts.The 19th century Miramare Castle, once the residence of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium, dominates the Gulf from its lush promontory washed by the blue waters of the Marine Protected Area. Not to be missedPiazza Unità d’ItaliaThis majestic square with its white and regal vastness is the city’s open air living room, and it never fail to charm visitors. Here are the heart and soul of Trieste, along with the buildings that have marked the history of the city and of Italy itself. On this very pavement, illustrious local intellectuals and international poets and writers have walked surrounded by the beauty of the town that was once the heart of Central European culture. Caffè degli SpecchiWelcome to the most renowned cafe in Trieste, overlooking the magnificent Piazza Unità, and  standing as an emblem of the local nineteenth-century cafe culture, largely inspired by the Viennese and Central European one. This is not the kind of place you go to for coffee (although it tastes great), but rather the one you visit because its rooms hosted the likes of James Joyce, Italo Svevo and Franz Kafka back when the city was crowded with a hundred similar institutions where artists, intellectuals, politicians and businessmen met. Kleine BerlinThis complex of tunnels dug by the German army during World War II close to the Courthouse is an amazingly intact piece of the city’s past. You can visit the public bomb shelter and the German military air-raid shelter, where everything has been left just as it was back then, including the old and flaking wall paint. The complex also houses two permanent exhibitions, one of which focuses on the bombing of Trieste during World War II. The Opicina trolleyTrieste like Lisbon? In a way, yes, because the lovely "tram de Opicina", mentioned in one of the most famous local folk songs, rides up and down steep slopes. A 5 km ride takes passengers up to Opicina, on the Karst, a favorite destination among locals for a short trip out of town or simply for a lunch in one of the many osterias. Miramare ParkStrange as it might seem, the 22 lush hectares of the wonderful park surrounding the picturesque Miramare Habsburg Castle were once a wasteland. And it took actually many years for the karstic rocky promontory of Grignano to take on its current appearance. Behind the enterprise was Maximilian of Habsburg, who hired landscapers, botanists and nurserymen and had large amounts of soil from Styria and Carinthia carried here to create his private "garden of wonders", full of rare and exotic species, unusual buildings, paths and waterways. 

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02.06.2017

Mexican haciendas, those huge estates where the Mexican families of Spanish descent once lived and worked on their productive activities, are part of the landscape of the country, especially in the central and southern states. Dating back to the period between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century, these buildings are authentic pieces of Mexican history, as well as the backdrop of the economic and social life of that era, when their residents and owners engaged in competition over the beauty of the facades, the spectacularity of the architecture and the luxury of the interiors. What is left today of that golden world? Sometimes only a few, decayed walls, but for the most part those buildings have been perfectly preserved, renovated and turned into gorgeous boutique hotels, full of history and old-time glamour. And that is why sleeping in a hacienda is the quintessential Mexican experience, a plunge into the authentic history of the country, providing just the right amount of ease and comfort light years away from the standardized mass tourism holiday resorts. Hacienda UayamonA few kilometers from the city of Campeche, in the western part of the Yucatán peninsula, this eighteenth-century hacienda is now part of The Luxury Collection hotel chain. It combines colonial charm, lush nature and well being: the spa offers Maya-inspired treatments featuring natural products. And speaking of Maya culture, the archaeological site of Edzna with its magnificent temple is in the vicinity. Hacienda Sac ChichSouth-east of Merida is another beautiful historic complex. The heart of this hacienda is Casa de Maquinas, an extraordinary limestone building dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, complete with a flowered balcony, a terrace and a pond. The Casa has been renovated by Mexican architect Salvador Reyes Rios, and furnished with locally made furniture. And then there's Casa Sisal, a new addition featuring a contemporary design but built with ancient Mayan techniques - a real luxurious home enriched with tropical plants and an infinity pool. Chablé Resort & SpaClose to Merida, this resort mixing old world charm and contemporary architecture has been developed around a restored nineteenth-century hacienda has 38 casitas and two large villas. Renowned for the sophisticated cuisine of award-winning chef Jorge Vallejo, Chablé also has a holistic spa built around a cenote, a natural cave with a freshwater pond. Hacienda El CarmenClose to Jalisco’s capital Guadalajara, in west-central Mexico, an old Carmelite monastery and farm has been transformed into a sleek countryside spa hotel full of history and charm, and away from the usual tourist routes. Hacienda SepulvedaA few kilometers from Lagos de Moreno – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major stop on the Camino Real, the famous trade route running between Mexico and the United States dating back to the sixteenth century - is another delightful complex offering 25 suites surrounded by 20 hectares of greenery and a spa. The place has everything you can expect from a classic hacienda: a red seventeenth-century facade, stone colonnades, and romantic interiors inspired by the colonial era. Hacienda De San AntonioJust over the border between the states of Jalisco and Colima this Hacienda blessed by the eternal spring that characterizes the local climate offers a very unique view of the nearby Volcán de Colima. Surrounded by a formal garden, it has four beautiful suites spread across building and around the large central courtyard.  

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01.31.2017

From the traditional salons de thé, where everything exudes luxury and grandeur, to the small neighborhood cafes, the afternoon tea tradition in Paris is alive and kickin’. It may not be London, but there are plenty of opportunities for tea lovers, whether you prefer an assortment of high-quality pastries, a wide selection of teas, or maybe both. Here are some of our favorite addresses. Angelina If you wish to try the very best of the world-renowned French confectionery as an accompaniment to your tea, this is the place for you. The Salon de thé at the prestigious maison Angelina in rue de Rivoli, founded in 1903 by Austrian confectioner Antoine Rumpelmayer, is an aristocratic Belle Epoque-style tea room which once boasted Marcel Proust, Coco Chanel and all of the greatest French fashion designers among its regulars. House specials include the famous old-style hot chocolate, known as "l'Africain". Café PouchkineThe much-loved tea room of Printemps department store does not offer a huge variety of teas, yet its rich offer of French pastries with a Russian accent definitely makes up for it. The choice of unusual ingredients is truly exciting, and their hot chocolate is also highly appreciated. Pavillon Lenotre This beautiful early 20th century pavilion built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition proudly sits on the Champs-Elysées, right in front of the Grand Palais: could there be a better place to immerse yourself in the most classic Parisian atmosphere while sipping on a cup of tea accompanied by delicious pastries? La Pâtisserie des RêvesThis much-loved gourmet mecca is the realm of pastry chef Philippe Conticini. It has several addresses in Paris and in the world, but only one tea room in rue de Longchamp. It is a great place for essaying sophisticated top-quality confectionery, but there is also a bunch of deliciously revisited traditional recipes such as millefeuille and tarte tatin. The tea room at the Grande Mosquée Built in the aftermath of World War I as a homage to the French Muslim soldiers who had died in the conflict, the Great Mosque is the largest mosque in France, as well as a genuine oriental corner in the heart of the Latin Quarter. In the beautiful Moroccan-style tea room you can try the classic mint tea served in little glasses, plus a good selection of oriental pastries. Umami Matcha Café In the haut Marais, a stone's throw from Place de la République, this nice little place featuring a clean and essential design combines the atmosphere of a coffee shop in New York City, French culinary influences and a total devotion to matcha, a.k.a. Japanese green tea, a drink with countless properties and a unique taste - and above all one of the main ingredients of the menu, both for the food and the drinks. Photo credits:Angelinaphoto by Gryffindor under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licensePâtisserie des Rêves: photo by Norio Nakayama under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseGrande Mosquée: photo by Celette under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license 

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01.30.2017

South American and Japanese flavors make quite a solid couple - just think of the delicious Japanese-Brazilian fusion cuisine which originated in Liberdade, the Japanese neighborhood of São Paulo, before spreading to all major cities in the world. The Japanese-Mexican fusion trend, which has also become largely popular in the US, seems to have met quite the same success in Italy, as shown by the recent opening of Coffee Pot, a lovely restaurant in Rome’s nightlife district Trastevere with the refreshing look of a lush winter garden, scattered with references to both worlds that inspired it, from the Japanese-style essential design to the Mexican cactuses that adorn the walls, warming up the atmosphere. Yet the fusion mostly occurs in the kitchen, where Chef Marco Fontana, specializing in desserts, Mexican dishes and low-temperature cooking, and Ajmal Ameer, director of the raw food and sushi section, team up to match great taste and lightness with the aim of offering a varied and exciting but healthy cuisine. The result is a remarkable menu ranging from nigiri and sushi rolls to gourmet tacos, with a recently added touch of Hawaiian ingredients and low-temperature cooking techniques. The delicious mezcal-based cocktails are the only concession to non strictly health-conscious cuisine - and a must-try too, especially in combination with the unusual flavors of dishes like the “Polynesian taco” with low-temperature cooked octopus, herbs, lime-flavoed sour cream, onion and jalapeno. All in all, Coffe Pot is great address in Rome for enjoying good sushi and trying a unique fusion of flavors in a beautiful and laid-back ambience.  

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01.30.2017

Toreiyu-Tsubasa is a shinkansen train operated by JR East, connecting Fukushima and Shinjō, in the Yamagata Prefecture, on which you can really relax the body and the mind. Since its inaugural run, it has been the safest, fastest and most precise bullet train ever put on track. The timetable and the actual operation time differ by only a few seconds, much to the surprise of the entire world. Not only is the train safe, fast and precise, but also extremely comfortable. The name itself a portmanteau of train and soleil, which is French for “sun”, perfectly conveying the warm ambience you get on board, in the reserved tatami seats, at the bar counter, or enjoying the view while soaking your feet. The Relaxation Space is in car 16. There are two red coloured footbaths carved in a raised stone floor, with wooden louvres to create an enclosure. You will forget you are on a train. At the end of your trip, you will feel as though you have been at the onsen, the hot spring baths. Do not forget to make a special reservation for the footbaths. Car 15 is a unique tatami lounge with a red bar counter serving Yamagata’s sake and wine, as well as tea, coffee and soft drinks. The tatami seats are located in the cars from 12 to 14, where the traditional rice-straw mats are complemented with the elegance of birch tables and a ceiling decorated with Yamagata’s fruit patterns in relief. On no other train in the world will you travel as comfortably as on Toreiyu-Tsubasa. 

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01.26.2017

Florence belongs to everyone and to the world. Wherever you come from, it's easy to feel at home in a place whose image is so familiar, so popular to everyone in every continent. A city that you’ll inevitably learn about no matter which course of study you choose, a dream destination to go to at least once in a lifetime for those who live far away, and an opportunity to plunge into beauty every now and then for those who are lucky enough to live close to it. Every year, Florence is visited by millions of tourists from all over the world, equally attracted by its artistic treasures and by its amazing food and wines. Yet sometimes judging the authentic Florentine flavors and traditions from those merely designed to meet the expectations of tourists can give you quite a hard time, so if you’re willing to go beyond the romantic postcard-perfect image of Florence and experience it like a local, follow our recommendations and dive into the genuine taste of the local cuisine. Mercato CentraleAfter exploring Florence’s historic covered market, with its stalls brimming with peaches, basil, eggplants and other fresh fruits and vegetables, head upstairs to the newly renovated floor and plunge into an authentic foodie's paradise, featuring sublime artisan deicacies made from the ingredients sold on the ground floor. This space is dedicated to showcasing the very best that Tuscany and the other Italian regions have to offer in terms of food and wine, a celebration of Italian excellence against the backdrop of this historic huge iron and glass building designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and first opened in 1874. The LamprodottaiYou cannot leave Florence without having tasted a lampredotto sandwich. Finding the original Florentine lamprodottai is easy, just follow the scent of this much loved traditional Italian street food item - a super-tasty sandwich filled with tripe that will most probably have you at the first bite. Here’s a list of the best lampredotto kiosks: Maurizio Marchetti (Via dei Cimatori); Leonardo Torrini (Viale Giannotti at Via del Paradiso); Palmiro Pinzauti (Piazza de 'Cimatori); Mario Albergucci (Piazzale di Porta Romana). In FabbricaHoused inside Pampaloni’s historic silver  factory, this restaurant is actually the workers' canteen, which turns into a gourmet restaurant allowing you to have dinner surrounded by silver candelabrums and fine dinnerware in the shade of a huge hammer and sickle-shaped  chandelier, served by silverworker-waiters who will occasionally wear military uniforms and work overalls with white gloves. Needless to say, silver is everywhere, so expect silver cutlery, pitchers and even ice buckets, whereas the original green tiles on the wall and humble flooring have been preserved and enlivened by noble and sacred heads created by artists and colorful neon lamps. An amazing world of taste, fine crafts and Tuscan spirit.  Trattoria SostanzaTucked away in a narrow alley in the heart of the city, this restaurant with only a few tables surrounded by walls covered with paintings, prints and postcards from friends and loyal customers, has all the flavor of an early 19th century inn. Booking well in advance is a must. Osteria PepoRibollita and Chianti wine are king at this typical little place in the heart of the city, where the daily specials are handwritten on blackboards to emphasize the fresh quality of the ingredients. Expect real home cooking to be enjoyed to the gentle rhythm of background music. Zazà If you are eager to try the most famous local dish, Florentine steak, head to this historic restaurant in Piazza del Mercato, where you will also find other house specials with fresh fish, and, depending on the season, mushrooms and truffles from the city’s surroundings. Enjoy your food between old paintings and hanging hams, or dine alfresco at one of the few outside tables overlooking the square. Photo creditsLampredotto: photo by Lucarelli under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 licenseFiorentina: photo by AkiragiuliaVista sulla città: photo by MustangJoe 

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01.25.2017

There are cities whose current identity tends to be overshadowed by their less recent history, and Düsseldorf, the German capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, is certainly one of these. To many, its name still evokes a purely industrial landscape - the one that developed in the aftermath of World War II, when the city, after facing total destruction from the conflict, quickly became one of the main industrial hubs in Germany. Yet that aspect of the city belongs to the past, because while Düsseldorf is still undoubtedly one of the most economically strategic areas in the nation, this is mainly due to finance and communications. What remains of its industrial era has been transformed and reconverted with great commitment and vision over the last 20 years. Medienhafen, the former river port, has become a sort of huge architectural workshop where names of the likes of David Chipperfield, Joe Coenen, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi have had free rein to create their most daring works to replace old warehouses and disused industrial buildings.Among the most futuristic and cutting-edge design examples is the Neuer Zollhof building by Frank Gehry with its unmistakable curves and asymmetrical lines, built at the end of the 1990s where the old custom house used to be. If the river’s west bank is home to the newly renovated parts of town, on the east bank is the oldest part of the "little Paris of Germany", as Napoleon once called it, whose glorious past finds its heart in Altstadt, the old city, rich in history but also a favorite nightlife spot, to the point of having earned the nickname of “longest bar in the world". Surrounded by traditional buildings artfully reconstructed after the destruction of World War II, bars and clubs follow each other seamlessly, while the magnificent Königsallee (fondly called Kö), one of the most popular shopping streets in Germany, is lined with luxury boutiques and sparkling windows. Altstadt is also home to ancient churches, historic buildings like the Schlossturm and prestigious cultural institutions of primary importance such as the Academy of Fine Arts and the Kunsthalle, an exceptional contemporary art museum. To escape the hustle and bustle of downtown, head to bohemian and alternative Flingern, in the north-east of the city, a former working-class area that has been experiencing a huge reinassance, and enjoy the creative and cool feel of the neighborhood’s many restaurants, cafes, galleries, independent design stores and lovely boutiques.Among the emerging neighborhoods are also Unterbilk, south of the center (on the border with Medienhafen), another highly redeveloped area which attracts young families, and Pempelfort, north of downtown. In Pempelfort, take a walk in one of the many parks of the city, the beautiful Hofgarten, a superb green lung enriched by long tree-lined avenues, ponds, sculptures and ancient trees. Visiting a varied and complex city like Düsseldorf and learning to know all its different faces is definitely worth it, but it requires quite a bit of time. If you find yourself in town for a weekend or maybe a few days, here are six experiences that you should not miss on. 1) Dine on top of the RheinturmThe TV tower overlooking the river is the tallest building of the city as well as one of its symbols. From its highest floor, 168 meters above the ground, the 360-degree view of the city is simply breathtaking, and there is also a revolving restaurant2) Visit the KITA.k.a. Kunst Im Tunnel, a unique museum housed inside a tunnel under the river, which is accessed via a glass pavilion along the Rhine Promenade, also housing a nice café. The gallery’s program focuses on exhibitions dedicated to contemporary art in all its forms, from painting to sculpture, photography and video art. 3) Admire St. Lambertus ChurchThe fifteenth-century church dedicated to patron and martyr St. Lambertus is thought to be the oldest building in Düsseldorf, and the twisted spire of its bell tower is a symbol of the city. Apparently, the shape of the spire is due to the fact that the wood used to build it was wet at the time of construction. 4) Shop at Carlsplatz MarketSouth of the old town, this traditional market is great especially in the early morning, when the stalls are still brimming with fresh local fruits and vegetables, exotic fruits, sweets and delicatessen. 5) Drink at Sir WalterThe latest enterprise of famous local chef and restaurateur Walid El Sheikh is the new Altstadt sensation, right next to the Kunsthalle and opposite the Opera. Sleek and charming, inspired by the 1960s and the films by Lars von Trier and Peter Brook, it offers sophisticated cocktails and a list of international wines to go with the gourmet snacks and background music. 6) Walk along the river in Rheinpark GolzheimThis long relaxing green strip that runs along the right bank of the Rhine from Pempelfort to Golzheim offers superb views over the gentle curve of the river and the city skyline. Walking on the meadows among poplars, birches and maple trees you will meet plenty of people jogging and playing football. 

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01.24.2017

Part restaurant, part whiskey bar, and part jazz club. Salon Beyrouth is a unique venue where you can experience the atmosphere of the golden jazz era, of the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition, seasoned with just the right touch of contemporaneity. The location is Clemenceau, in western Beirut, once the most vibrant and mixed area of the city, which is currently undergoing an authentic renaissance after years of decline following the war. Here, in the heart of the cosmopolitan city that Beirut used to be, brand new design shops and emerging designer boutiques are literally blooming. Just the perfect setting for this outstanding corner of beauty suspended among the Middle East, New York City and jazzy New Orleans, a brainchild of Raya Kazoun and Moustafa Makky. After finding a historic building in the district, the founder couple entrusted architect Anthony Maalouf with the renovation project, which resulted in a sophisticated and welcoming bar/restaurant featuring whiskey-inspired earth and amber colors, well-balanced lighting and material melange that mixes wood, metal, glass and white & black marble. Salon Beyrouth has that friendly and warm feel that invites you to come in and look a table, not before having wandered among the beautiful Art Déco furnishings, browsed the "whiskey library" with its precious bottles, or maybe stopped at the large travertine marble counter to order one of the original cocktails prepared with tempting ingredients like whiskey, champagne and absinthe. And for anyone willing to grab a bite, the menu masterfully mixes the repertoire of an old-school Parisian bistro with the classic New York style brunch

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01.23.2017

For a long time, the Douro River Valley has been considered an ideal day-trip destination from the stunning city of Porto, in northern Portugal. Lately, however, the beauty of the landscapes, the wineries and the many boutique hotels and restaurants of the valley have turned it into a main destination itself, a region offering plenty of opportunities for exploring nature and discovering the local wine culture. A World Heritage Site as well as a very ancient wine region - the first to be officially designated in the world - the Douro Valley is characterized by steep terraced hills covered in vineyards, dotted with pretty villages and the white washed buildings of the wineries. A picturesque landscape that you can explore by car as well as by train, embarking a cruise along the river and even by helicopter. Between the city of Porto, where the river reaches the sea, and Miranda do Douro, where its waters enter the Portuguese border, there are plenty of stops and sights to be included in the itinerary, on both banks of the waterway. Your starting point could be Vila Nova de Gaia, just south of the city center, where all the cellars where Port wine ages are located, and the opportunities of tasting this unique fortified wine, the absolute protagonist of the local production, are endless. To learn more about the area, stop at the Museu do Douro in Peso da Regua, focusing on the river and on wine production in the valley. Crossing the river and heading south you will reach Lamego, a wine town as well as one of the most fascinating cities in northern Portugal, whose most iconic sight is the monumental stairway leading up to the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, embellished by a magnificent decoration of white and blue tiles. To enjoy the landscape of the valley, stop at the viewpoint in São Leonardo da Galafura, near Régua, overlooking the river and the hills and offering a breathtaking 360 degree view. Getting back to the river, in Pinhão, take a look at the lovely station along the Douro railway, which is also decorated with white and blue tile artworks celebrating the wine and the landscapes of the valley. A few kilometers away you will find what is perhaps the nicest viewpoint in the whole area, Casal de Loivos, an authentic natural balcony overlooking the city of Pinhao, set in the S-curve of the river. South of the Douro, the medieval castle of Numão, with its crenellated towers and walls bordering the hill, offers yet another postcard setting for your photographs, and if you decide to venture further east do not miss the Archaeological Park of Vale do Coa, an extraordinary open-air museum dedicated to rock art. From here it’s just a short step to Spain: in Barca de Alva you will enter the area of ​​the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, where the river becomes narrower and follows the boundary line up north to the small town of Miranda do Douro. When to goIn September, when it’s harvest time in the valley and you can take part in the production of some of the best Portuguese wines. Quintas (a.k.a. wineries)Quinta do NovalQuinta do Vale do MeãoQuinta da Roêda (Croft)Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman) Quinta de Terra Feita (Taylor's) SleepTaylor’s Vintage House HotelSix Senses Douro ValleyQuinta NovaCasa do RioCasa de Vilharino de San RomãoCasa de Casal de Loivos 

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01.23.2017

Oysters are a winter delicacy, rich in essential amino acids, minerals and glycogen, which earned them the nickname “sea’s milk”. The evidence found in ancient shell middens suggests that oyster were consumed as early as the Jōmon Era (14,000 – 300 BC). Most oyster farms are located in the prefecture of Hiroshima, which provides for about 63% of the national oyster market. The recipes featuring oysters are countless. However, the most exquisitely Japanese style is deep-fried. When you are shivering with cold, kaki-fry will make your stomach and your entire body warm. You will be surprised by how many restaurants are renowned for their deep-fried oysters. But do not take our word for it. Go ahead and try the restaurants listed below. RengateiEstablished in Ginza in 1895, Rengatei is a restaurant specialised in Western-style dishes. Since its opening, a plethora of literary figures have been overwhelmed by the deliciousness of Rengatei’s fried oysters, which starts with a crunch and then copiously expands in the mouth. They are served with the shop’s original sauce. OdayasuYou always have to stand in a long queue in order to be seated in this restaurant in Tsukij, but the “kaki mix” menu, limited to the winter period, will make the wait worthwhile. The size of the oysters itself is impressive. Since its opening, Odayasu has been extremely renowned for its perfectly crunchy deep-fried delicacies. SanyūYou can really feel at home at this family-run restaurant established in Ningyōchō in 1970. From October to April, the restaurant serves fried oysters are nearly as big as a fist, whose creamy deliciousness is enclosed in a perfectly crunchy batter. Katsuretsu Yotsuya TakedaLocated in Yotsuya, Katsuretsu is a restaurant specialised in katsuretsu, “cutlets”, and many other deep-fried delicacies. From October to March, the speciality is fried oysters from different origins according to the period. You can taste them with tartar sauce, in a casual and friendly ambience. LevanteLocated in Yūrakuchō, Levante is a pioneering restaurant in Western-style cuisine. It served as a setting for Seichō Matsumoto’s 1958 debut novel “Points and Lines”. The speciality is Matoya oysters from the prefecture of Mie, cooked in various styles, including the juicy fried oysters with a fine and crunchy batter. 

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01.16.2017

Naples, the third largest city in Italy, is a place of breathtaking beauty and indomitable character: either you love it or you hate it, and when you love it, you love it madly. Lying at the heart of what Horace called Campania Felix, a ‘happy’ land blessed by a mild Mediterranean climate, an unrivaled variety of landscapes and fertile volcanic soil, Naples is one with its Gulf, whose postcard splendor still cannot conquer the fear of the active volcano, the Vesuvius, disguised as a placid mountain soaring on the horizon. Visiting Naples takes time and willingness: slowly is the only way to truly savor its multifaceted soul, travel among its different eras and landscapes, between its large squares and narrow lanes - beginning with the treasure trove that is its historic center, the largest in Europe, rightly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The two most ancient areas of the city date back to the greek town of Partenope, on the hill of Pizzofalcone (in today's San Ferdinando area), and to the Roman city of Neapolis ( "new city"). Both are still somewhat visible in the so-called Decumani district, and particularly in Spaccanapoli, the street that goes from the Spanish Quarter to Forcella, cutting the city in a straight line. Yet the real spirit of Naples does not merely lie in its historical remains and monuments – to get to know the real city, you will need to explore the neighborhoods: Chiaja, with the promenade of Via Caracciolo, Mergellina and the many shopping streets; the wonderful hill of Posillipo, which owes its name to one of the sumptuous Roman villas which used to sit here, overlooking the sea. San Ferdinando’s Via Toledo, the most famous and vibrant street of Naples, home to 19th century opulent palaces, boutiques and literary cafes. Montecalvario, with its beloved and notorious Spanish Quarter, a maze of steep narrow streets where artisan shops and trattorias alternate with dark and grimy corners. And finally Vomero, a veritable city within the city. Whatever your itinerary, here are a few places you should not miss. SeeMuseo di CapodimonteThe Royal Palace of Capodimonte and its park have always been a magical place to the Neapolitans. The palace’s museum features several amazing collections historically owned by the House of Bourbon and the House of Farnese, as well as works by major Italian and European painters from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, masterpieces from the churches of Naples and the Borgia collection with its Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Etruscan antiquities. There is also a section dedicated to contemporary art, including Andy Warhol’s famous Vesuvius. Toledo underground stationAlthough it may seem unusual to visit a metro station, this incredible stop along Line 1 of Naples’ underground train network in the San Giuseppe neighborhood is a true masterpiece. Designed by Spanish architect Óscar Tusquets and inaugurated in 2012, it was designated "Europe's finest underground station" by the Daily Telegraph and CNN. Napoli SotterraneaHiding 40 meters under the city is a unique route running through 2,400 years of history from ancient Greece to modern times, and descending into burrows where you’ll bump into old tanks, ancient aqueducts, bomb shelters, seismic stations and even underground gardens. Cristo Velato The 17th century Chapel of Sansevero, a former church close to Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, houses one of the most famous sculptures in the world, the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sammartino (1753), a representation of dead Jeusus Christ covered by a transparent shroud made from the same block of the statue. A work of extraordinary beauty, charm and skill, characterized by unsurpassed dramatic force and hyper realistic details. Parco VirgilianoOn the Posillipo promontory, this nice park offers truly fine views, embracing all of Naples and its gulf, the islands and Vesuvius on a clear day. A wide avenue lined with pine trees leads to the monumental Fascist era entrance, opening on a large square enriched by a fountain. From here, you can get lost in its 92,000 square meters of greenery, among olive, myrtle, and pine trees and rosemary plants. MarechiaroA symbol of the Neapolitan “Dolce Vita” of the 1960s, this quaint suburb in Posillipo has become legendary thanks to a famous song by Neapolitan poet and writer Salvatore Di Giacomo, inspired by a window (fenestrella) overlooking the sea. With its magnificent views of the Gulf, the panoramic restaurants and the beach overlooking the famous Scoglione, Marechiaro is an undoubtedly romantic place where you can savor the quintessential postcard Naples. EatGran Caffè GambrinusWilling to try the authentic Neapolitan coffee? Stop at this historic literary café and enjoy it surrounded by Art Nouveau splendor. Pintauro275, Via Toledo If sfogliatella is the queen of Neapolitan patisserie, then Pintauro is without doubts the king of sfogliatella, which was created right here back in 1818 by Pasquale Pintauro by revisiting an 18th century recipe. Antica Pizzeria da MicheleThe secret to the extraordinary pizza baked at this authentic pizza temple is all in the know-how that has been passed on from one generation to the next ever since 1870, when Salvatore Condurro and his son Michele first opened the family business. Osteria della Mattonella13, Via Giovanni NicoteraThis simple home cooking restaurant is a great place for sampling the authentic Neapolitan cuisine of Antonietta Imperatore, “Empress” of the classic Genovese, a dish of pasta, meat and onion which is very popular in town.                                                                                                      Pizzeria De’ Figliole39, Via Giudecca Vecchia Fried pizza is one of the main cornerstones of Naples’ street food offer: here you will find it in its most genuine and authentic version, with super rich fillings according to the local tradition. Photo creditsCapodimonte Photo by Mentnafunangann under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licenseCristo velatoPhoto by David Sivyer under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseMarechiaroPhoto by Antonio Picascia under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseGambrinusPhoto by Michele Sergio under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licensePizza napoletanaPhoto by Valerio Capello under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license 

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01.11.2017

What would Courmayeur be without the Mont Blanc? Perhaps only a small mountain village of two thousand souls, a small town like many others, with lovely typical houses and pleasant views. But everything here revolves around the granite 4,810 meter high giant bristling with spiers and ridges and furrowed by deep valleys where glaciers flow. At 1,224 meters above sea level, Courmayeur has always been a holiday resort, ever since the 18th century, when the aristocratic families of Piedmont and Savoy used to come here for enjoying thermal baths in Pré-Saint-Didier. Yet it was not until the 19th century that it turned into an international holiday destination, and subsequently into a major winter sports thanks to the construction of the ski lifts and facilities after World War II and the Mont Blanc tunnel in 1965. Today, Courmayeur is a popular international destination which somehow managed to retain its alpine atmosphere. To experience it, just walk along the narrow and winding shopping street, Via Roma, in the heart of the historic center, or go to the small towns that surround it, such as Morgex, a medieval village dominated by the tower of an ancient castle, La Salle and La Thuile. When in town, do not forget to visit the eighteenth-century Church of St. Pantaleon and the Malluquin Tower, the remain of a sixteenth century castle which now houses exhibitions and events. And although the real stars here are still the mountains, which have made Courmayeur and the whole Valdigne a renowned international alpine ski area, between one descent and the next our advice is to immerse yourselves in what remains of the ancient grandeur of old-time Courmayeur, enjoying its true flavors and exploring the rare corners that are still authentic. Here are some of our favourite places. Museo Alpino Duca degli AbruzziIn this corner of Italy where the history mountaineering was made, it is worth visiting the museum dedicated to one of the most fascinating and adventurous sports ever. The exhibition is not only for experts and enthusiasts, but also for those who want to learn more about the Courmayeur Alpine Guide Society. Notre Dame de la GuérisonVia Val Veny, La Villette This little white church, which looks tiny in the presence of the great Brenva glacier, appears like a vision on the road to the Val Veny. Built in the mid-nineteenth century, it has walls covered with paintings and votive offerings. Caffè della Posta51, via Roma Although it may be pretty crowded in peak season, this historic café in the town center with an old fireplace and seventeenth-century ceilings is worth a visit at breakfast or aperitivo time. Opened back in 1911 as a grocery store, over time it has adapted to the transformation of Courmayeur into one of the most renowned ski resorts in the Alps, welcoming VIPs and celebrities. Pierre Alexis 1877An excellent restaurant in the old city where you can enjoy both local dishes and creative cuisine based on fresh quality products and seasonal ingredients, accompanied by a wide choice of wines. Photo credits:Courmayeur, ski facilities base area: photo by Alan Baldwin under the CC BY NC-ND 2.0 licenseVia Roma and Caffè La Posta: photo by Damien Roué under the CC BY NC-ND 2.0 licenseThe cableway: photo by Dan Zelazo under the CC BY NC-ND 2.0 licenseNotre Dame de la Guérison: photo by Jerome Bon under the CC BY 2.0 license 

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01.10.2017

If you got literally fed up with all the End-of-the-Year and New Year’s luncheons and dinner-parties, nabemono, or more simply nabe, could be a good compromise to satisfy your hunger, without filling you too much. Here is a brief introduction to Japanese hot pots and where to find them in Tokyo.  CHANKONABEOriginally meant for rikishi, the sumo wrestlers, chankonabe is a healthy and well-balanced hot pot with a variety of ingredients, which include fish, seafood, meat, surimi and vegetables. Although most sumo training quarters are based in and around the Ryōgoku district, you can taste chankonabe in other areas of Tokyo as well. Chanko KirishimaRun by former wrestler Kirishima, from the Michinoku Stable, the restaurant is located on the 8th floor of a building not too far from Kokugikan Sumo Hall. It is usually full. We recommend the delicious chankonabe with a generous amount of shrimps and scallops in a rich broth made with pork and chicken bones. KotonofujiIt is a restaurant run by former wrestler Kotonofuji and located in Kagurazaka, where you can taste the chankonabe of the Sadogatake stable. Kotonofuji serves a simple yet tasty nabe full of vegetables, chicken and chicken meatballs, in a chicken-bone broth that has simmered for at least four hours. KANISHABUSnow, horsehair and red king are the names of the three crab species brought about by the cold northern waters in winter. Here are a couple of nabe restaurants where you can taste their delicate flesh. Ryo (Azabu)A specialized restaurant serving crabs from Nemuro and Kushiro, Hokkaido. You can choose from a wide array of dishes, including nabe. Tarabaya (Kichijōji)The shop offers Hokkaido cuisine and different kinds of crabs at reasonable prices. An all-you-can-eat option is also available. CHICKEN MIZUTAKIOriginally a Hakata specialty, mizutaki is chicken boiled with its bones and seasoned with ponzu sauce. The flavourful soup is rich in collagen and helps warming up the body. Mizutaki Shimizu (Megurogawa)This old shop run by the Kyōmachi family is always packed. Here you can enjoy a nabe with meat and stock made with free-range poultry. Hawfinch eggs on a bowl of white rice are also a delicacy. Torishō Takehashi (Roppongi)The shop serves different types of chicken: shamo, red, Yamato, and others. The most popular nabe is shirotaki, with non-deboned chicken legs and very rich in collagen. ODENOden was originally what is now commonly known as dengaku, boiled konjac and miso. Nowadays, oden consists of various ingredients, such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth. In its many variations, oden is considered a classic winter dish nationwide. Kappō Inagaki (Hanzōmon)Established 30 years ago and inheriting the taste of generations, this restaurant offers oden in the styles of Kansai, Kantō and NagoyaEsaki (Kagurazaka)This very small shop, with only eight seats at the counter, is renowned for the careful selection of the ingredients, served in a simple soup that emphasizes their flavour. 

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01.05.2017

City spas often end up being similar to luxury clinics: too white, too minimalist, maybe a little too cold. This is certainly not the case with Aire, an area dedicated to well-being tucked away in a narrow Tribeca street, in the heart of Manhattan, among local stores and restaurants, inside a reconverted late 19th century textile. The huge post-industrial spaces revisited by architect Alonso Balaguer, whose exposed brick walls and pillars have been preserved, are the backdrop to a very warm, candle-lit environment dominated by water. The inspiration comes from the ancient Greek and Roman baths, where the Salus Per Aquam culture has its own roots, but also from the Turkish and Ottoman tradition of steam baths. The pave is the brainchild of a Spanish entrepreneur who has already opened four Aire spas in Spain, and will shortly launch two more in Chicago and Paris. To preserve the calm of the place and the right dose of relaxation, only 20 people are allowed to be inside the Manhattan Aire spa for each 90-minute shift, having at their disposal a thermal circuit with different pools (ice, cold, warm, salted), a jet pool, a steam bath with aromatherapy, and a relaxation room with heated marble benches. Of course, massages and treatments are also available; among them is the signature Red Wine Ritual created by Spanish winery Matarromera, which includes a thermal experience as well as a red wine bath in an antique Venetian tub and a red wine grape exfoliation and massage. Aire is open every day of the year, from 9 am to 11 pm. No need to bring anything special - just your swimsuit and the desire to leave the world behind for a few hours. 

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01.03.2017

A city so beautiful and full of history that it has earned the nickname of "Little Paris", and above all the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Bordeaux, the wine capital par excellence, graced by a perpetually mild climate and surrounded of vineyards. Although most of the visitors who come here can’t wait to literally soak in the wine culture, sampling the exceptionally good local wines paired with great products and haute cuisine, Bordeaux is much more than a food & wine destination. Its rare beauty, which has its roots in an 18th century grandeur recently revamped through a careful work of general renovation of the city, has in a way been freed from centuries of mold that threatened to make its nobility a little stale, and so today Bordeaux looks and feels like a city that has managed to carry her glorious past into the new millennium. The re-installed tramway, the reclaimed Garonne river banks and the restored facades of its majestic historic buildings now stand side-by-side with the new contemporary buildings, including the amazingly futuristic hedquarters of the new Cité du Vin, designed by Architects XTU to celebrate the local wine culture. Similarly, the Michelin-starred luxury restaurants, undisputed cathedrals of a sophisticated culinary tradition, have been joined by more casual but just as interesting establishments, innovative bistros, bars and clubs that add just the right amount of vibrance to the city’s nightlife. To get to know Bordeaux, our advice is to start right from its eighteenth century heart, the so-called Triangle d'Or, which includes Place Gambetta, Place of the Grandes Hommes, Place de la Comédie with the majestic Grand Théâtre, and the Notre Dame church - as well as countless luxury boutiques and stores. The medieval district of St. Pierre, with its cobbled streets and small squares, is another must-see, along with the Ste Croix and St. Michel areas, dominated by two magnificent churches. Other not-to-be-missed sights include the imposing Palais de la Bourse overlooking the river, and of course the renovated banks, where old warehouses have been converted into stores, cafes and clubs surrounded by green spaces. Finally, do not forget to enjoy the view of and from the Pont de Pierre, one of the city's symbol, the nineteenth-century stone bridge which first allowed the people from Bordeaux to reach to the right bank of the Garonne from the city center. And if you manage to spare some time for eating, drinking and shopping (we are pretty sure you will), here’s a list of some of our favorite places in town: EatRestaurant du LoupA classic Old Bordeaux-style restaurant in the heart of the city, offering traditional French cuisine and local wines in an intimate and welcoming ambience.  Jean PrinceThis newly-opened casual and contemporary ‘seafood canteen’ is the brainchild of a young local restaurateur offering affordable fusion cuisine centered around crabs and lobsters. Le chien de PavlovA creative cuisine gourmet bistro with great price/quality ratio. unusual flavors and a cosmopolitan attitude. ShopMona watchesAcronym of ‘Montres Originales Nardon et Ardilouze’, MONA was born out of the encounter between a watch-maker and a designer in the coastal town of Soulac sur Mer, near Bordeaux. It crafts beautiful and sophisticatedly-designed watches made with parts coming from strictly European manufacturers. L’intendantIf you wish to bring home a couple of real good bottles, this is the right address. Le 101A lovely concept store/gallery housed on the premises of a graphic studio, specializing in design, art and photography. Photo creditsA night view of Place de la Bourse: photo by Phillip Maiwald under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseThe Grand Théâtre: photo by Patrick Despoix under the CC BY-SA 3.0 

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01.02.2017

The first visit is called hatsumode, but it was once referred to as toshigomori. It was customary that the head of the family stayed in the shrine overnight at the turn of the year, praying. Eventually toshigomori was divided into two customs: joyamode, the visit in the evening of New Year’s Eve, and ganjitsumode, in the morning of the New Year’s Day, which became the original form of today’s hatsumode. Meiji ShrineMeiji-jingū enshrines Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken. The thick greenery surrounding the premises makes it a popular place for relaxation, but in the first week of the year it becomes the place of worship with the most visitors in Japan. From 5 to 30 January, a calligraphy exhibition will host about 25,000 works of primary and junior high school students nationwide. Nishi-arai DaishiIn 826, during the Heian period, the temple was founded with the official name of Sōji-ji. A priest, Kobo Daishi, arrived in this area at the time of a massive epidemic. To rescue the diseased villagers, he commissioned a temple with a statue of an eleven-faced Kan’non, and a statue with his own features to be installed near an infected well. After Kobo Daishi prayed for 21 days, clear water gushed out of the well and the disease was gone. Since the well was located west (nishi) of the main hall of the temple, the site took the name of Nishi-arai, as well as the nickname of Mount Kōya of Kantō – the real Mount Kōya being in Kansai. Crowds of believers come to Sōji/Nishi-arai Daishi Temple to drive evil spirits awayHie ShrineBuilt about 800 years ago, Hie Shrine is dedicated to the mountain god Oyamakui. After Tokugawa Ieyasu established it as the guardian shrine of Edo Castle, it began to be attended by the shogunate and various feudal lords. In June, Hie Shrine opens to the Sannō Festival, one of the three great Edo festivals, During the Edo Era, floats and mikoshi (portable shrines) were allowed to enter Edo Castle, and so generations of shōgun enjoyed the event that was called the Tenka Festival. The treasures of Hie Shrine include 31 swords designated as national treasures or important cultural property, as well as the treasure of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Unlike the other shrines, the premises of Hie are guarded by statues of monkeys, instead of the usual komainu, the lion-shaped guardian dogs. The Japanese character for “monkey” can be read as saru aside from en, which is the same reading as the Japanese word for "ward off", so the monkeys can ward off evil. Ōtori ShrineThe shrine, whose name means “Shrine of the Rooster”, is dedicated to Prince Yamato Takeru. In November, on the Day of the Rooster, the festival-goers visit Ohtori Shrine to pray for a better fortune, safety and prosperity for the year to come. Since 2017 is the Year of the Rooster in the Sino-Japanese zodiac, an even larger number of people are forecast to visit Ōtori shrine in this periodKanda Myōjin ShrineThe 1,300-year-old complex enshrines the deities for 108 Tokyo neighbourhoods including Kanda, Nihonbashi, Akihabara, Ōtemachi and Marunouchi. The old Kanda market, along with Tsukiji, still provides the food of Edo. On New Year’s Day, there is mochitsuki, “rice pounding”, where complimentary sake is also offered. You can pick your own fortune slip at the Daikoku Festival, opening on 9 January and happening for three days. 

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01.02.2017

Although back in the years of the economic boom it earned the reputation of a gray, hostile, industrial city, today Milan seems to be light years away from that cliché, a city full of contrasts and yet charming, which on the one hand raises to the sky with the futuristic skyscrapers of Porta Nuova, and on the other hand rediscovers historic districts and revamps former industrial spaces. A city that accelerates but also knows how to slow down, gifted with a relatively small center enclosed in the so-called 'ring of canals' that can be easily explored by walking - starting from the monumental Piazza del Duomo, which houses the beautiful gothic Cathedral, the nineteenth century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Royal Palace. From here, it’s just a short walk to more iconic places in town such the famous La Scala Theatre, the Sforzesco Castle, the artsy Brera district and the ancient Roman columns of San Lorenzo. With over sixty museums and galleries ranging from comics and photography to ancient and contemporary art, cinema and sports, Milan certainly is a culture capital, but it also has a uniquely dynamic and creative side, one of whose elements undoubtedly is the "fashion quarter", the area crowded with top-notch ​​boutiques and designer showrooms bordered by Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia. Further north is the new Downton Milan, which tranformed the city’s skyline with the skyscrapers of Porta Nuova, towering over the old buildings, the paved walk of Corso Como and the controversial beauty of Piazza Gae Aulenti. Yet perhaps the most unique and authentic face of Milan is the one that does not reveal itself at first glance, a discreet charm made of small details, inexpected views, hidden gardens and courtyards. And that is precisely the ‘slow city’ that we invite you to discover. Not to be missed:Orto Botanico di BreraMilan’s botanic garden is a small oasis of peace in the timeless heart of the city, where you can walk among 300 species of plants including rare and magnificent specimens like an ancient ginkgo biloba and a 40-meter high linden. Basilica of Sant’AmbrogioThis early Christian basilica is one of the most important places in the history of Milan, as well as a monument full of charm and mystery. Built between 379 and 386 by Ambrogio, Bishop of Milan, and dedicated to the martyrs, it is a rare example of intact Lombard Romanesque style. The crypt houses the relics of Saints Ambrogio, Gervasio and Protasio. Villa Necchi CampiglioA gem of rationalist architecture in the center of Milan which is still perfectly intact, including the garden with tennis courts and a swimming pool. Through its architecture, decorative arts, furnishings and collections, the Villa represents an authentic portrait of the industrial bourgeoisie’s lifestyle in Lombardy back in the 1930sSan Maurizio al Monastero MaggioreCorso Magenta, 13 - MilanAlso known as ‘the Sistine Chapel of Milan’, this church once hosted the most important female monastery of the city, belonging to the Benedictine order. The interior is simply spectacular, thanks to the wonderful decorations on the walls and ceiling adorned by Bernardino Luini’s Renaissance frescoes. 

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12.21.2016

Golden beaches, cliffs, fishing villages and pure beauty wherever you look. Algarve, in southern Portugal, is a truly magnificent land, graced by a beautiful light and comparatively non-touristy, especially off season – when the all-year-round mild temperatures are a big plus. In Lagos, a historic and vibrant coastal town in western Algarve, Casa Mãe is a gorgeous house flooded with light overlooking the old town and the sea (which is only a five minute walk away), comprising three very different houses combining traditional and contemporary architecture, and surrounded by a large vegetable garden. Designed as an ideal base for exploring the city and western Algarve, Casa Mãe is also a welcoming retreat with the warm and informal atmosphere of a real home. The 30 large and bright rooms are located in the most modern part of the complex, but they do not lack a touch of local atmosphere, thanks to the handmade terracotta floors and the wooden panels inspired by traditional Algarvian reixas, screening the balconies from the sun while letting through light and air. Thanks to the on-site huge organic vegetable garden, to the hotel's own farm and to trusted local suppliers, Orta, Casa Mãe’s restaurant, offers healthy cuisine focused on creatively revisited fresh, seasonal ingredients including homemade bread, self-produced eggs, garden vegetables, regional cheeses, fresh juices and squashes - the zero-mile and short supply chain philosophy is taken pretty seriously here. Finally, among Casa Mãe’s special and unique perks are the hotel’s own magazine, which offers a virtual journey through Portugal visiting all the places and the people who inspired the Casa’s character, and Loja, a concept store selling Portuguese design and craft objects and featuring a small photography and design bookstore. 

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12.20.2016

When Christmas comes, Tokyo dresses up in glorious illuminations, each area more beautiful than the last. If you’re in town at around the turn of the year, you may want to check out the illuminations listed below. Marunouchi Illuminations 2016For the 15th year running, with the support of Ōtemachi Financial City, the 250 trees along the 1.2 km area stretching from Grand Cube to Ōtemachi-dōri will be decorated with as many as one million LED lights in the Marunouchi trademark champagne colour. The LED lights use electricity obtained from solar and wind power, for 100 days approximately.Until February, 19, 2017 Midtown Christmas 2016Starlight Garden is the name of the dreamlike universe of blue lights gracing Tokyo Midtown at Christmas time. This year, the spectacle of the 6cm full-colour LEDs is made even more impressive by four searchlights beaming 180m up into the airspace above Roppongi, in a dynamic depiction of the Big Bang. Do not take our word for it. Go ahead and venture through this magic land of 520,000 lights, extending from the Welcome Illuminations all the way to Starlight Garden.Until December, 25, 2016 Caretta Illuminations “Canyon d’Azur 2016”Last year, the Caretta Illuminations attracted around 500,000 visitors. This winter, the “Forest of the Blue Spirit” marks the eleventh edition of Canyon d’Azur. At the very heart of the forest, you can make a wish and sound the “Bell of the Spirit”. The chimes will resound against a wall made of eight lights of different heights and throughout the Forest. The romantic illumination show is complemented by the changing lights and the original music score playing and repeating every twenty minutes. While you’re at it, go up to the observation deck on the 46th floor of the Caretta Shiodome Tower. From there, you can contemplate the night landscape of Rainbow Bridge, and the Tokyo Bay area.Until February, 14, 2017 Tokyo Dome City “Winter Illuminations”This winter, Tokyo Dome City celebrates the 150th anniversary of Japan–Italy relations with illuminations, in collaboration with Italy, with the installation “Italy in Love – the Magic of Light, for all the Lovers”. Your guide for this journey will be la befana, the good old hag who brings children chocolate and sweets on 6 January, sprinkling the magic of Italy all over Tokyo Dome City. For the first time in Japan, the installation will feature 1:25 replicas of famous Italian spots, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Juliet’s House.Until February, 19, 2017 Jewels of Shōnan 2016-2017Jewels of Shōnan is the third largest winter illumination display in the whole Kantō region. The Illumination spreads 360-degree from top of the Enoshima Sea Candle over a 70m-diameter Light Field. From the entrance of Enoshima Samuel Cocking Garden to the Light Field, the so-called Shōnan Chandelier creates a tunnel of light with as many as 60,000 crystal beads. You will feel drenched in a pouring rain of beaming light. Shōnan is much warmer than Tokyo: if the sun is shining, it will feel like spring, even on a winter day. From mid December to late January, you may also want to catch a glimpse of 20,000 tulips illuminated.Until February, 19, 2017 (Tulip Illuminations: mid December – late January) 

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12.14.2016

When speaking of the British capital is impossible not to mention the ‘double decker’, the world-famous red bus which has become one of the symbols of the city along with the Big Ben and the classic red phone booth. Hopping on a double decker and sitting on its upper front seats is one of the most fascinating ways to explore the city, especially at Christmas time when the streets are filled with decorations and colorful lights. The Routemaster – this is the name of the original London bus which made its first appearance in 1954 - is characterized by an open platform in the rear, and unfortunately it was due to this distinctive element that it was eventually retired mainly for safety reasons and because of the excessive maintenance costs (it required a conductor in addition to the driver), and replaced with a new generation of double deckers. The new buses, which have retained the colors and shape of the original ones, still offer the priceless thrill of soaking up the atmosphere of Christmas from the comfort of a veritable British icon. Following are our recommended routes for a memorable tour of the city. Just get you ticket and hop on! Route 15Although the Routemaster has been retired, along this route there is still a bunch of old double deckers. Bus no. 15 crosses the city from east to west, from Blackwall Station to Charing Cross Station in Trafalgar Square. Along the route there are plenty of notable stops, including the Tower of London, the Monument (a 61-meter-tall tower built in memory of the great London fire of 1666), and the imposing St Paul's Cathedral on Ludgate Hill. Route 74Bus no. 74 crosses town from north to south-west, starting in Putney Exchange, a stone's throw from Madame Tussaud's famous wax museum, and ending at Baker Street Station. Stopping at Marylebone Street, Mayfair, Knightsbridge, South Kensington and Earls Court, it’s a great option for reaching Hyde Park – whose Christmas version is a giant amusement park called Winter Wonderland – the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, all located on Exhibition RoadRV1 RouteRunning through the city from Covent Garden (which currently houses a charming Christmas market) up to Tower Gateway Station, this route crosses the Thames twice, through Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge, offering the chance to admire the bright decorations reflected in its waters. Other sights include the Shard, the Southwark skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano, and the iconic London Eye, located between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. 

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12.12.2016

Christmas is almost here and there is nothing better than spending a day at the Christmas markets to immerse yourself in the spirit of the holidays. Especially if you’re in Vienna, where the atmosphere this time of the year is truly magical and evocative. The Austrian capital is home to a myriad of markets, a classic local December ritual; here's a list of the ones you should not miss. Wiener Christkindlmark, Rathausplatz The Christmas market on the Town Hall Square is one of the largest ones in Vienna. With 150 stalls and a giant Advent wreath to decorate the location, it offers culinary delights and perfect gift ideas to the millions of tourists it attracts every year. Not far away, at the Town Hall park, the fun is assured by the presence of two ice rinks and various entertainment activities for the little ones, including the reading of Christmas stories.From 11/12 to 12/26 Weihnachtsdorf, Maria-Theresien-PlatzBetween the Museum of Art History and the Natural History Museum, all around the statue of Empress Maria Theresa, 70 stalls sell pieces of artistic craftsmanship, hot and cold drinks and sweet delicacies. A soundtrack of gospel choirs and live music accompanies the experience, creating an atmosphere of celebration and serenity.From 11/16 to 12/26 (replaced by the New Year’s Market from 12/27 to 12/31) The Christmas Market at SchönbrunnIn the charming courtyard of the Palace that was once the residence of Princess Sissi, magnificently decorated for the occasion, 80 little wooden houses sell roasted chestnuts, pastries, hot drinks and various Christmas goodies. There are plenty of activities for children, too, which makes the atmosphere merry and the place perpetually crowded.Open from 11/19 to 12/26 (replaced by the New Year’s Market from 12/27 to 12/31) Altwienermarkt, FreyungThe oldest and most traditional Christmas market in Vienna dates back to 1772. Come here if you’re looking for top-quality handcrafted nativity figurines, glass and ceramics decorations and fine jewelry. Of course, the stalls also offer countless delicacies such as spiced cookies, flavored teas and mulled wine – and there are Christmas carols (starting 4 pm) every afternoon.From 11/18 to 12/23 

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12.12.2016

Have you ever heard of oyakodon? The name itself explains what this protein-rich dish is all about. Oya means “parent” and refers to chicken. Ko is the eggs, the “kid” in the recipe. Don is the bowl of rice where the aforementioned ingredients are gently laid in an irresistibly creamy soup. Everyone likes oyakodon. And you will too, especially after visiting one of these restaurants in Tokyo. Suegen, ShibuyaA number of literary people sat at Suegen, but the restaurant is famous for being the venue of Yukio Mishima’s last supper. This is not the usual oyakodon. Suegen is very particular about the quality of the chicken, gently ground from parts other than the thighs or the breast. In the vividly-coloured combination of savoury broth and velvety egg, hides the umami of the ground meat. Taizen, Shinjuku GyoenPeople flock to this shop in their thousands, for its yakitori made with Hinai chicken. You can order yakitori at the end of the meal. However, the lunch menu only offers oyakodon. The sweet smell of the chicken meat and the sauce, as well as the bright colour of the egg, are enticing to the point that they are sold out in no time. Ranjatai, KandaIt is a very popular one Michelin star restaurant, offering the finest and freshest ingredients. Carefully selected Hinai chicken meat is dispatched every morning. The eggs are also supplied daily directly by the farmers, with no intermediaries. Ranjatai is open in the evening only, and the menu is very simple and chosen by the chef daily. Whatever the courses, all the menus come with a bowl of oyakodon at the end. Ise, Kajichō (Chiyoda)Ise has a well-founded fame that has been increased by its numerous appearances in the media. At lunchtime, you can order nothing but oyakodon, but the freshness of the meat and eggs and the quality of the cooking will make the visit to the restaurant worthwhile. The rice itself is superbHonkeabeya, KagurazakaHonkeabeya is strictly regulated by an association of 31 Hinai chicken farmers from the Akita prefecture. Since the chickens are pasture-raised, they do not get stressed and their meat stays lean but firm. The soup is made with strictly Hinai chicken and no egg can be used other than Hinai eggs. The resulting oyakodon is a superior-quality combination that will make your palate and taste buds rejoice.  

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12.05.2016

Just like every year, as Christmas approaches Paris is ready to turn into an explosion of lights and colors. The squares and the streets of the city, as well as the shop windows, are already filled with gorgeous decorations and installations defying even the most reluctant among us to resist the Christmas spirit. On November 21, Mayor Anne Hidalgo turned on the lights that will keep shining over the French capital until January, 8 on the occasion of the official ceremony, attended among others by Olympic judo champion Teddy Riner, who kicked off the light show as the guest of honor. One of the most charming places in the city at Christmas time is quite obviously Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the famous tree-lined street leading from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, which is enriched for the occasion with over two kilometers of illuminations. Besides, from this year onwards the decorations will be environmentally friendly, thanks to the use of LED technology, which ensures low-power consumption. Also in the Place de la Concordeis the spectacular Grande Roue, a giant wheel from which you can enjoy Paris from above, currently wrapped in festive bright decor. Department stores Galeries LaFayette and Printemps, both located on boulevard Haussmann, in the ninth arrondissement, are yet another Christmas classic, becoming authentic winter wonderlands starting from late November. This year, the Galeries LaFayette boost a set of truly impressive North Pole-themed decorations under the name of ‘Christmas Polar Extra’, as well as a Christmas tree entirely decorated with paper ornaments. As for the most romantic corner of Paris, the hill of Montmartre, once home to some of the most important artists of the twentieth century including Picasso, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, in December it turns into a cascade of lights, becoming even more magical. Finally, drop by the Viaduc des Arts, the old pink-brick railway viaduct housing traditional crafts workshops that gets the Christmas treatment with bright lights shining along its outline. 

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12.05.2016

 Saryō, KagurazakaLocated inside a traditional townhouse, Saryō can be a nice hideaway that will make you forget about the hurly-burly of city life. The tea ware is carefully selected and the general ambience is calm and relaxed. The menu spans from Japanese traditional to Western-inspired sweets, which include sweet potato and rice desserts, as well as raw matcha cheesecake. Chachanoma, OmotesandōThe shop is specialised in tea. Here you will taste teas like you have never tasted them before. You will be able to appreciate all the differences in flavour and intensity. If you want to learn how to brew tea duly, you may want to attend one of the seminars held in the shop. Zen-Kashoin, ShibuyaIt is a Japanese tea and cake shop, with headquarters in Muromachi, Kyoto. Here, you can enjoy a cup of carefully brewed tea with seasonal sweets and kasutera sponge cake filled with black beans, which also make a perfect gift. Suzuki-en, AsakusaSuzuki-en is a must for all matcha lovers. In no other place can you find such a wide array of green tea gelatos, each one different in intensity, but equally pleasant in terms of delicate bitterness. You can choose the intensity according to your mood of the day. Microcosmos, ShibuyaIn this exquisitely designed café you will be able to sit and relax with no rush. The specialty here is matcha pancakes, usually served in a generous pile of three with whipped cream. Microcosmos is a sweet escape both daytime and night-time. 

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12.01.2016

The many attractions of Munich acquire a special flavor starting from December, when the German city turns into the perfect Christmas destination. Here are some of the major markets and events that mark the Holiday season. Toolwood Winter FestivalThe winter edition of this festival, which devotes special attention to environmental awareness, is held at Theresienwiese, home of the famous Oktoberfest. Live music concerts alternate with theatrical and acrobatic performances, offering an unforgettable experience. Do not miss the New Year’s Eve celebrations, including multi-ethnic food stalls and DJ sets.Until December, 31 Christkindlmarkt am MarienplatzThe largest Christmas market in Munich opens its doors on the day before Advent Sunday, with a solemn ceremony during which the mayor declares the official opening and Christmas lights are finally turned on. The Christkindlmarkt, daily accompanied from 5.30 pm  by a program of traditional Christmas music, boasts over 150 stalls and an impressive 30 meters-high Christmas tree standing in the center of the square.Until December, 24 Sternenplatzl am RindermarktLocated just a short distance from Marienplatz, this is one of the largest Nativity markets in Germany. Perfect for those who want to buy beautifully handmade figurines, it is rooted into a centuries-old tradition: the very first independent Nativity market took place in Munich back in 1757.Until December, 24 Münchner Mittelaltricher WeihnachtsmarktThe medieval market in Wittelsbacher Platz is one of the most peculiar ones that you can visit in Munich at Christmas time. The traditional wooden houses are mostly replaced with Medieval tents reminiscent of ancient knightly tournament camps, selling everything from mulled wine, ginger biscuits, roasted sausages and apple pancakes to wooden artifacts, handmade jewels, swords and armors.Until December, 23 

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11.28.2016

Like it or not, over the past decade Amsterdam has changed profoundly. The city of canals and bicycles has been constantly attracting large companies, digital start-ups, masses of tourists, working-class immigrants and new wealthy inhabitants, and it is not immune to all these infuences. If on the one hand it has managed to retain its original charm, on the other hand it has necessarily changed and adapted to this new situation, and the results are not always convincing. On the up side, for those visiting the city the offer in terms of upscale and boutique hotels, museums, cafes and restaurants has definitely improved with plenty of amazing options either in the center or in the emerging neighborhoods such as the Amsterdam Noord area, a creative district crowded with cool hangouts. Here’s a small selction of places that might help you get an idea - and a taste - of the new Amsterdam. B. AmsterdamSimply the largest start-up incubator in Europe, an ecosystem that brings together creative professionals, start-ups and large companies in 28,000 square meters and two buildings, acting as a bridge among them and offering a multitude of services. Amenities include a nice rooftop restaurant with panoramic city views. Coffee ConceptsWork, food, art and lots of coffee. These are the ingredients of Coffee Concepts, a unique space around the corner from the Van Gogh Museum which houses a communication and PR agency, a gallery and a sandwich shop all at the same time. Expect young professionals sipping coffee as they work on their laptop, or enjoying lunch on the sofas. Hutspot A concept store selling clothes, accessories, furniture and household items from emerging designers and brands with a bent for sustainability, but also a nice cafe on the top floor where you can rest after shopping. All this is Hutspot, whose main location is in the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan De Pijp district. Noordelicht CafeIn the heart of Noord, the former industrial area behind the railway station (and only reachable by ferry) where many large companies and start-ups recently set up their headquarters, this cafe hidden among old and reclaimed warehouses has a really laid-back and vibrant feel. Organic ingredients, plenty of vegetarian options and live music add further charm to the venue. De Vergulden EenhoornThe golden unicorn, a creature as rare as a country restaurant in Amsterdam, is just the right name for this truly special place set in a seventeenth century Oost farmhouse overlooking a canal. Quite like the atmosphere, the food is country-inspired, with wholegrain bread sandwiches filled with fresh vegetables, fish or meat. Perfect for a summer day-trip just outside the city. 

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11.23.2016

Vienna is a city with a an impressive urban structure, dotted with spiers, historic buildings and contemporary skyscrapers, in a harmonious mix that only a major European capital has to offer. The best way to appreciate it is, of course, from above, in order to embrace wide portions of it in a glance. To enjoy this view, a good idea is sitting at one of the city’s rooftop restaurants and cafes - yet you do not necessarily need to spend a fortune: there are plenty of lovely little places and terraces and beautiful cafes hiddden inside museum domes. Here are a few of them.Justizcafe This little-known cafe with a panoramic terrace is a pleasant surprise on the 5th floor of Vienna’s  Palace of Justice, home of the Austrian Supreme Court and a gem of new Reinassance nineteenth century architecture. Simple, spacious and bright, it is graced by a truly magnificent view. Das Ocean’skyThe cafe on top of the Haus des Meeres, Vienna’s Aquarium (housed in a former flak tower) is another little unexpected jewel, mostly for the view from the 11th floor - especially with good weather, when you can sit outside on the terrace. Café-Restaurant Kunsthstorisches MuseumIt is not the view of the city, but that the sumptuous interiors of the nineteenth-century dome of Vienna’s Museum of Art History, that makes this restaurant so unique. The gastronomic tradition is that of the great Viennese cafes, with a gourmet touch. Restaurant am DonauturmA true symbol of the city since 1964, when it was built, the Danube Tower features a panoramic restaurant 165 meters above the ground, from where you can enjoy the best views of the city and of the Vienna Woods. The menu is seasonal and strictly Viennese. Onyx Bar @ DO&CO hotelLiterally in the heart of the city, with its large windows overlooking the spiers of the St Stephen’s Cathedral, Onyx Bar is one of the most beautiful venues in Vienna, perfect for a sunset drink or a cocktail in the late evening, when the place gest pretty crowded. 

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11.23.2016

 The great thing about Japan is that the autumn foliage, as well as the cherry blossoms, can be enjoyed throughout the archipelago. If you missed momiji-gari, you may still catch a glimpse of the tail end of in Chūgoku, Shikoku or Kyūshū. Nametoko Gorge (Ehime Prefecture)In Uwajima, south Ehime Prefecture, is situated the Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park, where the nature is ravishing and the waters of the river Shimanto flow clear and blue. In the middle of the Nametoko Gorge, is the breathtakingly beautiful Yukiwa Waterfall. With a height of 80m, it creates snow-like patterns as it flows and it ranks among the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. Kiyomizu Temple (Shimane Prefecture)The Kiyomizu Temple in Yasugi, Prefecture of Shimane, was built by the Tendai Sect in 587 AD. It is dedicated to the eleven-headed Kannon, to ward off evil spirits. Built on the mountain-side and surrounded by a cedar forest, the Kiyomizu Temple has a great number of cultural assets, including the three-storeyed pagoda, but the main attraction in this season is the autumn foliage dyeing the entire mountain in flaming red. Kakuon Temple (Hiroshima Prefecture)Kakuon Temple is an Ōbaku-zen Buddhist temple in the castle town of Chofu. Ōbaku is one of the three main zen schools in Japan, and it began in the Edo period. It was founded in 1698, to welcome the seventh patriarch of the Ōbaku sect from China. The red autumn leaves attract ever so many people. Also opening nearby this November 18 is the Shimonoseki History Museum.  Akizuki Castle Ruins (Fukuoka Prefecture)The Akizuki Castle Ruins are located in Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture. It was built according to the dying will of daimyō Kuroda Nagamasa in 1624. After that, the castle became the official residence of Akizuki’s feudal lords for successive generations. The castle began to decline in use in the early Meiji Era. The colorful leaves set against the gates combined with their beautiful contrast to the surrounding green cedars creates a unique feeling of the times. Mifuneyama Rakuen (Saga Prefecture)Mount Mifuneyama in Takeo City stands at 210 meters, and its western part is Mifuneyama Rakuen (rakuen directly translating into “paradise” in Japanese), a 150,000-square metre park which has over 5,000 sakura trees and 5,000 azaleas blooming in spring, while a stunning view of each red leaf will greet you during autumn. The varying foliage will also be lit up as part of seasonal festivals. Kanmuri (Kagoshima)Located in Kagoshima, Kyūshū, Kanmuri is the place of origin of Shingon Buddhism. It used to be known for the presence of medicinal herbs. The walking course around halfway up the mountain is about 10 kilometres. Here autumn leaves can be fully enjoyed. 

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11.21.2016

The recent beard and mustache revival gave birth to a brand new season for the ancient craft of beard care, and this did not spare Paris. The most tangible consequence of this new barberhshop wave, which is certainly far from unpleasant, is that today anyone looking for a good place in town for a nice shaving and neat haircut will be spoiled for choice among old-school shops, hip & hot addresses and authentic Master Barbers. Here are some of our favorite places. Alain Maître BarbierAlain is the Marais’ favourite barber, as well as "the only Master Barber in Paris", with plenty stars and VIPs among its regulars. Get the "old-fashioned shaving" on the background of a delightfully vintage-looking store that is actually an authentic museum of barber’s objects and tools. An unmissable experience. La Barbière de ParisThe (3) sophisticated and contemporary-looking salons of the only woman barber in Paris, Sarah Daniel Hamizi, who also works for major Parisian and international fahion brands, are deemed among the very best in town. Expect careful beard and mustache care,  perfect haircuts and a hue list of men’s beauty treatments. Les Mauvais GarçonsThree fine shops dedicated to the art of shaving and hair cutting, born from the passion of a woman barber in a small salon on rue Oberkampf (where the original store still is) and subsequently taken over by her brother on the wave of the barbershop revival. The "bad guys" also propose shaving lessons. La Cle du BarbierThese New York-style salons - one immersed in the contemporary atmosphere of a 5th arrondissement loft and the other on rue Saint Honoré - both specialize in beard care, with the addition of seeral wellness and beauty treatments specifically conceived for men. 

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11.17.2016

Here is a list of temples with marvellous garden, where you can contemplate the beauty of nature in complete silence. Enkō-jiIn 1601, shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa built the Enkouji Temple in Fushimi, Kyoto, as a school to promote scholarship in Japan. After its founding, the Enkouji Temple was moved into the premises of the Shokokuji Temple, and then to the present location in Kotani-chō, Ichijoji, in 1667. The temple possesses a number of important cultural assets, such as the six-fold screen with a picture by renowned painter Ōkyo Maruyama. As you enter the mountain gate, there will be a Japanese rock garden, and when you pass through the middle gate, the colours of the moss and autumn leaves in the so-called Garden of the Ten Oxen will overwhelm you. Bishamon-dōBishamon-dō is a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, with the distinct features of a mountain temple. Named after one of the Seven Lucky Gods, Bishamon-dō has a history dating back to 703, when it was established by a monk, Gyoki, to fulfil the order of Emperor Monmu, but it was subsequently rebuilt in 1665 in the current location of Yamashina Anshu. During the New Year’s celebrations, it is crowded with people praying for business prosperity and home safety. Bishamon-dō is also very popular in this season for autumn-leaf viewing. Daigo-jiThe history of Daigo-ji starts in 874, with the foundation of the temple by Shōbō Rigen-daishi and the enshrinement of the statue of the Goddess Kannon. The Sakyamuni hall built in 926 and the five-storey pagoda built in 951 were spared from bloodshed and destruction and in December 1994 the temple complex was designated as a World Heritage Site. Daigo-ji’s collection is made up of 150,000 artifacts, which include 69,419 national treasures and 6,522 important cultural assets designated by the Japanese government. This time of the year, the trail leading to Benten-dō, adorned with autumn leaves, is particularly beautiful. Rurikō-inFamous for its architecture and its garden, Rurikō-in is located in Yase, on the way from The Shugaku-in Imperial Villa and Ōhara. A large-scale renovation by master architect Sotoji Nakamura and the construction of the garden by famous gardener Toemon Sano were held in the Nineteen Twenties, Thirties and Forties. The highlight of this garden is the color of moss and maple leavesHōkyō-inBuilt under the rule of Emperor Shirakawa (1053-1129) as a zen temple, in 1350 Hōkyō-in became a temple of the Rinzai sect in Sagano. By the end of the Edo period the temple had declined, but it was restored in the Meiji era. In autumn, the foliage attracts many people. To preserve the integrity of the site, as well as to avoid crowds, no tripods or larger cameras are allowed. Leaf viewing is part of the temple worship. Eikan-dō (aka Zenrinji Temple)Built in 873, Eikan-dō rose and declined repeatedly over the centuries. In the eleventh century, a high priest known as Eikan enlarged the premises for what was to become the predecessor of Kyoto Hospital. As a temple of the Jodo sect, it attracts a lot of worshippers of celestial Buddha Amida Nyōrai. Eikan-dō contains 58 artworks designated Important Cultural Properties. This year, Eikan-dō is illuminated until December 4.  

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11.15.2016

Define comfort food: tasty, maybe even a bit greasy, with a reassuring scent of home. And, for many, a synonym for their grandmother’s cuisine. Because, let’s face it: noboby cooks better than granny. And it is often those flavors, those ingredients, those preparations and those scents that shape our taste and put an indelible imprint on our taste buds. Or at least it must have been so for Joe Scaravella, owner of a very unique restaurant in Staten Island, NYC. When he opened Enoteca Maria a few years ago, Joe was eager to bring back to life that "taste of home" he ald learnt to know thanks to the women in his family, stubbornly and jealously preserved and handed down from one generation to the next. The peculiarity of Enoteca Maria lies in the fact that there are actually grandmothers in its kitchen: Italian grandmothers in the main kitchen, and grandmothers from around the world in the second kitchen that Joe has made available to all the culinary cultures of the world, certainly not difficult to find in a city like New York. And so every day New York foodies have the privilege to get in touch with true tradition, and to try international cuisines in their most authentic, home version. To find out which grandmothers will be taking turns in the kitchen and which recipes they’ll be preparing, just take a look at the calendar on the restaurant’s website. Yet ​​Scaravella’s project is even more ambitious, and it goes well beyong the boundaries of the restaurant with the aim of creating virtual, crowd sourced book of international grandmother recipes, Nonnas of the World, to which everyone can contribute in their own native language. Definitely a very innovative way of making tradition interesting and contemporary again. 

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11.14.2016

This year it has turned cold in one go. That means 2016 is being a very good year for leaf-viewing. You won’t even have to leave Tokyo, since there are lots of scenic spots within the city. Shinjuku GyoenIn the Edo period, Shinjuku Gyoen used to be the residence of Naitō, lord of the Takatō Domain in the then province of Shinshū. In the Meiji Era it became an Imperial Garden and after the war it opened to the public. Over 1,200 trees grow in an area of 53,8 ha. Drinks and playthings are not allowed in the park. Contemplation in tranquillity is a mustNational Museum of Nature and ScienceNow considered an extant natural treasure within the boundaries of the city, the site used to be the suburban residence of Matsudaira, lord of the Takamatsu Domain. The garden was awarded a designation as natural monument and place of historical interest, under the name “Former Platinum Garden”. The garden is now part of the premises of the National Museum of Nature and Science. Rikugi-enThe garden was created by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu by permission of the fifth shōgun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. Yanagisawa himself supervised its construction and the creation of an artificial hill and a small pond, which took seven years to complete. It used to be one of the two greatest parks of the time – the other being Koishikawa Kōrakuen Garden. Originally, it contained 88 allusions to famous scenes from the ancient poetry of the Kishū Domain. This year, the park will be illuminated until December 7. Inokashira ParkWith a total area of 380,000 square meters, this large park extends over Musashino and Mitaka. It is listed in the 100 best cherry blossom spots, but the clear air of the brisk, sunny November days makes autumnal leaf viewing equally spectacular. You can easily access the park from Kichijoji Station, south exit, taking a stroll along the promenade adjacent to the busy Nanaibashi Dōri. Showa Commemorative National Government ParkIt is a 180ha memorial park built as part of the Emperor Showa’s 50th anniversary project, comprising a Japanese garden and a bonsai garden. It is a scenic spot both for cherry tree blossoms and autumn foliage. This time of the year, a walk along the line of ginkgo trees can be very special. Mount TakaoIn Mount Takao you can enjoy autumn foliage a relatively long period, about one month. Take a look at the Yakuōin Temple Foliage Map and check out the schedule for the autumn festivals in the month of November. Mount Takao attracts crowds, especially in this season, but you can spend the day hiking, leaf-viewing and enjoying some delicacies you can only find in Mount Takao.  

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11.08.2016

Kurikinton by SuyaWhen you say kurikinton, everybody will think of Suya, a wagashi shop located in the former post-town of Nakatsugawa, on the Nakasendō, the travel route that ran from Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to Kyoto. At Suya, each and every sweet is carefully handmade. In Nakatsugawa, a watershed between Mino and Shinano, Mount Ena is clearly visible everywhere. The delicious chestnuts picked on Mount Ena are boiled, mixed with sugar and reformed into a chestnut shape, the kurikinton, available for a limited amount of time in Tokyo, as well. Kurinattō by Kyoto KuriyaIn Kyoto the sweet taste of the giant chestnut is a synonym for autumn. Located near Kyoto Imperial Park, Kuriya is renowned for kuriohagi, rice cakes covered in chestnut paste, dorayaki (pancakes filled with chestnut paste) and kurinattō kin-no-mi, whole chestnuts glazed in honey. Kurikaoru Daifuku by WaguriyaThe Iwama area in the city of Kasama, Ibaraki prefecture, is said to be one of the places of origin of the Japanese chestnut. The ravishing scenery of chestnut forests seems to substantiate the thesis. Waguriya’s kurikaoru daifuku are made by hand, one by one, by sugar boiling the chestnuts and wrapping them in soft rice. The pale brown colour is given by the boiled chestnut skins. Kuridora by SurugaKnown for the original kuridora, Suruga is located in the Edoesque area of Kameari, Katsushika-ku. But what is kuridora? Kuridora is a dorayaki pancake filled with azuki beans from Tokachi, Hokkaido, and a whole chestnut, a perfect combination. Kurikanoko by TorayaThe chestnut is one of the seasonal flavours of the wagashi shop Toraya, established in 1586. Chestnuts are the main ingredient of kurikanoko, a traditional round-shaped sweet enriched with a honey-glazed chestnut, and of different snacks used during the tea ceremony: kurikomochi, kurimeigetsu and kurianmitsu 

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11.07.2016

Although most of us have never actually been there, they are somehow familiar. We have seen them in films, as the background of some memorable movie scenes and TV series, or in famous shots of the city. New York’s most historic and celebrated restaurants have become icons in their own way, recognizable at first glance, maybe from their signs, or simply because their names evoke the atmosphere of a specific era in the history of the Big Apple. Here are a few of the most legendary ones. BarbettaThe Italian restaurant par excellence, in the heart of Broadway’s theater district, a favourite among politicians, celebrities and VIPs. This is where Toscanini and Caruso (and later Warhol and Paul Newman, just to name a few ) used to come to enjoy amazing food from the Italian Piedmont region. The restaurant also appeared in several films and TV series, including Alice and Celebrity by Woody Allen, Sex & the City and Mad Men. Katz DelicatessenThis much-loved Lower East Side deli was founded in 1917 and made even more famous by the cult fake orgasm scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally. Yet among New Yorkers it is mostly known for its delicious pastrami sandwichesLa GrenouilleA true classic that belongs to a time when French restaurants was the quintessence of refinement and elegance, and movie stars, music icons and famous designers used to seat at these tables. In the heart of Midtown, la Grenouille proudly remains the last French haute cuisine restaurant from the Sixties in townDelmonico’s Founded in 1837, Delmonico's has the significant distinction of being the first proper restaurant in America. This historic eatery in the Financial District, which now occupies the triangular space of a nineteenth-century palace at the intersection of Beaver and William streets, saw the birth of many classic dishes, including the famous Delmonico steak. River caféThe right place to sit at a table overlooking the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Opened in 1977 in an abandoned dockland area on ​​the Hudson River in Brooklyn, by virtue of its unique view it appeared in several films, commercials and TV series. The OdeonThis French-style Bistro in Manhattan is a veritable legend. Its unmistakable vintage sign has been shining like a beacon in the Tribeca nights since 1980, and it also appeared in the famous novel Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney.  

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11.03.2016

With its noble white stucco mansions, Belgravia, in the heart of London’s City of Westminster, is the symbol of a bygone era as well as one of the wealthiest districts in the world. Originally owned by the 2nd Marquess of Westminster, who had it developed from the 1820s, it has been home to famous actors and movie stars, writers and musicians, and it currently houses many embassies, especially in Belgrave Square, the district’s centerpiece. Recently, though, Belgravia has also become a pretty  remarkable foodie destination, particularly along Elizabeth Street, an elegant tree-lined street between South Kensington and Victoria where plenty of coffee shops, patisseries and gourmet stores have opened in recent years have opened. Here are a few addresses not to be missed while exploring this unexpectedly quiet corner of the city center. Pastry ShopsDominic Ansel BakeryAfter conquering the USA with his New York bakery and Japan with its Tokyo branch, last September chef and confectioner Dominic Ansel finally brought his most famous creation - the cronut, a hybrid between a croissant and a donut - to Europe. Exclusively for the London store, Ansel also created five special desserts inspired by English culture. Peggy PorschenThis pink cake design temple is said to be Kate Moss’ favourite pastry shop - although it's really hard to imagine the skinny British model as a confectionery enthusiast. But what is more important is that at Peggy Porschen even the smallest tea cake is a tiny masterpiece - not to mention their astonishing wedding and birthday cakes. Gourmet JeroboamsFine wines from all over the world and a selection of vintage and non-vintage champagnes sold by the glass or by the bottle: here’s the simple formula of one of London’s most beloved wine storesPoilâneThe London branch of this famous Parisian bakery sells bread made with stone-ground flour, naturally leavened and baked in a wood oven - a tradition that began in 1932 in Saint-Germain des Prés. Its round loaves are a real cult. Coffee and snacksBaker & SpiceA nice little place around the corner from Victoria Station, the ideal stop for coffee and a slice of cake, or maybe for a light lunch or a hearty saladTomtom coffeeCome here for (traditional English, alternative or sweet) breakfast, and enjoy Tomtom’s much appreciated ethical coffee, a made-to-measure mixture based on selected grains from different countries of the world and toasted in Dorset.  AperitifThe Ebury Wine barA great selection of wines to accompany classic dishes like roast cod fillet or sausages, mustard mash and red onion gravy, with touches of exotic Asian and fusion cooking. RestaurantsThe Thomas CubbittNamed after the master builder who created some of the most important buldings in Belgravia, the Thomas Cubbitt includes a ground-floor bar offering cocktails, fine beers and top-quality casual cuisine, and a first-floor restaurant serving British cuisine prepared with seasonal ingredients to go with a wine list specializing in champagnes and aromatic whites and reds. OlivetoAn authentic Sardinian restaurant in Belgravia, particularly loved for the pizza but also for its genuine regional dishes. Reservation is a must. Cover photo by Amanda Slater under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license 

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11.02.2016

The warm, casual atmosphere of a hostel and the top-notch services of a proper hotel, with the priceless plus of a magnificent ocean view. ODDSSON, located in one of the most famous buildings in Iceland, the JL Húsið (JL House), a historic 1940s warehouse situated directly on the west bank of central Reykjavík with a spectacular view over the Faxaflói bay area, is a truly unique accomodation in town. Its most distinctive feature is a happy marriage between the integrity of the industrial architecture found in the original warehouse building and the eclectic aesthetic and custom pieces by Döðlur Design, whose concept revolves the idea of  contrast and of taking different extremes and mixing them together. The pieces, taking inspiration from materials that already existed in the building, are designed to fit both a hostel and a hotel: simple and practical design, often with multiple purposes. Older materials are treated as precious and preserved for their beauty and the memories they evoke - distressed walls, floors and ceilings direct the design and are reused as much as possible. The result is a mix of old and new, combining subtle colours and beautiful fabrics with cheap materials and some existing original walls, and modern furniture and art with a few odd design pieces. As for the rooms, ODDSSON can accomodate up to 230 guests and the rooms are as diverse as they are many, so that  virtually every guest’s needs and desires will be filfilled: pods, bunk beds, hostel rooms, small and large hotel rooms and a suite – the latter encapsulating all the best that ODDSSON has to offer in its 70m2 space, including design masterpieces from all over the world, art by renowned Icelandic artists and a breathtaking ocean view. Further amenities include a small but stylish yoga studio, a bistro and a restaurant serving Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist, a bar and a café.  

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10.31.2016

Tōhoku is a trove of places of historic interest and natural beauty. Go there for the ravishing spectacle of the foliage, stay a little longer for a tour of the monuments and temples. Every prefecture has so much to offer. And there we go. Towadako (Aomori Prefecture)Lake Towada is a double caldera, with trees all around. The excursion boat service offers visitors a different view of the breath-taking autumn foliage. If you want to go for a walk, you will love the promenade from the bank on the western side of Katsura-ga-hama to the Gozen-ga-hama beach with the Otome-no-zō, the Statue of the Two Maidens. This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Lake Towada is forecast in late October. Kakunodate (Akita Prefecture)Kakunodate – a sub-fief of the Akita clan – flourished as the castle town of North Satake family. You can take a stroll in the city centre in the midst of the beautiful samurai houses of the Matsumoto, Aoyagi and Ishiguro families. Kakunodate is popular for the cherry blossoms in spring, but the autumn is equally charming, with the red of maples and the yellow of ginkgo trees. This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Kakunodate is forecast from late October to mid-November. Omoshiroyama Momijigawa Keikoku (Yamagata Prefecture)At the foot of Mount Omoshiro, on the border between the prefectures of Yamagata and Miyagi, stretches a canyon. This time of the year, the gorge is made even more gorgeouswhen the vivid colours of the autumn leaves intermingle with the evergreen trees. The best way to enjoy the superb view of autumn leaves is to stroll on the trail that goes for about two kilometres along the river and a suspension bridge.This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Omoshiroyama is forecast from late October to early November. Chūson-ji (Iwate Prefecture)Chūson-ji, the mausoleum for four generations of the Ōshū Fujiwara family, is a temple complex comprising the historical Konjiki-dō – the Golden Hall – a temple and the most prominent treasure house of Buddhist art from the Heian period in north-eastern Japan. The temple was probably founded in 850 by Jikaku Daishi, a high priest from the Tendai monastery of Enryakuji on Mount Hiei, near Kyoto. According to other sources, Konjiki-dō was established by Fujiwara Kiyoe in the early 12thcentury as a memorial to the war dead and to eternal peace. What is certain is that Konjiki-dō is now considered a national treasure and in 2011 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From 1 to 3 November, the vivid colours of autumn foliage will be a gracious adornment for processions of children and Noh performances. This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Chūson-ji is forecast from late October to early November. Naruko-kyō (Miyagi Prefecture)Naruko-kyō is a V shaped gorge formed by the Ōtani river, 100m high and 2.5km long. The rocks dotted with green pines and red maple compose a stunning landscape. It takes about 30 minutes to walk to Naruko Gorge from either Nakayamadaira Onsen or Naruko Onsen JR Station. If you don’t feel like walking, buses operate between the stations during the autumn leaf season, from early October to mid-November. This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Naruko-kyō is forecast from late October to early November. Tsurugajō Park (Fukushima Prefecture)Also known as the Castle of Aizu-Wakamatsu, Tsurugajō – or Tsuruga Castle – was destroyed in 1874 and consequently restored on the remnant stonewall 1965. The castle is located at the centre of a park, which turns into a fantastic leaf-viewing destination in autumn, with colourful foliage all around, in the Aizu Plain and yonder on the surrounding mountains. The park is illuminated from 21 October to 13 November. 

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10.27.2016

Ranked among the 52 places in the world to go to in 2016 by the New York Times - the only Italian city on the list - and awarded the title of European Innovation Capital, Turin is a special city in many ways. Rich in art and culture, cosmopolitan, incredibly charming - even magical, suspended as it is between a glorious past and a future that you can already feel in the air. From the old town with Piazza Castello, the Royal Palace, the arcades of Via Po and the huge Piazza Vittorio Veneto, from the historic cafés to the renewed Egyptian Museum and the imposing Mole Antonelliana, home to the Museum of Cinema, Turin is a perpetual invitation to discovery. But it is perhaps only getting off the beaten track that you will discover its inner soul, immersing yourself in nightlife that animates the area between the former industrial suburb of San Salvario, south of downtown, dotted with small restaurants, wine bars and "piole" (the local taverns), and the Quadrilatero Romano, a central maze of cobbled streets between Santa Teresa, via della Consolata, Corso Regina and via XX Settembre. Or even further on to Vanchiglia, a former industrial neighborhood between the Dora Riparia and the Po river where plenty of innovative shops and bars have recently opened. Here’s a small guide to our favorite places in town. VisitParco DoraAn innovative post-industrial park designed by German landscape architect Peter Latz on the site of a bunch of former large industrial plants (including Michelin and Valdocco) along the river Dora, north of downtown.Museo del CinemaA unique example in Italy, the Museum of Cinema in Turin is housed in the impressive Mole Antonelliana, and it has been beautifully designed by Swiss architect François Confino. Do not miss the elevator ride to the top of Turin’s most iconic building.Villaggio Leumann, CollegnoAt the gates of the city, this Art Nouveau-style workers’ village is the brainchild of the enlightened Swiss entrepreneur Napoleone Leumann, who had it built around his cotton mill. A fascinating journey into nineteenth-century Turin. EatCoco'sVia Galliari, 28A very popular bar and restaurant in the San Salvario district oozing with an authentic 1960s atmosphere where you can try genuine local home cooking surrounded by old photos and memorabilia.Soul KitchenIn Vanchiglia, a very cool place for experiencing vegan and raw vegan cuisine in a creative and beautifully presented version.Dora in poiA restaurant on the banks of Lungo Dora Firenze serving Italian-style dim sum - in other words, fusion cuisine that mixes the national gastronomy with exotic (but locally grown) ingredients and influences from around the world.Mara dei BoschiSimply one of the most delicious artisan gelatos in Turin, made with local, seasonal ingredients, alpine milk and eggs from non-intensive farms. DrinkMagazzino 52A wine bar with cuisine that relies entirely on the combination between Italian and French niche wines and a few, well-conceived dishes. You can also buy some great bottles.Enoteca BordòThis much-loved wine bar in the Quadrilatero area uniquely combines a deep love for French sparkling wines with authentic Tuscan cuisine, serving delicious cured meat & cheese platters and a selection of impeccable Tuscan classics. 

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10.26.2016

The slopes of the legendary Butte, the hill of Montmartre in Paris, that were once covered in lush vineyards, are now home to two roads - rue Calaincourt and rue Custine - at only a short walk from the famous Art Déco-style metro station of Caulincourt-Lamarck and rue Lepic, the street of the Moulin Rouge, which leads to Place du Tertre, the heart of Montmartre.This very unique corner of the city, so rich in history and charm, has somehow managed to preserve its ancient atmosphere, which has miraculously survived mass tourism and gentrification. To the point that sometimes you almost feel like you're in a village inside the city, a village scattered with innovative restaurants, breweries, independent boutiques and that local neighborhood feel that still oozes with a certain authenticity, suspended between the chic and the populaire. Here is our ideal map of the neighborhood’s best cafès, restarants and shops. EatLe grenier à painWinner of “The best baguette in Paris” in 2010 and 2015, this famous bakery deserves a stop to taste their excellent bread, cakes, croissants and pain au chocolat.Le Tracteur Rouge A small restaurant perfectly tuned to the atmosphere of the neighborhood: a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, a nice but casual setting and a simple cuisine based of top-quality ingredients.La KaramboleTapas, burgers and other international dishes accompany the drinks and the music that often animates this cafe, which does a lot to promote emerging artists and DJs.Tito BurritosAn huge variety of delicious and affordable burritos, tacos and quesadillas to appease the hunger of passing-by night owls: that's the secret behind this much loved tiny restaurant with only a few tables.KosakThe homemade gelato at Kosak is distinguished by unique flavors and excellent ingredients. There is also an interesting corner entirely dedicated to "bean to bar" made with selected beans by the best chocolatiers in the world. DrinkChez CamillePerhaps the most popular bar in the area, this little and perpetually crowded place where drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is intimate deserves a visit because of its authentically Parisian spirit.The Bar at Terass’ HotelThe rooftop of the historic Terass'Hotel, traditionally a gathering place for artists, is the ideal location for a romantic aperitif with a view of the city’s rooftops - and particularly the postcard- perfect view that can be seen from the Montmartre hill.Les NovicesA contemporary bistro with a gourmet vocation which revisits classic home cooking with elegant presentations and small touches of sophistication. Open until late night, it also offers an excellent choice of cocktails.À la bière comme à la bièreWith over 450 craft beer labels from all over France, this store and bar is great for beer shopping or a drink on the spot in a laid-back, convivial environment. Shopping & moreL’atelier ParigotFor those in search of a truly unique souvenir, this T-shirt, sweatshirt and accessory store offers original, unusual and sometimes bizarre Paris-themed prints. Designs can also be printed on demand.L’atelier Gentleman An old-fashioned barber shop cultivating the art of the perfect shave in a time of ubiquitous long beards. Yet no worries, you bearded guys: among a facial massage, a wrap and a coffee, your beards will be perfetly taken care of as well.Owl boutiqueA beautiful concept store dedicated to the Afro-chic creations of Julienne, a Cameroon-born Parisian designer, which gracefully blend the colors and patterns of Africa and the inimitable French style. 

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10.25.2016

Few places in the world can be as astonishingly innovative, vibrant and exciting as London, a city where the map of the emerging neighborhoods changes and expands from year to year, and the bar and restaurant scene is constantly regenerated with an almost overwhelming speed – to the point that every time you come back your notion of the city already feels outdated. In recent years, in addition to all that you may come across on the surface, there is a ‘secret’ world that thrives beneath the city and comes alive at night, that of the speakeasy-style hidden bars often located in the most unusual places, and devoted to good music and art of the perfect cocktail. Here are some of our favourite ones. WC, ClaphamInside what was once a Victorian public toilet under the Clapham Common Underground Station, this authentically retro bar and charcuterie has managed to preserve a classic London and somewhat gothic atmosphere. It also has a nicely selected list of wines in combination with your gourmet choice of cured meats and cheese, and live music on Sunday and Monday nights. Definitely one of the most unusual location (and surprisingly perfect) locations across London. Cahoots, SohoA short time travel back to the 1940s will take you straight to this cozy little place tucked away inside the disused Kingly Court tube station, Soho, where the tables are set within a restored old metro car. Here, you’ll be able to sip on your vintage cocktail listening to jazz, swing and lindyhop tunes, with the occasional late-night foray into rock’n’roll and electro swing musuc - which will inevitably have you stand up and dance to the rhythm among the tables. Basement Sate, SohoAlso in the heart of the West End, this new and remarkable address deserves a visit not only for its underground location, but also for the unusual combination of cocktails and desserts. For once, the latter happily become the core of the menu, in the form of ambitious and sometimes daring creations. Merchant House, City of LondonThe grandeur of bygone times reigns in this luxurious underground bar - further hidden in an inner courtyard but still very popular - whose wood paneled walls house one of the largest collections of gin and rum in the world. Everything here is inspired by the history of the British Empire - beginning with the cocktail names, listed in a menu that looks like an ancient book. The Natural Philosopher, HackneyThere is a slight chance that not all the customers of the Macsmith Apple computer repair shop in Hackney are aware of its double identity as a truly chic cocktail bar housed in the store’s former warehouse. Still, The Natural Philosopher - as the name itself suggests - is a great address for all-natural cocktails. The venue includes a comfortable drawing room with a bar, a tiny underground room and, in honor of the location,   featuring lots of authentic pieces that will certainly appeal to all Apple enthusiasts. 

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10.24.2016

In Japan, leaf viewing is commonly known as momiji-gari or kōyō-gari, literally “red leaf hunting”. This article is the first in a series that will present the best scenic spots according with the autumn foliage front. The autumn foliage first appears in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago. The nature in Hokkaido is ravishing and attracts a great deal of people all through the year. In this season, its mountains are shrouded in the flaming red of maple and the bright yellow of ginkgo biloba. Now, let’s see where and when you can enjoy this natural spectacle at its best. Jozankei OnsenYou can soak in a hot spring bath, or take a stroll along a brook, surrounded by the marvellous foliage of maples, crimson glory vine, rowans and sakura cherry trees. You can as well catch a cable car and enjoy the view from the mountaintop. This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Jozankei Onsen is forecast from mid-October on. ShikotsukoShikotsuko is a wonderful location you can easily go to from Sapporo on a one-day trip. The lake – its namesake – is renowned across the country for the perfect transparency of its waters, reflecting the beautiful foliage of lindens, maples, mountain-ashes and ginkgo trees all around. This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Shikotsuko is forecast from mid-October on. Maruyama ParkA symbol of Sapporo, Maruyama Park is dwelled by the eponymous primeval forest and has been designated a national treasure. Its location at the very heart of the city makes the park extremely accessible for a leisurely hike in the midst of katsura and maple trees. This year, the peak of momiji-gari for Maruyama Park is forecast from mid-October on.  Kosetsu-en (Miharashi Park)Formerly known as Iwafune Garden, the garden of Kosetsu - within Miharashi Park in Hakodate – is the only nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty in Hokkaido. There are over 150 plant species in the garden, an astonishing view throughout the year. From 22 October to 13 November there will be illuminations and live shows to boost the experience of autumn foliage viewing. KamuikotanKamuikotan is a well-known scenic spot among Asahikawa city dwellers. Literally meaning “the township of the gods”, Kamuikotan is a place where the Ainu folklore and traditions live on, in the rocks strangely carved by the river Ishikari, the circle of megaliths and the pit-houses. From mid-October to early November, you can enjoy the view of the valley draped in autumn foliage at its best.  

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10.23.2016

Lakes, castles, distilleries, green pastures, cliffs and headlands. These are the sceneries that roll by beyond the windows of the Grand Hibernian, a new luxury train that explores Ireland departing from Dublin, offering its passengers the chance to experience a contemporary version of long distance rail travel, immersed in the comfort and warmth of their own cabin, designed as a tiny, itinerant living room. It is basically the old-time atmosphere of the Orient Express and of the Trans-Siberian, revisited for contemporary travelers with five modern and technological carriages - each carrying the name of a county in Ireland and decorated to reflect the traditional colors and tartans of the county that inspired them. The train can accommodate up to 40 guests in its sleek and comfortable en-suite cabins - also decorated with an eye to the Irish cultural heritage - complete with a desk and panoramic windows. The observation car evokes the atmosphere of a Dublin pub and just like a pub, it is the ideal place for chatting, listening to music and drinking. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the two dining cars - Sligo, a sophisticated and intimate restaurant, and Wexford, which offers tables for six and a decor enriched by Irish tweeds and Celtic motifs. The tours depart from Dublin to discover some of the most fascinating places in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The shorter one (two nights) heads north to Belfast, the Titanic Museum, the ancient Old Bushmills Distillery and the picturesque Giant Trail. The four-night trip explores the western part of the country - Cork, the Blarney Castle, the Lakes of Killarney, and Connemara National Park in Galway. Finally, the six-night journey combines the two above-mentioned itineraries, allowing you to explore the hidden corners of the Emerald Island. The Grand Hibernian is the latest addition to the Belmond collection, which includes fascinating experiences of train travel between Europe, Asia and South America, 46 iconic hotels and luxury river cruises. 

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10.19.2016

The charm of University towns with their vibrant cultural life and the high rate of young population attracts plenty of visitors, yet it appeals particularly to those who love culture,  and even more to the alumni who spent their college years right there and still cherish a thousand memories. Having all this in mind, American investor and entrepreneur Ben Weprin created a one-of-a-kind collection of hotels located in the most unique and dynamic University towns on the United States - of course in the vicinity of ​​the campuses and oozing with a certain nostalgia enhanced by scattered references to the college world, all topped with the right dose of luxury. The result is Graduate Hotels, a uniquely themed hotel chain that is currently present in Athens (Georgia), Charlottesville (Virginia), Madison (Wisconsin), Oxford (Mississippi) and Tempe (Arizona) inspired by the culture and history of the cities that play host to them, well-designed and scattered with vintage items and references, and often housed in converted spaces. The Athens hotel is housed in former foundry at the heart of which is now a live music venue. The Oxford hotel is located in the middle of the cultural district of the town, fully immersed in its historical and academic heritage. All have spacious common areas, vintage touches in the form of selected pieces of furniture, paintings and tapestries, lots of books and countless references to the campuses by which they are inspired. A unique way of experiencing one of the most authentic and perhaps least known aspects of the American identity

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10.18.2016

Autumn is the season for sanma, “mackerel pike”, and the so-called modori-gatsuo, “returning bonito”, whose flesh is fattier and more nutritious than the spring bonito. Seasonal fish is best enjoyed grilled. You cannot improve on nature - the simpler, the better. If you’re in Tokyo and you want to treat yourself and your friends to the most delicious yaki-zakana, “grilled fish”, you may want to check out the following restaurants. Shokusai Kadota (Ebisu, Shibuya-ku)The restaurant is famous for its fish, grilled on charcoal with fresh ingredients only, at open counter. You can enjoy the katsuo bonito from the province of Tosa and matsutake mushrooms, with a nice glass of Japanese sake. Kumasawa (Ginza, Chuo-ku)Kumasawa is very popular for its casual ambience and its seasonal fish set meals of the day. The most ordered dish is mugitorogohan, rice mixed with barley, topped with grated yam and grilled fish. Side dishes, snacks and tsukemono pickles are also recommended. Kappo Imai (Shinjuku Gyoen)Kappo Imai is a kappō, that is a traditional Japanese restaurant where you can relax, have a nice time and try some delicious seasonal fish at lunchtime or dinner. It is extremely popular for the freshness of its fish, but this means you must hurry before they run out of it. Shun no Aji Takishita (Azabujuban, Minato-ku)As the name suggests, at Shun no Aji, you can fully experience the “flavours of the season” in a casual ambience, both at lunchtime and in the evening. No need to say it’s a hot spot for fish lovers. The friendly staff will take your order and serve you in no time. Well, just the time to grill the fish, that is.  

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10.17.2016

Suspended between the summer holidays and the Christmas holiday season, the fall can sometimes be terribly long and monotonous, so why not take a break for a couple of days? From north to south to the islands, Italy is a treasure trove full of wonderful places that can be easily visited in the space of a weekend: art cities, small villages, natural parks. We have selected five fascinating destinations and routes that are ideal for a short break even when the weather doesn’t seeem to help. Truffles & castlesThe Langhe, Monferrato and Roero region, between the provinces of Alessandria, Asti and Cuneo, is a magnificent 10,000 hectare area in the south of Piedmont, enclosed between the Po river and the Ligurian Apennines and known for its rolling hills and lush vines dotted with castles and cultivated fields. This postcard-perfect landscape is particularly amazing in the fall, when the colors are warm and the fog rests languidly on the heights, pierced here and there by steeples, castles and palaces. Among the places to explore are the Langa del Barolo, where the eponymous wine is produced, the Grinzane Cavour Castle, home to Piedmont’s Regional Winery, the Barbaresco hills, Nizza Monferrato and the Barbera region, Canelli and the lands of Asti spumante, and of course Monferrato, particularly known for its special underground wine storerooms carved in the rock, the Infernots.Truffles, cheeses, meats and fresh pasta are the not-to-be-missed local products of this amazing part of Italy – so it is definitely worth to drop by the historical city of Alba to sample its white truffles, by Roccaverano for the famous Robiola goat cheese and by Monferrato for the unique bagna cauda.The tiny and often perfectly preserved hill towns of this area also deserve a special mention - particularly Cocconato and Bergolo, the smallest town in the Langhe and one of the smallest in Italy, perched on a hill overlooking the Bormida and Uzzone valleys. In the tuff townsSouthwest of the city of Grosseto, heading inland, are Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana, three authentic jewels of the Tuscan Maremma region, the so-called "tuff villages". This tuffaceous land once inhabited by the Etruscans is scattered with the so-called vie cave, excavated roads in the form of narrow cuttings often running deeply through hills that used to link the necropolis to several settlements in the area. The exploration can start from the beautiful town of Pitigliano, perched on a tuff cliff and also know as "Little Jerusalem" because it gave shelter the a large Jewish community back in in 1500 – the ancient ghetto and the synagogue are still there. Strolling through the old town, don’t forget to visit the cathedral, Palazzo Orsini (a former convent converted into a fortress), the Medicean Aqueduct and the Fountain of the Seven Spouts. At about eight kilometers from Pitigliano, also on top of a cliff, Sovana is best known for its Etruscan necropolis of chamber tombs excavated into the tuff stone and its spectacular vie cave. Nearby Sorano is an ancient village crossed by a maze of narrow streets lined with medieval tower-houses and lodges that open onto breathtaking views. Exploring the SassiThere is no place in the world comparable to Matera, the city of the "Sassi", an impressive number of caves that are partly natural and partly manmade, dug into crumbly tuff rock in ancient times to find shelter. In the heart of the old town, the Sassi include two large districts, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, divided by the Civita hill, a spur of rock that guards the heart of the medieval area. The Sasso Caveoso, with dwellings carved into the rock and descending in terraces, is an ideal spot from which to admire the ravine - in particular from Piazza Caveoso, dominated by St. Peter's church. Walking along Via Madonna delle Virtù on the edge of the ravine, you will reach the Sasso Barisano district, almost completely restored, whose main point of interest is San Pietro Barisano, the largest cave church of the city. Most of the hotels and restaurants built inside the caves can be found here, often hidden behind friezes and portals.The old town of Matera also extends above the Sassi and on the Civita hill, where there are unique places like the Piazza Vittorio Veneto belvedere, the beautiful thirteenth-century Cathedral in Apulian-Romanesque style, the lovely Conservatory square, the Archaeological Museum and Piazzetta Pascoli which houses the seventeenth-century Palazzo Lanfranchi, home to the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata. A weekend on the CoastAn extraordinary example of Mediterranean landscape characterized by amazing nature and great culture, the Costiera Amalfitana is a beautiful share of coast stretching from Positano to Vietri sul Mare. Its emblem is the famous "road of a thousand bends," which runs for 50 kilometers along this scenic corner of Italy suspended over the sea, revealing a spectacular landscape of valleys, headlands, bays and coves, but also of vineyards, olive and citrus groves. The first stop along the way is the picturesque village of Positano, a living postcard made of white and colored houses that slope towards the sea and dominated by the great majolica dome of Santa Maria Assunta. Amalfi, the ancient Maritime Republic to which the coast owes its name, is yet another jewel facing the sea with its narrow streets and typical white Mediterranean-style houses. A short detour inland takes us to Ravello, a sophisticated 350-meter-high terrace jutting into the sea, known for the incredible views and the annual international music festival. A few bends ahead is Minori, a typical fishing village of narrow streets and small squares that go down to the beach, and then Maiori, a famous seaside resort which boasts the longest beach of the Coast - almost one kilometer of soft sand. And finally Vietri sul Mare, with the sixteenth century iridescent dome of the Church of San Giovanni Battista, covered with tiles in the shape of yellow, green and blue fishes, and the beautiful Palazzo della Ceramica Solimene, home to one of the oldest ceramic factories in southern Italy. In the stone gardenIn 1693, an earthquake almost razed to the ground the Sicilian town of Noto, on the eastern side of the island, forcing its inhabitants to rebuild it almost from scratch: that is the origin of the gem of Sicilian Baroque, where palaces and places of worship with consistent styles and colors follow one another seamlessly, to the point that the city earned the name of “stone garden”. The use of Siracusan stone, a soft limestone whose color ranges from white to gray, allowed for the creation of unique decorations and gave the city a soft color tone shimmering in the sunlight. Noto’s major road is the beautiful Corso Vittorio Emanuele, lined by Baroque buildings and running through three squares with as many churches. Yet its most famous view is that of the Town Hall Square, with the Ducezio Palace on one side and the astonishing Cathedral on the other, which create a sense of out-of-time perfection. Besides Baroque buildings, the city also has has quite a few ancient treasures, such as the reamains of the Roman Tellaro villa with its mosaics. The nearby city of Syracuse, a jewel of the so-called Magna Grecia - and in particular its oldest part located on the island of Ortigia - is also worth a visit. 

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10.12.2016

Sitting on a sunny promontory next to the village of Torno and surrounded by peaceful views of Lake Como’s natural beauty, lush gardens and idyllic small towns, Il Sereno Lago di Como is one of the most anticipated openings of 2016, aiming to bring a new hospitality concept to the Lake with an all-star team including architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, chef Andrea Berton and botanist Patrick Blanc. The third property to join the Sereno Hotels portfolio (part ot the Leading Hotels of the World group) after Le Sereno Hotel & Villas in St. Barthélemy and Villa Pliniana, also located on Lake Como, this all-suites hotel with amazing lake views has been conceived as a contemporary hotel with understated décor - a contrast to the classical designs that can be found around Lake Como. Urquiola and her team envisioned every facet of the hotel from the architecture to the interior design, which includes designing custom furniture, rugs, wall coverings, lamps, bathtubs and bathroom fixtures.Stretching approximately 450 feet along the lake’s eastern shore, the hotel features 30 spacious luxury suites, each with its own waterfront terrace and unobstructed views of Lake Como and a sophisticated design style revolving around understated earthy tones of grey and walnut with touches of blue and green hues to incorporate the colors found in the surroundings of the iconic lake. At the center of the hotel, Urquiola designed a stunning, original stairwell made with natural materials whose large steps encased in bronze effortlessly “float” as the lobby’s centerpiece, whereas at the center of the hotel’s main garden sits a 60-foot, lakefront freshwater infinity pool surrounded by a broad sun-deck and bar where guests can relax or enjoy light bites and refreshments. Adjacent to the pool is a small beach that offers guests direct access to the lake. The amazing botanical works of art designed by acclaimed botanist Patrick Blanc - two vertical gardens and one green sculpture each boasting thousands of plant species – add yet another touch of beauty to the whole ensemble. Last but not least, at Ristorante Al Lago celebrated Milan-based Chef Andrea Berton presents a menu encompassing the crossroads of the distinct regions near Lake Como, including the lake with its fish and aromatic herbs, the mountains of Valtellina known for its incredible wines, cheeses and meats, and the nearby Pianura Padana, known for its risotto and other fantastic ingredients.  

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10.11.2016

Viticulture in Venice is nothing new: since ancient times, vines were cultivated in the city and on the islands of the lagoon, as shown by the surviving vineyards and grape-laden pergolas hidden in courtyards of old palaces. However, it is only very recently that wine production in Venice has begun to catch on, and the credit for this revival goes to a ‘retired’ French gentleman named Michel who lives on the island of Sant’Erasmo - also known as "the garden of Venice" because of the fertile nature of its soil. Michel, however, is not just a winemaker; he is actually Mr. Michel Thoulouze, the great French television entrepreneur who created plenty of legendary television programs and over 60 television networks over the course of a very successful career. That's right: Michel Thoulouze of Canal Plus, the pioneer of pay TV, is now a keen winemaker in the Venice lagoon, where he grows vines along with his family and a group of friends and experts supporting the enterprise. It all begun in the early 2000s, when Michel, fascinated by Sant’Erasmo, bought a house in the lagoon, only to discover from the local farmers that he had accidentallly purchased the very best piece of land on the whole island. Thus was born the idea of bringing traditional viticulture back to the island, rebuilding the ancient drainage system (read: no irrigation), avoiding to plow the ground and banning fertilizers and herbicides. Michel and his team recovered three ancient Italian vine varieties: the local Istrian Malvasia, Vermentino and Fiano, a blend created with the help of Alain Graillot, one of the most renowned winemakers of the Côtes du Rhône. The result is Orto di Venezia, a full-bodied white wine rich in minerals and gifted with a natural acidity that allows it to age in the bottle for years. That of Michel Thoulouze is the perfect slow tale: a successful media enterpreneur, constantly travelling and accustomed to the hectic pace of a stressful professional life, becomes a winemaker on a tiny island of the Venice Lagoon, willing to cultivate, along with the grapes, even the art of patience required by the long times of winemaking according to ancient methods. We asked him to tell us more about his second life. SJ: Michel, yours is a story that truly fascinates us. What pushed you to change your life so radically?MT: Well, first of all I believe such changes can only be fully understood after they have happened. And in retrospect I think it was not entirely my choice; we are like tiny sticks in a stream: occasionally we see something drift by - it happens rarely, two or three times in a lifetime - and when it happens we really have to use all our strength to grab that opportunity.What has changed is mostly the way I perceive time. The perception of time can vary a lot, you can think of time in terms of years or centuries. When you say things like "I have worked a whole lifetime for my children" you are thinking in terms of centuries, and of things that need to be passed on from one generation to the next. Long-term thinking leads us to make different choices, and to plant a vine means to do something that will last well beyond your own life expectancySJ: What do you miss about your old life?MT: Above all I miss the teamwork. Strangely, however, my life has not changed so much: before I used to build television networks from scratch, here in Sant’Erasmo I have built my own landscape. The idea of creation is what interests me primarily. I would never have bought an existing winery. I created my own landscape, my own wine, my own new ‘character’ - here on the island I am simply Michel the winemaker, nobody has a clue of who I used to be in my previous life. SJ: How is life among the Venetians? Do you feel like one of them?MT: Well, let's say I find myself at ease among the people of Sant’Erasmo. It is not easy for a foreigner and a stranger to be accepted by the rural world - especially by a small island community - but it worked out. Today I truly live the ‘slow’ way: I eat vegetables from my garden, I’ve got my eggs, my ducks and my hens, and fresh fish from the lagoon. And of course I drink my wine. This is not zero-mile life, this is zero-meter life! SJ: Why did you choose Sant’Erasmo and not some fine French wine areas? What is it about the island that struck you?MT: The wonderful view. Every morning when I wake up, I see the lagoon with its color changes. My house and my vineyarda are barely 10 meters away from the water. As I said, I would never have bought an existing company - I needed to create something from scratch. It is truly an adventure, only a very slow one: it took two years just to prepare the ground, then we had to wait another four years. We finally saw our first bottle 8 years after the beginning of the whole enterprise. That’s a long story, but all in all it went by pretty quickly. SJ: What distinguishes Orto Venice from the other winemakers of the Venice Lagoon?MT: The simple fact of making wine – of making everything right here, in the city of Venice, every step of the way from the beginning to the end. Ours is the only proper cellar in the whole municipality. SJ: Tell us a bit about the company.MT: We use exclusively ancient Italian grape varieties, thousands of years old. We do not have an oenologist because we believe that wine is born in the fields and not in the cellar; for this reason, we asked for the help of the great agricultural engineer Claude Bourguignon, a soil microbiology expert and a real star of ‘slow’ agronomy, with his wife Lydia. SJ: How many bottles do you produce per year and where do you sell them?MT: 15,000 bottles, exported to Japan, the USA, France, and also Switzerland and Belgium. Among our clients are many starred restaurants in Paris, where the top chefs have begun choosing wines with personality - just like ours – over ‘technical’ wines that taste pretty much the same everywhere in the world. Of course, our bottles can also be found in the wine bars of Venice and Milan. SJ: Can you tell us about your favorite places in Venice?MT: In the lagoon, a place I really love is the Island of St. Lazarus, perhaps the most beautiful one, so incredibly quiet. I also like Torcello, and as for Sant’Erasmo I recommend to come during the artichoke flower season, when the island is scattered with those wonderful violet flowers.In Venice, I like the part of the city near the Arsenal area where visitors rarely come and you can still find those old school bars with old people playing cards. In fact, to escape the crowds in Venice all you need to do is move a few meters away from the classic tourist route - or come after seven in the evening, when the cruise ships and the buses leave and the streets are suddendly empty. Another thing I recommend is walking to Piazza San Marco at about two o'clock in the morning: that is such an incredible experience, you'll find it completely deserted. It is truly amazing to have the whole square all to yourself. 

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10.10.2016

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10.07.2016

The history of buckwheat consumption in Japan goes all the way back to the Jōmon period (14,000-300 B.C.). Japanese buckwheat, or soba, is harvested two times a year. There’s spring soba and autumn soba. Akishin soba, the autumnal buckwheat, is harvested between the months of September and October. During this time of the year, people celebrate Akishin all over the country, and a signboard outside every soba restaurant will announce the newly harvested buckwheat stock, also in Tokyo. Here’s a few soba restaurants that are definitely worth a try. Ryōgoku, Sumida:HosokawaEstablished in the Edo period, Hosokawa is supplied by farmers of Ibaraki, Hokkaidō and Shikoku. The buckwheat is kept in whole grains at a low temperature, and milled on the spot. Therefore, Hosokawa soba noodles are freshly made with 100% freshly ground buckwheat flour. Your taste buds will be in awe. Hachiōji:ZaboAt Zabo, not only is the flour 100% buckwheat, but also it is coarsely ground by hand in a stone mortar. The procedure gives soba a distinct aroma, as though the grains had been roasted. Tempura will be a wonderful accompaniment. Shirokane:Sango-anAt this restaurant known for its laid-back ambience you can taste a bowl of soba while sipping sake with no hurries. A dish Sango-an is renowned for is soba-gaki: soft, mousse-like dumplings served in a warm, flavourful - or, shall we say, umamiful - brothNakano:Jiyu-sanLocated on Mejiro-dōri, Nakano, Jiyū-san offers carefully handmade soba noodles, which you can enjoy in a calm and elegant ambience. Jindaiji, Chōfu:YusuiIn the Jindaiji area you can find soba restaurants aplenty, but there is one which uses stone-milled buckwheat and fresh spring water. At Yusui you can really enjoy the true taste of soba. 

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10.05.2016

Wheat flour, water and salt: this is the simple recipe of the Apulian dish par excellence, the orecchiette - or strasc'nat, as they are called in Bari, where they were presumably born between the 12th and the 13th century before spreading throughout the region. There are different theories concerning their origin: some believe they are a variation of a type of dry pasta brought from France by the Angevins, according to others they most probably derive from a Jewish origin that was revisited by the people of Bari. Whatever the truth, the fact remains that these little pasta domes, prepared from small pieces of dough "dragged" with the thumb on the work surface and cooked al dente, are a true delicacy. In the Bari area there are two kinds of orecchiette: the larger version is typically accompanied by turnip greens (cime di rapa), broccoli, cauliflower or other vegetables, whereas smaller orecchiette are served on Sundays with a homemade tomato and meat sauce. In Cisternino, on the edge of the pictoresque Val d'Itria, orecchiete are called recch 'of privt ( "ears of the priest"), they are larger, made with unrefined wheat flour and served with rabbit sauce. To sample the authetic orecchiette you should head to a traditional Apulian restaurant. Here are a few places that offer this specialty often revisited with creativity:BiancofioreCorso Vittorio Emanuele II, 13, BariL’antica LocandaVia Spirito Santo , 49, Noci (Bari)Taverna della Torrevia S.Quirico 3, Cisternino (Br) 

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10.04.2016

There is a new, exciting hotel concept on the international hospitaity scene defined by a very unique fil rouge: books. For those who never give up their hunt for great reads, here is a guide to the five most original library hotels in the world, where relaxation is accompanied by thousands of volumes. From the more traditional - which is naturally British - to the most innovative - inevitably Japanese - there is enough variety to satisfy the needs and the tastes of every tireless reader or book lover. B2Hotel, ZurichThe chimneys betray the origin of this space: a former brewery turned into a beautiful library hotel. On the roof, the spa pools allow you to relax with a view of the whole city. Open 24 hours a day, the Wine Library offers an irresistible mix: the 33,000 volumes of its collection and a selection of top-quality cheeses, beers and wines. Book and Bed, TokyoIkebukuro, in the heart of Tokyo’s avant-garde district, is where Book and Bed was born. At this unique hotel, guests sleep in wooden bunks incorporated in bookshelves full of thousands of novels and comics selected by Shibuya Publishing & Book Sellers. All titles can be borrowed during your stay: how can you resign yourself to sleep? Library Hotel, New YorkThis luxurious ten-storey concept hotel on Madison Avenue has over 6,000 volumes divided by topic and distributed among the rooms, where you will also find works of art consistent with the chosen topic. If you wish to change your topic, the reading room is open day and night. The Gladstone Library, Flintshire, Galles del NordEstablished in memory of William Gladstone, four times British prime minister of the Victorian era, this library, hotel and bistro for travelers is above all a place of exchange and encounter for thinkers, immersed in the tranquility of the Welsh countryside. There are over 250,000 books available, and the venue also houses conferences and workshops throughout the year. The Alcove Library Hotel, Ho Chi Min CityIn one of the greenest and quietest areas of Saigon is a library design hotel where thousands of books add up the comfort and the pleasure of the sleek and minimalist decor. A great place to rest your mind from the city’s chaos among novels and essays. 

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09.30.2016

Just like the ivory pages of the famous notebook it owes its name to, the new Moleskine Café in Milan’s central and artsy Brera district is pristine and essential, intimately minimalist in the neutral color of its decor. Yet this sleek simplicity is an invitation to come in, and as soon as you cross the threshold you realize that there is nothing cold or impersonal in this bright and accurately designed space, in the huge floor-to-ceiling windows, in the smiles of the friendly and helpful staff, in the scent of freshly-made coffee from the local Sevengrams roasteryPart café litteraire, part a nordic-style and sophisticatedly revisited Starbucks coffee shop, the Milan Moleskine Café is a specifically conceived format that follows the very first Moleskine Café at Geneva’s International Airport, and it aims at becoming a daily source of inspiration through food, coffee, art exhibitions, and spaces devoted to reading, talks and workshops. For those interested in the Moleskine products, the café also houses a store, whereas the cozy dehors is the best place for watching life in the city go by beyond the reassuring borders of this peaceful oasis. As for food and drinks, the café offers a nice list of wines, fruit and vegetable juices, two espresso blends and a range of filter and brew coffees to be sipped either at the small, secluded tables or at the long communal table on the ground floor – to go along with the slow breakfast (fresh fruits, yoghurt and nuts), lunch (gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads and daily specials) and a sumptuos Sunday brunch of italian and American specialities with plenty of vegetarian options. Photos: Michele Morosi Thanks to Lara Santoro for the recommendation 

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09.27.2016

Let's face it: sometimes, when you eat alone at the restaurant, you get to feel uncomfortable and under observation, and so you end up checking your smartphone and draining the battery in the hope that the torture will end soon. Yet this rarely happens when you’re in New York, a city where eating alone is far from an unusual habit, and often a choice. There are plenty of restaurants in town that are just perfect for eating in blissful solitude enjoying great food and excellent drinks. Here are some of our favourite ones. Bill’s Bar and BurgerOne of the city's most famous burger restaurant, Bill’s has three locations in NYC (Downtown, Meatpacking District and Rockefeller Center) and it offers a laid-back environment, comfort food, beer, milkshakes and stools. Perfect for a casual dinner without prying and inquisitive glances. Gotham West MarketA veritable foodie Mecca, this day/night market in Hell’s Kitchen offers a well-curated list of artisan vendors and restaurants, open early until late, to serve a variety of cuisines ranging from chef Ivan Orkin's world-renowned ramen to chef Seamus Mullen's critically-acclaimed Spanish tapas. Perfect for enjoying your meal at the large communal tables or at the counters in a young and friendly atmosphere Terroir TribecaA nice glass of carefully selected wine and cheese appetizers – isn’t that just the perfect combination for gourmand soloists? At this amazing wine bar you will find a nice long counter where you can feel at ease even by yourself – although thanks to the friendly staff and the wine making new acquaintances won’t be hard at all. ButterCan a place called Butter be other than good and snug? This top-notch Midtown restaurant offers healthy food and cocktails to sip at the bar or sitting at one of the communal tables. Even the desserts are a celebration of gourmand selfishness: who would want to share those delicious raspberry beignets served with vanilla sauce? KoAt this small and exclusive East Village Asian-fusion restaurant guests sit along the kitchen counter and are served by the chefs. Booking can be tricky, because it only sits 12 people, but if you are lucky enough to make a reservation you will be rewarded by an unforgettable dinner. The tasting menu (usually including ten small courses) varies according to the seasonal ingredients. Nathan’sIf street food is the perfect option for solo diners, then hot dogs are a must when it comes to having a quick lunch on your own in New York City. And although there are thousands of great places to have hot dogs in town, Nathan's - the Coney Island restaurant which houses the famous annual hot dog eating contest - is unrivalled. So for once forget the nutritionals and grab that corn dog on a stick. 

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09.27.2016

Sake Day is the name of the event held by the Japan Sake and Shōchū Makers Association on October 1. This year, Nogi Shrine in Akasaka will be the venue for the 7th Japanese Sake Festival, happening on October 2. Just like in the past, offering sake to a shrine is still considered fundamental to receive a blessing from the gods. To keep the tradition alive and to hand down the Japanese culture of sake, the occasion offers the opportunity to sample a careful selection of sacred and rare sakes from all over the country, underneath the beautiful canopy of the autumnal sky. Nogi Shrine was built in 1923. After the death of Emperor Meiji on July 30, 1912, the enshrined deity – Count Nogi – and his wife committed suicide the day of the Imperial Funerals - that is on September 13. The suicide was carried out in accordance with the samurai practice of following one’s master to death. Touched by Lady Nogi’s loyalty, the whole population began visiting the House of Nogi, and it was not long before the hill where the house was located gained the appellation of Nogizaka, the “Hill of Nogi”. The pilgrimage honouring the spirit of Lady Nogi was then steered to the present-day shrine, whose construction began in 1919. Contact information:TEL: 03.3402-2181Nogi_info@nogikaikan.jpParticipation fee: 4,500 JPY per person(tax included). Please sign up in advance. 

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09.20.2016

The first floating hotel in Paris has opened its doors last June along the banks of the Seine. Moored at the foot of Austerlitz station and close to La Cité de la Mode et du Design, in a vibrant district which is undergoing a rapid transformation combining modernity and history, OFF is basically a floating barge with two rows of rooms (54 plus 4 suites) on two levels, a swanky bar on water offering cocktails and tapas, an interior path designed by Gérard Ronzatti, a plunge pool and a marina. Located between the Left and Right banks, with great views of the river and the play of light on the water through the huge windows, OFF has been conceived as a place offering its guests a unique experience, completed by a very accurate musical artistic direction including special playlists that give the tempo all day long, melting with the views like a taylor-made soundtrack with a very cinematic dimension. All seasons are good for stying at OFF: during the winter, the large windows will enable you to appreciate the river life while keeping warm inside, whereas in the summer you’ll be able to enjoy the 80 square-meter patio, the plunge pool and the marina. As fos the bar menu, the homemade signature cocktails and the wines are accompanied by a selection of tapas and bistronomic dishes based mostly on local products. Photos by Céline Demoux 

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09.19.2016

A beautiful purple flower that comes from Asia Minor, whose red stigmas give off a strong and enveloping aroma and tinge with yellow everything with which they come into contact. Saffron, from the Arabic word safran, is an ancient plant that reached Italy back in the thirteenth century thanks to a Dominican friar from Abruzzo. Today, Abruzzo, and more specifically the plateau of Navelli, in the province of L’Aquila, is still is one of the major production centers for saffron in Italy. A PDO-tagged product since 2005, L’Aquila’s prestigious saffron comes from the flowers grown and harvested on the plateau, from which the stigmas are removed, placed on a sieve and toasted on slightly moldering almond or oak wood cinders, and finally ground up. It takes about 200,000 flowers to produce one kilo of saffron, hence the high price of this precious spice. In the typical cuisine from Abruzzo, saffron is mainly used for flavoring and coloring fish and shellfish in traditional dishes such as scapece alla vastese, an ancient dish based on dogfish, intingolo all'aquilana, a mixture of beef marrow, saffron, eggs, cream and butter, and as a sauce with the classic saffron mussels enriched with parsley, onion, bay leaf, white wine and olive oil. Here is a small list of PDO L’Aquila saffron producers:Peltuinum Antica Azienda AgricolaVia Peltuino, 19, Prata D'Ansidonia (AQ)Azienda Agricola Castel CamponeschiVia Savini 27, L'AquilaAzienda Agricola Alessandro ZugaroPiazza della Concezione, Paganica (AQ)Azienda Agricola Papaoli AlfonsoVia Spiagge Piccole, 2, Navelli (AQ)  

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09.15.2016

A short break and at an unusual time of the year, the wish to disconnect from everything and everyone, a desire for unforgettable experiences. There are many reasons that can push us to travel solo and redefine ourselves beyond the reassuring borders of our familiar surroundings for a few days or a few weeks. Some call it alternative travelling, yet it is actually about being free to create your own vacation, to explore new destinations, new lifestyles, and to be a a temporary new version of yourselfOn a scenic trainIf you too are of the opinion that there is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the trip, the landscapes and the passage of time that traveling by train, it's time to hop on a scenic train. Try the vintage British-built B Class steam locomotive that rides along the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connecting New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling in India. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this short path of 80 km inaugurated in 1881 is famous for its vertical drop: it starts from 100 meters above sea level and gets to an impressive 2,200 meters, allowing you to admire the snowy peaks on the way. Yoga ... in IbizaWho would have thought that Ibiza is the perfect destination for Yoga lovers? Mostly known for its wild nightlife, the island has actually much more to offer than its world-known  clubs, DJ sets and foam parties. Between Es Cubells and Cala Carbó, for example, Yoga and meditation enthusiasts gather every summer at the many Yoga centers such as Hot Yoga Ibiza, and there are tour operators specializing in (inner) wellness travel. Getting to know your truest self, step after stepRemember Wild, the film based on a true story in which the protagonist crosses the United States from north to south in a journey if self-discovery? In a way, it truly captured the spirit of the increasing number of solo walkers who follow classic tracks such as the Camino de Santiago in Spain or engage in solitary walking tours along other paths across the world to face a truly fatiguing physical and psychological challenge that will hopefully bring them to some kind of enlightenment. Spend it like KerouacJack Kerouac spent the summer of 1956 in a fire lookout tower in Washington Desolation Peak. Hard to tell if he wrote some of his most remarkable pages during the 63 days spent on the top of the tower, but surely it must have been quite an experience. Today, after decades of neglect due to new technologies which have made them almost useless, some of these towers have been restored and are available for rent to individuals, for short and alternative holidays. The Forest Fire Lookout Association provides a list of the towers for rent, which can often be reserved at a bargain. Fire lookout tower: photo by Signal Minor under CC BY 2.0 license 

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09.13.2016

We all claim to love Mexican cuisine and yet our experience is often limited to world-famous dishes such as tacos and guacamole, and we do not realize how many surprises the flavors, the aromas and the textures of this rich and varied culinary traditions can offer. A triumph of intense flavors, spices and colorful decorations where Aztec and Maya traditions meet the Spanish cuisine of the Conquistadores, the local gastronomy is mostly based on  corn, which is used in many dishes including the famous tortillas, similar to crepes stuffed with meat, peppers, beans, cheese and more. Beans are another regular feature of Mexican cuisine served as a side dish to pork and chicken or accompanied by rice. The cuisine from the Oaxaca region is one of the most famous in Mexico; among its specialities are mole, a thick sauce made of peppers, dried fruits, spices and chocolate, tlayudas, corn tortillas accompanied by typical regional ingredients, and grasshoppers seasoned with salt, garlic and other spices. San Miguel de Allende is yet another not-to-be-missed foodie destination, renowned for its top-notch traditional gastronomy and its amazing food markets. Fragrant and spicy, Yucatecan cuisine delights the palate with the unique flavors of this region, combining many of the elements used by traditional Mayan cuisine - corn, chocolate, wild turkey, pumpkin, peppers and tomatoes - with European ingredients like pork, oranges imported from Spain and Edam, a traditional Dutch cheese. One of the most interesting dishes and perhaps the least known of traditional Mexican cuisine is chiles en nogada, which is served in every home across the country on Independence Day, September 16. Its origins are lost in myth: legend has it that some nuns of the order of Santa Clara invented a dish to honor the arrival of Agustín de Iturbide, the first Emperor of independent Mexico, in the city of Puebla and the tricolor flag, which inspired the main ingredients of the recipe: green chiles poblanos, white walnuts and red pomegranate sauce. Each family believes to be in possession of the secret receta of this unusual and surprising dish, whose sensual goodness lies in the filling of ground beef mixed with fresh and dried fruits, almonds and spices, all bathed in a sauce of minced Castilla nuts, almonds, milk and Marsala.To taste an excellent chiles en nogada, head to Hosterìa Santo Domingo in Mexico City, a historic and renowned - but not too touristy - restaurant where this specialty is served all year round. La casa de las Sirenas is another excellent address in Mexico City, a central restaurant housed in a 17th century building where you can sample alta cocina mexicana in a lovely atmosphere, enjoying a nice view of some of the city’s major sights from the terrace. A few blocks away from the Frida Kahlo Museum, Los Danzantes is a perfect restaurant to sample regional Mexican cuisine made with local, seasonal ingredients, including insect-based dishes such as the famous empanadas de escamoles (stuffed with edible larvae) of Coyoacan. We also recommend a taste of tamales, a typical dish made of corn dough stuffed with meat, wrapped in corn leaves, and steamed cooked. Finally, to get to know the Mexican food culture you must try at least once the ritual of breakfast or desayuno, which is often a synonym for chilaquiles, a super-energetic of tortillas, tomato sauce, chicken, onions, cheese, and sometimes eggs too. In Mexico City, it can be enjoyed at Cafè El Popular, a tiny and crowded bistro in the old town. Photo creditsChiles en nogada: photo by Madeleine Ball under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseTamales: photo by Diana Ponce Navarrete under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license 

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09.13.2016

'Kobe Beef' is a general term for the beef from the Tajima strain of the Japanese Black cattle, raised in the Prefecture of Hyōgo. The place of origin of the cattle is one of the criteria that need to be met in order to get a Tajima Beef designation. Other criteria include the males having being castrated and the females being heifers – not having given birth. But the most distinctive trait of the meat is its fatty, well-marbled texture. A Japanese chrysanthemum mark is stamped on the beef that has been officially certified as Kobe beef. What you see in the West labelled as Wagyū is something else. Outside Japan, the beef only needs to have 50% Japanese DNA to be labelled as Wagyū. In Japan “Wagyū” is used only for the cattle raised in the country, and each variety of Wagyū bears a different name. Oi NikutenEstablished in 1887, it is long-standing meat shop and a restaurant. The butchery is on the ground floor. You can taste the carefully selected meats in the steak-house and the shabu-shabu restaurant on the upper floors. Kisshokichi HontenHere you can have premium Kobe beef at a reasonable price, with no need to share. The menu offers a wide array of steaks and beef sushi. Ohta YaThis yakiniku restaurant is run directly by the Ohta Ranch. The meat is served grilled. You can savour it in the fashion of your choosing: spare ribs, steaks or offal. The yakiniku style will leave the delicious flavour of the Kobe beef intact. 

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09.02.2016

Over the last few years, East London has become some sort of a new food mecca, and anyone willing to find out about what’s new and amazing on the London restaurant scene should definitely take a look around there. A couple of years ago, a very special addition joined the many exciting addresses of the Betnal Green area – the Typing Room, a.k.a. the new restaurant of Town Hall Hotel, in the 1910 Edwardian-style former Bethnal Green Town Hall. Once the Town Hall’s typing pool in which all communications from the mayoral, council and judicial system were put to ink, the restaurant is now the chic realm of executive chef Lee Westcott, who created his innovative Nordic-inspired dishes with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. The result is a pure, natural and honest cuisine with a touch of sophistication, perfectly matching the sleek and yet laid-back ambience of the East London restaurant where meals are consumed among polished marble-topped tables, parquet floors, charcoal-grey walls and an open kitchen. The service, while apparently informal (waiters wear jeans and Oxford shirts), is thoroughly attentive and professional. As for the food, the menu opens with a set of ‘snacks’ that set the ground for the meal with small but intense flavor combinations, whereas the main dishes (à la carte or in a tasting menu) are built around very unique taste combinations – “Isle of Wight tomatoes, chamomile, ricotta & almond”, “Yeasted cauliflower, raisins, capers & mint”, “Smoked eel, chicken, radish & bread consomme”... To top up this incredible explosion of flavors, go for a deliciously traditional cheese selection accompanied by spiced pear chutney and bread.  

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08.30.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. A ‘poor’ and simple but very tasty dish - especially suitable for the hottest months of the year - the panzanella is a zero-waste recipe born in the Tuscan homes as a clever way to recycle bread leftovers from the previous days. The name comes from pane, bread, and zanella, bowl, and it is derived from the custom of Tuscan farmers to wet the dry bread and mix it with garden vegetables in a salad bowl. And indeed its basic ingredient is just the stale bread, which in combination with the vegetables turns into a delicious dish that can be preserved for a couple of days or more. To prepare a great panzanella, therefore, do not buy freshly-baked bread but use the stale one instead, and let it soak in water and raw red onion (possibly previously left to soak in water and vinegar) for about half an hour. In the meantime, slice the tomatoes to and season them with oil and salt to make them drench properly. Finally, mix bread and tomatoes and add fresh basil. To enrich the recipe, use your creativity and the ingredients at your disposal - vegetables, herbs, or spices. Here are a few addresses where you can taste the authentic panzanella in the heart of beautiful Florence:La PanzanellaVia dei Cappuccini, 10Hostaria del BriccoVia San Niccolò, 8Osteria del PorcellinoVia Val di Lamona, 7 Photo by Heather Katsoulis via Wikipedia under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license  

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08.25.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. Apples, pine nuts, raisins and cinnamon rolled inside a simple dough of flour, water and oil. Strudel is a simple and delicious type of layered pastry which is typical of the Trentino Alto Adige region in Italy, yet it is quite widespread in Northern Europe and particularly in Austria as well. A variation of the Turkish baklava cake, it dates back to Assyrian times  and it was brought to Europe by Suktan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century.Today, the strudel comes in many different sweet and salted variations according to local ingredients and traditions, for instance it can be filled with pears, apricots and mixed berries. Yet the most popular version is the one with sweet apple-based filling, also known as Apfelstrudel, which in the case of Trentino Alto Adige is usually made with apples of the sweet Golden quality. The best way to find a delicious strudel is to buy it from one of the local bakeries, confectioneries and cafés.Here’s a small list of good places:Caffè Pasticceria RomaPiazza Santa Maria Assunta, 3, Malè (TR)StrudelStubeVia Bottai, BolzanoCafè Pasticceria KönigCorso Libertà, 168, Merano (BZ) Photo by Petr Novák under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license via Wikipedia 

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08.22.2016

San Miguel de AllendeIn the state of Guanajuato, some 270 kilometers away from Mexico City, this beautiful city designated a World Heritage by UNESCO sits at 1,910 meters above sea level along the old ruta de la plata, the Silver Route that used to run from from Zacatecas to Mexico City. San Miguel has a perfectly preserved old town dating back to the 17th and 18th century, with narrow cobbled streets climbing the mountain, boulevards lined with trees, Baroque churches and historic palaces. This quiet town is perfect for a nice walk, and art enthusiasts will love it because of its many artist’s workshops and galleriesPueblaThis crowded city in central Mexico was founded in 1531 by the Spanish in the heart of a fertile valley surrounded by some of the country’s tallest volcanoes, including Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. It mostly owes its fame to the 1862 Battle of Puebla, when the French army attempted at conquering the city only to be defeated by the Spanish army with the help of the local population in what resulted as one of the most epic military exploit in Mexican history. The center, which surrounds the Zócalo (Mexican for ‘central square’), has plenty of colonial-style buildings. Among the city’s most remarkable sights are the Baroque Catedral de Puebla, the Templo de San Cristobal, the Palacio Municipal, the Templo de San Francisco, and the Salón de protocolos del Gobierno del Estado de Puebla. Yet Puebla is also a great foodie destination: its regional cuisine is deemed one of the best in Mexico, so be sure not to miss the local mole, a tasty and hot chocolate sauce with cinnamon, nuts and chillies. San Cristóbal de Las Casas In a valley surrounded by the mountains of Chiapas, in southern Messico, San Cristóbal is an ancient city where plenty of native ethnic groups of Mayan descent still live, a local language is spoken besides Spanish and people usually wear traditional costumes. San Cristóbal is also one of the best preserved colonial cities in the country, with old districts where various traditional arts and crafts like wood sculpture, carpentry or wrought iron working are still practiced. To get to know the city, adjust to its slow and ancient pace, strolling along the streets lined with colorful houses and noisy markets and savouring the pleasantly bohémian atmosphere that attracts backpackers and foreign tourists from all over the world. OaxacaThis warm and welcoming city is extremely rich in culture and history. A few miles away from it lies the archaeological site of Monte Albán, which used to be the major military and religious settling in the valley of Oaxaca, the ancient city which lived its golden era between the 6th century B.C. and the 9th century A.C. The site is so well preserved that you’ll feel like travelling back in time, and besides the view from atop Monte Albán is absolutely stunning. Modern Oaxaca owes most of its beauty to the colonial heritage; the main square is surrounded by the Cathedral and a bunch of exquisitely restored 16th century buildings turned into hotels, restaurants, galleries and museums. Yet it is in the markets that you’ll experience the most authentic soul of the city, tasting artisan chocolate, mole and chapulines, i.e. grasshoppers, which are possibly the most popular snack around here. Another must-try is the local mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage which is pretty similar to tequila, considered one of the best in Mexico. TaxcoThis small town in the northern part of Guerrero clinging to a high hill surrounded by mountains was once rich and famous due to its silver mines, and artisan silver workshop selling fine local jewels are still everywhere along its steep, narrow alleys leading to pictoresque squares. Scattered with historic palaces, a heritage of the New Spain period, Taxco  is surrounded by a beautiful landscape and blessed with amazing natural colors, to the point that it was awarded the title of Pueblo Mágico, reserved by the Mexican Governement to its most tourist-friendly destinations. The city is also famous for its ‘exotic’ cuisine, and particularly for the use of beetles (jumiles) for taco filling or as the main ingredient for dishes accompanied by mole sauce. Photo credits:San Miguel de AllendePhoto by Jiuguang Wang under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseCatedral de PueblaPhoto by Diego Delso under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseSan Cristobal de Las CasasPhoto by lllillji.koo under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseOaxacaPhoto by João Sousa under the GNU Free Documentation licenseTaxcoPhoto by Carlos Adampol Galindo under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license  

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08.18.2016

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08.17.2016

There comes a time when you just want to get away from the strain of everyday life and immerse yourself in nature. Popular destinations are not the best choice if you’re aiming to avoid the crowds. However, from Hokkaidō all through the Japanese Alps, the country is scattered with sweet escapes whose main attractions are the starry skies they stretch against and the lush woods surrounding them. Memu Earth HotelOpened this summer in the midst of the vast pastures of Obihiro, Tokachi, Memu Earth Hotel is composed of tents, with no ceilings or walls, offering luxury bedding in a quasi-campsite setting. You can take a shower in the facilities designed by Kengo Kuma’s studio, one of Japan’s leading architects, enjoy the delicacies Chef Yūji Tani will prepare for you using local products, and relax gazing at the stars while having a drink by the bonfire. Nonokaze ResortThe hotel is located in Tōyako, Hokkaidō and all the rooms overlook Lake Tōya. That means you can enjoy the sunrise and sunset, as well as the starry nights and nature’s ever-changing colors. You can take a swim in the lake, relax at the spa or dip in a bedrock bath. You can also reserve a private openair bath, where you can dip and unwind, enjoying the view of the night sky. When you’re finished, have a seat and savour the French and sheer Japanese treats. Yatsugatake Grace HotelThe hotel is located in Minamimaki, a village in the prefecture of Nagano, elected the third best stargazing spot in Japan, which is no surprise since the screen is the night sky above the Yatsugatake Mountain Range, where the air is clear and all luminous interferences absent. After eating in an exquisitely traditional dining room, you can borrow a telescope and enjoy the amazing view of the stars and meteor showers, with a person guiding you through the vault of the heavens. 

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08.15.2016

Discovering a country also means learnig about its cuisine, peeping inside the kitchens of its best restaurants and becoming familiar with the taste of its traditional food. This is truer than ever in France, a country whose identity is inestricably linked with the bon vivre philosophy and which boasts one of the world’s most prestigious cuisines. Away from sparkling Paris, where all the best food from France can be easily found, are the rural regions that give birth to such delicacies. Here, food can tell a lot about the climate, the history, and often about he future of these places. Normandy and the Valleée d'AugeIn a landscape of rolling hills, green pastures, farms and orchards, traditional cuisine is obviously based on meats and cheeses - and of course hard cider. The Vallée d'Auge, not far from the city of Caen, is an extraordinary foodie destinations where hospitality is experienced at its best in the small bed and breakfasts like Les Petis Matins Bleus, where you’ll be able to enjoy a weekend-long cooking class focusing on local cuisine. Guilvinec, BretagneClinging to a promontory overlooking the Atlantic ocean, the village of Guilvinec is the largest ancient port of France, where everything revolves around the daily coming and going of the boats to and from the ocean and the restaurants serve amazing and accurately cooked fresh fish. To fully enjoy the atmosphere, take part in a fishing section or learn about fishing techniques from the fishermen at the harborProvence and the Cadière d'AzurA we get closer to the Mediterranean sea, the local cuisine becomes more and more sophisticated and bumping into a starred restaurant is almost unavoidable. If you are looking for an exceptional experience, let starred chef René Bérard be your host at Hostellerie Bérard, in one of the most pictoresque villages of the Provençal hinterland east of Marseilles, La Cadière d'Azur. Sample the chef’s prestigious cuisine or sign in for a one-week intensive cooking workshop including visits to the local markets to learn about ingredients and communal dinners on the hotel’s terrace to savour your own masterpieces.  Saulieu, BourgogneBourgogne is a crucial contributor to French cuisine, because this is where a lot of the milk for its fabulous cheeses comes from – and grazing cows are literally everywhere you look. Local cheese Epoisses, with its pungently meaty, earthy, salty and nutty flavor, is definitely a must-try. As for restaurants and hospitality, the options are endless; our recommendation goes to the luxurious Bernard Loiseau di Saulieu, in the Morvan Regional Natural Park. Mont Ventoux, ProvenceVisiting Provence without trying its wines would be pure madness. Grape Escapes offers wine tours including trips to Mont Ventoux and the vineyard village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, not far from Avignone. Each day ot the tour is devoted to the the discovery of the vineyards and the local wines through wine tastings, and the nights are spent in Mazan at the former residence of the Marquis de Sade, an ancient castle which has been turned into a gorgeous hotel. Photo credits:Architecture in the Pays D’AugePhoto by Cicero under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseEpoisse cheese from BourgognePhoto by Coyau under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licenseCover photo: Noah Baslé via unsplash  

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08.11.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. The radicchio di Treviso is a kind of crispy and bitterish chicory that has been cultivated in the area ever since the 16th century, with deep-red leaves and white streaks. It grows all through the winter mainly in Treviso and Castelfranco, and it comes in two variations: the radicchio precoce (early radicchio), less valuable and more bitter, and radicchio tardivo (late radicchio), deemed superior and distinguished by long, tapering purplish red leaves and a central white rib. Usually a basic ingredient of the delicious risotto al radicchio trevigiano, it is also a great anti-aging remedy rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and B2, it has excellent antinflammatory  properties, and very few calories. The Consorzio Tutela Radicchio Rosso di Treviso IGP e Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco IGP recommends puchasing radicchio from the following growers:Soc. Agricola Dotto GiovanniStrada Torre D’Orlando, 8, Torre D’Orlando (TV)Biofattoria MurialdoVia Cal di Breda, 67, TrevisoDotto PaoloVia Aereoporto, 7, TrevisoCooperativa Soc. AlternativaVia Cardinal Callegari, 32, Carbonera (TV)Graziotto OrnellaVia Postumia, 8, Ponzano Veneto (TV)Azienda Agricola Nonno AndreaVia Campagnola, 72, Villorba (TV)Soc. Agricola Biodinamica San Michele s.s.Via Bovon, 28, Case Scarabello (TV)Bellia ClaudioVia Tito Speri, 98, Bragato (VE) Photo by Zetagroup under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

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08.10.2016

Creative Director at United Arrows, the leading Japanese group featuring select shops throughout the country, Yasuto Kamoshita is one of the most known buyers of Japan’s fashion industry, and he was even awarded the prestigious Premio Pitti Immagine Uomo in 2013. We had a pleasant chat with Mr. Kamoshita about life, work and his vision of the Slowear brands. SJ: What do you like the most about your job?YK: I like my job for different reasons. I like making things, meeting creative people and finding new inspirations. I like seeing new places all around the globe. And I’m happy when people are happy with my creations. SJ: Among all the people you’ve met so far, who do you think had a great influence on you? Is there any episode you want to share?YK: Without any doubt, my life had a turning point when I started attending the school of Fine Arts, aiming to become a painter. I met a guy who was to become one of my closest friends. Unfortunately, he passed away. But believe me, his drawing skills were just flabbergasting. I strived to do better than him in the design class, but I was hopeless. I wasn’t bad, but talent is talent. Either you have it or you don’t. I couldn’t compete with my friend. Then I understood I had better give up the path of fine arts and pursue other avenues. SK: Besides your work and career, what do you think is important in life?YK: My motto is, everything you do in life, enjoy it to the fullest. SJ: Please tell us about your encounter with Slowear.YK: I’ve had ties with Incotex for 25 years, so I followed the Slowear re-branding every step of the way. I loved the re-naming immediately. A new wind is blowing in Italian fashion – I thought. SJ: When you’re on a business trip, what do you do in your spare time?YK: I have very little time to spare, if I’m on business. But if all the work has been done, I like to sit in my favourite café and relax. I love to listen to the sound of music, people and tableware filling the air. SJ: You’ve travelled quite a lot now. Is there any place you would like to recommend?YK: Kanazawa, on the Sea of Japan. Since we opened a United Arrows shop earlier this year, I’ve had to opportunity to go there time and again. There’s something exquisitely old-fashioned in the air, due to a large number of traditional houses still in existence. The Sea of Japan caters fish with a rich, firm, juicy flesh. No wonder the quality of the food in Kanazawa is unexcelled. Furthermore, there are so many interesting cultural events happening at the 21st Century Museum. And it’s so close to Tokyo! SJ: How do you put the slow living philosophy into practice?YJ: I don’t. My work and private life are just so hectic, day in day out. Could anyone please tell me if there’s a way I can create time? SJ: What are your recommendations for a person visiting Tokyo for the first time?YK: Personally, I like the local areas. In Tokyo, I would recommend a walk around places such as Nakano or Kōenji. Shōin Shrine is an enchanting spot where you can observe people in their everyday life. The Japanese Folk Crafts Museum is also very nice, because you can experience the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship first hand. 

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08.04.2016

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08.01.2016

The excellence of hospitality and the perfect balance between architecture and nature meet in these three amazing hotels offering all guests the unique opportunity to experience a stay in full harmony with the surrounding landscape and to perceive the huge regenerating power of nature. Maya Boutique HotelMaya is the name of a mountain at the entrace of the Val d'Hérens in the south-eastern Swiss Canton of Valais. On its slopes is Maya Boutique Hotel, a gem of sustainable architecture entirely made of straw to minimize its impact on the surrounding environment. Fresh mountain air and beautiful landscapes help guests purify their body and mind without feeling guilty for the carbon footprint of the experience, since the hotel produces all the energy it needs for heating and the kitchen through wood ovens and solar panelsEcork Hotel Évora Suites & SpaÉvora is an ancient city founded by the Romans in the heart of the Portuguese Alentejo region, between Lisbon and Algarve, whose main feature is the abubdance of cork oak forests. This is where one third of the world’s wine bottle corks are made, so it’s no wonder the first eco-friendly hotel entirely covered in cork- which is great for thermal and sound insulation. The suites, the spa, the pools and every other part of this hotel surrounded by greenery are fuelled by geothermal and solar energyPalacio del SalThe Salar de Uyuni is a majestic salt desert extending for over 10,000 square kilometers on the southern Andean plateau of Bolivia at an altitude of 3,650 meters, where there once was a huge prehistoric lake. This is where the world’s first hotel entirely made of salt, Palacio del Salar, was built in 2004. Perfectly melting with the beautiful surroundings, this amazing place invites all guests to enjoy the beauty of nature and the light of the sunset on the salt desert from the comfort of their suites. Addistional treats include a spa and a restaurant where the chef’s special is the not-to-be-missed salt chicken. 

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07.28.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. Please do not call it focaccia. Although it actually looks like focaccia, pizza bianca is a veritable institution in Rome, and as such it deserves some respect and even a fair amount of worship. The city's favourite snack since forever, this gorgeous and savoury bread makes everyone happy - students and  professionals, the rich and the poor alike. Pleasantly salty - with kitchen salt sprinkled all over it - authentic pizza bianca is usually golden brown, soft in the center and crispy on the edges, and of course oily enough for the small hollows on its surface to gather delicious micro-pools of olive oil. The ideal stuffing is mortazza, as they call it in Rome - a.k.a. mortadella, a.k.a. Bologna – a delicious and definitely substantial coupling. So where is such marvel to be found? While everyone in Rome agrees on the fact that pizza bianca is a God-given gift, you'll probably find it hard to have the Romans agree on which is the best place where to get it. Here's our very own take on this tricky business:Antico Forno RoscioliVia dei Chiavari, 34, RomaForno Campo De’ Fiori Vicolo del Gallo, 14, RomaPanificio Bonci Via Trionfale, 36, RomaAntico Forno del GhettoPiazza Costaguti, 30,RomaPanificio La RenellaVia del Moro, 15, Roma Cover photo: Roscioli’s legendary pizza bianca, © Forno Roscioli di Roscioli Pier Luigi & C. SAS 

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07.25.2016

A 1.5 kilometre stretch over the Wien River bed has hosted the Naschmarkt, Vienna's most popular market, ever since the 16th century. At the very beginning, the market only sold milk bottles that were made out of wood taken from the ash tree - Asch, the German word for ash, was the source of the original name Aschenmarkt.  Today, one can buy fresh fruit and vegetables flown in from around the world, including exotic herbs, cheeses, baked goods like bread, kaiser rolls, and cakes, meats, and seafood. Most of the current stalls date back to the 1920s. Interestingly, one can find many small restaurants which offer a wide variety of cuisines from sushi to kebabs and seafood to traditional Viennese food like Kaiserschmarrn (Vienna's sweet omelette) or Palatschinken (a Hugarian speciality similar to rolled-up crepes). There is also a wide variety of clothes and accessories to choose from. The market was further extended in 1977 along the Wienzeile to an adjacent area every Saturday, when a flea market takes place there. The lovely vibe of the Naschmarkt is fast growing its popularity and can boast of large numbers of international tourists. Be prepared for what to expect when you visit the Naschmarkt. While at the market you can choose from three main options: firstly shopping for Austrian food and regional produce; secondly, scouting for rare  and exquisite vintage goods; and lastly, trying out bars, patisseries and restaurants. Our suggestions for regional produce for you to pick from includes Uhudler, a local fruity wine from the region, regional honey products like honey liquors and wines, local sweets from Austria and Hungary (you will find the best ones close to the flea market at the non-established stalls that belong to Hungarian and Lower Austrian farmers). Stone chocolates, which are pieces of sugar coated with chocolate resembling pebbles, are yet another must-try. Also available are aromatic oils made from fennel, chili, basil, pumpkin seeds and apricot stones, to name a few. You will also be able to buy a variety of vinegars made from wine, apples, blackberries, elderberries, pomegranates, cucumbers, saffron and sweet peppers, breads made from oats, millets, spelt, rye, wheat, kamut and amaranth, Turkish lamb sausages, spices, baklava and other sweets from the East. As for vintage goods, the market hosts a mix of Viennese and Eastern European traders who sell handbags, gemstones, glassware, silverware, linen and decorative items mainly. With fresh food sources all around you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a place to eat at. Here are our suggestions:Nautilus for the freshest fish in Vienna;Palatschinkenkuchl to try the Austrian version of pancakes;Kurkonditorei Oberlaa for cakes and macarons. 

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07.22.2016

“As long as there is rice in the fields and fish in the rivers, people will be happy”, says an ancient proverb. And this sums up the basic ingredients of Thai cuisine, which is nevertheless incredibly diverse as much as this country is varied in terms of landscapes and cultures. Renowned all over the world, Thai cuisine is rich in tastes, sophsticated, spicy and above all hot, very hot. Chillies, spices, lemon juice, lemongrass and coriander, along with plenty of other local roots and herbs, make the taste of Thai food unique and unmistakable, turning meats and vegetables into savoury treats accomanied by the ubiquitous white long grain rice(khao jao). A fun way to discover these flavors and enjoying Thai food is hitting the street, especially those of the big cities like Bangkok, where food is prepared everywhere, in street food stalls, food carts and trucks, and of course in the markets. Provided that you get rid of your Western suspiciousness, the experience will leave you amazed at how good authentic Thai street food can taste.   Most streets in Bangkok are dotted with stalls offering very affordable food - often 24/7. These veritable micro-restaurants serve an incredible range of colorful, sweet smelling specialities, from various currys accompanied with rice to noodles, from som tam (hot and sour papaya salad), to roast chicken and fresh seafood. At Klong Toei Market, where Bangkok’s restaurateurs get their supplies, there is everything you need for cooking Thai recipes – fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, fish and even frogs and insects. In Silom, the city’s main financial district, join the locals in tasting some of the most savoury recipes from the local cuisine: Bami Keaw Mu Daeng (egg noodles with roast pork and wanton), Khao Mu Daeng (rice with roast pork), Khao Man Kai (rice with chicken), noodles, grilled fish or meat and sukiyaki. The Chinese district between Yaowarat and Charoen Krung is yet another major foodie destination due to its many stalls selling freshly cooked Thai and Chinese street food specialities. Finally, Khao San, the nightlife district, is a street food heaven with food being cooked on its sidewalks all night long. Having a classic Phad Thai (sautéed noodles with veggies, tofu, meat or fish and a special sauce) or a Khao Kai Jeaw (rice omelette) here is the quintessential Bangkok experience. Just make sure to get there by 8 p.m. or the stalls might get unbelievably crowded. 

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07.20.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. A simple salad, whose international fame is due to the quality of its ingredients and to the amazing flavor and color combination. Legend has it the recipe was created by a patriotic construction worker who liked to fill his sandwich with the colors of the Italian flag: mozzarella for white, basil leaves for green, and tomatoes for red – all three being crucial ingredients of the local cuisine in Capri and in the whole Campania region. Today, the simple and often ‘poor’ ingredients of this amazing food tradition give birth to an extraordinarily creative and innovative cuisine, which is nevertheless rooted into ancient tradition. Yet the true secret behind local delicacies is the sun, which gives them a unique taste and a character that cannot be repicated anywhere else in the world. Here’s a list of great places in Campania where you can buy the best mozzarella (either buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte) for an authentic Caprese salad:Caputo CaseariaVia Roma, 88, Teverola (CE)Caseificio LeuciVia Nazionale Appia, 150, Casagiove (CE)Il casolareVia Olivella, 12, Alvignano (CE)Caseificio Masseria LupataVia Porta Marina, 29, Capaccio (SA)Caseificio La MasseriaVia Cornito, Eboli (SA) Photo credits; photo by Schwäbin under the CC by-sa-3.0-de license 

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07.19.2016

The knowledge of apple cultivation was inherited by the French from both the Celtic Gauls and the Romans who ruled the region for approximately 500 years. We can trace the earliest mentions of cider to the Greek geographer Strabo who speaks of the abundance of apple trees in Gaul and describes a drink very similar to what we know today as cider. Put simply, there are different types of cider like categorised by technique – traditional, farm style, boutique, and pasteurized - each of them with their own, unique flavour. They also come in various hues from colourless or light in color with yellow hues, to dark orange. Some ciders are cloudy with sediment while others are completely clear. Some have a strong taste of apples while others have only a hint. The range of sweetness also has something for every pallet right dry to sweet. The making of this drink is very interesting. Whole apples are ground by the process of crushing the fruit between stone which is the traditional method. The crushed apple pomace is collected in jute/hessian frames and stacked in a cider press. The apple juice is then squeezed out, collected and fermented by use of wild yeast at a temperature of 4–16 °C, commonly in wooden barrels. Like in the case of wines, a second fermentation can also take place, converting the malic acid into a softer tasting lactic acid. A cider may be aged for six months before bottling. The Charmat method is conducted to produce sparkling cider. It is a process of fermenting the apple juice in a sealed tank so as to allow the carbon dioxide that is produced from the fermentation to stay in the cider. To experience first-hand the process of an apple turning into Breton cider, we suggest making a trip to a cider farm. The Cidrerie de la Baie is made up of 7,000 apple trees. The team passionately share the secrets of producing their signature unrivalled organic cider. The lovely tour of the farm ends with a delicious tasting session. If you are interested in buying excellent cider from Brittany, head to the Cornouille region, where most cidreries are located. Here's a list of recommended by IDAC, the Interprofession des Appellations Cidricoles: Cidrerie Manoir du Kinkiz Cidrerie MelenigCidrerie Séhédic Le Brun Dominique  

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07.13.2016

After spending a couple of years on their previous culinary project State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski focused their energies onto creating a new one-of-a-kind dining experience in town. The result is a sincere, organic restaurant with a strong local flavour. The well-crafted premium quality ingredients add the much needed characteristic that highlights their commitment to serving up premium quality gastronomic delights. Guests are offered a menu of around 18 dishes and are asked to collectively choose a six-course meal which is served family style. Along with the interesting food on offer, The Progress also has an interesting wine list and the bartenders really know their job when it comes to whipping up superb cocktails to go along with the meal, or even to simply stop by for a quick drink with a few nibbles. The team strives to consistently provide a unique environment where guests can expect interesting high-quality creative food, alongside meaningful service. Some attractive dishes on offer that are worth a mention are the spring potatoes with porcinis prepared in a wood oven and the squid ink-flat noodle ‘stir fry’ that is made using clams, fried squid, tofu skins  and squash stalks. For dessert, the menu seems equally if not more interesting, with dishes like chocolate-cherry cake served with thyme cream, black butter and the double blueberry ‘pie’ served with cream cheese ice cream, puff pastry, and basil. San Francisco-based Mary Mar Keenan, who specialises in creating handmade tableware, pottery and ceramics, has collaborated with The Progress to create a line of dishes that reflects the style and feel of the restaurant. This adds a natural element to the tables and blends in perfectly into this well designed space.  

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07.13.2016

Summer is the perfect season for new and pleasant discoveries. This year, we’d like to take you on a journey through the diverse tastes of Italian cuisine, stopping in each and every one of its 20 regions to try local products, unique delicacies and traditional dishes. Let us begin with one of the most remarkable foodie destinations in the country, Emilia Romagna, and with its most simple and yet beloved specialities: piadina  The simplest and most ancient form of bread, piadina is the quintessential street food of Romagna - the region that boasts one of Italy's most renowned local food traditions. Recently granted the GPI (Protected Geographic Indication) status by the European Union to safeguard it from poor quality imitations and fakes, this 'primitive' form of bread dates back to Ancient Rome when a simple dough of water and flour was pretty usual, yet it is only in more recent times, around the Middle Ages, that the actual ancestor of modern piadina, a 'poor' round flatbread based on acorn flour, was born. The basic recipe then changed and had different variations through the centuries, until it took the current shape: water, wheatflour, and lard - or, in its less popular vegetarian version, olive oil. The dough is divided and shaped into small balls, flattened with a rolling-pin and briefly baked on a testo, a flat round pan which was once made of terracotta ad can now more often be found in its cast-iron version.At the restaurant, it will often replace other types of bread, but it is only in its street-food version that you will be able to savour its whole potential thanks to amazingly rich stuffings based on cheeses, veggies and local artisan cured meats. So where is this delicious speciality to be found? Basicaly, anywhere you go in Romagna, and certainly wherever you spot a classic piadina kiosk. Here's a list of some of our favourite piadina places in the main cities and seaside resorts of the Riviera Romagnola. Piadina NovellaVia Faentina, 284/a, RavennaDalla LellaViale Rimembranze, 74/A, RiminiLa Piadina RiccioneseViale Castrocaro, 17, RiccioneIl PosticinoVia Cervese, 3723, CesenaChiosco delle Streghe Via 2 Giugno, 10, Milano Marittima Photo credits: photo by Kobako under the CC BY-SA 2.5 license 

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07.12.2016

Traditionally, the Japanese eat grilled eel on white rice on the Day of the Ox, which will be on 30th July this year. Doyō no hi refers to the eighteen days preceding the change of seasons, and the doyō no ushi no hi, “the Day of the Ox”, marks the eighteenth day before summer changes into autumn, according to the ancient lunar calendar. In the Edo period unagi used to be consumed in winter exclusively. As a consequence, summer was a time of poor sales for eel restaurant owners. One of them sought the advice of Hiraga Gennai, a physician, a herbalist and one of the most prominent scholars of Western studies of the time. A popular belief had it that you won’t suffer from the summer heat if you have food whose name starts with a “u”, as in ushi, “ox”. Unagi starts with “u”. Hence, Gennai came up with an advertisement reading, “The Day of the Ushi is the Day of the Unagi”. The scholar was so influential that other restaurant owners followed suit, and the Day of the Ox became the Day of the Eel. Nowadays eel is a synonym for summer. Eel can be prepared in two different fashions: the Kantō style and the Kansai style. In the Kantō style (Tokyo), the eel is cut open on the back, broiled, steamed and then broiled again. The resulting meat is moist and tender. By contrast, in the Kansai style (Osaka), the eel is usually smaller and, after being cut open on the belly, is broiled without any steaming. The Kansai unagi is known for being flavourful and crispy. Here is a list of restaurants where you can have the best eel dishes. NodaiwaFounded over 200 years ago, during the Kansei Era of the 11th Shōgun Tokugawa Ienari, Nodaiwa head shop is located in Iikura, Azabu, Minato-ku, inside a traditional rural house transplanted from the mountain area of Hida Takayama and rebuilt on spot, with a dab of elegance. It provides an open space as well as private rooms. Very well known for being one of Emperor Shōwa’s favourite eel restaurants, in 1996 Nodaiwa opened its first shop in Paris. MyōjinshitaThe shop opened in 1894 in the geisha district of Yanagibashi. It later relocated in the trendier Kanda area. Surrounded by trees, the shop is famous for its relaxed ambience and for the freshness of its eels, fished, delivered and cooked within the same day in the traditional Edomae style, with all the fat dissolving into crunchy deliciousness. ChikuyōteiEstablished at the end of the Edo period, Chikuyōtei is a historic eel restaurant, headquartered in Ginza Hachi-chōme. The staple is unagi served on a bowl of white rice. The meat here is crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. The menu also offers uzaku, eel and cucumber salad, umakitamago, an omelette roll with an eel filling, and chazuke, rice poured with green tea, and topped with fresh sea-bream from the Tsukiji Market, prepared in a sesame marinade. MiyagawaMiyagawa is an unagi restaurant established in 1893 in Tsukiji, within easy access and offering unajū, broiled eel on rice served in a lacquered box, at a reasonable price. Everyone can pick something they like from the wide array of dishes and enjoy a taste of Meiji. Unagi shira-yaki, grilled au naturel, with wasabi on the side, is highly recommended. ŌedoPrepared in a strictly traditional style, Ōedo’s unagi will bring to you recipes and flavours that have been handed down throughout the decades, ever since the shop was established in Nihonbashi during the Edo period. Unajū never ceases to amaze for the delicious tenderness of the meat, but on the Day of the Ox you must indulge in the limited edition ikada, "raft-style”, with eels lined up and skewered side by side on top of rice. You can also try the Minami Aoyama shop.

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07.11.2016

Jeju Island, in South Korea, is a popular vacation spot and honeymoon destination among Korean and Japanese tourists. The island's mixture of volcanic rock, frequent rains, and temperate climate, makes it very similar to the Hawaiian Islands in the U.S. Jeju offers visitors a wide range of activities: hiking on Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano and South Korea's highest peak, watching the pictoresque views of the ocean at sunrise and sunset, visiting majestic waterfalls, making short trips on horseback or just lazing around on the golden sands at the beach. The island is abundantly blessed with natural produce that you must try while visiting, fresh sea food like fish, squid, octopus, sea cucumber, and various other creatures that can be easily bought in markets, restaurants, and even right on the beach. The tropical weather makes it a perfect place for growing tropical fruits like pineapples and tangerines. Shitake mushrooms and cactus plants are also famous from this island. A lovely souvenir of local produce is also the honey made from local flowers has a special taste. From the crystal clear waters to the breath taking views put this island on your travel bucket list. Getting to the island is suggested by plane & boat while cycles & cars can be used on the island. The Jeju International Airport has several flights daily to domestic destinations like Seoul, Busan, Daegu as well as international destinations like Osaka, and Tokyo to name a few.Boats are an option too, the ferry terminals in the City have daily boats to Busan, Yeosu among many other places on the mainland. Smaller ports have boats to the outlying islands of Kapa-do, Mara-do, Piyang-do, and U-do as well. One can peacefully bicycle around Jeju with enough room on the roads to safely go around. While on the island one can also use bus services from the terminal in Jeju City to go around the island. Cover photo by Korean Culture and Information Service via flickr under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license 

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07.08.2016

When we think of a foodie destination, the U.S. are not exactly the first place that comes to our minds, yet cities like San Francisco offer such variety of cuisines and tastes that experiecing amazing food is actually pretty easy. Provided that you know where and what to look for.  San FranciscoSan Francisco is the American capital of creative and healthy food. It is no surprise, then, that some of the country’s most renowned emerging chefs  - including Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions - have opened their restaurants here. Everything revolves around the quality of the ingredients and plenty of places have their own farm or trusted local suppliers. Just walk along the streets of the Mission District and you’ll see for yourself the lively restaurant scene, offering mostly recommendable food. The food trucks are yet anothet local favourite, and the quality of their offer has reached truly impressive levels over the last few years. Also, do not miss the Clement Street ethnic food mecca and hit the Ferry Building Marketplace for your gourmet fod shopping. Las VegasDid you know that Las Vegas is one of the five most remarkable foodie destinations in the US? Strange as it might sound to a European, the desert city is a feast of flavors dotted with Michelin-starred establishments, and this is not something entirely new: back in 1992, Wolfgang Puck of Spago opened a branch of his legendary Beverly Hills restaurant in Vegas. His latest address in town is CUT, a luxury steakhouse inside The Palazzo. Even  France’s most famous chef, Alain Ducasse, opened his own restaurant in Las Vegas - Rivea, offering clasic French haute cuisine with Itaian influences and international inspurations inside the Delano resort. Last but not least, British TV chef Gordon Ramsay owns three Vegas restaurants focusing on burgers and grilled meat. Louisville Once mostly known for its local bourbon, Louisville, Kentucky, now produces some of the best craft beers in America. In Louisville, traditional southern cuisine is a must-try: go for a classic Kentucky Hot Brown (owing its name to the Louisville hotel which first served it, the Brown Hotel), an open sandwich filled with turkey, bacon and Mournay sauce. The robust Louisville-style chili is a meat and been stew served wit spaghetti, and rolled oysters, that can only be found here, are giant oysters dipped in the special pastenga batter and dep-fried. New OrleansThis amazing city is a veritable melting pot, not just in terms of races but even literally. Creole cuisine is a unique mix of traditions, flavors and smells with influences from all over the world – France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Native America and Africa – and it is still a favourite among locals. Among the classics is gumbo soup, with shrimps, oysters, shellfish or meat. Po'boy sandwiches are another pillar of the Lousiana cuisine; they are made with baguette-like bread and filled with vegetables and fried seafood and shellfish or meat. Jambalaya is a delicious spicy rice-based dish that somewhat reminds of Spanish paella, enriched with seafood, shellfish and crabs in tomato sauce. Cover photo: pork belly salad at State Bird Provision, San Francisco. Photo by Ed Anderson 

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07.07.2016

This July will witness the grand opening of the new citizenM hotel, right opposite the Tower of London. This 8-storey property boasts of a dramatic double height space with floor to ceiling windows and a terrace that offers a stunning 360° view of London. Airy glass and limestone facade blend into the surroundings and mirror the buildings around the hotel.   On entering the hotel one can instantly feel the group’s philosophy of redefined luxury for modern travellers. On the ground floor guests can rest, work, sit together by the fire place, watch TV or indulge in great food & interesting conversation. The concept of this area sees five different yet connected spaces that cater to the needs of both modern business travellers and tourists. Some interesting features worth a mention apart from their thoughtfully designed bedrooms are:CoffeeM - Situated close to the exit of one on the cities’ busiest metro stations both guests and locals will be able to avail of freshly brewed coffee and pastries.CanteenM – An open kitchen format with its signature style bar is open round the clock, serving everything from sushi to salads & curries to cakes. They not only offer hot take away but also a fine selection of chic cocktails in the evenings.CollectionM - As a response to guests requests to purchase products on display at their properties. The collection showcases travel accessories, art, books, design objects etc. That can be delivered to each traveler’s home, or handed over at the hotel.SocietyM - the hotel’s popular business meeting rooms that are both creative, styled to evoke a 1950s design ethos.CloudM – This bar offers the most dramatic views of London's skyline with the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and its iconic skyscrapers including the Gherkin and the Shard.    While on your next visit to London, we recommend this Dutch hotel brand that believes in offering an outstanding experience, contemporary design & technology that enables a streamlined experience and friendly, efficient service at a very smart price. 

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07.05.2016

Fireworks colouring the night sky has always been a common theme in Japanese poetry about summertime. The tradition seems to have started when the eighth shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684–1751) held the first Sumida River Fireworks Festival, to comfort the many souls reaped by the plague pandemic, as well as to scare the evil spirits away and honour the Water God. However, popular belief has it the first fireworks were displayed in front of Ieyasu (1543–1616), the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Summer isn’t summer with no firework displays throughout the country. When it comes to Japan, these summer festivals provide a great opportunity to showcase new highs in technology, recipients of a number of awards all over the world. Here is a selection of the hotspots where you can make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show. The 38th Adachi Fireworks FestivalWith a history of over one hundred years, the Adachi Festival opens the season, offering the spectacle of 13,500 fireworks to as many as 550,000 people, with a captivating soundtrack and the grand finale of the Pomp and Circumstance. It is very easy to find on a map. You can sit by the river and enjoy the show.Date: July 23, SaturdayTime: 19:30 – 20:30Venue: Arakawa Nishiaraibashi Park The 50th Katsushika Nōryō Fireworks FestivalThe Katsushika Nōryō Festival will mark the 50th edition this year, with up to 15,000 fireworks and a longer running time. If you get there earlier, you can take a stroll in and around the grounds of Shibamata Taishakuten Temple nearby and lose yourself in an Edoesque atmosphere.Date: July 26, TuesdayTime: 19:20 – 20:30Venue: Katsushika Shibamata Baseball Field (next to Edogawa River) The 39th Ryōgoku Fireworks FestivalThe Ryōgoku Fireworks Festival is a derivation of the ancient Ryōgoku Kawa-biraki Firework Festival, which first took place in 1733, mid Edo Period. Held in two locations on the Sumida River, it is the grandest festival in Japan, with over 20,000 fireworks, including a competition of 200 fire “balls”. The yakatabune houseboats make a wonderful viewing spot of the fireworks soaring higher than Tokyo Sky Tree and the surrounding buildings. But you should book at least one month in advance.Date: July 30, SaturdayTime: 19:05 – 20:30Venues: between Sakurabashi Bridge and Kototoibashi Bridge; between Komagatabashi Bridge and Umayabashi Bridge The Jingū Gaien Firework Display sponsored by Nikkan SportsThe magnitude of 12,000 firework star mines will illuminate the night skies of Downtown Tokyo. Meiji Jingū Gaien will be the venue of concerts and live performances, including Diamond Yukai and Tomoka Fujioka from the Miss Saigon Company. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the Jingū Gaien Firework Festival has organized a special charity section to support the Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery Charity. This year a portion of the profits will be donated to the victims of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes.Date: August 20, SaturdayTime: 19:30 – 20:30Venues: Jingū Stadium; Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium; Rubber-ball Baseball Ground; Area in front of Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

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07.04.2016

SJ: Who is Soyeon? How would you describe yourself?SP: I’m ‘Made in Korea’ but have lived and experienced life around the world- Japan, UK, Switzerland and Singapore. I accept other country’s culture, languages & people. People sometimes say that I am a mysterious & curious person. Maybe this is the same as Carlo Moretti products. SJ: If we were to draw a parallel between you & brand Carlo Moretti, mention one quality from the brand DNA that you share as a personal quality?SP: Keeping originality is the one quality. Time marches on, weather changes, fashion & trends change very fast but we keep the most important thing, the ‘originality’, above all, we create.  SJ: Who or what is the inspiration that helps you strike a balance between your personal and professional life? How do you slow down?SP: Running. There is a beautiful running course at the palace area in Ootemachi. Taking in some fresh air among the trees & watching swans in the lake gives me a sense of calm. It is very peaceful & makes me forget my busy professional life while I am there.  SJ: When did you first hear of brand Slowear and what was your first impression?SP: I saw the brand when I visited La Rinascente in Milano last year. While I purchased a pair of Incotex trousers I remember the sales assistant mentioned to me that Slowear is also distributed in Seoul & Japan. The design drove me to buy, I mean reasonable price and good quality.  SJ: For a person’s first visit to Tokyo and Singapore list a few suggestions on spending 24 hours in both cities. 'Slow' places to eat, shop, visit and sleep. SP: Well, spending 24 hours in Tokyo might be too short. For hotels, I would recommend the Hotel Palace or the Hotel Okura. They are Japanese fine hotels. ‘Omotenashi’, which means hospitality service, is something you will experience everywhere you stay, things will be well organised and you will be well looked after. If you visit Tokyo, you should visit the Ginza area to shop. I suggest exploring this district on foot.I would recommend the best Japanese Shabu-shabu & sukiyaki restaurant called ‘ZAKURO’ and ‘Ginza Sushi Kou’. You most definitely have to try sushi when you visit Japan. The Ebisu area is an attractive option for dining options like French, Italian and wine bars. Occasionally I visit the wine store at Ebisu Garden Place called ‘Wine Market Party’, it boasts more than 1,000 kinds of wines from across the world. You may spend more than an hour to find your favourite wines and it is a fun experience to select vintage wines for your collection.  Roppongi is the most popular nightlife area with many trendy fashion stores and fancy cafés. Another must-visit is the Minami Aoyama area. If you are looking for something to take back from the city head to Asakusa which has a Japanese historic charm to it. You can explore Japanese culture and pick up Japanese gifts. About Singapore, the people bring and accept other country’s culture, brands and food very fast. It is a very small city but you will find everything that you need like hotels, pools, restaurants, shopping malls and casino. You must have heard of Singapore’s symbolic building, the Marina Bay Sands, it is a must- see. If you want to find somewhere to slow down, I would recommend visiting the Botanic Garden or the Sentosa area.  SJ: In conclusion, since this is The Slowear Journal, could you describe in a few words your idea of a 'slow lifestyle'?SP: To me the ‘slow’ lifestyle is practiced through cooking, reading books, running in the middle of nature and indulging in good conversation. This sows the seeds of creation that new ideas sprout from. 

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06.28.2016

A short drive from Munich is a beautiful castle that looks like it appeared right out of a fairy-tale. It is the Neuschwanstein Castle, a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace that served as the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria, the cousin of Duchess Elizabeth 'Sisi' (who later went on to become the Empress of Austria),  it is part of a series of elaborate castles on which the king spent all his personal funds. Also known as der Märchenkönig ("the Fairy Tale King"), Ludwig had the castle built as a retreat erected to pay homage to the famous German composer Richard Wagner, of whom he was a patron. Set on a rugged hill overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, this fabulous structure has been prominently showcased in many famous movies like The Great Escape and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Today, the palace is very popular, receiving approximately 6,000 visitors per day in summer. Our next choice is the Hohenschwangau Castle. Built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria who is the father of King Ludwig II, this is a 19th century palace that served as the childhood residence for King Ludwig II himself. As its name suggests, it is located in the German village of Hohenschwangau, near the town of Füssen, which is part of the county of Ostallgäu in southwestern Bavaria, Germany, very close to the border with Austria. Lastly we suggest the gorgeous Linderhof Palace. It is a Schloss which is the German term for a building similar to a château, palace, or manor house, more like a stately home or country house in the British Isles. This picturesque edifice is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and it happens to be the only one which he lived to see completed. Also situated in the southwest of Bavaria, near the Ettal Abbey,  this relatively small architectural marvel is also known for its huge landscape garden scattered with buidings inspired by Wagner's operas and the Oriental world.  

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06.27.2016

As the temperatures relentlessly rise & summer kicks in for most of us in the northern hemisphere, we suggest a trip to this unique mountain retreat. Situated in the Indian subcontinent, high in the Himalayas, we focus our attention on a unique institution called the Ananda Spa that is nestled in these mighty mountains. Like most of the beautiful resorts in India, Ananda also has a royal story to its origins. This 100 acre stunning estate was once a palace owned by a maharaja. Many awards have been bestowed on this luxury destination spa in the Himalayan foothills for both its flawless, friendly & expert service as well as its facilities, amenities & spectacular scenic beauty. As you enter this pristine location you feel the sense of calm envelope you & instantly get transported into this lifestyle that draws is fundamental structure from ancient Indian wisdom. Not too far away one can find options for hiking & camping in the Sal forests. Cross-country skiing in the mountains nearby is also something the adventure enthusiast in you. The location overlooks the spiritual town of Rishikesh and the gorgeous Ganges river valley. Integrating traditional Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta with international wellness experiences, fitness and healthy organic gastronomy, Ananda aims at restoring each guest’s balance and harmonize their energies. The spa has a variety of services on offer, truly a holistic experience at its core. From weight loss programs to early morning meditation, yoga sessions and wellness consultations & treatments. This personalised experience is designed & customised specially for each person’s individual requirements. Trust us when we say you will leave this place as a renewed person both spiritually & physically.

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06.24.2016

2 billion people in the world already feed themselves on insects belonging to the 19,000 edible species listed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Yet whereas for those who live in Central Africa, Southeast Asia and South America insects have been a part of the daily diet for centuries, to us in Europe and particularly in Italy eating them would represent a veritable cultural leap.Driven by prejudices and honest disgust, we refuse to even consider eating those little creatures we instinctively relate to sickness and filth. But things are probably destined to change radically over the next decades.  By 2050, the world population will reach 9 billion and food production will have to increase by 70%. And since this will bring to scarcities of agricultural land, water, forest, fishery and biodiversity resources, edible insects will become an actual resource.  Insects are widely available and rearing them requests limited spaces. Besides, they contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans - especially for the 800 million people in the world who are currently facing starvation. Last October, the 1997 Regulation on Novel Food - i.e. food that has not been consumed to any significant degree in the EU before May 1997 - has been modified to make the authorisation procedure for novel food simpler, faster and more efficient, so that innovative food which is safe to consume can be put on the market faster. So apparently it’s just a matter of time: before we know it, we’ll be ordering crispy crickets, sautéed cockroaches and larvae soup at the restaurant. And chances are we’ll marvel at how good they taste. 

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06.23.2016

Green maple trees: that is the kigo Japanese phrase associated with early summer. Just take a look around. Buds finally break into leaves, covering the desolate, wintry branches in new, luxuriant foliage. Summer makes Mount Takao the ideal destination for an easy hike or a stroll in the woods, not too far from downtown Tokyo. About Mount TakaoMount Takao is located in Hachiōji, in the Greater Tokyo Area, standing 599m tall. Due to the ever-changing nature and outlook of its summits, Mount Takao appeals to beginners as well as frequent visitors all year long. Its location, between the temperate and subtropical latitude, at the edge of mountain and plain, causes the flora to be extraordinarily heterogeneous, with as many as 1,300 species and a great population of birds and other animals. Since the Meiji Period, Mount Takao has been preserved as the sacred grounds of Yakuō Temple and the Imperial Crown Forest. Hiking trailsYakuō Temple, Mount Takao’s symbol, has a history of more than 1,200 years. Trail 1, lined with red lanterns, is by all means the most popular path. Gentle slopes will lead you through a monkey sanctuary and lush Tako cedar trees. If you’re a beginner, you can also take a cable car or a chair lift. Other paths include: a trail along Mae no Sawa, one of the headwaters of Tama River; the Inariyama Trail, the Jūsō Trail, leading from Mount Takao westwards on to Mount Jimba; the Trail of the Mount Shiro Eastern Ridge, where you can take a leisurely stroll with almost no people around. Hot springs around Mount TakaoIf you’re in Tokyo and you feel like soaking in an onsen, you can go on a day-trip to Mount Takao and take a dip in one of the many hot springs in the area. Onsen baths can be extremely soothing after a long excursion. At Furoppy you can find as many as eleven types of bath, including the open-air rotenburo. It can be easily reached from Hachiōji Station or Takao Station. There is also a free shuttle bus service from Takaosanguchi Station. Other onsen include Yura no Sato Sagamihara and Sagamiko Onsen Ururi.  Snacking on Mount TakaoLocated next to the Mount Takao cable car station, Kasumi is very well known for the crowds of people queuing for its delicious tenguyaki demon-shaped cakes, crispy pastry filled with black soybean paste. Takahashi-ya is an old-fashioned, refined restaurant, which is famous for its tororo-soba, buckwheat noodles served with a Mount Takao yam purée. Located in 6,500 m2 space in the midst of the mountains, Ukai Toriyama offers refined chicken-based dishes, with a mountain flavour, in elegantly decorated interiors. 

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06.21.2016

A drink after work on a sultry summer evening can be extremely pleasing, but perhaps you are fed up with the usual beer. You may be looking for some other place, offering a wider array of craft beers, flavours and aromas, and some delicious snacks to munch on, on the side. Look no further. We’ve picked five bars with a selection of over ten types of draught beer: the TAP10 beer barsNakameguro Tap RoomNakameguro Tap Room was the first shop opened by Numazu’s Baird Brewery in the Tokyo area. All the brews are listed on the blackboards above the counter, including the signature Suruga Bay Imperial IPA and Angry Boy Brown Ale, as well as the seasonal recommendations. Tap Stand ShinjukuThe drinking establishments in this area are just countless, but in very few places can you find a careful selection of craft beers, both domestic and imported. At Tap Stand Shinjuku, you can enjoy as many as 23PDX Tap RoomShibuyaPDX Tap Room specialises in beer from Portland, Oregon, such as the representative Rogue beer and the Terminal Gravity Eagle Cap IPA brew with a crisp citrus character. The creamy garbanzo dip will be a perfect match, along with other snacks. When the weather is nice, you can also have a seat outside. Craft Hands Azabu-JubanAt Craft Hands you can enjoy craft beer in a cosy, green-toned ambience. The menu gathers 14 draughts from the United States, Belgium and other European areas. There is also a good selection of bottled beer. It is an adult-oriented beer bar. Swanlake Pub Edo Yoyogi-UeharaSavour the bouquet of a nice glass of wine in beautifully decorated interiors. Open from late in the morning until late at night, Swanlake Pub Edo offers an excellent selection of wines and beers. We recommend you start with a pint of White Swan Weizen, with a tasty assortment of fried chicken on the side. 

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06.09.2016

The Literal translation of the word ‘Thali’ in various Indian languages is a plate. It refers to a large round metal plate that has a couple of small metal bowls called katoris, placed against its rim. Alternatively a steel tray with multiple compartments is also an option for the food to be presented on. The word Thali not only describes the plate the food is eaten on but also this system of Indian meals. Moving on to the actual contents of this plate, this platter typically consists of a wide variety of flavours like spicy, salty, bitter, sour, astringent & sweet all served on one plate, truly managing to satiate every taste bud. The Thali has been a part of the Hindu socio-geographical landscape for thousands of years. Although the origin still remains unknown, it is safe to understand that it is a result of detailed studies about food and its effects on the practice of Yoga during the Vedic times.   The components of a thali vary as per the region. They tend to incorporate local flavours & ingredients as per the availability of local produce. Looking deeper, one can draw a parallel between the commonly known food pyramid, a result of modern day research in the field of nutrition & the thali, an ancient Indian cultural tradition. This is an outcome of Indian food’s ancient roots in the science of Ayurveda, resulting in this unique approach to food. The primary components of a thali are as follows:Side Dishes an assortment of pickles, chutneys which are spicy, tangy or sweet sauces served with the food. papad is a thin, crisp, disc-shaped food typically made from peeled black gram flour. A couple of snacks like pakoras which are deep fried vegetables that are coated in a gram flour batter, or dhokla which is a fermented batter derived from rice and split chickpeas this assortment gets adapted across the country. Milk Products Raita which is a blend of yogurt with tomatoes, cucumber, onions etc. Chaas which is Buttermilk that has some cumin seed powder, ginger-green chilli paste, black salt and salt & Paneer or Cottage cheese are very popular specially in the northern parts of India & are served as a part of the thali. Indian breads have many variants like some made from whole wheat flour like Chappati & Paratha, others made from white wheat flour like Nan & Puri yet others made from millet flour such as Bajra roti and Jowar bhakri, as well as corn flour. They may be prepared to be served plain, spicy or even stuffed with vegetables like potatoes & green peas. It is interesting to note that most Indian breads do not contain yeast, thus making them healthier. Lentils, Vegetables, Meats & Seafood are an integral part of Indian Cuisine some are seasonal, others staple they may be prepared in different ways all of course with the generous use of spices. Vegetables can be prepared dry like a starter or as a gravy. Each vegetable is specially prepared with a unique spice mix that will enhance the flavours of each vegetable. Pastes & purees like cashew nut paste, tomato paste, coconut milk, coriander & mint paste are also used in the preparation of gravy dishes. Lentils are commonly cooked into a liquid consistency with spices they are known as Dals, Dal Tadka & Dal Makhani being the most common. Rice is generally served alongside Dals or currys toward to coastal areas it can also be eaten with vegetables, fish or meats. There are a few rice dishes that are considered a complete meal, Khichidi a combination of rice & lentals cooked together, Pulao or Biryani rice that is served with meat, seafood, eggs or vegetables. In the southern parts of India rice cakes called idly pancakes like Dosas & Uthappas are popular. Sweets are commonly eaten as a part of the Thali. This relates to the Ayurvedic concept to provide the palate with a contrast of tastes & a rich sensory experience. Milk is an important part of sweets where it is slowly boiled with grains & vegetables cooked in Ghee. Kheer which is a rice pudding made by boiling rice, broken wheat, tapioca, or vermicelli with milk and sugar; it is flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios or almonds & Gulab Jamun are a must try.

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06.09.2016

If nature has unjustly favoured one part of the world it would be the natural beauty of Costa Rica. In this editorial we focus on the Arenal Conservation Area that is home to the Arenal Volcano National Park. The heat of a volcano, flowing waters of hot springs, pure air of the rainforest & fertile earth of the Fortuna de San Carlos Region, has seamlessly been bound together to result in a perfect get-away to relax & escape. This national park has two volcanoes, the Chato Volcano which has been inactive for nearly 3,500 years and has a collapsed crater that contains a mesmerising lagoon, perfect for the selfie addict in you. The second volcano called Arenal is Costa Rica’s most active volcano, its lava has been constantly flowing since 1968. While the sun shines one can witness smoke and cinder blocks billowing from Arenal’s top & after dusk the landscape completely changes into a mesmerising view of fiery-red lava pouring down the steep sides of the Volcano. The national park, has short trails which are approximately 2 to 3.4 kms. These trails pass through lava fields from previous eruptions as well as forest land. Feel safe to take up this adventure as the park rangers are closely tracking the volcanic activity and will close trails or sections of the park that they may consider as unsafe. Definitely the best way to spend your day. For some night time relaxation, you must try spending time in the hot spring water from the volcano which works magic on aches and pains that you may have arrived with or result from jungle-trekking. The best time to take a dip into the water, is by night as the thick tropical foliage and lighting along the terraced pools makes for a captivating atmosphere. A place that manages to grasp this magical experience into the boundries of a resort is the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort where you can enjoy some pampering. The Arenal Volcano National Park is rich in flora & fauna. If you are lucky you may have a chance to see Spot Deer, Tapir, Howler Monkeys, White-faced Monkeys & Snakes. Even birds like Parrots, Orioles and Brown Magpies. Various species of plants include Palm Trees, Ceiba, Fig Trees, Wild Mushrooms, Orchids, Ferns and Bromeliads like Pitcairnia funkiae also make up this beautiful place. After this holistic experience of adventure, serenity & relaxation you will sure not want to leave or definitely plan to visit again.  Photo by Christophe Meneboeuf, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 

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05.27.2016

Harmonizing the 21st century quest for authenticity, with a constant need for the latest amenities & comforts in life the Slowear Journal explores this trend called glamping (Glamour + Camping - something for those who love the outdoors with the comforts of regular life). We take you to the Peruvian port city of Iquitos for an experience of a lifetime.Home to a section of the Amazon rainforest & the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu perched atop the Andes Mountains, we witness this one of a kind hospitality in Peru. Our focus this time is on a wonderful establishment called the Treehouse Lodge that is made up of eight unique treehouses in Iquitos. This exquisite jewel in the jungle is located at the confluence of the Yarapa and Cumaceba rivers near the Pacaya Samiria Reserve.The experience begins right from the journey as you will have to be brought in by boat. This journey is worth the experience since it gradually familiarises you with the surroundings & prepares you for this life changing experience.Being in the wilderness comes with its own perks. Apart from the pristine atmosphere & clean rainforest air this place has to offer, it also has absolutely no network connectivity which means you will have no cell phone reception or WiFi allowing you to totally switch off from regular life & marvel at mother earth’s awe-inspiring creations.During your stay in the tree houses which make you feel absolutely one with nature, you will chance upon a variety of wildlife. From colourful tropical birds flying by to the soothing sound of raindrops. Carrying your pair of binoculars is an absolute must to enable a glimpse of playful monkeys & lazy sloths undisturbed in their natural habitat.There will never be a dull moment in this delightful place. From canoe trips to nature trails on suspension bridges & walkways that will allow for spectacular views off the mighty Amazon rainforest, be rest assured to satisfy your wilderness appetite. Spending time back in your private tree top bungalow is as good as being out spending time in the jungle as these tree houses are thoughtfully designed to absorb the wonderful forest atmosphere in the comfort of your cosy bed. If you’re lucky a butterfly may even flutter around you & come settle at your bedside. The tree houses are made without walls only using sticks & curtains for construction.Welcome to the rainforest. It doesn’t get more private & exquisite than this. As for dining facilities be rest assured that the Treehouse Lodge has it covered. The in-house chef cooks up fresh gourmet meals specially inspired by local produce.  All in all this is place has the wonderful quality to make you fall in love with it over & over again by drawing you closer to nature.  Just the thought of falling asleep to the sounds of real forest life & the authentic experience it offers makes any strong nature lover want to pick up their bags & head to this forest. Why go the rough tough way when you can Glamp it? 

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05.23.2016

The second part of our slow guide to Mumbai starts out at sunset, with a bunch of recommendations for your night out in the hectic city that 22 million people call home - and  which is interestingly half the size of London. Take a Yacht out from the Gateway of India at sunset. This colossal icon of the city is even more beautiful when witnessed from the waters with the light of the setting sun reflecting on it.Address: Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400001, India.Suggested time of day: Sun Set.  Listen to the fine tunes of a grand piano playing softly as if to create a picture perfect moment with a cup of coffee at the Sea Lounge in Mumbai’s historic Taj Mahal Hotel for a million dollar view of the gorgeous Arabian Sea.Address: Apollo Bunder, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India.Suggested time of day: Sun Set.  If you are the type who likes to find your inner balance amidst a bunch of beautiful people at a cocktail bar then a must do in Mumbai city is the AER rooftop bar. Perched high up on the 34th floor it creates an airy bliss while giving you a bird’s eye view of the glittering new city skyline.Address: 1/136, 34th Floor, Dr. E. Moses Road, Worli, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400018, India.Suggested time of day: Post Sun Set. The Editor’s PickMarine drive has for years served as a versatile space for emoting expressions. Love, celebration, anger & grief have all been perfectly expressed & absorbed by the sea on this 3.5 kilometre long boulevard. We suggest a walk from the tip Nariman Point along the bay that ends at the Chowpatty Beach to finally end up at Malabar Hill for an evening view of the bay commonly known as the Queen’s necklace due to position of the street lights along the stretch. Address: From Nariman Point, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400021, India to Hanging Garden, Malabar Hill, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400006, India.Suggested time of day: At or after sun set.

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05.20.2016

Mumbai City, fondly known as Bombay is a perfect example of the hustle & bustle of a crowded Indian metropolis. Yet finding bliss right in the heart of this busy, noisy & almost chaotic island city which is India’s Financial & Entertainment Capital is not impossible. In this two-part article we'd like to take you on a journey through places and activities that will help you balance your inner self, places you can escape to for simply reading a book, taking a walk or sipping on a cup of hot Mumbai Chai. Let's begin with a few tips on how to spend your day. Get an adrenaline rush by starting your day with an early morning run at the Mahalakshmi Race Course alongside galloping horses, followed by a drink of fresh tender coconut water.Address: Dr E Moses Marg, Royal Western India Turf Club, Mahalakshmi Nagar, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400034, India.Suggested time of day: Sun Rise. Spend some time in the sanctity of the sanctuary of knowledge, another relic from the British raj The Asiatic Society of Mumbai. One of Mumbai’s most regal & elegant heritage structures which houses treasures of books & periodicals, ancient manuscripts, painted folios, coins, artefacts & maps.Address: Town Hall, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India.Suggested time of day: Late morning. Spend time at the Yoga House Café where you can indulge in a refined combination of some cutting-edge macrobiotic recipes & ancient dietary wisdom & traditions. This relatively new institution also offers short classes on yoga & healthy living.Address: Nargis Villa, Water Bungalow, Sherly Rajan Road, Near Rizvi College, Opp ICICI Bank, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050, India.Suggested time of day: For lunch. Climb to the top of Castella de Aguada, commonly known as Bandra Fort & find a spot facing the Bandra Worli Sealink. The calming breeze, sound of the ocean & distant sight of the cars over the beautiful bridge creates a perfect blend of the calm of nature & the reassurance of the world moving ahead in time. This reassurance transports you into soul-searching mode.  Address: Mount Mary, Bandra West, Mumbai, 400050, India.Suggested time of day: Early evening. The Prithvi​ Theatre Café is a quaint coffee shop that serves delicious local & continental delicacies, steaming coffee as well as local chai. It creates just the kind of atmosphere ideal to get lost in a book or even strike a conversation with a stranger.Address: 20, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Juhu, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400049, India.Suggested time of day: For an evening snack.

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05.17.2016

Take a break from the tall buildings towering over Chūo and Minato and enjoy a walk from Yushima all the way to Hongo, an area still oozing history and impressions from the Edo period, with monuments such as Yushima Tenjin and Tokyo University. It won’t even feel like Tokyo, while walking beside an old-fashioned monjayaki pancake stall or a traditional wagashi sweet shop, with the irresistible smell of yakitori chicken filling the air at night. Yushima TenmangūYushima Tenman-gū is a shrine devoted to Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar, of the Heian Period (794-1185), revered as the god of learning, Tenman-Tenjin. On 25th May, the celebrations of the Reitai Festival begin, involving the entrance to Tenman-gū with a portable shrine, traditional Shinto music, the presentation of taiko drums to Tenjin and displays of flower arrangements. Furthermore, on 28th May, there is a procession with portable shrines from Tenman-gū to the centre of the city. Kyu-Iwasaki GardenKyu-Iwasaki Garden was built by British architect Josiah Conder, in 1896, as the estate of Mitsubishi founders, the Iwasaki clan. The premises comprise a Western-style house, a Japanese house and a billiard house. Even if its grounds are one-third of their original size, Kyu-Iwasaki Garden still stands as an exquisite example of the beautiful architecture of the Rokumeikan Era (late 19th century). Former Residence Of Ichiyō HiguchiThis is the residence where poetess and novelist Ichiyō Higuchi (1872-1896), who was active during the Meiji Era, lived for ten years, reportedly penning a number of poems, including Flowers at Dusk, Tamadasuki, Wakarejimo, Early Summer Rain. MitsubachiEstablished in 1915, Mitsubachi is a café serving Japanese-style sweets, typical of the Edo Period, such as mitsumame topped with molasses or red bean jam. Tsuboya SōhontenThis is a shop established in the Kan’ei Era (1624-1644), where you can find sweets from the early Edo Period. It became an institution over the subsequent 390 years and was very much appreciated even by Count Katsu Kaishū. It is still very well renowned for its jar-shaped monaka wafers, filled with red bean paste, along with its seasonal nurikiri yam cakes, a treat for the eyes and palate. Monja-enThe unpretentious cuisine of Shitamachi attracts a wide array of people, from intellectuals to university students. Here you can enjoy a pancake enriched with the ingredients of your own choice: cabbage or seasonal fruit, sea food or meat. Immortalised by Hokusai manga, monjayaki pancakes were very popular during the Shōwa Era to such an extent that any Shitamachi shop would have an iron plate for monjayaki. The popularity of monjayaki is now being revived.

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05.11.2016

Around forty incredibly homemade rides hidden on a hill in a poplar wood in Nervesa di Battaglia, near Treviso, basically working without electricity. The man behind this place of wonder is  Bruno Ferrin, eclectic owner of Osteria ai Pioppi, who conceived and created these unique attractions for his customers. It all started back in 1969, when Bruno and wife Marisa first opened their osteria - a very simple and rustic eatery where patrons can order their food and carry it to the many indoor and outdoor tables - which was later joined by the upstairs restaurant with table service, and of course by the playground with Bruno’s creations, which have all been tested for safety and carefully maintained despite their adorably ‘vintage’ look: slides (one of them triple-track and 60 meters tall), swings, trampolines, a giant hamster wheel, a wheel inspired by Leonard’s Vitruvian man, lianas and much more. All attractions (except for one, which needs just a little electricity) are solely activated by human weight and power, and the fun makes the little effort definitely worth it. Bruno proudly says he did not draw inspiration from the attractions you can find at the huge amusement parks, but smply from movement, nature, and observing the world. Entrance to the playground is free for all customers of Osteria Ai Pioppi - just make sure you digestion has worked properly before hopping on your favourite ride

[...]

05.10.2016

Some cities are beautiful from every possible viewpoint, and Paris is definitely one of them. It looks gorgeous from the streets of the Quartier Latin and Le Marais, majestic from the huge tree flanked boulevards, and inevitably romantic from down along the quais of the Seine or the Canal St. Martin. Yet our favourite perspective is from up above the roofs, the dormer windows, the Bitte Montmartre - and of course from the rooftop cafés, clubs and restaurants where you can eat and drink with the whole City of Lights at your feet. Here’s a few of them.  Le GeorgesAtop Centre Pompidou, the Paris Museum of Modern Art, this classy rooftop café and restaurant in the heart of Paris with floor-to-ceiling- windows offers great views anytime. It is great on sunny days for a coffee or a drink, and simply astonishing at night when the thousand lights of the city turn on and you can dine under the Paris sky. Café RichelieuHere’s another nice museum rooftop café, this at the Louvre, and particularly in the Richelieu wing, a short walk from Napoleon III's apartments. With terraces overlooking the Cour Napoléon and the Pyramid, the Café Richelieu offers gourmet treats courtesy of Paris institution Angelina, the Rue de Rivoli tearoom once frequented by Proust and Coco Chanel.Try their famous "L'Africain" hot chocolate or the Mont-Blanc. Nüba A large, laid-back bar with a nice wooden floor along the banks of the Seine, on the rooftop of the hyper-modern building that houses the Cité del la Mode et du Design, where the atmosphere feels almost like that of  a beach club. A great location for chilling out, drinking and listening to music outdoors in the summer.  Le PerchoirIt started out as a 'secret' venue, but locals soon tracked it down and word of mouth turned it into a very popular nightlife destination. Yet this Menilmontant rooftop bar is so nice that queueing is worth  it, especially for the 360-degree view on the city. After all, isn’t drinking among tomato plants and colorful lights on a Parisian rooftop the essence of cool?  Le Zyriab by NouraThe rooftop restaurant at Institut du Monde Arabe (whose nice building was designed by Jean Nouvel) specializes in premium Lebanese cuisine (the Noura group has many restaurants in France and the UK), yet it’s fine also to drop by for coffee or a drink outside regular lunch and dinner times. The view on the Seine, the Ile Saint Louis and Notre Dame is simply amazing.

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05.09.2016

Okinawa is the westernmost prefecture in Japan, consisting of 363 islands. For 450 years, starting from the 15th century, it was known as the Ryūkyū Kingdom. Okinawa is a real treasure trove, from the wonder of an emerald-green sea, the coral reef and colorful fishes, to the pristine beauty of the lush, deep forests, with the feeling of timelessness and a whole different food culture. Mantas, whales and other sea creatures may bee seen swimming in the Kuroshio Current washing against the coastline. Last but not least, the seaside tourist season in Okinawa opens in March/April, long before the mainland. Although whale-watching can be practiced in winter only, Okinawa still has plenty of leisure activities and is the right place for water sport lovers. Okinawa Churaumi AquariumIn the Okinawan language, churaumi means “pure sea”. Churaumi Aquarium is a marine wonderland, featuring whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, as well as the world’s first successfully captive-bred giant manta. You can also explore the mysteries of Okinawa’s deep sea, in a large scale exhibition of captive-bred reef corals. SnorkellingSnorkelling is also very popular in Okinawa. Due to the scarcity of plankton, the water is astonishingly transparent and you can dive into a wonderland inhabited by beautiful reef corals and colourful other creatures. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have high chances of swimming with turtles. You will find all the snorkelling gear you need on the spot. ParasailingParasailing means a breath-taking stroll 40-50m up in the air, above the sea of Okinawa. That is a fun activity you can do without stressing too much in your spare time. Reef corals, white-sand beaches, a beautifully chiselled rocky coastline: this is amazing panorama of Okinawa. Take the wonderment to another level. Take it higher. Enjoy the view from up in the sky. Sea-walkingSea-walking is a type of diving, where you walk in the sea wearing a special helmet, which allows you to take a stroll and breathe as if you were treading on dry land. Since you won’t get wet from the shoulders up, you can keep your glasses or contact lenses and enjoy the wonders of the sea to their fullest.   Kouri IslandKourijima is a beautiful island surrounded by a sea of emerald green and connected to Okinawa Main Island by a bridge. The clean transparency of the sea here is extraordinarily popular even amongst the locals, who love renting a bike and cycling around the island. There are plenty of restaurants and accommodations, so you can stay and enjoy the sunset with no rush. GourmetHistorically influenced by both mainland Japan and China, Okinawa has developed a culinary tradition of its own, featuring lots of pork- and tofu-based dishes, but also very rich in vegetables and fruits, such as bananas, mangoes, pineapples, passion fruits, hirami lemons and guavas. If you are a gourmet, you must try sāta andakī (Okinawan-style doughnuts), sōki soba (buckwheat noodles with stewed pork on top), rafute pork ribs and Agu pork hamburgers. And don’t forget to check out Kokusai Dōri, Naha City’s main street, a 1.6km long hot spot for shopaholics and foodies.

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05.04.2016

Everyone loves tonkatsu. So, what is tonkatsu? I’ll explain right away. Tonkatsu is a pork cutlet, made with a thick slice of sirloin or fillet, dredged in flour and beaten egg, rolled in flaky breadcrumbs and deep-fried to perfection. The tonkatsu-focussed restaurants will differ according to the kind of breadcrumbs, the origin of the meat and the accompanying vegetables. Regardless of the differences, there are a number of places in Tokyo, where you can savour what could be defined Japan’s soul foodButagumi, Nishi-AzabuThe restaurant is very well renowned for the careful selection of ingredients. The pork comes from the prefecture of Gifu, whereas cabbage and koshihikari rice are grown by trusted farmers, with low usage of pesticides. Hence is the extraordinary quality and safety of the food. Butagumi’s crispy, yet light tonkatsu attracts crowds of fans everyday. I would recommend the lunch sets. Agezuki, KagurazakaAt Agezuki, you can taste flavoursome cutlets, made with the finest Minami no Shimabuta pork from Miyazaki Prefecture, recipient of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award. The meat is tender and juicy, without being too fatty. Since, there are always a lot of people queuing, you should make a reservation beforehand. Hasegawa, RyōgokuHasegawa an old-fashioned shop, very well known for its tonkatsu, made with Hiraboku Sangenton pork from Yamagata. The restaurant also serves shabu-shabu and other Japanese delicacies. The marbling gives the meat a wonderful texture, without making it too fatty. Narikura, TakadanobabaWith a modern and friendly ambience, Narikura has always a long queue at its door. The reason of such long queues is pretty simple: the tonkatsu. Narikura’s cutlets are deep-fried and then cooked until the breading gets nice and crispy, leaving a juicy core. The most popular item on the menu is the Chatonbriand tonkatsu set, made with Kirifuri-Kogen pork. Chatonbriand is a pun on Chateaubriand steak, where ton is the Japanese for “pork”. Clever. Agefuku, GotandaOperated by the company Meat Yazawa, Agefuku refuses to compromise on quality, when it comes to the origin of meats, cuts, breading, oil, frying methods, sauces, et al. A popular seasoning is truffle salt. In addition to tonkatsu, Agefuku is renowned for its menchi-katsu, deep-fried ground meat cutlets. But don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and try them yourselves.

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05.02.2016

For anyone visiting one of the most beautiful cities in the world - and even for locals looking for a sustanable alternative to cars that get regularly stuck in traffic and to the often inadequate transport system - cycling is becoming a real option in Rome. With this in mind, a group of local cycling enthusiasts promoted the launch of GRAB (Grande Raccordo Anulare delle Bici), a 43-kilometer-long bike path connecting all the major sights of the city that is already open by 80%. This cycling loop has been conceived as a sort of open air museum allowing visitors to discover quite a few places that would be very hard to reach by conventional means of transport. Besides, GRAB organizes and takes part in public events open to everyone willing to discover cycle tourism in Rome, such as the upcoming Appia Day, a day (March 8) dedicated to the discovery of the Regina Viarum of which GRAB will be part. On the occasion, the ancient Roman street will be closed to motor traffic and entry to the museums and monuments along the path will be free. In case you are interested in more bike paths in Rome, here’s a couple of them we selected for you.Tiber banks bike pathRunning from Castel Giubileo to Mezzocammino bridge, this parth allows you to cycle along the river on a mix of asphalt and sanpietrini-paved streets. Furthermore, by riding along the river banks you’ll be able to see the city from an unusual and lower perspective. Unfortunately, in autumn and winter the path may be inaccessible due to high water mark. Caffarella Bike PathIf you’d rather stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to the countryside and take the Sentiero dell’acqua (‘water path’), a 5-kilometer road  through Valle della Caffarella and along the Almone river. The path starts off in Fonte Acquasanta Egeria and it runs through Bosco Sacro and past the remains of the Ninfeo di Egeria, all the way to a small lake. 

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04.28.2016

Seoul is quite a unique city: everything seems to move very fast towards the future and yet people seem to somehow manage to preserve their ancient values. There is such a lot to see and do in town that the experience might prove overwhelming for someone who has never been there. That’s why we asked our friend Soon Ryu, an icon of the creative world of the fashion industry in Korea, to help us find our bearings in the South-Korean capital. SJ: Hi Soon! Can you please tell us something about yourself in a few words?SR: I work as a creative director in the field of fashion & lifestyle, I am a part time traveller, and the author of Style Bangkok. SJ: What are your main passions in life?SR: Fashion, travelling, and trying to preserve a high-quality lifestyle. SJ. You never leave home without...?SR: My iPhone, a small memo notebook, a pen, and lip balm. SJ: What is it like living and working in Seoul?SR: Seoul is metropolitan city that where most places are packed, life is hectic, things move very fast and people work pretty hard. On the other hand, locals have managed to preserve their own lifestyle, finding some balance between what’s old and what’s new, between trends and traditional culture. A nice mix which makes the Korean lifestyle and culture scene remarkable and quite unique as compared to that of any other city in the world. SJ: If you should help someone who's never been to Seoul understand the spirit of the city, which places and experiences would you recommend?SR: To someone visiting Seoul for the first time, I would highly recommend the Samcheong-dong area near Gyeongbok Palace and the Bukchon hanok village (hanok is the name for traditional Korean houses), which used to be the neighborhood where people from the city’s upper classes, including aristocrats, the royal family and people working for the governor, used to live  more than 100 years ago, Namsan Tower, the Hannam-dong area and Leeum Museum are also a must-see. The panoramic view from Namsan tower  will give you quite an idea of how huge the city is.  SJ: Can you name a few places in town that you believe are in tune with the Slowear style and concept?SR: The Korea Furniture Museum in Seongbuk-dong, which is home to over 2,000 pieces of traditional furniture and ten hanok (visits are by reservations only), is a great destination for design lovers. I also love the MMCA Seoul museum, showcasing modern and contemporary art from Korea and abroad. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) by Zaha Hadid is a unique mix of old and new architectures. For fine Korean dining, head to Poom Seoul, which offers traditional banga (upper class) cuisine with a modern twist, but remember to book in advance. Coffee Hanyakbang is a nice café where you can have hand drip coffee surrounded by beautiful Korean vintage style interiors, while Charles H bar at the Four Seasons is a glamorous speakeasy-style bar serving great cocktails. In case you prefer a more causal and friendly venue, check out ATM bar in Hannam-dong. Hotel-wise, I recommend Nest Hotel in Yeongjongdo, a stylish design hotel near Incheon airport, and the gorgeous Makers Hotel close to Insadong, featuring uniquely designed rooms. SJ: What’s your idea of a slow lifestyle? Do you ever manage to take things slow in life?SR: To me, it’s all about finding and trying to keep the right balance between what you want to do and what you can do. That is the main goal one can reach in life.

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04.17.2016

The first ride will depart at 9.10 am on April 30, and then the small Etna train will be travelling at least once a month throughout the year, December incuded, adding more rides during the summer. On board of the historic carriage of  the Ferrovia Circumetnea, a.k.a. Aln 56, passengers will travel through the slopes of the majestic volcano and then hop on the Wine Bus to ride along the Etna Wine Road to discover some of the most remarkable wineries of the area.  The train will depart from Riposto, a small fishing village with a nice harbor on the Ionian sea, or from Piedimonte Etneo, further north in the inland. It will ride at a slow mountain-style pace, allowing everyone to enjoy this beautiful landscape of lava and light, of wind and vineyards, of rocks and sea in the company of multilingual guides that will tell about the history of local wine. Beyond the windows, the luxuriant countryside of the South-Eastern and North-Western sides of the Etna will flow along with the typical terracings, the  dry lava ston walls, the farms and the ancient aristocratic mansions. Once the train reaches Randazzo, passengers will get off and take a hop on and off bus that rides along the Etna Wine Road past Verzella, Rovittello, Crasà, Pietramarina, through the hostoric center of Castiglione di Sicilia and by the Alcantara Gorges. Everyone will be allowed to hop on and of to visit the towns and the wineries, stop for lunch or take part to a tasting. The price for a single adult ticket is 23 euros, plus 12 euros for those willing to try a tasting at one of the local wineries. 

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04.12.2016

Hard cider is having quite a revival in the US. Although it is definitely not new to America - in rural colonial America every homestead had an orchard, and cider was once the default drink - it basically disappeared throughout the 20th century, replaced by plain ‘cider’ (i.e. apple juice) only to be rediscovered in recent times, with an enthusiasm that reminds of that of the artisan brewery scene. This trend is confirmed by the opening of New York’s first cider bar in the heart of the Lower East Side, Wassail, whose name is a homage to the British cider culture - especially that of the West Country of England - where this word is a traditional greeting, a name for the drink and it even designates a ritual blessing for apple trees. Yet the most remarkable homage is in the extensive selection of apple-based cocktails, as well as 90+ ciders on draught and by-the-bottle, made by a team of true experts and connoisseurs - the three owners as well as the restaurant’s  ‘cider director’ Dan Pucci all come from the US cider revival scene. As for the cuisine, it mainly focus on vegetables and grains, offering vegetarian dishes based on fresh, mostly local, seasonal ingredients. Brazilian-born chef Vinicius Campos makes wide use of legumes, sweet potatoes, horseradish and other simple seasonal veggies and with creative preparations and sophisticated details.  Wassail162 Orchard Street Lower East Side, New York City 

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04.11.2016

What's a borgo? The Italian word presumably comes from late Latin burgus, meaning a 'medium size village' with its own market and fortification, yet today it simply stands for 'ancient village' - and Italy has a whole wealth of them, some of which managed to preserve their original appearance and atmosphere, as well as an incredible heritage of art, crafts and food culture. We are not going to make a list of Italy's most beautiful villages - there's a  club for that - but since we believe that Italy's Great Beauty mostly lies in these tiny and often unknown corners of the country, here's a few of our favourite ones. Monte Isola (Brescia, Lombardy)Although less known than other villages on lakes Como and Garda, Montisola is a gorgeous collection of small towns sitting on an island in lake Iseo, where cars are banned and you can only use buses or bicycles. Among the most pictoresque borghi of Montisola is Peschiera Maraglio, a lakeside fishing village with a fortress and a nice harbor.  Castell’Arquato (Piacenza, Emilia Romagna)An enchanting medieval village clinging to the hills of Val D’Arda, close to Piacenza, Castell’Arquato stayed mostly unchanged through the centuries. Climb its narrow uphill streetss and reach the gorgeous Piazza Monumentale, which houses the 14th century Rocca Viscontea castle, the 7th century Collegiata church, and the ancient Palazzo del Podestà, beautifully towered and embattled.   Manarola (La Spezia, Liguria)This lovely hamlet on the coast east of Genoa (Riviera di Levante) is one of the well-known Cinque Terre (five small towns), and it was luckily not affected by the floods and mudslides that devastated neighboring Vernazza and Monteroso in 2011. A veritable architectural gem, it iprovides a breathtaking view with its colorful tower houses clinging to the steep coastline and overlooking the beautiful sea of Liguria.   Pitigliano (Grosseto, Tuscany)Known as  “the small Jerusalem” of Tuscan Maremma, this small town perched on a tuffaceous cliff has once been inhabited by Roman and Etruscan populations, and yet it owes its nickname to he huge Jewish community which found shelter here in the 16th century, whose traces remain in the old 'ghetto', housing a synagogue, a bakery, a winery and a kosher butcher's all dating back to those times. The center is scattered with ancient churches and palazzi, and of course do not miss vie cave, narrow Etruscan pathways carved deep in the rock.  Civita di Bagnoregio (Viterbo, Lazio)This tiny village sitting on a rocky spur surrounded by ravines and connected to the world only via a pedestrian bridge is a uniquely spectacular place where time has truly stopped, with only a few families still living here and no cars. Also known as 'the dying city' because it looks as if the ground all around it had sunken - and it is actually so, the hill under the village is literally crumbling year after year - Civita is a picture-perfect place and it defiitely deserves a visit before it disappears.  Castelmezzano (Potenza, Basilicata)Recently featured in an Italian movie called  Un paese quasi perfetto ('An Almost Perfect Village'), Castelmezzano is a small hamlet set like a gem in the Dolomiti Lucane under high rocky peaks, which looks somewhat like the greek villages in the Méteora region. Originally a Norman military settlement, it has preserved the ruins of an ancient fortress that can only be reached through steep steps carved in the stone.  Cover photo: Manarola, by Chensiyuan

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04.08.2016

Either for an outing with your friends or some relaxing alone time at the seaside, in one day you can stroll about Kamakura’s historical wonders and then immerse yourself in the lush nature of the Isle of Enoshima, in Sagami Bay. Getting thereWith the Kamakura-Enoshima Day Pass, you will have unlimited use of JR trains, the Shōnan Monorail and the Enoden Line within the Kamakura-Enoshima area, for as little as 700 Yen (as of March 2016). You can buy one from the vending machines or in any of the JR ticket offices, at Ōfuna, Fujisawa, Kamakura and Kita-Kamakura stations. Enjoy the ride along the coastline, especially in the segment between Koshigoe, Kamakura-kōkōmae and Shichirigahama stations on the Enoden line. Kōtoku-inIn this temple of the Jōdo sect, the statue of the Great Buddha stands as the symbol of Kamakura. Also known as the “Great Buddha of Hase”, it is a representation of the celestial Buddha Amitābha, sculpted over 750 years ago by an unknown author. 13m tall and 121t heavy, the statue kept its original appearance intact to a certain degree throughout the centuries, regardless of the great number of wars that affected the city. Hase-deraLocated halfway up Mount Kamakura and divided into two precincts, Hase-dera is a Buddhist temple housing the wooden statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Hase-dera lies only a few steps away from Hase Station. As you start your visit, you will be immediately struck by the stunning view of the garden surrounding two ponds at the entrance of the lower precinct. Nicknamed the “Western Paradise of the Pure Land” in Kamakura, Hase-dera is beautifully covered in flowers and greenery in all the seasons. On April 8, hydrangea tea is served to all the worshippers to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Komachi-doriKomachi-dori is a shopping district stretching for 360m from just outside Kamakura JR Station East Exit to the Shinto shrine of Tsurugaoka Hachiman. This street is a must-go for souvenir shopping and street food. Hannari Inari is renowned for its delicious rice millefeuilles seasoned with vinegar and garnished with salmon roe, tobiko or egg. A specialty in spring is raw whitebaits fished in the morning. If you go to Torikoya you must try their deep-fried yam, yuzu-flavoured or black sesame croquettes. Please have them while they are piping hot. Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gūTsurugaoka Shrine is famous all over the country for being dedicated to Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder and the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate, and is also one of the three biggest Hachiman shrines. You can see yabusame horse archery rituals three times a year: on the third Sunday of April, on September 16 and on the first Sunday of October. And in spring, the view of the blooming cherry trees is breathtaking. Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku ShrineAlso known as Zeniarai Benten, it is a Shinto shrine located a 20-minute walk from Kamakura Station, and dedicated to Benzaiten, one of the seven deities of good fortune. People believe that the sacred water springing from its cave will multiply the money washed in it. The shrine was founded by Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1185 as a place of the worship of Ugafuku, upon having a vision of the very deity ordering him to go to the sacred waters of Sasukegayatsu Valley. Zeniarai Benten is one of the five sacred springs in Kamakura. Enoshima Island SpaStrolling around can be extremely tiring. So why not soothe the fatigue by soaking in a hot spring bath with the impressive view of Mount Fuji and the Shōnan Sea? Here you can choose among ten types of pools, from the open-air bath to the cave type. Or you can just exercise in the gym or receive beauty treatments and massages or even try the oxygen capsule. Have a snack at the restaurant and café. Enoshima Island Spa offers a shuttle bus service from the station, completely free of charge.

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04.06.2016

Coffee and bicycles - to some this might sound like an odd couple, and yet over the last few years the coffee and bicycle cultures converged on a global scale, giving birth to cafés conceived for bicycle lovers and urban cyclists and commuters. Even in a traditionally car-only city like Los Angeles, people have started to realize that, with crazy traffic and inadequate public transportation, biking to work can be a good idea - hence the need to find a nice place where to stop and grab coffee, breakfast or a snack on your way to work and back. Spoke Bicycle CaféThis small café with plenty of open air space offers cyclists riding along the L.A. River a perfect place to rest and have exceptionally good free coffee while reading magazines and newspapers or playing board games. They also sell regenerating snacks such as granola bars, juices and yoghurt, and will soon open a proper restaurant. Spoke is a bicycle store as well, with great repairing and rental services. Opening hours are Thursdays through Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm. The WheelhouseA veritable hub for bicycle enthusiasts, The Wheelhouse is a community-centered bicycle and coffee shop located in the Arts District inside post-industrial Factory Place complex. Sohisticatedly designed with great attention to every aspect, the café still manages to make you feel at home among exposed beams, concrete and wooden surfaces, retro leather couches, and unique details such as the menu board looking like a  train station schedule. The Wheelhouse also offers a repair service and sells high-quality bicycles - from entry-level ones to 'pro' ones for bike commuters and travellers - and accurately selected design-oriented equipment and accessories such as helmets, baskets, and bags. Peddler’s CreameryWhile it is definitely bicycle-themed, the concept behind this ice cream shop in the heart of Downton L.A. is pretty unusual: Peddler's Creamery produces high quality artisan bicycle-churned organic dairy and non-dairy ice cream. It was started to be a different business that features local products, leaves a smaller footprint on the earth and donates 5% of profits to social and environmental causes.  So how does it work? To be in the Peddler’s Club, reserve a spot (the place is open almost every day with slots from 7:00 pm to 9:00pm) and be ready to pedal for 15-20 minutes at a pace of 15 mph in order to make one batch of ice cream. For each batch you churn, you get a free scoop - unless you prefer donating your scoop to charity. Or you might simply drop by for ice cream.

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04.05.2016

Visiting Seoul’s traditional markets is a nice and pleasant way to get to know the Korean culture, meet locals and find truly unique souvenirs, as well as tasting local food. These amazing corners of authentic Korean life are scattered all over the city, often in residential areas or hidden behind skyscrapers. Here are the ones you should definitely not miss. Namdaemun MarketOne of the oldest markets in town, Namdaemun is also so huge and rich in offer that according to popular belief if you can’t find something here you will not find it in Seoul. The shops sell children's clothing, men & women's clothing, daily miscellaneous goods, kitchenware and local and imported products, whereas food stalls and restaurants specialize in kalguksu noodles (handmade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles served in a large bowl with broth and other ingredients) and galchi jorim (spicy braised cutlassfish). Gwangjang MarketThis famous fabric and textile market was the very first permanent market in Korea and it offers high quality goods at inexpensive prices - particularly silk, satin, and linen bedsheets coming straight from the factories. Yet many people come here for the great food served by the many restaurants and food stalls. Specialities include bindaetteok (“mung bean pancake”), a Korean-style pancake made of ground mung beans with green onions, kimchi (seasoned fermented vegetables) or peppers cooked in a frying pan. Mangwom MarketGet a glimpse of everyday life in Seoul at this traditional market off the beaten path, where you will mainly find locals shopping for very affordable fresh ingredients, particularly fruits and vegetables. Street food and snacks sold at the stalls and eateries are very cheap too. Gyeongdong MarketOriginally a market for selling agricultural wares, Gyeongdong has developed into the biggest oriental medicinal herbs market in the country. Although at first sight it might look like an ordinary grocery and vegetable market, soon you’ll be guided by the scent of ginseng and medicinal herbs that fills the air. Head to the ‘Korean Traditional Medicine Experience Hall for Foreigners’ if you’d like to try making oriental herb soap or receive a general checkup and professional acupuncture for freeSeoul Folk Flea MarketThe new market, housed in a two-story building along Cheonggyecheon stream, originated from the flea market in the Hwanghak-dong area, where many street shops and vendors used to gather. It sells everything from everyday apparel to vintage items, and it’s a great place for finding unique folk souvenirs to bring back home. There is also a Traditional Culture Experience Center where you can learn how to make hanji (Korean traditional paper) crafts, folk masks, and other traditional items. Photo by L.W. Yang

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03.30.2016

The first time you visit Munich, home to famous (and infamed) Oktoberfest, it is usually hard to resist the temptation to explore the city's brauerei (brewery) scene or be seduced by a the idea of drinking beer and eat fat food alfresco in a nice biergarten surrounded by drunken guys. So having only briefly and superficially visited the city, most people tend to believe that all it has to offer in terms of food and drinks is one-liter beer glasses (Mass) and roasted ham hock (Schweinshaxe). Yet as soon as you get to know the city a bit better and to hang out with locals, its more varied and sophisticated face emerges and the restaurants scene turns out to be pretty exciting - provided that you know the right places. Here's a few of our favourite ones. Traditional German CuisineHalaliStay away from the Hofbräuhaus and the other 'tourist traps' and head to this authentic old-school German restaurant which has been delighting patrons for over a century with game-based dishes served in a huge wood-panelled room scattered with a collection of somewhat creepy hunt trophies. Only for hare, pheasant and partridge lovers. Creative CuisineBroedingImagine having a sophisticated gourmet dinner at a friend's: that is more or less the experience you'll get at one of Munich's most beloved restaurants, the realm of Gottfried Wallisch and chef Manuel Reheis, both wine experts with a penchant for Austrian wines. The menu includes six courses, which change every night and are accurately coupled with great wines with the help of the sommelier on staff.  Vegan Cuisine GratitudeStrange as it may seem, ordering a vegan meal in the homeland of  bratwurst is possible, not to say unvelievably easy - the Germans are in the forefront when it comes to vegetarian food culture, and this cool and tiny restaurant close to Munich university is there to prove it. The chef creates a daily menu with dishes based on fresh local ingredients which range from spicy curries to savoury risotto and raw specialities.  Gourmet CuisineTantrisFor over forty years, Tantris has been considered the best restaurant in Munich and possibly in the whole of Germany, and it never lost its Michelin star. Although we usually shun starred restaurant, Tantris has such a long tradition that booking a table (and well in advance) is definitely worth it. The Seventies-inspired interior design is far from sober, yet the impeccable service, the excellent wine list and Hans Haas's exceptional cuisine abundantly make up for it. Ethnic CuisineYum While Munich is certainly not short of Thai restaurants, this one definitely is a cut above the others. Small and sophisticated, it offers great service, nice food presentations and a nice salad list (yum is Thai for 'salad'), as well as classics such as pad-Thai and chicken spits served with a peanut dip. 

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03.30.2016

Coffee came to Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1868), also called Sakoku, when only the Chinese, the Koreans and the Dutch were allowed into the country, and could only station in Dejima, a small island in the Bay of Nagasaki, connected to the mainland by a strip of land.Coffee was one of the products imported by the Dutch in the 17th century through the United East Indian Company from their holdings in Java. However, the beverage gained popularity amongst the Japanese only in the Meiji Period (1868-1912).The first coffee shop opened in Ueno, Tokyo, in April 1888, followed by Café Paulista, Minō, prefecture of Ōsaka, in June 1911. The number of establishments opened thereafter, where people could discuss art and culture, were crucial in making coffee well known to the general public, and by the early Nineteen Twenties the Japanese had created their own coffee culture.The historic coffee shops in Ginza have preserved the feeling of those times. Coffee is still prepared in the traditional fashion of drip brewing. Once your coffee has been served, you should sip it slowly, savouring its wonderful aroma. If you are in Tokyo, there are a few cafés where you can enjoy your cup of coffee with no rush, just like in the good old days.  Tricolore GinzaThe shop opened in 1936. Its beautifully decorated interiors and red velvet sofas still ooze the refined ambience of old Ginza. On the ground floor you can also seat at the counter. If you order a café au lait, coffee will be brewed and gently poured in front of you, with a little bit of milk and cream-filled éclairs on the side – a perfect match. Café de L’AmbreLocated in a back street and perhaps not so easy to find in the maze of alleys, Café de L’Ambre has served premium-quality coffee since 1948. Coffee is all you can find there, but the aroma of L’Ambre’s home-roasted coffee beans attracts a great deal of connoisseurs and will certainly win you over. Café Paulista GinzCafé Pauli