Category Archives: travel

Today, We Conquer Downtown LA

I liked this plan

Start your day at Egg Slut inside Grand Central Market with their namesake dish, a coddled egg atop a potato puree served in a glass jar with a side of toasted baguette. You’re welcome. From there, make your way to The Broad. The city’s newest contemporary art museum is free and reservations are in high demand, so book tickets ahead of time, especially if you’re hoping for a selfie in Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms. For a different kind of cultural experience, try a guided tour of the Arts District with Cindy Schwarzstein, the founder and director of Cartwheel Art Tours. The once gritty section of DTLA is quickly becoming a dynamic community with a thriving street art scene, and Schwarzstein has a wealth of knowledge on the topic and is super passionate about the ongoing evolution.

For lunch, head to Cafe Gratitude, one of our forever favorites for their healthy riffs on junk food classics like pizza, burrito bowls, and Indian curry. Head back to the hotel swimming pool for some R&R or spend your afternoon perusing the wares at indie boutiques like Poketo (design-driven gifts), Hammer and Spear (vintage furniture and stylish housewares), and Matteo (luxurious linens in earthy colors). For dinner, we like B.S. Taqueria for low-key Mexican dishes, Broken Spanish for fancy Mexican dishes, and Bestia for seasonal Italian fare.

And you start off at the Hotel Figueroa, the only hotel in downtown LA with a ground level pool!

Image result for Hotel Figueroa Los Angeles


Paris: The Circus Bakery has Cinnamon Buns to Die for!

Let’s say that you are not staying over in the Marais. That means you might need to get your butt over there in the morning for the cinnamon rolls at the Circus Bakery. They look like this

Image result for Circus Bakery Paris cinnamon rolls

Very nice!

Looking at this, I would hesitate before aspiring to make one at home. It would be a project. It would require certain tools and skills.

But it could be done! Here is how!

Inviting Brown Bears to Lunch in Lapland

You don’t think of brown bears as sociable types, but they have feelings too! And around mid-day, they are ravenous!

How do I know? I watched this rather peculiar video about eating strange foods in Finland. You are justified in asking why I would watch his. The answer, my friend, is that northern Finland is one of my Luxe adventure destinations!  The journey stars in Stockholm. From there, we head west, then up the western coast, then to the greatest restaurant in the world, sleep in a tree house, and head over to Lapland for cloud berries and sauna. We end up in Helsinki.

Meanwhile, check out the video. It is quite the thing!


Finding Nirvana in a Barcelona Wine Bar

Put yourself into the story

When I walked into La Graciosa, a bare bones, one-year-old wine bar in Barcelona, I was already thirsty from all the day-drinking I’d been doing (I was on VACATION, okay?). One of the owners, who’d been unpacking a limitless supply of boxes (boxes EVERYWHERE), was happy to oblige, and pointed us a bottle of Spanish natural wine to try. “But what can we have by the glass?” I asked. He looked confused. You can have whatever you want!

Feel the vibe?

La Graciosa is a friendly, wine-nerdy place. There’s a bookshelf of cool wines to drink or buy, a bar lit by hanging green globe lamps, a few tables and big wine barrels-as-tables, and a cozy, secret-feeling backyard. They have crispy breads and the aforementioned anchovies. It’s in a cool neighborhood too, Gràcia, and steps away from La Vermuteria del Tano, a tiny treasure of a corner bar with fragrant, delicious house vermouth from a big barrel I wanted to wrap in bubble wrap and take home. But my suitcase was already full.

La Graciosa

Related image


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Here is your link.

And here is your guide to the Garcia neighborhood.

The rest is up to you.


Porto: One Wall Has Six Heads

We are talking about a hotel. A new hotel called Torel 1884 Suites and Apartments.  Here is a peek inside

Image result for Torel 1884 Suites and Apartment

The experience unpacks this way

As guests enter the hotel, through a short corridor off of one of Porto’s most bustling streets, they pass tall potted trees and a striking artwork, by prominent local artist João Pedro Rodrigues. It is based on the muses of Luis Camões’s Lusiads (Portugal’s answer to the Iliad). One wall has six heads representing the gods of nature, purity and the celestial, and the other has 13 heads portraying the physical world and people with all their weaknesses.

Yes, the six heads.

If his is not enough to lure you to visit Porto, there is yet another hotel opening – Le Monumental Palace, a French offering. It has its own charms.

Image result for Porto Le Monumental Palace

Behind the monumental Gothic facade, it still has many of its original Art Deco and Art Nouveau elements. Others were re-created with great care. They carefully chose the grandiose mirrors, luxurious chandeliers and Portuguese marbles and carpets. There’s wrought iron from antique shops. It adds up to bring back the glamour of the Monumental Café in its 1930s heyday.

Here is your link to go a bit deeper as you imagine your trip to Porto. Anyone for a river cruise?

Luxe Cornwall/Normandy Food Safari: A Stopover in Guernsey?

A while back, I started collecting ideas for a food safari that would start off in London and end up in Paris  … via Cornwall and Normandy. Crazy? Of course! That is the appeal.

More seriously, This type of jaunt would connect the traveler with lots of local food cultures.

With that excursion in he back of my mind, I was curious to see Jay Rayner review a restaurant by the name of “Octopus” on the island of Guernsey.

Guernsey? Who would have thought of stopping over on the way from Cornwall to Normandy? But Guernsey would be ideal … perhaps … for its seafood! And

BW, Guernsey does market itself.

And The Telegraph offers reviews of a number of interesting places to chow down!

And there are places to kiss the pillow, so to speak!

It may be a bit tricky to get to Guernsey from Cornwall. But there are ferries from Guernsey to St. Malo and Dielette! Or one might think of a sailing excursion:

Hmmm … the wheels keep on turning!


What Fitzroy, or the Bastard Son of the King, Has Done in London!

It all stared with a new hotel by he name of h “Mandrake“. I thought “Just what is a mandrake,?” As usual, Wikipedia comes to the rescue

A mandrake is the root of a plant, historically derived either from plants of the genus Mandragora found in the Mediterranean region, or from other species, such as Bryonia alba, the English mandrake, which have similar properties.

But things get a bit strange

Because mandrakes contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history.

And …

According to the legend, when the root is dug up, it screams and kills all who hear it.

Apparently some clever folks found a way around this

A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this, the root can be handled without fear.

Poor doggie!

The “mysterious practices” that mandrakes enabled must have been pretty amazing!  And perhaps they were. It was said that mandrake root enabled witches to fly! Makes you wonder what might happen to you if you stuffed one in your pocket!

There you have it! With this sort of etymology, you might exercise some caution checking into a “Mandrake Hotel”.  Apparently lots of people do it anyway. And from the photos, you can see why

Image result for mandrake hotel


Image result for mandrake hotel

I am especially fond of the living element! Nature indoors, so to speak. The Telegraph gives the Mandrake an excellent review, even though the staff under performed at the breakfast table.   ES likes it as well — emphasizing that it is not “corporate”.

I might consider staying at the Mandrake, despite the name, but it is in Fitzrovia. This is an odd section of inner London. Why do I say so? Because many years ago, I used to live nearby and I never went there. Guilty as charged — offering a totally subjective and outdated assessment.

But what about that name – Fitzrovia. Just what is a fitzrovia?  The area probably takes its name from a tavern called the Fitzroy, on the corner of Charlotte and Windmill Streets. As you can see, it is still there today

Image result for Fitzroy Tavern Charlotte Windmill Street London

And the place has a history

From the 1920s to the 1940s Charlotte Street was at the heart of bohemian London and the people who gathered at the Fitzroy Tavern included William Sickert, Augustus John, Aleister Crowley, Lawrence Durrell, Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Nina Hamnett and Jacob Epstein.

All well and good. We honor the great bohos in this blog space. But where did the tavern — the Fitzroy — get its name?  Back to Wikipedia

… until the end of the 19th century the area which now includes Fitzrovia belonged to the Duke of Grafton and his family; their surname is Fitzroy ….

Aha! But dare I ask, what is a Fitzroy?

The name Fitzroy derives from the Norman-French for “son of the king”, although it usually implies the original holder was the bastard son of a king

Ooops! There you have it! Right in the center of London, the bastard son of a king has given birth to a mandrake!

That does get one’s attention!

While we are on the topic, Fizrovia has developed a nice array of destinations for intensive mastication. So much for my subjective and out of date assessment! Go for it dude!