Category Archives: travel

7 New Hotels Opening in London

Are there ever too many luxury hotels in London or Paris? Apparently not. Forbes offers a list of 7 new upscale venues opening in the next several months.

I am not sure if these will tempt me away from other more traditional offerings. But one never knows.

What do you think=

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Great Neighborhoods around the World?

After my last rip to New York, I started to get more interested in setting a goal of “owning” a neighborhood. But which ones? This post offers a few clues for some key urban destinations.

Check it out!

Here is a peek at the list

Have You Tried Wines from Quincy?

Err … where is Quincy?  Off the top of my head, I would have drawn a blank to that question … but then I check ed out this article from Forbes. It is an appellation in the Loire Valley

France’s Loire Valley may be known for its fairy-tale-like architecture—French Gothic and Renaissance styled chateaus built as follies, fortifications, hunting lodges (or to appease mistresses)—but it’s also a historic region of wines. Originating from early Roman plantings and produced all through the Middle Ages, the wines have been blessed by religious orders, drunk by nobility and written about by scholars such as native son François Rabelais.

For non-wine fanatics, this is the idea

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And for winos? This!

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And Quicy?

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Quincy is on the right side of the map, just above the river. Sancerre is on he other bank.

“In Paris,” says Roumet, “when you order a glass of white wine, you have a Sancerre. When you order a bottle it’s from Quincy.” With its high-acid freshness, green edge and citrus spark (think more like grapefruit), it shares similarities with the Sauvignon Blancs produced in nearby Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, but those from Loire’s tiniest appellation offer a more approachable price point, most averaging $17.50 a bottle, while, a search of the 20 most popular wines on wine-searcher.com shows Sancerre averaging around $34 a bottle.

I will give this a try!

After Work in Lisbon, its Damas

This is where I would go

At the end of Rua da Voz do Operário, the main road that leads up to the hilltop of the previously sleepy Graça neighborhood, is a new, hip Lisbon kitchen that is reflecting the city’s growing hunger for great food and a good time.

Damas, as the name indicates, is run by two women who have both previously worked in some of the city’s well-known food institutions, including Chapito. The restaurant, bar and club has been popular pretty much since it launched in 2015, thanks to its combination of knowledgeable chefs, classic and not-so-classic dishes done well, and a regular music program that ranges from punk to afro-beats.

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Check it out!

Peking Duck in London? Good Luck with that one!

Before I say more, I must admit that I have never been a fan of Peking Duck. Perhaps it is because I have never been served Peking Duck the way it is supposed to be prepared. As Jay Rayner writes for the Guardian

Peking duck is aromatic crispy duck’s grown-up sibling, the one that’s been to finishing school and learnt a few manners. Often, it must be ordered in advance, for this is cooking as performance: the bird must be steamed or plunged into boiling water, dried, seasoned and left to hang for 24 hours before being roasted so that the skin becomes like amber glass. And yes, it costs.

It is that last bit that holds me back from searching for great Peking Duck. It is outrageously expensive. And whether I am justified in saying so or not, it always seemed that ordering it would be showing off that one has a limitless credit limit on the plastic.

This is apparently true at a London establishment called “Imperial Treasure”. In fact, you might say that just walking in the door of Imperial Treasure is showing off that one has a limitless credit card.

The entrance is, shall we say, a bit daunting

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Once inside, we see this

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And here is the Treasure!

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And finally, Jay’s rather humorous comment on the treasure

… here it comes and oh, what a beauty, shimmering gold and copper and bronze. Do we eat this bird or hang it on the wall? A fully toqued Chinese chef lays it on a board table-side and sets to work, first taking off a thin layer of fatless skin, presented in squares with a bowl of sugar to dip it in. We pluck away daintily with our chopsticks, and ooh and sigh, because this cost £100. The least we can do is look like we are enjoying our act of conspicuous consumption. They bring bamboo steamer baskets of hand-shaped pancakes, alongside shredded spring onions, cucumber and hoisin sauce. All is good. Here are slices of the duck, and yes, it’s delightful: soft meat, crisp skin, the liquorice, soy and caramel kick of the hoisin.

So far so good! But …

As I eat, I glance at the duck. Hurrah. There is so much more to go. The legs have barely been touched. There’s a ballast of glistening skin and meat around the arse end, and more around its back. Suddenly the chef lays down his blade, picks up the platter, bows and walks off back to the kitchen. Hang on a second. That bird is barely half-cut. I paid a ton for it. And you’re taking it away? At Min Jiang on the top floor of the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington where the dish costs £72 and is also available by the half, the meat returns in a second service, perhaps as a stir fry or in a soup. Here, we are told, it is a pancake filling and nothing else. Lord knows what happens to the rest. Fury, is a £100 half-cut duck.

There you have it. “Fury is a £100 half-cut duck! So where to go in London for a better deal? Jay offers this

The best price I’ve seen for whole Peking Duck is at Pearl Liang in London’s Paddington, which charges £38. If that doesn’t appeal there’s a lot more to divert from a menu boasting dishes from Sichuan province as well as Cantonese classics. On a recent trip a deep bowl of thinly sliced beef in a pungent broth rolling with chillies and Sichuan peppercorns was a highlight (pearlliang.co.uk).

Enjoy!

What Do You Know about Slovenia?

How about this (from Fathom)?

Slovenia is a hidden gem within Europe: all the history and culture of the old world, without the throngs of tourists. The best reason to go, though, is that as a consciously green destination, Slovenia has emerged as a leader in sustainable tourism by preserving its natural resources and raising up its residents to improve their overall quality of life. Slovenia was the first country to be declared a green destination based on the Green Destinations Criteria, with Ljubljana named as the European Green Capital of 2016.

So where is it?

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Its history is interesting.

And it has places like this

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That is Lubljana, the capital.

How about this?

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And food? Lonely Plane offers a glimpse – Here is one offering. There is much more!

Pršut: a gift of the north wind

The most popular prepared meat in Slovenia is pršut, an air-cured ham from the Karst region that is not unlike Italian prosciutto. The ham is salted and hung outdoors to dry in the autumn; it is said to get its distinctive taste from the burja, the fiercely cold northeast wind in the Karst region.

It is on my list of places to check out. And yours?

 

Looking for Cool Travel Guides?

The travel industry is in a sate of flux. In the old days, one focused on assurances of standards.And the big chains like Hilton, Marriott, etc. did well. They also were able to leverage their size to better market individual locations. But there are so many incredible places to experience these days, that the big boys dominate the news much less. Welcome to the rise of the intermediaries like Booking.com, AirBnB, etc. These give you wider sets of options to consider in making travel plans. And there are tons and tons of intermediaries. It has been a growth market.

This is a wonderful service, and so I expect the travel intermediary market to continue to develop. And here is a peek at a few new more local travel intermediary platforms featured by Fathom.

Where do we go from here? Each segment of the travel industry has different priorities. Young folks, for example, want cool, off the beaten track, fun and very local connections. Families may want to tone down the cool and emphasize the kiddie offerings. Foodies? Different. Luxury? Different. As a result, each segment will get an evolving set of intermediaries that is tailored to their tastes and desires.

And I foresee a new set of intermediaries. Here is an example of what may come. Let’s say I just went to London and while there found out that I like things Victorian. That might have been triggered by any one of a thousand different types of experiences. How do I continue that learning experience about a new love when I get home? How can I connect to people and events that help me go deeper into that rabbit hole?

These tools are coming. They will be easy to find and use. They will be fun. And they will further empower the travelers who don’t just want one off experiences. Are there any universal themes that will make that empowerment more fun? Of course! Here is one — the travel adventure theme has 4 elements

  • escape the confines of pre-travel lifestyle. Fly the coup, so to speak. We all need to do this from time to time. What we are escaping from helps shape what connections we are looking for
  • connect with something in a totally new an exciting environment. That is why we flew the coup, right?  Intermediaries already make connecting easier. But this is just the begging.
  • fall in love with a person or people there who embody the life adventure that you crave. The love that is generated gives the connection meaning. We are just starting to see more platforms that feature people rather than just things. We can only go to s many shops, museums etc. without that personal touch. What if we could find personal connections with each experience? Not just after a few pops at the pub!
  • return home safely, but not the same person. You return a better person from the adventure.. What does “better” mean? Not in a moral sense. But in the sense that you have new memories as well as a new agenda to do mores and learn more. To delve more deeply into your own “home” sense.

In other words, create memories. The 1953 film Roman Holiday shows off this travel adventure template beautifully.  The key to making this work is that the travel hero learns as much about herself as she does the place she experiences. There have been many, many variations of the theme.  I am suggesting in this post that the travel adventure template will find its way from the film world into your pocket via digital technology where intermediaries help you make the things happen that you need for your adventure.

Stay tuned!