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Thursday, April 28, 2011

William and Kate’s Guide to London

Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981 was as much of a landmark event as the Moon Landing, everyone remembers where they were when the shy young girl married the stiff heir to the British throne (and whether or not they thought the union would last).
 
This year, it’s their elder son’s turn down the aisle, as the most eligible royal bachelor in the world—Prince William, marries his long-term girlfriend, “Waity” Kate Middleton, at Westminster Abbey on April 29. British tourism chiefs expect it will lure 600,000–1,000,000 extra visitors to London. And the whole city, it seems, is offering a slew of promotions and gimmicks riffing off the royal pair.
 
On the wedding day itself, the Ritz Hotel—where grandma Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday—is hosting a champagne brunch for royal-watchers ($244 per person), while chic One Aldwych hotel offers a Kate & Will champagne cocktail, mini wedding cakes upon arrival to every guest checking in on wedding weekend, and even Union Jack flags to wave as the procession passes nearby. (One artist even recently staged a show with a Tussauds-style wax statue of William where would-be Kates could be photographed, arm in arm, complete with a replica ring.)
 
But the real way to celebrate the wedding of the century is by following directly in William and Kate’s footsteps. With our handy cheat sheet, it’s easy to hit the royal lovebirds’ favorite haunts around their hometown of London—from Automat, a boho Mayfair diner known for its comfort dishes like burgers and mac-and-truffled-cheese, to the Archipelago, where literally anyone could find themselves sitting alongside the princess-to-be. Will and Kate aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the royal treatment. Here are some of Will and Kate’s favorite spots in London:
 
  • Tom’s Kitchen - Although Prince Charles took his sons to Christmas parties at the Ritz London Will and Kate like casual restaurants such as Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea.

  • Whisky Mist - Another upper-crust hangout is Whisky Mist at the Hilton Park Lane where in 2008 Paris Hilton reportedly made an unsuccessful advance toward William.

  • Ship - Sunday nights you might find Will drinking a house-ale or Prince Harry dancing on a table at the Ship a gastropub on the Thames.

  • Automat - Deliberately downscale amid the tony spots of Mayfair, this bistro-diner will be eerily familiar to New Yorkers, since its design and menu make it a near-clone of Keith McNally’s boho hangout, Schiller’s Liquor Bar. Keep an eye on the wooden booths that line one wall of the slender space, where Kate and William are regularly spotted enjoying comfort food.

  • Archipelago - They’ve also tried more offbeat places, including Archipelago which specializes in exotic fare such as kangaroo (Will’s favorite) and chocolate-covered scorpions.

  • Dans le Noir - Choose from the menu in the dimly lit bar, then walk to a table in the pitch-black dining room, led by one of the servers here—all of whom are blind or partially sighted. No wonder Kate and William came here for a romantic dinner à deux—this is one of the few places in the world they could eat undisturbed. Boujis- Nowhere is more synonymous with good-lifing for Will and Kate than Boujis, the South Ken club/lounge whose signature cocktail is a Crack Baby (raspberry liqueur, champagne, vodka). In honor of the wedding, the club has created Faboujis Crown eggs—essentially a pitcher of cocktails for 10 served in a glittering egg topped with a crown.
 
You may not be able to be in London for the Royal Wedding, but next time you are there you can travel like royalty by visiting some of William and Kate's favorite spots. If you would like more information on how you can spend your next holiday like royalty on the royal River Thames click here.
 
Travel and Leisure April 2011 by Mark Ellwood, Yvonne Yorke
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Ghent: Europe's Well-Kept Secrect

Less pretentious than Antwerp, less museum oriented than Bruges, Ghent is a town which cultivates its contrasts, from its gabled houses to its Design Museum. It’s a well-kept secret for a weekend change of scenery in an authentic and easily accessible location.

Walking through the streets of Ghent, you have the feeling you’re living in a Flemish master’s painting, accompanied by a carillon of 52 bells... And when the snow falls heavily, Bruegel the Elder also comes to mingle at the party, transforming the cobblestoned streets into a medieval scene. It seems that travellers don’t often stop here in the home town of Charles Quint. Instead they head hurriedly to Bruges. However, this city of Ghent, brimming with history and monuments, has never fallen behind its sister. Here are a few places to visit next time you’re in the city of Ghent:

Museums:
 
The STAM

Recently opened in the autumn of 2010, the Stadsmuseum Gent is, as its name suggests, the new museum dedicated to the history of the city of Ghent. Its modern building has now been added to the famous site of the Bijloke Museum, a remarkable complex of 14th to 17th century brick buildings which are the legacy of an ancient Cistercian abbey founded in 13th century by Joan of Constantinople. The white, immaculate pathways of the modern annex designed by the architect Koen Van Nieuwenhuyse, lead towards the original red brick buildings.

The Design Museum

When you go to the cafeteria in the STAM (the City Museum), you might find yourself sitting on a “03 chair” with the stamp of the designer Maarten Van Severen, who has also equipped the Café Beaubourg in Paris’ Centre Pompidou. Ghent’s Design Museum has an exhibition dedicated to this chair which has become an international “Design Classic.” Van Severen was a local designer who died prematurely in 2005. With the aid of sketches, prototypes, photographs and films, the exhibition traces the slow creative process that led from the chair No. 1 in 1986 to the latest version in 1998 that was mass produced by Vitra, the famous Swiss company. The quality of the chair with its solidity, sobriety and comfort has contributed to its great commercial success.

Restaurants:

Allegro Moderato

At the Korenlei, it’s impossible not to stop in front of the beautiful 18th century mansion, which used to house the guild of boatmen. Inside are two long dining rooms, with wooden panelled walls and parquet floors: the first is illuminated by two large windows enjoying views over the Quai aux Herbes whilst the second one, lit by candles alone, resembles a sweet shop and has a Rococo decor which is a tad overloaded. Fortunately, at the table, you will experience one of Ghent’s finest cuisines, a classic French seasonal gastronomy (with its winter vegetables, mushrooms and game) and a few transalpine excursions. We highly recommend the Turbot with wild mushrooms and mashed potatoes, or the Pan fried Goose liver paté with quince and celeriac chips.

C-Jean

Opposite the right flank of St. Nicolas’ church, a discreet facade hides a small soberly decorated dining room which scarcely seats twenty. On the wall hangs a huge photograph, a depiction of a very copious Last Supper which is an omen for the taste buds to have a joyful occasion here. C-Jean (an abbreviation of the previous shop sign - Chez Jean) is an association of Filip Van Thuyne in the kitchen and Jason Blanckaert in the dining room. Both are from the prestigious hotel school Ter Duinen in Koksijde, on the Belgian coast. In 2008 the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. To watch a video of this Michelin-starred restaurant click here.

Anyone looking for cuisine and culture should consider travelling to Ghent. For travel suggestions click here.
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Friday, April 1, 2011

A First Time Visitors Guide to Greece

Greece is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with its Mediterranean climate, mild temperatures, and limited rainfall; it is one of the most popular travel destinations as well. Greece is known for its amazing site seeing, excursions, culture, cuisine, and so much more. The trip of a lifetime awaits you in Greece. So, check out our First Time Visitors Guide to Greece:
 
The first thing you must do when planning your trip to Greece is plan a ferry trip to any of the beautiful islands, and make sure your camera is ready, because the beauty of Greece will take your breath away. Once on land, you will definitely want to explore Greece on foot, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and have your camera in hand as you walk through the shops and markets along the streets.
 
A great way to spend your afternoon is by partaking in a wonderful Greek pastime. Relax at any of the cafes on the streets by ordering a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and watching as the world go by. For something a bit more adventurous try one of the many excursions offered in Greece like, Bavarian horseback riding in Cephalonia or visiting the volcano in Santorini. Also you will want to visit the magnificent museums & archeological sites like the Acropolis of Athens and Ancient Olympia. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen because you will defiantly want to visit the beach while you’re in Greece; why not try one of the most famous beaches, Myrtos Beach in Cephalonia.
 

There are many excursions and tours you can take in Greece, but there are also many great places to eat. Greek food can easily satisfy anyone. Here are few restaurants suggestions for your trip to Greece:

  • Varoulko (Athens) - In its new Athens location, with a menu that adds tasty meat dishes to its signature seafood, Varoulko continues to win plaudits. Everything here is so good that many Athenians believe chef/owner Lefteris Lazarou serves not only the finest seafood in Athens, but some of the best food in all of Greece.

  • Selene (Santorini, Cyclades) - The best restaurant on an island with lots of good places to eat, Selene is one of the finest restaurants in all Greece. The reason: Owner George Haziyannakis constantly experiments with local produce to turn out innovative versions of traditional dishes. Inside, the dining room is elegant, while the terrace has a wonderful view over the caldera.

It is no wonder why Greece is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. No matter what you are looking for Greece has something for you. Next time you are planning a trip, pack your sunglasses and camera and head to Greece! For more information on trips to Greece click here.
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