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A Distiller in Wine Country Switches Production to Hand Sanitizer to Help the Community During COVID-19 Plan a trip to Ontario, Canada's Niagara region, and your list may include the iconic Falls, world-class theater at the Shaw Festival, fine dining inspired by the region’s orchards, most definitely a wine tasting, especially the ice wine that is its global viticulture claim to fame. read more
Top Souvenirs from a Trip to... Ireland
If you’re one of the almost 20% of Americans and Canadians with Irish ancestry – or have fallen in love with the lore of the ‘Emerald Isle’ – a trip to Ireland is the perfect way to immerse yourself in its vivid scenery, storied towns and landscapes… and of course, stock up on the souvenirs that symbolize the country’s history, craftsmanship, and flavors.

Here’s a list of the best places in Ireland to visit to shop for ways to remember your trip to Ireland, or treat your friends and loved ones to a taste of Ireland.


Irish Whiskey in County Cork


It means ‘water of life’, and was once the most popular drink in the world. The distilled grain spirit that’s now called whiskey was developed beginning around the 12th century by creative monks. Today it’s enjoying renewed popularity, and has regained its top standing as the fastest-growing spirit in the world. 

There are dozens of distilleries dotting the cobble-stoned towns and green rolling hills of Ireland, and the list keeps growing. In nearly every county, you can tour historic stone, or ultra-modern distilleries that expand on Ireland’s breadth of whiskeys.

Visiting one or more of the country’s distilleries and tasting rooms, and packing one or more of the 80 million or so bottles produced in the country every year in your luggage (carefully!) for the trip home, is a must-do for any visitor to Ireland. 


The essential experience is in County Cork at Jamesons’. As the world’s biggest producer of Irish whiskey, and dating from the 1700’s, it defines ‘traditional’ Irish whiskey. It’s a ‘blend’ whiskey: locally-grown Irish barley, some malted and some unmalted, or ‘green’, is distilled one of two ways, then the different distilled spirits are mixed. Irish whiskey differs from most whisky from Scotland that is made from grain dried by a peat fire, giving it a smoky flavor -  not present in smoother Irish whiskey. 


Crystal in Waterford County


Nothing will make your Irish whiskey taste better than drinking it from a Waterford crystal low ball glass or decanter.
Crystal was not invented in Ireland, but 200-year old Waterford is one of the world’s most famous crystals, and a tour of the House of Waterford Crystal facility is one of the top reasons to visit the Irish county of the same name.

You can watch artisans in action in each of the steps in the creation of Waterford crystal’s pieces, seeing pieces come to life, from blowing molten crystal into elegant shapes, to mould making, to inspections, marking patterns onto approved pieces for master artisans to cut the signature designs that result in the clarity and sparkle that rival diamonds in vases, bowls, glass and stemware and of course, décor items like chandeliers.


Ireland isn’t the only place you can find this famous crystal. You’ll spot Waterford crystal some of the finest bars and restaurants and hotels in the world. And you’ll see Waterford chandeliers in Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, and across the pond, in the Kennedy Center and… it’s the famous ball that drops every New Year’s Even in New York’s Times Square.
 

A Claddagh Ring in Galway


After the shamrock and the Celtic cross, this must be the most iconic symbol of the Emerald Isle. It’s certainly Ireland’s essential piece of jewelry – with a delightful and touching meaning.

The Claddagh ring’s hands cradling a heart topped with a crown symbolize friendship, love and loyalty. Rings are worn in Ireland and often by people of Irish ancestry around the world as friendship, engagement and wedding rings. 

They are often passed down mothers to their eldest daughters or grandmother to granddaughter and worn differently to advertise the wearer’s current relationship status, useful in the days before you could look it up on facebook! Worn
·     On the right hand, with the heart pointing toward the heart, you’re in a relationship; your ‘heart has been captured;
·     On the right hand with the heart pointing outward, you’re single and looking;
·     On the left ring finger with the heart pointing outward, you’re engaged; and
·     With the heart pointing to your heart, you’re married.


Start your own tradition and add some extra meaning to your new Claddagh ring by making the trek to the fishing village of the same name in Galway, where Claddagh rings were invented in the 18th century. The original goldsmith’s shop still stands. Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold is the oldest jeweler in Ireland, and houses a museum to the iconic ring.

Irish Wool from the Aran Isles


When you picture Ireland’s famous green pastures, you may also picture those pastures with grazing sheep. Throughout Ireland, keeping sheep and spinning, dyeing and weaving or knitting their wool was a cottage industry for centuries.


You can still see looms at work throughout Ireland, and enjoy the fruits of the artisans who craft colorful scarves, wraps, hats, and other useful, beautiful, and wearable examples of Irish history, creativity and skill.

Perhaps the most Irish of woolen knitwear is an Aran sweater. The Aran Islands off the country’s western coast have historically been home to hardy fishing communities whose women used wool ‘unscoured’ of its natural oils, making it water resistant and perfect for fishermen working in harsh Atlantic waters – or anyone who spends lots of time in the outdoors. 

(Image: Getty)

Sweaters are marvelously complex works of art, comprising 100,000 stitches of each maker’s own design. Different patterns of stitches represent different meanings and omens for the success and safety of the fishermen wearing them .
 
Ireland’s deep culture and heritage make an unforgettable impression on any visitor to her shores, and you’ll want to take home memories and mementoes of your journey. These are just a few of the many souvenirs of Ireland that really beat a ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish’ t-shirt from your last St. Patrick’s day at the pub!

 

Start your Trip!


All images courtesy of Ireland.com unless otherwise indicated.

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Lie Flat Beds in Economy Class?  This Airline Says, "Yes, You Can!"
An airline has cracked the code to providing some of the same comforts for economy class passengers as their fellow passengers in costlier business and first-class enjoy.

After three years in development, Air New Zealand has revealed the prototype of an innovation that could forever change the way you look at long haul travel – even in coach!

They’re calling it the Economy Skynest, and it’s a groundbreaking concept. A ‘nest’ of six, full-length, lie-flat sleep pods stacked on top of each other like bunk beds, with the added bonus of replacing a chunk of hated, center block of seats (although final placement in different planes can change).

If you love to travel but hate not having enough space to stretch out. Or your company budget doesn’t stretch to first class with lie-flat cubicles… but you still need to arrive at your destination fresh and ready to get to work. We can think of all kinds of reasons Air New Zealand’s Economy Skynest could tick a lot of boxes for you.


Each single-person pod is over 2 m (more than 6 and a half feet) long, with a minimum shoulder width of 58 cm (23 inches), and comes with a full-size pillow, a blanket and also sheets! as well as ear plugs, privacy curtains and lighting designed for sleep. Air New Zealand is also exploring other features like a separate reading light, a personal device USB outlet, and an outlet for ventilation. All the comforts of a hotel bed… just a little cozier.

And it makes sense. New Zealand’s position on the globe means it operates some of the world’s longest flights, like a non-stop Auckland-New York flight that spends 17 hours and 40 minutes in the air. That’s the flight the company is testing the Economy Skynests on for an inaugural year.

It’s just the latest innovation in comfort for an airline that is at the leading edge of customer-centric design and eco-responsible advances. The Economy Skynest is the next step up from Air New Zealand’s previous game-changer, the award-winning Economy Skycouch.


The row of Economy seats that can be turned into a couch after takeoff so friends or family members can use the space to stretch out changed the way families fly. And further enhancements like a dedicated infant harness enabling infants to stay lying down throughout the cruise phase of flight, a new infant pod which provides extra comfort and protection, and a modification to the existing adult Skycouch Cuddle Belt means it's now certified for two children to be able to share the Skycouch lying side by side.


Given how popular the Economy Skycouch has become, the airline is expecting Economy Skynests to ‘take off’, too, with a focus on the longest of long haul flights. Air New Zealnd anticipates that Economy class passengers would be able to book the Skynest in addition to their regular Economy class seat, so you can be seated for a portion of your flight and able to sleep when you feel like it.

And they expect, as they experienced with the Economy Skycouch, other airlines will explore licensing the Skynest from Air New Zealand so you can enjoy its comforts on many routes around the world.

As aircraft engineering continues to advance to achieve greater feats of fuel economy and enables planes to fly longer non-stop flights, innovations like Air New Zealand’s Economy Skynest will be ever more attractive options when you book your flight.

It may be the most exciting new innovation in flight – that literally puts you to sleep.

Start you Trip!


Images: Air New Zealand

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How You Can Help Solve Overtourism - AND Still Enjoy the World's Most Popular Destinations
Amsterdam. Venice. Barcelona. Just to name a few. These are spectacular, vibrant, magical cities… reeling under the weight of tourists.

I’m very fortunate to have visited a number of cities that are now on the list of overtouristed destinations. They are magnificent and life changing. But sadly, each subsequent visit, I see the very qualities travelers go there to seek eroded a little bit more by a growing volume of tourists.

Over-touristed destinations worry about becoming artificial, ‘theme park’ versions of their charming, unique, authentic selves. They fear seeing local residents, artisans, shopkeepers and restaurateurs priced out of the cities’ historic centers by global brands and big companies buying up real estate for international brand shops and short-term housing rentals.

When the locals go, so do many of the very lifestyle elements you hoped to enjoy. Local food and craft markets collapse, inexpensive, authentic local restaurants close their doors, and the only people you meet… are other tourists.

These cities may be on your travel bucket list. Or you imagine re-living fond memories there.

I can’t bring myself to say people should no longer travel to over-touristed destinations (although some cities’ mayors sound like they’re willing to ban tourists altogether).

But I can offer 8 tips about the best ways responsible travelers can help be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And at the same time, take steps to ensure the best travel experience for themselves.

Responsible travel tips for overtourism:


Be a good global citizen. 

Practice the advice often given to park visitors: take only pictures, leave only footprints. Littering, loitering, being part of a loud group that blocks sidewalks and disrupts the peaceful enjoyment of a neighborhood, in many places outside of North America, eating or drinking on the street… some rules of good behavior are universal, and some are unique to local custom, like tipping practices.

Do your research in advance and be the person the locals welcome back.


Go off-season / shoulder season. 

I’ve written before about the benefits of off-season travel. In over-touristed destinations, off-season or shoulder season (the weeks on either side of the core ‘high season’), by definition, is less crowded. No lineups. Less expensive. The locals come back (think Paris after everyone takes the month of August away from the city). And the tourism attractions are happy to see you – and your money.

Stay in hotels.

Many short-term rentals are not real home shares by residents, but instead, units owned and managed by big corporations running what amounts to unregulated hotel businesses. Inhabitants of residential neighborhoods report being disrupted by a steady stream of strangers that can change the character of the community.

Hotels are regulated for your health and safety, they ensure local bylaws are followed, AND they are paying business taxes that support the preservation of cultural treasures visitors are coming to enjoy, and the infrastructure like streets and sidewalks and parks and public transportation tourists rely on.

Shop locally.

And especially, make a point to spend your souvenir, dining, and entertainment budgets to support local artisans, craftspeople, performing artists and venues, food and wine and spirit producers that are preserving local culture, techniques and architecture, and whose businesses 100% support the local economy. 
 

Book smaller cruise ships.

Bigger cruise ships need ports of a certain size, so that often means they all converge on major city ports – and some are already bursting with land-based visitors.

The biggest cruise ships carry thousands of people. In some places, a single ship can result in cruise visitors outnumbering locals! Imagine if two or more mega ships are in port! No wonder locals can feel like their city has been taken over by non-locals- and ‘normal’ local life comes to a halt while these immense cruise ships are in port.

There’s lots to be said for the attractions of mega cruise ships. If that’s your preferred cruise style, try to focus on itineraries that visit destinations that can accommodate you and your 5000 other cruise guests without overwhelming or changing the character of the city.

Always book a pre- or post-cruise stay.

That way, you are not just transiting through a city, you also contribute to its economy - and get to enjoy overnights and immersion in these wonderful places. Pre- and post-cruise stays - or tours - are a perfect balance to the destination sampling approach of cruising.

Book your visit with a reputable tour company.

The best tour companies understand the importance of reducing their impact on and preserving the best of local communities. They work to balance the interests of the destination with unique access to its greatest cultural, natural, and lifestyle gems for its guests.

Consider destinations in the same country that have fewer tourists.

You’ll often find the same – and sometimes, even more authentic - local lifestyle and flavors that have diminished in the most visited destinations if you leave the big cities and go off the beaten path in the same country.
 
Talk to your travel advisor about your travel interests, and they’ll be able to help you design a thoughtful and responsible travel plan that takes overtourism into account.
 
 

Start your Trip!

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

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The Hotel with the Best Views of Buenos Aires
They call Buenos Aires the ‘Paris of South America’. Historic neighborhoods of elegant, whitewashed buildings with ornate wrought iron trim, its reputation as the global capital of theater with 280 theaters, more than any other city in the world, and the world’s biggest boulevard, lined, like the grand boulevards of France’s capital, with monumental buildings… all add up to a distinctly European feel in Argentina’s capital city. 

The hotel with the very best view of Buenos Aires has to be the Hotel Panamericano Buenos Aires, with its prime location on July 9 Avenue. Called the world’s biggest boulevard, July 9 Avenue commemorates the country’s independence day and stretches 3 km long, and a whopping 18 lanes across!

The Panamericano hotel’s twin towers are in postmodern architecture, but the hotel still manages to evoke the classic French style of this neighborhood of Buenos Aires, with black and white marble floors, wrought-iron railings and details like a grand, brass-trimmed entrance onto the breathtaking July 9 Avenue. 



(Paris meets South America: black and white and wrought iron railings; driftwood horses reminding guests of Argentina’s rich, ‘gaucho’ equestrian rancher lifestyle and lore).

At the same time, the Panamericano is true to its Argentine homeland, including one of BA’s most renowned restaurants serving wine and locally ranched beef, lamb from Patagonia and other uniquely Argentine flavors.



The Panamericano’s 23rd floor has two attractions: Nivel 23 Club and Spa, with its glass-encased rooftop swimming pool, and an open-air terrace overlooking July 9 Avenue – arguably the best view in BA of the city’s signature boulevard and the other emblems of the Argentine capital along it.

Rising out of Republic Square in median of the boulevard right outside the Panamericano, the dramatic, 67 meter (220 foot) Obelisk marks the spot where the Argentine flag was flown for the first time in the capital. (And it also feels like a South American version of Paris’ Place de la Concorde, with its own obelisk).

Also in full view of the Panamericano is Teatro Colon, ranked one of the top three opera houses in the world, and seating more music lovers than London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Acoustically magnificent, this Historic National Monument is also visually glorious in ornate, late 19th century style, with red and gold décor and a famous chandelier.
 
The Panamericano couldn’t be in a better location. It’s in the heart of Buenos Aires’ most noteworthy architecture, domes, century-old buildings, modern skyscrapers. It overlooks BA’s landmark obelisk, Colon Theater, the Palace of Justice from its privileged position on the July 9 Avenue. 


And the hotel is also only a 10-minute walk from the fashionable neighborhood of Recoleta. That neighborhood’s grand cemetery is a fascinating attraction with its decorative, historic crypts. There’s a constant stream of visitors past one in particular: the final resting place of Buenos Aires’ most internationally famous citizen, Eva Peron, immortalized in Evita!, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about the life of Argentina’s former first lady.

In addition to sightseeing, the Panamericano is the perfect base to take advantage of Buenos Aires’ theatre scene, immerse yourself in the tango music and dance, indulge in Argentina’s world-famous wines and beef from its ranches.

Start your Trip!

 
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It's one of the top destinations in Europe, let alone the Mediterranean. Barcelona tops everyone's travel bucket list, and for excellent reasons.

  • It has a collection of some of the world's most unique and distinctive Modernist architecture - hint: by the same local designer whose masterpiece church is still under construction 130 years after it was begun.

  • One of Europe's most famous local markets, and restaurants serving the abundant harvest of Catalonia's land and sea.

  • One of the world's most picturesque pedestrian promenades (where you'll find the tongue-in-cheek bronze 'Thinking Bull' statue that plays on the iconic 'The Thinker' by Rodin, pictured above).

  • And a lifestyle any visitor is loathe to leave.

We never depart on a cruise from Barcelona without taking time to indulge in one of our favorite cities, and of course, any tour of Spain or the Western Mediterranean wouldn't be complete without an immersion in Barcelona's culture and way of life.

See the best of Barcelona come to life in the BestTrip video above, and...

Start your Trip!




It’s a US territory with sun-kissed Caribbean charms. Where lush jungles, land and marine parks and world-class beaches meet Old World cobblestone architecture, New World comforts, and signature Latin hospitality, culture and sultry vibe.  

Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan is a major cruise port and destination in the eastern Caribbean. Thousands of cruise passengers embark and disembark every year. But don’t miss the opportunity to extend your cruise – or visit the island just to explore the island’s urban lifestyle and beach resorts in San Juan, as well as the attractions outside the capital.

Following Cuba’s revolution in the 50’s, Puerto Rico became the heart of island Latin style for America’s jet set, and many of the island’s most memorable urban beach hotel-resorts in date from that sexy, Rat Pack era. Newer boutique hotels have added more ways to stay and play in Puerto Rico’s capital.


Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV’s producer, host and cruise expert, picks three of her favorite San Juan hotels from her latest cruise trips to Puerto Rico.

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel


Whether you love Old Havana and colonial style, rhythms and cocktails, Mid-Century modern Rat Pack vibes, or contemporary luxury urban resort lifestyle on one of the world's top tropical beaches... the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel fits the bill.
 
This sprawling hotel on San Juan’s 2-mile-long Isla Verde beach – one that’s been voted ‘Best Urban Beach’, is a recent addition to the prestigious, luxury Fairmont portfolio.
 
But this urban hotel has a pedigree. Considered by many the ‘grande dame’ hotel of Puerto Rico society, the El San Juan underwent a $65-million post-hurricane reno and upgrade that restored the best of its colonial architecture, Rat Pack era cool, and added modern, urban resort touches with the Latin flavour of its surroundings.
 
Watch the video above to see this captivating time capsule beach hotel that’s also one of the best places in Puerto Rico for a pre or post-cruise stay, family vacation, wedding or vow renewal.
 
Better yet, book a vacation to experience Fairmont El San Juan’s beach lifestyle, sexy, interconnected pools, breezy outdoor teak spaces, one of the largest chandeliers in the world above one of the most famous bars in the Caribbean, even the hotel’s famous, 200-year-old banyan tree.  
 
 

La Concha

Where the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel melds Old Havana, mid-century, and contemporary design hotel, La Concha is all mid-century beach chic re-imagined for the 21st century.

Right on Ashford Avenue in the heart of San Juan’s ‘it’ Condado neighborhood with expansive beach front, La Concha is one of the island’s iconic hotels, dating back to the heyday of Puerto Rico as a ‘jet set’ destination.

Its namesake is its standout feature: a gigantic, seashell-shaped ‘floating restaurant’ at the edge of the sea. Not only a marvel of engineering and design, being inside the ‘shell’ space makes any meal memorable and a special event like a wedding, absolutely epic.

The curves of the giant shell feature are unmistakably from the mid-century school of modernism. The architects continued tropical modernist features throughout the property, in the form of curves and breezeways, an open lobby and seamless transitions between indoors and outdoors, even a concrete façade that filters sunlight to create patterns mirrored indoors.


Also benefitting from a recent renovation, La Concha has kept its mid-century bones and added ocean-inspired hues and beach-inspired textures, lounges and patios kept throbbing with electronic dance music by local DJ’s, resulting in a completely modern urban beach resort, nightlife destination, and ‘Latino Chic’ lifestyle in a stylish setting few modern hotel builds can match.

O:LV Fifty Five

Around the corner in San Juan’s chic Condado neighborhood from La Concha, O:LV Fifty Five is a jewel of a boutique hotel where Old Hollywood glamour meets modern design hotel.  


Since it’s recent opening, it has made the lists proclaiming “Top Places to Travel”, “Best New Hotels”, and “Finest Hotels” among others.

This adults-only, 26-suite hideaway on a quiet side street overlooks Condado Lagoon from what must be one of, if not the best rooftop destination in San Juan. A cooling green wall and fountains form the backdrop to the infinity pool with a view on the city.


The lobby feels like the living room of an uber-sophisticated socialite, with plush textures, mood lighting and eclectic touches like a table-top metallic cheetah statue and oversized, black and white photography portraits. 


Restaurants at the ground and rooftop levels repeat the concept in their own palettes, with head-turning features like the vintage Rolls Royce – converted into a DJ booth! -  parked among tables of diners and guests heading out to the roof top terrace (pictured above).

All 3 hotels are located between Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, and the San Juan Cruise Port, just outside historic Old San Juan. Whether you’re flying in or cruising out, these three very different urban hotel experiences are unmistakable expressions of San Juan’s one-of-a-kind hospitality and travel experience.
 

Start your Trip!

 
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A visit to the Juno Beach Centre is life-changing. Walking in the footsteps of young, Canadian soldiers who landed on this stretch of beach in Normandy, France on DDay is emotional, eye-opening, and never-to-be-forgotten.

Some Canadians do more than visit. They work here. Permanent staff and young Canadians greet and guide visitors at the Centre, through the restored bunkers, and on Juno Beach itself, and work on programs that tell the story at the Juno Beach Centre of DDay from a Canadian point of view.

Many of the young guides are about the same age as the 19- and 20-year old soldiers who landed on Juno Beach in 1944 - and that's by design. It helps keep in perspective how young most of those Canadian soldiers were.

Here are some thoughts and insights of Juno Beach Centre team members about their daily presence in such an important and evocative place for Canadians.

Start your Trip!

Top 7 Things to Do in Pasadena When You're Not Watching the Rose Parade or the Game
All eyes are on this SoCal city every New Year’s Day for two of America’s most iconic annual events.
 
Pasadena, California plays host to the back-to-back morning Rose Parade and afternoon Rose Bowl Game. The game is one of the major bowl games in college football, but the Rose Parade that precedes it is truly one-of-a-kind.
 
The Rose Parade dates back to 1890. Pasadena had become a popular West coast wellness resort town for the East’s elite. Town leaders wanted to show off their blooming rose gardens and orange groves to the East as it remained under winter snow and ice. The parade, featuring the unique spectacle of flower-covered floats as well as equestrian units and marching bands, traded county-fair type ‘tournaments’ like foot races, polo matches and tug-of-war for football at the turn of the century. Amazingly, it’s continued uninterrupted ever since, even during both World Wars.
 
Millions watch on TV world-wide, and hundreds of thousands attend in person. But sports fans, floral admirers, and parade lovers have much more to entertain and intrigue them during a visit to Pasadena at New Year’s or any other time of the year. 

 

Old Pasadena


Dating back to the 1870’s when the town was establishing its credentials as a wellness escape from winters back East, Old Pasadena Historic Area is a US National Historical Landmark. Visitors can stroll through 22 blocks of quaint alleyways or airy European-style piazzas teeming with 200 outdoor cafes, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and specialty shops.


Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens


This ornate, Italian Renaissance-style mansion on Pasadena’s ‘Millionaires’ Row’ was once owned by chewing gum mogul William Wrigley, Jr. It was built in the early 19th century, and Mrs. Wrigley willed the property to serve as the headquarters for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, the non-profit that still produces the Rose Parade today. Displays inside showcase the history of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Games, as well as parade Grand Marshals and Royal Court.
 
Volunteers from the Pacific Rose Society maintain the hundreds of varieties of roses, camelias and other flowers in the gardens in the grounds of Tournament House. The gardens and the house can be toured by the public.
 

Arts & Crafts Hub

Pasadena’s heyday as a magnet for the wealthy building vacation and West Coast homes in the early 20th century made the city a natural incubator for the era’s Arts & Crafts movement. Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene became influential with the houses and their large-scale ‘ultimate bungalows’ that are prime examples of Arts & Crafts style, with all the interior design elements and furnishings designed by the architects as they designed the house itself. 
 
Their Gamble House is called ‘America’s Arts & Crafts masterpiece’ and is also considered one of the finest examples of overall residential architecture in the entire country. Greene and Greene built the house and its furnishings in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble (of Procter and Gamble soap and toothpaste fame). It’s one of the few Greene and Greene projects with the original furnishings remaining and is National Historic Landmark. The City of Pasadena and the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture operate the house today. Two lucky 5th-year architecture students get to live there, and it’s open for public tours and events.

Rose Bowl Flea Market


The huge Rose Bowl Flea Market is held every second Sunday of the month. The legendary market draws 20,000 vintage treasure seekers and bargain shoppers who rub elbows with celebrities and designers looking for one-of-a-kind pieces. 2500 vendors set up rows of specialty products, antiques, local art, vintage clothing and accessories. Merchandise is arranged by type, and there’s a color-coded map to guide you. Entry ticket prices drop the later you enter the market, and you can even purchase pre-opening VIP preview tickets for serious or competitive shoppers/collectors.
 

The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens


The Huntington is located on the 207-acre estate of the late Henry Huntington. The railroad tycoon amassed what was called 'the greatest group of 18th-century British portraits ever assembled by any one man' and it was opened to the public in accordance with his will following his death in 1927.
 
The renovated Huntington Art Gallery offers a space showcasing 1,200 objects of European art from the 15th to the early 20th century, including the18th and 19th British and French masterpieces like the renowned “Pinkie” and Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy.”

Courtesy Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens
 
The newly expanded Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art offers one of the largest presentations in California of American art from the colonial period through the mid-20th century.
 
The Library includes works from American and British literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible and Ellesmere’s manuscript of Canterbury Tales as well as the photographic archive of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
 
The botanical gardens feature 14,000 varieties of plants on more than 150 acres divided into specialized gardens including the Rose Garden, Herb Garden, refurbished Japanese Garden, Desert Garden, Zen Garden, Australian Garden and Children’s Garden. In the Chinese Garden, visitors can stroll around the 1.5-acre lake bordered by Tai Hu rocks and enjoy landscape that includes five hand-carved stone bridges, a stream, and a canyon waterfall connecting to the Japanese Garden.

 

Norton Simon Museum


This extraordinary museum features seven centuries of European art and one of America’s largest collections of Asian sculpture that spans 2,000 years. The museum is home to an extensive Impressionist collection, which features masterpieces by Degas, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet and Pissaro. The museum also features works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Cézanne and more.

The Great Outdoors


Pasadena is an outdoor wonderland, and you can explore trails and parks to connect with nature. Eaton Canyon Natural Area is a 190-acre zoological, botanical and geological nature preserve with picnic areas, native plants and hiking trails. Be sure to take the kids to Junior Nature Trail, less than a quarter mile, which is scenic with a pond, California sagebrush and animals like birds and rabbits.
 
Visitors who like more dramatic views head to Mount Wilson Observatory, a 5,700-foot astronomical observatory residing in the San Gabriel Mountains. Visitors roam the beautiful grounds, dazzled by a simple – yet powerful – scene of endless, clear blue sky. Warning: sunsets are addictive.

Start your Trip!


Photos courtesy Visit Pasadena.

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Europe's Capital of Music Celebrates the 250th Anniversary of This Musical Genius
You may only listen to classical music once in a while, but we’ll bet this composer’s name rings a bell.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Germany, but spent his professional career and passed away in the music capital of Europe. 2020 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the composer, who in spite of becoming ill and deaf, was considered one of the greatest musical talents of all time. And Vienna is celebrating his life and works.

The Austrian capital was the epi-center of musical creativity throughout most of the era that gave us classical music’s greatest moments. Most of Beethoven’s groundbreaking premieres took place in Vienna’s iconic venues. Many of them remain today (like Vienna's State Opera House above © WienTourismus/ Christian Stemper), and Vienna continues to set the stage of the world’s rich classical music scene. Every night in the city, around 10,000 music fans are treated to live classical music at the great music institutions that debuted Beethoven’s greatest works.

In the year that marks 250 years since Beethoven's birth, Vienna celebrates the artist and his long-lasting legacy of classical music with the slogan Beethoven Belongs to Everyone.

© Schaub-Walzer / PID

 

Digital Beethoven

 
The Vienna Tourist Board has developed a voice application for the Amazon and Google voice assistants for the 2020 Year of Beethoven. Users discover an interactive audiobook on the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven. Recordings of all Nine of his Symphonies performed by the Wiener Symphoniker provide the soundtrack.
 
The Vienna Tourist Board and the Austrian National Tourist Board also worked together to develop a smart audio guide integrated into a pair of special sunglasses. Ludwig van Beethoven takes wearers on an acoustic tour of Vienna and New York with the help of Bose frames featuring integrated loudspeakers and the new #RelatedToAustria app. In Vienna, visitors can borrow the glasses for free from the Tourist information office on Albertinaplatz.
 

Beethoven Live in Vienna

 
In the 2020 Beethoven year more than ever, Vienna’s orchestras and music institutions celebrate the genius composer with a full calendar of performances.
 
The Vienna Philharmonic holds a Beethoven cycle at the Vienna State Opera’s Gustav Mahler Hall. The series of ten chamber music evenings runs until mid-June 2020, presenting all of the master’s vocal works.
 
The Wiener Symphoniker plays many of the Beethoven performances at the Wiener Konzerthaus: the packed program for 2020 is bookended by his Ninth Symphony on New Year’s Day and a final rendition of “the Ninth” on New Year’s Eve, and includes an open-air event with public viewing areas in the Beethoven cities of Bonn (his birthplace) and Vienna.
 
The Theater an der Wien, where Beethoven was engaged and lived for a time, will be the venue for a production of Fidelio, taking Beethoven’s operatic work back to the place where it was first performed.
 
In 2020 the Musikverein will be celebrating Beethoven as well, along with the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and the Wiener Akademie orchestra – in which all the performers play original instruments, recording all of Beethoven’s symphonies and piano concerts for posterity. You can research live performances during your visit to Vienna, as well as anniversary recordings, here:
 
 

Beethoven in Art


Don't miss exhibits, projects and installations featuring a Beethoven theme at Vienna’s museums and art galleries in 2020:

  • Beethoven moves, Mar 25-Jul 5, 2020, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, www.khm.at
  • Inspiration Beethoven. A Symphony in Pictures from Vienna 1900. May 30, Sep 21, 2020, Leopold Museum, MuseumsQuartier Vienna, www.leopoldmuseum.org
  • Beethoven. World of the Man and Spark of the Gods, Dec 19, 2019-Apr 19, 2020, National Library, State Hall, Austrian National Library, www.onb.ac.at
  • The Great Triad of Viennese Classical Music: Haydn - Mozart - Beethoven. Similarities - Parallels - Opposites, Feb 13, 2020-Jan 27, 2021, Mozarthaus Vienna, www.mozarthausvienna.at
  • House of Music. The Museum of Sound, www.hdm.at
  • Beethoven Museum, www.wienmuseum.at
  • Pasqualati House, www.wienmuseum.at
  • Secession, www.secession.at
  • Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, Hofburg, Neue Burg, www.khm.at
 
 
© John Baldessari; Courtesy of the artist, Sprüth Magers and Beyer Projects
 

Beethoven in Photos


Ludwig van Beethoven moved to Vienna to advance his career in the Music Capital with the renowned Haydn when he was only 22, and lived out his life there. So there are many monuments to the famous composer in Vienna. You’ll want to post images of all things Beethoven during your visit, including these famous Beethoven locations.

Beethoven Memorial in Beethoven Park Beethovenplatz, 1030 Vienna
Unveiled in 1880, this monument was paid for in part by one of Beethoven’s high-profile colleagues from the world of music. A committed Beethoven fan, Franz Liszt used the proceeds from his last public concert on March 16, 1877 (marking the 50th anniversary of Beethoven’s death) to complete the memorial.

Beethoven Museum - Probusgasse 6, 1190 Vienna, www.wienmuseum.at
In Beethoven’s day, Heiligenstadt was a popular spa destination beyond the old city walls, although today it’s part of the city. He retreated here as therapy for his ailments. The Beethoven Museum opened in one of his former residences.
 
Pasqualati House Mölker Bastei 8, 1010 Vienna, www.wienmuseum.at
Baron von Pasqualati provided cheap lodgings for his friend Beethoven to use, which the composer returned to on multiple occasions.

Theater an der Wien - Linke Wienzeile 6, 1060 Vienna, www.theater-wien.at
This theater was an important venue for concerts of all descriptions. Several of Beethoven’s works made their debuts here, including his violin concerto and Fidelio – his only opera.

Beethoven’s grave - Central Cemetery, Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 234, 1110 Vienna
Beethoven lies in rest in a grave of honor next to Franz Schubert’s final resting place, with a memorial to Mozart – who was buried elsewhere – installed between them.

© Schaub-Walzer / PID
 


Include Austria's magnificent capital on a tour of the country's many charms, or visit Vienna during a port of call on a Danube river cruise.


Start your Trip!


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It may be the most idyllic island escape you can reach without a passport – for US citizens, that is.

The US Virgin Islands are a piece of American apple pie in the heavenly seas of the Caribbean, and the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas is the most luxurious retreat in the USVI.

It was the first Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Caribbean, and since it opened in the 90’s, it’s won praise and inspired generations of devoted travelers in love with the US Virgin Islands – and Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts.

The beach resort debuted in the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn’s damage to St. Thomas in the 90’s, and today, 2 years after more hurricanes devastated the region, it has undergone a 100-million dollar renovation and opened its doors once again.

You need to see it for yourself, but BestTrip can share with you the video we produced when we visited shortly after the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas re-opened.

As you’ll see in the video, the resort on the island’s epic Great Bay has restored its position at the pinnacle of luxury hotels in the US Virgin Islands.

Set against the impossible azure waters, crescent-moon beach and emerald palms and vegetation of Great Bay, traditional island architecture meets completely contemporary beach resort design on a breathtaking scale. Rooms are
Delicate hues of colonial tropical green, and compelling marine-blues and high-concept design indoors and outdoors. New restaurants, lounge space, an infinity pool you can’t tear your gaze away from, even a luxury private catamaran for private events, tours and sunset cruises.

On site tennis, garden tours, snorkel gear to make the most of the coral reef facing the resort’s beach, watersports including windsurfing, paddle boards and kayaks, daily walks, yoga, and water mai chi keep you healthy during your indulgent beach vacation, and daily tastings of local rums, infused with different tropical fruit like mango and passion fruit enhance the locally sourced cuisine served at the restaurants.

Close enough for a weekend escape (especially when there are minimal delays for American citizens in and out this US territory), and available to cruise guests calling in the popular port looking for a luxury day beach resort, spend even one day in the newly re-imagined Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, and you’ll want to book again and again.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip.TV

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The sparkling waters of Puget Sound and the spectacle of the surrounding Olympic and Cascade mountains are the heroic natural features of Seattle, but its Pike Place Market is the city's standout man-made - and still its most popular - attraction that BestTrip TV just had to see during a visit to Seattle. WATCH THE VIDEO TO EXPERIENCE THE PIKE PLACE MARKET YOURSELF.

It wasn't built as a tourist experience. When the market began in 1907 on Seattle's waterfront, it was purely for the purpose of providing area farmers with a place to sell their produce without having to lose their profits to a middleman. The market now lays claim to being the oldest farmer's market in the USA.

And it's developed into much more than a farmer's market. Threatened by development in the mid-20th century, the sprawling market complex of buildings now occupies 7 protected acres of downtown Seattle, filled with booths selling area produce, including the fruit (notably cherries and the state fruit, apples) the region is famous for, as well as the harvest of the Pacific Northwest waters, artisans, and makers of prepared foods as well as restaurants.

Other city markets may have become commercialized tourist attractions that no longer appeal to local shoppers, but Pike Place Market is still where both residents and visitors actually shop and snack and dine - in a series of waterfront buildings overlooking some of the best views in the city.

Culinary tours of the market have become an essential foodie experience in Seattle, and a number of iconic Seattle moments happen here. Like a visit to the first Starbucks in the world. Or the image of the fish mongers of the Pike Place Fish Market tossing giant salmon to each other to package for the customers who have selected the fish to take home (or ship home; a great option for many visitors who want to take the fresh taste of the Pacific Northwest with them, just not on the plane!) Or depositing change into one of the 550-pound bronze piggy banks in the market that annually collect thousands of dollars that support the market's social mission to support the city's vulnerable.

All this, minutes from some of the finest hotels in the North West - as well as one of the busiest cruise ports for travelers sailing along the coast or up to Alaska, making a pre- or post-cruise stay in Seattle a must.

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3 Perfect Outdoor Activities for your Next Vacation in the Dominican Republic
The Caribbean’s second-biggest country (behind only Cuba) may also be its most diverse. The Dominican Republic’s beaches are the headliners, but centuries of history, magnificent mountain ranges, vivid riverways and national parks, one-of-a-kind culture, cuisine and local products, all combine to provide a tropical island destination that goes well beyond the sunny coasts.

You can do more than defrost on the island’s famous beaches this winter. 
 
On your next trip to the eastern half of the Caribbean’s second-largest island, get off your lounge chair and get involved in the Dominican Republic’s most famous sporting activities.
 

Golf like the Greats

 
It’s the most celebrated golfing destination in the Caribbean. Voted “Golf Destination of the Year for Latin America and the Caribbean” in 2019 for the fourth time by the Global Golf Tourism Organization, the Dominican Republic’s courses are legend.
 
Avid golfers can book tee times at lush seaside and inland greens designed by the most acclaimed golf course architects, including Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Price, and Greg Norman. 
 
From La Romana to Punta Cana, Juan Dolio, and Puerto Plata, the country boasts 86 sea-facing holes and 39 ocean-side, where the course design and ocean breezes provide challenge as well as the breathtaking views.
 
Golf pros regularly flock to the country for working holidays and tournaments including the Dominican Republic PGA Tour.   You can get a taste of that high-flying golf lifestyle at any of the DR’s dozens of top-tier golf courses. 
 

Gone Fishin’ in the Caribbean

 
Dominican Republic is a fisherman’s paradise. Surrounded on three sides by rich waters, the island’s local fishermen have a long history of bringing home the day’s catch. You can do that, too.


Whether you’re looking for a laid-back fishing getaway or a high-energy, man v fish challenge on the high seas, you can give your fishing tackle a workout in the Dominican Republic.
 
Visit one of the local sports fishing centers or work with an expert guide who can bring you to the shore’s most abundant waters, where you’ll be certain to reel in a brag-worthy catch.
 
Push your Dominican Republic holiday into May, and you can join other anglers for the Torneo de Pesca fishing tournament. The high profile annual event showcases Bayahibe’s best catches and its unique and colorful fishing atmosphere.
 
Further east along the southern coast, the Casa de Campo International Blue Marlin Classic Tournament in La Romana in April brings visitors to one of the country’s hottest spots for the majestic blue marlin.
 
The pleasure you’ll get from this exciting fishing event is enhanced by the stunning surroundings. Casa de Campo was designed by an Italian architect, and mimics the old seaside villages of the Mediterranean. The Casa de Campo Marina is one of the region’s most prestigious, and accommodates up to 350 yachts.  You’ll want to do some interesting people watching after you return with your day’s catch.
 
 

Dominican Republic’s National Pastime

 
Baseball may be America’s game, but it has deep roots in Dominican culture and history.

Known lovingly as “pelota” in Dominican Republic, is the country’s undisputed favorite sport, the game you’ll see played in every tiny neighborhood park, and the source of dreams for countless young players. The Dominican Republic punches above its weight in producing international baseball stars.
 
Many of the world’s most legendary players hail from the country, including Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz, Robinson Canó, José Reyes, Juan Marichal and Bartolo Colón, among many others.
 
There aren’t many opportunities for visitors to the country to play, but lots to enjoy baseball from the stands. Attending a “juego de pelota” is more than just watching a game—it’s also a ticket to a live party, and an opportunity to share with locals a celebration of one of the country’s greatest passions.
 
The Dominican Republic’s baseball season runs from mid-October through late January. Game schedules can be found at the Dominican Baseball League’s official website. Six teams compete at stadiums around the country, and for baseball lovers, the experience is not to be missed.
 
Whether your picture-perfect getaway involves the challenge of an oceanside golf course, a day at the baseball field or an open water adventure in pursuit of your next great catch, Dominican Republic delivers memories that last a lifetime – as well as the opportunity to recharge and refresh pool- and beachside.
 

Start your Trip!


Photos: Dominican Republic Tourism

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The Ultimate Travel Experience for Your Favorite Star Wars Fan
The Force is Strong with This Plane. Just in time for the debut of the movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, United Airlines has unveiled an opportunity for fans young and young at heart to fly the friendly galaxy.

It has re-imagined one of its planes in epic Star Wars mode, from the eye-catching livery on the outside, to the experience on board.


The plane is flying across the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America. But you’ll think you’re in a galaxy far, far away when you see this plane on the tarmac. The exterior paint design captures the Star Wars atmosphere with imagery of spacecraft including X-wing and TIE fighter starships against a black, space-like background. 


The two sides of the aircraft reflect the two opposing sides of the Force...


even down to the dramatic tail art: a different colored lightsaber lit against the darkness and ready for the hand of its invisible Jedi to wield.



Remember what they said about the Millennium Falcon? Well, no one will call this state of the art, unforgettable aircraft a ‘hunk of junk’!


Just as unforgettable for Star Wars and movie fans is the on the ground and on board experience.

 
You might find yourself running a gauntlet of Stormtroopers en route to your flight.

Or needing some extra time for some photos....


Even pilots are getting some selfies!


Once you’re on board, pick your seat carefully: good or evil? The interior is divided, like the exterior livery, between both sides of the Force, with headrests displaying emblems of the dueling sides: the Resistance and the First Order. 
Classic Star Wars-themed music plays during boarding, and even amenity kits are themed for this final film in the Skywalker saga.  


About Safety, This Is (said in your best Yoda voice). Your in-flight safety video (click here to see it for yourself) features appearances by iconic Star Wars characters, space sequences, footage of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker movie experiences around the world, and some of the most recognizable music in movie history to highlight safety procedures in case of an emergency while you’re flying far, far away. 

The airline’s loyalty club members can even bid their award miles on some additional Star Wars experiences and perks, including access to premieres of the film in LA and London, as well as exclusive screenings in United hub cities before the movie has its theatrical release, travel packages to filming locations, and packages with one-of-a-kind themed collectors’ items.

You can ask your travel agent to book you on your next flight by looking up the plane’s tail number, N36272.
 
And while not everyone will have the chance to see United’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker plane in person, you can track the aircraft via a special icon on online flight tracking platform FlightAware (below image).


For the first time, film becomes aviation reality as flight and Star Wars enthusiasts can track past and future flights by entering the plane's tail number, and the new livery will appear on FlightAware's flight tracking maps as the X-Wing starship.
 

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Images courtesy United Airlines unless otherwise noted.

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Tips for Drinking in Japan
Just as water is served automatically at a restaurant table in the West, green tea appears magically on every restaurant table in Japan. But what about a more… spirited beverage? Japan’s consumption of alcohol is legendary, and involves its own beverages and etiquette.

Here’s what you need to know before you order.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Sipper-in-Chief, BestTrip TV

Japan has embraced both beer and whisky from the West, and proceeded to develop excellent and well-know brands of both.

But for more local flavor, the two main contenders for an evening’s entertainment in one of the countless bars and restaurants and karaoke lounges throughout Japan you should consider are: sake (sah-kay) and shochu (show-choo). 

Shochu


Shochu originated in Japan at least 500 years ago, and may be even more ‘Japanese’ than sake, even though sake is better known in the West. In fact, while the West sees sake as the essential Japanese spirit, in Japan itself, far more shochu is consumed than sake.

Shochu is sometimes confused with Korean soju, and there are some similarities. They are both distilled beverages made from rice, or sweet potato. Japanese shochu can also be made from barley. Each has its own quite different taste.

If you drink it neat/ straight up or on the rocks, shochu is a stronger drink than sake, averaging 25-30% alcohol.
However, it’s often mixed with cold or hot water, or fruit juice/flavored water, and as a mixed drink, its strength drops substantially.

Sake


Sake is made exclusively from rice, with roots in Japanese tradition dating back to at least the 700’s, and possibly in its earliest forms close to 2000 years ago.

Where shochu is distilled, sake is fermented. You sometimes hear it called ‘rice wine’, but that’s not a good description. In fact, sake is more similar to beer than wine, as it’s made with grain, and brewed and fermented with yeast. Unlike beer, sake then goes through a second fermentation with a certain type of mold.

The results can range from sweet to dry, from clear to cloudy, and are weaker than sochu, with only about 15% alcohol. Although sometimes in the West, cocktails are made with sake, in Japan, it’s almost exclusively consumed on its own.

There’s nothing to warm you up on a chilly winter’s day on one of Japan’s ski hills, like hot sake, served in tiny cups with no handles that warm your hands up in no time.

I’m a big fan of warm sake, but it’s also served at room temperature and also chilled. Right now in the West, the trend-setters and tastings focus on cold sake. It is true that heating can kill subtle flavors, so it’s reserved for less refined varieties. If you are really intent on discovering the differences between different types of sake, room temp is the way to go.
 

Japanese Drinking Etiquette


Never pour your own drink. Your host/ friend/ colleague/ fellow drinker at a communal table will pour your glass for you. You should hold your glass lightly with both hands while your friend pours. 

Similarly, do pour drinks for your friends. 

Here’s where it can get tricky. Alcohol is served in small glasses. Your friends top you up often. So it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much you’re consuming. 

You know where this is going. So to keep your head on your shoulders, it’s helpful to decline being topped up until your glass is empty, then at least you know you’ve had, for example, three full glasses and it’s time to quit.

It’s hard to decline a drink in Japan; a sense of hospitality, combined with the work-hard/ play-hard psyche of many Japanese people, keeps the drinks flowing. However, holding your hand flat above the top of your glass, or leaving it full, will deflect another hospitable top-up. 

Kanpai! (kahn-pie!) = Cheers!


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The Hotel that made Copacabana Famous
Some hotels help define their destinations.   Not only with an historic pedigree, but with a location that makes them central to the local lifestyle.

The Belmond Copacabana Palace helped create the mystique of Rio de Janeiro that thrives even today.
Imagine a time when Rio’s now-epic beaches were unused and unfashionable. In the 20’s, Brazil’s upper classes lived in the cooler elevations of the hills.


So when the country’s president asked a local wealthy businessman to build a landmark hotel on Copacabana beach to help mark Brazil’s centenary, a lot of eyebrows lifted.

But the idea turned out to be the start of a legend. A French designer created an Art Deco palace inspired by the elegant, white limestone and marble hotels lining the seashore in Cannes and other storied Mediterranean destinations where the rich and famous went on holiday.    

It instantly put Copacabana on the world stage… and ever since, it’s drawn a global who’s who of royalty, celebrities and history-makers, from Princess Diana, to Marilyn Monroe, to Nelson Mandela and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who calls the hotel a second home.

The breathtaking property anchoring Rio’s Atlantica Avenue on Copacabana beach has seen millions of dollars of renovations and upgrades in recent years, and been brought into the Belmond hospitality family that includes the legendary Orient-Express luxury train, and Venice’s most prestigious hotel, the Cipriani. Today, the Belmond Copacabana Hotel maintains its rank among that stratospheric tier of worldwide hotels who help define their destinations.



It is the landmark on what is now one of the world’s most epic beaches, an oasis from the throbbing beach lifestyle, just across from the famous mosaic boardwalk known the world over.

 
The architectural character that includes towering ceilings, period furniture crafted from Brazilian freijo or mahogany wood, along with antiques, French fabrics and fine oriental carpets is married with modern design elements and all the comforts of 6-star hospitality, including beds so comfortable, it’s said Keith Richards’ wife asked to buy some after staying in the hotel while the Rolling Stones were there on tour.

 
Guests can sip cocktails and champagne and enjoy the refreshment of fresh fruit trays and iced towels that pool staff bring around as they lounge by Belmond Copacabana Palace’s scenic, half-Olympic sized pool, spend time in the spa that is the largest urban space of its kind in Brazil, work on their serve on on-site, urban tennis courts, and join the local and international A-listers in Rio’s top bars and restaurants, from the first restaurant on the continent awarded a Michelin star, to an Italian restaurant named after its sister Hotel Cipriani in Venice, to a restaurant that overlooks the Copacabana’s legendary swimming pool.

 
(Photo: Belmond Copacabana Palace)

The Copacabana Palace evokes a sense of being part of a timeless era of international glamour, perhaps most when it hosts the celebrated Rio Carnival Ball, a tradition begun the very year the hotel opened in the 1920’s. The Carnival ball has become an event as synonymous with the city’s Carnival as the costumed samba parade itself, considered one of the greatest shows on earth.
 
The society and couture fashion highlight of Carnival, this is where the rich and famous come from around the world to party like Brazilians. The spectacular black-tie event takes over the hotel, with live samba music in different art deco ballrooms, and on the spectacular hotel veranda, overlooking Copacabana Beach that the hotel helped turn into the legend it is today.  
 

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Move over Halloween: 5 Reasons to Travel to Mexico for Day of the Dead
It’s the fantastical backdrop of the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. And one of the items on the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead is often mistaken as the country’s equivalent of Hallowe’en, but Día de Muertos has its own history, traditions and practice in modern Mexico that make it the celebration worth planning a trip at the end of October.

Aztec + Christian Mash-up

Hallowe’en’s roots lie in ancient Celtic culture. But Day of the Dead began with Mexico’s local traditions and a festival dedicated to an Aztec goddess around the time of the fall corn harvest. 

October 31st, November 1st and November 2nd. Three Christian holy days associated with death and resurrection. Hallowe’en emerged on the Christian calendar on All Hallows Eve, October 31st; and Mexico’s ancient local traditions also converged with new, Christian feast days: November 1 and 2, the Catholic All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. 

In Mexico, Day of the Dead still has spiritual significance celebrating death as part of the cycle of life, and loved ones moved on to the afterlife. 

Celebrating Death…

Day of the Dead is not a single day. It’s actually a multi-day celebration where families gather to remember deceased members and provide support for their spiritual journey to the afterlife.  It is not a sad time, but a happy one, where departed loved ones ‘join’ the living for the celebration.

Mexicans build altars in their homes and visit graveyards to decorate with candles to light the way of the departed, photos and personal items, and highly fragrant orange marigolds whose strong scent was believed to draw the souls of the dead to their living relatives celebrating their memory. In some places, families picnic in the cemetery, and spend all night beside their relatives’ graves.

 
Makes you Hungry

Bread of the Dead, a sweet bread decorated with skulls, bones arranged in the circle of life, or teardrops for sorrow, skull-shaped sugar confections, and bottles of pulque (fermented agave juice) or tequila, and jars of cinnamon-flavored corn porridge all featured in Day of the Dead celebrations.
 
All About the Face – A Skull Face

The icon of the Day of the Dead has become ‘La Catrina’, short for La Calavera Catrina, or ‘Elegant Skull’, the image of a female skeleton dressed in historic fancy dress. La Catrina originated from an early 20th century illustration by that name of a female skeleton’s head wearing only an ultra-stylish European ladies’ hat of that era.

It was meant to be a satirical put down of the social pretensions of Mexico’s upper classes. But it took on new life as the symbol of the Day of the Dead. A quote attributed to the artist, “We are all skeletons”, says it all: underneath even fancy dress, we are all the same, and will all eventually die. 
 
Hallowe’en has a whole cast of ghoulish characters, from ghosts to vampires and zombies and other ‘Undead’, but Mexico’s Day of the Dead is symbolized by the Elegant Skull dressed for a formal ball.

Death do us Party

They say art imitates life, but in this case, life may be imitating art. The opening scene in the James Bond film Spectre, of a spectacular Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City, actually inspired a concerted effort by local residents to make what had been a small scale, random occurrence into a grand, annual affair. 

Not only has a grand parade leading up to the Day of the Dead become popularized for the local community, it’s become a tremendous tourist attraction, and gives visitors a way to participate in authentic local culture.

You’ll see couples and entire families dressed up, with ladies as La Catrina (many even finding this an excellent way to re-purpose their wedding gowns) and men in formal wear as the male equivalent, catrines.

Visitors are encouraged to don their own skull masks or makeup and historic fancy dress to participate in a revitalized and growing essential experience of Mexican culture.

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Images: Getty

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Finding Wellness in the Waters of Jamaica
You probably already know that Jamaica is famous for its beaches.  And you may even have already come back relaxed from a beach holiday in the island country that has been voted top Caribbean destination, and one of the top 20 in the world.

But the unique terrain of Jamaica has also yielded natural healing waters inland from the beach.  Here are some of the places and ways you can make wellness a part of your next getaway to Jamaican waters. 


On the Ocean

On the west end of famous Negril beach, a wellness escape combines the water with the principles of Shiatsu.  Jackie’s On The Reef offers this treatment, called Watsu, at its whimsical, waterfront property.   

Guided by a specialized therapist, the treatment takes place in warm, waist-deep water to take weight off the vertebrae, allowing the spine to twist and stretch – ultimately relieving pressure off the nerves and organs. Watsu can be a profound treatment, and it’s believed to treat the mind and renew a person’s sense of connection and oneness with others. It’s only one of the ways guests can connect with the sea, including yoga, meditation and spa treatments. 

In addition to sparkling beaches, the country’s natural springs and therapeutic baths add a new dimension to your next wellness vacation.  

Milk River Bath

Jamaica’s South Coast has one of the best mineral baths in the world. Milk River Bath contains high levels of the minerals magnesium, calcium, sulfate and natural chloride in waters averaging 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more all year round. The mineral intensity is more than 50% stronger than famous natural bath spas in Europe, and helps relieve rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica and nerve conditions as well as liver disorders.

You can stay among the lush landscape of the Jamaican countryside at the local Milk River Hotel & Spa, where you can enjoy the therapeutic baths, in private bath houses.


Rockfort Mineral Bath

These natural baths on the outskirts of Kingston are rich in minerals including calcium and sodium bicarbonate. It’s fed by a cold spring from Rock River, and locals have been using the natural mineral baths to stimulate vital processes including blood circulation.  Visitors have caught on too, and also enjoy the soothing waters by dipping in at the swimming pool, private whirlpools, or one of 11 open-air baths.


Bath Fountain

These two mineral springs, one cold and one piping hot, have been a popular destination since their discovery as far back as the 1600’s.  Bath Fountain is located in the foothills of the John Crow mountains and contains lime, sulfur and magnesium. They are said to relieve gout, rheumatism and skin conditions. 

There’s a nearby, secluded hotel with the same name that has running water from the mineral springs feeding directly into its indoor baths.

(Photo:  GoldenEye Hotel & Resort)

Traditional Jamaican Bush Bath

In addition to the Nature-provided mineral baths and springs, Jamaica has a healing cultural tradition.  Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind wellness practice, where a variety of herbs and botanicals are steeped in an outdoor bath, and treat stress, colds, skin problems and other ailments. 

Some hotels offer visitors this therapeutic experience in their spas, including the Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon and the FieldSpa at Golden Eye (of James Bond author Ian Fleming fame), with a menu of four different Healing Waters Bush Baths.

Make sure your next island vacation includes more than a swim at the beach.  Relax, and enhance your physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing with Jamaica’s healing natural springs, therapeutic baths and oceanside aquatic treatments.

(Private tub for herbal baths at the award-winning Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon)

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The Real Downton Abbey and 3 Other Majestic English Manor Houses That Star in Films
If the Downton Abbey movie and TV series has you fantasizing about life in the elegant and storied surroundings of England’s stately homes, you are not alone. The stories and history made in these estates are legendary.

At one time, there were tens of thousands of country houses owned by Britain’s noble families. The English countryside is still dotted with breathtaking architectural marvels punctuating sweeping landscapes, as well as smaller, more humble versions. Some are still homes to lords and ladies of the manor; others are grand museums, hotels, event spaces. Some are both. 

All are fascinating windows into a history and lifestyle brought to life in countless favorite novels, TV series and films. 

If you feel you were ‘to the manor born’, you’ll feel quite at home at the real ‘Downton Abbey’ and these three other, splendid examples of British stately homes that have been on the big and small screen.

HIGHCLERE CASTLE


The stately home at the end of a sweeping drive, framed by majestic ancient trees in the hero shots of every Downton Abbey show, is the real-life Highclere Castle in Berkshire (pictured, top).  

The perfect proportions and striking Jacobean architectural style are enhanced by the surrounding gardens designed by maestro landscape architect ‘Capability’ Brown.

Rather than the fictional Crawley family, it’s been the real ‘seat’ of the Earls of Carnarvon since the 1600’s, with the current Earl and Countess still in residence today.

In addition to standing in as the Earl of Grantham’s ‘Downton Abbey’, Highclere Castle welcomes visitors through its now-famous front doors. So you really can wander through some of the rooms featured in Downton Abbey and imagine yourself at a dinner party, tea, or even a ball with the Crawleys.

Downton Abbey is not the first time Highclere has been at the centre of media attention and the public imagination. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was involved in the discovery of the epic riches of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt in 1922. When he ‘mysteriously’ died a short time later, it fueled tabloid stories of the ‘Curse of King Tut’. He actually died of blood poisoning from an infected insect bite, so visit Highclere Castle without fear of ancient curses lingering today!

 

BLENHEIM PALACE


Anyone with an interest in English or WW2 history must put Blenheim Palace on their travel bucket list.  

The sprawling, rare example of English Baroque architecture is woven into British history. A grateful Queen Anne gave the land in Oxfordshire, an immense sum of money, and the highest non-royal title, 1st Duke of Marlborough, to the victor for Britain in the War of Spanish Succession at the beginning of the 1700’s. It’s the only non-royal and non-Church country house bearing the name ‘Palace’.  

The descendents of that 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, have eclipsed his fame and impact on world history. It was at Blenheim Palace that Winston Churchill was born, and the name of the Marlborough family now is Spencer-Churchill, related to Lady Diana Spencer, who became Princess of Wales. 
 
Blenheim Palace and its 2000-acre signature gardens by the very busy Capability Brown have even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vast country house continues to be the home of the Dukes of Marlborough. 

Film fans recognize Blenheim Palace from scenes in wildly diverse films including Transformers: The Last Knight, James Bond’s Spectre, MIssion Impossible: Rogue Nation, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Young Victoria, and even the TV show the Amazing Race. 


CHATSWORTH HOUSE


You catch your breath the first time you see Chatsworth House, the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire since the 1500’s. It’s regularly voted Britain’s favorite country house, and it’s easy to see why. Built on the banks of a river, surrounded by exquisite parkland and backed by wooded, rocky hills, it’s a stunning building in a dramatic setting.

16 generations of the Cavendish family have been born and died at Chatsworth, including recent generations. The recently-deceased Dowager Duchess was one of the famed Mitford sisters (that included renowned novelist Nancy Mitford), the upper-class ‘Kardashians’ of their day.

Chatsworth House today still houses a remarkable collection of paintings, Old Master works, neoclassical sculpture, books and artefacts. 

If it looks familiar, Chatsworth too has been the real-life setting for famous fiction. It was named in the original 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice as one of the estates Elizabeth Bennet visits before arriving at Mr. Darcy’s home Pemberley; and that fiction came full circle as Chatsworth stood in as fictional Pemberley itself in the 2005 movie adaptation of the novel starring Keira Knightley. Another Knightley film, The Duchess, was filmed at Chatsworth, as were scenes of The Crown. 


LYME PARK


Lyme Park has the largest house in Cheshire, and it’s the only property on this list that is not still used as a family home. It was handed over to Britain’s National Trust, which preserves its history, architecture, and park lands for the public to appreciate and enjoy.

From the 1300's until after the Second World War, the estate was owned by the Leghs of Lyme, with the house dating back to the late 1600’s, and including both Palladian and Baroque styles. The lavish house interiors reflect its Regency-era rejuvenation. 

In addition to the mansion, Lyme Park is famous for its tree-lined avenues, formal gardens and park with an immense herd of red deer dating back to the 14th century. The views are tremendous, and include a building called ‘The Cage’ on a nearby hilltop that was originally a hunting lodge and later became a park-keeper’s cottage and prisoner lockup. 

Fans of British period dramas will also recognize the reflecting lake as the setting of the famous scene where Mr. Darcy met Miss Bennet in the BBC production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. 

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Images Courtesy Visit Britain.

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3 Hurricane-Free Caribbean Islands
Recent, extreme hurricanes have devastated favorite Caribbean island communities.

For travel, the impact of more extreme hurricanes is double. It can take years for tourism infrastructure in island destinations to rebuild and welcome visitors again, so your favorite destinations and resorts may be unavailable.
 
Plus some travelers avoid Caribbean island vacations (and cruises) during the Atlantic summer and fall hurricane season, especially during the peak two months of risk mid-August until mid-October, for fear of being stranded or worse if a hurricane hits during their holiday.

The solution? Head south.

There's no perfectly 'hurricane-proof' island in the Caribbean, but the three Dutch 'ABC' islands at the southern most edge of the Caribbean are just beyond the fringes of the hurricane belt, and havens for hurricane season island vacations. 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV
 

ARUBA


The furthest of the ABC islands is only 15 miles off the coast of South America. Still, Aruba is just a couple of hours flight from Miami.
 
Unlike other Caribbean islands which are tropical, Aruba's climate is a desert. You'll see a landscape of cactus and aloe vera plants; especially in Arikok National Park, which covers nearly 1/5th of the island, and is also home to caves and archeological remains of original inhabitants.

 
The dry, sunny weather includes constant trade winds that contort the local, iconic divi divi tree into fantastic, bonsai-like shapes.
 
Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, and nearby capital of Oranjestad are home to the island's international restaurants, shopping, casinos, golf and other international travel amenities.

BONAIRE


The smallest of the ABC Islands, Bonaire is essentially a coral reef pushed out of the sea and surrounded by one of the world's most celebrated coral reef systems. The reefs have made Bonaire a bucket list destination for divers who consider it one of the very best shore diving destinations in the world.
 
Bonaire has led the Caribbean in nature conservation and eco-tourism. The entire coastline was designated a marine sanctuary in 1979. It protects the 350 species of fish, 60 species of coral and 4 species of sea turtle in its reefs.

 
Bonaire's shoreline is dotted with lagoons and inlets that are home to marine birds including rare nesting grounds of pink Caribbean flamingos. Mangrove forests are popular kayaking and snorkeling destinations for hotel guests and passengers in port from cruise ships.
 

CURACAO


Larger than Aruba and Bonaire, Curacao is also more commercial, with financial and oil-refining industries. It's a popular cruise port and has direct flights from cities on the East coast, as well as Miami and the Netherlands.
 
Curacao's capital Willemstad dates from the early 1600's. Its collection of well-preserved Dutch colonial architecture, cotton-candy and lacy versions of typical buildings from the era in the Netherlands, has earned UNESCO World Heritage status (pictured, top).
 
The island also has a thrilling geological feature for avid scuba divers: the 'Blue Edge', where the sea shelf drops sharply off only 200 feet from shore.

 
Possibly more famous than the island itself is its world-famous namesake blue liqueur. Curacao is distilled from the island's Laraha fruit, a bitter orange that resulted from Spanish settlers' attempts to raise Valencia oranges in the dry, poor soil. Although its fruit is inedible, the peel is powerfully aromatic. The liqueur's trademark blue? Just added color.
 
The ABC Islands should be on any traveler's list of top Caribbean destinations, especially during hurricane season.
 

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If you haven't been to Montreal recently, the Golden Square Cocktail at Montreal's new Four Seasons Hotel (VIDEO ABOVE) is just one reason to book a trip or a pre or post cruise stay in the second-largest French-speaking city in the world.

Montreal still has its European lifestyle, credentials as the fashion capital of Canada, and a UNESCO City of Design.
It's still the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, and a global city of festivals ranging from the Canadian Grand Prix race to the Guinness World Record-holding Montreal International Jazz Festival. And its culinary scene has been celebrating 'local' long before it became a trend.

Celebrating its 375th birthday, Montreal also developed new, high concept attractions, including an observation wheel at the water's edge, a high-tech sound and light walking tour of Old Montreal, and a breathtaking sound and light music in the heavenly Notre Dame basilica.
 
A re-imagined Montreal is breathing magic into Old Montreal, the Old Port, and its signature neighborhood, the Golden Square Mile.

Montreal was once home to ¾ of Canada's wealth, and the Golden Square Mile is where that wealth and prestige lived. This historic neighborhood has been compared to New York's 5th avenue. Streets beginning at the base Mount Royal were lined with the mansions of Canada's elite: Scottish-immigrant shipping and railroad tycoons, bank founders and nation builders.

Remaining mansions have been incorporated into prestigious McGill University, become museums, cultural institutions, galleries, boutiques… and luxury hotels like the new Four Seasons.
 
Here are our favorite luxury hotels in Montreal's Golden Square Mile.
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Four Seasons Hotel Montreal

Montreal's Four Seasons Hotel is uniquely at home in its neighborhood, Montreal's 'Golden Square Mile'.
In the heart of the historic Golden Square Mile, it's a high concept, modern building. The Four Seasons shares a dramatic façade with Golden Square Mile landmark, the luxury department store Ogilvy. There are interior entrances for hotel guests and shoppers can enter the hotel directly onto the fourth, lifestyles floor, where the New York-based celebrity chef Marcus has a namesake restaurant, and already one of the hottest lounges in town.


Inspired by the neighborhood and also very on-trend luxury design, gold and a blush – yes, the color often called 'Millennial Pink'  are a recipe for instant instagram fame. Check out the video for the other ways the Four Seasons Montreal Hotel makes your stay 'golden'.

The World's First Ritz-Carlton

The 'Grand Dame' of Montreal's luxury hotel scene is the Ritz-Carlton. Built in grand style in the early 1900's when the Golden Square Mile was at its height, it was the first hotel to bear what is now a legendary name.

Over its hundred-plus years, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal has welcomed the powerful and famous: Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, Sofia Lauren, who made homemade pasta in her suite, the Rolling Stones who were turned away from the dining room and returned wearing jackets, Elizabeth Taylor, who married Richard Burton for the second time in the hotel's epic, lavender-and-gold Oval Room. It opens out onto the most famous terrace in the city and an urban courtyard garden with its famous duck pond.


Recent additions to the Ritz-Carlton include a namesake restaurant by Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud, and the world's only Dom Perignon champagne bar that shares the legendary Palm Court with the hotel's epic afternoon tea.

Le Mount Stephen Hotel

But one of Montreal's newest boutique hotels has an equally historic pedigree. Le Mount Stephen hotel occupies a National Historic Site; the former mansion of an immigrant who became the President of the Bank of Montreal, the first President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and a founder of Canada's textile industry. George Stephen became Lord Mount Stephen, and his elegant, limestone mansion was considered the most opulent home in Canada, complete with elaborately carved exotic woods, onyx fireplaces and gold hinges that make today's visitors gasp as they walk through the door.


The historic property has undergone a luxe, eye-catching re-purposing that elevates the historic design. Its former main floor parlor and dining rooms have been transformed into one of Montreal's can't-miss bars, Bar George, with plush teal sofas, a life-size bronze pig acting as a lounge table top, with curling stones and other classic Quebec winter sports equipment decorating the restaurant. The hotel lobby and guest rooms are in an attached ultra-modern tower that affirms the city's design credentials.


Montreal's Golden Square Mile has attracted sole Canadian outposts of a number of luxury hotel brands. In two cases, it's a French connection.

Sofitel

Mid-century French luxury hotel brand Sofitel established itself in Montreal in a modern building erected where a Golden Square Mile mansion once stood at the foot of Montreal's vast, city-center green space, Mount Royal.
French 'art de vivre' is the essence of the hotel experience, and staff is trained to take initiative to personalize guest stays. 

The hotel cultivates relationships with cultural institutions and events so it can offer exclusive, VIP experiences in Montreal to their guests. The acclaimed, creative French restaurant at street level is named Renoir after a painting by the French master loaned by a Sofitel executive to the Fine Art Museum down the street.


Climb the mid-century stairs to the mezzanine to look at the custom lobby carpet that's a tapestry of Montreal signature festivals and events.

Le Meridien Versailles

The sole Le Meridien in Canada stays true to the brand's mid-century roots as Air France's hotel brand and reflects its design and lifestyle priorities with art installations including an aerial map of the Golden Square Mile, and an art partner, the Canadian Center of Architecture, located in an historic mansion nearby. It has a bicycle partnership so you can sign out bicycles and even pack a picnic lunch to explore the city.


It also continues the Le Meridien tradition of serving a locally-inspired, signature éclair; Montreal's has maple and Montreal's famous steak spice.

Loews Hotel Vogue

The only Loews-branded property in Canada is right across the street from the new Four Seasons.

When Loews took over the existing Hotel Vogue, it doubled down on the fashion magazine heritage, incorporating framed layouts in guest rooms. Grand entrances into its conference rooms mimic the blue arched doors of iconic couture house Chanel's atelier in Paris.


The new hotel restaurant is a French bistro complete with hand-laid mosaic tile floors and French Belle Epoque design.
 

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This Italian Wine Region is Now a UNESCO Site
Pop the cork on the bubbles! If you're a fan of sparkling wine, you are likely already familiar – and in love with – Italy's signature rival to French champagne.

Finally, Italian prosecco is getting some recognition - you might agree it's long overdue. After a 10-year wait, Italy's Prosecco hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene have been designated the country's 55th UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It's a recognition and commitment to preserve the unique 'Cultural Landscape' of the area near Venice that produces one of the world's favorite wines. 

 
Italy's prosecco hills are the 10th wine region in the world to achieve UNESCO designation. They join Alto Douro, Portugal; Tokaj, Hungary; Pico Island, Portugal; Lavaux, Switzerland; Langhe Roero and Monferrato, Italy; Champagne, France; Burgundy, France; Saint-Emilion, France; and Wachau, Austria.

The UNESCO designation of the prosecco hills – as in the case of other wine regions – celebrates the heritage of generations of individual winegrowers who recognized the precious gifts of the terroir and toiled to establish the vines and a community based on a valued wine. And of course, the incredible beauty of the region of vineyards.

In the case of the prosecco wine hills, the beauty is unique. The area of area of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene is characterized by steep hills, which you do associate with other wine regions and which contribute to the particular and complex flavors in the region's sparkling wine.

But here, the challenges of cultivating the terrain was overcome in the 17th century by the creation terraced small plots of vines that resemble a patchwork or checkerboard pattern, surrounded by local forests and farmland, dotted with small iconically-Italian villages.

Traditionally, winegrowers in the prosecco wine hills also trained their vines in a distinctive, rhomboid grid pattern. Called the 'bellussera' technique, it provided prosecco grapes with exposure to the sun and protection from diseases, and also added to the one-of-a-kind aesthetic and appeal of the landscape.

You rarely find – admittedly expensive, expert labor-intensive - 'bellussera' trained vines these days. But it's hoped that the UNESCO designation, as well as a trend in viniculture as well as other heritage food production to recover traditional techniques, will inspire a return to prosecco's 'roots'.  


It also codifies a commitment to sustainability for the region – both in its cultivation and production of these highest quality designated prosecco wines – and also in welcoming visitors to discover the riches of the area.

The prosecco hills, that stretch 30 km (nearly 20 miles) through this picturesque part of northeastern Italy, have been cultivating wines for hundreds of years.

Their new UNESCO designation confirms their value to the sum of human and natural heritage, and also why you should add a journey to northeastern Italy to your travel or wine travel bucket list to taste this delightful sparkling wine at the source and savor the landscapes and culture that nurture them.

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The Return of a Legend: Singapore's Raffles Hotel Re-opens

It's one of a handful of heritage hotels around the world that define a destination. The storied Raffles hotel is synonymous with Singapore. 


And after closing for more than two years for restoration and re-imagination, Raffles re-takes center stage as a hospitality icon in this South-East Asian city-state – and the world.



First opened in 1887, Raffles' restoration retains what makes the hotel a treasure. It's a magical place in Singapore: a combination of gracious luxury and expansive tropical colonial design that stirs your historical and travel imagination. Polished teak verandahs and white marble colonnades clustered around lush tropical gardens evoke the romance of life-changing travel.

Add the famed Raffles butlers discreetly providing legendary service, visitors to Singapore are transported to another era of transformative travel and legends in the making. 

The hotel was declared a National Monument a century after it opened. It's treasured by Singaporeans, who deeply value its breathtaking architecture, singular heritage, and Raffles' place in local, Asian and global history. 


They continue to proudly share epic tales of the early years of the hotel and of modern Singapore. You can't visit Singapore without hearing about the times when the occasional tiger would wander into the hotel's Long Bar from the jungle, and legendary authors, playwrights, taste-makers and trend-setters and empire builders called Raffles home during their time in the East.

The restoration maintains and enhances Raffles as an incomparable luxury oasis for today's well-traveled. The revitalized Raffles Singapore offers enhanced luxurious all-suite accommodations, across nine distinct suite categories. The hotel has added three more types of suites so guests can choose among: State Room Suites, Courtyard Suites, Palm Court Suites, Personality Suites, Residence Suites, Promenade Suites, Grand Hotel Suites and Presidential Suites.

 
The hotel is the center of social life and society in Singapore. The refreshed oasis in ultra-modern Singapore delivers a compelling mix of culture, beauty and gentility. Vibrant lifestyle experiences and exclusive dining concepts are designed for international visitors and Singaporeans to meet, stay, shop, dine and celebrate.

 
The Raffles Arcade has been newly outfitted with a charming Raffles Boutique and various bespoke retail brands. Guests and locals will also delight in exploring the worldly restaurants and bars at Raffles Singapore, including restaurant collaborations with
 
  • Chef Anne-Sophie Pic, of the three-Michelin star Maison Pic in Valence, France;
  • the venerable French Master Chef Alain Ducasse; and
  • Chef Jereme Leung, known for his innovative Chinese cuisine.

And one of the most famous places within Singapore, Raffles' Long Bar, begins a new chapter too. Under palmetto fans, guests will continue to enjoy the hotel's most famous cocktail invention, the original Singapore Sling, along with the timeless tradition of tossing peanut shells on the floor.
 
Singapore's heritage treasure is back. This is where it all started, and faithful to its roots, a refreshed, re-imagined and revitalized Raffles Singapore continues to define emotional luxury lifestyle.
 
Not just in Singapore. Raffles continues its tradition of gracious living, intuitive service and meaningful experiences. Raffles has grown beyond Singapore. Connoisseurs of life choose Raffles around the world for its heritage, beauty and gentility, and for the extraordinary way they feel staying at Raffles. Each Raffles, whether in Paris, Istanbul, Warsaw, Jakarta or the Seychelles, is an oasis where travelers arrive as guests, leave as friends and return as family.
 
You can look forward to more Raffles around the world, too. The return of this flagship property to Raffles Hotels & Resorts paves the way for the expansion of the brand to new destinations in cities such as Udaipur, London and Boston.
 

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Images: Raffles Singapore
 
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Where Every Gaming Teen Wants to Travel This Summer
If your family has a teen who spends time immersed in electronic games, take heart! We've discovered the perfect summer holiday everyone in your family will enjoy.

There's a vibrant summer destination that not only delivers an unforgettable skyline and cityscape, shopping, culture and food scene ranging from gourmet street food to Michelin-starred cuisine… and one of the world's most exciting e-Sports events.

The e-Sports & Music Festival Hong Kong takes place annually in late July in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and it gives gaming teens as well as the rest of their families an exciting summer holiday destination.
 
Featuring tournaments played between some of the best players in the world and live-streamed in 3 languages, as well as experiences for amateur gamers and visitors, the EMFHK ensures e-Sports enthusiasts in your family will be happily occupied for all three days of the festival, and free up the rest of you to explore Asia's World City.

Top Level International Team Tournaments

  • The EMFHK launched the first-ever official International College Championship in 2019. The League of Legends International College Cup. 12 winning college teams from all over the world compete for glory in this highly competitive, fast paced action-strategy game.
 
  • CS:GO World Invitational gives gaming fans the chance to witness first-hand two top professional teams fighting for a HK$500,000 prize pool.
 

Mobile Game Regional Tournaments
 
  • EMFHK - e-Sports Tournaments “Honor of Kings” Official City Tournament
“Honor of Kings” is the most played Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) mobile game in China, with over 50 million players per day. Qualifiers from 4 regions in the Greater Bay Area of HK/China compete for the championship.
 
  • PUBG Mobile Hong Kong Tournament
Winning teams from online qualifiers gather to battle for the championship title of the most played Battle Royale mobile game in the world.
 
Interactive Experiences for Visitors
 
Your teens will lose themselves for hours in the Experience Zone, which includes a showcase of cool retro arcade machines, along with VR experiences and professional e-racing equipment they can test drive. They'll experience the trendiest mobile games at the “CSL Mobile Game Party” and can check out “Street Fighter” and “The King of Fighters” in the “Retro Fighting Game Zone”.
 
Nightly entertainment during the three-day Festival features performances and parties that include events like an ACG & e-Sports Cosplay Competition, an electronic dance music (EDM) party featuring Korean rappers, performances featuring popular local bands and artists.
 
Tickets are all-inclusive of admission to the tournaments, the Experience Zone, nightly performances and even free admission to the Ani-Com & Games Hong Kong that runs at the same time. 
 
Build a summer holiday around Hong Kong's e-Sports & Music Festival, and you'll be in your gaming teens' good books for the whole year!

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Images courtesy Discover Hong Kong

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Everyone experiences travel differently, and this may be most true of historic sites. Standing on the spot where history was made is a profound experience that transcends any amount of studying, reading, watching documentaries or films. When you are actually there, the sights, sounds, perspective and your historic imagination all combine for a more meaningful understanding of moments that changed our world.

The Juno Beach Centre provides visitors today with the opportunity to visualize first-hand the WW2 DDay Landings in June, 1944, from a Canadian point of view. No matter what you thought you knew or understood coming to the Juno Beach Centre, its interactive displays, stories, interpretive tours of the restored bunkers and beaches themselves speak to each visitor differently.

It's a pilgrimage all Canadians should undertake.

BestTrip asked staff and visitors which aspect of visiting the Juno Beach Centre impacts them the most. You'll have your own favorite experience after you visit Juno Beach, too.

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