Photographer Patrick Faigenbaum on Capturing the Spirit of Calcutta

Patrick Faigenbaum Aperture

When you look the photographs of Patrick Faigenbaum, you can instinctively see how his subjects are informed by their settings. From an aristocrat’s dining room to a crumbling, flooded street in Calcutta, the places in which these people are situated influence the viewer’s understanding of who they are, where they’re from, and how they live day-to-day—all at a glance. Born in Paris in 1954, Faigenbaum first gained renown in the 1980s for his portraits of Italian aristocratic families. Since then, he has pointed his lens on such cities as far-flung as Tulle and Prague. This month, an exhibition of his work entitled Kolkata/Calcutta opened at the New York-based Aperture Foundation.

The exhibition also happens to mark the inaugural partnership between the Hermès Foundation and the Aperture Foundation. (The Hermès Foundation is a patron of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, which Faigenbaum won for the photographs on view.) “Before, the winner was only displayed in Paris,” said Catherine Tsekenis, the Creative Director of the Hermès Foundation and voice of the Hermès vision. “It’s a very good opportunity to show the winner.” While the Foundation doesn’t play a direct role in selecting the recipient of the award, Tsekenis believes that Faigenbaum’s work is a good match. “It’s generous with a lot of humanistic values,” she says. Travel + Leisure recently sat down with Faigenbaum to discuss his interest in Calcutta and the ways in which photography has changed since he began shooting in the 1970s.

You recently arrived from Paris. How is the photography scene there different from it is in New York?

When I began photography in 1972, there was more focus in Paris on reportage, advertising, and fashion. None of these three genres interested me. You didn’t hear about all the great photographers who had worked in France except Henri Cartier-Bresson. There were strict rules about photography—at that time you had to have photographs with the black frame around to show you didn’t crop the picture. That was a wrong idea. Cartier-Bresson didn’t care if you cropped or not.

You didn’t hear about all the great photographers—Brassaï, Kertész, Doisneau. Man Ray and the Surrealists of the 1930s, the photographers of the ‘40s and ‘50s, maybe the ‘60s. You couldn’t see them until they came back into vogue in the ‘80s with books and museum retrospectives.

I needed advice because I learned photography alone. I came to New York on my own to see the great photographers. I met Richard Avedon, Eugene Smith, Ralph Gibson. Gibson liked my work so he called for me the publisher of Popular Photography, the magazine, and I had an article two years later in 1979.

How did you develop an interest in India, and particularly in Calcutta?

I was very attracted by Indian culture, art, and film. Jean-François Chevrier [the curator of the show at Aperture] discovered the work of artist Shreyasi Chatterjee in India. He came back suggested her as a subject. I visited her, saw her work and discussed it with her. She works in a neighborhood and environment and comes back and makes mixed-technique works. She makes embroidery; she paints. She puts into her paintings what she saw in the streets. But it was not possible to concentrate it only on her. I was very interested in Calcutta as a capital but also the countryside and the villages—how people were working with the land and with animals. So it evolved. I wanted to meet other artists and find the intellectual sustenance, the spirit of the city through music, dance, theater, painting, films, and acting. So my work was more in that direction. More social.

How did your understanding of Calcutta change from your initial ideas of the city through your first and second visits to the city?

It’s really difficult to understand. It’s very complex and takes time. For the first time when I was traveling, I was afraid. Not of the people, but of getting lost. I’m not great with plans or maps. It was even more difficult in India. You don’t see names of streets. The cab drivers don’t understand you. Most of them live in the country and come into the city to work. Someone has to go with you. It can be impossible to get around. Not just for me, but for locals too. They would try to take a cab and the cab wouldn’t take them.

What does it mean to be an artist capturing a different culture? How did you approach this task as an outsider?

India has been photographed a lot. There are so many images out there. It was difficult to figure out what hadn’t been done before. You had to think a lot about different composition, different things you could do. It wasn’t like other projects where I could get lost in a city and work with intuition. We had to construct, to build a kind of project. I had to think about what kind of people I could meet. The work with Chatterjee was important because I was inside her home. I saw how she lives with her husband, with her work, with her mother. It was important to see how people live there.

Chatterjee is middle class. She looks very poor. In India, you have very poor people, and you have very, very rich people. I wanted to talk about misery. I wanted to show poor people because they are there, but I didn’t want to make miserable work. That means you have to stay with people and talk with them. To be able to communicate with people, stay on the floor with them or in the countryside and try to understand a little bit. It’s so complex, India. If only I understood a little bit.

What’s great is that though it’s so far, you can feel so close to people. As close as I’d feel in Paris, where I was born. That was good, I think. To feel like an instrument, to show visitors or spectators what I experienced and lived. To put that together. But the pictures were very difficult to do. I took hundreds of pictures. I thought what I was doing might be different because it was coming from me. You have to trust your intuition, what you’re able to do.

It’s also the right time for me to be doing this work. You have to be more mature. I think ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I had to pass through other experiences to create these images. You have to give a lot of yourself. And you can’t only be taken by the spectacle of what you see. The scenes in front of you may be strong, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense to do those pictures.

London Design Week Diary Designjunction Wrong or Right?

lon

“Isn’t this so my kind of thing?” said Monica Khemsurov, rising from a padded leather sofa embedded within a detached steel-and-wood frame. It definitely was her kind of thing: Khemsurov, with fellow furniture maven Jill Singer, is the founder of online visual-culture clearinghouse Sight Unseen, and the faintly architectural X Ray couch by designer Alain Gilles—from which she’d just extracted herself—jived perfectly with her site’s sense of style, sort of after-hours late-modernist dreamscape in a Werner Fassbinder film.

The same could be said of the marble-disk dining table by American designer Jonah Takagi, or the 1930s repro mirror by Deco master J.E. Ruhlmann that accompanied it, all part of the booth for Parisian brand La Chance that opened on Wednesday as part of the Designjunction section of London’s sprawling design week. Finding one’s kind of thing there wasn’t easy: occupying two cavernous neo-classical buildings in Bloomsbury, Designjunction was an unusual mix of trade fair and designer showcase, with upstart furniture makers jockeying for place alongside well-known industry stalwarts.

In the latter category, Danish outfit Hay was given pride of place in a lower-floor space beneath a dramatic glassed-in dome. Under the direction of design veteran Sebastian Wrong, the firm presented their new line Wrong by Hay, featuring lighting (Wrong’s Sinker pendants) and seating (svelte red stools by Leon Ransmeier) in tune with the company’s pared-down sensibility. Doubling as a coffee shop for weary fairgoers, the installation complemented the dark, romantic interior with countertops and display stands in a smooth cork laminate. “It’s actually used for gaskets in engine mounts,” explained Wrong, standing in the hazy afternoon light filtering down from the glazed canopy.

“One’s kind of thing” isn’t always the new-new thing. Another American design aficionado, historian and writer Paul Makovsky, had winged into London for a single afternoon to preside over the Designjunction stall of legendary interiors company Herman Miller. The display spotlighted the work of Ward Bennett, a heretofore neglected mid-century master whose classic Sled and Scissor chairs are enjoying renewed popularity. “He designed an apartment for Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone,” explained Makovsky, who’s preparing an in-depth study of Bennett.

But perhaps the best thing about the London Design Festival (as indeed about London itself) is if one’s thing happens to be the collision of both old and new. At Designjunction, commercial plastics manufacturer Curver was launching themselves onto the design market with their new Knit line of pots, bags and more, woven into intricate patterns in an array of pastel shades that “really bring it to life and make it contemporary,” as Curver design consultant Kate Franklin put it. Meanwhile, only a couple blocks away, a small, thoughtful show on pop-urban detritus sponsored by local team Workshop for Potential Design took up one of the old breakfast rooms in the Sir John Soane’s Museum, the labyrinthine home of England’s most famous turn-of-the-19th-century architect. Going from space-age materials to neo-gothic stonework produces a pleasantly disorienting effect—accentuated, as it always is here, when the shows close down and the design crowds heads “down the pub.”

An Insider’s Guide to Wonders of the State Fair of Texas

Big Tex

Every year, shortly after the beginning of fall, Dallas’ famed Fair Park opens its gates to one of the nation’s longest-running state fairs. The State Fair of Texas, which opens this weekend and will continue for the next three weeks, has a lot to see, so here’s the low-down:

History:

Fair Park in Dallas originated as the location of the 1936 Centennial Exposition, so it’s unsurprising that the park boasts the world’s largest collection of Art Deco buildings, art, and sculptures. It’s also the only intact and unaltered pre-1950s world fair site remaining in the United States.

And, of course, there’s Big Tex, the giant, slow-talking cowboy that’s become a Lone Star State icon. Having recently been upgraded (sadly, due to an unexpected electrical fire), Big Tex welcomes all with his deep, loud voice “Howdy, Folks!” His chest is puffed up and his arms are out in welcome—this is his home, and he is a great host

Tradition:

Tradition runs deep—and so does a desire for a competition ribbon. Each year thousands of Texans enter contests for farming, cooking, baking, craft making, and art. It’s important to note, too, that the “best in state” entrants sit in the Arts and Crafts building with the infamous butter sculptures, and that this year is in fact the last year to gaze upon them.

Fun:

Even if you’re not much for carnival games or rides, The Midway, where all that fun stuff is located, is still worth walking through. Throughout the day, for example, you may glimpse the Midway Barker, who has no lower body. Other entertainment of the Boardwalk Empire era: the Texas Star Ferris wheel and the Texas Skyway, a airborne gondola ride through the Midway and toward the Top’o Texas Tower.

Fair Fare:

And, of course, there’s a world in top-notch, totally fried cuisine. A classic corn dog is a timeless choice, and only Fletchers is acceptable. Each year the Texas State Fair hosts a food competition for its vendors, who can compete for top placement in both the “Best Tasting” and “Most Creative” categories. This year’s not-to-miss winners? The Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy and the Holy Moly Carrot Cake.

For beverage connoisseurs there is the Texas Wine Garden and Magnolia Beer Garden, which are both an excellent way to not only explore the variety of Texas wines and beers but to sneak away and relax from the masses. And there’s a new attraction this year: purportedly the world’s largest bar on wheels, a 53-foot-long truck serving craft beers on tap.

Culture:

Daily shows are sprinkled throughout the fairgrounds, and some of the best are in the PanAm Arena. Check out the Pig Races, Dog Show, and the new Horse Spectacular, which narrates the history of horse showmanship. It’s about as Texas as you can get.

The Hall of State will exhibit a historical view of Big Texas State Music, providing a decade- and genre-spanning look at the state’s musical history. The exhibit will also attract plenty of Texas musicians for live shows throughout the day.

During the fair, the Cotton Bowl hosts two great college rivalries. This Saturday the State Fair Classic will take place between Grambling State Tigers and Prairie View A&M Panthers. On Saturday, October 10, the Red River Showdown will flood the park with University of Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma University Sooners (you’ll flock or flee depending on your team).

ProTips from a Texan:

After a long day of walking, the best way to relax is go by the Auto Building, where the car show is hosted, and find the new-to-market massage chairs.

And for souvenir options? Head to the Midway photobooth and use your corn dog, beer or lemonade as props for your picture with Big Tex. Also: the Big Tex bobble head.

Ideas for Men Traveling Alone

traveling as the individual male poses any number associated with excellent advantages, but that also gifts some difficulties. The majority of traveling advice with regard to singles will be tailored to be able to a women’s perspective, however solo adult men face numerous of the particular same difficulties as properly as special obstacles while globetrotting. Cautious planning and also common feeling play critical roles within this consider: It usually takes only 1 bad selection to switch a wish vacation in to a nightmare.

Dialing a accredited cab business when going at nighttime can preserve you via getting inside non-listed taxis along with becoming sufferers of burglary, and only because an individual are some sort of man really does not imply that a person are not necessarily at danger. Especially inside developing international locations, seedy owners sometimes strategy with any group regarding cohorts to be able to detain their very own vehicle about a personal stretch associated with road. Subsequently they draw out tools and pressure you in order to comply along with their requirements.

Single males traveling upon a spending budget will generally opt to be able to stay from hostels using shared suites. Be conscious that several hostel dorms are co-ed, so an individual might become staying inside the similar room using females. Check out ahead or even ask typically the manager regarding room preparations when arranging if a person want to be able to secure the bed within an all-male dorm. To learn more on traveling for single guys, click here.

Live Escape Games in Berlin

The sensation that has been sweeping the world has hit Berlin with eight live escape games opening their doors in the last 6 months.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are not alone! Until a few weeks ago, I too was an escape game virgin…. But lets just say my cherry has been well and truly popped!

Check out our Berlin Room Escape Game Directory

Live escape games, also known as room escape games, real escape games, or exit games, are a relatively new phenomenon. The inspiration comes from the world of computer games, chiefly, point and click adventure games like Monkey Island or 100 doors (a game for smartphone and tablet).  The basic premise is that you are locked in a room and have 60 minutes to escape. To do so you will have to scour the room for clues, combine various elements and solve a number of puzzles, eventually leading you your release…  If you like detective stories, TV shows like the CSI, or playing puzzles, computer games or board games then you should definitely try out a live escape game.

I don’t want to give too much away, because that would ruin the experience.  Part of the fun (particularly with your first game) is not knowing exactly what to expect, so forgive me if I am a little vague on the details…Trust me, it’s for your own good, and believe me when I tell you that this is one of the best ways I have ever spent an hour of my time. One of the best things about the experience is that it is a team game. Only by working together will you have a hope of getting out of the room alive…. just kidding, if the time runs out the game master will open the door and let you out.  The game will lead you on a merry rollercoaster of emotions, with moments of utter frustration dissolving into fist pumps and screeches of delight as a solution suddenly becomes clear, and, although I am not the high fiving type, lets just say that my palms were still stinging an hour after we diffused our first bomb!

Thwart an assassination attempt in 1960’s West Berlin at Questory

Before my first live escape game I didn’t really know what to expect.  I certainly didn’t expect to be so immersed in the experience, or that my adrenaline would be pumping so hard as the time ticked down. After that first game we grabbed some beers and spent the next few hours “debriefing” reliving an experience that was as exciting as it was unique.  At the time, it was the only game in Berlin, so I wasn’t sure if or when I’d get another chance to play.  Well – you can picture my cheshire cat sized grin when I learned that another 4 had opened in last last few months while I wasn’t looking!

It is only a month since I made that delightful discovery and I have now played at each of the locations in Berlin… beware, it is more addictive than cocaine! The staff at each of the locations are really friendly, helpful, genuinely enthusiastic and excited about the concept and were keen to get our feedback after playing. During the game, a “game master” follows your progress by camera and microphone and will give hints if they see you stuck on a particular puzzle or wasting your time on something that isn’t part of the game. Across the board, the clues given were really good, and were given as gentle nudges in the right direction rather than overt solutions.

I played each game with a different group of people who had no previous room escape game experience.  This gave me some good insights into the difficulty as well as the overall experience from a beginners perspective. I am a bit surprised, but also very happy to say that each game we played offered such a unique, challenging and immersive experience that I would happily recommend any one of them. No matter which game you decide on, I am sure you will have a great time, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you end up playing more than one!

Read on for my thoughts on each of the live escape games we played and click on their link to find out more information.

The Room – Live Escape Game Berlin

Lichtenberg
Missions played:  The Beast of Berlin (Difficulty Level 5/5)
                             Go West (Difficulty 3/5)
Price: from 66€ for a team of 2 to 99€ for a team of 5
More Info

The Room offers Berlin’s most lavish and impressive room escape experience. Set in the in the office of Chief Inspector Ernst Gannat in1920s Berlin the level of detail as well as great historical touches take this game to the next level. A great variety of puzzles presented some really challenging moments – we needed quite a few hints and were halfway through the last puzzle when we ran out of time! At every step of the way we were impressed with the quality of the build and furnishings as well as the soundtrack, composed especially for the game. This is a game that has been designed and built by an experienced and passionate team that have succeeded in creating something truly remarkable. They also have a second room, “Go West” where you get to escape from East Berlin which is every bit as exciting as it sounds!

Exit Berlin – Live Escape Game

Mitte (a short walk from Alexanderplatz)
Game Played: Madhous
Price: 59 € for a team of 2 to 129 € for a team of 8
More info

Exit, located in an original GDR bunker, definitely has the coolest live escape game location in Berlin. The bunker adds a lot to the atmosphere of the games and lends the whole experience and extra sense of excitement. Exit is the perfect choice for larger groups, parties, or company events, and have a large space perfect for groups, complete with poker table! They also offer one of their games, “Secret Prison” in battle mode: the have 2 identical versions of the game, so you can play head to head with another team and see who gets out first. “Madhouse”, the game we played, is definitely one of the best games in Berlin with some great puzzles, and more than a few surprises (you’ll have to find out for yourself what they are). The game is quite difficult, particularly for first timers, so I suggest if it is your first escape game experience, that you start with Hackers Home as a warm up.

Questory

Kreuzberg
Game Played: The Assassin (Difficulty 4/5)
Price: 60 € per team (2-6 Players)
More Info

Set in West Berlin in 1963, in Questory’s “The Assassin” we had to pick up the trail of a would be assassin and stop him before he carried out his dastardly plot (cue: evil laugh). The game is really nicely set up in 60’s décor, and has some great puzzles.  A cool touch are the trench coats and hats on the coat rack if you feel like getting into costume.   A couple of the puzzles are pretty damn difficult and we needed quite a few prods in the right direction from our game master before we successfully completed the mission. Being a bit of a Cold War nerd I particularly enjoyed the historical details and the soundscape which accompanies the game provides a great atmosphere as well as a good amount of historical context. We are looking forward to checking out their second game which is currently in the planning stage and should be playable from early 2015.

Hipster Escape Party

Friedrichshain
Difficulty Level 4/5
Price: 20 € per person (Teams of 2-8 Players)
More Info

Hipster Escape Party is an interesting and original take on the room escape game. Instead of countering spies, bombs, and evil villains, you and your team “wake up” to find yourself locked in an apartment on the morning after an epic house party. You have 60 minutes to find the key and escape the scene before the owner gets home. This game proved quite challenging, with our team escaping with only 5 minutes to spare. Hipster Escape Party is one of the largest games in Berlin and I would recommend playing with a team of 4 to 6 for the best experience. The puzzles were logical, creative and challenging and the game master was great, providing only a little nudge in the right direction when it was absolutely necessary.

Stop the evil chemist in EXIT Berlin’s Toxic Kitchen

Mission Accepted

Mitte
Price: from 59 € for a team of 2 to 95 € for a team of 5
Difficulty Level: 3/5
More Info

In this mission you begin in the office of an employee of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Services, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).  The BND is actually located across the road from the game, so it gives the game an added dose of realism.  The puzzles have been well thought out and game has a nice pace and logic to it – we got through it with only 3 minutes to spare!  One thing I liked is that they can alter the game slightly depending on the size of the group, which means that it will still provide a challenge whether you are 2 or 5 players.  The game master was great and only gave us a nudge in the right direction when absolutely necessary.

Escape Zone Berlin

Mitte
Game Played: The Dictator Room (Difficulty 3.5/5)
Other Games:  Emergency Room
Price: from 69 € for a team of two to 99 € for a team of 6
More Info

Escape Zone Berlin’s Dictator Room offers an exciting room escape experience.  An evil dictator is planning on blowing up the city as his grasp of power begins to falter.  For some reason he has decided to leave his office for exactly 60 minutes, leaving you and your team an opportunity to save the city.  This is a fun, exciting game with top quality construction and furnishings.  Most importantly, the puzzles are interesting and creative, with a few fantastic “ahhh SNAP” moments (which you will have to play yourself to discover…no spoilers here).  They also have a second room “The Emergency Room”, a medical themed escape in which you will need to save a critically ill patient.  Escape Zone is really conveniently located in Nikolaiviertel, just a short walk from Alexanderplatz.

 

Make a Break

Friedrichshain
Price: from 50 € for a team of 2 to 96 € for a team of 6
Difficulty Level: 2.5/5
More Info

As a fan of Berlin history I love that they have taken this iconic moment in history as the basis for the game. The story is immersive and the décor, although somewhat elementary, creates a great atmosphere for some cold war espionage! The puzzles were logical and intriguing, with a good balance between simpler puzzles and ones that required a bit more brain power. The mission “Tear Down This Wall” is set on the 9th of November 1989: your team has been tasked by the West German secret service to broadcast fake commands to the guards, ordering them to open the border crossings. Although it still presents a challenge for experienced escape artists, I would really recommend it as a great game for first timers. They currently have another 2 games in development which should be opening in the coming months… something I am very excited about.

 

Team Escape Berlin

Kreuzberg
Game Played: Mr Nobody’s First Case (Difficulty: 3/5)
Price: from 71 € for a team of 2  to 110 € for a team of 6. 
More Info

In this game by Team Escape Berlin we had to find out what had happened to the missing journalist “Mr Nobody”. Before the game we were told that the success rate for that week was around 60%, which filled me with a mixture of nervousness and determination. Perhaps because of the extra motivation, we were on fire, and completed the mission in around 46 mins. The game is well designed and built and we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience, in particular the flow and complex but logical through-line of the puzzles. There were a couple of moments that we particularly enjoyed, but I’ll leave you to discover them for yourself and there are some nice Berlin specific details in the story line which I appreciated.  Team Escape also have a second room “The State Secret” which I am looking forward to playing sometime soon as well as games in Cologne and Düsseldorf.

TRAP – Team Race Against Puzzles

Friedrichshain (Cafe Szimpla)
Price:  50 € per team (2-5 People)
More info

TRAP is sort of the little brother of the Berlin escape game scene, although was actually the first to set up in Berlin.  It was also the first Escape Game that I played and as such left very good impression.  Rather than being a purpose built room, the game takes place in the back room of a cafe. The puzzles are located in a series of wooden military boxes, and were designed as a portable game that could be taken to festivals or events. At first we were a little skeptical as the atmosphere is pretty lacking, but as soon as the counter started ticking down we immediately set to work and became just as intent in solving the puzzles as we did with the more elaborate games. The puzzles are complex and one in particular had us really stumped until we had one of those “lightbulb moments”. This is a good game if you are looking to challenge your brain a little and don’t mind a lack of props, or detailed storyline.

 

7 Steps to a Perfect Weekend in Berlin

Everyone’s idea of the perfect Berlin weekend will differ wildly, and the beauty of Berlin is that it is a city full of possibilities. Want to save on accommodation and spend the entire weekend club hopping? – easy! How about a relaxing weekend of pampering and 5 star indulgence? No problem. I could go on and on here so let me just say that it doesn’t matter whether your interests lie in shopping, nightlife, history, culture or food, Berlin has it covered. The one problem with all this choice is that it can sometimes be overwhelming, and if you are only here for a weekend it isn’t going to be possible to do everything.

The blogosphere is full of amazing tales of visits to Berlin, travellers rave about the city, and many of them (like us) love the city so much they end up moving here. So, when I read Gemma Fottles’ travel blog about her disappointing first trip to Berlin I was a bit surprised, As I read her post, though, I could see what when wrong, and how, with a little bit of planning, the trip could have turned out a lot different.

When I heard that Gemma was coming back to Berlin courtesy of Berlin based travel search engine GoEuro we thought it would be a great idea to tag along and film her Berlin Weekend and see how things went, second time around…check out our video of the weekend as well as our interview with Gemma for her impressions of Berlin:

Take Two…

Berlin is deceptively big and largely decentralised.  This means that unlike many other cities, you wont really find a main city centre where all the action occurs or a district where you’ll find all the awesome restaurants and bars. The great thing, and at times the curse, of Berlin, is that each district is self sufficiant city unto itself.  The popular district of Kreuzberg, for example, has around 150,000 residents and a abundance of great bars, shops and restaurants. Each district is made up of smaller neighbourhoods known as a “Kiez”, and it is these neighbourhoods where you will find most of the cool bars, shops and eateries.  Spend some time wandering around and Berlin will reveal itself to you as you happen across little pockets of interesting shops, or hidden away cafes and the awesome bars that Berlin is famous for.

Of course, on a weekend trip, you will have limited time for wandering and letting things unfold so instead, a little planning is required. Now, when I say “a little planning” I mean it, please don’t plan a minute by minute itinerary.  Instead, do a bit of research and come up with a few things that you absolutely want to do, as well as a couple of “if we have time” items. One of the great things about traveling, and Berlin as well, is spontaneity, so make sure you leave some room open to head to that awesome bar that someone just told you about, or the exhibition that just caught your eye. Some of my best Berlin experiences have been when I started with a plan and then went with the flow.

With that in mind, instead of coming up with the perfect Berlin itinerary, I’ve decided to put together

7 steps for the Perfect Berlin Weekend

1.  Do some research

Head online or grab a guidebook and do a bit of research to find out what the city has on offer. If you like museums, check out a few online and decide which ones you want to visit. If you are into a particular music style, make sure you find out which venues play the stuff you like. Some attractions like the Reichstag or the Sammlung Boros will required advanced booking so make sure if they are on your “definitely want to do”list, that you book your ticket. If you want to go shopping, be aware that most shops are shut on Sundays (but there are a great selection of Sunday flea markets).

 

2.  Do a tour

My first suggestion for visiting Berlin for the first time is to do a tour. A tour will help you make sense of the geography as well as the culture and history of the city. There are a number of great companies in Berlin offering an variety of different tours. Insider Tour offer a selection of great walking tours from their general Berlin tour to more specific ones on topics such as Third Reich History, Cold War, or Berlin Today. If you are looking for something a little less mainstream, Alternative Berlin Tours offer a number of different walking tours which delve into Berlin’s alternative scene where you’ll get to see lots of Berlin’s street art and hear about the different subcultures which make up Berlin. If walking isn’t your thing, there are also bike, bus, and boat tours on offer. Make sure you ask your guide for their hot tips for bars, clubs or restaurants… usually you’ll get some great local suggestions.

3.  Decide what sort of weekend you want

Are you coming for a weekend of partying? Or do you want to hit the shops or markets? Is a day of relaxing on the river with a cocktail your idea of perfection or are you keen to spend every waking hour immersing yourself in Berlin’s rich history?

To a certain extent you can combine a bit of everything, but it pays to have an idea of what you would like to get out of the weekend so you can narrow down your options. If you have 6 museums that you are dying to visit, you probably wont want to stumble home at 9am after hitting the clubs all night.

4.  Be flexible

If you are having an awesome time in a bar, and your newly met friends suggest another cool bar or club why not run with it! We have discovered some amazing places this way, and as long as you exhibit some common sense as far as safety goes, there is not a lot that can go wrong.

If bad weather puts the kibosh on your outdoor plans, use the opportunity to check out one of Berlin’s museums or find a local bar to spend some time in.

5.  Put some thought into where you are going to stay

Each locality has a different style and feel and will appeal to a different sort of visitor so make sure you do a bit of research. If you are looking to party hard you will want to stay in Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. Boutique shopping? Charlottenburg, Mitte, or Prenzlauer Berg. Choose where you will stay based on what you are mostly going to be doing.  This will cut down your travel time/cost and you will be able to spend more time enjoying your weekend.

6.  Find out where the locals go

Yes, you can have a great weekend hanging out with other travellers and getting drunk in the hostel bar or the German themed tourist restaurant.  Ask around, though, and you are bound to find some gems that are a little off the radar. Talk with hotel staff, shop keepers, and tour guides.  I guarantee you, if you ask nicely, that they will have some favourite spots they will be happy to share.  Berliners are very proud of their city, and although can be a bit abrupt or dry, they are generally very helpful and warm hearted.

7. Keep your expectations realistic

Yes, Berlin is amazing, and yes, everyone is raving about how amazing it is, but Berlin is also a city which can sometimes take a little time to fall in love with. It is big, not particularly beautiful, and the locals can sometimes come across as rude. A weekend is a small amount of time and if one plan goes awry or the weather is bad it could spell disaster unless you are willing to go with the flow and change things up.

Berlin’s Top Cold War Locations

With spies, intrigue, double agents, the CIA, KGB, the space race and not to mention the nuclear arms race it is no wonder that the Cold War continues to fascinate.  Playing up the action were the countless films made during the period, from James Bond to classics like “The Spy who came in from the Cold” and many of the real life stories from the period are every bit as exciting as the movies.
Berlin was at the front line of the Cold War and bore the brunt of much of the Superpower’s political machinations.  During the first Cold War crisis, the Soviets blockaded West Berlin forcing the allies to embark on the largest airlift in history, landing over 200,000 planes during the 300 day blockade, providing 4700 tonnes of necessities daily!  On the 27th of October, 10 Soviet and 10 American tanks faced off for over 16 hours across the border at Checkpoint Charlie – thankfully the crises ended peacefully but it could have easily triggered World War 3.
There are many locations across Berlin that still bear the legacy of the Cold War from grand Monuments, to impressive examples of communist architecture.  The distinctive identity of the various Berlin localities also have a great deal to do with the Cold War and the 55 year division of the city including of course the period from 1961 to 1989 that the Berlin Wall snaked its way through the German capital.
Here are 10 of our favourite original Cold War sites that stand the test of time – Be sure to check out our video below on the Top 5 Cold War Sites with Mike from Insider Tour.

1: Tempelhof Airfield

What better place to chill out than an abandoned airfield? No, really, believe me, it totally works!
Berlin Tempelhof Airport closed operations in 2008 and has now become one of Berlin’s largest and most visited public parks.  Built by the Nazi’s in 1927, through the Cold War years it was the main airport for American Military Transport into West Berlin and was used extensively during the Berlin Airlift.
In 2010 the space was re-opened as a city park and now, thousands of people flock to the airstrip on a sunny day to picnic, ride bikes or rollerblade, fly kites or generally romp around in the huge open space. It’s not only the outdoor areas that are in use nowadays, the massive airline hanger now hosts all sorts of events throughout the year. Fairs, fashion shows and music concerts are held here, giving another tick in the city’s list of cool places to experience in Berlin.  There is also a company offering fascinating english language tours of the buildings every weekend.

2: Stasi Museum

This Stasi Museum is housed in the former Stasi headquarters of Berlin where the MFS (Ministry for State Security) ran operations for nearly 40 years.
After the fall off the Berlin Wall the new government established this whole compound as a research centre, open to the public in 1990, but it wasn’t until 2012 that ‘House 1’ of the offices was opened as an exhibition. Here you can see the offices complete with original furniture, of Erich Mielke, who was head of the Stasi for 30 years. You can also learn about ‘Tradition Work’ in the Stasi, the resistance and opposition it faced and see all sorts of artefacts on display like spy cameras and other tricks of the trade that they used to gather information.

 

3: The Tränenpalast

This building, next to the Friedrichstraße train station in Berlin Mitte, was one of the border crossings during the Cold War, where people could travel from East to West, provided they had the correct documentation and were admitted by the border control guards.
Translated, the Tränenpalast means The Palace of Tears, a fittingly emotional title for a place where loved ones said their goodbyes, not knowing when they would see them again. Now a free museum, here you can learn more about the history of the border, and discover people’s stories who had first hand experience with this building, who said their own goodbyes right on this spot.

4: Berlin Wall Memorial

If you want to get back to basics, you need to visit the wonderful Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. On this site stands part of the original wall and a preserved section of the death strip with lookout guard tower. You get a great view of this from the observation deck across the road. From here you have a view from the Chapel of Remembrance all the way to Nordbahnhof train station, which also has a ‘ghost stations’ exhibition within it.
If you walk the length of Bernauerstraße you’ll see original photos, learn about escape attempts and the people who lost their lives, see where the underground tunnels ran and the original floor plan of the church. There is a visitor’s centre opposite the station where you can get more information on the Berlin Wall. This memorial is a must see when you are in Berlin.

5: Treptower Park

Opened four years after the end of World War 2, the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park is the burial ground for up to 5000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in April-May 1945. This memorial is massive and breathtaking with impressive statues, sarcophagi and sculptures.  Interestingly, and somewhat fittingly, the red granite used in the large stylised Soviet flags beside the kneeling soldiers, which was taken from Hiltler’s New Reich Chancellery after the war.  Renovated in 2004, this memorial sits in Treptower Park which also has lots of green space for picnicking and lounging in the sun.

6:  Alltag in der DDR Museum

This museum in the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg is the perfect place to get an inside look at what life was like behind the Berlin Wall. It’s filled with memorabilia and artefacts from the era, an original Trabi car with attached camping hood, scenes from work and play and heaps of information on the times. One of he best parts is the footage. You can watch original interviews with the general public living in East Berlin and get a small glimpse on how they felt about it and the restrictions it placed on them and their lives.
This free museum should take about 2 hours to get through, depending on your interest and is well located to combine with a trip to the Berlin Wall Memorial.

7:  Hohenschönhausen Memorial

This prison has definitely seen some political history. If you were a political prisoner or opposed the GDR regime you would have likely seen the inside of these cells.
In 1945 the Stasi police took over this old canteen block and used it as a detainment camp. In 1946 the cellar part was converted into an area for interrogation and detention before it closed, and after reopening in 1951 by the East German ministry of State Security, it was used as a remand centre until 1989.
A tour of this prison, in English, only happens once a day at 2.30pm for €5. You’ll discover all about the world of the Stasi and their intelligence gathering techniques, surveillance and interrogation techniques and more.  These tours are often run by former inmates, yet another reason to go and get a story – first hand.

8:  Insider Tour – Cold War Tour

What better way to delve further into the Cold War than to learn about Stasi methods and surveillance, who the key figures were and most intriguingly, where are these people now?
On Insider Tour’s Cold War Berlin tour, they will take you on a specific city walk, which opens up the secrets of GDR Berlin: the ghost trail of the death strip and the Berlin Wall, the escape attempts, the spies and the soviet secrets.
It takes four hours in total and only costs €12 or €10 if you are under 26!  Tours leave every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday all year round, no booking necessary just turn up at the meeting point in Hackescher Markt and you’ll be on your way.

9:  Berlin on Bike – Berlin Wall Tour

With Berlin on Bike’s tour of the Berlin Wall, you can cover far more ground than you would trying to see this much of the wall on foot. Starting at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg you will ride 15 kilometres between Bornholmer Straße and the government district.  During your ride you’ll discover border checkpoints, original death strip sections and what remains of the Berlin Wall today. All this unveiled by a fantastic guide who knows everything one could know about the times of the Wall and it’s downfall.
It’s a good idea to reserve a spot on his tour. The trip itself costs €14, you are welcome to ride your own bike or you can hire one from Berlin on Bike for an extra €5. Lasting around 3.5 hours, english tours run at 11.00am every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

10:  The Berliner Fernsehturm

This being the tallest structure in Germany, the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) is a hard one to miss. Grandly rising out of Alexanderplatz, it was built between 1965 and 1969 by the German Democratic Republic administration and was a symbol of socialist technology and prowess in a divided city.
Today it is one of Berlin’s most recognised sights and attracts over one million visitors every year. It’s a great place for the best view of the city from the observation platform or even as you enjoy a coffee or a meal in the revolving restaurant situated within the circumference of the sphere.

Gay Berlin

Berlin is often touted as one of the world’s best LGBT destinations.  It doesn’t much matter which guide, blog or website you consult, you are bound to find a travel writer singing its praises and extolling the virtues of Berlin’s liberal attitude, its non stop parties, or its epic festivals.

 

Full disclosure time: I’m not gay, and to be honest hadn’t really thought much about what Berlin had to offer LGBT travellers in much detail until we had a few friends ask us where they should go for a drink.  I hit all the usual travel and LGBT websites to try to find some places to recommend as well as try to get a sense of what it is about Berlin that appeals to the LGBT traveller.  Although there are obviously some differences in the bars and clubs that are suggested, what I came to realise is that the answer is pretty much the same thing that draws gay tourists as everyone else…

Basically, Berlin is a city where you can be yourself, without apology or judgment, or even really attracting any attention.  With such an array of cultures and sub-cultures living side by side it doesn’t matter what your niche, fetish, scene, or style is, there is somewhere here where you can feel at home.  As I did my research, it became increasingly apparent that I needed to consult with someone who knew what they were talking about.  So, instead of just regurgitating what all the other guides were saying about Berlin’s gay scene we decided to enlist the help of Adam Groffman.
Adam is a Berlin based travel blogger who writes both a hipster travel blog, as well as a gay travel guide so I figured he would just the person we needed to get an insider’s perspective on Gay Berlin.  He has lived here for the past couple of years and has plenty of tips for visitors, both gay and straight.  I decided it would be fun to make him pick his top 5 Berlin locations and also had a chat with him about why he thinks Berlin is such a magnet to the LGBT community.
*** For the month of November, Adam is running a sweepstakes and is giving away a ticket for two from the US to Berlin as well as 4 nights accommodation.  For more information and to enter the competition head HERE ***

MyDBerlin Hi Adam, thanks for helping us out with an locals perspective on Berlin’s Gay scene… Berlin is often touted as the Gay Capital of Europe. Is that true?

Adam:  Berlin’s LGBT scene is certainly a big part of day-to-day life in Berlin and I think because of the city’s friendly spirit, Berlin makes for a great gay destination. The city is so much more than just the historical “gayborhood” of Schöneberg – gay bars, clubs and events are everywhere here!

MyDBerlin: Is it worth coming for Berlin’s gay pride festivals like Christopher St Day etc?

Adam:  Berlin’s annual CSD is a big event and it’s always a lot of fun. Plus it’s so much more than just the parade. The weekend before there’s a big “Strassenfest” with DJs and live music in the streets of Schoneberg plus local organizations put up booths and sell all sorts of things along the street. It feels much more like you’re a part of the community at the CSD events like that, rather than the often big, loud and crazy parade! If you do plan to visit for CSD, make sure you book a place to stay earlier rather than later – the city fills up with tourists from all over the world!

MyDBerlin: Why do you love living in Berlin?

Adam:  If you ask many other Berlin expats, you’ll hear the same kind of story. This city is infectious — there’s an incredible energy and atmosphere here that’s hard to describe. Berlin is a changing city and, unlike many other big cities, it still feels like anyone can do anything here. There is so much happening here just about every day of the week, it’s never boring. The city just has an incredible energy to it and you feel as if you can achieve almost anything here.

MyDBerlin Is there another city that comes close to Berlin’s fabulousness?

Adam:  Oh, tough question! I love cities like London and NYC because they’ve both got great gay scenes (probably the world’s best), but they’re also just such big cities they can be overwhelming. Smaller cities that are equally fun and interesting are sometimes a better comparison. I think Tel Aviv has a lot of what Berlin offers and it’s another favorite city of mine!

MyDBerlin: You’ve been blogging for 5 years now, What is the best thing about being a travel blogger?

Adam:  I love the freedom and flexibility of owning my own publication – everything from the initial set-up and day-to-day social media (I’m probably addicted to Twitter and Instagram!) to the bigger projects such as my redesign or exciting marketing promotions. I worked in the publishing industry (as a graphic designer) for three years right out of university, but being able to control every step of the process is exciting and scary – that’s why I love blogging. The thrill of doing my own thing!

MyDBerlin:  So we’ve got your top 5 spots in our Gay Berlin video, any other hot tips for gay travel in Berlin?

Adam:  Berlin has a lot of great events throughout the year for LGBT tourists. One of my favorite things to do in Berlin during the winter is attend film screenings during the Berlinale Film Festival. But what most people don’t know is that the Berlinale runs a LGBT-themed film festival as part of the greater Berlinale festival – the Teddy Awards. It’s really great to see LGBT-themed cinema and a lot of the films are top-notch!

Adam has some great information on his blog so make sure you head to Travels of Adam or My Gay Travel Guide. You can also find him on twitter, facebook or instagram.  In addition to his blogging and travelling, Adam is also the Digital Marketing Manager for Eating Europe Tours.

Adam’s Top 5 Gay Berlin Locations

 

SchwuZ

SchwuZ is one of my favourite Gay clubs in Berlin.  It is located in the new gay neighbourhood of Neukölln and is one of the longest running and most popular clubs in Berlin.  Open from Wednesday to Saturday they do a number of weekly parties with various musical styles, including pop, house, techno, and indie rock.  They have 3 dance floors so you’ll can always find some music you like and semi regular themed nights like the insanely popular “Madonnamania” are a lot of fun!

The Club

Not actually a club, “The Club” is a chilled out bar, also located in Neukölln (and a great spot for a few drinks before heading to SchwuZ).  Open every night, The Club is a cool place to hang out with a beer or cocktail, and they also hold some interesting events like art shows, poetry readings and a Wednesday drag night, with half price drinks until midnight!  YUM!

Memorial to the Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism

This memorial, commissioned by the German government, is the third of its kind in Germany and is symbolic of the country’s ongoing commitment to equality as well as honouring the gay and lesbian victims of the Holocaust.  Located in Tiergarten park, this simple but powerful memorial is not in every travel guide, but is well worth a visit.

Hamburger Mary’s Restaurant and Bar

Located in the more traditional and historic gay neighbourhood of Schöneberg, Hamburger Mary’s is a restaurant and bar that’s known for its weekend drag nights.  As the name would suggest they also do a pretty decent burger.  Every weekend they have a great line up of drag queens, and often play host to international acts featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race.  If you happen to be staying at Axel Hotel, Hamburger Mary’s, located on the ground floor, makes for a good place to start or finish the night.

Bruno’s Gay Lifestyle Shop

Bruno’s is gay lifestyle shop at Nollendorfplatz, also in Schöneberg.  In this, their flagship store, you’ll find a massive range of clothing, with heaps of underwear, sports and clubwear, along with movies, books, magazines, and of course a decent section of condoms, lubes, sex toys and porn.

The Travel Pillow And 5 Various Travel Tips Which May Improve The Manner You Take A Trip

Visiting different places is certainly exciting especially if you’re going on a trip on your own or with your loved ones. The countless brand-new and interesting attractions and sounds that you may be encountering the first time certainly will be life altering. Then again, usually there are some factors that will bring about in making the ideal get-away into a nightmare.

To help with making your own travel experience even more of a fantasy and less of a bad dream, we will talk about some of the most fantastic travel cheats that you’ll truly wish you realized sooner. Just before that though, allow us to just simply talk about a brief yet handy strategy that can significantly influence your own comfort and relaxation.

A neck pillow might not exactly look much but this common tool can greatly make it easier to loosen up and maybe even go to sleep on your journey. A superb memory foam pillow can avoid or lessen neck, shoulder and also upper back problems to get a much more comfortable trip.

Should you decide to travel, we seriously recommend that you get yourself a high-quality memory pillow. A memory pillow is definitely better choice in comparison with inflatable or bean filled ones. If possibleFree Reprint Articles, try the actual pillow first or maybe read the testimonials prior to buying it so you’re able to confirm that it fits your own neck and can fulfill your needs.

Now that we’re done with that suggestion listed here are the 5 astounding travel cheats that could affect the way you look at traveling for good.

An alternative way of charging your own items

This can be a very awesome tip when you forget to bring your own device’s wall connector. The majority of accommodations nowadays possess TV set that has USB slots. All you need to do would be to charge your own gadget utilizing the USB slot of the TV set in the room.

Scan travel papers or passports

This is a handy backup plan should you lose your own travel files. You are able to scan your own travel files and save all of them inside your smartphone or even tablet. You could also save it on your dropbox to help you access it where you go.

Alternative usage of a shower cap

You could start using a shower cap to shield the bottom part of your sneakers. This is extremely helpful to save space or just in case your own bag does not have any additional section for the footwear.

Help keep your own headsets tangle free

To avoid having your headsets twisted you can actually wind them around a folder clip. You can also affix the actual binder to your bag or back pocket for quick access.

Collars and belts go together

This is often pretty convenient in the event that you happen to be going on a business trip. To prevent ruining or wrinkling your own shirt you’re able to line the actual collars together with your belt to make sure they’re crispy. You also get to save some space in your own baggage when carrying this out.

We hope that you find the following pointers helpful for your next trip. Don’t forget to constantly bring a top quality neck pillow to help make your trip a lot more calming and comfortable.

Travel Safety with Access America and Travelsafe Travel Insurance

There are several different types of travel insurance that you can choose when you are looking to protect your travel investment. Two of the most well known travel insurance companies are Access America and Travelsafe Travel Insurance. If you are planning on traveling in the United States or abroad, it is a good idea to get travel insurance to cover the cost of your trip in case something goes wrong.

Both Access America and Travelsafe Travel Insurance offer travel insurance for someone who is traveling in a variety of different methods – by air, sea or train. Access America is more geared towards domestic travel, although it is also used by those who are traveling out of the country. Many of the people who get Access America travel are getting it because they are going on a cruise.

Cruising along with Access America and Travelsafe Travel

Cruises are the number one reason why people get travel insurance. Cruises are subject to many mishaps, especially when due to the weather. One of the best aspects about choosing Access America as your travel insurance is that they will insure a cruise. There are exclusions when it comes to insuring the cruise during hurricane season, but you can still get some type of insurance. This means that if your cruise is cancelled due to a hurricane or other act of nature, you can recoup some of your money.

Medical Coverage with Access America and Travelsafe Travel

Travelsafe Travel Insurance is a good option when you are leaving the country and are worried about medical coverage. Medical coverage is something that many people are concerned about when they visit another country that may have foods that are different than what they are used to in the United States.

Many people who are older also worry about medical coverage when they are out of the country. By getting a policy with Travelsafe Travel Insurance, these worries are alleviated. You can get the coverage that you need when you choose Travelsafe and chose one of their package deals.

Looking for Package Deals?

Both Travelsafe Travel Insurance and Access America offer package deals for travel that you can get for yourself by going online. Both of these insurance companies also procure travel agents when it comes to selling the travel insurance. You can get the travel insurance through the agency itself when you are booking your own trip, or you can purchase the travel insurance when you book a trip through a travel agency.

If you are looking for a good deal on cruise travel insurance, you may want to take a look at the packages that are available through Access America. They have reasonable cruise insurance packages that will even cover acts of nature.

If you are worried about getting sick when you travel outside of the country, you may want to check out Travelsafe Travel Insurance as a form of travel insurance. It is important to note that both of these travel insurance companies offer insurance for cruises, medical attention in other counties, lost baggage and other problems that may occur and cause you a loss when you are on vacation. If you are spending money on a tripArticle Submission, you will want to back it up by making sure that you have travel insurance.

Article Tags: Travelsafe Travel Insurance, Access America, Travelsafe Travel, Travel Insurance, Insurance Companies, Medical Coverage, Package Deals

Travel Safety with Access America and Travelsafe Travel Insurance

There are several different types of travel insurance that you can choose when you are looking to protect your travel investment. Two of the most well known travel insurance companies are Access America and Travelsafe Travel Insurance. If you are planning on traveling in the United States or abroad, it is a good idea to get travel insurance to cover the cost of your trip in case something goes wrong.

Both Access America and Travelsafe Travel Insurance offer travel insurance for someone who is traveling in a variety of different methods – by air, sea or train. Access America is more geared towards domestic travel, although it is also used by those who are traveling out of the country. Many of the people who get Access America travel are getting it because they are going on a cruise.

Cruising along with Access America and Travelsafe Travel

Cruises are the number one reason why people get travel insurance. Cruises are subject to many mishaps, especially when due to the weather. One of the best aspects about choosing Access America as your travel insurance is that they will insure a cruise. There are exclusions when it comes to insuring the cruise during hurricane season, but you can still get some type of insurance. This means that if your cruise is cancelled due to a hurricane or other act of nature, you can recoup some of your money.

Medical Coverage with Access America and Travelsafe Travel

Travelsafe Travel Insurance is a good option when you are leaving the country and are worried about medical coverage. Medical coverage is something that many people are concerned about when they visit another country that may have foods that are different than what they are used to in the United States.

Many people who are older also worry about medical coverage when they are out of the country. By getting a policy with Travelsafe Travel Insurance, these worries are alleviated. You can get the coverage that you need when you choose Travelsafe and chose one of their package deals.

Looking for Package Deals?

Both Travelsafe Travel Insurance and Access America offer package deals for travel that you can get for yourself by going online. Both of these insurance companies also procure travel agents when it comes to selling the travel insurance. You can get the travel insurance through the agency itself when you are booking your own trip, or you can purchase the travel insurance when you book a trip through a travel agency.

If you are looking for a good deal on cruise travel insurance, you may want to take a look at the packages that are available through Access America. They have reasonable cruise insurance packages that will even cover acts of nature.

If you are worried about getting sick when you travel outside of the country, you may want to check out Travelsafe Travel Insurance as a form of travel insurance. It is important to note that both of these travel insurance companies offer insurance for cruises, medical attention in other counties, lost baggage and other problems that may occur and cause you a loss when you are on vacation. If you are spending money on a tripBusiness Management Articles, you will want to back it up by making sure that you have travel insurance.

A comprehensive list of travel agents

However, there has been a sea change in the preparation scenario. Yes, gone are the days where you were required to make all your travel arrangements without adequate guidance.

 

Travel agents and efficient ones at that, are functioning across the globe. With many of them vying with each other to sign up a customer, there is a confusion that prevails among the travelers. Do I get the best deal? Am I dealing with a licensed travel agent? Will my tour be hassle free? These are some of the questions that are foremost in the minds of a traveler trying to book a travel agent.

 

All these questions will be satisfactorily resolved if you can get hold of a comprehensive travel agent guide. When you have comprehensive list of agents, you can check out each and everyone on the list by either calling them up or visiting their website to find out about the services rendered by them.

 

The World Wide Web is playing a very vital role in the life of every individual who has access to the internet. You can select a travel agent on the internet, check out their services, and book them online in a jiffy. And, interestingly you can do all this no matter in which part of the world you happen to live in.

 

If you have been planning to go on a tour along with family and friends, then you would want it to be comfortable. But in case the cost factor plays a pivotal role in your tour idea, it is important that you check out for travel agents that will work a plan that will be within your budget. Many agents do understand that affordability is an important factor in attracting clients and hence work a plan that would be suitable for one and all.

 

Apart from merely booking the flight, train,or bus tickets, an agent should also take care of your local transportation, sight seeing, book hotels or bed and breakfast, arrange for guides etc. All these additional services are very important for a traveler.

 

Therefore, choose the best one from a comprehensive list of travel agents and make your tour a grand success.

Dog Air Travel Tips Take your Dog Anywhere

Luckily for dog owners, these animals travel by air better than cats. If the dog is accustomed to car travel, then air travel shouldn’t be a problem at all. Use the following dog air travel tips for safe and pleasant airpline travel with your best furry friend.

Certify Your Dogs Health before Air Travel

Not only is dog air travel better for your dog if the dog is healthy, but it’s actually the law. Federal law requires that a dog has been certified within 10 days of the trip to be healthy, vaccinated, and free from contagious diseases. This is a very important for any pet travel, large or small.

Avoid Excessive Temperatures

Ensure the safety of your dog during air travel by never flying with your dog while temperatures are over 85 degrees or under 35 degrees, on either end of the flight. Many airliners put “heat embargos” and/or “cold embargos” on dog air travel during the summer and winter months respectively. This means that the airliners prohibit dog air travel during these times. This shouldn’t be seen as a problem, because the airlines do it to prevent disease or death, and guarantee a safe flight for your dog.

Overseas Dog Air Travel May Involve Quarantine

For international dog air travel, keep in mind that some isolated countries, such as New Zealand and England, quarantine animals arriving by air. Before traveling and booking reservations, familiarize yourself with the laws, requirements, and procedures of your particular destination. Unless your flight is non-stop, remember that you may have to deal with regulations in multiple places.

Don’t Tranquilize Your Dog During Air Travel

Although tranquilization may seem like a good idea during canine air travel, it isn’t. Tranquilizers are the leading cause of death or sickness of dogs during air travel. A dog can’t receive immediate or professional medical care during air travel, so unnecessary medications do more harm than good. In fact, many airliners reject tranquilized pets as a safety precaution.

Obedience During Dog Air Travel

Training your dog before airline travel is the best way to ensure a good flight. Unfortunately, even short air travel means hours of separation between owners and their dogs (except for service dogs). Your medium to large size dog will be confined to a shipping crate for the entire flight.

You can help relinquish the strain and discomfort on your dog by preparing him for dog air travel beforehand. Do this by getting your dog used to being inside a travel crate for extended periods of time. Also, make sure your dog works well with strangers, namely in busy, frantic, or uncomfortable environments. This will do wonders for traveling with your large furry companion.

Las Vegas Girls Only Hot Spot

I can’t sing. But here I am at a karaoke bar in Las Vegas with my normally reserved sister-in-law and her sister, belting out “Sweet Caroline” as fellow patrons wince and my bride-to-be niece, Carrie, squirms in embarrassment.

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Those of us at the microphone don’t care. We’re in Vegas, baby! Even my sister-in-law’s 80-something mom is letting loose. Earlier that day, she’d bought all of us tacky necklaces with flashing lights. And when we hit the casinos to play blackjack and roulette, we had a hard time pulling her away from the slot machines. In fact, she was the one who inspired this multigenerational, all-women family trip to celebrate Carrie’s upcoming wedding.<, which is famed for its dancing fountains, curtains off an area in its salon for women celebrating special occasions. (You can sip champagne while getting manis and pedis.) For the female shopaholic, there’s everything from the high-end Shops at Crystals mall and the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace to the bargain hunter’s paradise of Las Vegas North Premium Outlets and the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, featured on TV’s Pawn Stars.

And there’s no shortage of male strip clubs such as Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under, where the adventuresome can ogle well-toned, oily-chested hunks who dance for an excited and enthusiastic female crowd.

Then, of course, there’s the food. In this rising culinary destination, the choices are mouthwatering, and they run the gamut — from wallet-friendly burger joints to the fanciest gourmet bistros. One of our favorite splurges was dinner at Andrea’s, Steve Wynn’s tony eatery at the Encore resort that is named for his second wife. I’m not sure what we liked the most: the edgy gold-and-cream decor, the menu that included specialty cocktails and delicious sushi or the fact that George Clooney has reportedly dined there.

But the undisputed highlight of our trip was at the Planet Hollywood resort, where we enrolled in a Stripper 101 class taught by an exotic dancer. It included a loosen-up cocktail and a hilarious lesson in pole dancing. Our bride-to-be picked up the moves easily enough, but the older part of our posse discovered that all that dipping and twirling requires limbs more limber than we possess. But who cares? The howls of laughter the class provided were more than worth the price of admission.

Suffice it to say that visiting Vegas with the girls can be as addictive as gambling. When I saw my sister-in-law afterward, she told me she wants us to go back and nail “Sweet Caroline.” Meanwhile, someone in our party — I’m not saying who, out of respect for the Vegas code — keeps that Stripper 101 diploma displayed in her bedroom.

Travel Tips

  • Pack comfy footwear — not toe-scrunching stilettos. It can be a long walk from a megaresort’s front door to a restaurant or show venue.
  • Buy day passes to use the saunas, steam rooms and fitness centers at top spas such as the Spa Bellagio, Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian and the Palazzo, or Qua Baths & Spa at Caesars Palace.
  • Enjoy free entertainment while shopping, such as weekend runway shows at the Fashion Show mall or a faux rain forest at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops.
  • Book your stay at a no-gaming, no-smoking property, such as Vdara or Trump International Hotel, if you want to get to your room without trekking through a smoky casino.

Peer to peer accommodation services change travel patterns in many ways

Have you ever used Airbnb or other peer-to-peer accommodation services when travelling? If yes, you are likely to travel more than you used to, you choose your destination from among a wider set of alternatives, and you are more active in your destination.

Peer-to-peer accommodation services such as Airbnb have changed travel patterns in many ways, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland and Washington State University. The study provides new insight into how the availability and use of peer-to-peer accommodation services affect travel patterns. The findings were published in Journal of Travel Research.

The study found that tourists are interested in peer-to-peer accommodation services due to social and financial reasons. Users of peer-to-peer accommodation services are often in social interaction with their hosts, and peer-to-peer accommodation services are a cost-effective alternative to, for example, hotels.

Financial savings achieved by using peer-to-peer accommodation services make it possible to broaden the selection of destinations and the number of trips, while the social aspects inspire people to travel more in general and to stay in their destination for a longer period of time. Financial savings — together with tips from hosts — also increase tourists’ activeness in their destination.

From the viewpoint of destinations, the findings are extremely positive. The availability of peer-to-peer accommodation services in the destination increases the number of tourists, makes them stay for a longer period and increases the demand for tourism-related services and activities.

Extensive US and Finnish data

An extensive set of tourist data was collected for the study both in Finland and in the US.

In Finland, 1,246 persons took part in an online panel, and 295 of them had used peer-to-peer accommodation services. In the US, 799 persons completed an online survey, and 155 of them had used peer-to-peer accommodation services. The study focused on respondents who had used peer-to-peer accommodation services.

The popularity of peer-to-peer accommodation services has witnessed rapid growth throughout the world. For example, Airbnb offers accommodation services in 190 countries and in more than 34,000 cities. There are over 60 million Airbnb users around the world, and its popularity is not showing any signs of decline.

Where to Get an American Thanksgiving Outside the U.S.

Traveling overseas come late November? Doesn’t mean you’ll miss a traditional turkey dinner.

Thanksgiving has long been one of the most celebrated American holidays: marked by everything from turkey to pumpkin pie, from football to the Macy’s Day Parade, and from being thankful to being stuffed, there’s something for everyone. While the day’s festivities can be hard to replicate outside of the U.S., certain restaurants around the world have taken it upon themselves to try—and its something we’re thankful for.

Read on for our ever-expanding list, or jump ahead to your city of interest: Beijing; Berlin; Cape Town; Copenhagen; London; Melbourne; Milan; Paris; Shanghai; Vancouver; Seoul; and Tokyo

Beijing

If you think traveling in China means missing Thanksgiving, think again. The large number of American expats living in Beijing ensures that a surprising number of turkey dinners and promotions pop up every November at restaurants, hotels, and breweries. Here are 10 places to celebrate Thanksgiving there this year.

The Big Smoke Bistro

This popular Xingfucun brasserie is pulling out all the stops, serving a honey agave-glazed turkey with red wine gravy. Turkey portions are available for small tables of two or three people all the way up to groups of 14. Sides, like the portobello and chorizo stuffing with pretzel crumble, and the jalapeño mac n’ cheese topped with garlic crumbs, cost extra ($5-$7) each and are suitable for sharing between two to three people.

For dessert, there’s pumpkin empanada with salted caramel ice cream topped with peppercorn honey. Wash it all down with one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails, or a pint of Jing A craft beer (from$28 for a small turkey for two to three; Lee World Building, 57 Xingfucun Middle Rd., Chaoyang District; 86 10 6416 2683)

FEAST by EAST Beijing

If you’re planning to visit 798 Art District, FEAST’s Thanksgiving dinner would make the perfect end to the day. Located on the second floor of a stylish business hotel, the airy all-day restaurant is hosting a relatively restrained and reasonably priced affair, with pumpkin soup to start, roast turkey with chestnut and herbed bread stuffing for the main event, and pecan pie for dessert ($30 per person; 22 Jiuxianqiao N Rd., Chaoyang District; 86 10 8426 0888).

Great Leap Brewing

For the fifth year running, Great Leap is throwing a Thanksgiving bash “with socialist principles,” as put by founder Carl Setzer. The original Doujiao Hutong branch will be the scene of a potluck where the brewery supplies a deep-fried turkey and guests bring sides (free for anyone who brings a side to share; 6 Doujiao Hutong, Dongcheng District; 86 10 5717 1399).

Jing A

Craft brewery Jing A and the cheekily named “nonkosher delicatessen” Traitor Zhou’s are teaming up for Thanksgiving with a laid-back spread of fried chicken and Cajun-style side dishes. Guests can sit either inside the Jing A Taproom or in the 1949 Hidden City courtyard just outside the brewery. There will be two dinner services—one from 6 to 8 p.m. and another from 8 p.m. to late (from $126 per person;86 10 6501 8883)

Capital M

With sweeping views of Qianmen, the venerable Capital M will leave you in no doubt that you’re celebrating a quintessentially American holiday in China. Though pricing and menu were unconfirmed by publication time, dinner will be a special affair if last year’s three-course menu is anything to go by (call for price; 86 10 6702 2727).

The Local

Sanlitun’s The Local is one of the few places in the city to have both vegetarian and non-turkey options for Thankgiving. Though this year’s menu and prices haven’t been confirmed yet, owner and manager Kenn Bermel assured T+L it’s happening. Last year, there was a choice of turkey, roast prime rib or beef, or eggplant lasagna.

The Westin Beijing Financial Street

For Thanksgiving, the Westin is hosting a lavish Thanksgiving dinner with roast turkey, honey-glazed ham, chestnut and mushroom soup, beef tenderloin with cream cheese polenta, cinnamon pumpkin pie, and more ($61 per person)

The Orchard

Located in the sleepy village of Hegezhuang, The Orchard is far removed—both geographically and conceptually—from the other venues on this list. Much of the produce used in the restaurant’s popular Sunday brunches is grown on site. For this celebration, The Orchard will host a dinner buffet with roast turkey with all the trimmings and a variety of sides. After dinner, guests can walk it all off with a stroll around the koi pond ($55 per person; Hegezhuang Village, Chaoyang District; 86 10 6433 6270)

Lily’s American Diner

Ah, Lily’s. What would expats do without this cheap, reliable American-style diner? For the low price of $29, you get a plate of genuine imported U.S. turkey with gravy, sides (including mashed potatoes), dessert (apple pie, pumpkin pie, brownie, or cheesecake), and a glass of red or white wine.

The Brickyard

Last but not least, nothing says Thanksgiving in Beijing like a turkey dinner at the foot of the Great Wall. Stylish eco-retreat The Brickyard has two options: a standalone Thanksgiving dinner and a dine-and-stay package. Dinner highlights roast turkey with all the trimmings, a dessert buffet, live jazz, and a supervised kids’ playroom. A bus service will be available to dinner guests (from $61 per person)

 

—Sijia Chen

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

Berlin

Midtown Grill

 

Head to Berlin’s Midtown Grill, which specializes in steak, chops and seafood, but turns out a mean celebratory feast come November: think a buffet of crispy, buttery stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, gravy, and more. For $130, you can also take your gala to go and host your very own holiday—without all of the prep work.

—Katharine LaGrave

Cape Town

Savoy Cabbage

 

Enjoy a riff on classic holiday fare at the award-winning Savoy Cabbage, one of Cape Town’s most beautiful restaurants: once scheduled for demolition, the space today largely comprises exposed beams, large windows and bricks from three different centuries. For around $30, you’ll be treated to canapés, chowder, fudge, spiced pumpkin crème brulee, and have your pick of roasted turkey breast with sausage and stuffing or root vegetable risotto with cranberry sauce.

—Katharine LaGrave

Copenhagen

MadMad Mad Bodega

Break bread with strangers at Copenhagen’s MadMad Mad Bodega, whose Turkey Day festivities are not just a meal, but an event: learn about the history of Thanksgiving and its traditional foods, try arts and crafts by making an old-fashioned turkey hand, and give thanks, in a group, before digging in family-style to turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pies and trimmings. With an emphasis on local, seasonal and organic products, a meal at MadMad Mad’s won’t make you feel as guilty about going back for more.

London

Thanksgiving might be a U.S. holiday, but just as most things tend to travel across the pond, its celebrations have, too, with more and more London restaurants giving nod to this one with dedicated Thanksgiving menus full of all-American flavors. Come November 26, no Londoner will struggle to get a slice of pumpkin pie. Pleasing both expats and keen adopters of the holiday alike, we’ve rounded up a guide to the very best places to celebrate the holiday in London this year.

Big Easy, Covent Garden

Big Easy is somewhere you go hungry and leave stuffed. This Thanksgiving, it’s going to be doing itself proud. The relaxed venue is the perfect place to with a group, to indulge in what it’s calling “the ultimate Thanksgiving feast.” The $46 menu includes butternut squash soup, farm-to-table herb-roasted turkey with southern slow cooked gravy, Grandma Emma’s apple cranberry chutney, sweet potato mash, green bean casserole, and coleslaw. Save room for dessert though, for it’s the American favorite: key lime pie.

The Blues Kitchen, Camden

The Blues Kitchen feels admirably American at the best of times, with a menu full of Texan barbecue and a bourbon collection of size, but it’s really amping things up by hosting an all-singing, all-dancing Thanksgiving party. From 12 p.m. to 1 a.m., a traditional three-course meal with all the trimmings ($46) will be served, alongside free-flowing pumpkin ale and bourbon cocktails, and live rhythm ‘n’ blues that’ll have you on your feet all night.

Hotel Chantelle, Marylebone

It would be wrong for London’s newest New York import to let the holiday go by without a bang. Whilst the Marylebone restaurant is keeping its Thanksgiving offering under wraps for now, we know it will be family-style dining, where there’s sure to be turkey, yams, and of course, plenty of bourbon cocktails rolling right through to close at 3 a.m.

Hubbard and Bell, Holborn

Hubbard and Bell, the Brooklyn-esque diner in The Hoxton Holborn, will be serving family-style fare this year, with its shareable Bring Me Food menu. Starters include venison carpaccio and kale Caesar salad; mains feature smoked turkey with sprouts and pickled cranberry, and roast beef with baby beets. Come dessert, it’s all about the pumpkin and pecan pie (though proud Brits can show some love to their turf with a classic British cheese plate).

Courtesy of Melt Room

Melt Room, Soho

Melt Room (pictured, above) is offering nostalgic New York expats a taste of home with a specially crafted Thanksgiving cheese melt. The gourmet sourdough sandwich packs a punch, with pulled turkey, roast sweet potato, stuffing, and Monterey jack cheese, and is served with a side of cranberry sauce.

Mount Street Deli, Mayfair

Serving up an array of American delights for those on-the-go, on November 26 Mount Street Deli will be getting in on the action. Swing by to pick up some creamy crab chowder, a turkey ballotine sandwich, or roasted Brussels sprout salad with sweet potato, green beans, cranberries, and a maple-pecan dressing. Similarly, home-baked pumpkin pie will be the perfect 4 p.m. refuel.

The Narrow, Limehouse

The Narrow (pictured, top), a restaurant that offers quintessential views of London’s Thames, is putting on a classic American spread. A $54 three-course menu features herb-stuffed turkey with honey roasted root vegetables, pigs in blankets, cornbread, and cranberry sauce. For dessert, it’s pecan pie, served with boozy bourbon vanilla ice cream.

The Richmond, London Fields

If you’re not planning on going all out for Thanksgiving but want to give a nod to the holiday, make that nod a slice of pumpkin pie at The Richmond. The oyster bar and restaurant is one of East London’s most stylish new eateries, and speaking from experience, we can say with confidence that its pumpkin pie is as good as its tuna tartare.

Sea Containers at Mondrian London, South Bank

Sea Containers at Mondrian London on the South Bank is dishing up a delight this with a $100 tasting menu, devised by New York chef Seamus Mullen. It features autumnal American flavors, with the likes of roasted celeriac soup with winter truffles, maple glazed ham, roasted norfolk turkey, and pumpkin pie cheesecake. Soak up the spirit while overlooking the beauty of the Thames.

—Alice Tate

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

HIX Mayfair

 

Dine in London luxury at the HIX Mayfair, a restaurant from celebrated chef and restaurateur Mark Hix housed in Brown’s Hotel. Founded nearly 180 years ago by Lord Byron’s butler, Brown’s Hotel is the city’s oldest hotel: according to its history, it was here that Alexander Graham Bell made Britain’s first ever telephone call. Unsurprisingly, traditional Thanksgiving fare at HIX’s comes with an upscale twist: think Portland Crab and sweetcorn broth, free-range turkey with autumn greens and cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie with Peruvian Gold chocolate.

—Katharine LaGrave

Melbourne

In the southern hemisphere it can be difficult to find turkey, cranberry, and all the trimmings until you’ve reached Christmas Day. Thankfully, Misty Singer, a former Arizonan, has had the Thanksgiving holiday covered for the past 10 years.

Misty’s Diner

Her restaurant, Misty’s Diner, feels like it has been dropped straight out the 1950s into the suburb of Prahran, about four miles from Melbourne’s city center. This year, on November 26, at least 150 guests (about half of them expat Americans) will take a seat in the red and green booths, watched over by images of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, and pay $36 for the all-you-can-eat buffet of turkey, smoked ham, green bean casserole, mac and cheese, mashed potato and gravy, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, cornbread, and all the other trimmings.

 

“We also have all the pies you can imagine, including pumpkin and pecan, and everyone eats far too much,” Singer says. To provide the full, authentic Thanksgiving experience, the restaurant will also show the NFL on the big screen. There is one thing about Thanksgiving Misty can’t control, and that’s the weather: by the end of November, temperatures in Melbourne will have reached a sultry 78ºF.

—Carrie Hutchinson

Milan

California Bakery

Though turkey isn’t a standard offering on Italian menus, the country known for its cuisine and hospitality keeps visiting Americans in mind come fall.

In Milan, the casual restaurant California Bakery will offer a special Thanksgiving dinner at three of its Milan locations on November 26, starting at 9 p.m. The set menu includes a radicchio salad with mushrooms and artichoke carpaccio; pumpkin and chestnut soup; turkey with prune stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce; sweet potatoes; sautéed spinach; and a choice of triple chocolate pumpkin pie or apple and frangipane pie.

Water, a glass of prosecco, and a glass of wine are also included. There is a kids’ menu (hamburger, french fries, and a brownie) for $10, while the adult menu costs $61 for dining in, and or $44 for takeout. The dinner is available at the Viale Premuda, Corso Garibaldi, and Sant’Ambrogio locations. Reservations required.

Paris

Breakfast in America

 

Dig in at Paris’s Breakfast in America, which has been dishing out classic diner fare since it was first opened by Connecticut native Craig Carlson in 2003. Now with three outposts in the French capital, Breakfast in America has become as renowned for its blueberry pancakes as it has for its annual Thanksgiving dinner: For approximately $40, diners receive an aperitif, starter, turkey plate with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables and cranberry sauce, and a choice of homemade apple, pumpkin or pecan pie.

—Katharine LaGrave

Shanghai

Although Shanghai probably wouldn’t be the first destination springing to mind for most travelers when considering where to spend Thanksgiving, the city has a glut of restaurants offering traditional and contemporary festive meals that leave diners thankful for, well, America. Make sure to book in advance for one of these authentic Thanksgiving lunches or dinners.

Bubba’s

Bubba’s Texas-Style Barbeque & Salon is once again apple-wood smoking its delicious turkeys. Guests can dine at one of their two Shanghai locations for a dinner buffet that includes traditional sides such as corn chowder, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

Liquid Laundry

The American gastropub Liquid Laundry is offering a four-course tasting menu. Highlights include foie gras with a chestnut sauce, deep fried turkey, and maple-candied yams with marshmallow. The bar has also brewed a special beer for the occasion, the Good Gourd Y’all, a dry Saison ABV with notes of seasonal spices.

Boxing Cat Brewery

Sister chain, Boxing Cat Brewery, has also created a special brew for the festive period, called Smashed Pumpkin, with pumpkin additions and pumpkin pie spices. All three restaurants in the BCB chain will be hosting buffet dinners with free flow on their craft beer and house pours. There will be two separate dinner sittings throughout the evening.

Wishbone

The popular French-style rotisserie joint Wishbone (888-3 Changde Road, near Changping Road. Tel: +86 021 6257 8511) will create their version of an American-style Thanksgiving. Sticking to what they do best, slow-roasted chicken, the restaurant takes an alternative twist to Thanksgiving with the addition of crunchy, deep-fried, pulled pork mac and cheese, smoked bacon gravy, and sweet potato Banoffee pie with hawthorn syrup and a shot of Jameson. The restaurant’s other classic sides, such as okra and cherry tomatoes with lemon parsley vinaigrette, roast pumpkin and tahini, and asparagus with slow poached egg and Parmesan, will also be on the set menu.

Egg

All-day-breakfast restaurant, Egg (12 Xiangyang Bei Road, near Julu Road), will let their guests eat turkey for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The cute coffee shop and eatery will be serving the bird with mashed potato waffles, gravy, and pickled cranberry relish.

Grand Brasserie

If looking for a traditional yet decadent Thanksgiving buffet, the warm and inviting setting of Grand Brasserie at Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund has the service and standards to live up to the highest of expectations. With a smart dress code, the traditional dinner buffet, with turkey, will be served to the delightfully smooth sounds of the resident Jazz band.

Cachet Restaurant

Thanksgiving buffet dinner at the chic and sophisticated Cachet Restaurant in The Langham Shanghai, Xintiandi will be a traditional affair. The buffet will naturally feature a roast turkey, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin mash, and honey glazed carrots with gravy and cranberry sauce.

The Brew

Possibly the most family friendly option on the list, The Brew at the Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, will offer family-style lunches and dinners with a golden-roasted turkey main course, along with buffet appetizers and desserts—guaranteed to keep the kids, and the young at heart, entertained.

Vancouver

Vancouver celebrates Canadian Thanksgiving in October, but that doesn’t mean the city’s restaurants overlook the American rendition completely. This year, four elegant spots will lure American diners craving a traditional meal come November 26. We got the details on what they plan to serve.

Ancora

This lovely waterfront restaurant is just a few months old and features a view of Granville Island. Light and bright, it sports a raised ceiling of paneled glass looking over a sleek and uncluttered dining room. This year, their dinner menu will offer turkey two ways: brown butter-roasted breast and jus-glazed leg served with vegetables. Dessert will be the smooth, decadent Ancora chocolate bar ($45 per person).

Bacchus

The restaurant at the luxury Wedgewood Hotel & Spa has a tradition of offering an American Thanksgiving dinner every year. This November, the menu includes butternut squash soup made from local produce, and roasted, free-range turkey with cranberry compote, stuffing, and potatoes ($57 per person). Amid the lush dining room with intricately woven rugs, velvet-covered settees, and oversize oil pantings on the walls, it will feel like a true event.

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

The historic Rosewood Hotel Georgia will offer a turkey plate with the traditional trimmings at their 1927 Lobby Lounge. The Turkey Day dinner will also be available for in-room dining for those staying at the hotel (call for price).

Yew Seafood + Bar

Located inside the Four Seasons hotel, the expansive and contemporary Yew will offer a turkey duo of Fraser Valley turkey breast and leg confit, served with vegetables and stuffing. Things start off with a pumpkin soup, and there are seafood and beef options on the menu, too, but don’t forget to save room for the traditional pies ready for dessert ($45 per person).

 

—Aileen Torres-Bennett

Want to know more about the above? Read the full scoop here.

Seoul

Suji’s

 

Take on the Thanksgiving buffet at Suji’s, a New York-style restaurant and deli celebrated year-round by expats in Seoul for its bagels, pastrami and roast beef. For roughly $50, you can gorge yourself on everything from the traditional (roast turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, herb stuffing) to the novel (seafood chowder, Spanish canapés, and nachos). With two seatings and a two-hour window, you’re bound to get your fill.

—Katharine LaGrave

Tokyo

Beacon

Try Tokyo’s take on the American holiday at Beacon, a sleek wood and glass space that delivers elegant interpretations of Turkey Day classics. Start with parsnip soup and homemade bacon, and smoked scallops and crispy prosciutto, farro, apple, mushroom salad before moving on to the main event: roast turkey with a stuffing of chorizo, dried cherries and pecans. Dessert is an ode to the pumpkin, with diners receiving both pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin gelato to finish off the meal.

Unusual spots in Moscow

Normally, when a person thinks about Moscow the Red Square, huge residential block buildings, tacky cafes with copious amounts of golden décor and karaoke & shisha bars first come to mind. But Moscow’s changing and it’s changing fast! Gone are the days of searching for fun, interesting and non-standard things to do. Now they come and find you where you least expect it.

Summer is that time of year when new unusual places popping up is most noticeable because Muscovites have become well-travelled and now know what kind of cool things city-dwelling Europeans get to enjoy so places are beginning to cater to that. For example, there are now several places in and outside the center where you can roll out your beach towel, slap on some sun block, kick back and get some nice color after the long winter.

Olivkovy Plyazh (Olive Garden) in Moscow’s gorgeous Gorky Park is located right on one of Moscow’s most beautiful embankments and is a lovely café/restaurant that has everything to create a true feeling of a summer resort: tanning beds, white umbrellas, delicious icy beverages and a fresh breeze. During the day guests bask in the sun and freshen up with the finest lemonade and later on, lounge music can be heard under the beach’s olive trees and a DJ plays from 18:00 to 22:00.

This year on “Russia Day” (12th of  June) the city council gave Muscovites a very special present: the National Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh) launched a unique urban beach project called VDNKh Port. The 1.5-hectare area consists of four swimming pools, chaise longue seating, a spa, four volleyball courts, a workout area, a stage and an LED dance floor. A very stark contrast to the VDNKh we all grew up with where there was nothing except for shashlik stands and cafes with big red Coca Cola umbrellas!

Though it’s a bit of trek, Shorehouse’s pool and beach are really worth it on a beautiful hot sunny day. Located right next to Crocus City Hall, transportation links are pretty good and you get a view of Moscow River with yachts passing by as you get your bronze on in maximum comfort. There is everything to make it almost seem like you’re not in Moscow but rather in a faraway seaside resort: a big pool, beach chaise longues, umbrellas and, of course, a bar and kitchen to keep your thirst quenched and your appetite satiated.

If the weather isn’t great and you’re looking for something unusual to do or see there are some museums in Moscow that are slightly less ordinary than the Tretyakovskaya Gallery or the Multimedia Art Museum. For example, there’s the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games, which will help you get in touch with your inner (pre-perestroika) child. Similar to a time machine, it allows you to feel as if you are a pioneer in a red tie. More than 60 game machines made in the USSR are yours to try out. The most famous and popular game machines are “Highway,” “Auto-rally,” “Battleship” and “Gorodki.”

At a depth of 65 meters below ground level and just a few minutes’ walk from Taganskaya metro station, you can play spy games or strikeball at the Cold War Bunker Museum. Individual and group tours can be organized around the huge underground space and unusual architecture of one of the most strictly secret underground military facilities of the USSR. Believe it or not, some couples even see some romance in the potential of WW3 and plan their weddings here!

Just a few years ago former industrial complexes were just that: abandoned old factories populated virtually with nothing more than tumbleweed. Now, the former chocolate factory on the island in the middle of Moscow River right across from Christ the Savior Cathedral is the Red October party and arts district, Artplay, once a tea factory, has now become a hub of artistic activity and Flacon used to be a glassworks manufacturer but that has now become a colorful urban space dedicated to the more creative ends of the business spectrum.

The iconic red-brick Krasny Oktyabr’ (Red October) chocolate factory transformed into something quite unusual to Moscow – a bohemian island of art, fun and culture, comparable to hipster paradises like London’s Shoreditch area or New York’s East Village but with a twist of Moscow glamour. Chocolate production moved out in 2007 and an art-cluster of hip bars, trendy restaurants, contemporary galleries, happening clubs, clothing and bric-a-brac shops and other artsy joints moved in.  Some of the more prominent tenants are Strelka Institute (prominent arts & education establishment slash trendy bar), the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography , Bontempi (the perfect place to have a pleasant business lunch or a romantic Italian dinner with stunning river views), authentic Georgian cuisine at Mizandari, a refined wine restaurant Primitivo and party places like Gipsy, Shakti Terrace and Rolling Stone Bar. It’s also home to Kino House, Russia’s first ever anti-cinema where you pay for the amount of time you spend watching movies in one of the well-equipped cinema rooms with your friends. You can even bring your own snacks and beverages!

Several years ago Artplay moved into the ex-industrial space a few minutes’ walk from Kurskaya metro station and has since managed to breathe new life into it, providing shelter for young Moscow galleries, artists’ studios, cafes, bars, bookshops, a music club, a design school, a cinema, children’s art studio and much more.  You can learn (The British Higher School of Design, the Moscow Film School, the School of Computer Graphics “Scream” and the School of Architecture “MARCH”), immerse yourself in culture and art, work at the Co-Working Station, eat and drink (Edward’s Pub, Art Clumba, Il Giorno, Bufetrina) and then party the night away at Rodnya, rooftop loft for architecture and design, gallery and a lecture hall during the day and a bar/club at night on weekends.

Flacon: One part of its area functions as office space for media groups, PR agencies, design bureaus and art workshops. The rest of the factory buildings are filled with attractive little boutiques selling unique clothes and accessories by local designers, cafes and bars, large temporary exhibition spaces and small private galleries. There’s usually some kind of event going on here most weekends such as flea markets, garage sales, concerts and charity fundraisers.

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city during the summer months used to exclusively entail going to the dacha. Now, there are a lot of unusual and fun places for the whole family outside the MKAD (Moscow ring road).

If you’ve fallen in love with farm produce, which is so fashionable right now – or if you just want to take a break from the city, get back to nature and breathe some fresh country air, why not try a taste of agritourism? A great place to do this is at the Bogdarnya Agricultural and Touristic Complex. Located in picturesque countryside and forest about 120 kilometres east of Moscow, the 400-hectare riverside property provides the chance to experience life on a real, working farm. Here you can learn all about meat production from paddock to plate, watch cheese making, milk the cows, pet the goats, feed Boris the boar and enrich yourself with other forms of educational “agritainment”. Bogdarnya also provides a wide range of recreational activities, including horse riding, quad biking, fishing, canoeing, hiking, paintball, hiking and more. The complex also hosts children’s camps, career guidance programs for school students, plus corporate events, training and seminars. Russian holidays are celebrated in fairytale folksy fashion with traditional costumes, music, dancing and much good old-fashioned merriment.  On a more romantic theme one can also arrange a ride in the forest using one of their horse drawn carriages, or sleighs in winter and have a picnic around a fire with samovar, gluxvin and shashlik.

Get in touch with your inner hippy and become one with yourself, others and nature at Etnomir – the largest Russian Ethnographic Park. Spanning a total area of over 10,000 square meters, including ethno-yards of 252 countries and about 40 ethno-houses constituting ethno-yards of different peoples of Russia and the world, Etnomir offers excursions and master classes in ethno-yards for a full immersion into the different cultures of the world. Although the park is open all year around, the best time to visit is, of course, summer because this is when you can enjoy events such as “World of Taste” (festival that will have foodies spoilt for choice with cuisines from all corners of the globe), Latin American Festival, the Kite Festival, “Vegfest”, Ice Cream celebration and the Festival of Ethnic Fashion and Dance – all self-explanatory! And all this just 110km out of Moscow near Kaluga.

The new Patriot Park is being dubbed as a sort of Disneyland built to showcase Russian military prowess. The park opened in June 2015 in Kubinka, about an hour outside of Moscow. In the months to come, visitors will be able to watch military reenactments of famous Russian and Soviet battles and observe the latest in Russian defense technology. At full capacity, the park will accommodate tens of thousands of visitors

11 Reasons To Visit L.A. This Fall

With mild weather year-round and sunny vibes, there’s never really a bad time to travel to L.A. But there are plenty more reasons to escape to the West Coast this fall—outside of maintaining that tan you’ve worked on all summer. Here’s what’s happening now:

Art Not to Miss

Following much anticipation, the Broad Museum finally opened in Downtown L.A. in September, containing nearly 2,000 works from Eli and Edythe Broad’s personal collection of contemporary art including. Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, and John Baldessari are all represented, not to mention some of the largest amassments of Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein pieces in the world. The design of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro building is as noteworthy as the works themselves. Best of all, admission is free, but tickets need to be reserved through the reservation site here. If the gallery wasn’t enough of a draw, the on-site Otium restaurant from Tim Hollingsworth—formerly of the French Laundry—coming soon should do the trick.

Though rainfall has been scarce in L.A. this year, there’s some in the form of the wildly popular Rain Room at LACMA, which brought in throngs during stints at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Barbican Centre in London. Random International created this simulated downpour, which uses sensors to dodge only the area occupied by the viewer. The exhibition begins November 1; reserved tickets will be available online to the general public beginning October 21. Added bonus: If art enthusiasts book their room through L.A.’s Museum Season promo, those staying at least two nights at area hotels from October 5 through November 15 will get special vouchers for two free adult admissions, and store discounts at 25 of L.A.’s best museums, including LACMA.

Cycling and Sipping

It’s true that the city is known for its car culture, but cycling has picked up speed in the past few years, in part due to CicLAvia, a one-day event that closes down designated street routes to vehicles, leaving it open only for bicyclists, skaters, and pedestrians. Started originally in Bogatà, Colombia, in response to vehicle congestion, the festival celebrates its fifth year in Los Angeles Sunday, October 18, with its central meeting point in blossoming Downtown L.A.

There’s hardly a more beautiful time of year to visit wine country than the fall, with the changing colors of the vines and the more temperate weather for leisurely sipping outdoors. Though the harvest was an early one this year due to the drought, there are still plenty of goings-on at the area’s many coastal tasting rooms, including food trucks, live comedy, and music at Malibu Family Wines, as well as art gallery exhibitions and talks at Cornell Winery.

Prime Apple-Picking

It’s also apple-picking season in SoCal. There are plenty of u-pick farms in Yucaipa, Oak Glen, and Julian, where you can pluck your own fruit off trees for juicing, pie-making or snacking, or even pick up some delightfully tart hard cider from Julian Hard Cidery to bring back home as a quaffable souvenir.

Fall Fashion

Lastly, L.A. Fashion Week is taking place October 5 through11 at Union Station, featuring four consecutive days of runway shows, presentations, and after-parties showcasing the city’s style.

The 10 Best Free Things to Do in Amsterdam

Like many other major cities, Amsterdam isn’t exactly famous for being cheap—and that’s a challenge if you’re on a budget. Many of the city’s most popular sights, however, do come free. The parks, canals, and other waterways cost nothing to experience, and there are a number of other cultural attractions that you can enjoy completely gratis, as they say here in the Netherlands. Here are ten of our favorites.

1. The Concertgebouw

A free classical concert in one of the world’s greatest concert halls? Sounds too good to be true, but every Wednesday at lunchtime that’s exactly what’s on offer at the Concertgebouw. The latest series just started up again this month and will run through June. You can pick up a free ticket (one per person) on the day of the show starting at 11:30 a.m. (get there early—when they’re gone, they’re gone); the concert takes place from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. The program is varied, and you can check the website a week in advance to see what’s on.

2. Rijksmuseum Gardens

Take a stroll in the beautiful formal gardens of the Rijksmuseum, which are dotted with intriguing artworks. There’s a life-size chessboard, a fountain by contemporary Danish artist Jeppe Hein, and post-war climbing frames by architect Aldo van Eyck. The gardens also host rotating sculpture exhibitions—currently there are 21 sculptures on show by the Spanish artist Joan Miró until October 11.

3. The Muziektheater

This important opera, dance and music venue has free weekly lunchtime concerts by top performers on Tuesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the foyer, from September to May. Once or twice a month, the concert is followed by a free tour of the theatre—check the website for details.

4. Bimhuis

Amsterdam’s legendary jazz venue is always worth a visit, and every Tuesday evening there’s a free improvisation session starting at 10 p.m. (if you’re hoping to play, however, arrive at 8 p.m.).

5. Central Library

At the Netherlands’ biggest library, the Centrale Bibliotheek, you can read the international papers for free, and while wifi isn’t completely free, you can purchase 30 minutes for little more than a dollar by using one of the ticket machines. Upstairs on the 7th floor there is a café with a terrace that boasts wonderful city views.

6. Civic Guard Gallery

At the Amsterdam Museum, a collection of Golden Age group portraits—in the same lineage as Rembrandt’s Night Watch—hang in the beautiful arcade by the entrance (along with some more modern versions, and a giant ancient wooden statue of Goliath), where you can see them for free.

7. Sandeman’s New Amsterdam Tours

A three-hour walking tour (in English or Spanish) of the most important city sights takes place several times a day: at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m. or 2:15 p.m., starting off at the National Monument on Dam Square. Book online, or just arrive at the meeting place 5 or 10 minutes early. The tour is free—just tip the guide.

8. City Archives

While the exhibitions upstairs at the Stadsarchief (City Archives) come with a small charge, downstairs, in the basement, ‘The Treasury’ displays significant items from the city’s history at no cost, from ancient maps to documents from the Nazi occupation.

9. Gassan Free Diamond Factory Tour

Learn about the 400-year history of the diamond industry, plus all about carats, clarity and cuts, at Gassan Diamonds’ free tour. Book online.

10. EYE Film Institute

It costs nothing to experience the great architecture and interactive Dutch film displays in the basement of the EYE Film Institute. Getting here is part of the fun, and it’s also free—take the Buiksloterweg ferry from behind Centraal Station, a pleasant short boat ride.

10 Things to Know About Richmond’s New Quirk Hotel

This week marked the official opening of Richmond’s first art-driven boutique hotel, The Quirk. Housed inside an old 1916 luxury department store—with the 13-foot ceilings and original maple floors to prove it—the property connects to the Quirk Gallery, a neighboring art space directed by co-owner Katie Ukrop. According to Katie’s husband and fellow co-owner Ted Ukrop, the concept for the hotel came fully formed: “We always had a pretty clear idea of what artists we’d exhibit, what the overall aesthetic and feel would be.”

And about that name? “To us, a ‘quirk’ isn’t necessarily ‘quirky.’ Our favorite quirk moments are in those subtle nuances or unexpected details.”

So, without further ado, a breakdown of the hotel, in ten ‘quirky’ facts:

1. The rooms are pink. Yup. They call it the “perfect marriage of masculinity and femininity.” We call it genius.

2. The hotel has its own custom blend of coffee. It’s called “Quirk” (naturally), and the beans get roasted just across the river at Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. The flavor profile? “Sweet notes of tobacco and candied orange.”

3. The lobby features a rather unusual art installation: a collection of used coffee lids arranged in the shape of trade routes in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s by Susie Ganch, one of the artists the hotel reached out to via Instagram before opening.

4. When you step off the elevator, the first thing you’ll see is a cat. That is, if your room number starts with 3. Each floor has a unique portrait made out of papier-maché, and there are seven in total—two dogs, one cat, and four humans.

5. You can do your holiday shopping inside the hotel. Every item in the gift shop is handpicked by Ted and Katie, featuring humorous items like tabby cat pillows and pixelated solitaire cards, as well as stationery, books, and perfumes. There’s even custom jewelry by the likes of Tina Frey, who is responsible for the ice buckets and vanity trays in the guest rooms as well.

6. Your bed used to be a floor joist. That’s right, all of the beds were made from reclaimed wood and floor joists—that’s a foundational support beam, for all you non-builders—saved during demolition.

7. Breakfast is made from scratch. The kitchen, led by Chef David Dunlap, doesn’t cut corners when it comes to the most important meal of the day: stewed apples (served with brioche French toast for breakfast), marinated blackberries (mixed with Greek yogurt), and roasted vanilla almond milk are all made in-house.

8. This hotel has been ten years in the making. Co-owner Ted Ukrop, whose family has owned the building since 1997, first got the idea for Quirk after staying in the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, one of the first hotels to blur the line between lodging and art exhibit space (and a Travel + Leisure 2014 Global Vision Award winner).

9. The hotel almost had a seven-story tunnel slide. During demolition, they came across a steel cylinder delivery chute stretching from the sixth floor down to the basement. “It was probably used to send merchandise from floor to floor,” says Ted.

10. The best is yet to come. Though the hotel officially opened last week, a set of four specialty suites—built on top of the roof inside a glass cube, each with a private patio—are set to debut in November, next to the hotel’s rooftop lounge.

11 Reasons to Visit Atlanta This Fall

The capital of Georgia is out to prove it’s the capital of the Southeast. Since 2014, Atlanta has seen the opening of two major attractions and two sprawling food halls, plus a highly anticipated streetcar system cling-clanging its way through downtown. Add to all that a crackling culinary scene, a new pedestrian trail snaking its way beneath the skyline, and easy accessibility via the world’s busiest airport—and it’s easy to see why a visit to Atlanta is a peachy idea.

Two Major Attractions Not to Miss

1. In June 2014, the $68 million National Center for Civil and Human Rights welcomed its first visitors to a landmark downtown building designed by Phil Freelon. Emotional exhibits include one by Tony award­–winning playwright George C. Wolf about the American Civil Rights movement, in which visitors pull up stools at a mock lunch counter and imagine the pain faced by peaceful protestors while their seats rattle from fictional kicks and their headphones echo with abuse.

2. Just a short stroll across Centennial Olympic Park, the College Football Hall of Fame pays homage to a lighter subject: the unofficial religion of the South. You won’t find plaques or busts in the Hall of Fame gallery; instead, you’ll search 10 flat-screen digital displays for statistics on your favorite players. Even your ticket is interactive: When you arrive, you’ll designate your favorite team, and exhibits throughout the building will offer information on the people and games you care about most.

A Much-Anticipated Streetcar

3. Last December, Atlanta christened its first streetcar since 1949. The climate-controlled electric car takes passengers on a 2.7-mile loop, dropping them near attractions such as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the College Football Hall of Fame, the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market and the King Historic District. Each one-way trip is free for kids and $1 for adults, making a ride an inexpensive excursion in its own right.

There’s a Food Hall Frenzy Happening

4. Ponce City Market (pictured) is the largest adaptive reuse project in Atlanta history, transforming the centrally located Sears, Roebuck & Company building into 300,000 square feet of office, residential, retail, and restaurant space. Anchoring it all is the Central Food Hall, with restaurants from the likes of Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins and Sean Brock—the city’s James Beard darlings. Five food purveyors are open, with more coming throughout the fall.

5. Less than two miles south on the BeltLine, Krog Street Market features sixteen food and beverage outposts, from a dumplings stall helmed by relative unknowns to a Mexican restaurant operated by powerhouse restaurateur Ford Fry. Located in a nineteenth century stove warehouse, the development opened last year after the property was purchased from Tyler Perry, who was using the 200,000-square-foot space as a movie studio.

Buckhead is Booming

6. Once it was tony. Then it was tired. Now Buckhead is trending again, thanks in no small part to the new Buckhead Atlanta development, which created six blocks of restaurants and retail along Peachtree Road.

7. Here you’ll find The Southern Gentleman, a locally owned gastropub featuring cheeky Southern fare like “duck & dumplings,” more than seventy-five whiskeys, and preppy touches like seersucker window treatments.

8. After dinner, stroll to the flagship store of Atlanta-based Bella Bag, where you can purchase certified pre-owned handbags from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Prada for a fraction of the retail cost.

9. For six stories of home décor inspiration, walk across Peachtree and enter RH Atlanta: The Gallery at the Estate—the largest Restoration Hardware store in the world, complete with a fifty-foot reflection pool.

The BeltLine is a Big Deal

10. We already knew the Atlanta BeltLine was one of the most comprehensive urban renewal efforts in the United States, repurposing 22 miles of abandoned railroad corridors into a network of parks and trails. What we didn’t know was how incredibly popular it would be. Any given day, the trails fairly buckle beneath bikers, runners, walkers, and gawkers.

11. In once-gritty neighborhoods, restaurants have two-hour waits for BeltLine-facing tables (we’re looking at you, Ladybird). On hot afternoons, King of Pops vendors along the pathways run out of paletas. And if there’s a festival going on, forget about it: Come early or don’t come at all.

Meet the Pancake That’s the Official Snack of Norwegian Ferries

It surprises me (and one travel companion in particular) that I’ve never missed a flight—knock on wood. But it’s only fitting that the closest I’ve ever come was in search of the elusive Norwegian pancake.

Up to the very last minute, I was scouring Oslo’s food malls, market squares, quite cafés, and big-box stores. I received my fair share of strange looks as I repeated the golden word in my best Norwegian accent, changing up my leading question each time hoping it might just help me nail the sword: svele. Instead, I boarded my flight empty-handed (and last)—this wasn’t an easy food to find on solid ground.

Why was I searching or this puffy Norwegian pancake in southern Norway, when its natural habitat is the ferry cafés along the country’s western coastline? Even though I had been on an endless stream of ferries in the area, the sad part was that I didn’t know what svele was until it was too late.

Emily Vikre/Food52

I learned about sveler (that’s the plural for svele) on my last boat trip, which droppped me off in Ulvik (pictured above), a farming village inside the Hardangerfjord. I was staying at a small organic farm where my hosts and I got to talking about my ongoing interest in lefse. The conversation suddenly pivoted towards sveler, the unofficial (maybe official?) ferry food of western Norway.

If you have ever pulled out of map of Norway, you will see that the western coast line is permeated by fjords. Every centimeter or so, the land makes way for a thin, erratic, blue line. Instead of becoming a country of obsessive bridge builders, Norwegians have opted for an immaculate ferry system. These ferries are used by everyone—even local buses have to cross the fjords—and make for built-in pit stops during any drive. This is where the small but charming ferry cafés come in. These cafés, often hosted below deck, pump out drip coffee, hot dogs, and most important of all, sveler. You haven’t really taken a ferry unless you’ve held a folded, butter-sugar filled svele in one hand and a piping hot coffee in the other.

Fiveandspice serves her lefse with Gjetost (otherwise known as brunost, a Norwegian cheese) and butter. Hannah Petertil/Food52

So I guess I hadn’t really taken a ferry. To recreate these at home, I had to cull my memory for every last detail about sveler, and then the internet search began. I fell deep—real deep—into a rabbit hole of Norwegian pancake research. I made seven batches of the bubbly cakes, tearing them open hot of the grill, smelling the dough, slathering the pieces in butter, and dipping edges in my selection of jam. I ate pancakes for two and a half days straight, and I saw what made sveler so irresistible—I was a convert, ferry or no.

Sveler magic is due to two things (personal opinion here): You can eat them cold, and they have charming bubbles. Lucky for me, I was able to recreate the airy texture because I had packed a small, tightly-sealed, yellow canister of horn salt (otherwise known as ammonium bicarbonate) in my carry-on back from Norway; it’s the chemical responsible for svele’s distinct taste and texture. This traditional Northern European leavening agent (think precursor to baking powder and soda) is best smelled from a distance, but it’s crucial to a satisfying svele. The good news is that horn salt is easy to buy online.

Boller are traditional Norwegian cardamom snack buns. Emily Vikre/Food52

Like any food passed down from generation to generation, there are endless recipes for sveler. Some are heavy-handed with the horn salt, which leaves the dough a bit astringent. Others mix in melted butter (I was convinced I would do the same until I made a batch sans butter and realized that the rich addition had actually been taking away from the dough’s delicate properties).

Just like the ferries lines each boast their own sveler recipe, Norwegians tend to have a preferred way to top, or fill and fold, their sveler. If you want to go full ferry, all you need is some fluffy butter mixed with sugar. But I’ve fallen for two other classic combinations introduced to me by my friends in Ulvik: A thick smear of cold butter and thin ribbons of Gjetost/brunost (a Norwegian cheese normally made of a blend of cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and whey), or dollops of berry jam and sour cream.

No matter how you fill them, eat with coffee.

Sveler

Makes sixteen 4- to 5-inch pancakes

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 2/3 cups kefir
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon horn salt (ammonium bicarbonate)
Oil, as needed
Toppings: butter, sugar, sour cream, crème fraîche, berry jam, brunost

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.
This article originally appeared on FOOD52.

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Fly Over Pope Induced Traffic With a $95 Helicopter Ride

For the next three days, the great isle of Manhattan plays host to Pope Francis—and, of course, his legions of American devotees. To allow room for the procession, dozens of streets will be closed, and bus lines will be redirected. For those New Yorkers dreading the daily commute—or visitors just desiring a bit of elbow room—there’s a rather intriguing way to bypass the crowds. Blade, the so-called Uber of helicopters, is helping New Yorkers and visitors by offering $95 rides for the 5 to 8-minute flight between West 30th Street and East 34th Street.

Flights are available between 7:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. for morning rush hour and again between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for evening rush hour.

An extra bonus? The helicopters will fly around the southern tip of Manhattan, giving riders a spectacular view of the city that can cost hundreds during a typical helicopter tour.

There will be extra security at the lounges (given the profile of the city’s weekend guests), which means passengers will be screened by the TSA and only purses and briefcases are allowed onboard. Unlike Blade’s usual service to summer hotspots, no alcohol will be allowed in-flight.

There are, of course, other ways to make sure you’re not stuck in a cab for 45 minutes between 5th and 6th Avenues:

1. Skip midtown altogether.
2. Ride a bike. There are multiple Citibike stations on 11th Avenue and 1st Avenue. See a full map of Citibike stations here.
3. Walk. The trek between 11th and 1st Avenue would take 40 minutes on an average day. It’ll take closer to an hour tomorrow, but you’ll have stories to tell your grandchildren about the chaos that day.
4. Subway. The 7 Line was recently extended to reach Manhattan’s newest station in Hudson Yards. Travelers can get from Grand Central on Park Avenue to 11th Avenue totally underground.