Is Montreal really the “Paris of the North?” Sitting in a tiny new bistro called Barroco on the western edge of the city’s old town, the marketing slogan rang true. As my husband, sister, and I sat back and enjoyed glass after glass of burgundy, hip tattooed waiters—all francophones—hustled to and from the kitchen placing comfort dishes of cotes-de-boeuf and gratin dauphinois on our candelabra-laden table. Raw stone walls, a low wood-beamed ceiling, and Serge Gainsbourg on the sound system only added to my disbelief that I was just an hour and half flight from New York City.
It seems like everyone—and every company—is feeling the power of social media these days. In celebration of Hawaii’s 50 years of statehood, Marriott Resorts Hawaii is hopping on the e-bandwagon with a two-part sweepstakes geared toward Twitter and Facebook users, offering 25 all-expense paid trips for two to Kauai, Oahu, Maui or the Big Island and a trip for one lucky tweeter and 11 guests.
Around 280,000 cars cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge each day—over twice the number that use the Brooklyn Bridge. Without the Bay Bridge, there is no way to drive from the East Bay to San
Francisco. That is unless you plan on taking the scenic route through Marin County or down
across the Dumbarton or San Mateo Bridges, doubling the journey
to several hours in some cases. Unfortunately, these will be the only options this Labor Day weekend when
the Bay Bridge shuts down tonight at 8 p.m. through 5
a.m. Tuesday, September 8 as part of an extensive seismic retrofitting project that includes rebuilding the entire eastern span of the bridge.
Call it Corn of the Loom. Verterra Sport has unveiled an eco-friendly golf shirt made from corn. Though corn fibers have been used before, this durable and blendable formula the cream of the crop. The shirts come in two varieties: 52% corn available in five classic colors and 88% corn available in green or black.
The holy month of Ramadan began Aug. 22, and over 1 billion Muslims around the globe will be observing it by fasting from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. They’ll be waking up early for a hearty suhoor meal before dawn and an iftar dinner after sunset. Sound hard? Well, it is, but different cultures have found unique ways to celebrate this sacred time.
-The first day of Ramadan is greeted with fireworks and celebrations in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
-In Dubai, a loud canon booms when it’s time to stop eating in the morning and to break fast at sunset.
Muslims in Cairo keep things festive at night, reveling by staying up late after evening prayers to eat and smoke sheesha till the early hours of the morning.
I don’t know about you, but I need my eight hours of beauty sleep every night, and for this reason I’m pretty persnickety when it comes to mattresses—whether at home or at a hotel.
Hands-down some of my best hotel sleeps have been at Westin/Starwood properties, which was why I was excited to hear the hotel group’s 10th anniversary sale offering 25 percent off its famous beds. The Heavenly Bed made by Simmons is a genius layering of patented pocket coils covered with 13 fluffy inches of pillow-top (yes, 13!). The result is a delicious medium-firm cradle that's guaranteed to send you off to Dreamland in no time.
The streets of Reno, Nevada, resembled the final scenes of a Quentin Tarantino bloodfest this weekend by the time the local fire department arrived to hose down the squishy red residue of 50,000 pounds of squashed tomatoes left clinging to the sidewalks and shopfronts of the Biggest Little City in the World. More than 5,000 people wound up their pitching arms on Saturday to hurl tomatoes at one another and at city officials in what is being called the largest food fight in North America, La Tomatina.
Ever wondered what Europe smelled like before plumbing? I’m discovering this very thing in the recently published The Smell of the Continent: The British Discover Europe (Pan Macmillan, $32), which recounts 19th-century British travel to Continental Europe. Oxford historians Richard Mullen and James Munson get into the less savory details of sanitation (a scarcity of bathtubs in France; flea-infested sheets in Sicily; four toilets in a 60-room hotel in Germany).
With the Labor Day holiday arriving a little later this year, the summer seems a bit longer. I don’t know anyone who isn't grateful. While many festivals finish their seasons in August, a few extend into the warm weeks of September. And this summer has brought some remarkable exhibitions, worldwide. There are only a few weeks to catch them, but any of them will refresh, provide a cultural charge, and give your imagination a boost—just in time for fall. Here are my picks:
Basel, Switzerland. "Vincent van Gogh, Between Earth and
Heaven: The Landscapes" at the Kunstmuseum Basel (through September
27). In his intense short
career, Van Gogh produced some 70 landscape paintings, depicting scenes
in Holland, southern, and northern France. They are gathered in Basel
for a landmark show, drawn from public and private collections as far
as Hawaii and Japan, some lent for the first time. Because of their
fragile state, some canvases may not travel again. That's why you
Can’t afford to take your kids on an African safari? Or maybe you're just looking for a fun way for them to learn about different parts of the world so they have a greater appreciation when you do book that trip. Well, last week I was introduced to a new website that solves either problem: Wonder Rotunda.
The website is an interactive educational tool for kids. After signing up—a year’s pass to the site is $45—kids create a personalized character and are given a brief tutorial by Mr. Wonder, who remains their tour guide throughout the rest of their animated “travels.”