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Seeking Tango Bliss in Italy

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The cobblestone highway through Naples was four cars wide with a cacophony of motorbikes weaving in and out and vendors hawking their wares. “This reminds me of a New York City tango floor,” Renee, my traveling companion and fellow tango dancer, commented. I had been a follower on the dance floor and was wholly unprepared for navigating this, but it seemed the only way to get us to the ferry for the tango festival in Capri.

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New Festival Celebrates Retro British Cool

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If Mad Men Sunday nights don’t roll around fast enough, perhaps it’s time to hop a plane for Southern England. August 13-15 will mark the first annual Vintage at Goodwood festival— celebration of “Creative British cool” from the 1940’s through the 1980’s at the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England.

Vintage will feature the best in retro music, fashion, art, design, film and food from around the U.K., translated by a select group of modern artists inspired by the last century. These artistes will disburse their wares at specially constructed centers around the grounds, including five, decade-focused music venues (The Tanqueray Torch Club, for example, features a 1940’s nightclub vibe and a stylish restaurant; by day there’ll be lessons in period dance steps followed by a tea dance—and by night, a burlesque show).

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Contest: Go Orange to Go to Amsterdam

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Lately, everyone seems to have World Cup fever. You can hardly walk by a bar without seeing a WC happy hour promo or browse the Web without coming across at least one headline. And now, with the finals upon us, that fever has spread to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, and rightfully so: the Dutch National Team—nicknamed Oranje (orange)—are celebrating their third ever placement in the World Cup finals. (They'll be playing against Spain on Sunday.)

So what better way to celebrate this feat than by starting a contest? The tourism board is offering two round-trip tickets to Amsterdam from any international airport in the world to one grand prize winner. What do you have to do? Show your love for Oranje...by getting decked out in orange—the country's historic, national color!

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Armchair Tour de France

The annual Tour de France bolts out of the starting gate on Saturday for three grueling and beautiful weeks of bike racing.  The TV and online coverage, on a sports channel called Versus, amounts to a vivid travelogue with sweeping helicopter shots of aqueducts built by the Romans, crumbling medieval ramparts in the Pyrenees, and green, undulating countryside.

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Giveaway: The Keys to NYC

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What do the Dalai Lama, A-Rod, Nelson Mandela, Placido Domingo, and countless tourists have in common? They all have keys to New York City. Well, kind of.

From now through June 27th, anyone can get a “Key to the City” in Times Square as part of Paul Ramirez Jonas’ public arts project. The free keys, handed out at a kiosk between 43rd and 44th streets, open 25 gates, doors, and cabinets throughout the five boroughs.

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New York Celebrates Latin Cuisine, June 4–12

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Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960’s, I thought I knew all about Latino cooking—which to my then-uninformed taste buds was pretty much limited to tacos, burritos, tamales, and other staples of Cal-Mex cuisine. I know different now, thanks to memorable plates of Brazilian feijoada, Puerto Rican mofongo, Cuban ropa vieja, and cosmopolitan Mexican dishes spiced with pico de gallo, mole poblano, ranchera, adobo, and dozens of other piquant sauces from south of the border. My eyes—and mouth—have been opened to the breadth of the region’s culinary treasures. (I confess, though, that I put my foot down when it comes to Andean guinea pig.) And then there are the cocktails: mojitos, daiquiris, caipirinhas, margaritas, pisco sours, pina coladas, Cuba libres…well, I get carried away.

It helps that I work in New York, where one can find restaurants from nearly every Central and South American nation, plus scores of Mexican eateries. So it’s fitting that New York is home to the new Gourmet Latino Festival, “the first world-class, socially conscious celebration of Latin culture and culinary traditions,” according to the organizers. Dozens of mixologists, chefs, authors, and wine experts will be on hand to share their knowledge and love of coffees, spirits, wines, beers, cultural traditions, and, of course, regional cooking.

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Derby Deals: Mint Juleps (and More) in Louisville

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Prepare yourself for big hats and even bigger bourbon hangovers, because this Saturday is the 136th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Since the actual horse race doesn’t last very long (the derby is often called "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports"), there will be plenty of time to explore downtown Louisville, especially the part of Main Street once known as “Whiskey Row,” now home to the Urban Bourbon Trail, a group of nine restaurants and bars offering bourbon flights and special bourbon cocktails like the mint julep, the official drink of the Derby.

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Lessons I Learned at the Boston Marathon

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Call me a 25-year-old crybaby, but I feel the only thing more exhausting than running a marathon is watching one. I just returned from the 114th-annual Boston Marathon, where my best friend in the world zipped along the requisite 26.2 miles (past the Ashland Clock Tower, Lake Cochituate, and Wellesley College girls offering runners smooches) at record speed. (That's three hours, 41 minutes, 13 seconds. Go Rachel Go!) And I got so tired searching for her gorgeous face among all those rolling past me in varying stages of elation and pain that I thought, “Never again! Never again will I sit on these sidelines without a box of Mike’s Pastry napoleons to keep me going!!”

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Virginia is for (Flower) Lovers

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As a Maine girl through and through, I’ve been a bit confounded lately by my new blossoming obsession with the South—plotting long weekends in Charleston, pouring over my new subscription to Garden & Gun magazine (for the record, it’s more lifestyle than weed-whacking and ammo), and daydreaming about the rolling green hills, gracious historic pockets of Virginia—and the serious bloomage happening there right now. But, I'm rolling with it.

While the Northeast (and probably other parts of the country) has just a few new-season daffodils, cherry blossoms, and electric-yellow forsythia bushes right now, the Commonwealth is ablaze with heart-stopping flora—everything from Osage orange trees and wisteria-laden trellises to rare rose breeds and Elizabethan herb gardens. And this coming week marks its apex: Virginia’s Historic Garden Week (Apr. 17-25), now in its 77th year.

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Old School: Celebrate "Record Store Day"

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When was the last time you bought a new album at an actual brick and mortar record shop? In the age of iTunes, it’s become the norm to download music from the internet. I'm guilty, too, even though you can frequently find me and my camera jammed in the front row covering concerts for various music publications.

Tomorrow, take advantage of the spring weather and head over to your local record shop for Record Store Day, a celebration of independently owned record stores in the United States, and other countries worldwide, now in its third year.

In addition to special vinyl and CD releases being made exclusively for Record Store Day from the likes of Phoenix and Jamie Lidell, there will also be a number of in-store appearances and performances from a wide variety of musicians, including Slash, Emmylou Harris, and Yeasayer.  Search for your local participating stores here. I’ve put together a short list of standout events after the break.

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