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Contest Watch: Galapagos, Shopping Spree, More!

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For some, the holidays can be joyous, delicious, and restful. For everyone else, there’s Contest Watch! If you need something to look forward to during these short days and cold nights, hit up these contests for solace and excitement. Can’t get far enough away from Aunt Milly? How about the Galapagos (above)? Need a daily fix to get you through a long stay with prying in-laws? Click on ever-changing giveaways from Design Hotels. Of course, if you love your family and need more quality time, there’s always the kid-friendly ski vacation from Virginia Tourism.

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Hotspots on Melbourne's High Street

shopping in Melbourne's Northcote neighborhood

You’ll find offbeat fashion boutiques, live music venues, and more on this off-the-beaten-path strip in Melbourne's Northcote neighborhood, a new hub for the city’s creative-cool crowd.

Hand-printed totes and knit hats—plus other crafty accessories such as earrings made from comic book pages—are the stock-in-trade at I Dream a Highway. 259 High St.; 61-3/9481-8858.

Northcote Social Club showcases indie musicians from near and far. Don’t miss the upscale pub grub served in the outdoor beer garden. 301 High St.; 61-3/9489-3917; dinner for two $50.

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Travel-inspired Candles by Astier de Villatte

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How’s this for a flame of the month? Paris-based ceramics company Astier de Villatte recently unveiled a range of scented candles inspired by some of the world’s loveliest locales. With hints of, say, the wisteria-covered trellises of the Grand Hôtel in Cabourg, France—where Marcel Proust penned part of his classic Remembrance of Things Past—and a patina to match, they’ll surely transport you to another time or place.

Candles from $75, astierdevillatte.com

Christine Ajudua is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: Lars Klove.

Muriel Brandolini's Design Inspiration

Muriel Brandolini

With a new book out this month and a pop-up store at Barneys New York through November, Vietnam native Muriel Brandolini has truly landed on the style map. Here, the designer tells T+L about the country that informs her textured, vibrant interior designs.

Q: What are some memorable moments from your last trip to Vietnam?

A: I stayed at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa (doubles from $175) and trekked with a guide to the isolated Hoang Lien Son mountain range, near the Chinese border. Wandering through the Bac Ha Sunday Market in Sapa in search of crafts and textiles is extraordinary.

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3 Great "Techcessories" for the Music Lover

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If you're like me, you can't be without your beloved iPod-or other MP3 player when traveling. Whether it's passing time on a long bus commute (my primary mode of transportation) or soaking up the rays at the beach, the perfect tunes enhance the travel experience. And so, in turn, do the perfect tech accessories.

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Helsinki: So Hot Right Now

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It may be getting chilly in the Baltics, but Helsinki is heating up. Finland’s biggest city—perhaps best known for its colorful Marimekko prints and Modernist works by the late, great Alvar Aalto, not to mention its abundant saunas—has been named the 2012 World Design Capital.

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Copenhagen's Top New Hotspots

Copenhagen hotspot: Meyers Bageri

Once-gritty Jægersborggade, a cobblestoned thoroughfare in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district, has been transformed by locals selling everything from house-made candy to flea-market treasures.

Arrive early at the compact café Meyers Bageri, owned by a cofounder of Noma (S. Pellegrino’s best restaurant in the world for 2011). The pumpkinseed rye bread and cinnamon buns made with organic Nordic flour often sell out by 9 a.m. No. 9; 45/3918-6900; breakfast for two $15.

Coffee Collective brews a clean cuppa using direct-trade beans from the developing world that are hand-roasted on site. Learn DIY techniques during one of its monthly courses. Coffee for two $6.

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Online Shop Sells Cool Finds from India

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Sub-continental style takes on a refreshing meaning with the launch of “Shop of Indian Origin” (SOIO) this month. Irked by stale representations of Indian design—think mango motifs and Taj Mahal prints—U.K.-based entrepreneur, Nisha John, created a much-needed web portal for artists and designers “linked to India by body, mind our soul.” The result is a delightfully whimsical collection (paintings, jewelry, clothing and home goods) of over 300 pieces that include rickshaw-patterned flip-flops, teak wood purses, and pillowcases splattered with images from vintage Bollywood films.

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A Luxe Travel Insider Launches New Website

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PR guru/savvy entrepreneur/enthusiastic globetrotter/longtime friend of T+L Melanie Brandman lives a life many would envy, traveling to all corners of the globe for her namesake company’s top-name travel clients.

And having also grown up in Australia and the Middle East, it’s no surprise Melanie’s world view is big—one that’s surely influenced and helped cultivate her good eye (and her good taste). Few know, however, that before her start in the travel industry, she worked as an editor at Vogue Australia.

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Today, Melanie officially returns to her early professional roots with the launch of The Travel Curator. The new website is her little black book of favorite finds from the road. Think of it as the short list or cheat sheet (hotels, restaurants, shops, more) for the world’s top luxury destinations mixed with smart trend coverage.

The first city in the spotlight? Sydney, of course. Melanie tips readers off to everything from a Surry Hills boutique renown for its custom textiles to what she calls “the best food truck in the Southern Hemisphere,” which sells meat pies with all the fixings around the clock. “Believe me, at 2 a.m. it’s just what the doctor ordered.” We do, Melanie!

Next month, travel with Melanie to New York City.

Gerhard Richter Retrospective Opens at The Tate

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This year marks the 80th birthday of abstract German painter Gerhard Richter, and London’s Tate Modern is paying homage with “Gerhard Richter: Panorama,” an expansive retrospective of the artist’s career across the past five decades. Richter’s work can’t easily be pegged to one aesthetic, and the exhibit (opening October 6) — featuring photograph-based portraits, landscapes, glass constructions, works on paper and color charts—displays the full range of his often politically-charged collection.

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