Urbanvacations’s Weblog

November 16, 2020

Road Trip! JESS@FriendsTravel.com

An aerial view of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Private vehicles. Rental vehicles. Recreational Vehicles. Motorcoach Tours. Rail Tours.
Bucket List Road Trip Covers 12 of America’s Best National Parks in One 5600-mile Route
One route to rule them all.

Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

In the early 1900s, national parks were largely playgrounds for the wealthy. Visitation often numbered in the tens of thousands, with itineraries fulfilled via rail tickets, stagecoach tours, and horseback rides.

When automobiles joined the scene, the average American — fresh from their own pandemic — had a chance to hit the open road, an opportunity to see the country like never before. But in this case, the “open road” was a muddy path or dusty trail, if it existed at all. And our national parks were still wild expanses barely fit for mules.

So, in 1920, 12 Americans — representing groups like the National Park-to-Park Highway Association — set out from Denver, Colorado, for a 5,600-mile road trip, lassoing 12 national parks into one massive loop. The goal! To draw publicity and tourism to the country’s public lands and to push for driveable roads that connect them.

The great American road trip was born.

From Denver, the first stop is Rocky Mountain National Park. Today’s visitors can take Trail Ridge Road across its alpine expanse; in 1920, the gang’s only option was Old Fall River Road, the park’s original auto route at nearly 12,000 feet. One hundred years later, it’s still an 11-mile stretch of dirt, open from July to September.

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The route then heads north up Interstate 25 through Cheyenne, Wyoming, bending eastward on Highway 14 through Cody and to Yellowstone National Park. To follow in the group’s footsteps, stay at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and give the nation’s first national park a solid four days.

Then, it’s off on the Yellowstone-Glacier Bee Line Highway through White Sulphur Springs, Great Falls, Browning, and to Glacier National Park in Montana. In 1920, the group could count 60 glaciers and zero real roads; today, there are 25 glaciers, and the Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the country’s most scenic drives.

Heading west on Montana’s Highway 2, from Kalispell toward Libby and the Idaho border, national forests abound in every direction into Spokane, Washington. Highway 2 runs out in Seattle, where the route turns south for Mount Rainier National Park. Be sure to visit Paradise on the south slope of the mountain — and be grateful you’re not traveling via mule team. It’s a straight shot south through Olympia, Portland, and Eugene, ultimately reaching Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Little has changed since 1920: The group stayed at the still-picturesque Crater Lake Lodge and completed the 33-mile Rim Drive, built just a year prior to their trip.

We will furnish you with a map, and an itinerary of all of your lodging accommodations along the way.

Your #TravelConcierge #JessKalinowsky
EMAIL: JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365
Will assist with routing, hotel arrangement along the way, entrance tickets to parks and events, all the details.
VISIT: www.FriendsTravel.com since 1985

Don’t want to drive, no problem, we have a selctions of motorcoach tours and/or rail tours. Remember: https://youtu.be/boertpylK0M

Snow on peaks and clearing clouds on scenic road in Zion National Park Utah

November 5, 2020

Ode To New York NY JESS@FriendsTravel.com

The city that never sleeps is in rebound mode and tourism officials are working to bring the millions of people who live in the Metro area back to their “home town” with deals and offers.

Images of a torn New York City, whose buzzing boulevards suddenly became silent and empty earlier this year are being replaced with those of a metropolis on the rebound. European-style sidewalk seating adorns restaurants from uptown to downtown, from Staten Island to the Bronx and from Brooklyn to Queens. Museums are reopening and resilient New Yorkers are making the most of their hometown, enjoying many newfound open spaces.

We are excited about how New York will recreate itself on its journey to recovery and, so, we spoke with Christopher Heywood, which handles tourism for all five boroughs to get the scoop on the comeback.

“People who are thinking about a trip to New York should feel confident that there’s been a lot of work done putting visitor safety first; whether you see that in the museums or transportation, or the whole outdoor dining focus,” A full menu of things to do across the entire city which should be prearranged by JESS@FriendsTravel.com

The New York City tourism industry is taking a hyper-local approach to get residents and those 20 million folks in the metro area to enjoy what’s in their own backyard through an “All in NYC” campaign. This is a great time to see New York without the crowds, but make no mistake, the goal is to get people back in the city to redevelop the vibrancy it’s known.

The “Neighborhood Getaways” program encourages New Yorkers to take advantage of deals and offers that are rarely available in the city that never sleeps. MasterCard is a corporate sponsor and is offering a $100 credit, depending on the amount spent.

The “New York Staycation” program has the messaging that “you may think you know New York, but you really don’t.”

Grand Central Station is a New York icon that draws tourists and locals in awe of its architecture.

“There’s so much to see and do, even for the most jaded New Yorker,” says Heywood. He says that even without Broadway, which will not reopen until next year, there are plenty of public arts available, the museums are open and as always, there are dozens of cultural offerings on a smaller scale to enjoy.

The bottom line, especially for those travelers who are so anxious to take a vacation during these challenging times? Know that the city has flattened the curve of COVID19 infections and continues to do this. And while it’s beaten back the pandemic, officials are still very cautious and remain hyper-vigilant about keeping the infection rate way down.

“I would say the biggest selling point for New York City right now is that we are the safest place to be in the country,”.

The Inside Scoop

We asked New Yorkers to paint a picture of what it’s like to be in the city right now.

“I’m a New Yorker and seeing my city get punched, then slowly recover and adapt during the crisis has been a testament to its resilience. When the doors are closed, we sing in the streets,”

“In addition to all the outdoor restaurant set ups, there’s a lot of music and creativity in the streets now, which I love. [On a recent] Sunday afternoon, while running errands in the East Village, I stopped in my tracks to hear a beautiful voice belting out ‘Somewhere’ from ‘West Side Story.’ I turned around to see a crowd had gathered at Astor Place — young and old, all walks of life. The New York Philharmonic was doing a pop-up concert. It was so moving, it literally brought tears to my eyes. The other night, I saw a random play in Fort Greene about 20-somethings dealing with life during COVID. Everyone sat on blankets six feet apart — including the actors. It’s an interesting time in history to see New York. I say, put on those walking shoes and start exploring,”

Laurie Palumbo, who is a local, says, “I love New York City and one of my favorite spots is The Bar at the Baccarat Hotel. I feel like I’m stepping back in time, the setting is so glamorous and decadent; watching the bartenders carefully mixing craft cocktails served in gorgeous Baccarat crystal glasses under gleaming chandeliers always puts a smile on my face! It’s on my post-COVID to-do list!”

“Living in New York City through COVID has been a wonderful experience to see young neighbors pitching in to check on older residents to say they can go shopping for needed supplies from the pharmacies or supermarkets,” says Kitt Garrett.

Winter in Central Park, New York.

Central Park never loses its romance, even as the colder months approach.

She says other efforts by locals include “pulling the community together to support the local mom-and-pop stores, joining the clean-up with our neighborhood committee, and appreciating the support from our building’s amazing staff to make sure we are all safe, and everything we need is provided. It’s the best of what it means to be a New Yorker, with people helping people.”

Lucille Ebbe Pucciarelli, lives in New Jersey and took a daytrip into the city recently. “Normally, I would be going to a museum or a play. When we got there we walked and walked…to the Flatiron District and we ate at Il Patio di Eataly, which was phenomenal. We walked through Madison Square Park and then up to Bryant Park, where we sat and enjoyed the view of my favorite park in New York. There were lots of people all about, enjoying the city. It was wonderful.”

New York eases its way into one’s soul and remains, year after year.

“I live in the Upper East Side,” says Ivan Igor Matta. “I moved to New York City 16 years ago after spending two weeks there as a tourist. I love the city for its vibe, because even if it is very expensive, the city keeps giving. You can be whoever you like and start fresh any day of your life.”

Limor Dector, recalls her first memory of New York City in 1971: “I was only six years old and we had just moved from Israel. We were immigrants, strangers in a new land and I remember going on the Staten Island ferry around Manhattan and seeing the Twin Towers being built, looming over the city skyline. I was speechless. I was astounded to see the world’s tallest buildings [at the time] in progress. That memory is etched in my heart and mind forever. The Twin Towers were the embodiment of the American dreams we came to pursue in the land of opportunity.”

Alison Kraft moved to New York from California in 1986. “I was a young girl looking to take on the universe in the hospitality world. I had never been there but wanted a change. The world opened up to me on those streets. It changed me forever,”.

Adventures in Dining

Amy Grigos, reports that, “Contrary to popular belief, New York is not dead. It’s beaten-up a bit, definitely, but it is doing everything it can to come back.”

She recently dined at three New York establishments to sample their outside dining venues. “First stop was Bellini at Mr. C Seaport. If you know anything about Cipriani’s, this is a great outdoor option. It’s slightly off-the-beaten path and you can still experience the same wonderful Bellini from Harry’s Bar in Venice. The hotel is doing a wonderful job as well, with social distancing and protocols. The view from some of the rooms of the Brooklyn Bridge can take the breath away of the most jaded New Yorker. The last time we dined there, we were informed they have heaters on order to extend the outdoor dining option into the colder weather. Bravo, Mr. C Seaport and Bellini!

“Next stop, Pastis on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. This place was an institution — you might remember from ‘Sex in the City’ — and when it closed, everyone was so deeply saddened. When Stephen Starr and Keith McNally reopened it in 2019, the celebrities were back in droves. To expand seating for outside dining, Gansevoort Street on this portion of the block is closed to traffic. It was a very cold night the evening we were there. People without reservations were being turned away, and to-go orders were flying out of the kitchen. They won’t bring you a cocktail until you order an appetizer at the very least. Some of the tables are under hanging heat lamps, but not all. We tried to return the other evening, last minute, but were unable to get a reservation, as they were fully committed. Tres bien, Pastis!

Looking north along 10th Avenue from the High Line elevated park, Chelsea, New York City, USA.

Gansevoort Street is noted for its in-demand dining and boutique shops. It’s busy even during these challenging times.

“Americans are still unable to go to Italy and enjoy the famous Tagliolini Al Limone at Hotel Santa Caterina and that’s something we have been craving since last summer when we were there. We decided one night to head to Morandi in the West Village to get our Italian fix. Morandi is known for their Fritto Misto di Pesce, which consists of salty, fried calamari; shrimp with the heads on and little whole fish, similar to sardines. This fried, salty combo is definitely a ploy to make your drink more and more wine than you would usually. We take no issue with more vino, especially on a cold Saturday night, eating outside without a heat lamp in sight. Morandi is always crowded, and you can usually dine pretty late, but during the pandemic they have stopped serving much earlier. We arrived just in time to grab a table outside, although they did have a few tables for inside seating (which were six feet apart). We ordered the Pici al Limone (hand-rolled spaghetti with lemon and parmesan) and a bottle of Barolo, closed our eyes and imagined we were on the Amalfi Coast. It was nice to be out and about, supporting New York City restaurants, but we can not wait to get back to Italy. Salute!

“So far on our nightly restaurant rounds in New York City, we are three for three. All three restaurants are doing the best they can under the circumstances, and we are happy to support them and pray things turn around, as New York is known for some of the greatest restaurants in the world.

“We are all in this together, so wear your mask, carry sanitizer, and support these great establishments, as we want to enjoy them and want them to be around for years to come.”

EMAIL: #JESS #Kalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365
VISIT: www.FriendsTravel.com

NYC NY PACKAGES: inclusive of airfare, hotel, entertainment venues, restaurant suggestions, and whatever YOU want, we can get it for you. 

October 25, 2020

#PerfectHotel #NOLA JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Filed under: Airfare + Hotel Packages,Foodie,Louisiana,Mardi Gras,NOLA,Urban Vacations — urbanvacations @ 7:32 pm

Situated in #NewOrleans’ #CentralBusinessDistrict is the historic hotel. Built in 1906, the hotel once served as home to the world’s first international trade center. The classic, timeless #Beaux-Arts-style building has enjoyed three distinct incarnations, serving each time as both a leading local institution and an international destination. In keeping with its preserved architecture, the building’s classically proportioned façade greets guests with monumental doors, white columns, elegant pediments and handcrafted gas lanterns.

Why You’ll Love It Here…

The Sleep: Each of the 117 rooms, suites and penthouses features spacious bathrooms, architectural artifacts, complimentary WiFi, Modern Fan Company’s Flute fan, iHome micro-stereos and Aveda bath amenities. Furnishings, linens and color palettes are hand selected by designer LM Pagano to create sexy, sophisticated, soothing spaces for your sleep. The #Penthouses offer terraces overlooking the #FrenchQuarter and #Mississippi River. Many of the rooms also feature views of the city.

The Taste: Set to a mesmerizing backdrop of flickering candlelight, named for the divine spirits in #Voodoo and serving imaginative spirits from small batch distilleries and vineyards, Loa is a destination bar that has quickly become a gathering place for creative local #artisans and entrepreneurs. “Spirit Handler”, Alan Walter, can be found behind the bar among a variety of fresh herbs, floral and other vegetation that lend to his apothecary-like operation. His nearly twenty propriety aromatic syrups contribute to his “Potations” and “Preparations” – inventive concoctions that are served in delicate #vintage #glassware, linking you to New Orleans’ colorful past with each sip.

The Snap: Banksy, a famous anonymous England-based street artist, created 11 pieces of vandalism art around the city. Even though many of the pieces have been vandalized or ruined, only a few pieces remain intact in New Orleans. One of the famous murals, The Looters, can be found in the hotel lobby. Make sure to get creative and do something fun with your picture.

Reservations: EMAIL: #JESS #Kalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365 

VISIT: www.FriendsTravel.com

October 22, 2020

Best Hotel Bars around the world. JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Filed under: Airfare + Hotel Packages,Best Bars Worldwide — urbanvacations @ 1:41 am

Hotel bars are the fast track to opulence.
When your wallet says no to spending hundreds of dollars on a bed for the night, the price of an Old-Fashioned will let you sail past the uniformed doorman, glide through a marble-clad lobby and sink into a leather armchair beside an open fire.

Budapest-based and New York-raised travel writer A. Akkam’s new book, “Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktail Recipes from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels,” celebrates hotel bars and their signature drinks.
While Covid-related restrictions mean that we can’t jet-set like we once did, but the hospitality industry is opening back up and is in need of our support.
Most major cities have at least one grande dame hotel keen to have you come back through its doors, so let this selection of edited excerpts from Akkam’s book inspire you to pay a socially distanced trip to a local hotel or to make plans for future travel adventures.

#Connaught Bar, #London #England UK
What to drink: Mulata Daisy (rum, lime, creme de cacao liqueur, Galliano, fennel seeds)
World’s 50 Best Bars
The Connaught Bar, at the namesake hotel, has rum-based drink you must try.
Courtesy World’s 50 Best Bars
This Mayfair institution, at which Charles de Gaulle often lodged, telegraphs a hushed country estate; its carpeted staircase with glossy wood bannisters is a highlight. Scope out the massive art collection — peppered with pieces by greats such as Louise Bourgeois and Julian Opie.
From $600 per night
Rates provided by #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa
Check availability: JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

Lobby Bar at Grand Hotel Europe, St Petersburg, Russia
What to drink: Million Red Roses (vodka, grapefruit juice, honey syrup, sparkling wine)
Grand Hotel Europe St Petersburg bar
Grand Hotel Europe: This five-star hotel offers 19th-century opulence.

Past the Ludwig Fontana-designed, neoclassical façade of Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, the barrage of marble and gilt carries one back to tsarist 1875, when the property opened as Grand Hotel d’Europe. Dostoevsky came around often, #Tchaikovsky honeymooned here and the enigmatic monk Rasputin, from behind drawn curtains, dined with politicians and paramours alike.
From $170 per night
Rates provided by #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa
Check availability: JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

#KOLLÁZS, Four Seasons Hotel #Gresham #Palace #Budapest, #Hungary
What to drink: Smoky Forest (mezcal, blood orange, pine)
KOLLÁZS — Brasserie & Bar, Four Seasons Budapest
KOLLÁZS is on the ground floor of the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest.
Courtesy Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
A 1906 Art Nouveau masterpiece, originally built for the Gresham Life Assurance Company by Zsigmond Quittner and József Vágó, it retains gobs of Secessionist-style features, including Zsolnay ceramic tiles, Miksa Róth-made stained glass, wrought-iron railings and peacock gates.
From $496 per night
Rates provided by #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa
Check availability: JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

#Sazerac Bar, #Roosevelt #NewOrleans, #Louisiana
What to drink: Ramos Gin Fizz (gin, simple syrup, egg white, cream, soda water, lemon and lime juice)

Famous Paul Ninas murals flank the curvaceous walnut-paneled room, furnished with elegant bar stools and plush banquettes.
The Roosevelt New Orleans
Seymour Weiss, owner of the Roosevelt New Orleans hotel, was buddies with Huey P. Long, the Louisiana governor and US senator who maintained a suite on the 12th floor of the hotel. The politician’s favorite drink was the frothy, labor-intensive Ramos Gin Fizz.
From $161 per night
Rates provided by #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa
Check availability JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

The #Drake Hotel, #Toronto, #Canada
What to drink: 92nd Street (Scotch whisky, green Chartreuse, apple sencha tea, green curry leaf and vanilla seltzer)
The Drake Sky Yard, Toronto
The Drake: Rooftop views in Toronto.
Courtesy The Drake
In Toronto’s West Queen West neighborhood, this property is an incubator of local, national and international art, with a proper performance venue in place, and that creativity extends to the lounge and mural-covered rooftop Sky Yard, where an artistic crew convene over drinks.
From $200 per night
Rates provided by #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa
Check availability JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

#Asia and #Australia
#Blu Bar on 36, #Shangri-La Hotel in The #Rocks, #Sydney #Australia
What to drink: (vodka, peach and nectarine vermouth infusion, orange bitters)

Blu Bar is way up on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La.
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
It would be foolish to come all the way to Sydney and not spend ample time basking within a sight line to the Sydney Opera House. That’s why many travelers plot an evening, or an afternoon tea, at Blu Bar on 36. From the 36th floor of the Shangri-La, it feels as if you are floating over the concrete, shell-shaped architectural wonder.
From $190 per night
Rates provided by #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa
Check availability JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

#RockBar, #AYANA Resort and Spa, #Bali, #Indonesia
What to drink: Lychee Martini (lychee, vodka, vermouth)
Guests must ride a cable car down a cliff face to arrive at this bar perched 46 feet above the Indian Ocean.
Guests must ride a cable car down a cliff face to arrive at this bar perched 46 feet above the Indian Ocean.
Ayana Resort & Spa Bali
On a clifftop above Jimbaran Bay, AYANA has a dozen swimming pools and butler-serviced villas tucked into the gardens. Rock Bar is maybe the most striking aspect of the property, where you can see the sun slink into the horizon, 14 meters (46 feet) above the Indian Ocean.
AYANA Resort and Spa, Sejahtera, Jl. Karang Mas, Jimbaran, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80364, Indonesia;

Check availability JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365


#ChillBar, #SixSenses #Laamu, #Maldives
What to drink: Abandon Ship (tequila, mango-cilantro cordial, pineapple, citrus and spicy fire-water tincture)
Chill Bar, Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu
Guests trek to remote Laamu Atoll to stay in one of the beachfront or overwater thatched villas at Six Senses Laamu. When they are done with their slate of open-air yoga classes and Ayurvedic treatments, they scatter off to the overwater Chill Bar and wait for the DJ or plop down onto one of the low-slung wooden stools at Sip Sip, the sunken bar that looks onto the Indian Ocean.
Six Senses Laamu, Laamu Atoll 15090, Maldives; 

Check availability JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365


#RiverLodge, #RoyalChundu Island Lodge, #Kambora, #Zambia
What to drink: Gin and tonic
River Lodge: Where guests retire after a day of activities.
Courtesy Royal Chundu
African sunsets are a sight to behold every evening, tinting the sky in a collision of deep red and orange hues. The ritual of the sundowner can be traced back to 19th-century Africa, when British officers would revive with a cooling, dusk-time nip of gin. Since those colonial days, the quenching pastime has evolved. The drink is largely a gin and tonic now, and it’s an essential component of any African holiday, particularly contemplative safaris.
From $1875 per night
Rates provided by #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa
Check availability JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

The #WillastonBar at the #SiloHotel, #CapeTown, #SouthAfrica
What to drink: Rose Ginvino (South African Musgrave rose gin, chenin blanc, lime juice, grapefruit juice, rose syrup, egg white)
The Silo Hotel will reopen November 23, 2020. The Willaston Bar will be open for resident hotel guests and outside guests by prior reservation only.
The Silo Hotel will reopen November 23, 2020. The Willaston Bar will be open for resident hotel guests and outside guests by prior reservation only.
Courtesy The Silo Bar
Powerfully intertwining the past and present on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is Zeitz MOCAA. Directly above the museum is The Silo Hotel. Opened in 2017, featuring a private art gallery and panoramic rooftop pool, it is a commanding presence, with “pillow” windows that soften the well-preserved concrete exterior. Through those bubbles of bloated glass, you’ll be nothing short of transfixed by the appearance of Table Mountain and the harbor.
The Silo Hotel, Silo Square, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, 8801, South Africa;
A. Akkam’s “Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktail Recipes from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels” is published by Hardie Grant, with hardcover copies retailing at $19.99 and Kindle at $8.11.

EMAIL: #JESS #Kalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365 for your free cocktails!

VISIT: www.FriendsTravel.com

October 21, 2020

Embrace the changing seasons with a fall getaway, JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Fall Forward
Embrace the changing seasons with a fall getaway, the proper way. Explore dynamic cities, relax by the pool, taste the new autumn menus at award-winning restaurants, then grab a sweater and watch a magical sunset from our rooftop decks (…or simply escape to our cozy rooms, where room service is only a phone call away.)

JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

Relax and slow down: stay two nights or more and
save up to 20% on our best available rate plus receive a $50 daily dining credit. Enjoy flexible reservations, with free changes or cancellations up to 24 hours prior to arrival.

Check Availability: Tell us: Who! When! Where!
We promise to get you THE most advantageous pricing on accommodations AND #DiscountAirfares First Business Coach

EMAIL #JESS #Kalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365
VISIT: www.FriendsTravel.com

October 18, 2020

When One needs basic accommodations in #Austin #Texas JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Filed under: Airfare + Hotel Packages,Austin,Foodie,Texas,USA — urbanvacations @ 2:25 am

Austin TX Motel

Sitting pretty in the heart of South Congress’ famed strip of restaurants, clubs and shops, Austin TX Motel is considered a beloved, quintessential part of the city’s authentic history. Operating as a motel since 1938, the property was transformed by famously hip hotelier Liz Lambert into a retro motor inn in 2017. Now operated by Lambert’s celebrated hospitality company Bunkhouse, the property’s newest chapter melds its uniquely Texas spirit, reflected in the original bones and iconic neon signage, with Bunkhouse’s authentic flare and distinctive design touch.

Why You’ll Love It Here…

The Sleep: Each of the 41 rooms and suites is decorated with pops of color, bold wallpaper, and bright, custom vinyl tufted beds reminiscent of the iconic sign, long wall-mounted golden wood desks with burgundy laminate and 1950’s-inspired seating. Other throwback touches include old-school push-button phones and vintage silkscreened music posters. Custom #Sferra sheets make the beds feel like home. The rooms also feature Everyday Coconut bath amenities by Alaffia, 40 & 50″ TVs as well as complimentary WiFi, phone and onsite parking.

The Taste: Inspired by #California #diners and the hearty #Mexican #fare of #Austin, Joann’s Fine Foods features an extensive all-day menu of tacos made with in-house flour and corn tortillas, hearty sandwiches and salads, grilled meats and seafood from a pecan-burning grill and more.  #TexMex at it’s finest. The beverage program includes daily juices with optional boozy add-ins,; #roja, #verde and #rosado #sangritas; playful #cocktails emphasizing #mezcal and #tequila and an #extensive #beer and #wine list. Open daily for #breakfast, #lunch, #dinner and #drinks, Joann’s offers a quintessential Austin dining experience for both visitors and locals alike.

The WOW: One thing really stands out is the iconic, throwback kidney-shaped pool lying at the center of the property. Sprinkled with reproduced mid-century chairs, tables and lounges set under classic red and white umbrellas, this is the perfect spot to soak up the sun and sip on some cocktails.

Our Favorite Room Retro Chic

The spacious 500 sq. ft. suite features high ceilings, a king bed and plenty of space to hang out. Like other rooms, the décor is funky and playful: red, tufted-vinyl platforms, custom Vousta wallpaper in a pattern of lips

JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

October 17, 2020

#Foodies World’s Best Cities for Food JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Filed under: Foodie — urbanvacations @ 4:22 am

World’s Best Cities for Food
In these cities, to travel is to eat, and eat well.

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

#Traveling #foodies are #insatiable — trust us, we know. To us, to travel is to eat, and eat well. If the ideal trip to you involves more eating than sightseeing or if you find yourself booking reservations at restaurants before anything else, then this list of TL reader-voted destinations is for you.

Our readers ranked these 25 locales as the top foodie destinations of the year. From the birthplace of mezcal to the cities with the most Michelin-starred restaurants and chefs, these are the best places to visit with an appetite.

Many of the cities on this list are within the same country or region, so allow this list to guide you through your very own foodie tour. From Japan’s Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka to Mexico’s Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende and, of course, France’s Lyon, Paris, and Aix-en-Provence, you can head in any direction and find the start and finish of your dream foodie crawl.

Alternatively, dedicate all your time to unpacking the dishes and culture of some incredible locations like Mendoza in Argentina’s wine country or Beirut, Lebanon’s capital city, where the produce is as exceptional as the appreciation for the experience of food.

Even the gastronomical capitals of the world, like Paris, have moved down our list to make room for America’s very own New Orleans and Charleston.

Let your curiosity rather than your established palate lead you on your next trip. Forget your favorite foods and, instead, travel with an open mind, knowing the myriad of dishes waiting for you to try them.

1. Oaxaca, Mexico

Choice of dried chili in Oaxaca market, Mexico

Chilis at a market in Oaxaca, Mexico

The birthplace of mezcal, Oaxaca comes in first place this year. It’s known for the way it marries its culinary traditions (think mole, molotes, and fresh, soulful dishes) with the innovative flavors of modern Mexican cooking.

Panoramic view of Beirut, Lebanon capital.

2. Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon

A consistent winner for food tourists, the capital city of Lebanon draws in culinary talent from all over the world, but it’s the traditional dishes crafted by Lebanese chefs themselves who continue to impress year after year.

Po-Boy restaurant along Magazine Street in the Garden District of New Orleans.

3. New Orleans
Po-Boy restaurant along Magazine Street in the Garden District of New Orleans

Traditional NOLA dishes have always been outstandingly delicious, but this Southern city continues to impress the palettes of people from all walks of life more and more year after year.

Spanish tapas called pintxos of the Basque country served on a bar counter in a restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain

4. San Sebastián Spain
Spanish tapas called pintxos of the Basque country served on a bar counter in a restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain

Donostia to the Basques, or San Sebastián, is home to some of the best seafood in the world and a staggering number of Michelin stars per square meter. Pintxos are the local style of tapas and, while traditionally delicious, serve as a canvas for some of the city’s culinary innovation.

5. Florence

From fettunta, the original garlic bread, to ravioli nudi, or naked ravioli, the food of Florence eventually appears all around the world at some of the most famed restaurants. Why not go to the source?

Rome, Italy – A quaint pizzeria on a side street in Rome, Italy. People sitting outside eating pizza while shop owner stands in the doorway. Other people walking by on street.

6. Rome

Gelato, pasta carbonara, and pizza are just the start — the abundance of culinary hotspots and traditional restaurants led by generations of the same family give the city’s nickname “Eternal City” a double meaning.

Nishiki Market, Kyoto – A fishmonger store selling varieties of fish which are cooked in many ways. A customer is gazing around inside the store as his order is being neatly wrapped.

7. Kyoto
Fishmonger at Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

There may be no better place to restaurant hop and make entire days of eating than Gion, Kyoto — a waterfront neighborhood with slender streets full of almost exclusively restaurants, high and low.

8. Charleston
A spread of BBQ in Charleston, SC

Charleston’s rich food scene stems from its people. Black-owned restaurants paved the way for this Southern city’s reputation for amazing American soul food.

An exterior twilight view shows a small Japanese restaurant (with individual grills) in the Akihabara district (known as Electric Town for its maze of electronics stores, but currently considered an almost sacred destination by members of Japan’s otaku culture, drawn to Akihabara’s video game centers, maid cafes, anime shops, and manga comics), located in Chiyoda Ward in central Tokyo.9. Tokyo
A restaurant in Tokyo, Japan

You could probably eat at a new restaurant in Tokyo every hour for the rest of your life and not hit every great one. While you may not visit this Japanese city exclusively to eat (there’s too much else to see and do), visiting the themed, renowned, and hidden restaurants should definitely be on the agenda.

10. San Miguel de Allende.Mexico
A street vendor makes tacos in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

One of Mexico’s more cosmopolitan cities, San Miguel de Allende has become home to some of the country’s most talented and innovative chefs. But the local, traditional dishes that have always been there still reign supreme.

11. Singapore
People at an outdoor bar in Singapore

The stalls of the many hawker centers across Singapore make the food culture what it is in this diverse country. Each market stall usually specializes in one dish that’s been perfected over generations.

12. Paris
Pains au chocolat at Du Pain et Des Idées in Paris, France

It wouldn’t be a list of the best foodie destinations without this legendary locale. From croissants to steak frites, Paris is a culture and fashion-loving foodie’s dream.

13. New York City
Dinner in New York

So many people living in New York City are originally from somewhere else, and they’ve brought their dishes with them…as well as the creativity and ingenuity that make the NYC food scene so vibrant.

14. Lyon
Waterfront in Lyon, France

A city you could eat in for the next 100 years without getting tired, Lyon serves French classics and fresh, modern dishes without the waiting list and price tag of Paris.

15. Bologna Italy
Pasta in Bologna, Italy

Dubbed Italy’s culinary city, Bologna has a way of life that almost revolves around its food. And with ingredients as quality as the cars that hail from this region, why wouldn’t it?

16. Chiang Mai
Thai food at a street market in Chiang May, Thailand

This city in Northern Thailand has some of the most renowned street food in the world. Quick and casual, the culture around eating here doesn’t accept shortcuts, no matter how fast the food is.

17. Mexico City
View of the Bellas Artes, in the Centro Historico Mexico City, Mexico

As the chefs of Mexico City combine global and national flavors more and more, this Mexican locale has become a major draw for foodies from around the world.

18. Aix-en-Provence
Cafe tables in Aix-en-Provence, France

Traditional, “home-cooked” French cuisine is the way of this university city in the Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France, so while the glossier spots are deservingly popular, the hidden, side-street establishments are just as deserving of praise.

19. Chicago Illinois
The river in Chicago, Illinois

When it comes to American staples, Chicagoans know how to do it up right (and greasy). But fine dining has more than settled in this Midwestern city and delivered its own approach to the concept — think warm hospitality meets culinary luxury.

20. Bangkok Thailand
The owners of Khua Kling Pak Sod restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand

Another legendary Thai street food destination, Bangkok’s confidence bleeds into its culinary atmosphere. If you’re from the West, you’re likely to have something you’ve never tried before — and it’s likely to be amazing.

21. Barcelona Spain
A dish at restaurant ACaC in Barcelona, Spain

Eating and drinking go together all night long in Barcelona. Tapas keep you energized during nights out dancing and drinking, but they are also rooted in tradition and encourage a deeper enjoyment of each and every item you eat.

22. Mendoza Argentina
People at waterfront outdoor bar at san martin park, mendoza capital, argentina

This Argentinian wine country, home to some of the world’s best malbecs, has claimed its own corner of the gastronomic and foodie travel scene with its unreal cuts of meat and fresh, unique produce.

23. Osaka
Men cook traditional Japanese street food in Osaka, Japan.

The takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and izakayas of Osaka, or the “Nation’s Kitchen,” are calling. And lucky for us, the latter doesn’t close until late.

24. Hong Kong
Aerial view of Hong Kong

Another vast city full of more culinary adventures than one could experience in a lifetime, and dim sum is only where the list begins.

25. Madrid Spain
Friends at a wine bar in Madrid, Spain

Wine and tapas are a way of life in this Spanish city. Don’t leave without trying paella, but that better not be the only thing you eat (cocido madrileño, oreja a la plancha, and more await).
JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365





October 13, 2020

#Québec, #Canada City Brea

Influenced by both #Europe and North #America, #Québec’s villages and cities are #brimming with #history and still offer easy access to nature. The urban centres offer a rich cultural life, including many different attractions, activities, restaurants and patios, vibrant and colourful neighbourhoods, beautiful parks and world-class universities. Take a deep dive in to #Montréal, one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world and a cosmopolitan centre for festivals

Our Incredible Road Trips:
Québec sets itself apart with its vast number of #mountains, #waterfalls and #rivers, a unique #fjord and the majestic St. Lawrence River. Whether you’re interested in #hiking, #adventure courses, #watersports, #dog #sledding, #mountain #biking, fat biking, high-adrenaline activities or the #tranquility of a #Nordic #spa, Québec provides you with an endless selection of outdoor activities. #Laurentians to decode what so incredible about this part of the province.

JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7365

October 9, 2020

#NewMexico #Albuquerque International #Balloon #Fiesta – USA

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – USA

An #enchanting display of over 500 #whimsical hot air #balloons dominate the skies of New Mexico’s Albuquerque over the span of nine days in early October at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Set in the majestic Rio Grande Valley, the festival features balloons in the form of dinosaurs, bumble bees and cartoon characters floating over the #SandiaMountains at day break. At the world’s largest hot air balloon festival, spectators have the opportunity to walk between the giant balloons and see them up close when they’re on the field, and are welcome to meet their skilled pilots.


#Canada #Montréal Just For Laughs Festival

#Comedy lovers have to attend the Just For Laughs Festival, which is held in Montréal each July. It’s the world’s largest celebration of the art. Now in its 37th year, festival goers can expect to be delighted by animated street performances and musicals by day, and engage in side-splitting performances at a number of stand up sets by night. Previous performers include Rowan Atkinson and Russell Peters, and the entire event proves to the world why Canada’s Montreal is the funniest city.



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