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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Domenico Dolce & Steffano Gabbana are designing the Christmas tree of Claridge's in London again this year



Claridge’s, the iconic Mayfair hotel in London, will once again be asking Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, long-time friends and guests at Claridge's, to design their legendary annual Christmas tree.

This year’s Christmas tree at Claridge's will be surrounded by a magical enchanted forest, and decorated with many woodland animals such as foxes, deer and squirrels that gather near the fire.

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FOR ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD

Adorning the Claridge's Christmas tree will be hundreds of hand-painted blown glass spheres that illustrate the London’s most famous landmarks, symbolizing the many Christmas traditions from all over the world.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are dedicating this tree to all the children of the world. In doing so, they will be recalling the many happy Christmases cherished from their own childhoods. 

A LOVELY LONDON TRADITION



The Claridge’s Christmas Tree has long been a festive landmark, drawing visitors and Londoners alike to marvel at its magnificent design.

This is the fifth year that Claridge’s has invited a favourite hotel guest to create and decorate the Christmas tree in their own inimitable style.

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Thomas Kochs, Claridge’s general manager, said “We are delighted to invite Domenico and Stefano to spread their special magic in our lobby once again. Our guests and staff loved their tree so much last year that we just know they will create something equally memorable and enchanting this time."

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THE HAPPIEST TIME OF THE YEAR

He added: "Both Claridge’s and Dolce & Gabbana are synonymous with timeless glamour, innovative spirit and traditional family values that are so important during Christmas”

Meanwhile, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana said: “Christmas is the happiest time of the year for children and we want to celebrate it with a tree that brings together all the different cultures from around the world."



They added: "We thought of an enchanted forest where the real meets the unreal, just as it does the night before Christmas. It is a very special tradition because it helps spread our love for Italian craftsmanship around the world. It is our second year creating the tree at Claridge's, a symbol of London that holds a special place in our hearts.”

And in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.




A bad traffic problem on a Saturday morning and lunch onboard Japan Airlines from Manila to Tokyo


Yesterday, in Manila living a Travelife, I was up bright and early to head for the airport in spite of staying up all night, and just in time for the Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo.

TRAFFIC IN MANILA
ON A SATURDAY MORNING

It was an early Saturday morning -- 730 AM to be exact -- and there was traffic on the road to the airport.

I don't really know what else to add to the frustration of everyone over the traffic and crime situation in Metro Manila, but I hope that someone fixes or at least improves this mess very soon.

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WEEKEND IN BANGKOK

In contrast, I was just in Bangkok a few weekends ago, and it seems that they've found a way to fix their traffic problems.

They still have congestion, of course, but friends who shuttle regularly between both cities say that Bangkok has definitely improved its infrastructure.


WHAT A NIGHTMARE

So on the way to Manila's NAIA 1 airport yesterday, all I could think of was how this city is ever going to attract more tourists in significant numbers if the infrastructure is such a nightmare.

Then I arrive in Tokyo, at Narita Airport, which is one of the airports located farthest to a major city.

FAR, BUT SMOOTH AND QUICK

It's over 70 kilometres from Tokyo, but in all my years of traveling this route by car, I've never had a major problem.

It's one hour door-to-door by car on a typical day, with only pockets of congestion.

Traveling to Japan on Japan Airlines, too, is such a pleasant experience.


THE GOOD OLD DAYS

Years ago, JAL used to fly the bigger jets between Manila and Tokyo and business class was bigger and the seats were the ones adapted for long-haul.

And occasionally, JAL would even send the really long-haul jumbo jets for some reason; and as I always reserve either the front row or the 2nd row for the flight, I would get a First Class seat as rows 1 to 5 on the long-haul jumbo jets are the in the First Class section.

Western lunch onboard JAL yesterday

Yes, there was a time when JAL sometimes flew the planes with a First Class section between Manila and Tokyo, and everyone in rows #1 to 5 got lucky and enjoyed a really spacious cabin and a flat bed to Tokyo on a business class ticket.

The food was still business class, but it was really nice to have a good sleep all the way to Tokyo.



These days, it's a small plane with business class seats for a regional flight, so they don't go flat all the way.

But then again, this isn't really anything to complain over, as only one airline flies the Manila-Tokyo route with a flat bed, and that's Delta Airlines, which uses the same jet that goes on to New York's JFK Airport.

THE SERVICE ONBOARD JAL 
IS JUST GREAT




So it's a smaller plane and a smaller business class section, but JAL's pretty nice Japanese lunch and the great service onboard sure make up for it.

The Japanese lunch is always a shokado-style, so you have lots of delicious little things in compartments in a lacquer box, accompanied by a main course of fish or meat.

THE REAL THING



What I also like about JAL is that they serve real and real strong green tea onboard, so I'm on sparkling water and green tea all the way to Tokyo usually.

And, with all that caffeine, when I land in Tokyo, I'm wide awake for anything and everything in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A gastronomic birthday dinner in Tokyo

One of the many courses for dinner
at one of Japan's best restaurants,
living a Travelife.

So yesterday, headed on for another never-endingly eventful TravelifeI boarded a Japan Airlines plane to Tokyo very early in the morning.

This was after a very enjoyable and late evening spent making merry at the Peninsula Manila on the night of my birthday.

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FIRST LOOK AT OLD MANILA
IN SOFT OPENING STAGE

We were a nice and large group at the newly-opened Old Manila, which is still in soft opening stage but already very nice, and my seat mate and I shared a 300 gram rib eye steak and about half a dozen appetizers.

This included a very fresh buratta, a seafood tortellini, a plate of steak tartare and a seafood consommé.

And these were just the starters.

One of the many courses for dinner
at one of Japan's best restaurants,
living a Travelife.

A WONDERFUL DINNER

I really enjoyed this dinner and I shall write more about it later. 

But it was very kindly hosted by Peninsula Manila GM Sonja Vodusek and it included the general manager of Amanpulo and his wife, and a couple of very nice people also from Tokyo.

So basically, I was with the GMs of two of the very finest hospitality establishments in the Philippines.

One of the many courses for dinner
at one of Japan's best restaurants,
living a Travelife.

THE BEST SERVICE IN THE AIR

The flight to Tokyo on JAL was pleasant as always. 

I've written this before and I'll write it again. 

I've ridden almost every major airline and the crew in business class is always nice and professional on most major airlines. But I really think Japan Airlines has the best service in the air.

One of the many courses for dinner
at one of Japan's best restaurants,
living a Travelife.

Business class yesterday was full of lawyers as there's an international law conference going on in Tokyo this week, and many lawyers from Manila and their spouses were on planes to Tokyo yesterday. 

In fact, I'm seeing some of them this week, so I have my hands full coordinating restaurant bookings at all the Michelin-starred restaurants everyone wants to eat in, since they're here in Tokyo.

Then next weekend, I'm jumping on another plane again, this time for a food trip holiday in Hokkaido with the Travel Companion.

One of the many courses for dinner
at one of Japan's best restaurants,
living a Travelife.

A BIRTHDAY DINNER IN TOKYO

Anyway, upon arrival in Narita yesterday, I jumped into a waiting car and headed for the city to freshen up and make it in time for a very nice birthday dinner.

We ate somewhere very famous -- world-famous, in fact -- and delicious, near my neck of the woods.

One of the many courses for dinner
at one of Japan's best restaurants,
living a Travelife.

NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN, TOKYO

The evening was fine and it was rather nice to be back in the First World again, enjoying another birthday dinner with friends, this time in Tokyo, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.