Thursday, June 30, 2016

The safest airlines in the world for 2016 include ANA, JAL, EVA Air, and Cathay Pacific.



These are the world's safest airlines, according to Airlineratings.com.

In alphabetical order, these are:

Air New Zealand
Alaska Airlines
All Nippon Airlines
American Airlines
Cathay Pacific Airways
Emirates
Etihad Airways
EVA Air
Finnair
Hawaiian Airlines
Japan Airlines
KLM, Lufthansa
Scandinavian Airlines System
Singapore Airlines
Swiss
United Airlines
Virgin Atlantic 
Virgin Australia

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Celebrate National Chocolate Day with The Hotel Windsor's Chocolate Decadence Afternoon Tea


The Hotel Windsor will be presenting the ultimate form of indulgence this July with its Chocolate Decadence Afternoon Tea, held for a limited time only from Thursday, July 7 to Sunday, July 17, 2016, in celebration of National Chocolate Day.

To celebrate the Australia's favourite sweet treat, The Hotel Windsor will present a three tiered stand with an array of chocolate filled desserts, including a chocolate Earl Grey tart, which is a chocolate tart with hazelnut and almond crunch and Earl Grey marquise; a chocolate and ginger macaroon, which is a chocolate macaroon filled with white chocolate and ginger custard, candied ginger; and chocolate banana mud cake, which is a chocolate mud cake with caramelized bananas, rum milk and chocolate trifle.

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A CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN
AND SCONES FROM THE HOTEL WINDSOR
IN MELBOURNE

There will also be a decadent chocolate fountain with marshmallows, white chocolate dipped strawberries, cheesecake bites and brownie bites.

The Hotel Windsor's famous traditional and sultana scones will also be served, and there will be a selection of chocolate, rum and golden raison and vanilla and buttermilk scones, baked fresh daily and accompanied with clotted cream, lemon curd and Windsor jam.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Travelife Contributing Editor David Lim on a photography trip to Bhutan



Businessman and serious photography enthusiast DAVID LIM packed his bags and camera for an extreme adventure in Bhutan in the current issue of Travelife Magazine with beautiful Istanbul on the cover.

“I can’t stop thinking about Bhutan. My whole experience made it so memorable, although I can’t quite point out anything in particular,” he said. 

Read more about his photography adventures in the current issue of Travelife Magazine. And here are some of David's thoughts on travel.

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WHAT TOOK YOU OUT OF YOUR TRAVEL COMFORT ZONE RECENTLY?

Being the last one up in a group of seniors to The Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan. It’s a two-hour, 2,000-feet hike up in thin air, and I did this hike in three. At the temple, I knelt and could not get up. So like a dog, I had to roll over to stand up.

TRAVELING WITH AN ITINERARY OR WITHOUT?

Definitely with an itinerary, but with plenty of free time to explore the place on foot.




MOST INTERESTING ENCOUNTER WITH A LOCAL?

Once an old lady screamed at me in a crowded area in downtown Buenos Aires. All eyes were on me. I wanted to walk away quickly but I decided to confront her instead. It turned out she was just warning me of snatchers and advising me to place my camera strap around my neck.

WHEN EXPLORING A NEW CITY: GET LOST OR NAVIGATE WITH A MAP?

Navigate with a map, preferably a digital map with GPS tracking.



WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A TRIP TO?

Antarctica on an icebreaker ship because it is pricey and hard to come by.

I WOULD RISK LIFE AND LIMB TO SEE…Nothing is worth risking life and limb for, not even Mt. Everest. I wonder if there are helicopter rides to the top?

WHAT’S YOUR LATEST, COOLEST TRAVEL DISCOVERY?
Iceland and the Midnight Sun.

DESCRIBE HOW YOUR FAVORITE FOREIGN CITIES SMELL.
It depends on the season. In summer, it’s lavender in Provence or jasmine in Tuscany – or the canals in Venice. Springtime, it’s cherry blossoms whether in Japan or in Washington, DC.




The Mary Poppins Festival in Queensland, Australia this July 2



Get swept up in the magic of Mary Poppins this Saturday, July 2, when Australia's most supercalafragalistic festival comes alive in the streets of Maryborough in Queensland where the author of Mary Poppins was born.



The iconic Portside precinct of Maryborough will be transformed to the whimsical place of Cherry Tree Lane to celebrate the achievements of Maryborough-born author of Mary Poppins, Pamela L Travers. 

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MARY POPPINS' CHARACTERS
ON THE STREETS

Magic will be in the air as heritage streetscapes are transformed into scenes from the novels and the Poppins characters come to life, including Admiral Boom, who fires his time cannon throughout the day.

Nanny races, chimney sweep challenges, sidewalk art, street theatre and circus workshops are part of a packed program that includes a grand costume parade and live music. Interactive craft experiences for the will be at the Mary Poppins festival. 



Children's workshops filled with hands-on creative sessions involving puppets, circus troupes, arty umbrellas and vintage styling makeovers are just some of the activities on offer this year.

The call is also out for keen Poppins pundits to dress up and take part in the hilarious Chimney Sweep Challenge for the young and young at heart.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Hosted Buyer Opportunity for Travel Agents for Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings (IT&CM Asia) 2016 in Bangkok


The next Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings (IT&CMA) Asia 2016 will be held in Bangkok this September 27 to 29, 2016, and #Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, is a proud partner of this IT&CMA.

Travel agencies in Asia now have an opportunity to attend this event as a hosted buyer with reimbursable return economy class airfare and complimentary hotel accommodations during the event.


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BENEFITS TO BUYERS

- Source from the largest collection of Asia-Pacific MICE & Corporate Travel suppliers
- Up to 100% pre-scheduled appointments with priority on your preferences
- Proven business platform with 43% of buyers confirming procurement on-site
- Complimentary city tours and post-show tours at special rates
- Complete access to education and networking opportunities

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"I've been sourcing suppliers and venues 
through IT&CMA since 2000."
- Shekhar Niyogi
Director, Travelcorp India

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"IT&CMA helped me to achieve my business objectives."
- Ana Claudia Barbosa de Almeda Alexandre
Manager, Sigma Incentive Portugal

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ADDED BENEFITS 
TO HOSTED BUYERS

- Reimbursable return economy class airfare to and from Bangkok*
- Complimentary hotel accommodations during ITCM Asia 2016*





Sunday, June 26, 2016

Buying fruit, bread and vegetables at a Munich food market. And about shopping along Storchenstrasse in Zurich.


On the last day of my most recent #Travelife to Europe, I walked to the food market of Munich in the Old Town to buy food from Germany to bring back home to Asia on a flight that evening.

I'd arranged for a late check-out just in time to take the car to the airport, so after a leisurely breakfast, I went off shopping, returning just in time to pack, order a pasta from room service, and then jump into the car with my three large pieces of luggage



I'd been in Europe for close to three weeks -- and here I am now flying back in that same direction again next weekend, after just two weeks in Manila; and in fact, to the extreme area of Europe instead of the centre of Europe this time -- and I'd not even come close to doing any major shopping for anything during this entire period. 

This was because we'd stayed mostly in the countryside on this last holiday and I'd actually become quite passive about going into stores.

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SHOPPING IN STORCHENSTRASSE
IN ZURICH

With the exception of a few hours of retail therapy along Zurich's lovely Storchenstrasse, that is. 

The Storchenstrasse is the best street for shopping in Zurich in my opinion, unless you want to buy a Swiss watch, that is, in which case you're better off heading for the more commercial area around the Banhof. 

As for me, I'd done my only shopping in Storchenstrasse and literally nowhere else, so I'd not even had time to purchase a souvenir.  Or even a bar of Swiss chocolate.

SHOPPING FOR FOOD 
AFTER BREAKFAST AT 
THE CHARLES IN MUNICH



So after a big breakfast at The Charles Hotel in Munich, I'd walked to the stores for an hour or two of intensive shopping. 

Nothing major as I didn't really need anything, and all I wanted was food.

My main objective was to bring back the Bavarian sausages I'd completely fallen in love with on one of my earliest trips to Munich years ago, as well as the sweet Bavarian mustard that you must eat with this to complete the experience, as well as authentic Bavarian pretzels I thought I might buy chilled or semi-frozen and then keep in my freezer and bake as needed.

AN AUTHENTIC BAVARIAN BREAKFAST


Sausages and pretzel constitute an old-fashioned Bavarian breakfast, although this set is also served all-day via room service at The Charles Hotel -- lucky me -- so I did have it for a midnight snack on the day I arrived in Europe at the start of my holiday three weeks prior. 

I hadn't been to Munich in four years so I was long overdue for a proper Bavarian breakfast.

But any German from this part of the country will tell you that no one eats these Bavarian sausages after 11 AM in Munich and its environs. 

LOOKING FOR FRESH BAVARIAN SAUSAGES

Anyhow, at the butcher's shop I could not find freshly-made Bavarian sausages that would weather well the flight back home which included a long stopover in Middle Eastern heat

And neither could I find the frozen pretzels. The fresh Bavarian pretzels, which are truly addicting, would not make the journey and these should be eaten within the same morning or you might as well not have them at all.

The fresh Bavarian pretzels are a world wide away from the store-bought commercial variety, by the way. Freshly baked artisanal pretzels are chewy and soft inside although slightly crunchy on the outside, while the store-bought kinds are just hard outside and rather dry inside.


As I couldn't find the pretzels that were in a condition for long storage, I decided to buy some French-style baguettes that I could pop into the oven for baking just before serving instead. Haven't tried them but I hope to do so when I get back from a rather crazy series of trips over the next few months.

I bought these packs of semi-baked bread on a whim and I hope they're good. 

But these ended up to be very good buys because I needed the equivalent of space buffers  in my luggage for some lovely golden glass bowls I'd bought that same morning in Munich at a glass store, and these bread packs certainly did the trick quite nicely so all my glass bowls made it home intact.

BUYING STRAWBERRIES AND WHITE ASPARAGUS
IN GERMANY


For the most part, however,  I ended up in the food and vegetables stores where I picked up a couple of things for my two weeks back in Asia. The strawberries were purchased with fingers crossed as strawberries do not usually last in heat, but I bought a few cartons anyway.

The best buys were the white asparagus which came in different sizes. 

I only took photos of the smaller versions, but the food market had much larger ones, and these were what I bought. I served these to friends back home in Asia last weekend, lightly steamed with a dash of French butter and Camargue sea salt. 

Absolutely delicious.


ONE SUITCASE FOR SHOPPING

Luckily, I'd brought along one empty suitcase just for food shopping. Yes, I brought three pieces of luggage to Europe.

But I'd left the empty suitcase in storage at The Charles Hotel in Munich upon arrival as it was completely empty anyway, and then I just picked it up on the return to Munich and filled it with food just before flying back to Asia.

FINALLY BUYING AN OLD-FASHIONED
EUROPEAN PASTA MACHINE

Then, a bit of pyschology kicked in. 

I still had space and luggage allocation back to Asia in spite of two very full and heavy suitcases already, so I finally bought an old-fashioned pasta maker from a German company that I'd had my mind and eye on for months -- if not years.

I'd hesitated all this time because wonderful fresh artisanal pasta is so easy to get from my food source near my home in Tokyo. My neighbourhood food source uses Hokkaido ingredients and Italian techniques with a dash of Japanese diligence to make the best fresh pasta I've ever tasted. No need to make my own.

HAVE LUGGAGE SPACE,
WILL TRAVEL

And in Manila, I'm so rarely at home to actually make my own pasta. So there was little incentive to pick up this pretty heavy pasta maker until now.

But with luggage space and the exact machine I'd been thinking about at a store I happened to walk into, I decided to go for it and this got stuck into my suitcase as well.

NO TO THE ISSEY MIYAKE DRESS
IN ZURICH



So no major shopping in Europe on this last trip, although I'd fallen in love with a dress from Issey Miyake displayed in his very comprehensive boutique along Storchengrasse in Zurich, and I seriously thought about this as the top-end of Issey Miyake clothes differ per store since they don't produce a big lot per design. 

So if you're an Issey Miyake fan like me and you find something you really like somewhere else in the world aside from at the main Issey Miyake boutiques near my home in Tokyo, you should really just buy these as you're unlikely to see them again. 

But I didn't buy them for some reason, and instead I'd come home from Germany with a suitcase full of food.



SHOPPING IN SCANDINAVIA

I'm not so sure if my trip to Scandinavia this weekend will follow this pretty puritanical route, though.

I'm traveling with a wonderful bunch of friends who are all pretty diligent in the shopping department. And the last time we'd traveled together as a group -- which was for a holiday to Morocco -- we'd all enabled each other to maximize our credit cards.

And already I have in my mind to load up on the freshest fish oil in the world, some rare Icelandic herbs and some nice kitchen things from Copenhagen and Malmo over the border in Sweden, as we are also spending one day in Malmo as a last hurrah. 

As always, living a never-ending #Travelife.  #psyched


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Steak and a caramel sundae for lunch at T.O.M. Cafe at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne



Driving in from a very nice stay in the mountains above the town of Vevey in Switzerland two weeks ago, living a #Travelife, we headed straight to the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne where we were booked for a nice long stay.



It was close to lunch and we'd reserveded a nice table right on the terrace of the T.O.M. Cafe of the Olympic Museum. And we were already a few minutes late.

So almost without pausing for breath we handed the doorman of the Beau Rivage Palace the keys to our car so that he could park it and take care of our luggage, and then we asked him: "How do we get to the Olympic Museum from here?"


ALWAYS LUCKY IN EVERYTHING



As luck would have it, the Olympic Museum was literally next to the Beau Rivage Palace so we couldn't have created a more perfect schedule for ourselves.

I like seamless trips and I really can't stand badly planned ones, but even by my pretty exacting standards for logistics, this was as perfect as it could get.



With the car in good hands, we were about to walk down the driveway towards the main road when the doorman said: "You can actually just walk across our garden. There's a little gate at the end and that takes you straight to the museum."

Talk about lucky. In everything. And I never forget this every single day.


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SHORTCUT TO THE OLYMPIC MUSEUM

So we walked across the gardens on this beautiful day, with people playing tennis in the courts just below the pathways, and found the gate with a code to let hotel guests out.

And just as the doorman said, we took two steps out of the Beau Rivage Palace garden and -- voila -- there we were at the steps of the Olympic Museum.



The Olympic Museum is at the top of a hill overlooking Lake Geneva and T.O.M. Cafe is at the top floor of this, so you can imagine the nice view you have from a good table here. On a clear day you can see right across the lake to the town of Evian-les-Bains in France.

And we had one of these tables, which put us in a very good mood, of course.

CASUAL CHIC AT T.O.M. CAFE



The T.O.M. Cafe is a very casual restaurant, but on a beautiful day, it was the perfect place for lunch in Lausanne.

And with the sunny weather and the animated crowd of locals and tourists around -- yes, T.O.M. Cafe is a great favorite of well-heeled locals as well -- I was suddenly hungry, so I ordered four courses including soup, salad, a proper Swiss steak, and an equally proper caramel sundae.



The Swiss steak was way leaner than what I'm used to in Tokyo, but it was nicely seasoned and perfectly done -- and so beautifully plated, as well.

We downed everything with several glasses of local Swiss wine, as Swiss wine is not the kind of drink that usually makes it to restaurants in our part of the world, so we wanted to see if we could discover some nice ones.

We certainly did discover some nice wines at T.O.M. Cafe, and happily so, as it seemed a shame to be drinking just water over a lunch like this, on an early summer afternoon in Lausanne, living a never-ending, and never-endingly delicious #Travelife. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

The San Juan Festival Starts off the summer in the Costa Dorada in Catalonia, Spain



The towns of Salou, Cambrils and Vila-Seca-La Pineda celebrated the summer solstice on June 23 with the San Juan festival.

An evening of fireworks, bonfires and live music was prepared, and the traditional festival is a vibrant and colourful celebration of the summer with events taking place throughout Catalonia. 

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THE DANCE OF THE DEVILS

As part of the festivities, Cambrils showcased the region's famous human towers (castells), while all three destinations held 'dance of the devils' around the bonfires. Ahead of the event, local children walked through the villages collecting old furniture from their neighbours for the large bonfires that were lit during the festival.

The bonfires symbolised the burning of the old and the beginning of a new season.



THE COCA DE SAN JUAN PASTRY

The San Juan festival is also famous for the coca de San Juan pastry which is produced en masse by the local chefs and bakeries. The sweet pastry is a favourite with children and is covered with candied fruits.

The Forn Sant bakery in Cambrils has been producing the pastry since 1865. Many of the local campsites will be organising street parties, special tasting menus, live music and children's shows to celebrate the start of the summer.

*Photos courtesy of the Federation of Tourism in Tarragonia

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday Celebration hosted by the British Embassy in Manila



It was A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June as British Ambassador Asif Ahmad hosted a Shakespeare-themed party at the British School Manila in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

It was a triple celebration as the British Embassy also marked 70 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and the Philippines and 400 years of William Shakespeare’s life.

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THE VALUED SPONSORS
OF THE UK EMBASSY PARTY

Ambassador Ahmad and his partner Kim del Mundo arrived in style in a sleek Bentley Mulsanne.

As they made their way through the red carpet they stopped by the decorative displays by sponsors Arup, Aston Martin, Bentley, Dyson, Etihad Airways, HSBC, Jaguar Philippines, JCB, Marks & Spencer, MINI, Pru Life UK, Quorn, Shell, Standard Chartered, STI, Twinings, Unilever (Magnum Ice Cream) and Whyte and Mackay (Dalmore). 



Participants from the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines and the British Council, as well as Repertory Philippines actors clad in fairy-inspired costumes and Elizabethan wear welcomed VIPs into the spacious venue filled with lush foliage reminiscent of scenes from the Bard’s famous play.


THE ENTERTAINMENT & SPEECHES
AT THE UK EMBASSY PART



A display of iconic commemorative coins featuring The Queen and William Shakespeare adorned the stage. The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra provided the entertainment which completed the ethereal ambiance.

Onstage for the traditional toast were the Ambassador Ahmad, Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Giuseppe Pinto, with Deputy Ambassador Nigel Boud as Master of Ceremonies.



VP-ELECT LENI ROBREDO LEADS
GUESTS AT THE BRITISH EMBASSY PARTY

Among those that joined the celebration were Vice President-Elect Leni Robredo, Senator-Elect Risa Hontiveros, Senator Sonny Angara, Roberto Coyiuto of PGA Cars, Wellington Soong of Jaguar/Land Rover and Former President Fidel V Ramos.



Asia’s best female chef Margarita Fores served a delightful assortment of British favourites, among them Scotch Eggs, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish & Chips, Yorkshire Pudding and Eton Mess.

“Here in the Philippines when good friends meet, we like to eat, drink and be merry,” the Ambassador concluded. “And to that sentiment, I add a famous Shakespeare line: If music be the food of love, play on.”