Luxe Adventure Traveler http://luxeadventuretraveler.com Adventure Travel With a Glass of Wine Wed, 27 May 2015 21:11:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Four Tips to Maximize Your Time in Paris http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/maximize-your-time-in-paris/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/maximize-your-time-in-paris/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 06:38:55 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=6249 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Audrey Hepburn famously said “Paris is always a good idea.” We couldn’t agree more! Like most of our readers who travel when you can get away from work, we’ve also visited Paris on short breaks. Of course, as a first time visitor you want to see it all but that quickly becomes a pretty ambitious [...]

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Audrey Hepburn famously said “Paris is always a good idea.” We couldn’t agree more! Like most of our readers who travel when you can get away from work, we’ve also visited Paris on short breaks. Of course, as a first time visitor you want to see it all but that quickly becomes a pretty ambitious plan. So just how do you maximize your time in Paris? After a few trips to Paris over the last six years, we’ve put together these tips for how to maximize your time in Paris:

Louvre Paris

Long lines at the Louvre

1. Skip the lines with the Paris Pass.

Paris is the most popular city in the world to visit. Over 30 million people visit Paris each year! Waiting in line for hours at attractions like the Louvre or Notre Dame is the biggest time suck you’ll face when visiting Paris. One of the smartest things you can do is to invest in the Paris Pass, which gives pass holders elite fast track entrance to many of Paris’ most popular museums and attractions. By saving time skipping the line, you’ll have time visit more attractions or spend a little time enjoying a leisurely lunch.

The Paris Pass is available for 2, 4, or 6 days and gives you free entry to over 60 Paris museums and attractions, and use of the hop-on-hop-off bus plus unlimited journeys on all Paris public transportation within zones 1 – 3, which covers all of central Paris.

I recommend visiting the following attractions on day 1 of your 2-day Paris Pass:

  • Louvre
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Notre Dame
  • Bateaux River Cruise (at night is best to see Paris lit up)
  • Hop On Hop Off Bus (picks up near Arc de Triomphe and will take you to all these attractions)

Also with the Paris Pass, you can visit the Palace of Versailles. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. It will take an entire day, but don’t miss it! To get to Versailles, take the metro to the Champ de Mars stop (Eiffel Tower stop) and change to the RER C train. It takes about an hour to reach Versailles.

Eiffel Tower2. Plan ahead.

We all have romantic ideas of giving in to our whimsy, but if you want to see the main sights of Paris you will need to plan ahead. Keep in mind that your Paris Pass is based upon a calendar day, so if you activate your pass at 4pm on Saturday, Saturday is counted as day one of your pass usage. Instead, if you are arriving in Paris mid-day plan activities not on your Paris Pass like visiting the Eiffel Tower and save time by booking your timed entry online to avoid waiting in the long lines.

Leave the other days of your short break to go shopping, take a macaron cooking class, visit Galeries Lafayette (Paris’ most famous department store) or wander Paris’ parks and gardens.

Parc de Monceau Paris

Parc de Monceau

3. Make use of public transportation.

The Paris Pass include use of all Paris metros, RER, buses, trams, SNCF overland suburban trains, and the Montmartre Funicular within zones 1 – 3 and a two-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Paris. Utilize public transportation to get between sights on day one and two of your Paris Pass and then cash in your voucher for the two-day hop-on-hop-off bus in the evening of the day your Paris Pass expires. Doing so allows you to use the two-day hop-on-hop-off bus to get around the city once your Paris Pass expires.

Oyster Bar at Galeries Lafayette

Oyster Bar at Galeries Lafayette

Hot potato cart at Gardens of Versailles

Hot potato cart at Gardens of Versailles

4. Don’t waste time with long lunches.

We enjoy – and often need – a sit-down break from being on the go. But you don’t need to sit down for a two hour lunch each day of your trip. You can have a gourmet lunch-on-the-go in the food hall at Galeries Lafayette. And when we say food hall, that doesn’t begin to describe it! There is a raw oyster bar, champagne bar, tea room, and just about every type of “take-out” you can imagine. Eat in the cafeteria-style dining room with a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower.

Or pop in to one of Paris’ many gourmet markets and grab a baguette, some cheese and a bottle of wine. Have lunch outdoors in one of Paris’ many gardens.

What tips do you have to maximize your time in Paris?

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7 Must Visit Wineries for Cantine Aperte http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/cantine-aperte/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/cantine-aperte/#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 01:44:00 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=54867 Luxe Adventure Traveler

  “And on the seventh day God rested from all the work he had done.” Twelve years of Catholic school has the Book of Genesis burned into my brain. But in America, not much is actually closed on a Sunday. As Americans our 24/7, go-go-go, need-it-now mentality makes us forget that time practically stands still [...]

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Cantine Aperte Friuli Venezia Giulia

Map of Cantine Aperte in the Friuli Venezia Giulia

“And on the seventh day God rested from all the work he had done.” Twelve years of Catholic school has the Book of Genesis burned into my brain. But in America, not much is actually closed on a Sunday. As Americans our 24/7, go-go-go, need-it-now mentality makes us forget that time practically stands still on Sundays in other parts of the world. Italy is one of those places and outside of the major cities like Rome, Venice and Florence, you won’t find much open on a Sunday. Certainly not wineries! Except for one Sunday each year when wineries across every region of Italy open their doors during Cantine Aperte and no reservation is required for a tasting. Here are 5 must visit wineries to visit in the Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto regions for Cantine Aperte:

Castelvecchio Winery1. Castelvecchio

Castelvecchio Winery, located in Sagrado, has an incredible history. The grounds were the location of a World War I battle that ultimately took these lands away from the Hapsburg Empire. The villa even served as the Italian command headquarters and you can see graffiti from the soldiers preserved on its walls.

Try: The Friuli Venezia Giulia is known for its whites, but try the 2005 Sagrado Rosso, a blend of Terrano, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the vineyard’s best years.

Castelvecchio Winery is located at Via Castelnuovo 2, Sagrado (GO) 34078

Fratelli Vogadori2. Fratelli Vogadori

A small family run winery with some of the most stunning views we’ve seen from any tasting room we’ve visited so far, Fratelli Vogadori is located in the Veneto’s Valpolicella. Fratelli Vogadori even has a charming bed and breakfast. Each apartment has a balcony overlooking the vineyards and village of Negrar, which is situated close to both Lake Garda and Verona.

Try: Always a fan of Amarone, the 2008 Amarone Forlago stole my heart. It is only made from the best year’s grapes and has to be a nearly perfect Amarone. It is aged 1 year longer than Amarone Classico and has aromas of chocolate and vanilla. It tastes of chocolate and has just the slightest hint of sweetness.

Fratelii Vogadori is located at Via Vigolo 16, Negar (VR) 37024

Paladin3. Paladin

The Paladin wine estate is run by brothers and sister Carlo, Lucia and Roberto. They follow their grandfather’s wine making traditions since Paladin was established in 1962, though the love of wine and vinitculture in this unique area straddling both the Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Veneto regions dates back to the Roman ages.

Try: One of our favorite red wines is Malbec and it is typically used as a blending grape in Europe. Palladin’s Malbech Gli Aceri has won awards and we’re happy we don’t have to travel all the way to Chile for a great bottle!

Paladin is located at Via Postumia 12, Annone Veneto (VE) 30020

4. Principi di Porcia

Principi di Porcia is much more than a winery. Their Fattoria Azzano Decimo farm has several important projects that are sources of agro-energy and produces bio-gas for the entire community of Azzano Decimo. The cows play an important role at the farm too. Their manure is utilized to fertilize the grapes organically and the milk they produce daily is given to the Latterie Friulane for the production of Montasio cheese.

Try: The 2007 Titanus, a vintage from the Le Riserve del Castello, has a very velvety texture and hints of vanilla. It’s aged in French oak barriques and has very long production process.

Principi di Porcia is located at Via Zuiano 29, Azzano Decimo (PN) 33082

Strada del Prosecco

Strada del Prosecco

5. Al Canevon

The Strada del Prosecco, winding along spaghetti thin roads in the Prosecco Hills of Veneto has some serious wow-factor and Al Canevon is located in the DOCG territory with an astounding 40 hectares. Here a vineyard that large is really something special and it’s just one of the reasons they’ve made a success market for themselves since opening their doors in 1971.

Try: We don’t drink Prosecco often, but the dry and elegant fruity Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Brut is perfect as an apertif or would be great with fish dishes. Perfect when served at a very cold 7 – 8°C, we can already imagine it being refreshing on a hot summer day.

Al Canevon is located at Via Prà Fontana 99, Valdobbiadene (TV) 31049

Beautiful day for Cantine Aperte! Sipping a 2009 red from Vistorta and enjoying their lovely gardens! #cantineaperte

A photo posted by Luxe Adventure Traveler (@luxeadventuretrvlr) on

6. Vistorta

The Friuli Venezia Giulia is known, quite famously, for their white wines. So it might be surprising that there is a top notch winemaker focused on reds in the FVG. Brandino, Vistorta’s winemaker, studied at Texas A&M and then interned in Bordeaux before returning to Italy and focusing his attention on the merlot grape. Try: A red is a must at Vistorta and we are particularly fond of the 2009 Vistorta, made from 100% merlot. It’s smooth and pairs wonderfully with baked pasta, medium-aged cheeses and, of course, meat dishes. Vistorta is located at Via Vistorta n. 82, Sacile (PN) 33077

Fun vibe at I Magredi for Cantine Aperte! How much wine would it take for you to ride that train? #cantineaperte

A photo posted by Luxe Adventure Traveler (@luxeadventuretrvlr) on

7. Cantina I Magredi

Originally purchased to be a fruit orchard, the Tombacco family started cultivating grapes for wine making in the 1980s. The wines produced at I Magredi are meant to enhance all the delicious flavors of the Friuli Venezia Giulia like San Daniele proscuitto and Montasio cheese.

Try: While I Magredi does produce some reds, whites are king at this FVG winery. Try the Divinotello Bianco, which pairs nicely with shellfish from the region.

Cantina I Magredi is located at Via del Sole, Domanins (PN) 33090

Know Before You Go
Event InformationWineBUSTips
Cantine Aperte 2015 is on May 31st from 10am – 6pm.
CThe WineBUS is available from Trieste in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and is €40 per person. It visits 5 wineries with an expert guide and includes a light lunch at one of the cellars. It departs from Trieste at 9am and returns at 7pm. Make a reservation by emailing info@mtvfriulivg.it or calling +39 0432 289540.
  • Select wineries throughout the Friuli Venezia Giulia region are hosting Dinner With the Winemakers (view all the menus and contact information for reservations at the link) on Saturday, May 30th. Reservations are required.
  • Find all the participating wineries for Cantine Aperte all across Italy here.

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Eating My Way through Gràcia with Devour Barcelona http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/devour-barcelona-food-tour/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/devour-barcelona-food-tour/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 12:28:05 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=65033 Luxe Adventure Traveler

I spent two weeks in Costa Brava a few years ago and was totally unfamiliar with Catalan cuisine before my visit. The first few days went something like excited exclamations of: “Jamón ibérico! Paella!” After two or three days of stuffing my face full of delicious, salty ham and eating every kind of paella, the [...]

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I spent two weeks in Costa Brava a few years ago and was totally unfamiliar with Catalan cuisine before my visit. The first few days went something like excited exclamations of: “Jamón ibérico! Paella!” After two or three days of stuffing my face full of delicious, salty ham and eating every kind of paella, the excited exclamations became groans of “Jamón ibérico. Ugh. Paella. Ugh.” I seriously don’t think I saw a single vegetable for two weeks. I was totally ready to smuggle in some fixing for a salad on my next trip to Spain. But my friend Lauren, owner of Devour Spain food tours, convinced me to come along on a Devour Barcelona food tour with the promise of an introduction to a much wider variety of Catalan cuisine.

And did the Devour Barcelona food tour ever deliver! The walking food tour weaves through the tiny streets of the Gràcia neighborhood, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy Passeig de Gràcia. Gràcia was it’s own city up until the late 19th century and the people are very proud of the heritage. They still say they are from Gràcia, not Barcelona. It reminded me how the Venetians are insistent that they are Venetian, not Italian.

Like Venice, many of the little restaurants and bars were established many years ago and handed down through the family with another generation still running them today. The team at Devour Spain spent countless hours eating everything to select the best of the best, painstakingly narrowing it down to nine delicious stops.

There wasn’t a single stop that I didn’t immensely enjoy. It was all delicious and I was thrilled that we didn’t have a single paella. I’m not going to tell you about all nine stops – you’ll just have to book your own Devour Barcelona food tour – but, I will share a few of my favorites.

Devour Barcelona food tour

Grilled botifarra sandwich and Cava at Can Tosca

Grilled Botifarra Sandwich with Cava

Sometimes it’s truly amazing how delicious a simple dish can be. The grilled botifarra (a very typical Catalan pork sausage) is simply grilled and served on bread that is rubbed with a little bit of garlic and special type of tomato, then drizzled with olive oil. The sandwich was served with a glass of cava (the Spanish version of champagne). It a delicious way to start the day.

Devour Barcelona food tour

Eating bombas at l’Anxoveta

“Bomba” Croquette with Brava Sauce and Alioli

This little “bomba” was literally a delicious bomb of spice that exploded in your mouth as you bit in to it and the potato and ground beef mixed with the brava sauce and alioli (garlic and oil). It was just the right of spicy, perfectly neutralized with an oak-aged Catalan red wine from the Penedès (or a Catalan draft beer if you preferred).

Devour Barcelona food tour

Vermouth and pickled anchovies were the most surprisingly delicious bites

Vermouth and Pickled Anchovies

Let me preface this by declaring just how much I DO NOT like anchovies. But when in Rome…er, Gràcia. I braced myself for the worst as I speared one of the two anchovies on my plate with a toothpick and, like pulling off a bandaid in one fell swoop, just dropped it in to my mouth. Maybe it was because they were pickled, but it wasn’t at all salty and fishy like anchovies usually are. It was so tasty, I happily speared the second one and popped it in my mouth. I was disappointed to see that everyone else on the tour had enjoyed the anchovies equally as much; I was really hoping to take a few unwanted ones off people’s plates.

I also braced myself for the burning sensation Vermouth usually leaves. But this Vermouth was dangerously good. Smooth, it went down a little too easily. I can see why hora del vermut (Vermouth hour) is such a trendy thing in Barcelona these days. Who wouldn’t want to spend an hour each afternoon sipping this sweet fortified wine, nibbling on delicious bits and relaxing with friends?

Devour Barcelona food tour

Home made meatballs with chickpea and bean gravy

Albondigas

Oh my goodness, this little shop had the best take-away dishes that are home made daily. As we stood eating our albondigas (meatballs), a steady stream of locals came in a got containers to take away and eat for their lunch. I had a bus to catch that afternoon, otherwise I totally would have gotten a container of the tasty meatballs with chickpea and bean gravy to munch on as an evening snack. So yummy!

Devour Barcelona food tour

The cremant only exists in one family owned bakery in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona

Mini Cremant

Of course you have to have something sweet and we ended the tour with these mini cremants. You actually won’t find these anywhere else but one very special bakery in Barcelona, which has been handed down through the family. The owner invented the cremant as a play on crema catalana, a type of Catalan creme brulee. The cremant is a very light cake topped with the crema catalana and it is a little bite of heaven.

I know it looks like we only ate and ate…and ate some more on the Devour Barcelona food tour, but we actually learned quite a bit of the history of the Gràcia neighborhood from our knowledgeable guide, Renee. It was a lot of fun learning about the neighborhood and hearing the stories of each shop, bar or restaurant owner while eating our way through it. It was such a great experience, I can’t wait to join more of Devour Spain’s food tours in other cities like Madrid and Seville.

Booking
Devour Barcelona Food Tour is available at 10am Tuesday – Saturday. It is € 65 per adult and € 45 per child 12 and under. Devour Spain food tours are also available in Madrid, Malaga and Seville.

I was an invited guest of Devour Spain in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

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5 Reasons Why It’s Better to Travel with the One You Love http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/reasons-why-its-better-to-travel-with-the-one-you-love/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/reasons-why-its-better-to-travel-with-the-one-you-love/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 22:10:34 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64896 Luxe Adventure Traveler

My heart is broken because I feel like half of me is missing. Tim is serving his country in Afghanistan for the next six months, so expect a lot of solo travel over most of the remainder of this year. To be honest, solo travel isn’t my favorite way to travel. Sure, when I spot [...]

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My heart is broken because I feel like half of me is missing. Tim is serving his country in Afghanistan for the next six months, so expect a lot of solo travel over most of the remainder of this year. To be honest, solo travel isn’t my favorite way to travel. Sure, when I spot a store that I want to poke around in, I don’t have to listen to Tim groan about enduring some shopping. But there is nothing better than finding a compatible traveling companion. It’s all the moments – sharing jokes about funny things that inevitably happen, making those special memories we’ll talk about for a lifetime, even having the epic fights we’ll never remember what they were actually about – that make me want to only travel with my better half. Still not convinced? I could make a whole laundry list, but here are just a few reasons why it’s better to travel with the one you love:

Snowmobiling in Swedish LaplandHaving fun and creating memories to last a lifetime.

We have indescribable amounts of fun together…like when we were snowmobiling in Swedish Lapland earlier this year, got our snowmobile stuck in the deep fresh powder and launched ourselves in to a snow bank. Or the time we followed the GPS’ shortcut in Jordan from the Dead Sea to Petra and ended up literally going over a mountain on a dirt road in the pitch dark in a car totally not meant for off roading. We have so many stories that we never tell here, but we spend lots of time laughing and reminiscing over those special memories together.

Via Ferrata Pont du Diable

All smiles before clinging to the cliff

Bonding over new experiences.

Seeing and experiencing the world as a couple is the most amazing bonding experience. No matter whether the new experience is overcoming a language barrier together or scaling a cliff on a via ferrata, being out of your element and tackling things together really improves communication (even if that communication is me throwing every profanity in the book Tim’s way as I cling to aforementioned cliff-side) and compromise. Things are definitely never boring; travel has been a total bonding game-changer for us.

why it's better to travel with the one you love - sharing food

Sharing a plate of gnocchi in Italy

Sharing food.

I didn’t use to be a foodie, but there is just so much delicious food in the world. When you travel solo, you just can’t try as many dishes on the menu. Well, I suppose I could…but I’d look like a little piggy ordering both the cheesecake and the fudge covered brownie. We love ordering different dishes and desserts that we can share…you know, so we can taste more of the menu. Purely for research purposes, of course.

why it's better to travel with the one you love Keeping each other in check.

I pretty much want to smack iPads out of people’s hands when they take photos with them. Or grab the selfie stick touts are pedaling to whack them with it. Tim may just keep me out of mandated anger management classes. Having the same annoyances either makes us old curmudgeons or a very compatible couple. Either way, we do some much needed venting to each other at times that keeps others from feeling the wrath.

Snorkeling Silfra

Wearing dry suits to snorkel in freezing water. Not in either of our comfort zones.

Stepping out of our comfort zones.

Racing a NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway wasn’t necessarily at the top of my bucket list, but Tim always encourages me to try new things and be more adventurous. Sometimes he even forces me to (remember hurling the profanities about the via ferrata?), but I end up loving the experience (totally want to do more via ferratas!). And vice versa. Five years ago, Tim totally grumbled about putting on a button down shirt and going to a nice restaurant. Drinking a fine wine? Forget it; he was a Bud Light kind of guy. These days, wine tastings and Michelin-starred restaurants are a way of our life.

Traveling together and sharing all of those amazing experiences with that special someone truly is the best feeling in the world. Tell us in the comments why YOU think it’s better to travel with the one you love!

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Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month: Andrew Jahnke http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/luxe-adventure-traveler-of-the-month-andrew-jahnke/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/luxe-adventure-traveler-of-the-month-andrew-jahnke/#respond Thu, 30 Apr 2015 07:45:33 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64851 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Welcome to the Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month series! Here we check in monthly with regular travelers just like you – no blog, no job in the travel industry, just travel. Want to be a Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month? Get in touch with us at info@luxeadventuretraveler.com. This month we check in with [...]

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Luxe Adventure Traveler

Welcome to the Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month series! Here we check in monthly with regular travelers just like you – no blog, no job in the travel industry, just travel. Want to be a Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month? Get in touch with us at info@luxeadventuretraveler.com.

This month we check in with Andrew, who is an outdoor enthusiast. We met Andrew when he was stationed in Italy and love his adventurous spirit to hop on a plane to just about anywhere.

Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month

Andrew at the pyramids in Giza, Egypt

Name: Andrew Jahnke

Occupation: Staff Sergent in the U.S. Air Force

Tell us a little about yourself: I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When I was two, my family moved to Japan and we spent the next 15 years there. I joined the Air Force in 2006 and have been stationed back in Japan at Okinawa, in Italy and now in Idaho. It’s been quite an adventure and I do love to travel.

How many countries have you been to? 27

Favorite US city and your favorite thing to do there? Duluth, Minnesota. You can enjoy walking along the shoreline of Lake Superior, listening to the waves crashing and watching the ships come and go from Duluth Harbor.

Favorite international city and your favorite thing to do there? Budapest. Walking up to the Citadel at night is a must.

Least favorite country? Why? I don’t have one; I’ve enjoyed all the countries I’ve been to.

You hike when traveling. Tell us a little about that and which destination has been your favorite to hike in.
My favorite place to hike is on the north shore of Lake Superior. I can just get lost in the beauty of nature and listen to everything that is going on around me.

Five things you never travel without? (Passport is a given). Camera, iPod, Kindle, travel adapter and Excedrin.

Favorite travel iPhone app? TripAdvisor. It helps me get some ideas on what to check out in the particular country or city I’m traveling in.

What is your most embarrassing or worst travel moment? None come to mind really.

My dream travel destination: This is a tough one! I would like to see so many places. I’d have to choose…New Zealand.

You’re a Luxe Adventure Traveler Reader. What’s your favorite tip or suggestion you’ve gotten from our site? Not necessarily a specific tip or suggestion, but you inspire me to explore and travel!

What is your favorite travel website(s) (besides Luxe Adventure Traveler, of course!)? BBC Travel

Best travel tip: Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know until you try it!

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Where to Eat, Stay and Play in Norfolk, UK http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/norfolk-uk/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/norfolk-uk/#respond Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:29:12 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64689 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Norfolk might be on your radar since it’s become the residence of Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince George. But, like me, you might not know much about Norfolk other than the royal couple’s new country home is just a stone’s throw from Sandringham. I must admit I didn’t have many expectations about Norfolk before [...]

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Norfolk might be on your radar since it’s become the residence of Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince George. But, like me, you might not know much about Norfolk other than the royal couple’s new country home is just a stone’s throw from Sandringham. I must admit I didn’t have many expectations about Norfolk before my visit to the royal playground, but I can see why Will and Kate are happy to call it their home away from their official residence at Kensington Palace.

King's Lynn Station

Arriving to King’s Lynn just like The Queen

Just one hour and 30 minutes from London, it was incredibly easy to hop on the train at King’s Cross station to arrive in King’s Lynn, just as the Royals do. Once in Norfolk, it’s easy to see why Will and Kate love it. Not only is Norfolk home to beautiful beaches that have been named some of the best in England, charming villages that solicit a laugh at their names like Great Snoring and Little Snoring and the delicious eats at countless gastro pubs. Norfolk is also home to some of the friendliest, but most protective people I’ve met in England. I couldn’t get hardly a peep out of anyone about where to spot the Royals. But I kept my eye peeled as I discovered where to eat, stay and play in Norfolk and it didn’t matter that I didn’t have any royal encounters; this area of England stole my heart.

Where to Eat

British food gets a bad rap for being bland and just generally bad. And, really, who can name many British dishes other than fish and chips and bangers and mash. Though I actually love fish and chips (which actually originated with fried fish in Ireland – you can learn more about it on a London food tour), I didn’t have any while in Norfolk. There were too many other delicious things to try in the many gastropubs around the region.

Dabbling Duck

Big-as-my-head burgers at The Dabbling Duck

The Dabbling Duck

The Dabbling Duck is what the Brits like to call a destination pub. In other words, it’s so good that it’s worth traveling for. The award-winning pubs serves up only seasonal and locally sourced food. You can even check out exactly where all of their ingredients come from in the surrounding area on the map proudly displayed in the pub. We popped in for lunch and the burger sounded too good to resist. Though everything that I saw leaving the kitchen looked mouth-watering delicious, I’m glad I chose the burger; it was the best burger I’ve ever had. If that burger is Wills and Kate’s dish of choice, it’s no wonder they’ve spotted at this lively little pub!

The Dabbling Duck is located at 11 Abbey Road in Great Massingham and is open daily for lunch from 12 – 2:30pm and dinner from 6 – 9pm. Reservations recommended.

The Jolly Sailor

The Jolly Sailor pub in an institution in Brancaster Staithe. Owned by the same owners at The White Horse just up the road, The Jolly Sailor has a more rustic charm. Though we only popped in for a drink – there’s a great selection ales, local craft beers, wine, ciders and the biggest selection of rums I have ever seen – I got a peek at the pizza kitchen. Not only can you get take-away pizzas, but you can pick out your own toppings from the topping bar and watch it cook in the wood-fired oven. The menu has daily specials and all the typical pub-style food you’d expect to enjoy during the weekly quiz nights, music and beer festivals and other events the pub hosts. Plus, dogs are welcome and the on-site playground makes this pub perfect for a family outing.

The Jolly Sailor is located on the A149 in the heart of Brancaster Staithe and is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Oysters at The White Horse

Oysters two ways at The White Horse

The White Horse

The White Horse is set right on the marshes and coastal path. The informal restaurant serves up an excellent selection of fresh local seafood in the glass “greenhouse” style room, and when warm enough, on the deck. The view alone would have been reason enough to dine here, but the food was excellent too.

I must admit that my stomach dropped a bit when our lovely host, Pam, suggested we try the fresh Brancaster oysters. Aside from fried in a po-boy, I’ve never really been a fan. I was envisioning a real-life version of the scene from Friends when Phoebe is at Ross and Monica’s parents’ anniversary party and she takes the oyster and pretends to eat it while dropping it on the floor, which Joey eventually slips on before wiping it on Chandler’s coat.

Maybe I haven’t had truly fresh oysters before, because the oyster on the half shell with just a little bit of the onion was pretty tasty. And while I thought tempura oysters sounded a bit weird, they actually worked and were delicious! I also tried the Norfolk rib-eye and blissfully sampled a tiny portion of every dessert on the menu.

The White Horse is located on the A149 in Brancaster Staithe and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Crab spring roll at The Crown

Crab spring roll at The Crown

The Crown

Tucked away in the charming village of Wells-next-the-Sea, The Crown Hotel’s restaurant is another award-winner like all of the others I’ve recommended. The Crown also locally sources food and when there is crab on their menu, it is always local crab. I couldn’t pass up a generous sized crab spring roll absolutely loaded with crab and served with a lime mayonnaise and a side of chips (which I learned are basically the same as fries, but with a stouter body). Yum, definitely my favorite seafood dish I ate!

The Crown Hotel is located at The Buttlands in Wells-next-the-Sea and is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Rathskeller Kings Lynn

You can dine outdoors at the Rathskeller in summer

Rathskeller

The Rathskeller is a bistro and wine bar located in one of the lovely remaining Hanseatic houses in Kings Lynn. I was a bad blogger and didn’t get any food pics, but goodness the portions are generous at this restaurant! The gluttonous soup is just a funny name for the soup of the day, but in a twist of irony it is also huge enough to be a meal all its own. The homemade sandwiches, all a great value at just £5.25, are enough to feed a small family and one of my dining companions couldn’t even finish half of the sandwich. I selected the tempura prawns with wasabi mayonnaise and a side of steamed broccoli rabe. Delicious! No matter your menu selection, there is sure to be a wine from the ample list of wines from around the world perfect to pair with it.

The Rathskeller is located at 1 South Quay in Kings Lynn and open for lunch and dinner daily.

Where to Stay

The White Horse Brancaster
The White Horse Brancaster

The unrivaled view at The White Horse

The White Horse

I’ve already mentioned to the excellent restaurant at The White Horse, but it is also a 15-room seaside inn. The bedrooms are tastefully decorated in a Nantucket style. I loved the beach-y feel created by the duck-egg blue walls and all the little touches like starfish and shells. But it’s the view that can’t be beat. The inn sits right on the marshes and beach and the view changes with tides.

Custom House Kings Lynn

Custom House

Bank House

Bank House, a Georgian house built by a wine merchant, is located in the heart of King’s Lynn’s old town overlooking King’s Staithe Square and the quay. From the front rooms, perfect for relaxing with one of the Bank House’s many delicious cocktails, you can watch the new Lynn Lumiere light show projected on to the beautiful Custom House. The boutique hotel has just 11 rooms and each are individually named and decorated with period pieces.

Owners Anthony and Jeannette, the same owners of the Rose and Crown at Snettisham, are charming and will ensure you are well looked after during your stay. Ask nicely and they might even give you a peek of the original wine cellar beneath the hotel and restaurant.

Where to Play

Holkham HallHolkham Hall

Holkham Hall is interesting because it’s actually a working estate, meaning the Viscount and Viscountess Coke (pronounced cook) and their children live there. One of the newest exhibits, ‘Behind Closed Doors: A Year in the Life of a Working Estate,’ is an intimate look at the family and what goes in to running an estate such as this through photographs.

In addition to touring the posh rooms of the Hall, there is a lot to do at Holkham Hall. The estate has nature trails that can be explored on foot or bicycle, a six acre walled garden where various flowers are in bloom from spring through autumn, and a variety of lake activities from kayaking to water zorbing.

There are also a number of events throughout the season. Bring a blanket and picnic on the lawn for theater productions like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Robin Hood the Musical in the Walled Garden. Or take in the open-air cinema with favorites like Mamma Mia! and Top Gun. Nature lovers can join discovery walks or the deer safaris to learn more about the herd of 800 fallow deer that make Holkham their home.

Holkham Hall is open from March 29 – October 31. Tickets (Hall & Walled Garden) are £12 for adults, £6 for children 5-16 years of age or family passes are available for £33 (includes 2 adults and 2 children). English Heritage members receive a 20% discount on admission. The woodland area is free admission.

Holkham Beach

The Queen owned a beach cottage just like these colorful ones on Holkham Beach

Holkham Beach

You might recognize the colorful cottages of Holkham Beach – the beach has had its own Hollywood career, starring with Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespear in Love. It’s part of a National Nature Reserve and seeing it at low tide, when you can walk at least a mile out amongst the sand dunes, is simply spectacular. Named one of the best beaches in Britain, it’s no wonder that HRH The Queen herself once owned one of the colorful cottages (probably down the beach on a private section of it) and Prince Charles and Princess Anne played on the beach as children.

Burnham Market

Gurneys Fish Shop at Burnham Market

Burnham Market

Just a few miles from Holkham is the charming village of Burnham Market. Duchess Kate is just one of the celebrities that have been spotted shopping here and the shops are certainly plentiful. You won’t find the chain retail brands that are the same the world over; instead, there are traditional shops for the residents daily necessities like a butcher, the fish market and a pharmacy.

The boiled lobsters and local crabs looked delicious in Gurneys Fish Shop, but since we had no way to cook them up later we moved on to the independent galleries and boutiques. There is everything from clothing shops to home stores, but my favorite shop was Pentney House – The Hat Shop. Said to be the largest hat and fascinator shop in the UK, there were literally thousands of hats and fascinators in every color and style imaginable. I could have spent hours upon hours trying them all on!

There are also some great eateries and restaurants in the village. Stuffed full of crab spring rolls, I wasn’t remotely hungry. But I did eye up the menu at The Hoste and was again impressed that everything is sourced from within 30 miles of their kitchen.

Castle RisingCastle Rising

Castle Rising is a spectacular Norman castle and both one of the largest and best preserved in England. It was the exile home of Queen Isabella, widow and (alleged) murderess of King Edward II. Queen Isabella lived there between 1330 and 1358, after she fell from power. Though it said that her son, King Edward III, imprisoned her at Castle Rising, in reality she lived a very regal life definitely fit for a former queen. You can tour the mostly ruined castle, though you can envision the splendor of its glory days as the audio guide tells the castle’s tale. If you listen closely, you might even hear the Queen’s cackling or spot her ghostly form haunting the rooms.

Castle Rising is open March 28 – November 1, 2015. Admission is £4 per adult, £2.50 per child or a family ticket is available for £12. Admission is free for English Heritage members.

Blakeney Point Blakeney Point

Blakeney Point, or officially Blakeney National Nature Reserve, is a sand spit that has formed over hundreds of years off the coast of Norfolk. It’s wonderfully teeming with birds and wildlife and one of my favorite things I did on my trip to Norfolk was to take one of the daily boat trips out to see the seals in their natural habitat.

The Bean family has been organizing boat trips out to see the seals and birds for more than 50 years and I scored a prime seat right next to the captain. As you approach, most of the seals are basking in the sunshine on the beach. But seals are quite curious, so don’t be surprised when their heads suddenly pop up right next to the boat to get a better look at you. This year’s colony was around 500 common and grey seals and in early April, when I went, the seal pups were only around four months old.

Beans Boat Trips operate with the tide, so the departure time changes daily. Tickets are £10 per adult and £5 for children up to 14 years old. Dogs are welcome!

Brancaster BeachBrancaster Beach

Brancaster is a seriously stunning beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. Like Holkham Beach, the beach becomes a vast expanse of sand punctuated by the sea when the tide is out. There’s even the rusting shipwreck of the SS Vina, though you really shouldn’t try to find the shipwreck. It’s located at a very dangerous channel and the fast moving tides have swept more than one person caught in them out to sea. Even without going in search of buried treasure, the beach is perfect for long walks on no matter what time of the year. It’s also dog friendly.

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club HouseRoyal West Norfolk Golf Club

And speaking of Brancaster Beach, the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club is located alongside Brancaster Beach. It’s so close to the beach, that the Club House is in accessible at high tide. With such stunning atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Prince William and Prince Harry regularly play a round here. And after, the club house has an excellent selection of locally caught fish and cask ales.

The Royal West Norfolk Golf Club is open to both members and visitors. Visitors should contact the office to inquire about making a reservation.

Kings Lynn

The Greyfriars Tower is preserved in the Tower Gardens

King’s Lynn

King’s Lynn is brimming with over 900 years of maritime and trading history. The best way to discover it is on one of the many walking tours with the town guides. Knowledgeable guides, like former town mayor and guide Paul who showed us around, help you discover the preserved medieval churches, guildhalls and secret courtyards that make up the historic core of King’s Lynn.

One of England’s most important ports, King’s Lynn is steeped in maritime history that you can also discover on a self guided walk about town following the Maritime Trail. There are 27 numbered plaques indicating the various points of interest that takes around 90 minutes to walk and you can pick up a trail map at the Custom House. Though the guide recommends starting at True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum, I enjoyed ending our walking tour there to sit for a few minutes and relax with a cup of tea just as The Queen did on her visit.

Be sure to spend the night to catch the new spectacular Lynn Lumiere light shows projected on King Lynn’s most iconic buildings like Custom House and St. Nicholas’ Chapel.

Pensthorpe Natural Park

Pink flamingoes, red squirrels and marabou storks at Pensthorpe Natural Park

Pensthorpe Natural Park

The 660 acre Pensthorpe Natural Park opened in 1988 and is home to an increasing number of migratory birds and resident birds. It’s definitely the place for bird watchers to get out and enjoy the bird life. Though I’m not big on birds (I’ve been pecked at and lost hair to birds too many times), I did love the pink flamingos and the marabou storks. The marabou storks are a giant species of stork that are so ugly they’re cute. They kind of look like old men and the staff at Pensthorpe told me they’re a favorite with many visitors.

Aside from the walks to get up close encounters and even feed some of the birds, there are a lot of activities for families to do during a fun day out. There is a bug walk and kids can go on a bug hunt. The new Hootz House opens this May and Pensthorpe’s mascot owl will tell stories and get kids active outdoors. In summertime, you can even picnic at Pensthorpe’s “river” and let the kids run free in the play park that has a zipline, jungle gyms and more educational activities.

Pensthorpe also has breeding and re-integration programs for red squirrels, giant tortoise, turtle doves and other species. I could have watched the red squirrels, particularly a curious little one named April, play and run around all day!

Pensthorpe Natural Park is open daily from 10am – 5pm. Admission is £11.25 for adults and £9.75 for children 3 – 16 years of age.

Getting to NorfolkGetting Around Norfolk
Norfolk is just one hour and 30 minutes from London by train. National Rail trains leave hourly from Kings Cross station and tickets are £34 each way.
Norfolk is best explored by car. If you don’t want to rent a car, there is the Coasthopper bus. Fares vary from one-way tickets to the unlimited explorer pass and all sites mentioned in this article can be reached on the Coasthopper.

Our trip was provided by Visit Norfolk in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

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Best Grand Canyon Day Hikes http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/best-grand-canyon-day-hikes/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/best-grand-canyon-day-hikes/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 16:38:25 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64802 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Each year more than five million flock to the Grand Canyon to see the staggering views. But forget the tour bus and don’t be satisfied with simply peering over the rim. The best way to experience the Grand Canyon is from below the rim. With more than 500 miles logged hiking the Grand Canyon trails, [...]

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Each year more than five million flock to the Grand Canyon to see the staggering views. But forget the tour bus and don’t be satisfied with simply peering over the rim. The best way to experience the Grand Canyon is from below the rim. With more than 500 miles logged hiking the Grand Canyon trails, I consider myself a bit of an authority on the best Grand Canyon day hikes and have rounded up these ones that are definitely worth pulling out your trekking poles and hitting the trail for.

Beginner Day Hikes

Grand Canyon Kaibab LoopSouth Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

The South Kaibab Trail is one of the most scenic trails in the Grand Canyon. It follows the path of a ridge line all the way to the Colorado River seven miles later. Going down may seem like a piece of cake, but if this is your first Grand Canyon hike I recommend turning around after the 1.5 mile mark at Cedar Ridge or the 3 mile mark at Skeleton Point. There isn’t any water available on the South Kaibab Trail, so pack at least 3-4 liters.

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail with my cousin Rob, a fellow Cubbies fan

Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens

The Bright Angel Trail is the heaviest traveled trail in the Grand Canyon, but don’t let that discourage you. The well sloped trail has water during the summer months at the 1.5 mile, 3 mile and 4.5 mile points at Indian Gardens. This is one of the best trails for an introduction to canyon hiking. Be on the lookout for big horn sheep and deer along the trail.

Grand Canyon Horseshoe Mesa

A snowy Horseshoe Mesa with my dad

Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa

For those looking to venture off the main corridor trails, consider this hike on the Grandview Trail. While the trail isn’t in as good of a condition as the first two hikes mentioned, the views will make it worthwhile as you descend into the giant horseshoe shaped mesa. There isn’t any water on the trail so bring at least a gallon for this six mile round trip hike.

Grand Canyon Yuma PointBoucher Trail to Yuma Point

For those comfortable with some basic navigation of Grand Canyon trails check out this hike to Yuma Point. While it’s only six miles round trip, don’t take this hike for granted. Be sure to take the quick detour to Dripping Spring to cool off or load up on water. The views from Yuma Point are some of the best in the Canyon.

Challenging Day Hikes

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Rewarding views from the Bright Angel Trail

South Kaibab Tonto Bright Angel Loop

If you are in good shape and ready to try a more challenging hike, take a look at this 12 mile hike. You can make this loop in either direction, but I recommend starting at the South Kaibab trailhead. By starting at the South Kaibab trailhead, when you are tired at the end of the day you are hiking up the Bright Angel Trail which conveniently has water available every 1.5 miles and has some shade available in the afternoon.

Colorado RiverSouth Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River

The South Kaibab Trail is my favorite way to get to the Colorado River. Fourteen miles round trip may not seem like much but you lose 3600 feet elevation in the process. Try to time your hike so that you are not hiking up the trail during the heat of the day. The only water available on the hike will be at Bright Angel Campground at the Colorado River, so plan accordingly.

Grand CanyonBright Angel Trail to the Colorado River

If hiking in the sun and carrying all your water isn’t your fancy, hit up the Bright Angel Trail. While it is longer than the South Kaibab Trail, you have water available at the 1.5 mile, 3 mile, 4.5 mile and 9 mile points. There is some shade to be found on the upper portion of the trail but not much around the Colorado River, so plan to avoid hiking during the heat of the day.

Ribbon Falls in the Grand Canyon

Cooling off in Ribbon Falls on the Rim to Rim hike

Rim to Rim

The ultimate hike for those seeking a grueling challenge is a Rim to Rim hike. Covering a minimum of 21 miles and 10,000 feet elevation change is no easy feat even for those who consider themselves fit.  Temperatures can range from freezing on the rims to 100°F along the Colorado River.  For a twist on the Rim to Rim hike stay one or two nights at the lodge on the North Rim and hike back across. Those truly insane will do a Rim to Rim to Rim in one day. I accomplished a Rim to Rim to Rim in 20 hours of hiking and it’s probably the greatest fitness test I have done to date.

Stay tuned for more in this series as I cover the Best Grand Canyon Backpacking Hikes and the Best Grand Canyon Backcountry Expeditions.

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Eccleston Square: London’s Bou”tech” Hotel http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/eccleston-square-hotel/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/eccleston-square-hotel/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:29:35 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64722 Luxe Adventure Traveler

I discovered a cool new London boutique hotel, not surprisingly given it’s high tech features, on Twitter recently. With their fun Twitter and Instagram feeds, friendly online personality and reputation as one of the most high-tech hotels in the world, I was thrilled when Eccleston Square Hotel invited me to come check out all of [...]

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I discovered a cool new London boutique hotel, not surprisingly given it’s high tech features, on Twitter recently. With their fun Twitter and Instagram feeds, friendly online personality and reputation as one of the most high-tech hotels in the world, I was thrilled when Eccleston Square Hotel invited me to come check out all of their amenities for a night.

Eccleston Square Hotel is the most tech-saavy hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The bou”tech” (see what I did there?) hotel has just 39 rooms and this definitely lends to the atmosphere of feeling like you’re a guest in a friend’s home. Owner Olivia Byrne is even there to greet and chat with guests herself and I enjoyed sitting down with her to learn a little more about what inspired her to open a hotel at just 23 years old and put in all these high-tech features.

Eccleston Square Hotel

My Signature King Room

It’s a good thing I’ve been to London loads of time and that it was a little rainy when I arrived, because I definitely didn’t want to leave the cozy Eccleston Square Hotel. I used the in-room iPad, which basically controls every facet of your stay, to browse the menu and order some room service from the hotel’s restaurant, Bistrot on the Square. You can even select the time you want it delivered.

Eccleston Square Hotel

Selfie with my 3D glasses

I also ordered a movie from the complimentary selection of 3D Blu-rays available to watch on your in-room 3D television. Both my room service and movie arrived shortly, along with a pair of 3D glasses. These weren’t a disposable pair of ridiculous looking paper glasses like you get at the movie theater either; they were very comfortable and light to wear.

After finishing my room service, I again used the iPad to indicate the tray was ready to be cleared. I selected the option that the tray would be outside the door, paused my movie to place it outside and kicked back on the Rolls Royce of beds. Billed as the world’s best bed, the Hastens massaging bed retails for more than £12,000 each and every one of the 39 rooms has one. It can be adjusted to contour to your body and has a variety of massaging features. I’m like the Goldilocks of hotel beds and this Hastens bed was definitely just right. When the massage feature is on, it is a little too loud to actually sleep with it on. I did enjoy the massaging feature while watching my movie though!

The room is equipped with touch pads to control the lights, curtains and temperature. Even the do not disturb is a light controlled by touch pad, which I loved so I didn’t have to fight with the door hanger than inevitably always falls off the door when coming in and out of the room. But my favorite touch pad feature was the ability to turn the see-through glass of the bathroom to frosted glass with just the touch of a button. I’ll admit I was like a little kid who flicks the light switch on and off repeatedly.

Eccleston Square HotelThe bathroom also had a very nicely sized walk-in shower with three different shower heads to choose from, including a high-pressure double rain shower. The mirror is a steam proof mirror with built-in tv, which is perfect since I always steam up the mirrors with my hot showers. The marble floors were also heated and who doesn’t love heated floors when it’s chilly outside? My only complaint about the bathroom is that there were no outlets to plug in my hairdryer and straightener. That the hotel stocks my favorite L’Occitane beauty products made up for having to set-up my compact as a make-shift beauty station to dry and straighten my hair.

Eccleston Square Hotel

The in-room iPad and Eccleston Square Hotel app work as a digital concierge

Perhaps one of the best tech features of Eccleston Square Hotel though is the app, which acts like a digital concierge. You download the app to your phone or iPad and order room service or a drink to be waiting for you when you arrive back in the hotel, make dinner reservations at Bistrot on the Square or arrange whatever else you need to from the concierge.

Eccleston Square Hotel

Eggs benedict at Bistrot on the Square

Breakfast can also be ordered right from the app and delivered to your room, but I chose to actually go downstairs and enjoy the beautiful space that the restaurant is in. If you snag a window table, or if it’s nice enough to dine outside, there is great people watching as Londoners from the neighborhood make their way to work. I actually prefer that the menu is a la carte and I selected eggs benedict, my breakfast indulgence, and a pot of tea.

Some of the other things I loved about this hotel are that the wifi is free (and fast), there is a cocktail happy hour each afternoon and drinks are surprisingly affordable for both London and a luxury hotel, complimentary pots of tea can be delivered to your room daily from the app or in-room iPad, and that hotel guests have complimentary access to the neighborhood’s private garden and tennis courts. The concierge can even arrange picnics in the garden.

Eccleston Square Hotel is fantastic and terrific value. I loved the hotel, friendly staff, small touches like free wifi and complimentary bottled water regularly re-stocked and the location (just a few minutes walk to Victoria Station). And while this hotel is absolutely perfect for business travelers with its high-tech amenities, it can also easily be a luxe romantic retreat.

Know Before You Go

BookingLocation
Rooms at Eccleston Square Hotel start from £184 per night.
Eccleston Square Hotel is located just a few minutes walk from Victoria Station.

Eccleston Square Hotel hosted me for a one night stay in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty for all the Senses http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:16:14 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64670 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Museums just typically aren’t my thing. To be completely honest, I find most of them a bit boring. But London’s Victoria and Albert Museum was able to lure me with the promise of over-the-top tartan frocks, crystal encrusted shoes and surreal accessories. The Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition, the most visited show in the history [...]

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Museums just typically aren’t my thing. To be completely honest, I find most of them a bit boring. But London’s Victoria and Albert Museum was able to lure me with the promise of over-the-top tartan frocks, crystal encrusted shoes and surreal accessories. The Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition, the most visited show in the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, pays tribute to the late designer with an expanded collection of his garments and accessories.

Alexander McQueen Savage BeautyThe exhibition takes over several galleries in the V&A Museum and each room is themed. It starts with McQueen’s early collection when he was an up and coming London designer. Looking at the early pieces – blazers, trousers and skirts in dark solids and subdued prints – it’s almost hard to believe they came from the daring designer.

As the exhibition moves through McQueen’s collections, the weird and fantastical are evident. Jackets with human hair sewn inside, animal skulls that adorn the shoulders, and a dress made almost entirely of bird feathers are just some of the designs that elicit verbal reactions from the otherwise silent crowd taking the exhibit in. This is what McQueen is famous for.

Fashion is not about utility. An accessory is merely a piece of iconography used to express individual identity. The Devil Wears Prada
Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

Cabinet of Curiosities

Alexander McQueen Savage BeautyThe Cabinet of Curiosities is the centerpiece of the exhibition. The room is filled with more than 120 pieces – a headpiece made of fluttering butterflies, a Union Jack clutch with skull clasp, a wooden dress, crystal encrusted shoes – while 27 screens shows clips from almost all of McQueen’s catwalk shows. You could spend hours alone in this single room taking in the sometimes shocking pieces.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

Platos Atlantis

Everyone lingers in the final room, dubbed Platos Atlantis with futuristic dresses and sky-high platform shoes, watching another catwalk video play out on the screen and wanting more.

My McQueen experience wasn’t over just yet though; I walked the short distance to The Kensington Hotel for a special Fashion Forward afternoon tea inspired by the designer. All the usual sweets, sandwiches and scones are served in the hotel’s cozy Town House restaurant, with a twist.

Kensington Hotel Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea

Red velvet cupcake, raspberry pannacotta, marzipan covered cherry cake, marzipan and raspberry and red pepper macaron

As the three-tiered tray is delivered to my table, I remember the butterfly headpiece made of hand-painted turkey feathers from the Cabinet of Curiosities. Now it is in the form of a red velvet cupcake with chocolate butterfly. The red marzipan dress reminds me of the red feathered dress and the marzipan covered cherry cake is inspired by the skull clutch.

Kensington Hotel Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea

Foie gras croissant, crab cocktail and golden quail egg

The sweets are delicious, but the elegant savories were actually my favorite. My favorite bite is the silver croissant filled with foie gras and mango, the Dorset crab and artichoke cocktail is delicious, and the “just because” golden quail egg is fun.

With scones, a selection of sandwiches, tea and a glass of champagne, I linger over it all as I did the Savage Beauty exhibition itself. The afternoon has been a fashionable feast for all my senses!

Know Before You Go

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty TicketsFashion Forward Afternoon Tea
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March – 2 August 2015. Booking tickets in advance is recommended and is £16 (+£1.50 booking fee per ticket) per adult.
The Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea is £35 per person and is served daily from 12pm – 6pm. Book online.

Our visit to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition was provided by the Victoria and Albert Museum and exhibition images were provided courtesy of the V&A Press Office in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

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Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month: Rachel Fang http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/luxe-adventure-traveler-of-the-month-rachel-fang/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/luxe-adventure-traveler-of-the-month-rachel-fang/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 07:49:07 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64595 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Welcome to the Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month series! Here we check in monthly with regular travelers just like you – no blog, no job in the travel industry, just travel. Want to be a Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month? Get in touch with us at info@luxeadventuretraveler.com. This month we check in with [...]

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Luxe Adventure Traveler

Welcome to the Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month series! Here we check in monthly with regular travelers just like you – no blog, no job in the travel industry, just travel. Want to be a Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month? Get in touch with us at info@luxeadventuretraveler.com.

This month we check in with Rachel, who is a foodie. We met Rachel virtually when she got in touch with us to help her decide between a trip to Sweden or Iceland to celebrate her engagement. She and her fiance ended up choosing Iceland and they did see the Northern Lights, by the way!

Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month

Rachel and her fiance in Dublin, Ireland

Name: Rachel Fang

Occupation: Marketing Manager at an Australian dot com

Hometown: Singapore

Tell us a little about yourself: I am an insatiable lover of travel (nature and cities), food and technology (particularly gadgets). Discovery of any kind in my loved categories inspires me to leap off my daily routine and explore something new, or perhaps see familiar things through different eyes.

How many countries have you been to? I have been to about 11 countries.

Favorite US city and your favorite thing to do there? My favorite city in the US must be San Francisco… having said that, I’ve never been to New York nor do I think I’ve experienced enough of the States to truly be able to make a decision on this. Watch this space :)

Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month

The ice caves on Rachel’s latest adventure to Iceland

Favorite international city and your favorite thing to do there? Tokyo. The people, the culture, the dichotomy of both… it’s just amazing. The food and landscapes are just amazing and it feels truly like an exploration and discovery trip particularly when it is so foreign to what I am familiar with. Unless you’re Japanese, it’s really hard not to find pleasures in the discovery of this city.

Least favorite country? Why? Possibly Malaysia. While it’s beautiful and so romantically local, I find it hard to see past its political inequalities of the Chinese and Malay. Perhaps this is a biased opinion as I am Singaporean.

You post a lot of drool-worthy Instagram photos of your meals around the world. Tell us a little about that and which destination has been your favorite to eat in. I would have to say that Japan is hands down the place I have fallen in love with the most when it comes to food. As a cuisine, the Japanese approach their culinary as an art form, intricate details, balances and all. And in addition to that, they are so heavily influenced by the French and Dutch cultures that they do food as good as if you were in those cities! You can walk down laneways to discover new treats, get the freshest seafood in the world and indulge in the most amazing meats like Kobe beef. How can one not love the diversity the Japanese bring to food!

Five things you never travel without? (Passport is a given). In this day and age where we are all attached to a smartphone, I’ll leave that out because it has become just as vital as my passport. The remainding five are: camera, good walking shoes, multi-adapter, a pair of shades, and an open mind.

Favorite travel iPhone app? I have to say it would be Instagram. I know it’s not particularly a travel app, but being able to view pictures by location tags is simply amazing. I feel like it gives me the best insight into what a place looks like and what I can expect to find!

What is your most embarrassing or worst travel moment? When I got stuck at customs because the chip in my passport wasn’t updated with my permanent residency visa for Australia and I was detained and questioned on my way out of Abu Dhabi. I thought I would miss my connecting flight and be stuck in a country in the Middle East.

My dream travel destination: I’m not too sure at the moment, but I am thinking either Canada (yes, all of it) and perhaps Nepal at this point in time. I’ve found myself in a stage of my life where I just want to be outdoors and be witness to nature, but in a luxe sort of way.

You’re a Luxe Adventure Traveler reader. What’s your favorite tip or suggestion you’ve gotten from our site? My favorite tip has got to be the one about chasing the Northern Lights. It’s one thing to read about someone’s travels, but another to get such great tips on exactly how they did it. Things like waking up on the hour every hour to try and catch a glimpse of the auroras.

What’s your favorite travel website(s) (besides Luxe Adventure Traveler, of course!)? I have to say that Conde Nast. I’ve been a big fan from when it was first a magazine and when it was finally digitized, the content became so much more dynamic!

Best travel tip: Travel with an open mind and heart; be prepared to leave the person whom you know as yourself behind to discover the person you can become through the experience of travel.

Luxe Adventure Traveler

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