Places to Visit »Mercat Boqueria

in Barcelona

If you’re ever in Barcelona, you absolutely must – must – visit the Mercat Boqueria. Even if, like me, you’ve spent the previous night like a scene from the Exorcist with food poisoning, you’ll want to man up, drag yourself out of bed and go.

It’s vibrant, bustling and everywhere you look is a photograph waiting to be taken. Food nerds will wander around in wonder and shiver with excitement at the wild world of edible crustaceans, the rainbow of (in my case, life saving) fruits and juices, the parade of candies and chocolates, and the miles of sweet, sweet Iberian ham.

There are spots to sit and eat at, which you might be familiar with if you watched Andrew Zimmern chow down on bull testicles during his trip, but sadly I was not quite well enough for such adventures. I could not resist the ham, though, cut straight from the leg, a culinary treat that is unparalleled. The market has, at least in some form, been around since 1217 (!) and the official structure was built in 1853.

Click here for the rest of Mercat Boqueria

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Posted on January 24, 2010

Places to Visit »London (Best Place to Visit)

notting hill london This pick comes from the week of February 23rd

Our main objective in London was to shop, and shop we did, starting with the famous Portobello Market in Notting Hill. It was a crowded stretch of road with vendors of all kinds, mot notably lots of cheap and trendy clothes (I finally found a plaid jacket inspired by Tokyo Drifter) and some good vintage once you cross under the bridge. Nearby children's clothing shops Stasi and Jigsaw were great for work. It's a lovely area to walk around with quaint buildings and antiques and fresh flowers peering out of windows.

Soho was much less quaint, a bustling center that reminded me of midtown and houses the colossal four story Topshop (soon to be causing mayhem in NYC). The place is a madhouse sea of intimidating head to toe trendy teens throwing hangers and grabbing sizes before you can reach for them. Not a spot for those prone to panic attacks, it is still worth a look for it's fun and exciting trends that are sold at comparatively reasonable prices.

For relative calm we headed to the exquisite concept store Dover Street Market, where even a pair of socks was out of my price range. Amazing designer clothing like Commes des Garcons and Manish Arora set among interesting displays of wax heads, neon tree branches, and giant plastic octopuses. It's more like a museum of avant garde design than a retail shop.

The next day got up early for the Brick Lane Market that reminded me of Brooklyn and bore great handmade t-shirts, spray painted shoes, beautiful people watching and excellent food (see restaurant picks). Nearby Beyond Retro, Shelf, Labour and Wait, Ella Doran and Mar Mar are worth visiting.

I really fell in love with London and hope to visit again when I can. Part of the magic was the comforts afforded by the great hotel No. 11 Cadogan Gardens in beautiful Chelsea and seeing my friend and her adorable baby again. It's the only city outside New York I could see myself living in.

Lake George
Crescent Beach
Vanderbilt Mansion and Planetarium
Twin Island

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Posted on November 2, 2009

Places to Visit »The Island of Giudecca

So I'm sure there's tons of guide books out there on Venice and how amazing and beautiful and unique it is.?Well for once pretty much all the good things one could say about a place are true.?But perhaps a lesser known gem of a stay in Venice is the island of Giudecca. ?br/>
It's across the Giudecca canal from most of the large tourist destinations, so it's a little out of the way, but that's part of what makes it so special. Being right across from everything means it has the best view of all of those sites, especially at night.?And being out of the way means it still has a local feel to it, for the most part.?Yes it has the famous Hotel Cipriani (the classic place for the 1960s celebrity set), a youth Hostel and the new Molino Stucky Hilton in an old flour factory,?all on its shores, but that's pretty much it.?The rest of the island is quiet and local.

Even if you don't stay on the island, its worth the trip there by a water taxi (AKA the vaperetto) or the free boat shuttle the Hilton runs (trust?me, they don't ask for proof you are staying at their hotel).?During the day you can witness a quiet slice of real Venetian life with local markets and shops, but the real magic on this island is at night.?At night the city across the canal lights up and the sleepy little island comes alive with a sort of mystical life.?There's several excellent little restaurants along the canal, which are all cheaper than the tourist traps across the way.

One we ate at twice, cause the staff of this family-owned place was so nice to us and the food was so good.?Another we only had a chance to eat at once.?It was a little further down the island and the food was pretty amazing.?We even made a friend of a local cat who sat in the empty third chair at our table and watched us eat. Perhaps he wanted my seafood lasagna, and the best tiramisu I've ever had, or perhaps he was just enjoying the view

Now if you don't get a chance to stay at the Hilton Molino Stucky like we did (we found a great deal on a travel site, I do recommend stopping by the hotel for a drink at their skybar.?It's at the top of the?8th or 9th floor of this incredible old factory building, and has the most unbelievable view of the city, since other nearby buildings aren't anywhere near as tall.?Enjoy a campari and soda or a spritz and you'll feel right at home as you watch the ships enter the harbor.

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Posted on October 12, 2009

Places to Visit »Kapellbr?cke

Kapellbr?ckeMy friend Shaun's job takes him to wonderful places. Like Kapellbr?cke in Lucerne, Switzerland, the oldest wooden bridge in Europe with hundreds of skeleton paintings from the 16th century adorning the ceiling. He took some great photos that you can view at Rotating Corpse.

The watchtower has a past as creepy as the imagery – it's been used as a torture chamber and prison.

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Posted on September 14, 2009

Places to Visit »Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival

antwerp snow and ice sculpture festivalMy friends have had such exciting adventures across the globe. This week, I share Ashleigh's trip to Brussels and the amazing looking Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival:

“The theme was the life and works of Peter Paul Rubens. It was held in a huge refrigerated tent and it was c-o-l-d.It'sa weird and kind of rave-ish place to want to transport myself to, but the hot mug of Gl?hwein they gave you to keep warm as you meandered through frozen Bizarro art history made it a thoroughly lovely outing.”

This year's celebration dates are to be announced here.

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Posted on September 7, 2009

Places to Visit »Th??tre Royal de Toone

Written by friend, Mike:

Perhaps its from my recent trip to Venice and my obsession with one craftsman's marionettes there (Roberto Comin), but right now, I'd really like to be in the “house of toone” in Belgium, drinking a beer and taking in a puppet show. The place is this really old puppet theater/bar (a concept I think is ingenious) in a small alleyway in the heart of Brussels. like many European bars, they also have an awesome cat that just walks around, and an amazing selection of beer. I was gonna paste a wikipedia link to it, but I just noticed the only one anyone has written is in french ( so i might have to go make the English entry myself.

I should note I took this above photo from a flickr stream of a user's 2008 trip to Belgium. Sadly I only took 3 photos in the place myself when I was there, so I must give credit where credit is due.

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Posted on August 17, 2009