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A regal gem within walking distance of Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, the Prime Minister’s residence and the Byward Market is the century old Fairmont Château Laurier. Visitors will appreciate the festive holiday décor provided by an annual fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Stop in for a warm drink and watch the snow fall.
New Orleans is a haunted place. However, it isn’t inhabited by ghosts and vampires as popular tours would have us believe. Instead, it’s steeped in a history so rich and vast the present pulses with it. a0 Dabble walked NOLA’s celebrated streets, met its unique characters and discovered its historic and modern charms. Oh… and to had a little fun too.
Where to Stay
Soniat House: Staying at Soniat House is a bit like spending the week with your favourite great aunt. Provided she has fine European antique furnishings, a private courtyard and bubbling fountain and wakes you from a blissful sleep with homemade biscuits. Divine. 1133 Chartres Street. (504) 522-0570
Hotel Ritz-Carlton: First class is the only style available at the Hotel Ritz-Carlton. If you’re due for a splurge, add club level service to your bill and enjoy an open bar throughout the day, excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner bites and an attentive concierge staff. As you step off the fourth floor elevator there’s even a cookie bar. Heaven. 921 Canal Street. (504) 524-1331
W Hotel: Worldwide, the W Hotel caters to a youthful fashionista set. In New Orleans there are two locations to choose from. W Hotel New Orleans on Poydras is just a little removed from the Bourbon Street fray while the W New Orleans – French Quarter is right in the centre of activity. Both have swimming pools and a lively bar scene. 333 Poydras Street. (504) 525-9444 ~ 316 Chartres Street. (504) 581-1200
Big Easy Scooter: For $60 a day, the adventurous can rent a Buddy 50 scooter in bright pink or another sorbet colour. Expect to get some envious stares while zipping through the French Quarter and Garden District. 3926 Magazine Street. (504) 269-6465
United Cab: For long treks, grab a cab. United uses only licensed drivers and provides the most reliable ride in town. (504) 522-9771
What to Do
Honey Island Swamp Tours: Offers a two-hour boat tour that’s sure to satisfy the gator hunter in your family ($23 adults, $15 kids). Visitors to the Cypress River swamp learn about folklore, history and the ecology of the swamp and its inhabitants. 41490 Crawford Landing Road, Slidell. (985) 641-1769
National WWII Museum: History buff or not, a trip to the National WWII Museum is time well-spent. The museum is divided into two distinct sections: one focusing on the European effort and a second centred on the Pacific conflict. Beyond All Boundaries, a new film produced by Tom Hanks, shows daily on a 120-foot wide screen. On-site restaurants, American Sector and The Soda Shop, thrive under chef, John Besh. 945 Magazine Street. (504) 528-1944
Oak Alley Plantation: Historically, Oak Alley Plantation served as a sugar cane estate before the Civil War. Its antebellum (Latin for ‘before the war’) mansion is typical of other estates along the Mississippi River, taking its cue from French Creole and Caribbean plantation design. Though disappointing to learn the slave quarters are no longer there, its architectural and historical significance makes it a worthwhile visit. 3645 Highway 18. (225) 265-2151 Check out Plantation Adventures to book a tour. 1-866-671-8687
Horse-Drawn Carriage: Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the French Quarter is a must. Choose a floral adorned mare and a chatty driver from the lineup outside Jackson Square. But wait for dark, when the ghost and voodoo stories seem eerily possible.
Mardi Gras World: For a $20 admission, visitors to Mardi Gras World in the Warehouse District get up close and personal with enormous parade floats while learning how they’re made and what’s involved in this annual tradition. Lead by a knowledgeable docent, the tour begins with a brief video and a slice of king cake (traditional sweet bun with colourful icing). Fun for the whole family. 1380 Port of New Orleans Place. (504) 361-7821
French Market: Set beside the Mississippi River is the permanent location of the French Market, an ideal spot for souvenir shopping. If you love hot sauce, there’s a shop devoted to nothing but the spicy stuff. You’ll also find the feathered Mardi Gras masks for a lot less money than the same versions on Bourbon Street. 1008 North Peters Street. (504) 522-2621
Longue Vue: Quite possibly the best way to learn about interior design and architecture is through historic home tours. Be sure to visit Longue Vue, its Classical Revival home and garden setting a delicious way to peek into the past. 7 Bamboo Road. (504) 488-5488
Hermann-Grima: If you’re keen to step inside a 19th century French Quarter home, then put Hermann-Grima on your must-visit list. The horse stable and functional outdoor kitchen from 1830 are part of the reason it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974. 820 Saint Louis Street. (504) 525-5661
Garden District: Stroll the Garden District to enjoy one of the prettiest neighbourhoods in the USA. Located north of Magazine Street. While there, take in the eerily exquisite Lafayette Cemetery. Save Our Cemeteries offers knowledgeable and respectful tours. (504) 525-3377
Shop the French Quarter: Sure Magazine Street has the largest selection of home design, but there’s still plenty to shop in the French Quarter. Nadine Blake is a tiny gem. 1036 Royal Street. (504) 529-4913 For antiques, Soniat House and Ann Koerner carry an impressive selection. 1133 Chartres Street. (504) 522-0570; 4021 Magazine Street. (504) 899-2664
Beth Halstad hikes in the lush hills outside Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand.
Leaving the pushcarts, crowds of tourists and the fast pace of Bangkok, we board a train and head north for a three-day hike outside of Chiang Mai. For a mere $25 US/Canadian, we make the 751 km journey in an air-conditioned sleeper car. To our delight, the train is faster than flying, extremely comfortable and offers picturesque views.
The day of our trek arrives. We are bussed early in the morning to our starting point and out on the trails in no time. The views are breathtaking as we traverse up and down sloping valleys and hills. I pick up an occasional scent of lemongrass, tranquil sounds as we near rivers and the feeling of being embraced by the jungle’s lush tropical vegetation.
Our friendly guide educates us on jungle foods and is not distracted even as a large rat crosses our path. He speaks passionately about the variety of Hilltribes who have migrated to the mountainous terrain from the Asian interior over the past 100 years and successfully cultivated hillside crops to maintain their self-sufficiency. The minority groups, each with their own language, clothing and religion, reside peacefully side-by-side in a simple rural existence.
In the evenings we are warmly welcomed into communities where the tribes prepare traditional foods on open fires and entertain us with stories told through song and dance. Although most do not speak English, we learn about their values through their unassuming lifestyle and oneness with nature.
As I think about these sometimes challenging days of hiking and basic (hut) sleeping accommodation, my soul readily gives these experiences a 5-star rating.
Smitten with sun, sand and surf? Then pack your bags and grab your sunscreen. Dabble’s team agrees, Santa Monica is a traveller’s triple threat: coastal chic, healthful eats and an urban beat.Santa Monica’s iconic pier is a colourful backdrop to the city’s liberal politics, healthful living and laid back beach style. We hit the streets, boardwalk and sand to discover what makes this urban beach town tick.
Picking a single hotel is difficult thanks to outstanding local choices. Ultimately, a design crush on Kelly Wearstler sways us towards the Viceroy Santa Monica with its eye-popping colour and near-beach location. The pool side cabanas are a perfect place to linger after a leisurely day shopping.
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel offers a beach side seat near the fire place and a perfect ending to an LA day. The Huntley Penthouse bar gets an honorable mention for its great view and the fun atmosphere for a GNO (girls’ night out).
Shutters on the Beach is hand’s down the best lobby bar in all of LA. Relaxing on comfy sofas, listening to the house pianist and watching sun-dipped patrons is pure bliss. Although it’s a splurge to spend the night, seaside views are unparalleled.
Main Street has an easy-going vibe that makes a leisurely day wandering the shops feel like a vacation. Take a seat in the outdoor courtyard at The World Cafe and you’ll feel transported to somewhere exotic. Try the poached pear salad.
Breakfast. The most important meal of the day is off to a good start at Cora’s Coffee Shoppe. Sit under the bougainvillea canopy and order the orange pancakes. Huckleberry’s location on Wilshire is not nearly as picturesque, but there’s ample parking in back and the sauteed spinach and roasted potatoes with sunnyside up eggs are divine.
Two out of three dabble contributor’s agree, the Gruyere and spicy mayo burger from Father’s Office is the best they’ve ever eaten. The place is always jumping and you’ll have to share a table, but it’s a great night out. Just don’t ask for ketchup. They don’t have any.
If you’re on a budget, check out Veggie Grill and try the yummy sweet potato fries and vegan Bali Bliss, an Indonesian style tempeh, grilled with chipotle ranch sauce.
Wander off the main shopping streets and there is still more to see. Make sure to visit Fred Segal on Broadway with its over-the-top housewares section (celebrity spottings are practically guaranteed). On Ocean Avenue take a break from gazing at the ocean to shop at Carlyle Design, which is tucked behind garden gates. The furniture is large scale and nicely tailored without fussiness. They have a great selection of Indian and Turkish style coffee tables and enough small accessories that you’re sure to find something to squeeze into your suitcase.
Fresh fish rules at Santa Monica Seafood Company, a family-owned business since 1939. A retail space, oyster bar, indoor/outdoor cafe and over 70 varieties of fish on ice makes us giddy. Do park in the rear as empty meters are ticketed frequently.
Impressive doesn’t begin to describe the hilltop setting or extensive collections at the world famous Getty Center. Richard Meier’s architectural masterpiece is clad in cleft-cut travertine and features a curvilinear design that wanders through a variety of natural gardens. Admission is free but you do need to make a reservation.
Originally a stop on the now-defunct Red Line trolley, Bergamot Station is currently a groovy arts centre with 30 plus galleries, shops, a museum and cafe. Free general admission.
Lining the walls at Salute Wine Bar, is a most unusual sight, an adult version of a soda fountain that dispenses — wait for it — wine samples. A prepaid card lets you choose from 40 different bottles. The martinis are mighty fine too.
The Santa Monica Pier ought to have a star on the walk of fame, it’s been in so many movies: Forrest Gump and The Sting to name two. And, did you know solar panels drive the eco-concious ferris wheel by day, and 160,000 LEDs light it up Hollywood-style by night?
Walking into a hotel lobby can sometimes feel stark and impersonal. The Hutton Hotel in Nashville is anything of the sort. It’s warm, inviting and gives a vibe that you’re walking into your friend’s uber cool living room.
With elements of country that are transformed into hip and modern the hotel is a place you will love returning to at the end of your day. You will be welcomed by the friendliest of staff willing to help you with any of your travel needs.
Art is a large part of the design concept. An organized collage leans on linear shelves showcasing contemporary art. Sculpture is also impressive in the space, with a life sized abstract steel horse nodding hello as you walk through the lobby doors.
The rooms themselves are stylish and comfortable, the rain head shower is relaxing and a Nespresso machine on each floor means you can run down the hall in your robe to fetch a cup of morning brew.
A respect and appreciation for the environment is also evident in the design with eco friendly finishes and materials throughout. However, they go beyond suggesting that you re-use your towel. Eco-minded considerations in the form of light control with your room card, biodegradable cleaning products, and a recycling program for glass, paper and plastics to name a few. The Hutton Hotel is *clean* chic.
I’m sure you’ve got a trip planned south to Nashville after reading all about this fine city in the March/April issue of Dabble Mag so be sure to check into the Hutton Hotel when you get there.
Spanish colonial architecture, a pulsing Latin beat and 580 kilometers of unspoiled coast- line have Kimberley Seldon saying, ‘Que Rico‘ to La Isla del Encanto. After all, they don’t call it the Island of Enchantment for nothing.
Opening my eyes just the tiniest bit, I let the bright sunlight sink into my brain slowly. ‘Right,’ I say to myself with a wee grin, ‘I’m in Puerto Rico.’ And just like that, I skip out on the end of winter in Toronto. ‘Well played,’ I think to myself.
St Germaineis the kind of casual cafe, where locals gather to linger over coffee and gossip. Come for lunch or brunch.
La Mallorca is a not-too-fancy local haunt for sweet buns and hot coffee.
Lusty describes the setting and menu at Dragonfly, Puerto Rico’s first Latin- Asian restaurant. Red walls, beaded curtains and fringed lamps are right out of Shanghai Surprise, but the food is memorable.
Tuna kebobs with cucumber slaw are a perfect match to chilled sangria at Torro del Salao Enjoy both in the lantern-lit courtyard patio.
In perfect harmony with the vibrant white and candy-hued interior, the menu at Marmaladeis full of flavour. The white bean soup is muy popular.
Enjoy a rare and blissfully quiet dining experience at 311 Trois Once Cent. As the name suggests, the menu is French.
Foodies will rush to reserve a table at Fern, whose chef is world- renowned Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Order the pechuga relleno de queso blanca y guayaba, aka chicken stuffed with guava and cheese at Dulce Fruta Bistro y Cafe and thank us later. Yum.
Stories above Plaza de las Delicias (Ponce’s main square) is the modern interior of Archipielago. The food is a fusion of Creole and continental. The halibut with coconut rice and vegetable curry is exceptional.
Cueva Clara, the largest of the Camuy River Park caves, has visitors arriving early to see the spectacular site. Step onto the tram and journey down to the natural wonder.
If you’re travelling with children, a trip to Arecibo Lighthouse Parkcan extend the day’s adventures. The small theme park is well kept and its replicas of Columbus’ ships, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, remind you of all that history you learned back in school.Head to Puerto Rico’s Riviera, Luquillo Beach. This public beach is a crowd pleaser with dozens of the picturesque kiosks nearby so popular in Puerto Rico.
Adventurers will want to explore Puerto Rico’s other islands, Vieques and Culebra. Situated off the eastern shores, head to Fajardo and catch the ferry to either island.
A must see, the phosphorescence or bioluminescence generated by microscopic organisms (dinoflagellates) causes the water in La Parguera to glow with an eerie blue light whenever the surface is disturbed, an effect that is particularly powerful on moonless nights.The month of February is peak season for Humpback whale watching off the coast of Rincon.
If you’re looking for Panama hats, hand-made cigars or folk art, then El Galponis the place. Dabble Savvy: Above the Calle del Criston shop is an apartment to rent.
Handmade tote bags line the walls at Eco Eco.Owner, Angie Ortiz Rivera is on site and eager to serve.
The owners are rightfully proud of the original, contemporary Caribbean art on display at Galeria Exodo.
Board games are popular in Puerto Rico. At Kamel International Bazaar we found a chess set with nearly naked Ta ed no Indians squared off against the fully armed Spanish army. Not much of a match.
As it turns out, racking up rewards points is a breeze in Old San Juan. Flight, hotel and rental car garner double points, and I still earned a point for every dollar spent on shopping. In total, I earned 8,000 points on my trip to Puerto Rico simply by using my American Express Gold Rewards Card.
With its unique mix of small town charm and big city excitement, Nashville won the hearts (and eyes, ears, and taste buds) of our Dabble travellers.
We all have preconceptions of a city based on its place in history, its politics, the vast generalisation of its people, its traditions and pastimes, food and landscape. Nashville, Tennessee, our first Dabble Does destination, is one of those places that is rife with cliches and presumptions. Home of country twang, the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, southern cookin’ and Miley Cyrus. Music City. Cashville. Nash Vegas. The Buckle of the Bible Belt. The list of sobriquets goes on.
So when our three contributors: Nyla Free (design), Lena Diaz (food) and Eric Parker (travel), scoured the city to uncover its riches, its wealth and diversity surprised them. The eclectic mix of design and art turned Nyla into a shopaholic. Lena’s hunt for the city’s best fried chicken became a discovery of a cuisine tied to its roots but with flavours of the future. And Eric’s love of music opened our ears to a city offering more than just country.
Stand in the well-dressed lobby and watch case-carrying musicians check in at the fc bercool Hutton Hotel.
Rooms are comfortably sleek with gracious rain head showers and a hopping Nespresso machine on every floor.Union Station, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, is a luxuriously restored 19th century railway station with soaring ceilings and Tiffany-esque stained glass windows. The setting makes you want to dress in your Sunday best.
No typical hamburger joint, Burger Upsports industrial chic decor, with mismatched cutlery and dishcloth napkins. Stylish plaid-wearing servers greet you with a smile while you mingle with locals in a community dining atmosphere. Try the fried pickles. Divine.
Locals claim Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the best and I can’t disagree. A Nashville specialty, hot chicken is battered in buttermilk and cayenne pepper and then pan fried. Better have a beer beside you; when we say hot, we mean hot.
Order a Dark & Stormy (Rum, Lime, Cruzan Black Strap and Ginger Syrup) at prohibitionstyle bar, The Patterson House. To avoid weekend lineups arrive early.
If you can, try and spot the ever-moving Grilled Cheeserie Truck. Once you find it, let me know. I searched for days and never got to try the Brie, buttermilk cheddar, egg and bacon sandwich a friend said is to die for.
Enjoy a late morning coffee at popular brew-tiques like Crema. Celebrities blend in unassumingly; Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman like to hang out at Frothy Monkey and Taylor Swift is a Fido fan.
The oil painting seen here is by Veta Cicolello, owner Ovvio Arte.
Get to a honky-tonk where you’ll find freeflowing beer and Tennessee whiskey as well as the best live country music in the state. You might even spot a Nashville celeb like Reba McEntire or Tim McGraw.
Visit Nashville for the 2011 CMA Music Festival, June 9-12. It’s the ultimate country music experience. Get there any way you can.
The first African American college, Fisk houses an impressive permanent collection in the Fisk University Galleries. In addition to Cezanne, Picasso, O’Keefe and Stieglitz you’ll find important African American artists like Aaron Douglas, whose murals adorn Cravath Hall walls.
Vintage dishes, linen tea towels, graphic memo boards and a stunning selection of upscale handcrafts make Knobstoppers & Cake Vintage Table & Homea must visit.Get your hands on some locally produced Olive & Sinclair dark chocolate, available at most coffee shops. Try the Mexican style Cinn-Chily.The letterpress posters at Hatch Show Print are nearly as famous as the acts they’ve been advertising since 1879.
The most recognizable city in the United States’ Pacific Northwest, Seattle is the birth place of grunge music, mass coffee consumption, entrepreneurial spirit, and much of the salmon consumed by this outdoor-loving, tech-savvy, caffeine-buzzed population who appreciate the good life and know how to share it.
Hotel 1000Consistently voted one of Seattle’s top luxury hotels, Hotel 1000 is smack bang in the middle of the Seattle action. The uber-tech hotel features The Golf Club virtual reality room where you can swing a club at the world’s top courses. Or forget technology altogether at The Spaahh. If your faithful companion is your roommate, Hotel 1000 provides pet beds and pooch pastries too.
Four Seasons SeattleLocated in the heart of all the Seattle excitement, this five-star hotel is a maximum 15-minute walk to Pike Place Market, Seattle Waterfront, Seattle Aquarium, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Art Museum and downtown shopping. All suites have views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountain Range, and our favourite spaces are the Deluxe Bay View rooms that look out over Puget Sound. The vista from the rooftop pool is pretty special too.
Portage Bay Cafe Their slogan ‘Eat like you give a damn’ sums up the passion these guys feel for food. Using only local and/or organic ingredients, and with gluten-free options, you’ll love their omelettes and scrambles, or load up your pancake stack at the berry bar. Make a reservation at one of their three locations, or put your name down at the door and explore the area (like the newly refurbished South Lake Union Park) while you wait. Closes at 3:00 pm.
LolaWhether you’re going for the famous ‘donuts in a bag’ teamed with jalapeno-infused vodka Bloody Marys at breakfast, or Greek-meets-North-African small plates for lunch or dinner, you could spend an entire day eating here; and we recommend you do.
Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle ClubWork up an appetite first by renting a kayak from the Paddle Club ($18 for one hour) and cruise past Seattle’s famous houseboats on Lake Union with views of the Space Needle. Or, paddle through the city’s beautiful Arboretum, home to bald eagles, heron, beavers and muskrats. Hungry yet? Float back to shore and indulge in modern Mexican dishes, like spicy grilled catfish tacos, at the cafe for lunch or dinner.
CantinettaA Wallingford neighbourhood favourite features Tuscan fare with locally-sourced ingredients and handmade pastas. The warm, friendly atmosphere and spot-on service makes you feel like you’re actually at a friend’s house for a dinner party. In fact, the manager lives upstairs, so it’s kind of like hanging out in his dining room.
Molly Moon Ice CreamTake your place at the end of the line at this tiny Wallingford neighborhood shop where, even in winter, the queue snakes down the street. It’s worth it for the Salted Caramel ice cream alone. Alternatively, follow them on Twitter @mollymoon to scout their roving ice cream truck whereabouts.
Pike Place MarketPike Place must be your first stop in Seattle. You could easily spend a day here, getting lost in the underground burrows, exploring the cobblestone alleys, weaving through the hundreds of stores, craftspeople, farmers and entertainers. Dodge the freshly-caught salmon being thrown between performing fish mongers (watch the webcam at Pike Place Fish), taste locally produced cheeses, grab a giant tulip bouquet for $10, and visit the original Starbuck’s.
The Space NeedleGet your bearings and see Seattle and her surrounding areas by taking a trip up to O Deck at The Space Needle. From Puget Sound, Lake Union, Elliot Bay, and Lake Washington, to the snow-capped Mt. Rainier, the Cascade Mountains to the East, and the Olympic Mountains and Peninsula to the west. Get a preview of what you’ll see with The Space Needle webcam. (Ok, that’s cheating, you really need to see it for yourself.)
Seattle Art MuseumLocated just a couple of blocks from Pike Place Market is Seattle Art Museum, aka SAM. The newly refurbished art center houses ever-changing exhibitions. Alternatively, head outdoors to the Olympic Sculpture Park (run by SAM but situated about two miles west on the waterfront) where families can run amok among such important works as Alexander Calder’s Eagle (1971).
Experience Music ProjectThere’s no doubt Seattle has a rich music history, and it’s here that it is encapsulated. You won’t have to look hard to find it; it’s the big (Frank Gehry-designed) shiny blob at the base of The Space Needle. Get up on stage in front of your own adoring crowd, or learn a guitar lick in the Sound Lab.
WHAT: Winner of the Travel+Leisure Best Resort for 2011, Amangiri is in the centre of the Grand Circle, surrounded by National Park icons like the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and the Grand Staircase. Nestled in a protected valley, the architecturally spectacular Pavilion building, and its suite wings, at once blend with the rugged landscape and provide a peaceful place to look out upon the towering ancient bluffs. Watch the colours change with the passing of the desert sun overhead.