Savannah: Top 5 Travel Experiences

1  Immerse yourself in history with a visit to the First African Baptist Church, built by enslaved people in 1859. The church was once a stop on the Underground Railroad as evidenced by the drill holes in the floor, just above a four foot crawl space that runs under the church and out to the sea.

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First African Baptist Church member, Rebecca Wilson

2  If design and decorating appeal, then touring Savannah’s Historic Houses  is a must. The Owen-Thomas House is a beautiful example of English Regency architecture complete with period touches like faux-marbre (marble) and faux bois (wood).

3 A riverboat cruise on board the Georgia Queen or the Savannah River Queen transports you up the Savannah River in style.  A sail on the one-hour stern wheel riverboat replicas includes a narrated history lesson. Plan ahead because the tours have fixed departure times.

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Georgia Queen and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge

4  The Savannah College of Art and Design attracts more than 8,000 talented students each year. Lucky for us as their art works are sold in stores and cafes and at the SCAD Art Museum Bring a southern memento home.

5- In Savannah, ghost are rumoured to be friendly and very much present. We didn’t have any encounters on our visit, but if you’re dying to see one for yourself, do one of the Savannah Ghost Walks and enter some of the cities most haunted buildings at night.

Savannah: Top Décor Spots

1  If vintage and antique furniture and accessories appeals, Savannah’s a great destination. Try Jeres Antiques which has 33,000 square feet to browse in.

2  It’s likely you intent to tour the Mercer House, but if time is short, at least make time to visit Mercer House Carriage Shop. Take home a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or go big and purchase the Bird Girl statue replica that graces the cover of the book.

3  When you’re shopping on Broughton Street, be sure to pop into 24e and  DC2 Design for contemporary furnishings and accessories.

4 Madame Chrysanthemum is the scented laboratory of florist Michelle Mikulec. The garden shop has great displays and vintage style treasures to take home.

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Madame Chrysanthemum

5  Alex Raskin Antiques claims they are the most interesting store in Savannah and we agree. Located on Bull Street, the old house turned store has architectural salvage, furniture, mirrors, accessories and more.

Savannah: Top 5 Food Experiences

1  Take tea at the Gyphon Tea Room and you’ll nibble on tea sandwiches and scones in a turn-of-the-century pharmacy with original stained glass ceiling and wood panelling. . Fresh salads are also worth digging your fork into.

2  Save some dough by sharing a New York style pizza at Vinnie Van Go Go in the City Market.

 The Pirate’s House may have been the drinking spot back in the 18th century, but it’s still a top watering (and dining) spot. There are fifteen separate dining rooms and a resident ghost, Captain Flint (made famous in Treasure Island) who is said to appear in the Captain’s Room.

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The Pirate’s House

4  Sure, fresh seafood is plentiful in Savannah, but if you love crab take a 20 minute drive to Deposito’s Seafood Restaurant (recommended by interior designer Lynn Morgan). It’s the locals’ secret spot, so shhh, we didn’t tell you.

5   Beautiful exterior window displays will likely draw you into The Paris Market on Broughton Street. Shop the French inspired wares and then enjoy a café au lait before you resume your walking tour of Savannah.

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The Paris Market

Budapest Shopping: Buda

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ABOVE: Kimberley negotiates with an eager vendor at Ecseri Flea Market.

Ready to give that credit card a workout? The good news is there are fewer temptations than you’d find in larger cities like Paris and New York.

“The bad news is, there is none,” says Dabble’s Editor in Chief Kimberley Seldon. “Arrive early and bring cash. The selection can keep you busy for hours.”

1. “Vintage Herend Porcelain, turn of the century objets d’art and fine oil paintings,” says Kimberley, “are just some of the goods I look for at Ecseri Flea Market.” Visit during offseason when prices are very favourable. However, do be prepared to find busts and portraits of Mussolini and Hitler in multiple stands (though these infamous items are tucked away during warm weather months when tourists are more plentiful). History buffs may appreciate communist memorabilia. The market is open on Saturday. Cash is king, though many vendors take credit cards.

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ABOVE: Herend porcelain.

2. Make sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes and wear sunscreen when you visit Szentendre, just outside of the city centre. It’s easy to lose track of time in this popular destination for visitors and local weekend pilgrimages. Nestled among the hills of Buda, the folksy village-turned-artistrefuge has shopping opportunities galore. Not to mention several museums, colourful restored buildings and restaurants decent enough to make spending four to five hours here a pleasant outing. Look for handmade pottery, jewelry, embroidered linen and hand blown glass to tempt your spending resolve.

3. Although the styles are diverse, Hungary has more than one famous ceramics house. In addition to Zsolnay’s Art Nouveau pieces (which are admittedly an acquired taste) there is the perennially pleasing Herend Porcelain. Founded in 1826, Herend specializes in hand-painted and gilded porcelain for a discerning worldwide clientele. Many of its classic patterns are still in production.

Budapest Shopping: Pest

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1. Closed to cars, Váci utca is Pest’s premier shopping street. Despite the usual suspects, like Italian department store Coin (Coincasa section has fun bedding and kitchenware) and the typical tourist spots where you’ll find Hungarian gifts no doubt produced in China, there are some lovely stores selling clothing, jewelry and porcelain. Don’t miss the chocolates at Csokoládé & Delikat.

Dabble Savvy: Chocolate shops are always air conditioned, making them a real draw on the hottest days. Bacchus is a wine shop with a good selection and attentive staff. Café Molnár’s sells kürtoskalac or rolled donuts with coconut, cinnamon, chocolate and almonds.

2. Sure it’s touristy, but there’s no way you come to Budapest without at least a cursory visit to Grand Market Hall, (Nagycsarnok). Most of the goods fall into the souvenir category, but there are some exceptions including lovely leather bags, Bavarian textiles and exceptional food. Find a lunch counter on the second floor and enjoy a spicy Hungarian sausage with red cabbage and cold beer. Then check out the selection of paprika on the main floor.

Dabble Savvy: There is a clean, coed public toilet at the back of the market,130 HUF (US$0.60).

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3. Ernst Galeria owner Eleni Koranis (ABOVE) eagerly shares her enthusiasm for Hungary’s turn of the century artistic accomplishments. Her design-savvy shop is filled with fine art paintings, ceramics (including pieces from world-renowned Zsolnay), as well as sleek furnishings from Eastern Europe.

Quebec City’s Top 5 Design Spots

One of Québec City’s best features is its walkability. “That is,” says Victoria Drainville, “if you have the right boots for the job.” Little else is required to enjoy this truly great Canadian design destination.

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1. Start the day with a stroll in the Quartier Petit-Champlain. Lined with charming stores and quaint restaurants, the area has a European feel thanks to some of the most beautiful stone buildings in the country. If you love to cook, don’t miss a visit to Pot en Ciel. Many of the shop’s kitchen items are imported from France.

2. In the Old City, make your way to Un Fauteuil Pour Deux. Furnishings from all over the world reflect owner Nancy Ricard’s passion for travel. Victoria’s fallen for some pillow shams (left).

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3. If you agree with the idea that a room is never complete without at least one antique, then you’ll love Québec City. The Antique District on la rue St-Paul is Victoria’s go-to spot and a must visit shop is La Nouvelle-France Antiquités for Québec folk art. Owner Yves Duval is happy to share the history of any of his pieces.

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4. Mà Mobilier Actuel, located in the new and upcoming Saint-Roch District, sells contemporary furniture that reflects the look and style of the Orient. Their exclusive collection is predominantly made of tropical woods that originate from controlled forests.

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5. After a satisfying day of shopping in the Old City and Saint-Roch District, it may be time to splurge on a cab ride back to the upper city. If you still have energy, make your way to Zone Maison and enjoy trendy home décor at reasonable prices. With fabulous gadgets and accessories for humans and our four-legged friends, you’re bound to find an inspired holiday gift.

New Orleans Travel Guide

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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

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Getting Around

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

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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.

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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

 

Santa Monica Travel Guide

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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.

Stay

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.

Eat

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.

Shop

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.

See

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.

Do

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?

Seattle’s Top 5 Design Spots

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“Seattle’s design scene is as eclectic as its residents,” says our design expert Sophie Vander.

The simplicity of high tech style travels easily from the workplace to home, but because Seattleites are intrinsically environmentalists, they feel compelled to mix vintage or antique with the sleek and new to create a style all their own.

1. First stop, Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Area 51 contains a mix of new and vintage that screams Seattle style. Leah Steen from Revival Home & Garden is the expert when it comes to pops of colour. If you’re a true greenie, NuBe Green’s philosophy of sustainable materials will float your boat. Tucked away upstairs in Melrose Market, Butter Home touts interesting rustic pieces with a built-in fun factor.

2. The knowledgeable staff at Velocity Art and Design is super cool and friendly, which makes shopping here way too easy. Walk away with pendant lamps by Artecnica, a Chilewich spun vinyl table runner and, hey, throw in Blu Dot’s Nick dining table as well. They do ship, so go crazy.

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3. Take a quick cab ride south to artsy and industrial-chic Georgetown. Take in the substantial inventory at Susan Wheeler Home, but grab your prize while you can as items go quickly. Next door, the pieces at Kirk Albert Vintage Furnishings are as enigmatic as Kirk himself. His business partner, Steve, is there to talk you through the history of the industrial relics sourced from around the globe. Stop by Pacific Galleries antique mall on your way back into Seattle.

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4. Not your average ceramics store, Far 4 features porcelain hand grenades by designer Charles Krafft, while Trevor Jackson’s skull teapots will cause a stir at tea parties. Scale down the shock factor but retain the wow with Far 4’s own line of porcelain vegetables accented with gold.

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5. We love how Great Jones Home creates vignettes within the store so that you can visualize a whole space and find inspiration within it. By utilizing classic pieces and patterns, with a touch of glamour and gilt, you can’t go wrong really.

Guide to New Town in Prague

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Wenceslas Square
Václavské námestí

A sweeping avenue developed in the 14th century, Wenceslas Square is rarely deserted, but an easy stroll nets a vast selection of shops and restaurants to enjoy. At its apex is the National Museum, seen just behind the statue of Duke Wenceslas on horseback. (It seems the Christmas carol gave him a boost in title.)

Eat

At tea time head to the splendidly restored Grand Café Orient (Ovocný trh 19) to get a feel for 1912 Prague. Or, visit Municipal House Café for a light lunch in an exquisite Art Nouveau setting.

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Sit in the wine bar and soak up the urban contemporary vibe while nibbling contentedly at KOGO’s Slovanský Dum location (Na Pr.kope 22). Or, descend into the cellared depths of Klub Architektu (Betlemske Namesti 5a) for hearty Czech fare at great prices.

Shop

Decorative arts enthusiasts go ga-ga over the tableware, books, furniture and writing papers on display (and in the gift shop) at the Kubistz Museum, located inside the House of the Black Madonna.

The city’s only Moser store, creating the finest Czech crystal since 1857 is their flagship (Na Prikope 12). A must visit.

If you’ve been to Paris you are familiar with shopping passages that house stores and restaurants. Lucerna Pasáž is a popular Czech passage but most of the shops still have a communist-era feel to them. In contrast, Pasáž Slovanský Dum (Na Pr.kope 22), has a branch of the Belgian design shop Flamant Store, clothing stores such as Mexx and Tommy Hilfiger, and a movie theatre with English subtitles.

Prague’s Performing Arts

Attending a concert in Prague is a memorable experience. There are dozens of locations where you can enjoy orchestras, ensembles, theatre and comedy. Performances change frequently so read the literature available at each location.

Nashville’s Top 5 Design Spots

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Design in the Mix

From the urban vibe downtown to vintage on the city’s fringe, interior designer and Dabble Design Contributor Nyla Free is astounded by choice in Nashville.

1. Make your way to the intersection of 8th and Douglas Avenues for a fine selection of design shops. Epiphany is a favourite for European charm. Visit Pre-to-Post for its eclectic mix of kitsch and vintage, Classic Modern for groovy retro and the Cane-Ery for antiques in varying stages of rejuvenation.

2. Trendy Hillsboro Village is a destination for noshing (expect line-ups at Pancake Pantry and Fido) and shopping. Start at Social Graces where cool stationery and gifts are beyond tempting. Work your way down the block towards Pangaea for Spanish influenced accessories and end at Retropolitan with its contemporary furniture and fab pillows. Hungry? Stop for frozen yogurt at Sweet Cece’s.

3. Nyla made her biggest purchases at Wonders on Woodland, bringing home spaghetti lights from the 1950s and a 1940s’ vase. Next door, Art & Invention Gallery is an artisan treasure trove.

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4. A former laundry warehouse in trendy Edgehill is home to Nest, with its upcountry chic furniture and accessories. Wander through adjacent shops and make sure to stop for lunch at the colourful Taco Mamacita. (Margaritas are 2-for-1 on Wednesdays.)

5. Set in a rambling roadside farmhouse, Three French Hens is named for the trio of friends who set up shop together. Occasional chairs, guest towels, bulletin boards and vintage jewellery make a visit well worth the 30-minute drive to Nolensville.