- Pope Francis Does It Again
Castel Gandolfo, The Pope’s Summer residence is now open to the public. The Apostolic palace situated about 25kms from Rome has been the summer home of the Pontiff’s for centuries but Pope Francis has again bucked tradition and decided that he will remain at the Vatican even during the warmer months. Instead he has offered the residence as a ‘gift for the people’. The gardens have been open since 2014 with another section being opened up as a portrait gallery in 2015. Now, the Room of The Throne, the Consistory Room and the Pope’s bedroom and study have also been included.
2. An Ode to Gaudi
Probably one of the most significant architects in Spanish history has got to be Antoni Gaudi. With his reputation for being inspired by the “Book of Nature” , Barcelona seems to pay homage to him around every corner. From Casa Botilo to La Sagrada di Familia, there are always scores of visitors waiting to experience the magnificence of his genius. Now, Casa Vicens, his very first project is also being opened to the public. Designed for the wealthy tile manufacturer Manel Vicens and his family as a refuge from the city’s heat. Complete with waterfall and fountains in the garden designed to keep the house cool and his use of plants, birds and seashells, the home allows the residents to feel transported to another world. Gaudi even used tiles on the facade of the structure so that the home could be seen as an ‘advert’ for the business of the owner. Expect to be dazzled as early as Easter 2017
- Irish Is Best
The Irish hotel Ballyfin Demesne has been named the Number One hotel in the World according to Conde Nast. The annual awards ranks the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands and airlines and cruises from around the world. The prestigious title was compiled from a list of more than 300 000 readers’ votes. Two other Irish hotels also made the list, they are Waterford Castle and The Lodge at Ashford Castle. No other country had more than one entry in the top ten. Ballyfin Demesne is a luxurious regency mansion boasting only twenty bedrooms. Ballyfin Demesne was also the destination of choice for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s honeymoon.
- Bring on the Maple Syrup
In it’s just newly released edition, Lonely Planet, hails Canada as the Destination for Year, 2017. It is also the year the country celebrates its 150th birthday and with celebrations planned we can see why now would be a good time to start planning that trip to the land of Maple Syrup. Destinations are ranked based on diversity and quality of travel experiences offered. The country has seen over 14 million visitors between January and August 2016 and with all that is planned next year combined with the vast experiences on offer, this number will surely rise. From pristine landscapes, exquisite waterfalls (Niagra Falls) and culture rich cities not to mention the multitude of activities Canada is set to be the “place to be”
- Dia De Muertos
This October Mexico celebrated The Day of The Dead in grand style with its first ever Day of The Dead Parade. Although traditions vary by regions, an integral theme of the festival is welcoming back the souls of lost loved ones. Family and friends of the departed decorate gravestones in bright flowers or build special altars in their home laid out with treats like sweets, liquor or gifts to entice souls back to earth for the day. The most iconic of these offerings are las calaveras, or the sugar skulls, decorated and engraved with the deceased’s name for the holiday.
The festivities are widely thought to be presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, wife of Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the underworld. She is known as “Lady Death” or, more recently as “La Catrina”, a character created by artist Jose Guadalupe Posada. Her image has become a core part of celebrations across the country. The parade started at the Angel of independence Monument in Mexico City and ended at the iconic Zocalo Square.
- Going ‘google’ on AirBnB
It seems the property rental service is doing more than just annoying hoteliers around the world in its ever growing popularity. It is believed that Google Capital has about $4 Billion invested in the online vacation rental company which is said to be valued at $30 Billion making it the one of the largest privately held companies. Even though New York has passed law stating that anyone who lists their homes on a short term rental website will be fined $7 500, it seems that AirBnb still continues to be as popular as ever especially amongst the hipsters. The debate between the hotel industry and others together with AirBnB seems far from over though, where the question of the online rental company’s role in the economies of cities around the world is being questioned. Makes me think of Uber and the taxi industry.