Milan’s Discount Shopping Treasure

Milan’s Galleria

While Paris may hold the title of ‘Fashion Capital of the World’, Milan is her runner-up (if not her better understudy). Considered one of the chicest, sophisticated and fashion conscious cities in all of Italy, every big name fashion brand has a store in Milan, displaying the latest clothing and accessories direct from the catwalk – trends that won’t reach the rest of the world for months. The style in Milan is decidedly cutting-edge, which is why we’re so much in love with it, changing constantly to reflect the newest trends and fads amongst fashionistas.

Milan is also a big city with plenty of attractions and sights, but the primary designer shopping district is remarkably compact, making it dangerously simple to flit from store to store with credit card in hand, even if you’re just visiting for a few hours as part of a European cruise to nearby Genoa. Known as Quadrilatero d’Oro – directly translated as Golden Quadrilateral – the district connects four streets in the city lined with designer stores which span almost one mile: Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea, Via Alessandro Manzoni and Via Montenapoleone. Along these streets shoppers can discover the delights of Hermes, Miu Miu, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Stella McCartney, Tiffany and Gucci, to name just a select few. There’s even Armani Junior for young fashion lovers, but it’s really all about the bespoke shoe designers and stores like Mario Leoni, Barbara Beryl (La Vetrina di Beryl), Berluti, and Le Solferine.

However, Milan’s big name brands aren’t restricted solely to this Quadrilatero d’Oro, and a few of the world-renowned fashion labels have spread out into some of the city’s shopping malls. Shopping malls can be found all over Milan, and Italy’s oldest mall is actually located right in the heart of the city. Built in 1877, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II made news in 2012 for making the somewhat controversial decision not to renew the lease of the McDonalds fast food restaurant that had been serving up burgers and fries for 20 years. The store’s replacement? The mall’s second Prada store. This emphasizes just how much Milan is striving to remain at the top of its game.

Fidenza Village

These designer stores are fascinating to look round and view the unique and gorgeous creations, but the price tags can be downright terrifying, we must admit. Fortunately, Milan caters to everyone, and the quick-moving trends within the ever-changing fashion world particularly lend themselves to outlet malls and stores. Travelers looking for a day excursion from their cruise and who love fashion but hate the prices should consider a trip to Fidenza Village, located 70 miles south of Milan, close to Parma. Boasting ‘chic outlet shopping’, Fidenza Village is like the Disneyland of fashion. The village has been purpose-built to display older, yet still current, trends at hugely reduced prices. The village operates a ‘Shopping Express’ bus from Milan, leaving at 10 a.m. and departing the village at 6.30 p.m., giving shoppers a full three hours to browse through hot trends at discount prices.

Whether you’re a fashion lover or not, if you’re in Milan then the shopping district just isn’t to be missed. Beautiful and sophisticated designs are interspersed with the most bizarre creations you can imagine. Although some believe that Milan has been trumped by Paris in terms of fashion and style, the city is without a doubt the best place in Italy for picking up gifts and treats from the biggest fashion houses in the world. Just be sure to take a credit card… or two!

www.fidenzavillage.com

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31 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World

Poffertjes – Traditional Dutch pancakes

Faced with concourses filled with ubiquitous shrink-wrapped sandwiches, greasy fast-food burgers, and processed pastries, the thought of eating at an airport is rarely appetizing. But that may soon change, as airports around the world are revamping aging terminals and the world’s best chefs, several of them Michelin-starred, are recognizing the value of serving exemplary meals before liftoff. The Daily Meal’s list of the 31 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World is the culmination of a six-month-long nomination process, wherein a preliminary list of more than 100 restaurants was measured against two categories (cuisine and style/décor/service). So check out the full list below and make sure you try out some of these tasty eats the next time you’re jaunting around the world.

Tadında Anadolu - Istanbul Atatürk Airport

Tadında Anadolu – Istanbul Atatürk Airport

31 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World

1.       Porta Gaig (El Prat del Llobregat, Barcelona)

2.       Salt Lick BBQ (Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)

3.       Tortas Frontera (Chicago O’Hare International Airport)

4.       Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol)

5.       Obrycki’s (Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport)

6.       Crust (LaGuardia Airport, New York City)

7.       Five Guys (Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC)

8.       Custom Burgers by Pat LaFrieda (LaGuardia Airport, New York City)

9.       Encounter (Los Angeles International Airport)

10.   Legal Sea Foods (Boston Logan International Airport)

11.   Pink’s Hot Dogs (Los Angeles International Airport)

12.   Brasserie Flo (Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport)

13.   Plane Food (Heathrow Airport, London)

14.   Tagliare (LaGuardia Airport, New York City)

15.   Versailles Restaurant (Miami International Airport)

16.   Piquillo (John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City)

17.   Icebox Café (Miami International Airport)

18.   Union Jacks Bar (Gatwick Airport, London)

19.   Kim Choo’s Nonja Kitchen (Changi Airport Singapore)

20.   Airbräu Brauhaus (Munich Airport)

21.   Globe@YVR (Vancouver International Airport)

22.   La Moraga (Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, Costa del Sol, Spain)

23.   Cat Cora’s Kitchen (San Francisco International Airport)

24.   Altitude (Genève Aéroport, Geneva)

25.   Columbia Restaurant Café (Tampa International Airport)

26.   One Flew South (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)

27.   Anthony’s Fish Bar (Seattle Tacoma International Airport)

28.   Tacañon (Benito Juarez, Mexico City)

29.   Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol)

30.   La Pausa (Ministro Pistarini International Airport, Buenos Aires)

31.   Tadında Anadolu (Istanbul Atatürk Airport)

Looking for a group ski trip in the Alps?

Chesa Wazzau, Switzerland. You may not have heard of it before, I certainly hadn’t, but lately, can you tell that I’m feeling the Alps? It must have something to do with the impending winter and all those episodes of Game of Thrones.

Where is it?

Bever, Upper Engadine, Switzerland to be exact.

What do you do there?

Ski. Duh.

And check out this self-catered holiday rental. It’s like traveling back in time.

Chesa Wazzau is a Swiss idyll out of a picture book: a typical Engadine house from the 17th century, you feel as if traveling back in time a couple of hundred years. The house was restored preserving its original character with vaulted ceilings, windows deeply embedded into the walls and the typical sgraffito decorations. The house is located in the small village of Bever, surrounded by beautiful Alpine landscape and St. Moritz just a couple of minutes away. With its four peaks, 350 km of snowy slopes, 150 km of hiking trails and 190 km of cross-country slopes, Engadin St. Moritz is one of the largest and best winter sport areas in Switzerland. Chesa Wazzau is the perfect retreat to spend a relaxing holiday in the Upper Engadine.

Price per week: CHF 3.100 for up to 12 people sharing

http://www.welcomebeyond.com/property/chesa-wazzau/

The Best Places To Sample Authentic Caribbean Rum

Straight up, on the rocks, with a mixer, in a mojito … the possibilities are endless. Rum, both light and dark, is consumed in a huge variety of ways, and the sugary spirit is just as popular today as it was following its creation in the Caribbean in the seventeenth century. Made from byproducts of sugarcane (either sugarcane juice or molasses), many rums continue to be produced throughout the Caribbean because of the abundance of sugar plantations across the islands. Authentic Caribbean rums are considered to be some of the best quality spirits on the market, similar to Russian vodkas or Scotch whiskies.

Although Caribbean rum has become a rather generic term for rums produced throughout the region, the different islands and countries actually produce different types of the spirit, putting their own spin on a traditional recipe. There are three distinct forms produced across the region, so visitors traveling to the Caribbean hoping to sample some of its delights shouldn’t restrict themselves to just one destination. One of the most effortless ways of travelling around is on a cruise, with a western Caribbean cruise offering plenty of time to discover all the different varieties while relaxing and taking in all the sights.

Rum produced in primarily Spanish speaking countries, such as Cuba, is generally light or golden and smooth. It is reminiscent of the rums that are frequently used as cocktail bases rather than those that are consumed neat by connoisseurs. Known as añejo rums, they’re generally well-aged in oak barrels that give them a somewhat charred yet mild flavor. Choose a western Caribbean cruise that visits the port of Havana on Cuba’s northern shore to try out this type of rum.

A second type of Caribbean rum comes from the countries with English as an official language, such as Belize. These dark rums are what are considered to be ‘sophisticated’ spirits that benefit more from consumption in their simplest form rather than being mixed with liquids that could affect the rich flavor. The rums are generally quite syrupy rather than runny like other forms of the drink, and have a very subtle taste. Western Caribbean cruises which dock in Belize City are good choices, with plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the port.

Finally, French-speaking Caribbean countries produce yet another type of rum known as rhum agricole, or rhum vieux if its been aged. This type of rum is remarkably different, made from sugarcane juice rather than the usual molasses. It is generally considered to be a purer form of more standard rums and is often much more expensive to buy. The charred taste of other rums is replaced with a somewhat spicy flavor, and although this rum is hugely popular both in the Caribbean and in the United States, it accounts for just 5 percent of the world’s rum production. Visitors can sample this in Labadee on Haiti’s north coast.

Another place that’s an absolute must-see for rum lovers is the Mount Gay Distillery in Barbados. Visitors can learn about the history of the popular brand and experience a guided tour around the factory. Visitors can see and smell the rum at various stages during the production process and see how it transforms from sugarcane to drink. The tour concludes with what is often considered the best part: the tasting! There are plenty of rum punches on offer, as well as neat shots to try.

There’s really no better place to sample the world’s best rums than the Caribbean, the birthplace of the popular spirit. With the combination of an abundance of factories with locals who take their rum very seriously, it’s a great place to learn about the different processes, tastes and styles of the different countries. Huge varieties of rum can be purchased from the factories and from stores throughout the Caribbean, providing wonderful gifts and souvenirs to take home from the trip.

So chug-a-lug-lug!

One of My Favorite Shampoo and Conditioners Yet

Some of my loyal readers know should by now that I have curly hair that requires a lot of attention. Well, okay, maybe attention isn’t the right word. It’s more like… moisture. Mama needs moisture!

This is particularly true when I travel and even more so in the wintertime. But… just like there’s no universal foundation shade, there’s no universal hair product. From extremely porous to tightly curled, let’s just say that ethnic hair types present their own unique set of challenges, but the pain is worth the “You’ve got really cool hair” reward. Which is why I was over-the-moon about Philip Kingsley’s latest innovation, the new Moisture Extreme Shampoo and Moisture Extreme Conditioner, developed specifically to address the styling, processing and nourishment needs of ethnic textured hair, reducing breakage and protecting against friction. The great thing about this product is that my mom tried it too and, although she doesn’t have ethnic hair (in fact, she’s got baby fine slightly wavy hair), she fell in love with it too. It smells delicious and left my hair the softest it’s been in years without any greasy buildup.

Based on 55 years of Trichological expertise, these new formulations provide the perfect amount of hydration for hair like mine, which often suffers from low moisture content and elasticity shortcomings.  The formulations help lower the surface tension of hair and give extra surface glide, making it beneficial for chemically processed and synthetic hair, too, including extensions. Without stripping the natural oils from the hair, it uses mild cleaning agents while the Moisture Extreme Conditioner contains a combination of four naturally derived oils that work together to condition the hair from the cortex to the outer layer, including, Almond OilWheat Germ Oil, Avocado Oil, and Babassu Oil.

I’m in haircare heaven, guys. I mean it. And yes, these bad boys come in handy travel sized packaging, as well.

Retails for $22-$27.

PhilipKingsley.com 

One High Powered Exec Quits Her Day Job To Start a Travel Company in India

india travel photos

Sippin’ coconut in India

For the past few years, travel has certainly been changing. Today’s discerning travelers, who have “been there done that,” want to go beyond the traditional sight-seeing trips. They’re looking for authentic travel experiences which are also life-enriching and experiential travel is slowly becoming the new buzz word in the tourism industry. Catering to this new breed of travelers are people like Maneesha Panicker of Silk Route Escapes. Maneesha quit her cushy job with the cosmetics giant, Estée Lauder in New York, to follow her passion for travel. We sure love a corporate escapee! In 2010, she founded Silk Route Escapes; an experiential travel company that offers bespoke travel packages through unexplored parts of India.

Maneesha, who has traveled extensively across India, helps travelers from across the globe see and experience new things in India. Travelers who put their travel plans in the hands of Maneesha could end up joining a gang of notorious poachers who have turned over a new leaf on an exhilarating trek to spot tigers in the rainforests of Kerala (tres cool), taking meditation lessons from monks at a monastery in Ladakh (get me somma that OM) or sip some of the finest Indian wines which have won praise from international wine experts at a vineyard in Maharashtra. All in all, she’s offering experiences that are truly unique and for those looking to do India in style… behind-the-scenes.

We’re in!

www.silkrouteescapes.com

Sanjay Sivadas, our contributor, is a travel writer based in Bangalore, India. For more questions about traveling India, feel free to email him at: sanjaysivadas@yahoo.com