Thunyatorn – Thai Dress at NYFW

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Thunyatorn – Thai Dress at NYFW

I attended another show last week close to Bryant park. The show was split into two parts with various designers from across the country as well as the globe. The first half, to be brutally honest, was not very interesting. The second half kept getting better and better! The thing that sucked though was I forgot my charger at home that day, and since I have the google phone, I can’t even borrow anyones charger!! So by the end of the night when all these amazing designs were on the runway I was like UGHHHH lol.

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I sat next to these beautiful women from the Thailand Fashion Show. One of them is a journalist for Thai Media based out of Philadelphia. Not only were they beautiful, they were soo nice and soo funny!! We were definitely on the same page and I really enjoyed the show with them!

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They had been invited to the show as their good friends sister was a designer showcasing her collection that evening. I figured it was going to be good, because traditional Thai outfits are beautiful! Every designer from Thailand I have seen in the past has had a lovely, glamorous collection – but this segment really set the energy up for the show!!! They has dancing, romancing, gold and glamour!! It was Valentines day so they had a very special “couple” on stage do a cute little proposal act/dance number.

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Romancers

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Dancers

I got a chance to meet their friend and the designer after the show, and all of them were very, very sweet. It’s that Asian hospitality. Such sweet, humble people! According to Thunyatorn, the designer, the show was strategically on Valentines day due to it’s “love and wedding” theme.

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The goal and mission she is looking to achieve with her collection is to make Thai dress designs popular globally. What she meant here is that she want make their designs more well known, so anyone from different countries can be exposed and fall in love with Thai designs. She wants people internationally to wear them not limited or only to Asian people. This is the first time she’s added a western touch, therefore to not make Thai style as intimidating to westerners.

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Thunyatorn started her business in 2009 as soon as she moved to New York City. At that time, she provided bridal make-up and hair-styling for most Thai people in the NYC area, just as a hobby.

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Thunyatorn imports her materials straight from Thailand and makes them fit for people here in the US. She works very hard and her creations prove just that!

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*All (well, all except 3!) photography credit goes to Hideki Aono. Find him on Instagram: Hideki.aono.lifestyle – once you find him there, you will notice he has 4 other pages 🙂 follow them all!

-Karen Bahri

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Vibrant India at NYFW!

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Vibrant India at NYFW!

It’s been CRAZY busy with NYFW this past week!!! I attending some amazing shows and met some fabulous people! Very exciting!!! One of my favorite shows (to nobody’s surprise lol) was the London School of Trends “Vibrant India”. The show was held on Sunday, February 11th at Pier59 Studios on Chelsea Piers.

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Here is a description of each collection, to give you some background. I appreciate how they described the collection utilizing strengths within our rich culture. ❀

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Oh by the way, major reason we attended was a friend of mine was walking the runway! So exciting to see more brown people walk during NYFW!!

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Ayyye!! I know you!

London School of Trends is a premier fashion school with over two decades of rich experience in the fashion and design industry. LST has close associations with institutions globally and exclusively with INIFD (International Institution of Fashion) in Asia. Therefore, they take extra care to reach out to the candidates of foreign origin and ensure that they get the best fashion training that a city like London has to offer.

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Capturing the spirit of India with students coming from diverse backgrounds, they created 60 excitingly vibrant garments, including both women’s and menswear, that reflected their own personal narratives while being inspired by the great city of New York!

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Vibrant India speaks to the movement, weaves, draping, and all that is unique about Indian textiles. Vibrant colors with rich deep hues and fabrics reflect a one-of-a-kind craftsmanship that makes India a powerhouse source for fashion and goods.

Something I really have to mention is how much I loved the hair and makeup! Such vibrant eye makeup, even on the men!! And some of the hairstyles were absolutely stunning!

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I think before watching the show, I expected to see a bit more traditionally ethnic attire – like a sari, or kurta etc. None of that was there. What WAS there, as I stated above was the textiles, the colors and craftsmanship. You could see these styles worn by modern Indians in trendy cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. The collection was modern, trendy and fresh for todays desi fashionista!

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To check out more of the collection, look me up on Instagram: karenskaleidoscope

Also, we gotta support more Indians in the fashion world, especially here in the US, so go follow and support my friend Vish Singh, who was modeling in the show. His Instagram is: iamvish_

Now here are just some fun, random pics backstage!

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Umm, yeah – the next set of photos – you know every crew of girls does this – 57 shots of the same pic – maybe a couple different poses but basically the same, but only the girls IN the shot see huge, massive differences in each photo, that nobody else can even see (guys be like “but all these 57 pics are the EXACT SAME, while girls are like “Are you blind?? They are all SOO different!!” hahahah) C’est la vie!

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-Karen Bahri

And the winner of the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2017 goes to….

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And the winner of the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2017 goes to….

…drumroll…

JUMERIRAH VITTAVELI, MALDIVES!!!

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The 11th edition of the awards took place at the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz, Switzerland, where Jumeirah Vittaveli was named the 2017 Global Hotel of the Year. Winners are based on the votes of 300,000 travellers who were invited to vote for their favorite luxury hotel over a four-week period.

 

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Located a speedy 20-minute speedboat ride from Malé, Jumeirah Vittaveli offers supreme diversity and subtle luxury. The resort comprises 89 villas and suites each with their own swimming pool and direct access to the beach or lagoon.

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The resort provides extensive leisure and wellness facilities. One of the highlights is an award-winning Talise Spa, offering Asian inspired treatments in a lush, garden setting.

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The most amazing accent about the spa is that the team produces their own island-made 100% pure Coconut Oil! This luxurious oil is utilized in select signature treatments and available for purchase at the spa boutique. They also offer Coconut Oil making demos!

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The resort also offers complimentary bicycles, fitness center, kids club, yoga areas and four exquisite restaurants, a pool bar as well as a beachside cocktail lounge.

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All these amenities are great additions to the already naturally gorgeous atmosphere surrounding you on this beautiful island!

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-Karen Bahri

 

Two years

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Two years

And here comes another year..

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I wrote out a long winded post or whatever, more like diary entry, but I think I am going to keep that private. The jist of what I have realised this year is that at some point, everybody goes through a loss, as it’s a part of life. It still sucks though. I am still strong and we will all still go through life but it’s okay to have our space too. At the end of the day we are all human right now. It’s also oddly hitting me as I wonder where my father is right now. He always answers my questions but I’ve been asking him a lot lately, dad, WHERE ARE YOU??? And I’m not getting an answer. So are you listening or ….where are you?

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My long winded post from last year is linked below (with my original post linked inside that link – meaning when it first happened, and I actually posted that on his birthday which is in 5 days, I don’t know where he’s celebrating or with who. Maybe our other family members who have left this earth? I don’t know. I wish he would tell me soon.) That link is posted first. Fyi they are kind of emo so if you can’t handle that do not click the links.

My only advice right now is to never be too busy for the people in your life. Always realise that tomorrow may not happen so do what you have to do now. Don’t put things off. I think I say that enough.

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Anyways, can’t believe it’s been two years. I hope dad is happy and comfortable wherever he is. And btw I am strong and this is not meant for any “pity” as I mentioned before everyone will have to go through a loss in life, and you will deal with it however suits you. We can all have our moments but we must all stay strong and healthy. I just want to say my piece as my dad has always stood by me and done soo much for me. And to be honest, that was the absolute hardest, worst, scariest event of my life. Dad’s funeral/cremation. If you have gone through it, you know what I mean. ✌

An abrupt life change:

https://karenskaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/happy-birthday-to-me-hero/

Last year: 

https://karenskaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/12316-12317-one-full-year/

Dad’s favorite song:

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~Karen Bahri

The most festive Christmas trees around the world!

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The most festive Christmas trees around the world!

From classic, to quirky and the absolute most festive, these are the most spectacular, sparkly, most Christmas-y Christmas trees worth traveling the world to see!

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Head over to The Victoria & Albert Museum in London and check out the Singing Tree. Visitors can contribute words to construct the audio-visual installation, which also features an ensemble of digital and human voices.

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Wembley Park, London

While you are still in the UK, head to London’s Wembley Park’s Slideatron attraction for an interactive tree experience. This Tetris-inspired tree has a pulsing light show every hour with a slide in its core.

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Disney Christmas Tree,St.Pancras Station, London

This eye-catcher is stuffed with fluffy toys 45 feet high!

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Murano Christmas Tree, Venice, Italy

Every year, the Natale di Vetro, or Christmas in Glass hosts an elegant Christmas tree entirely made of Murano glass.

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Jbeil Christmas Tree, Byblos, Lebanon

With a 40.4% Christian population, Lebanon has certainly made it to the big league of the most beautiful Christmas trees of all times.

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Osaka, Japan

Just earning it’s title in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most lights on an artificial tree! Osaka’s tree boasts 550, 000 bulbs.

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Vatican City, Rome, Italy

The Pope’s Christmas spruce standing tall next to the life-size Nativity Scene in  is simple, yet stunning!

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Floating on a barge in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, the Brazilian Christmas tree makes a spectacular appearance on a background of a dazzling show of fireworks.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil

Head to Ibirapuera Park to view this spectacular 35 meter gem!

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Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This spectacular hologram tree that floats, rotates, and changes color above the Rijksmuseum’s public atrium.

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Vilnius, Lithuania

The stunning Christmas tree in Vilnius, Lithuania’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town is draped with more than 70,000 layers of colorful lights.
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Chatsworth House, England

Chatsworth really gets into the Christmas spirit! The Chatsworth House is the place to be if you love the Nutcracker, and the beautiful tree is the icing on the cake!

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Cairns, Queensland, Australia

With Summer falling in December in Australia, the city of Cairns illuminates a large fig tree instead of the more traditional pine, spruce or fir.
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Dortmund, Germany

The traditional Christmas market in Dortmund, Germany houses one of the world’s tallest holiday trees. This tree is made up of more than 1,000 smaller fir trees topped off with a 13-foot-tall angel.

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Galeries Lafayette, Paris

Many guests come just for the Galeries Lafayette’s highly anticipated shop window displays, but the soaring, whimsical tree under the department store’s famous dome is also a must see.

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Tokyo, Japan

A glittering wire-and-light tree shines across from Tokyo’s picturesque Rainbow Bridge, on Tokyo Bay.
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Sendai, Japan

ALL the trees in Sendai, Japan get decorated for the holidays, setting the whole city aglow.
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St. Petersburg, Russia

The lace-like design of the decorations on the Palace Square Christmas tree in St. Petersburg look especially dreamy when it’s snowing.

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Turin, Italy

Lights and metal – not pine needles – form the sophisticated and colorful tree erected in Turin, Italy’s Piazza Castello.
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Rockafeller Center, New York 

Last, but certainly not least – My city’s pride and joy!

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This list should definitely get you in the festive holiday mood as well as motivate you to book a last minute trip! Happy Holidays!

-Karen Bahri

Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

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Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

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Alaçatı is a unique Mediterranean town on Turkey’s ÇeƟme Peninsula, on the Aegean Sea. It’s known for its beaches, old stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets, vineyards and windmills.

 

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Alacati made its name in the world of windsurfing and kitesurfing, with its crystal clear water and consistently steady wind for over 150 years now. The Professional Windsurfing Association (PWA) Windsurfing World Cup is held here every year in August.

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What stands out the most about Alacati is that it is largely undiscovered outside Turkey, yet, many Turks, including several national celebrities, spend their holidays to escape the more touristy scene in Bodrum.

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Quiet and sleep a beach town it lays by day, but Alacati buzzes at night!

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The pictures do all the talking. Definitely something to consider adding to your 2018 travel itinerary!

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The best time to plan a trip is from the end of April through May or from September through October, when temperatures are still high (reaching over 20C), and prices are at their best value.

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-Karen Bahri

 

 

The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

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The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

It’s the holiday season and so many cities around the globe are known to attract tourists as they deck the halls to the max! Many countries draw crowds for their own traditional holiday touch and Christmas markets are great places to discover provincial traditions, but no one does Christmas quite like Germany! Known as Christkindlmarkts (Christ child markets) or Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas, or Holy Night, markets), Germany’s holiday markets have been recorded as early as 1310! Here are 11 of the country’s can’t-miss markets.

Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt

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Widely considered by many Germans to be one of the most traditional markets in the country, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is an excellent spot for those looking for a hint of nostalgia! Known as one of the most beautiful markets in Europe, the main Stuttgart market, comprises nearly 300 stalls,  is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Old Palace.

Munich Marienplatz Christmas Market

With over 20 different markets in Munich, there is something for everyone; from a medieval market with gospel choir, to the gay-friendly Pink Christmas Market, where wares are sold from pink and purple pagodas with added cabarets and shows. The Kripperlmarkt  specializes in all things Nativity. For something completely different, the Tollwood Market is an urban cultural festival offering a diverse range of international music, drama and cuisine. The main market in the city of Munich, though, is the Marienplatz Market.

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One will find a gigantic fir tree lit up brightly as the centerpiece of the market, with more than 3,000 lights! Dating back to the 14th century, this market remains quite traditional. Predominantly loaded with Bavarian produce, unique Christmas gifts and delectable treats, this market will undoubtedly fill you with the holiday spirit!. Concerts are played daily and you can look down on the sights of the market, well away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd, from the balconies of the spectacular town hall.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt

Few Christmas markets are as incredibly beautiful as the one in Rothenburg, a walled medieval city dating back to 950. Come December, the town transforms into a winter wonderland, and the market—which has been occurring since the 15th century—is its crown jewel! The Reiterlesmarkt is held on a medieval stage and Rothenburg is illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights! Unlike cosmopolitan Berlin and Cologne, Rothenburg has an entirely different feel, with smaller markets and a more intimate setting.

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Rothenburg’s Schneeball (snow ball) is a must-try for those with a sweet-tooth, made from strips of sweet fried dough covered in powdered chocolate or sugar.

Dresden Striezelmarkt

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With accounts dating back to 1434, Dresden’s Christmas Market, traditionally known as Striezelmarkt is the oldest in Germany. The Striezelmarkt boasts both the world’s tallest Nutcracker, and the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid. The highlight of the market is the Stollen Festival on the second Saturday in Advent.

Leipzig Christmas Market

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Second only to Dresden, Leipzig otherwise lays claim to the oldest Christmas market in Germany, tracing its origins back to 1458. Here, in front of the Old Town Hall where Johann Sebastian Bach signed his employment contract, you’ll find everything from a ferris wheel to a Finnish village!

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

In front of the impressive backdrop of Cologne’s landmark cathedral, this market has all of the expected bells and whistles: your glĂŒhwein, your crafts, your twinkling lights. One thing that stands out, however, is its entertainment, which comprises more than 100 stage performances through the duration of the festival.

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Apart from the Cathedral, the Alter Markt is the place to go for children — with a Santa’s grotto, puppet theatre and stands filled with toys. The Rudolfplatz will transport children to the world of the brothers Grimm, with fairytale figures and festive illuminations.

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Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

With the majestic Alps to the south and the medieval Imperial Castle perched proudly at the top of the Old Town hill, Nuremberg is a spectacular back drop for one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. The Kinderweihnacht, or Children’s Market, provides plenty of family fun, featuring an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel, steam train and Nativity scene trail.

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Over 180 traditional stalls, blanketed in red and white cloth, ensure that this extremely popular market remains authentic. Modern and mass-produced goods are strictly prohibited and officials police the stalls to ensure that the vendors are offering the visitors hand-crafted wares in keeping with the tradition of the market.

Konstanz Christmas Market

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This sprawling market runs from the town center to the shores of Lake Constance, Germany’s largest lake. Tuck in to traditional KĂ€sespĂ€tzle, freshly made pasta with cheese; and spend some time on the ‘Christmas Ship’ moored in the harbor. Just be sure to bring extra layers!

Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market

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The snowy Black Forest is picturesque enough come wintertime, but this market in its midst manages to be even more Instagram-worthy. Here, over 40 stalls proffer handmade Christmas wares, while even more can be found nearby at the Hofgut Sternen Inn, where the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once stayed.

Frankfort

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Germany’s financial center taps into its inner medieval market town every holiday season with a Christmas market that dates back to 1393! Traditionally held with orchestras of carols chanting with religious mystery plays. These days you’re more likely to hear live music. Make sure to peek inside the 300-year-old timber Honey House, which sells pretty much any imaginable honey-related products. Fun fact: Poet Goethe was a fan of the Frankfurt market’s famous BethmĂ€nnchen, or marzipan cookies.

Freiburg Rathausplatz Market

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On the edge of the Black Forest, Freiburg’s medieval center looks straight out of a Brothers Grimm folk tale! The fair’s merchants, around 115 in total, sell their wares (beeswax candles, cuckoo clocks, blown glass) in the shadow of a 380-foot Gothic spire. The market opens every year with a ceremonial cutting and distribution of a giant Lebkuchen, or gingerbread loaf, to the waiting crowd.

 

 

Karen Bahri

 

 

Pamper yourself this New Years at Katikies Hotel – Santorini!

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Pamper yourself this New Years at Katikies Hotel – Santorini!

It’s the beginning of December and I should totally be blogging about all the holiday markets from NYC to Germany – and I will! It’s actually in the works ha. Since the month has started my mind has been focused on my goals for 2018 – from chapters I am closing to opportunities I am opening – 2018 KB gets her groove back! Also, a possible separate end-of-year evaluation post I may end up doing…or I may not. I don’t know yet! Regardless – I’m working on a lot of projects that I am excited about and I need to get my passport stamped at least 3 times next year!!! I say three, but what am I kidding, my list of destinations is already at 8 and growing……:O

Actually, I need to make a public service announcement – I am looking for bloggers for my magazine. Here is my ad on craigslist (yeah, I know, CL, ew. It’s posted on other “more legit” sites as well, calm down.) If you or someone you know are interested….please contact me asap: https://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/wrg/d/super-star-intern-bloggers/6415645215.html

(Now back to my program…)

ANYWAYS…one of the many destinations I’ve got my eye on, is, umm… Greece! I know, I know, everyone goes to Greece! KB you are fabulous because you do things differently and not the same old boring and your destination list has always been unique, just like you! I know, I know — but there is a reason Greece was rated the top destination to travel to in 2017! So why the heck not! The Greek Islands are always a good idea for a variety of reasons.

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Santorini not only won Travel & Leisure Magazines “the Best Island in Europe” award for 2017, but its resorts also snagged four of the top five slots in this competitive category. Resort competition on Santorini is fierce, as scores of hotels (even budget options) are built into the island’s volcanic cliffs, affording them panoramic Aegean Sea and island views.

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So which resort came out on top in 2017, you ask? Katikies Hotel, located in Oia, on Santorini’s northern coast. OHHH EMM GEEE!!! IT IS BREATHHHHTAKINGGGGG!!!!!!!!!

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Built into cliffs, all rooms have verandahs with sea and sunset views. Aside from the exquisite views and the atmosphere, what really distinguishes this resort from its neighbors is the top-notch service. The English translation of Katikies is ‘home,’ and, true to its name, the staff makes you feel like family.

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Overlooking the Aegean Sea, this luxury hotel featuring caldera-view balconies and bright white minimalistic rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, along with minibars and Nespresso machines. Suites come with separate living areas; some bi-level. Upgraded suites offer whirlpool tubs; some provide balcony hot tubs and private pools. Butler and 24-hour room service is also available.

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There are 3 restaurants including upscale dining and a champagne bar. Amenities include 3 infinity pools, a gym and a chic spa offering beauty and massage treatments. Can I be real with you right now – the pools are my selling point. I mean look at them!! Add that plus that amazing Greek sunset!! That’s enough to recharge me to throw myself back into the rat race of the concrete jungle for a few months until I plan a new vacation all over again!

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Okay so I lied in the title when I told you to go for New Years. I checked availability from February, March, April…booked, booked, booked. No availability until May! So just FYI – this hotel is high in demand! So plan ahead! You won’t be disappointed!

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~Karen Bahri

 

Happy Albanian Independence Day!

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Happy Albanian Independence Day!

November 28th, 1912 is when Ismail Qemali, founder of the modern Albanian state and its first head of state and government, declared Dita e PavarĂ«sisĂ« (“Independence Day” in English) from the Ottoman Empire!

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On this day the Albanian flag was raised by Ismail Quemali in Vlore, Albania to publicly proclaim the independence of Albania from its Ottoman authorities.

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In case you don’t know much about Albania or Albanians (You probably aren’t from New York ha!) – Albania occupies the southwestern portion of the Balkan Peninsula. It’s coastline extends along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas within the Mediterranean Sea. Despite its small size, Albania is home to the largest and most ancient bodies of fresh water in Southern Europe. Lake ShkodĂ«r is the largest lake in Southern Europe, sprawling out from Albania into Montenegro.  Lake Ohrid in the southeast is shared with Macedonia and is one of the most ancient lakes in the world and a very popular vacation spot!

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Some fun and interesting facts about Albania:

  • In the evenings, the locals like to walk.  But it’s not just a walk.  Known as xhiro, it’s an official evening walk where every resident comes out to get some fresh air and catch up with their neighbors.  In many towns, the roads close to cars for certain hours! Apartment blocks empty and everyone gathers at various places, walking and talking until nightfall. How nice!!
  • Kinda like our Indian head-bob – when an Albanian is agreeing with you, they will shake their head, and when they are disagreeing with you they will nod.  Be warned and avoid confusion – Yes means no and no means yes!
  • According to a 2015 World Risk Report compiled by the UN, Albania is one of the countries in Europe most at-risk from natural disasters – mainly from flooding. In 2010, the country was hit by major floods, forcing as many as 7,000 families to be evacuated.
  • Though small, Albania boasts more than 3,250 species of plants, which accounts for 30% of all flora in Europe.
  • The Albanian town of Berat, a Unesco Old Town, was rated as one of the most beautiful places in Europe!

One more quick amazing thing about Albania: Mother Teresa ❀

Many countries in Eastern Europe are starting to really trend lately in tourism. Albania is becoming a popular tourist destination and it’s easy to see why! The beaches are GORGEOUS!! Also, it’s Europe and what’s Europe most famous for? CASTLES!!!! 🙂

Some of the BEST places to check out in Albania:

BERAT

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Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful castle on a hill. Now book your flight! Located on a hill at the left bank of the river Osum in the middle of the country, you can find Berat Castle, (originally called Kalaja) a fortress overlooking the town of Berat.

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Berat is also called “ the city of a thousand windows”, because of the large window fronts on the typical house. Berat is a great destination for those who love history and culture.

TIRANA

Tirana is the capital city of Albania. Located on a river some 30 kilometers away from the coast on one side, and on the other it is enclosed by hills. The small cafés at the side of the roads are full of energy most of the times and the city has a really pleasant charm!

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Those who want to immerse into the culture of the country should go to one of the museums or to the Palace of Culture. The Skanderberg place with the famous equestrian statuette should definitely be on your list, as it is the town’s landmark. It actually forms the center of the city, from which roads go to all directions like a star.

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Another place to visit is the Et’hem Bey mosque with the clock tower of Tirana. The capital furthermore contains a castle, of course, which is a great tourist destination. The numerous political facilities, universities, the botanical and zoological gardens, as well as the numourous parks and gardens are all worth a visit, if you have time, as well.

ALBANIAN RIVIERA

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Perhaps the most popular tourist destination, the riviera has a growing reputation as an important music location. The Night life is very popular and draws young people from all across Europe! Beaches are truly inviting! Newly built hotels and attractions also allure tourists and promise a great holiday.

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Also, the countryside is unique and lays behind the beaches. Large, picturesque and dramatic mountain settings extend for miles; and within the mountains, hide numerous small fairytale-like villages!

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GJIROKASTRA

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This southern city was elected UNESCO world cultural heritage due to its unique Balkan-style architecture. It contains small castle-like houses made of stone and is located at the side of a hill connected with artisticly winding roads.

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Gjirokastra has also many cultural attractions, such as museums, theaters and religious places found in large numbers. Additionally every five years they celebrate the national folklore festival in the castle of the city!

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DURRES

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The STUNNINGGGG city, Durres, at the coastline of Albania is the most important harbor city in the country. Cultural events take place all over the year, particularly at the amphitheater, which is one of the most important attractions of the city! The impressive ancient building could provide place for about 20.000 people. Aside from culture and history, Durres is a top spot for beach days and it’s a fun name to say over and over! 😛

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KRUJA

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Kruja is located at the side of the Skanderberg-mountains. The most important building in the town is the Kruja castle, which is a national sanctum for the Albanian people. Further places next to the town are the tomb of Sari Saltiks and the national park Qafe Shtama. This small town has a large historical background and can also be visited as day-trip from the capital Tirana or from Durres.

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VLORA

Another fun name to repeat over and over (and yes, I am getting the correct pronunciation, my coworker is Albanian from Montenegro 🙂 ) Vlora, also known also as Valona, is located in south-western Albania where the two seas, Adriatic and Ionian, meet. Vlora enjoys a beautiful position because it is the gateway to the Albanian Riviera!

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Three stunning things to see in Vlora are the beaches, the port and the town centre.  The town, with its wide boulevards decorated by huge palm trees, has a real southern Mediterranean feel to it! Definately a place not to miss!

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Who would have thought this tiny Eastern European country would be filled with such beauty, history and energy! I’m planning my trip, are you?! Happy Independence day Albania!!

 

-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

A peak inside the Gem of Zanzibar – Stone Town!

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A peak inside the Gem of Zanzibar – Stone Town!

Stone Town is not just any town – it’s a delight for the senses not to be found anywhere else in the world!

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Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Also known as Mji Mkongwe (Swahili for “old town”), it is located in the old part of Zanzibar City, which is the main city of Zanzibar, in Tanzania.

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Its architecture, which mostly dates back to the 19th century, has STORIES to tell, as it reflects the diverse influences of Swahili culture – yet also giving a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements.

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The buildings are honestly a feast for the eyes, despite their deteriorating condition. That only adds charm and character to the entire painting! Stone town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 due to it’s distinct archetecture.

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The most well-known feature of Zanzibari houses are the finely decorated wooden doors.

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You won’t find these giant wooden masterpieces anywhere else in the world! Elaborately carved with astonishing detail, the heavy doors in Stone Town are quintessentially ‘Zanzibar’, and served as a valuable glimpse into the homeowner’s place of origin, profession and economic status.

For example, the Indian doors were crafted by skilled tradesmen out of imported teak. The large brass studs have their origins in India, where they were once used as a defense against charging war elephants. In Stone Town, however, they were used only as decorative pieces and symbolic markers of wealth.

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Arab doors have intricately crafted frames with Arabic inscriptions at the top. The chain, lotus and pineapple are common and culturally significant motifs.

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The heart of Stone Town consists of a maze of narrow alleys lined by houses, shops, bazaars and mosques. The streets bustle along with bicycles and motorbikes as they are too narrow for cars. Stone Town can easily be explored on foot.

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Of course, the beaches in Zanzibar are RAVISHING, but this UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worth a stroll at some point during your holiday in which you feel like exploring. Trust me, it’s worth it – It is utterly captivating!

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I hope this has given you a good glimpse of a little town you may never have even heard of! Stone Town has an interesting history. Everything about this place will make you feel alive – from the melting pot of African, Arab, Indian and European cultures; the vivid shades of every color imaginable; the textures; the vibrant energy of the seafront and markets; and the locals who greet you with a “jambo!” (hello) and “karibu” (welcome) everyday!

To add to your itinerary, if you have been following me for a while, almost a year ago I wrote about the most unusual and amazing place to check out on the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar (which got a lot of buzz, thank you muah!). You can check that here:

https://karenskaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/the-rock-a-luxurious-fairytale-in-the-indian-ocean/

And OF COURSE I’m sure the main reason for your holiday would be for the astonishing beaches, with a day or so excursion to Stone Town, so I don’t want you to forget what that beautiful pond looks like 😁 —–>

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-Karen Bahri