Monthly Archives: December 2017

The most festive Christmas trees around the world!

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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

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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 Çeşme 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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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 glühwein, 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 Käsespätzle, 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 Bethmännchen, 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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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