Category Archives: Hospitality

18 of the World’s Strangest town names

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18 of the World’s Strangest town names

Whenever I travel to England, my flight typically goes over Ireland (I’m the type to always have the map on to see where I am traveling over) and I always notice this one town name that makes me laugh – Kilkenny, Ireland. LOL! What a name! I recently met someone from Ireland and asked him if he’s ever been to Kilkenny. He told me it’s actually a very beautiful place! I couldn’t agree more.

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Here is a list of more odd city/town names around the world:

1. Rest and Be Thankful, Argyll and Butte, Scotland

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2. Moron, Mongolia

Fine. it’s actually “Mörön”

3. Silly, Belgium

The name of this town derives from its stream called the Sille (French) or Zulle (Dutch) and has no relation to the English world (But tell that to an American!)

4. Hot Coffee, Mississippi

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5. Egg, Austria

6. Eek, Alaska

7. Gogogogo, Madagascar

8. Disappointment Islands, French Polynesia

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Sparsely populated group of coral islands which are arid, and not especially conductive to human habitation.

9. Drama, Greece

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Dramatically stunning!

10. Monster, Netherlands

11. Christmas Pie, Surrey, England

12. Come By Chance, Canada

13. Chicken, Alaska

Chicken, Alaska is a community founded on gold mining and is one of the few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska.

14. Gofuku, Japan

15. Crapstone, UK

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16. China, Japan

Not to be confused with China, China 😛

17. Butthole Road, Doncaster, England

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Do you know anyone from there?!

and finally…

18. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales

Yes. A small village in Wales calls itself by a name with more letters than residents…

 

~Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

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Sultan Cave Suites – Cappadocia, Turkey

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Sultan Cave Suites – Cappadocia, Turkey

Set on a hill with breathtaking views, experience Cappadocia cave living in modern-day luxury!

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Terraced above the village of Goreme, this exotic hotel offers the modern traveler a unique cave hotel experience. Relax & enjoy breathtaking views from the many stone terraces. The most picturesque experience is taken place in the early morning at sunrise, where one can bask at the sight of hot air balloons adoring the sky! You may also enjoy the panoramic view overlooking the village and surrounding valleys, mountains and the Erciyes volcano in the background. Heavenly!

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Aside from the view, the hotel itself is a visual delight with each room, corner and terrace charmingly decorated with simple artifacts showing the unique history of the area.  Built over the ancient cave dwellings used for centuries by locals, all the original cave walls have been preserved and integrated harmoniously into the room designs.

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In addition to preserving local architecture, Mehmet Dasdeler (of Sultan Cave Suites) opened the Cappadocia Cultural Center in the hotel. The three gallery rooms showcase antiques from across the ages. The Cultural Center also supports local and international artists by offering classical concerts, local traditional music concerts and art exhibits by local and international artists.

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I highly recommend staying here if you are looking for a non-traditional, adventurous accommodation!

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Location: 50180 Göreme Belediyesi/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey

-Karen Bahri

The Prettiest Pools in the world!

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The Prettiest Pools in the world!

Check out a small fraction of the most beautiful pools in the world!

 

AMIRANDES GRECOTEL EXCLUSIVE RESORT, GREECE

This Olympic-sized seawater pool is ideal for lazing in the Mediterranean sunshine!

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HUVAFEN FUSHI, MALDIVES

With over-water dining and studded with glowing lights, this infinity pool creates the ultimate romantic atmosphere.

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JADE MOUNTAIN RESORT, SAINT LUCIA

Jade Mountain has four infinity pools which were carefully designed as pieces of art to accent the theme of the resort. Each pool is unique in color as well as shape; ranging in sizes and accurately named based on their categories: GALAXY, SUN, MOON & STAR.

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MARDAN PALACE, TURKEY

This 5 acre pool with a gondola is Turkish royalty at it’s finest.  It was actually voted “the largest swimming pool in Europe” by the World Tourism Awards.

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SAN ALFONSO DEL MAR, CHILE

This, my friends, is THE WORLD’S LARGEST MAN-MADE SWIMMING POOL! Set along the coastline, it is larger than 20 olympic-sized pools and holds 66 MILLION gallons of water!

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ALILA VILLAS, BALI

Elegant villas. Private Pools. Ocean View. Bali. MORE THAN ENOUGH SAID!

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AQUARIA GRANDE RESIDENTIAL TOWER, MUMBAI, INDIA

O-M-G!! Imagine walking out to your balcony for a SWIM!!! Can I live here PLEASSSEEE???? INSANE!!! This is definitely my personal favorite! ❤  #floatingbalconypools #incredibleindia

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THE LIBRARY, KOH SAMUI, THAILAND

Don’t get scared, it’s not a blood bath! The hue from the reflective walls and tiles create a blood red glow!

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CHEDI SWIMMING POOL, MUSCAT, OMAN

Arabic chic at it’s finest!

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FRIEDVOLLES LUXUS VILLA RESORT, LAUCALA ISLAND, FIJI

Luxury villas with your very own private plunge pool in an exotic atmosphere!

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THE NATURAL SWIMMING POOL, SANTORINI, GREECE

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Karen Bahri

 

BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

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BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

An island paradise of natural exclusivity

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Welcome to Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara – an paradise sanctuary which respects local culture by offering an alcohol-free environment with world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence.

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Twenty minutes from the heart of Qatar’s vibrant capital, a luxury catamaran ferry crosses crystal clear water to reach a breathtaking island that feels a world away, while a private helicopter pad offers an exclusive arrival with a bird’s eye coastal view. Now, you are in paradise!

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The elegant 5-star accommodation is decorated with Arabic design and features a view of the Arabian Sea.  There are 141 rooms, suites, pool villas and over water villas setting the mood for romance and unforgettable holidays. One can take a dip into the private 800 meter beach or the 100 meter long lagoon pool. There’s even a surf pool! There are actually quite a wide range of water sports to enjoy. Leisure and entertainment also spoil you for choice, from bowling, golf and beach games by day, to VIP cinema at night.

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A golf course and a tennis court are available near the property. To keep the younger guests entertained, Cool Mint Children’s Club and Peppermint Teens’ Club have a wide range of toys and interactive games. The resort also boasts 9 dining options including a contemporary Italian restaurant that serves delectable fresh seafood and meat dishes in a trattoria setting. Al Nahham serves aromatic Arabic-Mediterranean cuisine with panoramic view over Doha skyline! Exotic mocktails and shisha are served by the pool bar.

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Each day at Anantara comes with an invitation to do it all or absolutely nothing at all. If you opt for the latter, experience how health and beauty go hand in hand with expert care, from delightful journeys in over water spa suites to holistic lifestyle programs at the dedicated wellness centre.

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This property is one of the top-rated locations in Doha! Guests are happier about it compared to other properties in the area. With world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence, at the Banana Island resort one can escape into true Arabian luxury!

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~Karen Bahri 

 

 

 

Three undiscovered Caribbean islands to discover now!

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Three undiscovered Caribbean islands to discover now!

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Aruba, Jamaica and The Dominican Republic are a few amazing islands commonly thought about as one tries to figure out which island to explore when planning an escape to the Caribbean. The choice is limitless and you may become confused trying to figure out where to go. I have provided for you three islands under the radar that are less touristy and offer experiences that will appeal to those looking for seclusion, adventure or both; which means you will get the ultimate Caribbean vibe!

The old Caribbean; safe, friendly and charming with exquisite natural beauty both above and below her waterline.

Montserrat

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Montserrat is one of a handful of Caribbean islands still relatively untouched by mass tourism. Known as the “Emerald Isle,” Montserrat has a rich Irish heritage and is the only country outside Ireland that recognizes St. Patrick’s Day as an official holiday. Visitors even get a shamrock stamp in their passports.

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Volcano tourism is the island’s most unique draw. Lookout spots including Jack Point Hill and Montserrat Volcano Observatory offer views of the eruption’s brute impact. The Exclusion Zone, which is the southern part of the island where eerie remains of the former capital city of Plymouth lie buried under a lunarscape of volcanic ash, looks like a modern-day Pompeii. One may become drawn by the slow rhythm, the friendly locals, the fabulous hiking and birdwatching, and the blessedly tranquil ambience.

Saba

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The mountainous island of Saba delivers a remote escape known for ecotourism, including hikes, climbs and spectacular dives.

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The smallest island (five square miles) in the Netherlands Antilles, Saba is primarily a dormant volcano covered in rain forest. A single road (aptly named “The Road”) takes visitors to quaint cottage filled villages, where you can purchase the traditional Saba lace. Saba is ringed by coral reef, it rises sharply from the sea, with the aptly named Mount Scenery — the highest point in the Netherlands — as its misty peak.

Statia/St. Eustatius

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The quietest corner of the Dutch Caribbean, St. Eustatius, or “Statia”, is known as the Caribbean’s hidden treasure. Today, Statia’s few visitors are intrepid scuba divers, and hikers exploring its rugged, volcanic terrain.

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Divers may discover dazzling reefs, gorgeous marine life, rusting wrecks, anchors and cannons are a few examples of what mysteries one may uncover under the sea!

Hiking is also popular on the island. Visitors can take a half-day hike to the 2,000 foot Quill National Park, a classically shaped volcano with a forest-filled crater. Orchids, fruit trees and ferns thrive in this unique environment.

A serene, old-Caribbean pace is highly felt as the sleepy island has a population of around 4,000 inhabitants!

 

-Karen Bahri

 

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My Favorite dessert spots in New York!

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My Favorite dessert spots in New York!

In an effort to be more healthy, let’s talk about what’s so unhealthy that most people love – SUGAR. I have decided to try cutting out sugar from my diet. I like sweets, but I definitely can say my sweet tooth is not crazy; and I definitely know how to control myself. If I crave sweet, I either will allow myself to have whatever sweet I am craving – because I usually know I will be satisfied after a small portion. Sometimes though, I am mean to myself and say no!

I’m not sure how deleting sugar from my diet will make me feel or how it will change me or if I even will want to or whatever, but people usually save eventually you get to a point where you don’t want sweets anymore. I am hoping this becomes my result because diabetes seems to run in my family all of the sudden (meaning all of the sudden all these older relatives of mine are telling me they have it out of like nowhere and it’s like one after another!) and I see what they go through and it’s a life I want to avoid.

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Anyways, I’m ready to experiment! This week I am going to go strict and consciously try to avoid all or as much as possible sugar I can, and then see how I feel. From there I will see if I can continue on like that (obviously with a cheat day here and there – I’m human after all!) or at least I hope I can still continue on with as much reduced sugar as possible especially during weekdays.

With that in mind, I thought let me get one last weekend of really bad sweet binging out of the way! It’s funny though because like I said, I don’t have a crazy sweet tooth, so I was almost not going to get the 1st item on my list below! But I did it for the blog 😛

Here is my list of “the best of” sweets edition in NYC!

BEST COOKIE: City Cakes

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I’m sooooo sorry all you Levain Bakery lovers. No, no & no. Levain is sooo yesterday!! Who wants to go allllll the way to the Upper West Side to stand on line for an hour for a cookie that will go hard if you leave it for the next day?

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City Cakes cookie are thick and soft! Sooo perfect and if you save some for the next day or two  (they are so freakin big, they usually take me 3 days to finish!) they still stay chewy and delicious! The bakery is so cute too! Saturday I bought the peanut butter and a chocolate chip. The peanut butter was good, but very peanut buttery. I thought there would be more chocolate in it, since it has m&m’s inside. I have tried the red velvet, peanut butter and I think the Nutella stuffed, which are all good, but their chocolate chip is my absolute favorite! Their classic chocolate chip is THE BEST IN THE CITY HANDS DOWN!

BEST ICE CREAM: Davey’s Ice Cream

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This funky ice cream parlor is right in the heart of the east village. They have really funky flavors as well, such as ‘Strong Coffee’, ‘Speculoos Chocolate Chip’ and ‘Mexican Vanilla’, which of course they let you sample, on their regular menu, but they also have seasonal/monthly flavors which are really creative and funky like ‘Black Sesame’, ‘Red Velvet Oreo’ which I tried and it was amazing, ‘Matcha’, ‘Peppermint Chip’, once they had a ‘Star Wars’ flavor, everything!

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The thing is, Davey’s Ice Cream is made on-site from raw ingredients, and you really can taste the difference! Each batch requires a four-day-long production schedule. They also sell birch house coffee, cakes, milkshakes, sundaes, home made marsh mellows (huggeee marsh mellows!) pies, cookies, ice cream sandwiches, like everything!! They have everything!! Ohh, and artisan style cones decorated with cereal and cookies! See! Everything! And all this everything that they offer is homemade and delicious! My go-to is the cookies and cream with the salted caramel sauce – omg! It’s like crack lol.

BEST (CHEESE)CAKE: Martha’s Country Bakery

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Sorry Manhattanites, you gotta come to Queens for this slice of heaven! Martha’s Bakery is located in Astoria as well as Forest Hills, Bayside and they also have a location or two in Williamburg, which is in Brooklyn. THE best cakes & desserts. It has a European touch and they have a full coffee bar. They sell cupcakes, cakes, cookies, brownies, tarts, macaroon, gelato and cake cake cake cake cake – a variety of sorts of cakes and cheesecakes, you name it! Have you ever heard of a blue velvet cake??? They got it!

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My favorite is the apple crumb cheesecake. The bottom half is filled with apple pie filling, the middle with creamy, amazing cheesecake, and it’s topped off with cinammony crumble. I’m so glad the location in my neighborhood is on the complete other side, making it difficult for me to run on over whenever I crave that cheesecake! I must add the desserts are so pretty and the space has a very Euro vibe. It’s also very cozy and clean.

If coming out to the boroughs is such a thang for you, the best alternative in Manhattan I would say is Juniors for cheesecake. There IS another place located in Soho called Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, but I have not been there yet. It’s on my list though!

BEST DOUGHNUTS: Dough

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Yum! These are so delicious! I have tried the cafe au lait and one I really love – mocha almond crunch. The doughnuts here are big and fluffy. They have cake doughnuts and regular with loads of flavors.

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The hibiscus flavor seems to be really popular. I don’t know how I feel about that and I’m not sure if I’m willing to risk it unless they were giving out free samples. Maybe I’m missing out? Maybe one day I’ll decide to try it. Maybe that day I’ll be angry I wasted $5 on a doughnut that was weird.

BEST POPSICLE: La Newyorkina

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Wepaaa!! This place is soooo cute!!! As a non-Latina, the first time I walked in here I was so overwhelmed and confused. So I came back with a Latina and had her translate 😛 They have Mexican ice cream flavors, popsicles, frozen yogurts, ect.  We both got the mango chili palettes (Mango ice pops).

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They have these tubs of chili randomly left around that you can sprinkle on your ice pop. I HIGHLY recommend trying this. I HIGHLY recommend trying this. I am tempted to type that sentence again, but I think you get the picture 🙂

BEST HOT CHOCOLATE: Jacques Torres

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Back in January I was at City Bakery and tried their hot chocolate, although it was similar, it got cold quick and lost its je ne said quoi. So Jacque Torres, to me, is still the best.

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Honestly, I am not a hot chocolate fan. I was introduced to JT in 2010 when I was working down in Tribeca and a coworker was raving about it so much. It was a block or two down from our office, so one day she took me and I had never tried hot chocolate like this before! It’s literally thick, melted chocolate! You can choose regular, or ‘Wicked’. I prefer the regular. They have handmade, artisan chocolates, which make perfect gifts! There several locations throughout the city and Mr. Torres has even recently opened a museum!

BEST LATTE: Coffeecake Corner

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Only Because they have a peanut butter mocha and although it’s pretty small inside, the few times I came here I could always find a seat! I usually don’t drink latte’s either. If I get a latte it’s usually some type of soy mocha and I usually end up throwing it out after a few sips.

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This though, is definitely a treat! As far as coffee goes, I am not sure. I cannot find my absolute favorite when it comes to actual coffee. I do enjoy illy coffee but a lot of coffee shops are just decent. I hate to admit it but lately my go-to has been cart coffee on weekday mornings. I actually enjoy it more than any other independent coffee shop or you know, Starbucks.

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These are my top favorite desserts and my top favorite places FOR those desserts in the city. Sorry I gotta say sayonara to them for now! I do believe in cheating here and there, with control, but my goal is to make those cheat cravings become less often than before. But if you are not watching your sugar (something I am not encouraging but you are an adult!) or you do come to New York on holiday (holidays = excuse to cheat on your diet!), definitely try out these places! I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

-Karen Bahri

 

Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Ahhh Italy!!! Italy is such an amazing and beautiful country where there are sooo many famous cities/towns you have to check out. It’s like you have to take a couple months off so you can see everything! All the major cities – Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, oh my god!! Italy just doesn’t stop!!

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I’m about to make your Italian itinerary a bit more complicated (insert evil smile emoji) Forget the major cities…okay maybe not, but try for a moment. Wouldn’t it be nice to explore REAL Italy?! Outside the major tourist destinations? Wouldn’t it be cool to get lost and see what Italy is REALLY like? Of course it would!! Just brush up on some Italiano and follow my list of destinations in Italy that are a little less “well known” but you get away from the crowds and actually see Italy for what it REALLY is!

MODENA

The ancient town of Modena boasts to have the best restaurant in ALL OF EUROPE (Osteria Francescana) as well as it is the hub of Italian auto making.

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RAVELLO

Amalfi Coast – be damned! The cliffside town of Ravello also offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea!

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SIRACUSA

Settlements in this Sicilian archeological wonderland date back as far as 734 BC! Siracusa was once the largest city in the ancient world! It is best known for its Ancient Greek ruins as well as amazing food.

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PARMA

Home of …you guessed it! Parmesan Cheese! Parma is a foodie’s paradise as it is the first Italian city to win the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy award! It is also home of one of the oldest universities in the world – Parma University.

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MATERA

This ancient city is carved into a canyon believe it or not! It is one of the oldest still-inhabited places on earth and extremely exotic to visit!

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TRIESTE

Visiting Trieste is like pretending like you are actually in Slovenia, but actually you are not! This place is filled with Viennese coffee houses and Slavic restaurants. Uncommon for Italy, Trieste is kind of a melting pot of Italian, Latin, German, Jewish and Slavic people.

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So now which one or ones of these places do you think you want to include on your bucket list next time you are in Italy?? Let me know! 🙂

 

-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Mood Brightening Travel Photographs!

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25 Mood Brightening Travel Photographs!

The slug of the daily grind can get you down sometimes. Whenever I am feeling down, in a bad mood, stressed or over-worked I look at pretty travel photography and my mood instantaneously lifts! Such is the personality of a travel enthusiast!  Here’s a collection of beautiful travel photos from around the world that I find mood-lifting and inspiring! It was hard to limit myself from posting 63,861,894 photos from 726,487,619 places, so lucky are these babies who made the cut! You may or may not notice a few of these I wrote about in previous blogs; but they are just too breathtaking not to mention! Hope this brightens your day!

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Kinsale, Ireland

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Venice, Italy

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Gold Coast, Australia

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Pamukkale, Turkey

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Swiss Alpes

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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Cyprus

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Iceland

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Bangkok, Thailand

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Cartagena, Colombia

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Freudenberg, Germany

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Chefchaouen, Morocco

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Neemrana Fort-Palace – Rajasthan, India

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Tahiti

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Maldives

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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Keukenhof Park – Lisse, Holland

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Dubai Miracle Garden

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Santorini, Greece

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Mont-Saint-Michel – Normandy, France

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Waikiki, Hawai’i

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Ashikaga Flower Park – Ashikaga, Japan

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Desert Camping – Wadi Rum, Jordan

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Purple Garden – Kyoto, Japan

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The Swallow’s Nest Castle – Gaspra, Ukraine

-Karen Bahri

The Absolute BEST New Resort in the Maldives!!!

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The Absolute BEST New Resort in the Maldives!!!

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If you know ANYTHING about me, you know the Maldives is on my top 3 (I say 3 but really 2 hah!) destinations on my list in the world!!! There are a few places I will always jump back to in conversation as my dream destination..and well, now we have another reason to go….

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A new 5-star, exclusive luxury resort has opened up this past November by the Soneva team called Soneva Jani.

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This is the third property by them that has pioneered around-the-clock butler service, a strong environmental code and a determination to disconnect from the noisy outside world (guests are asked to remove their shoes on arrival, which are then slipped into a linen bag until their departure; how relaxingly fancy!).

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The island lagoon of Soneva Jani will comprise of 57 villas – 24 water villas and 23 beach villas. All the villas will enjoy all the amenities of the resort, and each would get their own personal butler, as the same in all Soneva Properties, called Mr./Mrs. Friday.

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Each Water Villa will feature an amazing water slide and private pool, large lounge areas with open views on the blue, ample wooden decks, kids’ sleeping area, a living area with sunken seats, top floor with seating and a dining area as well as several other amazing living spaces.

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Among these, what you are not going to get enough of is the waterslide!!!!! YES, you can SLIDE your way to the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean!!!!! As if a private pool isn’t enough!

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The amenities for the beach villas are more or less the same, and all guests can enjoy the resort’s exclusive amenities.

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Soneva Jani Resort has a cinema, Cinema Paradiso, which is the first overwater silent cinema in the Maldives!

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Guests are provided with Bluetooth headphones, leaving the surrounding nesting wildlife at peace. The resort also includes the first ever over-water observatory, a beach restaurant, a spa, and a water and sports center.

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Inspired by a word that means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani encompasses a collection of Water Villas and Island Sanctuaries set within a lagoon of crystal clear waters, fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed in lush tropical greenery. The highlight of the islands that the resort is surrounded by 5.6 kilometers of private lagoon! An awe-inspiring azure spectacle that inspires a sense of calm.

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The resort can be reached by a scenic 40 minute seaplane flight direct from Male International Airport.

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Already making headlines in the hospitality industry, it’s not surprising if Soneva Jani will make it as one of the must-visit luxury resorts in the world!

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-Karen Bahri

 

Mumbai’s First ever Floating restaurant!

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Mumbai’s First ever Floating restaurant!

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If you think you don’t have enough reasons to go to Mumbai, I’ll give a very good one! The first ever FLOATING restaurant recently launched in the city! You heard me – F-L-O-A-T-I-N-G!

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AB Celestial is the first ever Floating restaurant in Mumbai. Designed and imported from the US, it entails a three-tier luxury dining floatel with a sky deck, two galleys and a capacity to accommodate a minimum of 660 guests across four tiers!

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Incase it wasn’t obvious, you get a 360 degree view of Mumbai and the Arabian Sea. The ground floor will include a 24 hour coffee shop where as the first floor will be banqueting. The second floor will be a high end lounge bar and the open terrace will be the sky lounge.

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Although it was launched back in 2014, it had not been open to public due to issues of permission. The flotal is docked at the Maharashtra Maritime Board’s jetty at Bandra under the Bandra-Worli Sea link.

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I know what you are thinking. What’s up with the name?? The “AB” stands for Aishwarya Bhende, the 21-year-old owner of the three-floor luxury dining yacht. She has designed the entire interiors for the yacht, and been involved with it since its inception!

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Imagine how incredibly serene watching sunset over the sea would be from the upper deck! From the wooden floors sparkling to perfection to the ambience and lighting, AB Celestial, especially after sunset, becomes Celestial!

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-Karen Bahri