12/29/09

BUENOS AIRES -Cachafaz Alfajores

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Our Spanish language speaker Liliana, a native of Buenos Aires, swears by the Cachafaz Alfajores. What are alfajores? A Latin American (sweet) specialty made up of two round butter biscuits joined together by some "dulce de leche" (caramel) or jam and covered by powdered sugar or chocolate.

Rumor has it, according to Liliana, that after the family that owns La Havana Alfajores (the most famous brand of Alfajores in Buenos Aires) sold their company, they started Cachafaz as a higher end option.

Cachafaz Alfajores are pricier that the Havana brand, but they are worth it for special occasions or as a special gift. They sell in boxes of 12 for 60 Pesos ($15.00 dollars) and the "Conitos" - cones shaped sweets, covered in chocolate and filled with dulce de leche - sell in boxes of six for 30 Pesos (about $8.00 dollars). Yum!

These "gourmet alfajores" can be purchased from any Buenos Aires magazine, street kiosk and also at the Ezeiza Airport by gate 4. Liliana says, "don't buy alfajores during the summer months from a Kiosk", unless they are refrigerated. Why? well, because most Kiosks don't have AC and the chocolate goes bad ultra fast in the heat.

For more information on Cachafaz Alfajores, click on the enclosed link. Provecho!
Cachafaz Alfajores

12/28/09

DUBAI - Dune Bashing in Dubai

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Claudia my friend in Dubai, hooked me up with a most professional tour agency in Dubai, Gulf Ventures to do a Dune Bashing tour in the deserts of Dubai. She researched the local tour companies and found that Gulf Ventures was the one with the safest record of operation of them all, so we booked our tour with them.

Gulf Adventures, we found,operates fairly new 4x4's for their desert tours, so our dune ride felt extra comfortable and safe. The original price for the tour was 295 Dirhams per person - $80 dollars of $60 Euros - but for a group of 12 like ours, we got the discounted price of 265 Dirhams a head.

Our tour included Dune Bashing (or dune riding with a 4x4), a visit to a camel farm, dune boarding, camel rides, shisha smoking, a belly dancing show and an outdoor BBQ dinner where soft drinks were included, and beer and wine were available for an additional price.

We were picked up at around 3 pm from our residence and were back home by 9 pm. In the desert, we headed towards Dubai Sharja. Once we arrived, we first rode the 4x4's defying every physic law drivinng up and down, sideways, backwards and sliding down the sides of the desert dunes. After our dune ride, we tried some dune boarding while we watched the sun set in the desert. Then, we were driven to a desert tent camp to ride camels, smoke shisha, eat under the open sky while enjoying a belly dance show.

This tour is worth every single Dirham !! I highly recommend it.

For more information on desert tours with Gulf Adventures, please click on the following link and enjoy the desert. Gulf Ventures

Photos and story by Silvano Presatto (Pilot for Etihad Airlines and a current resident of Dubai).

NEW YORK CITY - Katz's Delicatessen New York

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Yes, I know, everyone has the name of some great delicatessen in New York City that one MUST visit while in Manhattan. But really, if Katz's Deli is not the best in town, it surely warrants a visit for a close second.

Katz's Deli has been around since 1888, serving memorable meals and monumental pastrami sandwich that can almost dislocate your jaw as you try to take that first huge bite out of your sandwich. They are that big! I promise!

The place is casual and it attracts a cross section of city customers. There are the famous, the local police (to eat), New York politicians, tourists, artist, actors, travelers on their way to or from the airport, locals, across-towners, etc. It's a destination, it's that good.

The New York Magazine claims it's the "grandest deli" in the city and Katz's customers claim they get the best hot dogs in the world at Katz's. So do yourself a favor next time you pass through Manhattan, take a cab down to the Lower East Side and stop by Katz's Deli. Try one of their memorable Pastrami Sandwiches or some other delicious deli platters and please, don't forget to tip the sandwich maker! It's a Katz's tradition.

Once you get your food and find a seat, take a look around, you may see Barbara Streisand or Bill Clinton eating a sandwich like yours in a table nearby.

For more information on this small heaven that feeds the masses, click on the following link and enjoy your meal. Katz's Delicatessen New York

Buenos Aires - Museo Quinquela Martin

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Next time you visit the port area of La Boca and Caminito in Buenos Aires, make a quick detour just a half block away from the pedestrian mall and right along the water. There you will find the entrance to the home and painting studio of Argentina's premier painter Benito Quinquela Martin now the Museum Quinquela Martin.

"Quinquela", as he is normally referred to in Argentina, is one of the most famous painters of this country. He was born around the 1890's in the port area of la Boca and during his life, he acquired world fame with his large format paintings created with dramatic, thick brush strokes and luminescent back lighting. His favorite subjects? the local dock workers and the port.

Mr. Quinquela lived his whole life in the barrio of La Boca and his last home and studio, is now the lovely, small museum named after him, The Benito Quinquela Martin Museum.

The museum is a little tricky to find. It sits right next to a local school and it's entrance can easily be mistaken for the entrance of the school. Look for the number on the blue door ( see the enclosed photo of the entrance door). If you have any trouble, just ask anyone around. The locals will direct you to the right place.

Once inside the museum, you'll find that it has 3 floors, plus a rooftop and a series of open air exhibit areas in the rear of the house. These back open decks are nice areas to leisurely explore during a sunny day. On the main floor and the second floor, the museum hosts various art exhibits. But it's on the top floor where you will find the private world of Benito Quinquela Martin. There is his bedroom, laid out much like the bedroom that VincentVan Gogh painted in the 1800's. There is a studio with an easel and some paints, as if the painter had just stepped away for a few minutes from his work. There are also a series of stunning, large format Quinquela paintings that will take your breath away.

If you wish to visit this museum, take a taxi there and back and check the enclosed web-link for additional information on their hours of operation and their exact address. Museum of Decorative Arts of Quinquela Martin, Buenos Aires

Enjoy! and let us know if you like it when you go.

Museo Quinquela Martin
La Boca

12/27/09

DUBAI - Visit an Ancient Oasis

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For a fantastic trip into Dubai's past, head to the lovely city of Al Ain, located on the border with Oman, about 100 miles away (or 1.5 hours drive) from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Al Ain, which means "the spring" in Arabic is literally, a garden city in the desert and "where it all started" in this region. Fed by numerous, natural underground water springs, it also has archaeological sites that date back 3,000 years to the Bronze Age. In addition, Al Ain is the birth place of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the beloved first president of the United Arab Emirates.

As a day trip or a weekend destination, it's fantastic! It offers cooler weather than the coastal cities of Dubai or Abu Dhabi and it has fascinating historical attractions. Some of these attractions are the Al Ain Natural Museum, the Al Ain Palace Museum, several restored ancient mud forts from the 1890's and the amazing Al Ain Oasis in the city center.

I took a day trip to Al Ain City this past month with some friends. While there, I visited the Al Ain Oasis, which is an ancient forest of date palms located in the center of the city irrigated by underground, 1,000 year old filtering methods. This Oasis, is one of seven in the area, in a region that had been settled as far back as 3,000 years ago.

If you visit the Al Ain Oasis, you can get lost wandering through peaceful and shaded paths that cross the oasis. On the other side of the Oasis, you will encounter the ancient mud walls of a beautiful Palace (photos enclosed) - the Al Ain Palace. This palace, is a wall enclosed structure that sits at the edge of the Oasis. It was the former residence of Al Ain rulers and it is now a beautifully restored (free) museum. If you visit, plan to spend a leisurely one hour to see all the period, furnished rooms and the impeccably kept royal gardens.

After visiting the Oasis and the Palace, we stopped at the Al Ain Jahli Fort, just a short drive away from the Palace. This fort is one of several restored forts from the 1890's. A beautiful mud structure that looks more like a giant sand castle with thick walls and circular towers. Today, this fort houses an impressive photo and video collection on the history of the area.

When we visited, we were fortunate enough to catch a session of traditional singing by locals dressed in Omani styled robes and headgear that took place in the inner courtyard of the fort while the sun was setting. A real cultural and historical treat for our foreign eyes and ears.

If you decide to visit the city of Al Ain, google each site we mentioned for more information on this fascinating, historical area. Also, for additional information on the Al Ain Oasis, click on the following link - AAW. : Al Ain City - Oasis in the Desert.

FYI, to visit Al Ain City, you need to either rent a car to drive yourself there or hire a taxi for the day to take you to each site. The ride will take an easy 1.5 hours through through impeccable highways that cross the desert. On the way, you will surely see camels roaming the dunes in a typical desert landscape.

enjoy!

12/19/09

DUBAI - Radisson Dubai Dhow Dinner Cruise

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A fantastic way to wind down in Dubai is to take a Dhow Dinner Cruise on the Dubai Creek during sunset hours. From one of these boats, you will get a different perspective of the city while you enjoy the stunning views of the Dubai skyline, the historic Dubai Heritage Village and the Old Souks.

For our cruise, we chose The Al Mansuour Dhow (a traditional wood boat) owned by the Radisson SAS Dubai Hotel. We each payed $55.oo dollars for two hours of enchanting local music, ocean breezes, gorgeous city views and delicious international and Middle Eastern food.

The boat was very easy to find. It was docked right in front of the Hotel Radisson SAS Dubai, on the shores of the Dubai Creek. The service was attentive and friendly and the boat, spacious and comfortable, with two decks for public use - one opened, upper deck and one lower, closed and air conditioned deck.

Our boat boarded at 8pm and departed at 8:30pm and floated towards the Arabian Gulf for about two hours.

If you want more information about this dinner cruise, please check the enclosed link. In it, you will find the cruise reservation page in case you wish to make a reservation in advance. Radisson SAS Dubai Cruise - Dubai Dhow Cruise - Tours and Excursions in Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Also offers Hotel Reservation

Enjoy your evening cruise and if you go, let us know what you think.

Do you have any favorite places in Dubai?

DUBAI - � The Dubai Fountains at The Dubai Mall

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When in Dubai, do as the locals and head for the mall. Which mall? why the biggest mall in the world of course, The Dubai Mall!

So where is this Dubai Mall? Right next to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai in the Burj Dubai Complex of Dubai. So why go there and not to any other mall in Dubai? Because of all the amazing attractions available in this mall. It has the world's largest Gold Souk, The Dubai Aquarium, an Olympic sized, indoor Ice-Rink, 22 Cineplex movie screens a SEGA REPUBLIC indoor theme park with over 150 amusement games, 160 food and beverage options and 1200 shops!! phew!

And that's not all! The centerpiece attraction of the Burj-Dubai Complex is the Dubai Fountain Water Show. One of the world largest fountains in the world (what a surprise), 25% larger than the Bellagio Fountains at Las Vegas.

So really, how big is this mall? try the size of 50 soccer fields and it attracts more than 750,000 visitors every week. ouch!

FYI - Malls in Dubai are popular "all day" destinations, because they offer a refuge for families from the extreme desert heat.

For more up-to-date information about the Dubai Mall and it's activities - shark feeding hours, movie times, Dubai Fountain schedules, etc. - please visit the enclosed link and enjoy your visit! Entertainment � The Dubai Mall

Do you have any favorite places in Dubai?

12/18/09

DUBAI - Great Book about Life in Dubai in the 1950's

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If you're planning to visit Dubai anytime soon, you may want to read this book, "The Sand Fish" by the Emirati writer, Maha Gargash. Her book describes the lifestyle of a young Bedouin woman who lived in the Dubai desert in the 1950's.

My friend Milena who currently resides in Dubai, just read the book and recommends it, specially if you're interested in understanding the local Emirati history and culture.

To preview the book click on the enclosed link by Amazon and enjoy the book!

Amazon.com: The Sand Fish: A Novel from Dubai (9780061744679): Maha Gargash: Books

12/15/09

BUENOS AIRES - El Obrero Restaurant

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After reading in a New York Times restaurant review that El Obrero (The Worker) Restaurant in the La Boca district of Buenos Aires, had "some of the best food in Buenos Aires", I decided it was time to grab a friend and visit the place - El Obrero - Reviews and Ratings of Restaurants in Buenos Aires - New York Times Travel

After checking with the hotel's concierge, my friend Mark Firnhaber (iadsw) and I, decided to go to El Obrero for lunch. We were warned by the concierge not to walk around that "shady area" of La Boca and to make sure to take a taxi there and back. Too bad, we had to scrap our plan to walk after lunch, to the touristy Caminito Area of La Boca, just 15 blocks away.

In case you didn't know, El Obrero belongs to the Bodegon category of restaurants in Buenos Aires. Neighborhood cafes or Social Clubs where the food served is abundant, cheap, non trendy, home made and of Italian or Spanish origins. El Obrero is owned by two Spanish brothers, so the food in this establishment, has a Spanish twist.

Bodegones started in Buenos Aires as "bodegas" or small neighborhood markets. Once they began to sell prepared foods to their customers, they expanded to include seating areas to accommodate their growing needs.

Getting back to El Obrero, the restaurant will not impress you from the outside. It actually looks ragged and run down, a bit suspect. Don't turn around and leave in your taxi. Just go inside because the interior, I promise, is a different world. The place is lively, warm and inviting, filled with soccer memorabilia and crowded with a mix of regulars and curious tourists like us. It's also very clean and the servers are friendly and eager to please.

El Obrero specializes in "parrilla" - grilled food and Spanish dishes. On the recommendation of a local who claimed to eat there every day, we ordered a Spanish Omelet made with potatoes and spicy salami as an appetizer plus a salad and a steak to share.

The Spanish Omelet was delicious, the salad fresh and large enough for two, and the steak huge, but not a great cut. We both agreed we had better meat in other Buenos Aires restaurants.

However, although the meat we received was a disappointment, we loved the neighborhood atmosphere of the place and the friendly service and price!!! Our meal was less than $12 dollars each with drinks and bread included.

El Obrero is a must visit to experience the "old Buenos Aires". Go for lunch with a friend and take a taxi like we did and enjoy a real "working man's" or Obrero's lunch.

ps- bring cash, no credit cards accepted

El Obrero
Restaurant Parrilla
by the Castro Brothers (Marcelino & Francisco)
Agustin R. Caffarena 64
Republica de La Boca
Buenos Aires, Argentina
(closed on Sundays)
4362-9912

12/6/09

DUBAI - The Dubai Metro

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The Dubai Metro is ready and running and it's fun! So don't wait, go for a ride now. It's a different way to see the layout of the city that sure beats the backseat of a taxi.

On September 9th, 2009 (or on 9-9-09) Dubai's ruler, His Highness, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum officially opened the first Metro line in Dubai, The Red Line. This is the first Metro in the Arabian Peninsula.

On my last visit to Dubai, I decide to try the Metro. I rode from the Dubai Airport Station (in Terminal 3) to the Deira Station near my friends house. The next day, I climbed on the Metro once more. This time, I went to The Emirates Mall Station across town, near Jumeirah Beach.

Both times the rides were fast and easy to navigate. The seats were comfortable, the cars uncrowded, the stations, hospital clean and dare I say, the decor was ultra modern, with lots of shiny tile, glass and chrome surfaces along the way. Air conditioned areas prevailed and best of all, the price was right. It only cost about two dollars per segment.

FYI, not all the stations in the Red Line are opened yet, so check with the station attendants before you get on. Also, check the prices, because they vary according to the distance you travel.

The Metro is easy to navigate because all of the signs and announcements are made in Arabic, as well as in English. Once aboard the Metro, you will hear each stop announced via a loud speaker in both languages and you will see the name of the stop flashed on illuminated signs above the doors. There are also, easy to follow Metro maps over each door.

Seating is mixed, with preference given to the female riders.

More Metro lines that will service the whole city are planned for the near future. There's a Green Line that will open in June 2010 and there's a yellow line that's in the works.

For more information on the Dubai Metro, visit the following link : Dubai Metro - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Enjoy the ride!

DUBAI - Bur Dubai Souq

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While in Dubai, visit the Souk in Bur Dubai. It's located in the old part of Dubai, right by the Dubai creek and across the Gold and Spice Souk. To get there from the Gold and Spice Souk, just take the small water taxis that cross the Creek for one Dirham (about .30 cents of a dollar) to the other side. (For more information on these water taxis and on crossing the Dubai Creek, please read our previous post about the Dubai Water Taxis).

Once in the Bur Dubai Souk, visit the Middle Eastern textile shops that offer pashmina shawls, table runners, bed and pillow covers and regional clothes for sale at very reasonable prices. It's the perfect place to pick up a comfortable (and modest) female outfit to roam the most conservative streets of Dubai, like the Souks, with out offending a pious soul.

What outfit am I referring to? certainly not the oppressive black burkha, but a "cool-as-a-breeze" cotton pant & tunic ensemble for women, that comes in a multitude of interchangeable solid, summer colors like turquoise blue, yellow, pink, tan, white and aquamarine green. A perfect outfit for day or night to keep you cool in the heat of Dubai.

I purchased two tunic/pant sets on my last visit to Dubai, one white and the other brown. Both lightly decorated with same color embroidery and a few sparkling beads. I wore my white outfit to the Marina beach the next day and I loved the comfort and coolness I felt from the light and loose fabrics of the outfit during the strong, mid-day heat.

If you wish to purchase one of these outfits, visit my friend Pradeep's shop in the Bur Dubai Souk in the ABRA MARKET SHOP # 4 & 5 (photo enclosed). They speak English and if you tell them you're from the airlines, I've been told, you'll receive a discount.

Once inside the shop, you'll see their fantastic selection of pant & tunic sets for women in a myriad of colors and an equally impressive collection of pashmina shawls, beaded purses, cushion covers, etc. for sale.

All their items are priced very reasonably and the pant/tunic sets sell for about ten dollars each (that's a pair of pants plus a shirt). Word of caution, when purchasing your set, ask for the "Tunic and pants set for women", for there are similar sets for sale in the market for men and those, you definitely don't want to wear in Dubai.

To learn more about the Bur Dubai Souq in Dubai, click in the following link by Lonely Planet.
Sights and attractions, experience Bur Dubai Souq in Dubai - Lonely Planet Travel Information

Have fun and enjoy the Souk!

Do you have any shops or restaurants you wish to recommend? We'd love to hear from you!
Send us your stories to postcards@me.com
Thanks
Lizbeth

FRANKFURT - Botticelli Exhibit at the St�del Museum

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I just read this in the New York Times Travel-Art section! If you're in Frankfurt from now until the 18th of February 2010, make some time to visit the fantastic Stadel Art Museum in Frankfurt to view the Botticelli exhibit, the first ever in Germany.

The New York times claims Boticelli is akin to Rembrant or Van Gogh. A "must see" if you're in Frankfurt.

Remember the Venus by Boticelli, (photo enclosed) of the woman floating on a large shell? That's one of his most famous paintings, the original hangs in the Uffizi Gallery In Venice.

For more information on museum hours and admission fees, visit the enclosed link: Plan your visit - Visitor Information - St�del Museum.

If you decide to go, it's an easy walk from the main train station in Frankfurt. Just walk for a couple of blocks towards the river and turn left once your reach the river for about one block. Cross over the river on the pedestrian bridge and once across, the Stadel will be almost right in front of you, a bit to the left (photo enclosed).

Before you leave the museum, don't forget to make a detour to visit Holbein's, the museum cafe. It's a beautiful glass enclosed structure with a lovely garden view. It serves wonderful German desserts and delicious German food and it's very popular with the locals.

If you want a pre-recorded tour in English, they are available for an extra fee.

Enjoy the Boticelli paintings and take a quick tour of the Stadel's gorgeous permanent collection while you're there.

Have you heard of anything cool to do while in Frankfurt? Let us know so we can post it for others to enjoy - Send your comments and recommendations to postcards@me.com

Thanks much!

MUNICH -Christmas Market in The Marienplatz

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The Munich Christmas Market started on November 27th and will run until December 24th at 2pm. So hurry up and go there if you're in Munich. It's held in the Marienplatz, the very beautiful main square in the historical center of Munich. It's supposedly, the most popular (and possibly, the most crowded) Christmas market in Munich. Like most Christmas markets, it has a variety of stalls that sell traditional German drinks (hot- mulled wines), sweets and foods. There are also tons of beautifully, hand crafted Christmas ornaments and other lovely crafts.

For more information on this loved market, click on the following link Munich Christmas Markets - Discover Munich.

Market hours :

Monday to Friday - from 10am - 8:30pm
Saturdays - from 9am - 8:30pm
Sundays - from 10am - 7:30 pm
24th of Dec. - from 10am - 2pm

Enjoy! and let us know if you visited any other Christmas markets you liked!

12/5/09

BERLIN - Christmas Market - 2009

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There are many Christmas Markets in Berlin and all are very special,
however, this year we decided to go to the Christmas Market on Opernpalais.
It is in the area of Unter den Linden. Everywhere you look, you see amazing historical buildings.
Humboldt University, The Opera House is the next building over and across the street you
have a lovely view of the Berliner Dom, one of the most beautiful churches in Berlin and of course the Berlin TV tower.

It is really nice to stroll along the markets. There are many handcrafted items including knitted socks, mittens and jewelry of all sorts. Naturally, they offer many nice snacks and hot drinks as well. We stopped to have a Bratwurst and then headed to the stand where they sell the Gluehwein, which in English is a mulled wine. It is served hot and tastes fabulous, it also helps to keep you warm!

There is also a live band and during the weekends it is a really fun place to be. The dates are from 23. November - 27. December 2009.

Another place I would recommend is in the Gendamenmarkt area...3 beautiful churches in one area.

Mo - Th 12:00 – 21:30
Fr - Sa 11:00 – 22:30
Sun 11:00 - 21:30

Dec 24th - closed

Jan 2 - Christmas holiday 11.30 - 21:00
Dec 27th - 11:30 - 21:00

Enjoy the photos!
Kayra Martinez
Berlin


Story and photos by Kayra Martinez (FRASW)

12/1/09

PARIS - Museum Nissim de Camondo

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My favorite small museum in Paris is the Museum Nissim de Camondo located in Monceau Park, just a few blocks away from the Arc du Triomphe.

The Camondo, as it's best known by locals, is housed in the Belle Epoque home of Mr. Moise de Camondo, a Jewish millionaire banker that migrated from Istanbul in the late 1800's. This family was so wealthy, they were referred to as the Rothschilds of the East.

The story of the Camondo family is tragic and grand. They migrated to Paris around 1860 and very quickly, joined the ranks of the wealthy elite of Paris. They gave memorable parties in their spectacular Paris mansions and collected much of the Impressionist art of the time. Much of the art exhibited today in the Musee de Orsay, was donated by the Camondos.

During World War I, 22 year old Nissim de Camond, Moise's only son, joined the French Air Force to serve as a pilot. Tragically, he was killed during a mission before the war ended. His father never recovered from this loss and as a result, became a recluse in his beautiful mansion set on the edge of Monceau Park. With out ever leaving his home, he collected period furniture determined to bequeath his collection in the name of his son Nissim, to France.

Sr. Camondo died in 1935 leaving a daugther, Beatrice, a son in law and two grand children behind. Sadly, all four of them were sent to concentration camps during the German occupation of Paris in the 1940's and they did not survive the war. Their death, wiped out the last members of this powerful family from existence.

To visit the museum, take the yellow Metro line to Etoile (Arc du Triomphe) and change to the purple line (or line #2) to Monceau. When you get out of the Metro, you will see Park Monceau. It is a beautiful, small park in an area seldom visited by tourists. Enter the park and cross it . On the other side, on 63 Rue Monceau you will find the entrance to the museum. It is a gorgeous mansion furnished with spectacular masterpieces, as if the family still lived there.

The museum entrance fee is 6 Euros and they offer free headsets in English, if interested. They also have free guided tours every Sunday at 11 am from October to May and they show a movie about the family that runs continuously, but it's in French.

Le Musee Nissim de Camondo
63 rue de Monceau
Metro - Monceau
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

PARIS - Christmas Market on the Champs Elysees - Visiting France

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There's a Christmas Market going on right now on the Champs Elysees, right in the heart of Paris. It started on November 10 and will go on until January 3, 2010 and it opens daily from 10 am to 7pm. So get your woolies on and head for a gorgeous walk down the grand damme of French avenues, the Champs Elysees and enjoy the festive Christmas decorations while you walk from the Arch du Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.

Bring your camera and some cash so you can take colorful pictures and enjoy the delicious crepes and the warm wine sold along the way. There is much to browse for in the market, there are stalls that sell Russian dolls, Pashminas, crafts from Indonesia, Asian jewelry and French favorites like cheese, pastries and sweets.

For more information click on the enclosed link.

Merry Christmas and enjoy your walk!

Paris Christmas Market on the Champs Elysees - Visiting France -

11/26/09

DUBAI - Day Trip to "The Mosque" in Abu Dhabi

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I recently visited The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the largest mosque in The United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president and the founder of the United Arab Emirates.

This mosque was completed in 2007 and has now opened it's doors for visits from the public since 2008. There are tours for Muslims and non Muslims every day except Fridays, from 9am to 12 noon.

The design of the Mosque is a fusion between Arab, Moor and Mughal architecture. It has 82 domes, 4 minarets and a capacity for 40,000 worshipers. It's also built almost entirely of white marble and it has the largest carpet and chandelier in the world. The carpet, made by 1,200 weavers in Iran, is 60,570 feet long and weighs 47 tons. The (largest)chandelier(s) imported from Germany is 35 feet in diameter and 49 feet in height. It is covered in copper and it's gold plated.

To get there, you must travel either by bus or by hired taxi. The bus to Abu Dahbi, is an easy one hour and thirty minute ride from the downtown main bus station in Dubai and it drops you off almost across the street from the mosque. Be sure to tell the driver ahead to let you know which stop is yours, for the bus makes several stops along the way.

From this drop off point, hail a taxi to take you across the highway to the entrance of the mosque. For your return, get another taxi from the mosque to take you to the main bus station in Abu Dahbi. Buses leave from the station every 15 minutes for Dubai. The are comfortable and the price is approximately 10 Dirhams for a one way ride. (four dollars). Take a pashmina or a sweater for the ride, for it can get chilly with the AC.

I did not do the taxi ride, but I'm sure, the concierge can give you prices and information for this option.

My experience, the place was amazing! I had no idea how beautiful and serene a mosque could be. It's a huge structure, all covered in gleaming white marble with paved floors with a design of colored marble flowers. Exquisite inside and out. The minarets, columns and domes are decorated with 24 kt gold details that shine in the sun. It's a grand place not just for one to see, but for one to experience. Get there early if you can, so you can have the place to yourself. Later, the tour buses will arrive with their respective human cargo and they will crowd the mosque and interrupt the peace of the place.

Bring your camera and a cover for your head so you wont have to borrow the black Abayas and head pieces required for women to enter the mosque. Or, don't bring one and get to try an Abaya for fun and pictures.

There is no entrance fee for the mosque or rental fee for the Abayas, but please remember to be respectful at all times, for this is a place of worship for the locals.

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