Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Travelore Tips: Some Of The Craziest Places In The World Where You Can Get A Drink

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If you've grown tired of all the establishments within a five-mile radius of your house, know that the world is bursting with weird, creepy, and mind-blowing spots for you to enjoy a spot of tea -- or delicious libations.

You can have a drink...

With geeks of every stripe.
tardis doctor who
Where: Paris, France
La Dernier Bar Avant la Fin du Monde, or "last bar before the end of the world" -- a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference -- is a haven for Trekkies, Potterheads, Lord of the Rings obsessives, Star Wars fanatics, World of Warcraft addicts, the Doctor Who fandom, and all kinds of other nerds.

Surrounded by handlebar mustaches.
handlebar mustache
Where: London, England
Meetings of The Handlebar Club take place at the Windsor Castle pub, where anyone sporting "a hirsute appendage of the upper lip, with graspable extremities" is welcome. Beards, sadly, are not allowed.

In a real, live cave.
alux mexico
Where: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Alux is a restaurant and bar named after the mischievious elfish cave-dwelling creatures in Mexican folklore. You can grab a drink here among the stalactites and stalagmites as you try to remember which is which.

In a room full of hammocks.
Where: Multiple cities, Japan
Appealing to the slovenly bum in all of us, hammock cafes let you relax with a hot drink or a cold beer without having to actually sit up straight like your mother taught you. (Just don't get too excited about getting in.) Unfortunately, time limits are enforced, but happily so is the "no children" rule, in some of the cafes.

With nocturnal birds of prey.
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Head to one of Japan's owl cafes to enjoy a nice hot owl-themed beverage while youmake friends with some of the birds. Some of the cafes even let you hold one, but others have more stringent rules.
Alternatively, go to any beach bar in the tropics.

Served by a monkey.
Where: Utsunomiya, Japan
A pair of macaque monkeys help out at Kayabukiya sake tavern, serving hot towels and beers to customers upon request after the cafe's owner realized they were such good listeners. The monkeys only work two hours per day, in accordance with Japanese laws to prevent animal abuse.

Suspended high above the street.
dinner in the sky
Where: Global
Dinner in the Sky is a mobile novelty restaurant that offers full-service dining 150 feet above the ground via crane. Just hope you don't have to use the restroom.

With some cats.
cat cafe
Where: Multiple cities, Japan
Indulge your cat obsession while sipping a nice cup of coffee in one of Japan'snotorious cat cafes. Don't expect the cats themselves to care whether or not you're there, though, because they probably don't.

With some penguins.
Where: Multiple cities, Japan
Proving that all things are truly possible in Japan, the nation's penguin bars allow you to enjoy a drink and a meal as a bunch of penguins enjoy a nice swim. At certain times you can even help feed these adorable little guys.

On a teeny tiny island accessible only by sea.
Where: Michamwi Pingwe, Zanzibar
You'll have to wade out to this bar and restaurant settled on a naturally formed rockoff the coast of Zanzibar to get sloshed. But it's all stunningly gorgeous, so we wouldn't complain too much.

In the belly of a whale.
hr giger
Where: Gruyères, Switzerland 
Being inside this vertebral structure is said to evoke the Biblical story of Jonah. In any case it's sure to leave you feeling uneasy -- the cavernous space is peppered with alien and otherworldly sculptures.

James Bond-style in an underwater oasis.
Where: Eilat, Israel
The Red Sea Star restaurant and bar is situated entirely underwater, so you can toss back a few drinks while gazing at the mesmerizing marine landscape through windows above and around the dining room.

While freezing in a room made of ice.
minus5 bar
Where: New York City, United States
Everything at Minus 5 is made of ice, from the walls to the seats to the very glass you'll drink from, although supposedly the name is misleading -- it's a balmy 23 degrees inside! Your cover charge provides you a parka and pair of gloves to use for the duration of your stay.

Perched in the best treehouse ever.
baobab tree
Where: Limpopo Province, South Africa
Since 1933, patrons have been coming to Sunland Bar in this massive Baobab tree for a drink and view. It's basically the magical playplace that was always missing from your childhood, only with booze! Don't come with a crowd, however -- this cozy little bar can only fit 15 patrons.

With a bunch of "hobbits."
hobbit house philippines
Where: Manila, Philippines
An ex-Peace Corps volunteer founded The Hobbit House with a love for all things Lord of the Rings and a full staff of little people. Politically correct or not, this place looks like you'd get a few stories out of your visit.

All the way down in Antarctica.
Where: Antarctica, duh.
Scientists at the Vernadsky Research Station get thirsty, too, you know. The world's southernmost bar exists in the Argentine Islands, part of the continent of Antarctica, featuring homemade vodka and Ukrainian knickknacks. Drinks can be purchased for a few dollars or a women's undergarment.

And, finally, while you're trying to get away from some zombies.
Where: Minneapolis, Minn.
When the zombie apocalypse comes, Donny Dirk's Zombie Den will already exist as a hideaway from the walking dead, where the Minnesota winters are cold enough "to sustain, with minimal odor, re-animated ambulatory flesh." So you can drink somewhere it doesn't smell like a thousand rotting corpses. Huzzah!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Travelore Tips: 10 Recommended Must See & Do's In January

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in January:
  • Celebrate the coming of a new year and the oldest folk festival in the U.S. at the Philadelphia Mummers Parade (January 1). Local clubs take to the streets to compete in one of four categories: comics, fancies, string bands, and fancy brigades in the City of Brotherly Love’s take on a British Isles tradition.
  • Ring in a second new year at Cape Town‘s longest-running street party, the Cape Minstrel Carnival (January 2). The annual festival features music and dance, and culminates with a parade of colorfully garbed minstrels.
  • You don’t have to be an Aussie to commemorate Australia Day (January 26) in Sydney Harbour. Join in on a group swim, watch the parade of ships sail by with flags flying in the 178th Australia Day regatta, and more at this family-friendly event–at an even friendlier price (free). 
    Australia Day celebrations in Sydney Harbour (Photograph by Phillie Casablanca, Flickr)
    Australia Day celebrations in Sydney Harbour (Photograph by Phillie Casablanca, Flickr)
  • Experience winter, French-Canadian style at the Carnaval de Quebec (January 31-February 16), the largest winter carnival in the world. Snow sculptures, a parade, and dogsled races are only a fraction of the fun you can expect during this truly bucket-list worthy event.
  • If you’re looking for the ultimate après-ski extravaganza, toast the winter season at Wintersköl (January 9-12) in Aspen, Colorado. The four-day Nordic celebration, now in its 63rd year, includes a snow sculpture competition, live music, and fireworks.
  • Feel the beat at Glasgow‘s annual folk, roots, and world music festival, Celtic Connections (January 16-February 2) as more than 2,000 artists come together to celebrate Celtic music and how it has found form in other cultures across the globe. 
  • Witness the melding of traditions at the Ati-Atihan Festival (January 10-19), the “mother of all festivals in the Philippines.” Locals clothed in traditional tribal costumes vie for attention–and prizes–in a festive parade through the streets of Kalibo on Panay Island. The music and dancing seem to never end–in the best way possible.
    Australia Day celebrations in Sydney Harbour (Photograph by Phillie Casablanca, Flickr)
    Australia Day celebration in Sydney Harbour (Photograph by Phillie Casablanca, Flickr)
  • Every year, thousands of luminaries, ingenues, and cinephiles converge on Park City, Utah for ten days of movie magic at the Sundance Film Festival (January 16-26). Why not join them? With 200 independent film screenings across all genres there’s something for everyone. 
  • Embrace cultural differences of all kinds and admire Pre-Columbian artistry at the annual Carnaval de Negros y Blancos (December 28-January 6) in Pasto, Colombia. But don’t wear white: Festival-goers mark the occasion with brightly colored face paint and talcum powder that seem to find their way onto everything and everyone in spraying distance. 
  • It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…kite! Train your gaze skyward during the Kite Festival Jaipur (January 14-16) as thousands of brightly colored kites hover over Rajasthan’s capital city. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu harvest festival, Makar Sankranti, features food and craft stalls, cultural performances, and special night displays of illuminated kites.
  • Contributed by Intelligent Travel

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Travelore Tips: Recommended Deals On Winter Beach Escapes

2013-12-27-Aulani_family.jpg(photo: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa)
Winter arrived with a big snowy bang across much of America, which has many folks already pining for an escape to warmer climes. If your family is ready to trade the snow for some sunshine and sand, here are five tremendous deals at kid-friendly beach resorts to get you packing.
Disney's Aulani Resort
Where: Oahu, Hawaii Why: Because you can save 25 percent at Disney's only Hawaiian resort, which brims with family-friendly appeal while also managing to deliver an authentic Hawaiian experience. The Deal: Get your fourth night free plus complimentary breakfast for two adults (or kids ages 10 and up) during your stay. Book by Jan. 15, 2014 for travel Jan. 5-Apr. 7, 2014. Some blackout dates apply.
Fairmont Southampton
Where: Southampton, Bermuda Why: Because beautiful Bermuda is less than a two-hour flight from Northeast gateway cities, and a sweet promo at the plush-yet-family-friendlyFairmont Southampton delivers a terrific way to save all winter. The Deal: Book the Free Nights this Winter promo and every third night of your stay is free. Available for travel through Apr. 30, 2014.
Pacific Terrace Hotel
2013-12-27-PacificTerraceHotel_boardwalk.jpg(photo: Pacific Terrace Hotel)
Where: San Diego, California Why: Because the beachfront Pacific Terrace Hotel is all about relaxed luxury and boasts a super location just two miles from Belmont Park's famous Giant Dipper roller coaster and four miles from SeaWorld. The Deal: Book theWinter Deal Package and you'll get your second night for half-price, plus receive 50-percent off breakfast and complimentary bike rentals and wi-fi. Available for travel through Apr. 30, 2014.

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific
Where: Ixtapa, Mexico Why: Because Club Med is offering the lowest rates of the year at eight of its all-inclusive, family-friendly beach resorts in North America and the Caribbean, including the stunning Club Med Ixtapa PacificThe Deal: During the Semi-Annual Sale, all-inclusive rates begin at just $119 per person, per night -- and kids 4 and under stay free. Book by Jan. 8, 2014, for travel through June 27, 2014.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel
2013-12-27-JekyllClub.jpg(photo: Jekyll Island Club Hotel)
Where: Jekyll Island, Georgia Why: Because the elegant, kid-friendly Jekyll Island Club -- a former haunt of Rockefellers, Goodyears, and their millionaire pals -- is celebrating its 127th anniversary by offering an unbeatable rate that's good throughout January. The Deal: Book the January $127 Special and score a luxurious getaway for just $127 a night. Available for stays Jan.1-31, 2014.

Contributed by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Travelore Tips: Where To Drink in Toronto

While the temperature is dropping in Toronto, the city's bar scene is just heating up. Long known for its craft beer scene, Toronto is increasingly morphing into a destination for innovative cocktails, served up in decadent and dive-y settings alike. The city is also in the midst of a love affair with speakeasies, as well as British-style gastropubs. Here's our look at where to drink in Toronto right now.


This new bar embraces many hipster trends of the moment, including bacon, reclaimed wood, and psychic readings. The Libertine, a speakeasy-inspired lounge, offers a bar menu by Chef Léonie Lilla, an alum of Momofuku. The cocktails incorporate unusual ingredients like root beer, strawberries, and, yep, bacon. If after a few drinks, you'd like to tempt fate, The Libertine also has an in-house psychic, as well as a wheel of fortune.


Set up in a converted warehouse, The Cocktail Parlor is the latest venue from the team behind Toronto hot spots Patria and Weslodge. The space looks like it was transplanted from Brooklyn, with distressed wood floors and exposed brick. The cocktail menu is big and ambitious; there's absinthe, plus homemade infusions and liqueurs incorporating everything from tobacco to saffron. Drinks are creatively named—try "Stormin' in Like a Jerk," a combination of jerk-spiced rum, fresh lime juice, house ginger beer, cinnamon, and thyme, with a splash of chili.


Located in trendy Dundas West, Montauk Bar has an industrial dive look, complete with exposed pipes, metal stools, and a poured concrete-topped bar. The wine list is exclusively from Ontario, and a rotating group of guest bartenders do duty behind the bar. Try their signature drink, "The Montauk"—a combo of rye, dry vermouth, Averna, Maraschino liqueur, bitters, and orange blossom water. The only food served is house-made beef jerky, but Montauk Bar also hosts pop-up restaurants if you need more than jerky to line your stomach.


Part of a wave of British-inspired gastropubs, The Oxley is the place to tuck into classic British fare like fish and chips, or stout-braised beef chuck. The impressive drinks menu includes beer, wine, cider, and cocktails, like "My First Time," a combo of London Dry Gin, Campari, fresh grapefruit juice, lemon, egg white, ginger, and thyme syrup.


If you're looking for a laid-back evening out, head to Weldon Park. This bar doesn't take itself too seriously (i.e., barstools are upholstered in Astroturf), but if you head to the back, near the dance floor, the drinks menu gets serious (and seriously creative). Sip on a "Witches' Gland," a blend of ingredients like Beefeater gin, pumpkin-spiced grenadine, orange juice, and Strega. For nibbles, Weldon Park's bar menu includes tasty treats like house-made pickles and spicy chickpeas.

Contributed by Christina Valhouli 
Photo credits: Toronto skyline: Gvictoria | Dreamstime.com; The Libertine: courtesy of Liam Maloney; Montauk Bar: courtesy of Montauk Bar; Weldon Park: courtesy of Weldon Park

New Year’s Eve In Philadelphia 2013: The Best Places To Watch The Fireworks Over The Delaware River At 6 P.M. And Midnight

Philadelphia’s 22nd annual New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular, presented by SugarHouse Casino, will once again take place at Penn’s Landing with two fireworks shows at 6 p.m. and again at midnight. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
The last days of 2013 are ticking by, Philadelphia! Where will you be for the final countdown?
Ring in 2014 with either of two free fireworks shows on the Delaware River Waterfront as SugarHouse Casino once again presents a double dose of New Year’s pyrotechnics.
The first show, at 6 p.m., is titled “A Salute to America’s Great Composer and Conductor — John Williams” and set to a family-friendly musical soundtrack of music that’s be heard in film, on television and during international events, including the Olympics.
The second show, at midnight, is “Party on the Waterfront” — and for this one, you’ll need to break out the dancing shoes. Pop favorites like Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Pitbull, Lorde, Ellie Goulding and Lady Gaga provide the soundtrack to the pyrotechnics.
Begin your night with the 6 p.m. show, then hit the town for dinner, drinks and merry-making. Or else, enjoy a meal and other festivities earlier in the night and plan to conclude the final night of 2013 with the classic midnight fireworks show.
Either way, it’s time to scope out the best spots for fireworks viewing.
Still need plans for dinner, hotel or more? Check out our complete New Year’s Eve and holiday coverage, and our additional guides:

New Year’s Eve Dinners

For prix-fixe dinner specials and festive culinary events, click here.

New Year’s Eve Parties & Events

For details on tons of New Years’ Eve celebrations, click here.

New Year’s Eve Parties with a View

For New Year’s Eve parties with a view of the fireworks, click here.
Read on for our guide of where to watch the dazzling display, and be sure to check out our interactive where-to-watch map below.
• Blue Cross RiverRink & Waterfront WinterfestPenn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard and Market Street. Winter sports enthusiasts can celebrate the New Year at the Blue Cross RiverRink’s New Year’s Eve Party on Ice, a family-friendly affair that boasts one of the best views of the city’s breathtaking fireworks displays over the Delaware River. Skaters can catch one of two sparkling shows during the early (5-7 p.m.) or late (11 p.m.-1 a.m.) parties. Tickets are $35 for skaters and $25 for spectators. For the midnight show, revelers can watch from the blowout bash at The Lodge at Waterfront Winterfest, an all-night ticketed party at the seasonal pop-up winter lounge without skating, but with fare from chef George Sabatino and more.
• SugarHouse CasinoNorthern Liberties, 1001 N. Delaware Avenue. As the sponsor of the evening, in addition to the Mummers Parade the next day, SugarHouse Casino is a surefire bet for watching the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., cash in on an open bar, appetizers, live music a private viewing area of the fireworks show and a champagne toast at midnight during the Funkadelphia New Year’s Eve party. Just want in on the fireworks viewing? Get a front row view from the riverfront walk for either the 6 p.m. or midnight shows.
• Independence Seaport MuseumPenn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Walnut Street. With two parties in one evening, the Independence Seaport Museum is a sure-bet destination for viewing. For the 6 p.m. show, families are invited to take in the views at a family-style New Year’s Eve party, which is included in admission to the museum. Look forward to noisemakers, hats and a toast with sparkling cider. At 10 p.m., the Vintage New Year’s party begins. For a $100 all-inclusive ticket, partygoers are invited to don their best vintage outfits, enjoy unlimited pours, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast, plus live tunes by rocking local soul and funk group The Sermon!
• Franklin SquareOld City, 200 N. 6th Street. Families can head to the brightly illuminated Franklin Square to watch the 6 p.m. fireworks show. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be party hat decorating, free entertainment, and a “Square Drop” countdown to 6 p.m. The fun continues with the the final Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show of the year at 8 p.m.
• Great Plaza at Penn’s LandingPenn’s Landing, Chestnut Street and Columbus Boulevard. Head to the public space the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for a front-row view of the fireworks backed by a synchronized soundtrack during the spectacular show.
• Race Street PierPenn’s Landing, Race Street and Delaware Avenue. The pier-turned-public park makes for an amazing vantage point, but we recommend arriving early, as it’s probably going to fill up fast. Also keep in mind that alcohol, open flame and glass containers are not permitted at the Pier.
• Front Street: The entire length of Front Street between the South Street and Market Street bridges will make for prime fireworks viewing this New Year’s Eve.
• South Street Bridge over I-95: The South Street Bridge — the one on the eastern edge of the city passing over I-95 — is a perfect spot to set up camp for fireworks viewing this New Year’s Eve. There are a few benches, so if you arrive early enough, you might even have a seat.
More prime fireworks viewing spots, below.
• Washington Avenue GreenPennsport, 1301 S. Columbus Boulevard. This is another great park spot on the Delaware River Waterfront — formerly Pier 53 — where you can set up with a lawn chair and picnic blanket to cozy up with friends and family and feast your eyes on the night sky.
• Hyatt Regency PhiladelphiaPenn’s Landing, 201 S. Columbus Boulevard. The Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing kicks off the New Year with not one, but three celebrations. Enjoy a New Year’s Eve family buffet starting at 4 p.m. Save room for the Dessert Explosion before the 6 p.m. fireworks show at Penn’s Landing. Starting at 8 p.m., adults can take a seat for the Keating’s New Year’s Eve Dinner at 9 p.m., or join in the VIP New Years Eve Affair in the Columbus ballroom featuring a dinner buffet followed by drinks and dancing, all leading up to the fireworks spectacular at midnight.
• Ristorante La VerandaPenn’s Landing, 30 North Columbus Boulevard. This historic Northern Italian restaurant located on Pier 3 Penn’s Landing offers prime fireworks viewing on two levels. Ristorante La Veranda will be offering a special four-course, New Year’s Eve prix fixe dinner for $75 per person to celebrate the New Year.
• MoshuluPenn’s Landing, 401 S. Columbus Boulevard. Watch the fireworks from the water on the Moshulu at its New Year’s Eve dinner. The dinner consists of a four-course meal bound to end your year on a delicious note. There are two dinners, the first from 3:30 to 7 p.m. for $100 per person and the second from 7:15 to 10:30 p.m. at $150 per person. Note that children 14 and under can enjoy a three-course dinner menu for $35.
• Revolution HouseOld City, 200 Market Street. The Revolution House roof deck, festooned with colorful foliage and heated, will be open on New Year’s Eve, overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Celebrate with drink specials, music and a champagne toast at midnight with no cover.
• Ristorante Panorama at the Penn’s View HotelOld City, Front and Market streetsRistorante Panorama at the Penn’s View Hotel will be opening at 4 p.m. for dinner prior to the New Year’s fireworks show at 6 p.m. For $85 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., enjoy a special four-course meal and complementary sparkling toast at midnight at Panorama, not to mention a spectacular view of the fireworks on the Delaware Waterfront. Prior to the prix-fixe meal, indulge in selections from the à la carte menu.
• Dave & Buster’sOld City, 325 N. Columbus Boulevard. At waterfront arcade and gaming funhouse Dave & Buster’s, the New Year’s Eve parties rock all evening. After a family-friendly affair at from 4 to 7 p.m., the 21 and up crowd parties from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Celebrate with a four-hour open bar, dinner, dessert and dancing before watching the fireworks at midnight for $90 per person or $160 per couple; without the open bar $55 per person or $100 per couple. Tickets are available online.
• Spirit of PhiladelphiaPenn’s Landing, 401 S. Columbus Boulevard. The Spirit of Philadelphia hosts two New Year’s Eve parties aboard its Delaware River cruiser. For the 21 and over crowd, an 8:30 p.m. boarding brings a night of dancing, entertainment, food and an open bar. The Spirit of Philadelphia will cruise the waterfront from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and will finish off with a dockside party until 1 a.m. Tickets start at $174.90. Head down to the ship a little earlier for a family-friendly dinner cruise from 4 to 6:30 p.m. with views of the 6 p.m. fireworks.
• Ritz East parking lotOld City, 125 S. 2nd Street. After catching a New Year’s Eve flick, stick around and stake out a spot in the parking lot outside movie theater, prime real estate for fireworks watching.
• Battleship New Jersey62 Battleship Place, Camden. Over on the other side of the river, revelers can test their sea legs on the Battleship New Jersey, docked on the Camden waterfront. Enjoy music, food and bar concessions, as well as a unique view of both fireworks shows at 6 p.m. and midnight.
• Adventure Aquarium1 Riverside Drive, Camden. Party with the fishes at Adventure Aquarium’s Deep Sea Splash. After enjoying the underwater animals, guests can dive into the hors d’oeuvres, food stations and open bar and catch a great view of the fireworks from the promenade while toasting with champagne. Music and entertainment round out the New Year’s adventure. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for children 2 to 12.
• Wiggins ParkMickle Boulevard at the River, Camden. Across the river in Camden, get an equally spectacular view of the fireworks from Wiggins Park, located near Adventure Aquarium and the Battleship New Jersey. Viewers will be treated to a synchronized soundtrack for the fireworks display from speakers at the park.
Check out Visit Philly’s Where to Watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Philadelphia guide for more.

Contributed by