Sunday, March 31, 2013

12 Things You Don't Know About Amtrak

12) Amtrak serves full, cooked-to-order meals served on real dishes aboard all long-haul routes. These always include a vegetarian selection and often feature regional specialties. No airplane food zapped in a microwave in their dining cars.

The full service kitchen on Amtrak's Empire Builder
The full service kitchen on Amtrak's Empire Builder. Elevators are used to send the entrees up to the dining room so every dish is fresh and piping hot. 
11) The Empire Builder and Coast Starlight host wine and cheese tastings. The samplings are always from farms and vinyards along the route.

10) Snacks, quick meals and beverages are also available in the cafe car... or if your timing is just right, we have seen a pizza get delivered to the train while we were stopped at a station.

9) There are really nice passenger lounges in most larger city stations with comfy chairs and couches, wifi, drinks, TV, and priority boarding for sleeper, first class, and top rewards club passengers. Feel like a VIP.

The sleeping car lounge for train passengers for Amtrak at Chicago's Union Station
The sleeping car lounge in Chicago's Union Station

8) Coach seating is WAY more comfortable than other modes of transportation. More legroom, bigger seats, and usually a power outlet for every passenger. Wifi is showing up on many routes. Some trains have quiet cars where no cell phones are allowed and music or games must use headphones. Shhhhh!

7) There are different types of private rooms in the sleeper cars. Roomettes, provide for up to two passengers, while the Family Bedroom allows room for the kiddies. Some configurations have private bathroom and showers and features for passengers with disabilities are available. The ingenious designs make for both riding and sleeping comfort.

6) For those in the sleeper car without a private bath, there are showers.

5) You are not stuck sleeping on the train station floor if you miss a connection. We asked a wonderful lady -- traveling with a group of Red Hatters -- what happened when she was five hours late getting into Chicago.

4) You can get breakfast in bed. All meals are included (even the ones brought to your room!) in the sleeper car and Auto Train fares. Be nice and tip your attendants!

Veronica is served breakfast in bed on Amtrak!

3) Many of the routes that pass through National Parks feature guides holding talks as a part of Trails & Rails Partnership Program with the National Park Service.

2) Bikes are welcome. Bring your bike aboard on several routes or check it as baggage on others. Unfortunately, no riding in the aisles or between cars is allowed.

1) Amtrak is environmentally friendly. Train travel is the most energy efficient mode of long distance transportation, 14 percent more efficient than domestic airline travel and 31 percent more efficient than auto travel on a per-passenger-mile basis. Plus, Amtrak recycles.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Expert Foodies Deem Certain Foods Not Fit For Air Travel

PHOTO: Here are some foods you shouldn't take on an airplane, including a tuna fish sandwich.

What travels well
Bite-sized foods that taste good at room temperature are your best bet. Maggie Battista of recommends fruit, chocolate, and cheese cubes. If you want something a little more gourmet, you could go for "spring rolls [or] hand pies," says Battista, or even mini-quiches, according to Aun Koh, founder of ChubbyHubby (
Hosea Rosenberg, winner of Season 5 of Top Chef, agrees. "Snack mixes. Chocolate-dipped pretzels. Hard candies. Crackers," he says. But sometimes travelers want something more substantial. In that case, Rosenberg says, "If you want to bring a sandwich, put it on a bagel. They are firmer and can handle the abuse of being shoved in your pocket. That or a firm bread, like a baguette. Not too much mustard or mayo, so it doesn't get soggy if you decide to nap first. Just lots of delicious cured meats."
What if you're on a special diet, though? Vegetarians often find few choices at airports. Michael Natkin, author of and CTO of, makes mujadara, "a Middle Eastern pilaf of rice, lentils and caramelized onions. [It's] great for a plane because it is hearty, filling and compact." Get the recipe here.
If you're following a gluten-free diet, pack cheese sticks, protein bars, and perhaps a sandwich made at home, says Jen Cafferty, CEO and founder of the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. At the airport, "If there is a Starbucks, they usually have Kind bars and bananas," she says. Another tip from Cafferty for anyone with allergies: carry wipes and wipe off your tray table. On a flight where there's no hot food service, instant soups or noodles are a great option. According to Rosenberg, "Ramen noodle cups are a great one. Just ask the attendant for hot water and you've got a bowl of ramen."
What to leave home
While kimchi, runny French cheeses, and other strongly-scented foods are popular with foodies, most say they're not the best choice for air travel.
"It isn't kind to subject a seatmate to that kind of olfactory assault," says Natkin. (Not everyone agrees, however. Koh recalls bringing canned duck rillettes on flights before regulations prevented it. "The smell would often drive fellow passengers seated near us a little crazy. Either they'd love it and be really jealous or think it was a horribly stinky thing that should be flushed down the toilet immediately.")
Tuna fish is nearly universally reviled. "It's totally mean to bring a tuna fish sandwich on a plane. Just mean," says Battista.
And in this writer's opinion, whoever green-lighted the Legal Sea Foods in the US Airways terminal at Logan Airport deserves a special place in hell. It's bad enough that one end of the terminal perpetually smells like clam chowder—someone inevitably brings a carry-out bowl on the plane, where the scent lingers for hours.
Clam chowder is not only stinky, it's potentially messy, making it a double faux pas. Natkin says that when you bring messy food on a plane, "You can pretty much count on getting bumped and jostled; your nice shirt will end up wrecked and you'll end up sitting there feeling sloppy for four hours." Or, worse, you can spill on other travelers.
Even fruit can be problematic. Rosenberg hates "when you're sitting next to someone and they're eating something really juicy or messy [like a] juicy orange and it's dripping and they're slurping and dropping orange peels on your lap." Battista warns travelers against cheese puffs. "There just aren't enough napkins."
Koh says, "Many travelers have no idea how to eat in a compact space. The number of times I have been elbowed by people who cannot eat with their elbows down and tucked within their allocated space is insane."
And don't forget cleanup. "Put your sandwiches (and all food you bring) in a zip-lock bag! It helps contain the mess and the trash later," Rosenberg suggests.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Philadelphia International Festival Of The Arts Opens With 'Time Travel' Theme

Contributed by Joann Loviglio, AP.

Visitors explore an imaginary time machine part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Philadelphia. The arts festival is back in Philadelphia with a month of music, dance, theater, visual arts and family activities all loosely based on the topic of time travel. The events are scheduled to run from Thursday through April 27.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
  The city's newest arts festival has returned with a month of music, dance, theater, visual arts and family activities, all loosely based on the topic of time travel.
The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts kicked off Thursday and runs through April 27 at locations around the city.
The theme is "If You Had a Time Machine." More than 50 events, installations and performances from local, national and international artists are exploring a wide range of questions related to time travel, many looking at historic events in a novel way or imagining what the future will bring.
The festival's marquee names include Tony Award-winning choreographer and dancer Savion Glover, who is launching the festival's opening weekend with "Dance Space," a world premiere he says will take audiences back to the beginning of the universe.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright will pay homage to Judy Garland's 1961 Carnegie Hall performance with his show "Prima! Rufus! Judy!" on April 21, while Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer Danilo Perez on April 26 will use multi-instrumental jazz improvisation to commemorate Balboa's discovery of the Pacific Ocean in 1513.
On April 12, Baltimore-based electronic musician Dan Deacon celebrates the first email, sent by inventor Ray Tomlinson in 1971, with an event that will allow audiences to participate in the performance with their smartphones.
The festival's core exhibit in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is an imaginary time machine, actually a 100-feet-long corkscrew spiral that visitors can walk through and experience changing sights and sounds. Free performances are happening on most nights around the time machine, from a musical production called "Flash of Time" to a comedy troupe presenting the pitfalls of time travel with a show called "Shut Your Wormhole."
A group of trapeze artists promise to fulfill the festival's theme "in honor of the spunky women who first sported the raised hemlines of the 1960s" and will sell tickets for public trapeze lessons nearly every day of the monthlong event.
Also on the schedule are concerts by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philly Pops, as well as smaller musical and theatrical performances inspired by events including the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the first moon landing in 1969, the founding of the Works Progress Administration in 1935, the emancipation of Puerto Rico in 1873 and the birth of Benjamin Britten in 1913.
The event culminates April 27 with a five-block stretch of downtown Broad Street closed to traffic and transformed into a daylong street fair with food vendors, a Ferris wheel, live music and street performers.
The inaugural PIFA festival in 2011, which had a Parisian theme, attracted more than 400,000 visitors over its 25 days of events. The closing street fair was attended by nearly 200,000 people.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NYC's Met Museum Accused Of Duping On Fees

Contributed by Ula Ilnytzky, AP.

In this Tuesday, March 19, 2013 photo the exterior of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is photographed. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Before visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art can stroll past the Picassos, Renoirs, Rembrandts and other priceless works, they must first deal with the ticket line, the posted $25 adult admission and the meaning of the word in smaller type just beneath it: "recommended."
Many people, especially foreign tourists, don't see it, don't understand it or don't question it. If they ask, they are told the fee is merely a suggested donation: You can pay what you wish, but you must pay something.
Confusion over what's required to enter one of the world's great museums, which draws more than 6 million visitors a year, is at the heart of a class-action lawsuit this month accusing the Met of scheming to defraud the public into believing the fees are required.
The suit seeks compensation for museum members and visitors who paid by credit card over the past few years, though some who choose to pay less than the full price pull out a $10 or $5 bill. Some fork over a buck or loose change. Those who balk at paying anything at all are told they won't be allowed in unless they pay something, even a penny.
"I just asked for one adult general admissions and he just said, '$25,'" says Richard Johns, a high school math teacher from Little Rock, Ark., who paid the full price at the museum this past week. "It should be made clear that it is a donation you are required to make. Especially for foreign tourists who don't understand. Most people don't know it."
Met spokesman Harold Holzer denied any deception and said a policy of requiring visitors to pay at least something has been in place for more than four decades. "We are confident that the courts will see through this insupportable nuisance lawsuit," he said.
"The museum was designed to be open to everyone, without regard to their financial circumstances," said Arnold Weiss, one of two attorneys who filed the lawsuit on behalf of three museum-goers, a New Yorker and two tourists from the Czech Republic. "But instead, the museum has been converted into an elite tourist attraction."
Among the allegations are that third-party websites do not mention the recommended fee, and that the museum sells memberships that carry the benefit of free admission, even though the public is already entitled to free admission.
Lined up to testify is a former museum supervisor who oversaw and trained the Met's admissions cashiers from 2007 to 2011, said Michael Hiller, the other attorney representing the plaintiffs.
The supervisor is expected to testify that the term on the sign was changed in recent years from "suggested" to "recommended" because administrators believed it was a stronger word that would encourage people to pay more, Hiller said.
The Met's Holzer denied the former employee's allegations. He also said the basis for the lawsuit - that admission is intended to be free - is wrong because the state law the plaintiffs cited has been superseded many times and the city approved pay-what-you-wish admissions in 1970.
"The idea that the museum is free to everyone who doesn't wish to pay has not been in force for nearly 40 years," Holzer said, adding, "Yes, you do have to pay something."
As to the wording change on the sign, he said the museum "actually thought at the time, and still thinks, that 'recommended' is softer than 'suggested,' so the former employee is quite wrong here."
New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs agreed to the museum's request in 1970 for a general admission as long as the amount was left up to individuals and that the signage reflected that. Similar arrangements are in place for other cultural institutions that operate on city-owned land and property and receive support from the city, such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Museum. It's also a model that's been replicated in other cities.
The Metropolitan Museum is one of the world's richest cultural institutions, with a $2.58 billion investment portfolio, and isn't reliant on admissions fees to pay the majority of its bills. Sixteen percent of its $239 million budget in fiscal 2012 came from admissions. That same year, the city paid 11 percent of its operating budget. As a nonprofit organization, the museum pays no income taxes.
Holzer also noted that in the past fiscal year, 41 percent of visitors to the Met paid the full recommended admission price - $25 for adults, $17 for seniors and $12 for students.
A random sampling of visitors leaving the museum found that there was a general awareness that "recommended" implied you could pay less than the posted price.
But Dan Larson and his son Jake, visiting the museum last week from Duluth, Minn., were unaware there was any room to negotiate the admission price. They paid the full $25 each for adult tickets, with a credit card.
"My understanding was you pay the recommended price," said Larson, 50. "That's clearly not displayed."
Alexander Kulessa, a 23-year-old university student from Germany, said friends who had previously visited New York tipped him off about the admission fee.
"They said, 'Don't pay $25,'" said Kulessa. "They said it will be written everywhere to pay $25 but you don't have to pay that. You don't even have to pay the student price."
For Colette Leger, a tourist from Toronto who visited the museum with her teenage daughter, paying the full $25 was worth every penny.
"It's a beautiful museum, and I was happy to pay," she said.
Associated Press writer Jake Pearson contributed to this report.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recommended Things To Do In Florence Italy

Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance – Florence is a cultural, architectural and artistic gem – from visiting world famous museums to sampling local wine in a corner bar, there is plenty to see and do in Florence, and the city will easily keep you busy for a week
However, keep in mind that with all the entrance fees, the costs can easily add up, but on the other hand you won’t want to miss out on all the great attractions for being cheap.
Instead, spend on the attractions and save on accommodation, and stay in one of the many apartments on GowithOh - that way you can cook your own meals, which will save you a lot of money!
Here are some of the best things to do in Florence 


There are a number of excellent museums in Florence, from sculpture museums to science – there is even a museum dedicated to the luxury brand Gucci!
The most famous museum however, is Uffizi, one of the most popular museums in the world, with collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures from classical antiquity. 
The entry fee is €11, and it’s not uncommon having to wait in line for hours, so the extra €4 for booking in advance could very well be worth it, as you will save a lot of time that could be spent in the museum rather than outside of it.
Other popular museums include Bargello, Accademia Gallery and Pitti Palace (with the beautiful Boboli Gardens).
Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 8.51.34 PM

Santa Maria del Fiore

Also called “Duomo di Firenze”, this is the most beautiful cathedral in Florence, and is the symbol of the city – it’s possible to climb up to the huge Dome (€8) to get a view overlooking the city. But keep in mind that there are 464 steps to climb!

Ponte Vecchio

Built in the 14th century, Ponte Vecchio, which literally means “old bridge”, is the oldest and most famous bridge in the city.
Unlike most bridges, this one is known for having shops still built along it, a tradition which was once common in Italy. The little buildings hanging off it over the river can be seen from the Uffizi.
Most of the shops are traditionally mostly jewellers since the days of the Medici.

Boboli Gardens

Boboli Gardens which are located behind the Pitti Palace, is one of the most beautiful and relaxing spots in Florence. With fountains, flowers, tree-lined lanes and wonderful views of the city, the Boboli Gardens are not to be missed!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Travel and Tourism Guide To Orléans In The Loire Valley, France

orleanscityContributed By , 

Why visit Orléans?

Orléans in central France is a perfect central    starting point for trips around the Loire Valley, with its famous châteaux, gardens and historic attractions. The Loire Valley is one of the most visited parts of France, particularly easy to reach from Paris. Orleans is also a city worth staying in, with an attractive old quarter centering around 18th- and 19th-century streets with arcaded galleries that evoke a gracious and prosperous history.

How to get there

Orléans is 119 km (74 miles) south west of Paris, and 72 km (45 miles) south east of Chartres.

Fast Facts

  • Orléans stands in the Loire Valley on a great bend of the Loire River, lying between the rich arable cornfields of the gentle Beauce to the north and the dense forests of the Sologne to the south.
  • In the past, the Loire was a major highway, and Orleans was the natural stop to continue the coach ride to Paris.
  • Population of central Orléans is around 113,000; greater Orléans is around 264,000
Tourist Office
2 place de L’Etape
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 24 05 05

Orléans Attractions

The history of Orléans is inextricably mixed with Joan of Arc who during the Hundred Years War between the English and the French (1339-1453), inspired the French army to victory after a week-long siege. You can see the celebration of Joan and her liberation of the city all over the town, particularly in the stained glass in the cathedral.
Real devotees should visit the Maison de Jeanne-d'Arc (3 pl du General-de-Gaulle, tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 52 99 89; website). This half-timbered building is a reconstruction of the house of the Treasurer of Orléans, Jacques Boucher, where Joan stayed in 1429. An audiovisual exhibit tells the story of the lifting of the siege by Joan on May 8th, 1429.
Cathedrale Ste-Croix
Place Ste-Croix
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 77 87 50
For a superb view, approach the city from the other side of the Loire and you see the cathedral standing out onthe skyline. The place where Joan celebrated her victory, the cathedral has a chequered history and you see a building that has been massively altered during the centuries. While the cathedral may not have the impact of Chartres, its stained glass is interesting, particularly the windows telling the story of the Maid of Orleans. Also look out for the 17th-century organ and the 18th-century woodwork.
Open May to September daily 9.15am-6pm
October to April daily 9.15am-noon & 2-6pm
Admission free.
Musee des Beaux-Arts
Place Ste-Croix
Tel.:00 33 (0)2 38 79 21 55
Good collection of French artists from the Le Nain to Picasso. Also has paintings from the 15th to the 20th century including Tintoretto, Correggio, Van Dyck and a large collection of French pastels.
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-6pm
Admission: Main galleries adult 4 euros; mail galleries and temporary exhibitions adults 5 euros
Free for under 18 year olds and for all visitors first Sunday of each month.
Hotel Groslot
Place de l’Etape
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 79 22 30
A huge Renaissance house begun in 1550, the Hotel was the home of Francois II who married Mary, Queen of Scots. The mansion was also used as a residence by the French Kings Charles IX, Henri III, and Henri IV. You can see the interior and the garden.
Open July to September Mon-Fri & Sun 9am-6pm; Sat 5-8pm
October to June Mon-Fri & Sun 10am-noon & 2-6pm, Sat 5-7pm
Admission free.
Le Parc Floral de la Source Large public park around the source of the Loiret with plenty to do including free croquet and badminton among the different gardens. The small, 212 km long Loiret, like many rivers in the area, runs into the Loire as it makes its way towards the Atlantic coast. Don't miss the dahlia and iris gardens that fill the place with color. And as vegetable gardens go, the one here is delightful.

Where to Stay

Hotel de l’Abeille
64 rue Alsace-Lorraine
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 53 54 87
Charming hotel in a city not overburdened with good hotels, the Hotel de l’Abeille is still owned by the family who started it in 1903. Comfortable, old-fashioned décor with antique furniture and old prints and paintings and with a roof terrace for summer days. Good for Joan of Arc fans; there are plenty of artefacts on the lady decorating the rooms.
Rooms 79 to 139 euros. Breakfast 11.50 euros. No restaurant but bar/patisserie.
Hotel des Cedres
17 rue du Marechal-Foch
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 62 22 92
Website In the center, but quiet and peaceful with a glassed-in conservatory for breakfast looking onto the garden. Rooms are comfortable and decent sized.
Rooms 67 to 124 euros. Breakfast 9 euros. No restaurant.
Hotel Marguerite
14 pl du Vieux Marche
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 53 74 32
In central Orléans, this is a reliable hotel continuously being updated. No particular frills, but comfortable and friendly with good sized family rooms.
Rooms 69 to 115 euros. Breakfast 7 euros per person. No restaurant.

Where to Eat

Le Lievre Gourmand
28 quai du Chatelet
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 53 66 14
19th-century house with a predominantly white décor is the setting for some serious cooking in dishes such as truffle risotto, top beef with polenta and enticing desserts.
Menus 35 to 70 euros.
La Veille Auberge
2 rue du Faubourg St-Vincent
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 38 53 55 81
Traditional cooking using local ingredients in this pretty restaurant. There’s a garden for summer dining or eat in the antique-filled dining room.
Menus 25 to 49 euros.

Loire Valley Wines

The Loire Valley produces some of France's best wines, with over 20 different appellations. So take advantage when you are in Orleans of sampling the wines in the restaurants, but also taking side trips to the vineyards. To the east, you can discover Sancerre with its white wines produced froom the Sauvignon grape. To the west, the area around Nantes produces Muscadet.

Loire Valley Food

The Loire Valley is known for its game, hunted in the nearby forest of the Sologne. As Orleans is on the banks of the Loire, fish is also a good bet, while mushrooms come from the caves near Saumur.

What to see outside Orléans

From Orléans you can visit Sully-sur-Loire chateau and the Chateau and Park of Chateauneuf-sur-Loire to the east and at Meung-sur-Loire to the west, one of my favorite gardens, theJardins du Roquelin.

Loire a Velo

For those with energy, you can hire a bicycle and make your way along some of the 800 km (500 mile) cycle route that takes you from Cuffy in the Cher to the Atlantic coast. Part of the route passes through the Loire Valley, and there are various separate cycle routes taking you past the different chateaux which you can visit.
It's all extremely well organised, with hotels and guest houses specially geared up to deal with cyclists. Get the Loire Valley route on this link.
Loire Valley Attractions

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jewish Museum In Poland Unveils 17th Century Synagogue Roof

A Jewish history museum in Warsaw has unveiled a reconstructed synagogue roof with an elaborately painted ceiling modeled on a 17th-century structure, presenting the first object that will go on permanent display in the highly awaited museum.
The wooden roof and ceiling will be a key attraction in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is due to open next year in the heart of the city's former Jewish quarter. Reporters in Warsaw were invited to view it Tuesday.
The museum will tell the story of Jewish life in Poland, a complex history spanning 1,000 years, but one that has been forgotten today by many people and which is often overshadowed by the Holocaust.
The story will unfold largely with high-tech multimedia installations, but the reconstructed synagogue roof is a tangible object produced with the tools and techniques that were used when the original structure was first erected in the 1600s.
The ceiling is a rich panoply in milky blues and brownish reds of zodiac signs and animal symbols, along with inscriptions in Hebrew. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, the program director of the museum's core exhibition, said some of the animals express Messianic yearnings prevalent in Polish Jewish communities after a period of wars and destruction in the 17th century. 
"It's a heavenly canopy," Kirshenblatt-Gimblett said. "It's celestial. It's literally the heavens and the world to come."
The animals include a red bull and a leviathan — a serpent-like sea monster — wrapped around Jerusalem. The iconography refers to stories saying that when the Jewish Messiah comes, there will be a banquet for the righteous where they will feast on the flesh of the red bull, which is a monster, and the leviathan. It was said the leviathan's skin would wrap itself around the city of Jerusalem and give off light. 
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett said the reconstructed roof, with its "visualization of mystical texts, of prayer, of Messianic yearning," will allow museum visitors to experience the spirituality of the time.
"This represents the spiritual richness of Polish Jews," she said. "It says that they were not only people of the book in the literal sense of text, but that they had a rich visual imagination."
The roof is the reconstruction of a 17th-century synagogue that underwent renovation in the 18th century in Gwozdziec, a town formerly in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that is now in Ukraine. It was burned down during World War I; after that war, its reconstruction began, but it was then destroyed again during World War II.
The wooden structure and the painted ceiling are typical of the many other synagogues built in the region in that age, an architectural legacy wiped out by wars and destruction, mostly in World War II, when the Nazi Germans overran the area, killing millions of Jews and destroying their houses of worship.
Museum developers and others say they expect the Museum of the History of Polish Jews to become one of the world's pre-eminent Jewish history museums, along with Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.
Poland was once home to the world's largest Jewish community, and the museum is aimed at recalling the complex relationship between a vibrant Jewish community and the land where it made its home for centuries.
On the eve of World War II, there were about 3.3 million Jews in Poland, about a tenth of the overall population. Ninety percent of them were killed by German forces in the Holocaust and some of the survivors fled postwar violence and persecution by Poles. Over the past 30 years, the Jewish population in Poland has grown from just a few thousand to more than 20,000, according to Jewish officials.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Traditional Ashtanga Yoga Healing Therapy Clinics Available Worldwide

One of the greatest misconceptions of yoga is that it is meant purely for fitness. The actual purpose of yoga is for healing both mind and body and, yes, in the process one can become very fit. I, Allen Barkus,  the publisher of the Travelore Report, was introduced to yoga in 1998 and became a teacher in 2004. My exclusive teacher since 2004 years is Manju Jois, whom along with his father introduced traditional
Ashtanga yoga healing therapy to the U.S. in 1975. While Ashtanga has become known for being the most
difficult physical practice to master, more senior teachers focus on the healing aspects of the practice. In one
case I helped a 31 year old man lose 70 pounds in 8 months, along with also healing a serious breathing problem and a back problem; all with just yoga and no other life changes. I also rehabbed my own mother at 82 years old, needing to relearn to walk after recovering from cancer and serious spinal infection that caused painful nerve damage that had her bedridden for 5 months.

 From a healing perspective I've also worked with others including those recovering from cancer and others types of surgeries, with people including a child with arthritis and with a woman whom had emphysema. On the fitness side I've worked with athletes at the University of Pennsylvania, a baseball player, and people training for events including marathons. I also teach teachers.

On my world travels I've many times been asked about doing yoga healing clinics for hotels, resorts, and cruise lines and  am now scheduling clinics and wellness programs. I am also consulting with properties on creating wellness programs as profit centers and how to market those programs, utilizing my many successful years of experience in the advertising and marketing business.

 My philosophy is to focus on the individual needs of my students rather than on size fits all, teaching Mysore style, guiding them on developing a personal practice suited to their healing and physical needs. I think it is also important to note that healing includes emotional.

For more details you are welcome to contact me at or at

Appreciating positive feedback from my recent Ashtanga Yoga Healing Therapy Clinic in Philadelphia's Main Line attended by people ranging in ages from 20's through 70's, with all body types and different physical issues. Most of the people attending had no yoga experience and a few were very experienced including a woman whom has been practicing and teaching for 30 years. 

"Dear Allen,
Just wanted to thank you for the fantastic yoga session you taught and led yesterday. You were wonderful the way you explained everything fully and were patient and receptive to novices (like ME!!).
Everyone felt so terrific after the class. I was totally energized--even after I stood on my feet cooking for 3 1/2 hours!!
Thank you for sharing your expertise with us!!
Best Always,

Beyond Perception..London Has Become A Great Destination For Foodies

  • Contributed by Clifton Wilkinson
  • Lonely Planet
Cheeses for sale at Broadway Market (London Fields).
    View gallery
    Gone are the days when London’s food scene left more than a little to be desired. These days the British capital is recognised as one of the world’s great foodie destinations, where Michelin-starred restaurants battle it out with inexpensive ethnic eateries, where food markets are the new rock ‘n’ roll, and where just about everybody likes to think of themselves as some kind of culinary expert. Here we give our expert opinion on why London is great for food lovers and where to sample the best on offer in the capital.

    A-Y of cuisines

    OK, so it doesn’t quite stretch from A to Z, but London’s range of cuisines comes pretty close. From authentic Afghan food at the Afghan Kitchen in Islington, to yummy Yemeni dishes at the Queen of Sheba in Paddington, via Ethiopian eatery Lalibela in Kentish Town, Georgian grub at Bethnal Green’s Little Georgia, and Peruvian delights at Ceviche in Soho, you can take your taste buds on a gastronomic world tour without leaving the city.

    Best of British

    While celebrating the wonderful mix of international cuisines on offer, London also provides food lovers with some great options for sampling classic British dishes. Rules, in Covent Garden, is the city’s oldest restaurant (215 years and counting) and the best place to try traditional desserts like sticky toffee pudding. St John, in Clerkenwell, famously pioneered nose-to-tail dining, in which every part of an animal is considered meal-worthy – the roast marrow salad is famous. Great Queen Street, in Covent Garden, is a superior and stylish gastro pub with a menu of seasonal British fare. And Albion, in Shoreditch, is a contemporary cafe-style place where the breakfasts, English wines and local London beers deserve your attention.

    Stars in their eyes

    London, with over 60 Michelin-starred restaurants in 2013, offers plenty of opportunities for splurging on quality cooking. You can’t go wrong with the innovative Chinese food at Yauatcha, perfect pasta at Locanda Locatelli, or the classic French cooking at three-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. But you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy top class dishes – some of the best food you’ll eat can be had at inexpensive ethnic options that showcase the city’s multicultural cooking scene. Indian food in Whitechapel (try Tayyabs), Turkish food in Dalston (try Mangal Ocakbasi), Chinese food in Chinatown (try Jen Café) – all come with high standards and low prices.
    Restaurants and diners in Chinatown. Image by Cultura Travel/Alex Holland/Getty Images. 


    Food markets have become some of London’s most popular attractions. Borough Market has been feeding the city’s citizens since the 13th century and is now busier than ever, providing picnic essentials for the thousands who flock here at weekends. Alternative (but no less tasty) options include super-cool Broadway Market in Hackney, and small-but-perfectly-formed Spa Terminus Market, in and around the railways viaducts near London Bridge train station. More upmarket shopping can be had in the amazing food halls in Selfridges and Harrods department stores. Big enough to get lost in, they’re gourmet wonderlands where you’re guaranteed to discover something you’ve never heard of but suddenly feel the need to try.
    Fishmonger at Borough Market. Image by Tony C French/Getty Images. 

    Tastings, tours and events

    Such is the enthusiasm for food these days that specialist tours and events take place across London. One of the biggest is the Taste of London Festival, held annually in Regent’s Park (in June this year) and part of a global celebration of food. To burn off some calories (and make room for some more), the people at Foodie London have monthly walks around the city, focusing on different neighbourhoods and sampling local favourites.
    British cheeses have never been so popular (fact: there are more varieties in the UK than in France) and several wonderful shops across the city specialise in them. Neal’s Yard Dairy, tireless promoter of homegrown cheddars, stiltons et al for over 30 years, has excellent tasting sessions where you can try some of the tastiest cheeses around while learning about how they’re made.
    Anyone with a soft spot for chocolate is spoilt for choice, with numerous specialist chocolate makers throughout the city. But if you really want to satisfy your cravings then artisan chocolatier, Montezuma’s, offers Indulgence Evenings for adults, along with kids’ parties for younger fans.
    And if you’d like a good red or white to accompany all these gourmet delights, then Vinopolis on the South Bank has wine tours that provide an exploration of all things viticultural, with free samples to add to the enjoyment.
    For a rundown of the latest pop-up food outlets, cooking classes and top supper clubs, where a local will prepare a meal for you in their own home, check out Ms Marmite Lover’s The English Can Cook website, which is packed full of useful information and mouth-watering recipes.

    After an amazing year, the magic continues in London. Come celebrate everything the capital has to offer and see for yourself just how special London is: 

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