From the category archives:

Food/Drink

Hot Wine & Cold Sauna: 2 Extraordinary Spa Treatments

by Alan Rider
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In my 20-plus years as a travel writer, I’ve been to a fair number of fancy-schmancy spas (I know, tough job but somebody’s gotta do it). And, invariably, I come away convinced that most of the exotic spa treatments they offer—especially the ones using downright bizarre ingredients—are mainly designed to separate well-heeled visitors from their money.
That said, I just heard about two unique spa treatments that I think qualify as truly extraordinary experiences. Not that I actually believe they have any real therapeutic benefit mind you but, hey, these people certainly get points for originality.
The first, offered at Japan’s Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa Resort, offers a chance to [...]

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Cool Camps (Part 2): Why Let Kids Have All The Fun?

by Alan Rider
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If you read Part 1 of this series, which featured seven way-cool summer camps for kids, you may have come away wishing there were a way us grown-ups could get in on the fun. At least I know I did.

Which lead me to put together this list of adult-only “camps” that’ll give the tweens and teens in your life just as many reasons to be jealous:
Hollywood TV Star Fantasy Camp
Get ready for your close-up as you play your part in this “made-for-TV” crime drama.
Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp
Five days of jamming in laid back settings ranging from small combos to big bands.
Camp Winnarainbow
Run away to join the [...]

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Mardi Gras Mentoring: How To Kill Time Between Parades

by Alan Rider

If you’re headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras weekend, you’re in for a real treat.  I can tell you from personal experience that I sincerely doubt there’s a friendlier place or happier time on the face of the planet.
By this point you probably already know the two dozen parades that roll through the city’s streets between now and Fat Tuesday are the big attraction here (if you need parade info, check out my friend Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide).  What you might be wondering, however, is what to do with yourself in the hours before or after all those floats roll by.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share [...]

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Extraordinary Event: Spain's La Tomatina Festival

by Alan Rider

Last night’s post-Super Bowl celebrations in the streets of the French Quarter may have gotten a little wild, but it’s a safe bet they looked downright sedate compared to Spain’s La Tomatina Festival.
Each year on the last Wednesday in August, as many as 40,000 people pack the streets of the tiny town of Bruñol to pelt each other with their share of 45 tons of tomatoes.  In other words, the annual event is essentially the world’s biggest food fight.
Well, it turns out my friend Susie Wyshak was right there in the middle of all the action last year.  Her website, SuperViva.com, is built around the really cool idea of creating [...]

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Three Places to OD On Chocolate

by Alan Rider

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I got to wondering whether it was actually possible to have too much chocolate.

Well, I did a little digging and found these three extraordinary experiences that will let you test that theory—I know, tough job, but somebody has to do it—by sampling a ridiculously wide range of indulgences produced from the seeds of the lowly cacao tree:
A Chocolate-Covered Month
Hershey, Pennsylvania—the self-proclaimed “Sweetest Place On Earth”—is offering hundreds of chocolate-themed activities this February, ranging from family-friendly Chocolate Lab experiences that allow you to whip up your own tasty treats to romantic multi-course chocolate-themed dinners.  To say nothing of the Spa at the Hotel Hershey, [...]

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Take A Bite Out of The Big Apple With Famous Fat Dave

by Alan Rider

Just heard an interview with the wife of the late New York Times food writer R.W. Apple Jr. where she told the story of how, on a trip to Singapore, her husband once ate 25 meals in a single day. A feat which immediately conjured up visions of the famous “I couldn’t eat another thing” scene in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (if you have both a strong stomach and a warped sense of humor you can watch it here).
It also reminds me of the cold winter’s day my wife and I spent eating our way through all five boroughs of New York City with part-time cab driver and full-time foodie [...]

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I'm Only Here For The Beer!

by Alan Rider

Wine tasting tours have become so commonplace, I figure most don’t really qualify as extraordinary experiences.  But the suds-sampling excursions run by Mike Saxton and the folks at BeerTrips.com, well, now they’re a different story.
With more than a dozen outings—from a seven-day beer-tasting raft trip on the Snake River to behind-the-scenes tours of Europe’s most renown breweries—on their 2010 calendar, the company has something to appeal to just about everyone.  Add small group sizes (15 guests max) and an emphasis on educating their guests palates and you have  a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that ends up being equal parts rolling house party and  graduate course in beer-ology.
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‘Shine On!

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