Friday March 7, 2014
It's nearly spring, and Europe beckons luxury travelers.
Two new talked-about movies set in beloved Continental capitals can tide North Americans over till they wing across the pond.
Opening tonight, March 7, 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel is sure to be called "a delightful all-star romp."
Wes Anderson directs Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, and more.
The Grand Budapest Hotel itself is fictional. But as you can see here, it bears a strong resemblance to Corinthia Hotel Budapest, built in 1896 and ever-stylish, as a grand hotel should be. (This vintage postcard and photo below depict the hotel then and now.)
To supply a dose of April in Paris, a highly anticipated romantic comedy, LE WEEK-END, opens next Friday, March 14, 2014.
It's a British all-star affair, and Pittsburgh's own Jeff Goldblum makes another appearance as the American.
Surprise: LE WEEK-END is about rekindling romance (and brasserie appetites) in the City of Light.
Images from top: The Grand Budapest Hotel poster and still of Ralph Fiennes, courtesy Music Box Films; postcard of The Grand Hotel Royal in 1896, and (below that) its current incarnation as ©Corinthia Hotel Budapest; LE WEEK-END poster and still ©Fox Searchlight Films; (below) Budapest ©Hungarian National Tourist Office
Wednesday March 5, 2014
Prague, capital of today's Czech Republic, was a center of Jewish culture, learning, and accomplishment from the 1400s until the Holocaust. Prague is now a stirring destination for Jewish heritage travel.
In Prague's Old Jewish Cemetery you will see centuries of tombstones.
A grand one marks Mordecai Meisel, a brilliant businessman of the 1500s who became a philanthropist. He built Meisel Synagogue and Jewish Town Hall, which is still standing.
His contemporary and now neighbor in the Old Cemetery, David Gans, published definitive histories of the Jewish people and of the ancient world.
Gans was also a mathematician and astronomer whose stargazing buddies included Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe. Quite a guy.
Prague's most famous Jewish son, Franz Kafka, is commemorated in the Kafka Museum, in Zizkov Cemetery, and in statues and plaques all over the city.
Luxury Travel Guest Author Norma Davidoff fine-combed Prague for sites that are precious to visitors in search of Jewish roots.
Photos from top, all ©Wikimedia Commons: the 1868 "Moorish Revival" Spanish Synagogue; Old Jewish Cemetery; a very young Franz Kafka; statue of 16th-century Rabbi Loew, known as the Maharal of Prague (a name formed by Kabbalah wordplay).
Sunday March 2, 2014
Croatia is a recent must-do addition to the Grand Tour of Europe. Especially medieval Dubrovnik and Italian-influenced Istria, a/k/a "the new Tuscany."
To visit any Croatian destination, you're likely to fly into its capital, Zagreb.
Don't make the mistake of simply changing planes here. Zagreb is a Central European gem.
In fact, Zagreb looks like Vienna. Its grand, gracious theaters and ministries were built by Viennese architects in the late 1800s, when Zagreb was within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, trendy restaurants dot the cobblestoned lanes behind the boulevards.
In the 800-year-old Upper Town, you can check out the hilarious Museum of Broken Relationships, light a prayer candle at an outdoor altar beside ancient Stone Gate, then sip Croatia's excellent Malvasia wine in the boite next door, Trilojia.
- See why luxury travelers are getting out of the airport in Zagreb >>
- And why so many of them are on their way to Istria >>
Photos of Zagreb: Upper Town ©Croatian National Tourist Board; Croatian National Theater ©Kaiser87/Wikimedia Commons; St. Mark's Church, central train station and Zagreb boy ©Karen Tina Harrison
Sunday February 23, 2014
Faithful readers of Luxury Travel know that I have a soft spot for Cancun.
It is Americans' #1 foreign travel destination for a reason.
I mean, reasons: a short nonstop flight; a magnificent beach; superlative Mexican hospitality and food.
And great hotels, too. My latest to rave about to you: Live Aqua Cancun.
The name is a little odd till you put it together: the hotel's overall mood (live it up!) with its accent color, also the unbelievable hue of Cancun's Caribbean waters. Aaaah...aqua.
Live Aqua Cancun images: top (sunset) and below (welcoming committee) ©Karen Tina Harrison; others ©Live Aqua Cancun