Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Beyond the Beach: 5 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do in Curaçao

By Jacquelin Carnegie
The island of Curaçao, in the Dutch Caribbean (formally the Netherlands Antilles), is right next to Aruba and well worth a visit. This island has beautiful beaches and a fascinating history. 
 Willemstad
(photo: Curaçao Tourist Board)
Plus, it’s outside the hurricane zone! In addition to lounging on a beach chair, you can visit Curaçao's beautiful capital, Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with lovely, restored Dutch colonial buildings, great shopping, waterfront restaurants, and interesting historic sights. If a destination wedding appeals to you, get married in the oldest synagogue or in a beautiful old church. Already got kids: go on an ostrich safari. In to wellness: try herbal remedies. Interested in history: visit an anthropological museum and take a culinary/cultural walking tour, then head back to the beach and relax.
TAKE A CULINARY WALKING TOUR
Culinary/Cultural Walking Tour
Floating Market
(image: Baselmans)
(Clarita, claritahagenaar@hotmail.com; Cell/WhatsApp: 005999 682 0942) - A wonderful way to explore Curaçao's culture is through food. Go on a culinary stroll through the historic, old town of Willemstad, stopping for a fruit smoothie in the Otrobanda neighborhood before crossing the bridge into the Punda district. Check out the fresh fruits and veggies at the Floating Market, examine the day’s catch at the new Round Market. Then, have lunch with the locals at the Old Market (Yvonne di Plaza’s booth is a good pick).
TRY HERBAL REMEDIES
Den Paradera: Dinah Veeris’ Botanical Garden
Seru Grandi Kavel 105A, Banda Riba; Tel: 9/767-5608; www.dinahveeris.com 
Dinah Veeris provides traditional, Caribbean herbal treatments by propagating over 300 species of wild medicinal plants in her botanical garden. Visit and try some of the remedies from herbal creams to coconut soap.
Aloe Vera Plantation  
Kura Hulanda's beach 

West Groot Sint Joris, Santa Catharina; Tel: 9/767-5577; www.ecocityprojects.com
Aloe Vera contains more than 75 nutrients. The gel is considered a “miracle cure” for the skin and the juice is recommended as a nutritional supplement. Learn how it’s harvested and processed and pick up some pure aloe products.
GIVE YOUR KIDS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
The Curaçao Ostrich Farm 
(photo: Ostrich Farm)
West Groot Sint Joris, Santa Catharina; Tel: 9/747-2777; curacaoostrichfarm.com
If you’re traveling with kids, take a “photo safari” ride through the farm and learn all about these weird and wonderful birds; it’s a fun and educational experience. Afterwards, if you’re brave enough, chow down on an ostrich burger in the lovely open-air restaurant.
VISIT A FASCINATING MUSEUM & ART GALLERIES
Kurá Hulanda Museum
Klipstraat 9, Otrobanda, Willemstad; Tel: 9/434-7765; www.kurahulanda.com/en/museumx
After soaking up some rays, spend time in this fascinating, anthropological museum. The exhibits focus on the predominant cultures of Curaçao offering a world-class chronicle of the Origin of Man, the African slave trade, West African Empires, Mesopotamian relics and Antillean art.
Market (artist: Jan "Jakke" Francke) -
Landhuis Daniel

Art Galleries - Take home some meaningful souvenirs; artwork by local talent: curacao-art.com
Gallery Alma Blou (Landhuis Habaai, Frater Radulphusweg 4, Otrobanda, Willemstad; Tel: 9/462-8896; www.galleryalmablou.com) - This gallery has a lovely collection of Curaçao paintings, photographs, pottery, sculpture and handmade jewelry.

Landhuis Bloemhof (Santa Rosaweg 6, Saliña, Willemstad; Tel: 9/737-5775; www.bloemhof.cw) - Built in 1735, this

Mon Art (artist: Herman van Bergen)
plantation (landhuis) has been a venue for art exhibits since the 1950s, showcasing local and international artists.
Mon Art Craft & Gift Shop (Rif Fort, Otrobanda, Willemstad; Tel: 9/462-2977; http://bit.ly/2f2SVyb) - This shop has unique, local, handmade crafts, paintings, gifts, and souvenirs.
GET MARRIED
After exploring Curaçao, you might fall in love with the place and each other. No matter what your religion, you’ll find a wedding planner to help you organize the big day.
Mikvé Israel-Emmanuel (Hanchi di Snoa 29, Punda, Willemstad; Tel: 9/461-1067; www.snoa.com)
This is the oldest synagogue continuously used for religious services in the Western Hemisphere. It was built in 1732 by a Sephardic Jewish community that relocated from Amsterdam. With its sand floor, cobalt-blue windows, dark mahogany interior and candle-lit, brass chandeliers, it is just stunningly beautiful.
Fort Church (Fort Amsterdam, Punda, Willemstad; Tel: 9/461-1139; http://bit.ly/2I8cjWv) - Built in 1769, this is Curaçao's oldest Protestant church.
Carnival (Jan-Feb) is a great time to visit 
(photo: Curaçao Tourist Board)

Basilica Santa Ana (Breedestraat 31, Otrabanda, Willemstad; Tel: 9/462-3507; http://bit.ly/2D4qrfy) - Founded in 1752, Santa Ana was elevated to basilica and co-cathedral status by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
Where to Stay: There are all kinds of accommodations in Curaçao (www.curacao.com) from rental apartments to resort hotels. Here are two nice options:
Kurá Hulanda (Langestraat 8, Otrobanda, Willemstad; Tel: 9/434-7700; www.kurahulanda.com) - This is a unique, stunning place for an in-town experience. The Kurá Hulanda is made up of beautifully-restored, little townhouses in the Otrobanda section of Willemstad. You'll feel as if you’re staying in a small European village, not in a hotel. (There is also a beach-side sister property.)
Kura Hulanda


Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort (Santa Barbara Plantation, Porta Blancu, Nieuwpoort; Tel: 9/840-1234; http://bit.ly/1k0fyvp)
This is a great location if you’re into golf or just want to relax. On 27-secluded acres, the hotel looks out on Spanish Water Bay and the Caribbean Sea. The Old Quarry is the island’s only 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Pete Dye. There’s also great diving and water sports, 3 pools and a private beach, tennis courts, and hiking & biking trails. Get eco-friendly treatments at the Atabei Spa. For kids ages 3-12, there’s Camp Arawak.
Getting There: Flights on American and JetBlue from the USA; KLM from Europe.

Willemstad, Curaçao (photo: Rodry)
Editor's Note: a) As of 2010, the Netherlands Antilles no longer exists as such. Curaçao is now autonomous, but there's still Dutch influence. b) The currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (florin), but the dollar is widely accepted. c) The local languages are Dutch and Papiamentu (Curaçao creole), but almost everyone speaks English and Spanish.
[A version of this article first appeared on Frommers.com]

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Part I: 10 Ways To Hear Great Music On a Budget in Paris

By Jacquelin Carnegie
(Artist: Felipe Ferrer Ceroni)

In Paris, no matter what your taste in music--jazz, rock, world or classical--you can find a place to hear it on a budget. In certain cafes and bars, there’s often no cover and just a one- or two-drink minimum. Then, there are other affordable alternatives that include a meet-&-greet reception with the musicians. Check out these delightful options:
MEET THE MUSICIANS
Classical Cool

Sinfonietta Paris - Music by the Glass 
sinfoniettaparis.org (Concerts: €25)
Sinfonietta presents talented young musicians performing lesser-known works by famous, classical composers. The Music by the Glass concerts are in lovely, intimate settings followed by a wine-and-hors-d'oeuvre reception where you can chat with fellow music-lovers and meet the musicians; an absolutely delightful way to spend an evening in Paris.
Much More Than Tango
Espace Tango Negro

71 rue Rochechouart; 9th arrondissement, Metro: Anvers, Barbés, Cadet; Reservations required: Tel: 01/73 75 05 42;
hugodiazcardenas@me.com
(Concerts: €12)
Started by the late-great, Argentine musician Juan Carlos CaceresTango Negro invites Argentine musicians living in Paris--and those passing through on tour--to give lively, intimate concerts in this private, ground-floor loft. The music is fantastic, though usually not tango. Afterwards, hang out with the musicians over wine & cheese. (Currently, they're on hiatus & don't do social media, so send an email re: upcoming concerts.)
Give Beats a Chance
Fresh Dixie


Sofar Sounds www.sofarsounds.com/paris (Concerts: around €5) This is a way-cool concept: Talented young musicians perform in unique, intimate settings such as a beautiful private home or hip art gallery. On the bill for each concert are three acts, selected by a panel of music experts. Sofar (Songs From A Room) concerts take place all over the world; the Paris ones are run by dynamic Brit expat DJ Alexander Morley. This is a great way to discover terrific new musicians such as Wednesday, Harley Young, or Fresh Dixie.

DISCOVER NEW VENUES
Jazz & More
Tiphenn Fauchois

Bab-Ilo
9 Rue du Baigneur; Tel: +33 1 42 23 99 19; babilo.lautre.net
18th arrondissement, Metro: Jules Joffrin (Cost: From "pass the hat" to €10-20, depending on the show)

This funky, little downstairs club features an eclectic mix of African, Caribbean and Brazilian jazz groups. If you're lucky, you'll hear the fantastic Tiphenn Fauchois singing world-music infused jazz accompanied by terrific musicians such as Georges-Ed Nouel on piano, Tommie Lee Mckenzie on bass, Didier Haboyan on saxophone, and Armando Assouline on percussion. 

Bab-Ilo's Sunday Night Jam (7:30pm-10pm): For just 5 euros, hear great Brazilian bossa, samba & jazz and the lovely voice of Isabelle Ferraz de Oliveria.

Floating Entertainment

Peniche Anako
Bassin de la Villette, in front of 61 Quai de la Seine; penicheanako.org; 19th arrondissement, Metro: Riquet, Stalingrad, Jaurès 
(Cost: Free to €5-10, depending on the show)
A truly unique and wonderful place to hear music in Paris is on a barge (peniche). There are several to choose from, but the Peniche Anako presents a fantastic lineup of international musicians in this delightful setting several nights a week. (Be sure to arrive early to ensure a good seat.) Drinks served on the deck, music down below!


Bars With Benefits
Naomi Greene
 
Le Truskel
12 Rue Feydeau, www.truskel.com
2nd arrondissement, Metro: Grands Blvds or Bourse; Live music, 8:30pm; DJ, 10pm (Cost: Free, buy drinks)

This is a dive bar in a nice neighborhood, with good live music, followed by a DJ, and lots of beer. If you're looking to hang with twentysomethings, this is your spot and you might get to hear the lovely Naomi Greene.


O'Mok@Bar
43 rue de la Chapelle, https://bit.ly/2KxSk3U  
18th arrondissement, Metro: Marx Domy (Cost: "Pass the hat" & buy a drink)

Take a walk on the wild side! Music every weekend and jam sessions during the week. On Wednesdays (7-11:30pm): D'Jam Orchestra - Rock & African rhythms with Ameth Sissokho and his Sora Yaa band, along with Tiphenn Fauchois' world-music infused jazz, plus Anna Morse. On Thursdays (8:30-11:30pm): JAM Caribeenne & Open Mic - jazz, rock, & blues.

MORE FREE CONCERTS
There are many ways to hear great music on a budget all year long:
Kiosques en Musique - Music Kiosk Concerts (May-Sept)
In Parisian parks and gardens, kiosks, dating from 1890 to 1920, have recently been restored and upgraded. Enjoy free concerts featuring all kinds of music from classical to electronic.
Fête de la Musique (June 21)

Each year, the summer solstice--the longest day of the year--is celebrated worldwide with music. It started in France; in Paris, it's a daylong musical fest. Hear musicians for free in the streets and parks, and at low-cost in bars and concert halls.
Parc Floral de Paris - Bois de Vincennes
Esplanade du Château de Vincennes, route de la Pyramide, 12th arrondissement - During the summer and fall, several music festivals take place in this park:
Paris Jazz Festival  (June-July) - Features concerts by major, international jazz musicians (Entrance fee: around €5)
Festival Classique au Vert  (Aug-Sept) - Free classical music concerts every weekend at 4pm. Pestacles (June-Sept) - On Wednesdays, family-friendly entertainment and concerts.
For a list of free (gratuit) concerts year-round, try these two sites (in French): Lylo & Paris Concert Gratuit.

Where To Stay: To get the most out of Paris, stay in a variety of places all around town http://bit.ly/17XRTrg

Getting There: Norwegian Air (norwegian.com) - Norwegian is a low-cost carrier that has several routes to Paris from New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), & Ft. Lauderdale, FL (FLL). Coach is quite comfy but, with these great fares, go for extra legroom in Premium. It's also worth getting the package (about $45) for: an assigned Seat, Luggage & a Meal--which can be pre-ordered online. And, since new routes are added all the time (to the Caribbean and other US & European destinations), you'll have lots of ways to use your Reward CashPoints.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

8+ Ways To Get the Most Out of Paris: Hotel Hop, Apartment Swap, Meet the French & More

By Jacquelin Carnegie - (Paris, France) 

Les Parisiens by Kanako  
(Mairie de Paris, My Little Paris & Editions du Chêne)
Paris is all about neighborhoods. Instead of spending your whole stay in the same hotel, discover Paris' many wonderful neighborhoods by moving around! You can accomplish this in several different ways: Do a mix-and-match of hotel stays, apartment rentals, and bed & breakfasts. Yes, packing and unpacking is a drag, but this is such a great way to really get to know the city, just pack light.
Paris has 20 districts (arrondissements), each with a distinct personality. Do some research beforehand, and explore the cafes, shops, and sights unique to each neighborhood. [To figure out an arrondissement, just look at the last 2 digits of the address's zip code: i.e., 75008 = 8th arrondissement.]

HOTEL HOP: Try Different Neighborhoods
Several major chains have hotels in different neighborhoods. Spend two or three nights in a variety of locations. While you're assured of a similar level of service, each hotel has its own style to match the arrondissement.

Hotel Chains


Renaissance Paris le Parc Trocadero, 16th
Marriott has several Paris hotels, including the Renaissance & Courtyard brands.

Novotel has about 10 Paris hotels which can be selected by arrondissement. 
The Leading Hotels of The World has a group of luxury Paris hotels for a splurge.
Boutique Hotels:
These are lovely, smaller hotels with lots of character. There are so many to choose from, it's hard to know where to begin. Perhaps pick an area you'd like to explore, then see what's nearby. For example:
Hôtel Observatoire Luxembourg (107, Blvd St Michel, 75005 Paris; 
Tel: +33 (0)1-46-34-10-12; www.observatoirehotel.com) - This little gem is right across from the famous Luxembourg Gardens.
Design Hotels recommends a group of Paris boutique hotels with oodles of style.

Chez Grace (photo: Owen Franken)
FEEL AT HOME:
Bed & Breakfasts
Usually, a Bed & Breakfast (Chambres d'hôtes) means a room--a very nice room--in someone's Paris apartment. Not only does this give you the chance to experience a slice of life in the City of Light, it also gives you the opportunity to meet real Parisians. You can find Chambres d’hôtes in every arrondissement with your criteria (i.e., no smoking, free Wi-Fi, etc.) and, since they're booked by the night, combine a few in different neighborhoods:
Meeting the French (Tel: +33 (0)1-42-51-19-80; en.meetingthefrench.com)
No friends in Paris? Meet some. This B&B company lists wonderful accommodations and also arranges dinners where you can meet the locals as well as offering tours and French cooking classes.
Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) When renting a room you can sometimes luck out with an interesting 
host, willing to show you around the neighborhood or suggest great, local hangouts. 
PRETEND YOU LIVE THERE: Rent an Apartment 
The most important aspect when renting an apartment abroad is a feeling of trust. When arriving in a strange city, where you may not speak the language, the last thing you want is for things to go wrong. While listings on Craigslist may be the most affordable, they're not necessarily the most reliable. So, in addition to checking out photos of apartments online:
- Make sure someone with responsibility will meet you with the key (door locks can be tricky & you'll need a code to get into most Paris buildings).
- Be sure to have a contact phone number (not just an email) for someone who can help if anything needs to be fixed during your stay.
- As soon as you walk in, make sure everything works (stove, shower, etc.) and that you know how to turn appliances on/off.
- Find out the refund policy beforehand should the apartment not be as advertised. 
Paris Through Expatriate Eyes (Tel: +33-(0)6-7098-1368; www.paris-expat.com) Run by transplanted-American Terrance Gelenter, this company rents apartments in several different neighborhoods. Terrance, who's a real character and loads of fun, also organizes private tours and interesting events. 

(photo: Amélie Dupont © Paris Tourist Office)
Your Holiday Home Abroad (US Tel: 609-924-7520)
If you're looking for someplace classy, John Cuadrado & Gloria Moskowitz rent upscale apartments. They don't have a website because it's all done by referral.  

Place Dauphine (photo: Myrabella)
VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) - I've heard only good things from people who've used this service.
OTHER OPTIONS:

House Sit or Swap
Instead of renting, you can swap apartments or house sit (this usually involves pet sitting). 
There are so many online sites to choose from, try to get recommendations from people you know who've done it and had positive experiences. Here are some sites:
House Sit (most require a fee to join): Housecarers.com; www.mindmyhouse.com; www.luxuryhousesitting.com; www.caretaker.org
Swap: www.ihen.com; Knok.com
Couchsurfing & Servas: Members of both organizations will put you up for free. While Couchsurfing is a newer, online service--all the rage with the twentysomething set, Servas has been around since 1949 and has a philosophy behind it: Gandhi’s concept of promoting world peace through intercultural exchange.
A Good Source: The Paris tourism office, Paris Info, always has the latest on new hotels, B&B, apartment rentals, etc. Check their comprehensive list, constantly updated with new options: http://bit.ly/16nNaOZ
Getting There: Norwegian Air (norwegian.com) - Norwegian is a low-cost carrier that has great fares on several routes to Paris from New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), & Ft. Lauderdale, FL (FLL). At these low rates, try their Premium class.