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A fantasy returns in Lisboa

Filed by Lucire staff/August 29, 2020/12.27



Lisbon Heritage Hotels

As soon as the moment allows, get thee to Lisboa. The Mansarda Room no. 21 at the Solar do Castelo, one of the most romantic and fanciful lodgings available on planet Earth, is back on line and available. A lofty wood-beamed nest situated next to the Castelo de São Jorge, it presides above the port city, with superb views set in a mythological location. Solar, a discreet boutique luxury hotel of only 20 rooms, has comfort, charm and peacocks who convene around the fountain behind an antique arch off the main entrance. According to Ana Rodrigues, marketing manager at Lisbon Heritage Hotels, ‘Now is your opportunity to see Portuguese cities in a different way. You can walk and drive everywhere very easily and all the monuments and restaurants are reopening.’ With attractive prices, low visitor numbers and great value, the locally based chain also offers outstanding four-star properties in the downtown area, all easily navigated on foot.
   Lucire reported earlier on this superior property in 2011.Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

 


With time and space to rediscover

Filed by Lucire staff/July 29, 2020/13.48



Paula Sweet

Above, from top: Chef Massimo Livan, pictured in the Canova Restaurant, showing pasta with tuna and tomato chunks, black olives, served over capellini noodles. Chef Livan’s tribute to the best of the lagoon, top to bottom, clockwise: shrimp, seppa with polenta, shrimp and tomato tartar, langoustine, sarde in sardo, baccala. Baglioni’s Gianmatteo Zampieri, Lucire travel editor Stanley Moss, photographer Paula Sweet.

Venezia has benefited from the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in the best of all possible ways. Yesterday is back.
   There is silence, space and the water is clear. Peering through the billowy clouds, the sky shimmers Canaletto blue, and only intermittent boats animate the reflections in the water of the deserted canals. You can walk aboard a vaporetto, let your glance linger over the ornate palaces as you glide by.
   For the first time in decades, there is time and space to remember the island city as it must have been a century ago. You can rediscover the humanistic attributes of Venetian life, the old politenesses, the traditional beauty, with the luxury of time. It’s emptier, slower, recovering. It’s a time of classical revival.
   Last week Lucire sat down to an impromptu lunch at the Canova Restaurant at the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venezia, in the company of our old friend GM Gianmatteo Zampieri. We were intent on rediscovering the traditional cuisines of the lagoon presented by chef Massimo Livan. The constellation of tastes took us back to the greatest classical kitchens of the Veneto.
   Later I had the opportunity to watercolour at one of the canal-side tables by the front entrance. A group of gondoliers kept up a steady banter as water taxis came and went, all at a tranquil pace. Venezia is unhurried. Nobody bothered me. I ordered a Spritz Aperol and watched the light change. It took a long time. Then I walked home.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor




Above, from top: The artist’s life, as seen at the entrance to Luna Hotel Baglioni Venice. A fast colour sketch of the entrance to Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venezia. A monochrome in Venetian green, entrance to Baglioni Hotel Luna.

 


Letter from Venezia, July 2020

Filed by Lucire staff/July 15, 2020/12.49





Stanley Moss

The experienced traveller returning today will discover the Venice of 40 years ago.
   It is amazing, starting with uncrowded passageways, the ability to navigate the streets to admire the architecture, and it’s quiet. The droves of Asian visitors have disappeared, nor does one find Americans. Mainly we encounter German tourists, a few French, but mostly Italian speakers. It’s obvious that the rest of the world has shut down. Many of the stores remain shuttered.
   Today I visited the fish market at Rialto Mercato, found Argentine shrimps; went to the produce stand, got a bag of those amazing Sicilian tomatoes; visited the cheese store and got a hunk of Reggiano, some meaty Cerignola olives; and stopped by the coffee store for fresh ground Etiopiano. I went by Rizzardini’s pastry shop and splurged on a pallet of eight pieces to take home.
   I have no problem finding an open table with an unobstructed view, manned by an agreeable waiter, one simply happy to see business reappear. I take out my little watercolour kit, colours, brushes, my postcard-sized pad, order a drink, sketch, then paint at my own pace.
   The weather has turned perfect, and it gets dark around 9 p.m. Venice is the ideal city for getting lost. I’ve been here more times than I can count, but the coolest thing today is the ability to meander down dead-end passages and have to double back on my own steps. It’s too empty to navigate Venice the old way, stop and go, bumping into shoulders, walking downwind of cigarettes, craning one’s neck for landmarks. That Venice has disappeared, and the days of yore are thankfully returned.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor








Stanley Moss

 


Hoshinoya smartphone app monitors onsen crowd size

Filed by Lucire staff/July 1, 2020/10.59


Karuizawa, one of the 15 resorts where the new app is first deployed

In response to the coronavirus, Hoshinoya Resorts has rolled out a new smartphone app at 15 properties, which monitors the size of crowds at their popular onsen, public hot springs.
   Onsen, which is one of the highlights of going to a ryokan or resort, allows guests to release themselves from the stress of “stay-home” practices. But overcrowding can compromise the experience. Hoshino’s app will lead to safer and more comfortable use of the springs, as it creates an environment that avoids the occurrence of the “three Cs”: close contact, confined spaces, and crowded places.
   The app detects real-time crowd size via use of distance sensors which communicate with IoT-sensitive devices. The IoT device can count accurate numbers of people, make real-time connections between data and the cloud, adapt to different environments, and help guests stay informed of the optimal hours for onsen visits.
   Though Hoshino provides the download to guests, the information can easily be obtained through a web browser. But the innovative app is a convenience enabling visitors to read QR codes through their smartphones and to be informed in real-time about the perfect moment to immerse oneself in the healing waters.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

 


Maldives plans to open up July 15; Las Vegas says flights continue to increase

Filed by Lucire staff//8.30

We’re not entirely sure about the wisdom of some destinations telling us they are reopening, while COVID-19 is still very much present in our world.
   In a regular analysis by Lucire publisher Jack Yan, where infections as a percentage of tests done are analysed—a figure not adopted by mainstream media—there are some countries still with very high numbers.
   France, one European country opening up, still has a high (and rising) infection rate at 11·90 per cent at the time of writing, three times higher than Germany’s (3·62 per cent) and the UK’s (3·32 per cent). Sweden is on 13·19 per cent, and falling.
   The Maldives, on 4·69 per cent, tells Lucire that they will reopen on the 15th, with resorts and hotels on uninhabited islands accessible, while those on local islands open on August 1.
   Tourists do not need to pay extra, or produce a certificate showing that they are COVID-19-negative prior to entering the country. Those without symptoms will not be required to quarantine. Travellers will need to fill out a health declaration card on the inbound flight or at the airport, and those who have symptoms en route need to inform their Health Protection Agency. They are also advising those who have symptoms, and those who have had contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days not to travel there.
   Arrivals must wear masks and be thermal-screened, and physical distancing needs to be maintained.
   Those who arrive with symptoms will be given a PCR test at their own cost, then sent to isolation, either at the resort (if its policy allows) or a state-run facility.
   There is contact tracing and random testing, and a set of restrictions on inter-island travel.
   The other requirement is that travellers must have a confirmed booking with a Ministry of Tourism-registered establishment.
   When departing, tourists will undergo an exit screening, and symptomatic ones will be subject to a PCR test.
   Further updates are on their foreign affairs’ ministry website, www.foreign.gov.mv.
   Given that the Haj is cancelled this year, it is a brave step for the Maldives to open up for tourism again, especially while COVID-19 runs rampant in some countries.


Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau

   Las Vegas, meanwhile, has sent us news that their summer flights continue to increase.
   This is up from 110 a day during the ‘lowest point of travel’ during the pandemic to 280 a day in July. By August, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority forecasts the figure will rise to 330. This points to demand as well as ‘renewed confidence in air travel’, says the Authority.
   The US is on a falling national infection rate figure of 7·98 per cent; the state of Nevada is on 5·71 per cent.
   By comparison with other countries where Lucire has a notable readership, New Zealand sits on 0·38 per cent, and Australia on 0·32 per cent. European countries once considered hot spots, Italy and Spain, are on 4·46 and 5·44 per cent respectively.
   Potential travellers are advised to consult with their own country’s health authorities as well as the WHO’s website on COVID-19.

 


Mannequins wearing the latest fashion help “social distancing” in Vilnius cafés and restaurants

Filed by Lucire staff/May 25, 2020/12.11



With an easing of restrictions in Lithuania as the country gets its COVID-19 infection rate down into the 10s and single digits, bars, cafés and restaurants are now open, but with customers expected to be seated indoors only. Some business owners in the capital, Vilnius, have had an ingenious idea: instead of removing tables to maintain distancing rules, why not put mannequins at the ones people cannot sit at, and clothe them with the latest fashions, to showcase what local boutiques offer?
   The idea has gained interest across Vilnius, after it began with Cosy restaurant owner Bernie Ter Braak and fashion designer Julija Janus. ‘Empty tables inside our restaurant look rather odd, and we don’t have any way to remove them. Therefore, we decided to reach out to our neighbours, fashion boutique stores, and invited them to use our empty tables to showcase their newest collections. The news spread, and well known designers joined this project, which keeps gaining interest across the city.’
   Janus said, ‘The fashion industry is particularly affected by the lockdown. Local boutiques used to sell the niche, original pieces created by local designers. As they are currently closed due to the quarantine, designers do not have many opportunities to showcase their latest collections, and in general, the consumption is down. We hope that this campaign will move the waters and local designers will gain some visibility.’
   She adds, ‘Crises like this call for all of us to unite and help each other—together, we can achieve much more than being alone.’
   A few dozen cafés and restaurants in Vilnius’s Old Town Glass Quarter are participating, with over 60 mannequins seated at unused indoor tables wearing fashion items from 19 boutiques, showcasing the work of local fashion designers and brands. Each table has information about what the mannequins are wearing and where they can be purchased.
   IDW, a leading mannequin manufacturer, has supplied its wares for free for the collaborations, which are expected to end at the end of May.
   Earlier in May, Janus and other designers organized the world’s first Mask Fashion Week. Other initiatives in the city included a giant open-air café and an airport drive-in cinema.
   Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius said, ‘While the quarantine restricts us in many ways, I have always believed that it also gives us many opportunities, which we can use creatively to unveil the boundless charm of our city. This current initiative is a perfect match of communal spirit and creativity working side by side—and it also brings us some tangible material benefits.’












 


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