Monthly Archives: July 2016

Find the best scene when you are in Johannesburg

Drink in an urban jungle

You won’t find better views of inner city Jo’burg from a bar than this. The rooftop jungle that is Living Room (livingroomjozi.co.za) is filled with plants and fairy lights, making this spot feel like cocktail hour in the Amazon. The buzz of traffic four floors below strongly contrasts with this urban oasis. Opening hours tend to be erratic, so check before you go.

Socialise in a book lover’s paradise at EB Social Kitchen & Bar

Unconventionally located inside a bookstore inside a mall, EB Social Kitchen & Bar (facebook.com/EBSocialKitchenAndBar) is a test kitchen and cocktail bar with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking some of Jo’burg’s most high-end suburbs. Laptops and tablets are not allowed, but reading a book or chatting with the stranger next to you is welcome. Sharing food is encouraged as much as sharing ideas.

Reimagine cocktails with a view at the Artisan

The Artisan’s (theartisan.joburg) cocktail menu reads like a classic fantasy novel: all the old favourites are there, along with some magical new creations, such as the Pink Panther and the Basil Dragon (a brave combination of craft beer, muddled basil, ginger beer, vodka and Cointreau). Head upstairs for an awesome view of Jo’burg’s loveliest and leafiest suburbs. When the munchies set in, scour the extensive tapas and snack menu.

retro-cool beverages at the Cosmopolitan Hotel

The vintage charm of the Cosmopolitan Hotel (facebook.com/pages/Cosmopolitan-Hotel/429188043935838) stems from the antique bar that’s as much a feature now as it was when the hotel was built in 1899. Relaxing in the giant red wingback chairs and then moving on to fine dining at the attached restaurant ensure that a whole night can be spent enjoying this retro delight.

Track down the 1920s secret speakeasy at Hell’s Kitchen

Relatively new on the scene, Hell’s Kitchen (hellskitchen.co.za) is fast establishing itself as a Melville staple. Its speakeasy feel comes from rooms hidden behind bookshelves, while the décor and drinks menu will have you wondering whether you have time-travelled back to the 1920s. All the food is prepared on an open-flame fire, making it a haven for meat-eaters. Look out for the Sunday specials that include a meal and a drink at a handsome price.

Find good times at the Good Luck Club

The Good Luck Club (facebook.com/thegoodluckclubjhb) reinvents itself regularly by showcasing a different local artist on its walls every week. The majority of the bar spills out onto the pavement, making this is an ideal people-watching spot while you sip on ice cold craft beer and snack on Jo’burg’s best dim sum.

The gorgeous and pleasure time to visit in Los Angeles

Whether you fancy exploring through art, history, food or fitness, Los Angeles has something for you.

LA for art aficionados

Los Angeles’ cultural side is finally getting the recognition it deserves, especially when it comes to art. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art(LACMA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) have both been instrumental in shedding light on the validity of the city’s art scene, especially where modern works are concerned, and are worthy of several hours of your time. The Getty Center, located on the west side of the city, is another good option, not only for its extensive collection of antiquities, drawings, sculptures and photographs, but also for its free admission. Additionally, check out The Broad, a Downtown architectural marvel that opened in 2015 and which showcases 2000 modern pieces.

LA explores its multicultural side in museums dedicated to the many ethnicities that call the Greater Los Angeles area home, such as theMuseum of Latin American Art, the California Museum of African American Art (caamuseum.org) and the University of Southern California’s Pacific Asia Museum (pacificasiamuseum.usc.edu), which will reopen in May 2017 after an expansion and renovation.

If you’re looking for something quirkier, Los Angeles has it, whether it’s Glendale’s Museum of Neon Art (neonmona.org), Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles project, Hollyhock House, or the cluster of 30-plus indie galleries around the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

LA for history hounds

For cinema buffs, Los Angeles is obviously a top destination, thanks to historic movie-linked attractions such as the TCL Chinese Theatre,Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and the delightfully kitsch Hollywood Museum. Studio tours are also a popular way to see this side of LA, and don’t forget the historic hotels as well, such as theChateau Marmont and the Ace Hotel, housed in the former home of United Artists.

But there are so many other historic threads woven throughout the city. A good place to start is with the Los Angeles Conservancy (laconservancy.org/tours), a non-profit organization that helps preserve the history of Los Angeles county through education, including its popular walking tours of Downtown LA (aka DTLA). While here, head to Olvera Street to see the ‘birthplace of Los Angeles’ and its Mexican heritage – many of the vendors who operate the marketplace today are descendants of the original sellers.

Go even further back in time at the La Brea Tar Pits (here be fossilized mammoths and other long-extinct creatures) and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, or see the solar system and Earth’s tiny place in it at the Griffith Observatory.  Trace the history of Chinese, Korean and Japanese culture in America through the Chinese American Museum, the Korean American Museum and the Japanese American National Museum.

LA for food fans

The beginnings of food trends aren’t exclusive to New York City and San Francisco – Los Angeles has had its fair share of mouthwatering moments, and might be considered the catalyst for a lot of the food mania happening right now in the United States. Trends such as celebrity chefs and food trucks were born in LA, and two of the hottest food trends currently – poke bowls and Filipino food – have arguably shot into the national spotlight thanks to chefs on the ground in Los Angeles.

This is a town made for foodies, so it might be best for your stomach to break it down by neighborhood. DTLA has the mighty food hall Grand Central Market, where you can find everything from oysters to ramen to the supremely popular Eggslut, where the lowly egg gets an upgrade, and the gourmet Arts District.

Some interesting to see in Merida

Ease into your first day in the ‘white city’ (known as such because it once had predominantly white limestone buildings) with some tasty eats atWayan’e, one of Mérida’s premier breakfast spots. Take your time over the immensely popular castacán torta (fried pork belly sandwich), or try one of their savory vegetarian options, such as tacos filled with huevo, chayo and xcatic (egg, tree spinach and native chili pepper).

Midday: take in Maya culture

With a belly full of pork belly, head north of town to the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, a world-class museum celebrating all things Maya, the civilization that once dominated the Yucatán and southern Mexico. The museum houses an impressive collection of remarkably well-preserved artifacts, including an iconic chac-mool sculpture from Chichén Itzá (a reclining figure believed to honor rain god Chaac). For background on Maya culture and history before visiting nearby sites such as Chichén Itzá, this is the place to go.

When leaving the museum, have a gander at the building’s peculiar exterior design, which takes the form of a sacred ceiba tree – said by the Maya to connect the living with the underworld and the heavens above. Buses running along Calle 60 will leave you at the museum’s entrance.

Brush up on Mexico’s pre-Spanish history at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya © Gerald Marella/Shutterstock

Late-afternoon: siesta time

Totally optional of course, but let’s just say Mérida’s steamy hot weather makes it all too easy to plop into a hammock and drift into a blissful snooze. And you wouldn’t want to buck a time-honored tradition now, would you?

Evening: regional cuisine and mighty mezcal

Come nighttime, hit downtown for dinner and drinks. For wonderfully delicious Yucatecan fare, swing by La Chaya Maya. Yes, the place is perpetually packed, but when you try the regional dishes such as recado negro (black turkey stew) or sopa de lima (lime soup), you’ll know why. It occupies La Casona, a lovely hacienda-style colonial building.

After dinner, mosey over to Fundación Mezcalería for mezcal (an alcoholic agave drink, like a smoky tequila) and music. Housed in a retro-styled bicyclists’ hangout, Mérida’s best mezcal bar features local bands and DJs playing everything from hip-shaking cumbia beats to indie rock and electronica sets. If the music doesn’t help you find your groove, the potent mezcal will.

Morning: early ruins run

Now that you’ve got to grips with Maya history, head out to Chichén Itzá, the best restored of the Yucatán’s archaeological sites. Many mysteries of the Maya astronomical calendar become clear when one understands the design behind the ‘time temples’ here, especially the iconic El Castillo pyramid. The pyramid’s four stairways have 91 steps each; add the top platform and the total comes to 365, the number of days in a year.

The secret of dominica cultural that you should to visit

Mountainous Dominica, which lies halfway between Guadaloupe andMartinique, has a lengthy and fascinating heritage. An indigenous group called the Kalinago first settled there long before Columbus set eyes on the island in 1493, naming their homeland Wai’tukubuli (meaning ‘tall is her body’). When he arrived hundreds of years later, Columbus decided, somewhat unimaginatively, to name the island after the Latin word for the last day of the week, since it happened to be a Sunday. Owing to the Kalinago’s fierce resistance, however, Dominica was the last Caribbean island to be colonized – by the British – in 1763.

Dominica is still home to about 3000 Kalinago, the last remaining pre-Columbian people in the Eastern Caribbean; they reside on the Kalinago Territory, a 3700-acre expanse along the eastern coast between Bataca and Sineku that was established in 1903. The best way to truly connect with the Kalinago is by booking a home stay with a local family, where you’ll get the chance to learn about ancient and modern traditions, herbal remedies, culinary treats and local crafts (kalinagoterritory.com).

If you’re just passing through, swing by the tourist-oriented Kalinago Barana Aute, a cultural center and museum village. A trail loops past small huts (ajoupas) where locals sometimes hold demonstrations for basket-weaving, calabash-carving, cassava baking and canoe building. The ajoupas orbit a larger communal building called karbet, which is used for song and dance performances. Walk further down the trail and you’ll arrive at the Isulukati Waterfall, an impressive cascade that tumbles down the countryside and into the sea.

Music: Feeling the beat at the World Creole Music Festival

For three days in late October, Roseau gets swept up in the head-spinning, feet-stomping beats of zouk, compa, soca, bouyon, afro beat, calypso and reggae during the annual World Creole Music Festival (dominicafestivals.com). Created in 1997, it’s the region’s only festival pulsating exclusively to a French-Caribbean beat. Previous festival lineupss have included such international hot shots as Kassav, Wyclef Jean, Third World and Tito Puente Jr alongside local luminaries like Gordon Henderson, who’s credited with revolutionizing Caribbean music back in the 1970s. The party kicks off in the daytime, with bands, food and exuberant dancing and singing taking over the narrow streets of downtown Roseau before the lucky ticketholders boogie on down to Windsor Park Sports Stadium. An opening drumming and dance spectacle whips the audience into a frenzy even before the first headliner hits the stage. Day 2? Repeat. Day 3? Repeat. Then rest.

Arts: Discovering Dominica’s soul in its galleries

Dominica has a small but thriving contemporary arts scene with several galleries located right in Roseau. On Independence St you’ll find Art Asylum, the space of Earl Etienne, the country’s most prominent artist (avirtualdominica.com). His boldly pigmented canvasses reflect themes rooted in local traditions, culture and landscapes and often show off his trademark technique called bouzaille, a method that utilizes carbon flame to apply forms to the canvas. Ellingworth Moses, another Dominican artist, keeps a gallery on Hillsborough St (emosesart.com); while his early work focused on nature and the interplay of light, he now seeks to capture the universality of the human experience through an abstract approach, often using thread to express the connection between humans and the environment.

North of Roseau, stop in Canefield to check out the latest showing at the gallery of the Old Mill Cultural Center, a community arts center and home base of the Dominica Cultural Division (divisionofculture.gov.dm). Just inland from here, off Imperial Rd, is the Antrim Valley Sculpture Studio of Roger Burnett, a Brit who traded his engineering job for a life as a sculptor and watercolorist 50 years ago, decamping to the Caribbean in the 1970s (sculpturestudiodominica.blogspot.de). Call ahead for a tour of his studio and dreamy tropical gardens, and maybe even to enjoy a homemade lunch cooked by his wife, Denise.