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Pop Culture

The Best Bubbly in the Air

March 14, 2012

Virgin Atlantic debuted a glamorous champagne coupe as part of their new Upper Class meal service that began March 1.

Last time I flew on Virgin Atlantic, I remember catching a glimpse of the champagne bar in Upper Class as I trudged to the back of the plane. Now there’s even more to envy: Virgin Atlantic’s new meal service offers retro luxe champagne coupes to serve their Champagne Lanson Black Label.

“We’re very much about trying to make a unique experience,” says Sarah McIntyre, a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman. “People associate glamour with Virgin Atlantic and champagne comes hand in hand with glamour.

They’re not the only airline flying high with champagne service. Each year, Business Traveller Magazine give their Cellars in the Sky awards to the airlines with the best wine lists. The magazine rates the quality and diversity of wines offered in business and first class flights.

When the 2011 awards were announced last month, Qantas Airlines’ wine list took the most awards, including best First Class Sparkling–and why not when they’re pouring 1999 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne?

Wines served by Cathay Pacific like the 2008 Vincent Girardin Puligny Montrachet Vielles Vignes were ranked highly. And Brazilian carrier TAM’s 2012 wine list turned heads with pours like Champagne Drappier La Grande Sendrée in first class and Drappier Carte d’Or in business class. And airline sommelier Arthur Azevedo has trained flight crew in matching wines with foods too. Maybe someday they’ll pour some Brazilian bubbly on flights.

The magazine rated 250 wines that were entered into the competition by 53 international airlines.


Top 10 Amazing Museums in Barcelona

August 24, 2011

Barcelona is full of wonderful museums; here’s an eclectic list of 10 museums celebrating everything from Catalan history to the art of Gaudì that shouldn’t be missed. Click on the map to be taken to an interactive museum location map created with Google technology.

1. National Art Museum of Catalonia

Explore Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art as well as modern pieces by Gaudí.

2. Picasso Museum

Immerse yourself in the early works, drawings, paintings and personality of this complicated artist.

3. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

The modernist Richard Meier building is stuffed with works by contemporary greats like Casamada, Puig and Bonet.

4. Museums at Disseny Hub

Double your pleasure with a pair of museums: The Textile Museum with a stunning display for fashions from the Baroque period to modern day and the Decorative Arts Museum which explores design of everyday and fanciful objects.

5. Sagrada Familia Church Museum

Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí was killed by a taxi before he could complete this Gothic and Modernist Roman Catholic church, but it’s still considered his masterpiece.

6. Ceramics Museum

The collection ranges from the intricacies of early Moorish ceramic coloring techniques to rooms dedicated to Miró and Picasso.

7. Gaudí House-Museum

Fans of the artist Antoni Gaudí will want to see the Torre Rosa where the artist lived and in his then visit his fqnciful Parque Guëll.

8. Barcelona Football Club Museum

There’s tons of Futbolart like trophies and bronze shoes along with some stuff by Dalí and Miró for less-devoted soccer fans.

9. The Egyptian Museum

This archeological museum with more than 1,000 exhibits is dedicated to shedding light on daily life and burial traditions in ancient Egypt.

10. Museum of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation

This influential living artist started as a surrealist, helped establish a movement called Dau-al-Set and then was one of the first to incorporate mixed media objects like marble dust, string and even furniture in his work.


Travel Savvy in Barcelona: 5 Things to Know

August 24, 2011

Many popular tourist attractions like Parque Guell shown here are very crowded, so it’s smart to be aware of who’s nearby and where your valuables are.

1. Welcome to Catalonia. Geographically, Barcelona is in Spain, but culturally the people there think of themselves as living in Catalonia. It’s a cultural identity shared by people in the Balearic Islands, Valencia as well as parts of France and Sardinia. Catalan is a Romance language, so many of the words are the same or similar in Catalan and Spanish. Hello in Catalan is bon dia instead of buenos dias; good-bye is adeu instead of adios.

2.  Wear comfortable shoes and a shoulder bag. Ladies, this is not the place to be teetering around in platform stilettos with a clutch purse under your arm. Not to alarm anyone, but purses do get snatched here. Nearly every local woman I saw carrying a purse had a shoulder bag with a thick strap that could be worn slung across the body. And parts of Barcelona are very hilly and streets in some older areas are paved in  cobblestones.

3. Research addresses carefully before getting into a taxi. Barcelona is a very dense city and addresses are arranged off central boulevards, some of which run on a diagonal. Be sure to ask which boulevard your destination is near before leaving the hotel.

4. Read reviews thoroughly before booking a hotel; not all three stars are created equal.  I suffered at one three-star with a hip-looking lobby with no air conditioning even though it was quite hot. The staff’s service was very off-hand. Just a half a block away was another more traditional three-star with full amenities and expert service to match.

5. Be aware of your surroundings. Most tourist attractions like the Parque Guell (shown above), Las Ramblas and the Boqueria Market are very crowded. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of taking in an attraction, and thieves know this. Be sure to keep wallets in your front pocket, purses closed and valuables nearby.

Got any more tips on how to make your trip to Barcelona safe and stress-free? Please share them with us.


Barcelona: Travel with Music & Movies

August 24, 2011

Getting ready for a trip, watching movies set in the place where I’m headed gets me even more excited about the journey. I like this quick video that whizzes by some of the most famous sights in Barcelona. This song by the band Giulia y Los Tellarini may sound familiar: it was featured in the  Woody Allen movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008).

The film visited locations near the Barceloneta neighborhood, the Picasso Museum in El Born, Pla de Palau, the Sagrada Familia, Montcada Street, Santa Maria del Mar Church, Las Ramblas which runs through El Barri Gotìc and the old city.


Some other excellent movies starring Barcelona include the quirky thriller Perfume: The Story of a Murder (2006); Salvador (2006), the bio of Spanish painter Salvador Puig Antich and Todo Sobre mi Madre (1999), famed Spanish director Pedro Almódovar’s tribute to women.