+

Golden Gai – Tokyo

Tokyo’s Golden Gai is a Labyrinth of six narrow alleys hosting over 200 tiny bars;  some with a maximum capacity of six people!. There are a few private club/bars and most are open to public.  Do to their small size and to avoid bar-hoppers, most charge a small cover that includes  a little appetizer.  Our advice is don’t sweat the cover – you’re on vacation!

Bar Otokichi was our favorite,  a very friendly local crowd and the barman (who we think lives upstairs?)  kept up an amazing mix of rare, upbeat old jazz tracks….. and the shochu with matcha green tea is defenately worth the try!

Give yourselves an hour or two in Golden Gai before heading to the Robot Restaurant!

Read More
+

Hacienda Venecia – Caldas, Colombia

Hacienda-Venecia-014

Hacienda Venecia

(57) 320 636 5719
Vereda el Rosario (vía Chinchiná in the coffee motorway)
Manizales, Caldas, Colombia

www.haciendavenecia.com

Hacienda Venecia is a full operational coffee farm  in the picturesque Zona Cafetera in Colombia; Not far from Manizales, a 6 hour drive from Medellin.

While exploring this lush area, the Hacienda Venencia is a good place to stop and even spend the night, as the Hacienda offers two lodging  options.  A beautiful hundred year old  hacienda house, surrounded by gorgeous gardens, with  a pool and free roaming turkeys!  As well as a newer  house transformed into a hostel, with a shared kitchen, both shared and private bathrooms as well as a camping area with beautiful view over the coffee plantations.

We did not stay the night, but the other tourists we met briefly seemed very happy.  A few were part of a state-wide bird watching tour.

The Zona Cafetera in Colombia has the ideal altitude (3600 to  6000 feet) to grow the highly valued arabica strain.  At the hacienda, we took a day long coffee class, that starts with a walk through the plantations, viewing the different states of the grains.  Then you are guided through the entire process of fermenting, drying etc.  And the end of the afternoon,  we gathered in the Hostel house to compare the smells of the different coffee grains to a standardized library of aromas; all the while  drinking a lot of coffee !!

Funny enough, we found that many of the brands we knew from around the world sourced their beans direct from the Hacienda Valencia !!  There are many different farms to visit in this rolling green paradise; pick one and go !

Hacienda-Venecia-005

Hacienda-Venecia-009
Hacienda-Venecia-001some of the brands Hacienda Venecia sells beans to
Hacienda-Venecia-010
Hacienda-Venecia-011

 

Hacienda-Venecia-016

 

Hacienda-Venecia-017
Hacienda-Venecia-020
Hacienda-Venecia-027

 

+

Loos American Bar – Vienna, Austria

Tom-BlandAbove Photo © Tom Bland

Loos American Bar 

(formerly the Kärntner Bar)
(34) 1 – 512 3283
Kärntner Durchgang 10
1010 Wien, Austria

www.loosbar.at

Open Hours:
12:00 – 5:00    Thursday to Saturday
12:00 – 4:00    Sunday to Wednesday

Miniscule but grand, intimate yet expansive, Loos Bar American plays on an optical trick of parallel mirrors endlessly reflecting  the onyx balustrades and reddish Skyros marble of the high ceiling. The actual bar is only 4.45m (14′) wide by 6.15 (20′) long

This dark, alluring, smoke filled bar, designed in 1908 by Adolf Loos,  is a must for architecture lovers and drinkers alike.

The venerable bar is not very easy to find in the warmer months as the sign is lost in a flock of giant parasols, and the outside tables are overlay branded with modern mundane logos; not deserving of this aesthetic jewel that is Loos Bar American.

The “American Bar” is an original nod to its original concept – being an American style cocktail bar in this city of Coffee Houses.  Keep an eye out to the back wall, where there is a portrate of writer Peter Altenberg; close friend of Adolf Loos.

  loos3
loos2
Loos-Bar-001
Loosbar5
+

Kayaba Coffee – Tokyo

The Kayaba coffee shop originally opened a few streets away from the Yanaka Cemetery in 1938. It  continued business until 2006, when it shut down due to it’s owner’s death.  In 2009, the community rallied to bring back this much loved and missed hub.  Today it is a combination of local meeting place and coffee destination.

Kayaba takes up an entire 2 floor house built in 1916.  The second floor is a combination of traditional tatami floor siting and Isamu Noguchi tables.   Old meets new in Japan again!  This little brown gem seems right out of a Ghibli world!

Read More
+

Itoya – Tokyo

As if everyone in Japan, Stationary is raised to a level that trumps most of which you have ever seen before!   If you ever debate over which pen to write with, or which paper is best to write on, then a visit to the top Stationary store in Tokyo is in order!

This position is held by the venerable Itoya Stationary.    While there are multiple locations, the flagship in the heart of Ginza is definitely the one to visit; for not only the high quality of products but also the attention to display.

Read More