The Americas

Vancouver, Canada becomes hip

By Jan Shure, April 23, 2009

It is Vancouver’s little vanity, with its location on the Pacific Ocean, to think of itself as an outpost of America’s West Coast. Or, in more realistic moments, as an annexe of Seattle, its closest US big-city neighbour. Certainly, the coffee culture, for which Seattle is most famous, has migrated north with a branch of Starbucks or a local chain on every block of every street of south-west Canada’s premier city.

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Touring the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

By Charlotte Eder, March 26, 2009

Darwin’s initial impression of the Galapagos Islands was not promising: “Nothing could be less inviting than the first appearance,” he declared when, in 1835, he arrived at this archipelago, straddling the equator, 630 miles west of Ecuador.

When I arrived last autumn with my husband and two children for a sailing trip around the islands my first impression was more positive. Sunshine, calm blue sea and the promise of wildlife of a variety and exuberance that would keep our cameras clicking throughout our trip.

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New Orleans: All that, and there’s jazz, too

By Anthea Gerrie, February 26, 2009

This week I have missed one of the world’s greatest parties when New Orleans celebrated its 152nd mardi gras — but for once I don’t feel too deprived. It’s not just because I’ve experienced this sensational float-fest twice, rather that there’s so much more to this fascinating city than mardi gras and its gaudy green, gold and purple glitter.

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Canada: Whistler is seriously cool

By Jan Shure, February 12, 2009

An official sign in Whistler Village reads “Whistler: Cultural Capital of Canada.”

Now Whistler — located 75 miles north of Vancouver, and Canada’s premier ski resort — has many fine attributes: it offers winter visitors an endless menu of activities that include downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, dog-sledding, heli-skiing, ice-climbing, sleigh- and sno-limo rides, snowcat skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, zip-lining and tubing.

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Santa Monica: Welcome to the playground

By Anthea Gerrie, January 22, 2009

Just 40 years ago it was a rather dull suburb of Los Angeles where the main attractions were the beach, a British pub and a shop selling Marmite to homesick expats.

But as LA’s creative types began moving in, in the 1970s — to join the Brits who always knew they were on to a good thing — Santa Monica’s shopping, dining and entertainment offerings improved dramatically.

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Colombia’s addictive charm

By Daralyn Danns, December 30, 2008

Colombia has to be South America’s best-kept secret. To me it instantly conjured up coffee and emeralds; for my friends, kidnappings and cocaine spring to mind. The country used to have a reputation for violence and drugs, but when Álvaro Uribe became president in 2002, he cracked down on the drug traffickers and armed gangs. 

Now Colombia is mainly safe for tourists, although it is best to avoid areas around the borders with Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru.

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Strictly Caribbean and other winter escapes

By Lucy Miller, December 4, 2008
For those craving Caribbean sunshine along with kosher cuisine, USA-based Club Kosher is offering vacations in Punta Cana in the sun-soaked Dominican Republic next month. The holidays — for seven or 10 days from January 15-25 — are based at the Melia Caribe Tropical, a five-star beachside resort which offers, in addition to seven swimming pools, tennis, horse-riding, mountain-biking, windsurfing, sailing, snorkelling and kayaking. There is also a spa, gym, live shows and organized activities for children.

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Brilliant Brooklyn beckons

By Anthea Gerrie, October 30, 2008

Sitting in a mikveh house with a rabbi discussing the finer points of Orthodox matrimonial law may not be an obvious thing to do on a shopping trip to New York, but as of this year, it is an interesting option.

The Lubavitch - who else - have eagerly embraced the establishment of a Jewish heritage trail in the city. Their own contribution is a guided tour of the Chasidic community of Brooklyn's Crown Heights, location for their own world headquarters and home to many other strictly Orthodox groups.

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A touch of Parisian style

By York Membery, September 4, 2008

The year 1608 might not mean much to most Brits but it has a special place in Quebeckers' hearts. For it was the year that the French explorer Samuel de Champlain landed in Quebec City - hence the lavish year-long 400th anniversary celebrations.

So what better time to visit a city -- named after the Algonquin Indian phrase for "where the river narrows" - which regards itself as the heart and soul of French Canada (even if Montreal, 140 miles upstream, might beg to differ).

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A taste of vintage California

By Anthea Gerrie, August 1, 2008

We join the Sideways wine trail and discovers some quirkier corners of the US riviera

 

When a quirky little film called Sideways garnered an Oscar and a cult following for its portrayal of the joys of flirting amidst the California vines, it started a whole new branch of the tourism industry.

Since the film came out in 2004, Los Angeles party people have been heading north 100 miles to Santa Barbara County to socialise over weekend wine-tasting and a good meal in one of the restaurants featured in the film.

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