Where to Stay in New York City: 1 Brooklyn Bridge

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A view of the Brooklyn Bridge from my Bridge View King room

I recently went to New York City for a quick trip and wanted to try staying someplace new. I’d heard good buzz about the new eco-luxury property 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, the third property from from the chic brand, 1 Hotels.

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Exterior of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

The 1 Hotels brand has the right kind of buzzwords attached to it… including a mission to be “nature led” and a core philosophy that states “The world around us is beautiful, and we want to keep it that way.” Sometimes having so many on point keywords can make a place feel “too Gwyneth” and preachy.

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The lobby cocktail area

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the vibe of the place is pretty chill. It’s only when you pay attention to the details that you discover how thoughtful they are.

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The 25 foot green wall in the lobby

Not to be shallow, but 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is a stunner. The property, which is the first ground up build from the brand, looks industrial chic and blends in perfectly with it’s DUMBO neighbors. The lobby features an impressive 25 food vertical garden and rustic yet warm eco-conscious design. But you’re not sacrificing comfort for style. All the small things work in this hotel. The upcycled wood chip room keys are clever and feel fresh. But when you discover to the repurposed pine flooring originally came from the Old Crow Distillery in Kentucky, you get the sense that 1 Hotels is the real deal. It’s chic, it’s cool… and it’s confidently laid back.

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A communal table in the lobby

Many NYC hotels have impressive lobbies and shoebox sized guest rooms. Fortunately that’s not the case at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. My Bridge View King Room was large enough to be comfortable for two people, and well-designed so that there was no wasted space. It also had a cool triple water filter so that guests can have tasty and clean water at their disposal without the clutter of plastic bottles. and the built-in dining area served double duty as a desk when it wasn’t occupied with a room service tray.

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Smart storage above the built-in dining area

The hotel also has a complimentary shuttle. It’s a Tesla that will drop guests off within a three mile radius and is available on a first-come, first served basis.

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Comfortable bed, excellent storage in the nightstand

Guest rooms are designed with comfort and usability in mind. The design packs a lot of storage punch, with enough closet space for a couple and bonus coat hooks.

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Fabulous robes at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

My stay was quick but I look forward to coming back to 1 Brooklyn Bridge to check out the hotel’s spa and 10th floor lounge, both set to open this summer. In the meantime, the cocktail service in the lobby was top-notch and included small plates from Neighbors, the minimalist chic Brooklyn-centric cafe off the lobby.

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Interior of Neighbors

Most guests might won’t notice that the property operates on 100% wind power energy or that the edgy/cool sculpture by Jarrod Beck was created from pieces of salvaged roofing found in aftermath of a tornado. But learning these details don’t make you like the property any less. They draw you in deeper. I’m curious what I’ll learn about the hotel on my next visit.

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Delicious crostini with lovely presentation in the hotel lobby

In addition to be comfortable, stylish, and well situated at Pier 1, 1 Brooklyn Bridge goes out of it’s way to be good with the ‘hood. I enjoyed getting my morning coffee at Neighbors next to locals using their neighborhood discount. The cafe’s menu had all sorts of locally sourced artisanal Brooklyn goodness one would expect. Mixing with the locals definitely added to the home-away-from-home attitude of the property, and added to the organic sensibility of the hotel.

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Cheers to 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Wifi was speedy and easy to connect. Service was great and devoid of attitude.

My biggest complaint? The property doesn’t have gift shop and the fluffy terry robes were so comfy I wanted to take one home.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Address: 60 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Phone: +1 347-696-2500

Rates from $509 per night (I paid a media rate).

Exploring Bali, Indonesia: Balinese Dancers at the Amandari, Ubud

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A local girl performing a Balienese Dance at the Amandari

Ubud’s rich artistic culture is one of the area’s biggest draws, and it’s known as the cultural heart of the island of Bali. One of the perks of staying at the Amandari Resort guests is the a chanced to be fully immersed in Balinese culture without needing to leave the property.

Video of a Traditional Balinese Dance Performance at the Amandari

The Amandari hosts traditional Balinese dance performances regularly. The local village children practice their dances daily on the resort grounds and their performance was impressive. Hindu children in Bali are often played music while they are in the womb since the tradition of dance is so much a part of the religious and artistic culture.

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Dazzling costumes

Balinese dance includes expressive eyes and elaborate costumes. This was not an awkward school performance… these children had amazing dance skills. Many of them are the children of Amandari employees.

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Expressive eyes are a key part of Balinese dance

The performance included group dances, solo dance, and performances with only two or three people. All were impressive. It was nice to be able to see this part of traditional Hindu culture without making extensive plans.

fullsizerender-6Flowers were used in this traditional dance

The dance performance was a beautiful and memorable highlight of my stay at the Amandari.

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A full schedule of cultural events and experiences at the Amandari can be found on the hotel’s website.
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A full cast photo of the Balinese dancers at the Amandari

AMANDARI

Amandari Kedewatan, Ubud
Bali, Indonesia
PO Box 33, Ubud 80571, Indonesia

Tel: (62) 361 975 333
Fax: (62) 361 975 335
Email: amandari@aman.com

Rates from $700 USD (9,290,664 IDR) per night.

Exploring Bali, Indonesia: The Birds of the Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud

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Blue-and-yellow macaw (or blue-and-gold macaw (Ara ararauna) and Green-winged macaw (or red-and-green macaw (Ara chloroptera)

An unexpected highlight of my recent trip to Bali was a visit the the Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud. Located in the hill top former residence of Philippine-born painter, Don Antonio Blanco, the museum is whimsical and fascinating… and doesn’t allow photography inside.

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A gorgeous statue on the museum grounds

Like Paul Gauguin in French Polynesia, Blanco’s favorite subject to paint were nude local women. If you’re visiting and have young children, be aware it is impossible to explore the museum’s interior and avoid the vast collection Balinese nudes.

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Palm Cockatoo

The museum is well worth visiting, with lots of paintings and mid-century media collages. But the unexpected find on the grounds is the collection of exotic birds.

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White cockatoo (Cacatua alba)

Several birds add the atmosphere of the Balinese gardens, including several colorful cockatoos and a very charming wreathed hornbill. The birds are friendly and happy to pose for pictures.

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Wreathed Hornbill

The museum also has a nice cafe overlooking the the Campuhan valley, where you can take in the view below.

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Flower bedecked statue in the gardens of the Blanco museum

Strolling through the gardens and seeing the collection of birds is more than worth the entry fee of 80,00o rupiahs (about $6.03 USD).

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Green-winged macaw or red-and-green macaw (Ara chloroptera)

If you’re looking for things to do in Ubud, I’d highly recommend checking out the Blanco Renaissance Museum. I had no expectations of it and found the whimsical tropical atmosphere delightful.

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Newfound feathered friend

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Blue-and-yellow macaw or blue-and-gold macaw (Ara ararauna) and Green-winged macaw or red-and-green macaw (Ara chloroptera)

Be sure to take a pic or two with the birds in the courtyard. They are highly Instagram-worthy subjects.

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Maks posing with a feathered friend

The Blanco Renaissance Museum 
Address: Jl. Raya Penestanan, Sayan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Phone: +62 361 975502

Exploring Bali, Indonesia: The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud

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Getting groomed at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

If you’re looking for fun things to do in and around Ubud on the island of Bali, you’re going to hear about the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. It’s not hard to find since it’s located right in the center of town on Monkey Forest Road.

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Mama and baby monkey at the Ubud Monkey Forest

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Highly photogenic primate at the Monkey Forest in Ubud

Located on a site of a Hindu temple complex in the village of Padangtegal, the Monkey Forest Sanctuary has about 700 macaques roaming freely on the grounds. These are also known as Balinese long-tailed monkeys, scientific name Macaca fascicularis.

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Lunch break for a Balinese long tail monkey

These primates wander freely through the twenty seven acres of protected, jungle-like park grounds. They are very used to being around humans and not in the least bit frightened of people.

Monkey on the stairs

There are also fruit vendors selling bananas, should you wish to feed the monkeys. I’d suggest passing on the chance to feed the monkeys. These Balinese long tail monkeys are already very comfortable with humans and can get aggressive. One jumped on my back and grabbed my hair while I was holding a banana. And we all know how virus movies start, don’t we?

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Up close with a monkey at the Sacred Monkey Forest

With an entry fee of less than two US dollars, visiting the Monkey Forest Sanctuary is definitely a worthwhile activity if you’re visiting Ubud, which is known as Bali’s cultural center.

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Super cute monkey in the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

Pro-Tip: skip the bananas. Feeding the monkeys makes them very aggressive. They have no problem opening your backpack or grabbing your iPhone

Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest Street – Padangtegal Ubud
Gianyar – Bali, 80571

+62 361 971304

info@monkeyforestubud.com

Reine, the Most Picturesque Fishing Village in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

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Morning light in Hamnoy

If you are curious about visiting Norway’s Lofoten Islands, it’s most likely because you’ve seen images of Reine, an extremely picturesque fishing village.

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Frosty scenery (and marina) in Reine

Reine, and nearby Hamnoy, are probably the most photographed spots in the Lofoten Islands for good reason. The scenery is beautiful all year long. Gorgeous lagoons with bright water ooze Nordic charm during the summer months, against the backdrop of rugged and rocky Reinebringen.

Harbor Time Lapse in Reine video

In the winter, the same spots become a frozen fairyland with epic snowy scenery. The views are spectacular.

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Colorful cottages on the lagoon in Reine

Fishing is still the main industry in Lofoten Islands and reason for the plentiful docks, boats, and colorful fishing cottages (called rorbuer) that about. The cottages are filled with seasonal fisherman and visitors during the summer, and packed with photographers hoping to catch a glimpse of the northern lights during the winter.

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Pretty little church in Reine

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Cod drying racks about in the Lofoten Islands

Unsalted cod is dried in a traditional method on racks (called flakes) in villages all over the Lofoten Islands.

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Stockfish drying in the Lofoten Islands

In addition to cod, other kinds of whitefish, including haddock, pollack, ling and cusk are also used as stockfish.

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Fish heads, fish heads roly poly fish heads

Not even the fish heads go to waste. The arctic cod heads are dried and then sold to countries including Nigeria where they are ground up to be used in soups, stews, and in animal feed.

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An empty fish drying rack in Reine

Once dried, the arctic cod filets are exported to the world, and are extremely popular in Italy.

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Men hanging cod to dry on racks in the Lofoten Islands

Norwegian salmon is also popular and can be bought at almost every market on the islands.

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Left: stockfish snacks in a hotel minibar Right: Salmon, anyone?

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Fishing lures for sale at a market in Reine

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Pretty red fishing cabins in Reine

There is even a Lofoten Stockfish Museum in the islands where you can learn about the stockfish industry’s history in the islands.

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Moody gorgeous Reine

Reine looked very different in the winter than when I visited back in October. Check out these images I photographed from similar angles just four months apart.

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Left: Reine in October Right: Similar view of Reine in February

Both fall and winter have their benefit and charms. I’m glad I had a chance to visit in two different seasons.

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Left: Looking over Eliassen Rorbuer in October Right: Looking over Eliassen Rorbuer in February

If you are planning to visit the Lofoten Islands, you might want to consider staying at Eliassen Rorbuer and exploring the Lofoten Stockfish Musuem to learn more about the history of the fishing industry in the area.

Eliassen Rorbuer

Address: Hamnøy, 8390Reine

Phone: +47 45814845

rorbuer@online.no

Lofoten Stockfish Museum

Address: Å i Lofoten, 8392 Sørvågen, Norway

Phone: +47 76 09 12 11

A Picture Per Day

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