Jun 6, 2012

Top 10 Beach Cities of World

A city by the sea is always romantic, but there are some that are sought after by travelers and sunbathers. Here's a look at the top ten beach cities.

Vancouver, British Columbia 
Photo by Chris Cheadle/Photolibrary

Canada’s most adventurous metropolis is home to ten beaches, from the family-centric Jericho to the clothing-optional Wreck Beach, many of which offer commanding views of the Vancouver skyline and majestic North Shore Mountains. Sporty types prefer Kitsilano or “Kits,” a six-minute drive from downtown, for its free tennis and basketball courts, and its super-size heated saltwater pool.

Honolulu, Hawaii 
Photo by Chad Ehlers/Aurora Photos

Once an idyllic retreat for 19th-century Hawaiian royalty, Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach is now chockablock with resorts, some of them historic like the 1901 Moana Surfrider Hotel. The long, rolling breaks are ideal for novice surfers, but most beachgoers here are happy basking in the temperate, turquoise blue Pacific and killer views of the Diamond Head crater.

Cape Town, South Africa
Photo by Eric Nathan/Getty Images

The African capital of cool sprawls on a peninsula that divides the icy Atlantic from the warmer Indian Ocean, putting some 20 beaches within striking distance. The Clifton beaches, known for the posh homes that overlook them and stellar sunset-viewing, are sheltered from the region’s strong trade winds by a mountainous ridge. Further north, the breeze is unleashed at surfing sweet spots Milnerton and Blouberg. Families favor the eastern False Bay coast for warmer water and tot-friendly tidal pools.

Barcelona, Spain
Photo by Petr Svarc/Photolibrary

With layers of architectural wonders, cutting-edge cuisine, and buzzing nightlife, Barcelona would be a world-class city even without the eight white-sand beaches that rim its Mediterranean coastline. Accessible by metro, the nearly mile-long (1.6- kilometer-long) Barceloneta Beach—revitalized in the massive waterfront makeover for the 1992 Olympics—is one of the most popular. Hit the Beach Centre to rent a beach umbrella, chairs, or a bicycle 

Santa Monica, California
Photo by Philip Gostelow/Aurora Photos

With 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) of broad, sandy beaches, a fresh ocean breeze, and progressive vibe, Santa Monica has long been a magnet for the Hollywood set. In the 1920s, movie moguls and starlets partied at Club Casa Del Mar; today, celebrities dodge the paparazzi at the Shutters on the Beach hotel. Join a volleyball game, look for sea lions, or just watch the Pacific rollers crash on the beach.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Photo by Francesco Zizola, Noor/Aurora Photos

The city that spawned Carnival and “The Girl from Ipanema” has a buzzing beach scene throughout its 25 miles (40 kilometers) of shoreline, from Copacabana— where bronzed Cariocas clad in skimpy swimwear and Havaianas stroll the wave-patterned promenade in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer—to the more upscale Ipanema, framed by the Rio skyline and the rocky peaks of Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers).

Miami Beach, Florida
Photo by Hendrik Holler/Photolibrary

Separated from Miami by Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach is a barrier island and city unto itself fringed with nine miles (14 kilometers) of sandy Atlantic beaches, the red-hot center of which is South Beach. Once a seedy outpost, the 25 art deco-filled blocks known as SoBe has emerged as a stomping ground for the glitterati. Park your towel among the glamorous denizens at the southern tip of the beach.

Nice, France
Photo by Photolibrary

Some 35 beaches—some private, some public—stretch uninterrupted along Nice's coastline between the Rauba Capeu Quay and the airport, along the famous Promenade des Anglais, which fronts La Baie des Anges. Don't forget your flip-flops, however, as la plage is covered with small, smooth pebbles called galets. The beau monde sunbathe at private beaches, where a day's access costs about 16 euros and often includes a chaise lounge; food, towel, parasol, and chilled rosé are extra. 

Tel Aviv, Israel
Photo by Alessandro Grassani

Call it Miami Beach on the Med. Tel Aviv is the Dionysian counterpart to religious Jerusalem. In the “bubble,” as it’s known for its inhabitants’ tendency to tune out regional skirmishes, some restaurants, discos, and clubs are open until dawn. By day, the scene shifts to the city’s promenade and eight miles (13 kilometers) of beach literally steps from town. Head to wide and sandy Gordon Beach to sit in a seaside café or take a dip in the saltwater pool.

Sydney, Australia
Photo by Narelle Autio/Agence VU/Aurora Photos

Sydney is rimmed with dozens of beaches, but Bondi—a 0.6-mile (one-kilometer) crescent of golden sand 20 minutes from downtown—has become synonymous with the laid-back Aussie lifestyle. Sydneysiders come here for the booming surf, but the beautiful-people- watching is unparalleled. Keep your eyes peeled for migrating whales from May to early October.

Jun 2, 2012

Top 10 Most Expensive Houses of the World

10. Rybolovlev Estate – $95 Million

This house is the most expensive single family home in the country and, since it was owned by Donald Trump, it’s obviously the most expensive home ever fought over in a divorce case. The 33,000 square foot oceanfront mansion has become a key part of the proceedings since Trump’s ex-wife Elena Rybolovlev demanded jurisdiction due to infidelity.

This home has 18 bedrooms, 22 bathrooms, and retails for $95 million, making it the most expensive single-family house in the nation…weird, we’re pretty sure we found nine more for this list. Unless we’re suddenly on TopOnez.Net

Originally on sale for $125 million, it ended up being haggled down to a mere 95. We guess the economy is hurting everyone these days.

9. Silicon Valley Mansion — $100 Million

As the most expensive single-family home in the US, this house… wait, didn’t we just say that the Rybolovlev Estate was the most expensive single-family home ever? Well, okay, this one went for 100 million so I guess it wins.

With 5 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, and an indoor and outdoor pool (in case it rains, we guess), it’s all-in-all a pretty fancy house.

8. Fleur De Lys — 125 Million

Despite being marketed as the world’s most expensive house, the Fleur De Lys somehow only falls on number 8 on our list. Wow, that’s weird, huh? It’s almost like people on the Internet are wrong.

Fleur De Lys has 41,000 square feet and 15 bedrooms, but apparently no bathrooms, which we think is a huge oversight either by the architect or the person writing the articles we’re using as sources.

7. The Manor — $150 Million

Here we are, finally, the most expensive residential real estate listing in the US, according to Wiki-freakin’-pedia. $150 million. Feels pretty good to put that part to rest, doesn’t it? Thanks, Aaron Spelling, for having the (7th) most expensive house in the world.

This house features 56,000 square feet, 123 rooms, a bowling alley, an ice rink and allegedly an entire wing devoted to Spelling’s wife’s wardrobe.

6. The Pinnacle — $155 Million

Owned by Tim Blixseth, in Montana, this house is unique for two reasons: it has a private chair lift directly from the house to a nearby ski-resort (which Blixseth owns), and is the only house on this list so far named that doesn’t claim to be the most expensive in the world.

5. Franchuk Villa — $161 Million

This five-story, freestanding 10-bedroom Victorian Villa also features an underground indoor swimming pool, panic room, and private movie theatre. It’s also the world’s most expensive home (yeah, sure it is), at $161 million.

How fancy is this place? Allegedly, during some remodeling, the noise made the Mayor of Moscow angry. The house is located in London. That’s right: the house is so fancy it doesn’t make sense.

4. The Hearst Mansion — $165 Million

Top Three Facts about the Fourth Most Expensive House in the World: it was used in The Godfather, JFK spent his honeymoon there, and (holy crap, get this): it’s the most expensive home in the US!

It features three swimming pools, 29 bedrooms (you have to supply your own horse heads har har har), movie theatre and, for some reason, a disco.

3. Fairfield Pond — $198 Million
Currently valued that way due to its property taxes, this 66,000 square-foot main house has a basketball court, bowling alley, and a $150,000 hot tub. The most valuable home in the US (again, according to Wikipedia).

2. Villa Leopolda — $736 Million
Wow, that’s a big jump in price. Built by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1902 and located on the French Riviera, this home was purchased by Russian billionaire Prokhorov, who is so rich he lost billions to the latest economic collapse and still had enough fun money to buy himself a three-quarter-billion-dollar summer home. It has 27 stories, 19 bedrooms, and a rumored 50 full-time gardeners.

1. Antilla – $1,000,000,000

This is it. The one you’ve been waiting for. The grand finale. The one billion dollar home. We give you…Antilla.

Located in Mumbai, Antilla challenges pretty much everything you’d expect about “what is possible in a home” and “what is possible for architecture.” The 27-story house features six floors of parking, a health level with a jacuzzi, gym, and “ice room,” a ballroom level (for dancing?) several floors of bedrooms and bathrooms and even a four-story garden — because, yeah, we guess that’s possible.

The architecture is based on an Indian tradition called Vastu Shastra, which is supposed to be conducive to the movement of positive energy. In keeping with this, each floor has not only a unique design, but an entirely unique set of materials and aesthetic design — meaning each room is meant to look like it’s from a different house.

Basically, this house has everything — things you can imagine, things you can’t imagine, and things you never thought to imagine but are now imagining because they sound like the greatest thing you’ve ever heard of.

Written By JF Sargent

Jun 1, 2012

India's Top 10 Restaurants

When it comes to good food, Indians are spoilt for choice. There are enough top tier restaurants that have won Indian, and even global, recognition for what they serve and how they do it. Here we list India's 10 best restaurants.

At: Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi

Image via ITC

If you want a taste of what Indian foods former US president Bill Clinton likes, then head to Bukhara. Not only did Clinton dine here, but there’s a mixed Indian platter dish that consisted of mixed meats, lentils and fresh baked bread that’s named after him. Bukhara specialises in Indian food, and the north Indian cuisines are a must try.
Bukhara’s menu also includes the Obama and Hillary Clinton platters, created when the current US presidents and the US Secretary of State visited the city.

What to Try: The dal makhani, especially if you want to indulge your taste buds in something rich. The dal is infused with flavour, as it’s kept simmering for 48 hours!

At: Mumbai
One of the city’s newest Thai restaurants, Koh was opened in August by Ian Kittichai, that famous chef from New York. And since he can import ingredients, Kittichai gives his Thai food a modern and innovative twist.

What to Try
: The Hamachi (Japanese white fish) and the signature chocolate baby back ribs, which incorporate cocoa with meat! The vegetarians will love the oven-roasted aubergine and the hot stone rice.

At: The Oberoi, New Delhi
Image courtesy via Oberoi Hotels

One of the best places for Italian food in Delhi is Travertino. The restaurant, which is designed so that the wine cellar opens into the dining area, also has one of the most enviable collections of wines and cheeses. It was also picked byForbes magazine as on of India’s most expensive restaurants.

What to Try: The signature truffle dishes, such as the risotto with fresh Umbrian black truffle and the tagliolini with pancetta and Umbrian black truffle.

At: Leela Palace, Bangalore
mage courtesy via The Leela
The pink-hued hotel’s Pan-Asian restaurant, Zen, leaves diners spoilt for choice, especially with Japanese, Balinese, Thai, Korean and Singaporean specialties. Zen also has a special counter setting where you can sit and enjoy your sushi or a Korean barbeque.

What to Try: Sip on some Japanese Sake or Korean Soju.

Wasabi by Morimoto
At: The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai
Image courtesy: Taj Hotels
It’s one of the city’s most exclusive Japanese haute cuisine restaurants. The place is all about whisky mixed with Japanese spice. The restaurant stocks malts that date back to the 1930s and 40s. Also watch the chefs at the sushi counter and in the teppanyaki kitchen show off their skills.

What to Try: Japanese beer or rice wine along with crab samosas and iberico ham with figs. If you just want to try something completely out of the box then opt for the guacamole pani puri with tamarind dressing, for that global twist.

Villa 39
At: Colaba, Mumbai
This Italian restaurant has made it onto Mumbai’s must-be-seen at list. The decor is Indian-meets-Italian, so expect carved Indian panels and a glittering chandelier.

What to Try: The Carpaccio di Manzo (beef carpaccio) and the Terrina di Mozzarella Caprese ( tomato and mozzarella pesto) are mouth watering.

At: The Taj (Residency Road), Bangalore

Image courtesy: Taj Hotels

Designed to look like a Mangalorean home, with wooden ceilings, furniture and antique lamps, Karavali gives diners a taste of south India. Picked as one of Asia, and India’s, best restaurants by the Miele Guide (Asia’s answer to Michelin and Zagat) the restaurant has also picked up a Times Good Food Guide for its sea food.

What to Try: Tuck into its signature Coorg fried chicken or try the Alleppy fish curry.

At: The Park Hotel, Chennai
Image via The Park Hotel
This Italian restaurant has several big names associated with it. Not only is Chef Rajesh behind the grill here, but he’s had help from top chef Antonio Carluccio, a regular on BBC food programmes. Designers Abraham & Thakore have also helped design the linen.

What to Try: The baked asparagus, risotto with roasted chicken and Tiramisu.

WharfAt: Chennai
Image courtesy: BCCL
This seaside restaurant, where the fish is caught right in front of your eyes, is one of Asia and India’s best restaurants according to the Miele Guide. The menu is an array of exotic dishes that are stylishly presented. The ambiance is perfect for a romantic dinner date.

What to Try: All the steaks, if you have the stomach for it, especially the Moroccan chicken steak. The vegetarians could opt for the corn steak.

At: The Metropolitan Hotel, Nikko, New Delhi
Image via The Metropolitan Hotel
This fine eatery specialises in Japanese cuisines and highlights the culinary delights of Kaiseki food. You’ll get a taste of traditional but reinvented Japan since all the chefs are of Japanese origin. Sakura has been labeled as one of the Top 5 Best Japanese Restaurants of the world, outside Japan and was also awarded the title of ‘Best Japanese Restaurant of Delhi.’ So you know what you’re getting into. The restaurant imports most of their fish from Japan since they’re not available in India.

What to Try: Dig into the sashimi and sushi. The vegetable tempura is a big hit with the veggie lovers. If you’ve never tried eel before, this is the place to have it.