St. Martinsfest in Düsseldorf

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Ich liebe es, wenn die Tage in Düsseldorf kürzer werden und die Temperatur langsam sinkt, denn dies ist ein sicheres Zeichen dafür, dass die Feiertage unmittelbar bevor stehen. Der erste Feiertag in Deutschland ist das St.Martinsfest, welches traditionell erst am 11. November stattfindet, jedoch schon am Abend des 10.Novembers gefeiert wird. Dieser Feiertag ist besonders für Kinder mit viel Spaß verbunden und ein wunderbares Beispiel dafür, dass man respektvoll mit seinen Mitmenschen umgehen sollte.  610fbea0791

Kennt ihr die Geschichte von St. Martin? Sein richtiger Name war Martin von Toulouse und er wurde 316 in Ungarn geboren. Seine Freunde und Bekannten schätzten ihn vor allem aufgrund seines großen Herzens und seiner Selbstlosigkeit: St. Martin unterstützte Kranke, half Bedürftigen und verteilte seine Habseligkeiten wann immer er konnte. An einem sehr kalten Tag, begegnete St.Martin am Stadttor von Amiens einem frierenden Bettler. Ein Schneesturm zog auf und der Bettler, welcher nur wenig Kleidung trug, drohte zu erfrieren. Ohne zu zögern teilte St.Martin seinen eigenen Mantel mit seinem Schwert und gab dem Bettler die Hälfte dieses Mantels, wodurch er sein Überleben sicherte. Dies ist genau die Szene, welche jedes Jahr im November nachgestellt und gefeiert wird. Ich erinnere mich immer noch an mein erstes St.Martinsfest und nehme seitdem jedes Jahr daran teil.

Die Feierlichkeiten starten am frühen Abend, wenn die Sonne gerade untergeht. In Düsseldorf treffen wir uns zu Beginn in der Altstadt und jeder bringt bunte Laternen mit, welche eine romantische und gemütliche Atmosphäre erzeugen. Ihr könnt Euch nicht vorstellen, was für ein einzigartiges Gefühl es ist, Teil dieser Menge zu sein, die Schauspieler bei ihrer Vorstellung zu beobachten und die Lieder mitzusingen.

Wenn die Feierlichkeit vorbei ist, dann beginnt mein Lieblingsmoment des Abends: Alle Kinder und ihre Eltern ziehen mit den bunten Laternen von Haus zu Haus und sammeln Süßigkeiten. Auch wenn ich leider schon zu alt dafür bin selber Süßigkeiten zu sammeln, freue ich mich immer wieder darauf, Teil des St.Martinsfestes zu sein. Nun darf ich Süßigkeiten verteilen während die Kinder singen.

Was denkt ihr? Möchtet ihr dieses Jahr auch Teil des St.Martinstages sein? Kommt vorbei und schaut Euch den Umzug mit mir gemeinsam in der Altstadt an. Keine Angst, denn ich versorge Euch gerne mit einer schönen Laterne und bringe Euch auch die traditionellen Lieder bei, sodass wir einen unvergesslichen Abend erleben können. Für weitere Informationen, kontaktiert bitte unsere Persönlichen Assistenten im Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel, welche Ihr unter pa.bbh@capellahotels.com erreicht.

A Visit to the Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum is housed in the former St Joseph's Institution, originally built in 1867.

Located in the heart of the arts and culture district of Bras Basah, the Singapore Art Museum is the perfect stop for art lovers. Featuring one of the world’s largest collection of contemporary Southeast Asian art, it is easy to get lost inside just admiring and appreciating the art.

Just yesterday, I spent the whole afternoon walking through the halls of the art museum. While visiting the museum, I learned that the building was a former Catholic boys’ school, St Joseph’s Institution. Originally built in 1867 by a Catholic Father and a group of La Salle Brothers, the St Joseph’s Institution in Brash Basah was the educational home to boys here in Singapore for more than 120 years. Wanting to preserve the beautiful 19th century French architecture, the building was gazetted in 1992 as a national monument and after a S$30 million restoration project, was opened in 1996 as the now Singapore Art Museum.

The Singapore Art Museum is housed in the former St Joseph's Institution, originally built in 1867.

The Singapore Art Museum is housed in the former St Joseph’s Institution, originally built in 1867. Photo credit: Lay Leng Low (via Pinterest)

It was wonderful just walking through the hallowed halls learning all about contemporary Southeast Asian art. The art took on various forms, many were interactive mixed-medium art pieces and some were very experimental. I especially enjoyed the very interactive exhibition entitled Sensorium 360 which explores the way we use our senses to interact and understand the world. The exhibition will be on until 22 October 2014 and is worth visiting. I especially enjoyed walking through a completely darkened room surrounding by laser lights, not unlike the laser lights seen in movies like Mission Impossible. That particular installation challenged my perception of space and reality.

While walking through the museum, I imagined myself travelling back in time to the 19th century. As if I was one of the St Joseph Institution students running to class through the beautiful hallways. When restoring the museum, the architects tried to be as faithful as possible to the original architecture as possible. They even tried to replicate the old school hall to its original glory by following blueprints they found. The architects even managed to commission new tiles that matched the old original tiles exactly. No detail was too little to be left out. The courtyard, which were the old school quadrangles where the boys used to have their morning assembly and play basketball, are now spacious courtyards where guests can enjoy coffee or just the peace and tranquility the museum affords.

Two very important additions they had to include are the glass windows to ensure that all 18 galleries have climate controlled temperatures to preserve the artwork and also the reinforced concrete floors necessary to support the heavy art installations.

The Singapore Art Museum is an easy 20-minute drive from Capella Singapore. Entry is free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents and S$10 for visitors. Our Personal Assistants would be delighted to organise a tour of the Singapore Art Museum for you. They can be reached at +65 6591 5034/35 and pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

All About Rum at Bob’s Bar

Cuban Fever at Bob's Bar - experience three different rums

I recently learned that Bob’s Bar at Capella Singapore features some of the region’s most rare and unique rums. Wanting to learn more about Bob’s Bar’s exclusive collection of rums, I sat down with Bob’s Bar’s lead bartender Brendon Khoo who shared more about rum.

Brendon Khoo at work creating a delicious cocktail

Brendon Khoo at work creating a delicious cocktail

Can you tell me how rum is produced?

Rum is a spirit that is made from molasses, the by-product of making sugar from sugarcane.

Can you share with me about one of the more exclusive rums that we offer?

One of the rarest rums we offer is the Diplomatico Single Vintage 2000. In the year 2000, the weather conditions were just perfect in Venezuela (high temperatures during the day, cool at night, high humidity and lower than average rainfall) that created the best and sweetest sugarcane harvest in the country’s history. It was during this season that Diplomatico created this single vintage rum which is a limited edition. The harvest was so good that the rum was created from fresh sugarcane “honey” and molasses together and pot-stilled in very old copper pot stills, which produce a rum with distinctive character. After which the rum was aged as a mixture of single malt and bourbon casks, before being finished in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks. There are not many bottles of this rum available in South East Asia but Bob’s Bar has it!

That’s amazing. What are some of the cocktails you serve that feature rum?

As a Cuban bar we try to serve cocktails that are predominantly rum-based such as Daiquiris and Mojitos which are created using white rum and Rum Old Fashioned made using dark rum.

I would love to learn more about rums. How can I do so?

We recently launched an exciting rum-tasting experience called Cuban Fever where you will be able to try three unique rums – a classic, a distilled and a premium reserve rum.

Taking place daily from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, the team and I will share the stories and tasting notes for each rum – allowing you to fully appreciate and enjoy each rum for all its glory.

Cuban Fever at Bob's Bar - experience three different rums

Cuban Fever at Bob’s Bar – experience three different rums

If you would like to make a reservation at Bob’s Bar you can contact them at +65 6591 5047 / bobsbar.singapore@capellahotels.com or book online at here.

A Visit to Singapore’s Little India

Inside the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

I had the chance to visit Singapore’s Little India this weekend. I love how Little India is just bustling with excitement and activity. The vibrantly coloured temples, together with the unmistakeable scent of exotic spices stimulate the senses, are truly an incredible experience.

In order to make the most out of my time in Little India, I set out to accomplish two main things: firstly, to take in the sights, sounds and scents of the district by walking through the famous historical five-foot walkways and secondly, to visit and appreciate one of the local Hindu temples.

I started my journey at Serangoon Road, the main thoroughfare of Little India, taking my time to wander through the little streets.  There are so many meandering walkways and streets that one could venture off into. Along the streets there are many little stalls selling floral garlands. These garlands,  which are used as a form of offering and adornment for the Hindu deities, are truly beautiful – handmade and created with fresh brightly coloured flowers.

Colourful garland stalls can be found all over Little India

Colourful garland stalls can be found all over Little India

I also enjoyed admiring the colourful animated altars that sat prominently on street corners and outside of Hindu-owned shops.

The Hindu god Ganesha is one of the more popular gods that can be seen in little altars around Little India

The Hindu god Ganesha is one of the more popular gods that can be seen in little altars around Little India

After taking my time exploring the effervescent streets of Little India, I decided to spend the next part of my afternoon in one of Singapore’s most famous Hindu temples, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Located along Serangoon Road, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of the oldest temples in Singapore, built by Indian immigrants who came to work and live here in Singapore in the 1800s. The choice of deity, Sri Veeramakaliamman as the chief deity is also significant.  In the pioneer days, Indian immigrants experienced many hardships and obstacles.  Sri Veeramakaliamman is seen as a goddess who destroys evil and therefore worshiped for her power to help them overcome their struggles and challenges.

Inside the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

Inside the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

Visiting the temple was really an eye-opener. Life-like deities filled the temple with dedicated devotees paying homage to them. There was a distinct smell of incense in the air as the priests lit bowls of fire and incense to honour the gods and goddesses.

Little India has since become one of my favourite places to recommend to visitors. Its distinct character so far removed from the skyscrapers that fill the Marina Bay skyline and the air-conditioned malls of Orchard Road. It is a place where time has learnt to stay still, and, hopefully, for many years to come.

Little India is an easy 25-minute drive from Capella Singapore. Our Personal Assistants will be able to assist to organise tours and transport for you. They can be reached at +65 6591 5034/35 / pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

 

Capella DC Staycation Tips for the Fall Season

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Summer vacations may be behind us, but weekends in September and October are one of my favorite times to experience the DC Metro area.  So much, I have decided to plan a staycation here at Capella Washington, D.C. Georgetown!  To do so, I’ve turned to my colleagues and D.C. natives for some of their most favorite activities and inspirations.

DC Staycation Tips:

Michael Katigbak, Capella D.C.’s Director of Sales & Marketing and his wife Courtney have lived in the city for many years, so I could not wait to hear their recommendations:

  • Walk to the Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown to rent kayaks for a smooth drift down the Potomac River and down to Roosevelt Island, the best way to see how the river shapes its physical form and influences its wildlife.
  • Head to the Georgetown’s infamous West End Cinema to watch some of the best international films with a beer or a glass of crisp wine (also, the popcorn is a must! It’s rated the best in D.C.!)
  • Check out Union Market, located about 20 minutes from Capella on New York Avenue, but totally worth the trip!  While you’re there, grab a bite to eat, like the lobster rolls and Korean empanadas
  • Relax at Meridian Hill Park on a Sunday afternoon while enjoying a picnic by the well known drum circle, where DCists bring their favorite instrument to entertain passers by

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Potomac River

Jason, one of Capella D.C.’s wonderful Sales Managers and his seven-year-old son Isaac love family activities.  Some of their favorites include:

  • Saturday afternoons at the National Building Museum, where children and adults can both learn about architecture, design and engineering.  The museum also has specific programs for children with a staff member dedicated to curating these programs.  There are also special exhibits throughout the year.  See them by clicking here
  • The Discovery Theater (part of Smithsonian), for a variety of exhibitions, collections and cultural experiences contained on the National Mall.  This museum is great for children ages 2-16
  • Following a fun day at the museums, check out Chef Geoff’s, where you will find a delicious menu for adults as well as kids just a short walk from the mall’s museums
  • Last but not least, you must stop by Pinstripes in Georgetown for an afternoon of bowling and bocce ball over lunch or dinner right next door to Capella D.C.

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National Building Museum

The opportunities and experiences are endless and I am so grateful to my team for giving me these wonderful suggestions!  With my reservation on the books, I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend.  I also cannot forget to mention how excited I am to swim in the rooftop heated infinity pool and sip a cocktail from the lounge!  You can’t beat the feeling of exclusivity and outstanding views of our Nation’s Capital from the rooftop.

For more personalized recommendations and for information on planning your staycation experience be sure to contact one of our Personal Assistant’s at 202-617-2415 or e-mail pa.dc@capellahotels.com.

Discovering Soufriere, Saint Lucia

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In the month of August, Saint Lucia celebrates the two most beautiful flower festivals in the Caribbean region.  The Feast of La Rose originated from the seven years that Saint Lucia was fought over by the British and The Feast of La Marguerite was named after the French who also fought for this island for seven years.  Of all the things I enjoy the most about this beautiful island of Saint Lucia, I am always charmed by the indigenous flowers and plants found in gardens everywhere.  From Jade Vine to Torch Ginger, all 238 square miles are dotted with such a delightful variety of flora.

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In celebration of the flower festivals, I went on a tour to the most decorated town on the island, the town of Soufriere.  Soufriere played host to the flower celebrations this year and is also one of the most spectacular areas on island.  Before the parade began, I drove to the magical Botanical gardens which is where many of the plants are exclusively found in Saint Lucia. As I ventured further into the gardens I discovered the Diamond Falls.  This amazing waterfall is part of the world renowned Sulphur Springs which are a product of the worlds’ only drive in volcano.  Tourists and locals alike, travel specifically to this region to bathe in the healing waters of the Sulphur Springs and to experience their rejuvenating effects on the body.  The Sulphur Springs from which the town of Soufriere got its name, came into formation due to weak spots in the crust of an enormous collapsed crater, the result of volcanic eruptions of gigantic proportions that took place some 410,000 years ago.

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Similar hot springs feed the mineral baths into the Diamond Falls located on the Diamond Estate built originally in 1784 for the troops of King Louis XVI of France so that they could benefit from the therapeutic waters.  I was amazed at the thought that the springs contained healing properties and was really tempted to jump in.  On my way back to watch the parade I looked up to witness the most mesmerizing view of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the twin pitons.   These two volcanic spires, Gros Piton and Petit Piton are one of the main reasons why people visit this beautiful island.

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After enjoy the view, I returned to town just in time to see the denizens of Soufriere in colorful cultural wear as they  put on an event of pomp and pageantry, celebrating the island’s mixed heritage of English and French.  As the event continued with cultural  folk dances such as the Quadrille, the Mappa and the Belair, I could not help but be once again impressed by the beauty and energy of Saint Lucia.

creole-wearIf you are in Saint Lucia during the month of August, be sure to ask your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistants about the flower festivals, Feast of La Rose and Feast of La Marguerite.  And even if it isn’t August, make sure to make time to visit Soufriere, one of the many magical towns here in Saint Lucia!