Altweiber in Düsseldorf

Wie ich Euch bereits erzählt habe, ist Düsseldorf eine der besten Städte in Deutschland, um Karneval zu feiern. Karneval, oder wie wir es auch nennen, die 5. Jahreszeit, startet eigentlich im November: Am 11.11. um 11:11 Uhr. Aber das eigentliche Highlight des Karnevals folgt tatsächlich im Februar, am finalen Wochenende. Dieses Wochenende umfasst neben dem Rosenmontag auch Altweiber. Altweiber findet am Donnerstag vor Rosenmontag statt und blickt auf eine lange Tradition im Rheinland zurück.

Heute möchte ich Euch einwenig mehr über das Altweiber-Fest erzählen, über die Tradition dieses Tages und wie er normalerweise abläuft.

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In diesem Jahr findet Altweiber am 4. Februar statt und wird ebenfalls traditionell um 11:11 Uhr eingeläutet. Obwohl dieser Tag eigentlich kein gesetzlicher Feiertag ist, beenden die meisten um 11:11 Uhr ihren Arbeitstag – aber nicht ohne noch ein paar Streiche zu spielen! Der bekannteste Streich an diesem Tag erlaubt es Frauen, ihren männlichen Arbeitskollegen die Kravatten abzuschneiden. Als Entschädigung bekommen sie dafür einen Kuss von den Frauen auf die Wange.

Natürlich ist an einem solchen Tag auch der Direktor vom Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel nicht sicher vor diesen Streichen! Der Überfall auf Cyrus Heydarian ist immer streng geheim und bedarf großen Mut und genauste Planung. Jedes Jahr stellt sich die Frage, wer wohl den Kravatten-Streich übernehmen wird. Letztes Jahr war unsere Marketing Managerin Sina Hoekstra die mutige Person. Sie machte kurzen Prozess: Nahm die goldene Schere, ging selbstbewusst in das Büro und schnitt die Kravatte von unserem Direktor kurzerhand ab! Zum Glück war Cyrus vorbereitet und trug an diesem Tag eine alte Kravatte.

Ich freue mich schon auf das diesjährige Altweiber-Fest am 4. Februar und bin gespannt, wer sich in diesem Jahr traut. Tut mit leid Cyrus, aber Tradition ist Tradition!

A Recipe For Winter In Saint Lucia

 

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December is upon us and with it comes winter in the Northern Hemisphere.  But there is no such thing as winter in Saint Lucia.  In fact, the high season is just beginning. While there is no bad time to visit this year-round summer paradise, the high season is my personal favorite. With less humidity and rain, the weather permits for optimal pool, beach and adventure-going days.

I’m a big fan of travel and experiencing all seasons in a variety of places, but there’s something about Caribbean sunshine that simply can’t be beat. So I’d like to share with you my top three favorite St. Lucian activities to beat the winter blues.

Zipline In The Rain Forest

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A zipline rainforest excursion is a certain cure-all. Being surrounded by lush, green vegetation and interesting tropical plants coupled with the thrill of zipping from treetop to treetop is a great way to get your heart racing.  You’ll practically forgot that winter even exists!

Horseback Riding on the Beach

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I like lounging on the beach as much as the next person, but adding the horseback riding element to a beach excursion takes it to a whole new level. Experiencing the sun, surf and sand from a whole new perspective creates such wonderful lasting memories that will keep you warm even during cold winter nights.

Cruising on the Caribbean

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My favorite activity resides on the Caribbean Sea itself. There’s something so amazing about sitting aboard a yacht or catamaran with a tropical drink in hand and watching the sun dip below sea level. For added adventure, I like to dive in for some snorkeling to experience the under-the-sea world. Other times, I enjoy simply lounging port-side and letting the rum punch work its magic.

Until we see get to see you here in St. Lucia, I’d like to share a rum punch recipe that will bring the tropics to you in the mean time.

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Ingredients:

3 cups orange juice

3 cups pineapple juice

1 cup lime juice

a pinch of cinnamon

a pinch of nutmeg

6 shakes of angostura bitters

2 1/2 cups dark or light rum

grenadine syrup

approximately 1 1/4 cups simple syrup or to taste!

Mix all the ingredients except the grenadine syrup and the simple syrup in a pitcher. Slowly add the grenadine syrup while stirring until the color looks like a glorious sunset. I like adding the simple syrup last so I can sweeten it to my personal preference.

You can drink it right away but it’s best when refrigerated overnight to give all the flavors a chance to come out. Serve over ice, take a sip and close your eyes. You’ll be temporarily transported to palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze. Cheers!

 

Francisco de Zubarán Comes To Dusseldorf

I may be biased, but Dusseldorf is truly an amazing city.  It offers the benefits of a major metropolitan, yet is moderate in size making everything accessible by foot.  Discovering all this city has to offer is one of my favorite hobbies.  I am especially enamored with the art scene, which is undeniably rich.  We have the Art Academy with its long history, where famous painters have both studied and taught. Then their are the K20 that displays art of the 20th century and the K21, which features art of the 21st century.  And then there is the Kunstpalast museum, which translates “art palace“ and is currently featuring a brand-new exhibition showcasing the work of Francisco de Zubarán.

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Francisco de Zubarán (1598 – 1664) is one of Europe’s most beloved and famous artists.  His style perfectly captures the balance between dark shades and light colors, often depicting portraits and churches.  His work has a real mystical feeling to it that has captivated audiences for centuries.

The exhibit, which is scheduled through January31st has garnered international attention.  In fact Queen Letizia of Spain opened the exhibit herself!  But you don’t have to be royal to experience  Zubarán’s works.  I suggest taking advantage of the relationship between Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel and Kunstpalast by allowing your Personal Assistant to arrange a private tour of the exhibition.

For more information on the Francisco de Zubarán exhibition as well as other artistic experiences throughout Dusseldorf, please be sure to speak with your Breidenbacher Hof Personal Assistant.

Eating Well: Healthy Tips For Summer Travel

Longer days, children buzzing about outdoors, and warmer weather can only mean one thing – summer has finally arrived!  My family summer vacations always included fun road-trips, action-packed plans, and a ton of laughter while creating memories that I continue to cherish until today.

Often a key component of our traveling was the dining.  My parents always attempted to find a balance between summer indulgence and making sure we stayed healthy and well nourished.  Today, this is still a priority for me, as I love to take part in local flavors, but not at the expense of taking care of my body.  Taking this into consideration, I thought it the perfect opportunity to sit down with the Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown culinary team to find out what they recommend for maintaining a healthy, but enjoyable, lifestyle during summer travel.

Healthy Tips For Summer Travel:

Chef Frank Ruta - DC

“Always ask the locals and those around you, even your waiters while dining out what the healthiest options are on the menu or local spots to try.  Insider tips are always helpful and they know what they’re talking about!”   ~Executive Chef, Frank Ruta

Chef Aggie - Pastry Chef DC

“Remember it’s a vacation!  It’s a time to enjoy everything that’s going on with the activities and with your family and friends surrounding you. Enjoy the food and desserts and have a great time.” ~Pastry Chef, Aggie Chin

Steven Fowler - Director of Food & Beverage DC

 “Sitting in a cramped position for long periods, whether in an airplane, car, or bus, can lead to an increased risk of potentially health related issues.  To minimize risk, drink plenty of water and stay active to allow the blood to flow.  Always carry around with you bottles of water and try to drink plenty of fluids to prevent from becoming dehydrated.” ~Food & Beverage Director, Steve Fowler

Kelly S - Catering Sales Manager DC

“The first thing I do when I travel is to search for the local markets and grocery stores to stock up on fresh veggies, fruits, and snacks.  Sourcing our breakfast meals from fresh local markets was a great way to save some extra cash and getting in touch with how the community in that particular destination lived.  You can ask for a complimentary mini-fridge to be sent to your hotel room to store these items as well.” ~Catering Sales Manager, Kelly Schneider

I hope these tips will come in handy for healthy and delicious summer of traveling!  Please tag @CapellaDC on social media and share your own healthy/delicious summer traveling tips so that I can share them with our community.  Have a great summer!

A Visit To Pigeon Island National Landmark

With the rainy season almost over, I find myself eager to explore the beaches of Saint Lucia.  The Pigeon Island National Landmark located in Gros Islet, is one of the island’s most important attractions and is as beautiful as it is historically significant.  On my recent visit I had a chance to get to know the park a bit better.

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The Pigeon Island National Landmark or National Park as it is sometimes called, portrays vivid representations of historical and cultural monuments, depicting the battle for control of the island between the English and the French.  This breathtaking, 44 acre park was originally an island in its own right, but was joined to the mainland in 1972 by a man-made causeway.

I did not know that this landmark held so much history and was even more amazed as I walked through this living museum.  I discovered some of the ruins from the war and immediately thought that this would be an excellent location for colonial-style weddings.

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There is an Interpretation Centre that tells you all about the war and how The French in 1778 declared war on the British but then lost.  The battle for The Helen of the West which is sometimes used interchangeably for Saint Lucia continued for fourteen years.  The British built a Naval Base at Gros-Islet Bay, which protected Pigeon Island from being captured.   At that lookout point, they were able to observe the French fleet in Martinique which lead to the defeat of the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782.  Further into the park, you will find a secluded restaurant at the water’s edge serving locally caught seafood, a hidden pub amongst the ruins and a look out point called The Fort with the best views of the northern part of the island.

I love the white sands of the beaches nearby and the way the grounds are so well maintained.  Many major cultural festivals are held in the opening space including the well known Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival.  I was so happy to have discovered that this relaxing location is only a twenty minute drive from Marigot Bay as I knew I wanted to come back here very soon.

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Would you like to visit the Pigeon Island National Landmark?  Be sure to ask your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant to arrange your special tour to the live museum.   And be sure to stay tuned as I continue to share insider experiences with you about the lovely island of Saint Lucia.  

An Insider’s Tour of the Sultan Mosque

One thing I love about Singapore is that people from all races and religions live harmoniously together.  Because of the diversity of our citizens, we have public holidays to celebrate significant days within the different religions and cultures.  The most recent holiday we celebrated was Hari Raya Aidilfitri on 27 July 2014.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a celebration that comes right after Ramadan, a month of fasting for all Muslims who are physically and emotionally able to.  To learn more about Ramadan, I decided to pay a visit to one of the most prominent mosques in Singapore, the Sultan Mosque.  The Sultan Mosque regularly welcomes guests to teach them more about the history of the mosque as well as share a little bit about Islam.

The Sultan Mosque

The Sultan Mosque

One of the most distinguishing features of the Sultan Mosque is its golden dome.  Its golden dome glistens in the sunlight, enhancing its beauty.  Another unusual feature are the rows of soya sauce bottles that line the building.  Soya sauce bottles?  Yes, indeed!  When the mosque was built in the early 1800s, the villagers nearby wanted to donate something to the construction of the mosque.  However, they did not have much money and decided instead to donate soya sauce bottles.  These soya sauce bottles were readily accepted and formed a unique decorative feature of the mosque!

Soya Sauce Bottles form a decorative ring at the bottom of the golden dome

Soya Sauce Bottles form a decorative ring at the bottom of the golden dome

The inside of the mosque is as beautiful and as distinctive as the outside.  Dark green ornate carpets cover the prayer hall.  The moment I entered the mosque I felt a sense of peace and serenity.  I appreciated how simple the prayer hall was.

At the entrance of the prayer hall was a digital signboard filled with a row of numbers.  When I asked my guide what the numbers meant, my guide shared that the numbers were actually times.  The time Muslims must say their prayers everyday, the time of sunrise and the times Muslims must start and stop fasting.  It was very interesting.

The Prayer Hall

The Prayer Hall

When we finished our tour of the prayer hall, my guide brought me up to the roof.  This was a very special experience, offered only during Ramadan.  The view from the mosque’s roof was breathtaking, the experience itself was truly unforgettable.  While we were on the roof, I had the rare opportunity to listen to the beautiful Azan (call to worship) from the neighbouring minarets, watch the fiery orange sun descend into the grey-blue sky and feel the gentle evening breeze wrap itself around me.  It was truly a moment I will never forget.

The Sultan Mosque is open to visitors daily until 4:00 pm.  They have local guides that will be delighted to share more about the history of the mosque and Islam.  If you do plan to visit Sultan Mosque, I suggest spending a day walking the streets of Kampong Glam where you can enjoy delicious authentic Malay food, visit the Malay Heritage Centre and browse the shops selling authentic Malay clothes, perfumes and accessories.  Capella Singapore’s Personal Assistants will be more than delighted to arrange for local tours of Kampong Glam for you or perhaps recommend a good restaurant in the area.  They can be reached at +65 6591 5034/35 / pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.