Monthly Archives: January 2016

Where It All Started, The Ritz Paris



Where It All Started, The Ritz Paris

There are few names in history that spell class and elegance. The words which makes you smile, even drool a little. The ultimate penchant of sophistication and class is what propelled the Ritz-Carlton to dazzling height. It all began in Paris. The building of the beautiful empire that changed hotel industry. The leaders had emerged to conquer the world and the siege began in Paris. Such is the loyalty commanded by the Ritz Paris that in the current restoration they have decided to reduce the number of rooms to provide better service. When a residential hotel can cut on its chief income, know it is the biggest of the big Fishes.

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The history of the place is fascinating. It is located in the heart of Paris, the location is at 1st arrondissement /( administrative district).Place Vendôme is its neighbor providing exquisite view into French architecture, culture and overall feel of France. Swizz Hotelier César Ritz started the hotel with a chef Auguste Escoffier in 1898. It was the first hotel in Europe to provide amenities like an attached bathroom for a suite, telephone in a suite and even electricity. This was the start of a top-notch service centered hotel which would later go on to coin the phrase ‘Putting on the Ritz’.

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2012 marked the first multi-year closing of the place for restoration. The Hotel has a ripe culture in its kitty with its Imperial suite being declared as a National Monument of France. It is set to reopen in July 2014. As of 2012, the hotel has 159 rooms, 600 employees. The price range for the room ranges from 850 Euros to 13,900 euros for one night. The elegance of the room, the French o it all signifies the motto of the maker. César Ritz had a dream to create a hotel that offers ‘all the refinements that a prince could wish for his own home’. Every person who has snoozes on the quilt of Ritz (royals, politicians, actors etc.) will vouch that the dream is indeed a reality today.

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As one of the founder members was a chef, it is but natural that the hotel today stands testimony to the impeccable pallet of Monsieur Escoffier. Haute Cuisine is one of the strengths of the hotel One of its rich offering. L’Espadon (restaurant in Ritz) represents French Gastronomy in its most exquisite form. With a sunny illusion created by the trompe l’oeil ceiling, this place is in a league of its own. The Hemingway Bar is another of its jeweled collection. The Ritz pool is talked with bated breath for the fantasy, glamour and luxury of the place was, is and remains unmatchable. The guests enjoy this Greek-Roman themed pool as a part of their deal. They can swim, relax, enjoy a snack or get a massage in this part of Ritz Paradise.  The non-guests get the shorter end of the stick with the access gained only by the most exclusive Ritz Health Club membership.

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With impeccable service, outstanding food and sophisticated décor, this place will provide you the finest luxury money can buy. The welcome and the view will put a spin on your Paris visit. It is this no surprise people chose to live in this Hotel for years on end. The crème de la crème of its residents have left their mark on Ritz with famous suits being named after them. Coco channel lived several months of her designer life here and the rustic feel of the room was religiously preserved to mark her genius after she passed away. In her words “The Ritz is my Home”.

Princess Diana dined with the Dodi Al-Fayed (Son of the then owner of Ritz) on the fateful night of 31st August 1997 (later that night, their car crashed). This remains a bitter-sweet memory for Ritz; nonetheless it is connection one often recalls.

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During the WWII, Ritz became the German headquarter during their attack of Paris. The legend says that after liberation of France, Ernest Hemingway came back for his beloved Ritz. In a jeep full of people, armed he marched to the tiny bar in Ritz where they joined the locals in celebration of freedom with some of the finest French wines (the manager managed to hide them from Germans). T this day the bar exists with the proud name of Hemingway Bar. The walls hold pictures taken by Hemingway himself. This happened on 25th august 1944. One of his short stories is tilted as A Diamond as big as the Ritz. This legendary bar is now run by Colin Field, the best Bartender of the world. Fits the story!

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Sometimes the cost of luxury is too high and this should not stop you from getting the true blue Ritz experience at a reasonable cost. L’Ecole Ritz Escoffier is adjoining the Hotel. This is place where top chefs of the world hone their skills. Join the classes to pick few valuable tips. At 45 euros the deal is not half bad! Become a part of Ritz Rendezvous (six men, six women make a meal for 12!) where you might just meet the love of your life with a common passion for French cuisine. The Sunday brunch at Ritz will give your taste buds a taste for heaven, with top chefs serving you traditional French favorites with Italian pastas, Lebanese hummus, sushi and even scrambled eggs. Pastry chefs will contribute to your pleasure with crêpes, waffles cheesecake! The Traditional High Tea is a hit for the sake of tradition. Drop by around five for a tea fix from porcelain cups!

Place Vendôme, amb el Hotel Ritz a l´esquerra

The anticipation rises as the reopening of Ritz moves closer. We hope the charm remains intact and The Ritz remains just that, the Ritz.

Venice Simplon Orient Express – Of Romantic Train Rides



Venice Simplon Orient Express – Of Romantic Train Rides

For the rich there are many ways to utilize their wealth in order to have experience which are beyond the extraordinary, a train journey in the Venice Simplon-Orient Express in one of such ways. Arguably one of the most luxurious rides in the whole world, the Venice Simplon-Orient Express is an idea of luxury, extravagance and class which goes beyond your usual definition of all those words. The train is a privately operated luxury ride which runs from London and Paris till Venice via Verona. It was first brought on wheels in 1982 and has since been enchanting travelers like nothing else. The train ravishing in its appearance is today a symbol of status; wealth and class in the world leave alone the European continent.

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The Venice Simplon-Orient Express is a train of beautifully restored carriages belonging to the Golden era of traveling in the 1920s, 30s and 50s, these carriages are a brilliant way of bringing to travelers the whole class and feel of that bygone era besides being a part of history. The train is a weekly service which costs about 2000 pounds per person including meals. The train runs once a week starting at London and goes on till Venice taking 24 hours and crossing cities like Paris, Innsbruck and Verona in the process. It also makes trips to other wonderful Europeans cities such as Rome, Budapest, and Krakow and even to Istanbul (in August). The Venice Simplon Orient Express is often linked with its namesake the Orient Express of 1883 which was a regular train running from Paris to Istanbul and got stopped in December 2009. A journey in this train totally lives up to its billing of being a luxury train with five star services and class traversing through the beautiful landscapes of central-western Europe.

The dining car aboard the Orient Express

Venice Simplon orient Express was a brainchild of an American named James Sherwood who at a famous auction in Monte Carlo in 1977 bought most of the classic pre-war wagons, Lit Company sleeping cars and restaurant cars that were being offered for sale he did this with a dream of restoring them to their old glory and putting together a luxury train that will chart the same route as the now fabled Simplon Orient Express. In the coming years he bought many Pullman cars belonging to the 1920s and 1930s for the British part of the journey which was from London to Folkestone. The continental sleeping cars which were part of the train during the continental journey post Folkestone were the best in class of the original Lit Company trains that used to run all over Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. The intention of the VSOE was to restore in spirit the glorious route and journey of earlier Orient express even though some of the service provided in the new train never existed then. The effort in order to restore the past in a way that Venice Simplon has done is nonetheless commendable.

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The beautiful journey from the financial center of London to the romantic city of Venice in Italy takes 24 hour to complete, even though the whole train journey is named the Orient express it uses two trains of differing varieties in the process.  The journey from the platform 2 of the Victoria station in London till Folkestone is carried out in a train with vintage Pullman cars as coaches which belong to the 1920s, 30s and 50s. The Pullman Cars consist of plush armchairs with table for two kind of seating arrangement; in some coaches also have 4 or 5 seater enclosed compartments too. The décor, the seats, the beautifully crafted tables, the wine and the food are all excellent in every which way you experience them. You are served champagne as soon as the train starts its journey later in the afternoon you are giving a luxurious lunch along with wine which you can take pleasure of while seeing the glorious scenery of the Kent countryside.

After crossing the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone West through a Eurostar shuttle, the passengers now board the beautiful continental train consisting of Wagons-Lit carriages of 1920s from Calais Ville in France which takes them through the remainder of the journey through the beautiful country of Central Europe and the cities of Paris, Innsbruck, Verona and finally to Venice. The sleeping cars on this train are the vintage LX series of the original Orient Express that ran in 1929; there are at least two and sometimes three dining carriages with restaurants which have décor of the plushest kind. The sleeping compartment of one or two beds can be converted to private a sitting room with a sofa and coffee table during the day time. There is also a bar on the train which serves drinks of the finest quality although drinks are charged extra and are not included in the ticket.

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The Venice Simplon Orient Express takes one through some marvelous countryside of European giving on an experience which is utterly romantic, luxurious, pleasurable and enchanting. The landscapes that the train goes through such as the shores of Zürichsee in Switzerland, the Arlberg Pass in Austrian Alps, the verdant fields of Lichtenstein and countless vineyards of France before entering the deeply romantic city of Venice for its final resting place make the whole journey seem worth the while if the service and class of the train itself doesn’t satisfy you. The Venice Simplon Orient Express is a great step towards preserving and enjoying our heritage of the past.

All Sunshine Makes a Desert – The Syro Arabian Desert



All Sunshine Makes a Desert – The Syro Arabian Desert

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The Syrian Desert, also known as the Syrio-Arabian desert is a combination of steppe and true desert that is located in the northern Arabian Peninsula covering 500,000 square kilometers of the reign of Syria. The desert is very rocky and flat.

Geography

Syrian Desert is a huge stretch of mostly barren land covering parts of four countries which are Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It is also known as the Greater Badiyat al-Sham because it extends between the desert of al-Nufud on the Arabian Peninsula and the Euphrates River. Badiyat al-Sham covers about two-thirds-about 130,000 square kilometer- of the overall area of Syria.

It is divided into two parts: the first, in the northeast, is called Badiyat al-Jazira, and the second, in the southeast, is called alShamiyya or Badiyat al-Sham, that is, the Syrian Desert.

Many mini-deserts exist in the Syrian Desert such as Palmyra. Damascus is located on an Oasis. The desert’s remarkable landscape was formed by lava flows from the volcanic region of the Jebel Druze in the Southern Syria. The Syria Desert is the origin of the ‘Syrian hamster’.

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Weather Pattern

The Syrian Desert is divided into two parts, which differ in their surface structure. The first, a plateau in the southwest, is more elevated than the other part and is also much drier. Receiving on the average less than 5 inches (125 mm) of rainfall annually and largely covered by lava flows, it formed a nearly impenetrable barrier between the populated areas of the Levant and Mesopotamia until modern times; several major routes and oil pipelines now bisect it. In the 1070’s, there was much oil exploration.

The desert, the southern sector of which is commonly known as Al-Hammad, is in habited by several nomadic tribes and breeders of Arabian horses.

The few plants and animals of the Syrian Desert are of the type that can withstand a subtropical climate. The nomads raise sheep and camels, and they move according to the seasons, from one region to the other across political frontiers seeking pasture.

Chronicle

The desert was historically inhabited by Bedouin tribes, and many tribes still remain in the region, their members living mainly in towns and settlements built near oases. Some Bedouin still maintain their traditional way of life in desert. Safaitic inscriptions, proto-Arabic texts written by literate Bedouin, are found throughout the Syrian Desert. These date approximately from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

During the Iraq War, the desert served as a major supply line for the Iraqi insurgents, with the Iraq portion of the desert becoming a primary stronghold of the Sunni insurgents operating in the Al Anbar Governorate, particularly after the Coalition capture of Fallujah during ‘Operation Phantom Fury’. A series of Coalition military operations were relatively ineffective at removing the insurgent presence in the Desert. However as the insurgents began to gain control of the surrounding areas the importance of the Syrian Desert as a center of operations was believed to have lessened.  By September 2006 insurgents had gained control of virtually all of the Anbar Governorate and had moved most of their forces, equipment and leaders further east to insurgent-controlled cities near the Euphrates River; nevertheless the Syrian Desert remains one of the primary routes for smuggling equipment due to its location near the Syrian border.

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Exploration and Economy                           

Phosphates, oils and butane gas have been discovered in this desert, and modern network of roads and railways makes the exploration of the desert much easier than before.

 

Conventional Tribes and their culture  

Although the desert is, for the most part, unsuitable for farm agriculture, it is good pasture and has been used by Bedouin for thousands of years.

Traditionally, Bedouin divided themselves into three groups based on their main sources of subsistence. The first group was the “true” Bedouin-camel-herders-who made use of the entire desert since camels can live for long periods of time on little or no water. The second group was “small” Bedouin who raised sheep and goats primarily. These tribes migrated for shorter distances, as sheep and goats need water at least once a day. The third group was “herdsmen” who kept flocks of sheep and goats and also practiced farm agriculture.

 

Economically, socially, and politically, the Bedouin have always been integrated into larger, regional systems. The Bedouin share linguistic and cultural roots with the region’s dominant society. The Bedouin’s mobility, as well as their group and tribal loyalities, have always been seen as threats to the stability and security of centralized states, which have often attempted to sedentarize the Bedouin. 

Historical Setting                                

Most of the Bedouin tribes now inhabiting the Syrian desert moved there from the Arabian peninsula during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during a period of weak ottoman rule. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman government began to reassert its authority and made several attempts to force some Bedouin tribes to settle permanently.

The modern nation-states of Jordan and Syria were created from the former Ottoman provinces of Greater Syria. Lands formally belonging to the Ottoman sultan were given to the Bedouin, which helped cement the close relationship between the Bedouin tribes and the royal family. Tribal lands were registered in the names of the tribal Shaykhs who encouraged tribesman to settle. The desert-formerly protected by the hima Bedouin land used the system that restricted and regularized use of the desert, later opened to unlimited grazing.