Monday, April 28, 2014

Quick guide to restaurants in Prague

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Czech and very cheep (5-10 USD for a lunch)
• U Knihovny -  Veleslavinova 10, Praha 1 - extremely cheap for the great quality!
• U Pivrnce – Maiselova 3 (the Real Czech dirty pub :-)
• Jizera restaurants - Vaclavske namesti 48,
• Ceska kuchyne – Havelska st. 23, Between Old and New town
•  Havelská koruna, Havelská 21, Great czech fast food for excellent prices

Czech, reasonable prices and good quality (10-20 USD for a lunch)
• Čestr - Legerova 75, top of the Wenceslas Sq. - excellent services, gorgeous food, great beer, very traditional recipes,, +420 222 727 851
• Hybernia - Hybernska 7,
•  Lokál - Dlouhá street, excellent quality meals (ambiente chain) for very reasonable prices (
•  Maitrea - great vegetarian restaurant,
• Kolkovna – V Kolkovne 8,
• Celnice – V celnici 4,
• Mlejnice – Kozna 14,
• U Provaznice – Provaznicka 3,
• Klub Architektu – Betlemske namesti 5a, 
• Malostranska Beseda - restaurant, cafe, galerie with a long local tradition, Malostranske nam. 21,

Top quality, unique places (30-50 USD for a lunch)
• Bellevue - Smetanovo nábř. 18, Charming view of the Charles bridge and Prague castle -
• Nebozizek – Petrin hill 411 - View of Prague,  , tel.: 257 315 329
• Richterova Vila - Staré zámecké schody 6,, tel. : 257 219 079
• Lvi Dvur – U Prasneho mostu 51/6 Quality near the castle,, tel.: 224 372 361
• Hergetova cihelna – Cihelna 2 - view of the Charles bridge,, tel.: 800 152 672

Jade Mountain Resort - It's one of the world's most romantic (and most expensive) hotels, but it's not for everyone.

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On March 1, 2010, the series finale of ABC's The Bachelor took place on the Celestial Terrace of Jade Mountain. For weeks prior, fans of the show heard such on-air gushing as "There is no better place to fall in love than St. Lucia. ..." Which begs the question: What's so great about St. Lucia? The remote, lush, mountainous beachfront terrain is stunning, no doubt, but this can be found elsewhere in the Caribbean -- Frenchman's Cove in Jamaica is just one example. So what about this particular locale made all the staged romance feel so spectacular? The answer is simple: Jade Mountain.

The hotel is an architectural marvel. In an effort to respect but not submit to environmental confines, owner-architect Nick Troubetzkoy built the entire resort like a tabletop, braced it against a mountain about 75 to 100 feet above the shore, and pointed it at St. Lucia's iconic Pitons, poking through the Caribbean Sea. Each of the 29 guest rooms shares the stunning view beyond its missing "fourth wall". In order to fit a whirlpool tub with an underwater light show ("chromatherapy"), a sundeck, and, in most rooms, a private infinity pool, Troubetzkoy simply quintupled the size of a typical guest room. And yet the luxury is in the details -- a constant water filtration process that keeps the pools from stinking up the rooms; a network of ceiling fans keeps the rooms from being too warm (there's no AC); and the suites are spaced far enough apart for honeymooners to join Jade in calling them "sanctuaries." As for the design's beauty, the photos speak for themselves.

But Jade Mountain is not for everyone. First: No kids are allowed. Second: The system of catwalks and hundreds of stairs (there are no elevators) makes it an impossible choice for anyone with mobility challenges. And the intimate, scenic serenity does have its trade-offs. Just getting to the resort can take well over an hour (and over $100) on winding, nerve-racking roads. The closest beach is at Jade's sister resort, Anse Chastanet, about a five-minute shuttle or 300 or so stairs away.

Nothing divides the bathroom from the rest of the room -- couples better broaden their sense of intimacy. In the rooms, there's no TV, Internet, or even a radio, so you'll have to get by on good company and a good book. Taken together, it's hard to compare Jade Mountain to anywhere else on earth.

But while its quiet, intimate, indisputably romantic atmosphere is unique, you can find a similar setting without sacrificing luxurious comforts at other boutique hotels like the Caves or the Geejam in Jamaica, or the Sivory in Punta Cana -- for as little as one-fifth the price. The suites at Tortuga Bay in the Dominican Republic might lack a private pool, but they're similarly sized and much closer to gorgeous beaches, private lagoons, golf courses, and the airport. And if you're looking to explore the Caribbean's natural beauty, you can stay in a room that walks right out onto the beach at Caneel Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a resort surrounded by 7,000 acres of National Park.

Amsterdam: Investors and Explorers in the Golden Age

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This walk in Amsterdam is presented by our partners, Context Travel.

During the 1600s Amsterdam experienced a tremendous boom, fueled in part by Dutch colonial ambitions overseas and in part due to a unique social and political situation at home. During this three-hour walk of central Amsterdam in the company of a trained historian we will look at how trade, power, and art intersected during the 17th century to produce Amsterdam’s so-called Golden Age.
Our walk begins at the West India Company, one of the two major international development corporations driving Dutch expansion at the time, where, among other things, the decision to start a small colony on the island of Manhattan was made. In the company of a trained historian we’ll look at how these colonial endeavors unfolded in the Dutch context, and the impact they had on Amsterdam as a world city.
Our time together will also include a stroll through the Jordaan district or other area nearby where some of the better canal houses are found. Many of these were owned by wealthy burghers, and some have been converted into museum houses, which afford a unique glimpse into domestic and social life of the upper classes during the period. We will may also take the opportunity to stop in a local cafe for a quick respite, as there are many good ones in this part of town.

We'll head on to Dam Square, the central square of the city, before wrapping up with a visit to the Amsterdam Museum, a museum of the city that features a great collection of furniture, art, letters and other artifacts from the Golden Age of Amsterdam. We’ll finish with a basic overview of the museum, but then leave participants to continue on further on their own.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring break in Paris

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I just helped one family with 2 kids who went to Paris for Spring Break.  During last several days of their vacation they were joined by relatives who asked a question: 'How do you know all these cool playgrounds, kids activities, kids-friendly tours and places to eat?'
'Well, we have great travel agent who arranged everything for us' was my clients' answer :)

Here you can find the itinerary that I prepared for them.

Family Travel Concierge
Alex Medvedovski

Paris April 2014



1. Here is my site with some of great kids-friendly places in Paris

2. TripAdvisor Paris mobile app

3. Google maps - open map while you have WiFi, then switch to airplane mode when you go out and you will have navigation map for Paris!

Travel Insurance


Apr. 10

Depart from Newark

Apr. 11

Arrive to Paris
Paris apartment. See here(LINK IS NOT FUNCTIONING)
Price: $X,XXX

Apr. 12

3 hours kids friendly private walking tour with Unique Paris. See confirmation here(LINK IS NOT FUNCTIONING)
Price: EUR XXX


Go to Parc de Belliville (25 minutes from the apartment)

Apr. 13


Read this tips and FAQ

Apr. 14

Tuileries Garden - playground
Sienne River Tour

Apr. 15

Luxemburg Garden - playground

The Cité des Enfants, Paris Plage, Le Jardin des Plantes

Apr. 16

Morning: Eiffel Tower. Skip the line tickets. See confirmation here
Price: EUR XXX

Apr. 17


Apr. 18

The Little Train of Montmartre
The Little Train of Montmartre is a cute white train starts its tour just across the street from Moulin Rouge, the world's most notorious cabaret. Well, this IS Paris . . . all joking aside, this little train ride is quite charming. On your trip up to the Sacré-Coeur, the guide will point out local sites you likely would have passed without noticing if you had not boarded. But one of the biggest advantages is that you don't have to walk up cobblestone streets with a young child in tow. For kids, it's a fun train. For adults, a small memory of childhood and some history.
Departure: place Blanche, Paris 20th
Métro: Blanche
Schedule: Daily 10am-6pm
Fare: Roundtrip Adults €6, Children under 12 €3.50

Funicular of Montmartre
playground next to carousel

Apr. 19

Playgrounds & walk around Paris

Apr. 20

Depart from Paris

Our itinerary

Restaurants in Paris

o   Le petit Vendôme – 8 rue des Capucines, Paris 2ndfor just a snack, local bistrot (great sandwich with cheese, ham, and good bread)
o   Brasserie O’Flottes, 2 rue Cambon, Paris 1st – casual brasserie, good food.
o   Le Soufflé, 36 rue du Mont Thabor, Paris 1st – if you like soufflés….
o   La Pascade, 14 rue Daunou, Paris 2nd – neo bistro – offers a cuisine from Aveyron ( south region of France), many dish in a pascade…
Other areas
for good steak and fries, le relais de l entrecote, 20 rue saint Benoit, Paris 6th (saint germain des pres area)
la nouvelle mairie, 19 Rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris - this would be a good place  - tapas style food, so easy on kids normally.
Litllte Breizh; 11 Rue Grégoire de Tours  75006 Paris - for crepes

Coffee Parisien.
Good hamburgers, clubs sandwiches and salads at reasonable prices can be eaten there. A relaxed and animated environment as well, in a pretty fifties style decor, with red benches and posters on the walls. In the district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés: Coffee Parisien, 4, rue Princesse - 75006 - 0143541960

Another place to eat (again, it might not be cheap, but it is suitable for kids). in the Marais area: The Swedish Cultural Center, holds a lovely cafe in the paved courtyard of a superb XVIIth century mansion, particularly well adapted to kids: high chairs for the small ones, books and, more, a court where you can run! Really a very pleasant place, which offers delicious homemade pastries, fresh sandwiches, seasonable vegetable gratins and hot brioches with cinnamon. Le Café Suédois, 11, rue Payenne, 75003 Paris (closed on Monday, from Tuesday to Sunday 12 :00 -06 :00 pm)



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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

9 tips when traveling to Prague

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Here are 9 tips when traveling to Prague.

1. Never change money on the street, it is dangerous (fake money, criminal offence)!!! Use a bank, exchange bureau or an ATM (“bankomat”). The best rates usually offer at the exchange bureau on the corner of Kaprova and Maiselova Street -

2. The Emergency number is 112 from any telephone (free of charge). When dialing this number you can reach the fire dep., police, doctor etc.

3. Prague demands to be wandered through, so bring some comfortable shoes.

4. Take advantage of the cheap and efficient public transport service (trams, buses, metro). Tickets are sold in tobacco kiosks, metro stations, etc. Buy two or three tickets, than you can any time use the tram going your direction.  Tickets cannot be purchased directly on vehicle! More info and map of transport on:

5. Taxi mafia - drivers tend to overprice and swindle. Taxis ordered through a dispatcher are much cheaper. Reputable Taxi AAA, phone: 14 0 14, out of Prague - call 222 333 222 (they can tell you the price beforehand). If you need to take a taxi in the street, first ask the driver to switch on the taximeter and ask for a receipt. Say some word in Czech (dobry den, prosim,  etc.) so he would think you know Prague. The maximum price for a taxi (rates for the year 2011) is: Waiting for 1 minute - 6 CZK, starting fee – 40 CZK Fare for 1 km – 28 CZK. The fare must be marked in the car. Usual prices: from airport to hotel about  500-700 CZK, from hotel to Prague Castle about 200 - 300 CZK.

6. A simple pocket calculator may turn out to be very helpful (converting currency, kilometers, Celsius etc.).

7. Giving a tip - we usually round the price up or give about 10 % of the price as a tip for the services.

8. Make sure your appliance (shavers, hairdryers, camera charges, laptops, etc.) have a switch to change the voltage to 220V. If not, you will need a converter. Please come prepared. The plugs are not readily available here.

9. Avoid the tourist traps. Restaurants and shops near the main sights (Charles Bridge, Astronomical clock, Castle) are usually the most expensive. 

Grand Velas in Riviera Maya is a destination for foodies!

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Grand Velas has 8 restaurants serving outstanding food in stylish spaces
The hotel features eight restaurants, all included in the all-inclusive rate. There are casual poolside spots for a light bite and fine dining restaurants with a stricter dress code, but all serve outstanding food, including Mexican, pan-Asian, French, Italian and molecular cuisine. Reservations are required at all restaurants except for Azul and Chaka.
  • Piaf serves French cuisine for dinner in a sexy space with red and black velvet decor. Guests must be at least 12 years old.
  • Sen Lin is the hotel’s Asian restaurant and features outdoor seating; open for dinner only; family-friendly
  • Frida opens for dinner only and serves fine Mexican food in a family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Cocina de Autor is the hotel’s star restaurant, serving molecular cuisine by renowned Spanish chefs Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso in a sleek all-white space with just a few tables. Open for dinner only; the menu changes daily.
  • Lucca offers an Italian menu for dinner.
  • Azul is a casual spot open for all three meals for buffet-style and a la carte dining. There’s indoor and outdoor seating, both with ocean views.
  • Bistro is an adults-only French restaurant located in the Grand Class section of the hotel. It is open for all three meals and offers ocean and pool views.
  • Chaka is a casual seasonal restaurant located near the pool at the Zen section. It offers an international menu for breakfast and lunch.

 Chocolate biscuit with green tea ice cream
 Frog legs

Duck marinaded in 10 different spices. Served w plum sauce and fresh sliced vegetables

Lychee sake with a little lime & sprite

 Soft shell crab with roasted garlic

Monday, April 21, 2014

Playgrounds around the world - Takino Hillside Park in Japan

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The Children's Playground in the Takino Hillside Park in Japan borrows ideas and images from nature to unite a rich formal landscape with an indulgent sensory experience.

The project sought to create a place where children could play freely in the natural environment. The idea of Nature Playground was thus fundamental to the design brief. Keeping in mind the limited experience of children in contemporary society when faced with wild environs, the design attempts to adjust them to play in the forest gradually along a five stage program. The Nature Playground was planned as the first stage. The space was designed to release children from the mundane urban jungle into the natural habitat, calling for an awakening of their senses before entering the forest.

Varied lighting and sound conditions create a rich sensory experience for the children.

Images of the Model (left) and the Hives (right) built in 1:30 scale.

Another stage of the playground coined the 'nests of Living things' was inspired by images of built shelters found in nature These were developed to create an adventurous and innovative arena, playing with the children's sense of scale. Most of the facilities are enveloped in green cover and soil to unify with the surroundings.

View of the playground set within the hillside park in Japan.

Net play tool in the rainbow nest dome is made in with collaboration with fabric artist Toshiko Macadam. Organic forms of ant hives were measured by computers from the model and drawn by using the data measured. These were then constructed using the truss wall construction method.