not quite the peak

Perched on the Peak at almost 1,000 feet above sea level, the Peak Tower is one of Hong Kong’s  most recognizable architectural icons, featured on millions of postcards and key chains. While not exactly on par with the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building, it nevertheless makes an enduring statement – and stylish emblem -  of the British Empire’s belief in man’s dominance over nature. More than just a scenic viewing platform, the Peak Tower is the upper terminus of the Peak Tram, the first funicular in Asia and a late 19th century triumph of engineering. (Prior to the building of the tram most people were carried up and down via sedan chair.) And although the Peak isn’t technically even atop Victoria Peak but rather situated alongside it in Victoria Gap, that fact does nothing to diminish its building. Moreover, in a city that prides itself on developing ever taller and more spectacular vantage points, nothing quite compares to the Peak’s utterly old school outdoor panorama.



just published: spa couture

You love designer duds, covet a closet full of fashionable shoes and handbags – why would you even think of staying anywhere other than a designer hotel?  That’s exactly the thinking among a handful of the world’s top fashion houses, including Armani, Versace, Bulgari, Missoni, and Moschino, who are boldly taking the idea of lifestyle chic where no hotel and spa has gone before. Haute holidays have arrived. Here’s our peek at the new chic: vacationcouture.

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funiculi, funicular

Lisbon is hilly. I mean really unexpectedly hilly. The central downtown valley of Baixa is relatively flat and plotted out along grid-lines. (Pretty much leveled by the great earthquake of 1755, the neighborhood was razed and subsequently planned.) Yet the surrounding neighborhoods of Barrio Alto, The Alfama, and Chiado – the areas that give this city so much of its vitality – spring up higgledy-piggledy on the surrounding hills.  Which means Lisbon, my friends, is not for the weak of leg. Fear not, however, the public transport is excellent:  a spacious and efficient subway is coupled with an extensive bus system.  As for navigating those pesky hills, you can take one of the vintage trolleys that slowly amble along crooked streets, ride one of the handful of turn of the century iron elevators that move people from plateau to plateau, or wait for the funicular, which will slowly ratchet you up a steep incline. Whatever you do, be sure to get the Lisboa Card, a magic wand that covers all your mass transit needs. Certainly you’ll want to be adventurous and do a little hill climbing at first but trust an inveterate hiker on this one: after a day lost in the labyrinth of The Alfama your bloody stumps will be begging you for mercy.


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