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Go West (Part II)

Rothenburg

“The most German of German towns”, Rothenburg is popular Medieval old town along South Germany’s Romantic Road. Dating back to the late 900s, this historical old town has provided inspiration for many films and was also featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

During World War II, the walled city would have perished if not for a rare moment of truce between then U.S Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, who wanted to preserve the city’s beauty and histoy, and local military commander Major Thommes who surrendered the town, defying Hitler’s order for all towns to flight to the end. Each year, thousands flock to Rothenbury for its world famous Christmas markets and Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village.

 

Nuremburg

Closely located to Rotheburg, Nuremburg is another Medieval town where you will find well-preserved and restored architecture from the Middle Ages. One of the most important imperial castles of the Roman Empire, the Nuremburg castle still stands tall and proud to this day and is a popular wedding venue and pre-wedding photography location. A must-try in Nuremberg is its famous sausages, first grilled here at the Bratwurst restaurant 800 years ago. Word has it that the city council still keeps a close watch on the quality of its sausages to ensure diners get nothing but the best.

 

Munich

The capital of Bavaria, Munich is the all-in-one destination for all kinds of travellers. There’s a Luxury Chic Outlet at Ingolstadt Village for brand connoisseurs, a BMW museum and headquarters for the automobile fanatic, the Hofbrauhaus beer hall and Oktoberfest for beer pilgrims, baroque castles and world-class art galleries for history, architecture and art buffs, and Europe’s Best Airport for everyone.

At the heart of all these action is Marienplatz, the main square of Munich. Every day, crowds gather in the square at 11am, 12pm and 5pm (except winter). All eyes follow the Glockenspiel in the tower balcony of the neo-gothic Neues Rathaus as the 43 bells chime and 32 life-sized figures tell their stories of love, triumph and celebrations, before the golden rooster chirps to end the show.

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Go West (Part I)

Frankfurt

The fifth largest city in Germany, is also the biggest financial centre in continental Europe, as well as the home of famous 18th century literary figure Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Steeped in history yet rich in modern architecture, it is naturally one of the top choices for tourists. Clean, modern and safe, they city is esily navigated with a network of trains, trams and buses.

The Romerberg is where the heart of the city lies. Step back in time to the cobbled streets and medieval structures of old Frankfurt. Right in the middle of the square is the famous Fountain of Justice, where the bronze statue of Justitia – the Roman goddess of justice, has been standing proud since 1543. Fairs and festivals are often held at or around the Romerberg. This is also where you will find the Old St. Nicholas Church and the iconic Romer, which has been in use as the city hall for over 600 years.

The pulse of the city runs through the river Main, the longest river in Germany. Along the river, grand views of gothic cathedrals and church towers juxtapose against a skyline of towering skyscrapers.

Ambient cafes and restaurants line the river, some on boat, and some on land. Under such a romantic setting, it is possible that you might want to do what many lovers have done, by hanging a lock with your names handwritten on it on the Eiserner Steg, a pedestrian steel bridge across the river Main.

Amongst its many identities, Frankfurt is also known as the City of Art. Every year, the city’s approximately exhibits to conserved buildings that showcase artworks from the Middle Ages, a visit. Notwithstanding the exhibits, the intricacies of the buildings alone are works of art to be admired.

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Memoirs Of Kyoto (Part II)

My next stop brings me to an even more escalated point, private lunch at an ochaya located in Gion where I would be entertained by geikos (In Kyoto district, geishas are knowns as geikos and maikos. The latter is an apprentice and that usually means working without a salary or very basic salary. However, most of the daily necessities are provided by the company that manages the geiko and maiko; such as their kimonos and make-up. It is a dying trade and some sources say that there are fewer than 200 geikos in Kyoto now. Even traditional hairstylists for maikos are left with only a handful (a geiko is allowed to wear a wig whereas a maiko’s hair is styled using her own).

 

Literally translated, ochaya means tea house but it is different from my experience at the tea room where I learned the art of tea ceremony. The Gion district is most famous for its traditional Japanese houses; many of which are ochaya, a must visit for any visitor to Kyoto.

My last stop in Kyoto brought me to the Entoku-in Temple where the head priest Mr. Tensho Goto is the ambassador for Visit Japan. It was not hard to see why as despite the fact that he hardly speaks a word of English; you can feel his sincerity and passion towards every tourist that visits the temple. I was ushered to the Chashitsu, a free standing structure that usually refers to a small and simple wooden building. Guests have to enter the Chashitsu by lowering their head and crouch; this signifies that all are equal regardless of status or social position.

The interior of the room is kept very simple, without any furniture except with a scroll and simple floral arrangement (usually containing one or two stalks of flowers to inform guests of the current season by just looking at the type of flower being displayed). Even though there is a small window, it is not meant to be opened as it would distract the participant’s concentration. Its purpose is just to let light filter in through the shoji, which is a translucent paper framed with wood.

Before departing for Kansai International Airport, I made my way to the famous Nishiki Market made up of more than one hundred shops and restaurants formed by five blocks of long shopping streets.

This market specialises in fresh and dried seafood, knives and crockery, pickles and Japanese sweets. Some shops willingly give out samples to curious tourists who come from all over the world. The fresh strawberries looked too good to resist and I decided to buy two packets to eat on my flight home.

 

The market closes around 6pm daily but some restaurants there might be sold out earlier. After finishing my Japanese dessert of anmitsu (made of jelly cubes, azuki bean paste and ice-cream) of which I was the last customer, I slowly made my way back to the hotel, ready for check out. With that, my brief but memorable 3-day trip to Kyoto ends. But I will definitely be back; Kyoto has not seen the last of me.

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Memoirs Of Kyoto (Part I)

On arrival at the Kansai International Airport, I was swiftly picked up by a chauffeur in a private limousine. That was one of the main highlights of my trip and an indication of the extraordinary journey to come.

The journey from the airport to Hyatt Kyoto was a scenic one and a half hour ride. After a warm reception at the hotel lobby, I was shown to my suite, a garden facing room with modern and traditional amenities; imagine this: a bathroom with contemporary shower facilities plus a cypress wooden stool to sit on just like in the bathhouse or onsen. Kyoto is also known for its traditional okashi (Japanese sweets and snacks) and guests get to sample different sweets that are thoughtfully placed in the room daily.

There are countless temples within walking distance to my hotel and one of them is the Chishaku-in-temple, just a stone’s away from the Hyatt. Once I was back, I was greeted by the representative from both the hotel and the group. Following a brief explanation of my entire itinerary, our mini bus was waiting n the driveway, ready to send us to the Daikakuji Temple.

The temple was established in year 876 as a detached palace belonging to Emperor Saga. Following his death, his daughter renovated the palace into Daikakuji temple and appointed her son as the first chief priest. The artificial lake in the temple, Osawa pond, is the oldest and one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan that was created during Haian Period.

 

 

Second day in Kyoto, I was looking forward to staying at Hiiragiya Ryokan, one of the most prestigious ryokans in Kyoto. Unlike some of the ryokans with natural onsen (hot spring), thre is no onsen in this part of Kyoto. But what more than makes up for the absence of the onsen was the sincere hospitality shown by each staff member from the ryokan, including the okami-san (manageress of the ryokan) and the delicious kaiseki dinner that was meticulously prepared by the chef.

Being the ever considerate host, whenever one books a room with a ryokan, it is likely that you will be asked about your dietary preferences; whether there is any food that you can’t take and they will then customise the menu according to your liking. And it goes without saying that The Ryokan Collection has already taken down all my order and passed it on to Hiiragiya Ryokan.

Hiiragiya Ryokan comprises of two parts; the old building and the annex building that was completed in recent years. The new building comprises of only 17 rooms and each room is designed with a different theme. I was assigned to a room with a leaf theme. Using ingenious architecture and a strong interior sense, leaf shaped light beams is projected on the wall.

Fall In Love

Scent links to memories, a moment, a special someone. – Debbie Wild, Lifestyle Director, Jo Malone London

When it wafts through the air, it is a soundless voice that whispers into your ears, an effortless power that conjures images of yore to your mind. How do scents affect your mood? W&T talks to Debbie Wild who shows us true scents should be unpretentious and non-synthetic to connect to our souls.

 

What was our first scent memory? How did that influence you?

As a small child I liked making my own scents from crushed petals and leaves in the garden, pretending to be a perfumer and giving them to my friends and family. I think I always loved the idea of scent as an expression of someone’s unique personality and mood.

Later on, I was instantly drawn to Jo Malone London when I received my first gift – a bottle of Cologne nestled in black tissue in the cream and black box and wrapped with a stiff ribbon. I loved the simple elegance of presentation and of the scent itself.

Our scent memory bank is full of personal recollections form different stages in our lives, starting from early childhood. Certain scents trigger memories of people, places, music and moments throughout your lifetime. As far back as I can remember I have always preferred more masculine and spicy scents.

 

Why is scent so important? How does it related to travel?

Scents evoke memories; memory of a place, a person. It is also a way to bring a sense of home with you when travelling.

Can you tell me about your role as Lifestyle Director at Jo Malone London?

I have been a part of the brand since 2006. The journey has been an incredible experience. Being the Lifestyle Director for Jo Malone London I find myself visiting wonderful places, discovering new foods, fashions and architecture. I tell the brand story all over the world.

I am passionate about fragrance and how it can change a mood, set a scene or simply make you feel good about yourself. Life is never the same from one day to the next – a week may start where we are presenting a press launch for a beautiful new fragrance in a faraway city and end in our creative studio experimenting with new ingredients.

 

Is there a scent that is most popular for inducing romance?

I would say Orange Blossom as it is a scent that is suitable for any season. Wear it in the day, followed by Mimoso & Cardamom in the evening would be so perfect. Mimosa & Cardamom is versatile for any venues, be it a beach setting (just picture the sunset with this bohemian scent) or even a city hotel because the scent is so modern and part-like.

 

Do you have any tips for honeymooners on how to create a romantic ambience on their trip?

Bringing along the scented candles would be the easiest way to scent the room. To enhance the cologne, wear it over body cream or lotion.

 

In a few words, can you describe the importance of scents in a relationship?

Scent links to memories, a moment, a special someone. Wedding couples can gift to Jo Malone scented candles to guests as a way for them to rekindle the memory of the wedding.