Sunday, January 5, 2020

Cheap Airfares? No! Driving the Douro from the Quinta de la Rosa

"You drove? But, airfares are so cheap!"

We heard those words several times during a recent journey.

Driving the valley mixes picturesque vistas, twisting roads and alluring villages.

The Douro's vistas were well complemented by the cool professionalism of our overnight destination, Quinta de la Rosa, a Pinhao family owned winery.

First things first.

Four glasses of the vineyard's 2017 reserve were immediately poured upon our arrival.

Check in progressed quickly as we enjoyed the wine. A knowledgeable concierge walked us to our spacious rooms.

The Valley is stunningly beautiful.

Of course the region is known for wines - particularly Port - made from the grapes grown on its hillsides.

The vines and terraces are almost gravity defying.

The landscapes are enchanting and blissfully peaceful.

It was delightful to stay in elegant accommodations at the Quinta de la Rosa.

The winery's location is ideal for sunset views, the exploration of small villages, wineries and douro Valley vistas. We were fortunate to have rooms in the Amarillo house. There was a private entrance to a terrace that abutted the vineyard.

Watching the sun go down and stars come out over the river below was magical. Our room was serene and a minimally chic design, convenient to the gardens and vines.

The Amarillo house included a large sitting room with a wood burning fireplace.

The vineyard, views, inn and the restaurant - Cozinha da Clara - was easily the highlight of our visit.

Don't miss gourmet delights in the dining room. Dinner at Cozinha da Clara confirmed the taste and professionalism so evident throughout our stay. Chef Pedro Cardoso's kitchen produced a number of delicious plates, including pork, lamb and a delectable seafood stew.

The food was inventive and elegant, with a complimentary amuz bouche at dinner.

The attentive staff anticipated our needs and are a credit to the establishment. It is easy to recommend a stay at this beautiful Pinhao destination.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Granada in Winter

William Dalrymple:

I saw in the new year with my family a short walk down from the Alhambra in Granada — one of the best travel decisions I’ve made for years.

It was also just what was needed at a difficult time. My father had recently died, following a decline brought on my mother’s death several months earlier. The home I had been brought up in was suddenly empty, and Scotland with its frosts and bare trees, its short days and long nights, seemed black with grief. Andalucía brought us back to life.

Even arriving in Granada was like coming up for air. I never knew a European winter could be so mild or so beautiful: the high, cold perfectly blue skies of early morning, with wisps of mist in the valleys, would give way to wonderfully warm afternoons: shirtsleeves weather. Bright wintry light illuminated the stucco stalactites of the Salón de los Embajadores, and swelled the oranges ripening in the Generalife palace gardens. Without a breath of wind, the still mirror-pools perfectly reflected the Moorish horseshoe arches rising behind them. Concluding every view, brilliantly illuminated, rose the snow-peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

Andalucía is beautiful in winter, particularly around Christmas. Explore in amuz

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Virtual Travel

Sara Toth Stub:
Significant technological hurdles stand in the way of their ultimate vision. The amount of data needed for live, 360-degree, three-dimensional video isn’t possible to transmit without significant time lags on current wireless networks, said Jacob Chakareski, who runs the Laboratory for Immersive Communication at the University of Alabama. Headsets tend to be clunky and expensive, and the systems require additional graphics cards and cables, he said. The emergence of ultrafast 5G wireless networks and computing that would allow data to be processed closer to devices—rather than in the cloud—could help these issues. But 5G service is still in its infancy, particularly in the U.S. Some startups are already developing live VR without drones. Students who attend New York’s Fordham University, which has two campuses, can use a service called Chimera, developed by New York-based startup Pagoni VR, to sit in on live classes on the other campus. Immertec, a Tampa-based startup, partnered with Johnson & Johnson to provide physicians with live, VR-enabled streams of real surgical procedures at dozens of U.S. hospitals, including Baylor Scott & White Surgical Hospital at Sherman and Vitruvio Institute of Medical Advancement in Dallas.
Hmm. Explore the world with a few taps in amuz:

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Beautiful, if not Lonely Roads

Linda Poon smartly points us to roads less taken:
Even as gas prices fluctuate, Americans have not given up on road trips. The latest “Portrait of American Travelers” report from the travel marketing agency MMGY Global, who interviewed 3,000 people, found that road trips represent 39 percent of vacations in 2016, up 17 percent from the year before. The sustained appeal, according to the New York Times, is the practicality of it all. There’s flexibility in when and how the trip can be organized, and what people can bring with them. It’s also less costly than flying to another destination, and it bypasses the pain of airport security. Yet, at least for some, the urge to hit the open road must have something to do with the chance to escape the crowds and find something new. And what better way to do that than by setting out with a curious mind for the places most other people are passing by?
amuz includes a many interesting and often scenic routes:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Berlin + 30 Years: Tour Flughafen Tempelhof

Ruth Bender:
The end of Germany’s division is often referred to as its reunification. But the East German historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk’s book on the event is called “The Takeover,” and it offers another depiction: a small, impoverished nation being absorbed by its bigger and richer neighbor. No East German institution survived, while life in the West went on largely unchanged. The newly reunified country even retained its old, Western name—the Federal Republic of Germany. The German government spent two trillion euros on upgrading the former Communist state—repairing its infrastructure, rebuilding the courts, schools, police and military. But while the East has partially caught up to the West economically, the regions remain far apart in many respects. Eastern wages and pensions are lower and unemployment higher; few East Germans lead big German companies; Westbound emigration has emptied many Eastern towns. The government’s latest report on the state of reunification, published in September, claims that 57% of East Germans feel like second-class citizens and only 38% consider reunification a success. In the West, many resent such sentiment after so much tax money was funneled into the region. Politically, East and West have even started diverging again after a long period of growing together. The nativist Alternative for Germany, or AfD, is now among the three most popular parties in the East, according to opinion polls and recent election results. One of its slogans is “let’s complete the Wende,” or “turning point,” as the events of 1989 are known—an appeal to the sense of frustration many feel in the East over issues ranging from the lack of economic parity with the West to the rejection of some Western views on immigration and diversity.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Privacy - Amuz Collects No User Data: AirBnb and others have taken a different approach

Kashmir Hill:
As of this summer, though, Sift does have a file on you, which it can produce upon request. I got mine, and I found it shocking: More than 400 pages long, it contained all the messages I’d ever sent to hosts on Airbnb; years of Yelp delivery orders; a log of every time I’d opened the Coinbase app on my iPhone. Many entries included detailed information about the device I used to do these things, including my IP address at the time. Sift knew, for example, that I’d used my iPhone to order chicken tikka masala, vegetable samosas and garlic naan on a Saturday night in April three years ago. It knew I used my Apple laptop to sign into Coinbase in January 2017 to change my password. Sift knew about a nightmare Thanksgiving I had in California’s wine country, as captured in my messages to the Airbnb host of a rental called “Cloud 9.”
Background tracking notifications: iPhone owners now get notifications when apps are using their location in the background, providing them with a chance to turn this feature off.
Keach Hagey & Vivien Ngo:
One point of tension for publishers: Google’s own properties, along with those of Facebook Inc. and Inc., are competing with them for digital ad spending—and winning. Collectively, the tech giants will take in 68% of the roughly $130 billion in U.S. digital ad spending this year, according to eMarketer. Overall, Google made $116 billion in advertising revenue last year, a 22% rise from the previous year and 85% of the company’s total revenue. Most of that ad revenue came from Google’s own properties, but the company’s vast role in brokering online ad sales off its own platforms gives it an added level of dominance. Google has, at times, provided incentives to use its products in tandem. A few years ago, Google waived certain fees for DoubleClick for Publishers if an ad sale was made through its AdX exchange, according to a contract reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Last year, Google merged those two products—DoubleClick for Publishers and AdX—into a single product called Google Ad Manager, making it plain to the industry that they are indeed linked, ad and publishing executives say. Also in 2016, Google began allowing data it gathered from services like Gmail and Google maps, such as users’ locations and email addresses, to be used in DoubleClick’s ad-targeting system—but only for customers of its ad-buying tool DV360. Google said it anonymizes and aggregates this data into audience segments, and stopped using Gmail data for ad personalization in 2017. Rival ad-buying companies say when they asked to access the data, Google refused, citing privacy concerns. “We offered to sign a privacy assurance, and they said no,” Rajeev Goel, chief executive of rival ad-tech firm PubMatic Inc., said.