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Philippe Starck Brings Azkuna Zentroa in Bilbao To Life

One of things I loved so much about Bilbao is the ready access to public art and dynamic architecture. Then there are places in the city where the two aesthetics meet.

The Azkuna Zentroa opened in 2010 as a cultural and leisure center for locals and visitors. Product designer Philippe Starck was brought in to transform a former wine warehouse from the early 1900s into a eye-catching space.

You can shop, eat, drink, study, swim, exercise, watch a movie, hear a lecture, read a book or see a performance. There’s something for everyone, adults and children.

The first thing that you’ll notice are the columns all done in various designs — each one is not like the other. Even if you’re just passing through or creeping on the free WiFi, you can study the columns like you would in a museum.

While you’re walking around, make sure you look up. The gym is on the roof of the building and the pool has a glass bottom. It was raining the day I went so I couldn’t take advantage of the pool. All you need to do is take the elevator to the gym, pay an 11 Euro admittance and get ready to do the butterfly while strangers below look up at you.

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If you want to feel like you’re in the future, you can rest on the illuminated light benches. They don’t sell those at IKEA.

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What’s It Like Walking On The Rue Ibn Rochd to the Casbah in Marrakesh

In my further adventures defying death just to blend into the local culture, I took some video footage of what it’s like to walk through one of the most congested and chaotic portions of the Medina in Marrakesh.

The Casbah I thought only existed in Pepe Le Pew cartoons, but it’s a real place. Unfortunately, by my footage, there’s nothing romantic about dodging cars, bicycles, mopeds and donkeys. It does smell.

Rue Ibn Rochd connects the Casbah to Avenue Hommane Al Fatouaki, a major road in the Medina. The Rue is where cab drivers would park their cars so all sorts of traffic goes in and out with order. There’s no sidewalks, there are sorts of makeshift stands selling fruits and nuts and the cab drivers make extra money by selling junk out of their trunks to other drivers.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t get mowed over

 

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Bilbao Pintxo Pictures from Bar Zuga, Berton and Cervecería Casco Viejo

It’s time to stare lovingly at your screen on desktop and mobile because I’m going all-in with some of Bilbao’s finest pintxos.

The first pintxo bar I visited on my trip through Basque Country was Bar Zuga located in the Plaza Nueva. Since my first night was a Sunday, a lot of bars in the square were closed. Then, the others that were open on Sunday were closed on Monday or Tuesday. I picked Zuga, tucked in the corner of the square, because it was the least crowded. I ended up getting a pintxo of rice and seafood with crusty bread.

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Next on the list was the popular Berton, with three locations in the city. This was the bar that was featured on Spain … On the Road Again. When Gweynth Paltrow and the Spanish lady nobody remembers (Claudia Bassols) had a spa day, Mario Batali and Mark Bittman ate ham here. I skipped the spa and went right for the jamon and sidra combo as seen in the main image of this post.

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Finally, I stumbled upon Cerveceria Casco Viejo when I was admiring Miguel Unamuno Plaza. There’s a photogenic stone stairway attached to the plaza. With the name Cerveceria and boasting of the hamburger, I couldn’t pass this up. This little patty of goodness went perfect with the local La Salve beer. Then, the croquette on top of jamon on bread was artfully presented. Not sure what the green stick was.

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Beer Voyage: Bosphorus Brewing Company in Istanbul

Brew pub in Istanbul? Yes, a brew pub in Istanbul. I go where the beer flows.

My visit to Turkey was back in 2013 after the mass protests and tear gassing in April. Even if shit was going to get real again, it won’t separate me for a little beer adventure.

As far as my research showed at the time, the Bosphorus Brewing Company was the lone craft brewery in town. It’s location in the

Bosphorus Brewing Company

The house brews are your usual selection — IPA, pale ales, red ale and pilsner. They had only been around for a year when I visited, so I’m sure they’ve expanded their repertoire since then. I got the sampler with the fish and chips dinner. I figure I get in some local fish before I dig into the local cuisine the rest of my stay. For a place that’s in a city without beer drinkers, the beer was surprisingly okay.

My local friends whom I was visiting loved B.B.C. because it was the few places you can get a decent beer. Efes and Bomonti are your standard cheap choices and tastes as bland as the name suggests.

The clientele were mostly English, which led to my presumption that this was a place for ex-pats and company outings. You can rest assure that there won’t be a language barrier if you go.

If anything, B.B.C. signifies the progressive nature of Istanbul. It’s a city where East meet West and tradition battles against modernity.

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News! I Got a Job in Travel Making a Website and Video Network, Travel Savvy TV

I’ve been meaning to write here to my 30-40 daily visitors (you gotta start somewhere) that I got a job for an upstart travel website and video network. At the beginning of the month, I became the site director of TravelSavvy.tv. We’re a small, but ambitious operation hoping to provide useful and entertaining travel videos for viewers like you.

The website is a work-in-progress and will evolve throughout the year. The video network is live and running on your AppleTV and Roku devices. Just search for Travel Savvy and you’ll see a decent collection of 40-50 videos that we’ve produced already.

Hosted by ourselves and experts like George Motz of Travel Channel and Hambuger America, Iron Chef Judy Joo and Shark Tank‘s Lori Cheek, they videos give advice, tips and recommendations on where to go, eat and stay in cities around the world. We also have a travel news and deals round-up series that we will do on a regular basis.

In the next month, we’re releasing a 20-30 videos and in the process of filming more.

The question you’re probably asking, “Hey, jerk. You get to travel?” Eventually, but I still have plenty to do in New York before I head off to our Los Angeles office sometime next month. I wish I left Friday to beat this blizzard.

The other question, “Hey, doofus. Do we have to look at you?” Hopefully not, nobody needs to see me. I’m a behind-the-scenes type of guy.

It’s a monumental task to bring up a new website and digital network in a crowded marketplace. My goal is that we get a seat at the table with Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Matador Network, etc. Travel Savvy was a magazine in the 90s-00s that became a digital magazine and now a video entity.

The excitement for me is that I get to use years of travel experience to help build something that people can use, and I get paid! I’ll post some of the content we’ve released on here along with my usual writing. Everybody wins!

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Art, Meatballs, Beer and Dessert — A Typical Night in Sevilla

One of the great things about wondering aimlessly through the narrow streets of Sevilla is the randomness of activities you can encounter. I was on mission to find new school, upscale tapas bar and brewpub Maquila and came across this art gallery on Calle Trajano. Admission was one drink. My type of place.

With my new Canon Powershot 700, there was a setting where it takes video while you take pictures. Once I figure out how to do again and not by accident, then I can some fun stuff.

After the art gallery, I made it to Maquila to fuel up on meatballs, beer and chocolate stout cake with ice cream biscuit, what every growing boy needs.  Here’s are the results: