Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are you a dedicated follower of fashionable travel?

The most fashionable cities in the world? Sorry, you/we don't live there, according to a survey condicted by VeryFirstToCom. on behalf of A2B, a manufacturer of electric bikes. But Australia's biggest city, Sydney (shown above in an MCT photo by Tom Uhlenbrock), did.

Here are the results, according to the press release:

1. Paris
Hotel: Four Seasons George V. Restaurants: Le Meurice Alain Ducasse and Taillevent. Nightlife: Hotel Costes, Silencio. Shopping: Rue St Honoré. Culture: Le Marais.

2. New York
Hotel: Loews Regency. Restaurants: Le Bernardin and Per Se. Nightlife: VIP Room. Shopping: Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, Soho. Culture: Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

3. Milan, Italy
Hotel: Hotel Armani. Restaurant: Dolce & Gabbana Gold. Nightlife: Cavalli Club. Shopping: Quadrilatero d’Oro ("golden quadrilateral").

4.  London
Hotel: Rosewood. Restaurant: Le Gavroche. Nightife: Connaught Bar. Culture: The Tate, Southbank.

5. Barcelona, Spain
Hotel: W. Restaurant: ABaC. Nightlife: Eclipse Bar (W) and Boujis. Culture: Picasso Museum. Shopping: Passeig De Gracià.

6. Rome
Hotel: JK Place. Restaurants: Aroma and Metamorfosi. Nightlife: Bar della Pace, La Cabala.

7. Tokyo
Hotel: Peninsula. Restaurants: Joel Robuchon and Narisawa. Nightlife: New York Bar (Park Hyatt) and Velours. Culture: Ueno Koen, Mori Arts Center.

8. Los Angeles
Hotel: Bel-Air Restaurants: Mr. Chow, Chateau Marmont and Providence. Nightlife: Couture, Teddy’s Skybar. Shopping: Rodeo Drive, West Hollywood.

9. Amsterdam
Hotel: Dylan. Restaurants: Bord'eau and Vinkeles. Nightlife: Freddy's, Supper Club Bungalow 8 and A Bar (Intercontinental).

10. Istanbul
Hotel: Shangri-La, Bosphorus. Restaurants: Zuma and Cipriani. Nightlife: GQ Bar and 360 Bar.

11. Berlin
Hotel: Hotel De Rome. Restaurants: Tim Raue and Les Solistes. Nightlife: The Liberate, Paris Bar and Lang Bar.

12. Sydney
 Hotel: QT. Restaurants Marque and Tetsuyas. Nightlife: Blu Bar. Shop
ping: Surrey Hills & Darlinghurst.

All press release are sent by a firm, organization or cause wanting something. A2B is offering monthlong  package trips to all these, electric bikes included, for $134,000 per person, through the British travel company Colletts Travel (

Nobody ever said fashion was cheap.

In our area, A2B electric bikes are sold by Charlotte Energy Solutions, whose website  (, prices A2B's Ultra Motor model at $2,699.

You could just buy one and take a tour of exotic Stallings.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New option for a dog-gone vacation

If you and your pooch have lived in your present home for a while, you've undoubtedly met pet-owning neighbors while out for a walk.

And sooner or later, this topic always comes up: What do you do with him/her when you go on vacation?

Sometimes you can work out a dog-tending arrangement: Watch mine until next Wednesday and I'll repay the favor.

If nothing else, you could ask for a recommendation for a close-by sitter or kennel they trust.

But even in the best possible situations, dog owners get angst-y about leaving their pets with someone else.

Enter a new website called  DogVacay.

Go to their site -- -- and type in your city if it doesn't pop up automatically.  Add your start and stop dates and see the list of available sitters.

A map lets you scroll around to those who live closer to you (if that's a concern).

Slide bars on the  search page let you select your price range (starting at  $35 per day in our area).

Check-off boxes help refine your search:

* Host's home -- or yours?

* Host home without pets -- or with pets?

* Apartment or house?

* Small, medium or large outdoor area?

There's also a "special skills" option if you have a special-needs dog:

* Certified for pet CPR or first-aid.

* Can administer oral medication?

* Can administer injected medication?

There are roughly 70 sitters ("hosts") available now in the Charlotte area; DogVacay has more than 10,000 nationwide, in roughly 2,500 cities.

Pet-owner reviews of their DogVacay experiences can be posted at each sitter's information page.

Aspiring hosts go through a vetting process with DogVacay, which says successful applicants must be passionate about dogs. There are interviews. References are required. A spokesperson for California-based DogVacay said only 15 percent of host applicants are approved.

DogVacay includes dog insurance; there's also a 24-hour customer service number either you or the sitter can call.

DogVacay takes 15 percent of  the sitting fee.

You make reservations through the DogvVcay site, which also has "Propose a meet-and-greet" and "Ask host a question" options if you want to go the extra step to make sure you've found the sitter you want.