33 Restaurants with Spectacular Views!

Turns out food is not the only luxury served best at these restaurants.

Next time you’re on a journey around the world, pamper yourself with a meal and a view, at what is voted by travel magazines and experts, restaurants with the most spectacular views!

I can’t vouch for the quality of the food though. Hoping the meal is as refreshing as the view you take in!

AMERICAS

Sierra Mar – Big Sur, California

sierra Mar, Big Sur, CA

The Encounter, LAX – Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California, USA --- Encounter Restaurant at Los Angeles Airport --- Image by © Chris Daniels/CORBIS

George’s At The Cove – La Jolla, California

original-201307-HD-Georges-at-the-Cove

Surf Lodge Restaurant – Montauk, New York

Surf Lodge Restaurant, Montauk, NY

The River Cafe – Brooklyn, New York

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Mirror Lake Inn – Lake Placid, New York

original-201307-HD-the-view

Elements Restaurant – Scottsdale, Arizona

elements

Dasheene – St. Lucia, West Indies

dasheene

Sanctuary Lodge – Cuzco, Peru

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EUROPE

Les Remparts – Eze Village, France

Les Remparts, Eze Village, France

Le Panoramic – Chamonix, France

le-panoramic-restaurant-chamonix-france

La Sponda – Positano, Italy

La Sponda, Positano, Italy

Belvedere, Hotel Caruso – Amalfi Coast, Italy

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Ristorante Grotta Palazzese – Puglia, Italy

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Club Del Doge Restaurant – Venice, Italy

Club del Doge Restaurant, Venice, Italy

Rossellini’s – Ravello, Italy

Palazzo-Avino-Ravello-Salerno-Italy2

Hotel Edelweiss – Murren, Switzerland

edelweiss

360 – Istanbul, Turkey

360-Istanbul

ASIA

101 at One&Only, The Palm – Dubai, UAE

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Saidpur Village, Pakistan

Saidpur_4

The Monal – Islamabad, Pakistan

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Vertigo, Banyan Tree – Bangkok

Bangkok-Moonbar-1170X470

Soneva Kiri – Koh Kood, Thailand

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The Grotto – Krabi, Thailand

the-grotto-rayvadee

Kupu Kupu Barong Villas – Bali, Indonesia

laview

Waterfalls Restaurant – San Pablo City, Philippines

waterfall-restaurant-feature

Felix – Hong Kong

Felix-restaurant-harbour-view

Skyline Restaurant – Queenstown, New Zealand

skyline_queenstown_banner_restaurant4

AFRICA

Delaire Graff Restaurant – Stellenbosch, South Africa

DELAIRE_GRAFF_RESTAURANT_Deck

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge – Tanzania

ngorongoro-crater-lodge-breakfast1.jpg.1920x810_default

Klein’s Camp – Serengeti, Tanzania

a-tanzania-safari-at-andbeyond-kleins-camp-27.jpg.950x0

The Rock Restaurant – Zanzibar, Tanzania

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Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant – Diani Beach, Kenya

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Best of the Best Travel Apps for Travel Junkies

BestTravelApps

My recent trip to Japan elevated my respect for technology to a new level. The information I could obtain back in 2009 using 7 hard copies of Rick Steve’s guides crumbled up in my purse can now be accessed with a single click on the phone. With the right apps to address your needs on-the-go, you can optimize your convenience and comfort on the road at the same time alleviate the every-day hassles which tend to slow you down. In my Japan Guide 101 published a couple of weeks ago, I highlighted a number of apps such as Waygo which made our communication in Japan so much easier. After my trip, I set out on a task to uncover as many travel apps I could possibly find to ease the load off but more importantly, add a thick layer of excitement to my future travel plans! I was amazed at what & how much is out there I wasn’t aware of. But first I needed to be sure these apps were (1) reputable, and (2) user-friendly, hence making them (3) download worthy. After a thorough selection process, I chose several to share with you. Hopefully you weren’t as clueless as I was!

The Booking Phase

Hopper (via BGR) – Hopper uses historical data to try to tell you when you should book your flight. It also provides a timeline of exactly how to expect prices to trend. Other similar apps to try are Airfarewatchdog and Yapta.

But If Shit Happens…

Roomer (via Buzzfeed) – What do you do when you run into last minute change of plans or an emergency to attend to but your hotel booking is non-refundable? You pay cancellation fees! But if you use Roomer, you can list your room and wait to hear from someone who wants to take over your reservation — so no extra fees out of your pocket!

The Planning Phase

Google Calendar (via Fast Company) – Google Calendar‘s redesigned functionality automatically sucks in upcoming flights, concerts or reservations from your email into your schedule. Other similar apps are TripCase and Tripit.

CityMaps2Go (via Buzzfeed) – If you’re traveling outside your country and have to depend on Wi-Fi for internet, it’s smart to download all the maps you’ll need in advance at CityMaps2Go. They’re stored offline so you’ll avoid roaming charges. Other similar apps are Citymapper and Maplets.

The “Painful” Packing Phase

PackPoint (via Quaintrelleoquist) – PackPoint is a free packing list app which helps you organize what you need to pack based on length of travel, weather of your destination, and any activities planned during your trip. Their motto: Never forget your _____ again!

The Airport Phase

My TSA (via Buzzfeed) – My TSA allows you to look up how long the security wait times are at your airport so you’ll be sure to arrive early enough to make your flight. For help on navigating the airport, also check out GateGuru and Flight Aware.

LoungeBuddy (via Tom’s Guide) – Whether you’re traveling Economy or First Class, LoungeBuddy helps you find airport lounges in any of more than 500 airports worldwide for free or one-time fee.

Time-To-Hit-The-Road Phase

Roadtrippers (via Buzzfeed) – Roadtrippers is a must-have for anyone planning a road trip in the United States. You enter where you want to go, make selections depending on what you want to see (natural wonders! weird stuff!), and the app will create a customized map for you. Similar apps include WunderWalk, AroundMe and Fieldtripper.

iExit (via Baltimore) – iExit pinpoints your location/direction via GPS, it tells you what lies ahead exit by exit (up to 100 of them) so you can plan gas stops, bathroom breaks, meals, lodging, and other road-tripping necessities.

Gas Buddy (via iGeeksBlog) – For avid road trippers, Gas Buddy is your best buddy on the road when it comes to finding cheap gas in your vicinity using Google Maps.

Postagram (via Time) – Postagram lets you upload a vacation picture, type in a greeting, print out the card and send it through snail mail for 99 cents in the U.S. and $1.99 worldwide.

Track My Tour (via Buzzfeed) – Track My Tour allows your loved ones to “join” you on a trip from the comfort of their homes. They “follow a breadcrumb trail of your tour by visiting the link you sent them,” while you document the most exciting spots you visit as you go. What3Words app delivers a slightly similar experience.

Parkopedia (via Rough Guides) – With the help of Parkopedia, locate parking spaces near you using GPS services, see parking availability in real-time and check prices, payment methods and opening times – before you even get behind the wheel.

But If Shit Happens…

Rain Alarm (via Telegraph) – Rain Alarm app warns you against approaching precipitation like rain or snow within your selected radius using (almost) real-time data. A useful assistant for everything outdoors like cycling, biking, hiking, gardening, BBQ, picnics, dog walking, home improvement and more.

Wi-Fi Finder (via pcmag) – With 320,000 locations in 140 countries worldwide, Wi-Fi Finder does just what it says, helps users find nearby Wi-Fi locations. And thankfully, locations can be downloaded for use when you’re not online, smart!

Pocket (via Rough Guides) – Pocket is a hugely useful app that lets you save web articles and videos to your your device for offline reading at a later date – perfect for that long train journey or 12-hour flight. The best part is that it’s compatible across devices, meaning your saved articles will synchronize across all of them when connected to the internet.

LogMeIn (via Buzzfeed) – It’s a horrible moment when you realize that you need a file stored on your home computer when you’re 700 (or even just 30) miles away from it. LogMeIn allows you to access (and control) your home computer from anywhere.

Lookout (via Telegraph) – Lookout app scans downloads for viruses and other malware, and allows you to track or remotely wipe a phone if it is lost or stolen.

The Wine-n-Dine Phase

OpenTable (via Baltimore) – OpenTable is your mobile concierge to help you make dinner reservations anywhere. Search for restaurants by location or name, browse top and trendy dining spots, and then let OpenTable search for available dates and times. When you’ve chosen one, book it with one tap. The app instantly confirms the reservation, sends you a reminder in advance and invites your friends on your behalf. To enhance your dining or other city-cruising experiences, be sure to check out TV Food Maps (guide to restaurants featured on Chopped and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), FlavourUnlike, 12hrs, Spotted By Locals and Trover.

The Language-Disconnect Phase

Google Translate (via Time) – Google Translate recently launched “Conversation mode.” Simply open the app, hold the mobile device between two people speaking a different language, and listen as it translates a conversation live. Other awesome apps to kill the language barrier are Waygo, iTranslate and TripLingo.

The Facebook-Status-Update Phase

Hyperlapse (via uncrate) – Hyperlapse from Instagram lets you shoot time lapse videos that can be played back at up to 12 times the speed you shot it, allowing you to show a day’s worth of action in just 30 seconds or less.

Shift (via appadvice) – Shift by Pixite just took photo editing to a whole new level. It gives you complete freedom to make your own personalized photo filters. In other words, when it comes to photo editing, the sky is the limit. Here’s how the app works. Time to give oldies like Vibrance, VSCO Cam, Litely and Camera+ a break.

The Track-Your-Expenses Phase

Expensify (via Tom’s Guide) – If you’re a business traveler then Expensify is your Bestie for life! It allows you to manually track your expenses. You can photograph your receipts, have it read by computer and automatically generate as an expense. In addition to receipt scanning, Expensify offers input options for travel mileage, time and rate based expenses, as well as automatic currency conversion.

Cost Split (via Rough Guides) – Cost Split lets you set up a budget for each trip with the names of the people splitting the costs, so you can keep track of who spends what. When you’re ready to settle your debts at the end of your trip, you can run a report which tells you who should pay what to whom. Splitwise is a similar app to try.

The Back-To-Reality Phase

Dude Where’s My Car? (via Buzzfeed) – The last thing you want to do when you get back from a trip is wander around the airport parking garage for 30 minutes, exasperatedly searching for your vehicle. Dude Where’s My Car keeps track of *exactly* where you parked and will guide you back to that spot. Plus, it also helps you find parking.

 

The Bragging Phrase

Been (via Rough Guides) – How well-travelled are you? Track your globetrotting progress with Been, the app that lets you select all the countries you’ve visited and will calculate what percentage of each continent, and the entire world, you have covered on your travels.

 

…And If You Are Planning A Trip To Disney Land…

My Disney Experience (via Buzzfeed) – With the help of My Disney Experience, you can access real-time wait times, make dining reservations, look up parade showtimes, and more.

What To Expect In 2015

Bluesmart (via Telegraph) – Bluesmart is going to be World’s first smart connected luggage. The app will allow you to lock and unlock your luggage, weigh it, track its location and be notified if you are leaving it behind. You can also charge your phone 6 times over with a built-in battery. No more lost luggage!

The Ultimate Road Trip Across U.S.

The Ultimate Road Trip of U.S.

Randy Olson, a researcher at University of Pennsylvania, was recently challenged by Discovery News contributor Tracy Staedter to compute the optimal road trip across every state in U.S. Conditions:

  1. The trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states in the contiguous U.S.
  2. The trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments.
  3. The trip must be taken by car and never leave the U.S.

The Result: An epic itinerary with a mix of inner city exploration, must-see historical sites, and beautiful natural landscapes, as shown in the map diagram above.

Click here for the interactive version of the map.

Destinations:

  1. Grand Canyon, AZ
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  3. Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
  4. Yellowstone National Park, WY
  5. Pikes Peak, CO
  6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
  7. The Alamo, TX
  8. The Platt Historic District, OK
  9. Toltec Mounds, AR
  10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
  11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
  12. French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
  13. USS Alabama, AL
  14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
  15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
  16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
  17. Lost World Caverns, WV
  18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
  19. Mount Vernon, VA
  20. White House, Washington, DC
  21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
  22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware
  23. Cape May Historic District, NJ
  24. Liberty Bell, PA
  25. Statue of Liberty, NY
  26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
  27. The Breakers, RI
  28. USS Constitution, MA
  29. Acadia National Park, ME
  30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH
  31. Shelburne Farms, VT
  32. Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
  33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
  34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
  35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
  36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
  37. Gateway Arch, MO
  38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
  39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
  40. Taliesin, WI
  41. Fort Snelling, MN
  42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
  43. Mount Rushmore, SD
  44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND
  45. Glacier National Park, MT
  46. Hanford Site, WA
  47. Columbia River Highway, OR
  48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
  49. San Andreas Fault, CA
  50. Hoover Dam, NV

Why was Randy selected for the challenge? Well, he’s the dude who developed the algorithm for most efficiently finding Waldo in the Where’s Waldo series. Yep, you heard me.

Read more about your optimal trip across U.S. here.

via The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

If you are a road traveler, you many also want to consider investing in National Geographic’s gigantic Travel Guide Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Trips. This book sits on my center table as we speak. Not just for decor. This book successfully made 6 of my road trips possible in the last two years. No kidding! Good investment!

Or…

Conde Nast Traveler recently published The 5 Most Spectacular National Park Road Trips, which include:

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Blue Ridge Parkway to Shenandoah National Park, North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway to Shenandoah National Park, North Carolina

Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands National Park, SD

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

…and more…

Get more information here.

Have I convinced you enough to pack your bags and set yourself off on a road journey?!!

If so, well, make sure to Travel with Style… 😉

Japan Guide 101

As much as vacationing is fun, planning for one can be a bit exhausting especially if you’re going to a location for the first time and it has a lot to offer but you have limited time on your hands.

So I figured it might be a good idea to put together a thorough guide to Japan while the information is still fresh in my head. If I’m lucky, you might learn a thing or two here which you may not have stumbled upon just yet. Besides, sometimes the best resource for planning your trip is someone who’s been there recently and can give you their perspective of the place versus a guidebook’s which typically appeals to a much broader audience.

Planning your Japan itinerary:

  • TripAdvisor – the discussion forums especially are loaded with great tips & recommendations on travel planning.
  • Lonely Planet – I had the older version but 2015 editorial is coming out soon!
  • www.Japan-talk.com — my personal favorite! Their list of top things to do in each city were on point especially now that I’ve been there & done that.
  • www.Japan-guide.com
  • Boutique Japan – offers some decent lodging options but to find what you want you have to scroll through each post. I spent a few hours reading through this blog and found it very informative. There’s not a lot of content to browse through so you’ll get through it quickly.
  • Go Japan Go
  • Japan National Tourism Organization
  • Blogs such as Little Grey Box and Destination Japan offer great insight into Japan

Make sure to pack:

  • Umbrella – rain is frequent and unpredictable.
  • Cash – enough cash as many places do not accept American credit cards.
  • Hand sanitizer – grab a travel size from Bath & Body Works as the Japanese do not believe in soap (totally missing from most public bathrooms). Since restrooms are equipped with bidets, there really is no need to wash your hands with soap. But if you’re like me and find that soaps complete you! then yes, you’re going to need a hand sanitizer as a substitute.
  • Travel backpack – 2 reasons you’d rather carry a backpack then a purse: 1. there are limited trash cans in the city so you need a place to store your trash until you find a recycling bin, and 2. if you plan on shopping as you go then a backpack makes it much easier to carry your load as opposed to carrying multiple shopping bags especially when you know you won’t be heading back to your hotel frequently throughout the day.
  • Tissue or Wipes – Paper towels are also non-existent in public restrooms so carry with you ample tissue paper to wipe yourself as needed.
  • Portable charger – Amazon has several varieties; I purchased mine on either Groupon or LivingSocial, can’t remember which one, but it had several positive reviews and was discounted fairly well from it’s original price

Lodging:

TripAdvisor is a great place to research for lodging options but surprisingly, Airbnb and VRBO offered us great deals for the price. Remember, Japanese hotel rooms are very small, 2 double beds in a single room are hard to find unless you’re looking at 4- to 5-star hotels which come with a price tag. If you’re open to non-hotel options, try these two!

Transportation:

Prior to entering Japan: If you plan to travel a lot within Japan then buying the Japan Rail Pass may be your best bet. Since we didn’t travel much within Japan, we just bought Shinkansen (reserved) tickets at the train station a few hours prior to departure. Check this out to find out more on when it may make sense for you to invest in the Japan Rail Pass because you have to buy it prior to entering Japan!

Upon entering Japan: If you know in advance you’ll be hitting many spots within the city on a given day then investing in the one-day metro pass is a brilliant idea since metro is the best way to travel from one neighborhood to another especially within Tokyo. These metro passes range from $10-$16 per person per day and can be bought at the metro station. In Kyoto, we used mainly buses for transportation.

Dining:

Believe it or not, we Yelped a great deal to find where to eat. Just know that top-rated places get booked out fast so reservations are required and sometimes a couple of days in advance. If we knew we wanted to try a place, we just called & reserved it for a night. There were a few we came across on Yelp but we didn’t get a chance to attend. If you can, please do so!

  • Ryugin – 3-star Michelin restaurant in Roppongi Hills. Expensive though!
  • Aladdin – cheap but good halal Mediterranean buffet in Roppongi district
  • Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511 – said to be the BEST Kobe Beef in Tokyo!
  • Gonpachi Nishiazabu – this restaurant inspired the setting for the big fight scene in the movie Kill Bill between Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu and Crazy 88. Note: this restaurant was not used for the fighting scene; Quentin fell in love with this restaurant during his visit to Tokyo hence later using it as a setting for the scene. You will see the similarities once you walk in!

Language Barrier:

Language is a barrier in Japan but most people we came across understood common English words. With a little charades on our part, we would somehow find our answers eventually. Almost everyone working in 7-Elevens or similar marts knew limited but “workable” English. However, all products have Japanese handwriting on it. To help us translate Japanese words to English, we used Waygo, very effective, worked 100% of the time. I also used the Learn Japanese app to help me communicate verbally, it has handy phrases which you expect to use from time to time. Another good app is Triposo – good for exploring sightseeing, dining, nightlife and day trip options. Since I didn’t do much research on apps, here’s one resource where you can start. Plus, BuzzFeed just released this article on 29 Apps That Will Make Traveling So Much Easier – pretty good read!

Other Tips: Make sure to – 

  • carry your passport with you at all times as many shopping stores offer tax-free option but only if you have your passport on you
  • ask for WiFi access (for tourists) at the airport. We found out too late that airports do offer you some options but not sure which type though
  • pick up the Tokyo Handy Guide (a yellow guidebook) at the airport full of handy tips and itineraries
  • O.D. on snacks at the local marts. Nothing you’ll see outside of Japan!
  • hydrate well throughout the trip!

Places we didn’t get to see:

Honestly, there’s nothing on my itinerary I would advise you to skip. I enjoyed each and every spot I went to. There were a few places we had on our watch but didn’t have time to visit. I encourage you to include these on your itinerary if you can:

Tokyo

  • Sensoji Temple in Asakusa district
  • Tokyo Skytree Town (including Tokyo Solamachi) in Ryogoku
  • Tsukiji Fish Market in Ginza
  • Kabukiza Theatre & Show in Ginza – friends saw it and loved it!
  • Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shinjuku
  • Kappabashi district known for its kitchen supplies
  • Jimbocho for rare books collections
  • Ikebukuro Butler Cafes

Kyoto

  • Miyako Odori are cherry blossom dances performed nightly in April by Gion’s Geisha in historic Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theatre since 1869
  • Nijo Castle
  • Fushimiri Inari Shrine

On Places to See, visit my posts on Kyoto here and here, on Tokyo by clicking here and here, and on Hakone/Fuji by clicking here. Click away!

Most Unusual Kit Kats in the World:

Japan has the reputation for having the most unusual and diverse collection of Kit Kat flavors in the world. And since my two sisters are Kit Kat crazy, I set out to explore where I could find the strangest flavors. I began my quest on Google and then followed its directions. Unfortunately, Google wasn’t much help but we got lucky in a few places. Hope you can learn from our experience:

  • Pharmacies & Convenience Stores – carry only a few flavors mostly Green Tea
  • Laox – Akihabara’s duty-free shop had a decent collection precisely 4 flavors to choose from
  • Airports – honestly, instead of running around the city, we should have just focused at the airport because the stores there carried a pretty good variety similar to what we saw in Laox & elsewhere. So when you arrive at Haneda or Narita, check out the stores before you exit & then keep an eye out for additional flavors as you navigate through the city.

Where we didn’t get a chance to shop for flavors but Google suggested we should:

Here’s a picture of my final stash of Kit Kats:

kit kat collection

Flavors: wasabi, rum raisin, pudding, chili, green tea, strawberry cheesecake, red beans, cherry blossom, soy sauce (interesting right??!)

Well there you go! Your extensive guide on Japan from the perspective of a first-time visitor who had but 10 days to explore a vast, beautiful and culturally-rich country. Hope you find this guide useful! I seriously hope you do! I’ve been typing away for an hour, no kidding!!!

BON VOYAGE!!!