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La Confluence Lyons Cutting Edge

Those roving travellers who, on a visit to the capital of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, are unsated by delving into its past in the streets of Vieux Lyon, rambling through the bohemian district of La Croix-Rousse – which once hosted the silk workshops that earned the city fame and identity – or visiting the Institut Lumière, where the seventh art took its first tentative steps, and would instead like to discover the Lyon of the future, should make a point of heading for the Lyon Confluence.

At the tip of the peninsula where the Rhône and Saône rivers meet on their passage through Lyon lies the city’s most avant-garde district, the site of state-of-the-art architectural structures designed by a host of national and international architectural studios.

In its beginnings, the Confluence was an industrial precinct with numerous warehouses which gradually fell derelict. Over the last few years, this neighbourhood has been redeveloped, becoming what is now the apple of Lyon’s eye. This has been achieved by implementing a large-scale urban renewal project which has become a new focus of interest for both the Lyonese and tourists alike. Guided by the precepts of sustainability and creativity, the project features some highly interesting constructions and the district has taken on a markedly new lease of life, attracting businesses, restaurants and the odd hotel, and the project still has a long way to go.

Le Cube Orange is one of the icons of the district and one of the first surprises to hit newcomers to the area. The work of French architects Jakob + Macfarlane Architects, this huge building has a giant, cone-shaped hole gouged out of it, its function being both aesthetic and to provide light and ventilation. Another landmark and sequel to the Cube Orange, as it is designed by the same architects, is the Euronews HQ, although here one’s attention is struck by its loud green colour and this time the building’s rectangular facade is pierced by two holes. Another construction which made an impression on us during our stroll through La Confluence was Dark Point, the work of French architect Odile Decq, where the structure seemingly reaches out to embrace the river.

La Sucriére acts as a counterpoint to the aforementioned shot of cutting-edge architecture. Once a factory warehouse for storing sugar, it has now been refurbished and converted into an exhibition space for mainly art and creative works in general.

The itinerary culminates in the Musée des Confluences, unveiled in December 2014 and housed in a building characterised by the deconstructivist architectural style of the Austrian Coop Himmelb(l)au. Shaped to resemble a cloud, the museum is dedicated to natural history and societies. The permanent collection comes from the Museum of Lyon and features exhibits ranging from ethnographic artefacts to natural science objects.

And, if all that hasn’t quite quenched your sightseeing thirst, you can always go on a heady shopping spree in the district’s emblematic shopping complex – the largest in Lyon – namely the Pôle de Commerces et Loisirs Confluence which, apart from countless stores, is also the site of numerous restaurants, cinemas, gyms, etc.

Now that you know about Lyon’s most avant-garde neighbourhood, book your Vueling here and discover it for yourself.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Anthony V.

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100 Years of German History on Wheels

The BMW group is marking its 100th anniversary this year by holding a temporary exhibition showcasing the company’s history, from 1916 up to the present, through a display of 100 “masterpieces”. We travelled to Munich to witness the inauguration of this landmark exhibition. There we learned both the history of this emblematic automaker and of Germany, and retraced its technological evolution over the last century.

The Building

The museum is housed in a futuristic complex called BMW Welt, ideally located near the Olympiapark. The venue not only serves automobile enthusiasts, as it also hosts regular exhibitions on themes related to technology, design and innovation. Designed by the Austrian architect’s studio, Coop Himmelb(l)au, it took four years to build. It was originally slated to open for the final stage of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but it wasn’t completed in time, and eventually opened a year later. It is a vibrant building as it can be adapted to a variety of uses – it can operate as a market, a communications centre and also a meeting point for the exchange of ideas.

This is a modern building designed to be experienced with the five senses. Here you can see, hear and feel technology and design. It features a permanent auto exhibition, among other content. Prominent, too, is the Junior Campus, a place where children learn how to approach technology in an entertaining and edifying manner.

The Museum

The BMW Museum is a multi-purpose space which features presentations of new BMW car models, among other things. The museum interior is arranged into key sections, namely seven great thematic areas, each set within its own environment and endowed with a distinct aesthetic. On our visit, we learned that the main idea behind the conceptualisation of the museum space was to exploit the carmaker’s history as an expression of its modern, sophisticated character, one in which innovative technology is at the forefront, and design is used to enthral at first sight. However, cars are not the only exhibits here, as you will also see motorcycles and all kinds of technology as applied to motor sports. Also on display is the latest motor invention by the Bavarian automaker.

100 Masterpieces

BMW celebrates its 100th anniversary this month, and one of the main events they are hosting is the show, 100 Masterpieces, a temporary exhibition showcasing the company’s history from 1916 to the present. To this end, 100 works have been selected to exemplify one of the most innovative companies in the world. It is a journey through different periods and the display is spectacular.

The works are displayed within a hemispherical building on five platforms which stand for five specific periods through which the company’s history is presented. As is to be expected, the exhibition starts with the first “masterpiece” of BMW – the founding in 1916 of Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). From here on, the journey through time moves between posters of different eras, each of which closely reflects the corresponding art avant-gardes of those times. The following section is dedicated to the company staff. Here, the focus is on the legion of workers, each of whom played their part in the construction of the German colossus. This section also touches on such aspects of the business as health, architecture, internationalism, production, corporate culture and sustainability. The itinerary is chronological and gradually reveals achievements of all kinds, notably motorbikes like the incredible R35, the near-pioneering R12, the striking K1, the Dakar-winning GS, and the innovative R NineT. And, automobiles – the latest BMW 7 Series, the legendary James Bond Z8, the iconic Mini Cooper, the amazing Isetta, a period trend-setter, and the futuristic i3 and i8. They have all made history at BMW, as has the production of aircraft engines. The exhibition also features a number of milestones in motor racing. We were particularly impressed by the display of rare mock-ups, films and photographs, as well as various preliminary sketches of fantasy prototypes. In all, the exhibition goes far beyond pleasing four-wheel fanatics. It is more of a lesson in history, aesthetics, design and sociology presented in a highly attractive fashion.

Don’t pass up the chance to discover the ins and outs of one of the icons of international motoring. Check out our flights here. The exhibition runs until 30 September 2017.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Germany Travel

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Top 10 Pavilions at Expo Milano 2015

Expo Milano 2015 is in full swing, after more than seven years’ preparation. Going back over 160 years, this is one of the longest-standing international events. The central theme for this edition is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, covering the fields of technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity as related to food and diet. After touring the exhibition site for several days, we have drawn up a selection of the 10 best pavilions. This was no easy task, as this year there are over 145 participating countries.

10. Mexican Pavilion

The Mexican pavilion, designed by the Loguer Design firm, features an external structure in the shape of a large corn cob. The interior replicates to scale the agricultural irrigation system applied in the Mexican Basin during the reign of King Nezahualcóyotl, a veritable achievement in sustainability which involved harnessing the environment without degrading it.

9. Spanish Pavilion

Designed by the firm, B720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos. In an event of this order, which promotes healthy eating, the Mediterranean diet takes centre stage. The Spanish Pavilion combines the structure of a greenhouse with that of a traditional granary. On display in the latter is produce used in regional cuisine, as well as the processes involved in food growing and production.

8. Italian Pavilion

The Italian Pavilion, designed by Nemesi & Partners Srl, Proger SpA and BMS Progetti Srl, connects up with the various exhibition areas, the auditorium and the conference halls. The building is well worth visiting, the axes of which are fused with the structure itself. Here, too, the architecture is sustainable, based on evocative avenues and the use of new technologies.

7. China Pavilion

The undulating Chinese Pavilion was created by a consortium of Tsinghua University, the Beijing Qingshang Environmental & Architectural Design Institute, and the New York Studio Link-Arc team. Based on the theme, "Land of Hope, Food for Life", it showcases this huge nation’s progress in feeding its people through agriculture and distribution. The interior features a stunning field created by LEDs, simulating cultivation according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

6. Austrian Pavilion

This is actually a lush forest, located in the open air, enabling visitors to wander among the foliage and breathe fresh air. The leafy vegetation sets up a microclimate so that, although uncovered, the shade provided by the trees endows the structure with a temperature five degrees lower than the surrounding area. The forest generates enough oxygen for 1,800 visitors every hour.

5. Ecuador Pavilion

This is one of the most widely acclaimed projects among both the critics and the public at large, the work of the Spanish studio, Zorrozúa y Asociados. The theme, "Journey to the Center of Life", is implemented to perfection on the facade of the Ecuador Pavilion, as are others, such as the opportunities provided by the agricultural sector in terms of sustainable development, common welfare, the fight against hunger and feeding the world’s cultures and ethnic groups. A prominent feature are the curtains covering the whole building, the work of KriskaDECOR. This is the first time the whole surface of a pavilion has been clad with curtains.

4. German Pavilion

This pavilion is known as the “Fields of Ideas”. You can’t get more German than that, can you? Architectural devices have been used to reflect Germany’s rich, natural landscapes, including sinuous curves, a huge green canopy and enormous solar trees which produce energy using organic photovoltaic technology. We followed a route through the “sources of nutrition” – water, soil, climate and biodiversity – before arriving at the “Garden of Ideas”. The pavilion has numerous secluded spots for relaxing and taking in the landscapes and live music, DJ sessions and other shows.

3. Brazil Pavilion

Here, architecture and stage scenery are combined to provide visitors with an experience of Brazilian values. Implemented very successfully is the idea of a soft, decentralised, flexible network pervading the whole structure. According to its artificers, it stands for the country’s pluralism. Set in the middle of 130 other buildings, the Brazil Pavilion is a good place to take a breather – we took one – by way of a public square that attracts passers-by.

2. United Arab Emirates Pavilion

Designed by the iconic architectural studio, Foster + Partners, it features tall, undulating walls reflecting the UAE’s desert landscapes. This structure is built to provide a cool interior, as the 12-metre-high walls protect against the sun and set up shaded walkways for visitors. Strolling along them led us to the open-air exhibition areas, ending in a striking gold auditorium.

1. United Kingdom Pavilion

For us, the stand-out UK Pavilion is the most spectacular of them all for its originality and the way the theme has been implemented in actuality. Designed by the British artist, Wolfgang Buttress, it is strikingly reminiscent of a honeycomb. Visitors to the pavilion follow the path of a bee, winding their way through a field of flowers, to the heart of the bee hive. Sounds and visual signs are synchronised in real time to an actual bee-hive in the United Kingdom. The sounds emitted by the queen bee can be heard throughout the exhibition and the light provided by LEDs swells in response to an increase in the activity of the bees.

Don’t miss out on Milan. What better way to discover the present and future of many of the world’s nations than by visiting a Universal Exhibition? Come and check out our flights here.


Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Expo Milano 2015

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Local Food Minorca – a Walk Through the Island’s Flavours

I could spend hours singing the praises of this wonderful Balearic island, but these lines are dedicated to its gastronomic facet, its rich larder and its restaurants. Among the preparatory tasks all travellers should undertake is to research the flavours they are likely to encounter at their destination. Experiencing tourism on one’s palette is a way of coming to grips with local culture.

Thus, Minorca cannot be fully grasped without accounting for its cheeses (DO – Queso de Mahón-Menorca). They are hand crafted using cloth, and painted with oil and red pepper. Drop in on cheese factories like S’Arangi (Es Mercadal) or Son Mercer de Baix (Ferreries). Likewise, their sausage: carn i xulla (raw and cured lean pork and bacon), sobrasada, botifarró (blood sausage) and camot/cuixot/camaiot (similar to botifarró, but stuffed in skin). And, needless to say, their Gin Xoringuer, a traditional distillation that goes into the making of pomada and gin amb llimonada. Also de rigueur are their wines which, after a merely cursory presence at the beginning, are experiencing a sweet resurgence under the label “Vi de la terra Illa de Menorca”. The stores of El Paladar offer some fine examples of all kinds of local produce.

And, don’t forget to try some of the wines at Hort de Sant Patrici, Sa Forana, Binifadet… whenever you sit down to any of their tables. They are highly distinct from one another, from creative cuisine to jam-packed menus, but they all have one thing in common – a desire to offer local produce and dishes of yesteryear that are still current today.

Binifadet – Among Vineyards

Sign up for a guided tour, purchase some wine and enjoy a hearty breakfast on your morning jaunt in Sant Lluís, hard by Mahón. Local cheeses, toast with sobrasada and wine marmalade, carré (spare ribs of lamb) and fresh white hake.

Biniarroca – Among Gardens

A charming rural hotel in Sant Lluís with a restaurant among the most highly recommended on the island. During the day, their porch and gardens are areas where time stands still to the warmth of a cup of coffee. By night, the setting is cuisine based on Minorcan produce with fine service. The accommodation is a wise choice – you will feel very much at home.

Terra Bistró – In the Harbour

This establishment has been open for just one year. It is based on well presented, locally sourced produce and dishes, set in cosy premises and at reasonable prices. Try the botifarró with onion confit and tomato jam, or black calamari and mussel rice. Go for a table on their terrace, and make sure you order one of their homemade desserts.

Rías Baixas and Loar – a Break on the Journey

We stopped off at Ferreries, on the road to Ciutadella. We had heard of a restaurant which combines the best Galician seafood with Minorcan cuisine – Rías Baixas. An ad hoc feast based on fried fish (sea and vegetables), mussels and aubergines stuffed with prawns. Stewed lobster and delicious sweets. Also scrumptious is the menu of the day at the Cala Galdana del Hotel Loar restaurant, where locals pack the tables for lunch each day to savour the island’s traditional fare. À la carte is also available. Comfortable accommodation if you fancy spending the night inland.

Mon – Felip Llufriú and Guillem Pons’ Personal Enterprise

We reached Ciutadella and were blown away first by the cuisine, and then by the locale. The project was once housed in Can Faustino. A quiet establishment with views of the kitchen where you can savour such dishes as marinated rock fish on melba toast and escalibada (smoky grilled aubergine), crawfish in three portions – pincers tartare, ceviche (lemon-and-garlic marinade) of the tail, and soup with the heads – or local cochinillo (suckling pig) with bitter orange and pungents obrasada. Creativity and produce. Indispensable. (Passeig de San Nicolau, 4 - Tel. 971381718.)

Ses Voltes – Casual Roof Terrace in the Heart of Ciutadella

For those seeking a fine cuisine alternative at good prices and for all tastes. Here they feature a huge menu of salads, pasta, rice, meat and fish and an interesting pizza section. They also offer local dishes such as scrambled eggs with sobrasada and milhojas de cuixot.

Torralbenc – Haute Cuisine with the Paco Morales Signature

A privileged spot, a rewarding peace, splendid cuisine. At Torralbenc you can fly on the wings of a royale of cured Mahón cheese – a mysterious and tasty perfect-imperfect – steak tartare and a dessert called “orange” which makes you cry. Great wines and great service.

Further Suggestions for Sleeping… and Continuing to Eat

The Artiem hotels (Audax, Carlos III and Capri), part of a sustainability project called Aportam! were founded with the concerted aim of providing local produce among their culinary offerings. Having ensaimadas and local sponge cake for breakfast, and homemade sausage for dinner, is a real luxury.

For something more rural, Sant Ignasi lies just a stone’s throw away from Ciutadella. They also feature an interesting restaurant concept and a stunning terrace where you can have a relaxing breakfast with a big variety of homemade jams.

We wind up the journey and the day having a drink to a DJ rhythm on the spectacular roof terrace at the Barceló Hamilton in Es Castell, a hotel for those seeking an “adults only” option with views of the Mediterranean.

I bet we have dispelled any doubts you may have had. Check out our flights here.


Text by Silvia Artaza of Gastronomistas.com

Images bySilvia Artazaand establishments

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