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Gerhard Richter at the Tate Modern, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, October 14 11:08 AM

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What better way to wish artist Gerhard Richter happy birthday (it'll be his 80th come 2012) than by paying homage at Tate Modern? The London museum is fęting the contemporary master's work with a new retrospective, Panorama.

Over the course of his 50-year career, the German painter has explored pretty much every significant art movement of the 20th century, from squeegee-painted abstraction to hyperrealism and classic portraiture. Expect to encounter delicate watercolor portraits alongside gritty social commentary, such as Richter's series on the Baader-Meinhof Gang. We're especially smitten with his 1960s-era Everyday Life paintings, in which scenes and people are subtly blurred, creating hauntingly beautiful snapshots of loss and dislocation. Who knew melancholy could make us so happy?

Gerhard Richter: Panorama at Tate Modern, through January 8, 2012

Photo: Courtesy of Tate Modern

Variety Voyager Cruises to the Arabian Gulf

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, October 13 10:52 AM

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Our boating tastes run more to super-yachts than supersize cruise ships, so an exotic new excursion from a luxury line is reason enough to break out the Champagne. Variety Cruises, whose small upscale fleet mostly plies the Mediterranean, is branching out into the Middle East with a brand new vessel, Variety Voyager.

Starting in 2012, the 36-cabin vessel will introduce cruise passengers to the Arabian Gulf and Omani coast. Highlights of the eight-day itinerary include sailing the fjordlike Musandam Peninsula aboard a traditional Omani dhow, cavorting with dolphins near Telegraph and Seebi islands, and exploring the third-century, pre-Islamic fortress of Nakhal in Sohar, Oman. The ship's decor is a mix of muted creams and sand with glam marble and mirrored touches. Because variety is the spice of life.

Variety Voyager's Arabian Gulf cruises, from $2,790. Sailings from Abu Dhabi: November 29, 2012 to April 4, 2013; sailings from Muscat: November 22, 2012 to March 28, 2013.

Photo: Courtesy of Variety Cruises

Nikon 1 J1

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, October 12 10:51 AM

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A lion sprints across the savanna and you have to make a split-second decision: pictures or video? Well, thanks to the fine folks at Nikon, the answer can be both. The new Nikon 1 J1 ($649.95) can simultaneously shoot photos and HD movies, capture flip book-like moving images, and switch out lenses to suit your subject. Best of all, there's a new Smart Photo Selector option that shoots ten pics and singles out the sharpest.

The serious functionality is combined with slick simplicity--we dig the monochrome white, red, or silver color options. A camera that looks good and keeps you focused on documenting your vacation? That's worth a shot.

Photo: Courtesy of Nikon

The Chatwal, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, October 11 10:49 AM

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The landmark 1905 building that houses New York City's Chatwal hotel has always been fashionable. Originally a private theater called the Lambs Club, it attracted Gilded Age glitterati such as Fred Astaire and the building's architect, Stanford White, whose young lover, model Evelyn Nesbit, was the Kate Moss of her day. To help current guests dress the part, the hotel has introduced the Fashion Cognoscenti package, a half- or full-day shopping and styling tour led by stylist and Lacolleta.com founder Jean Mayer.

We're particularly sold on the Meet the Designers add-on, in which guests get a one-on-one with a fashion world luminary plucked from Mayer's address book. Zac Posen, Tim Gunn, Lela Rose, and Lisa Salzer of Lulu Frost jewelry have signed on, with other big names to be announced.

Fashion Cognoscenti package, including a two-night stay at the Chatwal, from $1,295. Meet the Designers add-on from $5,000 (select designers will apply this fee towards purchases). Offer ends March 31, 2012.

Photo: Courtesy of the Chatwal

Momiji, Seattle

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 10 10:59 AM

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It seems Seattle is turning Japanese. At least it looks that way, when you see the straight-out-of-Kyoto stylings of Momiji, a blissed-out new oasis in Capitol Hill. Woodworker Craig Yamamoto constructed East-meets-Pacific Northwest furniture, including elegant tables hewn from brawny maple. Installation artist Yuri Kinoshita added whimsy, with cloudlike chandeliers and back-lit woven murals. And landscape architect Junji Miki designed a serene courtyard that's all whispering bamboo and gurgling water.

But what will really transport you is the menu. There's sushi and udon, of course, yet Momiji also offers kaiseki, Japan's artfully presented answer to Western tasting menus. Tokyo native chef Chikako Watanabe draws inspiration from Washington ingredients for dishes such as tempura seasonal vegetables with green tea salt and somen noodles with salmon roe and fresh sliced tuna. Simple and fresh, elegant and playful. Seattle and Kyoto were made for each other.

Photo: Courtesy of Momiji

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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