Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix has plenty of Arizona’s desert heat but it has also sparked a spicy and vibrant art and culinary scene…with some sweet spots to rejuvenate

After my Lotus Blossoming Chakra massage, I discover that some of my seven chakras aren’t quite as aligned as they should be. Apparently I need to meditate more. I try to remedy this immediately by walking the labyrinth at The Boulders Resort & Spa. Round and round I shuffle, the scent of sage wafting over me, the sun warming my face, the dry desert wind softly fluttering my robe. I think it’s working.

Or it could just be this place, the huge rocks the resort is named for, the tall saguaro cacti, the amber and rusty hues of the baked landscape. The next morning I rise early in my adobe-style casita at The Boulders (theboulders.com) and venture into the desert for a run as the sun is just starting to spread its heat. I feel my chakras realigning…

2The Sonoran desert may seem harsh but it teems with beauty. Closer to Phoenix (The Boulders is in Scottsdale, just outside Arizona’s capital and largest city), I walk through the Desert Botanical Garden (one of only a few botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums; dbg.org) and then hike nearby Camelback Mountain to marvel at the range of colour this arid land sprouts, like the magenta spikes of a barrel cactus.

3The southwest vibe continues at The Camby (thecamby.com), one of Phoenix’s newest hotels (a major refurb and rebrand on the site of an old Rat Pack bar and former Ritz property). Inspired by the surrounding desert (its name is a play on that iconic Camelback peak), the swish hotel is infused with the five Cs of Arizona—cattle, copper, citrus, climate, cotton—including lamps the shape of cow skulls and grapefruits, turquoise and copper accents, luxe pima-cotton sheets and local art.

4And there’s art everywhere. In the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM; mim.org), a sophisticated conference/meeting site as well as repository of some 15,000 musical instruments from around the world, art is in the form of objects like a horse jawbone from Mexico that rattles when its teeth are scraped or struck with a nail. In downtown Phoenix, Roosevelt Row or RoRo (rooseveltrow.org) is a wild display of commissioned street art that’s as vibrant as some of those desert blooms. The revitalized ’hood is home to artist studios, galleries, boutiques, co-ops, small-stage theatres, coffee shops, restaurants and even a craft brewery and gastropub, Angel’s Trumpet Ale House (angelstrumpetalehouse.com). Every first Friday night of the month, thousands of people gather in revitalized RoRo for the First Friday Art Walk.

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At the nearby Phoenix Public Market Café (phxpublicmarket.com), art comes in the form of local food, from coffee roasted in nearby Tempe (try the Desert Dawn: oj and a splash of lemon topped with cold brew coffee) to “Eat the Rainbow,” a combo of farmers’ market veggies (and cool t-shirt), or the Arroz & Frijoles bowl, a healthy, heaping, hipster take on southwestern fare. More foodie inspiration is found uptown at The Yard, at the graffiti-art-clad Barrio Urbano (barriourbanophx.com). It’s an urban take on traditional Mexican cuisine by Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, a four-time James Beard Award nominee, where craft cocktails and killer tacos come together in an atmosphere that’s part gritty barrio and part art gallery. And it’s yet another way of finding that desert zen. — Barb Sligl

For more info on Phoenix, go to visitphoenix.com, for
nearby Scottsdale, check out experiencescottsdale.com,
and for Arizona, visit visitarizona.com.

Oslo (Norway)

Oh OSLO! Norway’s capital is a design, culture, cuisine (and Viking!) hotbed on a fjord—cosmopolitan, green and showcasing more of that Nordic cool.

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OsloOslo is Norway’s cultural heart, beating strong and fast in a new era that’s flush with art, culture, design…and Michelin stars. The now-iconic building that seems to have spurred this boom is the OSLO NATIONAL OPERA AND BALLET HOUSE (operaen.no) (also featured on our cover and in the “Norwegian cool” story). Designed by internationally renowned Oslo-based firm Snøhetta, it rises out of the harbour as a series of stark white angles that double as ramps for rambling and easy access to the roof for grand views of fjord and city, including a series of sky-scrapers called the Bjørvika Barcode that look much like their collective name—a barcode—and are more proof of the city’s gutsy and bold architectural projects.

Also on the harbour is the ASTRUP FEARNLEY MUSEUM (afmuseet.no), a Renzo Piano showpiece and the culmination of a refurb of Thief’s Island. Oslo3Oslo6
Once a no-man’s-land where criminals were executed, this interconnected “isle” is now Aker Brygge, a hot ‘hood with modern art galleries, must-stay boutique hotel, The Thief, and the extensive private collection of contemporary art that’s the Astrup Fearnley Museet (you’ll find Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons among modern-day Norwegian artists). Outside is the Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park, a prime seaside picnic and lounging spot on long summer nights.

Follow the waterline farther west and you’ll eventu-ally get to the tony neighbourhood of Bygdøy, also known as the “museum peninsula.” The Kon-Tiki Museum is all about the intrepid Norwegian spirit that impelled Thor Heyerdahl to cross the Pacific in 1947—on nothing more than a balsawood raft. Next door is the Fram Museum, another celebration of the Nordic thirst for exploration in which you can tour the first ship to navigate the entire Northwest Passage. But perhaps most mind-blowing is the VIKING SHIP MUSEUM (khm.uio.no) where three original Viking ships inspire awe as you walk around and almost beneath them, trying to grasp the reality that a vessel like the Oseberg was used by the Vikings to cross the North Atlantic centuries before Columbus claimed to discover the New World.

Another reminder of Oslo’s rich history is Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle and fort that dates back to 1299 and King Håkon V. This bit of ancient Oslo is pre-Oslo4served right within the city centre, and on these grounds overlooking the fjord is FESTNINGEN RESTAURANT (festningenrestaurant.no)—part of the same restaurant group as two-Michelin-star Maaemo — where Norway’s seafood and “new Nordic” cuisine is the centrepiece.

And just outside the city centre is the most beautiful park you’ve probably never heard of…Oslo’s Vigelandsparken or VIGELAND SCULPTURE PARK (vigeland.museum.no). It’s the largest such park in the world, the masterwork of beloved Norwegian artist sculptor Gustav Vigeland, who conceived and designed this monumental sculpture collection to depict the  epic human cycle of life.

Other must-visit cultural spots: the Nobel Oslo2Peace Center (celebrating international human rights stories and initiatives), Oslo City Hall (where President Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize), Holmenkollen National Ski Arena (a design-worthy ski jump and the world’s oldest ski museum), and, of course, the Munch Museum (where The Scream by Edvard Munch is one of the world’s best-known paintings). Just say tusen takk. — Barb Sligl

For more info on Oslo and Norway, go to visitoslo.com  and visitnorway.com.

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Dentists_1000CE_600*Chance of winning is dependent on number of registrations.  Only one (1) $1,000 prize will be awarded for use towards a future CE course and is not redeemable for cash. Registration information becomes the property of Just For Canadian Dentists, published by Jamieson-Quinn Holdings Ltd. and will not be shared with any third party. To be eligible for draw, registrant must be a Canadian practicing dentist and registration is received by midnight August 31st, 2016.