Casco Viejo has an Old Havana type vibe
When my plans for a trip to Havana recently fell through, I took the opportunity to instead visit Panama, making the Central nation my 77th country visited. I’ve spent the past few days using the American Trade Hotel (an Ace Hotel Property) as my home base. It’s been 90 degrees with humidity to match, but I’m made an effort to get out with my cameras and shoot some photos.
The colorful Casco Viejo barrio in Panama City
The American Trade Hotel is located in the historic Casco Viejo neighborhood, which is in the middle of being gentrified, the vibe has some definite similarities to the crumbling beauty of Old Havana. There are restaurants and hotels popping up in the barrio which feels a world away from the “Dubai of Latin America” vibe you get other skyscrapers in other parts of the city.
Left: An abandoned building near Casco Antiguo Right: A nun walking the street
Unlike Havana, there are no cool old classic pre-embargo cars on the streets, and the traffic is some of the worst I’ve seen. But the Latin American love of life is clear here, and the coffee is some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Panama hats poolside at the American Trade Hotel
My American Ex-Pat friend who lives here swears by Gesha. If you’re not heading to Central America any time soon, worry not. You can buy Gesha for $69 for a 1lb bag of whole beans from Stumptown.Drinks and taxis and food are very reasonably priced. $20 will buy you a killer Panama hat (a misnomer, by the way, so-called Panama hats originated in Ecuador).
Cool street murals in Casco Viejo (mobile photography)
Panama’s mix of cultures has caught me a bit off guard, but the cultural mashup and diverse ethnic makes sense when you think of Panama’s strategic location as the bridge between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and sitting between North and South America.
Texting on the job
It’s been fun exploring the barrio. After being here a few days I’ve observed that Panamanians seem to like their colors bright and their music loud. They party into the wee hours.
Scene from a Hot Saturday Night in Casco Viejo, Panama City
To be honest, I couldn’t figure out if the people I saw on the street at 7 am thought it was late at night or early morning. I’m not sure it even matters because everyone seemed to be having a good time. I know I did.
Sunset is a particularly scenic time to visit the Taj Mahal
During my recent visit to India, I got a chance to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. It was one of the most impressive buildings I’ve even seen in person. Built as a tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved 3rd-wife-of-12, It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
Sunset at the Taj Mahal in Agra
The Taj Mahal grounds are larger than I anticipated, with gardens, a mosque, a museum and a guest house all on property with the famed domed marble mausoleum.
The #selfie in front of the Taj Mahal seemed to be the shot everyone was going for
In real life, the marble changes color as the sun goes down. The building appears very strong and delicate at the same time. The details seem to be spun out of lace at times.
The minarets lean in, so as not to destroy the tomb if hit by an earthquake
The building’s marble color shifts during the sunset hours (shot on a Lumia 920)
The line to get into the Taj Mahal was rather long
Since the Taj Mahal is a tomb, you leave your shoes outside
I was struck by the vanity of the building. While I’m sure it started as a labor of love, the Taj Mahal is pure ediface complex– it’s a legacy associated with builder Shah Jahan far more than the dead wife it’s for. It’s a really, really good vanity project.
I loved seeing this super-fierce dude taking a selfie in front of the Taj. He made my day rocking that man purse!
Best Taj Mahal Selfie Ever.
The Taj Mahal (shot with my Fuji X10)
The Taj Mahal is open everyday (except Friday) from sunrise to sunset.
The Taj Mahal is open at night Night, 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM (On Full Moon Night, and two days before and two days after)
Travel Tip: It’s worth it to pay for a private guide.
Day Fee: Rs 750 (Foreigners)
Rs 510 (Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries)
Rs 20 (Indian)
Entry Free for children below 15 years of age
Night Fee: Rs 750 (Adult, Foreign)
Rs 510 (Adult, Indian)
Rs 500 (Child 3-15 Years, Indian & Foreign)
Entry free for child below 3 years of age
Hazy Shade of Winter? Not so much. The view of sunset from the deck of room 137 at the Post Ranch Inn.
While so much of the country is covered in snow right now or prepping for another brutal winter storm, Big Sur is reminding me of the many reasons why California is called the Golden State. Don’t get me wrong– we desperately need rain here in Cali. But views like these remind me of just how lucky I am to live in California.
I spend yesterday driving along the Pacific Coast Highway before checking into the Post Ranch Inn.
I made this Time lapse on my iPhone 5s using the TimeLapse app.
Hope this virtual vitamin D helps cure your mid-winter blues. If it doesn’t, hop on a plane and come visit.
Magic Hour Time Lapse at the Post Ranch Inn Big Sur, California
People who live in glass houses… should enjoy the view ( Post Ranch Inn, room 137)
L’Atelier is all about the open kitchen and bar seating
Joël Robuchon is the most Michelin-starred chef in history. And while he’s technically retired, his L’Atelier restaurant empire is going strong. On my trip to Paris earlier this month, I checked out the L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Etoile location.
The signature glossy red and black interiors at L’Atelier are glamorous without being overly fussy
My visit to Paris overlapped with a bank holiday and many restaurants were closed. The concierge at the Saint James Paris hooked me up with reservation at the L’Atelier’s Etoile location, right on the Champs-Elysees just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe, and open for business as usual and helmed by executive chefs David Alves and Filippos Chronopoulos.
Wine with dinner at L’Atelier
The Etoile location is located on the lower level of the hipster shopping emporium Publicis Drugstore, and features the small signature read and black color palette and open kitchen with bar seating around it. I’m a big fan of eating at the bar in general, and the friendly staff makes the fine dining experience fun and more relaxed. The layout of the Etoile location is a bit tricky– I think the L’Atelier on the Left Bank has better sight lines.
Lobster skewers to share
Left: flavorful winter vegtables Right: the Iberian ham is not to be missed
Steak au poivre is spot on
Left:Black cod with yuzu in a velvet daikon puree Right: Rich and creamy mashed potatoes
You can go for the tasting menu at L’Atelier, or make your own by combining from the selections of small plates, starts and mains. It makes for a fun and interactive dinner. Because of the bar-centric layout, I think L’Atelier is a better option for couples or single diners than large groups. There were a few larger tables for groups, but not sitting at the bar kind of misses the point.
The chocolate cage dome is a whimsical dessert with fantastic presentation.
75008 Paris, France
Phone:+33 1 47 23 75 75
Lunch : 11:30 am – 3:30 pm
Dinner : 6:30 pm – 00:00 pm