Travel

Where I've been.

Recent Travel Articles

Cathay Pacific, My New Favorite Airline

Reworking travel arrangements when plans go awry is a hazard of the trade, but sometimes it results in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.  On this particular trip I was stuck in Manila without a return ticket to Los Angeles. I wound up using miles to get an award ticket home on Cathay Pacific, an airline I rarely get to fly, but have always been impressed with.

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Notes From Jerusalem

Let me start off by saying that I am not a religious person and do not have a religious or political agenda while visiting The Holy Land. I’m here as a tourist, seeing what I get a chance to see and documenting my trip as best as I can. How else can I appreciate the fact that I’ve heard 3 different cover versions of “Personal Jesus” in the hotel bar? Stairway to Heaven is another song I’ve caught in heavy rotation.

Have Food Allergies, Will Travel

My EpiPen at L’Epi Dupin – A restaurant in Paris.

 

Traveling when one has food allergies can be a daunting prospect. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from getting on a plane to destinations unknown. A few years ago I developed serious life-threatening food allergies to certain types of shellfish. And while I am not a doctor, after consulting my internist and allergy specialist, I have my travel system down pat. I never gave it much thought until I was recently asked for some advice on how I manage my allergies while traveling. Erin, a friend of mine from high school, introduced me to her friend, Julie, who was planning a big family trip to Europe on summer holidays for the first time. She needed some guidance, since one of her children has severe food allergies, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Hola From Barcelona!

The view from my office today on the 18th floor of the W Barcelona.


Hola From Barcelona!

It seems appropriate that this multi-media travel diary goes live while I’m on the road. Today is the day and I’m in Spain. Barcelona is a fabulous city that usually has lovely weather. Not so much this week. It’s been raining, or threatening to rain, since I got here. Sadly, it looks like I won’t be getting much Mediterranean sunshine before I leave tomorrow morning and head back to LA for a quick turnaround to get to TBEX in Vancouver by Friday.

Since this website is very much a work-in-progress, my goal was to get it live and then make it better. So if you’re checking out the site I want to say, first of all, thanks for coming by to visit. This is my digital home and right now I still have boxes that have yet to be unpacked. Please let me know if you have any feedback. It will be much appreciated.

I am off to go take some photos now, and tonight I hope to toast this milestone with sangria (They have excellent Sangria here at the W, and at Eclipse bar upstairs they make a delicious, stealthily potent watermelon martini).

¡Viva España!

South American Idols


The pyramids at Giza. The Great Wall of China. The Taj Mahal. UNESCO World Heritage sites are almost universally hot travel destinations, and with that distinction comes the nuisance of modern day crowds. As a seasoned traveler I like to believe that crowds no longer faze me. I’ve grown to expect the throngs of tourists, the tour bus traffic, and the self-loathing I feel in hypocritically despising their presence.

Recently I found myself on Easter Island, standing amongst the iconic moai statues that have been the centerfolds of thousands of glossy travel magazines. This time the crowds surprised me — because there weren’t any. A combination of geographic isolation and timing — my trip came just weeks after a major earthquake hit Chile and tourists, myself included, cancelled or rescheduled plans en masse — allowed me to come face-to-giant-face with these icons. And I pretty much had them all to myself.

Easter Island is, from a tourism point of view, is geographically undesirable. It is the most isolated inhabited place on the planet. It’s a five-hour flight from Santiago, Chile or Papeete, Tahiti. Known also as Rapa Nui and Isla de Pascua, the tiny (66-square-mile) speck of a volcanic island is mostly barren. But Easter Island punches well above its weight in world-class travel allure.

Its remote location is the island’s greatest blessing and biggest curse. Limited flight schedules and the National Park status that covers a third of the island pretty much guarantee it is never going to be overdeveloped by major hotel chains. And while flight poses logistical difficulties for visitors, it’s a far less daunting trip than the one undertaken by the intrepid eighth-century Polynesian sailors who found it in the first place.

The Rapa Nui people, five thousand strong, mix elements of Polynesian tradition with South American custom. Unlike so many other exotic destinations where the locals play up ancient rituals for the benefit of tourists, Rapa Nui culture is the real deal. During the annual Tapati festival locals, clad in loincloths and body paint, race down the slope of an extinct volcano on sleds made from banana fronds. To be allowed to participate in it is a great honor, and one the Islanders take very seriously.

Easter Island’s biggest draw, aside from its enigmatic statues, is its undeniable soul. There’s a spirit of genuine place that can be felt everywhere — in the surf, in the tribal customs, in the pride of its people when they talk about competing in the “banana triathlon,” or even just pour you a pisco sour. Standing among the island’s mysterious moai statues, I can’t say I missed the crowds. But I did find myself wishing more people could visit this amazing place. Maybe there’s room for a bus or two.

Editor’s note: it’s not entirely a coincidence that we’ve recently added an Easter Island hotel to our listings: the incomparable Explora Rapa Nui.

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