Posts with the category ‘Europe’


Iceland Bared, Three Ways to See What It’s Made Of

October 22, 2016

“If you get lost in the forest in Iceland, just stand up,” or so the joke goes. Iceland has many natural wonders, but forests are not among them. You are much more likely to get lost among the volcanic rocks which pile atop each other over vast distances. Covered by snow in winter, lichen in fall and awash in purple Lupina in the summer, the bones of the face of Iceland have a seasonal sameness. I’ve visited Iceland five times in as many years, including a visit in July for this story for The New York Times. But after a conference here this week, I took two days and… Read More…


Prostitute and Papacy Entwined in Lake Constance History

July 6, 2016

She is thirty feet high and weighs 36 thousand pounds and every inch of her voluptuous and barely-concealed anatomy is alluring – except perhaps for the two naked and wizened old men who sit in the palms of each of her upraised hands, one a pope the other an emperor. The statute of the courtesan Imperia by German artist Peter Lenk is not just the most “photographed attraction” in the lakeside resort town of Constance (Konstanz in German) in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, it is the only public sculpture to so conspicuously memorialize a prostitute. Revolving at a rate of once every three minutes to display… Read More…


The Magical Effect of Music and Mozart in Salzburg

July 1, 2016

Tom Hook, the New Orleans jazz pianist, sitting next to me at the Mozart dinner concert my last night in Salzburg, Austria, explained his presence at the event with a smile and probably some understatement, “I am familiar with Mozart’s music.” Sure, there’s a gulf as wide as the Atlantic Ocean between American jazz and the music for which the 18th century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is so famous, still, I have little doubt my dinner companion knew far more than I about Mozart when he arrived in Austria. In a room illuminated by candlelight, two singers, garbed in the costumes of the day sang pieces… Read More…


Outta My Comfort Zone and Into the Ice in Finland

January 21, 2016

In Miami, where I grew up, swimming in the ocean was akin to stepping into the tub; no discernable difference in temperature between the water and the air and that’s just how I like it. So no one was more surprised then I to be bounding across the snow in Helsinki wearing nothing more than a swimsuit and a towel and headed to a hole in the ice on the Gulf of Finland. And yes, I was planning to swim. To understand what lunacy prompted me do do such a thing, I need to wind back the story a few hours. The plan was to take a hike, what tour… Read More…


Rolling Down the River; World’s Best Waterfront Bike Rides

December 24, 2015

Somewhere between the too-slow pace of walking and the everything-passes-by-in-a-blur of driving, I think riding a bike is just right. Some places are more conducive to bicycles than others, Beijing and Hanoi are for the suicidal pedaler, too much traffic, not enough respect for the two-wheeler. Seoul and Santa Monica, on the other hand are two of many cities where in a manageable distance one can go from city center to scenic waterside trail.  An additional plus in Seoul is free daily bike rentals for visitors.  That’s right, I don’t know how long it will last but the rental is absolutely free with helmets and locks included. How hospitable… Read More…


Alabama Shore Shows Diversity of U.S. Culture

November 13, 2015

On a recent trip to France, I had breakfast with Sofia Vandaele, General Manager of the newly remodeled and absolutely gorgeous Hilton Paris Opera. Sofia is Belgian and fluent in seven languages. It never ceases to amaze Americans – many of whom know only English – just how many different tongues the people in other countries speak. Sofia is very smart, not to mention charming which explains why she is one of the world’s youngest hotel managers. Big hat tip to a woman like that and who can also carry on a conversation in seven languages. Still, anyone who has visited Europe knows many countries are… Read More…


By the Sea in Spain Without My Camera

November 18, 2014

The night I did not bring my camera with me when I went into the village of Cadaqués center for dinner, I took a side street on my way back to my hotel and found myself at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. I was here working on a story for The New York Times Travel about the painter Salvador Dali, who spend most of his life on this rock-crusted community and who depicted it in various works of art. Dali had his paintbrush, his sculptor’s’ hands. And I have little doubt the magnificent scene before me would have inspired him to create something. Without… Read More…


Vacations Just Like Home, Only Better

July 15, 2014

Some travel is a lot of work, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Having just returned from a five week round-the-world trip that was ninety percent business and involved a lot of on-the fly booking of transportation and accommodations, I returned home exhausted. Times like this are when I crave the vacation that’s like home; but better. For me, that means a stay in a rambling inn in some unique setting where, unlike at my own house, people take care of my needs and leave me with no decision more difficult than what time to get out of bed in the morning. I started thinking about this… Read More…


Traveling Au Naturale From Icelandic Hot Tubs to British Baths

June 9, 2014

There’s nothing original about our present-day affection for the spa. People have been enjoying a communal soak for millenia, and nowhere is that more clear than at the bath so famous England named a town for it. While the Celts apparently discovered Britain’s only natural springs in 600 BC, it was during the Roman occupation that the water source was used to create a complex of pools, health areas and temples. Much of this survives to this day, drawing a million tourists a year to Somerset County, about 2 hours drive south of London. These days though, the water is a brownish/green and it no longer looks inviting though… Read More…


Bath Botanical A Garden of Sensory Delights

June 1, 2014

My dear friend and former neighbor, Marion Mapstone once told me the most important thing to know about gardening is not to be afraid to pull up, clip back and move things around. Her simple guidance didn’t turn me into a master gardener but I am no longer someone who keeps dead plants in the house because they are easier to care for. (Though once upon a time, I did.) While I now tend to a sizeable flower patch, Marion did more than show me how to handle plants, she taught me to appreciate them as a multi-sensory experience. This came to me on a… Read More…


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