Foodie or not, the appeal of a destination often includes cuisine. We once traveled to the Yucatan in Mexico, partly because our then two-year-old lived on rice and beans.  Whether it’s beer in Germany, wine in California, chocolate in Switzerland or paella in Spain, we all let our taste buds be our tour guide. From the bizarre to the gourmet, one only has to look at television and the plethora of travel food shows to see evidence of the combination’s mainstream appeal.

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4 Comments | Filed Under Food, Travel

I visited Weymouth, England many years ago as a student. I was traveling with my best friend and we wanted to visit an English seaside village for an overnight trip from London. I had already been to Brighton because of my obsession with The Who’s film Quadrophenia, so we decided on Weymouth. I can’t remember why. It was a sleepy town that had seen better days. You could tell that at one point it had been hopping, much like Atlantic City in New Jersey. If I closed my eyes I could see girls in ringlets, dressed up, rolling a hoop or some other bygone toy down the boardwalk.  I had visions of men in hats, women with parasols; it had a lost in time, nostalgic quality, as I recall. Continue reading »

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The economy is in roller coaster mode, the Euro is making travel to Europe impossible for many Americans and autumn is around the corner. Travel to the South America is more appealing than ever.

Daniel Craig, who many say rivals Sean Connery as the best Bond ever, shot the latest Bond feature Quantum of Solace in the Atacama Desert of Chile, according to a recent article by Deanna Palic in the magazine International Travel News. The film opens in the U.K. October 31st and in the U.S. November 14th. Chile is fast becoming a hotspot for filmmakers with Quantum of Solace being just one of many films in production. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Chile, Films, South America, Travel

The apartment I’m staying in in Cihangir, Istanbul sits at the bend of a steep, narrow, cobblestoned street, the kind of lane one car can drive down comfortably but two need to suck in their stomachs to squeeze through. This evening when I stepped outside to go register my cell phone so it would work in Turkey (an apparently silly government regulation designed to combat phone theft) I encountered a man resting against a two-wheeled cart burdened by a rusty piece of equipment that looked like an oversized air conditioner long past its useful life. He was calling out to someone when I stepped onto the street and we made eye contact. I then became the object of his appeal. He rolled out a stream of Turkish that sounded like a question but I answered apologetically that I didn’t speak Turkish. That was OK because his gestures up the hill and toward the cart told me all I needed to know. He needed help pushing his load. Continue reading »

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I took a ten-minute tram ride from Cihangir to Sultanahmet as dusk settled over the city on a day that had gone from cloudy to patchy to clear. By chance I had made my journey to Istanbul during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and heard the evening feast in Sultanahmet was quite a celebration. When I arrived at the open space known as the Hippodrome between the two grand monuments of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, I found more than a celebration; I found a carnival. Continue reading »

4 Comments | Filed Under Festivals, Istanbul, Travel, Turkey

One of the cliches of Istanbul (all of Turkey, for that matter) is the skill and persistence of carpet salesmen. In the main tourist district of Sultanahmet it’s hard to walk far before finding a friendly salesman sidling up to you to urge you to come to his shop to look at his wares. Some prove virtually impossible to shake and you end up either getting angry and losing your temper, remaining implacable and having an uninvited guest along on your sightseeing walk, or going to his shop all the while insisting that you will buy nothing. You then sit through a presentation of undeniably exquisite carpets and drink cup after cup of apple tea and either break down and buy something or accept the hospitality with a smile and emerge, some indeterminate time later, a bit dazed by it all. Continue reading »

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The California Academy of Sciences opens its doors to the public on September 27th, 2008 after many years at a cramped, temporary location. This new gem, situated in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park across from the new De Young Museum, is a must see for any visitor to the Bay Area. The Academy is the only place in the world with an aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum all under one living roof. The architect, Renzo Piano, also helped design the Centre Pompidou in Paris; possibly the most groundbreaking structure of its time.

I visited the new Academy of Sciences with my five-year-old yesterday, enjoying a preview visit for new members. It was stunning. The building is spectacular; it is open and airy, without the dingy 19th century feel of many Natural History Museums. The living roof is truly extraordinary, with views of the park and city. Flowers grow, apparently animals make homes; my son was in awe. He kept reiterating how the living roof was keeping the building cool. We will surely return to see the evolution of the roof ecosystem. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Family Travel, Feature, Museums, San Francisco, United States

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan runs through September, and many Westerners wonder how the cultural and religious practices might affect their travel in the Muslim world. The answer depends on where you’re traveling and how strictly the local population adheres to the rules. But by and large Westerners can survive without starving, and there’s a lot to be said for getting into the rhythm of the place and becoming part of the celebration, as much as an outsider can. Triporati Middle East expert Lara Dunston enjoys Ramadan so much she’s posted some guidelines, “9 Reasons to Love Ramadan.” Read it on her blog, Cool Travel Guide, then get ready for the post-sunset feast.

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On a recent trip to the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta, I got a language lesson, and more, from my eight-year-old daughter. This story was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle Travel Section for Sunday, September 14.


“Perrrrrrrrrrrrrrrro,” I stuttered, failing completely to roll the r’s as my eight-year-old daughter laughed with glee.

“No, it’s perro,” she said in a perfect Spanish accent. “Like this.” She twittered like a bird demonstrating how to do it. “You need to practice.”

“Do you think I can learn?”

“Yes. Practice all the way home.” Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under Family Travel, Feature, Mexico

I walked out of Woody Allen’s recent film Vicky Cristina Barcelona with a gut feeling: I desperately needed to go to the Spanish city of Barcelona. The movie gave me such a hankering to visit the city, a city which, in a way, was a character in the film. The outdoor cafes, the robust red wine, the Spanish guitar and the Gaudi architecture all worked their magic on me. Continue reading »

3 Comments | Filed Under Barcelona, Books, Brazil, Vietnam