May 25, 2009

New Hampshire Bound

I am heading to New Hampshire for the rest of the week. I haven’t left Manhattan since my trip to Mexico. It’s been about two months and island life is starting to take its toll.

Looking forward to a rural landscape, taking a walk in the woods and escaping New York.

Photograph: Lower Manhattan Skyline

May 19, 2009

Street Scenes: Essaouira Morocco

Moroccan blue is probably the most perfect blue. In Essaouira, an ancient port city located on the Atlantic coast, you’ll see it incorporated into the architecture. The medina is known for its whitewashed buildings and is the perfect backdrop for the warm hue.

Essaouira is a laid back place and has some of the coolest looking hippies I have ever seen. They don’t try, they just are.

May 15, 2009

Published Photographs: Mexico City Edition

Mexico and Mexico City in particular have been making headlines this year and the negative news is driving travelers away. Hopefully this will turn around sooner rather than later. I have had the good fortune to travel to Mexico City (and other parts of the country) several times in the last few years. This edition of published photographs is presented as an homage to the city and all the good reasons to travel there at least once in your lifetime. The photographs have appeared in a variety of magazines, newspapers and travel guidebooks. Click on the image for a larger view.

The Zocalo (top) is perhaps the epicenter of the city. You’ll see Aztec dancers and shaman. The icons of the city include the Independence Monument and bright green Volkswagen taxis, although the latter is being phased out for more eco- friendly transportation. The clean and inexpensive metro is an excellent way to get around town. Mexico City has many parks and in some of them you’ll find large groups of people dancing on a weekend afternoon. There is a plethora of neighborhoods to explore including Coyoacan where a statue of Miguel Hidalgo has a prime spot in its main square. Mexico city has no shortage of good eats and is a street food city supreme.

May 12, 2009

Posada El Castillo Xilitla Mexico

Posada El Castillo (The Castle Hotel) is a surrealist castle of sorts. Perched on a hill in Xilitla, Mexico it is also the former home of the super wealthy, eccentric, aristocratic Englishman (I’m sure there is an oxymoron somewhere in that description) Edward James. James hung out with surrealists including Salvador Dali and Leonora Carrington. True to its roots the hotel’s architectural style is dreamlike.

Plutarco Gastelum built the former mansion and Las Pozas (The Pools), a surrealistic sculpture garden designed by James. James left English society for Mexico where he spent 20 years building Las Pozas (more on that later). He lived with Gastelum and his family at El Castillo.

The hotel is an informal gallery full of treasures. Entry is though a wrought iron gate with footprints leading you though a garden. Murals by Carrington are tucked away in corners.

El Castillo has eight unique rooms, each with their own name. We stayed in the aptly named Rose room. Terraces and tall Gothic windows allow beautiful views of the mountains and sub tropical landscape.

Gastelum’s charming descendants run the hotel, which also features a pool and a large lounge where you can daydream about the parties once held there. Prices range from about $60-$130 per night.

May 8, 2009

IBN Battuta Dubai’s Traveler Mall

Even if you are not a mall person you can’t travel to Dubai without visiting at least one. They are the man made oases that offer respite from the heat and a place to socialize and people watch.

In some ways Dubai’s IBN Batutta Mall is the consummate traveler’s mall. It was designed to reflect the travels of 14th century Moroccan explorer and Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta. He hit the road for 30 years.

The mall is divided into six courts: China, India, Persia, Tunisia, Egypt and Andalusia. Each is decadent. The China Court features a full size Chinese Junk.

IBN Battuta is Dubai’s largest themed mall. In theory it would be possible to wander its courts for days without leaving if you could find a place to rest your head. The mall is so large it has a shuttle that will take you from point to another. It even accommodates worshippers by piping in the call to prayer and providing prayer rooms.

IBN Battuta Mall is located adjacent to Sheikh Zayed Road between interchanges 5 and 6. It is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday-Tuesday and until midnight Wednesday-Friday.

May 4, 2009

Train Travel In India

Indian Railways is one of the largest rail networks in the world and the best and most economical way to travel long distances in India. And like most public transport it is an excellent way to converse with local people and see the diverse landscapes of the country.

I have fond memories of standing by the open doors and watching the endless mustard fields whiz by in north India. Dozing off in the sleeper cars you’ll often wake up to the sounds of vendors on the platforms touting their goods during the short intervals the train stops. Chai, chai (tea, tea).