Oct 31, 2009

Graveyards From Around The World

Some of the world’s graveyards offer scenic vistas and are tourist attractions.

San Juan Cemetery in Puerto Rico is located next to El Morro Fort and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Poets, politicians and composers have been laid to rest here.

The overnight candlelight vigils in cemeteries for the Day of the Dead held in Mexico every November are far from spooky and an experience not to be missed if you have the chance.

But it might be a good idea to heed this sign outside a graveyard located in a hamlet a few hours outside of New York City if you have plans to keep on moving.

Happy Halloween!

Oct 28, 2009

Nicaragua Bound

Later this week I’ll be heading to Nicaragua for 10 days. The plan for now is to spend time in Granada, Ometepe and San Juan del Sur. If any of my readers have recommendations on where to stay in Ometepe and San Juan del Sur do tell. And of course advice on eateries and things to see off the beaten track are appreciated as well.

As always I’ll have posts lined up while I’m away and plenty when I get back. I haven’t even scratched the surface on my recent trip to Tokyo and Seoul.

Oct 25, 2009

Gyeongdong Market Seoul

From high end shopping complexes with designer items to sprawling markets with designer fakes, everyday household items and everything in between Seoul is a shopping city. But if you want an experience unique to Seoul check out Gyeongdong Market. Even if you are not a shopper it’s well worth the trip to browse the endless rows of stalls in South Korea’s largest Asian medicine market.

Bushels of ginseng, native to Korea, are piled high. Stalls with bark, roots, berries, fungi and teas for remedies curing ailments of all sorts are stacked in expert arrangements. Some of the medicinal ingredients are rare and there were many I did not recognize.

With more than 1,000 shops and stalls you could easily spend a few hours walking around taking in the aromas and sites. But unless you speak the language it can be difficult to purchase something for what ails you.

Gyeongdong Market is open 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. To reach there take the metro line 1 to Jegi-dong, exit 2.

Oct 19, 2009

The National Art Center, Tokyo

I read somewhere recently that because Japan has limited natural resources design is its biggest economic asset. And excellent design is apparent everywhere you look-strategically based vending machines, presentation of food, gadgets of all types and traditional and modern architecture are just a few examples.

The first time I walked into the The National Art Center in Tokyo it made me want to come back in my next life as a gifted architect. A recent addition to Tokyo’s ever-changing skyline the low-rise Art Center designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa opened in 2007.

The sophisticated simplicity of the building allows for natural light to flow through three-story glass curves. The interior is a slice of serenity in one of the world’s most populated and frenetic cities. It’s no coincidence that I chose to visit it to get my travel Zen on a few hours before the schlep to Narita and boarding a 13-hour flight back to New York.

The National Art Center does not host a permanent collection. Instead it features several art exhibitions at once within its 45,000 square feet, which also houses a restaurant, café and museum shop. Check its Web site to see what is on. Located in Roppongi to reach the Center take the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line to Nogizaka Station, Exit 6. Admission is free to enter the building but you must buy tickets to individual exhibits. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (8 p.m. on Friday) Wednesday-Monday.

Oct 13, 2009

Street Scenes: Shinjuku Tokyo

This photograph was taken in between raindrops and the concrete canyons of Shinjuku, Tokyo late one afternoon. People wearing surgical masks are a common sight on the crowded streets and metro of Tokyo. The flu hysteria is even more prominent in this metropolis. In fact I saw hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance of several establishments including an art center.

The couple in the background are classic trendy Tokyo youth. Check out the woman’s retro hairdo. She was brave and skilled enough to walk on the grating wearing spiked heels. Her beau seems to have adopted a surfer dude/grunge look.

Oct 6, 2009

Underground Metros From Around The World

Taking the metro when travelling in cities is often the easiest and most cost effective way to get around. Unlike taxis there is no haggling or fear of being ripped off and trains are much easier to figure out than buses where it can be difficult to know where to get off at the right stop. But it’s probably safe to say that most metros should be avoided during rush hour.

If you ride Tokyo’ s metro early enough on a Saturday morning you’ll see hung over businessmen still in their suits who didn’t quite make it home after a good night out. Many are chugging soft drinks purchased from Tokyo’s ubiquitous vending machines.

Mexico City’s metro is one of the cheapest and cleanest in the world and a subterranean market of sorts.

London’s aptly named tube is amongst the most expensive public transportation in the world. It was the world’s first underground metro.

New York City’s subway system will take you from the Bronx to Brooklyn for a few bucks. Despite rising fares it’s still the best deal in town.

Oct 2, 2009

Published Photographs: Back Street Rome Edition

Rome has no shortage of iconic sites to photograph. Wandering its cobblestone back alleys also presents museum worthy treasures. Headless and talking statues are among them.

The more mundane such as hanging laundry and pharmacy signs are additional photographic opportunities, scenes that might be overlooked in your own city. These have appeared in a variety of newspapers, books and magazines.