Jan 31, 2011

Bilingual Signs From Around The World

It can be humbling to be rendered illiterate when traveling in a country with an alphabet alien to your own. Street signs are meaningless and attempting to withdraw cash from an ATM with directions in Chinese characters is all but impossible for those of us accustomed to Germanic and Romance languages. I’m certainly grateful for street signs that have English translations when wandering some of the world’s cities.

In Hong Kong you’ll see many signs reminding pedestrians to look left instead of right when crossing the road. The direction of traffic in Hong Kong is a legacy of the former British Colony, where driving is on the left instead of the right. I wonder what “Mind The Gap” looks like written in Cantonese.

In Tokyo’s vast metro system girly pink signs on the platform point out which cars are reserved for women only during rush hour. They were introduced in 2005 to prevent chikan from doing what they shouldn’t do.

This sign is not in China. In fact it's located in Manhattan’s Chinatown, which borders Little Italy and its famed Mulberry Street.

When has a bilingual sign helped you from getting lost or lack of one resulted in an unplanned adventure?

Jan 23, 2011

Street Scenes: Taxco’s Color Coordinated Taxis

Taxco is a color coordinated colonial town in Guerrero State Mexico. Its white colonial buildings match the Volkswagen Beatle taxis cruising the zigzagging streets.

The front passenger seat is taken out so that passengers can easily climb in back. The size of the VW Beatles makes them perfect for navigating the narrow steep cobblestone alleys of Taxco, which is famous for its silver markets.

The top photograph was taken in Taxco’s zocalo, Plaza Borda, on a Sunday just as mass let out at Santa Prisca Church and the bottom photo from the rooftop terrace of the hotel I stayed at.

Jan 15, 2011

Published Photographs: Beirut Edition

Lebanon received a record number of tourists in 2010 – more than 2 million in a country with a population of 4 million, according to published reports.

Beirut alone offers a waterfront, a hip night scene, archaeological sites and fine cuisine. Much of the city’s downtown has been rebuilt following the civil war, which ended in 1990. Hopefully the surge in tourism will continue despite ongoing political turmoil.

Pictured above is Beirut’s Mediterranean hugging Corniche, Roman baths, Place d Etoile and Mohammad Al Amin Mosque. These photographs have appeared in magazines and newspapers.

Has political strife stopped you from traveling to a destination you have always wanted to see?

Jan 5, 2011

Harbors From Around The World

Many of the world’s cities were built around harbors. Although functional the waterways are also often scenic.

Shanghai’s harbor remains active long after the lights in Pudong and the historic Bund have been turned off for the night, which in my experience happens just before midnight. It is one of the world’s busiest.

Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor keeps shrinking due to land reclamation in the space starved special administrative region. I predict one day you’ll be able to cross it by footbridge.

Essaouira, Morocco’s harbor is color coordinated. Its signature blue fishing boats are the perfect Moroccan blue.

The harbor in the ancient city of Byblos, Lebanon is peaceful and houses small fishing and leisure boats.

What harbors of the world do you find most scenic and which would you like to see? I’d love to see Sydney Harbor.

Jan 1, 2011

Street Scenes: Times Square New Year’s Eve

Approaching the center of Times square on New Year's Eve the first thing I noticed in a never ending sea of one million people was a Domino’s Pizza guy being escorted through the crowd by the police to make a delivery to a nearby building. Only in New York folks.

Like most New Yorkers I typically stay home New Year's Eve and watch the ball drop on television from the comfort of a warm couch. In fact this was probably the first time I’ve gone out since the new millennium kicked in.

This year I had the rare opportunity of VIP access to the center of Times Square thanks to my brother who works in television production. Being able to step outside in the midst of it all and run indoors to warm up and get a birds eye view from a television studio overlooking Times Square at will was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Most people in the crowd had been standing for at least 12 hours not able to leave their spot. And all I came across were extremely good natured and just happy to be there. This is rare in a crowd that size regardless of the circumstances.

These photos were taken from the center of Times Square as the ball dropped, from inside the studio looking out and from the stage in center of Times Square in between live performances.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2011 filled with wonderful travels. And thank you for coming along for the journey another year on Escape From New York. You are great traveling companions!