Monday, December 21, 2009

I Said Bring it On!

I said "bring it on"....and boy, did Mother Nature listen! 18 inches of snow at least, which came down from late Friday night until late Saturday night. Beautiful, white snowflakes which layered our yard with inches and inches of snow and made it impossible to go out for nearly 24 hours. So, we ran in and out of the hot tub, built a fire, made cookies and snuggled up. It was wonderful!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giving Thanks....

We have so much to be thankful for. Every year, we go around the table and have to name something. This year, Abby initiated it and said she was thankful for her family. Such insight from a 5-year-old, who had just spent the morning gliding through Central Park on her scooter and marveling at the balloons in the Macy's Day parade.
We spent a magical weekend in New York. Window shopping along 5th on Black Friday. Playing in Central Park. Walking through the Asian Collection at the Met. Eating well at Mezzaluna and Orsay on the Upper East Side. Seeing the balloons being blown up on the eve of the parade. Hanging out with good friends. Seeing Nana at the Mandarin for breakfast and peering out over the Hudson from her 42nd floor room.

So very much we have to be thankful for on this holiday and all year long.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

To Eat Well....In Paris

Ah, to eat well. But to do so in Paris. Now that is a real luxury. And to do it retracing the steps of a 19th century gastronome...the first Parisienne food critic of sorts. Check it out in today's New York Times travel section.

Photo courtesy of NY Times.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Mexican Party...I Mean Protest

I always love a good protest. The kind with banners and chanting and whistles. Preferably without police in riot gear, please. Although I have been present for a few of those during the dark days of Milosevic in Belgrade.

But in Mexico last week, the protest was anything but dark. Yes, there were banners with counter government proclamations. There were coffins bearing the names of government officials. And yes, there was even a skeleton representing someone.

But the protest against the closing of a Mexican utility was more party-like with stalls selling fruit and juices. People selling black and white photos of Che Guevara and other notable revolutionaries. And people mingling about in a happy sort of way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Travel Bag

Okay, so how many travel bags does a girl need to shop for and purchase until she has the "perfect one?" Here's another possibility available from Graf and Lantz.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Little Jewel in Dubai

It's always magical to find a little travel jewel. That cozy, out of the way restaurant that serves amazing food and is not well known by the typical tourist crowd. A shop which has amazing little trinkets. A boutique hotel where you simply want to return to the room to fall onto the bed and look up at the ceiling. I found one such place in Bangkok a few years back that rolled all of this into one -- an antique mecca and a few guestrooms.
Now, lucky me! Friends took me to La Maison D'Hotes in absolutely lovely guest house owned and run by two French women in a Dubai residential neighborhood. Please don't tell anyone.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Returning to....pure joy!

It was an early morning flight out of Cairo (4:30 a.m.)...the layover in Frankfurt, an airport I truly detest...and the long 9 hour flight in Economy Plus with a sick passenger behind me who worried the flight attendants that he might have swine flu. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a bit of stomach bug so the flights seemed even longer than usual.

Yet, somehow I kept thinking about what was awaiting me on touch down. And it was worth it to see the expression on my daughter's face when I surprised her at school....and her pure delight at her Halloween costume. My little Asian princess was truly a sight, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shopping, Cairo Style

Oh, the treasures. So many treasures to be found at the Khan i Khalili, But how to find them. "Good price, for you," the man says as he tries to pull me into his shop. I walk past trying to focus on the task at hand -- finding the beautifully colored, thick Egyptian glass. Alas, there is a shop that draws me. So many lights dangling. Green and blue crystals hanging here. Silver and copper hanging there. A little further in and a whole ceiling is covered with copper and brass lamps of every shape and size.
Just a few doors down the dusty, crowded, narrow street and there it is. Blue glass. Turquoise glass. Red glass. White glass. Pitchers. Glasses. Bowls.

The shop owner, sweating from excursion in the hot shop, reaches for this one and that one, as we ask to see so many. Finally, decisions are made and pounds are exchanged. "Are you happy," the first shop owner, who has escorted me there, asks? "Yes, very happy." A night at the Khan i Khalili comes to an end.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cairo...on the Nile

Sun sets on the Nile. For a moment, you can block out the honking of horns and the congestion setting over the city and just focus on this beautiful moment. Down below, the city is humming but from here, it's just the pink sun and shimmering river saying goodbye to another day in Egypt.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Dubai Some Never See

There is the Dubai you see.
And then there is the Dubai that some never see. Away from the bustle, the malls and the beaches created by man, there is the "historic" Dubai nestled along side of the Creek, where charming little art galleries (unfortunately, many are closed on Friday) and cafes are nestled in. Here is where you can find the textile souk, largely Indian shops with pillow cases, pashminas, shawls and scarves of every color and size.
Cross the Creek and you are in the heart of the spice and gold souks. Saffron and frankinscence mingle with vanilla and cardamon. Gold bangles and diamonds blind the eye. Merchants beg you to come to look at handbags and pashminas just down this corridor in the souk.

Despite the heat and humidity, you can find a soul of a city.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dubai Dreamin'

Mesopotamia. Baghdad. The Tigris River. The words floated on the green and blue map on my screen. We were flying at 41,000 feet en route to Dubai. Hard to believe that just 10 hours before I was saying goodbye at Dulles, giving goodnight kisses to Stefan and Abby who were nestled into their jammies. Then I was off, laptop and presentations in tow, trying not to think about my little ones but the work that awaited.
Now Dubai. A world of contradictions. Modern yet conservative. Liberal yet traditional. After a walk through the massive, crowded Dubai Mall on the start of the weekend here, I'm filled with images of Jimmy Choo, Burberry and Chanel. Yet what sticks most in my mind is the women covered in head to toe black.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Learning, Learning and More Learning

This "new" social media world has me shakin' my head in wonder. What next? Now I've come across (though it's been around for a while) Fora TV...the YouTube for thinking minds. Forget about watching home videos on YouTube and settle in for some discussions on foreign aid, foreign policy and the economy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

South Africa, You Don't Say

I gasped. Not just once, but several times. I held onto the wheel tightly as I rounded the turn. I just had to do it, though I know it was not safe. I had to take a picture of those gorgeous mountain ranges. I was en route from the Cape Town airport to wine country to visit with my friend, Jo. I hadn't seen him in several years and it was going to be a great visit. I didn't anticipate that I would have my breath taken away by the scenery.
We had lunch at a little joint. A bottle of white wine, of course. Or maybe it was two. Jo fired up the barbie for dinner. Guests. More guests. More wine. Friends of mine arrived late into the evening who were also in South Africa. We laughed. Told stories about our Croatia days. We drove up the mountain for brunch on Sunday. Gasps. Many more gasps for air. Now I'm gasping for air again as I look at what Jo has done. This time he has really outdone himself with the Explorer's Club, an exquisite property in the heart of Franschhoek which is a reflection of his travels around the world -- Burma, Thailand, Croatia, etc.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dubai On the Fly

I'm headed to Dubai next week for work -- en route to Cairo. I'm hoping I'll have at least an hour or two to stop by the souk. On my last visit to Dubai, I spent an afternoon there wandering the various stalls, marveling at the gold shops, buying up some exotic-smelling herbs and even splurged on a diamond ring. I also spent part of my free day at the big mega mall, complete with indoor ski slope. My daughter still loves the cheap, toy cell phone I bought with a picture of head-covered Barbie which plays a Middle Eastern tune of some sort.

I need to check out Cool Travel's Dubai shopping guide. She does a lot of writing for various travel magazines and lived in Dubai for a while so certainly seems to know the ins and outs. I took these pictures during my last trip....

Layover Malaise No More

This is just what I love about the New York Times travel section -- it offers up some great practical advice alongside the "36 Hours in ?" series, hotel and restaurant reviews and other travel odds and ends. Today's article about what to do outside of the airport (yes, I said, outside of the airport) when flying through Frankfurt (dreadful), London (hate the transfer), Amsterdam (second on my list), or Paris (first on my list, even if the airport shops are overpriced) is worth the read.
* Photo courtesy of NYTimes

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Feelin' Groovy

Sunglasses made out of wood? What is this world coming to? I stumbled across these groovy shades, ShWoods, today on Daily Candy. Perhaps something for your travel bag?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Work that Matters

As most of you know, I work for an international development consulting firm. Huh, you ask? No worries...I get that response all the time and it's completely natural and valid.
I'm sure if I said Save the Children most of you would know the sort of work they do around the world. Their name pretty much says it all. However, it's hard to grasp the notion that there are development actors out there also doing much life-saving to reintegrate child soldiers, for instance, or help establish citizen groups to fight for human rights. The NGOs do a much better job of getting their messages out and truly marketing through powerful methods, including celebrity endorsements and ad campaigns. Take the Rewrite the Futures campaign which I stumbled across today on YouTube -- it's so very poignant and real.

Admittedly, outside of the non-profit sphere, we've been much less inclined to put our face out there; while the NGOs need to do it to survive financially. But as more and more assaults are taking place against those of us doing good work around the world (we're the "bad" contractors, mind you), we've got to be much more outspoken.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Paris Shopping

I's about Paris again. I haven't given up on a trip there very soon...probably spring time when I can hop over the pond with Abby. How apropos that the last issue of T and L (my favorite travel mag) has a Stylish Traveler article: Shopping: Paris, 3Ways in which the author, one lucky gal, is taken through the streets, shops and flea markets of Paris by three insiders. Suffice it to say I want her job in my after life. The photo above is from Merci. (merci)

Big Apple Shopping

I love Time Out. When I lived in the Balkans, it was one of my go-to guides for restaurants and shopping. I found some great little places in Budapest using it years ago. So, I am now delving into it for my girls' weekend in NYC (with my almost six-year old) later this month to find the best shopping locales for us gals. Reading it now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Season...New Reason

Has it really been since July that I have posted? Breaking all of the old rules about blogs and social media, in general? Breaking my own rules about tapping into my creative self. I owe an apology to those who stop here occasionally.

Anyway, Brad just came back from Uganda. Kampala for a few days to be exact but with stops in Nairobi and Amsterdam enroute. He was able to meet up for breakfast with our good friend, Marcus, who e-mails me for the Netherlands that his new company has provided a "loaner bike" for him to use to get to meetings. Love that.

So, here's a little ode to Brad's trip with a photo or two.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Do you think it's possible to become a travel writer overnight? I often ask myself this question when I come across an article, which I should have written, about my dear Croatia. This one comes from the Times of London and is written about Opatija, that wonderful seaside getaway near Zagreb dotted with pastel-colored villas, which were once home to Austro-Hungarian royalty and such.

I've been to both Villa Astra and Casa Oraj, which the writer mentions in the article. In fact, we used to spend wonderful Thanksgiving weekends in the stone dining room of Oraj, lounging over numerous bottles of Croatian wine and turkey with an interesting set of international friends, many of whom didn't understand, or need to, the traditions of that American holiday. Villa Astra is likewise a gem, with its views of the Adriatic and hospitable owner, who has restored it and its grounds to pristine condition.

Now, let me get serious about becoming a travel writer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back at the Beach

How did it happen? How is it already post July 4th? I don't even feel like I've eased into is here and I'm not prepared. Soon I'll be embarking full-time for Fire Island....ccol breezes, swimming in the bay, sand between my toes, falling asleep on our window seat...grilled fish...sundown cocktails...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Travel Schmavel

This is what is keeping me grounded these days.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Women and Iran

I love Anne Applebaum's clarity. Her ability to dissect an issue. Her laser-like writing style.

In today's edition of the Washington Post, she writes about Iran's women and their strength not only in the current upheaval against the regime, but behind the scene for decades in opposition to build momentum and organize against repression. Ultimately, she concludes that "...regimes that repress the civil and human rights of half their population are inherently unstable." Exactly.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Six years? Wow. Yes, it's been six years ago today that we were married at Casa Cornacchi in Tuscany. Just looking at a few photos of that amazing, 16th century villa brings back a flood of memories and a rush of feelings about my husband -- not to mention my friends from Eastern Europe and my family, who joined me there during that magical week in 2003.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Democracy, Iranian Style

As I sit and look at the photos tonight from Reuters and AP, I feel a sense of deja vu from my days in the Balkans and Milosevic's attempts to steal elections, which came to a tragic end with his extradiction and eventual death in a small cell at the Hague.
Women facing off against riot-gear clad police officers. Crowds in the tens of thousands amassing on the main squares. Desperate police officers wielding batons against those frustrated by their attempt to register dissatisfaction with the current illiberal regime. No doubt change will come to Iran, perhaps not as quickly as many had hoped....but this is the beginning of the end. It seems these are the largest public demonstrations since 1979. Fuel was added to the fire earlier today when the country's top cleric called for an investigation into the allegations of vote rigging.

Photo courtesy of New York Times

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ah, Motherhood

Has it really been since April 20th that I've written? I opened my site tonight, after a long absence, and was quite dismayed that it's been soooo long. Back at work....back to the grind so living vicariously through friends right now. Sharon in Prague. Amanda in Kabul. Willeke in Amsterdam. Majada in Paris. Brenda in Rome. Alistair in Juba. Jo in Franschoek.

Anyway, I'll be back soon with some travel tales and adventures. My passport is gathering dust and that's not good.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Slovenia Chic

Yes, I said Slovenia. Oh, how I wish I had become a travel writer a few years back when living in former Yugoslavia and Croatia and traveling throughout the region. I would have plenty of fodder for travel articles about weekends spent in steamy saunas and plunging in cold, mountain-fed pools in Bled, golfing with the Slovenia Alps framing the shots, delicious dinners and scrumptious Movia wines and much, much more. Now, I'm reading all about new upscale tourism in Slovenia in the likes of the NY Times. And doesn't this hotel look like something out of Manhattan, not the backwoods of that lovely country?

Friday, April 17, 2009

the Latest Little Traveler

Happy 12 weeks, Stefan!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh Those Brits

Have just discovered this lovely reproduction poster-- created by the British Government's Ministry of Information in 1939. Our neighbors across the pond certainly had a way with words. Maybe Obama could use this now.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Montreal...oui, oui

Just returned from our week in Vermont -- and 2 days in Montreal. What a wonderful "European" city right in our backyard. Loved hearing French. Loved the little cupcake shop we found down the street from our hotel.
Loved our hotel, Place des Armes, smack dab in the middle of vieux Montreal, and its wine and cheese happy hour and exposed brick walls and fireplace in our room. Loved the little bistro we found for lunch where it felt right to order a glass of wine and sit leisurely over a great cup of cappucino. A bientot.