02/15/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

‘Portland, Oregon, is like everything that’s good about San Francisco, but without the bad parts,” announced my sister — and as a longtime, devoted denizen of the latter city, she ought to know.

Drop-dead beautiful, outdoorsy and hip? Check. Funky coffee houses? Double check. Infectiously earnest foodie scene, with great restaurants and a cool vegan subculture? Check. Laid-back, welcoming Jewish community? Check.

“All that, yet the streets are clean, and the parking is ridiculously easy,” swooned my sister.

02/08/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

There may be no more dramatic landscape than the sculptural green mountains curving majestically around the sparkling bays of Rio de Janeiro. And there may be no better time to finally see this glorious city than in the months after February’s Carnival celebration, when prices drop and crowds are pleasantly thin along the fabled beaches.

02/01/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

The hottest new shopping destination in Sofia, Bulgaria is a shiny, glass-clad monolith on the busy highway between downtown and the airport. Called simply “The Mall,” its facade is plastered in a riot of international name brands: Carrefour, Zara, Benetton. There isn’t a Cyrillic letter, or a Bulgarian name, in sight.

01/25/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

Just as it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere for the barfly, winter-jaded New Yorkers can take comfort in knowing that somewhere on this planet, it’s feeling like summer.

Down in the balmy Southern Hemisphere, February and March are lounge-by-the-pool months — and nowhere more so than in Auckland, New Zealand’s rising capital of cool. If you’ve been hankering for Oceania, are passing through the South Pacific, or simply have miles to burn, head for Auckland, where locals turn every summer day into an outdoor party.

01/18/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

Imagine bathing outdoors on a pitch-dark winter’s afternoon, under the vast expanse of a velvet-black sky punctuated with milky white stars.

01/11/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

Aruba: just say it. Those three vowelly syllables have a jewel-like ring, a Latin lilt. The sound rises and falls like a gentle wave on the shore.