12/28/2010 | | Travel Writer | Travel

I was in Barcelona, dropping by a friend’s shared apartment, when it started up. “I’ve been so busy here, I haven’t even had time to go shopping!” I laughed, and was met with this teasing response from my friend’s housemate — a Bulgarian cellist I barely knew. “No shopping? Why, for you, that must be as unthinkable as not building settlements would be for an Israeli!”

12/21/2010 | | Travel Writer | Travel

Wintertime in Florida? Why, that’s so old school. Haven’t you heard that the hottest trend is off-season travel?

Make that the coldest trend. As yesterday’s summer resorts have morphed into year-round weekend destinations, beach towns from Cape Cod to Hilton Head have quietly developed a 12-month-long scene. Increasingly, people are willing to sacrifice an August dip in the ocean for a soulful, solitary beach in February — and a chance to spot wildlife that isn’t toting a keg.

12/14/2010 | | Travel Writer | Travel

Years ago, I found myself studying German at the Berlitz school in Rockefeller Center. My classmates were a fascinating lot: international business people, Austrian Airline workers, diplomats and their significant others, all learning German for love or money.

They were also a well-traveled lot, so one day when the teacher was late, the conversation fell to favorite travel destinations. Would the consensus be Paris, Italy, Hawaii? Not even close: to a one, they all replied, “Cape Town, South Africa.”

12/07/2010 | | Travel Writer | Travel

A scantily clothed man sprints along the shore, fire blazing from the stick in his hand. As he pauses to light each of dozens of torches, the sound of ukuleles wafts from a hotel patio, and the flickering fires cast a shimmering golden glow across the lapping waves.

11/30/2010 | | Travel Writer | Travel

My father once made a trip overseas. The year was 1955, Europe was struggling to rebuild itself from postwar trauma, and my dad shipped out for Lausanne, Switzerland, to spend a year at conservatory. When his studies were finished, he went to Paris for a week to tour the Louvre. Then he came home, satisfied that he had seen Europe.

11/16/2010 | | Travel Writer | Travel

Vienna regularly tops those lists of cities with the world’s best quality of life, and amid the happy buzz of wintertime, you’ll understand why.