Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

White Sands, High Waves

Travel Writer

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.

Waikiki Beach with the Diamond Head promontory in the distance. Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Tor Johnson

Traveling With A Senior

Travel Writer

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.

The Greening Of Israeli Tourism

Eco-travel, though lagging behind that of other countries, is picking up steam in the Jewish state.

Travel Writer

When Dutch-born Hilda Zohar
met her husband, Moshe, on a kibbutz
years ago, it was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with, if not only with, the Israeli land.

Eleven years ago, the couple settled on a barren plot in the Negev Desert and planted the first grapes for what would blossom into the Boker Valley Vineyard and Farm. The cold winters and long, hot summers were ideal for red wine production, and the arid climate eliminated the need for pesticides — though it did force them to get creative with sustainable irrigation.

Tourists at an Israeli wildlife reserve, left, mud building on an eco-kibbutz and working the fields at an organic farm.

A Late-Autumn Viennese Waltz

Travel Writer

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.

An annex of The Jewish Museum on the Judenplatz.

Romantic Setting, Reasonably Priced

Travel Writer

It is already snowing in Romania’s Transylvania, and winter there is a fairy tale. It is situated deep in the cold heart of Europe, where freezing temperatures arrive in September, and a chill descends over the Carpathian mountains until May.

Sighisoara, a windswept hilltop citadel, in the snow, top. Above, the Brasov town center. Photos by Hilary Larson

Continuity In Queens

In the Forest Hills-Rego Park area,
diversity and middle-class stability.

Special To The Jewish Week

The stately brick buildings with their white-mantled entryways, elegant blocks of Tudor houses and tidy tree-lined sidewalks of Forest Hills connote solid American values. They speak of community, continuity, middle-class stability.

Austin Street, an upscale shopping zone in Forest Hills. Photos by Michael Datikash

The New San Juan, And Beyond

Travel Writer

For travelers seeking a dose of foreign-language exoticism close to home, I recently recommended Quebec City. But for those who could live without long winter shadows and the majesty of snowfall, another terrific early-winter option is Puerto Rico.

Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico is basking in a shiny new glow these days, with a rash of luxe new hotels sprouting up in San Juan, home to the Caribbean’s largest Jewish community, and on Vieques, the chic former military zone.

Old San Juan, top.  Above, El Morro, San Juan’s historic waterfront fortress.

Down Home And High-Toned

Travel Writer

‘Austin is so much fun,” everybody tells you when you say you’re thinking of visiting. And you know what? They’re right.

Many of us from parts East have a sort of love-hate relationship with the whole idea of Texas. The cowboy stuff seems hokey, but secretly we think line dancing looks like fun. (It is.) The gun stuff scares us, but the Western culture is refreshingly singular amid a vast, anodyne heartland of strip malls and chain stores.

Austin’s skyline as seen from the Colorado River, top. Above, the scene at the Galaxy Room on Sixth Street.

An American Abroad: Sure, Look Like A Tourist

Travel Writer

One of the most universal concerns of tourists is, paradoxically, how not to look like a tourist.

Think for a minute about the fundamental absurdity. Does a student take pains to cover up his notebook and backpack, lest he be identified as such? Does the plumber sidle into your building in a tuxedo, the better to avoid detection?

Americans in Paris

A Little European, A Lot North American

Travel Writer

‘I’m nervous about going to Europe,” my mother fretted recently, scanning the headlines about possible Al-Qaeda plots in Britain, France and Germany.

She pictured shifty-looking terrorists on the Thames, evildoers in the Eiffel Tower, villains lurking among the vines of the Loire. But I’m convinced that Europe is a big place, as safe as anywhere these days, and am planning trips abroad with no qualms whatsoever. Even if everyone else is not in the mood.

Castle turned luxury hotel: The Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City’s premier landmark. Hilary Larson
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