Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

Where Leisure Finds Its Sweet Spot

Travel Writer

Eat, drink and gaze.

These are essentially the only activities that matter in Sorrento. The quintessential seaside resort town of Southern Italy does not have a real beach, and the cultural touchstones of Campania are elsewhere: classical ruins in Paestum, volcanic vestiges in Pompeii, archaeological marvels in Naples.

The view from a cliffside terrace overlooking the Mediterranean in Sorrento.  Hilary Larson/JW

Tips For That Summer Getaway

Travel Writer

Memorial Day is behind us, which means we can all rest assured that it probably won’t snow again for awhile. During the next few months at least, bitter cold and icy terrain are optional — for those planning travel to Patagonia, say, or Siberia.

The boardwalk in L.A., where you can find a same-day rental on AirBnB.  Hilary Larson/JW

The Martha’s Vineyard Of France

Travel Writer

In the new French movie “Bicycling with Molière” — terrific fun, by the way — the actors Fabrice Lucchini and Lambert Wilson bicycle around a picturesque French island while trading barbs and lines from Molière’s play “The Misanthrope.”

The island, Île de Ré, may be unknown to most Americans. But this 18-mile spit of land north of Bordeaux and south of Brittany is a classic summer resort — the Martha’s Vineyard of France, you might say.

The harbor at Saint-Martin, Île de Ré’s main town. Hilary Larson/JW

Gateway To The Grand Canyon

Travel Writer

Wherever you stop along the way, to traverse U.S. Route 66 is to retrace the mythic American westward journey — the same journey undertaken, often with unimaginable hardship, by generations of pioneers, Jewish and otherwise.

The San Francisco Mountains outside of Flagstaff.  Wikimedia Commons

Utah’s New Cosmopolitanism

Travel Writer

Tell people you’re headed to Salt Lake City, and you will be barraged with anecdotes about the days when you had to join a special club as a member to order a beer.

Largely Mormon Salt Lake City has its own Jewish flavor, including a library designed by Israel’s Moshe Safdie, above. Dana Sohm

The Spontaneous Intimacy Of Travel

Travel Writer

“Are you Jewish?” my seatmate asked me about five minutes into the Amtrak ride from New York to Philadelphia.

The question might strike some as unnervingly direct, but New Yorkers are famous for that. And it was far from the most personal question I’ve been asked by someone I’ve known for less time than it takes to make coffee — someone with whom the only apparent connection is a passenger fare.

Exchanges with fellow travelers are among the more indelible imprints of travel. Wikimedia Commons

An Escape For L.A.’s Turkish Jewish Community

Special To The Jewish Week

Avalon, Catalina Island — It’s no more than a short cruise from busy Los Angeles, but once here, you’ll think you’ve sailed to a far-away paradise.

Palm trees frame the harbor in Avalon, on Catalina Island.  George Medovoy

Medieval History, With Lavender

Travel Writer

Overlooked and underrated, the French city of Perpignan reveals its charms to those with the patience to look.

Perpignan, best known as a transit hub for the beaches of the Languedoc-Rousillon, has the misfortune to be located amid a region of surpassing visual splendor and historic import. Were it a city in Hungary or Romania, it would surely be a major draw. But Perpignan’s quintessentially Gallic streetscapes, riverside quays and plethora of medieval architecture are hardly unique in this corner of France.

The quintessentially Gallic streetscapes of Perpignan. Henri Moreau

Celebrating Jewish Food In Clinton-land

Travel Writer

April in Little Rock, Ark., brings a myriad of Southern blossoms,  warm afternoons and a flowering of Jewish culture.

The Arkansan capital makes a diverting and attraction-rich stop for cross-country drivers on Interstate 40, which cuts across the United States from Wilmington, N.C., to Barstow, Calif. Already home to a prominent civil rights-era history, Little Rock has lately attracted tourists with Bill Clinton’s presidential library and museum.

A replica of President Bill Clinton’s Oval office in Clinton Center. Courtesy of Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau

Urban Design At Its Best

Travel Writer

It’s a pity Ildefons Cerda wasn’t more famous.

That was my conclusion as I strolled along the streets of his chef d’oeuvre, the Eixample (ay-SHOM-pla) neighborhood of Barcelona. The Catalan city planner created such a singular masterpiece of urban design that professionals the world over make pilgrimages to this elegant district, drawing inspiration from its sunlit angles and human scale.

Gaudi’s Casa Mila, the most famous of the “cut-corners” buildings in Cerda’s Eixample neighborhood. Wikimedia Commons
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