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.
Montreal — When Noah Bernamoff and Rae Cohen, the husband-and-wife team from Montreal, opened the Mile End Deli earlier this year in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, the Jewish food scene smelled an imposter. What’s “smoked meat, anyway,” the foodies said, referring to one of the deli’s specialties. “And what’s a ‘Montreal bagel’ doing in the land of H&H?”
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.
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.
‘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.
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?
‘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.
The swamp trees are already bare-limbed in northern New England, where winter tends to come early and linger late. But the first half of October is unparalleled for hillside leaf-peeping, and where better to do it than amid the lush, maple-clad hills of Vermont?
Ojai, Calif. — You’d never know it driving down the 101 along the California coast, but about 85 miles from LAX Airport and 40 minutes south of Santa Barbara, there’s an exit leading to an enchanting paradise — the Ojai valley.