Travel

Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

Late Nights, From Paris To Madrid

07/22/2014
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I once spent a night in the Place des Vosges.

That may sound romantic to those who know the lovely park at heart of Paris’s Marais quarter. But when I say I spent the night, I don’t mean that I slept in a plush hotel in the trendy Jewish district. I spent that night on a damp, uncomfortable bench by a fountain, because I had missed the last metro of the evening back to my hotel and had decided it would be interesting to wander all night in the City of Light. And around 4 a.m. — after hours spent strolling the quiet boulevards, pressing my nose against the glass of darkened boutiques and bakeries — I finally collapsed on that bench and dozed until the sky turned pink.

The City of Lights, above, at night. For one traveler. Wikimedia Commons

The Rhode Less Traveled

07/15/2014
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Heading off Interstate 95 just north of the Connecticut border, I drove recently along curving, two-lane byways through a thick summer forest, with little more in view beyond the occasional road sign. I kept heading south, and gradually the forests thinned out a bit; seagulls began to appear, along with wild pink roses and those bushy, stunted oaks you see near salt water.

The scenic Watch Hill cove is a popular summer vacation spot along the southern Rhode Island coast. Hilary Larson/JW

In Old Menemsha, A Modern Breeze Blows

07/08/2014
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‘You’ll never believe this,” I said to my sister over the phone from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. “They’re selling cocktails in Menemsha!”

“Cocktails in Menemsha? I do not believe you,” she responded. “Have you actually ordered one?”

Menemsha Harbor, as seen from the porch of the Galley, a takeout lunch spot. Hilary Larson/JW

The Magic Of Menorca

07/01/2014
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This is not an easy month to be a Spaniard. The vaunted national soccer team, which won the last two major international tournaments, just suffered an ignominious first-round ouster from the World Cup. The royal family is in turmoil as well: public support is at a nadir, with the princess facing legal troubles and the king having just abdicated.

Menorca’s scenic Es Castell harbor in eastern Menorca is part of tourists’ attraction to the area. Hilary Larson/JW

Jewish Culture’s Summer Home

06/24/2014
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When Rabbi Barbara Cohen settled in the Berkshire mountains 34 years ago, the Jewish community was so small that “the joke always was that everybody was related here,” recalled the Long Island native.

Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Lenox, which hosts a “Nosh and Drosh” text-study group.  Barbara Cohen

The Green Market As Cultural Hub

06/17/2014
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Shortly after being sent to Los Angeles for work, my husband developed a grapefruit addiction.

He started showing up at the office with a bag of grapefruits every morning, working his way through a pound or two of citrus before lunch. His colleagues apparently found this amusing. When I went out to visit, I quickly honed in on the source of his addiction.

Beyond just produce: The green market in Studio City.  Hilary Larson/JW

Traveling Companions

06/10/2014
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Fiesole, Italy, is a gloriously romantic spot. High on the hazy hills overlooking Florence, it’s the sort of over-the-top setting you associate with Merchant-Ivory movies about British girls falling in love under the Tuscan sun. Everything and everyone seems beautiful, bathed in golden light.

The hills overlooking Florence, where the author and her mother traveled together.  Wikimedia Commons

Where Leisure Finds Its Sweet Spot

06/03/2014
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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

05/27/2014
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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

05/20/2014
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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
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