A frenzy of chatter greeted the recent announcement that Virgin Galactic would begin offering commercial flights into space for $200,000. Those wishing to see Planet Earth from afar may have to wait until later this year, when space flights are expected to take off from New Mexico.
Santiago, the blossoming capital of Chile, has long been the Latin American also-ran — overlooked as travelers flocked to the tango of Buenos Aires, the Inca wonders of Machu Picchu and the sexy shores of Brazil.
That’s precisely what makes Santiago such fun to discover. As one of the hemisphere’s most vibrant economies, crisis-defying Chile is becoming an international destination for investors, professionals and tourists, and one of my top picks for 2012.
The first thing you may notice about Tucson is the profusion of flowering plants, blossoming cactus and exotically shaped greenery. “I expected it to be dry and arid, like Phoenix,” commented my mother in surprise.
A few weeks ago, I boarded an Air Europa 767 in Barcelona, bound for Miami — and found it 80 percent empty, with room to stretch out and snooze across three seats. It felt like 1995. The price was retro too: about $550 for a trans-Atlantic flight.
This was not, however, the luxury of a bygone era. A Catalan friend explained to me that many thousands of Spaniards have recently run out of their two-year unemployment benefits, a scenario repeating itself across recession-stricken Europe.
The chilly fog of Paris, and its neat rows of Hausman-era rooflines, receded as we drove north on the highway toward Lille, the city giving way to thick forests and wide-open fields of green still vivid on this late-fall weekend.
It was Thanksgiving weekend, to be precise, and my husband, Oggi, and I were spending the holiday with cousins who settled awhile back in French horse country. Twenty-five miles northeast through thick woods dotted with streams and the odd chateau take you into the Department of Oise.
It’s Chanukah season in San Francisco — and in a city where every weekend features some one-of-a-kind festival, you can expect a lot more than candle lightings and latke parties. Try Yiddish drag queen caroling, a pop-up Jewish record store, Chinese-food comedy on Christmas, and a historic tribute to one of history’s wiliest Jews, Harry Houdini..
Traditionalists will still find menorahs and latkes. But San Francisco embraces the holidays with the same blend of hipster irony, earnest identity-probing and wacky originality that are its trademarks.
The smallest nation in the Americas still looks, in many respects, the way it must have looked in 1492, when Christopher Columbus glided by.
One of the islands resembled St. Christopher, to his way of thinking, so Columbus named it after himself. The other, a volcanic peak capped with frothy white clouds, looked snowy from afar — “nieves” to the Spanish crewmen.
After Athens, Madrid might be the most-scrutinized world capital this month, as global leaders anxiously train their eyes on the Mediterranean financial meltdown.
But while cultural offerings are taking a hit in other cash-strapped cities, Madrid is the defiant exception. From the lavish gardens of the Royal Palace to expanded hours at the Prado, visitors to the Spanish capital will see scant evidence of crisis.