Travel

Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

Still Reinventing After All These Years

03/27/2012
Travel Writer

We all think we know Fort Lauderdale, a sunny winter escape as familiar to many of us as the Upper West Side.

Fort Lauderdale is the airport we fly into (Miami is strictly for international travel, and then only reluctantly). It’s the spring break of myth, the destination for Chinese food at Christmas with the grandparents. More recently, halted cranes and foreclosures have added an unsettling note to these palm-lined boulevards.

The Fort Lauderdale skyline at twilight. Photos courtesy of visit Florida

Down East Culture

03/13/2012
Travel Writer

The urge to get away for a weekend may be primal, but New York’s sprawl can make it tough to find a true change of scene. A half-hour outside Los Angeles or San Francisco, you leave buildings behind for wild mountains or oceanfront cliffs. A half-hour out of Manhattan, and you’re still mired in traffic.

But with enough patience, I-95 is the conduit to a rustic New England adventure. With a terrific Jewish Film Festival, a Dégas exhibit and last-of-winter discounts, March is the perfect time to explore one of my longtime favorite cities — Portland, Me.

Portland’s harbor is just a stone’s throw from downtown.

Beyond The Theme Park

03/06/2012
Travel Writer

Many of us New Yorkers grew up believing that Florida begins at West Palm Beach and ends at Miami. And for a lot of us, Florida is like Brigadoon — a place that only exists during sporadic intervals, or more accurately, during the interval from Thanksgiving to Passover.

In this mindset, Orlando and its Central Florida environs serve only as a theme-park escape from cruddy weather. But there’s another Orlando that’s a grownup world away from cartoons, castles or celluloid.

Winter Park’s downtown, with veterans’ memorial, top. Above, the new Tiffany Wing at the Morse Museum of American Art.

Beyond The Pitch, A Sense Of Cool

02/28/2012
Travel Writer

It’s springtime in Manchester, London’s gritty northern sibling, which sits quietly ignored by most visitors to the U.K. Though nary a green shoot has yet this year to emerge from the ground, a glance around reveals a city in long-awaited blossom.

Salford Quays, the former industrial waterfront on the Manchester Shipping Canal.

A Portuguese Paradise

02/21/2012
Travel Writer

As you survey the deep blue Atlantic that surrounds Madeira and gaze over volcanic peaks with the scent of orchids in the air, you may feel like you’ve discovered a lost paradise.

Nearly 600 years ago, Portuguese explorers probably felt the same way when they stumbled upon the uninhabited island. There were no humans on these virgin shores — just lush green valleys thick with riotous pink blooms, waves crashing on blackened cliffs and hundreds of colorful birds. Is it any wonder those sun-struck sailors were inspired to pursue the Age of Discovery?

The beach at Porto Santo. cruise ship off Funchal. BEACH: Duarte Andrade SHIP: Francisco Corela

A Jewish Cultural Olympiad

02/14/2012
Travel Writer

The Olympics are coming!

All over London, cloaked in yet another layer of once-unthinkable snowfall, people look to this summer’s Games for much-needed cheer. The record chill that has seized Europe this winter seems to mirror the mood across the Continent. From the British Isles to the Urals, Europeans are depressed about falling incomes, rising taxes and bleak prospects, and the punishing cold just seems to rub it all in.

A Lucian Freud self-portrait from National Portrait Gallery show. A Lucian Freud self-portrait from National Portrait Gallery

Napa, Watch Your Back!

For oenophiles, Israel is becoming a serious destination for wine tourism.

Travel Writer
02/07/2012

About five years ago, I was scanning reds by the glass in a Park Slope wine bar when something unusual caught my eye.

“Recanati,” read the listing. “Cabernet Sauvignon, Israel.”

Suddenly, in the last few years, it’s Israel’s turn to be one of the world’s hot new regions for serious wine. And boutique outfits like Recanati, with vineyards throughout the Galilee, are turning their wineries into a destination for oenophile vacationers — a kind of Napa Valley for the Holy Land.

From Mournful To Cool

02/07/2012
Travel Writer

Lodz, Poland’s third-largest city, has long held a special resonance for Jewish visitors.

This onetime outpost of the Russian and German Empires was among the world’s most Jewish cities before the Holocaust, with a quarter-million Jews, a good third of the city’s total. Every year, thousands of heritage travelers come to bear witness to Lodz’s wartime ghetto and the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe.

So fixed is that mournful image that it takes a mental leap to consider what Europeans already know: Lodz is suddenly the coolest place in Poland.

Lodz’s Manukaftura entertainment and shopping complex, above.

The Art Of The Midwest

01/31/2012
Travel Writer

For art lovers, the great American road trip has a new pit stop.

That’s because the arts are in bloom in Kansas City, Mo., the major stop between St. Louis and Denver on Interstate 70, which slices through Middle America from Baltimore to Utah.

The exterior of Moshe Safdie’s Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, above. Top, the center’s Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

Lag Time

01/17/2012
Travel Writer

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.

Virgin Galactic’s announcement about its space trips got our frequent flier thinking about time and travel.
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