Travel

Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

History On The Harbor

10/03/2012
Travel Writer

For all the city’s vaunted history, what’s most compelling these days about Baltimore is shiny and new.

That would be the tasteful, decades-in-the-making redevelopment of the Baltimore Inner Harbor, as successful an urban-renewal project as any I’ve ever witnessed.

Much has been written about the myriad malls, chain eateries and middlebrow amusements at the harbor’s core. You can take the snobby approach, or you can let the weekend crowds speak for themselves: few downtowns along the Northeast Corridor boast such a vibrant scene.

Old pirate ships and new condos at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, top. Above, historic Fell’s Point. Photos by Hilary Larson

Fall Beckons On The Cape

09/24/2012
Travel Writer

It was Friday of Labor Day weekend, and traffic was weirdly light as I sped through Providence, R.I., en route to Martha’s Vineyard. Cars were scarce as I approached the Cape Cod Canal; from there it was just me and pine forests all the way to Woods Hole.

About a decade ago, September and October came into vogue as the new July and August. But traffic on the Cape and the Islands has visibly diminished this September, even though the ocean is as warm as ever, the long afternoons just as golden and the blue skies as clear.

The fall harvest on Martha’s Vineyard, top. Above, the Edgartown lighthouse. Photos by Hilary Larson

An Alpine Idyll

09/11/2012
Travel Writer

As is probably obvious to regular readers, your intrepid correspondent is not much of an athlete. Scaling the French Pyrenees, therefore, was something I planned to do from the comfort of a car — the passenger’s seat, no less, since my lack of coordination extends to manual transmission.

So I put my husband, Oggi, in charge of the gears and settled in for a drive through twisting mountain passes, green valleys and Alpine villages.

Prats de Mollo, top, in the French Pyrenees. Above, the narrow alleys of Céret. Photos by Hilary Larson

Where Everything Is Big

09/04/2012
Travel Writer

Everything in Texas is bigger, and Texans won’t let you forget it. Talk with a Houstonian about his city and the superlatives just keep coming: it’s the fourth-largest city in the nation, home of the world’s biggest medical center, site of the largest Conservative congregation in the U.S.

Yes, Houston has actual mega-synagogues. Here in the Bible Belt, where churches are mega-churches, synagogues come supersized as well.

Houston’s Holocaust Museum, in the city’s park-side Museum District. Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau

Jewish Humor On The Continent

08/28/2012
Travel Writer

The European Day of Jewish Culture has officially matured, at least by Jewish standards: this Sept. 2, it turns 13.

The event — a continent-wide celebration around an annual theme — has grown in both scope and participation over the past dozen years. This year’s theme is “The Spirit of Jewish Humor,” a particularly appealing topic and one rich with material.

A street in Rome. From Italy to Norway, an effort to demystify Jewishness. Hilary Larson

A ‘Superior’ Destination

08/21/2012
Travel Writer

When I was a child, I spent every summer in Massachusetts waiting for the blueberries to ripen. Every day my dad and I would take our morning walk through forests thick with berry brambles, and I would inspect the delicate green buds, waiting for that magical day when they would ripen into a juicy, blue-black snack.

It turns out I’m not alone. Throughout Michigan, and especially in the resorts and forests that line its Lake Superior shore, summer crowds eagerly greet the berry crop with festivals, bakeoffs and all manner of pastry.

The famous Miners Castle rock on the Upper Peninsula. Brenda St. Martin/NPS

Munch, Grieg And Beyond

08/14/2012
Travel Writer

The eerie spectacle of round-the-clock sunshine has given way to shadowy nights in the Norwegian city of Bergen, but August days are still long and golden.

In midsummer, the quaint harbor area, Bryggen, can feel like an open-air party. Crowds throng the outdoor cafés and fill the quaint medieval alleys; fishmongers haul in their slippery wares as tourists snap pictures of Europe’s most colorful fish market. Against a backdrop of green mountains, the vivid reds and yellows of Bergen’s wood-frame houses are reflected in the North Sea.

In Bergen, crowds throng the outdoor cafés before the onset of long winter days. Bergen Tourist Board/Per Elde

The Culture Of The Midwest

08/07/2012
Travel Writer

From time to time, I like to revisit noteworthy stops along America’s great cross-country Interstates. Many such stops wouldn’t normally come to mind as vacation destinations, which make their offerings all the more serendipitous.

The Butler Institute of American Art’s Andrews Pavilion, above. Top, Winslow Homer’s “Snap the Whip,” housed within. Butler Inst

Mistakes New Yorkers Make In Europe

07/31/2012
Travel Writer

There are certain ideas that New Yorkers take as articles of faith. We think of ourselves as the world’s savviest, able to pinpoint the genuine and bypass the second-rate.

But as I’ve spent more time in Europe over the past several years, my assumptions have been upended, one after another, by the way my Continental friends and relatives actually see their turf. Along the way, I’ve made a mental list of these truisms – a catalog of classic mistakes that New Yorkers (or any well-informed American travelers) make abroad.

Here are the top four:

Tourists swarm to Barcelona’s Boquería market, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Ognian Danailov

The Art Of The Mob

07/24/2012
Travel Writer

Las Vegas is hot in July — really, really hot. That didn’t stop the pioneers, though, or the gold miners, or the railroad investors. And it certainly didn’t stop legendary Jewish mobsters like Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. They weren’t the types to stop and shvitz when there was good money to be laundered.

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened in March. Geri Kodey
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