Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

Touring Europe, One Jewish Festival At A Time

02/23/2016 - 12:17
Travel Writer

It’s nearly 60 degrees as I write this column. Spring is on the way and school will be out before you know it, which means now is the ideal time to start planning a European summer vacation. Book in March, and you’ll snare the best airfares (and they are good right now), the best lodging values (the Airbnb steals go fast), and take advantage of an incredibly strong U.S. dollar.

The Szeroka area of Krakow will be the base of this summer’s annual Jewish Culture Festival. Wikimedia Commons

Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite

02/16/2016 - 12:45
Travel Writer

Recently in this column, we discussed kosher locusts. This week I will address a bug that is absolutely not kosher under any circumstances, not literally and not figuratively, either.

Style is no guarantee of a bedbug-free hotel room. Hilary Danailova/JW

Prairie Culture, Jewish And Otherwise

02/10/2016 - 09:14
Travel Writer

The caucuses are over. The candidates have moved on to New Hampshire and South Carolina. Iowa’s cornfields lie still under a layer of snow — flat, vast expanses of white punctuated by the bare limbs of a tree, a farmhouse, a silo.

The resurgent downtown of Des Moines, framed by the Iowa State Capitol. Wikimedia Commons

Days Of The Locust: Adventures In Kosher Food

02/02/2016 - 17:50
Travel Writer

Note: This is the second of two stories on kosher travel.

Over three decades of globetrotting, Rabbi Ari Zivotofsky and Dr. Ari Greenspan have cultivated a career as kosher adventurers — and accidental entomologists.

The “two Aris” in an underground grotto matzah-baking facility in Ptigliano, Italy. Courtesy of Ari Greenspan

A World Of New Food Options

01/26/2016 - 18:30
Travel Writer

Note: This is the first of two stories on kosher travel.

Whenever she travels, Rhoda Farbowitz of Staten Island always packs a fallback kosher “meal” — a pack of tuna, cheese, challah rolls. “You just never know,” said Farbowitz. “You always have to carry something in your pocketbook.”

A kosher McDonald’s in Buenos Aires. Wikimedia Commons

Art Scene Leads Renaissance

01/19/2016 - 10:57
Travel Writer

Tel Aviv — The grungy walls of South Tel Aviv are splashed with color and visual playfulness: two-story-high monsters, fantastical creatures smoking pipes, Technicolor clowns. Punctuating the imagery are lines and lines of scrawling Hebrew text, gashes of black on dingy concrete, arresting the eye at street level.

Street art in South Tel Aviv that has helped spark a cultural renaissance in this long-neglected district.  Ross Belfer

A Mayan Paradise

01/12/2016 - 15:45
Travel Writer

I remember being confused when I started hearing about Belize. Everyone was going there, and the name sounded sort of familiar, but where was it? Why couldn’t I place it?

The Mayan pyramid at Caracol. Wikimedia Commons

A Changing Mission

01/05/2016 - 15:46
Travel Writer

Walking down Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, I swooned slightly amid a swirl of visual stimuli.

The colorfully frescoed Women’s Building in the Mission District, where the Mission Minyan meets. Wikimedia Commons

Where To Go In ’16

12/29/2015 - 15:11
Travel Writer

2015 was a rough year for the world. From a travel perspective, it was a year when the world became smaller — when people from very different places, culturally and geographically, became far more aware of each other’s circumstances and motivations.

The colonial city of Trinidad, Cuba. Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Exposure

12/22/2015 - 12:15
Travel Writer

If you thought of Chanukah as a holiday that unites Jews everywhere, Rabbi Marvin Tokayer has a message: Think again.

Rabbi Marvin Tokayer at concert hall in Birobidjan, Siberia. Photos courtesy of Lotus Tours
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