Travel

Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

Bourbon Street And Jewish Life In Santa Monica

03/18/2014
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When did Santa Monica, the laid-back hub of Los Angeles’ beach communities, turn into Bourbon Street?

I pondered this as Oggi and I spent an hour and a half inching our rented Nissan along jam-packed beachside lanes that reminded me less of California and more of Manhattan’s 14th Street at rush hour. Thousands of young people — many clad in green on St. Patrick’s Day, others draped in gaudy strings of beads — strolled in leisurely herds along Main Street and Broadway. In some spots, the sidewalks were as jammed with pedestrians as the roads were with cars.

A Jewish tableau decorates the Israel Levin Senior Center on the Venice boardwalk.  Hilary Larson/JW

Virtues Of ‘The Valley’

03/11/2014
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Like valleys everywhere, the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles is defined by its surrounding mountains. Smoky purple and taupe, the jagged peaks are visible through the smog from every vantage point.

The sculpture garden at the American Jewish University.  Hilary Larson/JW

Keeping The Jewish Past Alive

03/04/2014
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The night clerk at my hotel in Lisbon’s port district was complaining. Too many immigrants, he groused. Brazilians, Cape Verdeans, Angolans — the breadth of Portugal’s erstwhile empire is visible on every street in downtown Lisbon. The clerk darkly suggested a link to increased prostitution.

A fountain in the old Jewish quarter. TRAM CREDIT: Alvegaspar / FOUNTAIN: Jose Manuel

Where Jewish Culture Runs Deep

02/25/2014
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There are a few reasons why a New Yorker will feel at home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the second-largest city in South America: he has to negotiate busy streets and assertive natives, and take the “subte” (the subway) to get around. He can always find pizza and he gets to choose from an abundant roster of cultural events. But with its decaying colonial architecture and unique blend of gentility and bellicosity, Buenos Aires is also a true mix of Europe and South America.

A plaque commemorating slain Israeli leader Yitzchak Rabin in Buenos Aires’ Retiro neighborhood. Caroline Lagnado/JW

Second Renaissance Taking Hold

02/18/2014
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It may be the heart of the beleaguered Rust Belt, but don’t underestimate Cleveland. A recent visit to Ohio’s Jewish and cultural capital revealed a downtown in its second renaissance of recent decades, with enough urban energy to warrant exploration even during these freezing months.

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra. Amy Larson

Jewish Diversity And Warm Breezes

02/11/2014
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It’s safe to say that 20 years ago, your odds of seeing a band of mariachis playing klezmer-style Chanukah music in a Mexican resort were slim to none.

The rocks off Los Cabos. Courtesy of Los Cabos Tourism

Honeymoon Spots, With Originality

02/04/2014
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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many a sparkly bauble will be proffered — and many a wedding planned as a result. After the gown is chosen and the venue booked, thoughts turn to my favorite part of any wedding conversation: the honeymoon.

Vienna has a romantic café culture. Courtesy of WeinTourismus/Peter Rigaud

The Hottest Cold Spot Around

01/28/2014
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Antarctica is the only continent your faithful correspondent is unlikely ever to reach.

There are myriad reasons, chief among them my distaste for cold weather — unless there is plentiful indoor distraction in the form of opera houses, cafés and museums.

Brrrrrr!: Summer temperatures in Antarctica reach a balmy 30 degrees. Barbara Berresford

Jewish Portlandia, East Coast Style

01/21/2014
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With its starchy white lighthouses and Hopperesque coastline, Portland, Me., is easily pigeonholed as as a summer destination.

Portland’s Etz Chaim, a European-style synagogue turned into a museum. Photo courtesy Maine Jewish Museum

A Capital Of Culture

01/14/2014
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Each year, the European Union designates two of its cities as Capitals of Culture. Lesser-explored or smaller burgs get a turn in the spotlight; more venerable destinations have the opportunity to show off what’s new. And with so much media focus on the problems of Southern Europe, it’s perhaps fitting that the EU Commission decided this year to highlight two relatively tourist-free cities from the continent’s northern tier: Umea, Sweden, and Riga, Latvia.

Scenic Riga is a European Union Capital of Culture this year and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Kaspars Garda
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