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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Texel | Travel article

In cuttings, food, portfolio, travel on May 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Texel in spring

 

Here’s one I wrote earlier …

Texel | Travel section (ACCESS magazine)

 

Readers loved this one, I think because it made them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

 

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GTC Part I: Hong Kong

In travel on August 31, 2010 at 10:55 am

Cathy & Menno’s Grand Tour of China (GTC) and an alternative honeymoon. A clockwise adventure, landing at six o’clock and leaving at three o’clock (figuratively and literally). Hong Kong, Guilin, Chengdu, Xian, Beijing, Shanghai.

Hong Kong – In a word: ‘hypnotic

My father was born and raised in Hong Kong, and although he left us when we were quite young and never much spoke to us (least of all about his homeland), I wondered whether I would sense his connection to the place.

I could have sat for hours watching the boats and activity out of our hotel window. It’s really so easy to see how the territory’s natural geography made such a good location for a trading post way back when… The modern city is also captivating, and from Kowloon on the mainland, the skyline at night is more stunning even than Manhattan; the colours, spread and combinations, adding another dimension (though perhaps some might say it’s on the gaudy side). Out on the streets there seemed to be an awful lot of well-dressed office workers; the women particularly smart and assured – protected from the heat under very civilised covered walkways. Perhaps that was the only reminder of dad; he always was a snappy dresser.

Ever one for a bargain, before we left I insisted on queuing for two and a half hours to go to the tiny dim sum canteen, Tim Ho Wan, which had recently become the world’s cheapest michelin-starred restaurant (see video from The Guardian). I should have known better. Chinese food is  delicious and flavourful but to be honest not that difficult to execute. A master chef’s sui mai, then, aren’t going to be that much more wonderful than a regular chef’s. So yes, the dumplings and other little dishes were tasty but not the amazing dishes you might be anticipating after a good stint sat on the pavement. And we should know, we ordered everything on the menu.

See more of our Hong Kong photos on Flickr >>

Panama: the indigenous islands, whilst they’re still here

In travel on April 15, 2009 at 5:20 pm

san blas

Over in Panama during the last fortnight of our trip, we spent five nights on a sailing boat in the San Blas islands, an indigenous autonomy in the north east. Along with a few other guests, we stayed on board The Andiamo, courtesy of Tony Santos, a gravel-voiced, sun-kissed American on a long hiatus from his native land. (NB He writes a regular blog about his experiences  – it would make a great book one day: theandiamo.com).

tony

The (near) Sinking of the Kuna Navy: One of the local Kuna (the tribe that govern the islands) called by as he had lost or broken one of his oars, so Tony duly phoned the fisherman’s son to come out and bring him a replacement. Meanwhile, M and another guy, bored with snorkelling, decided oh so cleverly to tied his boat to our dingy so he couldn’t leave. However, when the poor man tried to sail away, he actually starts going under and the knot got tighter and tighter. The two jokers got him free in the end and without a major international incident.

tied up

sinking

Alongside the Andes on the Ruta 40 road trip

In travel on March 23, 2009 at 4:17 pm

ruta 40

After a few days in Buenos Aires and some in Mendoza drinking lovely wines we hit the road big time with an economy car and five days to go about 1,000 km to Salta province, up in the North West of Argentina. We were on our big Latin American adventure in between the NYC placement and a new life in Amsterdam. A lot of the travel forums suggested forgoing this journey for a bus or a flight straight to Salta but we were intrigued by the challenge of the Ruta 40, the main road running down the interior spine of Argentina, with all the tourist-free villages to stop off at and the open road to motor along.

Well, if you can call it a road (Ruta 40 pictured above). On particularly gravelly bits we really feared a puncture would leave us deserted – we rarely passed other cars on the road. Thankfully with a bit of luck and M’s careful driving, the tyres held out. Another problem was the signage. We had a road map but if we took a wrong turn it was often two hours before we realised and had to track back rather grumpily.

green villageBut still, the sense of achievement upon making it to a village (and sleep spot) each evening was enormous. After a long day driving around dried up valleys and arid landscapes, we’d know we were approaching a village as suddenly there would be a plush, green spot with tall trees as a kind of banner – “life exists here”. Plus, we got a much better idea of truly authentic Argentian life by staying in these little places, each with their own idiosyncracies and atmosphere. Ice-cream ruled in one village square, perfect hamburgers, the next, and one had more than its fair share of mad people. But in each place, the residents, young and old, families and gangs, they all congregated in the squares by night and stared at us with much more curiosity that we did them.

On one of the stops, there were three hotels in the village so we had chanced it and not booked a room. We arrived to find out there was a big wedding that night and two hotels were fully booked and at the other one, the owner was drunk as a lord and couldn’t really focus. We tried a couple of b&b’s, one really dirty, one with puppies being reared in the rooms and began to worry if we could make it to the next village to find somewhere. In the end we found a family to host us  via the tourist centre (amazingly the village had one). They promptly kicked two of their kids out of their bedroom for us. I think I remember my little bed had a great Boca Juniors cover.

And of course, the scenery was amazing.

valley

andes

Relocation, relocation, relocation

In travel on March 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Monday morning and it snowed like crazy overnight, bridges to Manhattan backed up, etc, yada yada yada, so our movers wanted to postpone a day. Not really an option with flights out of JFK Tuesday lunchtime. Relax, it was all OK, Menno gave them hell over the phone and they arrived in the end. Our Super did an amazing job of shovelling snow off the sidewalk in front of the building, worth majorly over-tipping him at Christmas, after all.

Actually these movers were the bees knees, they wrapped everything up way more diligently than the movers and packers we had in Europe, even plain old wooden chairs got covered with paper, cardboard and tape.  Maybe not so good for the environment, though.

At the airport the next day we had our kittens in special cabin-friendly carry cases so that they could stay with us all through the flight, tucked neatly under the seats in front.  We did have to take them out when we went through security and there some funny looks as we went through the metal detectors with wriggly kittens on leads. Oh yeah, and one security guard got freaked out when he tried to check M’s passport because he had a fear of cats. Ahhhh.

airport

cases

NYC Highlights

In extra curricula, travel on February 14, 2009 at 6:08 pm

With our current placement in the US coming to an end, here are some highlights from New York City, baby.

Bowery Ballroom

www.boweryballroom.com

We took a whole bunch down to this LES music spot to see Tragedy, a heavy metal Beegees tribute band (yes you read that right), lots of spandex. I seem to remember it was cheap, like $14 dollars including four support bands (they were all fun-weird too).

Tragedy

Brooklyn Flea Market

www.brooklynflea.com

My sis and I picked up some unique finds on an icy cold Sunday over at the Brooklyn Flea. She bought a red retro, circular suitcase, me a huge enamel pie tin ($10). Other wares included vintage clothes, rugs, furniture, and of course… pickles.

Cafe Wha?

cafewha.com

wha

I’d been told good things about the resident covers band at Cafe Wha? by my friend, Sloane, who readily admitted a huge crush on the guitarist. And it was great, too. Waitress service at a table within spitting distance of the tiny stage was a bonus.

wha2

Cafe Habana

www.cafehabana.com

Tasty, good value Cuban food with the  main problem being getting a seat or even a space to stand in – it’s so insanely popular. Ridiculously cool people, lots of models or artists with beards, tats and hats, so M really stood out whenever he met me for a mohito after work. Going solo for a beer one hot day, I remember hanging out with a wannabee scriptwriter who was totally coked up and going on about his latest film exploiting Heath Ledger’s recent death, nice. NB. Menu pick – fish tacos.

habana havana

Christmas Windows NYC

In shopping, travel on December 24, 2008 at 5:33 pm

The coolest Christmas window displays NYC has to offer (and some from Macys):