Resolved: 2012

02/01/2012 § 10 Comments

Photo via George Eastman House

“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account”
Oscar Wilde

In referring to my often-neglected journal to find my resolutions for 2011 and 2010, I saw a few repeats, a few things I achieved, a few things I failed miserably at, and a few things I completely forgot that I had resolved to do.  With this in mind — along with Oscar’s words above — I’ve decided to pare down my list for this year, from its usual ten or eleven item list to six.  Thus, here are the six things I can achieve, and will achieve, this year:

  1. Travel to at least one new country.  I’ve managed to keep my streak alive for the last three years, and I’m definitely committed to continuing this year.  Currently thinking my new country for 2012 will be somewhere in North Africa, Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe, but this is definitely not nailed down yet.  Have any suggestions for me?
  2. Run two half marathons.  I ran the New York Marathon in 2010, and have run plenty of road races of shorter lengths over the past 4 years (view my running posts here).  Admittedly, after the marathon, I suffered from a bit of burnout and my training has been uneven ever since.  This year I resolve to run two half marathons.  I will give myself extra points for sub-2 hour finishes, but I will be more than happy with two uninjured, smiling finishes.  I’ve got a former international competitor as a training partner (eesh!), but she assures me she needs just as much training as I do.  We’ll see about that.  Have any races you’d suggest I look into?  Even better, would you like to run with me?
  3. Cook some things.  My friends frequently point out that I blog about plenty of interesting things, cocktails and whatnot, but I almost never mention food.  Were you to look into my refrigerator, you might understand why.  It currently holds water, condiments, booze and two oranges.  And the oranges are for making Old Fashioneds.  I also cannot honestly remember the last time I used my oven or stove.  So in 2012, I’m resolving to actually buy myself groceries and cook at least once a week.  (Sidenote: Please do understand that “cooking” shall be construed quite liberally.)  Have any ridiculously easy, yet nutritious and delicious recipes for me?
  4. I’m on a horse. This was actually a 2011 resolution that I did not achieve, and so it’s getting carried over.  For as horse crazy as I am, I really have no excuse for not riding anymore.  I grew up taking all different kinds of lessons — even mounted drill team…yes, I am that awesome — and I still feel the need to get on a horse almost daily.  Admittedly, it can be a bit difficult doing so, living in New York City, but this just can’t keep being the reason I don’t ride.  This year, be it lessons, a trail ride, or perhaps even a dude ranch, I will get myself on a horse.  How do you make time for your interests?  Do you ride?
  5. To read twelve books.  I’ve always been a rather voracious consumer of all sorts of information, but I have found that in the last year my reading of books has been a record low.  Not acceptable.  To that end, I resolve to read twelve books — hopefully, one a month — in 2012.  Read any great books lately?  How is this best accomplished?  Do you think I need an e-reader?
  6. To live with purpose.  Rather abstract, I admit, but 2012 will definitely be my year of living with purpose.  Making decisions, choosing actions to make sure I achieve my goals, focusing on the immediate as a way to get to the eventual.  My life is best lived when I grab it by the horns, summon up the courage and blaze my own trail.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have ever lived in Italy by myself, travelled alone in Europe, moved to New York, or gone to law school — and who knows what else.  No sitting on the sidelines this year.  No letting life meander on without making affirmative decisions of my own.  Live like that, and life will pass you by.  How do you put your words into action?  How do you live with purpose?

Lastly, I’m excited to see what 2012 will bring for ye olde blog.  A big thank you to everyone who takes the time to read, email me, comment, Tumbl, Tweet, Pin and otherwise share the rather random stuff I post about.  I’m deeply grateful for your indulgence and I look forward to learning more from you in 2012.

Here’s to having our best year ever.  Cheers!

The Wanderlust

16/12/2011 § Leave a comment

Image via National Library of Wales.

Islwyn Roberts of Llanbedr, Merionethshire, a Welshman who would hitchhike his way around the world and then return home to sit on a bench in town and read stories about his adventures to anyone who would listen.  A mostly deaf war veteran, Islwyn managed to get all the way to Algeria on £6 in 1949.  He returned home to Wales, but set out again in 1958 for a year-long trip that included stops in Egypt, South Africa, Patagonia (in South America) and Canada.

The Wanderlust
by Robert W. Service

The Wanderlust has lured me to the seven lonely seas,
Has dumped me on the tailing-piles of dearth;
The Wanderlust has haled me from the morris chairs of ease,
Has hurled me to the ends of all the earth.
How bitterly I’ve cursed it, oh, the Painted Desert knows,
The wraithlike heights that hug the pallid plain,
The all-but-fluid silence, — yet the longing grows and grows,
And I’ve got to glut the Wanderlust again.

Soldier, sailor, in what a plight I’ve been!
Tinker, tailor, oh what a sight I’ve seen!
And I’m hitting the trail in the morning, boys,
And you won’t see my heels for dust;
For it’s “all day” with you
When you answer the cue
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust has got me . . . by the belly-aching fire,
By the fever and the freezing and the pain;
By the darkness that just drowns you, by the wail of home desire,
I’ve tried to break the spell of it — in vain.
Life might have been a feast for me, now there are only crumbs;
In rags and tatters, beggar-wise I sit;
Yet there’s no rest or peace for me, imperious it drums,
The Wanderlust, and I must follow it.

Highway, by-way, many a mile I’ve done;
Rare way, fair way, many a height I’ve won;
But I’m pulling my freight in the morning, boys,
And it’s over the hills or bust;
For there’s never a cure
When you list to the lure
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust has taught me . . . it has whispered to my heart
Things all you stay-at-homes will never know.
The white man and the savage are but three short days apart,
Three days of cursing, crawling, doubt and woe.
Then it’s down to chewing muclucs, to the water you can eat,
To fish you bolt with nose held in your hand.
When you get right down to cases, it’s King’s Grub that rules the races,
And the Wanderlust will help you understand.

Haunting, taunting, that is the spell of it;
Mocking, baulking, that is the hell of it;
But I’ll shoulder my pack in the morning, boys,
And I’m going because I must;
For it’s so-long to all
When you answer the call
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust has blest me . . . in a ragged blanket curled,
I’ve watched the gulf of Heaven foam with stars;
I’ve walked with eyes wide open to the wonder of the world,
I’ve seen God’s flood of glory burst its bars.
I’ve seen the gold a-blinding in the riffles of the sky,
Till I fancied me a bloated plutocrat;
But I’m freedom’s happy bond-slave, and I will be till I die,
And I’ve got to thank the Wanderlust for that.

Wild heart, child heart, all of the world your home.
Glad heart, mad heart, what can you do but roam?
Oh, I’ll beat it once more in the morning, boys,
With a pinch of tea and a crust;
For you cannot deny
When you hark to the cry
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust will claim me at the finish for its own.
I’ll turn my back on men and face the Pole.
Beyond the Arctic outposts I will venture all alone;
Some Never-never Land will be my goal.
Thank God! there’s none will miss me, for I’ve been a bird of flight;
And in my moccasins I’ll take my call;
For the Wanderlust has ruled me,
And the Wanderlust has schooled me,
And I’m ready for the darkest trail of all.

Grim land, dim land, oh, how the vastness calls!
Far land, star land, oh, how the stillness falls!
For you never can tell if it’s heaven or hell,
And I’m taking the trail on trust;
But I haven’t a doubt
That my soul will leap out
On its Wan-der-lust.

Field Notes: Antiquing in Mercado de San Telmo

13/12/2011 § 5 Comments

Weekly on Sundays, the street Defensa in the neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires becomes a bustling marketplace where one can purchase almost anything.  Automobiles are prohibited, vendors set their stalls in the streets and enterprising young people rove the crowds carrying boxes of homemade empanadas for sale.  However, the most impressive attractions of the San Telmo market are the amazing antique shops and there are two in particular I wanted to share with you.

Gabriel del Campo (Defensa 1131 in San Telmo)

Gabriel del Campo was a rather surreal experience.  There were so many interesting and immaculate items — from dolls to furniture to fur rugs to an extensive collection of luggage and trunks — and they were staged so beautifully, it felt almost like a museum.  Albeit the kind of museum I wanted to live in.  And while the exchange rate is currently quite favorable, the shop is well aware of the high quality and value of their items.

For example, a diminutive woman with an accent that sounded like she was from Hong Kong was noisily admiring a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk that was almost as tall as she was.  When she asked the price, “18,000” was the answer.  “Pesos?” she asked, which would have been a little over $4,000.  “No, no.  American dollars.”

For those of us who are not on Ralph Lauren’s scouting team and find ourselves without their unlimited funds, rest assured that Gabriel del Campo is an inherently satisfying exercise in antique inspiration and it is definitely worth a look around.  Who knows, you might get lucky...

Antigüo Balcón (Defensa 961, Location 90, in Antiguo Mercado de San Telmo)

On the other hand, the tiny and adorable shop Antigüo Balcón, was a completely different — but much more lovely — experience.  Run by owner Abel Neira for over 20 years, the shop is a dizzying jumble of all sorts of odds and ends and hidden treasures.  Mr. Neira seems to somewhat specialize in a few types of items — namely cameras, musical instruments, fans and telephones — but truly, there is a little bit of everything crammed into this tiny space.

Mr. Neira was a delight to speak with.  As he pointed out small treasures my untrained eye might have missed, we chatted about my trip and the best places to go in the city — quite like visiting an old friend with an amazing collection.  At Antigüo Balcón, unlike at Gabriel del Campo, you can find amazing things that won’t require a second mortgage — or a first one for that matter — and you will consider your time with Mr. Neira as an added bonus.

Abel Neira, owner of Antigüo Balcón.

Related: Field Notes: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Field Notes: Buenos Aires, Argentina

12/12/2011 § 7 Comments

Palermo Soho

Plaza de Mayo

Mausoleum of General San Martín, Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral

Mercado de San Telmo

Museum ships

Argentine Polo Open

Recoleta Cemetary

Field Notes: Buenos Aires

As you may recall, I recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires and I have been raving about the city to anyone who will listen.  The word amazing has definitely been bandied about quite a bit.  Simultaneously cosmopolitan and relaxing, the city makes for a perfect destination when the northern hemisphere turns to winter.  With the exchange rate currently in my favor (~4.6 pesos to the dollar), it was an affordable escape as well.  Of course, I am plotting my return trip as we speak…

I recommend staying in one of the Palermo neighborhoods: Hollywood or Soho.  The neighborhoods are named for their resemblance to the American cities with the same name: Soho with its bustling shopping and dining, Hollywood with its concentration of the city’s media companies.  I stayed in Palermo Soho and found it to be well located and felt exceptionally safe after dark.  It is, however, a bit of a walk to the Subte (subway), but taxis are plentiful and quite affordable.  Instead of staying in a hotel, I rented a flat, which is definitely the most cost-effective option.  Through Buenos Aires Rents, I found a sparkling clean studio in a brand new building with 24-hour doorman service, laundry, gym and roof deck with a pool, for a little over $60 per night.  While renting a flat means you don’t have a concierge on hand at all times, the folks at Buenos Aires Rents were always immediately available for my questions and also offer car service for airport transfers.  If you are the type that requires daily room service, take a look at Esplendor Palermo Soho, which was darling and directly around the corner from where I stayed.

Next time, I will definitely stay at the Hotel del Casco, which is actually in San Isidro, a bit north of Buenos Aires proper.  An exceptionally beautiful, 1890s neoclassical palazzo that was formerly the summer home of an aristocratic family, the Hotel del Casco has been converted into a gorgeous 20 room hotel that retains much of its original 19th century aesthetic.

Hotel del Casco.  Perfection.

Buenos Aires is a city that easily lends itself to cafe lingering and meandering.  I spent many lovely, lazy mornings people-watching over coffee and toast topped with dulce de leche in corner cafes.  Afternoons were for siestas.  Evenings were for late and lengthy dinners of steak and malbec.   But should you be more itinerary-minded, there is plenty to do.  Visit one of the many art museums, go to the Plaza de Mayo and see the Casa Rosada, shop for antiques in the San Telmo market on Sundays, board the museum ships of Puerto Madero, and visit the massive Recoleta Cemetary (where you can find the tomb of Eva Peron).  I especially recommend Graffitimundo, a great tour of Buenos Aires street art and graffiti, for an inside look at a burgeoning art scene and neighborhoods a bit off the normal tourist route.  If you go in mid-November as I did, you can catch the Argentine Polo Open, which I quite enjoyed.

As for cuisine, Buenos Aires is widely known for their red meat and red wine.  I had fantastic meals at Don Julio (Guatemala 4691 in Palermo Soho) and El Trapiche (Paraguay 5099 in El Centro).  I also dined at what is widely considered the best restaurant in town, Cabaña Las Lilas (A.M. de Justo 516 in Puerto Madero).  While Cabaña Las Lilas was quite good and takes full advantage of their picturesque setting, I definitely preferred the atmosphere of Don Julio and El Trapiche, both of which felt more locally authentic and less touristy.  It is also worth noting that most of my dinners — with multiple courses and wine — tended to run between $25 and $40 per person.  Also, make sure not to miss Cafe Tortoni (Avenida De Mayo 825), the oldest coffee shop in all of Argentina, founded in 1858.

Parting notes: WiFi is plentiful in the city so no need to run up massive roaming data charges. // Bring the plug adapter for Australia and not the one marked “South America.”  For some reason, Argentina uses slanted prongs unlike the rest of the continent. // You won’t need a visa, but upon arrival you will have to pay a fee equal to the amount the US charges Argentines for US visas.  Currently that amount is $140, but it will also cover any other entries over the next ten years.

You can see the rest of my photos from Buenos Aires here.

Style Icon: Amelia Earhart

30/11/2011 § 8 Comments

“The best things of mankind are as useless as Amelia Earhart’s adventure.  Such persons…prove that man is no mere creature of his habits, no mere automaton, no mere cog in the collective machine but that in the dust of which he is made there is also fire, lighted now and then by great winds from the sky.”  –Walter Lippmann

“Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.”  –Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart (July 24, 1897 – disappeared in 1937) is arguably the most famous aviatrix in history.  The first woman to cross the Atlantic solo, and only the second person to do it successfully, the notoriety from Earhart’s many feats in the air were trumped only by the mystery surrounding the loss of her plane while she attempted to circumnavigate the globe in 1937.  (You can read the article about her disappearance that ran in the July 19, 1937 issue of LIFE Magazine here, it also has a great photo-log of the trip.  It’s been my goal to find this issue to add to my collection, but no such luck yet.)

I have long been an admirer of Earhart’s adventuresome spirit, tenacity and courage — and also her wardrobe.  Her staples: a perfect pleated trouser, a crisp dress shirt, a pretty scarf, a well-worn bomber jacket and hardworking boots.  Her signature elements: a bit of tousled hair, a scrubbed-clean face, a devil-may-care attitude, and an endearingly scrunched-up Mona Lisa smile.

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”  –Amelia Earhart

Smithsonian curator Dorothy Cochrane and aircraft restorer Karl Heinzel discuss early aviation, aeronautical technology and Earhart’s Lockheed Vega, the plane she crossed the Atlantic in, which is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Field Notes: Big Sur. Big Paradise.

18/10/2011 § 10 Comments

Big Sur was pristine, remote and breathtakingly beautiful.
If you haven’t yet made the trip along PCH, move it to the top of your list.
Immediately...

Redwood morning.

Big Sur is the California that men dreamed of years ago, this is the Pacific that Balboa looked at from the Peak of Darien, this is the face of the earth as the Creator intended it to look.
Henry Miller

The blue sky adds “Dont call me eternity, call me God if you like, all of you talkers are in paradise: the leaf is paradise, the tree stump is paradise, the paper bag is paradise, the man is paradise, the fog is paradise”
Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

Breakfast at Big Sur Bakery.

Partington Cove.

The sea swirls up but seems subdued — It’s not like being alone down in the vast hell writing the sounds of the sea.
Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

Pacific fury flashing on rocks that rise like gloomy sea shroud towers out of the cove, the bingbang cove with its seas booming inside caves and slapping out, the cities of seaweed floating up and down you can even see their dark leer in the phosphorescent seabeach nightlight
Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Bixby Bridge, built in 1932.

A few Allagash Whites at Post Ranch Inn.

Sleep at Deetjens, the original Big Sur roadhouse.  Built in the 1930s.

Fotos: PCH ~ Los Angeles to Big Sur

14/10/2011 § Leave a comment

Santa Monica palms.

As I mentioned, I’ve been travelling this week along the California coast on the Pacific Coast Highway.  I’ve got a million pictures — is this boring? are these like boring vacation slides your great uncle made you look at? — and here are some of my favorite moments from the drive north from Los Angeles to Big Sur.

La Super-Rica Taqueria
622 N Milpas St
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Amazing Mexican food.
If you are in Santa Barbara, you must make a point to stop at La Super-Rica.

Have we discussed my horchata addiction?  It’s ridiculous.

Old Mission Santa Barbara
2201 Laguna St
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

The Santa Barbara Mission was the tenth of the California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. It was established on the Feast of St. Barbara, December 4, 1786.

Morro Bay.

Elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery.

Sunset near Big Sur.

Fotos: Los Angeles Union Station

11/10/2011 § 9 Comments

Los Angeles Union Station, the “Last of the Great Railway Stations.”
The station opened in 1939 and it is one of my favorite places in LA.

Fotos: Portsmouth and Points Beyond

07/08/2011 § 2 Comments

Moments from my New England weekend.

Shirt via G1 Goods // Shorts // Moccasins  // Ray-Bans // Tote

“Ah, summer – what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”
Russell Baker

Venetian Memories of Cy Twombly {The Coronation of Sesostris at the Palazzo Grassi}

07/07/2011 § Leave a comment

Cy Twombly, taken in 1958 by David Lees.  Image via Time Life.

American artist Cy Twombly passed away Tuesday, July 5 in Rome at the age of 83.  For me, his art has always had an irresistible magnetism.  Primal and chaotic, symbolic and mysterious, there is something about Twombly’s body of work that immediately exhilarates me but simultaneously knocks me off-kilter.  I love it.  Currently there is an outpouring of remembrances and many obituaries have been written, so I don’t feel the need to launch into a report on his life.  I will leave that to others.  What I did want to share was my most memorable Twombly experience, viewing his Coronation of Sesostris (2000) at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

Image via Palazzo Grassi.

The stately Palazzo, completed during the second half of the eighteenth century, is located on the Grand Canal and currently houses the personal art collection of François Pinault (aka #77 on the Forbes List of World Billionaires, luxury goods tycoon robber-baron, and father to Francois-Henri who is a rather effective impregnator of fabulous ladies).  It is truly an amazing setting to view Pinault’s excellent and growing collection of contemporary (post-war) art.  I especially appreciate Koons’ Balloon Dog floating in the canal.

Twombly’s Coronation of Sesostris (2000) is an epic, ten part, mixed media work that was installed at the Palazzo in 2006.  The panels chart the coronation procession of Sesotris, “one of the cruellest of Egypt’s pharaohs, the conqueror of Nubia and architect of the unification of the lands of Egypt into a single kingdom” (via PG)  Thought by many to be his strongest work in years at the time it was produced, Twombly’s Coronation panels are

 “…magnificently colored, flirt with ethereal degrees of unfinishedness, and are at once luxurious and rotting, full of life and funereal. Coronation of Sesostris echoes some of the erotic tenor and violence of the early work, though in the mournful minor keys of yearning and homesickness. Bursts of scarlet that once read as hands thrown up in rapture, or bloodstains, now feel like flowers or heartbeats; convulsive, surging rhythm has turned beautifully, excruciatingly protracted; love, loss, melancholy and memory have taken the place of real sex.”  – Jerry Saltz (full article available via Artnet)

In the Palazzo, the large panels are positioned in a single room for maximum impact.  Wandering among them, I was amazed by how vividly I saw the arc of this storyline of a single blazing day in Egypt and how viscerally I responded to the colors and the words Twombly utilized.  It was easily my favorite work within the entire museum.  I have included the panels below so that you might glean a sense of them, but I absolutely urge you to take the time if you are in Venice to see them in person at the Palazzo.  While I am sad that Twombly has passed, I was pleased to reacquaint myself with an amazing work of art and of my treasured memories of Venice.

Coronation of Sesostris (2000) by Cy Twombly
All images below via Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly: April 25, 1928 – July 5, 2011

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