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Monthly Archives: May 2017

Place Travel 2017

 GreenvilleSouth Carolina

The next Charleston?

Though small, Greenville, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, may be the next major food destination, with four big openings: Husk from Sean Brock, the Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Jianna from Michael Kramer and the speakeasy Vault & Vator. Before feasting, enjoy the city’s many public art works along the tree-lined streets, or grab a pour over at Methodical Coffee en route to biking the 21-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail. 

A natural beauty that’s still natural — for now.

The earthquake that rattled Ecuador last year mostly shattered areas where international travelers seldom go. Now man-made threats may compromise El Pedregal, a popular place for visitors before or after Galápagos excursions. The valley south of Quito is surrounded by huge volcanoes and grassy steppes where haciendas serve as bases for travelers to go hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Go before June to see the valley before new power lines encroach on condors and views. 

 PenzanceEngland

A glimpse of ‘Poldark’ country.

Penzance, the Cornish port town in the southwest of England, is having a moment, thanks to the popularity of “Poldark,” the BBC costume drama set in 18th-century Cornwall. The new Chapel House B&B joins a local favorite, the Artists Residence, while restaurants such as the Tolcarne Inn, in nearby Newlyn, and the Shore have put Penzance on the map as a culinary destination. Perhaps the best thing to see in Penzance — aside from the scenery — is the Art Deco-inspired Jubilee pool, one of Europe’s last saltwater lidos. The enormous triangular public pool was built in the 1930s and just underwent a $3.73 million renovation. 

OsakaJapan

The ultimate Japanese feast awaits.

If Kyoto represents Japan’s spirit, and Tokyo its heart, Osaka is the country’s insatiable appetite. The city’s culinary legacy is alive and at work in the neighborhoods of Tsuruhashi and Fukushima, and in the 91 Michelin-starred restaurants spread throughout the city — like Ajikitcho, specializing in traditional Japanese cooking, and Taian, with a chargrilled focus. On April 28, it will all come together at the International Festival Utage (“feast”), a 10-day food festival, celebrating flavors from Japan’s 47 prefectures. 

StockholmSweden

Scandinavia need not be a wallet-buster.

Free state-owned museums will make visits to Sweden’s capital less expensive in 2017. Over a dozen dropped their hefty entry fees last year, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Natural History, the Swedish History Museum and Skokloster Castle. Add to that a favorable exchange rate for Americans — the krona is about 20 percent weaker against the dollar than it was two years ago — and this beautiful city suddenly looks even more attractive.  .

Rabong Buddha Park. Evan Wexler for The New York Times

 SikkimIndia

A haven for spiritual seekers, soon more accessible.

With its first airport opening this year and its first rail link in the works, the remote northeastern Indian state of Sikkim keeps getting closer. Adventurous souls can trek Khangchendzonga National Park, a Himalayan haven of forests, valleys and mountains — including the world’s third-highest peak — that earned Unesco World Heritage status this year. Spiritual seekers, meanwhile, can pursue nirvana around the historically Buddhist land, from centuries-old Buddhist monasteries like Tashiding and Pemayangtse to the museum-like Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. And load up on spices, fruits and vegetables. Sikkim became the first fully organic state in India last year. The harbor on Île de Porquerolles. Andy Haslam for The New York TimesÎle de PorquerollesFrance

Plage, pétanque, pastis: parfait.

Only 10 minutes by ferry from the mainland, this four-mile-long under-the-radar Mediterranean island is an unexplored refuge with mountain-biking trails, sandy beaches and a single rustic vineyard offering free daily wine tastings. Mostly national parkland, the car-free island has one idyllic village where you’ll hear the clinking of both pétanque boules and glasses of pastis. The place to stay is Le Mas du Langoustier, an upscale hotel perched between two coves on the western end of the i

The northern coast of Madagascar. Oliver S./Shutterstock

Madagascar

An island nation re-emerges as an ecotourism paradise.

Madagascar has stabilized since its elections in 2013 and is luring tourists back to its stunning combination of jungles, beaches and reefs. Lemurs and chameleons are just the headline attractions in this island nation the size of France, which lies off the east coast of Africa. Whale sharks and humpbacks cruise the undersea world, fat-trunked baobab trees dot the land, and more than 90 percent of the island’s mammals are not found anywhere else. Eco-friendly lodging options include luxurious island retreats like the new Miavana and rain forest camps like Masoala Forest Lodge. And it’s not as hard to get to as you might imagine: Air France and South African Airways offer one-stop flights from New York. 

SanyaChina

China’s beach destination of choice.

With its stunning white sand beaches and shimmering blue waters, Sanya on Hainan Island, China’s southernmost province, is known as the Hawaii of China. The destination is in the midst of a resort boom, and these eye-catching properties are reason enough to visit. There are already a Park Hyatt, a St. Regis and a Shangri-La. And late last year, Ian Schrager’s luxe Edition — a 500-room resort with a long list of amenities — made its debut. Next up, in March, is the tony One & Only Sanya, set amid 28 acres of coconut palms. 

Travel Photography

There’s travel photography, and then there’s traveling for photography.

An increasing number of travel companies and hotels today offer learning excursions and tours aimed at aspiring photographers, spanning a few hours to a few weeks.

Janine Yu, an adviser at the New York City-based travel company Indagare, said that because of photo-sharing apps like Instagram, more and more people are taking up photography as a hobby.

“The travel industry is catering to this growing interest in a fun way,” she said. “After all, what more enjoyable way to learn how to improve your camera skills than by exploring a great destination at the same time?”

Below are 10 tours, trips and hotels to bring out your inner Ansel Adams.

A Photo Safari at andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya Learn how to take frame-worthy images with the new photo safari at this camp, in an area rich with game, including wildebeest, lions and hippos. Guests can book the safari for as little as a half-day or for up to several days and are lent the equipment they need, including a camera with a Nikon 600 mm lens. The safaris are led by a naturalist who is also a skilled photographer, and they take place in a jeep equipped with electrical charging stations for the cameras, 360-degree swivel chairs with camera mounts for long-lens stability and a fully stocked bar. Prices from $275 for a half-day. Camp rates start at $330 per person, per night, including all meals, game drives and transfers. (AndBeyond’s Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp and Serengeti Under Canvas offer similar tours.) Book at andbeyond.com.

Strabo Photo Tours Aspiring photographers have their pick of more than 50 trips a year from this travel company specializing in photography vacations, which are offered in six continents (only Antarctica is excluded) and run the diversity gamut. Trips to Slovenia’s glacial lakes and vineyards and to the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica are two examples. Most journeys last 10 days to 14 days, and all are led by a professional photographer as well as a local guide; there are usually 4 to 12 travelers on every itinerary. From $2,595, including accommodations, some meals, daily photography lessons and destination tours. Book at phototc.com or by calling 607-756-8676.

Vermejo Park Ranch, Raton, N.M. Owned by the media mogul and conservationist Ted Turner, this property, a 585,000-acre expanse of terrain ranging from shortgrass prairie to alpine tundra, offers themed photography packages three times a year. Each is for four nights and led by a professional photographer, but their focus varies. The September package, for example, covers shooting the elk-mating season. Prices from $3,500 a person, inclusive of accommodations, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages and non-guided activities such as horseback riding. Book online at vermejoparkranch.com or by calling 877-288-7637 or by emailing reservations@tedturnerexpeditions.com.

Quasar Expeditions Photo Safari Galápagos Cruises The Galápagos Islands are renowned for abundant wildlife like iguanas and green sea turtles, and these seven-night cruises, offered nearly monthly, supply a chance to photograph the animals up close. The naturalist guides turned photographers who lead the cruises run nightly briefings where they review guests’ photos and teach them techniques to get the best shots for the animals they will likely see the following day. Also, guests disembark the boat early to get sunrise shots of the islands and come back to the ship in the early evening so that they can capture sunset images of the islands, too. Prices from $4,620 a person. Book by calling 800-247-2925 or emailing infousa@quasarex.com

Manhattan Architecture Photography Tour, New York City Hit some of New York City’s top architectural landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building and the New York Public Library with this three-hour tour from TripAdvisor. Led by a photographer, participants will learn how to work with lines and angles to bring these buildings to life, and also learn how to photograph architectural interiors. This tour is offered several times a week and scheduled in the afternoon to take advantage of the sky’s changing colors. From $100 a person. Book online at tripadvisor.com or by calling 855-275-5071.

Paris Night Photo Tour, Paris The already picturesque City of Light becomes even more photogenic at night, and this three-hour private tour, tailored to every skill level, is an opportunity to learn how to capture it after dark. A photographer teaches travelers techniques for shooting famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Place de la Concorde and also shares tips on taking images of common sights in the city like boats sailing along the Seine River. 180 euros for the first person and 30 euros for each additional person for up to a total of four people. Book online at aperturetours.com/paris-night-photo-tour

PhotoWalks Freedom Trail Tour, Boston This 90-minute tour is a photography class and history lesson in one. A photographer who is also a historian leads the excursion to famous sites associated with the American Revolution such as Boston Common, the Benjamin Franklin statue and the building where the Boston Tea Party meeting took place. In all, participants visit more than a dozen spots and learn the best camera settings and angles to capture keepsake images of the iconic attractions. Prices from $40 a person. Book online through viator.com or by calling 888-651-9785

Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia Set in the heart of Siem Reap, this property has an in-house photographer who leads daylong excursions allowing travelers to photograph a variety of scenarios in the town and its surrounding area. The trip starts off on a longboat down the Kompong Phluk water village and includes a kayaking excursion around Tonle Sap lake and a trip to a food market to shoot pictures of local delicacies. The tour is $300 for two people and includes a car with a driver. Guests can also book the two-night Zooming in on Cambodia package, which includes accommodations, the tour and a three-day pass to the Angkor Wat temple complex. From $1,400 a person. Book online at belmond.com/la-residence-d-angkor-siem-reap/.

Photography Tours of Ireland It doesn’t matter where in Ireland you’re visiting or how adept at photography you are — the Dublin-based travel company Adams & Butler has a team of professional photographers throughout the country and can arrange for photography tours at every skill level. Possibilities include Dublin by night for after-dark shots, the mountains and lakes along the Ring of Kerry at sunset and the sprawling estates throughout the countryside by day. The company can also arrange for camera loans. From $300 for two people for a full-day tou

King Can’t Travel Without

While Mr. King is best known for his horror novels featuring terrifying clowns and serial killers, his own particular fear is much more mundane. “I travel by plane when I have to — I travel by car when I possibly can. The difference is if your car breaks down, you pull over into the breakdown lane. If you’re at 40,000 feet and your plane has trouble, you die. I feel more in control when I’m driving than when I’m flying. You hope that the pilot won’t have a brain embolism and die at the controls.”

And while work occasionally brings him overseas, he’d really prefer to stay home. “I’m not a big travel buff. I do it when I have to, and I try to enjoy it — and I’ve done more of it than I want to.”

Vacation for him means wintering in Florida — his wife flies, but he drives. “It’s so much easier now because you have Siri to guide you along the way and if the traffic gets horrible along the turnpike or something, she’ll take you around by back ways and usually there are no hillbillies that are going to eat human flesh.” And his needs are modest – he stays at Motel 6 and eats at the Waffle House. “I’m not hard to please. Give me a motel room somewhere near the Interstate with a chair out front where you can sit and read a book and I’m just as happy as can be.

He’s not kidding around, either. He’s a Motel 6 expert. “A tip for the lonesome traveler: Always ask for a room on the end of the motel because the chances of having a party next door are a little less. Or, if it’s a three-story hotel, get a room on the top floor and then you don’t have to worry about the couple above you deciding they’re going to go at it all night long.

The author Stephen King.CreditKenzo Tribouillard/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And when it comes to packing, he keeps it simple there, too. “I take the basics. And I don’t have any particular requirements for shampoos, emollients, anything like that. They usually have it in the Motel 6.”

Here’s what he takes on every trip.

iPad

“I’ve got to have my audiobooks, which I keep on my iPad now, it’s much more convenient than having to drag along a CD player and earphones and all that jazz. Got to load in at least one or two movies that you really want to see so that you have something to watch. Or two or three episodes of ‘The Americans.

Crossword book

“I gotta have my big crossword book because you can’t always read. If you’re on an airplane flight from, let’s say Maine to Los Angeles, you have to have something to do.”

Suitcase

“I’ve got this old suitcase that my wife hates that I’ve been carrying around for probably 30 years now, it’s an old battered gray Samsonite suitcase. My feeling is that if you can’t get everything you need into that one suitcase, you don’t really need it. It doesn’t have any wheels. It’s old school.”

Books

“I always carry a couple of books. There’s the book that I’m going to read and the backup in case the book is terrible. The best book that I read recently was ‘My Absolute Darling,’” which is just a knockout, maybe the best thing I’ve read this year. But you’ve got to have at least one book by someone that you trust. You don’t want to be caught short.”

Hurricanes and Travel

Hurricane Harvey hit and battered much of Houston on Aug. 25, and now Hurricane Irma, which is considered to be the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded, struck the Caribbean island of Barbuda early Wednesday morning and is expected to reach Puerto Rico and other islands later in the day or this evening. The tropical storm Jose currently trails behind Irma, and early Wednesday, a fourth tropical storm, Katia, was strengthening in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

These storms raise the question of what travelers should do if they are scheduled to travel to a destination in the path of a storm. And what should they do if they’re in a destination where a storm is imminent or has already made landfall, and how should they stay safe while there?

Here, answers to storm-related travel questions.

What about if I’m in a destination and a storm is about to hit?

Act quickly to leave town, says Tim Horner, a senior managing director at the New York-based security company Kroll and an expert on staying safe during a natural disaster. “Your first line of defense should be to evacuate if you can and follow the evacuation directions of the local authorities,” he said.

If you’re flying, call your airline to get a seat on the next available flight. If no seats are available or if the flight isn’t until the next day, consider buying a one-way ticket back home on another airline. Mr. Horner emphasized that it’s important to take action to leave the area in the days before a storm is predicted to hit and not the day of; otherwise, chances are that you’ll get caught at the start of the storm, which means your outbound flight will be canceled.

Also, before you leave your hotel to head to the airport, ask if it’s possible to return in case your flight is canceled — you want to avoid relying on the airport as a shelter, if you can.

Additional tips: Stock up on a flashlight with extra batteries, blankets and plenty of water and food. Properties in hurricane-prone areas often provide these items to their guests in the event of a storm, according to Christine Sarkis, the deputy executive editor of the online travel magazine SmarterTravel, but if that’s not the case, you can buy them at a local grocery or supply store.

And if you’re staying at a hotel on the beach, Mr. Horner advised finding alternative accommodations at a property inland because the chances of flooding are greater along the water.

I’m stranded in a destination where a storm has hit. Now what?

Mr. Horner said that it’s critical to let your family members and friends at home as well as your employer know where you are and stay in constant communication with them throughout the storm. “People tend to get displaced during a storm,” he said. An anecdote from his career reflects the importance of this advice: when Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans, Mr. Horner was hired by a company to find 260 of its employees, who were in the city but could not be located. “Nobody knew where they were,” he said. (They were all ultimately found and safe.)

Also, be sure to keep your cellphone charged. Mr. Horner recommended always traveling with a few portable power chargers or power packs, which need to be pre-charged but don’t need a wall outlet to work.

Other advice: have your bags packed so that you’re ready to move at a moment’s notice. Ms. Sarkis’s close friend got stuck at his hotel in Cabo San Lucas when Hurricane Odell hit in 2014 and had to move quickly to another part of the property because the storm blew out the glass doors leading to his balcony.

And in the midst of preparing the necessities, don’t forget to plan for some leisure activities. Books, board games and cards all do the trick. “Being occupied with something fun can help keep you calm when a storm is happening and will make the time go by faster,” Ms. Sarkis said.

What should I do if I have an imminent trip planned to a destination in the path of a storm?

Call your airline and hotel immediately, Ms. Sarkis says. “If you haven’t yet left for your trip but see that a hurricane is predicted to where you’re going, it’s essential to call your hotel and airline right away to determine their rebooking and cancellation policies,” she said.

According to Ms. Sarkis, airlines flying to a destination where a storm is predicted will often have travel alerts on their websites indicating the instances in which travelers can rebook their tickets without paying change fees and how long they have to do so (American Airlines, for example, has an alert on its site related to Hurricane Irma). However, if your trip looks unlikely to happen at all — say because your hotel has severe damage from the storm — Ms. Sarkis advised working with your airline (a phone call with a live person is best) to explore alternative destinations. Instead of that trip to Puerto Rico, for example, you may consider a trip to Southern California or to another warm-weather destination.

When it comes to your hotel, keep in mind that many properties in hurricane-prone destinations know that a hurricane could strike in the summer and early fall and tend to be pretty flexible when it comes to offering refunds or rebooking for a future stay, potentially even if that stay is six months or more down the line. “Hotels situated in hurricane zones are used to guests changing or canceling their trips when a storm is predicted to hit,” Ms. Sarkis said.