April 2010

News: I’ll be speaking on a panel called “Travel Writing: Upping Your Game” at the Travel Blog Exchange conference in New York City, June 26th-27th.

Travels: In last month’s update I mentioned that I’d soon be heading to Thailand. It turned out that the anti-governments protests that let’s-hope-are-not-about-to-turn-into-a-civil war started a day before I was due to leave. My trip canceled, making it the first time that I’ve had a trip scuttled due to political instability.  I’m hoping to get to Thailand as soon as things calm down.

After my Thailand trip was called off, I had a brief moment of panic, like, oh my God, I have to replace this trip right away and go somewhere else at once!  That was immediately followed by a wave of relief: I get to be at home for a while now! It was my longest home stretch in a while:  nearly six weeks in New York, with weekends in Connecticut, before I set off again. A true luxury.

Stories: For Venice: A Ritual Ride to Nowhere on Perceptive Travel, I revisted my trip to Italy last December, and had fun researching the history of gondolas. (I didn’t actually take one when I was in Venice, at least in part because it cost about $100 for an hour’s ride. I totally would have sprung for it in 1930 when it cost less than 50 cents for an hour.)

In honor of Earth Day I wrote about a sewage cocktail, which was also one of my favorite exhibits at the NGV in Melbourne. In From Babushkas to Broadway,  I considered why, as a totally non-observant Jew, I get pretty psyched by evidence of Jewish culture when I find it in my travels. (Mentioned: Montreal, Kerala.)

I reviewed a fantastic book of photos of Iran by the late photographer Inge Morath.  I developed a minor obsession with Morath and spent some time in the New York Public Library reading about her life and travels, although as of yet I’m not sure what will come of it. Maybe I’ll write more about her at some point.

I’m often asked how I decide what to write about. So in early April, I happened across a story in the New York Post about “tip jar madness”. The article struck me as pretty stupid, but also made me think that I should really cover the subject of restaurant tipping around the world in some detail for About.com Culinary Travel.

So I did that.  There are pieces on the history of tipping, the definition of tipping and how to calculate a tip.  And then there’s a country-by-country guide to tipping practices around the world. I also supplemented the package with a few supporting blog posts, one of my favorites was on the silly things that servers can do to encourage bigger tips.

It’s all generated huge reader response, for which I’m grateful.

On Luxist, I started to write about my recent trip to Tasmania, including the whiskey connection with Scotland, my review of Morilla’s Pavillions, a winery/hotel/brewery/museum that’s a subversive Disneyland for aetheists, and a preview of Saffire, a new boutique hotel that will open on the Freycinet Peninsula.I  also wrote about the pajamas I received in Qantas business class.

Since I was already thinking about Venice (see above) I wrote about Attombri, the Venetian jewelers that have a chunk of my money.

I angered cruise aficianados once again with my thoughts on Silver Sea’s Silver Spirit which I toured while it was in port in New York — I’m puzzled over why even the mildest criticism of a cruise ship yields a barrage of negativity in my direction when I can trash hotels endlessly and no one bats an eyelash. However, it did not cause controversy when I mentioned a deal to cruise on the Paul Gauguin in French Polynesia.

I declared that I would rather gouge my eye out with the tip of a mouldy Manolo than see the new Sex and the City sequel, a statement I made in connection with a hotel package pegged to the movie… I also announced hotel openings in Istanbul and Mumbai, and made a suggestion for tequila tasting in Tucson…and I worked on a few other projects that I’m not ready to talk about just yet.  More soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s