Dia de Los Muertos Traditions – Experience Them

29 10 2009

I love the idea of learning about cultural traditions, but even better is actually experiencing them. Today Matador Travel had a great article on five places to experience Dia de los Muertos. Two of those, it turns out, happen to be in California. In San Francisco, the festivities abound, with, among others, a special San Francisco Symphony performance on Nov 1, and a Mission District procession on Nov 2.

Meanwhile, here in New York, we’ve got our own celebrations going on. The recently re-opened El Museo del Barrio will be celebrating all day Saturday with concerts, talks, food tastings and much more. This year New York, next year Pátzcuaro.





Halloween Traditions

27 10 2009

I am not a Halloween person. I have very little creativity when it comes to thinking up clever costumes and even less artistic ability when it comes to creating them. I inherited this from my mother, who loathes Halloween and had a great way of talking me into costumes that were easy to acquire, but incredibly random. (The highlights: I was a 6-year-old Jane Fonda because I already had a leotard, tights and leg-warmers and at 10 I was an electrical engineer because my father worked at PG&E and could bring home a hard hat.)

But costume or no costume, I love the holiday, and not just for the excuse to eat candy. Halloween is rooted in ancient cultural traditions, and I find the history rather fascinating. There’s Dia de los Muertos, of course, the Day of the Dead (or rather “days”—it traditionally lasts for three), perhaps best known for the colorfully dressed figurines with skull faces, but there is much more that goes into the rituals of this fascinating celebration of the the dead, which has its roots in Aztec and Mayan traditions.

Then there’s Samhain, the Celtic celebration of the dead, based around the idea that dead souls return on this one night when the veil between the two worlds is thin. Many of the Samhain traditions gave birth to our modern American Halloween traditions. For the full story check out the History Channel’s comprehensive website, complete with fun videos of New York’s parades and costumes of the Twenties.





Not Another Place – Another Reason for Visiting Liverpool

21 10 2009
Courtesy of Go Penguins

Courtesy of Go Penguins

Antony Gormley and his Crosby Beach statues continue to fascinate me. And now I have another reason to love them (and Liverpool): they’ve inspired another installation linked to environmental protection. Not Another Place, installed Monday, October 19 on New Brighton Beach is the avian version of Gormley’s Another Place, the eerie, ethereal and amazing installation after which Not Another Place was inspired.

But Not Another Place has
another message altogether: they are part of Liverpool’s Year of the Environment, a movement focused on helping residents of and visitors to Liverpool to be more conscious of environmental hazards, with the hope, of course, that these newly more conscious will use that consciousness toward the greater good.

The penguins on the beach are meant to inspire, kicking off new piece of the project, in which the Environment Agency partners with Go Penguins, a project in conjunction with Wild in Art that will see this holiday season in Liverpool adorned by a “Winter’s Trail” of penguins throughout the town. The penguins will be designed by artists, both professional and amateur, and there is currently a call for penguin designs, open to the public. So many levels of inspiration. See more photos here.





Where Travel Writing Is Headed?

16 10 2009

Can a satellite view of the world change the world? It may just be able to change the travel publishing industry. Today MediaBistro published this post about John Higham, whose recent book 360 Degrees Longitude—which chronicles his family’s year-long adventure traveling the world—includes Google Earth links to some of the places visited. A wave of the travel future? It looks that way.

Though I am definitely an old-fashioned gal when it comes to my love of underlining and curled up pages of traditional books (though terribly outdated, my very shabby and much loved copy of Let’s Go Western Europe still inhabits a place of honor on the book shelf) the traveler in me thrills at the prospect of seeing a satellite view of some wondrous place I’m visiting while I’m visiting…





Local Love, and Yumminess

12 10 2009

Food is great. It’s also necessary. But what goes into creating a good meal can sometimes not be so good for the environment, or local industry for that matter. In that vein, my friend and co-worker, the amazing Liz Griffin, decided to tackle the task of creating a delicious meal made entirely from local ingredients. It was more of a challenge than she thought it would be (sitting across from her, I got to witness the kinks), but the outcome was fantastic. Or at least looks as though it was… (I guess I wasn’t cool enough to warrant an invite!) Read about the adventure and get tips on planning a Home State Plate of your own. I have every intention of weaseling my way into her next one…





Literary Movers and Shakers (and Litquake-ers)

9 10 2009

It’s that time of year again, and I (tear) am missing it. Litquake, the world’s best literary festival and big sister to LitCrawl NYC, begins tonight. And promises to be the best one yet. it had better be. It’s celebrating its 10th birthday. I’m especially sad to be missing Sarah Vowell, the North Beach Literary Tour and, of course, the Kerouac event, but as always the entire schedule looks phenomenal. Guess I’ll be spending the week doing a little extra reading…





More on Maine: the “Eco-est” of Eco Inns

8 10 2009

inn by the sea

I’ve neglected my new obsession with Maine, partly due to a hectic schedule and partly just due to the fact that if I think about Maine I want to go back—at least while the weather is still not freezing. Anyhow, I think it’s high time to re-visit (at least in words) one of the aspects that made Maine so amazing. I had the pleasure of spending my last evening in Maine at the gorgeous Inn by the Sea, an amazing property on the coast of the sleepy town of Cape Elizabeth, just 20 minutes from Portland.

What makes Inn by the Sea amazing is not only its charming New England design and its proximity to, well, the sea, but the fact that it’s a friend to the environment in just about every aspect possible. A few years ago, the inn was taken down to the studs and experienced a multi-million dollar remodel, not to make it more luxurious (which it is) but to make it completely green from its re-purposed flooring to its
solar-paneled roof.

On top of that, guests can participate in a whole array of fun yet educational events, like classes on planting native gardens or beach cleaning festivities, all that end with guests receiving milkweed seeds, to help expand the areas in which endangered Monarch butterflies lay their eggs. And all this is just the beginning. Read more about my trip here.