Saturday, June 28, 2014

Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic In Pictures

My stay in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic was defined by an eco-conscious sensibility that carried through to the two golf courses, the nature reserve, the restaurants and the coral reef. Of course, you might think that clearing away the tangle of vines and other foliage to make way for real estate and expansive golf courses is hardly green. However, before the arrival of the Puntacana Ecological Foundation that's headquartered at the Punta Cana Resort & Club, the area was hardly ecologically sound. In fact, the locals were mostly making their living by selling charcoal that they made by burning wood and by overfishing. This YouTube video slide show provides a window into my stay at this green resort. 

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Travel Book Review: Exploring New York City Rooftops

Book Review:  Roof Explorer's Guide: 101 New York City Rooftops by Leslie Adatto

Even though I consider myself a savvy New Yorker, I still found dozens of delightful rooftops that were never on my radar after reading Adatto's book. Since this book arrived in the mail last week, I've been checking out her suggestions that are arranged in six sections, from hotel rooftop bars and restaurants to, surprisingly, elevated farms. Yesterday, I found myself in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan and visited the serene Riverpark public space at the Alexandria Center. This is the province of the upmarket Tom Colicchio-owned restaurant.  Instead, I ordered a hummus sandwich on whole grain bread from the adjacent informal eatery: Colicchio's 'wichcraft and ate alfresco beside the Riverpark Farm growing everything from microgreens to lemon verbena. With the temperature rising over 80 F, the refreshing breezes on this plaza were welcome. Even more surprising, come to the Farm on Tuesdays at lunch (12:30pm) between May and October and you'll get a free tour.

The day before, I enjoyed the well manicured Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Lawn at Lincoln Center. The sloping green roof is a delight to walk up, thanks to the built-in steps. I spent hours basking in the sun high above the chaos reigning along Broadway just below my peaceful perch.

For those visiting the city who worry about their budget, this book comes to the rescue with numerous scenic spots to picnic or simply sunbathe sans admission charges. And for New Yorkers who claim they've seen it all, well, you haven't. 

Aside from appealing photos and informative text, each entry in this lovely book includes the nearest subway stop, hours of operation, website and more practical information. 

Tonight I'm going to check out one of the rooftop bars, the Refinery Rooftop at the Refinery Hotel for after work cocktails with friends. I picked it because it looks stylish but low-key, is decked out with porch swings and we can not only order creative cocktails but also yummy nibbles, all with the Empire State Building towering seemingly within arms reach.

This book is a must read for New York City residents and visitors alike who want an off-the-beaten track perspective on the city. This might be your bible for the rest of the summer in the city.
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taiwan In Pictures

With hot springs beckoning bathers, serrated mountain peaks looming over placid lakes, and pebbly beaches fronting calm bays, Taiwan is a nature-lovers paradise. Whether it's Sun Moon Lake, the country's largest such body of water, or Taroga Gorge tiny pedestrian bridges lead to the interior that's peppered with red-roofed shrines and tumbling waterfalls, Taiwan is a magnet for those seeking adventure on all levels, from thrill seekers to those who prefer things more on the tame side. Cyclists will find level paths along waterfronts, such as the Keelung  or  Dongsham rivers, where they'll want to stop for a picnic at a scenic viewing pavilion.

Sounds of cicadas
Steam swirls above Beitou Springs
Misty veil obscures

Check out my short YouTube video slideshow for a window into Taiwan's natural side. 

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Seeing The Dominican Republic The Green Way

Taming a jungle-like landscape and transforming it into an expansive, 15,000-acre resort property – and one dotted with golf courses – sounds like a nightmare for the eco-conscious. But the Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic may be one of those exceptions where development equals paradise preservation.

Find out more about this property's eco offerings in the article I recently wrote for  National Geographic Traveler - Intelligent Travel.

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