Saturday, April 27, 2019

Photos: Taiwan

Taiwan is a land of hot springs where steam billows over calm waters. A land of deep gorges and serrated peaks where wisps of mist float. A land of lakes where the sounds of cicadas cuts through the silence. And all of this can be experienced from a bicycle saddle. Taiwan is extremely bike friendly, with hundreds of miles of bike paths networking the country, and plenty of opportunities to rent bicycles. Among the numerous bucolic green spaces that are a must for cyclists is Sun Moon Lake that’s especially atmospheric if you visit in the early morning.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A New and Uncreative Development in New York City

In Manhattan, the far West Side has a new addition, a sprawling development, and, after visiting it once, I prefer not to see it again. The almost 30-acre Hudson Yards has finally opened -- or at least part of it has opened -- to much fanfare. But, sadly, it’s a symbol of the disparity of income that’s become worse in the U.S. Visitors wait on long lines for a taste of paella or churros, or to climb the more than 150 flights of what’s referred to as the Vessel, that’s an ostentatious, interactive piece of art. Climbing the network of sometimes narrow stairways in this funnel-shaped installation, you shouldn’t expect to find anything except views of the Hudson River (and the mall and cultural center). Meanwhile, the high-end crowd browses the floor set up for the superluxe retailers, such as Gucci, Dior and Rolex in the multi-story mall. Those with less than stellar bank accounts may prefer to browse the floors housing more ordinary retail outlets. Yes, there’s a cloud-like structure, the Shed, that serves as a cultural center for dance, concerts and art exhibitions. But Hudson Yards feels cold, uncreative, and soulless with public spaces that offer little verdancy. (Maybe that will change with time.). Tens of billions of dollars were poured into Hudson Yards to attract wealthy businesses and condo owners. Let’s see whether the Hudson Yards is able to turn the far West Side into a must-see destination.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Photos: Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a multi-faceted city, where luxe hotels like the Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt displays contemporary art on the wall of an underground gallery, and where the rough-around-the edges La Boca barrio shows off its surprising street art with sculptures hanging from the colorful facades. Where the city that bustles with non-stop traffic also is home to the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve where the only sounds are the twittering of birds. Where neighborhoods are peppered with small art galleries showcasing the myriad works of Argentinian painters as well as museums highlighting the country's vast art heritage. Where one moment you can be dining in a fine sushi restaurant and the next, strolling a verdant Japanese garden -- the biggest outside of Japan -- with places aplenty that are ideal for meditation.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Photos: Anguilla

I still haven't made it beyond St. Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport or ferry terminal. Instead, I took a ferry barely 30 minutes to Anguilla, an island where you have your choice of beaches. After all, the island is dotted with more than three dozen sandy beaches. Racing around the island, I managed to check out 20 of them. Though the island was significantly impacted by Hurricane Irma, Anguilla has come back better than before.

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