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Florida's Highwaymen

Highwaymen_dt
Painting: Alfred Newton

by Aisha Sylvester

For decades they canvassed Florida's highways. Sharply dressed sweet-talkers, they convinced souvenir stores and hotels to purchase their canvases. Now, over 50 years later, some of the original band of Highwaymen artists are back. 

Abrams has just released The Journey of the Highwaymen, a compilation of captivating images from one of the most unique art movements of 20th-century America. With little more than inexpensive Upson board and a desire to improve their economic standing, these 26 self-taught artists painted their way into African-American history and the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Initially regarded as kitsch, their depictions of crashing waves and vibrant sunsets are credited with encouraging a view of Florida as an exotic and untamed hinterland in the mid-20th century.

And if you happen to be in Winter Park, Florida, within the next couple months, you can see original paintings on display at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, through June 27.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Zimbabwe Needs Your Tourist Dollars

Matetsi
A typical game drive scene at the Matetsi Private Game Reserve in Zimbabwe: When the big game's scarce, check out the tiny ant lion's traps.

by Brook Wilkinson

At this time a week ago, I was waking up for a game drive in the Zambezi National Park, on the Zimbabwean side of that great central African river. My home base for this e-mail-free vacation was the Matetsi Water Lodge, a luxurious safari camp owned by &Beyond Africa (formerly known as CCAfrica). I'm usually trying to pinch pennies when not on assignment for Condé Nast Traveler--indeed, I spent the second half of my trip at the Fawlty Towers hostel (no, not that one!) in nearby Livingstone, Zambia, for $25 per night--but Matetsi was hardly a splurge. Zimbabwe has had a hard time attracting tourists for years (something about political unrest and astronomical inflation seemed to turn people off from this once-popular tourist destination), and the recent economic slump certainly hasn't helped. But that's good news for travelers: Rates at Matetsi are as low as $255 per person per night, including all safari activities and full board (which turns out to be roughly seven meals a day, by my calculations: tea and coffee before sunrise, more hot beverages and biscuits on the morning game drive, a full hot breakfast and lunch back at the lodge, tea and cake before the afternoon game drive, sundowners midway through, and a three-course dinner back at camp). And if you travel before June 30, you can get six nights for the price of four--that's less than $350 per night for all your activities, meals, and accommodations.

Continue reading "Zimbabwe Needs Your Tourist Dollars" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Capri Coastline

Tuscany

Dream Trip 2009 is well underway! For inspiration, here's a new entry that caught our eye:

Capri has a fantasy quality, with narrow streets crisscrossing hillsides of pines and palm trees, each turn revealing views more jaw-dropping than the last. On a visit to the Italian island, Dream Trip entrant tsklag captured this iconic shot, "Capri Coastline," in the Gardens of Augustus. It's easy to see how the island continues to inspire daydreaming.

"Capri has many beautiful vistas overlooking its rugged coastline," tsklag writes, "but I think this is the best. Whenever I think of Capri, this is the picture that appears in my mind."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

DAILY LINKAGE

Daily Linkage: Travel's Final Frontier

Today's Pick
Here's one travel-related item not expected to make Wendy Perrin's Deal of the Day anytime soon: space travel. Today on Gizmodo.com, Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, predicted that would-be astronauts shouldn't expect to pay less than $100,000 for the chance to use zero gravity airsickness bags once Virgin Galactic's space program is up and running. Earlier this week, Wired.com's Autopia blog ran footage of the April 20 test flight of a prototype of WhiteKnightTwo, the plane expected to carry SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic's six passenger suborbital craft, to launch altitude. 

Elsewhere
The Discovery Channel live blogs its Everest climb and shares some beautiful shots.

Travel service journalism par excellence: Jaunted.com's "Five In-Flight Movies to Avoid Now."

Sure, the whole Trafalgar Square gathering was for an advertisement, but impressive nonetheless.

BOOM BOX

Alliance Francaise Celebrates Haiti

HaitiImg
Vocalist Lunise Exume fronts the group RAM in Manhattan's Florence Gould Hall.
Photo: Matthieu Raffard

by John Oseid

New York City's genteel Upper East Side doesn't often shake as hard as it did when the respected Haitian political music group RAM opened the Alliance Française's second annual World Nomads festival last weekend. RAM's politically engaged mizik rasin, or roots music, adds vodou folk elements to electronic rock, and its homemade sheet metal horns (called konet) had the Florence Gould Hall crowd on its feet.

Silence of the Lambs director and friend of Haiti Jonathan Demme is the patron of the month-long festival devoted to the island's culture. The Academy Award winner's 2004 documentary The Agronomist, about the assassinated Port-au-Prince radio journalist Jean Dominique, opens the cinema series tonight (here's the trailer). Demme's own Haitian art collection goes on display Thursday at the Alliance Française's gallery on 60th Street. And Wyclef Jean and other Haitian musicians will be downtown at SOB's on May 18.

American-born RAM singer Richard Morse manages Port-au-Prince's legendary gingerbread Hotel Oloffson. Check out the story of how the hotel inspired Graham Greene's novel The Comedians.

More music:
* RAM's music was used in Demme's film Philadelphia and is available in a greatest hits album.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Buenos Aires: Where to Find Chocolate Con Churros

Lauryn
Photo: jonlk on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Tara Kalmanson

Any Buenos Aires native will claim churros originated in Argentina, but some say the only thing Argentines added to the sugary Spanish snack is the gooey, caramel-like dulce de leche at the center. Still, saying "chocolate con churros" at any Argentine café will land you at least three sticks of crunchy fried dough and a cup of hot, melted-down dark-chocolate bars. No two experiences with chocolate con churros in Buenos Aires are alike, so you may have to try all three of our picks below. Happy tasting.

Classic: Café de los Angelitos, 2100 Rivadavia
Tourists and upper-middle class locals alike stop at Los Angelitos around 4 p.m. for coffee and dessert, but not many know this café has some of the best churros in the city. Ask for chocolate espeso con churros rellenos and you'll get a couple of dulce de leche-filled churros and melted dark chocolate in a cup with hot milk. Not in the mood for churros? Try the torta de ricotta, an Argentine version of cheesecake made with ricotta.

People-watching heaven: Café Tortoni, 825 Avenida de Mayo
When hip Uruguayans and Brazilians vacation in Argentina, they head for this mainstay in the center of Buenos Aires. Just because the joint is a little more polished (like a museum of 1950s tango-era eye candy) doesn't mean the churros are weaker--they're thicker than usual and extra crunchy. You'll pay more, but you'll get more.

Inexpensive and authentic: La Giralda, 1453 Corrientes
You might walk past this plain café before you notice it hidden behind a subway entrance, but dont judge by the (lack of) decor. La Giralda used to be an intellectual center during revolutionary times, and if you can handle bad service and worse English, you'll spend the afternoon snacking beside the locals: Buenos Aires natives stop in to warm up as winter approaches in the Southern Hemisphere. Ask for chocolate espejo con churros chocolates (or write it on a napkin and show the waiter) and you'll get a cup of heavy, dark hot chocolate and chocolate-covered churros for dunking.

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Miguelito the Ballet Dancer

Tuscany

Dream Trip 2009 is well underway! For inspiration, here's a new entry that caught our eye:

Museums can be full of don'ts for kids: Don't touch, don't run, don't play. Dream Trip entrant michellea found a cultural institute--New Jersey's Grounds for Sculpture--that encouraged touching, playing, and running, and took this joyous shot, Miguelito the Ballet Dancer, to commemorate it.

"Children are encouraged to explore and climb on many of the pieces," michellea writes. "We peeked behind every wall and bush in the hopes of discovering more art. In the picture, my four-year-old son is trying to dance like the ballerina. He often asks when we can go back to 'that fun museum.' "

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

WORD OF MOUTH

Picasso's Guernica at the Whitechapel

Guernica
Primal scream: Victims
of carpet-bombing, 1937,
detail from Picasso's
Guernica.

by Clive Irving

Picasso's Guernica is the most concentrated form of rage against war ever contained in one canvas. Indeed, it has so much internal force that it seems to want to break from the confines of the frame and, with a heart-wrenching scream, inhabit a whole museum. That was its impact on me when I first saw it at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Later, in 1981, Guernica was returned to Spain when that country was released from the bondage of the Franco regime. These days, it is installed in Madrid's Reina Sofia museum.

For the next year, however, it is possible to see Guernica in a far more approachable setting. Unlike in Madrid, where it is impossible to come at the work for a full frontal, you can get up close and see all of its intricate dynamics. (This was not just a painting of war; with its great scale and technique, it fueled the minds of other artists.)

The Whitechapel Gallery in London has a long history with Guernica. In the late 1930s, the canvas was like a refugee, moving from continent to continent as world war was about to engulf Europe. Picasso completed the work in Paris in the summer of 1937, immediately after the atrocity that inspired it: the bombing of the small city of Guernica by Germans supporting the Spanish fascists, in which 1,645 people were killed in one night. In 1939, the canvas was shipped to Britain from Paris and, when shown at the Whitechapel, drew 15,000 visitors a week. Later that year, it arrived in New York, where it remained until 1981.

Picasso, concerned with the painting's fragility, had three tapestry copies made by expert weavers in Paris. One of these tapestries is now exhibited at the Whitechapel and, given a large space to itself, has an impact equal to that of the original when it was at MoMA. The Whitechapel has recently reopened after expanding into an adjoining building. It's a cozy place, with a series of small spaces on different levels, suitable for unhurried and uncrowded viewing. The location is way off-center, in a stubbornly dingy part of east London, but it's easy to get to via Tube; the station, actually on the site, is Aldgate East. 

The Guernica tapestry will be on display through April 2010 (whitechapelgallery.org).

WORD OF MOUTH

Five Top Tuscan Restaurants

Tuscany
Three staples of the Italian diet
that will never change:
wine, sausage, and cheese.
Photo: Ditte Isager for Condé Nast Traveler

Recently, Twitter user @deborahhankin asked Wendy Perrin (@wendyperrin), "In two weeks I'm headed to Lake Como area and then down to Tuscany. Any favorite restaurants you can recommend?" Wendy forwarded the question on to the Daily Traveler, a.k.a. the Gluttonous Ones. We then put Italy expert  Ondine Cohane on the case. This is not an exhaustive list, but below find five spots where Ondine has had some of the best meals in her adopted home:

* La Pineta: "This one-room restaurant in Marina di Bibbona on the Tuscan coast is my favorite pick for seafood; I make the pilgrimage whenever I can. Chef Luciano Zazzeri, a former fisherman, has three boats that provide him with his daily catch, and he is an alchemist at bringing out the best in his simple but incredible dishes. It's no wonder that it's hard to get a reservation. Don't miss the crudo (raw fish), spaghetti alle vongole, and the outstanding wine list. The restaurant is about an hour southwest of Florence and makes a fun day-trip (Via dei 27 Cavalleggeri Nord; 39-0586-600-016)."

* Cavolo Nero: "This local foodie magnet, tucked away in an un-touristy part of Florence, is one of the city's underrated gems as far as I am concerned. The menu emphasizes seasonal dishes to great effect--ask the owners what they recommend that day and you'll eat one of the best meals of your trip, at prices that are relatively inexpensive (22 Via dell'Ardiglione; 39-055-294-744.)"

* Le Logge: "This Sienese institution is housed in a former pharmacy right off Siena's Campo, the city's huge main square, but despite its popularity I always eat well. The emphasis here is on Tuscan classics like taglierini al tartufo and hearty meat dishes. Sadly, owner Gianni Brunelli recently died but his family is continuing his legacy for great food and wine (33 Via del Porrione; 39-0577-48-013."

* Trattoria Il Leccio: "I just had a fabulous lunch at this trattoria in Sant'Angelo in Colle, a beautiful little town not far from Montalcino and the region's wonderful Brunellos. I love the menu--I had artichoke carpaccio, a fava bean salad with fresh pecorino, and melt-in-your-mouth ravioli with butter and sage (spring vegetables are in season right now, which makes for great eating). And the wine list has most of the best vintages from neighboring vineyards (there is even a little wine store and bar next door so you can take a bottle home). This is where the most famous producers eat, a testament to how good it is, but the restaurant thankfully remains unpretentious (1/3-5 Piazza Castello; 39-0577-844-175)."

* Arnolfo: "I am overdue in making a return trip but this Michelin-starred destination restaurant in Colle di Val d' Elsa is certainly worth its accolades. Chef Gaetano Trovato is one of the region's most consistent stars and is always experimenting, even after two decades on the scene. Worth the splurge. Oh, and the views are fab too (50-52A Via XX Settembre; 39-0577-920-549."

Need more ideas? Check out some of Ondine's other picks in the Tuscany round-up that ran in Condé Nast Traveler's September issue. And readers, let us know if you have any other favorites @CNTraveler.

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: New York Apples

Apple

Dream Trip 2009 is well underway! For inspiration, here's a new entry that caught our eye:

Smart travel advice suggests sticking to fruit that you can peel, but these candy apples look pretty hard to turn down. We like the color and composition of the image entitled "An Apple a Day." It's easy to understand why Dream Trip entrant alf10022 stopped a stroll of New York City's sidewalks to capture the moment. "I love New York street markets," alf10022 writes. "And these apples, all red and shiny, were hard to resist photographing!"

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

DAILY LINKAGE

Daily Linkage: Weird Swiss Travel

Today's Pick
The squeaky-clean Swiss go to new extremes in this travel video from Switzerland Tourism. 

Elsewhere
And we thought the BQE was bad. Gadling names "The Worst Potholes in the World."

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Italian Colors, Portofino

ItalianColors

Dream Trip 2009 is up and running! For inspiration, here's another of our favorite entries from last year:

A lot of travel photographs try to capture the big picture: the sweep of the beach, the expanse of the horizon, the vastness of the landscape. Dream Trip 2008 finalist Bart Edson took the opposite tack for his winning photo from Positano: He focused not on the Mediterranean village's famed terraced hillside, sleek luxury shops, or yacht-filled marina, but on the plate in front of him, and found in one humble salad the symbol of a country.

"This photo was taken while having lunch with my wife in an outdoor café in Portofino, Italy," he writes. "On all sides, we were surrounded by the decadence of the extremely rich. Mega-yachts floated in the harbor, suntanned women bedecked in gold cruised the expensive shops facing the waterfront, and then there was us, trying to find a reasonably priced lunch."

"My wife decided on a salad," he continues, "and when the waiter brought it to our table, it was, to our tastes, a refreshingly modest presentation. As I bent over the table and looked through the viewfinder to take this photograph, I suddenly realized, but of course: the colors of the Italian flag."

Share your travel photos and memories in our 2009 Dream Trip Contest. You could be just a few clicks away from a $25,000 trip to anywhere you choose.

BOLDFACE

Lauryn Hill to Headline Stockholm Jazz Festival

Lauryn
Lauryn Hill jamming at
Stockholm's 2005 festival.
Photo: bastomas on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Beata Loyfman

"Killing me softlyyyyyyy, with his song. . . ." In 1996, there was no way to escape this chorus from The Fugees' cover of Roberta Flack's 1973 smash. Headlined by the talented and beautiful Lauryn Hill, The Fugees ignited the neo-soul movement. And when her 1998 solo album won five Grammys, 23-year-old Hill found herself on top of the music world. And she didn't like it. So she disappeared to her native South Orange, N.J., suburbs and had five kids (one for each Grammy) with Bob Marley's son. She emerged only to record a strange acoustic album and perform at odd venues (often arriving hours late and behaving erratically).

You can imagine our surprise when Starpulse reported that the reclusive Lauryn Hill would be a headliner at the 26th annual Stockholm Jazz Festival (July 15-19). We nearly fell off our chairs with excitement! Besides Hill, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Booker T, Raphael Saadiq, and Joss Stone are slated to perform.

If you decide to take advantage of low fares to Europe, be sure to check out some of the Continent's other awesome music festivals. And if you bump into Ms. Hill, please tell her to "Doo Wop (That Thang)"--she'll know what you mean.

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