Conde Nast Traveler

So Far, a Bad Year for Air Accidents

People gather at Roissy airport, north of Paris, Tuesday June 30, 2009, to hear information about passengers aboard a jet from Yemen which crashed in the Indian Ocean early Tuesday
Yemenia Airways and Europe's Black List
The Airbus A310 with 153 aboard that crashed in the Comoros Islands today provoked a quick response from the European Union's Transport Commissioner, Antonio Tajani... More
Air France Flight 447
A better black box?

Commuter pilot life
Continental's Flight 347

Read more airline news coverage in Daily Traveler's On the Fly.

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Estonia Streets

Estonia-StreetAfter two months and almost 12,000 entries, our 2009 Dream Trip Contest is just hitting its stride. For inspiration for your own entry, and a chance to win a $25,000 vacation to wherever you choose, read our take on a submission that caught our eye:

The winding alleys of twee medieval neighborhoods are catnip to North Americans surrounded by buildings that are mere decades old. Dream Trip entrant NaomiMarx fell under the spell of the streets of Tallinn on an impromptu trip to Estonia, one that inspired a soon-to-be-finished book.

"I was in the midst of an extremely difficult divorce," NaomiMarx writes in the Dream Trip entry "Crossroads in Life." "A friend mentioned he was going to Estonia for work, so I joined him and explored some of the most magical medieval buildings, some of which were built in the 1200s. Not only was it magical but it also provided a sense of peace that inspired the bulk of ideas for a book I am nearing completion on."

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.

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Barbados Cow

Barbados-CowAfter two months and almost 12,000 entries, our 2009 Dream Trip Contest is just hitting its stride. For inspiration for your own entry, and a chance to win a $25,000 vacation to wherever you choose, read our take on a submission that caught our eye:

Author Isabel Fonseca captures Barbados's many facets--and its British charms--in her article "This Earth, This Realm, This Little England," in the July issue of Condé Nast Traveler, on newsstands now. In another take on Barbados, Dream Trip entrant iolaiola focuses on the island's bucolic side and meditates about the importance of human connections.

"This cow is alone in this field and appeared content," iolaiola writes in the Dream Trip entry "Cow in Solitude," a study in misty skies, green grasses, and brown bovine. "Why is it that animals don't need the company of their own, but humans do? Taking this picture, I recognized how we must appreciate all human company; we couldn't survive without it."

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.


New York: The Standard's Not So Standard

The bistro-like atmosphere in the Standard Grill's front room.

by Ondine Cohane

I am sitting in bed at New York's Standard hotel staring out at the quintessential city view: the wide swath of Hudson River with its sailboats, tugs, and cruise ships; New Jersey on the other shore; and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. After a few months away from the city, it's been the perfect crash pad and at $195 a night, a relative bargain.

My stay happens to coincide with the much-anticipated opening of the hotel's restaurant, the Standard Grill, with Dan Silverman (formerly of Lever House) at the helm. It is a great space with a fun outdoor café for drinks, a big main dining room with circular red banquettes, and an open kitchen. The menu (here's a preview) has a good mix of comfort food and more ambitious choices, as well as appetizers like briny oysters and homemade pâtés. Our group particularly enjoyed the roast chicken for two, the organic Berkshire pork chop, Atlantic swordfish with ginger, soy, and lime, and duck-fat smashed potatoes and sugar snap peas. We had a table in the wine room, which is a beautiful space and quiet enough to have a conversation--the main room was in full loud swing. The bottom line? If you are coming to New York, book a table. I guarantee it will be one of the hottest reservations in town.

Further reading:
* Below the Standard is the newly opened High Line, a gorgeous example of city renewal: an unused train track line that's been transformed into an elevated walkway with lovely gardens and plants.
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


Pimm's Cup: A Taste of Wimbledon

Soho House in New York will screen the Wimbledon finals on its roof.

by Ashley Cirilli

With Wimbledon in full swing this week, it seems like the whole world has tennis fever. Even if you don't know your backhands from your forehands, the tournament is a good reason to sample one of Britain's tastiest exports: the Pimm's Cup. Traditionally made from Pimm's No. 1 Cup, lemon juice, a soda like ginger ale or 7-Up (or sometimes lemonade and soda), and garnished with a cucumber, the cocktail first made its mark in the mid-nineteenth century as a British summer favorite. London bar owner James Pimm began serving the concoction as a digestif, and it became so popular that he bottled his own gin-based liquor, Pimm's No. 1 Cup, for sale.

What started as hand candy for British socialites is now the official drink of Wimbledon. Several London restaurants are rolling out their own versions of the classic drink: Mixed Doubles (Pimm's, strawberries, and Lanson Champagne) at Bluebird, for example. And stateside, the New York branch of London's Soho House is serving up the Wimbledon Pitcher. This party-sized Pimm's-with-a-twist includes strawberries, oranges, and some Hendrick's Gin for an extra kick. Not a member? We've got the classic and the Soho House version after the jump so you can make them at home. Just don't attempt to hit the courts afterward.

Continue reading "Pimm's Cup: A Taste of Wimbledon" »


Kitty Goes to Memphis, and Other Tales of Flying Fur


Photo: Sillydog on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Sara Tucker

An online dispenser of travel paraphernalia asks us to imagine this version of flying hell: Your pint-sized companion has a full bladder and there is no place to pee, neither on the plane, nor in the terminal. Unbelievable, right? And yet that's what happens when, halfway to Memphis (or Chicago, or San Francisco) "your cat needs to go to the bathroom."

Don't laugh. Toilet facilities are a real problem for flying cats and dogs--and there are many of those. (The solution to the above-mentioned dilemma: a portable litter box, available here.) Forty-two percent of the American pet owners who responded to an AP poll released Tuesday say they've taken a pet with them on vacation.

Continue reading "Kitty Goes to Memphis, and Other Tales of Flying Fur" »


UPDATE: Flight 447 and Two New Serious Airbus Emergencies

A TAM Airbus A330-200 landing at London Heathrow Airport.
Photo: Adrian Pingstone

by Clive Irving

How many Airbus A330s are flying throughout the world with a key piece of equipment that can jeopardize safety? This question became more urgent with the release last night of a statement by the National Transportation Safety Board revealing two recent incidents in which pilots had to regain control after automated controls failed.

Moreover, these incidents involve failure of speed sensors--the same kind of failure that is at the heart of the investigation into the loss of Air France flight 447.

Last night's notice from the NTSB disclosed that a TAM airlines flight from Miami to Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 21 suffered an emergency while at cruise altitude. The A330's flight management system--the master computer that controls the whole airplane--"experienced a loss of primary speed and altitude information" said the notice. "The flight crew noted an abrupt drop in indicated outside air temperature, followed by the loss of the Air Data Reference System and disconnections of the autopilot and autothrust, along with the loss of speed and altitude information."

For five minutes the flight crew had to use backup instruments while rebooting the main computer until they regained control. The second episode was this week and it involved an American carrier, Northwest. There was, says the NTSB, "another possibly similar incident" on a flight between Hong Kong and Tokyo on June 23. Both flights landed with no further problems and no injuries or damage.

How the NTSB learned of these incidents shows how piecemeal and haphazard the means are for reporting potentially dangerous situations. A Safety Board spokesman told me today that it was the Brazilian government that informed them of the TAM incident. And it was not the airline that notified the board of the Northwest incident but it was reported to them by "a pilot-oriented internet publication."

There are striking similarities between the TAM and Northwest system failures and what was reported to be happening to Air France flight 447 before it disappeared. We know from data bursts sent from Air France A330 that it, too, suffered a similar sequence of failures in which, essentially, the computers shut down and gave up trying to fly the airplane. Add to that the fact that flight 447's course took it over the South Atlantic directly into the path of a monster storm that created violent turbulence, and that all this occurred at night, and you have a credible scenario for disaster.

The control failures have been attributed to sensors called pitot tubes made by the French company Thales. Air France is replacing pitot tubes on its A330 fleet because they are prone to ice at cruise altitude and then give false readings.

The NTSB is an investigative agency, not a regulatory one. Its advisories like the one issued last night carry no mandatory powers. As the Safety Board spokesman told me, "Only regulatory agencies can order mandatory refits."

So once more, the responsibility lies with the FAA to decide if there is now enough empirical evidence to show that these faulty speed gauges are an immediate threat to air safety, and order A330s grounded until they are fitted with upgraded pitot tubes. As Airbus itself said last week at the Paris Air Show, the A330 is a workhorse in wide use--"one takes off every minute" according to a company executive. From the urgent way in which the Safety Board made known these new episodes it seems that they are far from sanguine about the risks.

Further reading:
* The Fate of Air France Flight 447 (Daily Traveler on CNT)
* What is a pitot tube? (Scientific American)
* National Transportation Safety Board Web Site
* On the Fly: Barbara Peterson on the airline industry

Read Clive Irving's dispatches on Flight 447 in The Daily Beast:
* Picking up the Pieces from a Midair Explosion (June 14)
* The Myth of the Black Box (June 7)
* The Secrets of Flight 447 (June 6)
* Who Was Flying Flight 447? (June 5)
* Last Words of Flight 447: From a Robot (June 3)

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Albuquerque Hot Air Balloons


Two months in and still going strong, our 2009 Dream Trip Contest has had more than 11,000 entries so far. For inspiration for your own entry, and a chance to win a $25,000 vacation to wherever you choose, read our take on a submission that caught our eye:

Dream Trip entrant Cpriaulx shot this colorful, buoyant image during a cross-country journey that included a stop at the celebrated Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a road trip that ultimately turned Cpriaulx onto a new hobby. 

"After this trip I purchased a pick-up truck so I could get into this branch of aviation," Cpriaulx writes in the Dream Trip entry "Up, Up, and Away". "A balloon ride should be on everyone's to-do list. Balloon folks are a special breed of people. Fun loving and full of life, and they want to share it all with you.

"The balloons come to Albequerque every October," Cpriaulx advises. "Make your plans now!"

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.


Michael Jackson, Traveler

Michael Jackson meets Nelson Mandela
Michael Jackson hugs former
South African President Nelson
Mandela in Pretoria, South Africa
Saturday, July 20, 1996.

Photo: AP Photo / Adil Bradlow-File

by Beata Loyfman-Santora

Over the upcoming weeks, you'll undoubtedly be deluged with information about the death of Michael Jackson. Some of it will celebrate his life, much of it will pour over the last sad years (TMZ is already compiling the sordid details).

We at Boldface prefer to remember Michael's gifts above the gossip. His odd behavior may have overshadowed his talent and made him into an object of ridicule in the United States, but we mustn't forget that in his heyday, when Michael spoke (or danced), everyone listened. And we do mean everyone. During the 1980s, he made history not only for producing some of the biggest albums in music but also for plying the globe with his concerts. In fact, his Bad World Tour earned a spot among the Guinness Book of World Records for reaching the most audiences ever (4.4 million, give or take). During this tour, he visited countries that were considered far off the grid, such as Gabon and Egypt.

In this way, Michael was the consummate traveler, engaging with every corner of this planet through music, connecting us all.

As a kid growing up in the gray cocoon of Communist Russia in the 1980s, there was very little that I knew about the world outside. Yes, there was TV, but it showed happy farmers hoeing and Lenin's disciples calling for the proletariat to unite. Remember: We didn't have Twitter, the Internet, or even cable with which to disseminate information. What we did have was a VCR. My family was the first in our community (if not our city) to get this amazing machine. It was probably smuggled under someone's shirt, but regardless, it arrived at my house accompanied by only one tape: the 14-minute-long "Thriller" music video. I cannot overstate its impact on the six-year-old me. I was mesmerized, terrified, and wore the tape thin watching it. All I wanted to do was see more, learn more, be more. Luckily, I got the chance when we immigrated to America.

I will never forget the origins of that spark to see the world. And for that Michael, I thank you.


More on Clear, the Registered Traveler Program Gone Missing

by Barbara S. Peterson

Two days after the sudden shutdown of Clear, the country's biggest registered traveler program, the behavior of the parties responsible is stoking outrage. Apparently the mostly anonymous folks who were running Clear after the all-too-visible Steve Brill got pushed out as CEO in February have done the expected thing: gone underground

However, "acting CEO" Jim Maroney did take time to hold a conference call with airports and the TSA.  The TSA is still acting like it has nothing to do with what it describes as a "market driven private sector program" it midwifed into being, a fiction that blogger Danny Sullivan ably destroys.

The airports at least had the decency to share what transpired during that call, because there's a big question about what will happen to all that personal information a quarter million people gladly shared with the company to save the time and uncertainty involved in navigating the airport security mess.

I still have my old, expired Clear card so I tried calling the number on the back:  866-848-2415. No luck. It just rang and rang. I called Delta, the biggest airline partner of Clear, and am waiting to hear back. Then I looked up the investors.  Spark Capital, the Massachusetts venture capital firm best known for its backing of Twitter, coughed up $44 million in funding not long ago. Not surprisingly, they won't return calls seeking comment.

But the buck stops at the TSA,whose dissembling--on top of their mishandling of this and other improvements (witness the demise of the 'puffer machines' they bought at great taxpayer expense)--is the true scandal here. While they are officially not commenting, at least as a government agency they'll have to answer the inevitable questions from Congress.

So readers...  do you or did you have a Clear card and what are you doing about it?

Did you renew it recently when the company was aggressively hawking multi-year memberships at a discount?   What did you think of the service? 

Further reading:
* Waiting for the All Clear (CNT/Aug. 2008)
* On the Fly: Barbara Peterson on the airline industry


Kendel Carson: Hotshot Canadian Fiddler Heads South

Kendel Carson has roots in the Alberta plains, but she looks right at home in New York City.
Photo: Shore Fire Media

by John Oseid

Canadian singer and fiddler Kendel Carson is petite and squeaky-clean gorgeous, but she likes big trucks and dirty boys. Fine by me. The Alberta native announced her preferences recently at the Lower East Side hipster haven Living Room before launching into her jaunty bar tune "I Like Trucks" (the video has a fun homemade look). For all her moxie, the 24-year-old with the prairie-honed string skills is an enormously mature artist.

And she's in good hands with veteran songwriter/producer Chip Taylor, who backed her up on guitar to promote her new album Alright Dynamite. "I Don't Wanna Be Your Mother," with the wilting refrain "Brass ones, you don't got 'em," was a crowd pleaser, as was "Belt Buckle."  Taylor and Carson also performed "I like Trucks" and the slow ballad "Ribbons and Bows" off Carson's 2007 debut album, Rearview Mirror Tears. As they wrapped up the night, Carson had her fiddle screaming on Taylor's classic hits "Angel of the Morning" and "Wild Thing." Yes, that one, as in--"I think I looove you." (Bonus points if you can name Taylor's famous Hollywood brother.)

More music:
* For this year's edition of Zurich's popular Live at Sunset festival (July 8 to 19), the stately Dolder Grand hotel has package deals that include show tickets. Go here for details and dates to relive the eighties with Simply Red, UB40, and Simple Minds. French jazz/cabaret star Patricia Kaas and the Japanese drum ensemble KODO are also on the lineup.
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world.


So What Is Wrong With The Dreamliner?

Photo: markjhandel on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons

by Clive Irving

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which promised to bring travelers the future of flying as it should be in the 21st century (a lot less gas guzzled, a lot more comfort in the cabin) could be delayed reaching an airport gate near you for a lot longer than Boeing intended. Tuesday's deferment of the first flight raised more issues than it answered, the principal one being how long it will take to fix the flaw discovered in the structure.

A Q&A session between financial analysts and Boeing managers shed little light on specifics. In fact, reading the transcript, it seems that the analysts failed to ask an essential question.

Continue reading "So What Is Wrong With The Dreamliner?" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Girlfriends at the Taj Mahal


Two months in and still going strong, our
2009 Dream Trip Contest has had more than 11,000 entries so far. For inspiration for your own entry, and a chance to win a $25,000 vacation to wherever you choose, read our take on a submission that caught our eye:

Dream Trip entrant baiwenli shot today's featured Dream Trip entry, Gal Pals, on a trip to India. The image is a mix of movement and color that was captured in a faraway land but which represents a familiar scene to the photographer.

"Inside the gates of the Taj Mahal I was overwhelmed by what I saw," baiwenli writes. "It was hard to absorb it all. But then this group of gal pals walked by. It was the Indian version of me out for the day with my girlfriends. This picture now hangs in my kitchen, and every time I look at it I remember that deep down everybody is pretty much the same."

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.


Love Affair with Buenos Aires

Poor Mark Sanford. All the South Carolina governor apparently wanted to do was spend time in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. But at his 2 p.m. press conference today, Gov. Sanford looked more like the victim of a Borgesian labyrinth than someone who spent seven days in the land of the tango and delicious grass-fed beef.

His demeanor could have had something to do with the press frenzy caused by his failure to notify anyone--his staff, the press, and, apparently, his family--about his disappearing act. Or it could have something to do with admitting to an illicit affair.

Or it could be something to do with what Gov. Sanford told Gina Smith, the reporter for The State who surprised him at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning.  He had just returned from Buenos Aires, he said.  And while the governor wouldn't give any details, he did say that he went driving along the coastline.

Continue reading "Love Affair with Buenos Aires" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Valencia Street

Valencia-Spain-streetTwo months in and still going strong, our 2009 Dream Trip Contest has had more than 11,000 entries so far. For inspiration for your own entry, and a chance to win a $25,000 vacation to wherever you choose, read our take on a submission that caught our eye:

What is it about black-and-white travel photographs? Is it the way the absence of color draws the eye to lines and forms? Is it the timelessness of an image that could have been taken yesterday or decades ago? Or is it that black-and-white is the palette of our dreams; cities and landscapes rendered without color are places we can never really inhabit.

Dream Trip entrant devorarogers used the technique to turn an otherwise humdrum street scene in Valencia, Spain, into an enigmatic depiction of the promise of travel. Who are those figures in the distance? What lies around the corner? Where are we going? And who can we become?

"I love the light in this photo, the texture of the buildings, and the wrought-iron balconies," writes devorarogers in her Dream Trip entry, Street Scene in Valencia. "I love that people are walking in the street in a way that Americans do not.

"I love who we are when we are in Spain. We stay up late, we eat and drink what we want, we dance on rooftops. We return home each time and say, how can we do it at home? We vow to make tortilla española more often and practice eating dinner after midnight; but the light and the streets of Los Angeles never look like this."

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.


Voluntours in South Asia

A voluntourist lends a hand in Kerala.
Photo: Destination Himalaya

by Brook Wilkinson

Let's face it: Even in troubled times like these, we Americans generally have it pretty good. We're still healthier, better fed, and better educated than the vast majority of the world's population. If such inequalities trouble you, consider turning your next trip into a voluntour with Destination Himalaya.

This well-respected tour operator--operations manager Sanjay Saxena is on Wendy Perrin's annual list of the world's best travel planners (you can read a user review of him here)--has long had a philosophy of "giving back," by partnering with local charities in the areas its clients visit. Now Destination Himalaya has taken it a step further, by organizing several voluntours that combine volunteer work with a bit of sightseeing. You can help out on a medical boat that brings health care to the people of the remote Sunderban Islands (no medical training is necessary to participate), assist at a school for handicapped children in Kerala, or lend a hand at a school high in the Spiti Valley of the Himalayas (be prepared to spend a fair amount of time above 12,000 feet). All of the trips include some time to relax and enjoy the sights, as well as deluxe accommodations where available.

Check out the links and contact our friend Sanjay for more details.

Further reading:
* Globe-trotting for Good: Join the Condé Nast Traveler Challenge.
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference.


Boeing's Dreamliner Debacle

Currently battling paperweight status.
Photo: Katkreig on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons

by Clive Irving

Boeing is facing the most embarrassing and costly debacle in its history. Today's announcement that the 787 Dreamliner's first flight has been postponed, due to the discovery of a structural flaw, is the latest in a series of poorly explained delays. The program is already two years late. In the company's history there has never been such a gulf between the brilliance of the concept behind an airliner and the ability of the company to deliver it.

Make no mistake, the 787 was--and probably will be--a game changer. Scores of airlines around the world have ordered it. Today all of them are wondering, what is the real problem?

It all seemed very different two years ago when the first 787 was rolled out with a great deal of hoopla. It turned out that that the 787 was a hollow shell. It looked every bit the sleek precursor of a new age of fuel-efficient, passenger-friendly machines it was cracked up to be. But, in truth, it had no moving parts at all, except its wheels.

It was a Potemkin Village of technology, camera-ready but a long way short of leaving the ground.

Continue reading "Boeing's Dreamliner Debacle" »


Clear Registered Travel Program Shuts Down

The lights are out on Clear.
Photo: .schill on Flickr courtesy of
Creative Commons

by Barbara S. Peterson

Clear, the biggest private-sector "registered traveler" program in the nation, shut down suddenly last night, and a quarter of a million customers are waiting to find out whether their cards will ever get them out of security-line hell again. (It's not looking too good right now.) The biggest mystery is not why it failed, but why it hung on as long as it did given the open hostility to the venture displayed by both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the airlines.

I was one of the those customers--I'd tried the service myself and thought it was a great idea--and on at least two occasions it saved me from missing a flight. But I found it frustrating that other benefits, like not having to remove your shoes or laptops, were not forthcoming because the TSA wouldn't approve the necessary machines. They were manufactured and paid for, but they just sat there, unplugged. I'd recently let my card lapse when the fee went up to $199 from the original $128 I had paid; I couldn't justify that expense, and, in general, security lines have eased. (That is not because of the TSA; it's the economy, of course.) Still, during a grace period when I could use my lapsed card, I arrived one morning at the Delta terminal at New York's LaGuardia to see a horrendously long line at the checkpoint. As I sailed past it, I was reminded that the best argument in favor of a program like Clear is not having to worry about the unpredictable nature of security.

The original idea, after all, was backed by Congress right after 9/11.

Continue reading "Clear Registered Travel Program Shuts Down" »


Chef's Choice: Andrew Carmellini

The wooded interior of Avec
restaurant, in Chicago,
one of Carmellini's favorites.

Photo: Avec

Who but a chef would cross the globe for his favorite snack? In Condé Nast Traveler's July issue, Eimear Lynch asked Andrew Carmellini, who opened Locanda Verde at N.Y.C.'s Greenwich Hotel this spring, for his tips.

Favorite Global Restaurants: "Last time I went to Avec, in Chicago, I had too many drinks and ordered most of the menu. My favorite? The bollito misto pork shoulder [615 W. Randolph St.; 312-377-2002; entrées, $10-$21]. I get tapas à la pancha and simple seafood at Cal Pep, in Barcelona [8 Placa de les Olles; 34-93-310-7961; tapas, $7-$20], and go to Paris for juicy roast pigeon at L'Ami Louis--it's served with sautéed fois gras and big Burgundy snails [32 rue du Vertbois; 33-1-48-87-77-48; entrées, $52-$87]. Hostaria da Ivan, in Fontanelle, Italy, just outside Parma, has original country dishes like skillet-fried Parmesan curds, and sweet-and-sour duck with mustard fruits [73 Via Villa; 39-0521-870-113; entrées, $14-$28]."

Favorite Food Souvenir: "Wild boar salami from Autogrill roadside shops in Italy--they're the rest stops of my dreams."

Hometown Picks: "My ideal New York afternoon starts with a sandwich at Porchetta [110 E. 7th St.; 212-777-2151; entrées, $6-$14], followed by a thick, dark espresso at Abraco [86 E. 7th St.; 212-388-9731]."

Perfect In-Flight Meal: "My recipe for a salad of marinated beets with grapefruit, pistachios, and goat cheese."

Locanda Verde, 377 Greenwich Street; 212-925-3797; entrées, $18-$25.

In This Issue

On the Tour Bus with Ben Harper

Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals perform during the All Points West music festival at Liberty State Park Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008 in Jersey City, N.J.
Photo: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

The singer-songwriter and slide guitarist describes life on the road in the July 2009 issue of Condé Nast Traveler

Best Venues: "L.A.'s Greek Theatre is surrounded by trees, and every seat is a good one [323-665-3125;]. Red Rocks is a stunning rock amphitheater outside Denver. Playing there makes me feel like I've rocketed away from Earth and landed on another planet [720-865-2494;]."

Best Restaurants: "There's a Mexican place called El Chihuahua in Paris that's owned by a French guy named Benny. His mom lived in Mexico for years and brought back recipes for chips, salsa, and incredible fajitas [36 blvd. de la Bastille; 33-1-43-43-79-79; entrées, $11-$21]. I love eating Italian in Paris too, at Alfredo Positano [6 rue Guisarde; 33-1-43-26-90-52; entrées, $26-$40]. Elio's, in New York, has the best chicken Parmesan in the world--it reminds me of Bruce Paltrow, who introduced me to the place [1621 Second Ave.; 212-772-2242; entrées, $17-$42].

Best Bars: "The Silver Dollar Bar & Grill, in Jackson Hole, is lined with silver dollars. You can't believe it till you've seen it; rumor has it the whole thing cost a million [307-733-2190]. At 4100, in Los Angeles, there's always someone to talk to and Newcastle Brown ale on tap" [1087 Manzanita St.; 323-666-4460]."

Best Hotels" "I always stay near a park when I travel with my family. Rome's Hotel de Russie is just below the Villa Borghese, so we ride our bikes to the top, watch the sun set over the city, and then have the hotel restaurant's amazing Bolognese [39-06-32-88-81;; doubles, $610-$1,255]. And I love São Paulo's Hotel Unique for its proximity to Ibirapuera Park [55-11-3055-4710;; doubles, $375-$490]."

For tour dates, go to

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Tanzania Elephant

Tanzania Elephant

Dream Trip 2009 has been up two months and is still going strong, with almost 11,000 entries so far. For inspiration for your own entry, and a chance to win a $25,000 vacation to wherever you choose, read our take on a submission that caught our eye:

Safari photographers often try to get the ultimate shot: the perfectly framed beast in its wild environment on the veld--with no evidence of human surroundings. By this measure, Dream Trip entrant erinnoelle's Dream Trip entry entitled Investigative Elephant falls short: One of erinnoelle's fellow occupants of the safari jeep takes up a third of the frame. But in this case, the human figure gives the image a sense of scale, movement, and immediacy.

"We were traveling through Tanzania's Tarangire National Park, and slowed when we saw a baby elephant dawdling along behind a small herd," writes erinnoelle. "Mama wasn't too far off: She walked toward us, ears flapped wide in part to show us her size. Human or elephant, we're all fiercely protective of our kids."

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.


Rock 'n' Yoga? Lake Tahoe's Wanderlust Festival

Squaw Valley's High Camp, soon to be the site of many shaking asanas.
Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Festival

by Ashley Cirilli

No matter how satisfying the sound, battling your way through the crowds at outdoor music performances can leave you a bit jaded, and hours of contorting to get a view of the stage can leave you with little more than a strained neck. At Lake Tahoe's first annual Wanderlust Festival (July 2426), though, you can work out the kinks with back bends instead of crowd-surfing sessions. Leave the beer and blue jeans at home; this "rock-'n'-yoga" event is more carrot juice and spandex.

Don't get me wrong--with a music lineup that includes Spoon, Andrew Bird, Girl Talk, and Jenny Lewis, the wave-your-hands-and-say-yea! vibe will not be lost on Wanderlust. And all-star producers Velour Music Group, C3 Presents (Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits Music Festival), and Starr Hill Presents (Bonnaroo, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival) are behind the event. You'll just get some downward dog with your Rogue Wave.

Classes led by renowned yoga instructors Shiva Rea and John Friend can host 1,000 people, so if "Energetic Vinyasa for All Rebel Rockers" sounds like your thing, there's plenty of space. For ticket information, visit

Further reading:
* The event focuses on wellness. At Wanderlust's Kula Village, visitors can attend lectures on health, environmental issues, and the conscious food movements, and shop for organic food and other eco-friendly products.
* The summer's hottest boutique music festivals
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


Have You Been to Puglia Yet?

The Romeo Hotel in Naples,
another of Italy's underrated

Photo: Romeo Hotel

by Ondine Cohane

If the answer is no, then I highly--highly--suggest you add it to your wish list. I made my second sojourn there last week and found it's still made with my favorite ingredients: wonderful food (a cuisine that utilizes both ingredients from the coast and interior countryside), fascinating architecture (Greek, Norman, Baroque, you name it), beautiful beaches, and intimate hotels.

I parked myself back at Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli, a gorgeous former convent that has been restored to great effect by Alistair and Athena McAlpine and packed with treasures from their travels. (There is no Web site for the hotel; you need to call an English cell phone to make a booking 44-773-636-2328). I lazed by the pool, went for a stroll around the charming nearby village of Marittima, ate just-caught sea bass and shrimp, and enjoyed Athena's great conversation. I also made a side trip to Lecce, which has been described as the Florence of the south; after driving past arid fields bordered by massive gnarled olive trees, I took in the beautiful carvings in local churches. Puglia is definitely coming onto the radar, but I am surprised it isn't as well known by American travelers as it is with Brits. It should be.

Continue reading "Have You Been to Puglia Yet?" »

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: Sardinia Yachts


Dream Trip 2009 has been been up two months and is going strong, with more than 10,000 entries so far. For inspiration for your own entry, and a chance to win a $25,000 vacation to wherever you choose, read our take on a submission that caught our eye:

Summer's here! To usher in the warm months, Photo of the Day has a yen for sun-drenched pictures that transport us to beautiful landscapes and calm seas under cloudless skies.

One such image: "Sardinia through Classic Yachts POV," captured by Dream Trip entrant GalinaSavina on a business trip that involved a classic-yacht regatta. (How do we get that gig?)

GalinaSavina finds the pic as escapist as we do. "I have this image as my computer and iPhone wallpaper," GalinaSavina writes. "Every time I look at the picture, it gives me some positive energy, some life thirst, helping me carry on and go further."

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.


The Most Awesome Place in the Universe

"In this little meadow," wrote eco-theologian Thomas Berry, "the magnificence of life as celebration is manifested."
Photo: Artcatcher on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Sara Tucker

"It was an early afternoon in May when I first looked down over the scene and saw the meadow," wrote Thomas Berry in The Great Work. "The field was covered with lilies rising above the thick grass. A magic moment, this experience gave to my life something, I know not what, that seems to explain my life at a more profound level than almost any other experience I can remember.

"It was not only the lilies. It was the singing of the crickets and the woodlands in the distance and the clouds in an otherwise clear sky. . . . Whenever I think about my basic life attitude and the whole trend of my mind and the causes that I have given my efforts to, I seem to come back to this moment and the impact it has had on my feeling for what is real and worthwhile in life."

Berry, who died June 1 at the age of 94, is being remembered this month for the impact he made as an "Earth scholar" who wrote about the place where ecology and theology connect.

"To spend time with him was like getting a soul transfusion," wrote Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, in an e-mail to Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin.

Continue reading "The Most Awesome Place in the Universe" »


About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
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