The Woven Valley of Uzbekistan

Ikats, Ikats, Ikats My first visit to Uzbekistan was ten years ago, arranged by Raisa, a local travel agent who helped Aid to Artisans set up a network of weavers in the Fergana valley.  It’s a great story: Aid to Artisans gave these talented weavers small grants of $500-1000. The money enabled them to attend textile shows in Santa Fe, where they sold everything they’d made! Ten years later, I’m back...

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Istanbul

With so much to see and eat in Istanbul, I was lucky to spend a full week there, but still only touched the surface! The dollar is strong, so why not stay at the Soho House? You don’t have to be a member. Right across the street, the old US embassy is now a swinging club with a great hammam. Don't pass a hammam by - they’re in every corner...

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Mexico City

  Bohemians, forget Berlin; Mexico City is the place for you now. I booked my trip with Maricarmen at International Travel Group in Mexico City, who helped me with my flights and where to stay. I started at the Camino Real Hotel. A mysterious Noguchi fountain spouts endless streams of water in front of pink and yellow buildings designed by Ricardo Legorreta for a soothing dose of vitality after a...

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Ahmedabad

  The Tree of Life It was fun to re-visit the city where my career first began. Twenty years ago, I attended the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. I met three lovely students, remarkably cool in the March heat, which was rising daily. They were amused that a foreigner would come to Ahmedabad at such a time. I told them of my interest in Indian textiles. They offered...

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Mumbai

Hop off the plane and Uber straight to the Taj Hotel. If you have the dough, go for the old wing; if not, the new tower is not so bad, but make sure to request an ocean view.  Right outside the hotel, in pomp and failed circumstance, sits The Gateway of India-—lovely to walk around morning, noon and night, as the light dramatically shifts. Just around the corner you’ll spot the...

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Varanasi

“We are all of us pilgrims that struggle along different paths towards the same destination.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Years ago, I wandered the streets and back alleys of Varanasi, not sure where I had landed and not really old enough to process it all. I warn people not to go there on their first trip to India- it’s too raw, too intense. Having turned fifty, I feel ready to...

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Waiting for Leopards to Wake

One does not travel any more than one falls in love, to collect material. It is simply part of one's life. - Evelyn Waugh   My Kenyan safari starts in Nairobi. Don’t miss the house of Karen Blixen of “Out of Africa” fame, a modest bungalow surrounded by unruly gardens. Some of the clothes worn in the movie are on display and will help you get into the spirit of...

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No Refusal

“No refusal” is written on all the egg yolk-colored cabs of Kolkata, a pledge sometimes kept by the cabdrivers, but always fulfilled by the city itself. From the first time I had a chance to wander the decaying colonial city, Kolkata's been a mysterious yet open city for me, its wide sidewalks like something out of Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities.” I’ve always wanted to come back to dig deeper, not...

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All India Permit

This season I went down to Mysore via Bangalore with my trusted travel companion Gavin, a local expat and professional collector. Just as we were heading down South from Delhi we learned the two states we were travelling through were having water disputes; roads were shut down, trucks were being set on fire. In India one never knows how bad these situations really are—there is always something going on—so we...

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Portugal

Portugal, just a quick jump from New York City, has the same cracking glaze of history as Italy but the shorter distances between regions makes it easier to see more in less time. Fly into Lisbon and take it all in: eat, hunt and see all of the quirky museums. I stayed at the York House, a boutique hotel on the cobblestone streets of Alfama. A block away is the...

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