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March – or summer? – in Paris

When it’s freezing in New York, it’s time to escape to warmer climes…like Western Europe. This weekend Paris hit 66 degrees — unreal!

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La Defense:

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Evening in Le Marais:

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The always over-the-top Four Seasons George V:

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Robert Adams exhibit at the Jeu de Paume:

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Toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin. / All good things must come to an end.

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Cathay Pacific: Singapore-New York

Asia is pretty great, but the journey is pretty damn spectacular, too — so long as you get to enjoy a great airline like Cathay Pacific. I was rather miffed when my 16-hour nonstop flight from Hong Kong to JFK in New York only lasted 14 1/2 hours!

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SIN-HKG:

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HKG-JFK:

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Singapore: Old and New

A wander around the swampy Singapore…

National Museum of Singapore:

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Singapore Art Museum:

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Central Business District:

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CBD from Fort Canning Park:

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Kampong Glam / Muslim Quarter:

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Valentine’s Weekend in Paris

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Skating at Hôtel de Ville:

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Marché des enfants rouges:

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Around Le Marais:

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Given its colonial history, it’s no surprise Paris has some of the best Asian cuisine in the world:

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A Paris Thanksgiving

I’m admittedly a creature of habit when I travel, especially in a place like Paris where I have clear favorites. This Thanksgiving, though, I decided to switch things up and explore other areas, like Belleville and Ménilmontant in the northwest of the city, with its busy street life and the amazing vistas, and south into the 13th arrondissement, around Tolbiac, with its clustering of Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisine (my fav).

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All decked out for Christmas under the rotunda at Galeries Lafayette:

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Earlier this year when I first discovered the Jack Russell brand during a birthday trip to Paris, I managed to hold myself back from buying a bag for myself. For the past six months I’ve been thinking about that bag, so this time, I couldn’t resist. I stopped into the tiny, almost-impossible-to-find, atelier tucked into Rue d’Alger near the Tuileries, where the staff was surprised to see a visitor from the USA! They were so excited to talk about the brand and hand stamp a monogrammed luggage tag (pictured) for my new bag. Expect big things from Jack Russell!

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Paris City Hall:

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Le Marais:

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Surfing in Munich?

I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in my travels but nothing was as unexpected as coming upon surfers while wandering around the landlocked city this week. It turns out surfers have been riding the waves of the narrow Eisbach River here for decades.

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Autumn in Munich

Fall in Bavaria is pretty spectacular. Here’s a taste of this past weekend in Munich:

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Marrakech

Over the weekend I had a chance to visit Marrakech for a second time this year — after many years of it lingering on my must-see list — and once again it did not disappoint.

Moroccan breakfast delights (baghrir, harcha) in the Atlas Lounge at Casablanca Mohamed V Airport:

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Sunrise:

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My hotel:

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Boarding at Marrakech Menara Airport:

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Atlas Mountains on departure from Marrakech:

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Philadelphia

Living in New York, it’s easy to forget there is a massive city called Philadelphia just an hour away. A quick day trip reminded me that although Philly has interesting architecture and beautiful parks, I just don’t fully “get” the city.

The view from atop the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society Building:

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City Hall:

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Ritz-Carlton:

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Summer in Maine

It’s quite truly the dog days of summer in Midcoast Maine:

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Around Paris

A perfect week in Paris of spectacular weather, good friends, and good drink to celebrate getting another year older!

From atop the Centre Pompidou:

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Hotel de Ville:

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Paris Mosque:

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Along the Seine:

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Jardin des plantes:

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Louvre:

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Bright as day at 9:30 p.m. in the Marais:

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Marrakech, Morocco

Daytime in Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square of Old Marrakech:

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Nighttime in Jemaa el-Fnaa:

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In the Medina:

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Le Jardin Majorelle à Marrakech

No trip to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the incredibly colorful Majorelle Garden, owned by Yves St Laurent until his death (and the place where his ashes are now buried).

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Marrakech International Airport

After arriving into Marrakech from Paris on Royal Air Maroc, I was greeted with this terrific weather and a fantastic terminal:

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Easter in Paris

Who doesn’t love Paris in springtime? (And summer…and fall…and winter?)

The view from atop the Centre Pompidou:

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Rue des Barres:

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Resin sculpture “Bonbon Drapeau Qatar” in yard of the Embassy of Qatar:

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Notre Dame on Easter morning:

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The inner workings of the crazy facade of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute):

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Hotel de Ville (city hall):

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Cathay Pacific New York/Singapore

My love affair with Cathay Pacific was only made stronger with my trip with this week, flying New York-Vancouver-Hong Kong-Singapore, and then back Singapore-Hong Kong-New York (on their marathon 15 1/2 hour HKG-JFK nonstop, which was simply amazing).

Approaching Changi Airport, over Indonesia, with Singapore Strait at center and Singapore on the horizon:

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No trip would be complete without getting photo evidence of everything I ate:

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The sublime noodle bar at The Wing, one of Cathay’s lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, where I just had to try every option on the menu:

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Seen in Singapore

The view of Singapore from 57 floors atop the Marina Bay Sands (this photo does the skyline no justice):

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The view from my room at the Shangri-La, where I decamped to after a night at the mobbed Marina Bay Sands:

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ION Orchard, the most attractively designed of the 3,000 shopping malls on Orchard Road:

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Singapore Art Museum:

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The famed Raffles Hotel, completely overrun with tourists (in contrast to the lovely Raffles in Phnom Penh).

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Happy new year!

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New gay travel magazine, ManAboutWorld

My friend Ed Salvato – the ultimate gay travel guru – has teamed up with Billy Kolber (also no slouch in the gay travel department, as founder of Out & About) to create ManAboutWorld magazine, a new travel publication for the iPad. I’m thrilled to be contributing to it occasionally; here’s a piece on Vancouver I wrote for the November edition. For the full effect be sure to download the App and see the magazine for yourself!

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NOW/NEXT: VANCOUVER

The beauty of Vancouver can drive a grown man to cry. With its forest of glass towers nestled where the mountains of the Canadian West rise and fall into the Pacific, Vancouver is one of the world’s most beautiful spots – but somehow still off the radar of most travelers.

An influx of money and Asian immigrants has changed the look of Vancouver over the past three decades from self-described backwater to cosmopolitan global city. At its heart, though, it remains a genuinely down-to-earth place (the recent debut of “Real Housewives of Vancouver” notwithstanding) rife for exploring.

Befitting the region’s progressive reputation, Vancouver is also home to a sizable gay population, which hoists its rainbow flag in the Davie Village section of the West End (not to be confused with West Vancouver, to the north, or the West Side, to the south).

Get your bearings at ground zero, near the corner of Thurlow and Davie Streets, but don’t be alarmed if the crowds happen to be thin: locals in this outdoorsy place are as likely to be found at the neighborhood’s many lively watering holes as they are doing what Vancouverites do best – being out and active in their slice of paradise.

Exercise is religion here, but so is good food. A pair of upcoming events is perfect excuse (as if you needed one) to plan a winter visit. January brings the two-week Dine Out Vancouver Festival, touted as the largest food festival in the country, with more than 200 restaurants offering up their diverse menus on the cheap. The huge Vancouver International Wine Festival follows in February and is a tippler’s time to try the surprising fruits of the Okanagan, the wine-producing area in the province’s interior, and a variety of other vintners from around the globe.

Continue reading…

Paris

Without question, my travel weakness is Paris. It’s tough to go to Europe and resist its pull — so after a great Thanksgiving in Bavaria, I hopped the TGV from Munich to Gare de l’Est for a few days of proper R & R.

The only item on my agenda: check out the tea room terrace at the Grande Mosquée de Paris, the Paris Mosque, a great little hidden gem the New York Times wrote about once:

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Mosque courtyard:

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Inside:

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Centre Pompidou:

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Beirut artist Nadim Karam’s Trio of Elephants, outside Arab World Institute:

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Kids atop the Arab World Institute:

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Viaduc des Arts:

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Jardin des Plantes (Paris botanical gardens):

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Along rue de Rivoli:

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