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Munich for Thanksgiving

Last year I started a new tradition of going to Europe for Thanksgiving. Last year was Rome and this year was Munich to visit a friend, and to do two of my favorite things: stay at the Louis Hotel, and have lunch at the incomparable Brenner! Munich is a lovely city, especially this time of year. (But 24 hours is usually plenty of time for it.)

Marientplatz:

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The bar at Emiko:

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My room at the Louis:

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The freshest catch of the day (or so they say) at Viktualientmarkt:

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Around Abu Dhabi

I spent the week in Abu Dhabi, and unfortunately, even in October, the temperatures are so searing it’s hard to muster the motivation to go outside for very long. Since I last visited three summers ago, the pace of development has soared, with the cityscape along the seaside corniche almost unrecognizable. When a friend asked me what it’s like here, the only descriptor that came to mind was: “Abu Dhabi is living proof that money can, in fact, buy anything.”

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest:

View from my hotel room to the building frenzy along Abu Dhabi corniche – with the under-construction St. Regis Abu Dhabi at center.

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers lobby:

Emirates Palace Hotel:

Gold vending machine in Emirates Palace lobby:

Etihad Towers, the exciting new development housing my hotel and a new luxury mall (as if the Gulf needed another):

Flying British Airways New York – Abu Dhabi

My friends know no trip is complete without me documenting the meal service…

Pre-flight dinner in the British Airways Lounge at JFK:

Dinner JFK-London:

Lunch on London – Abu Dhabi (complete with bright beetroot hummus):

London – New York breakfast:

From one 747-400 to another on a rainy morning at Heathrow:

Abu Dhabi International Airport:

Reflections of New York

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”
-Joan Didion

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Around London

It was a spectacular weekend to be in London with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s! A few photos from around town:

“Search for Enlightenment” at One Hyde Park, the fabulously expensive and coveted development in Knightsbridge:

The Mandarin Oriental:

Soho Square:

Comptons on Old Compton Street:

Sloane Street:

Belgravia:

National Portrait Gallery:

British Airways JFK-LHR-JFK

My obligatory meal shots from flying with British Airways this week:

JFK-LHR 747:

LHR-JFK 777:

Keep The Lights On

I have such ADD that I rarely watch films. But this week I saw a screening of Ira Sachs’ “Keep The Lights On” — hosted by Out Professionals — in advance of its New York and LA opening next week, and I was gripped. I simply have not been able to shut up about it since.

The film mirrors so much of the story told by Sachs’ ex-boyfriend Bill Clegg in Portrait of an Addict, the story of their relationship and Clegg’s descent into crack addiction. Far more than a gay drama, though, the beautifully shot film seems a universal story of confusion and obsession in love. The music, by Arthur Russell, is haunting and perfect. The last ten minutes of the film is perhaps one of the most incredible sequences every shot; I promise you’ll go to bed contemplating what happened with the lead characters, Erik and Paul!

Summer in Maine

It wouldn’t be summer without North Haven — my 30th year there! — and this week’s trip was nothing short of spectacular!

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Saying goodbye at dawn:

Hurricane Island

One day in Maine last week, we took a boat trip to nearby Hurricane Island, a remote quarrying site that once boasted a community of 1,000 and that vanished literally overnight in the early 20th century. Its granite riches helped build some of the most impressive structures in the Northeast, including the Custom House in New York, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston.

View from the top:

Relics of the past:

Family time in Maine

Contrary to what one might think based on my tendencies to be a wanderlust, I do have a family and I do see them occasionally! This weekend the whole gang got together in Maine and had a great time…

My incredibly cute niece and nephew playing with their soon-to-be-eaten lobster:

My nieces:

Boys will be boys…my nephews:

With my sister-in-law in my new floppy hat:

My brother and sister-in-law:

Flying Icelandair

Yesterday I flew Icelandair from Paris-Reykjavik-New York (Why not? Air France was full and transiting via a rock in the North Atlantic makes for a fun story!). It turned out to be a blast!

Here’s their 757 Saga Class cabin:

CDG-KEF routing:

Lunch service CDG-KEF:

Approaching Keflavik Airport:

Keflavik Airport:

Keflavik Airport Saga Lounge:

Local treats in the lounge:

Appetizer from KEF-JFK:

Dinner service, KEF-JFK:

Bastille Day 2012

One of my newer travel traditions is Bastille Day in Paris – and once again, it did not disappoint as jets screamed over the city at frighteningly low altitude:

Hotel de Ville (city hall) after the parade:

Jardin des plantes (botanical gardens):

Institut du monde arabe (Arab World Institute):

Centre Pompidou:

Luxembourg Garden:

Left Bank shop:

The super cool big board at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport:

Flying Qatar Airways

I love Gulf airlines and this trip opted for Qatar Airways for my trip from New York to Thailand and Vietnam. Added bonus: Qatar has fifth freedom rights to fly passengers between Bangkok and Hanoi, and I jumped aboard that quick 90-minute hop. Quite simply, it was spectacular. The airline far exceeds the experience its “World’s 5 Star Airline” slogan promises.

Doha Airport:

Doha main terminal lounge:

Doha Premium Terminal:

Onboard:

Incredible staff:

Lovely food:

Vietnamese cuisine

I was always convinced that the best Vietnamese food was found in Paris; it turns out Vietnamese food in Vietnam is pretty darn good, as well:

Hanoi, Vietnam

Like many younger Americans, my image of Vietnam was shaped not by a war I wasn’t alive for, but by a TV show I loved – “China Beach“! So, quite frankly, I didn’t know quite what to expect when I was landed in the capital of Vietnam this week as part of my 30th birthday extravaganza. I ended up falling in love with Hanoi – a place whose frenetic pace seemed calmed by its wealth of French colonial architecture and gorgeous lakes and parklands.

Approaching Hanoi from Bangkok, the views were spectacular — and made one wonder how a war was ever fought in this terrain:

If you’re going to stay in Hanoi, it absolutely must be at the famous Metropole Hotel. It was a spectacular retreat from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, and so rich with history (who doesn’t love a bunker under the pool bar?).

The incredible Presidential Palace, once home of the governor-general of French Indochine, and then of Ho Chi Minh (though he refused to live here, opting instead for what might pass for a shack in the backyard).

Speaking of Ho Chi Minh, there is no escaping the lingering memory of the revolutionary leader. Here is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where we got to stand 15 feet from the man’s embalmed body, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which told the story of the Vietnamese people’s revolt against colonial influence.

There’s no denying the French built this city; the Hanoi Opera House is modeled after the Palais Garnier in Paris, and one church looks rather like Notre Dame. N’est pas?

National Museum:

The gentleman who showed me around Hanoi on his cyclo (aka bicycle rickshaw):

Bikes, bikes, everywhere!

More photos of Hanoi

St. Regis Bangkok

Bangkok is a luxury hotel lover’s dream. There are so many options, and they are all affordable by global standards. This trip I decided to stay at the new St. Regis Bangkok, overlooking the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. It was simply amazing!

A very comfortable room:

A very comfortable room with a view:

A lovely birthday surprise delivered by my personal butler!

Views of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club from the bar:

Rooftop infinity pool:

Bangkok at Night

Forget New York; Bangkok is really the city that never sleeps.

Sixty stories above the city, at the Banyan Tree’s open-air bar:

Silom Road, bustling at all hours:

A (relatively) quiet side street:

The gay bars of Silom Soi 4:

Bangkok

Most people take a love-it or hate-it attitude toward Bangkok. It reminds me of Steinbeck’s opener to Cannery Row: it’s “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” It is complete chaos, but fascinating. If you want an Asian experience, you can have it. If you want a purely Western experience, you can find that, too. You can do nothing, or everything. It’s also the most convenient jumping-off point for exploring Southeast Asia, so I dropped in for a few days during my 30th birthday week travels.

Lumphini Park, where I attempted to run despite the swampy climate:

Jim Thompson House:

Wat Arun:

The contrasts of Bangkok:

The last photo ever taken of me as a 20-something (do I look terrified?):

Around Vancouver

The new CB2 on Robson Street, part of the new PaPa development, formerly home to Kimpton’s Pacific Palisades hotel (and my own home in Vancouver for longer than I can remember).

The Shangri-La, Vancouver’s tallest tower (and best hotel, of course):

A little art outside the Shangri-La:

With my friend James for a leisurely afternoon of libations atop the Oasis:

Vancouver Sun Run

I’ve been a slouch in the running department all winter, but that didn’t stop me from continuing my annual spring tradition of doing the Vancouver Sun Run. It was my slowest time in seven years – but I survived! The Sun Run has one of the best courses anywhere – winding through downtown streets, Stanley Park, across two bridges, and with the most amazing views of mountains and the sea. It’s a runner’s must-do.

Here’s the start, looking east down Georgia Street to the 50,000 runners!



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