Category: Travel

Hive Mind: Please recommend your favorite travel and travel-related books!

Brisky's in Micanopy, FL
Booooks!!! I need your booooooks!

Dear Hive Mind:

I have just scored the dreamiest dream job a travel writer could every hope for: I’m curating a travel library for a cultural center abroad. I have been a dedicated reader of travel literature since I could crack open a book. I have crates filled with travelogues, travel photography tomes and journals of expeditions. If I could have Wade Davis’s One River tattooed directly into my brain, I would.

But, no one person can know everything. Which is why I’m doing an open call for your suggestions. Do you have have a favorite classic travelogue a la Travels with Charley? A book of photography that conveys a sense of journey or exploration, like Robert Frank’s Peru? Do you rely on a particular shopping or design tome to big cities that you think is essential to understanding a place — like Gestalten’s Berlin Design Guide?

My focus will be on the Americas and Europe, with other smaller categories to include subjects such as architecture, art, shopping, photography and food and drink. I am taking any and all suggestions — from how-to manuals on travel photography to sensational accounts of epic journeys. If it’s even tangentially related to travel and you think its good, then I want to know about it!!

There is only one rule: no fiction.

Please leave your suggestions below! I will review each and every one. And I’ll be deeply grateful that you took the time to help me out.

Thanks, as always, for reading C-Mon.

xox,
C.

Miscellany. 10.22.12.


Cuzco’s Plaza Mayor at sunset, with a view of the Compañía de Jesus church. (Photo by C-M.)

Photo Diary: Saint James and the Inca.

After a couple of weeks back in the U.S., I’m still trying to shift my brain from the Andes back to California. But one of the many pieces of art that keeps occupying space at the top of my brain is the above sculpture of Saint James, at the Casa Garcilaso in Cuzco. The saint, one of the Twelve Apostles, is frequently depicted slaying a Moor. (Though he was beheaded in Jerusalem in AD 44, legend has it that Saint James appeared to fight on the side of the Christians in a Christians-versus-Moors face-off in Spain exactly 800 years later — hence the image.)

But in the sculpture above, Saint James (Santiago, in Spanish) is shown slaying an Inca. The piece above is a replica of a sculpture from a church in the Apurimac region, which lies west of Cuzco. Unfortunately, the wall text provided little in the way of specifics — such as a date when it may have been made or if this was a common motif of the era. My semi-educated guess is that it was made at some point in the 18th century or thereabouts. Whatever the specifics, this surely has to be one of the most moving pieces of art I saw during my trip…

The Casa Garcilaso-Museo Histórico Regional is located on the Plaza Regocijo. It is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 8am to 5pm. Entrance for foreigners is with the boleto turístico.

C-Mon Giveaway Extravaganza: LP New York City.

Hey Folks:

My latest travel tome (co-authored with the very awesome Brandon Presser and Cristian Bonetto) is now out, and it covers none other than NYC. I wrote the sections on Brooklyn, the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Central Park and Harlem. (Charles Pan-Fried Chicken, FTW!!!) It also contains what has to be the single best hotel review I’ve ever penned in my life:

Hotel Williamsburg: This hipster hotel on the fringes of Williamsburg was a work in progress at press time, and like the second Death Star in the Empire Strikes Back, not fully operational. (It opened, behind schedule, in late 2011.) It’s insufferably chic, with tiny, minimalist rooms with glass-walled bathrooms — a stunning opportunity to see your traveling companion on the pooper. There is a large pool surrounded by design-conscious loungers, a too-cool-for school vinyl library, two bars and a restaurant. Overall an attractive spot, but pricey given the less-than-convenient location.

Thank god for Lonely Planet, ‘cuz those aren’t the sort of details you can get in the luxury rags. Credit for the Star Wars joke goes to my partner-in-crime, Celso, who is always handy with a turn of phrase. In the meantime, this handy little guide (a $20 value) could be yours for F-R-E-E. Just leave a comment below.

xox,
C.

Going Gangnam in Lima.

A follow-up to the post about Korean haircuts in Cuzco: Today, we went to Polvos Azules, a sprawling warehouse market in downtown Lima where you can buy everything from brass knuckles to porcelain elephants to fake Hollister T-shirts. We were there to pick up some bootleg cumbias and a Peru shirt that glows in blacklight. The digital section of the market (my favorite part) is a Blade Runner-esque array of large-screen TVs all blaring dubbed movies, ultraviolent video games and lots and lots of incredibly loud music. The most popular video? The K-pop ditty Gangnam Style, above.

Seriously, I would pay for cable TV if I knew that one of the channels was nothing but K-pop videos.

Andean roads that look like a Brice Marden painting.

On the Chilean side of the border, near the crossing with Argentina at Los Libertadores. The best part is that the movie playing on the bus at this very moment was an end-of-the-world flick titled The Darkest Hour. Because there’s nothing like  contemplating the end of humanity while on a bus in the Andes making hairpin turns.