Sunday, May 25, 2008

passport dc...

Matt Lauer concluded his “Where in the World” series today, traveling to five countries in five days. Grueling, but a team of producers, reporters and staff make the trip easier, as Lauer lands and hits the airwaves with all the info he needs. (That corporate jet to take him from country to country helps, too)

Now you, too, can have all of this excitement, adventure, and world travel without the jet lag, airport security, or passport. Thanks to an organization called Cultural Tourism DC, the Embassies of the world are opening their doors to you and yours for an unprecedented behind the scenes experience. Meet the Ambassadors, wander around their stately rooms, witness dance, art and local culture, all without leaving the United States. (I guess that’s not technically right, as each Embassy’s ground is technically their home soil… but you get the idea). Spanning two weeks and 5 continents, this amazing cultural experience will broaden your horizons and allow you to escape on a world tour without worrying about those ever-worsening exchange rates.

Some highlights of Passport DC include:

- Tango lessons at the Argentine Embassy- yes you!

- Drum presentation by one-man-band Okyerema Asante from Ghana who plays 85 instruments and has performed on three world tours with Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon

- Café de Paris serves up pastries with coffee and champagne at the French Embassy

- Peruvian Artisan Marketplace will be selling handmade jewelry, alpaca accessories, traditional pottery, tapestry, and wood and silver pieces

- A live steelpan performance of Calypso music attheEmbassy of Trinidad and Tobago

- Port wine and Portuguese custard tarts served at theEmbassy of Portugal

- Tableau Flamenco at the Spanish Embassy

- and my favorite… The Embassy of Pakistan will turn its courtyard into a traditional Pakistani marketplace featuring antique and modern jewelry, Pakistani dresses, cuisine, and a Henna artist

You will notice all our recommendations seem to center on food, beverages and shopping, but really, is there any better way to get to know a culture than through your stomach and your wallet? Visit the link below for dates, times and all the info you need for some world travel!

Bon voyage.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

train travel...

I will get the rare chance to travel by train this weekend, and am wishing it was so much more common a mode of transportation for Americans. Why is our rail system so under used?

My first experience with a train trip was as a child, traveling in Europe with the entire family. I will never forget it… after flying into Paris for the Christmas holidays and spending a few days, we were traveling to Strasbourg on the German border for some snowy days exploring the town. In preparation for the trip from Paris to Strasbourg, I was allowed to go to a traditional French patisserie and buy provisions for the entire family. I bought what any young girl would buy when presented with breads and treats of all sorts- tarts. The most gorgeous strawberry and raspberry tarts with a shinny glaze and pistachios dashed here and there were tied neatly in a white cardboard box with twine. I carried the box like a treasure to the station and held it carefully in my lap until we were allowed to open it.

The train was as exciting to me as the tarts. My entire family found a box to ourselves with two bench seats facing each other and a door to close it off. I thought surely only princesses traveled like this, in private boxes on romantic trains heading through snowy fields. I had no idea the entire train was made of boxes, and to the locals, it probably signaled an old, out of date train. To me, it was heaven. As soon as Paris faded into the distance and the snowy white fields opened up ahead, I was allowed to untie the strings on my delicious package of pastries and share them with everyone around. To this day, French tarts make me think of an exciting voyage- a romantic means of travel.

My travel this weekend is slightly less romantic- DC to New York City- but will be a break from the usual hustle and bustle of airport security, turnpikes and interstates. I can open a book, have a coffee, and take in the scenery. It’s like stepping into another place, or another time perhaps. Here’s hoping that one day we all travel this way.

I’m taking the new chocolate leather carry-on for this voyage. Here's what's in in the bag below…

Scarf- I never travel without a scarf. If its chilly (or dirty) or I need a pillow, it cant be beat. It also adds a bit of flair to my outfit when I step off the plane or train looking less than perfect.

Tunic- Nothing is more comfortable for traveling than a breezy, loose tunic. It covers, its comfortable, and its oh-so chic. I’m wearing this one from Virginia Johnson with my denim trousers for a casual, comfortable, but polished look.

Flats- I never travel in heels. Whether hoping on a train, schlepping through security, or dragging a suitcase in and out of taxis, chic flats are the only way to go. I love these snakeskin ballets.

Chocolate Leather Carry On- This gorgeous pebbled leather bag holds everything I need for a weekend trip, plus all the amenities needed for the actual traveling. Essential interior pockets keep me organized and keep my smaller items from falling beneath mounds of clothes. An optional shoulder strap helps out when I get tired, too.

What’s in the carry on?

I’m never without my moleskin diary, perfect for jotting thoughts, keeping track of phone numbers, or sketching new design ideas for our emerging line of dresses. I also keep a beverage on hand. I’m addicted to Orangina (its so refreshing!) and the glass bottles keep my conscience happy with all the news of the perils of plastic bottles! I reuse it by filling it with water to drink, or with olive oil to serve at parties. I’m bringing along a big stack of Cerulean Spring catalogs for all my friends I will see, and the latest book I’m reading, Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I might be the last woman on the planet to read this best seller (things have been busy lately, ok?) but nothing is better than a good book about not just travel, but a journey.

Happy travels.