In 2016, my travels took me to Anguilla, Bulgaria, Chile, England, Italy, and Mexico. I had some unforgettable adventures, including hiking the W Trek in Patagonia and cycling through Puglia, Italy. I saw amazing art not only in galleries and museums but also on city streets and in the midst of mother nature withChristo’s “Floating Piers” on Lake Iseo. I sunbathed on beautiful beaches and visited numerous cities: Chicago, Lecce, London, Matera, Mexico City, Milan, Ostuni, Santiago, Sofia, and Teotihuacan (once a flourishing pre-Colombian city now a vast archeological complex). I ate amazing meals, both at home and abroad.
TOP 6 TRAVEL EXPERIENCES OF 2016:
Walking across Lake Iseo, Italy on Christo’s, “Floating Piers” – This was my top moment in 2016 for many reasons, not the least of which it was a once-in-a-life-time experience. The installation was up for only two weeks and I had the privilege to interview Christo about it in his New York studio a few months before it opened. To read more about my visit to the “Floating Piers” check out my piece in the HuffPost: Walking On Water: Why I Loved The Crowds at Christo’s Floating Piers. Here is a link to my Q&A with Christo in American Way and a piece I wrote about the installation in ArtInfo.
Hiking to Torres del Paine, Chile – the three granite towers after which the national park is named. We were nearly running uphill to make sure to get there before the clouds moved in and obscured the towers. As you can see on the photo below, the tallest of the three is already enshrouded in clouds. Sitting there, exhausted after 3.5 hours of hiking, basking in the sun with the stunning view of the towers and the glacial lake in front of them was exhilarating and awe-inspiring.
Walking through the ancient stone town of Matera (Sassi di Matera), Italy – a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. The stone dwellings are built into the cliffs one on top of the other. Walking up and down the tiny pathways with the church bells chiming every 15 minutes, I felt like I’d been transported back in time.
Seeing the “The Last Supper,” Italy – Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece is in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan (see photo below). A maximum of 25 people are allowed to enter the room every 15 minutes to regulate the temperature for the preservation of the painting. I was there with a group of only 8 people. It was a truly spiritual moment to stand in the middle of the room where the master painted the painting and to take in its beauty and power in the surroundings where it was intended to be experienced.
Biking through the olive groves of Puglia accompanied by the loud pulsating hum of the cicadas was at once meditative and exhilarating. Time seemed to lose meaning and I found myself truly in the moment. The effect was heightened by the knowledge that some of the trees we were passing had been standing there for a thousand years (the bigger the trunk the older the tree). Read my essay about it in Barron’s Penta.
Walking through the archeological complex of Teotihuacan north of Mexico City. It was amazing to experience this vast complex in the oppressive heat of the day and get an inkling of what life was like when it was a flourishing pre-Colombian city. Climbing on top of one of the pyramids and taking in the entire scene was breathtaking.
In addition to Christo’s “Floating Piers” on Lake Iseo, Italy, I also enjoyed numerous murals that I encountered on the streets of New York (read more about it here) and Santiago, Chile (read more about it here).
Patagonia was spectacular and walking the W Trek was an amazing adventure. I wrote about my experience there in Barron’s Penta (the article will come out next week).
I keep going back to the island of Anguilla in the Caribbean. It’s hard not to return to the powdery sand, the warm turquoise water, the secluded empty beach, the spectacular sunsets and the great food. The beaches in Puglia were awfully crowded but that’s to be expected in Italy. And since I was there on a bike trip, a quick break at the beach was always welcome, even if I had to struggle walking over pebbles in some places to get to the water.
I had amazing meals around the world but if I have to pick my favorite place in terms of the food, I’d have to go with Italy and Chile.