Faux Inflatable Ducks

Remember that amazing, giant inflatable rubber duck that was hanging out in Sydney Harbor a while back? It’s still making its way around the world—Florentijn Hofman’s sculpture also made a stop in Hong Kong this year:

duck_hong kong 1

duck_hong kong 2

(How I wish I could have seen it in my second favorite city!)

But the funny thing is, since then,В China’s knockoff industry has been churning out look-a-like ducks. Though Chinese officials aren’t thrilled about that, at least 10 replicas have been spotted inВ Wenzhou

Visitors look at a scaled replica of the rubber duck by Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman as employees try to pull it upright on a lake at a park in Shenyang

Shanghai…

A scaled replica of the "Rubber Duck" by Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman is seen along a street next to a vendor waiting for customers in Shanghai

and Luoyang, to name a few places.

A labourer walks in water after setting up a scaled replica of the rubber duck, by Dutch conceptual artist Hofman, on an artificial lake in Luoyang

I’m wondering how many more are floating (ha) around out there!

(Top two photos viaВ Florentijn Hofman; bottom three by Reuters via Atlantic Cities)

Pig Beach

It’s a good thing I didn’t know about Big Major Cay a few months ago. Because otherwise, I might have ended up there, instead of Eleuthera.

Located in the Exumas, an archipelago of 365 cays and islands in the Bahamas, Big Major Cay is also known as “Pig Beach.”В This tiny island is uninhabited—except for a group of feral pigs. No one knows how they got there, but when boats approach, they swim out to greet them—and beg for food.

I wouldn’t have minded jumping in and swimming with these guys!

big major cay

Cat Island, Pig Beach…who knew the Bahamas were such a haven for animal lovers?

(Photo by cdorobek via Wikipedia; thanks to Mal and Peter for this amazing find!)

Fall Travel Fantasies

For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling “meh”—struggling to feel excited about anything, bored with my everyday routine. (Well, except for ballet—the sole bright spots.) Looking at my calendar, and counting down to some upcoming, fun summer events, helped a bit. But the looming shadow of fall and the endless weeks filled with the same old routine just seemed overwhelmingly depressing.

It took me a while to realize I’ve gotten stuck in a rut.

A non-traveling rut.

Last year, at my old job, I had five weeks of vacation—plus five summer Fridays—and I used every single one of those days. At this time, one year ago, I’d already spent a week inВ Panama, had a girls’ weekend inВ Chicago, another one inВ Boston, tookВ a three-day running trip, and was taking lots of three-day weekends to visit Mal and Peter inВ Maryland. Plus, I had two weeks inВ GuatemalaВ on the horizon.

I’ve just realized that this year is half-over and I’ve only taken three days to go toВ Eleuthera. And I have no big trip planned for the fall. Part of this is due to having a new job and far fewer vacation days, and feeling hesitant to take any. But I’ve realized that because of this, I’ve been reading less travel articles, daydreaming less about where to go next—and dragging myself down, as a result.

My blog tagline pretty much sums me up: I love travel, ballet and my hometown of NYC. I need them all in a way that’s hard to articulate and, I assume, difficult for other people to understand,В unless they feel the same way about something. I can’t be without any of the three for an extended amount of time without feeling off. (When it comes to travel, I don’t need to go far or spend tons of money—if that were the case, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere during the last 10 years. I just need to goВ somewhere…every few weeks, if possible!)

So yesterday, I decided to pull myself out of my travel rut. I decided I would definitely plan a fall trip—even if it ends up being another solo journey. And IВ started to think about all the places I could explore. I took a Chile travel guide off my bookshelf and read it on the subway. (I’ve still yet to go there.) Just envisioning Torres del Paine and Parque NacionalВ Los Glaciares lifted my spirits. And since then, I’ve felt more energized and optimistic than I have in ages.

Pretty amazing what a little determination and positive thinking can do.

torres del paine

…if you have any ideas about where I should go, please let me know! I’m still figuring it out and would love some suggestions.

(Torres del Paine photo byВ Steffen Sauder via Wikitravel)

Runways of the World

This is pretty astounding.

Using data from ourairports.com, James Davenport,В a Ph.D. candidate in astronomy at the University of Washington, plotted the locations of 45,132 runways around the world. The result: a map of the world.В (I know it’s a little hard to see, so please click on the image to view the high res version.)

airports of the world

As Davenport puts it:

Think about that number for a moment: there areВ at leastВ 45,000 places to land an airplane!В These range from small dirt fields to LAX, and the data seems to be more complete in the USA. Still, runways on every continent, seemingly every country.

Incredible!

I wholeheartedly agree.

(Image by James Davenport)

A Week in Africa with Obama

…I’m not there, of course!

But Ari Shapiro,В NPR’s White House correspondent, is. And he’s documenting the trip on his fabulous Tumblr, “Ari in Africa.”В It’s a fascinating (and often funny) behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to travel in the presidential press corps. As Shapiro puts it:

Traveling in the presidential bubble is not exactly tourism. Exotic cities whiz by on streets that have been cleared of traffic. Hours that a tourist might spend wandering museum halls instead tick by in “press filing centers,” which tend to be windowless hotel ballrooms.

Days are booked from early in the morning until late at night. But if they’re lucky, reporters manage to break away from all that and get a “15-minute vacation”—a real taste of local culture via a meal in a neighborhood joint that hasn’t been prearranged for them, a quick walk on the beach, etc. (As someone who’s been on numerous press tours, I can certainly attest to how precious those moments are—they really make the whole trip worth it!)

Shapiro’s Tumblr has funny insights about reporting from the corps, interesting factoids about Africa, great snapshots of ObamaВ and gorgeous photos from when he can find those “15-minute vacations”—like the one below.

senegal sunset

Definitely check it out, while he—and Obama—are still there.

(Photo by Ari Shapiro via Ari in Africa)

Sara Mearns on Ballet

sara mearns

I’ve been lucky to see three New York City Ballet performances this year (so far!), and in each, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Sara Mearns. The City Ballet principal is one of my favorites. Of course, she has the flawless technique that’s expected at her level. But Mearns has such a commanding presence that it’s hard to watch anyone else when she’s onstage. You can feel the passion and intensity she brings to each role.

That’s why I couldn’t help but smile when I read how she candidly described her relationship with ballet, in this NY Times article:

Not many people know what it feels like to be so in love with something—more than yourself, or more than anybody else. It’s very scary at times, but it’s just what it is. Sometimes I don’t even know why I’m so passionate about what I do…I really don’t. It’s kind of scary.

As a dancer (though obviously nowhere near her level!), I find her words so relatable. But I think they hold true, whether or not ballet is your passion. It is frightening to see what passion motivates us to do. But it’s also astounding to see what it can drive you to accomplish.

(Photo via undefined magazine)

Hello, Summer!

leo caillard miami beach hut

I am thrilled that my favorite time of year has officially begun!

This Long Slog seemed especially endless. But now that it’s over, I’m looking forward to all my long-awaited, beloved, hot weather activities: Beach weekends.В Outdoor eating and drinking. (Even just having lunch outside on weekdays, among all the other suits on Park Ave., feels special!)В River tubing.В Sleeping in my un-air conditioned apartment with the windows wide open. Waking up to sunshine—and getting out of ballet at 9 p.m. and still seeing the remains of daylight.

Welcome back, summer—I’ve been waiting all year for you!

(Miami Beach hut photo by Leo Caillard; see the full series of them here. Found via Architizer)