travel

Umbrellas in the Sky

Yesterday, as I was about to venture out into a soggy NYC evening–sans umbrella, of course–an art exhibit I’d seen photos of popped into my head.

In ГЃgueda, Portugal, rows of colorful umbrellas hang over a walkway creating a whimsical, rainbow canopy. The installation is part of the AgitaguedaВ art festival. I wish I could take a stroll beneath it (on a sunny day, of course)!

colorful umbrellas

colorful umbrellas

colorful umbrellas

colorful umbrellas

(Photos by Patricia Almeida via This Is Colossal)

Gravity-Defying Pools

Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao's indoor swimming pool

I’m not a great swimmer and I don’t love heights (though I’ve tried to conquer that fear by doing things like leaping off the Macau Tower). But I think I could muster up the courage to spend some timeВ in theВ Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao‘s swimming pool, pictured above. As you can see, part of it extends over the edge of the hotel–24 stories off the ground–and has a glass bottom, so swimmers are literally floating above the city. I imagine this must be especially thrilling at night, when Shanghai is lit up below.

The Atlantic has more pools in the sky here; scroll to the bottom to check out a truly terrifying shot of Devil’s Pool in Victoria Falls. As much as I’d love a shot of me in that guy’s place, I really don’t think I could do it!

Would you swim in one of these pools?

(Photo via The Atlantic)

Which Passport Stamp Are You Most Proud Of?

 

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Speaking of Budget Travel, the site just published another slideshow that got me thinking. The editors asked readers which passport stamp they were most proud of and compiled their answers into a slideshow. Looking through the responses was fascinating–and it gave me travel envy! People had been to Burma, Tunisia, Cuba, Nepal…even Pyongyang!

While reading the slideshow, I debated which of my passport stamps I was most proud of. My China visa has a special place in my heart. Both of my parents were born in NYC, but all my grandparents are from China. I’d always dreamed of going there, and was thrilled when I finally had the chance to visit Beijing and Shenzhen, three years ago. (Plus, I had a hard time getting that visa. I foolishly listed my occupation as a writer and I had to convince–beg–the visa office that I wouldn’t write anything bad about the country before they granted me one.)

I also love my Bolivia stamp for a few reasons. Before spending two weeks there in 2010, I really worked to learn basic Spanish phrases. English isn’t widely spoken there and I was sick of feeling like a dumb American in Latin America. (Previously, I’d bumbled my way through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.) But by the time I got to Bolivia, I felt comfortable ordering in restaurants, bargaining in markets and taking micros (passenger vans) by myself. Also: the Salar de Uuyni and Bolivia’s southwestern deserts are among the most gorgeous, surreal places I’ve ever seen.

But I finally decided that I’m most proud of my Australia visa from 2003. I went to the Land Down Under as a 20-year-old college senior. It was my first time out of the country and, to this day, I’m amazed I had the balls to do that. I went from dorming with my best friends and never being farther than a few hours from my family to living halfway around the world where I knew no one. While in Australia, I experienced things completely foreign to me–like camping in the Outback, seeing stars, hiking canyons, sailing and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. (Reminder: I grew up in Queens.) That trip also instilled a deep wanderlust in me–which I clearly haven’t shaken!

What’s your favorite passport stamp?

(Image via Pinterest)

Spy Gadgets That Can Improve Your Vacation

As one of my old bosses would say, here’s a bit of shameless self-promotion: I recently wrote a BudgetTravel.com piece about spy gadgets that are surprisingly useful on vacations. (It’s tied to the a new Bond movie that’s coming out–who doesn’t want to travel like him?) Below are my favorite products from the story, but check them all out here.

chloe hoodie

Clothing that conceals your valuables in numerous hidden pockets. (The slideshow displays a photo of one of the men’s options, but I personally like the Chloe hoodie above.)

Hammacher Schlemmer camera

A tiny camera for capturing surrepititious shots.

peeble watches

Watches that sync with your smartphone and alert your to emails, calls, texts and more.

(Also, another recent story I wrote for TravelandLeisure.com about America’s most popular zoos–check it out, especially if you love animal photos!)

Would You Live in a Water Tower?

I’m going to answer my own question: Yes. Absolutely. But only if said water tower looked like this:

converted water tower

Tom Dixon, a British design and manufacturing company, converted a 60-foot water tower, in North Kensington, London, into a gorgeous apartment. It has three floors complete with a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and (sigh of envy) a roof terrace. It’s going for $3,900 a month–which, scarily, isn’t too bad if you compare it to NYC prices for similarly sized digs.

I love how the big windows lets lots of light into the space:

converted water tower

converted water tower

converted water tower

converted water tower

There are tons of water towers in NYC. I’m wondering when someone will convert one into a luxury apartment here on this side of the pond!

converted water tower

(Photos via Gizmag, via Architizer; thanks to Shawn for introducing me to the link)

Postcards from Nowhere

Here’s a Kickstarter I wish I had gotten in on earlier: On June 1, Brooklyn-based photogs Andrew Kenney and Jake Jones took off on 3-month road trip through each of the lower 48 states. Along the way, they’re shooting lots of pictures and printing and sending postcards from each state to the people who backed them via Kickstarter.

While it’s too late to sign up to receive postcards now, you can follow their journey and see their gorgeous photos on their website and Facebook page. Here’s a sampling:

wyoming

Wyoming

nebraska

Nebraska

idaho

Idaho

new jersey

New Jersey

You can also preorder sets of blank postcards–which they’ll ship to you in September, once they’re back in NYC after their journey.

(Photos via Postcards from Nowhere’s Facebook page; found via Afar)

The Museum Of London’s LomoWall

The Olympics start tomorrow and I’m so excited. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I never watch sports. But every two years, I find myself glued to the Olympics, watching and reading about athletes and events that I could care less about at any other time.

I’m not lucky enough to be in London during the Games, but if I were, I’d definitely check out the new LomoWall at the Museum of London. The mosaic spans more than 213 feet and is comprised of nearly 30,000 photos that amateur photographers from around the world shot on film. (Yup, actual film!) The theme was “inspiring and achieving in London’s Olympic Year” and includes images of Britain’s Paraolympians training for the games.

The Lomography site has some cool shots depicting the wall’s construction:

lomowall, london

lomowall, london

lomowall, london

lomowall, london

It kind of makes me want to go out and shoot some photos on a manual camera!

(All photos via Lomography)