Travel

18 Stories


NeueLoves: Travel — Lisbon, Portugal

Photography: Andrew Rowat

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Oh the Places You’ll Go

Photography: Lisbon, Portugal by Andrew Rowat for AFAR Magazine

Brian Park: Myanmar

The Road to Mandalay

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As a photographer, I’ve seen a lot of the world, but the most incredible place I’ve been so far is Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country formally known as Burma. Myanmar had only recently opened its doors to tourism, yet the people were incredibly friendly, genuine, and open to outsiders. They were curious about my intrusion into their world, yet unafraid of a camera pointing at them. I never felt like a walking dollar sign, and was barely hassled which allowed a much greater appreciation of the country’s beauty.

 

Despite Myanmar’s limited infrastructure and technical advancements, my journey took me through the cities and areas of Yangon, Bago, Mandalay, and Bagan which I accessed by way of the Irrawaddy River. Although my itinerary covered much of the country, I cannot wait to return to see the very same places and more. For me, visiting Myanmar renewed the very act of seeing, renewed my vision, and thus sparked my love for photography even deeper.

Brian Park

LEFT: Bustling Yangon city street.

 

RIGHT: Burmese man wearing a longyi in Yangon returning from a street market.

 

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I took a long boat ride on the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Bagan. The river is famously known as “The Road to Mandalay” and written about in Rudyard Kiplings poem “Mandalay.”

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LEFT: My first interaction with the locals as I walked on to the streets. These smiling street vendors made me feel welcome right away on my first night in Yangon having just landed and checked into my hotel.

 

RIGHT: I visited Myanmar when it was still monsoon season. It started to pour very heavily and this kind woman let me take refuge in her covered home. She was so beautiful and charming all the while chain smoking.

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Bathers in Bagan. There is limited electricity all over Myanmar which makes dusk scenes all the more lovely and pure as the cool evening sets in.

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LEFT: Climbing the temples in Bagan is necessary for any good views of the region. This view down shows the lack of tourist infrastructure like hand rails. The experience is no different than if you were a monk in the 12th century.

 

RIGHT: Bagan at the height of its kingdom was a land of over 10,000 temples, of which only around 2,000 remain. It is wonderful to navigate through the maze of big and not so obvious temples throughout the region. Some are restricted to enter or climb now that tourism is on the rise.

 

Photography: Brian Park for NeueJournal

Whisper In
The Waves

Julie Gilhart & Danny Fuller on Art & Surfing

Artwork by Doug Inglish

Pro surfer and image-maker Danny Fuller and Julie Gilhart, fashion advisor and occasional wave-rider, contemplate mother nature’s pull and the second life in fatherhood.

 

JULIE GILHART: Besides being a professional surfer, you’re an incredible photographer and artist. Do you consider yourself equal parts surfer and artist? Do you resonate more with one practice than the other?

 

DANNY FULLER: Well, over the course of my experiences, I’ve realized that my existence in relationship with the ocean is a life force for me. I’m using the natural elements to enact a painterly performance, and it’s continuing that same relationship or existence I have with the ocean that goes directly into my work. I guess there has always been some kind of underlying artistic qualities there, but I didn’t really know where they were or what I wanted to do with them. So I guess I’m definitely a surfer-artist. I’m just trying to gather inspiration from every possible form.

 

JG: Would you say that your surfing informs your art? Where does your inspiration come from?

 

DF: When I first moved to Los Angeles, people thought I was absolutely crazy, but I was there by choice. I was making sacrifices for my own personal experiences or my career, whatever that may have been at the time, and I was in search of experience and new horizons. I real- ized when we were living in New York City full time just how dependent I was on the ocean. The ocean has given me everything in my life and continues to keep me bal- anced. I believe it’s a healing and powerful life force that can enrich our lives in many different ways. I’ve been very fortunate to live that existence.

 

JG: What are you are you working on now?

 

DF: My mom’s been really sick. So I actually had an opportunity to do another show and I decided to turn it down. I just wanted to make sure that every- thing that I do, or touch, or put out there, is the best it can possibly be. I felt like I was just really forcing it in terms of making art, so I decided to take a step back, which I’m glad for. I was traveling all over the world to foreign countries and shooting my surroundings: the people, the culture, the land- scape. I did that for years, and found myself modeling a bit here and there. I actually hated being a model, but I was definitely interested in the artistic form of photography. I was exposed to so many great fashion photographers and they were all very kind and willing to share insight with me. That’s really what got me through the day. Over the course of the last year, my work has just kind of evolved. You’ve been to a few of my shows, including my last show, “Meditation on Blue,” and seen how the work has progressed.

 

JG: You describe the beginnings—shooting photographs of all the great places you were when you were surfing—but your art is much more than that. It’s so developed. Obviously you have an internal talent for art. It’s funny that you hesitated to have this show, because one of the big things in surfing is hesitation. You never hesitate. It’s a different experience in surfing. How would you describe that?

 

DF: There’s so many different dynamics to my existence. I came from a pretty heavy upbringing. Surfing on the North Shore, there was a lot of violence.

Thank God for my travels, and for just getting out there and meeting other people, to change my perspective on things. It’s hard to say. It’s all one existence, ultimately, and I’m constantly searching for new inspiration and trying to evoke or recreate that same feeling that I’m having while I’m in the ocean. I want to be removed from my present state of consciousness.

 

JG: Has having a daughter changed the way you approach surfing? I know that you surf those crazy big waves—are you more cautious now?

 

DF: Nothing has really changed in a sense. Unfortunately for me I’ve witnessed a lot of fatal experiences with personal friends. There’s a lot of ego and jealousy that can happen when you’re a professional athlete, people who want to be “The Guy,” or be on the biggest waves. When I was kid, I was very arrogant, and I wanted to be “The Guy” as much as anybody else. I experienced some- body dying before me, and that’s changed my entire approach. I realized that I needed to be doing these things because I wanted to do them for myself and nobody else. And at the end of the day, no matter what, I would never want to leave my wife and daughter behind. But I guess a life insurance pol- icy would be good. It’s interesting now, having a child, it’s as if everything I’ve ever had before was for my own personal journey in life. And then, suddenly, everything that I’ve experienced in my life was really just to prepare for this moment—the moment of becoming a father. It’s prepared me for everything I’ve gone through in order for me to be able to sculpt this little human.

 

Photography: Doug Inglish for NeueJournal

SURFING IN IRAN

Easkey Britton & Taylor Steele

Artwork by Robert Gallagher | NeueJournal Issue 1

Easkey Britton, the first female pro surfer to hit the waves in Southeastern Iran, meets legendary surf-filmmaker Taylor Steele.

 

 

TAYLOR STEELE: Where you at now?

 

EASKEY BRITTON: I’m actually in Maui, a long way from home. My body isn’t really adjusting to the climate here, although I’m excited all the same.

 

TS: You spend a lot of time in Hawaii?

 

EB: No. It’s a convenient stopover. I was actually in Papua New Guinea just a couple of weeks ago working on a surf community development project. I’m going to California next week so I figured I’d be flying over Hawaii. Why not stop in Maui? It’s not a bad place to rest.

 

TS: I watched the movie Into the Sea last night. It was interesting to see Iranian culture, and the way that girls there are limited in the activities they are allowed to do. It was really inspiring to watch the film and understand what you’re doing. I loved it. What made you decide to go to Iran?

Into the Desert copy

 

EB: I think it comes from the fact that my family is quite pioneering, and my dad was one of the first surfers in Ireland. Hearing his stories of adventure has always instilled in me the desire to travel and explore unknown places. My dad is not a fan of crowds so we tend to go off the beaten track.

 

The initial impulse to go to Iran in 2010 was just about trying to find waves that had never been surfed before. The initial intention wasn’t to start a surfing revolution. At the time, I didn’t think about what it might mean to be a woman surfing in Iran. Surfing was a cool way to experience a totally different place.

 

TS: Do you feel like bringing surfing to Iran was met with any kind of hostility or resistance because it was a Western influence?

 

EB: It was important for us to respect Iranian culture. The most important code of conduct for women there who want to play sports is that they have to wear a hijab. I stayed covered up and wore a hijab too. That made a difference in terms of how we were accepted.

 

TS: You handled that well,in the sense that you talked to the community and the leaders of the villages to make them feel comfortable with the whole situation.

 

EB: There are a lot of different power dynamics to consider. I have my own vision and ideals that I’m bringing with me. I have my own background and beliefs. I don’t speak the language so I learned to communicate in other ways.

 

TS: I find that the media makes traveling around the world seem so much scarier than it actually is. When you get there, on a basic level, everybody just wants their friends and families to be safe. In some ways, cultures can be quite similar. Then, of course, there are differences, like religion.

 

EB: Right. That reminds me of the Baluchestan province in Iran, where there’s amazing music but the women aren’t allowed to sing. They are only allowed to sing in private, where a man could never hear them. So, to surf, to be able to dance on waves, seemed significant. What we are doing in Iran is trying to create a dialogue about surfing as a force for social impact.

 

TS: Do you have any plans to go back to Iran?

 

EB: I always find myself being pulled back to Iran. The documentary was filmed in 2013. I went back again last sum- mer to follow up. It was important for me to see what had happened in that year, and how the experience had been for people. Had they made surfing their own thing, had it really caught on? I’m pleased to say that it had.

 

We ran a workshop there with surf lessons and training. We challenged some local guys to teach other people how to surf. After a week they were really enthusiastic and eager to have a competition. More than forty people participated. People got prizes for a particular talent, like the longest wave or best wipeout. Everyone teamed up and shared surfboards. It ended up being a really incredible day. It was important to have events that allowed people to come together and celebrate, while maintaining a sense of achievement. Whenever I go to Iran, I’m always blown away.

 

TS: Do you plan on doing something similar in other countries?

 

EB: There are other people developing great surf programs in places like India and Morocco and Liberia. It’s about trying to connect people in a powerful way, yet it’s very niche and separate from the rest of the surf industry.

 

TS: What are you doing next? What are you working on?

 

EB: Waves of Freedom, our all-volunteer initiative, is only a year old. We believe that the power of surfing can be a medium for social change. I guess that’s our tagline, but what that really means is supporting, in particular, women and girls being able to access and also participate in surfing. In the process, we hope they will explore their own sense of self-expression and freedom, and what that means across different cultures.

 

Really, it’s a tool to connect across cultures, to create greater understanding through surfing, and to promote female role models and leadership. It’s about creating more opportunities.

 

Photography: Robert Gallagher

THE PERFECT CLEAR

Frances McDormand by Brigitte Lacombe

Artwork by Kaari Upson | NeueJournal Issue 1

Brigitte Lacombe and actress Frances McDormand disrobe for a naked swim in a mountain lake.

 

It’s an hour’s walk along a coastal cliff to a spring-fed mountain lake that is ringed by pines and always full. Full of water the color and texture of khaki velvet. It seems imperative to disrobe and be baptized in its clear, mirrored surface. To float, face up and bottom down, no matter the temperature. This photograph was taken in the daylight hours; but to float there on a night lit by a full moon is a gift beyond imagining. I believe that this is the best representation of me that has ever been taken by an eye at a camera.

 

Photography: Brigitte Lacombe for NeueJournal

Cuba: Where to Go Next

The Other Side of Paradise

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With the recent historic ease in travel restrictions for Americans and warming of diplomatic relations like a perfectly chilled mojito in the sun, now is the time to go to Cuba, an island that has captivated our imaginations  — and remained an ever-elusive line on our bucket lists — for years. But what really has changed? How can we get there and what should we see and do?

 

To answer these questions, I e-mailed former classmate and friend of mine, Julia Cooke, author of one of the best new books on Cuba, The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba, and her Brooklyn/Havana–based friend Hannah Berkeley Cohen, whose website Cuba Rising exists to promote “two unrelated facets of the same obsession with Cuba”: travel consulting – she leads custom tours to Cuba ranging from LGBT life to real estate – and photography, mostly of Cuban youth. Collectively, these two young women have been traveling to Cuba for over 17 years – and thus, I knew, must have the secrets any savvy, cosmopolitan traveller would pine for before their first trip to this soulful, communist enclave 90 miles south of the US.

 

Erin Levi: What should we expect when we go to Cuba?

 

Julia Cooke: Exuberance, spontaneity, creativity, sass, in every way: people move through the city in unexpected ways, solve problems with astounding creativity, and there’s a vitality to the arts these days that is really exciting. It’s an unpredictable time, which is exciting.

 

Hannah Berkeley Cohen: The familiar rhetoric of the Cuban neurosurgeon, who, on his nights off, transforms into a taxi driver, earning double his monthly salary in one night, is no longer a mystery to the outside world. Tourists come to Cuba wanting to talk with said taxi driver/neurosurgeon, hear his story of struggle and survival, and offer their help. Yet at the end of their ride in his 1952 Chevy, they ask for a photo with him in front of the car, as they are dropped off at a state-run, air-conditioned, marble-staircase-adorned hotel, able to escape any realities that their cab driver returns home to nightly.

 

Cuba is a mind-fuck of ironies and questions leading to dead ends. Tourists come, hoping to discover an unseen, virgin paradise, yet included in the preconceived package they’re yearning to bring home, are photos of crumbling buildings and snapshots of children running shoeless around Central Havana. The more time one spends in this place, the more questions one knows to ask, recognizing all along, of course, that said questions just lead to more ambiguous questions that no Cuban will know the answer to either.

 

Perhaps this is why Cuba has so many estranged lovers. She is the island of mystery, the island of intrigue. At distinct points in her life, she captivated the lust of the Americans, Soviets, and Venezuelans, but no one ever really stuck around to see what happened the morning after.

With the recent historic ease in travel restrictions for Americans and warming of diplomatic relations (thanks, Obama!) like a perfectly chilled mojito in the sun, now is the time to go to Cuba, an island that has captivated our imaginations  -- and remained an ever-elusive line on our bucket lists -- for years. But what really has changed? How can we get there and what should we see and do?     To answer these questions, I e-mailed former classmate and friend of mine, Julia Cooke, author of one of the best new books on Cuba, The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba, and her Brooklyn/Havana–based friend Hannah Berkeley Cohen, whose website Cuba Rising exists to promote “two unrelated facets of the same obsession with Cuba”: travel consulting – she leads custom tours to Cuba ranging from LGBT life to real estate – and photography, mostly of Cuban youth. Collectively, these two young women have been traveling to Cuba for over 17 years – and thus, I knew, must have the secrets any savvy, cosmopolitan traveller would pine for before their first (legal) trip to this soulful, communist enclave 90 miles south of the US.     What should we expect when we go to Cuba?  Julia: Exuberance, spontaneity, creativity, sass, in every way: people move through the city in unexpected ways, solve problems with astounding creativity, and there’s a vitality to the arts these days that is really exciting. It’s an unpredictable time, which is exciting.     Hannah: The familiar rhetoric of the Cuban neurosurgeon, who, on his nights off, transforms into a taxi driver, earning double his monthly salary in one night, is no longer a mystery to the outside world. Tourists come to Cuba wanting to talk with said taxi driver/neurosurgeon, hear his story of struggle and survival, and offer their help. Yet at the end of their ride in his 1952 Chevy, they ask for a photo with him in front of the car, as they are dropped off at a state-run, air-conditioned, marble-staircase-adorned hotel, able to escape any realities that their cab driver returns home to nightly.     Cuba is a mind-fuck of ironies and questions leading to dead ends. Tourists come, hoping to discover an unseen, virgin paradise, yet included in the preconceived package they’re yearning to bring home, are photos of crumbling buildings and snapshots of small black children running shoeless around Central Havana. The more time one spends in this place, the more questions one knows to ask, recognizing all along, of course, that said questions just lead to more ambiguous questions that no Cuban will know the answer to either.     Perhaps this is why Cuba has so many estranged lovers. She is the island of mystery, the island of intrigue. At distinct points in her life, she captivated the lust of the Americans, Soviets, and Venezuelans, but no one ever really stuck around to see what happened the morning after.  NeueJournal_HannahBerkeleyCohen_CubaWheretoGoNext  How can we get there?  Hannah: There is now one direct flight a week from NYC to HAV, at the low price of just under $900. Americans traveling under a general license can also travel via Tampa or Miami, where combined, there are probably about a dozen flights daily. This is what Cuban-Americans have been doing for years.     Although restrictions have eased, Americans still need a license to travel to Cuba. Can you explain what you offer travelers as a licensed travel consultant?  Hannah: Now […] any American can go under any of the twelve categories that now fall under the guise of the general license (check out the State Deparment’s FAQs re: Cuba). […] The people who travel with me to Cuba get a highly customized, intensive 7-13 days of “ask me anything and we’ll try to find the answer”.  I create and lead all of my tours, [which] are highly customized and small, as in 1-6 people total. […] People who contact me about coming to Cuba already have in mind what they want to focus on [from youth culture to real estate]. It’s up to me to connect them with the people and places that interest them the most, with the end hope that it will lead to a meaningful relationship between Cuban and American.     [Note: as of today this pdf is all jumbled: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf]     What is the cost to travel to Cuba? Are there options for budget to big spenders?  Hannah: My trips start at $4800, with travel costs included from Miami. There are options for much bigger spenders, especially if they’re interested in purchasing art, renting a mansion with a pool and 24-hour cooks, etc. The Fund for Reconciliation and Development has some cheaper options, as well as Cuba Educational Travel, though you’ll be traveling with a larger group and your trip won’t be as customized.     Any favorite hotels?  Julia: I often stay in Havana at Casa Lilly. Lilly is warm and knowledgeable, and her style is great, too.  NeueJournal_HannahBerkeleyCohen_CubaWheretoGoNext  Hannah: We [Hannah and her travelers] stay in gorgeous homes or high-rise apartments with great ocean views. I avoid hotels as much as possible.     Any up-and-coming areas of Havana or favorite neighborhoods?  Julia: I will be spectacularly unoriginal if I say that I love Vedado — everyone loves central, buzzy Vedado, and I am no exception. But if I could live anywhere, it’d be in Nuevo Vedado, which is a bit more secluded in a hill above Vedado. It’s got a lot of phenomenal examples of tropical modern architecture, including my dream house, which I saw eight years ago on an architecture tour of Havana, wrote about years ago, and have not been able to get out of my head since.  NeueJournal_HannahBerkeleyCohen_CubaWheretoGoNext  Cuban cuisine doesn't have the best reputation. Please tell me there’s some good food on the island to be had!  Julia: There are so many amazing restaurants in Havana since the loosened restrictions of the last few years have spurred many hundreds to open. The old ones are La Guarida, La Esperanza, and (new when I lived there, now more of a standby) Atelier. El Cocinero is newer, Ivan Justo, Le Chansonnier, and the patio at La Galeria.     Cuba Absolutely has really good restaurant, bar, and nightlife recommendations in general. They also have a downloadable What's On guide in PDF, which can be downloaded here in the States and consulted while in internet-slim Cuba.     What are some of your favorite spots?  Julia: Patio at Hotel Nacional for coffee/writing; breakfast isn’t as much of a thing in Cuba, so I’d recommend eating at casas; for music or dancing, locals (and I) love the Café Teatro Bertolt Brecht, or the Café Jazz Miramar, or whatever club is hot (five years ago, it was El Túnel, which I hear is still good); for tourist/local people watching while dancing, the Casa de la Musica Miramar.     What's your perfect day in Havana?  Julia: A calm morning of writing, preferably outdoors; my old apartment had a patio that I loved to sit on to write, read, and drink coffee in the mornings. Most Cuban apartments and homes (Lilly’s is no exception) have amazing outdoor spaces. Head downtown, see some of the galleries or museums or visit some artist friends’ studios or visit with old friends, a nice lunch of pulpo (octopus) somewhere in there, a dip in one of the saltwater pools at the hotels in Miramar, and then, in the evening, dinner and music or dance or an open mic situation of some sort. There’s always a lot going on at night in Havana, which is lovely.     How is the art scene?  Julia: For art, try Factoría Habana or the Servando Galería de Arte. The National Museum of Fine Arts’ modern art building has some fantastic art, too, and is well worth a swing through. There is amazing contemporary art in Havana: Lázaro Saavedra, Alejandro Campins, Sandra Ceballos, Michel Pérez “Pollo” (full disclosure, I wrote an intro to a new book of his work), Los Carpinteros, and so many more.     Speaking of artists, Hannah, how did you integrate yourself with Cuban youth to be able to take such intimate portraits? Where are your photographs displayed?  Hannah: I didn’t come to Cuba initially to make photographs or to delve into the glorious mind-boggle that is tourism. I didn’t come wanting to “become one with the Cubans” or anything of the like. It was slowly a combination of time and trust that allowed me to organically begin documenting the lives of people around me. Without trusting relationships with your subjects, it’s impossible to see anyone’s reality. My photographs are displayed currently online, at CubaRising.org. Ideally, when I return to NYC this summer, I can quench the thirst of an art gallery that wants to put on a Cuba show, but that’s still in the works, since Internet here in Havana is as slow as ever. Maybe Neuehouse has some interest…? (Ha!) [Maureen: feel free to include or remove the last sentence!]  NeueJournal_HannahBerkeleyCohen_CubaWheretoGoNext  What should we read, listen to, and watch?  Julia: Books: Alejo Carpintier, Jorge Mañach, Leonardo Padura. I’ve been meaning to read Wendy Guerra’s Todos Se Van for a while now; I hear she’s amazing, too. Movies, I like the classics, Gutiérrez Alea, Solás, and of course Fernando Perez. Music, too much to list, and I am leaving a lot out, but Roberto Fonseca, Ibeyi, X Alfonso, Haydee Milanés, Los Aldeanos, any of the work Gilles Peterson does with local musicians.     Hannah: If you are a first-time traveler to Cuba, I don’t see any harm in reading a tour book, though I would rely much more on your own curiosity to lead you down the path to adventure. I’d ABSOLUTELY recommend reading the three following books: Marc Frank’s Cuba Revelations, Julia Cooke’s Life in the New Cuba: The Other Side of Paradise, and Ann Louis Bardach’s Without Fidel. As far as movies are concerned, I love Suite Habana, but it is perhaps a bit dated, and only focuses on one socio-economic class in Cuba, though it’s a grand majority of the population.     Tourist traps to avoid?  Julia: Much of Old Havana. It’s gorgeous, and wonderful to walk around, but can also be an onslaught of hustlers.     Any souvenirs you always bring back with you?  Julia: Geometric necklaces from the tourist markets, rum.     When are you going there next?  Hannah: I’m here now!     Julia: In May; I can’t wait.  NeueJournal_HannahBerkeleyCohen_CubaWheretoGoNext

 

EL: How can we get there?

 

HC: There is now one direct flight a week from NYC to HAV, at the low price of just under $900. Americans traveling under a general license can also travel via Tampa or Miami, where combined, there are probably about a dozen flights daily. This is what Cuban-Americans have been doing for years.

 

EL: Although restrictions have eased, Americans still need a license to travel to Cuba. Can you explain what you offer travelers as a licensed travel consultant?

 

HC: Now, any American can go under any of the twelve categories that now fall under the guise of the general license.The people who travel with me to Cuba get a highly customized, intensive 7-13 days of “ask me anything and we’ll try to find the answer”.  I create and lead all of my tours, [which] are highly customized and small, as in 1-6 people total.  People who contact me about coming to Cuba already have in mind what they want to focus on [from youth culture to real estate]. It’s up to me to connect them with the people and places that interest them the most, with the end hope that it will lead to a meaningful relationship between Cuban and American.

 

EL: Any favorite hotels?

 

JC: I often stay in Havana at Casa Lilly. Lilly is warm and knowledgeable, and her style is great, too.

IMG_0446

 

HC: We stay in gorgeous homes or high-rise apartments with great ocean views. I avoid hotels as much as possible.

 

EL: Any up-and-coming areas of Havana or favorite neighborhoods?

 

JC: I will be spectacularly unoriginal if I say that I love Vedado — everyone loves central, buzzy Vedado, and I am no exception. But if I could live anywhere, it’d be in Nuevo Vedado, which is a bit more secluded on a hill above Vedado. It’s got a lot of phenomenal examples of tropical modern architecture, including my dream house, which I saw eight years ago on an architecture tour of Havana, wrote about years ago, and have not been able to get out of my head since.

NeueJournal_HannahBerkeleyCohen_CubaWheretoGoNext

 

EL: Cuban cuisine doesn’t have the best reputation. Please tell me there’s some good food on the island to be had!

 

JC: There are so many amazing restaurants in Havana since the loosened restrictions of the last few years.The old ones are La Guarida, La Esperanza, and Atelier. El Cocinero is newer, Ivan Justo, Le Chansonnier, and the patio at La Galeria.

 

EL: What are some of your favorite spots?

 

JC: Patio at Hotel Nacional for coffee/writing; breakfast isn’t as much of a thing in Cuba, so I’d recommend eating at casas; for music or dancing, locals (and I) love the Café Teatro Bertolt Brecht, or the Café Jazz Miramar, or whatever club is hot (five years ago, it was El Túnel, which I hear is still good); for tourist/local people watching while dancing, the Casa de la Musica Miramar.

 

EL: What’s your perfect day in Havana?

 

JC: A calm morning of writing, preferably outdoors; my old apartment had a patio that I loved to sit on to write, read, and drink coffee in the mornings. Most Cuban apartments and homes (Lilly’s is no exception) have amazing outdoor spaces. Head downtown, see some of the galleries or museums or visit some artist friends’ studios or visit with old friends, a nice lunch of pulpo (octopus) somewhere in there, a dip in one of the saltwater pools at the hotels in Miramar, and then, in the evening, dinner and music or dance or an open mic situation of some sort. There’s always a lot going on at night in Havana, which is lovely.

NeueJournal_HannahBerkeleyCohen_CubaWheretoGoNext

 

 

EL: How is the art scene?

 

JC: For art, try Factoría Habana or the Servando Galería de Arte. The National Museum of Fine Arts’ modern art building has some fantastic art, too, and is well worth a swing through. There is amazing contemporary art in Havana: Lázaro Saavedra, Alejandro Campins, Sandra Ceballos, Michel Pérez “Pollo,” Los Carpinteros, and so many more.

 

EL: Speaking of artists, Hannah, how did you integrate yourself with Cuban youth to be able to take such intimate portraits? Where are your photographs displayed?

 

HC: I didn’t come to Cuba initially to make photographs or to delve into the glorious mind-boggle that is tourism. It was slowly a combination of time and trust that allowed me to organically begin documenting the lives of people around me. Without trusting relationships with your subjects, it’s impossible to see anyone’s reality.

 

EL: What should we read, listen to, and watch?

 

JC: Books: Alejo Carpintier, Jorge Mañach, Leonardo Padura. I’ve been meaning to read Wendy Guerra’s Todos Se Van for a while now; I hear she’s amazing, too. Movies, I like the classics, Gutiérrez Alea, Solás, and of course Fernando Perez. Music, too much to list, and I am leaving a lot out, but Roberto Fonseca, Ibeyi, X Alfonso, Haydee Milanés, Los Aldeanos, any of the work Gilles Peterson does with local musicians.

 

HC: I’d recommend reading the three following books: Marc Frank’s Cuba Revelations, Julia Cooke’s Life in the New Cuba: The Other Side of Paradise, and Ann Louis Bardach’s Without Fidel. As far as movies are concerned, I love Suite Habana, but it is perhaps a bit dated, and only focuses on one socio-economic class in Cuba, though it’s a grand majority of the population.

 

EL: Tourist traps to avoid?

 

JC: Much of Old Havana. It’s gorgeous, and wonderful to walk around, but can also be an onslaught of hustlers.

 

EL: When are you going there next?

 

HC: I’m here now!

 

JC: In May — I can’t wait.

 

 

Photography: courtesy of Hannah Berkeley Cohen for NeueJournal

The Italian Sojourn

Sightseeing in Italy, Hemingway-Style

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Open The Gallery
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Open The Gallery
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This Summer was a special one: I decided to take a left turn out of fashion and dedicate myself to my new travel project. It seemed as if the only way to stave off the panic of a crazed leap was to take off, Hemingway-style, to the continent. As I’m getting acquainted with my new Di Principe name, Italy was the obvious option.

 

We landed in Pisa, picked up our chariot (a tiny, white smart car) and set off in search of la Dolce Vita.  First to an artists’ commune in Tuscany. An old terracotta palazzo, filled with the ghosts of a grand past, was now embracing its more rough and ready future, playing host to Villa Lena’s artist residency. I arrived dreaming of writing in the rolling hills, but soon realized that nights echoing with cocktails and jam sessions would mean we just had to throw ourselves into the boarding school-like, bohemian family. There was no possibility of hiding alone in our room… And, as a large party of men in gold robes arrived from Florence, it seemed about time to take the smart car on the next battle of wits down the Italian autostrada towards Rome.

 

Our next stop was something a bit magical. Secretly, every girl wants to be a princess, somewhere deep down inside themselves. My dream is that of a Rapunzel waiting to be rescued, although I think my years of commitment to bleach at Vidal Sassoon means my hair wouldn’t really sustain the weight of a prince. Some girls might dream of being warrior princesses – maybe like a Mulan – which also works with this story.

 

Back to the present day, and a very kind invitation for a lucky English girl to visit the Italian Castello Ruspoli. It’s hard to describe the feeling of waking up and padding around barefoot in grand old 15th century entrance halls with doors that swing open onto drawbridges, or wondering how many mistresses had been shown through the hidden door in the ageing silk walls of our room. The effect of living in such obvious history is a strange one: half day-dream, half realizing that I’m just a speck of humanity resting in the castle’s walls.

 

But did I fall for it? Yes I did. Hook, line and sinker. The ease of living and the art of conversation, time to stop and smell the perfectly trimmed roses – all of this is what makes the society of old aristocracy so intoxicating. Our host Tao summed it up perfectly with a quote from his father, the legendary Prince and Don of the Dolce Vita, Dado Ruspoli, who once exclaimed to him in all seriousness: “Tao, I’m just so tired – there was lunch yesterday, now a dinner tonight”.

 

Next was the long road south, navigating Naples, staying in imp-like Trullo’s, and reaching the hot, white city of Lecce just in time for another festival: nights upon nights of local religious festivals light up Italy through the Summer months and into early Autumn, with young and old spilling into the streets and dancing until the early hours.

 

After all this drinking, eating and dancing we obviously needed a break, and at last we landed at Francis Ford Coppola’s perfect Palazzo Margherita hotel. Sofia was married in the gardens of this shuttered marble paradise. I travel a lot, but I have to say this might be my number one place on Earth for a second trip – perhaps stealing my heart as my all-time favorite hotel…

 

Just go see,

 

Ciao x

The Ultimate NYC Guide

Where to Eat, Shop and Run in your Ugly Sweater This Silly Season

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DINING & EVENTS

 

 

City Bakery
Naughty or nice, by far the most decadent hot chocolate in New York City, mug-sized marshmallow cube included. Go ahead, treat yourself!

 

Babbo
Mario Batali’s take on the Feast of the Seven Fishes is Southern Italian tradition at its finest. We suggest dining with a larger group.

 

Margaux, The Marlton Hotel
A stone’s throw from Babbo is Margaux at the Marlton. The log fire “living room” setting is cozy enough for a winter rendezvous, or the perfect precursor to a delicious meal with friends in the solarium.

 

Woody Allen at Café Carlyle
The multitasking showman performs Mondays through December 15th. Take a date (and a fur) to dinner and a show Uptown, the very definition of a New York Night.

 

The Morgan Library
Winter in NYC for one? No problem. The Renzo Piano-designed spaced is the perfect respite for a day of reading, people-watching, and viewing. Cy Twombly’s “Treatise on the Veil” is not to be missed!

 

Ugly Sweater 5K Run
December 20th, 11am – questionable fashion, holiday cheer, and a side of fitness? Sign us up! http://theuglysweaterrun.com

 

Joey Arias Christmas with the Crawfords
Mommie Dearest does Christmas, and with Arias’ hauntingly beautiful voice in the title role, this once-in-a-lifetime camp fest is a must-see.

 

The Largest New Year’s Eve Singles Party in New York City
All work and no play? Find your elf on a self at what is expected to be the largest singles party in New York City before the stroke of midnight.

 

Life Ball & Arms Around The Child Bobbi Bear auction
World renowned fashion designers, celebrities and opinion leaders from around the world have created unique Build-A-Bear® bears to be auctioned for Operation Bobbi Bear, a South African non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing sexually abused children and minimizing their risks of HIV-infection.

 

Alvin Ailey Opening Night Gala
Need inspiration to finally tackle that fitness resolution for the New Year?
 The Alvin Ailey Opening Night Gala at New York City Center is sure to delight culturally, but beware: watching the best bodies in the business jeté across the stage might induce shame.

 

***We’d suggest ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Bryant Park, or The Standard Hotel, but the last time we recommended sporting thin blades on ice, a dear friend of NH fell and broke his wrist, and his Rolex.

 

LAST MINUTE GIFT GUIDE

 

Aedes de Venustas
Nestled on Christopher Street, this jewel box of a fragrance boutique is stocked with Byredo, Frederic Malle, Cire Trudon, Diptyque, and the house’s private label of signature scents. You’re guaranteed to walk out with a sublime stocking stuffer appropriate for a colleague or significant other. The moody packaging and wrapping complete with lush floral arrangements is a bonus, and will certainly land you on Santa’s “good” list the coming year.

 

Smythson
Get organized for the New Year with the best stationery — classic, elegant, and understated. Need we say more?

 

HOLIDAY WINDOWS GALORE

 

Bergdorf Goodman – The final word in holiday window dressing – so good, over half of its Scatter My Ashes documentary was dedicated to the subject. In previous seasons, the proprietor of all things lilac has transported us to the most fanciful winter wonderlands even during the most unseasonably warm seasons; drew non-traditional inspiration from legendary designer Tony Duquette; and last year, quite literally turned holiday window dressing on its head. We can’t wait to see what the in store for us this year.

 

Barneys New York – After successful holiday collaborations with modern pop icons Lady Gaga, and Jay Z, the luxury retailer known for its quirk and camp enlisted multiple Academy Award-winners Baz Luhrmann and his designer wife Catherine Martin (The Great GatsbyMoulin Rouge) for “Baz Dazzled,” a gilded study in chic. While little to no merchandise is on display, revelers will delight in weekend balcony performances from two opera singers, live ice skaters in windows, as well as an accompanying soundtrack by a cappella group, Pentatonix, and moving sculpture by Anthony Howe; it’s a Miracle on Madison Ave.

 

Bulgari is cloaked under heavy scaffolding, its illuminated Serpenti snake missing after putting the adjacent three corners to shame in previous years, so Tiffany and Co. takes the cake this season with an opulent jeweled façade rumored to have put the storied building at risk of falling to the ground; Talk about rocks on rocks!