Category Archives: Travel

Great destinations we love plus featured travel guides



Ademola Olugebefola (USVI) - The Mighty Atlantic
Ademola Olugebefola (USVI) The Mighty Atlantic

We are delighted to announce this important cultural event presented by our colleagues in one of the best island destinations.

The 3rd Edition of Caribbean Fine Art (CaFA) Fair Barbados will be March 13-17 at the exciting new venue in the heart of historic Bridgetown, Barbados – the Spirit Bond Building. CaFA Fair opens on Wednesday, March 13, 6-9 pm with a Gala Reception featuring a live musical performance, presentation of the Caribbean Luminary of the Arts Award, and a preview of over 35 exhibitors of paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, original limited edition prints and new media exploring the cultural traditions of the Caribbean.

A special feature of CaFA Fair Barbados 2013 will be performances and film screenings scheduled for each day of the event. Trinidadian Shelley Worrell of CaribBEING will present screenings by filmmakers from Guadeloupe, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, while Barbadian performer NaLa will entertain with his unique brand of humor.

We are pleased to welcome celebrated US artist and cultural entrepreneur Danny Simmons; former Sothebys executive and principal of New York’s AK Art, Amy Kisch; and world renowned artist and lecturer Dr. Ademola Olugebefola, USVI, as presenters at the Caribbean Art Symposium, scheduled for Saturday, March 16, 2013.

Daniel Lind Ramos (Puerto Rico) - ADORACIONDaniel Lind Ramos (Puerto Rico)
New works by Puerto Rico’s Diogenes Ballester and USVI’s Ademola Olugebefola, will headline the selection of artworks by over 35 artists representing 13 Caribbean nations. 2 participating artists, Jamal Ince, Barbados, and Jamaica’s Ava Tomlinson were recently selected to showcase their paintings at Art Africa Miami 2012, which was a part of the Art Basel Miami week, December 2012. Internationally recognized contemporary artists such as Ras Ishi Butcher, Carlton Murrell, and Ras Akyem I Ramsay, Barbados; David Wilson, Dominica; Carl E. Hazlewood and Philip Moore, Guyana; Patricia Brintle, Haiti; Abishag Voundi, Martinique; Daniel Lind-Ramos, Puerto Rico; Marcel Pinas, Suriname; David Boothman, Trinidad & Tobago; will be represented at CaFA Fair Barbados. Emerging artists Nicolle Blackwood, Jamaica; Minerva Diaz, Puerto Rico; and many others from the English-speaking, Hispanic and Francophone Caribbean will also be on exhibit.

Carl Hazlewood (Guyana) - White Angel RisingCarl Hazlewood (Guyana) – White Angel Rising
Event partners include Barbados Tourism Authority; Barbados National Cultural Foundation; BMW; CaribBEING; Intimate Hotels of Barbados; Laparkan Shipping; Latin American Art; Lush Life Resort; Naniki Restaurant; and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Ras Akyem I Ramsay (Barbados) - Blakk BirdRas Akyem I Ramsay (Barbados) – Blakk Bird
Diaspora-Now was formed in 1986. Our primary mission is to increase awareness and appreciation of Caribbean culture through the distribution of information and presenting works of art. For updates please visit event website or call 646-267-8831. Abishag Voundi (Martinique)
Abishag Voundi (Martinique)

Luxury B&B + Golf = Ideal Winter Getaway

image001 (1)The Horse Stamp Inn, one of the newest and most distinctive bed & breakfast inns on the Georgia coast, is hosting a winter promotion that includes golf at the championship Sanctuary Cove, designed by Fred Couples and Davis Love III. The golf course sits on the Golden Isles of Georgia, representing one of the top semi-private golf facilities in the state.

From January 1 thru March 15, 2013, guests of the inn who stay for a minimum of two nights (based on availability) will receive one complimentary round of golf, including cart. Sanctuary Cove Golf Course is only seven miles from the inn and a perfect accompaniment to the luxurious and handsome southern mansion.

The 5-bedroom inn is nestled on 16 sprawling acres with expansive pastures, rustic horse barn and artesian fresh water pond. Owners Tom and Kris Hutcheson begin each day with breakfast prepared from fresh and locally produced ingredients. Guests can have breakfast served in their room or suite, choose to dine on the al fresco verandah or in the homey kitchen.

When do you want to visit Horse Stamp Inn?image003

St. Francis Inn Wins National Geographic Award

Historic St. Francis Inn “the oldest Inn in America’s Oldest City” (circa 1791) is the featured notable bed & breakfast in National Geographic’s current award to St. Augustine, Florida, making the Top 20 Places to See in National Geographic Traveler’s World.

Inn owners Joe and Margaret Finnegan commented on the honor, “Our guests have known for many years that they were staying in a very special inn and location on Spanish Colonial St. George Street. We’re proud that this highly respected publication recognizes our place in history too.”

St. Augustine is acclaimed as one of only four locations in the U.S. included on the international list. National Geographic editors praised the city for maintaining the genuine Old Florida culture and charm and preserving its nearly 450-year-old historic assets. Specifically recommended by editors are the 17th century Castillo de San Marcos, the Lightner Museum built by Henry Flagler in 1887, St. Augustine Lighthouse (Florida’s first) and the pedestrian-friendly St. George Street.

St. Francis Inn

More than the Tango!

Thought I knew quite a lot about the best beef in the world and a few bottles of Malbec! Also knew something about the tango! Now I find much more that I can enjoy in a visit to Buenos Aires. The new app Buenos Aires Essential Guide, co-authored by Shafik Meghji and Sioned Jones and published by Sutro in their extensive collection of travel apps, is highly recommended for planning a trip and locating everything on arrival. 

It’s a beautiful app, well written and comprehensive, especially useful translations of key phrases so that an English-speaking tourist will not be completely overwhelmed by ignorance of the local language. It’s easy and affordable to download from iTunes for iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

The photographs are stunning too!

These authors are experienced writers with major publishing credentials. Shafik has co-authored Rough Guides to Nepal, India, Chile and Bolivia and contributed to several others as well as writing for travel anthologies, newspapers, magazines and websites. Sioned relocated from her home in London to Buenos Aires. She is a linguist and photographer and now works in the language industry.

Check out this guide. It’s top notch!

Yoga Holidays Worldwide

Yoga Holidays Worldwide is a new app for iPhones and iPads by journalist and experienced yoga practitioner, Sue White. The author, a regular contributor to Australian Yoga Journaland the Sydney Morning Herald, has brought together over 140 of the best yoga breaks on the planet.

With listings from Brazil to Bermuda to Bali and back again, you’ll find luxury resorts where the yoga is an optional (but welcome) addition to a restorative vacation; jungle lodges where you can do tree pose with the toucans; and Italian Villas where a drop of wine or two accompanies your home-cooked meals. Yoga Holidays Worldwide also contains over 1500 photos, filters for price and location, and categories including child friendly, yoga festivals, yoga towns and teachers who travel.  $2.99 from the App Store.

Sex and Sponges in Beautiful Barbados

Barbados officially celebrates its high season for visitors beginning in mid-December when North Americans and British are particularly eager to avoid their cold winter. For history and details about this fabulous destination we recommend the Barbados Travel Companion app available from iTunes. It was authored by experienced travel guide writer and journalist Harry S. Pariser and published by Sutro Media which boasts more than 300 mobile apps covering the world’s best destinations. We didn’t go to Barbados for sex or sponges, but after getting the complete scoop from Harry, it might be time to plan another trip. Here’s a little preview of the app content.

The good news for Barbados lovers is that all year is a near-perfect season, and spring or summer rates for lodging or travel packages can be quite enticing.

This is a beautiful friendly Caribbean island which welcomes guests all year. The interesting people are its foremost asset. With golfing, diving, surfing, any water sport, plus swimming with the turtles among the coral, there’s never a shortage of activity. Check current event schedules to plan for something special. The gorgeous beach itself, with an occasional break for a rum punch or several, delivers a pretty good vacation, and the beach locales range from busy resort areas to secluded spots for napping under swaying palms.

Summer in Barbados features the Crop Over Festival which is a five-week event. Its origin is more than 200 years old when the sugar cane crop harvest was finished and called for a celebration. Albeit not still based on the harvest schedule, the festival includes dancing, parades, competitions and of course the fabulous food, arts and crafts which are popular year-round. Thousands of visitors are attracted during this season, and all for good cause.

Duty free shopping is available in Bridgetown, the capital city, in department stores and jewelry shops plus small malls outside the city, but my favorite shopping is among the craft vendors in Pelican Village or along the street in many areas. Tropical batiks, straw hats or local art and pottery are frequently the same products in various locations, but I find the browsing and light bartering to be part of the fun. Vendors are not allowed on the beach, and hawking is not common.

Touring the rum distillery or studying the island’s architecture, rich history and culture also provide myriad choices for daily excursions beyond the beach.

Good food is not a secret here. Spices combine Caribbean influence with occasional Asian or French and create many special dishes including fresh local vegetables such as sweet potatoes. A flying fish sandwich was the first meal I chose in Barbados, and it’s often one of my favorite entrées. It’s local and plentiful due to its actual appearance of flying out of the water (toward the anglers we believe) while it’s supposedly trying to escape larger fish. Other fish is fresh as well as shrimp, lobster, and much more. Pickled sea cat, a relish made from octopus, adds a nice touch to fish and other selections.

Let’s talk about pudding and souse another day! Do you know what they are? Have you sampled them in Barbados, or maybe elsewhere? We heard it was good at Lemon Arbour in St. John.

Let me know what you think about finding the fine food, great beaches and dazzling upcoming events. Sex, sponges, octopus and rum are deserving of further review as well.

In Search Of The American Flamingo

Sarasota Jungle Gardens was a stop on our Florida  trip that I was super looking forward to. I have always wanted to see a real, live, pink flamingo, and once I read that you could feed these right out of your hand–I just couldn’t wait. I am not sure what the fascination is with the tall pink birds. Maybe it is just that they are pink..? I don’t know, but I was excited.

We drove in from I-75 and after mapping it online I saw that we would also be really close to the Ringling Museum and Gallery and Ca’ d Zan. Therefore I thought it might be nice to take the scenic route to the gardens. So we took the University Parkway exit to the end, went through the light across US 41 and onto Ringling Plaza. Wow! What a sight the Ringling Museum is as soon as you enter the plaza! It is huge and impressive looking with its big gate across the front! I am already excited about that visit one day soon, but I had read that the Ringling grounds may take a full day– at least.

So we took a left at the gate on Bay Shore Road and followed it all the way to the Jungle Gardens. Off-season is the perfect time to hit these tourist hot spots and the parking lot only had a handful of cars on this early Saturday afternoon. The prices were a little high though, $15 per person except Grandpa who was over 60 and only $14. Luckily I had a coupon for $1 off everyone in the party and I think they are pretty much always available on their website, so don’t go without it! Then you can use your savings to buy the large bag of Flamingo Food that is for sale at the ticket counter. You have to feed the flamingos–it makes the visit!

And off we went! There was a reptile show going on when we arrived, but we opted for the self-guided tour and passed by the zoo keeper holding the snake entirely too close to the humans for my comfort level! First we checked out the alligators and crocodiles which Florida is famous for. They were huge and looked to me to be in entirely too small a wading pool for such a beast…they didn’t move, but I guess they were all alive and happy–enough. Directly past the archaic monsters was the parrot  and exotic bird area with at least 40 colorful and quite vocal feathered friends. They were amazingly vibrant in their colors and several spoke to us saying, “Hi!” and “Hello.” The most surprising part about the parrots was to learn that several of them were 60 or 70 years old!

Apparently most of the animals who make Sarasota Jungle Gardens their home are all from rescues, rehabs or owners who have “donated” them with the decision that they could no longer care for their exotic pets. That makes sense since the lifespan of the various  parrots is at least that of the  average human. Probably not a good pet choice, just my opinion, unless you have kids who can take care of it 50 years or so after you buy it. It doesn’t seem fair that the more common pet, our most loyal and cherished companions, dogs, don’t get even a quarter the life span of the parrot. Oh well, they were pretty.

Next on the path were prairie dogs and monkeys, and we made our way through the butterfly garden and around to the lake, across which I could spot in the distance–The Flamingos!! So excited! Get the food ready!

The seagulls, ducks and one big black goose who have all voluntarily made Sarasota Jungle Gardens their home (who can blame them, tourists passing through every few minutes with big bags of food) were first to arrive for grub. We did manage to attract one flamingo who was not shy and made his way through the crowd of shore birds to claim his lunch. We continued to wind our way through the lush 10-acre jungle with over 100 species palm trees, reading all the little placards that describe plants and animals. We eventually came out on the other side of the lake approaching the large flock of waiting flamingos.

The aggressive big black goose led the way when he spotted us, and I swear I think he had even stalked us through the trees a few times, knowing that we still had most of an entire bag of food left. These extremely tall pink birds are not shy! And when I say tall, I mean that you will be eye to eye with them if they stretch out their long pink necks even part of the way! The flock is probably numbered at near 30 birds, and they are truly majestic and awesome. The most surprising characteristics about the friendly fowl are how long their necks are, how tall they are and how their beaks curve at an almost 90 degree angle! Most, if not all, of the salmon-hued birds were hatched here at the gardens and hand raised by zookeepers until they joined the flock to roam free which explains how friendly they are.

I could have stayed there all day hanging out with the tall coral-colored creatures, but the heat was almost unbearable combined with over 80 percent humidity, the index had to be over 100. So we made our way past the recovering birds of prey, another favorite of mine since I volunteered at the Raptor Rehabilitation Center outside of Charleston, SC, when I was in college, and found respite in the nicely air-conditioned gift shop that you have to pass through on the way to the parking lot. Still enamored with the flamingos we just had to buy a five dollar beanie baby version for the youngest of our crew to take home as a keepsake…although, I admit, I really wanted the stuffed giant one to sleep with myself!

All in all though I do have to say that the price seemed high, and as far as zoos go, I have never been a huge fan because it is hard to reason to myself about their cramped living conditions. However, I tried to keep in mind that the majority of these animals came from inhumane situations or rescues from the wild and they are being rehabilitated and are now hopefully educating the public. The flamingos, though, made the trip completely worth it! Let me know what you think.

Olde Englewood and the Elusive Mermaid

Take a walk down Dearborn Street today through Olde Englewood, and sadly about a third of the shops will be closed with signs in the windows that state “See you in October!” Since the season in South Florida runs contrary to most other destinations in the country, the shop owners there head back, we are told, to sister stores in destinations with a more traditional “season” in places like Mackinaw City, Michigan. That is what we heard about the owners of Mermaid Cache, a whimsical looking beach shop with items in the windows including handmade jewelry, colorful dresses, beach wraps, and other finer quality looking gifts and collectibles. The passerby wasn’t a hundred percent sure about the locale of the sister store, but she said if her “memory served” it was Mackinaw City. That is one store, we hope to find open on our next trip to the area.

Luckily, we did find Girlieman Chic’s doors open year round. Girlieman Chic is a women’s consignment store that packs a ton of bargains into a tiny space and is opening in a new larger location down the street October 1. I would highly recommend starting from the back and working your way to the front since I discovered a Chico’s brand dress in the Final Clearance room in the back for only $3 that fit me like a well worn glove and was in like new condition! In addition to clothes they have a very funky collection of shoes and handbags and some rather amusing buttons, cards and trinkets. The owner’s sense of humor shows through in her store, a trait we greatly appreciate!

Additionally, the Life is Good store: At Home with Style is open year-round and is full of all the neat items that make that brand so fun. They also have a variety of upscale home decor items that would make planning for your next cocktail party a blast! Another section of the retail shop includes pampered pet specialty products like bowls, leashes and outfits for your 4-legged companion and carriers for the smallest of the species deigned to resemble couture handbags.

After checking out a few other beachy shops, some open and some not, and making notes of the ones we hope to explore on the inside during our next stop over in sunny, (and HOT!) southwest Florida, we decided to make a stop in a local eatery for a snack and cold libation. It was late afternoon and as they say “five o’clock somewhere!” so we decided a cerveza and some chips and salsa might be a nice snack. We had spotted Compadre’s Mexican restaurant when we first arrived on Dearborn Street and thought the front porch there looked like a beckoning spot to sit and take in the scenery while cooling down with a cold one. The staff was friendly and we enjoyed the authentic chips and salsa along with a couple of Coronas and decided that while Englewood is certainly on the sleepy side, it was a very relaxing stop in our tour around South Florida.