Tuesday, June 29, 2010

76-Second Travel Show: "Potter versus Potter"

Episode #038
F E A T U R I N G * 8 5 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S

Andrew Potter calls travel the 'quest for difference,' and that the more different the better. Sure about that? I think it comes a lot closer to home that too. And his case that searching for authenticity is a 'hoax,' which comes as a 'betrayal and sin' against humanity and modernity, comes a little thinly argued -- to me. At least once he moves from art and marketing to travel.

I decided to put his Authenticity Hoax to the test versus another Potter: Harry. At the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

In the end, I'm not sure who won, but I had fun -- particularly mixing with people whose ongoing search comes with shrieks, delirium, personal financial sacrifice and a joy that rubs off.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why You Should Still Go the Gulf Coast

A week after my research trip to Florida's Gulf Coast -- driving between Pensacola and Panama City -- oil has finally splashed on the same beaches. But I still think visitors should go the region, as I explained in this blog entry for the Huffington Post.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Harry Potter Opens in Orlando

The complete opposite of being at the Florida Gulf Coast? That'd be the opening of the Universal Studio's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Unreal. Standing a few feet from the cast, seeing teens in school uniforms squeal Ed Sullivan Show-like, and trying to drink the 'butterbeer.' Here's my take on opening day for Lonely Planet. And a few photos. Video to come...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

76-Second Travel Show: 'Gulf Coast Tribute'

Episode #037

I will not forget my few days in the Florida Gulf Coast anytime soon. Most valuable lesson learned from locals: see it while you can.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup opener in Brooklyn & Queens

Work is no excuse for missing a key World Cup game, like the opening game in the first-ever World Cup in Africa. I split the game in two locales: spending the first half in Brooklyn's South African restaurant Madiba in Fort Greene -- a raucous, butt-bumping, shoulder-scraping SRO scene -- then the second Sunnyside, Queens' inviting Haab Mexican Cafe, where things were already tensers as I walked in a minute after South Africa took a (surprising) 1-0 lead. Things got looser after Mexican tied it up.

Monday, June 7, 2010

76-Second Travel Show: 'America's best beach'

Episode #036
F E A T U R I N G * 4 2 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S

Dr Beach, aka Stephen Leatherman, has picked America's best beach for 20 years, based on all sorts of factors like sand condition, temperature and whether you can smoke on it or not. Over the years Hawaii has dominated like a German bobsled team, taking the honors 12 times. Florida has six gold medals, North Carolina one and (this year) New York one, as Coopers Beach in Southampton* took the honors.

It's worth pointing out what this means.

Sorry Brian Wilson, but New York is a better beach destination than California. It's also better than more commonly considered beach destinations like Texas, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Alabama.

I went to Southampton a few days ago to talk with year-rounders about the effect of the news ('surprise!' was a word I heard a lot, even the mayor said so). But one guy -- my favorite -- was not moved by it all. In fact he was disgusted.

Sitting on a giant chopper in the center of Southampton Village, outside Dunkerley's stationery store (travel rule: never go past a stationery store without stepping in), on Main Street between (Ted) Nugent Street and (Mick) Jagger Lane, he had the single most-impressive Viking helmet of all time. Triumphant horns -- closer to tusks -- shot out either side, and a swoop of plastered-on Mohawk hair ran between. And his dog -- a sweet collie with a Jimmy Buffet bandana on -- was in the bike's back basket.

I asked him about Coopers Beach being America's best. 'You kidding? I'm from Montauk. Come to Montauk and I'll show you real beaches.' I told him I believed he would. 'Really, come out there and we'll BS awhile.'

I'm guessing it won't be hard to find him.

* That's right Coopers, not Cooper's. No one seems to know when the apostrophe dropped. Fewer care. The Cooper in question is John, an original settler from 1640 -- and the guy who ran the lone tavern, fish-drying and whaling business. Quite a Cooper, that one.