Monday, June 28, 2010

Great Sleeps: Crescent Hotel, London, England

Located on a crescent-shaped street across from the bucolic Cartwright Gardens, where tennis courts and a playground beckon, this aptly-named bed and breakfast is situated within a converted Georgian building dating from 1810. Because it is an historic building, regulations forbid putting in a lift, so unless you luck out with a room on the ground floor, you do have to lug your suitcase up some narrow stairs. It has private bathrooms as well as triple and quadruple rooms--important features that can be difficult for families to find abroad. Bear in mind, though, that the bathrooms seem to be converted closets and are very, very small. It was here that I found myself across the breakfast table from my testy pre-teen and innocently commented, "You look really nice today. Are you wearing make-up?" She cuttingly replied, "No, I didn't bother. There's no one here to impress."
Crescent Hotel 49-50 Cartwright Gardens, in Bloomsbury, 011-44-(0)20 7387 1515; http://www.crescenthoteloflondon.com/. 27 rooms. Full breakfast.

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image c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great Sleeps: Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Featuring a contemporary Lanna oriental architectural style inspired by traditional area homes, this stylish, atmospheric hotel is situated amid a centuries-old neighborhood with narrow streets. Rooms in the colonial-period house feature walls in deep colors of green or brown, lovely tiles, and dark wood floors. They are wrapped around a tree-filled courtyard, where birds sing their hearts out in the morning, and most feature a private balcony with French doors and day bed. Mine was a haven to return to after a day of touring. All are cooled by a choice of ceiling fan or air conditioning. Breakfast is served in the Punna Cafe on an open-air verandah and includes made-to-order omelettes, flaky French pastries, and electric-colored fresh fruit. One restriction: “We regret that durian products are not permitted on the hotel premises.” Anyone who has smelled a ripe durian knows why. A free tuk-tuk provides a ride into town.

Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel 104/1 Charoen Muang Soi 2, Charoen Muang Rd., T. Wat Gade neighborhood near the Ping River, A. Muang, (66) 053 302 898; http://www.puripunn.com/. 3 stories; 30 rooms. No pets. Pool; hot tub; fitness room; health spa. Traditional High Tea daily from 3-5:30; reservations recommended.

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image c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Great Sleeps: Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Mae Rim, Thailand

This exquisite resort has extensive landscaped gardens with teak and banyan trees and towering bamboo. Most rooms open onto a working rice farm with water buffalo. A free shuttle takes guests into Chiang Mai five times each day.

At the resort’s Cooking School, class begins with a prayer at the spirit house. After watching chef-instructor Pitak Srichan prepare a dish--we made three recipes in my class: Gaeng Kiew Warn Kai (Green Curry with Chicken in Coconut Milk), Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad), and Thom Yum Goong (Spicy Prawn Soup with Lemongrass)--we students went to our prep stations in an open-air pavilion to cook each to our own taste. At the end, we sat down in an open-air dining pavilion to sample the results. A visit to the extraordinary open-air restroom there is a must.

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai  Mae Rim Samoeng Old Road, Mae Rim, 20 mi. N of Chiang Mai, 66 (53) 298-181; www.fourseasons.com/chiangmai. 98 rooms.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sights to See: Wat Sri Soda, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Locals and tourists alike come each morning to this novice monk school to give alms. It is a fascinating spectacle and almost impossible not to participate in. Vehicles honk as they drive by, not to annoy, as we westerners might think, but to show their respect.

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video c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, June 14, 2010

Good Eats: Lombardi’s, NYC


America’s very first pizzeria—it’s been here since 1905--is a warren of atmospheric rooms filled with tables topped with red-and-white-check tablecloths. The pizza is smoky-flavored, has an ultra thin-crust crust, and is made in a 100-year-old coal-fired brick oven. Meat-lovers like the meatball pizza, and many consider it superior to the pepperoni. Vegetarians are fond of a simple version topped with the house’s tasty uncooked tomato sauce, freshly torn basil, and pools of fresh unsalted mozzarella. Everything is fresh here—this establishment doesn’t even have a freezer! Avoid being here from 4 to 6 p.m., when they clean the ovens.

Lombardi’s 32 Spring St./Mott, 212-941-7994; http://www.firstpizza.com/. L-D daily; $. Cash only.

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video filmed at Lombardi's, c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sights to See: Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Built about 600 years ago, the huge chedi here gave the temple its name. In its day, when for a short time it was home to the most important object in Thailand--the Emerald Buddha now in Bangkok--it must have been the most impressive temple in Chiang Mai. Its unusual Monk Chat program lets you have a chin-wag with a real monk.

Wat Chedi Luang  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Chedi_Luang

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image c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sights to See: elephants, Lampang, Thailand


This government-sponsored elephant center was founded to address the issues facing Thailand’s elephants and to preserve local traditions for future generations. The elephants are well cared for, and all profits go directly to the support of the elephants. See elephant poop processed into paper (and a wide variety of souvenirs), http://www.elephantdungpaper.com; an elephant hospital, http://www.elephanthospital.com/index.php (sadly, I saw an adult elephant with sunburn and a baby in a suspended sling with a broken something); and take a long elephant ride through the property, holding a proper umbrella, and even into a lake. And all the while cicadas hiss loudly. A three-day mahout training course teaches participants to ride on the neck of “their” elephant, jump on and off, and participate in the center’s show. Overnights in cabins include home-cooked meals; reserve ahead.

Elephant Conservation Center In Lampang, 1½ hours S of Chiang Mai, 0-5424-7874; http://www.thailandelephant.org/.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sights to See: umbrella making, Borsang Village, Sankamphaeng, Thailand


In this covered outdoor pavilion, busy workers put together paper umbrellas. You’ll see frame-making, paper-making from the bark of mulberry trees, the covering of umbrella frames with paper or cotton or silk, and hand-painting. In between, workers will paint permanent works of art on your camera case, hat, or jeans. A huge gift shop adjoins.

Umbrella Making Centre 111/2 Moo 3 Borsang Village, Sankamphaeng, +6653 338324; http://www.handmade-umbrella.com/.

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image c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good Eats: Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodle Inc., NYC


In this very small venue, a small window in a swinging door permits viewing the noodle-slapping and -pulling process taking place in the kitchen. Choose from soups or fried dishes, each with a choice of seven styles of noodle—including common thin noodles, fat noodles, and chewy knife-peeled noodles. A delicious hot sauce is on the table, and fresh cilantro is provided upon request. Jasmine tea and water are complimentary.
Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodle Inc. 1 Doyers St., Chinatown, 212-791-1817. L-D daily; $. Cash only.

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Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways. 

image c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers