Meditations #61

IMG_0592These are the shapes of a perfect world.  Would that we didn’t have to live so close to reality.

Dance even when you are sad; love even when times are hard.

Seek out those who share kindly, and be compassionate, be hopeful.

A new year is upon us.

Photograph:  Jeremy Lindblad

Location: Kenya

St. Moritz Church – Augsburg, Germany

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780_20131025041940c6c1cfaba324ea36d14fb6e61bfc3498a695deb1Someone – I don’t remember who –  said that architecture is light.

St. Moritz Church in Augsburg, Germany, has been through many lifetimes.  Built a millenium ago (1019), it has been ravaged by fire and wartime bombing, not to mention ill-conceived alterations.  But it has endured – no, it has prevailed – and so could not be more deserving of the latest attention lavished on it.

The Catholic cathedral has been reimagined by British architect, John Pawson, into a sublime, minimalist, light-infused space.  The divine made real.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.43.44 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.43.15 AM When it comes to travel, as that is what I am mostly about, my joy is journeying to see life changing objects, buildings, images.  They give me such a lightness of being, such hope, to know that man can indeed produce beauty for its own sake.

Estela

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.20.30 AMI had no idea, when I climbed the narrow steps to Estela located on Houston and Mott, that chef Ignacio Mattos was Uruguayan born.  That information would have made me well-disposed to the food if all else failed.  But my dinner was such an overwhelmingly delicious affair that no provenance was needed.

Impossible to get a reservation in this narrow, rustic floor-through, we arrived early and were given a tiny table for one and a half hours – punto.  So we dug in, helped by a charming server who walked us through the small plates and delicious wines.  Spiced almonds sat center table through most of the meal and they were delicious; when I eat here again, however, I’ll keep them at arm’s length to better indulge in the delicious food.  Highlights?  For us they were the incredible beef tartare and the arroz negro with squid ink.  The salted cod with potato croquettes was yummy and the fuyu persimmon, fennel and hazelnut salad was divine.

I’d go back tonight in a rush, there was so much else on the menu I would like to have tasted.

http://estelanyc.com/

Puerto Rico

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The Rockefellers always had a genius for building their homes in beautiful surrounds, and their Puerto Rican estate from the 1950’s  was no exception. Dorado Beach Reserve, on the north coast, is a magnificent stretch of property that incorporates beachfront as well as farmland.  Today, it has been turned into a Ritz Carlton reserve that offers beachfront hotel rooms, multi-oomed residences, private estate homes, golf courses, spas and all the rest.  It also has an 11 km nature trail that winds through magnificent, profuse nature, a Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment activity center, a gorgeous spa and a 5-bedroom residence, Su Casa, that was once the residence of Clara Livingston.  Just two years old, the resort has come a long way since opening.  The food is delicious and the service, which had hiccups at the outset, is smooth as silk.

IMG_1999This was my second trip toPuerto Rico, and this time I spent three days traveling in the North, the East and into the center of the island.  It is a beautiful place with mountains and lagoons, rivers and underground caverns.  This diverse topography offers the adventurous visitor lots of activity options..zip lining Toro Verde’s The Beast, canyoning and body rafting, exploring the subterranean world of the Camuy Caves or the charming historic center of Old San Juan, and kayaking in Fajardo’s Bioluminescent Bay.

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Puerto Rico is part of a much larger archipelago – the Spanish Virgin Islands they have been called – and some would say that the beaches of Culebra and Vieques are the finest in the islands.  We flew over to Vieques, an island so pastoral and charming, so physically and temporally removed from the Big Island, that it really is worth the short hop.  The Bioluminescent Bay of Vieques is even more pristine than that on Puerto Rico, and the beaches ARE lovely, albeit none of them are of the white powder sand variety.  Vieques is an island of horses, who seem to have the run of the place, grazing at will wherever they want, and it boasts a Ceiba tree that some say is as much as 500 years old.

IMG_2017IMG_2039We flew back from Vieques, skirting a tropical shower that turned the world black and white and silver.

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I spent the last night enjoying the sound of the waves rolling across the beach in front of my room, knowing that winter awaited me in New York.

And that Oliver would welcome me home.

IMG_2088http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/DoradoBeach/Default.htm

Meditations #60

Pivot sunset Isaac Cole

In time, old frontiers become the new frontiers, and old values reassert themselves.

Penetrating the middle of nowhere, finding silence, space and loneliness,

these are the imperatives of our time.

 Photo by Isaac Coles

Location:  Zapata Ranch, Nevada