bucket list: 2010 – november

ATLANTA/ARIZONA:  While I was mostly underwhelmed by the city during my first trip to Atlanta, the food there blew me away.  It wasn’t simple comfort food, as I’d anticipated; rather it was traditional Southern cooking done up with an interesting – and unpretentious – haute twist.  Call it fine dining comfort food, if you will. I didn’t have a single meal that was anything less than scrumptious. Plus, there’s not all that much to actually do in Atlanta, so it made a great excuse to spend a good deal of my time there eating.  And eating.  And eating some more.  Be on the lookout for more stories about the chefs and restaurants of Atlanta – I expect it to be on every foodies radar very soon, if not already.

Although there was copious food involved, natch, Arizona was an altogether different experience: hiking among the giant saguaro cactus outside Tucson, trail riding through the desert, and a thrilling afternoon of rock climbing north of Scottsdale.  The desert landscape of the American southwest is unlike anyplace on earth.  And even though I’ve now visited multiple times, I still find the scenery otherworldly and hypnotic. It wasn’t as warm as I had hoped, but then again Arizona in November is still a far cry from the blustery Northeast.

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three-putting the fifth green, scottsdale

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compass cactus, due south

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on the boulders, carefree

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bucket list: 2009 edition – January

images2009 has been a banner year for the bucket list.  There was some strange confluence of events that made it not only my biggest year for freelance writing gigs, but also a superlative year for getting the chance to experience a host of things I’d been wanting to do for some time.  So rather than kick off the merry month of December by counting down the 12 days of Christmas, I’m going to take this time to briefly look back on 12 months of fortuitous travel.  Ho, ho, ho.

JANUARY

Ireland sunrise 2

IRELAND:  Despite the bone-chilling cold and broken water pipes, greeting the first sunrise of 2009 as it dawned over Carlingford Loch and the mountains of Mourne was the perfect start to the year.  I had friends from Ireland and America over to the house for a bust-up party made even more special by the surprise absence of running water.

camelback

SCOTTSDALE:  I wanted to see stars in an unblemished desert sky and finally got the chance to do so while staying at Scottsdale’s venerable Camelback Inn.  It recently put the finishing touches on a two-year renovation that involved virtually every aspect of a resort that’s hosted a Who’s Who of famous faces since opening in the 1930’s.  As a bonus, there was the trek up the twin peaks of Camelback Mountain – seen here from the pool in my over-the-top suite.

tintamarre

SINT MAARTEN:  Having visited the dirty, down-at-heel Dutch side of St. Maarten the year before, I knew it was a place I need never revisit.  Yet an opportunity to check out the French side of the bi-national island in the dregs of a New York winter was too good to pass up.  I’m glad I jumped:  I discovered an experience more akin to St. Tropez than your bog-standard Caribbean island.  Even the Radisson here had an unexpected panache.  And the food….mon dieu!

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