the inca trail

IMG_3738When I hiked the 100-plus mile Brecon Beacons trail across the hills of Wales a few years ago, I considered it a major achievement. However, it didn’t prepare me one whit for the Peruvian Andes. Distances covered at or close to sea level are almost insignificant when compared to hiking at high altitude. And the Inca Trail is nothing but high-in-the-sky altitude. The elevation begins at 8,500 feet and climbs to just shy of 14,000 feet. That’s 8.5 oxygen-deprived miles up. Despite having spent three days acclimatizing in a rather posh Cusco hotel, I quickly discovered that you don’t so much hike the Inca Trail as survive it. Come along for the ride – it will leave you equally breathless.


burning up the ship

Cruise liner, Duke of Lancaster

Three monkeys dressed in suits crouch on bulging sacks of money, striking the pose of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” At more than 30-feet tall, the giant gangsta chimps are the size of a three-story building and joined on all sides by similarly fantastic and macabre creatures, from skeleton divers to slobbering pigs. Welcome to the Duke of Lancaster, an abandoned ship on the Dee Estuary in north Wales, which has become a canvas for some of the most renowned graffiti artists in Europe, including France’s GOIN and Latvian KIWIE. At a whopping 450-feet long and seven stories tall, the former British passenger ferry – built in the same Belfast shipyard as Titanic – is a haunted, rusted out sight. Graffiti collective DuDug approached the ship’s owners with the clever idea of turning the abandoned vessel into an arts destination. With their approval, artists from across Europe began spray-painting the decrepit ship with surreal artworks of punk geishas and bandit businessmen, using cherry pickers to scale the towering walls. DuDug is now campaigning to have the site opened to the public as the centerpiece of an arts festival. At the least, it would be the largest open-air gallery in the UK. If the organizers don’t manage to get anywhere with the local arts council, perhaps they should give the folks at Carnival a call. An open sea gallery off the coast of Italy might make a fitting end to their Costa Concordia troubles.

Duke of Lancaster grafitti


ho, ho, ho photos

I just got the coolest early Christmas present:  Robert Frank’s London/Wales; a book that combines my love of travel, photography and London & Wales.  How’s that for a trifecta?

In the early 1950’s – prior to his groundbreaking documentary, The Americans -  Frank was shuttling back and forth between New York and Europe.  Over a period of two years he visited London and became caught up in the shadows and fog blanketing a city still reeling from the destruction and deprivation of WW II.  As the cover image below shows, his photos juxtapose class, wealth, and work: city workers in their top hats, delivery boys with their loads of coal, one side of the coin pretending the other side doesn’t exist.   The next year – coincidentally just before the onset of the Welsh coal mines being nationalized – he traveled on to the town of Careau, and documented people whose lives were inextricably bound to their work.  What could have easily become a romanticized – or exploitive – formal document is instead a sideways, almost casual, revelation of the worker’s humanity.

Robert Frank


Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.