WTF?! It's snowing. In Chicago. In the middle of October. I've seen some crazy weather but this is insane. It's actually accumulating on the trees.
Quick -- everyone go outside and spray more aerosol into the air. That should help.
After spending some time in Paris, super twins Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen needed to decompress and regroup with a familiar idiom by camping out in London. The pair landed in the UK earlier today and are shacked up at the
Covent Garden Hotel Soho Hotel. According to a source at the posh centrally located spot, the girls are rather quite nice, sweet and down to earth, despite reports to the contrary. MK and Ash acted like regular guests and are even staying in a "cheap" room, which turns out to be the deluxe junior suite at about £400 a night (about $800). Regardless, they have the chance to get quite chummy with another big gay icon while in the English capital -- Liza also checked into the Soho Hotel, too Not a big surprise, given the hotel's access to London's theater district between Soho and Piccadilly. Ah, London and their celebs -- who can resist?
Got into Heathrow about three hours ago and while waiting for our bags to roll off the plane, who walks by but Colin Firth. In London not 15 minutes and had our first celeb spotting. Sure, not Posh, Kate or Madge but hey, it was still pretty cool. He was waiting for his bag to come off too -- stars, they're just like us! [Update: I've noticed a lot of Colin Firth fans are linking to this post so I thought I'd offer a little more info. Colin came in on an overnight flight from NYC, walked up to the baggage claim and blended in with the crowd. Very laid back, unassuming -- that seems something British a-listers can do -- no entourage, no fuss. Colin and I walked through customs together, when he put on a baseball cap to try to be a little incognito -- or maybe just to cover up his slightly matted hair. Afterward, he went up to the Virgin Upper Class desk ... and at that point I found my driver and left the airport. Wish I could add more for y'all.]
The flight was great -- United business class does it right. First rate food, comfy seats and an array of movies. After a couple glasses of champagne and two more glasses of wine, I got a killer migraine that stuck with me until we got off the plane.
The sun is fighting to come out amidst light drizzle -- I guess that's what we can expect this week. Got to our place in Shoreditch, grabbed a coffee (which is definitely weaker than in the States) and strolled the neighborhood a bit. Great cafes, boutiques, galleries and the like. Being Sunda morning, no one is really on the streets and it was a pleasure having a little peace.
More later -- hopefully I won't get hit by a bus looking the wrong way.
I'm heading to London in the morning so if things are quiet around here, that's why. But not for long...
The first night I arrived in Austin, a friend took me out and wanted to show me a few spots in town. The first place we hit, I could've stayed all night. The Hotel San Jose in the hip South Congress neighborhood is a 40-room zen palace that used to be a rent-by-the-hour crack hotel. Refurbished in 2000, this former motor court is a boutique bungalow-style haven in the heart of the city. Gravel pathways lit by subtle lanterns lead guests through peaceful maze-like paths to their rooms. The centerpiece of the San Jose is the pool and adjacent courtyard where guests and locals linger into the night, chilling out with beer, wine and selections of cheese and olives under the Texas sky. And where Austin is known for fostering one of the world's best music communities, the San Jose has an artist-in-residence program where it features different artists' work every few months. It even hosted a range of parties during SXSW featuring the "South by San Jose" music series. Rooms range from the low $90s to the low $300s and all include free DSL and WiFi access
Who knew Iowa was so hip? A friend showed me a video he took on his phone from a recent trip to Davenport, Iowa, one of the "quad cities" that straddle the Iowa/Illinois border along the Mississippi River. Apparently, Davenport has a pedestrian walking bridge -- the SkyBridge -- that stretches from the parking garage of a music museum to a riverboat casino called the Rhythm City. Now I don't know much about Davenport, but I do know that this is one trippy-ass bridge.
Named for a neighborhood in Northern Paris with a large North African population, Barbés is a laid-back, hipster hang in the south end of Park Slope in Brooklyn. Its small, intimate space and large selection of worldwide brews is a fine draw, but it's the back room that pulls in the crowds. Known for almost-nightly performance sessions, Barbés pulls from the local artist and music community to highlight great happenings in Brooklyn -- as well as drawing international performers. When I got there last week, most of the patrons were out front smoking -- it was a gorgeous summer night in New York after all. But shortly after ordering a beer at the bar, wonderful jazz starting wafting from the back. Friends of mine who live around the corner have a true gem in their neighborhood. On any given night, they can stumble in to catch music ranging from Hawaiian steel guitar and Moroccon oud music to a multi-instrumental duo and traditional Brasilian rhythms. If you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, hit Barbés -- it's literally down the hill from the 7th Avenue F stop. It won't disappoint.
I got to New York this morning and staying in Bklyn. My posts might be sparse, but that's because I'm out looking for new things.
I did hit a lot of music in Chicago last weekend and did an interview with one of the blogosphere's favorite bands -- so keep your eyes posted for that in the next few days.
A mere 40-minute water taxi ride, where the wind rips through you hair, salt water hits you in the face and the anticipation of spotting dolphin or whales swimming in the ocean grips you, you'll land in Yelapa, a small beach town at the southernmost tip of Banderas Bay. This enclave that time almost forgot just got electricity three years ago, but seems to really be connected to Puerto Vallarta in every way.
On one edge of Yelapa sits the most welcoming little resort, if you will: Hotel Lagunita. Made up of palapas, or thatched huts, the hotel comprises a little more than a dozen "villas," but any more would be wrong. While we didn't stay at the hotel (we only spent the day at Yelapa), I fell in love with its tranquility and naturally beautiful ambiance.
Best of all was the organic pool overlooking the ocean.
OK, I know I said I was going to post from Puerto Vallarta, but with the beach, the margaritas, going out at night ... it's not really time to sit in front of the computer doing work. But, fear not, I'm going to recap my favorite moments from the week. Starting with this.
If you go to PV you M-U-S-T head to Dolphin Adventures up in Nuevo Vallarta. Set among the big, obnoxious tourist resorts, the dolphin sanctuary is a haven for any lover of animals or sea life. Swimming with dolphins was a life-long dream and while I would have much rather encountered these gentle, brilliant mammals in their natural setting, I was happy to just jump into the pool with them.
At first, having this large creature swim at me with its mouth open, exposing 88 sharp teeth, was a tad daunting. But when you realize how tame and sweet they are, that all they want is to be loved, how smart and trainable they are, you realize they are as scary as your own dog.
The highlight for me was, at the end of our time when everyone was climing out of the pool, I called over to our trainer, Alex, a PV native, and said, "What if I want a ride?" He looked around, called me over and said, in Spanish, "Voy a decirle que es tu cumpleanos" (I'm going to tell them it's your birthday). A few seconds later, I found myself riding belly-to-belly on an upsidedown dolphin named Nacho. The feeling of being towed around by this gentle creature was exhilarating. I wish I had a picture.