Friday, April 30, 2010

The premier issue of Vintage Magazine ( has just recently debuted and I have to tell you about it because it's extraordinary! Editor-in-chief Ivy Baer Sherman was inspired to create Vintage when she went to a retrospective exhibit in 2003 on the magazine Flair, which had a very brief life (it was published for only one year, 1950-51) but was hugely influential. Flair's founder, Fleur Cowles, pushed the boundaries of design, color, photography, and even texture, and featured innovative articles on art, music, fashion, travel, food, and culture. Vintage aims to offer a similar mix of style and content, and with its flaps, folds, layout, diecuts, and various papers it truly is a "tactile" reading experience.

Some of the articles featured in this premier issue are "Jacketing Music" by Gary Giddins, "Mes Chers Parents!" (the adventures of a Smith College student abroad in the 1950s) by Judith Oksner, "The Recipe File" by Kristen Frederickson, "Barbie Complex" by Barbara Lippert, and "Trimalchio's Myserious Vintage," a look at Roman hospitality and conspicuous consumption as portrayed in literature's most notorious dinner party, Trimalchio's Feast, the largest surviving chapter in the novel Satyricon, written by Titus Petronius Niger, who was Nero's courtier and a poet and writer. The magazine is physically held together with a string-and-glue binding, which gives the impression of being hand-sewn (though surely this is done by machine?), and its $20 price tag is just one clue that this is an uncommon production.

I am especially impressed by Sherman's introductory note to readers on the magazine's website, in which she states, "The magazine itself offers a multi-textured foray through history and out into the present; I do hope you choose to participate. That said, I believe that the innovative, textured qualities of print have counterparts in the lush, multi-tiered, ever-evolving environment of the Web." There is so much room in the world for both a hugely satisfying magazine experience and an amazing Web experience. Kudos to Sherman for being one of the very few to say so.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I have just purchased a wonderful little book published recently entitled Places in Turkey: A Pocket Grand Tour by Francis Russell and published by Frances Lincoln Limited in London. Francis Russell has worked at the auction house Christie's since 1972 and so naturally he has a discriminating eye and his little tour of Turkey (the book is only 5" x 6 1/2") is very distinctive and worthwhile. The photograph on the cover is of the exquisite Iznik tiles lining the interior of the Rustem Pasha mosque in Istanbul, my very favorite, and he opens his Introduction by stating, "Turkey is a daunting, yet infinitely rewarding, proposition for the tourist."

Of Istanbul, Russell writes, "Istanbul instantly asserts its magic. But it is not a city that can be taken by storm. It yields its secrets slowly; and those who have the patience to unravel the impacted strata of these will find the process deeply rewarding." He continues with words of advice that I, too, offer in my book: "A sensible itinerary demands time -- at least a week -- and calls for a good deal of walking." He recommends starting a visit to the city by going straight to Aya Sofya, an opinion with which I generally agree, though I think a visit to the Land Walls is perhaps an even better place to begin.

Russell's book -- complete with a glossary of architectural terms -- is a gem, and I encourge anyone interested in Turkey to read it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I couldn't resist posting another sunset shot from Rainbow Tree ( as well as a group photo taken last year on our final day with all the housekeeping staff.

On our visit this year, three friends joined our group, so we occupied both the large house and the smaller house at Rainbow Point, which is at the other end of the bay. The ten to fifteen minute walk between the houses is along a mostly sandy stretch and sometimes you pass a volleyball game in progress and sometimes you see live sea urchins and sometimes there is boat activity.
A highlight this year was the bonfire that Calvin built on our last night. It was a spectacular structure, and we brought the fixings for som'ores that we shared with a handful of neighborhood kids. They'd never had a marshmallow before (not a bad thing) and therefore never with a chocolate bar and a graham cracker. All in all it was a big hit. We're booked again for next year. If you think Rainbow Tree might be for you, log onto the website and feel free to send any queries to me or to Peter and Karen Kennedy, the (American) proprietors -- they have lived in and traveled around every corner of the Caribbean, and when it came time to settle on one island, they chose Jamaica and they chose Treasure Beach.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recently, I went to the island of Jamaica for my second visit. Until last year, Jamaica is a place I'd only been remotely interested in visiting -- not because I didn't think it wouldn't be pretty or interesting (it is both), but because of tales I'd heard about being constantly hassled on the beaches and those dreadful all-inclusive resorts (according to at least one guidebook the concept of all-inclusives originated on Jamaica).

But a colleague came back from a trip to the southern coast of the island, an area known as Treasure Beach, and raved, so my husband, daughter, and seven others took a chance and flew into Montego Bay and then spent three hours in a car before arriving at Rainbow Tree Villa ( I've hestitated to share Rainbow Tree with many people at the risk of ruining a very good thing, but now that I've been twice I know that Rainbow Tree, and Treasure Beach, aren't in danger of being ruined because the majority of visitors to Jamaica still prefer the resorts (of any kind) in the much more famous towns on the northern coast of the island. Treasure Beach is a special place, and only certain kinds of travelers -- notably readers of The Collected Traveler books -- will appreciate it.

The photo above was taken from the splendid porch at Rainbow Tree Villa -- there is also Rainbow Tree Point, a smaller house that sleeps six (the Villa sleeps ten). Watching the sunset is just about the most exciting event that happens in the course of a day at Treasure Beach. There are no nightclubs, discos, movie theaters, American chains, happy hours, or shopping malls. There are a few local shops that sell local crafts, and Jake's ( has a little shop with some appealing island-made items; but otherwise "retail" is somewhat of a foreign word. There is a handful of good places to eat -- Jake's has an outdoor restaurant on its stone terrace as well as an outdoor cafe called Jack Sprat and both are great fun; a new jerk place opened across the way from Rainbow Tree Villa and quite good dishes are turned out there; and the restaurant at the hotel Mar Blue ( is very good and offers more sophisticated fare. There is, in other words, just enough. A stay at either of the Rainbow Tree villas includes the services of a housekeeping staff, and Miss Jenny, Miss Laura, or Miss Loretta prepare all meals and they are excellent home cooks (the stew chicken is my favorite dish, while my daughter's is the banana pancakes; my husband loves everything).

Treasure Beach is a small fishing community with a landscape that isn't lush and green like most of the rest of Jamaica but rather much more dry and almost desert-like, with cactus and flowering bougainvillea. Boats leave from the two bays just about everyday, not only for fishing but for trips to the Black River and to the Pelican Bar, known locally as Floyd's after its proprietor. This Bar sits on stilts and is about a twenty minute ride from Treasure Beach. It is also one of the coolest places on earth. As I have said about a few other places in the world, for a place where there is seemingly not a lot to do, a week sure goes by awfully fast.

Treasure Beach and Rainbow Tree aren't perfect: I would like to walk more in the village, such as it is, but walking along the side of the road is fairly dangerous, and the refrigerator could be colder, and I wish the Jamaican culinary pantry was more diverse. But the best family vacation we've ever had has been at Rainbow Tree, and we now feel like we belong to this warm and wonderful community.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

As promised, here are a few portraits that Peggy Harrison has taken over the years. None of these were taken in Istanbul, but I think you'll agree that Peggy has true respect for her subjects. To see more, view her portfolio on her website,