One of my biggest regrets from my six years living in Atlanta was never hopping in my car and making the drive to Charleston. And last year, after T+L readers voted the charming Southern town the best city in the U.S., I started feeling that pull again and decided to take action, convincing two girlfriends to join me on a weekend getaway. Stephen Colbert recently shared his top picks from his hometown, so I thought I would do the same. My biggest regret now? Only staying for three days.
Twenty years ago last Friday I arrived at Travel + Leisure. I had been the editor in chief of House & Garden; a book editor at Clarkson Potter; and, fresh out of college, an assistant and then a reader in the fiction department of The New Yorker. I thought of myself as reasonably well traveled, though outside of what I’d read and edited, the closest I had come to South America was Mexico and the Caribbean, and to Asia, Hawaii. The world I entered in the summer of 1993 extended far beyond these boundaries to places that remain tagged in my memory for qualities that were then entirely new to me. My mental notes from a trip to Hong Kong in the fall of that year still remain: East-meets-West glamour; bamboo scaffolding; crossing Victoria Harbour on the Star Ferry. From Auckland, New Zealand: green-lipped mussels for lunch on Queen Street; Waiheke Island sheep; grass; New Age shops. And so on, from Botswana (sandstorm; hippos) to Japan (textiles; ceramics; lacquerware), and from Buenos Aires to Tromsø in Norway’s Arctic Circle.
I bought my Nikon FE in 1983, after months of careful shopping and comparing and saving of money. I was 14. I had never owned an object I loved as much as this one: it was all black, a beautifully utilitarian piece of machine-tooled aluminum and glass. That summer, my family went on vacation to the Loire Valley, and I took many hundreds of photographs of castles, and a few of my parents and brother, too. The strange thing is not that I still love this camera, though of course I do, but that I still use it. Today it’s technically an antique, but the FE is notoriously rugged, hailed by professionals back in the day for its ability to operate in extreme conditions. Needless to say, the photographs, too, seem more rugged than any JPEG. I pile them in a shoebox—tangible, permanent records, far from the iCloud ether.
Photo by Sam Kaplan
Made with water-resistant canvas and full-grain leather, ONA’s stylish Brixton is designed to hold a camera, several lenses, and various accessories—all under an unassuming cover. When you’re not lugging photo gear, the adjustable foam panels can secure your laptop, while a padded shoulder strap makes it easy to carry heavy loads. $269.
Plus: See T+L’s Best Photography Tips
Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.
Photo by Tom Schierlitz
It may be a far climb to reach the ranks of Rosetta Stone, but pioneering language learning app Duolingo is taking the world—literally—by storm. In just under one year since its conception, three million users around the globe have signed up to learn any of six languages without paying a penny, either on the iPhone, iPad, or online. As of yesterday, Android users can join in the fun as well—and the jump to Google’s smartphone platform is expected to double the app’s user base.
An iPhone user myself, I’ve been using Duolingo to brush up on my basic Italian for months (admittedly inspired by the gaping holes in my vocabulary on a recent trip) and can’t recommend it highly enough. For one, it’s truly free, and not just for a trial period. The company intends to turn a profit by incorporating optional translation services into your learning; as a result, their success hinges on their teaching ability.
How’s this for street style? New York–based fashion brand Cityzen by Azin turns satellite images of global cities (Tehran! Tokyo! Dhaka!) into dresses, silk scarves, and leather bags. Never get lost again.
New York City in duchess satin, $1,330, Cityzen by Azin.
Three More Well-Plotted Accessories
• Canvas Mexico tote, $128, Echo.
• London clutch in suede and satin, $1,295, Anya Hindmarch.
• Monogrammed world map silk scarf, $460, Louis Vuitton.
Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's style director.
Photo by John Lawton
Are the latest beauty and wellness products worthy of a spot in your teensy carry-on? T+L Associate Editor Kathryn O’Shea-Evans shares her take.
The product: Kiss My Face Moisture Shave in Key Lime; $9
Pros: Made of moisturizing olive oil and aloe vera, among other (natural) things, yet smells absolutely delish—just like the key lime pie at Miami’s News Café. Perfect for your next beach trip.
Cons: Doesn’t get foamy like some shave creams. Another problem: it smells so good you might be tempted to eat it!
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.
Photo courtesy of Kiss My Face
It’s not often that we want to accessorize à la Carmen Miranda. But Colombian-born designer Nancy Gonzalez, known for her exotic-skin bags, has won us over with these too-cute-to-resist woven crocodile wristlets. Cue the samba! Available by special order at Bergdorf Goodman; 800/558-1855; from $2,550.
Photo by John Lawton
It was in Phuket, Thailand, that I first encountered a mangosteen, years ago, in an otherwise ordinary hotel fruit basket: a curious object the size of a billiard ball, its leathery shell as purple as a bruise. The snow-white, segmented flesh recalled a lychee crossed with a clementine: tart and tangy, generously but not garishly sweet, bursting with juice and tropical sunlight. The mangosteen has since ruined me for all other fruits—hell, for all other foods, period. Grown primarily in Southeast Asia, they were barred from import to the U.S. until 2007, for pest-control reasons. It’s still hard to find fresh (not frozen) specimens stateside—unless, like me, you troll the back alleys of New York’s Chinatown looking for a guy who might know a guy. But never mind. It would be worth flying 18 hours in coach to Thailand to savor a single bite.
Photo by Kerem Uzel
The next best thing to sand between your toes: these Ipanema-inspired patent-leather-and-grosgrain heels by Brit Sophia Webster. Tall and tan and definitely lovely. $485.
Photo by Carmen De Witt