Our peripatetic friends talk about their homes and their homes away from home—the changes they've witnessed and the paradises that stand still
Scots have a very dark sense of humor, which I inherited, and a very healthy ability to laugh at other people's misfortunes. There's a sense of tradition: we all go around shooting haggis—a kind of an animal, a bird, which we shoot on the moors.
—Alan Cumming, actor/director
For me, Bali doesn't change. It holds its spirit, and that is what I love about it. I love it all—the energy, the waters, the people, the colors. Every place has gone global, but Bali has maintained itself, and that is beautiful.
—Donna Karan, fashion designer
What I love best about the Lone Star State is its "cuisine." Barbecue arguments abound. Tex-Mex food lives by the slogan, "Even bad Mexican food is better than no Mexican food." And then there's that holdover, Southern cooking: beaten biscuits, corn fritters, hush puppies, chicken-fried steak. It's the diversity of Texas that fascinates—the shit-kicking cowboy in the pickup truck and the Dallas society matron. All Texans under the skin.
—Liz Smith, gossip columnist
There's a myth that New Yorkers are cold, anonymous, forbidding. But they're very accepting of anyone new. You can't be here for a day and not see someone who looks different from you—different clothes, different race, different religious background. You'll either become more inward and frightened, or more open and understanding. If you introduce me to a new consul general or ambassador who comes from some village, I can find someone here from the same village.
—Rudolph W. Giuliani, mayor
The first time I went to Venice, in the early thirties, I stayed in a pensione, the Seguso, because I didn't have enough money for a hotel. I arrived late at night, around 10 o'clock. My room looked right out onto the lagoon. I woke up the next morning to bells ringing from the Redentore Church and a procession led by the archbishop over a bridge that had been made across the Giudecca Canal. That was my first view of Venice—the robes, the priests. I remember the two women who owned the pensione. Their husbands had gambled and lost it, but the people gave it back to the women because they didn't approve of the men.
—Eleanor Lambert, publicist
Northern Louisiana, where I was born, is a vast range of landscapes punctuated by pine trees. I spent the early part of my life there in a one-horse, whistle-stop town before departing at age 16 for another life in New Orleans, a jumbo, gumbo helluva town that reflects the soul of Louisiana. Great food, lots of jazz, the smell of magnolias, gardenias, and honeysuckle penetrating the air—intoxicating indeed!
—Geoffrey Beene, fashion designer
Years ago, it was untouched by the most dangerous of all animals, humans. You can still find some good places, like the northern end of Lake Rudolf in Kenya or the Okavango Swamps in Botswana, where you can ride on elephants. And there's Gillies Turle, who does tours in Masai land, where you can see circumcision, medicinal artifacts, witch doctors' bones—the last remaining molecules of authenticity.
—Peter Beard, photographer
In Beijing you can see the new China; at the same time it is like a thousand years ago. When you go to a temple in the Forbidden City you feel that you are in the Middle Ages. But then there are lots of bicycles and terrible traffic. The modern is very new and the old is very old.
—Lang Lang, concert pianist
I like places that don't change: they give you a feeling of being at home. I've been going to the San Pietro in Positano for 25 years. The owners and the staff couldn't be nicer. The views from the hotel are breathtaking, as is the drive along the Amalfi coast. I also enjoy shopping for pottery in Vietri; it's nice to walk around there in the early evening and eat down by the sea.
—Gerald Schoenfeld, theatrical producer
Paris has turned from formal to casual. When we arrived in 1980, every Parisian man of any worth was dressed in a specific brown-and-green checked sports coat, with a pale yellow cashmere scarf tossed casually around the neck. The schoolchildren wore gray wool pants and jumpers. Today, from the way they dress, in baggy jeans and Nikes, they could be kids in Manhattan or Los Angeles.
—Patricia Wells, food critic and author
L.A. has always been an amazing combination of the urban and the wild. The wild is still there—the outdoors—if you know where to look. I love seasons, so the weather is a drawback for me. But when you live there you can detect the changes. There's a rainy season and a slight fall. Summer doesn't start until July and lasts until October. In summer, there's the amazing smell of blooming jasmine, so pungent it sort of knocks you out at night.
—Darren Star, television producer
I grew up in the west of Ireland, and used to go to Dublin only for my polio shots and a visit to Woolworth before being sent back. A couple of years ago I directed a movie there, and it was fun to be in Dublin that long, but it has changed enormously. There's a crane on every horizon now.
—Anjelica Huston, actor/director
There's a certain sense of humor to New York, epitomized by Woody Allen. Because it's such a hard place to live—the noise, the pressure—New Yorkers look at things with a cold, clear eye. In other parts of the country it sounds cynical. But if I get on a plane and I'm sitting next to someone from New York, we joke with each other.
—Candace Bushnell, writer
Japan is very fashion-forward, and in Shibuya, the trendy area in the center of the city, I was amazed to see young girls with platform shoes, T-shirts showing their tummies, and jean skirts. Eyelashes of yellow, pink, apricot, gold. Turquoise eye shadow. And they carry the most exciting cell phones I've ever seen.
—Frédéric Fekkai, hairstylist
There are some great open markets in Nice and Cannes. I love to look at the fish and the meat, and smell the garlic and olive oil cooking from the surrounding houses. I love the garlicky soupe de poissons, the loup de mer, daurade, grilled sardines, and little fish—they might be smelts—floured and flash-fried. Provence has changed an awful lot. It is really touristy now, so stay away in July and August. You must travel into the backcountry beyond Grasse to get a taste of what Provence used to be before the visitors' onslaught.
—Julia Child, chef
The people here are the most powerful in the world, but most of them don't have money. So these people—who decide who lives or dies—push their own grocery carts at Safeway. You'll see Tipper Gore rollerblading, Colin Powell going to the movies. From the outside, you see politicians fighting over things, but when five o'clock comes and the lights go down, they all have dinner together.
—Sally Quinn, hostess/author
Where we live is out of the way, not the Hollywood part of Hawaii. It's private, a little oasis. The sun sets between Molokai and Lanai right in front of our house. We watch the sun die pretty much every night.
—Kelsey Grammer, actor
I first visited Greece when I was 18. I went to all the places I had read about in The Iliad and The Odyssey. It was Easter time, and every one of these magnificent sites was empty. I was the only person in Corinth, Mycenae, Tiryns, and Delphi. I almost left in desperation. Instead, I ended up having the most extraordinary trip, which no one could repeat. I still believe that the gods and goddesses are romping through the fields of Greece, Italy, and Turkey.
—Iris Love, archaeologist
I've been to the Taj Mahal dozens of times—it's one of those few very special things in the world that must be seen. No matter how beautiful the photos are, it has a certain magic that you have to see to appreciate. There is such beauty in India—in the north, the Moghul architecture; in the south, the madness of the Hindu temples, which are almost like small cities. And the food is absolutely delicious. The vegetarian cuisine in Gujarat is extraordinary; you can't imagine how complex it is. There are so many cuisines in India because there are so many civilizations in India.
—Kenneth Jay Lane, jewelry designer
My favorite haunt is a cheesy place, the Hofbrauhaus, a traditional brewery that has a special dark beer. It's served in big, big mugs by women wearing dirndls, traditional dresses with ruffled aprons. Their boobs come out the top. They're bigger women, who say they're not German but Bavarian. Good thing they're big; they have to carry a lot of mugs.
—Heidi Klum, model
It's interesting to watch the tenuous relationship between Los Angeles society and the titans of the entertainment industry. They are polite to one another but they don't mix much. I never dismiss the trash side of the city, however. I love gossip, the cheaper the better. It is social history, after all. And more cheap gossip comes out of L.A. than out of any other city in the world.
—Dominick Dunne, writer
Although I love seeing ruins, temples, great works of art, there is something about watching animals in Africa that tells us about human nature. Whether you're looking at the matriarchy of the elephants, the chauvinism of the lions, or the aristocratic structure of gorilla families, you are really seeing yourself.
Months after the first time we went, I was having dreams about the savanna. I got a postcard from someone who'd traveled with us, and she asked if I was still dreaming about Africa. It gets into your bloodstream.
—Lesley Stahl, television journalist
I first went there in 1965, and I don't know that it's changed so much. The condominiums in West Palm Beach are new. The Colony Hotel, which years ago was the chicest place to stay and the most uptight, still looks great. But now, on Thursday nights, they get a gay crowd. Worth Avenue hasn't changed, but the shops have. The original Martha's shop, which sold clothes to Society, is no longer there. When I first went, Bonwit Teller was at the corner of Worth and Hibiscus. It's gone now, but Chanel has taken its place, and Tiffany, Armani, and Ralph Lauren are all there as well.
—Arnold Scaasi, fashion designer
My favorite place is Bodrum, where I have my house. It was a wonderful little fishing village, the ancient Halicarnassus. My house is made of a stone that was used in the mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. People ask me: What's this place we've been hearing about?I say it's a cross between a bedroom and a boardroom.
—Ahmet Ertegun, music producer
Israel has evolved into a Mediterranean nation of great verve and vitality, with Jews, Muslims, and Christians intermingling in one spot—especially in Jerusalem. It's a little country but it excels on a world level with high-tech and Internet businesses. Last but not least, it has symphonic and operatic performances through the year—eminent artists such as Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman; sundry chamber music groups; and the great Israel Philharmonic.
—Zubin Mehta, conductor
There's an elite group of business people here in fashion, music, and other industries. It's the same reason you go to St. Barts: a wealth of beauty and serenity, with another side to it, because you can see all your business contacts. I can visit Jay Z or Damon Dash, who's just down the street. Who knows what's over at Damon's house?All these models are there discussing world events and blasting hip hop music. In the Hamptons, you get the best of both—business and pleasure.
—Russell Simmons, music producer/fashion designer
This almost mythical country is slightly smaller than Indiana, and has a population of a little over 10 million. Yet it has produced a disproportionate number of great artists, composers, scientists, writers, and sportsmen. Even though it only emerged in 1990 from half a century of Communist occupation, it is much livelier than any other Central or Eastern European countries. The three most important things for a Hungarian are—not necessarily in this order—food and wine; music; and, of course, humor.
—George Lang, restaurateur
LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA
I was living in Boston until 1993, when I came to lecture at a hospital in La Jolla. A physician there took me to the cove for a walk. We could see some whales and sea lions cavorting by the beach. He said, "Why don't you move here?" Without even thinking for 30 seconds, I said, "Sure." It was so beautiful. I flew my wife down the next weekend and we bought a house: love at first sight. My only complaint is that it's too much like paradise. Sometimes I need to get out to New York to see how the stressed people live.
—Deepak Chopra, author
I'm a big fan of meat and I love the way the steaks are prepared in Brazil, with very little seasoning because the quality is so good. I also love all the sweet chocolates made with condensed milk for dessert.
—Gisele Bündchen, model