Showing posts from January, 2011

A new guide to Istanbul

A new travel website, Simonseeks , had its official launch last month, featuring community-written and expert guides to almost 50 locations, mostly in Europe, but also around the world, from Hong Kong to Cape Town to New York. I spent a couple of months last fall researching and writing the expert guide to Istanbul , selecting 40 top hotels , 40 restaurants worth visiting, and 20 can't-miss sights , as well as making extensive recommendations on shopping , nightlife , and getting around , and offering my own " insider tips " and personal favorites in the city I've now called home for three years -- keeping a few special places to myself, of course.

Remembering an environmental hero

In the summer of 2003, I flew into Charleston, West Virginia, rented a car and drove deep into the state's mountain "hollows," deep green valleys where the land -- and the people who lived on it -- were badly scarred by mountaintop removal mining . I met people who had been barred from visiting their family cemeteries -- now on mining company land; people with cracks in their walls and coal dust blanketing their homes due to nearby mining operations; and disabled former miners who said they would rather risk their lives underground each day than let their families and homes be subjected to the dangers of mountaintop removal. My guide through this then-unfamiliar world was Judy Bonds , a former Pizza Hut waitress turned environmental activist who was one of the leaders of the grassroots opposition in the area to mountaintop removal mining, a campaign that was at the time largely a regional one, but today has become a national cause. I profiled her and her work for Sier