From the Office and Backyard to the Road, Boat, or Plane–Backstories and
Side Stories While on Assignment. Updates on Personal Projects, Too.

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

In Rome this month after joining PFE Photo for an assignment, I took the chance to go out on a solo adventure. At the Termini Stazione in the late afternoon, I pulled my smallest suitcase onto a train that followed tracks out of the city and into the hills. Before sunset, I’d made it to Spoleto.

I’ll be writing more. But for now, some snapshots of several days there. I talked little and walked a lot. There were stops for bianco Orvieto, for gelato (panna cotta, baba au rhum), to meet craftsmen and look into galleries, shoe shops. The leather!  Whenever I could, I drank from fountains.

Spoleto, Italy - Sandy Lang, June 2011Craftsman, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Trails, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Truffles, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Lunch, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Laundry, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Sunday morning, Spoleto, Italy. By Sandy Lang, June 2011.Menu fisso lunch, Spoleto, Italy. By Sandy Lang, June 2011.

– Sandy Lang, June 2011

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Food, Travel



Savannah essentials

Playing a little bocce before or after the ravioli at Chef Roberto Leoci’s trattoria in Savannah – now that’s living, particularly in spring. I had the chance to write about Leoci’s, Leopold’s and several other special places in Savannah for an assignment with editor and writer Jennifer Vashti Cole for this month’s issue of Southern Living.

Above is the opener (photo by PFE) of the six-page City Guide feature, which names current favorites in restaurants, shops and lodging – from the Thunderbird to the Bohemian – along with photographs by Squire Fox and Peter Frank Edwards.

– Sandy Lang, April 2011

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In print/published, Travel

I’m so excited to see this in print. Below is the opener for our first piece for Maine magazine, “Oyster Drive,” a 9-page feature in the March issue. (Yes, that’s an oysterman collecting oysters in the snow – Adam Campbell of North Haven.) Photography is by Peter Frank Edwards, and the staff did a beautiful layout.

Take a flight into Portland, and power directly north on some combination of Route 1 and I-95 to the cabin near Bucksport. That’s what we typically do—but not this time. It was a mid-December morning, snow was coming, and it was just days before many of the oystermen would be hauling in their boats and gear for the season. (Some harvest year-round. Others are typically back out on the water in March or April.) That’s how our “Oyster Drive” was born.

Weather and season made it suddenly more than a fleeting idea. Finding oysters was elevated to a personal mission—something necessary, even urgent. As winter crept up from the floorboards of the rented Toyota, every oyster we could find would be that much more precious. We mapped out a plan to skip I-95 and stick to the coast, seeking roadside views of the tidal beds and washes where the oysters grow, and making stops along the way at towns, coves, rivers, islands. We wanted to taste again the salt and quiver of the Maine oyster, and get our fill as close as possible to the chilled tides. The gas tank was full, we had the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer by our side, and we had a starter list of oyster destinations in hand. Check. Check. Check. Off we went…

– Sandy Lang, March 2011



Back in Barbados

Just back from a new Barbados assignment. Between Holetown and Mullins Beach, we floated out over clear water and a chalk-white bottom, and we were soon adrift in swimming sea turtles. In candlelight that night, there were plantains and barracuda for dinner – and plenty of cane sugar rum.

I’ll be writing a longer story, but for now, a few more island snapshots: the porch at Hunte’s Gardens and the last intact sugarcane windmill (above). Below, the island’s prized black-bellied lambs, and an above-the-trees view of Prospect Bay Beach in St. James.

– Sandy Lang, February 2011

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The new Garden & Gun magazine (Dec. 2010 – Jan. 2011) is out and looks terrific. For this issue, I wrote of a winter road trip — tales from a couple of drives to catch the South’s heaps of snow, and a whiteout ski season.


The first few paragraphs:

The icicles looked like serious daggers hanging from the eaves of the low-slung Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock. The restaurant was practically buried in snow, and inside, near an open-flame propane heater by the bar, someone had brought one of those icicles inside, a good two-footer, and propped it in a champagne bucket. “Rowdy locals,” said Michael Foreman, Bistro Roca’s chef. He didn’t seem to mind. Foreman was overseeing the kitchen that night with a lift ticket still hanging from his jacket and ski goggles backward on his head. He’d taken a break between lunch and dinner for some snowboarding at Appalachian Ski Mountain. “The wind was brutal up there,” he said. “We were getting blown back up to the top.”

I wanted to see that for myself. After the bartender went on a winter citrus binge—pouring “manmosas” of PBR and orange juice, and then a tasty vin d’orange made in North Carolina—everyone seemed to be in some stage of celebration. Granted, it was an epic snow year for the South, and the ski conditions were good, real good. Yes, in the South. But even in an average year, many Southern ski places have snow-making systems that can keep slopes open pretty much all winter. At compact Appalachian (about twenty-seven skiable acres), they’re known to keep mountainside runs deep with several feet of white stuff for months.

So last ski season, instead of going up north or out west, I headed for a roughly sixty-five-mile loop in North Carolina, from Blowing Rock to Boone to Banner Elk and back. These are some of the southernmost ski mountains in the East, and it’s where I did my first skiing on annual trips during high school in the 1980s. The old-school ski resorts here still have bonfires and outdoor ice-skating rinks. There are even some rope tows, though most have now given way to chairlifts or the “magic carpet” lifts that pull beginners uphill conveyor-style. And the towns themselves are connected by two-lane roads with attractions like the Tweetsie Railroad and the Blowing Rock lookout. It’s a beautiful and quirky little road trip, but I wasn’t here just for sightseeing…


– By Sandy Lang, December 2010  (Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards)

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In print/published, Travel


Like all the others, I’d claimed a section of public upholstery and spent the night folded on a yard-length of couch at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Snowbound and stranded, we were waiting to catch the next day’s flights after so many had been canceled in the whirl of snow. The security guard said there’d be better couches in the lounge near the C and D gates.

In the after-midnight hours, when I’d readjust my position in the crook of couch, I’d look up to see huge freeform masses of gold Christmas balls and garland suspended from the ceiling. My second overnight of travel – the first spent on the plane – and I’d reached a bleary heaven-state. At a Mediterranean cafe down the corridor, men chopped and clanked in the kitchen for part of the night while Spanish pop music played. The distant sounds were steady comfort. Before dawn, busy footsteps started. The shops would open early. I think the Starbucks was brewing all night. I’d go for a paper cup of coffee with milk just before 6 a.m. and watch the airport wake with more and more life and luggage. Eventually, sunshine appeared on the tarmac dusted white. My rescheduled flight took off mid-day – at the exact time it should have, one day before.

– Sandy Lang, December 2010

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The November issue of Travel + Leisure is just out, with my guide to what’s new in Barbados, including the mango-painted Nishi restaurant, and the renovated Atlantis hotel, near the “Soup Bowl” surf action on the eastern shore. Had such a delicious trip to the island this year.



– Sandy Lang, October 2010

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Food, In print/published, Travel

I’ve got a few more snapshots from a week in Hawaii, working with Peter Frank Edwards Photographs.

At a food truck in Hanalei, this was the $9 mixed plate on Saturday – chicken lau lau, kalua pork, lots of purple poi, lomi-lomi salmon (best with gobs of poi), mac salad, and a dessert square made with coconut milk, taro and sticky rice. Actually much of the plate was sticky. And delicious… the taro leaves wrapped around the chicken have a smoky, artichoke taste. For another buck, the root beer was a good wash with it all. 


From Princeville, the view of Hanalei Bay, for the moment… the sky and light changes fast here.


His name is “Moo” and lives with his owner near Moloa’a Beach, on the north shore of Kaua’i.


Here’s a doorless helicopter view of some of the ancient mountains of the once-volcanic Na Pali coast.


Not long before sunset at Hideaways Beach… the reward for the steep and slippery hike down the narrow path from Princeville. (Watch out for the broken railing in places, the thin ropes.) That’s PFE on the left. Tom, a local surfer and musician, brought us to this special patch of beach that’s shouldered by a rock ledge. As the sun fell, we all stood in the coarse-grained sand and sunglow and talked a while – of small houses, big surf and a Steinway piano (that’s another story).


– Sandy Lang, September 2010.

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Food, Travel

bonefish, Kaua'i

North of Hanalei, almost all the way up the coast road on Kaua’i, we came across some local men and women fishing from the beach. They’d stretched three nets, one inside the next, and brought each net in slowly – walking from neck deep water to the beach, as waves rolled in over their backs. The closer the line of fishermen got to shore, the crowd grew.

bonefish2 Kaua'i

The catch was made, and it was a big one. Someone went for a pick-up truck with a tub in the back that they’d fill with saltwater and the flopping, silver fish – the mountains of Na Pali towering behind as they worked. Old men with wrinkled faces held and pulled the red nets, along with younger men and women, many from the same family. Once the fish were on the beach, even toddlers helped to carry them to buckets and then onto the waiting truck. It was a good catch, they said, and then they drove off to take it to market.


– Sandy Lang, September 2010

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Travel, Wild animals and places


Just back from the ferry boats, footpaths and winding roads of Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello…

The mountains on the Amalfi Coast rise right up out of the sea, and the towns are built into them, terraced and layered in the stone. Stairsteps and lanes wind between stone walls and everywhere there is a patch of ground, someone is carefully growing something – fruit and olive trees, bougainvillea, tomato and aubergine plants, basil and wild fennel. So many lemons. This Mediterranean variety was long and lumpy and big as grapefruit. We met a local limoncello maker who was cutting off the peels to soak in vodka. “Dulche” he said about the sweet peels. I bit into the juice and zing of the lemon sections themselves. All was yellow and sunshine, pure lemon-ness.


Everything we saw growing we’d also see on the plate. On most menus there’d be a some kind of rustic, handmade pasta. Sometimes it was a fat spaghetti, other times it was twisted into tight curls. In Pogerola, a small town high above Amalfi, we walked by the open kitchen window of an osteria named Rispoli and could see the steam rising. Across the narrow lane was a patio of 6 or 8 tables, and there – at a square table with a pink plaid tablecloth and views of the hillsides above Amalfi, Atranti and the sea – we ate plates of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, a whole panfish with lemon, and pasta vongole with those tiny Mediterranean clams that are so full of flavor in their ridged purple-white shells. For dessert – we’d started to talk with guests beside us from Switzerland, so wanted to stay on longer – we shared a cold and creamy rum baba with wild strawberries. On other tables I saw plates of sardines and olive oil, and of fried squid and prawns, of pitchers of a beer-golden wine. One wiry sister, Marina, waited on guests and called out orders through the kitchen window to another sister at the stove. The pasta was yellow with yolk and roughly cut into wide, flat pieces, as if it had been hand-rolled and cut it with a knife. Bravissimo. And Rispoli had no wine list but a choice of bianco or russo served in glass pitchers for four Euros per litre.  Oddly frizzante and almost foamy at first, their bianco tasted better and better as we drank into the night, and eventually walked happily back down the hill to our hotel.


– Sandy Lang, June 2010 (photo’s: roadside lemon stand, the beach at Positano, my favorite car in Amalfi)

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Food, Travel, Wine

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