The Whiskey Chronicles (in Buenos Aires)

The Whiskey Chronicles (in Buenos Aires)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cape Town and Everything After

I'm desperately trying to catch up on things before we start a 12-day trip to Bhutan, where we'll largely be out of touch...

Above, that's us starting our abseil ("rappel" in American) off Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain. I really thought Dana would back out of this trip at the last second, but she stuck it out and we were able to head down the mountain together.

Cape Town has to be one of the most outdoor-oriented cities in the world. Besides abseiling, we did some sea kayaking to Boulder Beach, where thousands of African penguins have set up camp as well as some cycling in the wine country.

From Cape Town we flew east to the Sabi Sands game reserve, adjacent to South Africa's famed Krueger National Park. Driving around in a roof-less, door-less Land Rover, we watched prides of lions and leopards walk so close that we could have touched them without stretching our arms. We also drove into the middle of a voracious group of rhinos, saw several groups of elephants, giraffes, impala, etc. If you're counting the Big Five, we missed out on buffalo.

Departing South Africa, we heard the six words every traveler dreams of: "You've been upgraded to First Class." We were flying Cathay Pacific, which meant an upgrade to the top-ranked First Class cabin in the world. Even with the fully reclining bed, I never went to sleep, too busy eating the five-course meal (starting with caviar), watching a few of the 60 on-demand movies, and basically gawking out the window at places - like Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritus - which I never thought I'd get to see.

We've been in Thailand for a week, both in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. We've taken cooking classes, run a half-marathon, and eaten all the street food we can handle. But these updates will have to come later. Tomorrow we take Druk Air to Paro. After a day or two of acclimatizing (the benefits of high-altitude life in Bolivia are now gone) we start a six-day trek though the mountains to Thimphu. We'll be back in Bangkok on April 1.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Turkey photos

Just added photos from Turkey to the column at the right. South Africa on the way soon...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Our 15 Minutes of Fame (in Turkey)

Turkey's largest daily paper, Hurriyet, has a story on our travels and an interview with us in one of their more recent issues. You can access the article at: and

Of course, it would help if you read Turkish. But they posted some of our photos on the link, so check it out.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Truth About the Four Seasons

It may be Istanbul's former prison (ever see Midnight Express?), but today the yellow walled building in the city's historic Sultanahmet district is the Four Seasons, the top hotel in Europe according to Conde Nast and Travel + Leisure.

But what exactly do you get for a winter rate "special" of $300 per night? You do get a huge room with a Bose stereo, spacious marble bathroom, the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, and incredible service (Our concierge: "You should take the Bosporous cruise, Mr. Faries. We'll have the taxi waiting for you in fifteen minutes and when you board the boat, sit towards the back right for the best sunset views of the city.") Hit the roof deck and you'll be smack in the middle of the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque, the perfect spot to hear the alternating chants of the noon call to prayer. Behind you is the Topkapi Palace, where several centuries worth of Sultans entertained their harems and ruled the Ottoman world.

But believe it or not, your $300 doesn't get you breakfast in the morning - croissants and juice will set you back $30 if you want it. And if you happen to down a couple glasses of Chivas in the hotel bar with a local journalist, you might find a $70 bill waiting for you afterwards. Ouch.

"This place is a money suck," Dana said as we checked out. No disagreement here, but that raises an interesting question: Would I ever stay here on a return trip to Turkey? Sweet mercy, yes.