Jerusalem, Israel: Hanging in the Holy Land

There’s one thing I must confess. I married a lovely Israeli man… and I still haven’t made it to the Holy Land. My inner-Heb cries, “If I should forget Jerusalem, my left hand should fall.” Or something like that. In case it sounds pathetic, keep this in mind… we’ve only been married for a year and we’re planning The Big Trip now. That said, as a travel writer, I can tell you all about the top hotels in the world with eye-popping amenities that cost anywhere from $300-$1,000/night, but that doesn’t mean I don’t a) go ga-ga when I find a good deal and b) want to know where the real locals stay.

In my quest, I queried a man whose knowledge of Israel, quality (and that doesn’t always mean 600-thread count Frette linens), and, most importantly, authenticity, is second to none. That’s right… my husband.

So here’s a little secret gem that’s definitely not your generic luxurious, five-star hotel, but rather, an Arab-Israeli owned boutique hotel.

Concentrated in only a few hundred feet are Al-Aqsa Mosque, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher (where even the most die-hard American Jew isn’t immune to the holiness of Christ’s stomping grounds), and, of course, The Wailing Wall, the most important sacred sites of the top three monotheistic religions.

What my main man likes best?

There’s a wine bar in the entrance, it’s cheap (anywhere from $30-$100/night), and a REAL spot for those wanting to see Jerusalem, even if it means you’ll likely hear street-sellers in the morning and the hustle and bustle of Jews – and Muslims – living peacefully side-by-side in the heart of the Holy Land.

As Whoopi on Virtual Tourist says, “Some of the double rooms have a balcony out to the busy street and also have two floors in the room. These are great! The whole hotel is also very relaxed and cozy with lots of things hanging on the walls, everything from garments to photos and poetry. Lots of sofas and chairs everywhere and it gives you the feeling of being in some nice, but weird old lady’s house. Just outside you find everything you need from internet cafes to stores, restaurants, market and tourist attractions.”

And really, when you’re in the Holy Land, what better place to be?

45 Bedrooms, cable satellite in the lobby, on-site laundry, an internet lounge open 24 hrs., a safe deposit box, and a panoramic view of Jerusalem from the roof-top.

Tell them Jaunt Magazine sent you.

Santa Fe: Your Romantic Vacation Cheat Sheet

We bet you’ve never contemplated your belly button in the center of Tent Rocks before.

Or how about made love in an adobe den under the multi-hued skies of Santa Fe?

So what, we ask, are you waiting for?

It’s not hard to feel like you’re on vacation in a place where the calm envelops you with a warm embrace. Here, fine art and dining are as approachable – and enjoyable – as that lovely girl with a wide grin smiling from across the crowded room. Ladies and gentlemen, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the next best place to vacation (and invest your retirement money). There’s a reason stars like Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts love this state so here are Jaunt Magazine’s top picks for a great spa/art/adventure away from this rat race.

Santa Fe Hotels

The Inn and Spa at Loretto is one of our top picks right in the center of town. Impressive adobe architecture and easy access to all of Santa Fe’s attractions, makes this property a favorite for Jaunt staffers. Special packages with spa, ski, and golf amenities are also available for Girl’s or Boy’s Getaways. Priced around $300-$400/night.

Inn of the Anasazi, a Rosewood Hotel, has massive hand-carved doors, sculpted stairways and sandstone walls as part of their authentic Southwestern Pueblo touches characterizing an intimate 57-room hotel. They also offer award-winning dining and an ideal location near the city’s historic central Plaza. Four-poster beds and other handcrafted furnishings grace each of the beautifully decorated rooms, along with cozy gas-lit kiva fireplaces. Rooms start at $309/night.

Encantado, an Auberge Resort: This exceptional new retreat opened this August in a spectacular setting at the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains, seven miles north of downtown near the Santa Fe Opera. Featuring 65 casitas luxuriously appointed in New Mexican native adobe style with private terraces, outdoor fireplaces, state-of-the-art technology and sweeping views of the Rio Grande, Los Alamos, and the Jemez Mountains, Encantado also introduced Santa Fe’s first world-class resort spa, a gourmet restaurant and an expansive outdoor sculpture garden. For those wishing to explore Santa Fe, Encantado also offers complimentary Mercedes-Benz car service and easy access to the city’s famed art galleries and restaurants with its centrally located Concierge Lounge offering VIP services. Rates start $425/night.

Leading galleries of contemporary art have quickly made a home in the new Railyard District, including Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, which has moved from Canyon Road to a striking new two-story gallery space on South Guadalupe Avenue. The gallery has represented contemporary masters from Richard Serra to Robert Motherwell, and Louise Nevelson to Robert Rauschenberg.

Gebert Contemporary recently expanded from its Canyon Road gallery and sculpture garden to add a Railyard District location with 6,000 square feet of “project space” that can encompass monumental sculpture and painting as well as video and installation pieces. Gebert specializes in the contemporary abstract painting and sculpture of an international group of established and emerging artists.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary, is the only American museum devoted to a female artist. Hollah! One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was devoted to creating imagery that expressed what she called “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.” The largest single repository of O’Keeffe’s work in the world, with a collection of nearly 3,000 works, including more than 1,000 O’Keeffe paintings, drawings, and sculpture, the museum displays works by this great American modernist. Over 140 artists have been also exhibited at the Museum including Frank Stella, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol and Arthur Dove.

Santa Fe Restaurants
Learn about the rich culinary history of the “City Different” with a restaurant walking tour and progressive lunch starting at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, the authority on Southwestern cuisine. The tours are led by native Santa Fean, television host, and chef/guide, Rocky Durham. Then it’s out for a guided tour to three of Santa Fe ‘s most prestigious dining destinations:

Amavi, recently voted ‘most romantic restaurant in Santa Fe’ in the May 2008 issue of the Santa Fean. Chef/owner, David Sellers and his wife, Heather highlight regional specialties from the cuisines of Italy, Spain and France.

Tom Kerpon, Executive chef of Rio Chama, will share some of his secrets about his award-winning regional cuisine that has made him one of Santa Fe’s favorite chefs!

Coyote Café, where the new chef/owner Eric DiStefano, formerly of Geronimo, will prepare a dish and share some of the rich history of the world famous Coyote Café. Phenomenal food and the chefs were so charismatic and generous with time, preparation instruction and portions!)

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Casa de Sierra Nevada

Maybe it’s because I love cochinita pibil. I’m not really sure what it is about Mexico that keeps me coming back for more. One such location – a veritable carrot in front of my hungry horsey mouth – is the protective colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The fortified town, first established in the 16th century to protect the Royal Route inland, reached its apogee in the 18th century when many of its outstanding religious and civic buildings were built in the style of the Mexican Baroque. Some of these buildings, masterpieces of the style that evolved in the transition from Baroque to neoclassical, acted as a melting pot where Spaniards, Creoles and Amerindians exchanged their cultural and artisanal influences. Founded in 1542, the town of San Miguel de Allende sits at 6,400 feet above sea level and the streets of this colonial town are lined with palacios that today are a mixture of residences, galleries, restaurants and boutiques.
One and a half blocks from the main city square of San Miguel de Allende, my pick for hotel properties is the boutique Casa de Sierra Nevada, a mixture of 16th to 18th century Spanish colonial buildings. With 31 rooms and suites spread among five colonial mansions, including a 17th century fort, and the former residence of San Miguel de Allende’s Archbishop in the 16th century, all we can say is… talk about living la vida purista. The hotel’s buildings, situated around the town rather than one location, creates an experience akin to living in a beautiful, historic apartment with new amenities and genuine Mexican hospitality.
Known for countless years as a center of art and literature, famous mexican artists and ex-pats flock to the cobble-stone streets and historic enclave to perfect their art and find peace and inspiration. With sculpture, glass-blowing, silversmithing, and photography workshops all within local reach, check out the link below for some spectacular art programs that will be sure to lift your creative spirits and make you say…

“Hay que dejar tiempo para el esparcimiento!”

Which basically means something like: ‘All work and no play sure makes Juan (or Juanta) a real snoooooze.’

Carry It On: Timbuk2’s Travel Ninja

So you wanna be a travel ninja? Ah, my son, well look no further. Hot on the horizon approaches Timbuk2’s brand-new Travel Collection. With innovative designs, it possesses the weapons any ninja demanding fast access to the gate and calm mindfulness through security demands. Even the slowest airport security time warp is no match for the advanced skills facilitated by:

* External laptop access
* Stealth pockets for fast access to boarding pass and passport
* Accessories designed to transition from in-bag to gray-bin to seat-back pocket with ease
* Colors that stand out on the luggage conveyor belt, but blend in like a local in town

Capacity and compartments are built with a one-bag strategy in mind to help spend less time at baggage check and more time checking out the scenery. Designed with speed in mind, The Checkpoint has a bike inspired custom chassis with removable skate wheels. The aesthetic of the Checkpoint is uniquely Timbuk2, standing out compared to legions of droid bags, yet built for stealth efficiency with the following features:

Removable skateboard wheels
Internal shoe pocket
Internal compression
Felt lined internal secret pockets
Outer Security checkpoint organizer pockets (w/ 1 quart bag)
An external, easy access ticket pocket
Available both in medium and large sizes

$250.00 – 22″ Checkpoint
$275.00 – 25″ Checkpoint

Now go, my fellow ninjas. And travel right.