_Films are like mini vacations an escape into another world that can be romantic, educational, hilarious, and at times dangerous. If this is true then film festivals are the cruises of the film world where everything is neatly packaged up for people to be able to sample all kinds of new worlds. Many in-the-know travelers plan their trips to certain destinations to be able to attend all or part of these festivals. You remember what happened last year when you showed up at the Tanzania International Film Festival! But let's not go into that again. The three major film festivals are Cannes, Berlin, and Venice. However, there are tons of festivals out there from the chic Telluride Film Festival that gets the likes of Colin Firth to the World’s Smallest Film Festival there is something for just about everyone. Here is a list of Film Festivals around the world so you can find one that suits you.
The Tribeca Film Festival is currently on in NYC showcasing a wide assortment of mini vacations this year. So far my favorite film is the French film, Romantics Anonymous. Who doesn't love a film about fears and chocolate?
_I hope to see the documentary: In the Spirit of Laxmi. Gerard is an amazing guy that I had the pleasure of meeting in India at Aman-i-khas. You get a glimpse of what a great guy he is in the trailer. But the best way to get to know him is to visit his property. Don't worry, I'll set handle it. You should focus on more important things, like watching the trailer for the movie.
_For many, the main reason to attend a film festival is the opportunity mingle with the film world. But for others it is actually about the special films. In reality it is a great way to ask questions of the directors or producers during some of the Q&A sessions. Q1. How much of the films budget is in your bank account? Hmm..maybe not. Regardless, you never know who you’ll run into at the screenings with so many of the Producers, Directors, Actors, and even the odd Grip in attendance. So far the most entertaining person I met is a professional matchmaker who was attending TFF with VIP status thanks to one of her “clients.” Hmmm...I wonder which director that was...
Do you have a favorite film festival? Or a favorite Film Festival story?
_Spring has finally arrived in NYC! The trees are blooming, the roads are all under repair, and the tulips are opening which only means one thing...allergy season. But it also means the Easter Day Parade! The City closes off the road to cars and opens it up to pedestrians who get to stroll down Fifth Avenue wearing their new Easter bonnets, or at least something along those lines. If you haven't had the opportunity to experience this event in New York add it to your list of things to do. And don't worry, if you don't have a hat yet for the Royal Wedding you can always have one made. After all, not everything has been outsourced to China. Consider having a custom made hat from one of the amazing Milliners in the Milliners Guild. They can create anything from the simple to the surreal.
Enjoy my video from the 2011 New York Easter Day Parade and get inspired to bring your hat on your next trip. After all, The Kentucky Derby is coming up and you'll need a good hat to go with all those Mint Juleps.
_Human nature is said to have a fight or flight mentality. Sometimes flight is the perfect solution to your situation. Your situation might be a quick getaway in celebration of your remarkable fifteen years together or you might be avoiding the press from that “incident” last week that you thought would surely blow over by now. Whatever the reason, sometimes you just need to get away.
That is exactly the situation I found myself in recently. The solution was a brief stay in Bedford, New York at Richard Gere’s place. Ever since I ran into Richard and his wife Carey last year at Barney’s I’ve been meaning to go to The Bedford Post Inn. And now that the Bedford Post Inn is a Relaix & Chateaux property and Richard is the Relaix & Chateaux Guide Ambassador for 2011 it was definitely time to visit. A plan was made and off we went.
The thoughtful NY State Troopers had pulled over most of the other drivers so the roads were empty and the drive up from Manhattan took a total of 55 minutes. We made a brief stop at the Thornwood Express Hand Car Wash so the car could enjoy a little spa treatment. And it was a good thing, not because frequent visitor and neighbor Martha Stewart was there upon our arrival, because when we pulled into the Bedford Post Inn there were some beautiful cars in the lot. You don’t want to give your car a complex do you? As we walked into The Barn, the more casual restaurant at the Bedford Post Inn, Ralph Lauren pulled up in his immaculate convertible Ferrari. The Barn is extremely popular with the locals and gets rather crowded. Ron Howard was lucky to get his table when he did. I think because Ralph Lauren looked like had just rolled out of bed in his sweat pants he decided to get some baked goods and coffee to go.
The Barn is casual and its popularity is starting to show in the seat covers but aside from that this restaurant is just like the breakfast table at your home. Except this kitchen has a larger team of food lovers and they are all trained to make your brunch fantasies come true. The menu isn’t complicated but full of good options. After asking the kind young waitress a few questions I ordered the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and a small salad instead of the potatoes. Tim decided on the classic scrambled eggs, bacon, and potatoes. The anticipation was building as we saw some delicious looking dishes being delivered to the table around us and the hush that would follow once people started eating was a good precursor. The food was delicious and just the right amount. Tim thoroughly enjoyed his eggs and decided that these could be some of the best breakfast potatoes he’d had in a very long time.
_Then disaster hit! The waitress delivered the dessert menu. Yes, you did just hear dunt dunt dun!!! I didn’t want dessert. But when we stumbled on the words Lemon Curd Pound Cake we realized we needed dessert. Plus I have read on the internet you can die from lack of Lemon Curd Pound Cake. So this would be like saving my life. Right? Meghan the Pastry Chef creates what can only be described as heaven. I can’t even tell you more about it or I might find myself in the car on the way back to Bedford. When you go, order it! In fear of being tempted by any other tricks up the kitchen’s sleeve we decided we’d better go and officially check in to the hotel.
A Bachelorette party was checking out and The Inn quickly transformed itself from bachelorette excitement to private relaxing escape in a matter of moments. Decorated with pickled wood, comfortable furniture in soothing shades of blue, cream, and grey, along with photographs of flowers and other images of nature, the Inn can easily be described as casual elegance. Or as they say “like your place only better.” Was that them looking in my window that stormy night? Regardless, we were escorted up to the second floor to room number five of the eight-room Inn. Tori pointed out where to doc ipods, how to turn on the radiant heat in the bathroom floor, and how to operate the shower temperature before taking her leave. The on-site yoga classes had already ended for the day. So unpacking sounded like the more obvious thing to do. Suddenly the only sound was that of the gentle breeze blowing through the windows on this perfect Spring day. I sat down on the bed to quickly check a few emails when suddenly the breeze swept through the room causing all the luxurious elements of the room to conspire together to make me sink deeper into the Frette sheets and take a deep nap in the middle of the afternoon. There is nothing more luxurious than an afternoon of deep sleep with a gentle breeze keeping life at bay.
Just like the weekends at your country house, wine and nibbles are available to enjoy while you look over books or magazines in the library. It was a nice way to flip through Richard’s book PILGRAM with images from his travels to visit his Holiness the Dalai Lama and others in Tibet. But in the event you have already spent enough time in Tibet with the Dalai Lama there are few other books to look through.
Not fully ready for dinner but ready to move on we headed down to the empty bar at the Farmhouse restaurant. The lovely bartender proceeded to make an excellent Vesper for me and a Manhattan for Tim served in round martini glasses that almost looked like a fully opened tulip. Clearly their idea of getting out to nature is working on me. The Farmhouse restaurant is more formal than The Barn but with its Shaker chairs and comfortable décor it gives the feeling of a relaxed formality. It was a Sunday night so not full but fortunately not empty either. It was the kind of crowd that included other guests of the Inn, a newly engaged couple, a neighbor who had given the cook the night off, and the Japanese couple who photographed each dish. I think I lived in Tokyo too long as I began to itch to take pictures of my food too. And who wouldn’t when the food was this beautifully presented.
The Farmhouse had recently acquired the wine collection of a nearby resident. The collection included some decent wines that have been cellared and all but forgotten. Naturally we felt compelled to try one and settled on the 1985 Clos des Forets Saint-Georges Wine from Nuits-Saint-Georges, one of our favorite areas in France. It was a perfect partner with the House Pate and Duck Liver Mouse as well as the delicate Mushroom Minestra. The pasta dishes we had were light, lively, and full of flavor and perfect with the Bryce Pinot Noir. My final dish was the tender Branzino with baby fennel, lemon, and capers, which was a wonderful blending of flavors. Tim’s final dish was the Veal, which he found less exciting than all the previous courses. Jeremy McMillan the Executive Chef is an incredible chef who will be in the news for years to come. But don’t take my word for it read Alice Gabriel’s NY Times review.
After an impossibly restful night of sleep I became convinced that something was being piped into the room to cause such a deep sleep. What is it? How can I get more? I’m clearly trying to avoid the reality that it could be the fresh country air. We make our way down to breakfast back in The Barn which only has two patrons when we arrive and while it never reaches the capacity of a Sunday brunch, it has a nice little crowd of locals and visitors sitting down to breakfast or getting things to go. Everyone who gets items to go seems to be on a first name basis with the crew. My breakfast is the poached eggs and Polenta with Maitake mushrooms and Parmigiano while Tim does a repeat of yesterday’s breakfast to confirm the potatoes are really are amazing. Needing to walk off some of this we opt to walk around the property for a bit. It is another beautiful crisp Spring morning and the neighborhood seems to realize it. As if on cue two women head into the Bedford Post property on horseback to ride the trails with a Weimaraner following all three looking like a scene right out of a movie. Suddenly I recognize the feeling of not wanting to leave. The only solution for me is to go quickly before I start asking about adding on another day.
_The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is particularly true when it comes to travel photos. We no longer have time to hear the full-length story or read the journal that is slated for summer book release. You know the type, the rambler, who goes on and on about every minute of their trip. Telling you every detail about the time Katie Holmes ran them down on the slopes of Telluride while avoiding Princess what’s-her-name. What your friends and family really want to see are the photos that capture special moments like, the time you made it to the top of Mount Fuji for sunrise with the champagne at the perfect temperature and of course CNN still wants you to send the photo from the morning you woke up early and your yacht was surrounded by a small group with automatic weapons…or were those water guns?
Plus, technology is helping people share photos easily and quickly. So do your friends and family a favor and share the photos that showcase your awesome world travels and keep the private photos…well, private. You remember what happened the time you shared that one photo of you and a certain celebrity who shall remain nameless with one “friend.” Your PR team managed to get that “mostly” under control but you don’t want to go through that again. So, how do you get those amazing photos on vacation when you’re not a professional photographer? Hire a professional? That’s one option. Or at least ask them for some good advice. Recently, I asked three great photographers for advice on taking awesome photos when traveling.
Kim Wedowof WedowWerks in Chicago, Illinois provided me with these great tips:
Whether you are taking photos with a pocket point-and-shoot, a high-end SLR or D-SLR or your mobile phone, there are a few simple rules – that if you follow, can produce the picture you meant to take.
1. Know the limitations of your camera. If you are using a point-and-shoot or your mobile phone, it is best to keep your subject fairly close. This is due to the inability of these types of cameras to clearly focus for more that several feet (shallow depth of field). This is most noticeable when trying to enlarge the shot.
2. Take your time. Many times you will see someone taking a photo and within a fraction of a second of clicking the picture the camera is on its way back into their pocket or bag. Once you depress the shutter button, count to two. The two-count rule applies to film as well as digital because it will prevent blurring of the shot. It is especially important with digital because with many digital cameras there is a slight delay between the time you depress the shutter and when the camera captures the picture. So remember: Click – one – two.
3. Frame your shot. When you look through the viewfinder take a second to look past your subject and to the left and right to be sure you don’t have anything you don’t want in the shot.
Remember, it’s not the price of the camera that determines the shot – it’s the skill of the photographer.
Stephen Breau, a freelance photographer in Toronto, Canada shared these helpful points:
Travel - the perfect opportunity to expand your photography horizons. You are in a new place, seeing new things, and surrounded by inspiration. The trick, however, is to avoid the typical tourist trapand just take the expected pictures. You know the ones - your travel companions in front of a landmark, your travel companions in front of another landmark, yet another landmark filling the frame. Instead, go for the unexpected; look for the little details that make a landmark or location unique. Look for interesting shadows, gorgeous light reflecting onto some piece of architecture, or masses of color that invoke the feeling of the day.
On my last trip to Europe with my wife, we visited several locations in Italy, Greece and Turkey. My favorite photos from that trip are not the expected shots of the Coliseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens, or the shores of Santorini. Instead, they are a single flower lying on a cobblestone street in Rhodes, an odd looking bug buzzing around a gorgeous flower in Sicily, and the setting sun streaming through the clouds at lighting-up a fishing boat off in the distance off the coast of Santorini. I’ll always remember where I took those photos, and seeing them takes me right back to those spots and reminds me of all the landmarks we saw along the way, but because I shot the unexpected, I have unique souvenirs from the trip.
Whenever I can on our trips, I get up early in the morning, take my camera, and go for a walk. The light first thing in the morning is beautiful – and shooting before the crowds arrive means you can get closer to your subjects and take the time to look for interesting takes on them. I also love to shoot around sunset – the colors make everything look warm and inviting.
_Carolyn Koschnickof Carolyn Koschnick Photography in New York City pointed out: Having the right equipment and knowing how to use it is essential. You can have the most amazing camera in the world but if you don’t know how to use it there isn’t much of a point in picking it up. Get the equipment that is right for you and then learn how to use it correctly. The instruction manual is full of great information and examples that will help you know how to use the camera you have.
1. Pre-set options:The most common questions I receive from people are related to taking pictures of sunsets, fireworks, and snow. Many point-and-shoot cameras have fantastic preprogrammed settings for specific situations/settings. Take a look at your camera and see what pre-set options your camera has that can help you capture that perfect moment. Then try testing out these options at home before you go on that dream vacation so that you will be more comfortable in using them once you are out there.
2. Tripods:One of the other tools that most professional photographers use at some point is a tripod. This tool helps keep the camera still during those slow shutter shots. But when you are on vacation or at a special event people don’t want to lug around a big tripod. And sometimes there isn’t a solid place to set your camera to help it stay still. However, there are several small tripods that are easily portable. I have used the Gorillapod for both my little point and shoot and my bigger cameras too.
_Now that you have read a thousand words about travel photography hopefully you feel motivated to get out there and capture your amazing travels. Do you have a favorite photo from one of your trips? Share them with us on our Facebook Page for A.M. Bespoke Travel. Still have questions? Contact our panel for more info. They also offer photography trips in their respective cities that will help you explore some of the best cities in North America and improve your photography skills along the way.
Kim Wedow: can be found on her Facebook page and via firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Breau has all his information on www.stephenbreau.com.
Carolyn Koschnick can be reached through carolyninc.com
_I admit I’m not a light packer. If I could magically take everything with me I would. But reality has a way of sneaking in and preventing that from happening.
So to take as much of the right things with me here are a few key things I consider when packing:
What to bring:
1. Where are you going? If you are going to the royal wedding you will certainly need a few different things than those who are going scuba diving. Are there any restrictions that might limit what you bring? Like the dreaded weight limits on smaller aircraft that is used to reach those wonderful small remote islands. What are the facilities like where you are going? Can you have things laundered at your destination?
2. What will you do while you’re there? Black tie dinners? Beach barbeque? Or Black tie beach barbeque? All of this will influence what you need to bring with you. Will you bring your own scuba gear or golf clubs? Will you need your entire Pez dispenser collection? Your activities have a big impact on what you bring.
3. How will you get to your destination and how long will you be there? Ferrari or G650? If you are flying a commercial airline make sure you know the rules of the airline (carry-on, baggage fees, etc) as well as the airports and countries you will be visiting. Chewing gym is still not allowed in Singapore by the Singapore Government.
I often start mentally planning out what I will bring about a week or two in advance so I can make sure I have everything laundered and ready. If you haven’t worn one of the items in a while make sure to try it on again to be certain it still fits. If you are a secret agent and travel regularly for work consider having an entire set of toiletries ready so you are always ready to go.
How to bring it:
Once you know the answers to the above questions you can decide if you need a weekend bag or both of your new Goyard wardrobe trunks. Perhaps you are taking your new Tesla Roadster which doesn’t have room for your wardrobe trunks. In that case consider shipping your things to your destination in advance. Luggage Free and Luggage Forward are two companies that are offering shipping services that can make your travel experience easier. Some commercial airlines are also adding this service with some limitations. In the U.S. United Airlines is offering door to door service.
Once you have figured out what you want to bring and how you are going to get it there you finally need to reach the most important part – fitting everything in your luggage.
How to pack:
Packing seems to be a skill that most people learn from their parents or maybe their childhood butler. However, a few people have dedicated themselves to the topic of packing.
Clothing: There are two major schools of thought on how to pack your clothes - roll or bundle. Both are focused on reducing wrinkles and eliminating wasted space. Those in favor of rolling their clothes roll each item so that there are no sharp lines. While the bundlers create what one person described as a well-organized ball of clothes. If you are not familiar with the bundle style check out this diagram from OneBag.com. Or Chris at HackCollege was inspired by OneBag.com and created the below video to show others how to bundle pack. While I can’t help but laugh, he does point out a valid concern for this type of packing. I suppose he is speaking from personal experience.
_Another growing trend is separating items into individual compartments. I’m currently obsessing over Flight001’s Spacepak. It seems like a great packing solution in terms of saving space and being able to easily get something out of your luggage without having to unpack the entire suitcase or spend the time unbundling everything. However, it doesn’t address the issue of creases in your clothes from the folding.
_Regardless of which method you use, if you are going to need something from your suitcase make sure to pack it in the area that is most easily reached. Liquids– When traveling with liquids the major concern is leaks. If you’re traveling with a case of your new favorite wine make sure to get the right kind of shipping material such as these wine packs. No matter what liquid you are carrying, make sure the container lids are on tight. If your liquid has a pop-up lid consider putting tape on part of the lid so it can’t pop-up. Placing liquid containers within bags such as Ziploc bags also reduces the chance of liquids leaking all over your new cashmere swimsuit. If you are going for a short trip consider getting 3oz sizes of your favorite toiletries from 3floz.com or you can purchase some 3oz containers and transfer the product yourself.
If all of this seems like too much work, or you gave the staff the day off, just order everything you need and have it shipped to your destination. Regardless, I hope these tips are helpful. If you or one of your butlers has additional packing tips please add them to the comment section. As for me, I’m off to look at those Spacepaks again.
_I’m in desperate need of a new suitcase. I have three suitcases and way too many carry-on bags but the one suitcase I use the most needs to be replaced. I’ve had it about 6 years and it has been around the world and back at least twice. For me buying a new suitcase is no easy task. There are so many styles and options and everyone has their own thoughts on what is best and why. So I decided to do my research and share some of the important trends in luggage as well as things you should consider when buying a new suitcase.
Consider the following when purchasing your next bag:
_Chances are you or someone you know has a story about a trip that went wrong at some point. From broken limbs to natural disasters, unexpected things can get in the way of those perfect travel plans. Whether you are traveling by yourself or with other people, around the corner or in a foreign country, you need a plan. Not just a plan of where you are going, where you are staying, and what you will experience but also a plan for what you will do if things don’t go according to plan. It doesn’t take long to get a plan together. Here are a few key things to do:
Preparation– Get your things in order.
ID:Make sure you have a copy of the important pages of your passport and the visa of the country you are visiting. If you are in your home country consider making a copy of your driver’s license or residence permit. Put these documents in a safe place in the event you lose the original. You might want to give a copy to your emergency contacts.
Insurance:Make sure you have your insurance information up to date and find out if your insurance policy covers emergency medical treatment out of your home state or country. And if they do cover it, is there a different process for getting full coverage or a certain process you will need to follow. If it doesn’t provide good coverage you might want to consider taking out a travel insurance policy. Two major things to consider are medical evacuation coverage and the ability for you to choose the hospital or doctor.
Medical:Get your medical information together in one short document. Do you have allergies, vaccinations, what medications you are taking and what is the dosage? Some countries might consider your prescription an illegal drug so do your research before you head out on your next adventure. You may need your doctor to issue a letter about your condition or medication along with an extra prescription should your stay be longer than your current supply of medicine.
Emergency contact:On a small card put a list of three people to contact in case of emergency and make sure you have all their current phone numbers and email addresses. At least two of these people should not be traveling with you. Keep this card on you when you travel. It is great to have it in your phone but also have a hard copy in your wallet. Phone batteries don’t last forever and if your phone breaks you will still have a hard copy. Most passports also have a place for emergency contacts so make sure this is up to date. If you are traveling outside your home country check with your government about registering with them so they will know where and when you are traveling. If there is a natural disaster the government will know to start looking for you and where to try and find you. Most governments have great information resources too. Make sure to provide your travel itinerary, insurance, and medical details with your primary emergency contact.
Itinerary:If you have an existing medical condition you should familiarize yourself with the places in the area you are visiting that are able to treat your condition. This could be very helpful if you need specific medication during your visit.
Information– Do your research about where you are going. Of course you’ll want to know about all the sites and the fun places to eat but also make sure you know about all the potential hazards, local laws and customs, the ability to communicate with people in your destination and the ability to communicate from within your destination to contacts elsewhere. Will your mobile phone work? Do you speak the local language? If you are traveling with other people, do you have a way of contacting them? Most importantly I recommend having a designated place to go should there be a problem or if you get separated from the people traveling with you. The two places should not be near each other. Why two? If your first choice is near a problem you’ll want to have another place to try and meet up. Easy examples include: the hotel and the nearest hospital.
Observation – Be aware of your environment. Part of the joy of being a traveler is learning something about the local culture. What do they eat? Where do they go? The same strategy will pay off during times of trouble too. Stay current on local news and how locals are responding to the news during your visit.
Communication – If something happens make sure your emergency contacts/others know where you are. Sometimes phone lines get bogged down when everyone is trying to make a call at the same time. Most people find texting, emailing, or status updates via social networks the best way to inform your family and friends that you are safe. If you are injured and unable to notify people yourself, make sure your ‘In Case of Emergency’ contacts know whom to notify about your location and condition.
Hopefully none of you will ever need to utilize your plan but you’ll be very grateful you took the time to put it together if you do end up needing it. Here are some helpful sites:
US Gov travel registration:
US Gov Tips:
If you find more sites that you have found helpful please feel free to add them in the comments section.