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Friday, December 31, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 12


DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


If you go:

• Randy’s Donuts: 805 W. Manchester Boulevard , Inglewood , 310-645-4707, www.randys-donuts.com

• The Getty Museum : 1200 Getty Center Drive, 310- 440-7330, www.getty.edu/museum

• The Hollyhock House: Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. , 323/644-6269 . www.hollyhockhouse.net

• Astro Burger, 5601 Melrose Ave. , 323-469-1924, www.astroburger.com

• Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Ave.

• Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. , 323-469-1181 www.hollywoodforever.com

• Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave. , 323-850-2000, http://wdch.laphil.com/home.cfm

• Santa Monica Pier, 310-458-8900; visit website for map and directions: www.santamonicapier.org

• Sowden House, 5121 Franklin Ave.

• Fred 62: 1850 N. Vermont Ave. , 323-667-0062, www.fred62.com

• Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St. , 323-933-9211, www.farmersmarketla.com

• Mulholland Drive: visit website for detailed descriptions of overlooks and maps:
www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=37

• The Palm: 9001 Santa Monica Blvd. , 310.550.8811, www.thepalm.com

• Avalon Beverly Hills , 9400 West Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills , 800-670 6183 or 310 277 5221; www.avalonbeverlyhills.com

• Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau: www.seemyla.com

Thursday, December 30, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 11



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Atomic Age Avalon

The Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills is a primo spot for dinner, drinks or parties by the pool.

Located in the tranquil oasis of Beverly Hills, this mid-century modernist property once was home to Mae West and Marilyn Monroe.

Now retro-cool and Sputnik-chic, this boutique beauty features outdoor dining at its blue on blue restaurant, named one of Food & Wine's "50 Best Hotel Restaurants.”

Grab a poolside table, order up some fresh, innovative cuisine and enjoy the hep-cat West Coast high life, a la Frank, Dino and Sammy.

Wright frequently writes about Travel, Wheelchair Access, Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com


TOMORROW: RESOURCES FOR WHEN YOU GO

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 10



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

You know you must be in West Hollywood when you’re at a table in The Palm so perfectly located, you figure the maitre d must have mistaken you for someone with money and a Q Score.

The service is impeccable and could this steak be any more perfect?

Hey, is it him?

It’s gotta be the Strikeout King, Sandy Koufax, at the next table.

You’ve already spotted Larry King and trophy wife du jour, and you’re pretty darn sure Hellboy, aka Ron Perlman, is across the room.

TOMORROW: Atomic Age Avalon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 9



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

On a Smogless Day, You Can See To…

Few experiences match the sublime joy of cruising the 24 famous miles of Mulholland Drive in the evening when the sun's rays turn a soft, buttery yellow.

You get that "only in LA" feeling as you wind along the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills.

You experience the same picturesque drive that has captivated land speculators in Model Ts, wannabe starlets in gunboat-sized `60s convertibles and the mega-wealthy in Maseratis.

They say the best views are between Encino and Hollywood, but any of the half-dozen overlooks inspire oohs and ahs with their views of everything from peaks, canyons and ocean to downtown LA and the Hollywood Bowl.

TOMORROW: Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

Monday, December 27, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 8



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Farmers Market in Faux City

From the street, it’s hard to believe that this landmark at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and 3rd Street was ever anything but urban modernity. Yet the Farmers Market began humbly in 1934 here -- on an open stretch of land ¬ as a motley collection of farmers’ trucks filled with produce and flowers.

Step inside and be awed by the variety of restaurants and shops. Magically, the market retains a certain feeling of quaintness that provides a nice break from LA’s mall culture. You can sample many cuisines here, but if you’re partial to Cajun, you can’t go wrong with the Gumbo Pot. And at Bob’s Coffee and Donuts, you can savor a chocolate iced cake concoction that will make you see the face of God.

Once you’ve had your fill of quaintness, you can get your consumerism groove on at the Grove, an open-air mall just yards away that includes a Nordstrom anchor and a 14-screen cineplex.

TOMORROW: On a Smogless Day, You Can See To…

Sunday, December 26, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 7


DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Black Dahlia Confidential

It had the makings of a cinema thriller: a young, pretty actress-wannabe and a horrifically brutal unsolved killing. The mystery of the Black Dahlia murder provides glimpses into the seedy underbelly of post-World War II Los Angeles, the LA of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, a city of lost innocence and broken dreams.

If you haven’t seen the Brian De Palma film or read the books, Beth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, was a Massachusetts girl with striking features who came to LA with movie star dreams. Her plans never materialized and, at age 22, on a January morning in 1947, her nude, severed body was discovered in a vacant lot. While the murderer has never been caught, one man named Steve Hodel believes it was his own dear old, now deceased, dad who did the deed.

OK, so it’s not a picture postcard image, but what would Tinseltown be if some of the tinsel didn’t scrape off now and then? Take a drive to the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood of LA to have a look at Hodel’s boyhood home, where he believes daddy committed the infamous crime. Built in 1926 by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, the Sowden House is an incredible example of an architectural style called Mayan art deco. Built from earthen blocks in a geometric pattern, the structure conjures up images of a temple. If you watched Cycle 6 of the TV show, America’s Next Top Model, then you’ve seen this breathtaking home from the inside as well.

Now that you’ve had your daily dose of architectural history, coupled with LA’s sleazy side, find a parking space on North Vermont Avenue and have a look around this neighborhood with a mid-century retro feel. The comfortably walkable streets are made picturesque with citrus trees. Browse the boutiques or nurse a latte at an outdoor café. If you’re ready for some hearty, hip diner fare, stop in at Fred 62 and order up a stick-to-the-ribs breakfast or maybe a chili burger.


TOMORROW: Farmers Market in Faux City

Saturday, December 25, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 6



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Peerless Pier

Although sunny SoCal has plenty of plastic (people, smiles, surgery) to go `round, you can still find some of those quaint, innocent thrills from another era.

Follow that epitome of Americana, Route 66, to its end and you’ll run smack dab into the Santa Monica Pier.

More than just a wooden boardwalk out over the majestic Pacific Ocean, the pier also plays host to the Pacific Park amusement park and Playland Arcade.

Your eyes will be drawn to the Byzantine-Moorish California architecture of the carousel building while you munch a carmel apple and go in search of skeeball and ringtoss.

Check out the he historic Looff Hippodrome, play giddy-up on that ornate merry-go-round and don’t miss that stunning Pacific Coast sunset.

TOMORROW: Black Dahlia Confidential

Friday, December 24, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 5



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Gehry Glitter

It used to be that Downtown Los Angeles architecture was symbolized by pointed, towering City Hall or the Italian-Renaissance-style Bradbury Building with its wrought-iron grillwork. But now the iconic downtown structure is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the sculpted, stainless-steel meisterwerk designed by that rock star of architects, Frank Gehry.

Surrounded by a landscaped urban park, the Disney shimmers in the sunlight like a desert mirage, its magnificent curves taunting the eye to make sense of its colossal dimensions. Yet inside it offers an intimate experience with hardwood walls and seating that surrounds the performance platform.

Like anyone else, you could undoubtedly debate deconstructivism architecture ‘til the cows come home, but lighten up. Check out the Disney for its sheer sheen of shiny metal.

TOMORROW: Peerless Pier

Thursday, December 23, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 4



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Graveyard Stomp

You’ve come all the way to LA, so you’re itching to catch some of that moviemaking magic. But you’ve also heard the naysayers claim that the Golden Age of Hollywood is dead and buried. Lucky for you, they’re right.

But first things first. Who wants to chase the ghosts of silver screen sirens on an empty stomach? Since LA is all about car culture, consider some dashboard dining at Astro Burger, the landmark, unassuming burger stand where Hilary Swank famously scarfed one down in front of paparazzi -- still in her designer gown -- right after winning her second Oscar in 2005. Consume your made-to-order veggie or traditional burger while piloting the rental past nearby Paramount Studios, the last major studio still in Hollywood. Look for the gorgeous entrance gate with the elegant cursive font spelling out “Paramount Pictures.”

Just around the corner is your final destination, so to speak. It’s a place perfect for stargazing. Did we happen to mention it’s a cemetery?

Hollywood Forever is the final resting place for a galaxy of stars. Nestled on several acres off busy Santa Monica Boulevard, the old cemetery is but a blur in the corner of the eye to most of the thousands of motorists who rush by. Though plotted in the epicenter of Hollywood, the stars gathered here aren’t dashing away into a waiting limo.

Rudolph Valentino, dead more than 70 years, still gets fresh red roses on his crypt every day. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, the mobster who put Vegas on the map and became part of the movieland scene, is at peace in a surprisingly modest space in Beth Olam Mausoleum. Mel Blanc, the man who gave a voice to Bugs Bunny and so many other Warner Brothers cartoons, rests beneath a headstone with a simple and apropos epitaph: “That’s all folks.”

One last note: while at Hollywood Forever, turn to the north and look up. You’ll catch a glimpse of that great American icon: the Hollywood sign.

TOMORROW: Gehry Glitter

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 3



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Frank Lloyd Rites

For oh-so-many reasons, the City of Angels isn’t always what it seems, making it a delicious trompe-l’œil waiting to be deciphered. Sitting atop majestic Olive Hill off Hollywood Boulevard, is the beautifully restored Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, Hollyhock House and its stunning views of the Los Angeles basin.

Wright built the Hollyhock House for an artsy heiress back in the early’20s, dubbing it California Romanza style. Whatever you call it, it’s a captivating marriage of home and gardens, transcendent and timeless.

There is a small gift shop plus a gallery with film about Hollyhock House that runs continuously. Visit at the right time, and you can attend a lecture or performance in the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.

TOMORROW: Graveyard Stomp

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA: PART 2



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA


By Steve Wright

Modern Museum Marvel

LA may be America ’s pop culture capital, but it has its share of real culture, too. Get your dose by heading to the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains that spectacularly overlook the Pacific Coast Highway, the Getty has a magnificent collection of European paintings, drawings and sculpture, as well as European and American photographs.

Not only is the collection exquisite, so is the structure and grounds.
Architect Richard Meier used 1.2 million square feet of beige, fossilized travertine stone to construct the museum. The stone plays with that famous SoCal sunshine, creating brilliant beams or subtle glows, depending on the time of day.

Access is via a Space-Age feeling, smoothly gliding tram that takes you from the lower level parking to the museum at the top of the hill. If you’ve worked up a hunger after enjoying the collection and visiting the gift shop, there are four places to dine, from a full-service restaurant with excellent fare to a picturesque picnic area.

TOMORROW: Frank Lloyd Rites

Monday, December 20, 2010

DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA



DEATH, GLAMOUR, MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE
AND GIANT DONUTS IN THE SKY – MUST BE LA

By Steve Wright

Your plane has just touched down on the tarmac and you’re jonsed to start exploring.

Once you’ve made that all-important pit stop in the terminal, grabbed your bags and taken the wheel of your rental, you realize you could use a little picker-upper. And nothing delivers quite like sugar.

What’s that giant levitating tire over there just off the 405? No, it’s a donut ¬ a 22 foot donut, to be exact. Soon you’re waiting in the drive-through line to place your order for ambrosia in the form of mind-bendingly tasty crullers and glazed with sprinkles.

You know you’re in LA when you’re munching on Randy’s Donuts at 3 a.m., drinking in one of the finest examples of mid-century Googie architecture west of the Rockies.

Los Angeles: the very name conjures up so many images, often contradictory. Splendor and seediness. Glamour and grime. Class and kitsch.

TOMORROW: Modern Museum Marvel

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 6

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright


IF YOU GO:

Prices start at $35 per person for a four-hour sightseeing cruise. An eight-hour sightseeing cruise is $50 per person. Two-hour sunset cruises are $20 per person.

Fishing charters cost $250 for a four-hour trip for up to four people, or $350 for an eight-hour trip for up to four people. Additional people are $75 apiece and the boat can accommodate up to a dozen people.

Tranquil Adventures is at 225 Upper Matecumbe Road in Key Largo, which is just a couple blocks off the famed Overseas Highway and less than an hour’s drive from Miami International Airport.

Phone Captain Mick at 305 451-2102 or 888 449-0697.

The website is www.tranquiladventures.com

Wright frequently writes about Travel, Wheelchair Access, Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 18, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 5




CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright

Although Tranquil Adventures prides itself on providing outstanding accessibility, the trip out on the glistening waters has little to do with all the gear that makes it accommodating to people with even severe disabilities.

The trip is about gawking at luxury yachts and sponging boats.

It’s about looking at the last of the little trailer homes on the canals and the giant multistory million dollar houses that are displacing the shacks and trailers from the Keys.

It’s about coasting up the mangrove and seeing a great bird of prey, or a silly-looking pelican, sunning in its branches.

It’s about a stop for Cuban coffee at a mini marina over by the drawbridge.

It’s about tying off in a backwater canal and fishing for snapper.

It’s about docking at a fish joint and going inside for grilled grouper wraps and blackened tuna tacos.

It’s about getting a therapeutic massage around six and watching the fiery orange sun kiss the water’s edge at eight o’clock sunset.

It’s about catching a little fish and deciding to throw him back.

It’s about the relaxing feeling that comes over you when you see Captain Mick at the helm, barefoot and shooting you one of those knowing winks that says “heck yes this is paradise down here in Largo.”

It’s about new friends, old jokes and cold beverages under the Keys’ perpetual summer sun.

TOMORROW: IF YOU GO RESOURCE INFORMATION

Friday, December 17, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 4



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright

That Captain Mick also has snorkeling gear and knows the safest places in the Keys to do it in.

With his boat-mounted lift that lowers people into the water from the deck of the boat, he has enabled several mobility-impaired snorkelers.

For those with better range-of-motion, Captain Mick has a pair of sit-on-top ocean kayaks. It’s fun to watch him scramble up the ladder to the roof of his boat, manhandle a bulky kayak, then drop it into the pure blue waters. He can even use the hydraulic lift to ease a kayaker down into his watercraft.

The roof of the boat and its retractable awning provide excellent shade for wheelers and other landlubbers that haven’t quite acquired that Keys-brown tan that seafarers like that Captain have developed.

Better than all the lifts, ramps and improvised gear, is the down to earth conversation with a boater who truly loves the Keys that he has called home for nearly two decades.

Captain Mick loves to tell a big fish tale and see if the gullible rube believes a giant tarpon can be caught with a hollowed out detergent bottle.

He loves to tell a few dirty jokes, then blame them on the Internet (he’s just reporting the news, repeating the emailed groaners that friends send him.)

TOMORROW: THE BEAUTY OF THE FLORIDA KEYS

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 3



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES:
Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo


By Steve Wright

Captain Mick is an improviser. Since pontoon boats don’t typically have a restroom on board, he has come up with the next best thing – an onboard portable flush toilet, shower curtains for privacy and a CD-player for turning up the music to provide an additional layer of sound privacy.

The Captain also loves to improvise tours. A morning run to the reef might morph into an evening cruise that puts you in position to view one of those picture perfect Florida Keys sunsets.

The great thing about Captain Mick’s creativity is that it launches personally tailored accessible journeys.

He is well aware that far too many tours aimed at the disability market deliver tame, boring, one-size-fits-all group tours.

Captain Mick doesn’t like that.

If you want to fish in the morning, sightsee midday and swim in the late afternoon, he can do it.

If you want to clean the fish you caught and fire up the portable grill aboard the 28-foot Malesh, he’s ready to gut n’ grill.

TOMORROW: KAYAKING

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES -- PART 2



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES: Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo

By Steve Wright

Michael “Captain Mick” Nealey isn’t your blood-kin, but he’s the next best thing. He has taken his love of the sea and his half-century worth of insights into being a person with a disability and created Tranquil Adventures.

The operation is so laid back, you almost forget that Captain Mick isn’t your uncle, so you will have to pay him for the use of his chartered boat. But whether you go out for a half day or a full day on the waters, you’ll soon feel like your skimming over the shallows in the company of a favorite relative.

Captain Mick has the perfect attitude for a fishing (or sightseeing, it costs less to sightsee because you don’t pay for fishing bait and tackle) guide. And he is actively angling for the disabled travel dollar.

The minute you call him, he gives you directions to park on the part of his little
Key Largo lot that gets you closest to the gate, which leads to the dock out back of his home. He wants to make sure you don’t have to negotiate any unnecessary distances in your wheelchair

TOMORROW: FISHING WITH CAPTAIN MICK

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES: Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo



CAPTAIN MICK’S WHEELCHAIR-ACCESSIBLE TRANQUIL ADVENTURES: Like having a favorite uncle with an accessible pontoon boat in Key Largo

By Steve Wright

What could be better than having a friendly, storytelling uncle with a boat in the Florida Keys?

How about an uncle who has a ramp- and lift-equipped pontoon boat that is perfect for wheelchair users?

It gets even better. This uncle doesn’t just have accessibility equipment, he has insights into the needs of disabled sightseeing and fishing cruisers, because he has post polio syndrome and sometimes uses a wheelchair for his own mobility.

And best of all, this uncle knows every inch of Key Largo from the reef to the bay to the gulf to the mangrove-lined backwaters to the mansion-lined canals. He’s an expert angler and he’s figured out all kinds of ways of rigging fishing poles and equipment to accommodate even high level quadriplegics.

To add icing to the cake, he has a portable ramp that provides access to the docks at the little out of the way fish joints – so you can get fresh Keys seafood in your belly even if you don’t catch enough to grill on board the boat.

And uncle’s subtropical hideaway is located less than an hour’s drive from one of the largest airports in the world, with thousands of convenient flights connecting you to this neck of the woods from just about anyplace.

Add in a hydraulic lift that can lower disabled swimmers into the warm, gentle, shallow waters off Key Largo and an on-board massage table – the uncle, of course, is a licensed massage therapist – and the deal becomes too good to be true. Surely this uncle character is a mythical being. No one person could offer so much appealing to disabled seafarers, could he?

TOMORROW: MEET CAPTAIN MICK
The website is www.tranquiladventures.com

Wright is a Pulitzer-nominated writer who lives in Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 12

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

IF YOU GO:

Gallerias Pacifico, Calle Florida and Avenida Cordoba, 54-11-5555-5110. http://www.galeriaspacifico.com.ar/_ingles/home.htm

Bice, Avenida Alicia M. Justo 192, 54-1-315-6216.
http://www.bice.ws/BICE.html (click Latin America, then Buenos Aires buttons)

Michelangelo, Calle Balcarce 433, 54-11-4342-7007. http://www.michelangelotango.com/home.html

Plaza Dorrego and San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo church both are near the corner of Avenida Defensa and Calle Humberto. No phone or website.

Recoleta Cemetery, Junin 1790, (no phone number and no official website, but check out privately-operated): http://www.recoletacemetery.com/?page_id=8

Café Biela, Avenida Quintana 600, 54-11-4804-0449. http://www.labiela.com/eng/menu.htm

Alvear Palace Hotel, Avenida Alvear 1891. 54-11-4808-2100.
http://www.alvearpalace.com/v2/home.php

Pizzeria Guerrin, Avenida Corrientes 1368, 54-11-4371-8141, No website.

Pizzeria Banchero, Avenida Corrientes 1300, 54-11-4382-4669, No website.

Hotel Ibis, Hipolito Yrigoyen 1592, 54-11-5300-5566. http://www.ibishotel.com/ibis/fichehotel/gb/ibi/3251/fiche_hotel.shtml

Café Tortoni, Avenida de Mayo 825, 54-11-4342-4328. http://www.cafetortoni.com.ar/index_ingles.html

Home hotel, Calle Honduras 5860, 51-11-4778-1008. http://www.homebuenosaires.com/home/

La Baita, CalleThames 1603, 54-11-4832-7234.
http://www.labaita-restaurante.com.ar

Buenos Aires’ official city website with extensive listings in English:
http://www.bue.gov.ar/home/index.php?&lang=en

Destino Argentina, upscale travel information in BA and beyond:
http://www.destinoargentina.info/#home_html

English-speaking tour guide Alan Patrick’s ramblingly informative website: http://www.buenostours.com/

Pro-accessibility foundation website (for advanced readers – 100% in Spanish):
http://www.rumbos.org.ar/

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 11



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Sadly, the public Subte (subway) transit system is not accessible at all. The bus system is a collection of private operators who are required by law to be accessible, but are slow to add low floor entrances or retractable ramps.

Because only a fraction of buses are completely accessible, your best bet is to catch a cab. There are thousands of them in the city and the key to safety is to have your hotel, restaurant or attraction call for an officially-licensed radio-taxi. Many drivers are more patient, professional and courteous than cabbies in the States.

The prices can’t be beat --you’d be hard pressed to spend more than the equivalent of $5 U.S. on any in town cab ride. If you get a centrally-located hotel such as Ibis, it is quite possible to see a good chunk of the historic BA without needing transit.

Curbcuts are getting better and better on the major streets and avenues. The endless cafes, wide sidewalks, thriving nightlife, gorgeous architecture and engaging pedestrian activity -- plus a strong power chair and proper pacing -- could equal a fabulous week of new discoveries every day in Buenos Aires.

TOMORROW: IF YOU GO RESOURCES

Steve Wright’s goal is to explore the culture and accessibility of ever Spanish-speaking nation within the next decade. His wife Heidi is an Americans with Disabilities Act expert who has used a wheelchair for 35 years.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 10


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Buenos Aires’ urban core – from La Boca to Barrio Norte to Belgrano to everything in between -- is lined with parrillas (grill-centric restaurants) barbecuing up every part of a cow and then some.

To say Argentines love beef is like staying the Atlantic is filled with saltwater.

The intoxicating aroma of the charcoal-fired grill could convert the most avowed vegetarian into a carne-craving carnivore.

For the ice cream lover, Buenos Aires’ strong Italian heritage has generated gaggles of gourmet gelato shops.

Speaking of La Boca, there is no prettier picture in BA than beautiful pair of Tango dancers in front of colorfully painted corrugated metal buildings.

The barrio is worth about an hour’s visit to drink in all the pageantry and color palette.

The shops are hard to get into and tacky, the restaurants are more historical sizzle than steak and the entire neighborhood outside the small touristy strip is populated by unsavory characters.

TOMORROW: SUBWAY AND BUS LACK ACCESSIBILITY

Friday, December 10, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 9


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Palermo, which is so big it has numerous sub-areas known as Palermo Hollywood, SOHO, Chico and Viejo.

Palermo is where the cool people dine, drink and design.

The eclectic portions of Palermo have lots of cutting edge fashion boutiques, low key outdoor cafes and high energy bars and nightclubs.

Because of its international popularity, Palermo has more menus in English and more service workers versed in “Ingles” than other parts of the central city.

There also are large, peaceful urban parks and four restaurants on every corner.

A great gastronomic day in Palermo includes breakfasting al fresco in the interior courtyard of Home (a small boutique hotel that has a well-ramped entrance and features barrier-free guest rooms), lunching and dining late night at La Baita (dreamy décor and flawless homemade pasta.)

TOMORROW: Buenos Aires’ urban core – from La Boca to Barrio Norte to Belgrano

Thursday, December 9, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 8



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Avenida de Mayo stretches west from Casa Rosada to the second most important government building, the Congreso – modeled after the domed U.S. Congress.

Plaza Congreso, the best public green space in all of BA, is the location of Hotel Ibis.

Ibis serves wheelers with low rates, multiple accessible rooms, two spacious elevators and an efficient lobby café.

Mayo’s leafy blocks are populated by European-influenced Beaux Arts and Art Nouveau confections such as the Gallic-styled, statue-topped La Prensa building, the towering Dante’s Inferno-inspired Palacio Barolo.

Fabled Café Tortoni is 150 years old, fully accessible and drenched in enough atmosphere and history to justify its pricey coffees, pastries and sandwiches.

Back on the streets, you will note that BA’s sidewalks have the good (a 21st century initiative to install lots of curbcuts in a city that never had them), the bad (the economic crisis has resulted in lots of broken concrete and loose pavers – but none too burdensome to traverse) and the ugly (Portenos let their dogs poop everywhere. With so much beauty to look up at, you will neglect to look down and will roll through a pooch plop – it happens to everybody).

TOMORROW: Palermo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 7



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Plaza de Mayo is home to daily political protests (a tradition through democracy and dictatorship alike) and the famous Casa Rosada.

Casa Rosada is Argentina’s White House, except Rosada means pink – but the latest paint job looks more adobe baked brick in hue.

Whatever the politics and shade of pink, Casa Rosada will forever be known as the edifice where actress turned First Lady and spiritual leader of a nation Maria Eva Duarte de Peron stood on a balcony and enthralled the masses with her socialistic ideology.

TOMORROW: Avenida de Mayo

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 6



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright


Avenida Corrientes is a book lover’s, pizza gobbler’s, people-watcher’s paradise.

Indeed, 95 percent of the books are in Spanish, but it doesn’t take the vocabulary of Jorge Luis Borges to appreciate lavish architecture, art and photography books en espanol.

There are chains, independents, deep discount and specialty bookstores too numerous to count.

Almost all have zero step entrances and the majority have aisles just wide enough to maneuver a wheelchair through.

Once you’ve fed your literary mind, feed your panza (belly) with pizza overflowing with mozzarella, ham, sweet red peppers and green olives.

Buenos Aires legends Pizzeria Guerrin and Banchero are side-by-side on Corrientes, with Guerin’s perfect crust and by-the-slice options edging out the equally historic Banchero next door.

Watch the endless flow of well-dressed, well-toned Portenos (port city dwellers) on parade.

TOMORROW: Plaza de Mayo

Monday, December 6, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 5


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Recoleta, where the beautiful cemetery is one of the top attractions in all of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires.

Arrive early for perfect morning light and to beat the cruise ship crowds that stampede past the gates in search of Eva Peron’s grave.

Evita is here – in one of the least pretty graves on one of the narrowest pathways.

Visit her at the Familia Duarte tomb if you must, but spend the bulk of your time wandering the wide, level pathways past architectural wonders.

Recoleta is the final resting place of the rich and it’s plain to see that each one tried to out do the other with fabulous sculpture, museum-worthy stained glass and intricately detailed Art Deco, Art Nouveau and classical architecture.

A simple ramp at the entrance provides easy access and virtually all of Recoleta is barrier-free.

When you exit the cemetery, make a beeline to La Biela café for its picturesque outdoor dining, its well-maintained accessible restroom and its bountiful breakfasts.

Refueled and relaxed, don’t forget to browse at the Rodeo Drive-caliber shops along Avenida Alvear.

Stop at the 5-star Alvear Palace Hotel for tea service in Belle Epoque-style elegance before departing exclusive Recoleta.

TOMORROW: Avenida Corrientes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 4


BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

San Telmo, where tango is king.

Michelangelo’s tango show takes place in sumptuous 1849 building fitted with an elevator to access the upstairs performance hall.

The show is at once beautiful, moving, touristy and expensive.

The wines are excellent and the food is surprisingly flavorful for dinner show fare.

For free outdoor tango and one of the most authentic open air marketplaces going, head to Plaza Dorrego on a Sunday morning.

The cobblestone streets are tricky, the crowds a bit thick and the curbcuts a bit fewer and farther in between in this historic area, but San Telmo is accommodating enough to make it part of your itinerary.

San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo church dates to 1734 and is made readily-accessible by a large ramp in front.

TOMORROW: Recoleta

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 3



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Puerto Madero, the once abandoned and formerly unsafe port area where new meets ultra modern.

The old working waterfront has been redeveloped into restaurants and lofts in restored brick buildings.

A wide pedestrian promenade is smooth and accessible.

Try Bice for handmade pasta and excellent service.

A spectacular pedestrian bridge by famed architect Santiago Calatrava is a perfect barrier-free link across the water to ultra modern buildings with artsy bars and pricey bistros.

TOMORROW: San Telmo

Friday, December 3, 2010

BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS -- PART 2



BUENOS AIRES BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

Micro Centro, where pedestrian-only Calle Florida’s avenue crossings are perfectly-graded for wheelers and most shops have level entrances.

Gallerias Pacifico feature upscale shopping, famous murals, and elevator access to every level.

The super-clean, very accessible public restrooms are worth the visit.

TOMORROW: Puerto Madero

Thursday, December 2, 2010

BUENOS AIRES’ BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS



BUENOS AIRES’ BARRIER-FREE BARGAINS

By Steve Wright

You want European charm.

You want a perfectly-located hotel with wheelchair-accessible digs, a pair of roomy elevators and an airy restaurant that has plenty of space to maneuver through.

You seek a thriving city with sidewalk cafes, plazas, diverse neighborhoods, round the clock pedestrian-oriented activity and barrier-free access to plenty of shopping and attractions.

You can’t afford Europe’s rising Euro that trims your dollar by a third. But what if you could get that barrier-free modern hotel in the center of the action for 10 nights and pay less than $600?

What if you could linger over a lavish brunch at a famous café for $12? And wouldn’t it be divine to commit dietary sin with a belly-busting artisanal pizza with all the toppings and a big cola – all for about 11 smackers?

You can do all of this and more in Buenos Aires. Argentina was one of the wealthiest nations in the world in the 20th century and much of its grand, French-influenced architecture was built in that era.

Sadly, the beginning of the 21st century dealt a crushing blow to the economy. Things have stabilized a bit, but the U.S. dollar still commands a whopping three pesos to one dollar exchange rate.

If you pass by the endless third rate leather shops aimed at tourists and hold out for a cheap cab ride to Villa Crespo, the merchants there will sell you some of the world’s finest crafted leather – at an exchange rate of nearly 3.4 pesos to the dollar if you pay cash.

Virtually every hotel, shop and restaurant has someone with basic English skills, but it’s a lot more fun to learn some Spanish – just don’t call it that. In Argentina the speak Castellano.

In espanol, pollo (chicken) is “POY-yo,” but on the streets of Buenos Aires, it’s “POY-joe.” The famous avenue named for the fifth month of the year is Avenida de Mayo (MAH-joe, not MY-yo.

For the next 11 days, we will take you on a tour through Buenos Aires.

TOMORROW: Micro Centro

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NEW YORK'S TAXI OF TOMORROW TO FEATURE WHEELCHAIR ACCESS



NEW YORK'S TAXI OF TOMORROW TO FEATURE WHEELCHAIR ACCESS

When it comes to picking New York's Taxi of Tomorrow, Karsan, based in Turkey, has won us over by proudly playing up its wheelchair-accessible universal design in both its RFP and its press releases.

When the three finalists were announced, Karsan's press statement proudly mentioned its "fully accessible vehicle promises to revolutionize the taxi passenger experience in New York City," right in the opening line.

"The Karsan design would allow New York City to be the world’s first city with a fleet that would be 100% accessible and compliant with the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)," Karsan's statement continues.

While disability advocates in New York and beyond have lamented that Taxi of Tomorrow proposals from Ford and Nissan would have to be greatly retrofitted to accommodate people with mobility and other impairments, Karsan says its model is ADA-accessible right out of the factory.

"The environmentally friendly car is fully accessible and ADA-compliant without any need of retrofitting or additions," Karsan's press materials state. "It has an automated ramp for wheelchairs on either side, specially-designed wide doors that open up to 90 degrees, and keyboard and Braille communication for the hearing and visually impaired. The design is flexible and will accommodate public input or any revisions of the Taxi and Limousine Commission."

The winner of the TLC's competition will be announced early next year and will have the right to exclusively provide the standard taxicab for 10 years. Officials expect the new vehicle to be on the road by the fall of 2014

New Yorkers can go online, see the three finalist designs and vote on what they want to see in the next official taxi.

The winner will be announced early next year and will have the right to exclusively provide the standard taxicab for 10 years. Officials expect the new vehicle to be on the road by the fall of 2014

We strongly recommend that all disability advocates, not just New Yorkers or frequent visitors to the city, visit the Taxi of Tomorrow website at:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/media/html/news/taxioftomorrow.shtml


Also, click on the Taxi of Tomorrow Survey (you don't have to be a New Yorker) and sound off on the need for the City to choose the Karsan model, or if it picks Ford or Nissan, to demand that those makers meet or exceed the ADA access designed into Karsan's proposed model:

http://nyc.gov/html/media/html/contact/taxi_of_tomorrow_survey.shtml