I wasn't content with the idea of visiting a touristy section of the Great Wall, so I set out with two young Americans (the boyfriend of my friend Alice and his brother) with a driver to a remote area of the Wall that is technically closed to the public. However, if you pay a local farmer Y2 (30 US cents) he'll show you where the rickety ladder is that allows you to scale one of the guard towers (under the charade that you're just paying to see his "chestnut orchard" so he doesn't get in trouble with the authorities).
"Huang Hua Cheng" means "yellow flower" but unfortunately it was too early in the season to see this section of the Wall immersed in the famous sea of yellow flowers. But we were still able to enjoy the unique aspects of this part of the Wall (which was built during the Ming Dynasty 1368 - 1644) like the way it's interrupted by the Huang Hua Cheng Reservoir. Also: no tourists.
2010 was a winning year for global galloping and I have the god Mercury (and many government and fashion & textile sponsors) to thank for a series of successful jaunts. Here are some of my highlights from over 7 international locales.
Everyone knows that Rio de Janeiro is my favorite beach destination and I was blessed to be there for my birthday back in January.
It was my third time in Rio and I finally made it out to Niteroi with my pals Carole and Arjun to see Oscar Niemeyer's Contemporary Art Museum up close and personal. We were not disappointed despite wandering around lost in the 100F unshaded sun for hours trying to find the museum.
A view inside Gaudi's sublime Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
Food writer Mark Bittman of the NY Times claims the best sandwich he's ever eaten is made at Cafe Viena on La Rambla in Barcelona. He was correct. The rich, fatty ham from the black-hooved pigs raised near Seville and the perfectly baked baguette were heaven.
While in Rome at the end of January, I drifted aimlessly along the banks of the Tiber like Tennessee Williams' Mrs. Stone.
Lunch with my dear friend, the Calabrian fashion writer Nunzia Garoffolo at our favorite spot in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere.
After Rome, I hopped down to Valencia in the south of Spain to take in some sunshine and the sight of Santiago Calatrava's eerily futuristic architecture.
Valencia is a quiet but elegant city.
The (alleged) Holy Grail in the Cathedral of Valencia
During Valencia Fashion Week I had the pleasure of meeting the divine Rossy de Palma.
In February I was back in Rio at the invitation of ABIT to attend Carnaval.
It's almost impossible to describe the mind-blowing sensory overload of the Samba School parades in the Sambadrome, the center of the Carnaval celebrations.
Mexican artist Gabriel Ibarzabal and I were shanghaied into marching with one of the Samba Schools. It took us awhile before we realized that we were dressed as the internet!
Me in Ipanema.
In March, I flew over to Los Angeles to meet up with my pal Michael Schmidt. Before we set off for Palm Springs, we had a requisite pig-out at In-N-Out Burger.
Schmidt in his '71 Camaro cruising past the famous windmills in the desert.
The sun set as we sipped organic margaritas by the Ace Hotel Palm Springs pool.
I was back in Rome in July and checked out the Zaha Hadid-designed MAXXI Museum. This gigantic skeleton sculpture is by the late artist Gino De Dominicis.
Me (center) with my Italian friends Rinaldo Rocco and Nunzia at the Bernini Fountain in Rome.
Diane Pernet and I were invited by Alex Murray-leslie of Chicks on Speed to an over-the-top Fashion Paella lunch by the sea in Barcelona. It was the paella to end all paellas.
Thousands of eccentric Elisava University students and revelers spill off Las Ramblas in Barcelona during a guerrilla performance event organized by Alex Murray-leslie who is a professor at the school.
A gaily painted apartment building in Madrid.
Lunch in Madrid. Spain is absolutely my favorite food destination.
Shopping at the psychedelic punk mall in Madrid.
A concession stand in the Museum Quartier in Vienna.
One of Otto Muehl's perverse paintings at the Leopold Museum in Vienna.
Ad for a theatrical production in Vienna. I think it was a comedy.
Vienna is a frothy fairytale facade concealing dark secrets.
Everyone who knows me knows that Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, is one of my favorite obsessions and that Oscar Niemeyer is my favorite architect. So I'm very excited to hear about the Brasilia photo exhibit at 1500 Gallery which runs from September 9 through November 27, 2010.
Photo: Gervasio Batista
Photo: Nicolau Drey
Here is some info on the exhibit:
Brasilia, a group exhibition of vintage photographs celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the capital of Brazil, will be on view at 1500 Gallery September 9-November 27, 2010. Curated by Brazilian photographer Murillo Meirelles, the exhibition will include images that show Brasilia being planned,
constructed and inaugurated from 1958-1960. There will be an opening reception on Wednesday, September 15 from 6-8 pm. 1500 Gallery is located at 511 W 25th St. #607, New York, NY.
A city planned and built from scratch in the very center of the country, Brasilia replaced Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil in 1960. The architectural, figurative and photojournalistic images in the Brasilia exhibition highlight the idealism of Juscelino Kubitschek’s socialist government and its team of visionary urban planners, architects and landscape designers including Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx. The nine images in the exhibition include a portrait of Oscar Niemeyer, pictures of workers cutting steel and laying beams, an aerial view of the Esplanade under construction, and several images of the National Congress.
I was in Rio again last month at the invitation of ABIT (The Brazilian Textile & Apparel Industry Association) to attend the Carnaval parades at the Sambadrome. My full reports can be read here on A Shaded View on Fashion: