Issue: January/February 2013
Tropical treasures abound in Palau
Palau's submarine life has lured divers for decades, but this western Pacific nation is equally ripe for adventure above the surface.
Paddle in open sea kayaks through channels of see-through turquoise water off Koror, one of Palau's eight main islands, as you explore a labyrinth of uninhabited limestone islets. Look for turtles and manta rays—or pause to snorkel—en route to sugary-white sand beaches.
Brushes with history make Palau much more than your average tropical vacation. On the island of Peleliu, the stage of a fierce World War II battle, amphibious tanks, canteens and Japanese Zero aircraft slowly corrode in the jungle, compelling reminders of war's toll.
And sometimes the attractions get downright bizarre: huge endemic fruit bats, a lake populated with millions of nonstinging jellyfish, and gigantic stone money used by ancient cultures.
Accommodations range from luxury resorts to traditional bungalows to beach camping under permanent shelters; flights are available from Guam, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan.
Our World in Numbers
7,000Items put up for sale each day at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala. The merchandise—culled from lost and unclaimed luggage on airlines, buses and trains—has included everything from bagpipes and wedding dresses to skis and snakeskin.
99.1Percentage of checked baggage delivered on time to passengers globally in 2011.
195Number of independent states in the world since South Sudan became the newest nation in 2011.
36Percentage of U.S. citizens who carried a valid passport in 2012, compared with only 7 percent in 1992.
47UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy, the country with the most cultural and natural sites protected by the program.
21UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States, including Olympic National Park, the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon.
Sunnylands unlocks the door to Palm Springs chic.
Rctilinear architecture, vast expanses of glass, and a sunset-pink roof are striking features of Sunny-lands, the 1966 Annenberg home designed by A. Quincy Jones. For years, Walter Annenberg, a U.S. ambassador in the early '70s, and his wife, Leonore, wintered at their stylish residence in Rancho Mirage, Calif., hosting seven U.S. presidents, Hollywood stars and royalty. Per their wishes, Sunnylands finally opened its gates to all last spring.
The philanthropic couple bequeathed Sunnylands as a Camp David–style retreat, but when world leaders aren't using the house to foster world peace, the visitor center offers 90-minute public tours that warmly recount the Annenbergs' role in American history while touching on such subjects as desert landscaping. Filled with original furnishings and sculptures, the 25,000-square-foot home epitomizes the Midcentury Modern architecture so prevalent throughout Palm Springs. During Modernism Week—the desert's annual showcase of midcentury design, Feb. 14–24—Sunnylands will offer architecture-focused tours. www.sunnylands.org, www.modernismweek.com
Sweeping the Northwest
Curling offers a fun test of agility and aim.
Curling may look like competitive sweeping, but introductory lessons reveal there's more to it. Like a smidge of shuffleboard and, of course, balance.
A typical open house starts with drills, such as kneeling and drifting on ice. Then, it's game time. As you slide a polished granite stone toward a scoring area, two team members feverishly sweep in front to keep the stone's course true. Though it seems a bit odd, the sport attracts people from all walks of life—and maybe a few who were wowed by the Norwegian team's flashy pants in the last winter Olympics.
While interest in this 16th-century Scottish game does spike every four years, curling maintains steady popularity in northern climes. North Seattle's Granite Curling Club has boasted a dedicated facility since 1961, and Portland's Evergreen Curling Club just opened one of its own. Clubs in other Northwest cities—such as Wenatchee—play in their local ice arenas. Open house dates vary by club: www.curlingseattle.org, www.wenatcheecurlingclub.com and www.evergreencurling.com.
Causing a Stir
Portland's bartenders fuel a cocktail renaissance.
Methodically twirling a barspoon between two fingers, Mike Robertson demonstrates proper stirring technique while offering a window onto Portland's passion for all things artisanal. At the Driftwood Room, a small den of '50s retro cool inside downtown's Hotel deLuxe, Robertson discusses the art of mixology in the friendly manner of a lead bartender who cares equally about proper technique and service. During one-hour classes (included in the hotel's Shaken, Not Stirred package), he mixes several classic cocktails—such as the martini and its precursor, the Martinez—while explaining flavor profiles and his choices of spirits.
After soaking up some of Robertson's wisdom, walk the surrounding neighborhoods to experience more of Portland's innovative cocktail scene. At Clyde Common, bar manager Jeffrey Morgenthaler barrel-ages several styles of cocktail, and the Pearl District's Teardrop Lounge fashions its own large ice cubes. Inspired to experiment at home? Stop by The Meadow in north Portland; this tiny shop devotes half a wall to vermouths, tonics, bitters and aperitifs.
NYC's Tenement Museum explores the immigrant experience through food.
New York City's Tenement Museum offers a tasty way to provide perspective on the American immigrant experience: a neighborhood food tour. The two-hour, 10-stop walkabout of the Lower East Side introduces participants to ethnic specialties such as bialys, pickled pineapple and twice-fried plantains, and demonstrates how immigrants helped shape the neighborhood's culture. The tour also picks up where the Tenement leaves off. While the museum's location in a former tenement demonstrates the crowded living conditions that many immigrants faced, the tour highlights the visceral connection between food and cultural identity. The neighborhood tour runs on Fridays and Saturdays, March through early December (an indoor version is offered at the museum on Thursdays year-round). www.tenement.org