4 artsy paper guides for inspired intineraries

nectar-and-pulse-new-york-travel-guideWhen I’m traveling, I generally prefer mobile guides for two main reasons: 1) they don’t take up any extra space or weight and 2) they don’t make me stand out like a sore tourist. But I’ve recently discovered some crafty paper guides that add an inspired dose of whimsy that’s so much in the spirit of why I love to travel. And there’s still something to be said for having a tangible, beautiful product in front of you. My fellow magazine lovers and photo printers, this one’s for you.

They Draw & Travel

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Collector’s items as much as guides, these 75+ maps feature insider favorites that worldwide artists plot onto neighborhood streets. Browse maps by cities, or filter by activity and aesthetic style. Whether you‘re a foodie or outdoorsman, a modern art enthusiast or classics connoisseur, these artsy maps do double souvenir duty as charming displays of all your escapades.

Nectar & Pulse

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“Practical” and “romantic” are two words that rarely appear in the same sentence, but these character-based recommendations marry the two in a fresh take on bespoke experiences. Find your “soulmate” by browsing online bios of local experts, detailing what they like to read and what their perfect day looks like, then order a binder of guides produced by your personality double.

A love letter to NYC’s Museum of Art and Design (and sniffing out the bizarre “Art of Scent” exhibit)

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When I read about an “Art of Scent” exhibit in which museumgoers get a whiff of various perfumes back in November, I wasn’t sure whether I should be intrigued by the concept or be wary of gimmicks.

But then I learned that the exhibit would be housed in the Museum of Art and Design. And then it all made sense.

Among New York City’s cultural giants, MAD is very modest in size, sitting humbly at the bottom of Columbus Circle between Eighth Avenue and Broadway. But this museum is probably my favorites in all of Manhattan. There, the six floors are all manageable in one afternoon, between two and three hours if you count a thorough examination of the well-curated gift store. There, each exhibit always offer a masterpiece that I love, even if I’m not inherently interested in the theme. And there, most of all, you’ll find the quirkiest, most radical, most bewitching collections of art.

Like an exhibit of necklaces, made from such curious materials as LED lights and gun triggers and pig intestines.

Or an exhibit on special effects manipulation in film and photography, showcasing 3D dioramas and the surreal images and animations created from them.

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Needless to say, an exhibit with perfume spritzers in the walls is right up MAD’s alley.

Stepping onto the fourth floor on a fine winter Sunday was somewhat disorienting. True to the NYT article that I’d forgotten about between the months, the hardwood floors were starkly empty, save a square of scrolling, glowing text projected from the ceiling. Along three walls, a row of twelve cavities sank into the wall, almost like pods in a science fiction vignette come to life. I watched two women hesitantly walked up to the first wall, exchanging glances before gingerly lowering their heads into the cavity.

When it was finally my turn, I’d leaned in just as carefully, cloying memories of department store ground floors making me wary. But all I felt was the light breeze of a spray–some sort of technology that released the fragrances for four seconds, I later learned. It was simply a whiff, enough for you to breathe in, not enough to stay with you beyond a few ephemeral seconds.

5 packing lessons I learned…from being in an LDR

I recently returned from a five-day trip to Taipei with nothing but a weekender bag. “That’s the true sign of a jetsetter,” my editor said.

Actually, that’s the result of busing to and from Boston once or twice a month as I’m in a long distance relationship. Because I’m a starving journalist, traveling via bus means trekking to the subway and running up and down the platform stairs instead of catching a cab. Given my 4’11” frame, I’m obviously not keen on hauling luggage twice my size with me–so here’s what I’ve learned about packing light for weekeend trips. (Thanks, LDR!)

Hello from Ireland

Say hello to Joe the Pony. He lives somewhere between Cong Village and Lough Nafooey, about an hour northwest of Galway.

It’s simply taking me too darn long to write about my first Eurotrip, so here’s a short postcard from Ireland to start. I met Joe the Pony along the drive to Kylemore Abbey, a Victorian estate behind a great Irish (true) tale of romance. In a nutshell: man marries wife, wife falls in love with honeymoon location, man builds wife a castle there, they live at the castle till she dies. But more on that later.

My favorite cheap eats in Taipei

I could hardly believe when I “met” Kelsey Freeman on Twitter last summer that she was about to embark on a 10-week trip to France on $1,000. I wanted to know her secret — I’m young, I’m poor, but I’m an insufferable Francophile — how did she do it?

She realized that traveling is about priorities. She’d rather people watch than go to a museum, for example, and she’d rather enjoy the countryside for a month than Paris for a week. It’s all about what’s most important to you and what you are or aren’t willing to give up. It’s a simple but brilliant point, and in planning my recent trip to Europe, I made similar judgment calls: saving on housing was more important than being in the city center and walking is preferable to paying for public transportation.

But the one thing I always have a hard time compromising on is great food — which is why I’m always so happy to visit my hometown of Taipei. When it comes to eats on this tiny Asian island, you rarely have to choose between taste and price. Sure, the city has it’s share of tremendous fine dining establishments, but a more than satisfying meal can easily cost less than $3 to $5 (tax included).

One of the first stops I always make when I’m home is a small mom-and-pop eatery right next to Wellcome supermarket in Tien Mu Square. I’ve been a loyal customer since my high school days at the nearby Taipei American School, when my friends and I would make a lunch outing here every couple of weeks. Even now, I usually opt for the wonton and bean sprout guo tiao, or thick rice noodles, with some shared sides to round out the meal. The noodles themselves are less than $2, and the bill’s rarely come out to over $3 per person.

Happy New Year from Taipei!

Yesterday, we rang in the new year in the downtown Xinyi area of Taipei. Keeping in tradition of the younger crowd, we sought views of the ever popular Taipei 101 fireworks from a nearby nightclub and ended up at Myst, a newly opened establishment at the top of ATT4Fun. We had an amazing vantage point from the 8th floor balcony, accessible to attendees who booked tables. Being in the next building over from the skyscraper, we were close but not too close.