If you’re travelling with a budget in mind, KAYAK offers a great service: find locations for travel based on location and price worldwide. Here’s how it works: Go to the flight section, under “anywhere” click and you wil find explore your options with anywhere search. Click on any price and it will give you the current price AND a forward look at upcoming prices. Deal of the day would appear to be Kahului, Hawaii. Also known as Maui, a roundtrip today would coast $338, roundtrip. If you like adventure and can afford it, you might take an expensive flight to Tolinaro in Madagascar for $3343.
Meet Zuke Oshiro
So, let’s just say, it’s not Hawaii.
There are over 200 Nile cruise ships. Many originate in the small town of Aswan, which is down the Nile. This is where our journey begins—after we leave the hustle of Cairo. To get to Aswan you travel by plane or train—driving is not recommended.
An overnight trip to Aswan by an overnight train is a unique experience. The train station in Cairo grows smaller in the distance as we head south on a 549 mile journey. Waking early morning, a rattling train is now alongside the Nile River; a country with a long history that hasn’t seen, in these parts, enormous change: Men still pull carts with cattle, horses carry cane sugar. In one brief moment a dead cow carcass can be seen in a small pond by the side of the road. Time has stood still in these parts.
Aswan is a smaller version of Cairo. To be sure, there is a McDonalds, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and likely anyday, a Starbucks, but for now, it is a popular city that sits on the Nile, with a substantial amount of river boats.
Aswan is the “Jewel of the Nile”. Pink and grey granite thrusts upward through the Nubian sandstone, forming mountains, cliffs and jagged outcrops. While there countless mosques, there is also Archangel Michael’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral—a towering catherdral in the Coptic architecture — the architecture of the Copts, who form the majority of Christians in Egypt.
Security is a way of life in Egypt. In Cairo and in places like the Coptic Church, security runs high. Armed guards and blockades can be found at many hotels and indeed at this Coptic Church. But retail and restaurants flourish in the city of Aswan—it is only until late one after noon on a Friday that the azan, the call to prayer can be heard by countless speakers throughout the city—these callers, called muezzinine, are a cacophony of sounds—it becomes a surreal moment in a backstreet hotel as the soundtrack shifts, the sun sets, we are surely not in the West anymore.
As one look about it becomes clear that this journey invites all kinds of people—local Egytians, A London-based Sufi businessman with his family, and elderly couple from Scotland, a couple from Cape Cod, a Brazilan opera singer and her daughter, and Egyptian family with their California-based son-in-law. The staff is attentive, ocassionaly too attentive, but the dinner, which is buffet-style, is a nice start to the this ride up the Nile.
We head to The Temple of Esna. The Temple of Esna, which was buried beneath its own debris for many centuries, is located in the center of the town, close to the River Nile and only a short walk from your boat through the local market. We are given passage by way of carriage. The remains of the Temple contain a hall of columns with 24 pillars beautifully decorated with lotus and palm capitals. Also notable is that while looking up, astrological symbols can be seen, 12 of them.
To suggest that it is overwhelming is an understatement. One has to pinch themselves to remind themselves of the reality—you are in Egypt, in the MIddle East and these are the temples that Hollywood has been in love with for so long.
So that evening, as entertainment, they have set up a projector to show the 1978 film, “Death on the Nile”. This version features Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian sleuth. Actually filmed along the same route we are on, this two hour and twenty minute film runs late into the Egyptian night—we all retire early for our last day.
After lunch, visit the Valley of the Kings or The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, as it was once known. We will have the chance to visit at least one tomb in the Valley of the Queens, and visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. On the way back to the river Nile, you will pass by the famed Colossi of Memnon, known in Ancient Greek times for their haunting voices at dawn.
There was something about this trip, that for the well-worn traveler speaks to that ocassional need for danger—not physical danger, but to be somewhere where your native language is foreign, the landscape, the people, the culture is vastly different than anything previously experienced. Bali was one of those places, The Maldives certainly. Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, all spoke to a distance of things known, flavors never tasted, history seen in terms of thousands instead of hundreds. Dangerous? Sure—you’re in the Middle East—you cannot get to Israel easily from Egypt though it is under 500 miles away. But it’s Egypt, it’s Cairo. It’s the Pyramids! It’s everything you ever imagined and more. To be sure, there was a moment, leaving the hustle of Cairo in a taxi and the Pyramids suddenlhy appear in the distance—it’s a moment. Crusing up the Nile via a five star luxury boat, that too, was many moments.
Earlier this Summer, Sunset Boulevard destination staple, The Mondrian L.A., unveiled it’s complete redesign after a whopping 19 million dollar renovation. The level of luxury exuding from this West Hollywood location fits in perfectly with the beautiful days of an L.A. Summer. There’s a unique direction in design specific to the 236 rooms and hallways of the hotel bring in an essence of imagination through the Alice in Wonderland inspired decor. Take into account the floor-to-ceiling windows, marble touched bathrooms, and 24 Hour room service.
The renovation came in at a whopping 19 million dollars to create the ever-inspiring luxury hotel’s re-imagined aesthetic. It’s the perfect place for a local getaway while being able to also step outside and enjoy California-inspired cuisines at Ivory on Sunset and play at Skybar’s iconic sun-drenched pool deck by day, star-studded nightlife hotspot after sunset.
For Reservations and Calendar of Events, Check out Mondrian Los Angeles Online.
Left: Leon Hendrix, Jimmy Hendrix’s younger brother and Randy Hanson
Legendary writer/photographer Belissa Cohen goes psychedelic to experience L.A.’s hidden gem of an “immersive art park,” Downtown L.A.’s Wisdome
If you haven’t yet been to downtown L.A.’s Wisdome, we suggest putting it on your nightlife bucket list, and maybe stock up on your favorite psychedelics beforehand.
Called an “immersive art park,” this enormous 35,000 sqare foot space houses a collection of five huge interconnecting domes, one of which hosts nearly continuous showings of a 360 degree short film called Samskara by innovative experimental artist Android Jones. The other domes host other immersive art installations, live music events in 10.1 surround sound, and are surrounded by a commodius grassy outdoor area for hanging out on glorious summer nights with bars, ethnic food and drink purveyors, and trinket vendors selling wares of a vaguely spiritual nature — it’s the whole enchilada in one place, with enchiladas. It’s both comfortable and hella trippy!
We experienced the Wisdome when Randy Hanson, who is considered arguably the best of the Jimi Hendrix tribute performers among those in the know about such things, did the first of his spot-on two-night performances in the largest of the Wisdomes, while psychedelic art in the form of constantly morphing mandala images were projected on the walls and ceiling of the dome, and many audience members took in the multimedia show from reclining seats. Like them, we found ourselves gazing ceiling-ward during the show, mesmerized, as the images changed organically, all the while absorbed in the expertly executed music.Randy, who is in demand all over the world for his Jimi Hendrix realness, and is, like Jimi, a Seattle native, played and sang all the hits note for note, from “Foxy Lady” to “Purple Haze” to the Bob Dylan-penned “All Along the Watchtower,” on what just so happened to be Dylan’s birthday.
As happens in L.A., we found ourselves Ubering to the Wisdome with the famous-adjacent: Leon Hendrix, Jimi’s younger brother and an edgy blues musician in his own right, who sang with Randy and his band very appropriately on “Castles Made of Sand,” a song Jimi had penned back in the day about his family’s dysfunction. Leon’s own show the very next weekend at The Mint in West L.A. was a sold out success.
The world-renowned Randy Hanson brings his Jimi extravaganza back to the Wisdome at the end of June. For all of us who missed Jimi’s legendary L.A. performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968, we now have a second chance to Be Experienced!
What do Mothers want for Mother’s Day? Short answer: Relaxation and me time… Or, as we like to call it, a spa day. If you’ve been scrolling through Yelp wondering which is the best Westside spa for Mother’s Day, or if you’re simply scratching your scalp trying to find the perfect gift for your Mom, then you are in the right place.
This year we got together a group of Moms and asked them “which are the 5 best Westside spas for Mother’s Day?”. Below we’ve listed them.
Mom will feel: Serene, peaceful
Perfect if she loves: Quiet, nurturing, European style spas
Price Range: $$$
Treatment time: All day
Burke Williams Spa is the classic Day-Spa choice for many women in the Westside. This European, dimly-lit space has various baths (both silent and social), private massage rooms, and a reading nook with coffee and fruit too. You can enjoy just a massage, or indulge in the the all-day Spa facilities too. Though this place is on the more expensive end of the Spa spectrum, it is absolutely worth it for the many hours of luxury and relaxation that is on offer here.
Learn more about Burke Williams here.
Mom will feel: elegant, pampered
Perfect if she loves: Japanese hospitality, luxury, grace, Japanese tea
Price Range: $$
Treatment time: Typically 1.5 hours
A Japanese luxury spa, Hideko is a modest yet elegant space that offers unparalleled hospitality and grace. With a deluxe Japanese massage experience, the spa uses only organic products and materials, including oils, woods, scrubs, wraps, and refreshments. After your massage you can enjoy your own private bath in a luxury tub adjacent to your massage room, as well as warm cup of herbal tea and a selection of Japanese cakes.
Learn more about Hideko Spa here.
Mom will feel: Energized
Perfect if she loves: Fitness, Biohacking, a less traditional wellness experience
Treatment time: Typically 1 hour
Notoriously loved by Mom of three, Demi Moore and Mom of five, Tori Spelling, the Cryo Healthcare facility provides a uniquely elegant Cryotherapy experience on the Westside. Originating from Japan, Cryotherapy has quickly gained popularity with the ever-expanding biohacking community. Known for its immediate energizing effects Cryotherapy is the perfect gift for any Mom who likes keeping up with trends, and trying new things.
Before booking make sure you check out the list of medical conditions that determine your Mom’s suitability to the treatment.
Find out more about Cryo Healthcare here.
Mom will feel: Healed and opened up
Perfect if she loves: Thai Massage, acupuncture
Price Range: $$
Treatment time: 1.5 hours
The Raven Spa is a sweet oceanside spa that is nestled in the side streets of Santa Monica. It specializes in Thai massage yet also offers an impressive menu of alternative treatments like acupuncture, infrared saunas, and Reiki. If your Mom prefers deep tissue massages with a focus on relieving tension and muscle soreness then this is the place for her!
Learn more about The Raven Spa here.
Mom will feel: Grounded
Perfect if she loves: Soft touch, energy healing, Asian-inspired spaces
Price Range: $$
Treatment time: Typically 2 hours
Willow Spa offers a tropical Spa experience for any Mom who wants to indulge in soft healing. Nestled in a renovated home, WIllow Spa is the perfect haven-away-from-home for any Mom who wants to experience massage with a spiritual focus. There are a number of specialized treatments at Willow Spa–from their Blooming Lotus Massage (a treatment specifically designed for pregnant women), to their Reiki practice (an ancient healing technique used by the Tibetans to enhance the flow of life-energy), to Shiatsu (a Japanese method of unlocking energy in your body by using the meridians of your body).
Learn more about Willow Spa here.