Tag Archives: music

Staying at Travaasa Hana: Garden View Suites

Travaasa Hana Resort Hotel, Maui

In 2003, shortly after a crazy wedding that included a bridesmaid going into labor at our rehearsal dinner (and her husband, the best man/my brother, rushing her away to deliver their first born), my wife Hailey and I headed to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We had initially considered Trinidad & Tobago, but when a travel agent specializing in T&T told us to go to Hawaii instead (thereby giving up any hope of a commission), we saw it as a sign: This place really must live up to the hype.

Still high off the pura vida of a 2002 trip to Costa Rica, I insisted we focus on the wet sides of the Big Island and Maui. I was fascinated by jungles, wanted nothing more than to see waterfalls, and was happy to dodge the crowds and trade in postcard beach scenes for rocky coastlines and black-sand. I was also, sadly, going through a tropical shirt phase thanks to a sale at Mervyn’s. (Yes, I just wrote that).

Long story short, we ended up spending five nights at the Palms Cliff House north of Hilo, and four nights at the Hotel Hana Maui, now rebranded as the Travaasa Hana. It was time to return, family in tow, and reconnect with the rugged coastline and end-of-the-earth splendor of Hana. Continue reading

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Mexico Travelogue (Part 4): Estudiantinas

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Say the word “minstrel” and I have two connotations, one that is probably seered into your head if you are a Monty Python fan as well, and another that involves my best friend’s love of Jethro Tull. And while I could bloviate about ’70s Renaissance Rock for a 1,000-word post, I’d rather focus on the professional goofballs in Guanajuato who carry on a nearly 50-year-old tradition of dressing in pantaloons and puffy shirts, singing and drinking and joking their way through the cobbled streets of the old city at night.

On Saturday night, just as we were brushing our teeth in our hotel room, we could hear boisterous music crescendoing up the narrow street outside our window. Stepping out into the hotel’s courtyard, we could see 10 musicians, dressed in traditional Spanish Renaissance outfits, singing boldly and strumming their instruments. Three lute-players were at the forefront, strumming, singing, baiting the crowd down the street, then turning and charging a few steps at them like bulls, inspiring giggles and a collision of elbows and stepped-upon toes. We joined the fray, not knowing what the song was about (but assuming love) and walked with the group of 80 down toward Plazuela de San Fernando. Everyone had a drink but us, and we were soon weeded out of the crowd by the minstrels handlers at a narrow passageway. Turns out you need to drop 100 pesos each for the full show, your ticket stub being a small, ceramic, bong-like pitcher that they give you at the start of the tour. (This video shows what its like to come upon them, but I didn’t shoot the video).

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So on our final night, Palm Sunday, we ponied up and joined the 10pm callejoneada, or musical walking tour of the city. The group had originated in the 1960s at the university, but had clearly morphed into a tourist-centric moneymaker. The drinks were far from plenty and tasted more like Tang than booze (a friend who had visited more than 10 years ago had relayed a more raucous version of events involving the group) and there were definite moments when I felt played. The group would round the corner and a dozen men selling roses would suddenly appear, right before the minstrels would serenade the ladies.

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But I don’t kid myself. The group — in fact the whole concept — is brilliant, and they should be cashing in. Guanajuato is an even better city because of the merry music echoing in its alleys at night, and the men in their velvet, poofy sleeved shirts are genuine showmen. It was the first in a handful of instances in Mexico where I told myself its finally time to learn Spanish (the next was on Monday, when a Mexican clown would thoroughly embarrass me). Their jokes were totally lost on me, but in an odd way, I felt completely in the loop on what they were about: music, laughter, romancing the ladies and taking pride in your city. Not a bad way to spend the evening.

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Engagement Photos: Jacqie + Ken

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Yesterday, we did an engagement shoot with Jacqie and Ken, a delightful couple whose wedding we’ll be photographing on August 12. I know Jacqie through my good friend Stu, who is her older brother. Me and Stu go back 10+ years, but only recently have I gotten to know Jacqie. Well, it’s about time … she and her fiancé are super cool.

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They met back in September, and both go to a music academy in Boston. Jacqie plays viola, Ken plays the trumpet. On Friday night, I gave Jacqie a call to see if they’d brought their instruments along on Spring Break. Thankfully they did, and we were able to incorporate this common bond into their shoot.

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We met up at Commons Park in Lower Downtown Denver. It’s a spectacular spot — probably the most photogenic in the city — but on this day, our famous Colorado climate decided to throw some schizophrenic conditions at us. Sunny in the morning (yay!), but cloudy in time for the shoot (boo!) with a late-afternoon shamal thrown in for good measure. Welcome to Colorado, Ken. It’s more reliable in August, I promise (I hope, I knock on wood…).

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Perhaps I exaggerate a bit on the weather, but we made the most of it and started the shoot by the Millennium Bridge, where they have this cool brick wall.

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From there we moved into the park and shot at a few settings, including this random staircase to nowhere (above).

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Jacqie and Ken are headed back to Boston today after a week of wedding planning. Congrats to them both — Hailey and I are looking forward to their wedding in August.

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