In early 2010 I traveled across the country by train. While I’ve spent a significant amount of time on trains throughout my life, none having been for any long duration. Subways, commuter rails and short hauls between New York and Boston, or New York and Washington was the full make-up of my experience on rails. Nothing even close to what it would take to reach San Francisco; some 70-hours. However, after some initial hesitation I booked a ticket, and would eventually arrive in San Francisco aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr.
Like so many others aboard the train, it was far more than just a ride across the country, (T Magazine recently discussed some of the more interesting types who ride the rails). I was looking to explore, see the country in a different light, and ride the same stretch of rail that was the first to connect the country’s shores. And to this day, I think taking that train was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Sure it’s a long ride, and yes there are definitely some weird beards on board, but it’s one of the few ways to fully experience just how big and beautiful this country really is.
It was my trip across the U.S. that’s had me looking into other routes around the globe. Since heading out west, I’ve managed to get on a few other trains in a few other countries but have had my sights set on one train in particular; Rovos Rail. Known as The Pride of Africa, the south African railroad cuts a path through several countries, and offers amenities that include safari, chartered flights, and cabins that are bigger than most Manhattan apartments, to name a few. It’s the Rolls Royce of the railroad.
Started almost by accident, Rovos was a pure product of passion. After acquiring an old locomotive, several coaches and potentially facing bankruptcy, what was initially a personal endeavor quickly became a commercial offering, and Rovos Rail was born. Just over 20 years later, Rovos operates with more than 10 locomotives, over 100 coach cars, and is considered one of the most luxurious train journeys in the world.
Rovos hangs their hat on not only the impeccable quality of their service and equipment but also on the journeys they offer. One of the main benefits of taking a train, where ever you are, is blazing a trail typically only traveled by the train. This is where Rovos Rail embarrasses similar railways. In addition to operating one of the most impressive fleets of refurbished antique cars and coaches, Rovos carves a path through a section of the globe experienced by less than one percent of people in the world. And with full ownership of everything from the cars and coaches to the actual stations, no detail is left by the wayside. Oh, and a champagne toast is celebrated before every journey, no big deal.
It’s true, the Sierra Nevada mountains or Nebraska under moonlight isn’t a south African safari aboard a vintage train with drinks that are aged a minimum of 18 years. And, while Amtrak is a far cry from Rovos Rail, or nearly any other train in the world for that matter, it did give me a true appreciation for traveling by rail. And hell, if you’re going to spend five plus days on a train, best make it count. [Rovos Rail]
If you’re in the New York vicinity this Thursday, head over to the Impossible Project and check out Lost Ceremony. Shot by friend and photographer Adam Marelli, Lost Ceremony is a unique and in-depth look at ancient traditions, specifically within the Japanese culture. Also worth noting, there will be a tea master (that’s right, tea master) on-hand as well as sake from the Shushinkan Brewery. Hope to see you there.
Meet the Unimog. Originally introduced at the German Agricultural Show in 1948, the ”Universalmotorgerät” (‘universally applicable motorized implement’) quickly caught the attention of German farmers. Marketed as a Jack-of-all-trades vehicle, the Unimog has held its ground for over 60-years and remains in heavy rotation around the world.
While the Unimog remains popular amongst forestry or municipal authorities, fire brigades or armed forces, energy industry or mineral oil exploration teams in the desert, I hadn’t heard of it. So after spotting one in the wild while on a drive upstate, failing to pull-over wasn’t an option. After trespassing, taking some photos and digging around for some story on this thing’s background, you are hereby introduced.
The UNIMOG in 1948
Like a lot of people, my first glimpse at Ovadia & Sons was during capsule a few years back. And, like a lot of people, I was taken back by how good it was. What’s that thing they say about first impressions? The collection on display definitely had my attention, and while it packed all the firepower of some of the more seasoned labels, as new twins on the block I couldn’t tell if it was sustainable. However, the following season my reaction was the same and by this time the secret was out, the internet had spoken and I wasn’t alone in my opinion.
Now several seasons later, it’s clear that both Ariel and Shimon Ovadia have all the ingredients to go the distance. Their latest collection (Fall 2013) is about as close to perfect as anyone could ask for, at least in my opinion. Everything not only looks terrific, it’s made well and is realistically wearable – a far cry from some of the other notables. So start saving your allowance kids, this stuff hits shelves later this year and you can bet it’s not going last long. [Ovadia & Sons]
There are features of every city that are assumed. San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge, Paris the Eiffel Tower, and New York, Grand Central Terminal (Station). And while there are dozens of other buildings, sites, landmarks (whatever you want to call them) around New York, Grand Central sings a different tune. Maybe because it’s the only train station of its kind and the largest in the world, or because it was spared the fate that overcame Penn Station, or because it’s one place where anyone can feel the mass that is New York.
Meeting point, daily commute, apple store, vacation pictures, whatever your use, passing through the main hall always provokes appreciation. Grand Central is one of those places that never gets old. It’s constant, always there, and always handsome.
Today marks Grand Central Terminal’s 100th year.