Fathom Questionnaire: Christina Ohly
Hometown: Tricky. NYC as of now, London as of August. Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Woodstock, Vermont.
Occupation: Writer and consultant.
Favorite destinations: Too many to mention. Italy: both city (Rome, Florence, Venice off season) and country (Umbria, Tuscany, Capri, Ischia, Amalfi anywhere); France: Paris, near St. Remy; Spain; Harbour Island, Bahamas; New England, California: south (I love LA) and north (SF, Napa).
Dying to visit: India, Mozambique, Argentina, Megève, San Ysidro Ranch (I don't know why). Again, the list goes on.
Bizarre travel rituals: I pack so much food because you never know and I can't stand packaged foods. In my cold sack, you'll find fruit, vegetables, crackers, cold cuts. I've clearly been stuck on one tarmac too many. I also start packing (clothes, not food) many days in advance, then edit the bag leading up to the trip.
In-flight relaxation regime: Watching an entire season of something mindless (like Grey's Anatomy) on my iPad on long-haul flights. I read stacks of magazines and newspapers — ;from international editions of Vogue to FT to cheesy celeb weeklies.
Always in carry-on: BlackBerry; disinfecting hand wipes; snacks (Zone bars, crackers); Le Métier de Beauté lip gloss; hair ties; and a wallet with pictures of my kids, cash, and my lucky charm.
Concierge or DIY? DIY for most things, especially flights because I tend to change them and like dealing with airlines directly. I am happy to outsource restaurants, though OpenTable has changed the playing field.
See it all or take it easy? See it all. I am not so great at relaxing and I hate to miss a meal, a shop, an experience.
Drive or be driven? Both. I love taxis and taxi drivers, as they provide so much local color, history, and great food knowledge — though of course this is destination-dependent.
Travel hero: My husband. He can get stuck in China, do weird back-to-back redeyes via L.A. and Dallas, and still remain cheerful. He doesn't get flustered, doesn't freak about the weather, and is always kind. He just goes with the global travel flow.
Weirdest thing seen on travels: I've seen some seriously bad behavior on the NYC/JFK to West Palm Beach flight route. It is amazing to see the screaming, yelling, and bad manners that people will throw at an unsuspecting flight attendant. But the weirdest/saddest was seeing a drug mule pulled off a plane. It was later explained to us that law enforcement can spot mules because they are so uncomfortable in Western clothing and are often wearing new shoes. The poor guy looked beyond terrified; it was all quite a circus.
Best hotel amenity: At the Georges V in Paris, long, long ago, they really provided for small babies. We're talking every kind of soap, robe, bath gel, and tub toy imaginable.
I dream about my meals at Zuma in London (I love their black miso cod and robata grill dishes) and The Polo Lounge in LA (chopped salads are divine). I even love a simple plate of lentils at NYC's Fairway Cafe or the best poppy seed bagels in the world at 72nd Street Bagels on the Upper West Side.
Everywhere I go I check out the food markets — from supermarkets to farmer's markets to bakeries, butchers...
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by walking, eating in restaurants full of local color, and by talking to taxi drivers.
I always bring home some article of clothing reminiscent of a country and a Christmas tree ornament or two for my family's tree. I always forget the fruit in my bag, which doesn't go over too well at customs.
If I never return to Russia, it'll be too soon because I almost starved to death there. I am a big consumer of fruit and vegetables and these were fairly tough to come by.
I travel for the local color. I love hearing people's stories, seeing their daily routines, and learning about their cultures.