I am a travel writer and photographer who used to travel. Then, early last year, that all changed with the onset of the pandemic.
Borders closed and the entire travel industry ground to a halt, affecting millions of people, both travelers and those working in the travel industry worldwide.
With the roll-out of the new vaccines, let us be optimistic that the travel juggernaut will start up again so that travelers will go back on the road and the armies of people in the travel industry can begin to feel secure in their jobs again.
In the meanwhile, enjoy my written and photographic tours of the beautiful, sunny and architecturally inspired parts of the world that are awaiting our return.
Travel has been a constant throughout my life - and when I am not traveling, I am reading about travel or dreaming about the next journey. Curiosity is what drives me and I am grateful to have done a fair share of traveling before that ability was lost to borders closed by the pandemic.
Born in South Africa, I have also lived in the United Kingdom and most recently the United States, where I have been resided for the last 34 years. That's more than any other country, making me an honorary native Californian!
Presently settled in Marin County north of San Francisco, I feel blessed to be living in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States, close to wine country, the arts, national parks and many other places of interest. In addition to vibrant viticulture, there is an emphasis on fine dining here, prepared with fresh ingredients by many well-known restauranteurs whose livelihoods are presently threatened by the pandemic. Happily, we may continue to support them through limited dine-in options and take-out!
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
As my birthday approached in 2013, I took stock of my life and realized I had been working too hard and playing too little.
I wonder how many people pause to take stock and reset their goals - this was my moment of realization, that something had to change. Can you relate?
Determined to begin a new chapter and curb the repetitive cycle of work, work, and more work, I planned a trip to Colombia, beginning in Medellin and determined to begin a new chapter of more travel and less work.
THE ACCIDENTAL BLOGGER
Friends expressed interest in my travels and asked me to update them with emails as I progressed on my journey. Rather than send multiple emails, I consolidated my news into what became known as: "Letter from …," with the 'from' being wherever I was at that time. Then I thought: why not do a blog? Except that I did not know how to create a blog. But, along the way, I did meet someone who had a successful blog, and I asked him to help me design and begin mine.
And that was the birth of 'www.phylonthego.com.'
It has had its ups and downs and technology is not my strong suit, but I have carried on as I enjoy the writing despite the battling with software. And it allows me to relive my experiences and to share them with a wider audience.
My main focus while traveling is architecture and design, with a special interest in adaptive re-use of space - repurposing historic gems.
Simply put, this term refers to reusing an existing building for a different purpose than for which it was used previously. This idea, simple though it may be, has made possible the survival of thousands of heritage buildings all over the world - historically relevant properties that would otherwise have been demolished as their original purpose was no longer needed. Firehouses, warehouses, factories, old schools, convents, churches, bank buildings, gas stations, and more have all taken on new life as boutique hotels, restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, dance halls, mixed-use shopping centers, and galleries that meet modern needs while preserving the past's character. It is sustainable urban regeneration that can breathe new life into dying neighborhoods and preserve unique aspects of the past that would otherwise be lost.
My interests converge in the reuse of these old spaces specifically for hotels - my passion. I love these old buildings, with their provenance and a rich patina, and I am fascinated to see how they have been repurposed and propelled into a new life while preserving their soul. They are radically different from the ubiquitous hotel chains. Nearly always, these restorations center around smaller properties retaining many of their original architectural features while incorporating sustainable design.
These properties are a feature of this blog and always appear under the heading "Adaptive Re-use of Space."
There are approximately 195 countries in the world - and the temptations are endless. So grab an imaginary suitcase and come along with me as we travel the road less traveled … with never a dull moment.