Go Away With … Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls

By Jae-Ha Kim
June 15, 2009

It has been more than two decades since the Indigo Girls made their music debut and the duo is still going strong. On their new double album “Poseidon and the Bitter Bug,” Emily Saliers and Amy Ray show off their rich harmonies. Their versatility shines through on the CDs — one is solely acoustic; the other features a full rock band.

The Indigo Girls’ current tour includes stops at Ravinia in Highland Park, Ill., on June 26, and the Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder, Colo., on July 6. Check out www.indigogirls.com for more information on the Indigo Girls and their tour.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
If I were to pick a fascinating, the busiest vacation, I would pick Southeast Asia. But for totally kicking back, it’s the beach — specifically the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. There are long paths for running, walking or bike riding. I love to go there when the weather turns cooler and there aren’t as many people. Nothing soothes my soul as much as sitting on a porch overlooking the water and listening to the waves crash with a good book in hand.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
I love to go to the mountains of North Georgia. The drive is about 90 miles from Atlanta, so it’s perfect for a weekend getaway. I like the quiet beauty of North Georgia — the blue tint to the foothills, the farmland and the roadside veggie stands selling cider and boiled peanuts. My dogs are in heaven there. Once the leashes come off, they are gone to explore. There is always a roaring fire in the fireplace and a comfortable grubbiness about the outdoor experience.

Q. What are your favorite hotels and restaurants?
I like boutique hotels that are environmentally friendly and have a good gym. The Kimpton Hotels (www.kimptonhotels.com) chain is a good one. For a rare splurge, I love the Mandarin Oriental hotels (www.mandarinoriental.com), but that is the height of luxury. My favorite restaurant, of course, is my own. I am part owner of Watershed Restaurant (www.watershedrestaurant.com) in Decatur, Ga. It’s my favorite place to eat when I am home. I love oysters, so I would have to include the Hog Island Oyster Co. (www.hogislandoysters.com) in San Francisco and Rodney’s Oyster House (www.rodneysoysterhouse.com) in Toronto as two of my favorites. Atlanta is home to some outstanding steak restaurants. I really like Kevin Rathbun’s Steak (www.kevinrathbunsteak.com). Nobu (www.noburestaurants.com) in New York City is a perennial favorite. Some of the best food I ever had in my life was in Tuscany and on the streets of Vietnam. I’m not afraid to eat bugs. I am a major foodie and could take up the whole page listing all my favorites. I follow the Zagat listings frequently.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
I must have my guitar. I feel strange without it accessible. I usually take my computer. I must have books and reading glasses (alas!). I also take a supply of vitamin C packs, my cell phone, of course, and, typically, the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
It depends on the trip. Before I went to Southeast Asia my traveling companions and I researched for months. We poured over travel guides, especially ‘Lonely Planet’, read travel mags and travel blogs and searched the Internet incessantly. We studied maps and planned our own route and booked our own flights and hotels. The New York Times travel section had many features on places in Southeast Asia over the course of several months, and we took some tips from those. We read a lot about the customs of the different Asian cultures and we brought along books by Southeast Asian writers and historians. Planning the trip was almost as much fun as being there.

Q. What is your worst vacation memory?
I went to Jamaica with my girlfriend to a totally homophobic all-inclusive resort. We left the day after we got there. Also got stuck in a hurricane in Mexico and evacuated to a horrible hotel where we spent most of our time hunkered down in the lobby and got bitten by bed bugs at night.

Q. Have you ever been guilty of being an “ugly American”?
No, I haven’t. I’ve been around “ugly American” tourists, and it’s a drag. I think of myself as a guest in someone’s home and act accordingly, respectfully and with tons of gratitude.

© 2009 JAE-HA KIM


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