In this article, principal ballet dancer Isaac Hernández shares his favorite destinations around the globe and in London, as well as travel accessories he won't leave home without. I second his thoughts on packing footwear. My secret to traveling with only carry-on luggage is packing fewer shoes, for sure!
Excerpt below from 3/3/2023 Virtuoso article by Sallie Lewis can be found HERE.
Ballet is in Isaac Hernández’s blood. One of 11 children born into a family of dancers in Guadalajara, he won the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix – the largest ballet scholarship competition in the world – at age 12. And in 2018, he became the first Mexican to win the Benois de la Danse, also known as the Oscar of ballet. Today, Hernández is a principal dancer at the San Francisco Ballet and an advocate for Mexico’s next generation of talent. “We weren’t very wealthy in my family, so we didn’t travel much,” he says. “It was through dance that I got on my first plane.”
On his personal travels, Hernández gravitates to hotels close to nature, in spots such as Mexico’s Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and Thailand’s Phi Phi archipelago. But, he says, “My favorite thing is food.” While he prefers tacos from a small family eatery on Guadalajara’s Avenida Patria, some of his most indelible food memories were made on the streets of Bangkok and Taiwan, and in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. And he still recalls one spectacular omakase lunch in Fukuoka, Japan. “I was the first customer that afternoon, and the chef asked me to sit in front of him and trust him,” he says. “It was the first time I had an emotional reaction from food.”
“Traveling is food for my mind and soul,” Hernández says – and it’s also a reminder of what unites us. “I’ve found that even though many traditions make us seem different, we’re all moved by the same questions, hopes, and dreams of acceptance and belonging.”
During my seven years as a principal dancer with the English National Ballet, London really won me over. My favorite theater, The Bridge, was cofounded by Nicholas Hytner, an incredible film and theater director who ran the National Theatre for 12 years. I’ve seen everyone from Ralph Fiennes to James Corden perform there. It’s located just across from the Tower of London, and on a summer evening, you can have a glass of wine outside during intermission! Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn is an amazing place.
I love food, and Chutney Mary on St James’s is one of the best Indian restaurants ever. I also love the Greek restaurant Estiatorio Milos – they always treat you like family. For an afternoon tea experience, the Red Carnation Hotels are by far the best. They have The Milestone in Kensington near the Royal Albert Hall, which is a sight to see! If you enjoy whisky like I do, you must stop by the Soho Whisky Club, a small place with an incredibly knowledgeable staff. It’s members only, but nonmembers can book private tastings. You can spend hours there smoking a Cuban cigar and drinking the best whiskies; on your way out, stop by the shop downstairs. In Covent Garden, there’s a snug coffee shop on New Row called The Espresso Room. It’s only a few steps from the London Coliseum, which was my home theater. And finally, for great jazz, don’t miss the 606 Club in Chelsea. I’ve had some amazing nights there.
Isaac Hernández’s Travel Essentials
1. My Montblanc pen and notebook for writing down ideas when they find me.
2. A pair of ballet shoes and some training gear. The one time I didn’t pack them, I needed them for a shoot in Paris and had to improvise.
3. A Canon AE-1. I started taking pictures when I was a kid, and I still love printing them to put into albums.
4. A golf glove and shoes. I love getting a round in anywhere in the world. One of my favorite courses is at an American army base in Japan.
5. A sudoku book. When I travel alone, it helps me stay off the phone!
7. A swimsuit. Often, my way to recharge is at the sauna or the pool. One of the best experiences I’ve had was at the Sandunovsky Banya in Moscow, although there you don’t need a swimsuit!
8. Natura Bissé Rosa Mosqueta Oil is great for hydrating and reducing redness after a long plane ride.
9. La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar line is the most effective product I’ve found to treat spots and breakouts.
I used to travel with four or five different suits and three to four pairs of shoes, but never once used them all. Find a decent pair of formal shoes that can be casual if needed, and a suit with the same flexibility. You really don’t need much.
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