While on my recent trip to Israel, I decided to change my flight and stay in Tel Aviv for a few extra days. During my time in Israel, I was treated to beautiful hotels throughout the country, but there was no place I adored as much as my friend Loren Stender’s stunning apartment that he shares with his sweetheart dog, Oscar. Loren and his girlfriend Meaghan’s attention to detail and eye for interiors is impeccable, with every corner of the apartment telling a story about their past travels, adventures and even family art. Much of the furniture that I loved was actually from Loren’s previous time living in Pakistan.
I’m so thrilled to launch ’N’s Nomads with Loren! We had a great chat about his time in Pakistan. Check it out below with a few of Loren’s pics from his time there.
’N: Where are you from?
Loren: Charleston, SC
’N: Where do you currently live?
LS: Tel Aviv, Israel
’N: So, while I was admiring your furniture, you mentioned that you were last posted in Pakistan for work. Tell me about your travels there.
LS: April 2013 was the last month of my two years in Pakistan and I made a big push to take one last trip. I took a lot of weekend trips while living in Islamabad – I bought a BMW station wagon from Japan and shipped it to Karachi so I could explore the country – it was absolutely wild to take road trips in northern Pakistan to places like the old British hill stations in Abottabad and Murree, the mountain retreat Nathia Gali, or south to the ancient Rotas fort in Jelum. I drove that car everywhere! But Skardu and the Kashmir was just a bit too far for the car… so I flew up and I stayed at the Serena Hotel’s Khaplu Palace in Khaplu for a week.
’N: What are your 5 must-haves for a Pakistan road trip?
LS: 1. My dog Oscar. Security, companionship, and the pure joy of watching a dog out in the wild – smelling and chasing after everything!
2. Friends. Everything in life is better with friends.
3. A squad of local police men. Safety first!
4. 2005 BMW 3-Series wagon. Sometimes we’d take a friend’s car and inevitably something would break. My wagon was great for these trips.
5. A Nikon camera. My father gave me his old film camera and Pakistan still has a great photography culture and all of the support stores. The Nikon brand is so great – when I bought a new DSLR, all of my father’s old lenses fit on it! I really liked using the 50mm lens to take portraits of regular people. Pakistanis are very dignified and can really strike a pose! Often, after one of these trips, I’d have the photos developed in a large format and send them back up to the area – it was a fun tradition.
I also use a small Smythson date book to schedule these weekend adventures – it slips into my shirt pocket and I bring it everywhere.
’N: Tell me about Pakistani cuisine. What’s a dish that I have to try?
LS: Food. Wow – food in Pakistan is fantastic and you have to try these 4 types…
I think the best Pakistani food is the mogul traditions from Lahore. It’s spicy and rich and focuses on the meat. My favorites were the butter chicken, palik panir, and fish curry dishes. The street food was also tasty – the neighborhood market had fresh pakora (fried veggies in a simple dough) and samosas at any time of the day – you’d get a huge bag for around a dollar.
Next is the northern traditions. Skardu, up in the Kashmir, has its own unique dishes – their main crops are apricots, cherries, and almonds and these yummy ingredients are the base of their diet. I’ll never forget the sweet chicken almond curry I had while looking out over the Karakorum range. The Kaplu Palace hotel in Baltistan served an unforgettable apricot juice at breakfast. I’ve promised myself that I’ll go back one day – it is a spectacular place!
Understanding Pakistani food also means exploring the neighborhood. Persian and Afghani restaurants are definitely a must try. Order too much – you won’t regret it – spinach-stuffed dumplings, rice cooked with lam, dozens of kebabs (you really ordered in sets of 12!) and an endless stream of steaming hot flat bread. Persian food is much more delicate – chicken cooked with pomegranate, simple broth soups, and saffron rice. Try everything!