News & Opinion (updated March 1, 2015)
Solas Awards Winners Announced
The editors of Travelers' Tales are thrilled to announce the winners of the Ninth Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Story of the Year. Grand Prize winner Amy Gigi Alexander collected $1,000 for “Oranges and Roses,” her extraordinary account of being embraced by Senegalese immigrants in Paris and indigenous people in Panama. Katherine Jamieson won the silver award and $750 for “Remember This Night,” her funny and evocative tale of pizza night with a family in Guyana. Erin Byrne took the bronze and $500 for “Deep Travel, Notre Dame,” her introspective exploration of Paris’s famous cathedral and the personal tensions it represents. See the complete list of winners at BestTravelWriting.com
In Paris, the discovery of Africa on the outskirts of the city assuages sudden grief.
Women stand above me, brightly colored boubou dresses blending into an African origami screen blocking my view. Hands, like undecided hummingbirds, hover over my heart, swiftly moving to my eyes, covering them with damp palms. Children tied to their mothers’ backs watch, as I lie on the thin mattress in the tiny apartment, wooden bones of crates underneath pressing into my back. I feel the slap of hands hard against my calves, hear the metallic ring of the spoon as it stirs an elixir of powder and mango juice. I drink the glassful greedily, juice running down my chin, tasting the sweetness mixed with clay, dirt, earth.Read on...
Some people say the most splendid thing about a road trip to Ohio is the road trip from Ohio. I might have agreed; benighted rustbelt, flyover, swing state that it is. But follow this simple itinerary and you may come away with affection for Ohio. Spring is a good time to travel.
I had signed up for a nonfiction conference at a small university in a small university town in the middle of Ohio. The keynote speaker, Scott Russell Sanders, was someone whose work I respected, who had written a wrenching essay I could not get out of my head. Once I decided to drive, I started examining the road atlas for possible routes. There is no getting around Pennsylvania if you want to drive to Ohio from New York City. Two basic corridors exist – Interstate 80 to the north and the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the south. Driving the full distance would be more than a day’s work: so, to break up the trip, where to stop? What’s beyond Harrisburg?Read on...
In the middle of the St. Charles Bridge on a warm day in Prague, we wait with our binders of music, wondering if anyone will bother to show up. There are five or six of us here now, out of perhaps twenty-five. We’ve been singing all week, and this is our day off; we wouldn’t blame the rest of our friends for not coming. The tourists take pictures of the statue above us, and the jazz combo carries on down the way. You wouldn’t blame the tourists, either, if they didn’t want to pay attention to us, but we’re hoping they will.
In New York, I practice my choir music at home alone between rehearsals, coaxing my brain through a process that still feels alien, even after two years. Because I didn’t learn to read sight-read music when I was younger, I’m still learning now. It’s the difference between knowing a language well enough to translate it in your head and knowing that same language well enough to understand the words’ meaning with immediacy, without having to translate. There are so many words, each with so many significances.
For the first four months of this year I voyaged around the world with 600 college students as part of the Semester at Sea program. The experience of traveling with so many young, optimistic, and inquisitive adventurers was an amazing opportunity. For many of these young people, this was their first major travel experience. For some, it was even the first time they had left their home state. For all of them, it was a transformative experience. Perhaps the most exciting part of the trip was watching these young people metamorphose from novice travelers, at best, into global thinkers convinced they can make a difference.
Virtually all of the students were Generation Ys, those born between 1980 and 2000, often called the Millennials or even the Facebook generation. Interestingly, most of them were college juniors or seniors, which meant most days it was someone’s 21st birthday. More importantly though, almost daily throughout the voyage, these Millennials would disprove the many myths associated with their generation. Case in point was their reaction to their immediate disconnection from Facebook and other social media when we set sail. Many of us expected there to be a major revolt. How could they possibly survive without posts, pokes, and tweets? Ironically, the Millennials did very well, but unfortunately, I cannot report the same for the baby boomers onboard, many of whom battled the extremely low bandwidth of the ship’s networks to make their posts. The Millennials found an easier solution, they talked to each other, face to face. After all it was a very small ship.Read on...
It's 4 a.m. on the Carnival Imagination, midway between Miami and the Bahamas, and two Backstreet Boys are giving an impromptu but heartfelt lecture on love, marriage, sharks and Twitter to a handful of fans who stumbled upon the duo while ending their drunken night at the pizzeria.
One is dressed as a Ninja Turtle and slurring his words after downing straight vodka during a midnight "Pyjama Jam." The other is sober but in party mode, having impressively survived on Red Bull on a ship overflowing with alcohol and putting his sobriety to the ultimate test.
Why did I go to Antarctica? A good question, considering the warm-weather joys of the world—the thousands of tropical beaches I’d love to lie on and coral reefs I’ve never scuba dived. The list goes on; I have never:
-Seen any of the seven wonders of the world
-Faced a charging rhino on safari
-Bartered for mangos in a foreign bazaar
-Visited the Louvre
-Thrown a shrimp on the barby (not that I would)
-Played slack-key ukulele while fanned with palm leaves by buff, loin-clothed attendants
-Studied the mystery of the Easter Island heads (Pez dispensers of the gods?)
-Smuggled opiumunder a burka
-Rented an under-age sex slave in front of a giant statue of Buddha (not that I would)
-Met James Bond in a upscale casino (or a crappy one)
-Dismantled the Nazis’ cars and sung my way across the Alps to freedom
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The Best Travel Writing, Volume 10 is the latest book in this Travelers’ Tales series launched in 2004 to celebrate the world’s best travel writing—from Nobel Prize winners to emerging new writers. These 29 stories cover the globe, from rejuvenating 40-something sex appeal on a dance floor in Cuba to hunting for buried silver on a first visit to the Russian homeland to comprehending the meaning of forgiveness with a killing fields survivor in Cambodia. The points of view and perspectives are global, and themes encompass high adventure, spiritual growth, romance, hilarity and misadventure, service to humanity, and encounters with exotic cuisine. Read the Introduction by Don George or a sample chapter.
The Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 10 invites readers to ride shotgun alongside intrepid female nomads as they travel the globe to discover new places, people, and facets of themselves. The stories in this edition are as diverse as the destinations, the common thread being fresh, compelling storytelling that will make you laugh, weep, wish you were there, or be glad you weren’t. You'll study the ancient art of belly dancing in Egypt, negotiate with smugglers in Mongolia, scuba dive through an underground cave in Mexico, and much more. Read Lavinia Spalding's Introduction or a sample chapter.
With intelligence, style, and depth, Marcia DeSanctis offers insight and advice to every France-obsessed woman, whether she's a first-time traveler to Paris or the most sophisticated Francophile. In 100 luminous vignettes on the country's most alluring places, DeSanctis leads us through vineyards, markets, architectural treasures, beach idylls, and contemplates hikes from Biarritz to Normandy, Antibes to Chamonix. Along the way, she tells of fascinating women who have changed the destiny of France—from Marie Curie, Empress Josephine, and Joan of Arc to Audrey Hepburn and Édith Piaf. From sexy to literary, spiritual to gorgeous, 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go is for the smart and curious traveler who wants to see France, her way. Read the Introduction or a sample chapter.
"In this elegant book, Marcia DeSanctis becomes your smartest, most glamorous, generous and insightful friend—your sage, and your guide. 100 Places in France is a treasure for any woman who wishes to know the country intimately, from it's most delectable and stylish surfaces (lingerie! parfum!) to its nuanced and profound depths. Whether traveling by jet, or simply by imagination, you will savor this ride, perhaps along with a glass of fine champagne or the perfect demitasse. I loved it."
—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Still Writing
“Makes me want to pack my bag and follow Van Allen's alluring suggestions. Andiamo!”
—Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
Following the critically acclaimed 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, Susan Van Allen adds new gems to her selection of the best spots for female travelers in Italy’s most popular cities, along with enticing Golden Day itineraries to make vacation dreams come true. Like a savvy traveler girlfriend whispering in your ear, she guides readers to masterpieces where women are glorified—from Rome’s Pieta to Florence’s Birth of Venus—and to best spots for wine tasting, chocolate, gelato, artisan shopping experiences to meet leather craftsmen or glass blowers, and places for adventures such as rolling pasta or rowing like a gondolier. She provides fresh, practical tips giving readers an insider’s secrets on what to pack, the best places to get their hair styled, and how to shop for bargain souvenirs.
Susan opens the door to extraordinary experiences that fully immerse you in the beautiful, fascinating, and delicious pleasures of the Bel Paese. Read a sample chapter.
25th Anniversary Edition!
“A wonderful travel companion for anyone who wants to view afresh the wonders and oddess of humankind.” — Amy Tan
“Asia is a mythical jubilee,” writes Jeff Greenwald, “full of characters more strange and entertaining than anything you’ll find in Star Wars.” On his quest for the perfect Buddha statue, Greenwald treks to a lofty nunnery to meet “one of the most powerful women in Tibet—known to fly through the air.” He visits Kathmandu’s first indoor shopping mall (where a ride on the country’s first escalator is a near-religious event), and befriends a sly mystic named Lalji, whose often abrasive teaching methods prod him along the spiritual path. This 25th anniversary edition of his beloved book contains a new Preface by the author that brings us up to date on life in Nepal and introduces readers both new and old to this magical story. Read a sample chapter.
Seeking an unusual place to escape with friends? Want to indulge in a perfect hot spring or mountain retreat? Hoping to gain perspective by exploring women's history or touring a quirky museum? 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go will both inspire and compel you to hit the road—in a group, with a friend, or solo. Divided into sections such as "Get to Know America," "Americans’ History," "Participate," and "X (Chromosome) Rated," this guidebook unveils places you've never heard of and gives you a new outlook on places you think you know. It illuminates attractions close to home and reminds you why it's time to plan that special trip far away. The book is packed with breezy reviews, insightful advice, and engaging anecdotes sure to set you on your way. Read Sophia Dembling's Introduction.
Deer Hunting in Paris is an unexpectedly funny exploration of a vanishing way of life in a complex, cosmopolitan world. Sneezing madly from hay fever, a Korean-American preacher’s daughter refuses to get married, travels the world, and ends up learning how to hunt from her boyfriend’s conservative family. As she navigates the perils of an unlikely romantic relationship from Paris, France, to Paris, Maine, Paula Young Lee skewers human foibles while she celebrates hunting, DIY food culture, and what it means to be a carnivore. She finds herself trying to keep from being “mistaken” for a deer and getting shot at the clothesline, while also avoiding becoming dinner for bears. Along the way, this former vegetarian finds lessons about life, love, and loss in a hacksaw and a haunch of venison. Read the Prologue or a sample chapter.
Ghost Dance in Berlin is an unlikely declaration of love by the American-born son of German-speaking Jewish refugees. From a temporary perch in a villa on Berlin’s biggest lake, Wortsman imagines the parallel celebratory haunting of two sets of ghosts, those of the exiled erstwhile owners, a Jewish banker and his family, and those of the Führer’s Minister of Finance and his entourage, who took over title, while in another villa across the lake another gaggle of ghosts is busy planning the Final Solution.
Where the Wall once stood dividing East and West the city remains bisected by invisible borderlines, across which the author hops with an eye for telling detail and an ear for memorable conversations with street musicians, winos, lawyers, bankers, politicians, a taxi driver, a hooker, and a Michelin star chef, with cameo appearances by Henry Kissinger and the shade of Marlene Dietrich. Read the Foreword or a sample chapter.
“Makes me want to pack my bag and follow Van Allen’s alluring suggestions for traveling in Italy. Her knowledge reveals an intimacy with the country and a honed sense of adventure. Andiamo!”
—Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
Imagine creating your Italian dream vacation with a fun-loving savvy traveler girlfriend whispering in your ear. Go along with writer Susan Van Allen on a femme-friendly ride up and down the boot, to explore this extraordinarily enchanting country where Venus (Vixen Goddess of Love and Beauty) and The Madonna (Nurturing Mother of Compassion) reign side-by-side. With humor, passion, and practical details, this uniquely anecdotal guidebook will enrich your Italian days. Read the Introduction, and also this superb review.
“A most diverting and picaresque tale, one that reads like a sentimental journey of a hundred years ago.”
—the late Norman Cousins
In the early 1960s, a young, self-taught musician set out to travel the world with no money, equipped only with his guitar, his voice, and his belief in the goodness of people. Along the way, blown by the winds of fortune, guided by instinct, he played for kings and paupers, soldiers and servants, artists and terrorists. His name is Moro Buddy Bohn, and his unlikely and powerful story will uplift you and inspire you to live the life you want.
His audiences have included Queen Elizabeth II of England, King Frederick IX of Denmark, Pablo Picasso, Rita Hayworth, Patty Duke, Lee Marvin, Howard Hughes, King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand, and he was the first musician to entertain U.S. troops in Vietnam. Read the Preface or a sample chapter.
Cruise Confidential: a hit below the waterline
“Part Love Boat, part Mutiny on the Bounty, Cruise Confidential does for cruising what Animal House did for higher education.” —J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Cruise Confidential is a delightfully funny, wild, and romantic adventure that reveals what it's really like working on a cruise ship. Brian David Bruns worked for a year in the ships' restaurants and his account will astonish you as you are assaulted with circumstances ranging from the absurd to the bizarre. Did you know that waiters are required to steal cutlery and even food from each other for their own guests? Can you imagine what the crew thinks of the passengers? And sex, don't forget the sex. Read Chapter 1 here.