Featured Stories

Letting Go of Hungary


By Ying-Ann (Annie) Chen

Seventeenth Annual Solas Award Gold Winner in the Funny Travel Category

When I turned twenty, all the things I wanted got in my head. So, I went to Hungary. I scrolled through the program website of simple synecdoches. Brazil: Christ the Redeemer, Croatia: lakes, Mauritius: monkeys, Mongolia: yurts, Thailand: temples, Poland: colorful buildings, and Romania: Medieval architecture. Hungary: sunflower fields. Off I went. I stood in a clean suburban house under a slanting red tiled roof and windows that opened outwards. This was my host home in the village of Zalaegerszeg. I gifted my host-family Ghirardelli chocolate, a Sather Gate magnet, and pineapple cake. The city near where I live, where I go to school, and where I am from, I explained. Read more
Letting Go of Hungary2023-04-23T02:17:52-07:00

My Posthumous Ally


Seventeenth Annual Solas Award Gold Winner in the Travel & Transformation Category

My Posthumous Ally

How a poet’s tragic childhood improved this writer's relationship to loss

By Gary Singh

At the Casa Pascoli Museum in San Mauro, Italy, I found a posthumous ally.

Over the years, I had written several travel stories “walking in the footsteps” of deceased writers. Abandoned buildings and old haunts, long-gone locales, gravesites and the outskirts of history all inspired me more than contemporary attractions.

I didn’t care about four-star restaurants in Venice. I wanted to raise the ghosts.

Many of these stories were contrivances—art for art’s sake—but something about the process must have served a healing purpose. I never thought about it, therapeutically speaking, until I explored Casa Pascoli.

Read more

My Posthumous Ally2023-04-23T02:12:01-07:00

Ambush on the Cumberland Plateau

travelers-talesBy Brian Reisinger

Grand Prize Silver Winner in the Seventeenth Annual Solas Awards

A hunting trip in America’s original colonial backwoods was supposed to be full of lessons for his 12-year-old nephew.

We were deep in rural Tennessee when the rain came. It was light and so quick that the sun was still out, and it danced in the sunlight as we drove on, coming and going. It was hard to tell whether the rain was just starting and stopping, or whether we were traveling through different pockets of a land with secrets. That land was the historic Cumberland Plateau, and we had come to this high wooded country to hunt wild hogs.  [Read more]
Ambush on the Cumberland Plateau2023-04-09T20:55:08-07:00

The Weight of Paradise

travelers-talesBy Cherene Sherrard

Grand Prize Gold Winner in the Seventeenth Annual Solas Awards

(this essay originally appeared in Hidden Compass)


Given the picture-perfect day, the narrow Oahu beach was peculiarly empty. A pair of newlyweds had the entire panorama as backdrop for their wedding photos. Far from shore, streaks of cirrus clouds formed a cross in a cobalt sky that met the white foam of the break. The rainbow arcs of parasails spun their stick figure riders like marionettes.

The water was the aqua blue of my dreams, but I couldn’t enjoy it. Turning away from the waves, I kept my eyes fixed on the bride and groom as they cycled through predictable romantic postures. We didn’t say a word, but I could feel my husband watching them, too. We were steeling ourselves — for the unpredictability of the water, and for the challenge that awaited us there. [Read more]
The Weight of Paradise2023-07-01T23:56:08-07:00

To the Young Mom on Flight 1122

travelers-talesBy Pier Nirandara

Grand Prize Bronze Winner in the Seventeenth Annual Solas Awards

Fourteen hours, five passengers, three seats, two longed-for countries, one memorial.

You shuffle down the aisle, toddler in tow, before plopping down in the middle seat beside me. Already flustered from the delayed flight and whatever connection you had to make, strands of hair escape down the sides of your face, framing brows downturned at the corners. Your expression crumples ruefully as you apologize profusely in advance: it was to be a long 14 hours, especially with your child in your lap. I smile politely—but the gesture quickly drops when your husband closes the aisle seat, armed with another child, a newborn.
To the Young Mom on Flight 11222023-03-14T17:55:16-07:00