Since 2006 the editors of Travelers’ Tales have run a writing competition to find the best travel story of the year: The Solas Awards. Over those years, thousands of stories have come across their desks, from writers famous and unknown, covering all corners of the globe with stories of adventure and discovery, love and loss, humor and absurdity, grief and joy. In this collection appear all of the top prize winners of the first ten years, stories that bring readers along for journeys that are inspiring, uplifting, and, very often, transformative. These tales are powerful, moving testaments to the richness of our world, its cultures, people, and places.
We were traveling with our children on our annual van excursion across the country, and being Catholic, needed to go to Sunday Mass. Marvel of marvels there was a church within walking distance of our downtown hotel and so we went. The Basilica of Louis IX was first built in 1770. A newer structure was built in 1832 and dedicated in 1834. It is a wonderfully airy and very pretty cathedral but it has one feature that the builders would never have imagined in their wildest dreams. If you look out the western windows, you can see the Arch of St. Louis.
There are many among us who are puzzled by the suicidal actions of Muslim terrorists. How and why are they doing this? What really is their motive? None of these questions can be answered with the standard pabulum about terrorism seeking to destabilize the West.
I have just woken up in Galilee at the Mitzpe Ha Yamin organic farm and health resort and had my first morning glimpse of Israel. I walk out onto the veranda, which overlooks the Galilean hills. Horses graze on the hillside and I absorb the peace and quiet that extends for miles in all directions. I was expecting to hear the distant sound of at least a few explosions and maybe some smoke on the horizon over my morning coffee. The only smoke to be seen is from construction sites not far from the Sea of Galilee.
I have always loved San Francisco. I say this without shame or passion. It is a statement of fact, something unalterable like the sun rising or the smell of coffee in the morning. This is the city where I spent my childhood and as a boy would walk the streets for hours at night with