Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Last week I talked about my envy of Matt Harding, this week I'm going to let you in on another one of my favorite travel geeks: Conor Grennan of "How Conor is Spending All His Money." I have to confess that though we've never met in real life (IRL) Conor and I have traded e-mails and discovered we graduated the same year (1996) from the same University!
First of all, how can you not love someone whose "About Me" page is titled "The Entire Story of My Life"? Conor's sense of humor is couched in self-deprecating humor, a heart for travel, and a passion for the children of Nepal. I stumbled onto his blog two years ago when I first joined Bootsnall (the host of his blog) while dreaming of my own extended travels. He lived in Prague for almost eight years, before taking off on a round the world (RTW) trip that led him to Nepal and a six month stint volunteering in an orphanage and assisting Nepalese non-profit organizations.
Now Conor has come full-circle as the Executive Director of Next Generation Nepal, the organization he founded and modeled after The Little Princes orphanage that inspired his vision. Conor has tapped his networks, and sacrificed a more comfortable life (in the material sense) to help the displaced children of Nepal. With his charisma, contagious energy and gift for storytelling it is no wonder so many have joined in to help him.
You can read more about Conor in this Daily Progress article from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Let's say you already worked up an appetite at Desire Resort & Spa as Neil writes about here. Then I highly recommend that you check out Oaxaca, Mexico and a little spot owned by artist Oscar Carrizosa called Casa Crespo.
On a tip from a fellow traveler and foodie, I called and scheduled a solo cooking class ($70 US, 3 hours). Oscar was my host and he is so multi-talented and humble that it would be hard not to enjoy his charm, his stories of growing up in Mexico learning to cook at his mother's side. He is an accomplished artist, tourism geek, world traveler, B&B owner, and chef among other things.
We walked to the local market where he took me to all of the stalls and talked about various veggies, peppers and the occasional reminder of how "fresh" the ingredients are. The colors were vibrant and they got me excited about the day's class and meal. We laughed and talked about local history and culture while making Tortilla Soup, Salsa Verde (Green Salsa), Chicken Enchiladas, Salsa Roja (Red Salsa), Fresh Guacamole, Tortillas Con Carne (pork) and Flan (from scratch!).
We drank enough beer and laughed so much that we were barely able to eat all that we cooked, but somehow we managed to gobble up both the 3 hours allotted for cooking and the delicious vittles. Despite all of the turmoil in the beautiful city, it looks like the annual Food of the Gods Festival will still be held October 7-14, 2007.
I also recommend cooking classes in San Miguel de Allende ($50US/4hrs + lunch with Senora Maria). There we prepared Tortilla Soup, Arroz Verde and Tortitas de Pollo. The Mexican chefs pride themselves on their fresh ingredients. The secret to great tasting Mexican food: Pork lard, but don't tell them I told you!
For me, half the fun of preparing for a trip is researching the destination. I'll be visiting India for the first time during my upcoming stint with Semester at Sea and though I've read many a travel blog and poured over many a National Geographic article, I couldn't resist picking up Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure after reading the back cover.
The excerpt made me laugh out loud in the Boston airport and hand over my credit card without hesitation.
After backpacking her way around India Sarah Macdonald decides she hates the country with a passion. When a beggar reads her palm and insists she will one day return - and for love - she screams 'Never!' and gives the country, and him the finger. But eleven years later the prophecy comes true. When the love of Sarah's life is posted to India, she quits her dream job as a national radio presenter to follow him to the most polluted city on earth, New Delhi. It seems like the ultimate sacrifice for love and it almost kills her - literally.
I read the book in less than two nights, drawn in by Macdonald's detailed descriptions (it turns out the she is a journalist herself) of the country and culture, which give way to her affection for the people and a more balanced appreciation for the extremes of her new home. She undertakes a "spiritual sojourn" that sounds scary, but was often hilarious in its honesty, yet endearing in its sincerity.
My favorite parts of the book are those times when she writes about the Indian locals that she comes to love as friends and adopted family. Her relationships with the characters gave her an insight into the lifestyle, beliefs and ideology of a complex society, and never failed to make me think (and laugh). I can't wait to get to India.
Is it bad if I want to do both the Running of the Bulls (RTB) and the Running of the Nudes (RTN)? Neil did a nice piece about the RTB that highlighted both the cultural spectacle and the religious aspects of the event. This group, affiliated with PETA, started an alternative to running with the bulls in 2002, protesting the treatment of the beefy bovines (yes, I just wrote that).
The group is part activist, part nudist, and all types of international fun. The web page itself is gratuitous goodness (you might want to check it out after the boss leaves). They have a "Sexiest Runner Spotlight", t-shirts, videos, and of course: photos (trust me, don't open these in your cubicle). Got you hooked? You can register here or sponsor a runner. You can always join Adrienne in the Naked Pumpkin Run if you need to get some training in.
The inaugural event started with 25 people running, and the 2006 event boasted a record 1,000 "nudies." The RTN event begins just prior to the start of the RTB (both occur annually in July), and the goal is to end the Running of the Bulls event, which was catapulted into the international spotlight by writer Ernest Hemingway.
Whether you agree with the cause or not, you have to admit that its a pretty innovative grassroots effort, and another reason to visit Spain. I think I'm just going too have to watch both events and report back (you know, for research).
If you're anything like me, you love a good quiz. Conde Nast has a fantastic article in this month's issue on page 61 that explores the various types of "Travel Personalities." Christian Wright's "Head Trips" (also available online) is so good that even if you disagree with their assessment of your travel preferences, you'll still be likely to forward this one around to your friends and co-workers. He describes the birth of the study of travel habits:
The scientific study of the relationship between personality and travel started more than 30 years ago, when 16 companies-including TWA and Reader's Digest-commissioned social scientist Stanley C. Plog to find out why nearly 75 percent of the population had never flown. The airlines had just ordered jets, and their capacity was about to increase by twenty percent," says Plog. "They were wondering how they were going to fill these things." What's really impressive is that they take a stab at outlining your media, shopping and sports preferences as well as listing suggested domestic and international trips for your particular travel personality type. I was pegged for a "Centric Venturer" which I totally agree with but they were off on nearly everything else in terms of habits. Take a guess at which one they'll peg you for then take the quiz and let us know if you agree
The scientific study of the relationship between personality and travel started more than 30 years ago, when 16 companies-including TWA and Reader's Digest-commissioned social scientist Stanley C. Plog to find out why nearly 75 percent of the population had never flown. The airlines had just ordered jets, and their capacity was about to increase by twenty percent," says Plog. "They were wondering how they were going to fill these things."
What's really impressive is that they take a stab at outlining your media, shopping and sports preferences as well as listing suggested domestic and international trips for your particular travel personality type. I was pegged for a "Centric Venturer" which I totally agree with but they were off on nearly everything else in terms of habits. Take a guess at which one they'll peg you for then take the quiz and let us know if you agree
Few people inspire me to envy, but there are those intrepid adventurers that are so obviously on another level, that I have to bow down in awe. This week's travel spotlight is on Matt Harding of Where the Hell is Matt? I've been following his blog for almost two years, the highs, the lows and the hilarity in between. He's been around the world and then some. From Africa to Antarctica, he's been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. If you haven't seen his video "Dancing", then get thee to YouTube, quick.
Matt's passion for the people and places of the world, zest for life, and self-deprecating humor make for an entertaining travelogue and have garnered him a cult following on the web. Indeed there are now "response videos" wherein fans around the globe have posted videos in the "Dancing" format, celebrating their own travels from Qatar to their kitchens, and the phenomena doesn't seem to be dying down. If this doesn't put a smile on your face then your heart is a cold, hard, nugget indeed. And if you are easily persuaded and highly susceptible to outside influence, you might not want to check out "Dancing" or Matt's Blog with a credit card nearby. Don't blame us if you find yourself on the road with a video camera and a catchy tune of your own.
*update: oooh! An interview with Matt.
I'll be in Atlanta, GA in a couple of weeks as I prepare to head out on my round the world trip. I decided to spin through the AOL Cityguide: Atlanta, just to peek at what they recommend for kicks and giggles in my favorite southern city. If you're in town on January 15th, check out the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations and rally at the MLK Jr. National Historic site.
There are some cities, countries, and places that you just seem to gravitate to time and again, a relationship of catch and release with those home-away-from-home locales that you know like your own backyard. My romance with Atlanta began after reading Tom Wolfe's scathing yet entertaining geo-cultural expose', A Man in Full, I had visions of living in the diverse, drama-filled, fast paced city of the novel. I visit the city several times each year for work and play, and if I could find a way to deal with the traffic I would consider relocating permanently.
You have to love a place nicknamed "Hotlanta", and after a long weekend, you'll know why. January is a great time to visit this gem with mild temperatures, southern charm, and startling cultural diversity. So after you get your holiday celebration on, hit one or all of my favorite Atlanta hotspots. And yes, all of the streets are named "Peachtree."
Bonus: About.com's Top Ten Books about Atlanta
I'm all for "Mancations" but as a solo female threading my way through Mexico last year, I enjoyed the freedom of traveling alone. Solo travel is inherently selfish. It is the unadulterated joy of doing what you want to do daily, without concern for a mate's preferences or schedule.
On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable to want someone to share the joys of a new discovery, the thrill of an adventure gone awry, or simply the comfort of familiar face when you get sick.
One of the main benefits of traveling with friends is that you always have someone to keep an eye on your gear while you make a bathroom/food/ticket run. I follow the common tips for security, but every now and then you have to let your guard down and trust the universe, fellow travelers and kind strangers to keep you and your stuff safe.
There was the night I arrived in Mexico City to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a single, American, female, hailing a cab in one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Though I was nervous, I decided to trust my intuition, and ended up getting a tour of the midnight mariachi bands serenading throughout the city, and treating my cab driver to the best hamburger I had had in months.
And though on occasion bad things happen to good people, and bad people happen to good places, the thrill of solo travel is being free to investigate, participate, navigate and return to tell the tale. We've mentioned it before, but its not a bad idea to check out USA Today's list of best (and worst) destinations for female travelers before you hit the road.
After my inaugural blog post on Monday, I can proclaim that I am the "newbie" of the Gadling team. I guess the "powers that be" decided I was less dangerous as an employee that they could keep their eyes on, than as a travel-obsessed commenter with a high-speed internet connection. I am honored and excited to join the talented group here at Gadling, and I look forward to learning more about you dear reader.
I am a lifelong traveler, having acquired a passport at the age of 5 and heading to Stuttgart, Germany (Army Brat), after eight years overseas, the travel bug had bitten hard and has yet to let go. I've gone on to travel to Africa, Alaska, Europe, the Bahamian out Islands, and of course I had to do the requisite post-undergrad, cross-country (US) trip. Some of the highlights of my travel career so far have been: seeing the Berlin Wall before it fell, authentic Oktoberfest, a month-long trip with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Kenya, and a 3 month solo trip through Mexico.
I left my corporate career in February of 2006 to indulge my passion for travel in an Under The Tuscan Sun inspired moment, but have found that my adventures have been less Diane Lane in Palermo, and more Whoopi Goldberg in Oaxaca. My next adventure begins January 29, 2007 when I set sail for 100+ days around the world with Semester at Sea. I hope you'll join me here at gadling for the ride.
For all of you shutterbugs and professional photographers, check out the results of National Geographic Traveler's 18th Annual Photo Contest. They received over 15,000 submissions for this year's contest, up 50% from the 10,000 entries they received in 2005. If you are still pumped up for the 2007 contest despite the 1/15,000 chance, start putting your pennies away and check out one of their photography seminars. This year's first place winner, Jay Dunn (China) will receive a ten-day trip for two to Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora-Bora. The second place prize is nothing to sneeze at either. Kyle George (USA) will receive a five-day trip for two to Vietnam.
My scientific regression analysis shows that six of the top ten photos were shot with Nikons, two each with Sony and Cannon gear. Six of the top ten photos were of people, three of landscapes/topography, and one (my personal favorite) of animals. Seven of the winners are from the US, two are Cannucks and Jay Dunn, the first-place winner, lives in China. The 2007 contest will be announced in May.
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Travel Ideas: Adventure, Asia Travel, Beaches, Cruises, Europe Travel, Foodie Travel, Healthy Travel, Holiday Travel, International Destinations, National Parks, Skiing, Travel Blogs, Travel Tips, Travel Photography, US Destinations, Weekend Getaways