Category Archives: Travel

Southern Africa Snapshots, Part I

South Africa, Swaziland & Zimbabwe wrap-up.

I recently returned from two weeks in southern Africa, booked through Gate1Travel with incomparable Anni Hennop as a guide. The continent and the countries we visit provide a kaleidoscope of both positive memories and insights that are hopeful distressing.

Quick takeaways: Enormous income inequity. Vibrant but often violent history. Compelling scenery. Trash and litter (especially plastic bottles) despoiling the landscape. Wonderful wildlife.  Poaching remains problematic. Cultural and creative richness that sees people through and gives hope. Property crime rampant. Political corruption. Go visit and see for yourself.

Meanwhile, below find an image or two from every  place I visited and thing I saw at the beginning of the trip. Visit my Facebook page for more.

Day 1 – Arrival Afternoon

Watershed, an art and design center on Cape Town’s Victoria & Albert Harbor waterfront.

Day 2 – On the Road from Cape Town

Cape Peninsula Drive, one of the world’s most scenic highways. Parts are hacked into steep cliffs. Some stretches offer spectacular scenic views of beaches and bays. Parts lead though the fynbos, known as the smallest but richest of the six floral kingdoms on the planet with some 1,100 species of indigenous plants.
Wild seas. even during calm weather, at Cape Point where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. Whales are commonly sighted. Seals live on rocky outcrops. Birds fly past.

Continue reading Southern Africa Snapshots, Part I

U.S.to Put Out Unwelcome Mat for Foreign Visitors

Administration establishes tough and intrusive border regulations.

I started this blog more than a decade ago to celebrate the joy of travel and to offer occasional useful information for travelers. Sadly, travel has become increasingly less joyful, what with punitive airline experiences, fears of violent incidents in some of the world’s most appealing destinations and now, border hassles. Below is a digest graph from  the WTFJHT daily E-blast over the latest news to discourage inbound visitation to the U.S. — and we don’t now what the counter-policies might be.

The Trump administration is considering steps for “extreme vetting.” Foreigners entering US could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social media passwords and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology. (🔒 Wall Street Journal)

i have to wonder whether it will have a domino effect on travel to countries that previously were easy to enter. Will those with U.S. passports or arriving from U.S. flights now be diverted from the green customs light line when entering other countries?

‘Food on Foot’: A Book that Strikes a Chord

True tales of adventurous travel and adventurous eating.

A month from now, we will be in the Himalayas, visiting Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. I’m beside myself with happy anticipation, and every book around the house that I am ready to pick up is about one of those countries.  I nibble at old guidebooks, even though this will not be an independent trip but a Road Scholar itinerary, and out-of-print Traveler’s Tales anthologies of Tibet and Nepal (none on Bhutan). Still, the upcoming publication of Food on Foot penetrated my pre-Himalayan haze. The publicist’s description intrigued me:

World traveler, mountain climbing enthusiast, and scholar Demet Güzey introduces readers to the vital connection between food and human expedition in Food on Foot , the next installment in the Food on the Go series. From pilgrims to pioneers, soldiers to explorers, the only limit to humanity’s reach is the food they can find along the way, and Güzey examines the myriad ways we have approached this problem over the centuries and across landscapes.

From tinned foods to foraging in the arctic wilderness, worm-infested hardtack to palate-dulling army rations, loss of appetite in high altitudes to champagne and caviar at base camps, Güzey gives a thoroughly researched and insightful account of how we manage food on foot, and how disaster strikes when we fail to manage it well.

Firsthand accounts, authentic artifacts and photographs, expert opinions, and recipes reveal new perspectives on lesser known as well as more famous expeditions, such as the disastrous end of the Donner Party, the stranded men of Shackleton on Elephant Island, and the first successful summit of Mount Everest. An extensive bibliography provides ample opportunities for further reading.

This culinary history book by Demet Güzey is geared to adventurous food lovers and food-loving adventurers. Publication date is April 8, the day we leave on our own trip,  but I hope to get to it after I return. Publishing  details: Rowman & Littlefield; ISBN: 978-1-4422-5506-7; Hardcover $38; 236 pages.

Culinary Tour Company Offers Small-Group Travel

Traveling foodies and food-loving travelers, this one’s for you.

I hear and read about a lot of tour companies, but one captured my attention, both because of the clever name and because the subject interests me. Pack A Fork! Unique Cultural & Culinary Adventures is a small group tour company offering guests international tours that are about learning, discovery and immersive experiences. It describes its offerings like this:

Tours are focused on the history and culture of a region as well as its culinary scene. Guests can count on must-see main sites as well as unique experiences/off-the-beaten path. Guests meet locals, learn about the foods and wines of the region, participate in hands-on cooking classes, take hikes with picnics and taste local foods they may never try on their own. Guides are committed to exceeding each guest’s expectations.  

All tours are small with a maximum of 15 guests + guides. Included are all accommodations, private transportation, select gourmet meals, winery tours and food tastings, museum or site-guided tours, marketplace tours, culinary experiences and more. Free time is built in to every tour offering guests opportunities to relax or go out on their own. Tours are open to men, women, solo travelers and couples. 

Upcoming itineraries are to Peru, Spain/Portugal and Tuscany.

EU Set to Require Visas of U.S. Citizens

Response to Trump administration immigration crackdown.

The saying, “What goes around comes around” applies to international travel. In response to deportations, border stops and  other crackdowns on foreign visitors to the U.S. and immigrants too, the European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU.

The U.S. government could not  bring itself to agree to visa-free travel for citizens from five EU countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania), so American citizens will be required to obtain visas. The vote urges the revocation of the scheme within two months, meaning Americans will have to apply for visas. The intricacies are complicated and may end up before  the European Court of Justice.

Current policies have become known as the “Trump slump.” The U.S. Travel Association has said the administration’s immigration policies are hurting tourism, citing  “mounting signs” of “a broad chilling effect on demand for international travel to the United States.”

Then again, there are a lot of people, including VIPS, whom the U.S. seems to discourage from visiting. Heavy-handed airport detentions of visitors from abroad do nothing to encourage inbound visitation. Consider that in the few weeks since the inauguration, the following are among the high-profile visitors help up at the airport:

  • Kjell Magne Bondevik, a former prime minister of Norway was detained for an hour at Washington’s Dulles International Airport. His “crime”: visiting Iran in 2014 for a human rights conference.
  • Mem Fox, a 70-year-old children’s book author from Australia on her 100th visit to the U.S., was detained at Los Angeles International Airport for two hours and treated so rudely that she collapsed in tears in her hotel room and vowed never to come back.
  • Henry Rousso, an Egyptian-born French Holocaust historian, was detained for 10 hours at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport en route to give a talk at Texas A&M. He was told that he would not be permitted to receive an honorarium for his talk on a tourist visa. He had frequently visited over the last 30 years.
  • Celeste Omin, a software engineer from Nigeria was detained in New York when coming to work at Andela, a startup that connects the top tech talent in Africa with employers in the U.S. Andela accepts less than 1% of applicants into its program and is backed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

A former head of state, a renowned author, a renowned historian and a top software engineer! There are doubtless more, but these four come to mind.

A British Peek at North Korea

Observations from the rare Western tour group.

The Chinese city of Dandong has the easternmost section of the Great Wall. It also enables curious tourists to glimpse the formidable, secretive country North Korea just across the Yalu River. “Want to see North Korea? Head to Dandong, China,” a CNN Travel report on this curious spot, reports on the contrast between the two on-and-off friends.

It is, of course, almost impossible for Westerners to set foot in North Korea, and Americans would be wise not even put it on their bucket lists. But Hilary Bradt, founder of the highly regarded Bradt Travel Guides, visited with Regent Holidays and filed this blog report called “Hilary Bradt in North Korea.” I’m not sure when she made this guided and controlled excursion, but I just stumbled on it toady and wanted to share it.

Frommer’s Guides at 70

Lapsed lawyer’s travel guidebooks defined American travels.

An edition from the early ’70s. I think this was the one I toted around.

While Arthur Frommer was stationed in Europe during the Korean War, he published a slim guide to help nervous GIs navigate the mysteries of foreign travel with its mysterious money, food and customs.

The book sold out, and the inspired Arthur Frommer, a recently minted lawyer, returned to Europe to research and write what became Europe on $5 a Day. It was published in 1957, making this the 60th anniversary. When a college roommate and I toured Europe for three months several years late, inflation had not yet struck, and we managed on close to a $5 daily budget. That trip fueled my lifelong desire to cross oceans to see and experience new places.

There followed more guidebooks a magazine, a television show and a blog. In recent years, he has teamed up with his daughter, Pauline, to keep the iconic brand going. Thank you, Arthur, for kindling the travel lust in millions of Americans.

On the Road with Dave Wiggins

Wiggins on Wheels is new experiential road trip site.

5thwheelHere’s what my friend Dave Wiggins recently posted: “For those of you who may not know it, I’ve become a travelin’ man with no set address or house. My home is a 43′ fifth-wheel trailer named Big Mo. To log my odyssey I’ve created a blog. Check it out if you want: https://wiggonwheels.com/. Happy travels!”

I didn’t know it. Dave is a founding partner o Widness & Wiggins Public Relations . He’s been Colorado,  but now is roaming. Sara Widness remains anchored in Vermont as Dave takes to the road. Since August, he’s been in Montana, Nevada, New Mexico,  old Mexico and Arizona. I looked at his site, enjoyed the pictures and the words and enjoyed all.  Take a look. You might too.

Lonely Planet Adds Food-Forward Guides

With food a major part of travel, publisher debuts titles.

lonelyplanet-logoLonely Planet, now the world’s largest travel guidebook publisher (and my favorite line of titles), is launching the Lonely Planet Food imprint. Food is a key way in which we experience a place when traveling. Out on October 18 is Food Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the World’s Tastiest Destinations ($24.99), promising “a gastronomic tour of the greatest, most memorable food experiences worth planning a trip around – from barbeque in Texas to patisserie in Paris, fine dining to cooking classes.”  Also coming this fall are Food Trails (October), From the Source: Spain, and From the Source: Japan (both September). Coming in May 2017 is Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour.

The new imprint is launched with impressive ambitions. Associate publisher Robin Barton says, “We will be publishing a wide range of titles, including recipe books that feature food in its place of origin, and travel companions to food and drink trails around the world. We show chefs cooking, customers eating and ingredients being bought in markets, giving readers a true sense of place. A huge part of the food experience is the surroundings, atmosphere and people – our aim is to bring the complete package to people at home who are keen to experience world food at its most authentic.”

In Lonely Planet fashion, the publisher says that its “experts scoured the globe to create a comprehensive guide to a year’s worth of weekends in food heaven. Both practical and inspirational, Food Trails features culinary experts, reviews of restaurants, cafes and markets, and maps and information on where to go when and how to get there.” And did I mention that the food and ambiance photography promises to whet travelers’ appetites?

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

New SCOTTeVEST Garments for Travel Ease

Multi-pocket garment line expanded.

scottevest-logoFor several years now, I’ve been traveling internationally without a purse, but rather I wear an early model of the multi-pocket SCOTTeVest. It holds a lot and holds it all securely.  It came with an illustration showing all the pockets and what each is designed for, but I have adapted it to my own needs: at the very least, passport, wallet, room or apartment key, street map, glasses for sun or reading,  transit pass.  Sometimes I stick in a lightweight GoreTex shell for rainy or windy weather, or sunscreen on a bright day.

Principles of SCOTTeVEST garments include lots and lots of secure pockets of different sizes.
Principles of SCOTTeVEST garments include lots and lots of secure pockets of different sizes.

Now, the Idaho-based travel company has a couple of new products, and in watching the promotional video, I discovered that the line has grown to include jackets and cargo pants too. I was intrigued by the new Off The Grid (OTG) Jackets for men and women. These jackets feature 29 engineered pockets that include two patented front Rapid Access Panels, which reveal large compartments designed to hold a laptop (except Women’s XS and S) without showing bumps or bulges. Since my XS and even S days are behind me, I’m especially intrigued.