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Category: Travel

This category contains travel articles that I have written as well as links to other posts and pages related to travel.

Check out my books and bylines for more examples of my travel writing. You can also visit italofile.com, my blog about Italy travel.

The Best American Travel Writing 2012

BATW 2012

The Best American Travel Writing 2012 is out.

I started writing about travel just a few years shy of the debut, 12 years ago, of this annual series of the best travel stories from American publications. For most of the last dozen years, I have treated myself to the BATW, usually at Christmas time. It’s a professional expense, yes. But the book also gives me insight into the sort of travel writing readers are responding to, which places are being written about, what their angles are, and which publications are still promoting and producing quality travel tales. Browsing the table of contents as well as the “Notable Travel Writing” in the back of the book provides a snapshot of where the best writing is being done and who is doing it.

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Ortakoy Mosque - Bosphorus Bridge

#FriFotos – Below the Bosphorus Bridge

Ortakoy Mosque - Bosphorus Bridge

Every so often, I like to contribute to the Twitter discussion #FriFotos. This week’s topic is “bridge,” and I can think of only a few bridges I like as well as the Bosphorus Bridge. A feat of engineering more than a thing of beauty, Istanbul‘s Bosphorus Bridge connects Europe with Asia. When driving over the bridge, there are signs that tell you, “You Are Now Entering Europe/Asia” The change from one continent to another is not immediately evident, but a switch goes off in the head that makes you think: Crossing this bridge is special.

This photo was taken in the neighborhood of Ortakoy next to the oft-photographed Ortakoy Mosque. I highly recommend paying this part of Istanbul a visit.

Marshall Point Light in Maine

Remember the Maine (Vacation)

Marshall Point Light in Maine
Marshall Point Light in Maine

A little more than two weeks have passed since I was on vacation in Maine with my family. It was a first time any of us had been in the state and it made a lasting impression.

Now I am in the process of going through notes and photographs so that I can attempt to put into print what I felt, touched, smelled, and tasted while I was there. (By the way, I didn’t write while I was there because I was too busy being in the moment.) This hasn’t been an easy process, mostly because so much has been written about “Vacationland” for the travel pubs that I have what Don George calls in his Lonely Planet Travel Writing guide the “fear of the known.” Read more

Spending the Holidays Three Houses Down from America’s Christmas Lights Display Winner – #sonyholiday

Whitis Family Christmas House in Tallahassee, Florida. Winners of the GMA Contest.
Semper Fi Christmas House, Tallahassee, Florida

I’m spending the holidays in Tallahassee, Florida, which happens to be the town from which the Whitis family, the winners of Good Morning America’s “Our Lights Are Better Than Your Lights”, hail. I’m not only in the same town as this Christmas lights attraction, but approximately three doors down from it. When my family and I arrived after a very long drive yesterday, we had to get a police escort to stop traffic so we could get down the street to my sister’s house. Cars were lined up for at least a mile to get a chance to drive by the GMA winners’ home.

So what does it take to earn bragging rights for the best Christmas lights in the nation? Apparently, it takes 17,000 LED lights and a patriotic, red-white-and-blue light show set to the techno remix of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American.” I can’t say it’s a beautiful display – the word “tacky” comes to mind. But it certainly took a lot of effort and the winners have asked visitors and online admirers to contribute to the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that provides “immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.”

I took a few photos* of the Whitis’ lit-up home, but you can’t really appreciate the audaciousness of this light display until you watch the video complete with music. Thankfully, for the neighbors’ sake, the family has purchased some radio spectrum (92.3 FM) for the duration of the Christmas light show so the neighborhood doesn’t have to endure techno music repeating on a four-minute loop for five hours per night. (I understand there’s currently a lawsuit against the family because of the light and music display, which is probably one reason why the radio spectrum was purchased.)

Here’s the full video of the Whitis’ family’s Semper Fi Christmas House, which will be on display through Christmas night. I promise you this is real:



*All photos (except featured photo) taken with the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-WX9 camera, which was provided courtesy of Sony.

Is There Anywhere You Wouldn’t Want to Travel To?

I’ve probably been thinking about this post ever since I learned that Bobby Flay doesn’t like lentils.

While that may not instantly trigger in your mind the idea for a blog post about travel, I remember thinking, “He’s a chef – he’s not allowed to not like lentils.”

But of course chefs have their likes and dislikes. While we expect regular people to love and hate certain food items, we typically hold chefs to a higher standard, relying on them to show us the versatility of the celeriac, the beauty of Brussels sprouts, or the depth of flavor of a plate of liver and onions.

The idea for this post came to me again today when I saw Pam Mandel tweet about her recent trip to Antarctica. Even when I was in college at American University learning from renowned and enthusiastic Antarctica specialist Dr. Jack Child or reading about Andrew Evans’ now legendary Bus to Antarctica adventure, I admit to having only a mild interest in visiting the 7th continent at the bottom of the earth.

I feel guilty that the idea of Antarctica does not light a travel spark in me, much in the same way I feel guilty that foie gras just doesn’t send me into throes of gustatory elation. Can I write about travel and not want to visit Antarctica – or anywhere else for that matter?

I realize that this may be a naive stance. Yet, at the same time, I know that my travel days are finite and it is doubtful I will visit every continent, let alone every country or major city. Why not go back for seconds on a place that I do like, getting better acquainted with its streets, people, nature? Berlin, Brazil, and San Francisco are just a few of the destinations I’d like to taste again.

Is there anywhere that you wouldn’t want to travel to or somewhere that just doesn’t thrill you? If you’re a travel writer, would you admit as much? I’d love to have your feedback in the comments or via Twitter.

Photo © perspicacious.org