Destination: Europe

The Official Kickstarter Page for Greece

If anyone could use some Kickstarter funding right now, it’s probably Greece.

From McSweeney’s: Welcome to the Official Kickstarter Page for Greece.

Greece is a small country in the south of Europe known for inventing democracy and western philosophy and for its national motto, “Release the Kraken!” Our shores are a popular destination for backpackers and tourists wishing to relax amid sun-drenched beaches by day and intoxicated British tourists by night.

We wish to continue this good work, but to do so our creditors are demanding €14.5 billion ($18.6 billion) by March 20. We do not have this money, nor do we think we can raise it in time: Our asset sales have gone nowhere, and the EU has nixed our plan to close shop and re-open a few blocks away as “Greeze”. And so we come to you, our friends, for help.


‘Downton Abbey’ and the Art of the English Library

Like so many people, I’ve been glued to PBS’ “Downton Abbey” and the scheming and backstabbing unfolding in Highclere Castle. Here, series creator Julian Fellowes discusses his favorite room in the castle: the library. I love his take on it. The French have their drawing rooms. The Austrians have their ballrooms. Libraries, he says, are the rooms the English get right.

A Street Corner in Paris

A Street Corner in Paris Photo: tibchris, Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Jeffrey Tayler had all but given up on the City of Light. Then he sat down at a Left Bank cafe.

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R.I.P. George Whitman, Shakespeare & Company Owner

It’s hard to imagine Paris without Shakespeare & Company, and George Whitman, who died yesterday at the age of 98, owned the famed Left Bank bookstore for years.

He took its name from the original shop owned by Sylvia Beach.

“For decades,” the New York Times notes, “Mr. Whitman provided food and makeshift beds to young aspiring novelists or writing nomads, often letting them spend a night, a week, or even months living among the crowded shelves and alcoves.”

Travel writer Erin Byrne profiled Whitman several years ago, noting that he had “fashioned a life for himself that brings together the two things he loves most in all the world, books and people. It is this combination that makes him tick. Old age without loneliness is unusual; George always has a house full of friends. Fragility without weakness is seldom seen; this man is thin and frail, but his presence is noble.”

His daughter, Sylvia, discusses her father and the store’s history in this terrific video:

Interview with Henry Rollins: Punk Rock World Traveler

Jim Benning asks the musician about his new book of photographs and how travel has humbled him

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The Not-So-Endless Summer

Biarritz, France Biarritz, France (Abbie Kozolchyk)

Parting with beach season is especially sweet sorrow in Biarritz, France, as Abbie Kozolchyk discovered

See the full audio slideshow: »

Greek Paradise, Lost

Greek Paradise, Lost Photo: Dan Saltzstein

In the Aegean isles, Dan Saltzstein went in search of a mysterious cave. He found it -- and a dose of danger.

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R.I.P. Notting Hill’s Travel Bookshop

Despite a last-minute campaign by editors and even celebrities, London’s Travel Bookshop has closed.

USA Today’s Laura Bly received an email from the founder yesterday: “The shop is currently closed—but I am going to open it and be there myself this Saturday 10th - for a final day’s sale. Then sadly, that’s it for the Travel Bookshop.”

The store was featured in the 1999 Hugh Grant movie “Notting Hill.” As we noted recently, Alec Baldwin, who appeared in the film, was among those Tweeting his support for efforts to find a buyer.

Travel Movie Watch: ‘The Loneliest Planet’

The Loneliest Planet premiered at the Locarno Film Festival last week. It’s an adaptation of a travel-themed short story, “Expensive Trips Nowhere,” by World Hum contributor Tom Bissell, and it stars Gael Garcia Bernal of “The Motorcycle Diaries” fame. The story follows a pair of young backpackers on a guided hiking expedition in the Caucasus Mountains, and judging from this Variety review, it’s a must-see:

Much of the pic’s first hour unspools through continuous handheld shots of the threesome trudging along with backpacks, telling stories when they’re not silently concentrating on navigating treacherous terrain. At regular interludes, long-distance shots observe them dwarfed by the landscape as Richard Skelton’s haunting, rhythmic, ethnically inflected score intones in the background.

An encounter on the trail turns into a near-life-threatening test of manhood that Alex [Bernal] arguably fails. Thereafter, none of the characters discuss what happened, but it casts a profound pall over the adventure, shifting allegiances and sympathies among the threesome. ...[V]iewers may recognize a core emotional truth about how deeply travel tests relationships, how a single instinctive action can shift the ground irrevocably between people, and how no words can make things right.

Bad ‘Carma’

Bad ‘Carma’ Photo: ciccioetneo via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

David Farley wanted to drive only occasionally during his stay in Italy. So why did something always go wrong?

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Meet Heathrow Airport’s New Writer in Residence

Novelist Tony Parsons is the latest writer to sign up for a week at Heathrow. According to the Evening Standard, Parsons will “roam around the airport, among passengers and staff, as inspiration for his 13th book which will be a collection of short stories based on his experiences there.”

“The Art of Travel” author Alain de Botton was the airport’s first writer-in-residence back in 2009. We interviewed him about the experience.

(Via @johnleewriter)

The ‘I Ate at El Bulli’ Genre of Food Writing

Famed Spanish restaurant El Bulli closed Saturday. Among its many legacies, the Telegraph notes, it created a new genre in food writing:

Over the years, however, hundreds of restaurant critics from all over the world made the pilgrimage to northern Spain, establishing a distinct genre of review that has become known in the trade as the “I Ate At El Bulli Piece” (IAAEBP).

A pioneering example appeared in the New York Times Magazine: “Welcoming cocktails of a frozen whisky sour and a foam mojito were accompanied by popcorn that had been powdered and reconstituted as kernels, and a tempura of rose petals. A ‘Kellogg’s paella’ consisted of puffed Rice Krispies to which the waiter added an intense seafood reduction; on the side were a small, flash-fried shrimp, a piece of shrimp sashimi and an ampoule containing a thick brown extract of shrimp heads that you were instructed to squeeze into your mouth.”

Anthony Bourdain’s April blog post about his El Bulli meal would have to stand as a masterful example of an IAAEBP.

Tonight: Bourdain Goes to El Bulli for ‘Greatest Meal’ of His Life

The Spanish restaurant many critics considered to be the best in the world served its final meal Saturday night. Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain visited Ferran Adria’s El Bulli recently, and his show about it airs for the first time tonight.

Bourdain called the meal he had there during that visit “the single greatest restaurant meal of my life.”

I don’t know if Monday’s episode is the best depiction of what the Adrias did at El Bulli-though I’m pretty damn sure it is. I do know that our producers and camera people and editors and post production people went all out-did their very best work. This show was a labor of love and much gratitude. We were determined to get it right.

Tales of a Travel Chaperone

Funny story concept well executed by the man doing the chaperoning of fifth graders to Spain: Dave Barry. 

Our group consisted of four dads, 18 moms and approximately 27,000 children. There was no way to get an exact count: They move too fast.

Our group assembled at Miami International Airport (motto: “Our Motto Has Been Delayed”). All of us wore identical ill-fitting T-shirts with our group name printed on them. That’s how you let everybody know that you’re a group of sophisticated world travelers.

The Washington Post Magazine covered similar ground this weekend. John Kelly joined a group of junior high students touring Washington D.C.

I began to recognize the symptoms of Stockholm syndrome about four hours into my day touring Washington with the eighth-graders of Centreville, Mich. I was starting to identify with my captors.

Stilettos in Paris

Eva Holland did the Bohemian backpacker thing in Paris. Paris Las Vegas gave her the chance to act out a different role.

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