Destination: Poland

Tourists in Heat

Tourists in Heat iStockPhoto

Ten tips for how to stay cool while traveling in an increasingly hot planet. (#2: Choose countries with cold soup.)

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Travel Ghosts

Larry Clark contemplates the power of monuments and memorials -- and the fleeting moments we spend with them

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Video You Must See: The Winter Rhythms of Warsaw

Time-lapse images from the Polish capital

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Looking East: 20 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

On the delights of the former Eastern Bloc

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Two Cheers for Gloom

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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European Flesh and the American Prude

European Flesh and the American Prude Alexandra Beier/Reuters

Exploring Europe, exploring travel as a political act

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Paul Theroux: ‘The Cross-Country Trip is the Supreme Example of the Journey as the Destination’

Yet one of the most intrepid travel writers alive had never driven across the U.S. So when the Smithsonian asked him and five other travel writers to take on their dream assignments, he picked the cross-country trip. He delivered a beautiful story. He writes:

In my life, I had sought out other parts of the world—Patagonia, Assam, the Yangtze; I had not realized that the dramatic desert I had imagined Patagonia to be was visible on my way from Sedona to Santa Fe, that the rolling hills of West Virginia were reminiscent of Assam and that my sight of the Mississippi recalled other great rivers. I’m glad I saw the rest of the world before I drove across America. I have traveled so often in other countries and am so accustomed to other landscapes, I sometimes felt on my trip that I was seeing America, coast to coast, with the eyes of a foreigner, feeling overwhelmed, humbled and grateful.

The other five writers involved are Susan Orlean (Destination: Morocco), Francine Prose (Japan), Geoffrey C. Ward (India), Caroline Alexander (Jamaica) and Frances Mayes (Poland). Here’s Jan Morris’s introduction to the project.

Homeless Polish Men Build Ship, Plan to Sail Around the World

Nicholas Kulish has the details in a terrific story in the New York Times. The two dozen homeless men are building the ship in the yard of a former tractor factory in Warsaw, and “their story strikes deeper chords because, for all the modern tools in the building and corporate sponsors providing the raw materials, their endeavor echoes mythic themes of escape, adventure and redemption that can seem out of reach in a world of biometric identity cards and debt-collection agencies.”

A Traveler’s 10 Best Musical Discoveries

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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Leave Home Without It

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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Hoscar the Grouch

Hoscar the Grouch Photo by Big Richard C via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo of Lisbon Lounge Hotel by Big Richard C via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s the Hoscars! No, it’s not an Oscar party with your friend from Rome, but rather Hostel World’s ranking of the top 10 hostels in the world, based on the opinions of some 800,000 hostel bookings in 20,000 different properties. We heard that backpackers the world over were scratching themselves with anticipation and/or scabies while waiting for the 2009 winners to be announced. The top dog: Travellers House in Lisbon, part of a clean sweep of the top three by Lisbon hostels.

Meanwhile, hostel fans on the other side of the Atlantic are out of luck, as no American—neither North nor South—properties made it on the list. It’s proof positive of something, probably the lure of Spectravision at a Motel 6. Even so, do take the list with a grain of salt, as even old travel writing greybeards like Leif Pettersen have yet to grace the sheets at any of the top 10.

Check out the top ten below.

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Morning Links: Polish Milk Bars, Talking Travel With Thomas Friedman and More

Dempster Highway, Yukon Photo by rocco.degiacomo via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo of the Dempster Highway by rocco.degiacomo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Stretching Your Dollar (and Your Imagination) in Eastern Europe

The Wall Street Journal offers the latest take on blooming tourism in once-forgotten cities such as Krakow, Ljubljana and Cesky Krumlov (pictured), which took years to attract as many visitors (and buzz) as Prague and Budapest. The upside: Discovering a beautiful new place without going bankrupt. The downside: Sometimes shaky infrastructure, young and crazy Britons on cheap beer-soaked weekends, and over-programmed package tours that make even the most mystic place “feel like a medieval Disneyland.”

Related on World Hum:
* Michael Palin: The New ‘New Europe’

Photo by Samuel Rufo via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Tags: Europe, Poland

14-Year-Old Hacks, Derails Polish Tram System

The teen adapted a TV remote to take control of the trams in Lodz, Poland, causing “chaos and derailing four vehicles” last week, according to the Telegraph UK. Nobody was killed, but at least 12 people were injured. Scary, particularly in light of this news.

Klara Glowczewska: Bringing a Literary Travel Star to New Readers

Klara Glowczewska Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.