Destination: Wales

Video You Must See: ‘Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)’

In this Welsh town, "Chips, cheese, curry makes you feel brand new." Take that New York and Jay-Z.

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Bill Bryson: Britain has Become ‘Self-Absorbed’

The travel writer was commenting at a recent literary festival on the changes he’s seen in his adopted country. The BBC quotes Bryson: “When I first came to Britain it really was all about fair play and queuing… Everybody is in a hurry now and there is a ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ sort of thing.” (Via The Book Bench)

Seven Breakfasts Every World Traveler Must Eat

Seven Breakfasts Every World Traveler Must Eat iStockPhoto

Petit dejeuner, frühstück, desayuno -- call it what you will. Terry Ward dishes on some of the world's great breakfasts.

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Photo You Must See: Snowbound Britain by Satellite

Photo You Must See: Snowbound Britain by Satellite Photo via NASA
Photo via NASA

A satellite image shows a snow-covered Great Britain. The walloping has left thousands without power.

NPR Delves Into the World of Marmite

And uses the word “sludge” twice in the first two minutes. I may be a defender of British food, but I have to confess I could never get into the dark yeasty stuff. (Via The Book Bench)

In Defense of British Food, Redux

I went there a few months back. Now, Matador Nights has joined the cause, with an excellent starter guide for anyone we’ve convinced to give British food a fair shot.

World Travel Watch: Dengue in Nicaragua, Instability in Bosnia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Mapped: The Cheeses of Britain and Ireland

Another tasty bite of geographical fun—and more proof that British food is worth defending. (Via @LPUSAstaff)

Is it a ‘Golden Age’ for British Indie Bookstores?

Apparently, more than 60 new stores have opened in the U.K. in the past 15 months. That’s a nice counterweight to all the closures we’ve been covering. (Via The Book Bench)

Roald Dahl’s Childhood Candy Store Found

Call it Charlie and the Chinese take-out joint. A literary landmark has been rediscovered at the Great Wall of China restaurant in Llandaff, Wales—where researchers believe Mrs. Pratchett’s Sweet Shop, the store thought to be the inspiration for Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Twits,” was originally located. A historic marker will go up this week, and I’m sure the Dahl pilgrims won’t be far behind. (Via The Book Bench)

In Defense of British Food

In Defense of British Food Photo by AndyB in Brazil! via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by AndyB in Brazil! via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Over at The Titanic Awards, Britain has easily carried the win in a poll on the world’s worst national cuisines, with 25 percent of the vote. I’m not surprised—“British food is bad” is a truism that even many Brits buy into—but I do want to take a moment for some spirited dissent.

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This Just In: Britain Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

Durham Cathedral Photo by Neil T via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo of Durham Cathedral by Neil T via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Sure, London can be one of the world’s most expensive cities, and the pound has offered a punishing exchange rate with most other currencies over the past few years. But, having done the “starving student” thing there in my grad school days, I’ve always believed that the U.K. remains a prime destination for travelers on a budget. For every pricey West End stage production there’s a free, world-class museum, and for every swank celebrity-helmed restaurant there’s a tasty meal in a cozy pub. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof: 10 free cultural gems, courtesy of the Guardian, and, from the Independent, the country’s 50 best cheap eats. Both are good lists—the Guardian’s in particular gets bonus points for avoiding the best-known London freebies, like the Tate Modern, in favor of more obscure (and more geographically diverse) cultural institutions.

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Robert Plant: From Wales to Timbuktu

In the wake of Plant’s five Grammy wins last week, the bloggers at Rock’s Backpages have dug up this 2003 story about a one-day tour of Snowdonia, in Wales—with the former Led Zeppelin frontman playing tour guide. In it, Plant reminisces about the ways a visit to Timbuktu influenced his subsequent solo efforts, and takes the writer to Bron-Yr-Aur, the rural Welsh cottage where he and Jimmy Page wrote much of “Led Zeppelin III.” “Bron-Yr-Aur gave Jimmy and me so much energy,” Plant says. “Because we were really close to something. We believed. It was absolutely wonderful, and my heart was so light and happy.”

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: Road Tripping ‘Amexica,’ Titty Ho and More

Morning Links: Road Tripping ‘Amexica,’ Titty Ho and More Photo by Ian Muttoo via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo of Toronto by Ian Muttoo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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