Dispatches from Larry Habegger

With all of the uncertainty shaking up the world right now (hasn’t it always been this way?) in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Japan, and recently in Egypt and Tunisia, you begin to wonder where you should travel these days and what places you should avoid. The renowned author of many novels and travel books, Paul Theroux, has an answer: go just about anywhere.

He wrote in a recent New York Times essay that if you’re willing to put up with some discomfort and able to be flexible with your movements, the rewards of travel in troubled places are enormous. Such travel can show you the utter stupidity of much human conflict and the inspiring ways people manage to live their lives.

And isn’t that ultimately why we travel? To understand life on our planet and see how others express their humanity?

Rough travel can be, well, rough, and sometimes the lessons learned come only in retrospect, but they are lessons worth learning, now and in the future.

1 Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Travel

I had coffee this morning with Nikki Rose, old friend and fellow San Francisco transplant who’s spent most of the last decade in Crete, her ancestors’ land. Her specialty? Cooking!

Since 1997 she’s worked to conserve Crete’s cultural and natural heritage through her own version of a slow food movement, engaging more than 40 small business and individuals in “Crete’s Culinary Sanctuaries” to offer visitors a taste of traditional Cretan cuisine. Ingredients come from local organic farms, and chefs put a modern twist on the old cuisine so there’s always a tasty surprise.

Her programs have received sustainable development awards from the likes of National Geographic, and she’s booking tours for the summer. Visit artisan food producers, organic farmers, rural communities that have been inhabited for 4,000 years, and take botanical hikes in the land of the Minoans. Explore ancient sites, too.

And of course, eat well.

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If you’re tired of the March mud or a winter that just won’t quit, maybe a trip to Tahiti is the fix you need. Moon Handbooks has just released the 7th edition of David Stanley’s guidebook to Tahiti, and you can just about feel the sea breezes wafting out of the book.

Triporati’s South Pacific expert, Stanley has spent much of the last 30 years traveling, crossing six continents overland and visiting 212 of the world’s 245 countries and territories. That puts him right up there as one of the world’s most traveled people.

As much as he’s traveled, he returns to the South Pacific again and again and considers it his favorite area, which says a lot about the appeal of the place. His book is full of the practical advice you’d expect from any good guidebook, but Stanley’s decades of experience in the region give this volume a special appeal. He knows the people, he knows the territory, and he knows how to share it with his readers. This make him the ideal guide to get you started on your journey.

Me? I can’t make it to Tahiti this year, but next month I’m going to Fiji. And I’ll be carrying Stanley’s new Moon Fiji Handbook with me when I go. This one is in its ninth edition, and I’m getting started in my pre-trip preparation.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Books, Budget Travel, South Pacific, Spa/ Resort, Student Travel, Tahiti

A Delhi neighborhood that became popular in the 1980s but fell out of favor has been reborn as a vibrant setting for cafes, art studios, bookshops, and other enterprises.

Brendan Spiegel reported on the Hauz Khas Village district, hidden among narrow lanes behind the ruins of a 13th-century mosque and royal tomb, in the New York Times.

It looks like a great place to spend a day or two on your next visit to Delhi. I want to go to the bookshop, Yodakin.

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Ziplines are all the rage at adventure resorts and ski areas, but sometimes we forget that they originally served a practical purpose to move people and materials across impassable chasms. And sometimes we need to be reminded that they still do.

In a report on Slate from Colombia, Joshua Foer takes a ride on a cable that’s been getting daily use for 60 years. Do you want to hitch a ride?

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Colombia, South America, Travel

Part treasure hunt, part spy novel, a New Yorker who went for a cross-country ski in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park after the recent snowfall is trying to find the owners of a roll of film he found lying in the snow. Developed, the black and white film shows young men evidently on vacation in New York taking arty photographs, not just snapshots, of Central Park, street scenes, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge.

Todd Bieber, the man who found the film, tells a story in his YouTube video of a woman who pushed $26 into his hand that she’d found on the street, saying she felt awkward keeping it and insisted he do something nice for himself with it. He said he’d do something good rather than spend it on himself, and now it’s gone to the film processing and his online efforts to find the owners.

Who knows, as he says on YouTube, maybe they’ll see his video and they’ll become friends. Or not. But the story is going viral and it’s only a matter of time before the men who lost the pictures see themselves caught in black and white in frozen New York in their own film on Todd Bieber’s video. And then maybe the mystery will be solved.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Brooklyn, Manhattan, New York, Travel, United States

Veteran travel and digital media executive, Chris McAndrews, joins Triporati, an online travel company that helps travelers discover their perfect vacation destination.

San Francisco, CA, December 15, 2010 — Triporati Inc., the online travel company that helps consumers find the right destination for their ideal vacation, today named Chris McAndrews as its chief executive officer.

The appointment marks McAndrews’ return to online travel.  From 1997 to 2002, Chris was a senior executive with Preview Travel and then Travelocity, responsible for the vacation package and cruise businesses, supplier relationships, travel planning content, advertising sales and loyalty marketing. He has also served as President, Digital Media, for National Geographic and in top sales and marketing positions with International Data Group. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“Chris is a highly effective leader with a track record of building successful digital businesses,” said Jim Hornthal, founder and chairman of Triporati. “He knows how to create outstanding online consumer experiences, forge winning partnerships, and lead a talented team to new heights, and that makes him the perfect choice for Triporati.”

Triporati is the company behind “Destination Discovery”, which enables a consumer to select and rank their preferred vacation activities and interests and then generate a list of travel destinations that correspond to those preferences. This Destination Discovery matching service, which is currently available at www.triporati.com and on several partner travel websites, relies on individualized ratings of more than 2,000 destinations by veteran travel experts and writers.

“I am very excited to join the Triporati team,” added McAndrews. “Every day Triporati delights consumers who are looking for inspiring — and useful — answers to the question, “Where should I go on vacation?’   This engagement offers unique opportunities for Triporati and its travel site partners to interact with consumers to ensure that their travel planning and booking is just as delightful as their destination discovery.”

About Triporati, Inc.

Triporati helps consumers answer the primary question of vacation planning: “Where should I go?” Triporati has developed a proprietary expert recommendation engine based on original expert content rankings and ratings across 62 dimensions (activities and interests) that are scored and calibrated by a global team 75 travel writers who have collectively edited over 650 guidebooks published by leading publishers including Frommers, Fodor’s, Rough Guide and Lonely Planet. Triporati is led by a team of online travel veterans from Preview Travel and Travelocity and is backed by venture capital firm CMEA Capital and leading technology investors Ron Conway, Ted Leonsis, and David Pottruck. Users can experience Triporati’s Destination Discovery service at www.Triporati.com, and at co-branded partner sites, including AAA Carolinas, AAA Ohio, and AAA South.

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Ski season in the West is really cranking up with another big storm that dumped eight feet of snow on Lake Tahoe and other parts of the Sierra Nevada. Turns out it’s the snowiest November in a decade, with all the major resorts opening for Thanksgiving with top-to-bottom runs operating.

Big Sky in Montana has twice its usual snowpack for Thanksgiving’s opening day and is launching a twin zipline as well so you can zoom 1500 feet alongside your sweetheart or best buddy.

And if you’ve made your way to Yosemite National Park, the Curry Village Ice Rink opens on Thanksgiving as well.

There are so many choices but one thing’s for sure: winter is here.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Lake Tahoe, Montana, Northern California, Skiing, Travel, United States, Winter Fun

Lake Tahoe reported a foot of snow the other day. Two weeks ago I got word that almost four feet had dropped on Jackson Hole. A few days ago a little farther north, Big Sky Montana got a foot, with more falling and a lot more on the way.

It must be ski season.

A few years ago I went to Yellowstone in winter to see wildlife, cross-country ski to Old Faithful, ride the snow coach, and tool around on a snowmobile in the national forests outside the national park. On the way down from Bozeman we drove right past Big Sky and I made a mental note to come back and check it out. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Jackson Hole, Montana, North America, Skiing, Travel, United States, Winter Fun, Yellowstone National Park, wildlife

“This has got to be the craziest sport I’ve ever done,” my friend George said to me as we rested on our mountain bikes gazing down a precipitous slope toward pine forest and spiky mountains in the distance. “Here we are in one of the most beautiful places on earth and when we’re on our bikes we can’t even look at the scenery!”

The mountain bike trails from the top of Sun Valley’s fabled Bald Mountain (9150 feet elevation) wind through meadows, switchback down sheer slopes, weave through pine forests, and really get the adrenaline flowing. We were cruising (or rather, braking) down eight-mile-long Warm Springs Trail because the friendly fellow who sold us tickets for the gondola to take us to the top sized us up and said, “Take Warm Springs Trail. You’ll see when you get up there that you have two choices, Cold Springs and Warm Springs. You folks want Warm Springs. It’ll be a lot better for you.” Then he grinned and said, as if questioning our resolve, “Cold Springs is not for the faint of heart.” Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, Cruises, Idaho, Mountain Biking, Sun Valley, Travel, United States