Category: Books

You have to rally when it is a good friend’s 40th birthday. I almost didn’t. I was feeling overwhelmed with work and family obligations, but I knew it would do me good to get away.

My friend’s birthday fell on Inauguration Day so she really wanted to celebrate this year for many reasons. The weather was so glorious and we were headed to this resort called Seascape in Aptos, California. Just a few minutes south of Santa Cruz, this lovely spot is a great respite from the frantic city life I call my existence.

Five moms were headed to this condo to celebrate our good friend’s momentous birthday. The trip started out like some AbFab meets Sex in the City moment with three of us in a Volvo in heels, driving down Highway 1 at 10 p.m. It was pitch black and we were jabbering away about the economy when I thought I heard a plane crashing (the USAIR flight crash landing on the Hudson River fresh in my mind). Turns out, the front tire blew. It was terrifying…. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Books, California, Cruises, Family Travel, Feature, Northern California, Santa Cruz, South America, Spa/ Resort, United States, Yoga

Triporati’s Colorado expert Steve Knopper appeared with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air on Wednesday to discuss his new book, and no, it’s not about Colorado or travel, it’s about the American music industry. Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age chronicles the mistakes made by record companies when faced with changes in the way people buy, listen to, and share music.

Steve is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. The flap copy on his book says: “Knopper, who has been writing about the industry for more than ten years, has unparalleled access to those intimately involved in the music world’s highs and lows…From the birth of the compact disc, through the explosion of CD sales in the ’80s and ’90s, the emergence of Napster, and the secret talks that led to iTunes, to the current collapse of the industry as CD sales plummet, Knopper takes us inside the boardrooms, recording studios, private estates, garage computer labs, company jets, corporate infighting, and secret deals of the big names and behind-the-scenes players who made it all happen.”

And his conversation with Terry Gross is great. Listen here.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, Music

A friend of mine named John Higham wrote a book about a 365-day journey around the world he took with his family that will be coming out in 2009 called 360 Degrees Longitude. He had a wild set of adventures, mostly good, many challenging, none catastrophic, and he tells a great story.

One that stuck with me was his madcap crossing of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, with a guide who knew what he was doing, sort of. Salt water gets into everything, is hell on engines, and getting stranded in a jeep fully laden with food but no fuel to cook it looks like a dead certainty.

And then things get worse. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Bolivia, Books, Family Travel, Feature, Hike/Backpack, South America, Travel

Without running a Google search or checking a current almanac, most of us probably wouldn’t know that our Earth contains 757 countries, territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups, and major states and provinces. Certainly most of us wouldn’t consider it possible to visit them all. Most of us would be wowed if we made it to 100 countries. Even 50 is pretty darn good. But all of them?

Charles Veley and others of his ilk aren’t like most of us. They want, and intend, to go everywhere. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Africa & Middle East, Asia, Australia, Books, California, Cruises, Europe, Feature, North America, Paris, Sailing, South America, Travel

The author Moritz Thomsen, who died in 1991, didn’t have a huge following for his work as he toiled away in a poor Ecuadorian fishing village after a stint in the Peace Corps, but those who discovered his books—Living Poor (1969), The Farm on the River of Emeralds (1978), The Saddest Pleasure (1991)—loved his haunting and evocative revelations about life in equatorial South America. Now he’s seeing something of a revival in Ecuador, as Tom Miller reports in “Notes on an Andean Pilgrim” in The Washington Post. Miller, in his Introduction to The Best Travel Writing 2005, called Thomsen “one of the great American expatriate writers of the twentieth century…a soft-hearted cuss, a man of almost insufferable integrity, a lousy farmer and a terrific writer.” Can Bad News from a Black Coast, Thomsen’s unpublished memoir, be far behind?

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, Ecuador, South America

It’s time to think about traveling to the Southern Hemisphere and, over the next several weeks, I will be giving slide talks about Patagonia and Buenos Aires at various bookstores and other locales on the west coast and the Eastern Seaboard, so this will be the place to ask your questions and, perhaps, win a free ticket to Buenos Aires or Santiago. The first event is at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, October 2, at Get Lost Books in San Francisco. This will be followed by events at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, on Sunday, October 5; Travel Bug in Vancouver BC on Monday, October 6; and Wide World Books in Seattle on Tuesday, October 7. For complete details of all events, as well as the air ticket raffle, see my Southern Cone Travel blog.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Argentina, Books, Chile

I walked out of Woody Allen’s recent film Vicky Cristina Barcelona with a gut feeling: I desperately needed to go to the Spanish city of Barcelona. The movie gave me such a hankering to visit the city, a city which, in a way, was a character in the film. The outdoor cafes, the robust red wine, the Spanish guitar and the Gaudi architecture all worked their magic on me. Continue reading »

3 Comments | Filed Under Barcelona, Books, Brazil, Vietnam

Getting around Paris is fun. The metro is so easy to figure out, on time and goes nearly everywhere. In summer it can be hot and a bit stinky, but it’s almost a game using the maps or a Plan de Paris (a little book that has every neighborhood and metro stop, every street and bus line cross referenced and easy to find if you have your eye-glasses handy) to map out your trip. When I was a student in Paris I loved to jump on the metro, pick a random stop and then get out and explore. It’s pretty hard to get lost with a Plan de Paris, and I suggest all visitors buy one upon arrival.

Once you’ve traveled by metro it’s also great to get above ground. One of my favorite things to do is take the bus… any bus. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, California, Family Travel, Feature, France, Museums, Paris, Uncategorized

A few years ago I wrote an essay called “First Flight” that was published in The Best Travelers’ Tales 2004. The piece focused on the marvel of flying and how these days we fail to appreciate what we’re doing when we leave the ground and cruise through the air at 30,000 feet. I lamented that flying wasn’t a marvel anymore and told a story about my first flight, an experience I found astonishing and fantastic in the traditional sense because it was so unusual.

Other writers have addressed the notion of getting window seats whenever they fly because they don’t want to miss the extraordinary sight of Earth from cruising altitude, an experience no one had ever had before the 20th century. I remember John Flinn, executive travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about how he would stubbornly refuse to lower his window blind to accommodate movie-watching passengers because his entertainment was outside. “Bravo!” I said when I read that column. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, Books, Travel

The Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco opened this June and I had been wanting to see the William Steig exhibit for weeks. I had seen it in New York last December with my older son, and wanted to have my little one share the experience. You probably know William Steig from his hilariously sharp social commentary as a New Yorker cartoonist. His work spanned more than half a century. Bill Steig lived next door to me as a child in Greenwich Village, and was my godfather of sorts. I remember watching him draw in his back studio and he always let me look at his latest creations. It’s one of my great pleasures as a parent to share his work with my my children. I love reading his smart, decidedly sophisticated, always colorful children’s books but most of all I was thrilled his work was being recognized, albeit posthumously. He, after all, created Shrek, and as the story goes, he only got $60,000 for it!

Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, California, Family Travel, Feature, Museums