by Terry Ward | 06.19.07 | 2:17 PM ET
Morocco, like many places, is modernizing. I’ll admit that last time I was in Marrakech, I spent a night in the Ville Nouvelle at a flashy South Beach-style club, sipping top dollar martinis and being wooed by French card players in town for a poker tourney. To really experience traditional Morocco, however, you have to get away from Marrakech’s trendy clubs. Taking that concept to the extreme, the Guardian’s deputy travel editor, Isabel Choat, recently tagged along with a semi-nomadic family during its annual early summer migration from the lowlands to the cooler pastures of the High Atlas mountains.
by Michael Yessis | 06.19.07 | 1:11 PM ET
Bab al-Yemen is the entrance to Sanaa, Yemen’s old city—and the spot where, in the afternoon, when the city “shakes off its lunchtime doldrums,” a market springs to life. The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid writes about it today, yet another great story—earlier, we posted about this one—in the paper’s Time Zones series. “Less than 50 years ago, the walls that meet at Bab al-Yemen encompassed all of Sanaa, then a city of just tens of thousands and more medieval than modern,” Shadid writes. “Today, its residents number nearly 2 million, and the sprawling capital stretches beyond the walls for miles in every direction. Bab al-Yemen has somehow managed the transition. Unlike some Arab markets, fetishized for tourists in places like Cairo and Jerusalem, Bab al-Yemen embraces its original incarnation—market, playground and meeting place.”
by Terry Ward | 06.19.07 | 12:09 PM ET
Bikes might not be the first thing most travelers think of when they think of Holland, but perhaps they should be. After all, bicycles outnumber people—20 million bikes, 16 million humans—in this flat-as-a pool-table country. A few years ago, after visiting Holland for a friend’s wedding, I detailed the ins and outs of Dutch bike etiquette. So it was fun to see this slice-of-life piece in the Washington Post, the latest installment in the paper’s intriguing Time Zones series.
by Michael Yessis | 06.19.07 | 11:00 AM ET
So how does one reconcile that sentiment, which comes from a new report by the British Airline Pilots’ Association, with this and this and this and this. (Frankly, I can keep going with the links.) Well, Greenpeace doesn’t even make an attempt, calling the report “pure propaganda,” according to the BBC. BALPA, which says it represents 85 percent of Britain’s 10,000 airline pilots, claims trains and ships are also big sources of carbon dioxide, yet they don’t receive the scrutiny that airplanes do when it comes to emissions.
by Michael Yessis | 06.19.07 | 9:07 AM ET
Last week I happily waved my Maple Leaf flag in support of Canada’s above averageness, citing, among other things, an abundance of moose and snowboarding the Canadian Rockies. I now have more ammunition. CBC Television’s The National and BCB Radio’s Sounds Like Canada conducted a search to determine the Seven Wonders of Canada, and earlier this month they announced the results. The wonders, based on this criteria, are: The canoe, Niagara Falls, Pier 21 in Halifax, the Rockies, The igloo, Old Quebec city and Prairie Skies.
by Michael Yessis | 06.18.07 | 4:05 PM ET
Goodbye, high seas. Hello, Palm Jumeirah. One of the world’s grandest cruise ships, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2, has been purchased by a division of a Dubai-owned corporation and by 2009 will become yet another mega spectacle in a land of mega spectacles. According to the AP, Istithmar, a division of government-owned Dubai World, purchased the famed British ship—it has carried royalty, troops to the Falklands War and the Norovirus from Acapulco to San Francisco—for $100 million and plans to turn it into a “floating hotel, retail and entertainment destination” off the coast of the manmade Palm Jumeirah island.
by Michael Yessis | 06.18.07 | 2:43 PM ET
Travelers’ Tales editor Larry Habegger was traveling through England when he looked in the mirror in a Stratford-upon-Avon hotel room and saw his father. The moment helped trigger a moving essay in the San Francisco Chronicle, which follows Habegger’s journey through the country and his realization that, with “every click of the wheels on the tracks,” he’s getting older. “Maybe it was the reading glasses, maybe the fatigue in my eyes,” he writes. “But there was no mistaking it: I resembled my father more than I wanted to admit, and my father isn’t young any more.”
Related on World Hum:
* Andrew Steves: Travels in Dad’s Footsteps
* Eulogy for a Traveler
* Gregory Hubbs: Remembering Transitions Abroad Founder Clay Hubbs
* ‘Wanderlust: On the Road with American Road Movies’
by Terry Ward | 06.18.07 | 2:15 PM ET
In every neighborhood in Morocco, from Tangier to Agadir, five places are open to the public: a mosque, a school (madrasa), a public fountain, a hammam (public bath) and a communal oven. In Fes, where I studied Arabic in 2003, my host family was fairly well off, so we had our own oven in the garden—a gas-fired number that we had to shoo the pigeons from when we baked.
by Jim Benning | 06.18.07 | 12:13 PM ET
The author and adventurer best known for his seminal backpacking guide The Complete Walker and his Grand Canyon narrative The Man Who Walked Through Time died last week at the age of 85. “The Complete Walker” was first published in 1968, and it was enormously influential in its day. Backpacker magazine editor in chief Jonathan Dorn told the Los Angeles Times: “He brought this idea that you didn’t have to be a nut case to take long solitary walks in the wilderness at a time when a lot of people were really looking for ways to create holistic lives and escape from the craziness of Vietnam and the stresses of the ‘60s.”
by Terry Ward | 06.18.07 | 11:04 AM ET
Switzerland loves its tunnels nearly as much as its timepieces, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that the country crowned the world’s longest on Friday. The AP reports the 21-mile rail link will cut train travel between Germany and Italy from 3 1/2 hours to less than two. The opening of the $3.5 billion Loetschberg Tunnel after eight years of construction is good news for Swiss locals, who hope it will ease heavy truck traffic in their mountainous land.
by Jim Benning | 06.18.07 | 8:26 AM ET
Even though I have no interest in climbing Mount Everest, I’ve always thought it would be fun to poke around Base Camp during climbing season, taking in the highly adrenalized, gear-laden, multinational assemblage. Kevin Fedarko did just that last year, and his story about the experience in the July issue of Outside is a great read. Base Camp has a reputation for being a zoo, and, sure enough, he found plenty of excesses in what he calls the “Himalayan version of Burning Man.” But he found more than that. “In addition to presenting a rather grotesque perversion of pretty much everything that alpinism is supposed to represent,” he writes, “Everest Base Camp also happens to be—and I’m afraid there’s just no other way to put this—an absolute fricking blast.”
by Jim Benning | 06.18.07 | 7:40 AM ET
One day in Beijing, not far from Tiananmen Square, I stumbled upon Wu Da Niang, a dumpling restaurant I later learned was part of a popular Chinese chain. I ordered a plate of boiled fish dumplings. A woman soon appeared at my table and filled a bowl with chili oil, soy sauce and vinegar, creating a spicy, tangy dipping sauce. One bite and I was hooked. It was the first of many occasions in China when I realized we in the U.S., with our countless Chinese restaurants, were missing out on some seriously great Chinese food. Tim and Nina Zagat argue just that in an op-ed piece piece in Saturday’s New York Times. The co-founders of Zagat guides decry the sorry state of Chinese cuisine in the U.S., noting that while Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese restaurants have continued to improve, Chinese restaurants, which have a long, storied history in the U.S., have stagnated.
by Michael Yessis | 06.15.07 | 1:23 PM ET
This week we’ve got mountain bikers, the best beaches in the U.S., passport blunders and the return of Bill Bryson. Here’s the Zeitgiest.
Most Popular Travel Story
Netscape (this week)
Top 10 U.S. Beaches
* No. 1 on the list from “Dr. Beach”: Ocracoke Island, North Carolina (pictured)
“Hot This Week” Destination
Yahoo! (this week)
Most E-Mailed Travel Story
New York Times (current)
Where Mountain Bikers Carved Their Dream Terrain
* Not Moab, Utah. Fruita, Colorado.
Most Read Weblog Post
World Hum (this week)
U.S. Plans Temporary Waiver of Passport Policy*
Most Viewed Travel Story
Los Angeles Times (current)
Diary of a Trip Through U.S. Passport Application Limbo
From the writer, travel editor Catharine Hamm: “A travel editor without a passport is like Paris Hilton without a party.”
Most E-Mailed Travel Story
USA Today (current)
Hertz, Avis Add Hybrids to Fleets
* Each rental car company says it will have 1,000 Toyota Priuses in its fleet by the end of the month.
Top Travel and Adventure Audiobook
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Best Selling Travel Book
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
* Still unstoppable.
by Terry Ward | 06.15.07 | 11:48 AM ET
When I visited London for the first time earlier this year, I was torn. For my first UK meal, would it be fish and chips in a pub or a bowl of curry on Brick Lane? Both meals are about as typically British as you can get. In fact, according to the”‘Curry factfile” on a UK Food Standards Agency Web site , there are more Indian restaurants in London than in Bombay and Delhi. Britain’s first curry house opened in 1809, and Indian food has since become a UK favorite, accounting for more than 40 percent of all ethnic food sales. The love affair, however, is decidedly one-sided. British cuisine—the term alone elicits snickers from food snobs worldwide—hasn’t exactly taken the Subcontinent by storm. But that’s a fact that one British celebrity chef is out to change.
by Michael Yessis | 06.15.07 | 10:35 AM ET
The consequences of a rising China are many, and from our perspective one of the better ones is this: Talented Western writers and journalists just keep filing terrific stories from the country. The first I came across this week: Jeffrey Tayler writes in the Atlantic’s July/August issue about Kunming, China’s “City of Eternal Spring.” In Kunming, Tayler, whose The Woman in the Kuffiya is currently World Hum’s featured dispatch, found “a potpourri of ethnic and cultural flavors unfamiliar to Western and Han Chinese palates alike.” His story is available online only to Atlantic subscribers. However, a beautiful Tayler-narrated slideshow is free to all.