Featured Post

Monday, January 30, 2017

Buon Appetito: Food Tourism in Northern Italy

Please indulge in some recent stories written for Orbitz Blog about Italian food and cultural tourism in the regions of Emilia Romagna and Piemonte. To whet your appetite before clicking on the links, see below. Buon appetito!

How to Eat Your Way Through Emilia Romagna

A wheel of authentic Parmagiano Reggiano
being inspected

Parma ham and other dried meat


Unshrouding Turin


Bicerin--a mix of coffee, chocolate and whipped
milk-- is a local specialty in Turin

The world's very first Eataly is
located in Turin  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

So You Want to Be a Travel Blogger?

I'm Tallin You
I'll never describe Estonia as 'quaint'
The Top 9 Travel Writing Taboos

#1: Avoid cliches like the plague. The Danish in Copenhagen isn't the best thing since sliced bread (since when is sliced bread so great, anyway, I wonder?) When was the last time you really felt like a kid in the candy store? And unless you are trying out a carousel, you don't give things a whirl.

#2: Avoid words you never use when talking. I'm talking iconicquaint, and rustic. 

#3: Just to prove that I am not overly persnickety, I'll allow one quaint or iconic per article. But never, ever use luxe or azure, for sure.

#4: That the grass is green is not newsworthy. That the beach is sandy is not newsworthy. Don't include useless and/or redundant adjectives. Keep it pithy, people.

#5: Can a city boast? Apparently, it can, as "Chicago boasts the best deep-dish pizza in the world" and "Honolulu boasts grand luxe hotels, sandy beaches, and azure skies."  But IMHO, a place cannot boast.

#6: Is Albania the next Italy? I don't think so. But some travel writers do. "The next...." is not merely cliched writing; it is also somewhat pejorative if you think about it (i.e.--the next best thing to sliced bread....but it ain't no slice of bread).

#7: Don't trash the locals or local customs just for the heck of it. If you do, as in this piece I did for National Geographic Traveler  that literally trash talks Albania, provide context and balance.

#8: Maybe it's me, because I simply abhor chick-lit. Articles about your journey of self-discovery are usually a yawn, even to your closest friends. My best advice is to circumvent this form of literary litany. An aside--why is it that 99 out of 100 of self-confessional, self-delusional pieces are written by women?

#9: Never, never, never use the term "something for everyone" in your writing. It's lazy, it's annoying (to me, anyway) and it's simply not true. Don't you be telling me Des Moines has something for everyone. For example, if you are a surfer, where's the beach? New York City doesn't have something for everyone. If you are a climber, try finding a mountain to scale in Manhattan (skyscrapers don't count). Heck, even Sydney, the best city in the world (again, IMHO), doesn't have something for everyone. For example, if you are an astronomer, you can't see the Big Dipper and vast parts of Ursa Major in the Australian night sky. But you can pet a koala.

Which brings me to one more parenthetical point. You can pet a koala, but you can't pet a koala bear. Koalas are marsupials, not bears. Put that in your pouch and ponder. And one more point that may save your life one day: If you want to pet a koala, don't do so by awakening it from a eucalyptus-induced stupor. I can tell you from experience... this not a good idea. A koala awakened abruptly from its languor is a vicious animal. But that's a story to be chronic

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Where Women Rule in Washington, DC

Coming to the Women's March in Washington, DC? Take a little time to visit sites dedicated to powerful women.
---
While the proverbial White House glass ceiling is still intact (sigh), there are a few places around the nation’s capital where women rule the roost. Sadly, those places are not in the halls of power, still dominated by a (white) male majority. But if you want to focus on the history and accomplishments of women, Washington DC does offer several museums celebrating the fairer sex.

www.nps.org
It’s likely politic to start a tour of dynamic dames at the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument. The National Park Service added the Capitol Hill museum site to its roster in 2016. The historic building was once home to the National Woman’s Party (NWP), which led early movements for equality and the right of females to vote. When the party purchased the house in 1929, it evolved into a center for feminist education and social change.



Today, the museum honors the Suffrage Movement (it’s named for two early suffragettes--Alice Paul and Alva Belmont), along with the continuing fight for equal rights. Memorabilia includes Susan B. Anthony’s desk, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s chair, a fine arts collection depicting famous women in American history and the wood blocks used to print suffragist literature. There is also a textile collection of banners, capes and costumes used by the NWP while picketing the White House or marching in parades and equality demonstrations between 1913 and 1970.
NMWA/Thomas H. Feld
Next, head to downtown DC to recognize creative women of another character. The National Museum of Women in the Arts calls itself the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to examining the work of a broad array of female artists. The institution has a permanent collection of 4,500 pieces, some of which date back to the 16th century. More than 1,000 artists working in a variety of mediums are represented, including Mary Cassatt, √Člisabeth Louise Vig√©e-Lebrun and Joana Vasconcelos. The museum regularly presents rotating special exhibitions featuring innovative female artists from around the world. The role of the female artist is also explored through film, cultural conversations and artist talks.  

NMWA/Dakota Fine

Statuesque Women

There are statues of Jefferson, Lincoln, Lafayette, Einstein and dozens of other statues around DC dedicated to dudes. Women are not as well-represented (imagine that), but there are some sculpted homages to the country’s fiercest females.
Eleanor Roosevelt statue
Eleanor Roosevelt statue |Flickr CC: Sean Hayford Oleary



Eleanor Roosevelt was likely the first First Lady to take the reins of power and run with them. Among other accomplishments, she was part of the first American delegation to the United Nations and chaired its first Commission on Human Rights. That’s why the life-size bronze of Eleanor stands in front of a UN logo at the sprawling FDR Memorial.
Photo courtesy of washington.org

Roosevelt was a big supporter of Mary McLeod Bethune, one of the country’s early civil rights activists. Bethune devoted her career to improving the lives of African Americans through education and political and economic empowerment. She founded a private school for African-American children, headed up the National Council of Negro Women, and was a special assistant to the secretary of war during World War II. Her memorial in Lincoln Park features the elderly Mrs. Bethune with two young children. Bethune is also celebrated at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.



Vietnam Womens Memoria-washington dc
Vietnam Women’s Memorial | Flickr CC: Jeff Kubina

One of the most touching sculptures on the National Mall may also be among the most overlooked. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is located in a grove of trees near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The 2,000-pound bronze statue by female sculptor Glenna Goodacre depicts three servicewomen, one of whom is tending to the needs of a wounded soldier.

More ideas, including monuments and statues dedicated to strong women, can be found here.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Travel Trends for 2017

2017 is going to be the year of the experience. Now that travel to places that were once considered exotic has become somewhat pedestrian (oh yeah, I’m heading to Easter Island tomorrow--you?), it’s the search for the ultimate experience that may reign supreme...no matter where it takes place. That said, experiences need to be one-of-a-kind and indigenous to the place visited.


For example, during a recent trip to Italy, I bypassed Rome and Venice and focused on making gelato in Bologna and truffle hunting near Alba.

Tasting the fruits of my gelato-making efforts
at Gelato University in Bologna

Searching for truffles with
Igor and Rocky

A fjord in
Northern Norway









2017 will also be the year when people are looking chill out and escape from reality. This means that instead of heading to the world’s great cities, they may be prone to head to the outer reaches of familiar countries. Iceland has been a very popular place for the past several years. This year, there may be a fjord in your future, as seekers of calm and isolation may head above the Arctic Circle, exploring Nunavut in Canada, Lapland in Finland and Northern Norway. In all of these places, visitors can experience the Midnight Sun, giving them more daylight to lap up adventures. In Northern Norway, those adventures include riding horses, hanging ten at the world's northernmost surfing school, or French kissing with wolves.
.
Getting Intimate with Wolves
at Norway's Polar Park


In the United States, the desire to get away from crowded spaces will also predominate. National parks will continue to be popular escape routes. Rural states like Nebraska and the Dakotas may also see an upswing in tourism. 




Also, so-called secondary cities will experience a renaissance. During the past few years, places like Richmond, VA; Cincinnati, OH; and Boise, ID have become beacons of urban cool. Young chefs, priced out of major markets, are opening restaurants in these smaller burgs, while uber-cook, cutting-edge lodging brands, like 21c Museum Hotels and Aparium, are focusing their efforts in these under-a-million cities.


Art at a 21c Museum Hotel


A room at The Modern in Boise, Idaho