Let’s face it, folks. It’s time to punt 2020. You’re not going anywhere. Americans have been banned everywhere from Poland to Pluto and even here in Italy our curve has spiked a bit after a flatlining summer brimming with optimism. It’s time to plan for 2021. Well, at least dream. That’s all many of us […]
Madain Saleh is the crown jewel of a Saudi Arabia that is trying to make its first inroads in mass tourism. It’s Petra’s sister city without the crowds.
Jeddah is Arabia’s cosmopolitan capital on the sea (This is the second of a three-part series on travels through Saudi Arabia.) JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The plane begins to fill and I wonder if this domestic Saudi airline has a dress code. I look around the Flyadeal jet and realize I’m about the only person […]
Saudi Arabia is shining a light toward a bright future while trying darken its controversial past.
Abu Dhabi: World’s richest city per capita is more than just skyscrapers, opulence, shopping and tourists
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — I don’t believe time machines will ever exist but I came the closest to experiencing one. I just traveled from one of the oldest cities in the world to one of the newest. Flying six hours from Rome (founded 753 B.C.) to Abu Dhabi (founded 1971), I felt like […]
(Last of a four-part series on my three-week journey through Central Asia) TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — The Silk Road stretched from eastern China to what is now western Turkey, a 4,000-mile highway of transported goods that connected East with West like no time ever before. It was the 2nd century’s version of Amazon.com. Genghis Khan did […]
(Third of a four-part series on my three-week trip through Central Asia.) ARTUCH, Tajikistan — The Artuch Mountaineering Camp sits in a deep bowl in the middle of postcard-perfect snow-capped mountains and a forest of juniper trees. A small river babbles down the valley into a little village below. I’d feel as if I was […]
Almaty: Kazakhstan’s former capital a beacon of post-Soviet modernization — if only the government kept step
(Second of a four-part series on a three-week trip through Central Asia) ALMATY, Kazakhstan — I was sitting in what can only be described as an Arabic gazebo. My table sat under a pointed roof with drapes on four sides pulled back like on a square four-poster bed. It looked more like a harem tent […]
Kyrgyzstan: The mountainous heart of the old Silk Road beating stronger for this old backpacking nomad
(This is the first of four blogs on last month’s three-week trip through Central Asia) KARAKOL, Kyrgyzstan — I’ve had a weird fascination with former communist countries ever since I went to Hungary and Yugoslavia in 1978. Coming from knee-jerk liberal University of Oregon, where the sociology department was just to the left of Karl […]
BEIRUT — The bar manager in the white suit hovered over our table by the sea. In between making Marina and I feel welcome, he directed his minions carrying buckets of white-hot coals for the hookah pipes at each table. With a 60-meter lighthouse hovering over us, we looked out through the glass-enclosed outdoor bar […]
To truly travel, one must truly suffer. It’s a backpacker’s creed, one I’ve preached throughout an international travel career spanning 41 years and 100 countries. Break out of your comfort zone like it’s a prison cell. Stroll through new, unfamiliar worlds that make you wake up wondering, “What could possibly happen today?” When you see […]
“When you travel alone it’s never crowded.” I left off the source of that great quote because it didn’t come from Mark Twain or Paul Theroux or any other great travel writer. It came from a guy I had a beer with at my guesthouse in Jamaica way back in 1982. I can’t remember his […]