Photo Preview

My new book Out in the Cold should be live on Amazon next week so I thought I’d send us into the weekend with a photo from each of the countries in the book. All these are clickably linked to higher res, much larger and more enjoyable versions at EarthPhotos.com.

Meanwhile, between now and next week, here’s a little text from the book:

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon: France in North America
Svalbard by Snowmobile
Naked and Freezing in Iceland

The photos:

This is the tiny little idyllic town called Tjørnuvik, on the island of Streymoy, Faroe Islands.

Here is Iceland’s famous Gulfoss, looking good full of snowmelt in June.

Tasiilaq, the administrative hub of east Greenland.

The super friendly, perfectly-sized city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

And the object of our quest to Svalbard, 800 miles from the North Pole. A total solar eclipse.

18 EarthPhotos from the Air

Enjoy these EarthPhotos from above the earth. Click these to enlarge them.

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First two from the Cappadocia region of Turkey. A balloon…

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 …and some of the crazy cave houses. Arrange your ride with Lars Erik More’s Kapadokya Balloons. There are lots more aerial shots of Cappadocia in the Turkey Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

 

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 These are some of the world’s tallest sand dunes, in Namibia, and it’s a gorgeous place.

There are lots more like this in the Namibia Gallery.

 

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Took a little spin up and around Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands

 

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 This is mining in western Australia

 

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Our Big Beautiful Planet in 15 Water Landscapes

We’re bound for Eastern Europe to see what people there think about the emerging story in Ukraine. And to take some pictures. Watch for those here over the next several days.

We’ll leave you with these photos from EarthPhotos.com. Click any of them for an enlargement. Each enlargement takes you to that photo’s Country Gallery. To explore more photos from that country, mouse over the enlargement and click the big X in the upper right. Enjoy them.

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 Sunset across Lake Malawi from Likoma Island, Malawi.

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A catered beach in the Gulf of Thailand, southern Thailand.

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Don’t Let “Experts” Tell You Where to Go This Summer

Fingerwagsmall Americans love to visit London, Paris and Tuscany, but there are so many compelling places to go in this world. I say, go and discover someplace obscure!

There are 192 U.N. member states. Kosovo, Taiwan and Vatican City aren’t U.N. members, so add them. Add South Sudan, to be born as the world’s newest country on 9 July. That’s 196 countries, and there are dozens and dozens of territories (Greenland is Danish, Tahiti is French, Aruba is Dutch and so on) and odd bits and specks of land all over the globe. There are plenty of places to choose from.

So, how to pick your destination?

First, don’t rely on glossy travel magazines – and they know who they are – for travel advice, or you’ll never get out of the London/Paris/Naples/luxury hotels cocoon. All that press a few months back about Tibet as the new hip destination – that was all because the Starwood chain (Sheraton, Westin) opened a new high-end St. Regis hotel in Lhasa. See Travel+Leisure, for example.

Now, next time we’re in Lhasa maybe I'd like to stay at the St. Regis, too. But be aware of what you’re getting as travel advice from the glossy magazines. As a rule of thumb, be wary of anything in a magazine that’s bracketed by ads for Tag Hauer watches and Louis Viutton luggage. Whatever it is, it’s just marketing words.

Don’t be overly swayed by guidebooks and their “dangers and annoyances” sections. It’s no surprise that there’s the danger of pickpockets in poor African countries. The answer to that: Don’t carry valuables in your pockets.

Keep an open mind. Do your online research. Pick a spot and just go. Buy a ticket, get on the plane, and go see what it’s like. Our world is a great big, sprawling pageant of color and chaos and diversity, and you should go out there and see it.

And this summer, don’t let “experts” steer you onto the too-well-trodden path. Imagine: No more sitting in a left bank café disdaining the waiters who disdain you right back for trying to use your high school French. It’s liberating.

Tomorrow I'll link to a few tools I use to start the process of deciding where to go.

Serbia: No Hurry to Change

Laurence Mitchell, who's soon off to update the Bradt Guide to Kyrgyzstan, writes this week about Serbia. He says that the National Tourism Organisation of Serbia's new promotional video does little to flatter the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and concludes that:

"Perhaps all (the) things that I hold dear are considered a bit too backward and Old Europe for the marketing people."

He and I agree that Serbia's (and the larger Balkan region's) Old Europeness is precisely it's draw. One of the great pleasures of getting out in the world is experiencing the 'apartness,' the dissimilarites to home. Let us not be in a hurry to make everything shiny and new. 

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The River Danube at Belgrade.

 

 

Where to Go, Why, and What to Read.

Travel ferociously. Get out there. Engage people. Witness events. Explore the world. Bust a move. See all you can see. But when you’re at home and calm, sanguine and reflective, back in the part of the house where people don’t come unless you invite them, in that one little spot where only you rule, that’s where you can see most clearly.

Back there in that room, I saw our trip to Sarajevo as a conceit. We decided we’d go and see the aftermath of war and then we would think about it. And we saw the burned out houses on the airport road. We saw children at play beneath a hand-painted sign warning of “snijper” fire over there, in that direction.

We stood on a hill above town with an old woman and her little granddaughter and a vast field of Muslim graves behind them. We took pictures of SFOR soldiers (NATO’s ‘Stabilization Force’) taking pictures. And in the end, we didn’t really understand it any better. Or at least, we didn’t Glean Wisdom.

I read and read, before and after Sarajevo, and we went to see it, and we had a view of the bombed out parliament building from the Holiday Inn hotel, where we paid in advance, in cash, in Deutschmarks, right up front, for our entire stay.

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The parliament building from the Holiday Inn, Sarajevo.

The elevator opened to carpet ripped by gunfire.

The main reconstruction work in Sarajevo was in busting down curbs and rebuilding them with wheelchair ramps.

We walked up and down the open air Markale market where a random, direct shelling killed 68, wounded two hundred on a rainy Saturday in February, 1994 – the bloodiest attack in the then twenty-two month long conflict. We saw bricks and mortar blasted from the side of the hotel next door. People bustled about the market that day, selling flowers, buying fruit, and we took it all in, but still we didn’t Glean Wisdom.

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