February’s 10 Best Stories in Travel

I’m back to share my favorite stories of the month from February 2016, including globe-trotting fish, freight-train travel across Africa, myths and facts about the Zika Virus, and a documentary about a continent-spanning road trip. Read on for the scoop. 

Is Farmed Salmon Really Salmon?
The staple fish is having an identity crisis.
http://nautil.us/issue/30/identity/is-farmed-salmon-really-salmon
Love smoked salmon? Me too. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than pink-fleshed fish swimming upstream past grizzly bears. It’s a complex system, and humans have changed it irreparably, even for those fish labeled “wild”.

For us, the salmon is an icon of the wild, braving thousand-mile treks through rivers and oceans, leaping up waterfalls to spawn or be caught in the clutches of a grizzly bear. The name “salmon” is likely derived from the Latin word, “salire,” to leap. But it’s a long way from a leaping wild salmon to schools of fish swimming in circles in dockside pens. Most of the salmon we eat today don’t leap and don’t migrate.

Riding the Mauritania Railway
Photographer Jody MacDonald crossed the Sahara by iron train in search of adventure—and surf.
http://adventure-journal.com/2016/02/riding-the-mauritania-railway/
Posts like this train-bum ride across the desert remind me that I need to focus more on train travel and amazing opportunities like this. On my first trip abroad, to Ecuador, I rode on top of a train like this, and it was quite the experience when it derailed on the side of a mountain. If I can find the old photos, that will be a topic for another day.

The Infamous Isla Refinery of Curaçao
http://curacao.for91days.com/the-infamous-isla-refinery-of-curacao/ It looks like a little bit of the Jersey Turnpike or South Philly, only set in the Caribbean. Industrial operations on this scale are impressive, even if they are rusting in the salt air and are significantly worse on the environment than eco-tourism. The island was a focal point in World War II for its role in delivering petroleum to the Allies.

In Italy, an Orange to the Face
http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2016/in-italy-an-orange-to-the-face/
For those of you hoping to make it to one of those ancient fruit-throwing or bull-running festivities for some light and possibly welt-inducing fun, here’s another option.

…unlike the Spaniards of Buñol, these revelers don’t throw tomatoes or other soft fruit at each other. In Ivrea, oranges are the official projectiles of Historical Carnival. Skip the red hat, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hit in the face by one.

What Travelers Need to Know About the Zika Virus
http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/05/what-travelers-need-to-know-about-the-zika-virus/
http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/08/tips-for-protecting-yourself-against-the-zika-virus/
We’re about to travel to a country with active cases of the Zika Virus and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Did you know that the virus is only a danger to pregnant women in the first trimester and only shows symptoms in 1 of 5 infected? Read these links and calm yourself down a bit.

A Story About Love and Bells
http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/story-about-love-and-bells-saxony-germany/
Happy belated Valentine’s Day! Read this beautiful story of a boy and his love for church bells, which he now shares with his family in their very unique Quasimodo-esque residence.

The Pros and Cons of Various Forms of Snow Travel
http://adventure-journal.com/2016/02/the-pros-and-cons-of-various-forms-of-snow-travel
This had me cracking up near the end. If you’ve lived in a snowy climate, you’ve tried most of these at one point another and will soon be laughing as well.

Sledding, Runner Sled
Pros: Classic, easy to steer, photogenic
Cons: Hard to fit more than one person on sled; accidentally ramming into an unsuspecting sledder at full speed usually = emergency room visit; when unmanned, becomes a high-velocity death missile missile hungry to destroy ankles and shins

Fathom’s 24 Best Indie Travel Guides
http://fathomaway.com/postcards/quirk/24-best-indie-travel-guides/
Looking for a beautiful gift for a design, travel and fashion lover? The printed guidebooks and maps in this list are like tiny works of art, with the benefit that they may help you navigate some of the tourist hotspots they cover. Very heavy on coverage for New York, Paris, London, and the like. (I wasn’t paid for this post, they’re just really nice guides)

The Forgotten Trains of India
http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2016/the-forgotten-trains-of-india/
The Gwalior Sheopur Kalan Passenger train is one of India’s many train routes, only this one trundles slowly across the countryside on narrow-gauge tracks. The author includes beautiful photos of landscapes, fellow passengers, and train-surfing riders.

The Road to Mongolia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI-x35CMXgc
Given that it’s on my travel bucket list, I’ve seen a lot of Mongol Rally videos. This one takes the cake with thoughtful editing and after-the-fact interviews, it gives you a great sense of the challenge and enjoyment of a trip 6,000+ miles from Britain to Mongolia in a crappy car with your friends.

January’s 10 Best Stories in Travel

Photo: January at Labrador Mountain, Truxton, NY

I’m here to share with you my favorite stories of the month from around the web. All have an international flavor, many explore the unseen side of the places we hear about in the news. If you’re wary of traveling there, at least you’ll be able to visit vicariously through these talented authors. I’ve also added in a few travel how-to’s and what-to’s that stood out from the crowd. Enjoy.

Underground in East Ukraine
Illegal coal mining in rebel-held territory in Ukraine has its own risks and rewards and continues on despite periodic skirmishes. Read on for more on the trials of daily life in contested territory.
http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2016/underground-in-east-ukraine/

A Gift From the Sea: On China’s Land Reclamation Free-for-all
Entire new cities are rising from the sea in China as coastal areas are filled and developed at a breakneck pace, appearing to create “something for nothing”. How is it done, and what is the catch? Read on.
http://www.vagabondjourney.com/a-gift-from-the-sea-on-chinas-land-reclamation-free-for-all/

Salvation by the Slice
A veteran of the war in Ukraine opens a pizza shop in Kiev staffed entirely by veterans and finds great success serving those heading to and returning from the front. Italian food in Eastern Europe is an unlikely savior.
http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2016/salvation-by-the-slice/

Time Travel to Anadyr, Russia
Taking the world’s shortest trans-continental flight from Alaska to Russia’s Far East is like stepping back in time and exploring the rarely-seen populated corners of the Arctic. Click here for the story with great photos from Sherry Ott.
http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/anadyr-russia-travel/

Visiting Ojai, California
Visit Ojai, the cozy and creative town outside of Los Angeles, bed down neo-hippie style in an Airstream trailer, grab a fresh brunch, and browse the outdoor bookstore. Add this place to your next road trip destination.
http://escapebrooklyn.com/ojai-california/

Ultimate List of Travel Movies
From Into the Wild to Crocodile Dundee, this list touches on the great road trip and travel movies, both classics and more recent films. You may know half this list, which will make the other half you haven’t seen even more enticing.
http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/the-ultimate-list-of-travel-movies/

How Shenzhen Became the Global Epicenter of High-Tech Innovation
Electronics designed, sourced and built in a matter of days instead of weeks or months, this is how Shenzhen is shaking up the international marketplace in computer hardware. The next Silicon Valley?
http://www.vagabondjourney.com/how-shenzhen-became-the-global-epicenter-of-high-tech-innovation/

How to Eat Street Food Without Getting Sick
Ever wonder how the locals manage to eat all the best tacos, quesadillas, and fried treats without getting sick? It’s not just the water. Read this for some new tips.
http://www.legalnomads.com/2016/01/street-food.html

A Crazy New Kind of Amazing Race: International Car Rallies
If you know me, you’ll know the Europe-to-Asia Mongol Rally is on my bucket list. Here are several other crazy options that will now be vying for our future plans.
https://www.yahoo.com/travel/a-crazy-new-kind-of-amazing-race-international-117138357567.html

The Big Cow Con
How a young South African cattle trader stole a fortune through sleight-of-hand in California’s dairy country during the booming 1990s and then disappeared with the spoils, and how he was finally caught on the other side of the world.
https://story.californiasunday.com/rocky-pipkin-agricultural-detective