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BIBLIOGRIND

Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Travel Features Column

milestoneI’ve traveled internationally for more than 30 years. One type of writing I always pursued was travel. Essays, columns, holiday getaways—it didn’t matter. Paul Theroux is my contemporary mentor (from afar, unfortunately) of the travel essay, although one always looks brightly toward Jan Morris’s great looks at cities, John Steinbeck with his poodle, Mark Twain’s very much adventurous trips, and Richard Francis Burton.

It’s inevitable then, also, to look at travel in fiction. In some ways Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” could be considered the ultimate in travel. He did get away from it all. Perhaps Homer’s “The Odyssey” is your own vivid notion of travel. Regardless, each of our separate travels are ephemeral. We can grasp for a few moments those feelings and experiences found in our journeys through photographs and journals, reminiscences with travel compatriots. Yet we yearn to get back, get away, get lost. Maybe that comes from our days as hunters and gatherers … nomads moving about in search of the next fresh catch.

Living in Europe gives me the opportunity to travel my favorite continent. The variety of people, cities, rural towns, and of course cuisine, is like living on the edge of a great rift. Having also visited most of those United States, I had sometimes thought that each state was its separate country. But no. There are too many similarities between one and another. Europe has so inspired me that I devoted months to a travel website of my planning and production, www.european-city-parks.com, where you can learn about some great parks and the cities in which they stand. Essays are its format, as I have found web-based travel sites terribly wanting.

You can give me South America, Asia, and Oceania, too—all fine people with rich customs eagerly rodelent of photographic capture and words to describe their metaphor. Someone once said that when you travel you always leave something behind. We should all be so lucky.

The photo and text links below open images from my travel column pieces in FLAIR magazine. Right click to bring the image in close up (Windows); for Mac, just click on the image to jump in. I’ve written off and on with FLAIR for nearly seven years, starting as a stringer, then features, as a literary review columnist, and now as their monthly travel columnist, for which I take most of the photographs you see in the articles. More clips are on the way, just as fast as FLAIR can print them and send me copies. I’m always looking for other gigs, so if you hear of anything or want to make an offer, drop me a line at mark@bibliogrind.com or mark@european-city-parks.com.

MALTA…

I lived for five months in Malta, on the sister island, Gozo. The island holds inspiration and strikes imagination. Remote is one way to describe Gozo, but I’ll always think of it as the place where some serious relaxation and partying can be found. Naturally, I couldn’t resist bringing this desert island—filled with the best little fishing villages and fresh seafood cafés I’ve yet found—to the too-oft Carribean seekers in America. Published Sept. ’06

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BEST HOLIDAY CITIES…

Going home for the winter holidays is fun, but getting away is just as good, too. I’ve always had a spot in my travel budget for New York, San Francisco, London, and Paris … and to see these cities bedecked in their finest silver & gold is an experience worth the splurge. Published Nov. ’06

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CHAMONIX, FRANCE …

Chamonix is a premiere ski valley in the French Alps, tucked between Switzerland to the northwest and Italy to the south. Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, looms over the valley, where breathtaking views are found from the Aiguille du Midi. In Chamonix valley, some of the best skiing in the world is found at mountains such as Le Brevent, Le Flegére, and Grand Montets. And if you’d rather hike or climb mountains, then Chamonix may just be the best, most accessible mountaineering/hiking spot across the world. To read up-to-date skiing & mountaineering news, visit Chamonix-Valley.com. Published Feb. ’07

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CANADIAN ANGLER …

Canada has some of the best fishing spots in North American. One lake tucked away near the USA border is Lake of the Woods, an enormous area where half the cabins are accessible by boat or float plane only. If you fish, or just really really want to get away from IT ALL, this might be the place for you. Published April ’07

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ROMANTIC PRAGUE …

I’ve traveled the world, and in my opinion, Prague owns the title of Most Romantic City. Why? Fewer crowds than Paris & London (my second and third top romantic cities); older squares and intimate hidden gardens; the sunsets along the Vltava River where you may hold your lover as night descends are indescribable … you simply have to experience that moment to feel the wash of color, passion, and heart palpitations to understand its power.
Published May ’07

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CHICAGO’S SUMMER MUSIC SCENE …

I grew up outside of Chicago and had the pleasure to live in the city for five years before the true itch for travel catapulted me around the USA and, eventually, the world. Anyway… living through a Chicago winter gets you set for the summer down by the lake, where Blues, Jazz, Country, Folk, Jazz, and Classical — to name but a few music genres — float through the air on a weekly schedule like none other I’ve seen around the country.
Published June ’07

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KIDS’ SAN DIEGO …

San Diego, California, is undoubtedly a vacation destination for the kid in all of us, and for the little ones on up to teens, you’ll find great attractions amid this seaside desert city. I often travel to San Deigo when I want to visit a west coast beach, because there I have a chance to really unwind walking beneath the cliffs, or having a sunset fish taco at a favorite beach stand. And for Mexican food, there is no matching SD’s numerous restaurants.

Published August ’07

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ADVENTURE KAYAKING …

Kayaking is a fun sport that takes you places few people get to see. You can be as little adventurous or live-on-the-edge-gonzo in a kayak, and there is only youself to blame for this :) (usually!). In this piece, I take you to Alaska, Croatia, Thailand, and Ecuador for a bit of each type of kayaking available.

Published September ’07

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APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKING …

Known by locals in 14 states as the A.T., the 2,175-mile trail winds from Georgia to Maine. A mere 5-mile stretch of the trail gives you vistas, terrain changes, trees & plains, cow pastures and primitive camping huts. For outdoor types, this is a true American experience.

Published October ’07

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SAVANNAH’s SOUTHERN STYLE …

Did you know Savannah has one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country? This and other oddities await visitors, who can best see the town on their feet, walking from bar to eatery, through the 23 squares of Historic Savannah.

Published December 2007

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KRAKOW, PRIDE OF OLD EUROPE …

Poland is an enchanting country, from its farms to its city cellar nighclubs, from its railway cars (sturdy Soviet models still running strong) to its castles overlooking the Vistula River. Freely open to the West for nearly 15 years now, and sporting a bourgeoning arts community, Krakow and Warsaw are fabulous visitor cities. My favorite is Krakow, and for two simple reasons: its centuries-old architecture, and The Planty, a park-cum-garden that rings the city’s Old Town.

Published January 2008

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SUMMER GETAWAYS …

Gas prices through the roof? Too Bad! Be like other flag-waving Americans and get out’a town for a summer vacation. You’ll like it. It’s true.

Published March 2008 

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Coming Soon!

Panama’s Jungle Delights (April ’08)

Ecotourism (May ’08)

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