Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Travel Notes: Omnibus Edition

[Part of my year-end omnibus series]

Mitch Altman’s story of a weekend in a new city captures one of the best parts of traveling – random connections with interesting people:

[My host] also organized an anti-war event at a community center, and somehow during the event the Coke machine they rented as the center-piece of the performance caught on fire while videos of “Dr. Strangelove” mixed with actual footage from Iraq on the floor.  I met Charlie through a journalist from Libération who interviewed me in the early days of TV-B-Gone media craziness.  As well as hosting me in his wonderful, government-subsidized apartment (they actually support the arts in France!), Charlie is a great connector, hosting get-togethers where journalists, film makers, artists of all sorts, many flavors of activists, and other interesting, creative, intelligent people mix and mingle in long nights of conversation and friendly debate.


Anil Dash lives the dream.  Almost.


I’m a sucker for certain historical travel narratives, and this was right down my alley.  It’s an account of two young women who set off in 1944 on a long circle through the eastern US (via bike, train, and riverboat).  What makes it particularly interesting is that the first half appears to be a contemporaneously written account, and the second finished by one of the women when she was in her 80s.


Does flying occasionally scare you?  Then don’t read this.


The best in travel usually entails taking some risk, in my experience.  This list wouldn’t be my own, but it’s not a bad place to start.


My trip to Argentina last month marked the first time I’d ever had my photo taken at a border, as a condition of entry.  Presumably, other countries will be following the United States further down that road:

The Homeland Security Department has announced plans to expand its biometric data collection program to include foreign permanent residents and refugees. Almost all noncitizens will be required to provide digital fingerprints and a photograph upon entry into the United States as of Jan. 18.

Because nothing keeps us safe like storing your biometric information in a one stop shop for identity thieves.


I’m going to have the opportunity to get to a new part of the world in the next year or two – Southeast Asia.  Shamefully, I have to admit that it’s never held that much interest for me, as a region.  Maybe I could start with Burma.


A little closer to home – the Yellow Arrow Capitol of Punk tour of DC’s punk history might be worth a look.  Punk was never really my thing, so I can’t speak to the quality of it, but the execution strikes me as really a good idea.   The Yellow Arrow concept goes well beyond DC – right now, it claims 467 cities.  Check it out.


Craig of Travelvice captures some of the, uh, cultural nuance of eastern Europe.


While I’m working on finishing this story (really, one day . . . ), you might enjoy this account of Dubai, which I think hits the marks pretty well:

Inside the airport, there was a 90-minute wait at passport control. Surrounding me were an international smorgasbord of travelers; Indian businessman, Arab millionaires, Palestinian refugees, Russian hookers, Japanese tourists, and women dressed head to toe in black robes, complete with leather gloves. With a population of 1.2 million, Dubai only has about a couple hundred thousands locals, the rest are migrant laborers from India, Pakistan, Philippines and Malaysia, not to mention the UK and USA. The guy in the line warns me of ever-present blonde Russian hookers, “There are 200 000 of them in Dubai!” he tells me, shaking his head in disapproval, as if they were an unpopular teenage accessory.


I probably won’t write about the Nova Scotia trip I took in October, and I have no clever way to work this into another story, so I’ll just post this link to the site of a restaurant we passed.  Because I am twelve.


The ACS Conspiracy


Feeling the Veil: A Reader Response


  1. Peej

    Aw, crap, biometrics for permanent residents, too? This means pulling out the citizenship papers to file…


    If you are twelve, so am I. Heh.


    Wait, that is not Hungary, that is Jersey…

  2. MB

    Can’t say that I look at those pictures and think “Jersey girl”, Peej.

  3. Peej

    Then you haven’t been to [south] Jersey lately and seen what they are wearing to the stores and out and about, especially in warm weather. It’s not just about the high hair and scrunchies, anymore.

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