Two Giants of Travel Writing

Many people dream of making a break from the hum-drum day-to-day and travelling the world, to chronicle their journeys with a literary flair that echoes down the generations. There’s something decidedly romantic about the literature of great journeys, and the internet provides even more opportunity for writers to create inspirational and finely-honed travel articles. While it can sometimes seem the journals and blogs of those making their way around parts of or the whole world are not exactly literary gems, there are some truly great writers who cut their teeth by visiting other countries and cultures and journaling about their experiences. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of the big names who once set out with a suitcase in one hand and a typewriter in the other:

Pearl S Buck

Perhaps the Grande Dame of this kind of writing, Pearl Buck was a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and the Nobel Prize in 1938. Buck was born in the US but moved to China with her missionary parents when she was only three months old. Although she spent significant portions of her life in the US, she frequently returned to live in China for prolonged periods. She wrote numerous travel articles and non-fiction books usually dealing with countries in Asia.

Although much of her writing centres on the people and states of eastern Asia, her travel articles, commentary and political analysis had a wide scope and found publication in magazines and newspapers across the globe.

Ernest Hemingway

Not a man to do things by halves, Hemingway’s work was strongly rooted in what you might call participant observation. His non-fiction writing is often over-strained with desperate bravado and machismo, but he nonetheless brings some fine prose and incredible observations to the places he visited. ‘Death in the Afternoon’, first published in 1932, is the definitive English language book on the mood and atmosphere of a bull-fight in the first half of the 20th century. His time in East Africa led to the publication of the ‘Green Hills of Africa’, a book published in 1935 that detailed Hemingway’s stay in the Lake Manyara region of Tanzania.

The fiction that he produced was also heavily influenced by the places he visited – most famously of all through his experiences of working as an ambulance driver for the Italian army in the First World War, which would form the basis of his seminal ‘A Farewell to Arms’. His journalistic work also included a number of travel articles for publications across the globe.

Solo Travel Destinations, New Places to Travel Alone, Part 5 Chile

Reading today that a 24-year old Chilean saxophonist just won the Monk International Jazz Competition took me back in time to my trip to Santiago and points south. While having only a small percentage of the world’s population, Chile has produced global figures in the arts, including two Nobel Prize winning poets: Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda.

Just getting to Chile was part of the adventure. When I arrived at the airport in Washington, there was a flight delay because of bad weather. After about 4 hours in the gate, we were allowed to board. Then it was announced the winds had shifted and the plane could not take off. I returned home for the night and started out again the next day. High over the Andes once again bad weather intervened requiring that we land in Argentina. At last, we arrived in Santiago!

Chile demonstrates the rich differences within the South American continent. Although much of the region shares a common language and a 16th century colonial history, after O’Higgins and San Martin led Chile to independence in the 19th century, it has created its own modern history.

Two features immediately struck me: First was the strong and pervasive European influence. Rather than tapas, afternoon tea was widely featured along with ads for a French Impressionist art exhibit. There was no meringue, salsa or tango. In fact, the first dance performance was at a top restaurant with Pacific Islanders performing at dinner. I soon discovered that even newly arrived, jet-lagged diners had the “opportunity” to be led off to the stage for an introduction to Island dances. (One advantage if you travel solo, there is no one to send photos back home of your first awkward steps.)

Secondly, the geographic range of climate zones and topography was immediately apparent. Chile, 2,672 miles long, felt like many countries comprised within one national border. The north was very arid as it reached into the Atacama Desert while going southward to Puerto Montt was reminiscent of a Swiss Village. From the ski slopes moving on to Antarctica Chile, the landscape was suddenly filled with glaciers and snow-covered roads.

My view of Chile had 4 distant parts. The first was Santiago, Chile’s capital. With over 1 million inhabitants, it offers an array of choices.

Although many colonial buildings have been demolished, key remaining gems include the Basilica in La Merced. Moving on towards the Plaza de Armas, you will find the 18th century Casa Colorada. The past blends in with the present when you visit the Benedictine Chapel whose architect, Gabriel Guarda, created Barcelona’s most famous landmarks.

Another top sight is the Palacio de La Moneda or President’s Palace. It was first constructed in the 18th century but most recently largely reconstructed in the 1980’s. While you are there, you can check out the colorful Changing of the Guard accompanied by a brass band.

For a more detailed view of Chile’s diverse culture, Santiago has multiple museum options, including the popular National History and Pre-Columbian museums. You can also visit the home Neruda built for Matilde Urrutia, his third wife who inspired his greatest works. It is known, as she was as, by the name La Chascona and is located in the Bellavista district.

After a day steeped in history and culture, you will want to save time to take the gondola for a view of the city from Cerro San Cristobal.

My second distinct view of Chile came from a side trip to ski nearby at the local slope Colorado. Just an hour away, it lacked the steeper inclines of the more famous slopes of Portillo or Argentina’s Las Lineas and Bariloche. However, what it lacked in challenging my Intermediate ski prowess, it more than made up for in easy access as an unexpected add-on.

My third destination was Puerto Montt located in southern Chile’s Lake District. Founded in the 19th century by German settlers, the flavor was that of a European village albeit with the addition of the Pacific Ocean. Strolling past waterfalls, you could see llamas munching along the roadside and then visit the stunning Osorno Volcano. The outdoor options in the region are varied, from hiking through the national parks to boating and horseback riding.

My fourth and final view of Chile was in its most famous destination other than the capital, Santiago: the far south in Punta Arenas, Antarctica, Chile. Traveling by bus, I was pleasantly surprised at the first class service with videos and soft drinks’ being served.

On arrival, I hired a taxi for a day’s sightseeing moving at a rapid pace over sometime harrowing snow-covered roads. Working cowboys, i.e., vaqueros or gauchos, sped by on horseback alongside us. Their weathered faces reflected life in the harsh climate.

Although a small museum in Puntas Arenas told more of the history of this remote region, the real draw for tourists is outdoors even during the wintertime. I spent a full day exploring the key attraction, the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine with snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and a large clear blue lake. At the lower elevations, it was not too cold for hiking or just long walks through the Park.

To the south is Cape Horn and the Drake Passage, the latter the gateway to Antarctica, itself. Chile is well-positioned geographically to take that next step, to head westward for the remote Pacific/Easter Island or to combine with a business or leisure trip elsewhere in Latin America.

Chile was an ideal solo destination because of:

1. Its diversity of cultures and attractions

2. The range of terrain from desert to ski slopes to glaciers

3. Its vibrant role in Latin America’s dynamic growth

4. The numerous sporting and adventure options from skiing the Andes to hiking through the Lake District of Puerto Montt to boating in Punta Arenas and down to Cape Horn.

5. Its safety and availability of 4-5 star service and tours

6. The access to the Pacific and Easter Island or on to other parts of South America and Antarctica.

If you don’t want to see the summer end, book now for December in Chile and go boating and swimming instead of shoveling snow

5 Tips to Handle Your Phone While Traveling Abroad

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the world all of one’s lifetime.” These are the words of famous writer Mark Twain that describes beautifully about the reason we travel. We do it for fun, enjoyment and to break from our daily mundane routine. It is really nice to feel the sun on our back, or see the wonders that travelling to a new place can provide us. Going to a new place is always etched to our memory and nothing feels good than capturing the splendid moments we spent on as pictures or videos and sharing them with people we love. We have every social network at our disposal and it is a great loss to not be able to share our memories on them.

Moreover, as we are stranger in the new place, we always look for maps to navigate our ways through the landscapes. All of these are possible today at a single click on our mobile phones. It helps us to find place places to our liking through navigation, captures photos and videos and let us to be connected to our close friends and family. It is thus, very important to handle our phones efficiently so that it doesn’t run out of juice when we need it the most.

Tips to handle your phone:-

1. The first thing you need to do is download a travel app like Hopper, Kayak or NobelApp. This app shows the best deal going around the place you visit including cab fares, hotel rents and flight fares. Some apps like NobelApp also provide promotional deals which makes your travel quite cheap.

2. Using your phone is a necessity while travelling and it can drain your battery very quickly. It may not be possible for you find a charging point and you may miss out on important opportunities for a long time. To counter this problem, you must always carry an extra set of batteries and a power bank which can keep your phone charged on the go, and you won’t have to rue over lost chances.

3. When you travel to a different place calling home could be very expensive. Always carry an international calling card like Nobel Phone Cards to get over the situation. It makes you calls cheap and provides quality reception even if you are travelling outside your home network.

4. Try to get a Local SIM card to avoid high expenditure on you roaming SIM card. You can get a lot of offers on the local SIM cards which can make your travel less expensive.

5. Always carry extra memory cards for storing the photos and movies you have clicked so that you don’t have to compromise on the memories of the most pleasant moments

Travelling also makes you vulnerable to a huge expense and the security of your belongings in a foreign land. You must always look for appropriate travel insurance and include your gadgets in it to avoid any mishaps. After all you didn’t go for a vacation just to return with distress and disappointment.