Note: Wanderlust editor in chief Don George recently published the first collection of his own travel stories and essays, The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George. The collection presents 35 pieces, set in 24 countries, from 40 years of world-wandering. The story below, reprinted from the book, describes a particularly poignant encounter with a resident of Dubrovnik in the fall of 2000, one of those unexpected meetings that become one of our most precious souvenirs.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first visit to Dubrovnik in the fall of 2000. On the one hand, I knew that the city had long been considered the jewel of the Adriatic and was a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the other hand, I had heard that it had been largely destroyed by bombs in the early 1990s. Was I going to find rubble or restoration?
Happily, the answer was the latter. While 68 percent of Old Dubrovnik’s 824 buildings were hit by bombs in an...
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On the day that I drove in to El Chalten, Argentina’s trekking capital, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, the weather was so perfect that all the peaks one could hope to see on a visit—Cerro Torre, Guillaumet, Mermoz, Poincenot, Rafael Juarez, Saint Exupery, De L’s—were visible from 100 km away, laid out in full relief before a blue bird sky. Mountaineers, climbers, and mountain lovers have come to El Chalten only to see nothing of the iconic range that towers over it, the peaks completely socked in by clouds. I love mountains, particularly sheer, vertiginous, dramatic ones; they give me a potent mixture of intimidation and excitement that is a key element of my lifeblood. So I should have been reveling in my extraordinary fortune, my heart bursting at the overwhelming beauty. Instead, I looked at this postcard-perfect scene and felt it to be surreal, impersonal; I needed to get closer to the peaks.
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Getting lost comes with the territory of adventure travel. But you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to know the terror—and eventual treasure—of losing your way. As this evocative essay by Bay Area writer Kim Fortson shows, it’s quite possible to get thoroughly lost in your own back yard.
“Stop!” Richie yelled.
Eight sweaty bodies slinkied to a halt. It was approaching dusk in a state park in Napa, eight miles in to what was supposed to be an eight-mile hike, and we were lost. My boyfriend, Richie, hovered over a map with my friend Brian. We waited.
The trail we’d been following up, down and sideways (but mostly up) through a terrain of mud, stone and head-high overgrowth had simply ended. In front of us, granite-colored rock faces zigzagged with greenery. To our left, ten feet beneath us, a frothy creek squeezed between calloused sheets of rock.
Richie and Brian motioned...
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Note: Lonely Planet has just published Better Than Fiction 2, a compelling collection of true travel stories written by acclaimed fiction writers. We are pleased to excerpt the story below, by Shirley Streshinsky, about a traveling companion who transformed her life. Streshinsky is the author of four historical novels and four works of non-fiction, as well as numerous travel stories for such publications as the San Francisco Examiner, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure. Her most recent book, with historian Patricia Klaus, is the biography An Atomic Love Story: The Extraordinary Women in Robert Oppenheimer’s Life.
The flight from Calcutta was crowded; the sari-clad woman named Suna took a seat up front, while I pushed on down the aisle and found a window seat. My view of India from the air included the Boeing 737’s wing and engine....
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Note: Lonely Planet has just published Better Than Fiction 2, a compelling collection of true travel stories written by acclaimed fiction writers. We are pleased to excerpt the story below, by award-winning author Francine Prose, about an unforgettable experience in India. Prose is the author of more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent is a novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. She is a Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bard College.
Once, over lunch, I told an editor at a glossy travel magazine that I wanted to write a piece about the experience of not understanding a place, of being intrigued—but bewildered—the whole time I was there and leaving with no clear idea of what that place had been about. I’d said I’d noticed that the essays in his magazine were always written by travelers who seemed to know everything about their destinations long before they got there, or by writers who had a...
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