I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Happy Hannukah, my Jewish friends! Before I get to my favorite travel posts from this past month, I want to make a little plug for a good cause:
As you consider where to spend your charitable dollars this holiday season, I hope you’ll consider a donation to Passports with Purpose. For the third year in a row, travel bloggers have banded together to raise money for charity. Last year, Passports with a Purpose raised $30,000 to build a school in rural Cambodia. The school opened this fall, and there are a few hundred students who are now receiving an education thanks to dollars raised in this effort. This year’s fundraiser will go to support LAFTI, “an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the Dalit (untouchable) population in India. Raising $50,000, we will build a village in India, providing homes for those that had never hoped to have a roof over their heads!” So far, $43,000 has been raised.
Here’s how it works: You go to the website and peruse the list of prizes that have been donated by generous sponsors to participating blogs. Select the prize or prizes you’d like to win. (Prizes include hotel stays, an iPad, travel gear, and more.) You can enter for as many prizes as you want; for each entry, you make a $10 donation to the cause. It’s like buying a raffle ticket. You get to do good and stand a chance of winning a cool travel prize, too. Win-win. Thanks for considering.
And now my faves of the past month….
During the six long months of dreary darkness and bitter cold that we call winter in Vermont, I like to daydream about quitting my job, selling my house and moving somewhere warm where the sun shines more days of the year than it does here. So I was ecstatic to see Beat the Winter Blues: Sunniest Places in the World by Andy Hayes at Sharing Travel Experiences. I was surprised and pleased that his choices weren’t the same ol’ same ol, but rather places I’d never really considered before. It’s always nice to have new options to consider.
Here’s another place that captured my interest: James Clark of Nomadic Notes went to Gulangyu, an island in China that doesn’t allow cars or motorcycles. Imagine how peaceful it would be to wander the streets of a town without inhaling exhaust, without hearing the honking of horns or revving of engines or the teeth-jarring growls of a vehicle with no muffler. Ahh. Check out In Pictures: Gulangyu – the car free island of China.
I love love love this piece by Jodi Ettenberg of LegalNomads on An Afternoon in Paris’ Montmartre, not least of which because I was there with her on this particular afternoon. But mostly, I love that it reads like a love letter to Montmartre and includes the beauty of the day plus the colorful history of this part of Paris. Marlys, who gave us a tour of Montmartre, was chock-full of great information, but I’m afraid I could only retain a small part of it in my jetlagged brain. So I appreciate the facts Jodi has included here. And yes, it was really was that beautiful that afternoon.
JoAnna Haugen’s A Thanksgiving Memory: Peace Corps Kenya, 2004 got me all choked up by reminding me that the spirit of Thanksgiving can be brought with us anywhere. What matters is the fellowship. I’m willing to bet that particular Thanksgiving was probably more meaningful to the participants than the dozens of cookie-cutter traditional Thanksgivings many of us have celebrated during our lifetimes.
Keith Savage of Traveling Savage has started his first month of travel in Argentina, and as if his writing couldn’t get any better, it has. I hardly know which of his recent posts to recommend, as I’ve loved so many of them. But I think I’ll go with the beginning of his adventures, Into the Wilds of Buenos Aires, where the first thing that happens is that everything goes wrong. It’s a lesson all travelers need to learn eventually. No matter how well you think you have everything planned, sometimes, things just don’t work out the way they’re supposed to. But things usually turn out all right anyway.
I want to leave you with this hilarious story by Pamela McNaughtan of Spunky Girl Monologues about her Mongolian marriage proposal, called Florence Nightingale and How I Almost Became a Mongolian Bride.
Two postscripts to leave you with:
I was incredibly honored to be included in Christine Gilbert’s list of The Best of 2010: 100 Inspired Travel Blogs, found at her website, Almost Fearless. I’ve been featured in top lists of travel blogs before, often due to rankings (which also never fails to surprise me), but this one is especially meaningful to me because Christine’s was one of the first travel blogs I gravitated to when I first started blogging nearly three years ago. She is a terrific writer who has traveled solo extensively (these days, she travels with her husband and baby while filming a documentary and she continues to blog and run her online business). I’ve come to really respect her opinions, so to be included in this list is a tremendous honor.
Finally, I wanted to let you all know that this will be my last Shiny Travel Objects column. One reason for this is that the move from a weekly version of STO to a monthly version just doesn’t feel like it’s working to me. By the time you read the column, some of the articles are a month old. In the interest of “timeliness,” I would prefer to concentrate on sharing my favorite travel media with you via my Facebook and Twitter accounts (which I’m already doing), so be sure to sign up and follow me on those to see which media I’m reading or watching. My other reason is that eliminating this column will free up some of my time to channel my energies into other projects for the new year (including a potential newsletter). But don’t worry, SoloFriendly isn’t going anywhere. I’ll keep churning out solo travel content as long as you keep reading. Thank you for understanding.