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Grassroots Travel Stories 

A special “traveler to traveler” feature from Talking Travel

Travel stories are as diverse as the destinations they explore.

Below you will find stories in a number of theme areas that demonstrate the eclectic nature of travel, and the diversity of themes and issues inherent in travel — the most experiential form of learning.


Coming of Age: Agritourism Growing Strong in America by Karin Leperi

In this article, Karin Leperi, Talking Travel's agritourism specialist, gives an overview of this speciality market in the travel and tourism industry.

Agritourism is part of and interconnected with Ecotourism. In September 2005, The International Ecotourism Society and the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce are hosting and organizing the first national conference on Ecotourism in the U.S. Held in Bar Harbor, Maine, the conference features tourism leaders representing industry, media, professional, and nonprofit groups to explore innovative solutions to ecotourism issues and trends.

For more information click on this link for a media release.

Arts and Travel

Prince Edward Island's Fine Artisans: Celebrating Craft Year 2007, by Sandra Phinney

In this “stroll” through Canada's smallest province, and one of the most popular destinations, Sandra Phinney explores the delightful world of the Island's artisans.

An Artful Journey to Malaysia’s Batik Week, by Michelle Newman

Following her three-month peregrination throughout Southeast Asia, Michelle explores the world of Batik; in particular modern Malaysian Batik — “a whole new world of art, and a spectacle to behold.”

The Virtual and Other Realities of Jeroen Bechtold, by Bob Fisher

Jeroen Bechtold is a contemporary potter and ceramist in Amsterdam. In this report, Bob Fisher explores the legacy of the Dutch connection with the Far East and this extraordinary contemporary artist.

Indigo Infatuation, by Michelle Newman

It's more than a colour; it's a cultural experience, as Michelle Newman demonstrates after a visit to the workshop of a Japanese master of the craft.

The Hands of Juan Quezada, by Bob Fisher

In this article, Bob Fisher “paints” a portrait of a national living treasure of Mexico.

Art Meets Innocence in Madrid, by Bob Fisher

In this quiet “slice of life” glimpse inside a unique art gallery in Madrid, Bob examines how travel can reveal universal issues such as how children learn the essentials of social organization — from art.

Culinary Travel

Acadiana: Washington D.C.'s Hottest New Restaurant

Talking Travel's Traveling Chef Tom reports on a new restaurant in Washington D.C. that specializes in Louisiana cuisine.

Daytona. Florida Goes Foodie (an audio report)

Talking Travel's Traveling Chef Tom takes us to Daytona which has become a major culinary destination in Florida.

Cultural Insights

Rugged Northern Ireland, by Kay Harwell Fernandez

During her visit to Northern Ireland, Kay Harwell Fernandez takes us to the mythical (but real) Giant's Causeway and the serene North Antrim region.

Cobh, Ireland: the Port of Farewells, by Colleen Fliedner

Visiting the “Irish Riviera,” Colleen also travels back in time to a heart-wrenching period when many thousands of Irish left Ireland (during the Potato Famine) for North America. She also revisits Cobh's historical role in the Titanic and Lusitania disasters. She also shows us one of the most beautiful places in Ireland to visit.

Chihuahua, Mexico

The seeds of Destination Worldview, our defining feature, were sown during a media trip to Chihuahua Mexico on which Roy Lowey and Bob Fisher were participants.

Chihuahua is one of the most culturally and historically rich areas of Mexico. It is also a destination in which vision is everything. In the deserts, cities, towns, and great natural areas of Chihuahua — the stupendous Copper Canyon is an example — you get to see many things and great distances. Most of all, you get to see the soul of the Mexican people.

For more information on Chihuahua, see the following: The Hands of Juan Quezada; Mexican Mennonites: Canadian Connections, Chihuahua (visitmexico.com); and Chihuahua-MexicoConnect.

To listen to the Talking Travel audio reports of these stories, click on the icons below.

Ecotourism and Soft Adventure

The Secrets of Cortez by John Benus

Baja California is a dream destination for John and Margaret Benus. John and Margaret are also significant role models for the 50+ generation, the most important demographic in the travel industry.

Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre:
Pushing your physical and conceptual limits on Vancouver Island,
by Hans Tammemagi

In this nature-based adventure story, Hans Tammemagi demonstrates how active outdoor and environmentally conscious travel is both for the body and the mind.

Exotic Travel

Antarctica: The Crystal Desert by Kitt Walsh

Kitt lives in Naples, Florida and has sent us this thrilling account of her trip to Antarctica.

Family Travel

A Journey of the Heart, by Karin Leperi

We at Talking Travel pride ourselves on our grassroots reach. Part of grassroots travel and travel experiences takes place in the mind and in the emotions. In this article, Karin Leperi shares a personal understanding of the real potential of “family travel.”

First Nations Travel

The Calusa Indians: Shell People of the Estuary, by Stephanie Moreland

In this article, Stephanie explores an extinct Native-American people who were perfectly adapted to the environment of Southwest Florida.

Alberta's Siksika Nation: The Artful Representation of Indigenous Culture, by Michelle Newman

Michelle Newman is an adopted member of the Blackfoot Nation in Alberta, Canada. In this article she describes the time she spent living with them and the expanded artistic frame of reference that she developed.

The Siksika Nation of Alberta: Self-determination, cultural affirmation, land, and time, by Bob Fisher

This special multimedia report focusses on First Nations heritage travel and the Siksika as a role model for this kind of travel experience.

Gay Travel

The Albertan Brokeback Mountain Connection. Like many special interest parts of the travel industry, Gay travel has been a staple of the industry for quite some time. With the success of this recent Oscar award-winning film — shot primarily in Alberta — that Canadian province has received renewed attention. In “Mountains of Memories,” Aefa Mulholland and Ed Salvato show how movies can stimulate travel and a new awareness of specific destinations.

Genealogical Travel

An Unknown Soldier, by Bob Fisher

More and more people are traveling to find their “roots.” Sometimes this kind of travel — a growing part of the travel industry — means just a visit to the “homeland” from which their ancestors came. Other times it involves actual genealogical research: in cemeteries, parish records, town halls, or public archives. And some times these genealogical travels are relatively close to home — and full of surprises. In this article, Bob Fisher finds someone he never knew but knows all about.

Great Cities

Sydney, Australia: Surf, Sun, and Suds, by Hans Tammemagi

Knowing Sydney from his “student days,” Hans takes us shows an hedonist side of the city.

Stockholm: Beauty on the Water, Kay Harwell Fernandez

In this word portrait, Kay presents a traveler-friendly overview of the Swedish capital.

My Russian Troika, by Suzanne Wright

Suzanne takes us on a unique tri-city trip through Russia.

Great Cruises

Posh and Circumstance Aboard the Queen Mary 2, by Suzanne Wright

Suzanne and friend live like queens in the proverbial lap of luxury on the high seas.

A Dream of a Crystal Cruise, by Kay Harwell Fernandez

Kay makes the dream come true.

Great Train Travel

Panoramic Views Aboard Switzerland’s Glacier Express and Golden Pass by Kay Harwell Fernandez

Train travel is still an exciting and romantic way to travel. However, in some destinations it is also the most accessible and traveler-friendly form of transportation — accessible especially to stupendous natural sights. As Kay Fernandez clearly demonstrates, this is especially true of train travel in Switzerland.

Falling in Love Again — With Train Travel, by Sandra Phinney

Sandra takes the reader on one of Canada's great train trips, from Halifax to Montréal.

Historical and Heritage Travel

Trinidad de Cuba: Sparkling Jewel of the Escambray by Peter Flaherty

In this article, Peter Flaherty explores a specific destination in Cuba as well as Cuba's emerging travel industry.

The Joseph Camp Story: In Search of a Mythical Eden in the American West, by Paula Humfrey

In this multimedia presentation, Paula Humfrey explores the American West through the journal of an 18th-century traveler in what was seen as the “New Eden.”

Intrepid Traveling

Innocence, Consciousness-raising and Cambodia, by Gregory Monteith

Whether traveling by backpack or some other means that does not afford the creature comforts many of us enjoy, the simplest and least expensive form of travel can often be the most rewarding. Gregory Monteith shows us why.

China's Great Wall: The Masterpiece of Human Civilization, by Gregory Monteith

In this very personal and introspective report, Gregory takes us to the Great Wall of China — and beyond.

Cambodia's Tonle Sap: A Lesson in Human Resourcefulness, by Gregory Monteith

Gregory's exotic trip in a longboat to the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia is an example of travel as the most experiential form of learning.

Four Years of Living Dangerously: Behind the travel books, by Antonio Graceffo

What makes someone working in high finance and high living in New York City give it all up and travel to some of the most extraordinary and remote destinations in the world? Antonio Graceffo's personal account of how he became an adventure travel writer is a study in culture shock and acculturation.

Nature Travel

Green Lakes on the Allegheny Plateau, by Mary Notarthomas

Exploring one of the best kept secrets in New York State, Mary Notarthomas also creates a true “feel” for nature travel close to home.

Personal Travel Experiences

Nova Scotia: Soothing the Soul, by Elle Andra-Warner

Visiting one of her favourite destinations again (Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia), Elle Andra-Warner finds a new sense of the spiritual in travel.

New York to New Mexico and My New Life in the Land of Enchantment, by Neala Schwartzberg

A change of scene, they say, is a good thing. Moving from uber urban to spacious desert, Neala gives this aphorism new meaning as she begins her new life in New Mexico.

Day of the Iguana: Lizards I Have Loved, by Mike Fisher

While living in Mexico, Mike Fisher (our Albertan Bound travel guy) and his cat Ed have a terrifying experience.

Got Luggage? by Suzanne Wright

As one of the most on-the-go travel journalists we know, Suzanne's article on how to buy luggage and how to pack is invaluable to any traveler.

Our New Greek Friend: A lesson in “home is where the heart is” by Doug Eads

Doug is one of our Destination Worldview contributors. In this personal account, he shows the commonality of the human experience.

Finding My Own Time and Space in Ancient Jordan, by Karen Hamlin

Karen takes us on a very personal and fun journey to Jordan where she demonstrates the importance of initiative and the ability to search out the alternative and grassroots experience when traveling.

Luggage Can Be Hazardous to your Health, by Colleen Fliedner

An experienced traveler and travel journalist, Colleen learned the hard way nonetheless the perils of the wayward and awkward suitcase. Colleen is a freelance journalist, member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, the International Society of Ecotourism, the National Federation of Press Women, the Authors' Guild of America, the International Peace Through Tourism organization, and a former member of the Sierra Club. She can be contacted by email at Cfliedner@aol.com.

Sacred Assisi, by Stephanie Moreland

During her first visit to Europe, Stephanie discovers something from her past and explores the nature of the sacred.

Poetic Travel

The Poetic Eye of the Travel Writer, by Gregory Monteith

In this collection of poems which paint pictures in words of travel experiences Gregory has had, he demonstrates why such experiences can be highly internalized.

Special Interest Traveling

Traveling in search of fossils, with Brian Matthews. Brian is a career banker from Truro Nova Scotia who has developed a passion for fossils and travel.

Dinosaurs and Fossils in Nova Scotia, with Brian Matthews. And if you are an amateur paleontologist, Brian also recommends the following websites: the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History and the Fundy Geological Museum. Brian's favourite book on the subject is The Last Billion Years by Nimbus Publishing, and a new map called “Nova Scotia Rocks.”

The Best in Chocolate Travel, by Kay Harwell Fernandez

Chocolate lovers will go the ends of the earth for their choco-fix. However, Kay makes such delectable travel very do-able.

Special reports from Friends and Colleagues Around the World

Talking to Our Man Stan... in the UK

In this series of “travel dialogues” with Stan Abbott, founder and Executive Director of Gravity Consulting in the United Kingdom, we visit and explore a number of unique destinations and travel topics.

A Dialogue with Petr Kulhánek (Secretary General) and Jim Thompson (Executive Committee) about Travel and Tourism in the Twenty-First Century

The Federation of International Journalists and Travel Writers (FIJET) is the largest and oldest travel journalism association in the world. It operates in three official languages: English, French, and Spanish; and has over 900 members from 62 different countries around the world.

A Special Report by Lyuboslav Ilev, A Special Young Man from Bulgaria

Lyuboslav Ilev is a 17-year-old high school student in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria. As a role model of the new generation of Eastern Europeans, he is highly accomplished in languages (his maternal language is Bulgarian) and he has a keen sense of history in both his own nation and throughout Europe itself.

Anyone for a National Drink? A Special Report by Radim Wajshavtl

In the Czech Republic, the national drink is called Becherovka. Not only is it part of the culture of the nation, it is also part of its history.

A Unique Brand of Airport, by Urs Brütsch, Head Marketing Communication, Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG)

(This article opens as a PDF file.)

Increasingly, the business, operations, and realities of airports are of concern to all travellers. As an important new hub in Europe, the Zurich airport in Switzerland is a state-of-the-art airport.

As a privatized company holding a government concession,the Unique company operates Switzerland's “nationally and internationally renowned traffic hub and meeting place: Zurich Airport.” An innovative and passenger-friendly airport, it is also an integrated operation in many ways. For example, The “Soul of Chocolate” exhibition was recently installed at the airport. Passengers were able to familiarize themselves with the history, origins, processing and refinement of chocolate, and to sample the immense variety of tastes in the world of chocolate. In “A Unique Brand of Airport,” Urs Brütsch explains in detail the role and importance of marketing an airport in the increasingly competitive airline industry. Talking Travel wishes to thank him for permission to include this article in our webmagazine.

Travel Industry Profiles

Bora Ozkok: Portrait of a Role Model in the Travel Industry, by Colleen Fliedner

In this profile, Colleeen Fliedner introduces us to an individual who represents the best of cultural travel in Turkey — and everywhere else.

Unexpected Travel

For the Love of Lavender: Lavender as the Latest Fashion Statement for Rover, by Karin Leperi

Karin is an award-winning and eclectic writer/photographer. She is the Agritourism Consultant to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), and as a specialist in agritourism she contributes relevant reports to Talking Travel. In this piece she introduces us to the Lavender Capital of North America.


Alberta: Dinosaur Country, by Brian Matthews

In his report, Brian takes us to one of the most important paleontological sites in the world and a World Heritage Site.

Joyce Major: Voluntourist
A solo year-long adventure around the world

Joyce's amazing adventures and personal commitment to a unique way of travelling are inspiring and highly informative.

The above stories are first-hand, grassroots accounts; they come directly from people who have “been there.”

Photographs by Bob Fisher

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