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Ferry from Banjul to Barra

The good, the bad and the bizarre from the wold’s best travel media

Paul Theroux has made a living going, and writing about going. Recently in the New York Times, he wrote about the idea of going where you’re not “supposed” to go.

Actually, it’s more about going to those places where the most common and immediate response when you broach the idea is “Are you crazy? Why would you go there?”

This statement is often followed by frantic insistence that it’s too far, it’s too strange, it’s too dangerous, it’s too…something.

If you’re familiar with Theroux’s body of work, you won’t be surprised if he disagrees. He makes a case for going off the beaten tourism paths, way off.

I got similar reactions from some folks when I told them I was going to the Gambia, for no real reason except that it was totally unfamiliar to them.

It turned out to be perhaps the greatest and most important trip of my life.

To read all of Theroux’s thoughts on this issue, click here.

Contrary to popular opinion, not only has the digital age not rendered the library null and void, but many are actually thriving and some of the newer ones, like Seattle’s, are actually leading revivals in the downtown cores where they were built.

I personally enjoy going over to the Geisel Library on the campus of the University of California, San Diego to work — among other things, on preparing this digest. Quiet. plenty of resources, plenty of room, plenty of electric outlets for my laptop — and it’s an architectural marvel besides.

And I could probably livehappily in the Library of Congress in Washington DC, which many be the greatest repository of knowledge since the original Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt.

The folks at USA Today has assembled a list of ten cool libraries, old and new, municipal and collegiate, that offer activities and tours. If one of them is near you, check it out.

And be sure to check out their Travel section.

And now, here’s this week’s Digest:

from the Associated Press
How old is old in airplane years? From the ordinary airline passenger to the Federal Aviation Administration, a lot of folks are pondering that question after one of southwest Airlines’ older Boeing 737s developed a 5-foot hole in its fuselage recently in mid-air, causing the plane to depressurize and forcing an emergency landing.

from the New York Times
The art of being “bumped” from a flight, and how to profit from it. See why some travelers actually look forward to it.

from The Daily Basics
The Walkin’ Desk is equal parts rolling suitcase, mobile desk and anywhere-chair.

from USA Today
With the glut of new cruise ships out there, we’ve been telling you this was going to happen: Royal Caribbean is offering last-minute deals on two of its newest luxury behemoths, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Watch for other cruise lines to follow suit.

from Associated Press via Yahoo!
Carnival is the latest cruise line to pull the plug on Mazatlan in the wake of reports of crime and violence there. That means more port calls for Cabo San Lucas and Manzanillo.

from USA Today
Mexico isn’t the only cruise destination having problems. Passengers landing at the new cruise ship terminal in Falmouth, Jamaica are getting bum-rushed by drug dealers and prostitutes. The facility only opened in February. Royal Caribbean is threatening to bar their passengers from going into town. Nervous local officials are scrambling to beef up security.

from the Calgary Sun (Canada)
The popularity of adventure tourism in the West African nation of Mali is exposing ever more Westerners to the art of Dogon woodcarving. Result: a lot of Dogon wood work is turning up in art galleries all over the Western world.

from Agence France Presse
Africa’s lions are getting some unwanted company. The latest animal on the Mother Continent to show declining numbers in the face of changes to its habitat — South African penguins.

from the Sunday Times (South Africa)
Americans may not be traveling in sizable numbers to visit northern and sub-Saharan Africa, but Russian tourists are — and the country’s tourism ministry apparently is pushing African tourism, hard. Zimbabwe, whose president, Robert Mugabe, is largely a pariah in the West, is looking toward Moscow for the same reason. Meanwhile, back in Washington DC…

from the San Francisco Chronicle
Ever thought about backpacking? Looking for a place to ease into it, but still offers the great outdoor, complete with ocean views? Consider the Point Reyes National Seashore, on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. I did that there myself as a college student. There’s nothing like the feeling of walking on a beach where the only human footprints are yours.

from the New York Times
An underground food market. Not a cave…a movement. No commercial kitchen? No licenses? No problem. Just what you’d expect to pop up in San Francisco.

from the San Francisco Chronicle
If you’re speeding about in jet boats, exploring caves and listening to Shakespeare all in the same day, odds are you’re in southern Oregon.

from Bangkok Beyond
Thailand enthusiast Frank Munkvold gives the breakdown on Thai markets, including all-important tips on how to haggle. Pay close attention to that advice, because it’s good for almost anywhere in the developing world.

from USA Today
Believe it or not, Europe could be a travel bargain this summer — if you’re willing to forgo to usual tourism suspects and head for destinations that are both attractive and super-cheap. And yes, Europe has several of those.

from Sock Mob Events
Not your typical tour of London. These are led by London’s homeless.

from the Guardian (London UK)
A list of ten places for cheap eats in West London — although the British pound definitely makes “cheap” a relative concept to most travelers.

from the Guardian (London UK)
Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam. The American West? Nope, try Poland. that’s right, Poland.

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