As a Backroads leader. I rely on books to help connect me more deeply to the social and natural histories I encounter along my hikes and bike rides, which makes each step or pedal stroke feel that much more meaningful. For anyone heading into the open skies west of the Mississippi this summer, here are five terrific reads that will enhance your travel experience.
At the end of a typical Backroads day, I find myself well fed, happily tired and awe-inspired by what I just experienced. I drafted this blog from a hotel balcony in Dinard, just across an estuary from St. Malo, reflecting on yet another one of those wonderful days. What particularly struck me about the day was how much my kids learned without even knowing the trip was actually educational. I’m sneaky that way.
My friend stands at my side eagerly pumping the brakes of his sleek road bike; ahead is another divide in the road. We are in the Sierra del Rosario forest, a birdwatcher’s paradise and nest of Las Terrazas eco-community, close enough to reach Havana by pedal–easy enough if you are a passionate Cuban cyclist, but it still highlights your struggle (and that of your compatriots) to live a life with no vehicle of your own.
Lasagna, pizza, bolognese, tortellini, Chianti… the list goes on. It’s safe to say the Italians have cracked some kind of food and wine code. With dining traditions nearly as rich as their Parmigiano-Reggiano, there’s more to learn than the old “spaghetti fork spin” we all know and love. This post will talk about the lesser-known culinary traditions in this beautiful country and the golden rules you must know before your next Italian adventure. Let’s dig in (pun intended).
Happy 200th birthday to the bicycle! While today we rely on bikes for exercise, commuting and touring the wine country, the bicycle originated in difficult times. It all began in 1815 after a large volcano erupted in Indonesia. So much debris was ejected into the atmosphere that global temperatures cooled and crops around the world were ruined. This also meant starvation for animals, and in a pre-automobile era, left the problem of how to transport people without horses.
Put together everything you love about Italy: a warm climate, the rugged coastline, mountains, food, history, wine and rich cultural traditions. Lake Garda, at 31 miles long and touching three Italian provinces, manages to offer it all.
The banks of the Danube are soaked in history, having witnessed the rise and fall of countless empires. Today, within the cities along the Danube, the past remains visible in stunning clarity. An imperial glow is embedded within the very masonry of capitals like Vienna and Budapest. One stands at the footsteps of the Hofburg Palace or the Hungarian Parliament and senses how it must have felt to be a provincial subject from some far-flung corner of the empire, awestruck by their imperial grandeur. The Danube has retained this aura of historic wonder and it flows like a gateway into the past for all travelers who tread its banks.
I don’t think that I fully understood Vincent van Gogh’s paintings until I stood in an olive grove in St-Rémy de Provence, France. This particular olive grove sits outside the walls of St. Paul de Mausole, a 12th-century Augustine monastery that became a psychiatric hospital in the 1800s…