There are unexplored places yet.


You just have to get there.

Standing in a pit in the red soil of a mountaintop forest in northern Mozambique, Dr Simon Willcock was dirty but very excited. “Undisturbed forest is incredibly rare,” he said. “That is why we scaled a 125-metre-tall cliff with a pickaxe.” Willcock, from Bangor University in Wales, knew of no other rainforest in Africa that scientists can confidently say has not been disturbed by humans. “It’s a unique site in Africa,” he said, plunging the axe down into the chest-deep hole with a whump.

Like a villain’s fortress in an old James Bond movie, Mount Lico rises vertically from the land around it, the ancient centre of a volcano with the forest nestled in its crater. It was discovered by Dr Julian Bayliss, who examined satellite imagery looking for an undisturbed tropical rainforest. When he spotted Lico on Google Earth, he said, the forest on top “was isolated and appeared totally undisturbed”. With a smile, he added: “That makes it very exciting.”

The rest of the story: A ‘dream team’ of scientists scaled Mount Lico and found a wealth of new species. Mozambique: the secret rainforest at the heart of an African volcano by Jeff Barbee (Guardian).

Good eating: Italy


"In other markets, on other shores, the unfamiliar fishes may be vivid, mysterious, repellant, fascinating and bright with
splendid color; only in Venice do they look good enough to eat. In Venice even ordinary sole and ugly great skate are striped with delicate lilac lights, the sardines shine like newly-minted silver coins, pink Venetian scampi are fat and fresh, infinitely enticing in the early dawn." — Elizabeth David, “Italian Food,” 1954.

Elizabeth David was one of the first food critics to explore the full range of Italy's regional cooking. The foods of Italy, she reported in vivid prose, reached far beyond the simple pleasures of minestrone and ravioli to complex traditions in Tuscany, Sicily, Lombardy, Umbria, and many other regions:
Italian Food (Penguin Classics) by Elizabeth David, foreword by Julia Child (Amazon).

El Territorio de Zaguates


'The Land of the Mutts,' on an abandoned farm in the mountains of Costa Rica, is a dog sanctuary where adoptable dogs outnumber people by at least 100 to one.

Cycling: Two weeks of peddling between The Old Smoke and The City of Lights

A guidebook for the bike rider who wants a bit of adventure, Mike Wells' Cycling London to Paris: The classic Dover/Calais route and the Avenue Verte (Cicerone Cycling Guides) leads you around Paris and
London and the country roads linking the two great cities by two cycle routes: the 490km/304mile 'classic' from the Tower of London to the Eiffel Tower and the 387km/240mile Avenue Verte from the London Eye to Notre Dame. Passing through rolling countryside, charming market towns and medieval walled villages, suburban streets and country roads take you past historical landmarks, museums and iconic monuments. The daily sections -- 25 to 40 miles -- should be within the capabilities of moderately fit riders, and one direction should take less than a week, according to the publisher, meaning that a round trip, including a few days sightseeing in Paris, can easily be accomplished in a fortnight. Itineraries include directions, points of interest, elevations, and abundant maps. "A comprehensive introduction covers all the practicalities, such as Channel crossings, accommodation and what to take, and also offers a fascinating historical overview of southern England and northern France. A summary of facilities, useful contacts and an English-French glossary can be found in the appendices." Mike Wells is the author of six biking guides, including treks along the Danube, the Rhine and the Rhone.

Is Trump really hurting the travel business?


The United Nations World Tourism Organization announced last week that Spain overtook the United States as the second-most visited destination in the world (France remains number one) in 2017. The U.S. welcomed 72.9 million foreign visitors last year — down about four percent from the previous year’s 75.9 million.

"Frank Horvat. Storia di un fotografo"



"Frank Horvat: History of a Photographer" at Chiablese Hall of the Royal Museums of Turin until 2018/05/20.

Raymond Chandler's L.A.


 Get from Amazon


✓ The Raymond Chandler Mystery Map of Los Angeles by Aaron Blake (Amazon).
 This 1987 map investigates the settings of some of the best detective novels in literature. CityDig: Find Your Way Around Raymond Chandler’s Smoggy, Sultry Los Angeles by Glen Creason (Los Angeles magazine).
✓ See the map bigger.
 Also: Literary Map of Los Angeles by Aaron Blake (Amazon).

Polite Provisions : Just a Neighborhood Bar

La fuerza despierta



La Condesa, Mexico City

Peace of mind


Socrates did not blush to play with little boys, Cato used to refresh his mind with wine after he had wearied it with application to affairs of state, and Scipio would move his triumphal and soldierly
limbs to the sound of music … It does good also to take walks out of doors, that our spirits may be raised and refreshed by the open air and fresh breeze: sometimes we gain strength by driving in a carriage, by travel, by change of air, or by social meals and a more generous allowance of wine: at times we ought to drink even to intoxication, not so as to drown, but merely to dip ourselves in wine: for wine washes away troubles and dislodges them from the depths of the mind, and acts as a remedy to sorrow as it does to some diseases.

-- Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind.

Flying and its discontents


In Full Upright and Locked Position: The Insider's Guide to Air Travel, Mark Gerchick, former chief counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration, demystifies the airline industry -- from uncomfortable seats and chinese menus of add-ons and fees to the real dangers of air travel. This is a fact-packed, engaging, user-­friendly, nuts-and-bolts survey of contemporary commercial air travel. Not for reading on the plane.

“Illuminating… The insights provided will make the turbulence a little easier to bear.”  -- Publishers Weekly

quote unquote





Between every two pines
is a doorway to a new world.

                         -- John Muir

Tarde de perros

In Mexico City, it seems like pretty much everybody has a dog, and dog walking -- it looks more like dog sitting -- is an important job.

They may be too "smart" for your own good.


"Companies like BlueSmart, Raden and Away make luggage that includes GPS tracking, can measure its own weight, and yes, charge phones. But for all those features, these pieces of luggage need power in the form of lithium-ion batteries, which are generally seen as fire risks on planes. Last year, the FAA noted that their testing of plane fire safety showed that 'current cargo fire suppression systems cannot effectively control a lithium battery fire.'"
The rest of the story:
Your suitcase may charge your phone, but that's useless if it's not allowed on a plane: Why You Shouldn't Buy 'Smart' Luggage by David Grossman (Popular Mechanics).

Follow up: Raden and Bluesmart are already gone: Smart luggage firms close because of airline battery rules (BBC News).

On The Road: America's oldest restaurants


Talk about a roadtrip!

The Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the U.S. The doors have always been open to diners since 1826.



These eateries are local legends; some are national treasures: The Oldest Restaurant In Every State by Hannah Doolin (Delish)

da da da dum

Beethoven's 5th Symphony premiered in Vienna on Dec. 22, 1808.

Budget tips

Bikes in Los Angeles' Griffith Park cost only $1 for an hour of use, compared for example to the walk-up fee for the Metro or Santa Monica bike-share systems, which each charge about $7 to use a bike for an hour.

Rental bikes now available in Griffith Park — and they're a steal by Meghan McCarty Carino (KPCC)
(photo: John Gabree)

Annual Being Human Festival returns to the UK



This year’s festival is taking place nationally 17 – 25 November 2017. "Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world." In this its 4th year, Being Human will host over 300 events in 54 towns and cities across the UK, engaging the public with big questions, big debates and innovative activities focused around the theme of "hope and fear."

https://beinghumanfestival.org/us/