Banished to Australia

Banished to Australia

There’s a brand new series being released by the BBC early this month, Banished, inspired by events in the eighteenth century when Britain established a penal colony in Australia.

At its heart, Banished is a story of survival.

Though it is set in the stark historical reality of the penal colony of Australia in 1788 after the arrival of the First Fleet, Banished is not the story of Australia and how it came to be. The series depicts tales of love, faith, justice and morality played out on an epic scale in a confined community where the stakes are literally life and death.While no doubt reality held all these elements, there’s so much depth to the history of this time, and what it means to contemporary Australia.

One of our most popular series at Pilot Productions is A Short History of the World: Convict AustraliaIf Australia is of interest, you too might be fascinated by its evolution; the people, cultures, and when those who were ‘banished’ met with the original keepers of the land.

Watch on demand now.

Happiest place in America?

Happiest place in America?

This week, The Huffington Post announced that Alaska is pretty much the happiest place in America! This beautiful destination offers the highest level of well-being of all the US states. The data measured five categories across all 50 states – purpose, social support, financial status, community and physical health, and Alaska scored tops in all of the above.

Alaska beat out rivals for the top 5 - Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. But we already knew this place was special – have you seen the episode when Ian visited?


Feature image by Doug Brown.

Globe Trekker Top 10 of 2015

Globe Trekker Top 10 of 2015

It’s a brand new year and you know what that means… plenty of amazing destinations to dream about and explore! At Globe Trekker HQ we’ve put our heads together to compile a list of ten places we believe are worth adding to your bucket lists in 2015.


The Globe Trekker top 10 of 2015 locations to get excited about! 



For its colour, music and vibe; now is the time to visit this interesting spot, the largest of all islands in the Caribbean.


It’s a value-for-money destination brimming with culture and extraordinary experience options.


Greece is back, and this wonderful island is full of sights, tastes and sounds that simply make all travellers swoon with delight.


An undiscovered paradise; so sublime, you have to see it to believe it.


An under-rated corner of Europe; interesting, historical and enchanting.

Globe Trekker top 10 2015



A magical destination that never fails to win over the hearts of those who travel there.


Fascinating for all travellers, Tunisia comes complete with ancient history, interesting people, bright bazaars and a truly multicultural blend of intrigue.


An amazing place to visit, and a land where, for the moment, it doesn’t seem quite as dangerous compared with other more turbulent parts of north and east Africa.


We love this city’s cool and historical vibe; one of our favourite American destinations boasting plenty to see, do and learn.

Historic Walks appHeading to Washington? Pop our Historic Walks app on your Apple device and enjoy a self-guided tour down “memory lane”. Click here to get it now.



Colourful and crazy (in all the right ways); Delhi is a must-do this year.

Can’t view slideshow? Click here. Globe Trekker Top 10 of 2015 // images via Flickr creative commons // music Globe Trekker ‘Streets of Baghdad’


Where would you love to travel to this year? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter #GlobeTrekker


Feature image: by Moyan Brenn, Iceland

Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde

Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde

On the international radar this week is Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa. Pico do Fogo is the highest peak of Cape Verde, rising to nearly 3000 metres above sea level.

The main cone of this active volcano on the island of Fogo last erupted in 1675, although an eruption causing several deaths occurred in 1847, and a subsidiary vent last erupted in November 1995 – until this week, early December 2014, nineteen years later.

During the week locals have been fleeing the area, carrying what they can and monitoring the situation closely; the Sentinel-1A satellite has been feeding back images to authorities also.


Zoe Africa

Globe Trekker‘s Zoe Palmer visited the region and actually climbed this volcano. Read about it here, or watch the episode… 




Feature image by Caroline Granycome, Flickr creative commons.

Globe Trekker New On DVD

Globe Trekker New On DVD

Need gift-giving inspiration? We’ve got you covered!



Globe Trekker Switzerland 

Switzerland Globe Trekker on DVD

Join Brianna Barnes in Switzerland! Explore the pristine beauty, rich history, and fascinating people of this small yet vastly intriguing destination.

Brianna’s exciting Swiss journey begins in French-speaking Geneva. Travelling by train to the lakeside town of Vevey, she visits Charlie Chaplin’s house and enjoys locally made Swiss wine. From the alpine village of Riederalp, she then hikes the grueling Gemmi Pass before heading to Interlaken where she enrolls in a local dramatic performance and revels in the inspiring landscape.

She then travels to the medieval capital Bern, and to Lake Lucerne, where she is guided around a top secret military fortress. Heading back to the Alps, Brianna visits Devil’s Bridge, the major obstacle to crossing the Alps at the Gotthard Pass, and takes the Glacier Express from Andermatt to Chur.

From Chur she travels to the Swiss capital Zurich, and ends her journey in pastoral Appenzell, where yodeling farmers lead their cattle down from alpine pastures, signifying the end of summer. –Buy it here


Globe Trekker Central Japan

centraljapan-3Join Megan McCormick on a journey of discovery across Japan’s spectacular heartland!

Starting in Japan’s beautiful former capital Kyoto, Megan immerses herself in the culture of this island nation. She explores Buddhist temples, World Heritage Sites, and bargains at the city’s best flea market. She then learns the art of Zen meditation and visits the Gion district, home to many of Kyoto’s few hundred remaining Geisha.

She then travels by train to bustling Osaka, and Iga-Ueno, a former ninja stronghold, where she partakes in a “ninja for a day” contest and learns the secrets of these famously skilled assailants. Continuing by train through the Japanese Alps, and by ferry to the remote Sado Island, Megan embraces unique traditions, stunning landscapes, and tasty street food. Finally, in Himeji, she witnesses a dramatic fighting festival, involving a ‘battle’ between heavy portable shrines carried by local villagers in loincloths. –Buy it here


Globe Trekker: World War 1 The Western Front

worldwar1-3Join Zay Harding in this Globe Trekker special as he travels across Northern France and Belgium, visiting key World War 1 locations on the Western Front.

Zay’s journey begins in the town of Meaux, 25 miles from Paris. He then travels to the illuminatingConfrecourt quarries, where French troops took shelter as battles raged on above them.

Zay visits some of the most significant battle sites of the Great War, including Verdun andFromelles.

Outside of Paris, he witnesses an exhilarating air show featuring World War 1 planes. Finally, at Mons in Belgium, Zay visits the poignant St. Symphorien cemetery, where some of the last of the 10 million soldiers to die in the war are buried. –Buy it here



Not what you’re after? Browse the store here for the complete Globe Trekker collection on DVD.



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Globe Trekker in Poland

Globe Trekker in Poland

It’s 20 years in the making, but Globe Trekker has finally visited Poland to make the first full one hour show about  a country that is maybe not (yet!) on top of the world’s travel destinations.


The travel route took presenter, Megan McCormick, and crew from the south-western border with the Czech Republic to the border with Belarus, where Megan enjoyed the last stretches of the journey in a kayak paddling along the Augustow Canal with formidable guide, Agnieszka Zyzalo.

Dwarf hunting in Wroclaw, amber fishing at the Baltic sea shore, Malbork Castle, the educational park in Kashuby, Wolf’s Lair and Czermna Skull Chapel were as much part of the program, as were a healthy number of Polish food and vodka tastings!

A whirlwind stop at the Blow Up Hall 5050 and a fantastic day with the Polish Hussaria made it a trip to remember… most of it is down to the kind and super efficient support of the Polish Film Commission in Warsaw and in Wroclaw, as well as dedicated individuals such as Malbork curator Marek Stokowski, amber artist Zbigniew Strzelcyk, Andrzej Dawidowski and the ever so brilliant Jaroslaw Struczynski from Gniew Castle… thank you all!

Behind the scenes of Globe Trekker in Poland…

Globe Trekker Poland 1 Globe Trekker Poland 2 Globe Trekker Poland 4 Globe Trekker Poland 5 Globe Trekker Poland 6 Globe Trekker Poland 7 Globe Trekker Poland 8 Globe Trekker Poland 9 Globe Trekker Poland 10

Exploring Russia’s Ice Trains with Zay Harding

Exploring Russia's Ice Trains with Zay Harding

It’s the second leg of our Tough Trains series – we’ve tackled Bolivia with Zay Harding, travelling from Brazil’s Pantanal to the Pacific coast of Chile bringing you snapshots from some of the most beautiful terrain in South America taking in the local Llamas, the majesty of the Andes and more.

Our next stop is Russia’s Ice Trains!

Russia’s trains travel along 85,500km of track, crossing 11 time zones.  In the cold and often brutal Russian winters, these trains persist against the freezing weather, travelling into Siberia and beyond.  We travel from the capital city of Moscow and head north to Stalin’s cruellest and most ambitious project – the Rail-Road of Death – before ending on the world’s most northern railway.  With average temperatures around -20/-30 degrees and ice at every turn, there’s nothing easy about Russian trains.

Check out Zay’s Globe Trekker photo diary taken on the road while filming Russia’s Ice Trains:

@globetrekker A quick stopover in #Moscow and I'm off to #Siberia. Should be there in 3 hours.

@globetrekker A quick stopover in #Moscow and I’m off to #Siberia. Should be there in 3 hours.


Looking over Russia's famous Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest train line in the world! #globetrekker #TSR #tyumen #siberia #russia #prettyamazing

Looking over Russia’s famous Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest train line in the world! #globetrekker #TSR #tyumen #siberia #russia #prettyamazing


Simple shot from out my window. I feel like I'm in an #AnselAdams picture. #GloriousDay #tyumen #siberia #russia #globetrekker

Simple shot from out my window. I feel like I’m in an #AnselAdams picture. #GloriousDay #tyumen #siberia #russia #globetrekker


Walkway up to the beautiful #TobolskKremlin and #StSophiaAssumptionCathedral #tobolsk #siberia #globetrekker #russia #friggincold

Walkway up to the beautiful #TobolskKremlin and #StSophiaAssumptionCathedral #tobolsk #siberia #globetrekker #russia #friggincold



@globetrekker #Tobolsk is the historical capital of #Siberia, built at the confluence of 2 rivers that stay frozen NINE months of the year! I saw MAC-TRUCKS driving across the ice today! #crazycold

@globetrekker #Tobolsk is the historical capital of #Siberia, built at the confluence of 2 rivers that stay frozen NINE months of the year! I saw MAC-TRUCKS driving across the ice today! #crazycold



Saw these cute homemade Siberian Cat dolls sitting in a cafe window. Almost thought they were real! #catsofinstagram #siberia #russia #craftycats

Saw these cute homemade Siberian Cat dolls sitting in a cafe window. Almost thought they were real! #catsofinstagram #siberia #russia #craftycats


It just started snowing! I swear I feel like I'm in a winter wonderland dream here!

It just started snowing! I swear I feel like I’m in a winter wonderland dream here!


@globetrekker With special permission, after a 26 hour train ride north into the Arctic, I have arrived at one of Russia's biggest gas fields. It is WAY colder than it looks here! #toughtrains #russia #crazycold

@globetrekker With special permission, after a 26 hour train ride north into the Arctic, I have arrived at one of Russia’s biggest gas fields. It is WAY colder than it looks here! #toughtrains #russia #crazycold


Back in the 1960's this was the very site that the first exploratory drilling hole struck an OCEAN of GAS!!! Still today, 90% of Russia's gas supply comes from this finding. #globetrekker #toughtrains #gasfields #russia

Back in the 1960′s this was the very site that the first exploratory drilling hole struck an OCEAN of GAS!!! Still today, 90% of Russia’s gas supply comes from this finding. #globetrekker #toughtrains #gasfields #russia


Snow plow trains run 24/7 so passenger trains such as this one can run regardless the extreme weather. BTW, it's -20 C (-4 F). No problem! #globetrekker #toughtrains #russia #crazycold

Snow plow trains run 24/7 so passenger trains such as this one can run regardless the extreme weather. BTW, it’s -20 C (-4 F). No problem! #globetrekker #toughtrains #russia #crazycold


Globe Trekker is in Japan!

Globe Trekker is in Japan!

We have just finished filming another brand new Globe Trekker episode and this time we are in Central Japan with Megan McCormick.

We have explored Kyoto, Osaka, Iga-Ueno, followed Samurai Warriors in battle, trained with Ninjas at a famous fighting school, learned how to play traditional Japanese drums, transformed into a Geisha and have been transported into the future with sci-fi cars and robots!

Here are some snaps from our trip!

In Nagoya, home of Toyota, which has teams of engineers dreaming up new inventions.  Company planners believe that one-person vehicles are the wave of the future.  This is the i-Unit, one of Toyota’s latest inventions.



In Osaka, one of Japan’s many very crowded cities, in a Cat Café.  There are quite a lot of these in the city (and elsewhere in Japan) designed to satisfy the ‘pet needs’ of the many Japanese people who live in apartment blocks where it is forbidden for residents to keep pets (so that they don’t annoy or disturb the neighbours – Japan being a society where people are always worrying about what other people think, putting society before self).



In Kyoto, at the Toei Movie Studio Theme Park, is the cheapest place in Kyoto where you can get dressed up as a Geisha




Megan enters a Ninja contest near Iga-Ueno (in Koga) in which people can indulge the popular Japanese fantasy of being a Ninja for the day.  Around 100 contestants took part.  Some take it seriously, but most are in it just for a bit of Sunday afternoon fun!



Sado island is the home of the world-famous traditional Japanese drumming group Kodo.  The former schoolhouse in Iwakubi houses 20 or so apprentices who spend two years living and practising in the hope of being accepted into the group at the end of two years training.


The Venice Carnival: Ten Experiences Not to Be Missed

The Venice Carnival: Ten Experiences Not to Be Missed

To one side of you stands a cloaked man, cheering jovially, to the other a woman resplendent in sequins and satins and feathers, dancing to the beat of the music; and beyond – thousands of similarly masked revellers. Where are you? Venice, of course, at its most vibrant and theatrical and romantic of world carnivals.  Author and seasoned reveller – Hannah Fielding shares her top ten Carnival experiences to add to your ‘must do’ list.

Top Tips for Venice Carnival

  1. Book tickets for one of the many Carnival balls – with themes from burlesque to masquerade to enchantment, there’s a party to suit all tastes.
  2. Visit Ca’ Macana, the shop of the best mask maker in Venice. All masks are handmade, and the artistry is exquisite. Buy for yourself one of the classic Carnival masks, such as the Colombina or the Bauta.
  3. Sample a Carnival speciality from one of the street vendors whose wares perfume the air such to make your stomach rumble. The cakes are divine, especially the warm and sweet frittelle Veneziane filled with zabaione cream.
  4. Watch a local beauty pageant winner zip-wire from the Campanile bell tower in the traditional Volo dell’Angelo (Flight of the Angel).
  5. Visit the Arsenale to take in a historical show, live music concerts, street artist performances and, it’s promised, ‘dancing fountains’!
  6. Head to St Mark’s Square to see the parade for the daily Best Masked Costume Competition (enter yourself, if you’re so inclined; the theme is ‘La Natura Fantastica’).
  7. Drink in the romantic atmosphere in St Mark’s Square as you watch sultry tango dancers perform on the Gran Teatro stage.
  8. Brush up on your art history with a free guided tour and talk at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection art museum. This year’s Carnival exhibition is ‘The Empire of Light’.
  9. Embrace the last vestiges of winter with ice-skating in the Campo San Polo. Costume optional!
  10. Join the throngs alongside the Grand Canal for the closing event of the Carnival: a water-borne procession of costumed Venetians on decorated boats and classic gondolas. Be sure to take a camera – this is one spectacle you’ll want to record. (more…)

A Conversation With Globe Trekker Presenter Megan McCormick

A Conversation With Globe Trekker Presenter Megan McCormick

Whenever I need a little escape but can’t get out of town, I fire up an episode or two of “Globe Trekker” so I can live vicariously through the adventures of travellers like Megan McCormick. Since she started hosting the show in 1997, she’s taken viewers to the Greek Islands, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Micronesia, India, the Silk Road and a host of other exotic locales.

“Globe Trekker,” shown in the U.S. on PBS, is my favourite travel show because it focuses on real travellers experiencing slices of local cultures, not sightseeing. McCormick is my kind of traveller. Her enthusiasm for the places she visits is infectious and you can’t help but conclude that she’d be a fun person to travel with. She got the travel bug in college and has found a way to make a living out of her wanderlust.

McCormick has lived in three U.S. states plus Argentina, Japan, Spain and the U.K., but says she’s now settling down in New York. We spoke to her this week about her favourite places, how she balances family life with her nomadic lifestyle and how she landed her dream job.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Ohio but I was mostly raised in Florida. I first came to New York when I was 12 and I remember feeling this tremendous sigh of relief because I didn’t really fit in in Florida. I was this gawky, ballet-dancing geek who never went in the sun.

Megan-McCormick-in-PortugalWere you a traveler growing up?

I grew up with a giant map of the world and a subscription to National Geographic. That was my mom’s influence. She had this wonderful wanderlust but we didn’t have the resources to travel very much. I studied abroad in France and after I graduated (with a degree from Boston University in philosophy and political science), I taught English in Japan through the JET program. And that was my first foray into traveling independently.

That was in the mid-’90s after I graduated from college. Then I stayed in Asia and backpacked around the region for almost a year and then I moved to New York. I saved a lot of money teaching in Japan and my dad said I should save that money and come home, but I didn’t do that dad, I didn’t! It’s been very hard for me to grow up and settle down.

Do you have a family?

I do. I’m married with kids now so that’s changed a lot. I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
My daughter traveled with me when she was really little and I just kept doing the show. My husband is in television as well, so we would alternate jobs to keep traveling. Then about two years ago, we alighted in Brooklyn and decided to put down roots here for a little while.

What does that mean?

I don’t know. It means we’ve stopped being peripatetic and moving from place to place. When “Globe Trekker” sent me to a location, especially in the early years, I was so excited; I would just stay. The crew would move on after we finished taping but I would stay. I was consistently away. In 2001, I was based in Barcelona and I thought I was missing too many moments in people’s lives, so I moved back to New York. Then I was in Argentina in 2008 for three years.


Wait a minute. I’m lost. Now you’re in Argentina? Your resume might be even more of a mess than mine.

I more or less backpacked most of the year until 2004 when my daughter was born, but I kept traveling for the first few years. In 2008, we went on vacation to Argentina for six weeks, but decided to stay. We ended up staying (in Mendoza) for three years but that wasn’t really the plan. That’s the beauty of working for yourself.

So how did you transition from backpacker to “Globe Trekker” host?

I had just moved back to New York and I was applying to grad schools for East Asian studies. I was a production assistant for “The News with Brian Williams.” I had some high level duties such as photocopying, ordering supplies and sending faxes. The whole time I was scheming to get out of there. I had a friend who was an actor and he saw this ad in an actor’s magazine announcing an audition for someone who loved to travel.

I’d never been on camera and had never been an actress, so instead of sending a headshot, I sent a collage of photos, kind of like an 8th grade book report. And I wrote a poetic, it’s-the-journey-that-matters kind of thing on the back of it. The director said she had never received a collage before and gave me an audition.

The first audition was great, but on the second one everything went wrong. We were wandering around Chinatown. A cat peed on me. I knocked over a fruit bin. I stumbled across a guy who was painting and he shouted at me like a crazy person and said I was stealing his soul.

It was a disaster but they called and said, “If you can leave in ten days, you’ll have one show and it’s in India.” This was in 1997. I think I’ve done 30-35 shows since then.

Do you know how many countries you’ve been to?

I should know that. My husband and I have a competition to see who’s been to more countries.

Who won?

He’s slightly ahead. He had some hard-to-get-to ones, which was very annoying. He did this great trip from Morocco to Mauritania, down to Nigeria. But I’ve done shows on six continents.

How long do you spend in-country when you’re filming?

We used to shoot for nearly three and a half weeks. But times have changed and budgets have changed. Travel has gotten easier. Now, depending on location, it might be two to three weeks.

And you take your family with you?

My daughter traveled with me until she was older. I’ve only done a few shows since my son was born. My husband would watch the kids while I was working but now he has a grown up job, so the kids stay here. Now that my daughter is in school the nomadic lifestyle is a little more challenging but I still go away every summer. I can’t stay still in the summer.

Megan Diving in MicronesiaOn the show, you stay in a mix of places. Sometimes it’s a $5 per night hostel, other times you’re in a really nice place, right?

It depends on the location. Generally we try to find unique places to stay that are affordable for most people. And those are usually the places that have the most character.

Tell me about one of the dodgier places you’ve stayed in?

A bed is a bed as long as there is nothing crawling in the mattress. I travel with a silk sleeping bag liner, just in case. But I did stay in a very strange, concrete hostel in the middle of nowhere in Inner Mongolia. The bathroom was outside and I went to find it in the middle of the night and I had to dodge two sheep and the bathroom was a hole in the ground over some pigs. There were pigs underneath; there were pigs! That was not a pleasant experience at all.

What are the countries you’re most passionate about?

I love Lebanon so much. And I’m also a big fan of Colombia.

What places do you recommend in Colombia?

I love cities, so I would check out Bogota and Cartagena. And from there, I would go to Santa Marta and then inland up into the mountains. If you like hiking, there is a five- or six-day hike into La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City. You’re into the jungle and there are indigenous people there who are incredible. And then there’s a beautiful island called Providencia, just off the coast with great beaches.

When you get bad weather do you wait it out or keep shooting?

Sometimes we wait 5-6 days for it to stop raining; other times, we work around it. Ian Wright was in Ireland recently and he said it rained 24 hours a day for days, but they just kept going though. I was in Myanmar for the show about three weeks ago. It’s an amazing country that’s in transition. The people are so lovely. We were there for Burmese New Year. They celebrate by shutting down the country for five days. They have a water festival, where they spray people with water or dump buckets of water on people. You have to have rain gear on because you’re going to get wet.

How many hours a day is the camera trained on you when you’re traveling?

It’s not a reality show so the camera isn’t on me all day long. But we film from sun up to sun down.

Have they ever asked you to wear something or do something that was a little too hokey?

Yes! I would say the entire South-eastern United States program. I think I wore more embarrassing outfits there than everywhere else but it was fun. I was decked out in an antebellum gown walking down some stairs, a Civil War dress, and I was in a cotillion dress dancing with a 16-year-old.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I’m going to Hokkaido in Japan for “Globe Trekker” and I also tried to make my own program, “Sea Nation.” We had a 12-part series where we gave up our normal lives in New York to live on a boat sailing around the Caribbean. It was incredible! We went to 25 different islands and met people from all walks of life. It was 2008, right at the beginning of the economic downturn, and we explored the idea – what can make you happy besides all the things we think will make us happy.

Megan-ChinaYou did this with your kids?

With my daughter, she was 4 at the time. She loved it! My son wasn’t born yet. We were at sea for about four months.

The show was on the Discovery Channel in Asia and a few places in Europe but it never found a home in the U.S. It’s with a sales agent now, so maybe something will happen with it. But there are 11 episodes available online or you can buy the DVD.

Do you consider your job a dream job?

If someone is organizing an opportunity for me to travel and paying me a small amount of money, I will never, ever complain about that. It’s been such a gift. Even the worst days, the day when they made a left instead of a right and we had to stay in the car in a desert for 14 hours, you still get funny stories. I can’t argue with anyone who says it’s a dream job

by Dave Seminara
(Original article appeared in