Where to experience the 2017 US Solar Eclipse

Where to experience the 2017 US Solar Eclipse

This summer, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical wonder will grace the US – a total eclipse, where the sun is blocked out by the path of the moon, will stretch out across the entire American mainland.

The first full solar eclipse since 1918, the line of totality will lead south and east across the country from Oregon to South Carolina, blanketing parts of 14 states in complete shadow for around two-and-a-half minutes on 21st August.

If you’re planning a trip to see this stunning phenomenon there’s a calendar of events brimming across the country to mark the occasion. Taking in stargazing parties, observatory tours and some of the country’s finest natural scenery through Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska, here are some of the best ways to celebrate the 2017 eclipse.


Lower falls of the Yellowstone River

Yellowstone National Park

Not under the path of the full eclipse, but Yellowstone’s a great place to head if you’re looking to spend a weekend beneath the stars. Spread across three states, the park fully lives up to its billing as one of the picks of the US’s natural beauty spots, with opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, fishing and horseback riding thrown in. You should squeeze in a visit to Old Faithful too – the world-famous geyser gets its name from the reliability of its eruptions, which unfold every 60 to 90 minutes.

As long as the weather’s clear, you’re in for a stunning show as just about anywhere at Yellowstone – with three full hours of the moon’s passage across the sun starting at around 10.15am and two minutes of 95% peak coverage timed for around 11.35am.

Snow King Mountain, Jackson

Yellowstone is not getting a complete eclipse, but nearby Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson, Wyoming are set to land the whole nine yards. The state’s astronomical society is duly pulling out all the stops, with two nights of events set to play out in the Jackson Hole valley over the weekend.

Visit the Snow King resort on Saturday and Sunday for presentations from astronomers and the chance to chat with astronaut Scott Altman, as well as expert demonstrations and a guided stargazing session. All this is bookended by the chance to take the chairlift up to the top of the resort and take in dramatic views of the night sky.

Wyoming Eclipse Festival, Casper

The people of Casper predict the moon will be throwing shade on them for a full two minutes and 26 seconds during the eclipse – a fine reason to throw a week-long festival in its honour. Located almost exactly on the centre of the path of totality – 280 miles from Jackson – Casper will be home to a fit-to-burst schedule of talks and workshops across its galleries and museums.

Stop by the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center for talks on all things starry, while AstroCon 2017 will pitch up at the Parkway Plaza with an all-day feast of talks and workshops, plus the chance to chat with eclipse experts. There are an array of public parks and open spaces, just about anywhere you pick in town will be the perfect spot for an unforgettable eclipse experience.

mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

South Dakota is away from the path of totality, but if you’re making the most of your US trip with a cross-country drive then it’s well worth pitching up between eclipse hot spots at one of the States’ most iconic man-made monuments.

Located within the beautiful surroundings of the Black Hills National Forest, the heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln are immortalised in granite, a tribute to the nation’s best-loved presidents.

Originally meant to serve as a head-to-waist portrait of its subjects, Mount Rushmore was completed in late 1941 after further funding fell through. But that won’t stop you marvelling at the work of dedicated craftsmen in celebrating some of history’s most vaunted figures.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The Badlands and Black Hills are just nearby Mount Rushmore, offering outdoor escapes along with a special treat for space fans. The Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater offers regular Night Sky viewing programmes at weekends, where rangers break out the telescopes and give visitors the chance to look out to the heavens.

With light pollution firmly out of the equation, in the Badlands it’s possible to spot the swirls of the Milky Way. With entire star clusters and nebulae visible from the park, take in the skies from an entirely new light within the intimate surroundings of an amphitheatre.

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska, USA, central cars

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska, USA, by Brian W. Schaller

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

Some say the awe-inspiring Stonehenge was built by druids in tribute to the almighty Sun; it lines up perfectly with the entrance on the Summer Solstice. Whatever its intentions, a neat parallel presents itself just three miles north of Alliance, Nebraska, in the form of the mysterious Carhenge.

Here a circle of cars in a similar formation to the stones at Salisbury, some standing on their rear ends with others laid across. Eccentric art project or mysterious ode to consumerism? Whatever your take, this unique construction is well worth a look.

As is happens, Carhenge is one of the prime viewing spots for the 2017 eclipse; with the skies set to go dark for a full two-and-a-half minutes at 11.49am local time. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to arrive early to nab a vantage point at perhaps the country’s quirkiest viewing spot.

Wherever and however you enjoy the eclipse, just remember never to look at the sun without appropriate safe eyewear.

main image: The progression of en:Solar eclipse of August 1, 2008 in Novosibirsk, Russia

This article was brought to us by Hertz car rental

Look up, it’s the super super moon!

Look up, it's the super super moon!

Internet legend suggests it was astrologer Richard Nolle who first came up with the term supermoon, which he defined as “… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit”.

Five years ago – when the closest and largest full moon fell on March 19, 2011 – many began using the term supermoon, which we’d never heard before. In the following years, we heard this term again to describe the year’s closest full moon on May 6, 2012, and again on June 23, 2013, and again on August 10, 2014, and yet again on September 28, 2015.

Whilst supermoon is an astrological term, the scientific name for the occurence is perigee-syzygy, but since supermoon is catchier the media use it to describe our celestial neighbour when it gets up close.

Astronomers call it a perigee full moon describing the moon’s closest point to Earth for any given month.

Today’s event is the biggest and best in a series of three super moons, the first of which was on 16 October and the third is due on 14 December.

The moon won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034.

In addition to today’s moon making the moon appear bigger and brighter in the sky, there will also be a “low hanging moon” effect; an optical illusion caused by the moon being close to the horizon making it easy to measure against familiar landmarks or objects such as trees or houses.

The full moon story:

To observers, the moon will appear approximately 7% larger than normal, around 15% brighter – although to the human eye this is barely discernable.

As the Moon traces its orbit around the Earth, we see different proportions illuminated by the Sun. Once in each orbit, our satellite is totally illuminated – a full moon.

And as the Moon orbits the Earth every 27 days or so, it travels in an elliptical or oval shape.

This means that its distance from our planet is not constant but varies across a full orbit.

But within this uneven orbit there are further variations caused by the Earth’s movements around the Sun.

These mean that the perigee – the closest approach – and full moon are not always in sync.

But occasions when the perigee and full moon coincide have become known popularly as supermoons.

To observers, the differences between a supermoon and a normal full moon are quite subtle.

Generally, supermoons can be up to 14% larger and 30% brighter, but only when compared with the furthest point the Moon gets to within its orbit.


main image by: Monday super moon shot by Rob Pettengill as part of his Austin Super Moonset


Travel ‘Appy Part 2: Connect

Travel 'Appy Part 2: Connect

Finding your bearings with the local currency, lingo and lay of the land is always a good idea and these are the apps you need…


Trip Advisor
TripAdvisor has flocked toward rising popularity with its honest user-based reviewers,
all critical of hotels, restaurants, tourist hotspots, and more. The user-based reflections show the
current number of reviews that like or dislike any location destination you’re heading towards. Users
are known to be brutally honest, keeping to their high standards. This gives you a sneak peek into
the best of what your destination has to offer, giving you a better chance for a more enjoyable
Available on iPhone (free), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)

When you’re getting lost in a new city but then come across a famous landmark
you’re unfamiliar with, what do you do? Google has an answer for you, yet again. GoogleGoggles is
an image recognition app that allows you to take pictures of famous landmarks and unknown
products, and will then redirect you to more information about your photograph. You will quickly
become the fascinating world traveller who can offer up historical information in seconds.

Available on iPhone (free) and Android (free)
Convertor Plus

To the avid traveller, converting money is not enough when it comes to visiting a
different country. All different units of measure have to be taken into consideration, which
Convertor Plus accomplishes. Convertor Plus has the most extensive list of currencies and units in
categories such as loan, tip, fuel consumption, temperature, and hundreds of others. This app also
includes a built-in calculator, making splitting the bill easy for once.
Available on iPhone (free) 

The iTranslate app makes translating clear, cut, and concise. iTranslate has continually
kept up with the millennial age as it continually revamps itself with a simplistic style on how to
communicate with other nations. With its ability to convert over 90+ languages, iTranslate can
translate over voice recognition, copied text, phonetic spelling, and much more. It will even speak
back to you with the correct pronunciation.
Available on iPhone (free), Android (free), and Windows Phone (free)

Wi-Fi Finder
Wi-Fi has become a necessity to access since data roaming charges keep rising. Wi-Fi
Finder allows you to look for a Wi-Fi hotspot using your GPS function on your phone. The app will tell
you where the exact location of the Wi-Fi hotspot and how to get there. In over 650,000 locations
and 144 countries, Wi-Fi Finder can help you save your data for real emergencies.
Available on iPhone (free) and Android (free)

Holy Robot Hotels! The Future Has Arrived!!

Holy Robot Hotels! The Future Has Arrived!!

“We will make the most efficient hotels in the world…in the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots.”

This is the vision of the service industry that Huis Ten Bosch company President Hideo Sawada shared at a news conference earlier this week  to announce the opening of Henn na Hotel within the Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan.

This is the future of robotics and the future is now…


The hotel is fully equipped with a startling array of robotic features such as automated receptionists, including an English-speaking dinosaur and a Japanese-speaking female android, facial recognition technology, rather than keys, is used at check-in and guests have to type their information into a touch panel, porter robots are used by tapping room numbers into their digital panel for delivery, giant robot arm usually seen in manufacturing helps guests store items at the hotel’s cloak room and sensors in the bedroom adjust the room according to body heat and also deliver weather forecasts.

It’s not just the functionality of the hotel that looks to the future, room prices are reasonably low compared to other high end hotels in Japan and potential visitors will have to bid for the price they are willing to pay. The highest one wins, although there will be an upper limit of ¥14,000 for a single room. The park’s founder Hideo Sadawa told reporters that having robot staff at the hotel is no gimmick as he said he wants to show how establishments can improve efficiency and lower labour costs.

The name of the hotel reflects how the hotel will “change with cutting-edge technology,” said a company official, “this is a play on words: “Henn” is also part of the Japanese word for change.”

Exciting times ahead, let’s just hope it turns out rosier than the outcome in the 1973 sci-fi classic Westworld.







To make booking your experience at other robot themed places in Japan easier and at best value contact:


25 Most Loved Countries

25 Most Loved Countries

We asked, and were answered in posts, pins and tweets!

Although there were hundreds of interesting, exotic and spectacular places all around the world that Globe Trekker fans voted for as those they long to revisit, some countries/regions shone bright as the places that stirred the soul the most.

Because we were inspired by the feedback, we decided to compile the 25 most loved countries/regions into a special list. Did your favourite make the final cut?

To see something-2 sm


as voted by fans of Globe Trekker

25. The Czech Republic, with its fairy-tale like towns and cities and plethora of things to do – it’s no wonder this region of the world made it into the top 25 most loved.

25 CR Prague by Moyan Brenn

Image by Moyan Brenn, Prague, Flickr

Globe Trekker – Czech Republic and Southern Poland – Trailer from Globe Trekker on Vimeo.

24. Brazil, for its wondrous landscapes and the people’s zest and passion!

24 Brazil by Muzzanese

Image by Muzzanese, Christ the Redeemer, Flickr http://tiny.cc/2glxpx

23. Egypt, ancient and unforgettable – a destination on most people’s bucket lists, and those who see its famous landmarks are not disappointed.

Egypt - Pilot Productions

Globe Trekker – Egypt – Trailer from Globe Trekker on Vimeo.

22. France, romantic and historical, from its smallest of towns to classic Paris.

22 France - Paris - 1-2

22 France - Paris - Globe Trekker

Globe Trekker – Paris

21. Germany – a country that constantly surprises; it’s clean, intriguing and cultural – always a pleasure to visit.

21 Germany-2

20. Iceland, apparently home to some of the happiest people on earth! It’s also a destination that makes plenty of visitors very cheerful, so much so, they can’t wait to return.

20 Iceland by Moyan Brenn

Image by Moyan Brenn, Iceland

19. Austria, in the heart of Europe and loved for its awe-inspiring landscapes and romantic culture. It’s also renowned for being an easy, safe place to travel.

19 Austria-Hallstatt

18. England, for its gorgeous villages and cool cities, London in particular – it’s called Cool Britannia for a reason.

19 England - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

17. Japan – a wonderful combination of centuries-old tradition and futuristic technology. The people are polite, food is delicious, and it’s simply a fascinating place to be.

17 Japan

Globe Trekker in Japan

Globe Trekker – Japan: Tokyo to Taiwan – Trailer from Globe Trekker on Vimeo.

16. Switzerland – just as beautiful in summer as winter, and renowned as being one of the most picturesque regions of the world. The fondue’s pretty good too! It’s easy to find things to smile at on an adventure here.

16 Switzerland

Globe Trekker, Switzerland

15. Burma, also known as Myanmar, has become a mecca for travellers in recent years; temples, gardens, beauty and friendly people are just a few of the reasons why this place holds a special spot in the hearts of travellers.

15 Burma Mindat - Munn women & Megan

Globe Trekker in Burma

14. Chile, it’s a land of extreme landscapes, from deserts to glaciers; there’s a thousand amazing things to see and do, and then some. Chile is intoxicating and offers travellers adventure and amazement – a no-brainer for our top 15.


13. Argentina – beautiful people and intriguing sites; food, culture, shopping and colour!

13 Argentina

12. Israel, it’s a land steeped in history and holiness, and those who have visited and fallen in love with the place hope one day everyone can experience the Israel that’s intrigued them so.

12 Israel Wailing Wall by Daniele Giovannoni - Creative Commons

11. Croatia, a part of the world that is becoming increasingly popular for its enchanting towns and cities, dramatic landscapes, glorious beaches and island experiences.

11 Croatia

10. Portugal, with its warmth, delicious food and picture-perfect landscapes – it’s the destination of choice for countless people keen to spend summer by the water, and it leaves a positive mark on most who drop in for a visit.

10 Flikr-Creative-Commons-Trams-in-Portugal-by-gilfman1-640x280

9. Thailand – exotic and unique, loved as much for its relaxing holiday options as it is for adventure-seekers. Many have made amazing memories in Thailand.

09 Thailand

8. Peru, with ancient wonders like Machu Picchu, extraordinary landscapes and friendly people (despite any language barriers); it’s a different world from what most of us are used to, but one that stays with us forever.

Peru by AllOverThePlanet

Image by AllOverThePlanet, Huayhuash Trek in Peru

1. Scotland – castles, lochs, Nessie. It may be a small country, but it’s full of wonders and beauty (and maybe even some fairies)!

07 Scotland - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Eilean Donan Castle, by Sarah Blinco

6. Australia – for many it’s so far away, yet it is an aspirational destination, and there’s nothing quite like seeing iconic Aussie animals and landmarks up close, which is why it is understandable so many voted this country as one they would love to return to.

06 Australia - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Image by Sarah Blinco

06 Australia -2 Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Image by Sarah Blinco

5. New Zealand – jaw-dropping landscapes and plenty on offer for those with an adventurous spirit; like Australia, NZ is a bucket-list item for many, and the country certainly never disappoints.

05 NZ-Landscape-by-jacksonkuo-Flickr-Creative-Commons

4. Spain, overflowing with everything that’s amazing, from food to architecture, colourful costumes and history – it definitely deserves a place in the top five of this special 25 most loved countries list, don’t you agree?

04 Spain Metropolis Barcelona

Metropolis – Barcelona – Trailer from Globe Trekker on Vimeo.

3. Italy – time and time again, this beautiful country was mentioned across the Globe Trekker community as a favourite. From the gelato to its bright, quirky and downright pretty spaces – Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona and everywhere in between. It’s easy to fall in love with (and in!) Italy. 

Italy by Moyan Brenn

Image by Moyan Brenn, Rome, Flickr

2. Ireland, without a doubt one of the most popular countries voted for when we asked Globe Trekker fans about their most loved destinations. The people are friendly and very funny (it’s easy to laugh and have fun), the countryside is beautiful and there’s music everywhere! Ireland most certainly is intoxicating.

02 Ireland-2

Romantic streets of Dublin, Sarah Blinco

Globe Trekker – Ireland – Trailer from Globe Trekker on Vimeo.

1. Greece, won the number one spot on this list by a mile. It seems great history teamed with all the addictive allure of the Mediterranean is a perfect recipe for holidays, travel-adventure and life-long memories. Here’s hoping we all get to go there (again) soon!

01 Greece 2

Athens, Greece by Sarah Blinco

What’s the one destination you long to go back to? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter #GlobeTrekker #lovetotravel

Compiled by Sarah Blinco.

Discover Scotland and a most celebrated poet

Discover Scotland and a most celebrated poet

Every year on January 25 (a Sunday in 2015), Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, is celebrated with traditional food, verse, music and of course, drink – officially, Burns Night.

Scotland boasts such a rich and interesting history, and you’ve told us it’s up there with one of your all-time favourite and/or bucket list destinations. Here’s a fascinating two minute clip on the origins of Burns Night, and the significance of the poet’s to Scotland and the world.


Do a little more travelling through Scotland while you’re here…

How does a Great Railway Journey from Scotland to Mallaig sound?


What is the Secret Portrait of the Prince? 

Finally, your day won’t be complete until you try something purely Scottish – here’s how to make your very own Deep Fried Mars Bars.


Discover Scotland

Fallen in love with Scotland yet? Discover more and plan your trip.


Photo credit: Feature image by Stephen McLeod Blythe

The world’s 10 best places to try tea

The world’s 10 best places to try tea

As half the world edges towards chilly days and crisp winter nights, we bet we’re not the only ones with a warm cuppa on the mind.

One of the great things about travel is discovering how others in the world experience aspects of life we often take for granted. Take tea for example. Types of tea are as varied as the ways to drink and brew them. Tea has such an interesting story, brimming with history and cultural flavour (pardon the pun), and in fact, discovering a little about tea wherever you travel will provide special insight into the history of the area on the globe where you are trekking.

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world next to water, so it stands to reason we should try it wherever we travel. Where are the best places to try tea then?


Best places to try tea - Japan - Globe Trekker


The 10 best places to try tea


Japanese people love tea, but more than that, tea is an important part of the food culture. Be specific when ordering in Japan though, because the term “tea” on its own refers to green tea, not black tea, which in Western society is more often than not what’s expected.

One of the most authentic experiences a traveller can seek in Japan is a visit to a tearoom or teahouse, and the chance to partake in a traditional matcha ceremony. Perfecting the elaborate “art” of preparing and presenting this powdered green tea (matcha) takes years of practice. Also known as “The Way of Tea”, the ceremony is one of grace and etiquette, influenced by Zen Buddhism. Certainly a beautiful, cultural experience and a delightful way to taste-test tea.



It’s unclear exactly when the tea leaf was discovered, although we do know tea plants are native to East and South Asia, and the earliest records of drinking tea as a beverage for pleasure (rather than for medicinal purposes) hail from China.

According to (one) legend, Chinese emperor and herbalist, Shennong (2737 BCE), who liked to drink water after it had been boiled, was served with a glass of water into which had fallen a leaf from a wild tea bush. No one had noticed the water’s colour turn brown, and after drinking the beverage and feeling refreshed, Shennong insisted on drinking more, and with that, cha (tea) arrived!

China cultivates many different types of tea, thanks in large part to the vast country’s varying climates. The art of making tea here is called Cha dao, which is widely accepted as being an important process which the Japanese adopted from their Chinese neighbours. One of the most interesting places to drink tea in China is the country’s only national tea museum in Hangzhou, where you’ll not only take pleasure in a fine cup of tea flavoured to your liking, but have the chance to learn about how it fits into the fabric of China’s history too.


best places to try tea - black tea



Indulge for a moment beyond the run-of-the-mill street cafe or home-brewed teabag, and enter a world of elegance and decadence − it’s the tea experience as only England can provide! Tea is always in demand in the UK – the Brits love it! However, afternoon is prime time, a ritual in fact, and what better way to try it than to treat yourself to a sitting at the famous Ritz or Claridge‘s in London? That said, there are hundreds of options across the country if these menus extend beyond your travel budget.

Apparently it was the seventh Duchess of Bedford who, in the early 1800s, grew weary coping with only two meals a day (as was custom at the time), so decided to take tea and a snack during the afternoon. Eventually friends joined her for this special time of day, and they enjoyed it so much that the idea spread.

While the origins of tea are often associated with Asian cultures, there’s also something very real and regal about the British experience, and we highly recommend you indulge too, if only just for one afternoon.



Over 400,000 tonnes of tea is produced in Kenya each year, making it the world’s third biggest producer of our favourite hot and healing beverage. Kenya specialises in producing and exporting black tea, and as one of the newer tea-producing regions of the world, has been able to learn from the experiences of other key producers and is now a major industry force on the international tea scene.

Kenya’s tea story began in 1903, when seeds from India were first planted on a small farm. The plantation flourished, and today you can enjoy Kenya’s specialty blends, which are usually bright in colour with a copper tint and characterised by a crisp, pleasant flavour.



Tea is culturally significant in Morocco, and is fundamentally linked with the locals’ sense of hospitality. Touareg tea, or Moroccan mint tea, is essentially comprised of sugar, fresh tea (usually strong Chinese green tea) and mint. There is a process to brewing this tea, and it is intriguing to watch as tea is poured into glasses from a height in order to swirl loose tea leaves to the bottom of the glass, while gently aerating the tea to develop flavour.

Tea here is served ceremoniously, as it is in Japanese teahouses, and when you try it you’re likely to be encouraged to take it three times – the first signifies “life”, second is “love, and the third, “death”. It is customary to drink each one in a leisurely fashion. This is definitely one of our favourite ways to immerse in a tradition that dates back to the mid 1800s – that’s when an enterprising merchant with a little left-over Chinese gunpowder green variety came across Morocco and discovered a market ready to be tantalised by tea!


best places to try tea - Globe Trekker



Arguably the contemporary home of tea, India not only produces but consumes more tea than anywhere else in the world. You can taste-test chai tea all over the place because it’s literally sold on every street corner.

Characterised by its sweet and spicy flavour, chai tea is not only refreshing and tasty, but comes complete with a legendary tale of discovery. As the story goes, Gautam Buddha was five years into the promise he made to his followers to stay awake and meditate for nine years. Understandably, after all that time without sleep he was feeling rather drowsy, but Mother Nature intervened and he began to involuntary chew on some leaves that had fallen from a nearby tree. He immediately felt rejuvenated, so collected more of the leaves to take with him on his journey, eventually turning them into tea. Gautam Buddha spread the good word on this tea to other monks across the land, so they too could make use of the brew which helped them to stay alert during meditation.

If you too love a good story with your cup of chai, then among many other amazing spots in India, you might enjoy a visit to the very interesting and beautiful Tea Museum in Munnar.



As Westerners actively seek a healthier way of being, tea has undergone a renaissance of sorts, particularly in the USA. In 2014 tea was voted as being one of America’s very favourite non-alcoholic beverages, and with approximately 1.42 million pounds of tea consumed here a day, it’s not surprising to learn there are some wondrous options to try in America while on your travels. Everything from Japanese green to Chinese oolong, and unique concoctions like Vanilla Roolbos and Jasmine Orange are on the menu.

Health benefits associated with many of these teas abound, but what you will need to be prepared for is cultural differences when ordering. Specify if you want hot tea, because iced tea is popular in the States. Cream is served with black tea on request, and it is tasty, perhaps a little sweeter than milk (if milk is what you’re used to). Honey or a slice of lemon usually comes with an order of black tea too. We advise being adventurous though − try something new if you eye a unique item on the menu.



It may surprise you to discover Russians love tea as much as they enjoy a spot of vodka, and their affinity with tea dates back to the mid 1600s. It was during this period that the Chinese ambassador to Moscow gifted several chests of tea to Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich, and as a result tea quickly became a highly desired import. Initially reserved only for the upper-class, tea is now enjoyed by all, and here, expect the flavour to be strong – and served with cake!

What’s often presented is zavarka (particularly as part of a tea ceremony), an intensely flavoured tea which is prepared in a teapot that allows a host to serve guests in several rounds. Locals suggest that if your zavarka is too strong, you will not offend by adding hot water to your cup, which enables better control of the intensity of flavour as you enjoy a nice chat with new friends.


best places to try tea - Globe Trekker - plantation



While travelling in sublime South America, you’ll inevitably be introduced to the local “tea”. It actually grows on a bush, and is called yerba maté, or simply maté. This national drink is an important part of everyday life, and is consumed morning, noon and night. Interestingly, the more you drink, the stronger the after-taste.

You may notice groups of friends passing a traditional gourd (or bottle/flask) with a metal straw around a dining table – this is usually filled (and refilled) with maté, and consuming the beverage in this way in a social setting is common. While it is an acquired taste (often described as a fusion of herbs, vegetables and grass, similar to that of some green teas), it is worthwhile having a sip (or few) as trying maté is a localised cultural experience and allegedly also comes with its own set of health benefits!


Sri Lanka

It’s the world’s fourth largest tea producing region, and you should seek out a fresh and delicious cup of ceylon while in Sri Lanka. It was in 1824 that the British transported a tea plant from China to Sri Lanka, or Ceylon as it was known. The little plant was left to prosper at the Royal Botanical Gardens in an area called Peradeniya. While this venture was non-commercial in nature, eventually it was recognised that tea was something which could thrive in the region. Indeed tea helped revive the area following the devastating collapse of coffee enterprises caused by a fungal disease (“coffee leaf disease”) which wiped out plantations. The local economy had been reliant on coffee production, but ironically tea was introduced around the same time as coffee disaster struck.

Records cite 1867 as the official birth year of the tea industry in these parts, which was when a gentleman by the name of James Taylor commenced work on a tea plantation in Ceylon. The rest, as they say, is history, and really, the only thing better than a heart-warming cup of tea is a good tale to accompany it.


Did you like this, or do you know someone else fascinated by history and a decent cup of tea? Then maybe our special presentation, The Story of Teawill take your fancy.

Planet Food Story of Tea


Compiled by Sarah Blinco

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 http://www.gadling.com/2013/06/24/travel-dream-jobs-a-conversation-with-globe-trekkers-megan-mcc/)

Globe Trekker Goes to Switzerland!

Globe Trekker Goes to Switzerland!

Chocolates, watches, cheese, famous physicists and beautiful Alpine scenery.  It can only mean one thing!  We are back on the road again and this time we are filming another brand new Globe Trekker episode with Brianna Barnes in…Switzerland!

We’ve got heaps of stories for you fans, from the Alpine Beard festival, the crazy Reideralp cow-pat festival, St Bernard dogs, all-year skiing in Zermatt, Alpine hikes, underground mountain vaults, rare timepieces and the theory of relativity – all packed into one exciting episode.  Not forgetting those quirky things that make the Swiss so memorable.  For instance, did you know owning a gnome is illegal in Zurich and if you try to mow your lawn after 10pm you could face jail time?

So keep you’re eyes peeled for more updates from the Globe Trekker team on the road!


Going up in the cable car over the Swiss Alps with Brianna Barnes Photo: Simon Buck

The View from the Cable Car.

The View from the Cable Car Photo: Simon Buck


The Winners of this year's Alpine Beard Festival

The winners of this year’s Alpine Beard Festival 2013

The competition was pretty fierce this year!

The competition was pretty fierce this year!


Hanging out with Charlie Chaplin


On top of the world at Interlaeken

The pretty town of Gruyere - home to the famous cheese.

The pretty town of Gruyère – home to the famous cheese.


The Swiss are crazy about timepieces. They even made a floral one!

Cern, Switzerland.  Being a physicist for the day

Cern, Switzerland. Being a physicist for the day


Daisy…Daisy…how does your garden grow…?

...By throwing shit all over the mountain.  Quite literally at the Reideralp Cow Pat Festival!

…By throwing shit all over the mountain. Quite literally at the Reideralp Cow Pat Festival! Photo: Simon Buck

You can still ski in the Swiss Alps in summertime - lucky Mountain rescue are still on hand to offer assistance!

You can still ski in the Swiss Alps in summertime – luckily, the Swiss Mountain Rescue team are still on hand to offer assistance!

The Mighty Matterhorn

The Mighty Matterhorn

On the Thomas Cook hiking trail

On the Thomas Cook hiking trail

Found a few Mountain Goats

Found a few Mountain Goats…

Found a couple more!

…Found a couple more!

hiking must have been pretty uncomfortable in the Victorian Days.  This si how Thomas Cook would have looked taking his group around the Alps!

Hiking must have been pretty uncomfortable in the Victorian Days. This is how Thomas Cook would have looked taking his group around the Alps!

filming inside a Swiss Bank in Zurich

Filming inside a Swiss Bank vault in Zurich

He who holds the keys to the bank vault....

He who holds the keys to the bank vault….