Yes, it’s come to this. Among the news items that caught our eye this week was a note from our friends at Skift that Airbus is conceding to the realities of current air travel by applying for a patent on a sort of virtual-reality headrest that engulfs your head at takeoff.
Regardless of your thoughts on the necessity of having a device take you out of the flying experience because the flying experience has become so intolerable, we have certainly come a long ways from cross-country flights with Pullman-like sleeper berths, and “I’m Cheryl. Fly Me.”
Otherwise, the best travel writing of the week tends to be longer in form. And why not? The days of breezy summer reading are receding into the past. It’s time for heavier, meatier fare – the stews and pot pies of travel content as opposed to the gazpachos and the light, thin soups.
Enough of that metaphor, because Fathom delivered this week with one of the most well-thought-out guide-type pieces we’ve seen in some time, a reasonably complete guide to honeymooning in Italy. So who honeymoons in Italy? You’ll want to after reading this piece – even if you’re already married. Fathom absolutely nails its advice on how to see Rome’s most famous (and crowded) landmarks. And if there’s anything cuter than a big-bootied Italian microcar with “Just Married” painted in the back window, we haven’t seen it.
Every now and then a travel brand delivers content that’s more than just self-serving hoohah. We’ve been known to do it on occasion (though not necessary right this second). And British travel agency Cox & Kings is excellent at it. Its magazine, Compass, is an object lesson in how to tell travel stories and promote a travel brand without compromising too much in either direction.
(Brands make this a lot harder than it is, by the way. Traveling is joy – at least, it should be. How difficult can it be to create content that celebrates something that people love to do, yearn to do, save and scrimp and eat PB&J weeks on end to do? Evidently, it can be real difficult.)
The latest issue of Compass is a particular joy, with its pieces on the Eastern & Oriental Express, Cape Horn, Indian cuisine, and Istanbul’s art treasures, bracketed by shorter pieces on northern Quebec, WWI battlefields, and the London tube. Compass is free, and it’ll make you want to stick the pup in a kennel and take off and travel. What more could you ask for from great travel writing and photography?
Finally, one thing you don’t often find in travel writing is breakneck speed. Even if trips are rapid, the writing describing them tend to be pretty leisurely, given over to filling adjectives and rich desserts.
That’s what makes Jeff Gordiner’s piece “In Search of the Perfect Taco” from T, The New York Times magazine, so refreshing. The piece follows renowned Scandinavian chef Rene Redzepi as he crashes through the Yucatan searching for the taco of the (clichéd) title. Redzepi turns out to be relentless in his willingness to follow his obsession with the flavors of the jungle wherever they may lead him – which in his case turns out to be quite a ways off the beaten path. Very fun, in a sort of ‘60s New Journalism way.
Hope you approach your particular travel obsession with the same sort of single-minded joy as Rene Redzepi. We do. Unfortunately, crossing Nebraska on a riding lawn mower isn’t quite as exciting as taco-hunting in the Yucatan. But we try.
See you Wednesday.