Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Dear Media, We Need to Talk

Video on how media should cover a mass murder

I am not the person to write about What Happened last Friday. I am a travel blogger and when I am not traveling, I am trying to make people laugh. Expect what follows to be slightly off topic and serious.  One travel’s greatest gifts is the ability to look at your own country through a long lens – see its beauty, as well as its flaws.

The USA gets a lot right. And a lot wrong.

I will not use the location or the keywords associated with What Happened because it is not my intention to use it to bolster my blog readership and I am absolutely disgusted by anyone who would do so.

I would like to tell reporters who shoddily covered What Happened exactly What I think of them.

Let me just say: I love the news. Previously, I worked as a journalist at several small newspapers. I think most journalists are honorable, heroic, worthy of medals for risking their lives to cover wars and conflicts in far off places while the rest of the world reads the stories from safe at home.

I think the world needs more good journalists to build bridges across the sky, to places and people we’d never know otherwise. I am a strong proponent of freedom of speech. I am vehemently anti-censorship.

HOWEVER, coverage of What Happened has been irresponsible and dangerous on multiple levels. Continue reading

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Bad Travel Writer! Stop That

travel writing tips, ice hotel quebec, quebec travel winter

It was cold. Inside the ice hotel. Like, really cold.

Good travel writers must push through their vague, cliché, and even racist presuppositions about a foreign place. ~Arron Hamburger,  The Matador Network

I found a French book club here in Seattle. I know, I can’t get much more pretentious, could I?

It would be easy to give up French, to let it slip from my memory here in Seattle and forget that I still can’t tell the difference in sound between an accent agiu or an accent grave or that yesterday, I said, “page soixante-dice-sept.” Embarrassing.

Now that I can make a decent sentence, I refuse to put French into storage with a pile of things I used to do: Breed swordtails. Play the flute. Drink vodka straight.

Anyway, we’re reading L’engime du Retour by Dany Laferrière. Even though I only understand about 70-80% of it sans dictionaire, I can tell the writing is beautiful.

He captures the perpetual snow of Montreal and contrasts it with the vibrant tropics of Haiti, his home country. Even thought the words aren’t in my native tongue, I am right there with the author, watching the snow collect on windowsills in Montreal or birds fly overhead in Haiti.

I may never be able to capture a place the way he does, but  I have learned through trial and error (mostly error) what not to do when it comes to travel writing. I put together a list to help some of you break into this glamourous world of small paychecks and (sometimes) free hotel rooms. Continue reading


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The Future of Travel Writing

kobe beef sliders, restaurant review writing

Small bites for small travel writers

I am teaching a travel writing workshop to kids.

About three minutes in, I discovered I am woefully out-of-touch with young travellers.

I started the workshop with things to look for in a restaurant. Maybe it’s a Seattle thing, but these junior foodies were super smart, super opinionated, and super aware of allergies. I was underprepared for Seattle kids and thought they would be younger versions of me, pint-sized pizza enthusiasts who could easily digest cheese and bread.

They’re awesome, that’s for sure. Respectful, fun, and hilarious. But way different than me.

When I was a kid, when we ate out it was at McDonald’s or Beggar’s Pizza, a pizzeria in my old neighborhood. Sometimes my dad would bring me to real Mexican restaurants. By real I mean, the menu included brains and tongue. Not in the same taco because then one might as well just put a cow’s head into a tortilla and call it a day.

I wasn’t really concerned with authenticity or local food or even bad service. Just as long as I didn’t have to eat brains. Continue reading


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Quebec City in Cuisine & Clouds

I am finally finished with The Project from both heaven and hell. Funny, just as I finished, a month of 12-hour days, hunched at the computer, I read a forum where this lady said:

How can I get a job like Rick Steves and and Samantha Brown, travel around the world, and be PAID for it?”

If the forum wasn’t four-years old, I would reply: There is no job like that. And also, although I like Rick Steves, I am pretty sure Samantha Brown has no idea w-t-f she’s doing. Now Anthony Bourdain…

(Side note: Rick Steves and Expedia rejected me, so really, there is no job like that, even for me who has been travel writing for 2 years now.)

I also don’t REALLY travel the world, I expatriated and became a specialist in one specific region.

Travel writing, especially guidebook writing is A LOT of hard work. So please, think of us writers next time you toss a guidebook in the garbage. I like to save them, take notes on them, sort of like a journal of the trip. I imagine if you’re creative enough, you can make a cool collage or poster out of their innards.

I understand eventually, they’ll get tossed or (hopefully) recycled, but I hope people really appreciate and use them. Unlike with certain review sites, the writers are (theoretically) trained to taste-out the best restaurants, sniff out the best hotels.

Also, please don’t say, I Could Do Your Job. It’s insulting, like I just waltzed into it with no prior experience. The devaluation of writers is something I plan to tackle in a future post.

Travel writing, by far, with the exception of literary writing, the most rewarding type of writing I’ve ever done. I enjoy getting rid of restaurants who are obviously serving terrible food. And replacing those with ones I know visitors will have a great experience.

Here is a photo narrative of Quebec City cuisine.

Quebec City in Cuisine and Clouds

Want to look like a brilliant photographer? Take more aerial shots and stop using Instagram!

 

If you don’t like croissants, I question your status as a human.

 

Food porn, Quebec City restaurants

The best fish ever. Salmon in a cranberry sauce.

 

All baguettes should be presented like this.


Continue reading


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Confessions of a Former Hater

haterade, hateraide

I drank this during most of my early twenties. Must have been haterade.

Confession: I used to be a HATER. For those who don’t know what a hater is, the Urban Dictionary, (the place where I find all my mad slang) describes it as this:

A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person. Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesnt really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch.

I feel like, in general women haters hate on other women more so than they hate on men. Why?

Do we view men as naturally smarter than us and assume they’re just going to beat us in everything anyway? Do we view women as competition? Is it a problem of directness because we don’t want to hurt feelings? It’s not just writing, it’s with many things. Motherhood, I’ve heard is rife with hate, judgement, and mid-wife vs. doctor wars. I am as feminist as they come, and I too have been lost in the ugly bog of criticism. (Do I really hate her, or do I hate her because I want to be her?)

I have also been the subject of this brutal adult bullying. Your friends don’t talk to you anymore, but don’t tell you why. Your coworker starts picking apart everything you do. Someone calls you Hitler in an anonymous comment.

It Started with a Lightbulb

I’ll bring you back to five or six years ago to my first full-time writing job, when I spent eight hours a day writing catalog descriptions of lamps. Our office was housed in a mustard-yellow-and-burnt-orange building flanked on both sides by railroad tracks. We sat in gray cubes and the office lighting was dim. Picture me, hunched over my desk under florescent fixtures that were clogged with the carcases of flies. You think, being the headquarters of a lighting store, they would have at least sprung for swivel-head desk lamps, but NO.

(This, in case you haven’t guessed, is my uphill-in-the-snow story). Continue reading


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My War Against Weak Words

Bees pollination lavendar

Just a wee bee. Aren’t we all?

I decided to eliminate a number of words and phrases from my vernacular.

I think

I will never write “I think” in a work-related email again. I didn’t realize how weak it made me seem. Especially if I use it when I don’t think, I know. Would you rather take directions from someone who said, “I think the store is that way” or, “the store is that way?”

French eliminated superfluous words from my vocabulary, because well, my French vocabulary is so limited. In French, I will say, Oui! After everything. When I am explaining something, most of the “likes” are replaced with “uhhh” as I struggle to find the word in French. If I let an “uhhh” linger too long, the person will just start speaking English to me. That feels like getting kicked in the chins.

I did get in a bad habit of saying, “Je pense.” Beaucoup.

Ps. did you know, ponce (how I want to spell it) is British slang for a pimp?

Think about I Think in a professional context. Who wants I Think Sheryl managing a department or business?  “I think we’re about to go bankrupt.” “I think we should lay-off Jerry.” “I think this ad campaign will get us more revenue.” Way to fill us all with confidence there. Continue reading


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Travel Writing on the Road

travel writing tips

This is me on vacation (smiling)

 This is me on work (smoking)

(The 1960’s version of me smokes. Judge away!)

I am here. In Quebec, four months after I moved. What am I doing at this exact moment? Sitting in a plush, King-sized bed, surrounded by pillows and chocolates like a Sultan.

Jealous? Don’t be.

This is the part of travel writing everyone knows: The food. The comps. The attractive, overly-attentive staff who hang on your every bite.

The power is exhilerating. I must tell you.

But before you quit your office job, remember this is actual work and takes a lot of patience, attention to detail, and very strong calves. And that the perks make up for a very significant lack in pay. Continue reading