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The Best Travel Stories of 2010 on GoNOMAD

We'd like to recognize the very best stories of 2010. Selections of this kind are always a judgment call, but we decided to take the time to point out the stories that we feel best exemplify what GoNOMAD is all about.

That means getting to the heart of a destination, engaging with the people, experiencing the history and culture, sampling the cuisine and, last but not least, finding fun stuff to do

"As our founder Lauryn Axelrod put it, "Good travel writing is transformative, informative and thoughtful."It was a real task to make these selections from more than 280 articles published this year. We based our selections on writing, photography, and subject matter. We've divided our stories into two groups, ten from new writers and ten by our staff and regular contributors. They're in no particular order. Every choice was difficult, and we send heartfelt thanks to all our great GoNOMAD writers all over the world. All in all it's been just another year of top-notch travel writing on GoNOMAD.

Top stories for 2010 by GoNOMAD travel writers:

The giant Mosup teaches the Wampanoags how to catch a while.Martha's Vineyard: Homeland of the Wampanoags by Shelley Rotner
Most people think of Martha’s Vineyard as a summer destination known for its pristine beaches, white picket fences, celebrity visitors, and quaint fishing villages, but there’s more than meets the eye. It’s worth taking another look at how farming and fishing still play an important role in preserving the island’s beauty today. It all started tens of thousands years ago with the arrival of the Wampanoag Tribe...

Weaving the Bissus, a type of cloth made from sea silk Weaving Sea Silk in Sardinia: Preserving an Ancient Art by Angela Corrias
At first sight, Sant’ Antioco appears to be nothing more than a hot tourist spot in the high season. Looking deeper inside the town, however, it’s possible to track the connection with ancient civilizations. With all this in mind, I was ready to meet Chiara Vigo, the only woman in the world who still works the byssus, better known as the silk of the sea, the same way women in ancient Mesopotamia used to weave it in order to make clothes for their kings...

Skulls at a fetish market in Benin Benin and Togo: The Birthplace of Voodoo by Ron Mitchell
In the city of Ouidah, we walk the heart wrenching memorial, 'Route Des Esclaves,' (Route of the Slaves). This road of horrendous history includes a monument to the tree of forgetfulness, where traders made captured humans walk around the tree several times, believing it would make them forget where they came from. Then the people were chained to cots to assimilate conditions on ships. The weak and sick were tossed into massive graves, sometimes still alive..

Roraima, a mysterious plateau in Venezuela Roraima: Venezuela’s Lost World by David Joshua Jennings
Today the air is spicy with the smoke of grass fires, which rise up along the horizon, lit by the Pemon to chase snakes away from their villages. We trek along a trail that snakes through the hills of the rolling savannah, which is nearly treeless and covered in knee-deep grass. We basically have the landscape to ourselves. As we trek, Roraima and Kukenaam loom constantly in the distance, growing larger with each footstep...

A lioness in Botswana Botswana: A Safari on the Okavango Delta by Danielle Gerard
Upon landing on the airstrip in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, my travel partner and I received a one-of-a-kind welcome from true local natives of the African bush. A trio of warthogs trotted along the airstrip. Tall trees painted the land various shades of green and brown, a herd of elephants grazed in the distance, and lazy lagoons and channels carved a maze amongst land...

Cleaning a statue in Detroit Metro Detroit: Bulletproof Vest Not Required by Lisa Singh
Tell anyone you’re going to Detroit for vacation, and they’ll look at you with some serious respect. Or like you need your head examined. This is the same city, after all, that now ranks right up there with Karachi as one of the least safe cities in the world. But, these days, something odd is in the air: a sense of optimism. Yes, for all the barbs traded about Detroit, something improbable is happening: Travelers are starting to give the city another look...

A caryatid in Vienna Vienna, Austria: Schnitzel, Strudel, and Schwanensee by Olga Volobuyeva
Vienna is known for its palaces. Belvedere Palace is a wonderful baroque palace complex situated to the southeast of the city center in the third district of Vienna. Though quite far from the old inner city, it is easily reached with public transport. Breathtakingly beautiful, the Belvedere palaces and gardens are worth an early visit so that you can appreciate its beauty in the daylight. We spent most of the day there, and would spend even more if it were summer...

Women with a child in Amman, Jordan A Woman's Life in Jordan: The Joys and the Hassles by Sophia Jones
The night is crisp, an unfamiliar feeling for June in Amman. A young blonde woman sits next to an elderly Jordanian woman on a dark green bench in Paris Circle. There are children playing with a slightly deflated soccer ball across the square. Five old men in grey suits cram together on a bench. They stare at the foreigner, wondering why a blonde woman is sitting with the locals, wondering where she came from, and, possibly, wondering if she’s a Russian prostitute...

A shopkeeper in Java Jamu in Java: Lessons From The Grandmothers of Indonesia by Zoë Smith
I’m handed a coconut shell filled with a runny, canary-yellow liquid that looks less than appealing. My Indonesian guide nods her head encouragingly. A little crowd has gathered around the rickety market stall where I stand, a lone farang [foreigner] in the depths of the market. They gawk at me, waiting for me to drink the potion. 'What the hell,' I think, and knock back the liquid as if it were a long, bitter shot of tequila...

An elephant by the Kabini River in India Kabini and Bhadra, India: Life Unfolds by the Riverside by Lakshmi Sharath
As we meander through the woods, the path takes us down to the backwaters of the River Kabini. This is the moment that we are all waiting for. The blue green waters with forests on both banks, the sun-lit bamboo trees, the golden-streaked sky blind you for a moment. But the real showstoppers are the elephants. Hundreds parade down the banks of Kabini, basking in the sun, dancing, swimming, tearing and feeding on the bamboos...

Top stories by staff writers and regular contributors:

The burning of the ninots at Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain Valencia, Spain: Las Fallas, One Crazy Festival by Jean Miller Spoljaric
The ‘Fallas’ is a four-day and four-night invasion of art, music, fireworks, gunpowder, smoke, explosions and emotions in the ancient city of Valencia, Spain. I recently had the opportunity to experience the mayhem that is known as ‘Las Fallas’ firsthand. For this trip, I also had to stow away my childhood fears about fireworks. Years ago, a teenage boy tossed a live cherry bomb under my chair. The explosion was loud enough to scare me for life....

Tribesmen in Papua New Guinea Deep in the Jungles of Papua New Guinea by Kent St. John
As I sipped a cup of coffee I watched the fog follow the ribbon of the river and the staff busily prepared breakfast for our small group, the Finnish gent sipping a cup of Joe turned to me and said, "I envy you. You are just starting out." That certainly was a promising beginning. The Sepik River Basin in PNG is a visit to a world far away, hard to do these days, authentic and true, things unfound elsewhere...

A hot-air balloon in Jaipur, India Sky Waltzing Over Jaipur, India, in a Hot-Air Balloon by Mridula Dwivedi
Soon the balloon was inflated and we were about to board. We were supposed to be six people and suddenly we found that we were seven! Then someone from the ground staff of Sky Waltz pointed to a gentleman and said he was not with us. When asked further, he said he got into the balloon to get a picture! And sure enough, his friend was clicking his picture! They said they were from Persia. That is the kind of the lure a hot air balloon can hold for adults!

An ultralight aircraft in Spokane, Washington A Mancation in Spokane: Unforgettable Thrills by Max Hartshorne
Can you think of any place that’s more famous for being mispronounced than Spokane? Spokane is Salish for 'sun people,' named by Indians who first settled here. Iit’s Spo-KAN, like the Indian tribe, not Spo-KANE. This mid-sized western city turned out to be a perfect choice for a mancation I took recently. I was after adventure, great food and beer, and the kinds of activities that I’d never forget. Spokane delivered in style!

A horseman in Tunisia The Festival of the Sahara: Galloping Stallions and Camel Wrestling by Sony Stark
Here in America, the circus keeps audiences at bay under big tents and atop tall grandstands. But in Tunisia, festivals encourage visitors to stay close to the action. Every December, two dusty towns in the inhospitable southern region of Tunisia, share festivals dedicated to oasis life. Tozeur and Douz, about 65 miles apart, schedule festivals back-to-back to honor their ancient history of nomadic life, camel caravans and traditional music...

Painting of a Cherokee warrior by Sam Watts-Scott An Invitation from the Cherokee Nation: Rediscover America by Stephen Hartshorne
When I got an invitation to visit the Cherokee Nation, I grabbed it right away -- a chance to learn about the past, present and future of our country through the stories and teachings of this extraordinary people. I have written previously about the wily Cherokee war chief who won independence for Texas (that would be Sam Houston) but he was kind of an honorary Cherokee -- he only lived there for a few years. This would be the real deal...

The WaterFire Festival in Providence, Rhode Island Providence: Rhode Island’s Creative Capital by Esha Samajpati
Providence is the second-largest city in New England, after Boston, and the capital of Rhode Island. Marketed as “the Creative Capital,” the city backs resident artists by offering them tax incentives. RISD (pronounced riz-dee by the locals) is the Rhode Island School of Design and arguably one of the best art schools in US. For the artist and the art enthusiast alike, there is also the AS220, which provides a forum for creativity and offers facilities to artists...

Exploring the caves in Lost River, New Hampshire The White Mountains of New Hampshire: Family Fun at 6,288 Feet by Kate Cosme
While approaching the White Mountains, I was struck by the looming peaks covered in lush green foliage. Our car wound up Interstate 93, climbing out of the oppressive heat and into the fresh mountain air. Blue sky peered above the rocky cliffs while marshmallow clouds drifted by in the cool afternoon breeze; natural perfection. This idyllic northern New Hampshire landscape was what I’d been missing; only I had no idea until I arrived...

A woman in Death Valley, California Death Valley, California: The Innards of the Earth by David Rich
Death Valley was chock full of white gold, aka borax, regular gold, copper and silver. The gold mining boomtown of Ryolite lasted a decade, exploding with 10,000 speculators, its own stock exchange and ribald opera, but the mine closed in 1911 and the population plummeted to zero. However, the famous 20-mule team wagon trains hauling borax endured in American folklore and on television, narrated by the great American communicator, Ronald Dutch Reagan...

Doubtful Sound in New Zealand Cruising Doubtful Sound: Marvelous, Majestic, Mysterious by Cindy Bigras
New Zealand is the youngest and perhaps the greenest country on earth; young because in geologic terms these islands are in their infancy, having been formed by glaciers a mere 500 million years ago. Young because the Maori didn’t arrive until 1000 years ago, and it wasn’t until the mid 1800s that European settlers began arriving in large numbers. Youthful energy permeates the country and makes it an ideal spot for outdoor activity...

An umbrella girl at the Macau Grand Prix The Macau Grand Prix: Fearsome Motorsports Competition by Shady Hartshorne
For more than 50 years, the Macau Grand Prix has been one of the world’s most fearsome motorsports competitions. Each November, a 6.2 kilometer loop of downtown streets is blocked off with hurricane fencing and plywood and the metallic screaming that rises up from behind the barricades almost makes you think some kind of mythical beast is chained beneath the surface of the city...

Top stories by our student interns:

The Energy Park in Greenfield, Massachusetts Greenfield, Massachusetts: A Good Old-Fashioned Home Town by Devon Magoon
The appeal of Greenfield, Massachusetts, is just beginning to be discovered as the town embarks on a wave of renovations and community development. With a growing number of new music venues, shops and restaurants, a touch of historical allure and lots of friendly and enterprising people, Greenfield is thrumming with activity. Settled in 1686, the City of Greenfield affords hiking, biking, dining, shopping, relaxing, and lots of other activities...

Dating in Milwaukee

Top Ten Places for a Date in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Christa Romano
Standing on the Milwaukee banks of Lake Michigan, watching the ripples being carried over to the horizon by the warm summer breeze, I couldn’t help but think about how wonderful it would be to share this sight with someone special. While I am in full support of solo travel, of being independent and seeing the world for yourself, I found that nearly every establishment I hit while in Milwaukee could make for a really interesting and fun date spot...

Hiking in Liechtenstein Liechtenstein: A Friendly Little Country With Lots To Offer by Maggie Freleng
Even though it's the sixth smallest country in the world, only 62 square miles, Liechtenstein has a lot to offer the traveler: charming villages, excellent cuisine, breathtaking Alpine landscapes, friendly citizens, and a prince who jogs around town and says "hoi" just like everyone else. It is home to 36,000 inhabitants and has only 90 police officers. It is a true landlocked country with neither an airport nor a seaport...


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