The Best Travel Stories on GoNOMAD in 2017

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

This year we are proud to have published hundreds of travel articles about people and places all over the world.  But just ten of them can be considered in our top ten--the best.  Herewith are the ten stories we consider to be the best we published all year. 

The deciding factors include the uniqueness of the destination, the emotion and passion conveyed by the writer, and the strength of the photographs in illustrating the destination the best way possible. 

Dolls in a shop window in Lviv, Ukraine. Sarah Hartshorne photo.

1. Lviv Ukraine: To Know Her is to Love Her by Sarah Hartshorne

This story was written after a 12-day tour Ukraine, a country that most people don't know much about.  It's easier to simply play back a version of the itinerary, describing the towns, the museums, and the attractions. But Sarah took a different tack--describing these as the attributes one might consider when using a dating website.  A clever way to share a country that isn't well known, somehow she pulls it off. Bravo Sarah!

2. Sapa Vietnam: It's Not the Needing, it's the Giving  by Donnie Sexton

Often what is missing in our stories is the emotion we all feel when we visit a place. It's hard to convey it, and it often gets lost in translation. But Donnie realized by talking to her travel companions a fundamental aspect of travel to poor countries. Do what you can, and realize why you're doing it.

3. England: Visiting Winston's World  by Chris Atkin

Winston Churchill was in some estimation, the most important English leader of his time. In this story, the author takes us to three places that the statesman frequented throughout his long life, and for anyone who loves history, this guide is extremely useful.

4. Switzerland: Chaplin's World and The Nest by Cathie Arquilla.

A new museum all about the famous American actor and why you do like the famous movie actor, despite what you think.

It's a museum....and for some, that's already a dull topic. But Cathie refuses to let anyone think that. "You may think you don’t like Charlie Chaplin, but you do. To visit Chaplins World in Vevey, Switzerland is to jump into Chaplin’s life, a life rich with humor, talent, audacious accomplishments, and scandal."  Cathie is like a great tour leader--you are sharing the place with her, and you get the details.

The striking beauty of the vast desert of Algeria. Tuve Floden.

5. Algeria: Exploring a Desert Oasis by Tuve Floden.

We are suckers for anything about hard-t0-visit countries, and Algeria is right up there on the list. The author lived in the country, so he was the perfect person to guide us to an unknown place in the Arab World. He made it feel intriguing with this sentence:

"Finally, as the bus mounted another rise, there it was – the Algerian oasis of Taghit. Thick groves of green palm trees stretched down the valley, punctuated by the rosy hues of houses and homes. Towering dunes rose behind the city, framing our view as a beautiful backdrop, with only the desert beyond it."  Yep, I still really really want to visit Algeria!

6. Castle Hopping in Scotland with a Battle Master  By Dave Weinczok

Everyone loves castles. But this time, there is a real battle master guiding the show. Dave is a certified castle expert, as he described after seeing 200 of Scotland's castles so far which makes him the perfect person to share the castles with you.  "As a ‘Battle Master’ (yes, that’s the actual job title) at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre in Stirling, I’ve had the opportunity to immerse myself in their country’s history, the facts of which consistently prove stranger and more thrilling than fiction."  Authors come with all sorts of interesting qualifications, and he sounds like the perfect castle guide.

7. Naples: The Holiday Tradition of Precepe By Suzanne Ball

Every country has their own holiday traditions...In this charming story, Suzanne shares Naples' peculiar love for tiny figures called presepe that are scenes of families carefully displayed during Christmas season to the delight of old and young. "These are not the usual displays with the Holy Family, shepherds, and barn animals. No, each presepe (singular form) also tells a second story: that of the family that owns it. Surrounding Mary and Joseph, figurines that represent each family member join the scene.

In Naples, Italy, these tiny figurines make up Presepes, or nativity stories, and collecting them is a popular pastime.

8. Armenia: A Cradle of Christianity and World Wonders by Bruce Northam

Bruce's enthusiasm for the rarely-visited small country of Armenia was infectious....he was crazy about the place and it came through in every sentence. It's wonderful to see a jaded old travel writer waxing so eloquently and passionately about a place. The photos were striking and evoked the history and ancient roots found there.

"Armenia quickly grows on you. Imagine the colorful stone cliffs of Utah’s Moab region—but with 13th-century charms like Noravank Monastery. Getting there requires climbing Armenia’s stairway to heaven, an ascent up the Grand Canyon-like Norovank Gorge encircled by soaring and multi-colored red-hue rocky mountainsides. Nearly every religious structure includes the option to interact with the resident priest.

9. Girona, Spain: Catalonia's Center for Cyclists and Nature Lovers By R. Daniel Foster

This story worked for many reasons: The author's own enthusiasm for the place, the images that evoke a fascinating place to cycle, and the location, Girona Spain. He captures, for example, the color scheme of houses along a river. "The color scheme dates to 1980 when three artists decided to use the ancient riverbank houses as their canvas. Their work became an Instagram hit –– about thirty years later.

It’s easy to see why the homes are so popular. Reflected in the river, the scene becomes dreamlike, even ethereal. Pick a bridge, put down your cell phone camera and just look. It makes for a superb visual meditation on color, texture, and light."   I want to go to Girona!

The art galleries and pavilions surround two ponds fed by Crystal Springs in Arkansas.

10. The Crystal Bridges Museum: the Best Museum You've Never Heard Of   By Don Blodger

First of all, how many of our travelers and readers even go to Arkansas?  Not many.  And this story about a $500 million collection of art in a museum donated to the public (free admission) by  Walmart heiress Alice Walton shows that there is great art in places that may surprise you.  Blodger's tour of the place brings it to life, as do his photographs. Another reason to visit the USA heartland!

We have nearly come to the end of another fantastic year of travel writing on the pages of GoNOMAD Travel.  Maybe your story can join this list next year....where are YOU going in 2018?

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Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.

This article was last modified on January 19, 2018, 2:48 pm

Max Hartshorne :Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.

View Comments (1)

  • The travel stories are my favorite part of this site. They make the experiences feel more unique (because hopefully we all have unique stories- not just, "here's where I stayed"). Thanks for the round up of last year's!