General Articles

Joe’s articles on travel, business, culture, sports and general interest have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, International Herald Tribune (Paris), Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, USA Today, BBC Travel, TIME, Newsweek and Travel & Leisure.

Pantanal Jaguar

Brazil’s Pantanal,

Brazil’s other wild place — the Pantanal

(CNN) — Our boatman gets a radio call that a jaguar mother and two cubs have been spotted moving along a riverbank in the Pantanal wetlands of southern Brazil about 20 minutes from our present location.
But when we arrive, there’s no sign of the big cats.
That’s because they’re in the water — swimming across the Cuiaba River right in front of our boat.
The mother seems hell-bent on reaching the other side as quickly as possible. But the cubs are just too curious. The little jags linger in mid-river, staring at our boat like they’ve never seen anything so ludicrous. It takes a snarl from mom before they resume their swim, eventually crawling up a muddy bank and disappearing into the jungle. MORE


Cruising, Asia Style. Bridal Guide

Cruising, Asia Style

It’s not often that you come across monkeys scampering across a tropical beach. Or coconut-palm-shaded strands where yours are the only footprints in the sand. Or towns that give you a police motorcycle escort because you’re the first tourists who have visited the place in more than 60 years. But all of those things (and more) transpired during my recent cruise through Southeast Asia.

While the route itself was straight forward — a two-week sail from Myanmar down the eastern edge of Indian Ocean with stops in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore — the stops along the way were anything but routine.

In Yangon, the ship provided an ideal base for exploring one of Asia’s most colorful urban areas . . . as well as the perfect place for watching New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Rangoon River. MORE

Front page of article A Guiding Force

Maps Through History. Sea Life Magazine

A Guiding Force

They show is where we’ve been, where we are going and where we are right now. Without them it would have been much more difficult to explore our planet, carve out new states or countries, or plan the towns and cities we live in. They exist on paper, in digital form and even in our minds. While geography is the prevailing theme, they can represent any type of space and many different themes both real and imagined. Yet maps are one of the most taken-for-granted inventions humans have ever produced.

A map does not just chart,” writes American novelist Reif Larsen The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, his fictional account of a bright 12-year-old boy who tries to understand the world through maps. “It unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected.” In other words, maps help us define both ourselves and our world. And they have for a very long time. MORE

Namibia's Caprivi Strip

Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. CNN Travel

Namibia’s Caprivi Strip

(CNN) — If there was ever a candidate for an obscure question on a television quiz show, it’s the Caprivi Strip in northern Namibia.
A classic panhandle, the ultra-narrow strip separates Botswana and Angola as it runs 280 miles (450 km) west to east from the main part of Namibia to the Zambezi River on the eastern border. For much of its length, the Caprivi is only 20 miles (32 kilometers) wide — a narrow extenuation of national sovereignty matched only by the equally obscure Wakhan Corridor in northern Afghanistan.
There’s a good argument to be made that the Caprivi has played a key role in modern pop history: Both Freddie Mercury and a band called Queen may never have existed without the strip’s creation. MORE


Front page Old School Urban article

America’s Best Old Towns. Escapes Magazine

Old School Urban. America’s Best Old Towns

From coast to coast, old towns add bygone flavor to many of North America’s leading cities.

Many cities preserve their heritage in old towns, neighborhoods that were somehow sidestepped in the rush to modernize and that survived long enough for people to cherish rather than ignore their quirky oldness. Across the continent they vary from remnants of the French and Spanish colonial eras to time capsules of frontier-era Americana. And it’s not just landmark architecture that gets preserved. Old towns are also places where the arts and entertainment thrive, where regional foods flavor restaurant menus, or simply places to kick back and watch the world pass by at slower, quieter pace than the rest of the city. MORE

CNN Travel article on Montreal's best neighborhoods

Montreal Neighborhoods.

12 of Montreal’s best neighborhoods

Montreal (CNN) — Montreal is home to more than 200 ethnic groups that have all stitched their own patches into the urban quilt, and the city is full of distinct neighborhoods — some created hundreds of years ago and others born of the 21st century.
Many of them are hosting special events this year as the city celebrates its 375th birthday. But in any year, the city’s diverse districts provide visitors with much to explore.
“It’s definitely a city of boroughs and neighborhoods,” said Danny Pavlopoulos, who guides Montreal foodie tours for Spade & Palacio. “There are so many. And they’re so close together. And they’re all so different.” MORE


Brazil’s Cowboy Country. DestinAsian Magazine

Cowboys and Wildlife-Spotting in Brazil

The Pantanal is the biggest swamp on the planet, a seasonally flooded expanse of grasslands, savannas, and tropical forests that harbors not only a unique cowboy culture but also the greatest concentration of wildlife in South America. From capybaras to caimans to jaguars, encounters with nature don’t come easier than this.

Sitting Sphinx-like on the riverbank, the young male jaguar was less than 10 meters away from where I perched at the front of our boat. As our eyes locked, I felt a rush of fear mixed with marvel that something could be so beautiful and dangerous at the same time. It was a weird sensation, being so close to a creature that wouldn’t have thought twice about having me for dinner. MORE

Asian Surfer

Asia’s Paradise Islands.

 Paradise found: 12 crowd-free Asia island escapes

(CNN) — Finding an empty beach in Asia was a breeze a few decades ago, but it’s not quite so easy anymore.
As zealous souvenir hawkers follow busloads of tour groups to Asia’s most famous islands, discerning travelers must look farther afield for more authentic getaways.
The good news? Whether your idea of paradise involves a tropical beach framed by palm trees, or wildlife encounters in the woods, Asia has an island for you.
From Indonesia to India, we’ve singled out a dozen of the best throw-back islands — places where traditional cultures and unspoiled landscapes will transport travelers back in time. MORE

front page of article on underwater adventures

Underwater Adventures. Montage Magazine

Underwater Adventures

Some call it inner space—the more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface that lies underwater. Since the dawn of human history, people have wondered what sits below the surface and tried to figure out means by which they could explore the submarine world.

Aristotle wrote about men using instruments to breathe underwater in the manner of elephants with their trunks, and metal cauldrons used as primitive diving bells to peek beneath the Aegean Sea. By the 14th century A.D., Persian divers had devised the first goggles, fashioned from the thin, transparent outer layer of tortoise shells. In his “Codex Atlanticus,” Leonardo da Vinci imagined masks, snorkels and air tanks as part of a diving outfit.  MORE

statue of face

St. Louis and Kansas City.

St. Louis and Kansas City bounce back

(CNN) — Anchoring either end of Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City are 250 miles apart along Interstate 70. And while they have distinct personalities and urban landscapes, the two also have an awful lot in common, both now and in the past.
By the end of the 19th century, they had grown from burly frontier towns into cutting-edge urban America, thriving hubs of the arts, industry and innovation where the future seemed to have no limit.

That boundless energy — and sheer bravado — was exemplified in 1904, when St. Louis hosted both a world’s fair and the Summer Olympics.

Like much of the Midwest, the second half of the 20th century was not kind to either city. MORE

plane over mountains in alaska

Alaska bush pilot Paul Claus. BBC Travel

 A Mountain Turned Runway at 17,000 Feet

Paul Claus dares to go places and do things that few aviators would even dream about.
“Wanna land some cool places?” is his opening line to those arriving at his lodge deep in the wilderness of Alaska’s Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve. And with that question, he offers the chance to land on the surface of a glacier, a grassy ledge perched a thousand feet above a valley, the shore of an isolated lake or a secluded beach along the Gulf of Alaska.
“The type of flying we do here has to be the funnest in the world,” Claus said. “It’s never boring, always different.” MORE

row of buildings in Mexico

Mexico’s Hidden Gems. Bridal Guide

 Experience Mexico’s Hidden Gems

California might have its gold and South Africa its diamonds, but the glitter of choice in Mexico is solid, sterling silver. Discovered during Spanish colonial times, the cities of Taxco, Zacatecas and Guanajuato all boomed on a silver rush and continue to be the best places to shop for exquisite silver jewelry, dinner pieces and decorative arts. Listed as World Heritage Sites, the romantic areas preserve their pristine old towns with ancient churches and palaces, leafy plazas and local ways of life that have faded in Mexico’s larger cities. Here, where to stay, where to play and (of course) where to shop for silver. MORE

6 Safari Honeymoons on Any Budget. Destinations Weddings and Honeymoons

 6  Safari Honeymoons on Any Budget

African safari honeymoons are notoriously expensive, but it’s totally possible to go without busting your budget (unless you really want to).
Splurge: Camp in Comfort
The “tents” at Chinzombo Camp might be made of canvas, but each spacious interior features a king-size bed, a private plunge pool and a bathroom with a rain shower. From $1,880 per couple per night, all-inclusive.
Steal: Wildlife Spotting in Kenya
Spy the Big Five (elephants, lions, cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros) on daily wildlife drives with Mara Leisure Camp, set along the Talek River. MORE


Affordable Honeymoon Destinations. Islands Magazine

13 Affordable Honeymoon Destinations

Feeling a little stretched by your wedding expenses? Don’t let that impact your honeymoon fun! We did the math on 13 of the best affordable honeymoon getaways where travel budgets stretch longer and wider.


The  Spanish colonized Jamaica shortly after Christopher Columbus discovered the exotic tropical isle in 1494. The British later snatched it away, laying the groundwork for the cultural melting pot that eventually gave the world Rasta, reggae and Red Stripe. But the Spanish are invading again, this time with huge all-inclusive resorts that lure couples craving bargains. You don’t even have to stay at one of the new Riu, Iberostar or Gran Bahia Principe resorts, strung along the north shore between Negril and Ocho Rios — their mere appearance has brought down hotel rates across the island. MORE


Crazy Cool Places to Elope. The Venue Report

 9 Crazy Cool Places to Elope

If running off to Vegas and getting hitched by an Elvis impersonator isn’t wild enough for you and your honey, try one of these crazy places around the world to elope.

Ice Hotel, Sweden

Fancy yourself as the Princess Anna of Arendelle and Kristoff the Iceman? Then why not stage your own “Frozen” nuptials at the Ice Hotel in northern Sweden. The wondrous hand-carved Ice Chapel features ice-block benches covered in reindeer pelts. Afterwards warm up in the sauna or in a polar expedition sleeping bag for two in one of the hotel’s luxury suites.

Burning Man Festival, Nevada

Sixty bucks and a photo ID will get you an instant marriage license in the state of Nevada, obtainable at the county clerk’s office on Black Rock City on your way to Burning Man. MORE


Luxury Honeymoon Destinations on a Budget. Islands Magazine


 10 Luxury Honeymoon Destinations on a Budget

On a honeymoon budget that can’t budge? If you think you can’t travel to swanky honeymoon destinations, or stay in fantastic romantic resorts, think again. Here’s how to honeymoon like the 1 percent, even though you’re in the 99.

Bora Bora $5,200 per couple for five nights
The best rates are in November, January, February and March. During the winter low season, it’ll cost about $4,400 to get you both there from LAX. Stay at budget beach digs like Bora Bora Eco Lodge for $160 per night.

ST. BARTH, $4,484 per couple for five nights
Winter is when the famous fly into St. Barth, so summer is best for bargains.Between June and August, budget-conscious honeymooners can bag a beachfront double room for roughly one-third of winter peak-season rates. Book far enough ahead and you’ll shell out as little as $1,140 per couple from Miami on American. MORE


Cutting Edge Catamarans. Montage

Aston Martin

Aston Martin DB11. Montage

World's fastest train

Fastest Trains. Travel + Leisure

front page of Montage article about snow sports

Dog Sledding. Montage

man in microbrewery

Seaport Microbreweries. Shermans Cruise Magazine

The Big Chill in Iceland. The Yak

Chichén Itzá Cozumel.

The Future is Now in Tokyo. LA Times

aeriel shot of silicon valley

Silicon Valley. Qantas

Chinzombo Camp. Robb Report

Japanese Adventures in LA. Bespoke

Zambia: Step Into the Wild. Qantas

Have Pooch Will Travel -Canine Luxury. LA Times

Pit Stops Between L.A. and the Bay. LA Times

Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” 10th Anniversary. LA Times

Farm-to-table Restaurants in Monterey. LA Times

World’s Creepiest Attractions. Travel + Leisure


South Pacific Fantasy Islands. Bridal Guide

One Misstep and Your Dinner. NBC

Route 7: Shaman Highway. NBC

Yucatan: Adventure Amid Ruins. San Diego Union-Tribune

Zebar at Mt Kenya Safari Club

Kenya’s Best Bars. Beachfront to Hip Hotels CNN Travel

Ragtop Renaissance. Bespoke Concierge Magazine

What’s Sumatra Hiding? Islands Magazine