Category Archives: Travel

#Longread of the year: Fear and Self-Loathing in Las Vegas

An utterly brilliant piece of journalism plucked from Longreads’ end of years lists: The Daily’s Zach Baron spends a week in Las Vegas re-enacting Hunter S. Thompson’s famous steps, a la 2011.

The standfirst: “In 1971, Hunter Thompson first published ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ in Rolling Stone. Forty years later, The Daily’s Zach Baron revisits the piece and the town in which it was born, chasing Thompson¹s ghost through crazy desert car races, a dying local economy and a massive and menacing hacker convention known as DEFCON.”

Attempting to write about the Gonzo era – and in Gonzo spirit – could so easily have gone wrong. Instead, Baron pulls it off rhapsodically. Why does it strike such a chord? This passage sums it up:

“[T]he eerie thing about reading “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” in this foul year of Our Lord, 2011, is the dispiriting sense of recognition that runs up the spine.”

Read it. I implore you. Stick with it to the end (it’s a monster).  Journalism tends not to be done like this any more. Bravo.

Fear and Self-Loathing in Las Vegas

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TwiTrip interview with PeerIndex.com

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Best. Hotel. Website. Ever.

The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel has been proudly disappointing travellers for forty years. Boasting levels of comfort comparable to a minimum-security prison, the Hans Brinker also offers some plumbing and an intermittently open canteen serving a wide range of dishes based on runny eggs…”

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A meeting with El País

While on another superb TwiTrip in Madrid a few weeks ago, I met the El País blogger Patricia Gosálvez, who has just published this very nice interview with me.

You’ll notice it’s in Spanish. Below, however, is a translation, thanks to the amazing Ben Cooper. Heroic.

A Travel Writer of Only 140 Characters

A ‘Twitrip’ is the act of touching down in a place with nothing but the clothes on your back and being guided only by the recommendations of your followers on Twitter. ‘The clothes’ have to include a phone with access to the internet, obviously… The journalist Benji Lanyado has been ‘Twitriping’ since 2009 and giving accounts of his experience in The Guardian. Two weeks ago, his travels took him to Madrid where we caught up with him on the road in La Venencia (a top recommendation).

“Nothing has changed my way of working more than Twitter: for starters, it put an end to doing any research – I come with nothing at all!” explains with Lanyado in one of the most authentic old bars in Madrid. Here he takes a photo of a sign that reads: “Spitting on the floor is forbidden” and remarks (in fewer than 140 characters) that it’s got cecina (air-cured beef) “the Jew-friendly Jamon Serrano”. “It’s pure reporting, live – the tip-offs that people give you are specifically for the time and place in which you find yourself”, he says.

The idea of putting together travel stories using Twitter occurred to him in Berlin, when an airline left him stranded. He complained about it on the microblog site and someone recommended him a hotel. Then a cafe, then a shop… Delighted with all the tip-offs, he decided to experiment. His first ‘Twitrip’ was to Paris. He had to wait 20 minutes at the gate of the Gare du Nord before his first tip-off came in. But from there it was relentless.
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Krakow TwiTrip

Another superb TwiTrip.. this time, to Krakow.

Marseille TwiTrip

As part of the Guardian’s New Europe month, I visited Marseille on another TwiTripand very good it was too. Above: The Cours Julien district.

TwiTrip in Cologne

Another superb TwiTrip… to Cologne. The pic above was my favourite of the day, taken in Papa Joes.