Events Worth Planning A Trip Around In 2013

Have you ever landed in a place to find out you arrived just after the town’s can’t-miss event of the year? Well, hopefully that won’t happen again this year. Gadling bloggers racked their brains to make sure our readers don’t overlook the best parties to be had throughout the world in 2013. Below are more than 60 music festivals, cultural events, pilgrimages and celebrations you should consider adding to your travel calendar this year – trust us, we’ve been there.

Above image: Throughout Asia, Lunar New Year is celebrated with lantern festivals, the most spectacular of which is possibly Pingxi. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

Kumbh Mela, a 55-day festival in India, is expected to draw more than 100 million people in 2013. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

January 7–27: Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah)
January 10–February 26: Kumbh Mela (Allahabad, India)
January 21: Presidential Inauguration (Washington, DC)
January 26–February 12: Carnival of Venice (Venice, Italy)
January 26–February 13: Battle of the Oranges (Ivrea, Italy)
During Busójárás in Hungary, visitors can expect folk music, masquerading, parades and dancing. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
February 3: Super Bowl XLVII (New Orleans, Louisiana)
February 5–11: Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Japan)
February 7–12: Busójárás (Mohács, Hungary)
February 10: Chinese New Year/Tet (Worldwide)
February 9–12: Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
February 12: Mardi Gras (Worldwide)
February 14: Pingxi Lantern Festival (Taipei, Taiwan)
February 24: Lunar New Year (Worldwide)

Several cities in India and Nepal increase tourist volume during Holi, when people enjoy spring’s vibrant colors. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
March 1-14: Omizutori (Nara, Japan)
March 8–17: South by Southwest (Austin, Texas)
March 20–April 14: Cherry Blossom Festival (Washington, DC)
March 27: Holi (Worldwide, especially India & Nepal)

Many Dutch people wear orange – the national color – and sell their secondhand items in a “free market” during Koninginnendag, a national holiday in the Netherlands. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
April 12–14 & April 19–21: Coachella (Indio, California)
April 11-14: Masters Golf Tournament (Augusta, Georgia)
April 13–15: Songkran Water Festival (Thailand)
April 17–28: TriBeCa Film Festival (New York, New York)
April 25–28: 5Point Film Festival (Carbondale, Colorado)
April 30: Koninginnendag or Queen’s Day (Netherlands)

Up to 50 men work together to carry their church’s patron saint around the main square in Cusco, Peru during Corpus Christi. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
May 4: Kentucky Derby (Louisville, Kentucky)
May 15–16: Festival de Cannes (Cannes, France)
May 20: Corpus Christi (Worldwide)
May 23–26: Art Basel (Hong Kong)
May 24–27: Mountainfilm Film Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
May 25-28: Sasquatch Festival (Quincy, Washington)
May 26: Indianapolis 500 (Speedway, Indiana)

2013 marks the 100th anniversary for the Tour de France. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

June 13–16: Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tennessee)
June 13–16: Art Basel (Basel, Switzerland)
June 14–16: Food & Wine Classic (Aspen, Colorado)
June 21: St. John’s Night (Poznan, Poland)
June 24: Inti Raymi (Cusco, Peru)
June 28–30: Comfest (Columbus, Ohio)
June 29–July 21: Tour de France (France)

The annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Visit Istanbul, Turkey, at this time and see a festival-like atmosphere when pious Muslims break their fasts with lively iftar feasts at night. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
July 6–14: San Fermin Festival (Pamplona, Spain)
July 9–August 2: Ramadan (Worldwide)
July 12–14: Pitchfork (Chicago, Illinois)
July 17: Gion Festival Parade (Kyoto, Japan)
July 18–21: International Comic Con (San Diego, California)
July 19–22: Artscape (Baltimore, Maryland)
July 24–28: Fete de Bayonne (Bayonne, France)

Festival-goers get their picture taken at a photo booth during Foo Fest, an arts and culture festival held annually in Providence, Rhode Island. [Photo credit: Flickr user AS220]
August 2–4: Lollapalooza (Chicago, Illinois)
August 10: Foo Fest (Providence, Rhode Island)
August 26–September 2: Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, Nevada)
August 31–September 2: Bumbershoot (Seattle, Washington)

More than six million people head to Munich, Germany, for beer-related festivities during the 16-day Oktoberfest. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
September 5–15: Toronto International Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)
September 13–15: Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
September 21–October 6: Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)

Around 750 hot air balloons are launched during the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. [Photo credit: Flickr user Randy Pertiet]

October 4–6 & 11–13: Austin City Limits (Austin, Texas)
October 5–13: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
October 10–14: United States Sailboat Show (Annapolis, Maryland)

During Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), family and friends get together to remember loved ones they have lost. Although practiced throughout Mexico, many festivals take place in the United States, such as this festival at La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
November 1–2: Dia de los Muertos (Worldwide, especially Mexico)
November 3: Diwali (Worldwide)
November 8–10: Fun Fun Fun Fest (Austin, Texas)
November 11: Cologne Carnival (Cologne, Germany)
November 28: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (New York, New York)
TBA: Punkin Chunkin (Long Neck, Delaware)

The colorful holiday of Junkanoo is the most elaborate festivals of the Bahamian islands. [Photo credit: Flickr user MissChatter]
December 2–3: Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu City, Japan)
December 5–8: Art Basel (Miami, Florida)
December 26–January 1: Junkanoo (Bahamas)

So, what did we miss? Let us know what travel-worthy events you’re thinking about journeying to in the coming year in the comments below.

Tim Leffel On The World’s 21 Cheapest Countries

Tim Leffel’s mission is to help skinflints like me find travel destinations they can afford. He traveled around the world on a shoestring with his wife three times and decided to write a book about the world’s cheapest countries after realizing that there was no single resource out there for travelers looking for bargain destinations. The fourth edition of his book, “The World’s Cheapest Destinations: 21 Countries Where Your Money is Worth a Fortune,” is due to be released in January and Leffel maintains a blog devoted to the cheapest travel destinations on the planet.

I had a chance to check out the forthcoming edition of Tim’s book and it’s packed with data on how much you’ll spend in the 21 destinations he profiles, along with insightful and sometimes hilarious advice on where to go and how to travel. (“I have a daughter and I have taken her abroad to eight countries now, but I am not yet ready to take her on crappy third-world buses, pumping her full of malaria pills, exposing her to aggressive deformed beggars, or trying to ward off touts while simultaneously keeping her occupied.”)
%Gallery-173113%For example, he informs readers that a beer in Nepal costs the same as an ounce or two of marijuana or a finger of hash; double rooms or suites in private homes in Bulgaria go for $5-20 per person; and a full three-course meal in Bolivia can be had for as little as $2. I caught up with Leffel at his home in Tampa this week to talk about the world’s cheapest travel destinations.

You just returned from Bolivia. A lot of people consider that to be one of the cheapest countries in the world. Do you agree?

I agree. It’s probably the best deal in South America. In the Americas, Nicaragua might be a bit cheaper, but they’re neck and neck. But it’s hard to compare, it depends on what you’re doing, where you’re staying. And for Americans, Bolivians have reciprocal visa fees, so you have to cough up $130 at the airport just for the pleasure of walking out of the airport.

Do the costs in Bolivia vary from region to region? A lot of people don’t like to stay in La Paz because of the altitude.

Not really, but the altitude in La Paz hit me hard because I was coming from Florida – sea level. I felt like crap when I landed at the airport in La Paz, but then I got on a connecting flight to Sucre, which is lower and felt better. But then I went to Potosi, which is more than 13,000 feet, and had a pretty rough headache for a day or two.

Coming from the U.S. can you avoid La Paz?

No, but you can get out of there cheaply. My flight to Sucre was only $67.

What makes Bolivia so cheap?

Meals are cheap. Accommodations are reasonable and transportation costs are very low because Venezuela subsidizes their fuel. Buses cost $1.50-$2 per hour depending on the class of the bus. A set meal of a few courses, a soup and a main dish and a drink or dessert is a couple dollars. Two to three dollars in a basic place, or more if you are in a nice restaurant, but even in those places the prices aren’t bad at all. Alcohol is cheap. It’s a cheap place to party.

Give me an idea for what mid-range accommodation goes for in Bolivia?

I had a pretty nice room with private bath and hot water for $8.50 that was quite comfortable. Then I paid $32 for a full-blown hotel. For $20-35 you can usually get a decent mid-range hotel room pretty much anywhere. Bolivia is a poor country and there isn’t much domestic tourism so there isn’t much competition. In Potosi, the most expensive hotel in town was about $70 but most were in the $20-40 range.

Sucre is especially nice. It’s a beautiful old colonial city like you see in a lot of Latin American countries but much cheaper than a lot of other places.

Do you consider Nicaragua to be the cheapest country in Central America?

Yes, but Guatemala isn’t very expensive either. Honduras is quite cheap on the mainland but most people are there to visit the islands, which are more expensive.

But Nicaragua’s become quite a trendy destination. Aren’t the prices going up there?

Really only in Granada. That’s where people with money go. But even there, you can go out and get a really great meal for $4 and you don’t have to look hard for deals like that – they’re right there in the center. It’s also one of the cheapest places to drink I’ve ever seen. As long as you drink rum or beer they make domestically.

Ometepe is a really good deal; almost any of the small towns are very cheap. It’s a wide-open blank slate. There isn’t much tourism besides Granada and San Juan Del Sur. But that’s still mostly a surfer/backpacker hangout too. There are a few nice hotels, but the bulk are hostels and cheap guesthouses. It’s a cheap place to eat, surf and party. The drawback is that it isn’t real comfortable to get around – you’re mostly on chicken buses.

You mention cheap drinking. Bulgaria has very cheap beer and wine. It’s on your list of cheap destinations as well, right?

Yes, I was just there for the first time in April. I loved it. It was gorgeous and there were very few tourists. It’s incredibly cheap to eat and drink there and the food there is very fresh and good.

I love Bulgaria but I haven’t been there in a while. How are the prices now?

I think it’s the cheapest country in Europe. Accommodation may be a little cheaper in Romania and maybe even Hungary because there isn’t as much competition in Bulgaria. A lot more people have opened budget-oriented places to stay in Romania in recent years. But I think overall Bulgaria is still cheaper.

Other than Romania and Bulgaria any other cheap countries you like to visit in Europe?

The other two I have in the book are Hungary and Slovakia. I used to have Turkey in the book but it’s gotten too expensive.

I lived in Hungary five years ago when the forint was much stronger and it didn’t seem cheap then, but now it’s reasonable?

Yes, I was there four years ago and it seemed much cheaper on my recent visit. Part of that is more competition among hotels but the forint is also much weaker.

Any other countries like Hungary where the currency has gone down, giving travelers a bargain opportunity?

The euro has gone down and a lot of the non-euro countries in Europe have currencies that have gone down as well. The dollar is also doing well against the currencies in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico. But countries like Brazil and Chile have become much more expensive for Americans, because of the strong economies in those countries.

Before we leave Europe, I found some great bargains in the Greek islands this year too. Is Greece in your book?

No, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that prices have gone down there but maybe not as much as they expected, given what’s happened to the economy there. But it’s still a better deal than most of Western Europe and that goes for Portugal too, which also has good prices.

Let’s move on to Asia. Lots of cheap countries there but are there any that stand out?

Most of the countries I surveyed stayed about the same since the last edition of the book came out in 2009 except Thailand, which got a little bit more expensive. Their currency has gotten a bit stronger and stayed there. But I still think that Thailand is a terrific value.

Of those three countries, which is the cheapest?

Cambodia is the cheapest and Laos is pretty close. Cambodia is a little easier to get around but I couldn’t believe how crowded Angkor Wat was.

When you travel with your wife and 12-year-old daughter in Southeast Asia, do you stay in very cheap places?

We are more mid-range travelers when I travel with my family. Our budget was $150 per day for the three of us, including everything. It was just a three-week trip and we stayed in hotels, most of them very nice ones, for $40-50 per night. You can get a fantastic room that is like the equivalent of a Hilton or Marriott here for that price. A lot of times that was also for a family suite or a place with three beds. In Cambodia, we paid $44 per night for two connecting rooms. And that was for a very nice hotel with breakfast included, hot showers, and maid service every day.

Any other countries in the region that you like?

Malaysia is a great value too. You get a lot for your money and the food is great. It’s more expensive than those countries but the infrastructure is better too. Indonesia is a great value as well, depending on where you are.

Even in Bali?

Even in Bali. It isn’t as cheap as it used to be but you can still get very reasonably priced hotels. But it’s getting polluted and crowded there.

How about the Middle East?

I just have Jordan and Egypt in the book. The region is such a powder keg. Jordan is a great deal. Egypt – who knows what’s going to happen there, but it’s certainly cheap. And it’s probably going to get cheaper too because they are so desperate for tourists to return. You can find a four-star hotel in Luxor or Aswan for $50-60 per night. There are deals galore if you want to go to Egypt.

How about Africa?

I just have Morocco and Egypt in the book. There’s a backpacker route along the east coast of Africa that is fairly reasonable if you stick to that path but the real trouble is that it’s hard to get around both comfortably and cheaply.

What about Morocco?

Prices have gone up there but it’s still a good country to visit on a budget. The prices are comparable to Eastern Europe. You can get a good deal on a hotel, and good food too.

What would you spend if you went to Morocco with your family?

Probably about $150 per day to be pretty comfortable. If you want a beautiful, atmospheric hotel though, you’d pay about $60-80 per night – you don’t find the same screaming bargains there that you would in Southeast Asia. Backpackers can find places to stay for $10-15 per night, but they might find cold showers and squat toilets too.

So for Americans, it’s pretty expensive to get to a lot of the cheapest countries. Of those that we can fly to cheaply, what are the best options?

Latin America. I have Mexico in the book as an honorable mention because the coastal resort areas aren’t that cheap but the interior is. Central America is pretty reasonable and you can find pretty good deals to Ecuador as well. My last flight there cost about $600 round trip.

How did you decide to write this book?

I went around the world with my wife three times. We were teaching English and I was writing stories as well. There was no good guide to figure out what countries were the cheapest; we just figured it out by trial and error. There was nothing out there, so I started working on it when we had our daughter because we were staying home and not traveling. I put it out and it did well, and then we put out a second edition and that did even better, so we’ve kept it going and we started a blog too. I also run a few other websites like Perceptive Travel, and Practical Travel Gear.

What other very cheap countries do you write about in the book?

Nepal and India. Nepal is probably the cheapest place in the world. And India is pretty close. Indians are seen as wealthy by the Nepalis, so that shows you that it’s all relative.

Do you think these countries want to appear in your guidebook or are they not that keen to attract budget travelers?

I don’t think most of them are that thrilled to be in the book. No one wants to be perceived as a cheap destination. But some of these countries are smarter about it than others. Thailand did a study a few years back and found that backpackers spend more in aggregate than other travelers but just over a longer time period, so once they crunched those numbers they realized they did need to attract those people.

And it’s not just young backpackers looking for cheap places to stay. I’m married with two kids and I’m still looking for cheap places to visit!

I know! I’m in my 40s and I meet all kinds of people who want to get the most out of their vacation time so they go where they can afford.

[Photo credits: Tim Leffel, Cavallotkd, globalmultiplelisting, Mike Behnken, and Ahron de Leeuw on Flickr]

Discovery Adventures Announces New Tours For 2013

The calendar may still say 2012, and I know we all have a busy holiday season to navigate yet, but it is never too early to start planning our trips for the new year ahead. To help us out with that process, Discovery Adventures has announced a host of new tours and destinations, adding even more depth to an existing line-up of stellar itineraries.

For 2013, Discovery has unveiled 13 new tours to 11 new countries, offering diverse and unique experiences in some of the most amazing places on the planet. Those new destinations include Malaysia, Bhutan, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Colombia, Chile, Israel and Singapore. The trips are designed to immerse travelers in the local culture and provide opportunities that aren’t easily found anywhere else. For instance, on the new Moroccan Dreams itinerary, visitors will camp in the desert and explore remote mountain villages, while the Malaysia & Borneo Adventure will provide contrasts between the bustling urban settings of Kuala Lumpur with the tranquil and serene rainforest. Other options include a visit to Iceland‘s lava fields, learning to cook in India and searching for the Big Five on safari in Kenya and Tanzania.

As the travel arm for the very popular Discovery Channel, Discovery Adventures feels that it has an outstanding reputation to live up to. That’s why the company is so selective about the destinations and tours that it offers. These new additions to their catalog bring the total number of trips to just 34, which is in sharp contrast to some other companies that offer dozens of options.

Their commitment to providing high quality tours for their guests doesn’t end there, however, as the company has also announced a new policy that guarantees that 100% of its trips will depart as scheduled. The new policy begins in January of next year and ensures that clients will be able to both book, and travel, with confidence.

[Photo Credit: Discovery Adventures]

Gadling Contributors’ Favorite Restaurants Of 2012

I take pictures of my food at restaurants. Do you hate me now? Yeah, I thought so. I do it because I’m a food writer and I use the photos to jog my memory when I’m writing about a restaurant. But also sometimes I do it for the same reason a lot of other people do: because I’m so smitten with the taste of what I’m eating that I want something to take with me when the flavor has long disappeared from my palate. There’s an anti-foodie backlash, that dismissive irony that hipsters gave to the world – the one that says: we can’t be enthusiastic about anything and if we appear to look that way, it’s just because we’re being ironic.

Remember when you had to go to an Italian specialty shop to get olive oil? Or when the only tacos you could find were made of ground beef and impossible-to-melt cheddar cheese? No? Well, trust me. The year 2012 is a much better time to be a lover of food than the past decades. It’s a good thing that we care about what we eat; that we want to know where it comes from; that we’re supporting more farmers and fewer corporations. And it’s okay to be so crazy about what you’re eating that you can’t help but snap a picture of your plate. Go ahead.

Below is a list – in alphabetical order – of Gadling writers’ favorite restaurants of 2012. No word on if they snapped shots of their food. They did, though, leave very satisfied.DAVID FARLEY
Gastrologik, Stockholm
There’s been so much talk about the triumph of Nordic cuisine the last couple years. I spent my first time in Scandinavia-in Stockholm, to be exact-eating my way through the handsome city of water and islands. My favorite meal was at chef Jacob Holmstrom’s restaurant, Gastrologik, where I feasted on a multi-course dinner. Dishes included a smooth crème of rooster liver, deep-fried cod belly, and fork-tender reindeer.

L’Osteria Monteverde, Rome
I spent one night in Rome earlier this year and my friend Pancho took me to this unassuming restaurant in the Monteverde neighborhood. It’s part of a trend in Roman dining right now where a talented chef takes over the space of a neighborhood eatery outside the center of town (where the rents are cheaper), does little to the décor, and quickly transforms the place into a destination restaurant. The menu listed what seemed like some tricked-out versions of classics but I went with the traditional carbonara and didn’t regret it.

In New York, there were just too many to keep it to one, so I’ll briefly mention my faves: Ngam in the East Village for an impressive fusion of American comfort food and northern Thai cuisine (the massaman curry pot pie makes me salivate); Mission Chinese Food on the Lower East Side for just about everything on the menu; and ditto for Fort Defiance in Brooklyn’s Red Hook which hit the mark on everything I ate there.

Bernys, Bateman’s Bay, Australia
This summer a friend and I drove Australia’s little appreciated south coast roads from Sydney to Eden. Along the way, we stopped off in the seaside town of Bateman’s Bay. Eager to get an insider’s view of the popular tourist destination, we asked a group of local fishermen where to get lunch. They recommended Bernys, a brightly painted but ramshackle place serving up fresh oysters, a dozen for a mere six Aussie dollars. We piled back into the car with two loads and headed to the nearest beach. Parked at a picnic table, we spent a blissfully lazy hour snacking on our mouth-watering mollusks.

Flatbush Farm, Brooklyn
I really loved Flatbush Farm when I was there and had this incredible bean dish, and an incredible polenta dish. But they change their menu all the time, depending on what’s seasonal, which is part of the charm.

Barboncino, Brooklyn
I have only love songs to sing for Barboncino, a newish wood oven pizza place on Franklin Avenue. Their basic, cheese-less marinara pizza, as sweet as it is garlicky, makes you wonder whether cheese is a cover-up for inferior sauces. Delicious and the perfect portion for one. For brunch, the egg pizza is surprisingly good, and well-paired with a Nutella calzone. Decadence.

Pok Pok NY, New York City
New York is probably the last place you’d expect to find mind-blowing Southeast Asian cuisine – many of the tropical herbs and fragrant spices that make cuisines like Thai so wonderful and flavorful are hard to come by on the other side of the world in a cold-weather climate like New York City. So I was dumbstruck to discover earlier this year that Portland chef Andy Ricker would be opening an outpost of his award-winning Thai restaurant near me in Brooklyn. There’s no shortage of standouts on the menu, but the Northern Thai-style specialties are the best: the outstanding Chiang Mai-style Khao Soi soup is a wonderful sensory and flavor overload–crispy noodles, tangy citrus and milky coconut broth held together by a fiery mixture of spices. The “Sai Ua Samun Phrai” (Chiang Mai grilled sausage with spicy green chili dip) is a “punch in the mouth” in the best possible sense of the term – pairing, savory, smoky sausage with bitter squash and a spicy dipping sauce.

Bakery Nouveau. Seattle
Sometimes I go for coffee and baked goods – they make an amazing twice baked almond croissant that’s stuffed with marzipan and smothered in butter, but they also make a beautiful custardy quiche and their California club sandwich is avocado, bacon, Havarti, and a not to garlic-y aoli on their own crumbling, delicate croissants. There’s nearly always a line and it is always worth the wait.

Wolfnights, New York City
The Brother’s Grimm at Wolfnights NYC is quite possibly the most delicious wrap I have ever had in my life, and I don’t even like wraps. This little roll of heaven contains spicy grilled chicken, pickled shitake mushrooms, raisins, plantain chips, and a generous dose of chipotle aioli sauce, all wrapped in a freshly made chestnut and chilly dough. Cost? A reasonable $7.95. I go at least once a week.

Longman & Eagle, Chicago
Longman & Eagle has been getting some well-deserved great press for the past couple of years due to a combination of great food, warm atmosphere and the cute six-room inn that they’ve established above their Logan Square restaurant. The fare could be best described as local comfort food that’s pricey but not expensive, while the clientele and staff could be in the same category. The menu changes seasonally, but if you get the chance try the delicious wild boar sloppy joe. And don’t forget to sample part of the whiskey menu – their selection is unparalleled.

OAK at Fourteenth, Boulder, CO
Dinner with Grant and Liz, last week. They have a dish of San Marzano tomatoes-braised meatballs and burrata cheese, served on Anson Mills grits. It’s like nirvana on a plate.

Thinking about my travel this year, I’d recommend a few places:

, Istanbul
One of my favorite neighborhood spots in ladies-who-lunch Nisantasi is open just for lunch. There are no printed menus, just whatever is seasonal and fresh is written on chalkboards. I’m still trying to recreate their watermelon lemonade, and you can’t go wrong with a savory pastry or kebab. Even better is the dukkan (shop) downstairs where you can take more treats home.

Pesti Diszno
, Budapest
The chalkboard pig outline logo drew me into this “gastropub” (pork was always inviting when I didn’t get much living in Istanbul), and it was one of my favorite meals in Budapest. The design and lighting feels like a hip bar, but the waiters still treated us like VIPs even with a baby and no Hungarian. I had one of the best hot dogs of my life there, if you could call such a wonder of meat a hot dog. Fun place to try traditional Hungarian food with a twist.

, Brooklyn
I’ve had many a boozy brunch and extended dinner at Beast in years past, and I’ve returned there more than any other place since I’ve moved back to NYC. It feels unpretentious and cozy, yet the food is surprisingly innovative and gourmet. The outstanding burger made with a mix of meats, and the fried manchego cheese bites are so good, you’ll order a second plate. They also have some of my favorite bathroom graffiti ever.

Carmelo’s Brick Oven Pizza, New York City
Growing up, my brother Peter was known as the family garbage disposal. You could put a pile of pig slop in front of him and he’d rave that it was the best thing he’d ever tasted. So I was more than a little surprised when he spent a small fortune on a mobile wood-fired pizza oven a couple years back in order to found a small mobile pizza business, Carmelo’s Brick Oven Pizza. He studied the art of pizza making and within a year, he was hitching his mobile oven to the back of his truck and catering parties and events. When he bragged that he made the best pizza in New York, I assumed that he was full of crap. That is, until I actually tried it this year and had to admit that it was just as good as the famous Da Michele in Naples and much better than just about every other Neapolitan-style pizza I’ve had anywhere. Sometimes the most prolific eaters also make very good cooks.

[Photo by David Farley]

World Subway Maps Drawn To Scale

Think New York has the most extensive subway system in the world? You may be right, but it’s a toss-up with London and Berlin. It’s easy to judge if you take all the metro systems and draw them to the same scale, as artist and urban planner Neil Freeman did in a series of minimalist subway maps. Comparing different systems, it’s a wonder why cities like Budapest even bothered with a metro, yet having ridden it, it’s a pretty extensive system.

Check out more of Neil Freeman’s awesome work, including a comparison of US metro regions and their respective states, a postcard of IATA airport codes, and in topical news, the electoral college map on his site Fake Is The New Real.

[Photo Credit: Neil Freeman]