New York Travel Festival Promises An Interactive Experience

Travel is an industry that’s evolving rapidly and if you like to have your finger on the pulse, attending a travel show is a great way to get up to speed on the latest developments. The first ever New York Travel Festival is coming up next month, and it promises to shake up the traditional concept of a consumer travel show – here visitors are expected to really take part and interact with the exhibitors.

The event kicks off on Saturday, April 20, at NYC’s Bohemian National Hall, where visitors will take part in food and drink tastings, attend travel workshops and learn about the latest trends.

A number of the travel industry’s top influencers will deliver a series of talks on everything from responsible travel to the latest in gay and lesbian travel.

Road warriors with more passport stamps than you can shake a stick at will share their tips on how you can avoid being scammed across the globe, ways to plan your trip like an expert and how you can refine your travel bucket list. Gadling’s own editor, Grant Martin, will share his thoughts during a panel about what we can expect from the ever-changing world of travel media.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a “travel” festival if it didn’t include some travel, so on Sunday, attendees will hit the streets of NYC. Some of the guided activities on offer include a tour if the city’s best pizza places, brewery and winery tours, an underground tour of the most interesting subway buskers, immigrant food tours and more.

Click here to buy tickets to the event and register for activities.

Is Eddie Huang The Next Anthony Bourdain? Watch And Find Out

If the name Eddie Huang isn’t familiar, it may soon be, if the folks at have their way. The Washington, D.C., native is a chef, former lawyer and, according to his website, a former “hustler and street wear designer” born to Taiwanese immigrants – a background that led him to become the force behind Manhattan’s popular Baohaus restaurant.

Huang’s new VICE video series, “Fresh Off the Boat,” premiered online on October 15. According to VICE’s website, the show is “Eddie Huang’s genre-bending venture into subculture through the lens of food.” That’s one way to describe it.

Huang has been positioning himself as a chef-turned-media-personality in the vein of Anthony Bourdain or David Chang for a while now. As in, he’s street smart, opinionated, and doesn’t appear to give a rat’s ass what people think of his renegade ways. Ostensibly, it’s a great fit for VICE, which is known for its edgy exposés and other content.

Here we hit the first divergence among FOTB and the canon of travel series. Regardless of how you feel about them, Bourdain and Chang are still, respectively, articulate, intelligent commentators of what’s been called “food anthropology.” Huang is obviously a savvy businessman, and thus, one must assume, not lacking in brain cells. But he isn’t as likable. Unlike Chang, a mad genius, he’s not so outrageously batshit that he’s funny. He’s not particularly charming, witty, or aesthetically appealing, and he comes off more wannabe-Bourdain and imposter street thug than informative host and armchair travel guide.

In the premiere, Huang takes viewers on a backwoods tour of the Bay Area, starting with a visit to Oakland’s East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club.

We’re briefly introduced to Rats president Trevor Latham, and next thing we know Huang and Latham are armed with rifles and wandering Latham’s Livermore ranch in search of rabbits. Says, Latham, an avid hunter, “People that eat meat and aren’t willing to kill an animal are fucking pussies, and fuck them.”

Of note, the below video is fairly graphic.

For his part, Huang appears suitably humbled, although I have to wonder why a chef of his standing and ethnic and familial background (his father is also a restaurateur) doesn’t appear to have been exposed to animal slaughter before. Still, he gets bonus points for trying to disseminate what should have been the primary message.

Says Huang in the final scene, “Every time I eat meat now, I have to be conscious that…I am choosing to enable someone to kill an animal and create a market demand for slaughter. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Just be conscious of the choices you make.”

Well done. I just wish the rest of the episode carried that levity.

“Fresh Off the Boat airs Mondays; future episodes will include San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and Taiwan.

[Photo credit: Eddie Huang, Youtube ; rabbits, Flickr user Robobobobo]

Anthony Bourdain Bids Farewell To ‘No Reservations’

For lovers of food, snark and real or armchair travel, a sad day is nearly upon us: the final episode of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations.” On Monday, November 5, “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations – The Final Tour” will air at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

As befitting the finale of a show that had its beginnings in New York, the ever-“quotable Bourdain” will take viewers to Brooklyn, for an in-depth look at the borough’s culinary and other subcultures.

Bye, Tony. It’s been real. We’ll miss you.

Check out the below video for a sneak peak of “Brooklyn,” where Tony and actor Michael K. Williams scarf down some oxtail stew in Crown Heights.

Why I hate The Amazing Race

I love TV travel porn. Turn on a little Rick Steves traipsing around Europe’s back doors, Ian Wright of Globetrekker getting hamstrung in a Turkish hammam, or Anthony Bourdain slurping up Pho in Vietnam on No Reservations, and I am fixated. Hell, I’ll even watch the awkwardly matched foursome of Gwyneth Paltrow, Chef Mario Batali, food writer Mark Bittman, and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols just to see them thump melons and gobble down salty pig parts as they ramble through the markets and kitchens of Spain on PBS’s Spain…on the Road Again.

As much as I adore armchair exploration, however, there is one program that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth – the wildly popular CBS reality travel show The Amazing Race. If you’ve never seen it, the show consists of 11 two-person teams that fly around the world to compete in challenges, typically based on the local culture, such as roping a llama in Peru or driving a snowplow in Siberia. Since it began in 2001, “Race” has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards and has been franchised to include versions in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. In Israel, The Amazing Race is called HaMerotz LaMillion, which translates roughly as “Race to the Million,” because teams compete to win $1 million (or, in the case of Israel, one million new Israeli shekels).

In sum, the Amazing Race is an adrenaline-fueled travel adventure show beloved by millions of TV viewers worldwide. So why do I hate it? Here are three reasons:1. Travel shouldn’t be about numbers. “Five continents, 25 cities, and more than 40,000 miles” was the tagline of the final episode of Race’s Season 7. To many travelers, the dream is to rack up visited destinations like trophies. But should travel be boiled down to just numbers? Should quantity trump quality? There’s a certain hollow materialism to counting countries and treating cities like personal stats. It reminds me of a saying that was popular in the 1980s, “He who dies with the most toys wins” and leads me to my next point…

2. Travel is best when you slow down. Were every moment not recorded, would Race’s contestants even remember the difference between Peru and Chile or South Africa and Botswana? Filming for the Amazing Race typically takes place over one month, during which time participants travel to as many as a dozen countries. One of the shortest seasons, The Amazing Race 12, had contestants traveling 30,000 miles to 10 countries within 21 days. I understand that such a breakneck speed makes for great television – it is a race, after all. But I feel that The Amazing Race sends the wrong signal to travelers that it is okay to speed through airports and train stations and villages. Travel should be one of those activities where you allow yourself to slow down and take note of the details. Travel deeply not quickly.

3. Travel should, in itself, be the reward. The $1 million prize is why The Amazing Race gets tens of thousands of applications each season. Who can fault would-be contestants for wanting to race around the world for that kind of cash? Not me. Though, what if The Amazing Race made travel the reward? There are so many quotations about the benefits of travel that I could use here, but I actually think a recent tweet from Gadling friend and Twitter’s favorite nomad Andrew Evans (@wheresandrew):

In its defense, The Amazing Race bills itself as a “reality program” and not as a “lifestyle program,” the Emmy category under which most travel shows are classified. And, I also applaud Race for shining a spotlight on destinations that many travelers may never get to see (Burkina Faso!). But I fear I will never quite understand why a show that puts personality above place and discord above discovery is so beloved by travel enthusiasts. The Amazing Race stresses me out; give me Rick Steves any day.

The 19th season of The Amazing Race premiers on Sunday, September 25.

Photo from Wikipedia

Sidesplitting travel podcast hits the air

It’s absolutely amazing what you find on the net: just the other day I was trawling around some safe-for-work soft core sites when I happened upon the Mike & Alex Show. Thinking I’d already seen that one, I just clicked onward. Later, however (while carefully deleting my browser’s history), I realized that no, no, this was the MIke & Alex TRAVEL Show. “OH!” I laughed out loud, then sat down for the most thrilling half-hour of my life.

The podcast genre was long overdue for a kick in the pants and these two boys promise to do just that. For starters, both of their last names start with the letter “B”, as in brilliant. Mike Barish and Alex(ander) Basek use their show to discuss everyday travel issues but without any of the soft-serve mollycoddling for which “podcast” has become synonymous. Also, these are funny guys who say funny things about travel stuff. In their very first audio issue, Mike & Alex take on Amsterdam’s coffee shops and airplane movies and you’ll agree with them 100%.

Honestly, I was hoping the show would sound less professional and more like emotionally-disturbed children taking razor blades to the Washington Post’s travel section (there’s still hope). I really have no idea who these two clowns are but ouch, my funny bone is hurting. Imagine your most hilarious guy friends sitting at the bar talking travel. In fact–Come to think of it, Mike Barish is the name of this guy I know who writes for Gadling.

Yeah, so a few things that might make the podcast funnier: some heavy-handed laugh tracks, more rubber chickens and perhaps a little tasteful post-racial repartee. Also, maybe they could play 30Rock really loud in the background?

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