Icebergs! Penguins! Pillars Of Hercules! Tuscan Sunburns! Extreme Adventures Await!


“I can feel that sound coming up through the bottoms in the my feet and telling me that this iceberg is coming north. That’s my dream.”

Welcome To Earth!


Now THIS is a great place to visit…and so is Cannes, France – one of my most favorite places in the world…

Behold Cannes, France!

Hello, Penguins!

And look at this gorgeous shot of Antarctica – full of penguins of course….

And Then, Tuscany’s Calling…

And Tuscany – one of the most beautiful and serene places in the world…

Yes, the world is an amazing place – full of an almost incomprehensible array of exotic, unique places to explore – I wish I could see it all!

But since I can’t here are three more great adventures in the world of exotic travel!

The Pillars Of Hercules: A Grand Tour Of The Mediterranean – by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux is a brilliant writer – of both fiction AND non-fiction, but it is his collection of aggressive, opinionated travel books that I love. I have written about many of them before, and her is another great one!

Theroux is cantankerous – he writes as someone who wants to experience life – not as a tourist, but as an adventurer…

These are the “pillars of Hercules” – that narrow passageway between Gibraltor and the northern edge of the african continent. What does it hold within? Why the Mediterranean of course!

The difference between a tourist and a traveler, says Theroux, is that the tourist knows where he’s going. In this latest adventure, his only aim was to explore the Mediterranean coast without resort to airplanes.

As a result, he found himself in unfamiliar villages on untraveled roads, acquired unexpected companions and slept in an assortment of inns, from fleabags to Hilton hotels, seeing the heavily trafficked French Riviera like this…

…and also seeing Gibraltar Spain, Croatia, Sardinia, Greece, Albania, Morocco, the Levant and Israel. He travels completely around the Mediterranean and shares his adventure…

His pictures, like those of a wanderer with a sharp eye and an informed intelligence, though a large measure of condescension as well, are fresh even when he lands in well-reported places.

Although most of his informants are casually met, now and then he interviews the famous, among them Paul Bowles in Morocco, Naguib Mahfouz in Egypt, and others, who share what life in this part of the world is really like, and it’s alot more than just what a tourist would see.

You may or may not have visited some of these countries: I guarantee you haven’t visited them all, and he does, with a keen eye for the usual, and the unusual…

This is a Mediterranean coast few know, as exotic and tumultuous now as throughout history. And it is a dangerous trip as well…this is a terrific adventure book, beautifully written and expertly documented…makes me want to go to all of these countries!

I love this book – ALL of his books, and can’t wait for the next one! I also love wine, and vineyards, and Tuscany, which leads us to:

Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide – by Dario Castagno and Robert Rodi

After the phenomenal success of Frances Mayes’ “Under The Tuscan Sun”, and her romanticized vision of Tusacany, it was inevitable that we would have to hear an opposing view – and this book does just that, in a hilarious and informative way!

Recent years have seen a virtual flood of books about Tuscany—first-person accounts about Americans trying to do American things in Italy and bumping up against a centuries-old stone wall of tradition. It’s only fair that we now hear a native Tuscan’s side of the story.

Welcome To Tuscany!

Who better to provide that view than Dario Castagno, a British-born, Tuscan-raised tour guide who has spent more than a decade leading Americans into the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti region. In this lively, candid memoir, Dario looks at the Americans who have stormed through his life and his homeland. Some tested his sanity, others became lifelong friends.

With wry humor and affection, Dario recalls some of his more remarkable clients—the delightful, the vain, the silly, the ignorant, the ambitious, the amorous, the condescending, the lovely, and the outright crazy. He also shares an account of his own life and times—his transformation from bohemian layabout to thriving tour guide—and offers an enchanting introduction to the charms of Tuscany over the course of a year.

Through his company, Chianti Rooster Tours, Dario Castagno guides small groups of visitors to his favorite spots in the Chianti region of Italy. He belongs to Siena’s Caterpillar contrada, which in 2003 won the Palio—the wildly popular bareback horse race that takes place in Siena each summer.

This is a really funny and entertaining look at what it is like to take tourists through one of the most beautiful areas of the world…and watch them stomp all over it!

This region of the world is beautiful – full of classic Italian architecture, and of course, wine!

This is a funny, affectionate look at the world of Tuscan tourism – and worth reading!

Chill Out!

Now, time to head south to what is probably the place I would most like to explore in the world:

Yes, time to go along with acclaimed film maker Werner Herzog for his unique trip to the end of the world…

Encounters At The End Of The World – a documentary by Werner Herzog

All you need to know about this great documentary can be found in this quote with the film maker Werner Herzog:

Werner Herzog: “The National Science Foundation had invited me to Antarctica even though I left no doubt that I would not come up with another film about penguins.”

So, this is NOT a film about penguins. But that is just one reason why it is such a great documentary…

Werner Herzog takes his camera to Antarctica where we meet the odd men and women who have dedicated their lives to furthering the cause of science in treacherous conditions. Taht’s right, this is a docu about SCIENTISTS! Scientists who have moved to the end of the world…

Here are some examples of who is documented in this movie. A scientist studies neutrinos, which are everywhere, yet elusive; he likens them to spirits. A researcher’s nighttime performance art includes contorting her body into a luggage bag.


A survival guide teaches his students to survive white-out conditions by wearing cartoon-face buckets over their heads.

Animal researchers milk mother seals as part of their study. Volcanologists offer advice on what to do when a volcano erupts. A pipe fitter shows us the anomaly in his hands that he says are a sign he descended from Atzec royalty. A former Colorado banker drives what he has christened Ivan the Terra Bus.

An underwater diver shows his colleagues DVDs of apocalyptic sci-fi films like Them!. And — though Herzog declares he’s not “making another film about penguins”, yes you even get a heartbreaking story about penguins as well…

The people you meet are fascinating:

Doug MacAyeal: Might as well be on a piece of the South Pole but yet I’m actually adrift in the ocean, a vagabond floating in the ocean, and below my feet I can feel the rumble of the iceberg, I can feel the change, the cry of the iceberg, as it’s screeching and as it’s bouncing off the seabed, as it’s steering the ocean currents, as it’s beginning to move north.

“I can feel that sound coming up through the bottoms in the my feet and telling me that this iceberg is coming north. That’s my dream.”

The Director offers his insight throughout the film as well:

Werner Herzog: I noticed that the divers in their routine were not speaking at all. To me, they were like priests preparing for mass. Under the ice the divers find themselves in a separate reality where space and time acquire a strange, new dimension. Those few who have experienced the world under the frozen sky often speak of it as going down into the cathedral.

This is a fascinating look at the South Pole that you don’t see….the mini-towns that are anything but what you would expect:

As you watch the Scientists explore, document, and study this vast continent, you see how delicate the balance between science and nature is…

I hope to one day get to this amazing place and explore…until then, I will just keep watching this documentary over and over again and dream…

Werner Herzog dedicated the film to Roger Ebert, who he calls a true “warrior of cinema”. Due to the dedication Ebert could not review the film, but he wrote a complimentary letter to Herzog and later published it. Check it out now!


Categories: Books / Media, Cannes Film Festival, Movies, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 replies


  1. Into The Wild! Siberia’s “Happy People”! Werner Herzog’s New Documentary! « johnrieber
  2. China! Siberia! Fiji! Penguins! Great Controversial Travel Documentaries! | johnrieber
  3. Stand Atop The Rock Of Gibraltar! Who Knew There Were Monkeys? My “Wanderlust” To Climb The “Pillars Of Hercules!” – johnrieber

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