With most kids heading back to school and the Labor Day holiday approaching, late August usually means the end of summer. (People, we’re sad about it, too.) The good news: Now there’s plenty of time to catch up on all of the great travel and travel-related stories that have been published over the past few weeks. We keep a file of the ones we deem to be winners. Here are some of our faves.
Second life for British phone booths
Even if you’ve never visited England, you likely associate red telephone booths with the land of London and beyond. They’re symbolic of a simpler time. They’re historic. And, with the rise of mobile phones, the 8,000 red booths that remain basically have become dinosaurs. That’s what makes this recent feature from Bloomberg (of all places) so much fun. The story spotlights some of the ways these phone booths are experiencing a second life—as coffee shops, book nooks, first-aid stations, and computer fix-it stores. Ironically, there’s even a push to convert some into mini offices. The piece speaks as much about the resilience of British entrepreneurs as it does to the world’s love affair with these travel icons. We dare you to read it without smiling.
Developing situation on Oahu
Development is a huge issue on the Hawaiian Islands—always has been, always will be. This recent essay, by Breena Kerr, does a masterful job of explaining why. Kerr’s piece is set on Oahu, the most populous of the seven habitable islands; in it, she uses colorful description and old-fashioned reporting to bring readers up to speed on some of the development controversies du jour. What stands out about Kerr’s take are the quotes from locals, insights that simultaneously abhor new construction yet recognize its inevitable part in modern life. This sobering honesty provides a colorful sense of place—one that would serve visitors well to keep in mind on subsequent visits (especially to the resorts of Waikiki Beach).
A widow’s fight for a Tennessee tradition
Food and hospitality fanatics were stunned this February to hear of the tragic accident that killed 39-year-old Sam Beall, co-owner of Blackberry Farm outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. Over the past few years, the 68-room lodge had become an icon in the farm-to-table movement and one of the most prestigious, luxurious, and expensive places to stay in America. Now it has fallen to Beall’s widow, Mary Celeste Beall, to run the farm by herself. That unexpected transition is the subject of a beautiful (and, at times, gut-wrenching) feature by Kim Severson for the New York Times. The story, which only tangentially touches on travel, incorporates insightful comments from Mary Celeste Beall about the way we grieve and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. The message: Blackberry Farm will live on.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com