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Morning Photo: Village scenes

Bigger than a hamlet, smaller than a town …

The town square in Brignoles, France.

SUMMIT COUNTY — There are always some semantics involved when it comes to determining what, exactly, a village is. The dictionary is not much help, most often describing a village as “bigger than a hamlet, smaller than a town.” Can anyone name an actual “hamlet,” please? In the end, I think village-ness is more a state of mind that anything else … Continue reading

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Travel: Taking a moment in the Midi-Pyrénées

A week in rural France with an old friend in a new home

My hosts for a week, Lina and Stephane, walk through the center of La Terrisse at night. The rural town is in the Midi-Pyrénées region near the border with Spain.

Story and photos by Garrett Palm

We rushed to get to the waterfall before the sun completely set. We had intended to get there much earlier, but our day in the rural Midi-Pyrénées region of France had been more enjoyable than efficient. The last few minutes of dusk and the dense forest around the little village of La Terrisse already made it hard to see. I stumbled on wet stones as the trail and the creek occasionally converged.

The trail passed through a small hut partly hanging over the creek, where I stopped for a second to admire the carvings in the untreated wood and benches above the water. It looked like a nice place to spend some time, but the dog and two kittens that joined us on our hike played in the creek upstream as they waited for us to catch up. The little patches of sky visible through the trees grew darker.

The pets lived with my host’s friends, Gwladys and Fred, a name combination I sometimes feel I made up, and their two young daughters, Tchenrezie and Isis, 4 and 2 years old, respectively. This whole family lives in a mud structure they built themselves in a clearing on a nearby hillside.

The mud home of Gwladys and Fred and their family on the edge of the forest.

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Morning photo: Streetscapes

… from around the world

Ancient walls and tile roofs in Brignoles, France in an image that was cropped, over-saturated and enhanced with added contrast to highlight the textures and funky geometry.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Urban photography is a challenge for me. I’m more at home in the woods, on a beach or in the mountains, but every now and then, when Leigh and I travel, we enjoy exploring some of the nooks and crannies that might not be on a tourist map. Continue reading

Travel: Father and son with World Cup fever

In celebration of the 2010 World Cup, starting in a couple of days in South Africa, we’re reprinting a travel story from four years ago, when Summit Voice editor and publisher Bob Berwyn and his son, Dylan, enjoyed some first-hand Cup action during a trip through Germany, Austria and France.

Poland and Armenia line up before the start of a Euro 2008 qualifying match. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

By Bob Berwyn

We know we’re about to dive into the midst of World Cup madness even while our plane is still far out over the Atlantic. Instead of telling us about the weather at our destination, the pilot gives updates on the first game of the tournament. When he announces the score of the opener – Germany 4, Costa Rica 2 – most of the passengers cheer, setting the tone for the landing at Frankfurt International Airport.

Soccer fever is running high, and even the normally stone-faced security guards and customs officials crack wide smiles as fans from around the globe throng through the portals. The guy who checks our passports is wearing a Brazil bracelet, and the final inspector waves us through with a big grin and without so much as a glance at my backpack: “Willkommen in Deutschland. Viel Spass!”

Dylan, my 8-year-old son, marvels at the riot of colorful jerseys, T-shirts, flags, hats and balls, and immediately starts calculating how many souvenirs he’ll be able to carry back. I see it as a teachable moment, and I’m hoping that by the end of our trip, he’ll recognize the 32 flags of the countries participating in the tournament and know how to locate them on a map. Continue reading

Sunday travel: The great debate (or is it?)

A French youngster sorts through apples at a market in Brignoles. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Travel writers versus travel bloggers – does anyone really care?

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — For some time now, travel writers and bloggers have been debating about the relative merits of their chosen platforms. Bloggers claim that the immediacy of their posts, often written from the road, give readers a sense that they’re traveling along.

Some traditional travel scribes — and by that I mean writers who go on a trip, take notes and pictures, do research, then go home and write a story that appears in a magazine or newspaper a few months later — apparently feel that at least some travel blogs are under-reported, in the sense that they lack context. In some of these online debates, I’ve also seen some travel editors claim that some of the most popular travel bloggers don’t convey a sense of place, that they make they make the story all about themselves.

Although I’ve dabbled in travel blogging, I’d have to agree with at least part of that argument. At least a few of the bloggers who bill themselves as successfully making a career from their travel postings seem to think that the whole world revolves around them. The writing is pedestrian at best, sometimes includes egregious mistakes, and the photography often is somewhere around the level of what you might find in a family snapshot album, or worse.

In defense, bloggers have responded that personality is everything, and that their readers expect them to inject themselves and their subjective opinions into the story; whether they back up those opinions with any other views or facts seems irrelevant to them. And — who knows — judging by the number of people following their blogs and tweets they may be right.

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