Going Places

John Allen / Flickr

Usually, when we check in with our travel expert Matthew Brumley, he’s talking to us about some far-off destination that we need to reach by plane or boat or train. But this week on “Going Places,” he’s traveling by the book.

 

Below, find our favorite books that are either about travel, or make us want to travel. And add yours to the list, in the comments section at the end.

Matthew’s List

Michelle Lee / Flickr

Let’s be real: It is difficult to leave the Pacific Northwest in the summer. So we asked travel expert Matthew Brumley to find a place that’s nearby, but still feels like a good getaway from the hustle of daily life.

He talked to us from the town of Ganges, on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

 

Getting There

Grotta Giusti

Traveling can take a lot out of you. The flights, moving from city to city, trying to see everything — it can be exhausting. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says when he's on the road, he looks for opportunities to rejuvenate at spas and saunas. He estimates he’s been in about 70 of them, in 10 different countries.

His first time visiting a sauna was when he was living in Denmark, and some friends invited him to go with them to Sweden in the winter.

Nickay3111 / Flickr

Washington has more than 150 miles of coastline from the top of the Olympic Peninsula down to the mouth of the Columbia River. And KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley it’s worth exploring, and can offer you a variety of experiences, whether you want big fancy hotels, or just some tent camping in a quiet place.

There are lots of ways to make this trip. South Sound residents will probably want to head through Olympia and then up the Olympic Peninsula. Brumley takes a northerly route, starting from Seattle.

A Culture Of Relaxation In Italy's Lake District

Jun 8, 2016
Matthew Brumley / KPLU

Picture it: You walk out onto a patio in the early morning hours. Some church bells chime in the distance. You sip coffee. In front of you: the Alps, soaring out of a huge lake, with the towns of Bellagio and Varenna at your feet.

This is life along Lake Como, in northern Italy's Lake District. This place has a distinctive feel, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Rino Peroni / Flickr

Wine, in Italy, is more than something to accompany dinner; It's a cultural experience and a source of national pride.

So says Natalia Mandelli, a guide and sommelier in Italy, our special guest on this week's Going Places.

"I feel proud to be Italian when we talk about wine," she said. "When we think about red wine, we always talk about French wine. But Italy has a very big heritage of local grapes."

Where To Find Wine

Tatyana A. / Flickr

All month, we've been following KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley as he journeys through Europe. Below, you can hear him in the Hungarian capital, Budapest; the Tuscany region of Italy, and the Italian city of Bolgona. 

This week, we went back into the archives for one of our favorite episodes of "Going Places." Brumley was in Vienna, standing near a church, getting ready to tape his segment with KPLU's Ed Ronco, back in Seattle.

And then, the bells started:

Vienna, Brumley says, was the Seattle of the 19th century -- an epicenter of music, coffee, and culture. 

Surprises, Music, Lots Of Food In Italy's Bologna

May 19, 2016
Roberto Taddeo / Flickr

Bologna, Italy, was an early home to higher education and music in Europe -- and it remains an epicenter of both. That's where we find KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley for this week's edition of Going Places.

We reach him sitting in the Piazza Maggiore, which looks at the Basilica di San Petronio and the Palazzo d'Accursio. It's in the palazzo that you'll find one of Bologna's great surprises.

neiljs / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley is working in Europe this month. He’s been with groups in Budapest, Hungary, and was just recently in Berlin.

“I was in a 1910 ballroom, hanging out with some cabaret singers,” he said.

He’s not kidding.

But now he’s changed his pace a little. After a 90-minute flight to Florence, Brumley finds himself in Tuscany. The places he’s visiting are outside the city, and smaller than usual tourist destinations. But he says they’re very much worth the detour.

Cities To Explore

Matthew Brumley / KPLU

The Hungarian city we now know as Budapest has seen a lot. Originally two cities, Buda and Pest, it was fought over for centuries by the Romans and the Ottomans, among others.

In World War II, it was partially destroyed by British and American bombings. But now, Budapest is a prime destination for visitors.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley called in from the deck of the MS Amadeus Brilliant, on the Danube River in the heart of the city.

James Melzer / Flickr

Here at Going Places world headquarters (really just the KPLU newsroom, but go with it, OK?) we're big fans of travel experiences that allow for some unexpected discovery. But it's still good to be informed about your destination before you arrive, says our travel expert, Matthew Brumley.

Here are some tips on how:

Read Local News And Listen To Local Music

Brumley downloads local radio station apps and reads local newspapers before he heads to a vacation destination.

For A Good Summer Getaway, Consider Staying Nearby

Apr 21, 2016
Cameron Birse / Flickr

The unseasonably warm weather of the last few days has KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley thinking about summer. Now is the time, he says, to start planning a summer vacation. And he says staying put in the Northwest is a great option.

This week, we offer advice for planning your trip, and a list of nearby getaways Brumley has found worthwhile.

Book Now, Cancel Later

Holland America

Christina Opalka has been researching travel trends for the cruise industry since the 1990s. This week, she offers her perspectives on why it’s worth your time to make your next vacation buoyant.

Not All Cruises Are The Same

There are megaships you can stay aboard for the entire trip, with restaurants, theaters, spas, pools and more. And then there are smaller ships focused on remote natural wonders, where you can get in a kayak with a guide and paddle near a glacier.

Natural Beauty And Turbulent History In South Africa

Apr 7, 2016
Matthew Brumley / KPLU

South Africa’s history includes apartheid, civil unrest, and political scandals. Just this week, President Jacob Zuma survived an impeachment vote on charges he used public money to upgrade his private home.

But the country is also a favorite among travelers, including our own travel expert Matthew Brumley, who was recently in Cape Town.

"I've been coming here for 10 years," he said, "and I'm going to figure out a way to move here at some point in my life. I'm sitting here looking at Table Mountain with what they call 'the tablecloth' over the top."

Chris Ford / Flickr

“I hope I miss my flight sometimes.”

Not words you expect to hear from a flyer as frequent as our travel expert, Matthew Brumley. But he's a huge fan of layovers, including those that begin when the pilot comes on and announces a flight delay before takeoff.

“I’m always very happy about that, because I’m thinking, ‘I think I’m going to miss my connection,’” he said. “I love layovers.”

It helps to know the city, or to even have friends there, Brumley said. But even if you don’t, a layover – accidental or planned – can be a great way to see a new place.

Ingmar Zahorsky / Flickr

Maybe it’s the busy primary election season that has us in this mindset, but we’ve been thinking a lot about voting lately. And our Going Places team wondered what it’s like in other parts of the world.

This week we hear from Danna Brumley, who is an experienced guide and world traveler, much like her husband, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

She and her family wound up in Costa Rica during an election once. She says the country is already festive for travelers, but on Election Day, it's like "New Year's Eve, all day long."

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

[Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information about loopholes how airlines and travel websites deal with 24-hour cancelations.]

Finding a good deal on airfare can be tricky. The prices change quickly. There are conflicting reports on when airlines post their sales and specials. It all seems kind of arbitrary. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says it’s all a matter of knowing where (and how) to look.

1. Shop Around

Screenshots

Way back when (you know, 10 years ago), travelers carried these things called guide books. Maybe some of them still do, but most of that information now lives in your smartphone. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has some favorites. Here they are:

1. KAYAK

What it does: The search website’s app lets you look for flights, car rentals, hotels and more.

Michael Janke / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has a confession to make.

"I was a travel snob," he said. "I was one of those who said I'll get to places like Hawaii or Puerto Rico or the Caribbean when I'm in my golden years and I've seen everything else on the planet."

He went to Hawaii for the first time about five years ago, and returned just last week.

Leiris202 / Flickr

It’s time to discuss something controversial. A topic so polarizing it has the potential to tear the very fabric of our society: The selfie.

Visit any place that attracts tourists – Pike Place Market, St. Peter’s Basilica, Tokyo’s Shibuya district – and you’ll see people with cameras held aloft. Sometimes those cameras are at the ends of poles. And the people are very often photographing … themselves.

Love them or hate them – and KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley hates them – selfies have become part of our culture.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Groundhog Day was this week and, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. Legend says that means an early spring. Whether or not Phil’s prediction is accurate, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley is thinking about spring break.

The lead-up to a vacation can be stressful, Brumley said.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

National Parks date back to 1872, so it might seem a little unusual that they’re celebrating their centennial this year. It’s because the agency that manages them – the U.S. National Park Service – wasn’t created until 1916. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says the more than 400 national parks are great places to spend a vacation, offering nature, and a lot more.

Presidents And Rails

So who gets credit for creating the national parks?

Ed Ronco / KPLU

The World Happiness Report ranks Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway as the happiest nations. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says his experience has been different. 

“I went to school in Denmark,” he said. “I would not peg any of these countries as what I think of as the happiest places on earth.”

David Schenfeld / Flickr

In the world of global tourism there are the old standbys – global capitals that have been captivating visitors for decades. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are some emerging destinations that could see more travelers in the new year.

Myanmar

Andrew W. Sieber / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley tends toward independent travel in his own life – the kind where you can break with your itinerary for an afternoon, or decide spontaneously to spend an extra day in a city you like.

But this week, he’s talking about cruise travel – which often comes with a very specific itinerary.

“It’s a great way to travel if you have multiple generations with you,” he said. “It’s a turnkey solution to a big family trip. And often times it’s super cheap.”

Repositioning Cruises

Earthbound Expeditions

In Prague, it’s the main square. In Paris, it’s the region around the Louvre. In New York, it’s Times Square. And here in Seattle, it’s the Space Needle or Pike Place Market.

Every city has its tourist hot-spots. And while you wouldn’t want to go to Rome and skip the Colosseum, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley urges people to look deeper.

Rebecca Boyd / Flickr

We heard a while back from Jessica, a listener who tweeted the following message: “I like #GoingPlaces that involve more than standing/looking at things. But not an adrenaline junky. Interesting trip ideas?”

Good news, Jessica: KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says you don’t have to go far. But you can if you want to. More on that later.

Wintertime Fun

Brumley’s family has been trying cross-country skiing. It’s relatively easy, but still gives you a workout, and it costs way less than its downhill counterpart.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Social media, easy-to-carry camera phones, and other technological advances make it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family. It’s also easy to stay in touch with work. And that can be a problem when you’re on vacation, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

"I see it wherever I go," Brumley said. "People on beaches in Hawaii or Mexico ... texting or working, and paying more attention to their gadgets and phones than they are to their surroundings and the people sitting with them at that very moment."

Thanks To Those Who Help Us Get Where We're Going

Nov 26, 2015
KPLU

On this Thanksgiving, we pause for a moment to say thanks. As millions of people hurry from place to place across the country this weekend, thousands are helping them get there. Pilots, flight attendants, TSA officers, baggage handlers, front desk clerks, hotel maids, rental car agents, cooks, servers and more.

We'll be back next week with more travel topics (namely, how people get lost in their personal technology while on vacation). But for now, just thanks, to all of the folks who help us travel, and to you, for joining us each week on Going Places.

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

If you’ve flown recently, you’ve also experienced airport security. And you’ve maybe also had to wait as travelers with a certain clearance are let through security ahead of you. It’s part of a program called TSA PreCheck, where travelers can pay $85 and undergo some advance screening once, allowing them to breeze through much shorter security lines without removing shoes and belts.

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