Wish we were there: our best selection of FT travel pieces



In the year In 1957, the FT sent a correspondent to the Soviet Union to deliver a message for its new “Travel and Tourism” section. The author goes into great detail about the ruble-sterling exchange rate, the width of the roads and the composition of the cement. Jack Kerouac was not.

Almost 70 years old, this magazine has built a reputation for great travel writing, eye-catching photography – and full-on adventures.

With airports in chaos this winter and holidays an increasingly painful prospect, FT Edit has teamed up with FT Travel editors to bring you some of the best travel pieces from the past few years. Once your luggage arrives, be reminded that there’s a wide world waiting to be explored.

Journey to paradise

Without a 3.30am start and a clearly defined purpose, is it even a holiday? Mike Carter’s journey to the Indonesian archipelago follows a world-renowned evolutionary biologist on a bird-of-paradise hunt, with vivid descriptions of the extreme heat, humidity and all the wildlife.

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A man at the head of the line hacked into the forest with a machete. Giant flying beetles aimed the head torch up and smacked me in the face. That same beam found a giant spider web and giant spiders in between. It was 30 degrees, 95 percent humidity, and fully clothed I was as wet as a shower.

The word went down the line to be silent. No one gave the note to the forest. Like an old dial modem, the cicadas pulsing like static, invisible, in the blackness, a hornbill passed, its broad wings fluttering, like a giant heartbeat.

It felt like a commando raid but it was nothing. We were on the island of Misol in eastern Indonesia to go bird watching. Not just any bird, but bird of paradise and dawn courtship rituals.

Take it out Indonesian adventure due to Alfred Russel WallaceJanuary 15, 2019

Hidden history mountains

In the year In December 2019, Tajikistan was on the verge of opening up to the world. Sophie Roberts discovers a country with deep history, stunning scenery, warm people – and ambitions to become a tourist destination. The epidemic kicked these into the long grass, and Tajikistan is still waiting to catch up.

Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan

That night, I stayed with Furkat Kasimov, a father of five, at his home on the outskirts of Boktar. I was the first foreigner in a country where hotel infrastructure was negligible. I ate with his family at a low table a delicious sorghum sauce filled with dried mulberry, Russian fudge, and tiny Chinese clementines. The room was decorated with textured wallpaper and a flat-screen TV playing classical Tajik music, including the lute-like, fearless rubab. Our waiter picked up a pomegranate in his palm, and with his other hand, used a sharp kitchen knife to score a line around the crown of the fruit.

Furcat eased the scalp and pit, then made eight vertical stitches from Roman’s head to the base, until the sections were open. The pomegranate spilled the ruby ​​seeds without the knife extracting a single drop of juice. As I admired their taste, Furkat brought his right hand to his heart. As the pride swelled – growing this fruit inside the fruit from the outside – I began to feel the emergence of the pomegranate as a metaphor for Tajikistan: a treasure hidden in a tough, damaged skin.

Take it out I wish I was there: off the beaten path in TajikistanAugust 7, 2020

Like the other island

As a child, Janice Booth heard about Socotra, a magical and troubled island in the Arabian Sea, while reading a book by Rudyard Kipling. How the rhinoceros got its skin. Decades later, at age 81, she has a chance to see for herself. White sand beaches, paradisiacal landscapes, proud past and future make for an otherworldly journey.

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There is nothing predictable about Socotra and I love the constant surprises. The famous dragon’s blood trees on the hillsides look like giant old darning mushrooms; The thickest bottle trees with impossible human shapes are cleverly called “desert roses”. And the ever-hungry vultures of Egypt descend to be punk barbers as refuse collectors.

Around the beach, fresh water springs emerge from among the huge sand dunes. A natural swimming pool with a 180 degree view at the top of a cliff, a gray patch on a tree trunk turned out to be home to thousands of snails, bold pink land crabs came out to browse our toes as we cooled our feet in the flowing stream. .

And in every direction and at every moment, the island is amazingly, incredibly beautiful; The shapes, colors, sounds, and unexpected sense of place blend together in my mind into something I want to revisit.

Take it out I wish I was there: the treasures of SocotraNovember 19 2020

Razzle-dazzle on wheels

It is a rare pleasure when an experience lives up to its desire. A trip from Paris to Venice on the Oriental Express is everything Maria Schollenberger hoped for: colorful and ornate (quite literally, in parts) with a healthy dose of razzmatazz thrown in for good measure.

Pageantry, the crew’s and yours, is part of the deal. Them: royal-blue livery trimmed with gold embroidery, fur hats, white gloves, welcoming smiles. You: Holiday dress up game up several levels (even if your game is already exactly A), because this is short. Or at least it’s the leader (“You may never wear a dress code aboard the Venice-Simplon Orient Express,” offers a reservation confirmation clause).

Black tie is clearly not required at dinner, you understand; But it’s definitely more fun. Perhaps most importantly, it respects the spirit of the organization. The train and its crew bring rivers of the best setting, history, good food and good drink. But for that old razzle-dazzle to sound convincing, everyone needs some give, as the song goes.

Take it out The Roaring Twenties were captured by the Orient ExpressSeptember 6, 2021

A journey with history

A mysterious letter with Scandinavian runes embedded under a windshield wiper is the starting point for Lorraine Keith’s family’s trip to Iceland. Their visit, inspired by Jules Verne’s classic Journey to the center of the earthIt takes them to 8,000-year-old lava tubes, glacial lakes and craters – with a few extra creature comforts that Verne gave his poets.

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The packages continue, all containing riddles or messages that whet the appetite for the next day’s activities and support the narrative of a mysterious uncle with the initials “GH” who has found his way to the center of the Earth and is now on the run; It’s a treasure hunt that borrows from the 1959 and 2008 movies as well as the book.

Soon, my wife and I were concerned that our children, who were 12 and nine years old, kept the activities too young. A year and a half later, often on their own devices – specifically tablets, smartphones and Nintendo Switch – the appeal seems as symbolic as anything else, each artfully aged scroll and runic enigmatic in another way. This time it’s really all about them.

Take it out A trip to the heart of Jules Verne’s classic; August 25 2021

Photographs: Indonesia: AFP/Getty Images/Dreamstime; Tajikistan: Michael Turek for FT; Socotra: Dreamstime; Orient Express: Belmond/Mattia Aquila; Iceland: Sebastian Wasek/Alami; Dreamstime; Lorien Kite


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