You’re Not Going to Find This in ‘Condé Nast Traveler’

IMG_5787Big-time magazines, newspapers and guidebooks are great. Don’t get me wrong. But way too often these publications are more concerned with selling their products than with telling interesting or unique stories of a particular place or people. Every freelance writer or traveler will be able to identify with the problem of tripping onto a great story — say, for example, the ethnic communities of the Romanian Banat or a forgotten Jewish cemetery in southern Poland — then writing a gushing pitch letter to a magazine or newspaper travel editor. And then only to hear the familiar refrain in reply (if you’re even lucky enough to get a reply): “That sounds great, but I don’t think it’s something our readers would be interested in.”

Sure, editors are educated and interested people. They recognize good (or at least offbeat) stories when they hear them. But too often they’re locked in their cubicles, toiling away in places like New York or London, which have a cosmopolitan rep but which in their own way can be as parochial as a Transylvanian village. Pair that with declining subscription numbers and managing editors breathing down their necks to run stories that are going to maximize eyeballs, and the result is the inevitable (and predictable) stream of stories on food, spas and ‘dream’ holidays. Now, I have nothing against good food or spas or even dream vacations, but a particular place — any place — is so much more than that.

Repository of the Weird

That’s where this blog comes in. After traveling around Central Europe for more than two decades now, I have a trunk load of stories, ideas, impressions, photos, memories and (naturally) opinions that I’d love to share. Not every post will appeal to every reader, but hopefully if you’re as enamored of this part of the world as I am, you’ll find something of interest.

Thank you for visiting my site. Please feel free to leave comments, to suggest story ideas and to correct errors and impressions. My aim is to cover topics that are off of the radar screen of the typical traveler (and travel editor) and to present the region as it really is. To do that properly, I’ll need your help.

Mark Baker