Europe’s Last Free Rivers

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Europe recently; from big cities to the mountain ranges to tiny little villages in the middle of nowhere.

As an American, one of the most striking things I noticed in Europe was the importance of water. Rivers are the lifeblood of this continent. The major cities were built around them, which makes sense, as back in the day waterways were by far the quickest and most efficient method of moving people and goods around.

The European conquest of nature extends far beyond building cities though; almost every single major river on the continent has been dammed for hydroelectric power.

As an American, and one from the West, this fusion of civilization and nature always struck me in an odd way. In the U.S., we usually separate these things. Our nation was built on the back of railroad and automobile infrastructure, which means besides the Mississippi and a few other routes, rivers have largely been left alone. We prefer coal and oil over hydropower (not necessarily a good thing). We also enjoy a deep bond with our public lands.

In the US, our wilderness is untamed and unaltered as much as we can make it so.

For me, this respect for the land and the ecosystems is just as American as the right to own guns, or eat cheeseburgers, or whatever else foreigners associate with our nation. The first time I saw trees painted to mark trails in Hungary, I was horrified. The golden words in the American wilderness are Leave No Trace.

So when I read this article on Adventure Journal about the planned damming of Europe’s last, pristine rivers in the Balkan Peninsula, my initial reaction was pretty negative.

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Armchair Travel: Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Armchair Traveler is my series about places I have no personal experience with. Usually, it’s just a piece of content someone else produced that I find fascinating and think my audience would also enjoy!

If you spend a lot of time on the Internet, you probably recognize Drew Scanlon as this guy with the weird blinks:

For about a month in 2017, this GIF was a super popular meme. Almost unavoidable on social media. Which was weird for me, since I recognized Drew from Giant Bomb, a video game site where I used to be a frequent contributor. We used to chat in the IRC.

But times change, and Drew doesn’t work there, and I don’t think about video games much anymore (read an essay about that, here).

When he’s not moonlighting as an Internet meme, Drew produces a series of travel videos, called Cloth Map. He recently visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine, and documented the strange experience of visiting a place most of us have only ever seen in computer games.

See the 30-minute video below:

You can support Cloth Map on Patreon.

A Completely Arbitrary List of My 20 Favorite Cities in the World

List of 20 Best Cities To Travel in the World

Every travel magazine, site, and company worth their salt has a “x best cities list.” While yes, some cities do generally feel a little better than others, the truth  is… it’s all subjective. The city that steals one person’s heart may leave another with a stolen wallet, and the pair will return home with two very different tales to tell their friends of foreign hospitality.

So, with that in mind, here’s my ranked list of my 20 favorite cities in the world.

And as they say: I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. Feel free to give me suggestions for cities you think I’d like in the comments!

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#vanlife is so Passé… Meet This Couple Living Out of ‘the GNARbus’ — a Converted Old School Bus!

If you’ve got half an ear to the ground re: the cool kids on social media these days, you’re surely aware of the growing bohemian trend of living in your van. The New Yorker wrote a great article about the #vanlife trend recently, which means, like, obviously, the trend is no longer cool.

Sarcasm aside, there has been a huge increase in millennial interest in this trend of converted vans. So when I met my friend Jazzmin in Paris last year, I was a little surprised to hear her say she and her boyfriend Carson had recently bought, not a van. but a short SCHOOLBUS, with the intention of converting it into a tiny home on wheels.

You don’t hear much about converted schoolbus homes.

Now, half a year later, the bus is done, and the pair have hit the road. They recently launched a new website, GNARbus, to chronicle their lifestyle and adventures.

Hit the jump to find out a little more, and see a video walkthrough of their ultra-cool ‘mobile home.’

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