Anthony Bourdain’s World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, Part II

Walking Into a Bookstore

Monday, June 28, 2021

According to the book jacket of Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever’s travel tome, World Travel:  An Irreverent Guide, Bourdain may very well have been one of the most travelled people ever!!!  In this book, he chronicles some of his favorite places.  Before his death in 2018, he jotted a series of notes about those places he found most enchanting and most memorable.  And then, Woolever added practical details about the destinations.  The result is a highly readable and entertaining guide that should be a useful read for both experienced travelers and armchair aficionados.

Anthony Bourdain at the Peabody Awards
(Peabody Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)
Anthoy Bourdain’s “World Travel: An Irreverent Guide”

Your RovingRaconteurs have begun research for upcoming travels.  Now, with three world cruises already booked (the January departure is beginning to look “iffy” so we’ve reserved a later cruise-just in case!!!); we are so ready to get back out into the world!!!  We have studied this book to clarify our own preferences and garner information on stops and sites we have not yet visited.  We hope you will enjoy our memories as well as our hopes and share the anticipation of experiences still to come!!!

While reviewing past photos; we are finding new interests to pursue and explore. Seeing old haunts through Bourdain’s eyes gives a new perspective.

Bourdain used an alphabetical process to organize his book.  We are following this example to present his thoughts through our photos.  We cannot present all the places Bourdain loved because—well, we not only haven’t been to all of them yet—but there are far too many for a blog post (even this condensed version will run to 3 parts)!!!  So, we will try to present his love for “parts unknown” as well as his obvious enjoyment for returning to those special places that excited and inspired him!!!

89 cities in 43 countries–a lot of territory to cover!!!

Let’s get started!!!

Shanghai, China: Bourdain, like many others, noted the swift changes taking place in the city. 

Of Shanghai, Bourdain said,” Turn down a side street–It’s an ancient culture. the centuries old mix of culinary traditions, smells, and flavors…..
…..A block away, this: an ultramodern, ever-clanging cash register, levels of wealth, of luxury, the sheer volume of things and services unimagined by the greediest, most bourgeois of capitalist imperialists.” This photo was taken looking down the famous Nanjing Street. Did you know there are 1.4 billon people in China; more than 25 million of them are in Shanghai!!!
But, when it came to classic Shanghai food, Bourdain said of “Xiao Long Bao, those small steaming basket buns, …pillows of happiness…these things alone are worth the trip.”
(Eason Lai, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)

Havana, Cuba: Cuba exists in a time warp and Bourdain was blunt in his assessment, “However you feel about the government, however you feel about the last 55 years, there aren’t any places in the world that look like this.  I mean, it’s utterly enchanting.  Yes, the future is here.  But the past, too, is everywhere.  The buildings, the cars, the gears of the whole system, are still largely stuck in time.”

This is San Francisco de Asis Square during our visit in 2017. Note the cars!!! And the horse drawn carriage is a nice touch.
Oh, the fabulous cars!!!
And then there’s the Cuban Sandwich!!!
Wonder if Bourdain knew about the park in Ybor City, Tampa, FL that belongs to Cuba? Parque Amigos de Jose Marti was donated to the Republic of Cuba in 1956. It was accepted by the Batista administration and certified by the American consul in Havana.

France:  Anthony Bourdain’s very first big trip was in 1966.  He was ten years old and, with his family, crossed the Atlantic aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary, disembarking in Cherbourg, France.  His brother, Christopher, tells us of the adventure and its impact on two young lads, “… But most of all, we loved the food.”  The pomme frites, steak frites, and, most emphatically, the Jambon Beurre—ham, brie, and wonderful French butter on a crusty baguette.  This is when Anthony Bourdain got the food and travel bug.  This is where it all began!!!

Bourdain’s first French experience was in the port city of Cherbourg. Then they traveled to Paris where he and his brother discovered the cafes, cheese shops, bakeries and local butchers. This was a far cry from New York City where they lived and grew up.
For a couple of young lads scouting the streets of France with a few francs in their pockets, a boulangerie would be enticing…..
…..but for a couple of old folks at the end of a day of exploration, the call of mussels, pomme frites, beer and wine at the Cafe du Port was irrisistable!!!
Jambon Beurre, a breakfast favorite!!! (jules:stonesoup, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Cherbourg is where your RovingRaconteurs found the ingredients for an evenings’ cheese board. The fabulous cheese, Brillat-Savarin,–on the lower left–was the star of the platter!!!

India:  To quote Bourdain, “…I know a lot of people would devote their first trip here to visiting museums, viewing the architecture, and sucking up local color…” but as you might expect, Bourdain was most interested in visiting Mumbai’s Khau Galli (which translates to “eating street”) in the Bhendi Bazaar. 

So OK, Bourdain may have rushed out to the Bhendi Bazaar for the spicy Bhel Puri Chaat, a favorite Indian snack…
(Baia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
…but we explored the city and found an outdoor book store that even included a lending library!!! Just how amazing is this!!!
And we visited the Gandhi home/museum.
It is an interesting place. Gandhi lived here for 17 years.
Then we flew to New Delhi.
Bought a beautiful rug!!!
And made our way to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Bourdain may have rushed to the Bhendi Bazaar for the food, but we,too, had a wonderful meal of discovery at the Veda Restaurant in New Delhi. The meal was served small plate after small plate and provided us with a sample of really good Indian food!!!

Jerusalem, Israel:  When in Jerusalem, Bourdain made the American Colony Hotel his base of operations.  Once a utopian Christian colony in the middle the Jewish state, the owners (an American couple who established the colony seeking solace after the tragic death of their four children) were welcomed by the surrounding community.  The colony flourished ‘til the 1950s when it was sold; the new owners converted the building into the present-day hotel.

The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem was a favoite of Bourdain’s. It is also a favored lodging of journalists, diplomats and celebrities. The perfect “home base” for exporation.
The hotel’s Old Wing was once the home of a Pasha and contains several lush gardens.
What a calm oasis!!! We, too, favor the American Colony Hotel!!!

Tangier, Morocco: “There is no place like it in the world.  It looks, smells, sounds, and tastes like no other city.”  Bourdain went on to describe why he felt that way.

Quoting Bourdain, “I wanted to write. I wanted to be apart form everything I grew up with. In short, I wanted to be elsewhere. And Tangier….sounded, to my naive young mind, like an exotic paradise.”
To continue, “At the northern tip of Africa, a short ferry hop from Spain, Tangier was a magnet for writers, remittance men, spies, and artists.”
This is the Grand Socco, the gateway to the Medina and Kasbah. The entire area is lined with cafes!!!
When in Tangier, your RovingRaconteurs usually stop at the Hotel Continental for a drink or a meal.
(Diego Delso,cc-by-sa)
Lunch at the Hotel Continetal

Oman: Here is what Bourdain has said about Oman, “I really love that place.  I want to encourage people to go there…it defies expectations…and it’s incredible.”  He continued to describe Oman as “…relatively small, tolerant, welcoming to outsiders, peaceful, and stunningly beautiful.”

Anthony Bourdain visited Oman in 2016. He was enchanted. He said it was “one of the most beautiful, most friendly, generous, and hospitable places” he’d ever seen. This photoa was taken during our visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in 2017.
This is an amusement park. That building was intentionally built to look like a frankincense burner!!!! It’s a restaurant that we were unable to visit as it was under renovation at the time.
The Mutrah Souk in Muscat.
The Intercontinental Hotel beach is reputed to be the best beach in Muscat.
This portrait of Sultan Qaboose bin Said al Said was prominent in the cruise terminal when we visited in 2017. The sultan died in January 2020. His cousin, Haitham bin Tariq is now Oman’s leader.

Just how many places did Anthony Bourdain visit???

Don’t know, but this book presents 43 countries and 89 cities from Argentina and Australia to Uruguay and Vietnam. Far too many to chronicle in a single blog.  However, since international travel during covid times has been…hmm, would “problematic” be the right word, we have enjoyed this opportunity to pull out the old photos and review  the places we have visited with an eye to widening our exploratory horizons!!!  As we now plan excursions for places we will soon go, this book has prodded memories and brought pleasure. 

There will be one more post on this topic.

 See you soon for Part III