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20th Century Tours makes student travel easy and fun! From customized itineraries to well educated tour directors, strategically located hotels, and friendly night security personnel, 20th Century Tours excels at every aspect of student travel. I’ve traveled with the company for over 30 years and would highly recommend it.

I have been using 20th Century Tours for my band trips since I became the high school band director at Mineral Ridge in 2001. My father, John Yaksich, used 20th Century for his band trips as well, and when he retired, he told me they had always treated him and his students very well. I took his advice and continued using 20th Century Tours; I have been going to them for band and choir trips for the past 15 years. Dave Baker and Tracy Smith have both been very easy to work with; they are very accommodating to my students’ financial needs and provide quality tours at a very reasonable price.

I have had the opportunity to work with 20th Century Tours for over ten years and I would not choose another company to plan our eighth grade trips to Washington, DC. 20th Century Tours is professional and organized. When you work with 20th Century Tours they are always available to meet the needs of our school and our students. I believe in local businesses and I would recommend 20th Century Tours to anyone planning a school trip or looking for any other getaway.

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How to Do a 21st-Century Grand Tour According to Mr. Bacchus

Christopher Michaut 21 November 2022 min Read

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Left: View from Stac Pollaidh, Highlands, Scotland, UK. Courtesy of the author; Right: Caspar David Friedrich, The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog , 1819 Kunsthalle Museum, Hamburg, Germany. Detail.


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Travel to the Heart of the Andes with Frederic Edwin Church

Have you ever been called a tourist? Have you ever considered yourself one? Maybe for the time on a summer trip, or on your way to explore an unknown land that you dreamed about for years…  I invite you to read and find out about few incredible figures that inspired me to hit the road in Northern Europe and revisit some fascinating 18th and 19th-century journeys.

My 21st Century Grand Tour

Tourism became popular in the middle of the 17th century when young men from the most privileged classes of the Western societies began to journey through Southern Europe. These trips, romantically called the Grand Tours , were often sponsored by patrons who felt the need to push further the education of their pupils, which was mainly based on the studies of Greek and Latin and the exploration of the rich artistic and cultural heritage that deeply and undoubtedly shaped the Occident for the past centuries. What could be a more efficient way to do so, if not through the experiences of travel?

Those explorers mostly from Western countries such as England, Germany, or France, would leave their homes for months, even years, and guided by a chaperon on the quest of the past would cross the Alps to reach Italy and Greece. Later on, the courageous ones would set off for trips to the Middle East and Persia. Before the industrial revolution such journeys were extremely complicated, yet after the spread of railways, the unexplored lands started to be more accessible.

Many famous men chose this path of learning, but just to name a few: J. W. Goethe, Alexandre Dumas, Lord Byron and many Romantic painters that you might know by their breathtaking landscape paintings, such as J. M. W. Turner , Pompeo Batoni, Canaletto, Giovanni Piranesi, Thomas Moran, John Milton, and one of my favorites, Peder Balke.

I want to look at the Grand Tours in detail and examine the path of the pure Romanticism that artists and scholars had undertaken in search of the soul, and of the spiritual initiation. I decided to set off on a similar journey but instead of going south, my heart was much more oriented towards the north. I wanted to see and try to understand what John Graham, Knud Baade, Peder Balke, Ivan Aivazovsky , Turner, and many others had felt about 120 years ago.

So it was decided! A map in my pocket and a backpack on my back, I went north! From Ireland to the Nord Cape in Norway, and then crossing to Scotland. I was on my way for 2 months to learn as much as I could about myself and the artworks that followed me for so many years.

The north has always fascinated many. Multiple societies and civilizations have given a spiritual and divine dimension to these hostile, mysterious, and attractive lands.

In most Romantic novels and documentaries of explorations that I have been studying, one thing always reappears: by traveling north, you put your life in the hands of lands that will have the power to judge you, to give you answers, and to make you spiritually stronger.

And this idea haunted me… Based on a decision I made rather quickly, I went up to Nordkapp,  Norway, 71 ° North for my first trip. With a list of paintings, a diary, a camera and The letters to a young poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, I spent 2 months trying to figure out the difference between the myths and my reality. And to share my story with you, I have decided to show you the paintings and photographs as well as extracts from my journal. And so the journey begins…

2 months, 30 destinations, 7000 kilometres

This first painting is by the great British artist William Turner (1775-1851). This scene is believed to represent the Maidenhead railway bridge, across the Thames between Taplow and Maidenhead. The bridge was built between 1837 and 1839, from a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This painting’s impression of speed and Romanticism inspired me to buy a one-way ticket on the Jacobite train. A train made famous in the saga of Harry Potter , under the name of the Hogwarts Express platform 9 3/4. If today you feel like taking this trip, it goes from Fort William to Mallaig in Northern Scotland.

View from The Jacobite Train. Fort William To Mallaig, Scotland. ©Mr.Bacchus 20

“ And this is where it all really begins for me, rocked by the sound of steel coming to life under my feet, the wheels of the Jacobite Train. And it is such a joy to let myself be hypnotized by the melody, what a beautiful symphony. Thick black clouds perfume of delight, they appear to me like a curtain that stretches and rises delicately on the land of dreams. “

Knud Baade, Scene from the Era of Norwegian Sagas, 1850, Groeningemuseum, Bruges, Belgium. 

Knud Andreassen Baade (1808-1879) was a Norwegian painter, particularly known for his moonlight paintings which are recognizable by the powerful and dramatic contrasts between light and shadow.

In 1836, Johan Christian Dahl, encouraged Baade to go to Dresden, where he studied for three years, and where he met  Caspar David Friedrich . In 1846, he moved to Munich, where he produced, what I consider, masterpieces of his country.

His work and this painting in particular, made me want to experience the depth that a solitary hike and contemplation can teach you about yourself on a level that is I believed close to religion, something that you might know under the name of pantheism.

View from the Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Highlands, Scotland. UK. Courtesy of the author.

“The Solitary soul that Rainer Maria Rilke describes in The Letters to a Young Poet start to resonate in me. A feeling of loneliness, in which the elderly find a comfort and which frightens the youth. A feeling that makes me embrace the Unknown and dispels the demons of anxiety. I try to keep my emotions for later when I’ll be sitting at the window of a night train, which will guide me north; half-asleep going through the ecstasy of the moon caressing the living landscapes before me blurred by tears of gratefulness and hope for a future for me here in Scotland. “

Peter Graham, Wandering Shadows, 1878, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Peter Graham (1836-1921) had the eyes and the hand of a man who could see beyond rocks and fog, and had the ability to transcribe his feelings onto canvas. The variations of lights and colors in his landscape paintings particularly appealed to a city-based audience. From heaven to earth, the way he depicted clouds and nature creates a harmony that, no matter what, pushed me to explore it on my own and let my mind be driven for days of walking…

View from the Isle of Mull, Scotland, UK.

“It is difficult for me to find another word than mysti to describe what I see right now. This harmony has the limit of pantheism, which is not. It was really naive of me to believe that I could understand this nature or find words to name it. Now I realize that it all happens within you, in a way that ignores words. The quest for more, always more, abandons me for an instant and gives way to a deep sense of gratitude.”

Waller Hugh Paton, Entrance to the Cuiraing, Skye, 1873, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK.

Waller Hugh Paton (1828-1895), younger brother of the artist Sir Joseph Noel Paton, worked on meticulously depicting the beauty of Scottish Highlands. He was both skilled in oil and watercolor paintings. He was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1865. When I saw in Edinburgh this painting of the Cuiraing, it felt just right for me to put it on the list of the places I had to see by myself even if it was probably embellished in this artwork.

The only place that was similar, of which I heard, was the Old Man of Storr, located in the Isle of Sky in the Highlands, Scotland.

21st century grand tour: View from the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Sky, Scotland, UK. Courtesy of the author. 

“A tower of menace, a finger pointing to the peaks of your loss, if out of boldness you dare to grab my rocks and climb. I’m getting an almost nauseous feeling when I realize that I am surrounded by Turner, John Martin, and Peter Graham. Trapped in a world of Benicio del Toro, Hayao Miyazaki, and so much more.

My ears are rocked by the soundtracks of Wojciech Kilar, and later some traditional Persian music. My heart is racing, my feet are walking so badly, I stop for a moment, breathe, and start this little adventure, so ephemeral and precious!”

21st century grand tour: Johan Christian Dahl, Sky Study over Elben with Poplar, 1832, Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo, Norway.

Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857), was an artist considered the first great Romantic painter in Norway, the founder of the “golden age” of Norwegian painting.

Dahl spent much of his life outside of Norway, transcribing his love for his country in his work. Later in his life, he became one of the founders of the Norwegian National Gallery and of several other major art institutions there. In Dahl’s work, I could see something that I dreamed of as a child and hoped to see one day while crossing these lands on a boat. A dark sky that only allows a column of light to strike the sea. A sea that becomes gold and that would make me feel like I was doing my Grand Tour depicted in The Vampyre by Polidori , published in 1819.

21st century grand tour: View from Geiranger Fjord, Norway.

August 10th

“How to write about the color of a feeling, or in my case the feeling of the color before my eyes. It is blue, it is nuanced, cold and cross my bones, catches the beating of my heart than having reached its goal gently. I can feel in my chest this slowdown that happens as the earth disappears from my sight. A deep breath to the rhythm of the clouds that move and grow as one with the sky.”

Andreas Achenbach The Hardanger Fjord. 1843 Location unknown 21st Century Grand Tour

Andreas Achenbach (1815-1910) started his art education in Düsseldorf at the age of 12 years old, under Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow at the Düsseldorf Academy of Painting. He travelled to Italy, Holland and the Nordic countries. Following the idealism of the German Romantic school that we find in his early production, Achenbach moved to Munich in 1835, where he was strongly influenced by Louis Gurlitt that brought his work to a whole new level. He was, and still is, a pioneer of the German Realist school.

The Hardanger Fjord depicted here has been an important region for European tourism since the 19th century. The area offers spectacular views and culture. 179 km long and the 3rd longest fjord in the world, it is mostly known now for the so-called Trolltunga.

 21st Century Grand Tour: View from the Trolltunga, Nardanger Fjord, Norway.

August 14th

“And so here are your peaks, I try lately to get out of the binary type comparison of things. But in this case, it is particularly striking… To my right, your high herbs rising to the sky between green and yellow and brown tips flapping in the wind in a familiar melody that Mr. Joe Hisaishi would transcribe so well. And to my left, the emptiness reminder of my recent path through an unknown city. The morning in the distance met in the center by the immortal and calm sea sliced by a horizon of smoke. A 1000 meters separate me from the void but I have to bend over to feel you, the danger becomes a notion, an echo of the past that has no place in the contemplation of the present and the immortal.”

Marcus Larson, Fjord Landscape in Norway, 1860.

Marcus Larson (1825-1864) was a Swedish landscape painter from Åtvidaberg, Östergötland. After the death of his father, Larson moved to Stockholm to get a job and was hired by a saddle maker, who saw Larson’s talent for drawing. Later on, Larson received the permission to attend evening courses at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts.

While at the Academy, Larson discovered his calling for painting and decided to start a career in art after finishing his studies between 1846 and 1848. In 1850, he received lessons in marine genre by Vilhelm Melbye and put his skills to practice when he traveled with the corvette Lagerbjelke on an expedition to the North Sea.

View from the Nord Cap, Norway.

August 17th

“Is there a language hidden in the mist? A dialect that is offered to us with a kind of infantile teasing, images are mothers of inspiration. It can be indulgent and only be the framework of the maturity of the beloved painters or become a mountain in a quarter of a second, defying any common sense of gravity.”

 21st Century Grand Tour: François-Auguste Biard, Magdalena Bay, ca 1841, Louvre, Paris, France.

François Auguste Biard (1798-1882) was a French genre painter that traveled extensively around the world during his life. This painting was inspired by a scientific expedition that Biard and his wife were part of, on board of the Corvette, La Recherche, in the Arctic from 1838 to 1840. No life was lost, as the painting suggest you to believe. But you might have heard of a tragic adventure that happened to the crew of the HMS Terror during their mission to find a passage through the North-West in 1845.

21st Century Grand Tour: Northern lights from a beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

August 25th

“Such a divine light, this sign that so often engages gratefulness within me, the need to thank a cosmic order that could only be responsible for such a surge of beauty. A light above my head that enhances the blue of infinity, lapis lazuli that slowly warms my heart, and caresses my soul.”

Peder Balke, Trolltindene, 1845, The National Gallery, London, UK.

Peder Balke (1804-1887) was a Norwegian painter and an activist in the field of social justice. In 1830 Balke traveled to Telemark, Rjukan, Vestfjorddalen, through Røldal and Kinsarvik, to the city of Bergen, and then back through Vossevangen to Gudvangen, further over Filefjell to Valdres and then across the mountains to Hallingdal.

A view from the Nord cap by Balke was the painting that motivated this whole trip. I felt deeply connected to his work, and even today it is hard for me to explain why exactly, but I had made a promise to myself, that one day, I would see this place with my own eyes.

View from Stac Pollaidh, Ullapool, Scotland, UK.

August 29th

“The pen cannot describe the illustrious and overwhelming impression, which the opulent beauties of nature and locations delivered to the eye and the mind – an impression, that not only caught me in the flush of the moment, but also had a significant influence onto my whole future life, as I never, not in a foreign country or anywhere else in our country, had the opportunity to contemplate something so impressive and inspiring as what I have seen on this Finnmark journey.”

Caspar David Friedrich, The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1819, Kunsthalle Museum, Hamburg, Germany.

Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), is best known for his allegorical and mythical works on German landscapes which typically feature contemplative anonymous silhouettes that allow the audience project themselves inside the painting. Friedrich saw in nature an art form, a teaching even. He brought landscape paintings to a spiritual and philosophical level. By facing the nature in solitude, he believed that we could find answers to a world and society that took on the path of progress and materialism.

And the Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog , had a massive impact on me, as I saw the parallels between his era and our era. I had to be the wanderer and tried to put myself in his shoes with the eyes from the 21st century.

View from Stac Pollaidh, Highlands, Scotland, UK.

September 1

“Like a dream, the landscape plays with my memories and my very conception of reality. How to be sure that everything I live in the present is not a series of sets sadistically orchestrated by my subconscious, too anxious and begging for escape. The spilling of a divine white smoke on the hills covering my passage can only be a sign of the illusion of my experience.”

View from the midnight sun, Nordcap, Norway, 2016. © Mr.Bacchus

And there I was, after the two-months-long trip I finally reached the Norrdcap, 71°  North, experiencing one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen…

Was there any magic that occurred once there? Oh yes, it was magical, but nothing special that I hadn’t seen earlier on this trip… And let’s be honest, it disappointed me a little for a moment. Then, while I was sitting on the edge rock watching the North Sea offering me a stunning vision of a Norwegian sunset, I realized that this incredible day and my journey were coming to an end; I started to realize that changes and magic had happened, but it had nothing to do with a view or the number of miles I had done to get here. The change, or any sort of transformations, were solely within me…

September 5

“I return to the origins and transcribe from the heart to hand. Try to find the forgotten knowledge. Touch the innumerable and stay in communion with the indomitable. Well, I do not think I’m doing too badly. The quest for answers and the (I thought) inescapable expectations, these were found to be my obstacles. The emptiness, a so powerful contribution of matter. Do not ask anything the universe before being on the path of answers…”

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Christopher Michaut

Christopher is a content creator and digital curator. From the museums to the lands, he follows the foot set of his favorite artists. he is devoted to share glimpses of their life here, and on his Instagram, @mr.bacchus. Instagram !  

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The 21st Century Life List: 25 Great New Places to See

Something for the scientist, the history buff, the artist and the thrill-seeker

Jamie Malanowski

Some humans are content with a life well lived. Most of us, however, want hard evidence: the vacation photos, the souvenirs, the Hall of Fame plaque with the lifetime stats. Phoebe Snetsinger had her life list. That’s what birders call the summation of their years of devotion. Snetsinger had long been an enthusiastic birder, but when a doctor gave her a diagnosis of terminal cancer near her 50th birthday, she began traveling to ever more distant and daunting environments to see rarae aves. Meanwhile, her disease went into remission. By the time she died, in 1999, at age 68, she had spotted a then-record 8,400 species, nearly 85 percent of the world’s known winged creatures. Her achievement is an admittedly extreme example of what the life list has become in the broader culture: things to experience while you still have time.

Others, less delicately, prefer “bucket list,” a term from the 2007 film in which Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play stricken men who set out to do all the things they’ve wanted to do before kicking the bucket. The phrase is so handy it seems as if it has been around forever, but the screenwriter, Justin Zackham, says it just happened to be what he called an epic to-do list pinned to his bulletin board.

Life list, bucket list—the basic idea has been around ever since the fifth century B.C., when Herodotus’ History sent Greeks eagerly across the Mediterranean to see Luxor and the pyramids. Nothing against those spectacles, mind you, but just since the dawn of this century, a whole roster of amazing sights has emerged, ready for the seeing. So get going: Phoebe Snetsinger didn’t eyeball 8,400 bird species while sitting on the couch.

1.) The Largest Cave: Hang Son Doong, Vietnam

The 21st Century Life List: 25 Great New Places to See

Hang Son Doong , in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, has ceilings so high (600 feet) they could accommodate the Washington Monument. Its widest expanses (450 feet) could fit a pair of Boeing 747s side by side. A shimmering blue river runs through it. Most spectacularly, a jungle flourishes under shafts of sunlight in stretches where the ceiling fell in long ago. You want to go deep? The cave is more than five miles long—about five times longer than its nearest competitor for the world’s longest, Deer Cave in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Hang Son Doong—the name means “mountain river cave”—has been open to visitors for only two years. (A tour operator says more people have summited Everest than traversed this underworld.) The cave entrance was discovered in 1991—and promptly lost. Ho Khanh, a local man then in his early 20s, went to the national park in search of aloe, whose resin he planned to sell to perfume makers. After he hiked a dozen fruitless miles, rain clouds gathered and Khanh took cover. “I sat down with my back to a huge boulder, then something strange happened,” he later recalled. “I heard the sound of a strong wind and running water coming from behind me.” Back at his village, Khanh’s report of his thrilling discovery was met with skepticism, which only increased after he failed to find it again. He became a kind of semi-tragic figure—the young man who dreamed he’d found a giant cave.

Nearly 20 years later, a team of British cavers recruited Khanh to search for the legendary entrance. They made three expeditions, and found many caves, but not Khanh’s great pit. Finally, he returned to the jungle once more in 2009. “I stopped by a big boulder,” he said. “There was the same strong wind, the sound of water running—I knew I’d found the cave at long last.”

2) Home of the God Particle: Cern Laboratory, Switzerland

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Stephen Hawking worries that the field responsible for the Higgs boson (or God particle) may destroy the universe one day. Do you? Perhaps a trip to the laboratory of CERN —short for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire—is in order. CERN, in Meyrin, Switzerland, houses the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider. Fired up in 2008, this device smashes atoms together at incomprehensible speeds to answer all conceivable questions we could have about the physical world. It answered one of the most compelling of those questions in 2012, when experiments first detected the formerly hypothetical Higgs boson and buttressed the Standard Model of particle physics.

Before this machine went operational, there were fringe fears that it would be so powerful it would create a black hole that would suck in all of the earth. When that didn’t happen, the facility began admitting tourists, if only in the most serious of ways. Visits are limited to specially designated Open Days, the last of which was in 2013, and the next of which has yet to be scheduled. But stay alert, bucketeers: If you end up getting to boast that you were there when scientists did something like isolate 38 atoms of antihydrogen, as they did in 2010, you can be sure nobody will show you videos of themselves water-skiing at the lodge ever again.

3) Leaving the Earth: Spaceport America, New Mexico

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Before the moon landing in 1969, earthlings had a vision of space travel, and boy, was it banal. In Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey , a moonshot aboard a Pan American Spacecraft was as much of a grind as a trans-Atlantic flight. Sadly, both Kubrick and Pan Am expired without even the hope of commercial space travel flickering on the horizon. That could change soon, perhaps by the end of 2016.

Virgin Galactic , a “spaceline” founded by the entrepreneur Richard Branson, has more than 400 people working in Mojave, California, to attain the objective. Though Branson acknowledged that he was shaken by the crash last October that killed a test pilot, he reaffirmed his commitment to “truly opening space.” The plan is to take as many as six passengers at a time on a suborbital trip. Taking off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, the craft would rise to about 361,000 feet, where you can see past the curved horizons and into the black edge of outer space. Then it would come straight down, offering a moment of weightlessness. More than 700 people have signed up, most recently at $250,000 apiece. Meanwhile, two other companies, in Arizona and in Spain, may steal a bit of Branson’s thunder by taking travelers to the edge of the stratosphere in high-performance balloons. Phileas Fogg would love it.

4) Gorillas in Their Midst: Mountain Trekking, East Africa

21st century tours

Most people who have seen gorillas have seen western lowland gorillas; nice creatures, but weighing in at just a few hundred pounds, they might as well be drinking from teacups and working on their macramé. They are not the majestic animals made famous by the intrepid zoologist Dian Fossey, the mountain gorillas that weigh nearly 500 pounds. To see them—and you might want to move it, since only 800 or so remain, and they are critically endangered by habitat loss—you have to go to the verdant heights of the Bwindi area of Uganda or the Virunga Mountains, which spread over parts of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.

And thanks to Gorillas in the Mist , the Fossey biopic, and the 2014 Oscar-nominated documentary Virunga , gorilla tracking (or trekking) has become increasingly popular. But it is expensive and highly regulated. Permits are limited in number and range from $400 per day in Congo to $750 per day in Rwanda ; visitors may spend no more than an hour with the animals. Beyond those precepts, the rules combine common sense and good manners: Speak quietly; stay at least 20 feet from the animals; if one charges, crouch down slowly, avoid eye contact and wait for the animal to pass. In other words, act as if you were taking your tween daughter to a One Direction concert.  

5) The Starriest Night: Alma Telescope, Chile

21st century tours

If you like stars, head for the desert—Chile’s Atacama Desert. It’s one of the world’s driest places—scientists believe it received no significant rainfall between 1570 and 1971—and the absence of moisture offers the clearest view of the night sky on terra firma. That’s why in 1999 European, Asian and North American nations partnered with Chile to create ALMA, or the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Perched atop the Chajnantor Plateau at 16,570 feet above sea level, the observatory is one of the highest instruments on earth. ALMA’s state-of-the-art telescope  utilizes 66 radio antennas, most almost 40 feet in diameter, to create images comparable to those that could be obtained with a 46,000-foot-wide dish. It’s been said that the scope could spot a golf ball nine miles away, but usually scientists use it to study ancient galaxies and to probe around young stars for nascent planets. That is, of course, a far better use of this equipment than investigating any of the half-dozen or so UFO sightings that have been reported in Chile since 2012.

ALMA opened its control room and laboratories (but not the array itself, for safety reasons) to tourists this past March. So far, only earthlings have shown up. Or so they say. 

6) The Incredible Shrinking Glacier: Mendenhall Ice Caves, Alaska

21st century tours

Just 12 miles from downtown Juneau, in the Tongass National Forest, is the 12-mile-long Mendenhall Glacier, which began forming about 3,000 years ago and stopped growing in the mid-1700s. Now it’s melting away, leaving ever less time to see one of the most breathtaking visions available. The glacier is partially hollow; melting reveals astonishing ice caves where blue water runs over blue rocks, creating surreal lava-lampish images. To see them, however, a visitor must kayak or otherwise boat through icy water to the glacier or clamber across the dangerous peninsula that protrudes into Mendenhall Lake. (When state troopers say the caves and their approaches are the “most-rescued” area of the Tongass, they’re referring to people, not the landscape.) The roof of a popular cave partially collapsed in summer 2014; what remains is unstable. Park authorities strongly suggest hiring a guide; two companies lead expeditions to the glacier .

7) The Fastest Rollercoaster: Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

21st century tours

You might have thought Ferrari World would be found in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy—perhaps in Modena, where the brilliant Enzo Ferrari was born, or in Maranello, where he moved his factory and race car operations during World War II. But no. Ferrari World, the planet’s largest indoor theme park, opened in 2010 in Abu Dhabi. And in Ferrari World you will find Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster. It uses a hydraulic launch system similar to the catapults used on aircraft carriers, and it goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in two seconds and to its top speed of 149 mph in five. (The previous record holder, Kingda Ka of Six Flags Great Adventure, in New Jersey, topped out at 128.) In keeping with the Formula One theme, passengers are required to wear goggles. Alberto Minetti, a professor of physiology in Milan, says that at 150 mph, “even dust that is not normally harmful is. Even dust like when you are sitting at your desk, it’s like a bullet in a way.”

8) The Deepest Dive: Cayman Trench, Caribbean Sea

The 21st Century Life List: 25 Great New Places to See

You may be one of those for whom a vacation isn’t a vacation unless it offers a dip in the ocean. If so, you might consider the Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration, or  RIDE, a Honduras-based outfit that offers to take tourists as deep as 2,000 feet below the surface of the Caribbean. The owner and operator of RIDE, Karl Stanley, has been in business since 1998, but in the early 2000s he designed and built a small submarine called the Idabel , capable of deep dives. Stanley and his vessel today offer several experiences in the Cayman Trench, the deepest part of the Caribbean; they vary in length and fee, starting with a 90-minute, 1,000-foot dive that costs $500 and offers a close view of sea lilies, glass sponges, pompom anemones and lace coral.

For those who do nothing halfway, RIDE offers a $1,500 trip that guarantees a close view of sixgill sharks, among the largest but least-known predators in the sea. Their appearance is assured by the attachment of meat carcasses to the Idabel’s exterior. The submarine descends below 1,500 feet into total darkness and waits for the sharks to appear, jostling the vessel as they enjoy their buffet and providing a signal to turn on the sub’s exterior lights. This trip can last up to nine hours. Voyages on the Idabel are designed for two people and a pilot, but any combination of humanity that weighs less than 460 pounds can be accommodated. The record, says Captain Stanley, is six. 

9) The Mecca of Islamic Art: Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar

21st century tours

Fourteen hundred years in the making, the world’s greatest collection of Islamic art—textiles, manuscripts, metalwork, woodwork, ceramics, jewelry and glass—is housed at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar . Designed by I.M. Pei after his immersive study of the life of Muhammad and the architecture of Islamic nations, the museum was described as his last major cultural building. (He was 91 when it opened, in 2008.) Concerned about how future construction in a rapidly growing city would affect the way the building is perceived—no architect wants to build a museum and then have a Dunkin’ Donuts come along and photobomb his masterpiece—Pei had a word with Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The sheik, who is also chairman of the museum’s board, responded by building an island in the Persian Gulf just off Doha’s new waterfront corniche to serve as an unobstructed pedestal for the museum and its astonishing collection.

Assembled over 20 years from sources in Spain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India and Central Asia, it covers religious and secular concerns, including geometry, science and calligraphy. Take special care to see the bronze Andalusian fountainhead in the form of a doe and the calligraphy and illuminations in an extraordinary copy of the Dala’il al-Khayrat prayer book from Istanbul dating from 1216.

10) The Greatest Restaurant: Noma, Denmark

21st century tours

Almost anything can be the world’s best something for a moment. When something has been deemed the world’s best four times in the last six years (with a plummet to second and third places in the Years We Don’t Discuss), it commands attention. Located in a waterfront warehouse in Copenhagen, Noma —a mashup of the Danish words nordisk (“Nordic”) and mad (“food”)—is co-owned by chef René Redzepi and dedicated to serving a pure and inventive Nordic cuisine. Dinner comprises perhaps 20 small courses, each based on ingredients foraged from nearby forests, fields and seacoasts. Past dishes include fried reindeer moss and mushrooms; blue mussels and celery; caramelized milk and cod liver; pickled quail eggs; radish, grass and—no kidding—simulated soil; preserved fish pancakes; sea urchin with dill and cucumber; and a dessert of carrot and sea buckthorn. If the dishes seem extraordinary, the way they appear on the plate is so out of this world that set designers for future Star Wars movies should study them for inspiration. 

11) Time Capsule: Havana, Cuba

21st century tours

Go, baby, for the love of God go! The long-barricaded door to American commerce has at last sprung open, meaning that perhaps only minutes remain before the Pearl of the Antilles turns into a vast shopping mall. Go before the trade sanction-preserved time capsule disappears, before LED billboards advertising Applebee’s and American Eagle Outfitters overwhelm the Plaza Vieja, before honking Ford Explorers displace the lovingly preserved Pontiac Bonnevilles and Cadillac Coupe de Villes, before Gran Teatro de La Habana books the touring company production of Chicos Jersey , before the graceful expanse of the  Malecón  gets a Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, before the Plaza de la  Revolución hosts the opening of the flagship San Juan Hillburger restaurant, while you can still smoke a Cohiba indoors.

12) Royal Treatment: Leicester, England

21st century tours

Call it "CSI: Leicester." Richard III—the much-maligned king, the most malignant Shakespearean villain—was killed in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, the climactic conflict of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries it was believed that his body had been chucked into a river and never recovered. But stellar research published in 1986 raised the reasonably good chance that the king had been buried at Greyfriars, a long-vanished Franciscan friary then thought to be under a municipal parking lot. After another battle—this one involving bureaucracy and fundraising—archaeologists began digging at the site in 2012. They were delighted to find evidence of the friary's church, then ecstatic to find a skeleton, one with battle wounds and a curved spine. After DNA and other evidence proved that those bones were royal, they were reinterred at Leicester Cathedral this past March.

The whole saga—king, battle, historical and scientific quest—can be marked by visiting a trio of proximately placed locations: the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Center to see where he died, the King Richard III Visitor Center to see where his bones had lain in anonymity, and Leicester Cathedral to pay respects at the royal tomb.

13) Flower Power: Haifa, Israel

21st century tours

At the end of the 19th century, the followers of Baha'i, an offshoot of Shia Islam, were exiled from Iran and began seeking a home. After several brief, inhospitable stops, they settled near Haifa, where the believers built a shrine that now serves as a center of the sect. The shrine—reopened after restoration in 2011—has walls of Italian marble, granite pillars and a 120-foot-high dome covered with 14,000 gold-coated bricks, but its most remarkable feature is its astonishing gardens. Extending from the summit of Mount Carmel in nine concentric circles surrounding the shrine, the gardens extend over 19 terraces, from the Persian Gardens, with its topiary sculpted into eight-pointed stars, at the top, to the Hanging Gardens below, with its breathtaking combinations of trees, bushes, flower beds and neatly manicured lawns adorned with balustrades, fountains, iron gates and stone eagles. Crowning it all is a panoramic view of Haifa Bay and the Mediterranean beyond.

14) Chill Out: Ross Island, Antarctica

21st century tours

This New Year’s Eve, you could celebrate the start of another trip around the sun the same fun way you always do, by donning a conical cardboard party hat and giving a joyful honk on a plastic noisemaker. Or you could mix things up a bit and take two or three planes to Tierra del Fuego, then two or three ships to the U.S. research center McMurdo Station in Antarctica, and join the thousand or so residents of the world’s most remote and forbidding wilderness for the annual Icestock music festival. As it happens, the festival takes place at the height of the austral summer, when the sun never sets and temperatures break into the 30s. I know what you’re thinking: Won’t it be jammed? Well, true enough, if you make this trip, you won’t be alone; annual tourism to Antarctica in recent years has been cresting above 30,000 people, who go to kayak, dive, cross-country ski, and see the seals, penguins, whales, glaciers, icebergs and avalanches. Note that going to and from the continent generally takes about two weeks, you’ll almost continuously wear two or three layers of clothing while you’re there, and you’ll have to observe stringent cleanliness rules in order to maintain Antarctica’s pristine condition. But you’ll never gripe about a conical cardboard hat again.

15) Throbbing Temple: Delhi, India

21st century tours

With nine domes, 234 pillars and 20,000 statues all hand-carved from red sandstone or marble, Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple is both the largest Hindu temple in the world and an amazing amalgam of the ancient and the modern. Built with traditional engineering techniques, the temple rests not on a steel superstructure but on giant interlocking chunks of stone, atop a base decorated with 148 stone elephants, each carved from a single block. Begun in the year 2000, the temple drew on the labors of 15,000 artists and volunteers to meet an opening date in 2005; it now attracts nearly three million visitors a year, reportedly accounting for more than 70 percent of Delhi’s tourism. But the temple is more than a testament to traditional methods; it has an IMAX screen, a spectacular musical fountain show and a Hall of Values, which features 15 3-D dioramas employing robotics, fiber optics and animatronic technology to present the messages of compassion, endeavor, prayer, morality, vegetarianism and family harmony. Also state of the art is the security operation, after a terrorist attack on another temple in 2002. Visitors aren't allowed to bring cameras or electronic devices into the building (you can have your picture taken by a volunteer at a designated spot), nor can you wear a belt. Dress accordingly.

16) For Peat's Sake: John Muir Way, Scotland

21st century tours

Constructing a hiking trail through open country seems like the perfect way to honor John Muir, the naturalist, writer and founder of the Sierra Club, although the man’s close association with the preservation of Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park may argue for locating the path somewhere in California. But Muir was born in Scotland, and it is the Scots who have honored the trailblazer with, appropriately, a hiking trail , one that runs 134 miles from his hometown of Dunbar, on the North Sea, west to Helensburgh, on Gare Loch, a coast-to-coast trip that offers views of farms and fields, castles and canals, small towns and cosmopolitan Edinburgh. The route can be walked or cycled and is in parts amenable to travel by horseback. The locals say the trip should take seven to ten days, depending how often you feel like stopping to sample a single malt whisky and proclaiming O my Luve's like a red, red rose in your impressive Robert Burns accent.

17) Hell, Yes: Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan

21st century tours

Details of the origin story of the Door to Hell are a little vague, but sometime in 1971—or perhaps the ’60s—a natural-gas cavern in Darvaza, Turkmenistan, collapsed—or maybe exploded—leaving a crater 225 feet wide and 99 feet deep, still redolent of gas. At some point thereafter—the ’70s? ’80s?—Soviet scientists decided to burn off the lingering gas. Evidently, they underestimated the size of the gas reserve, because the hole has been on fire ever since. Nicknamed the Door to Hell by locals, the crater is a glowing red-hot (though clean-burning), sulfur-reeking pit on the flat brown desert. In 2010, the Turkmenistan government decided to fill the crater in, but hasn’t acted. Visitors should note that Darvaza is 150 miles away from the capital city of Ashgabat, and anyone who hasn’t brought heat-protective clothing shouldn’t expect to spend more than seconds viewing the pit. On the other hand, the T-shirt concession seems available.

18) Eyes Up: Tianmen Mountain, Hunan Province, China

21st century tours

Not tempted to test the Door of Hell? Head instead to the Gates of Heaven, a destination in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park that is far more scenic and sweeter-sounding but actually more terrifying. Built in 2011, the Gates of Heaven is a three-foot-wide, 700-foot-long skywalk that has been attached to the sheer vertical face of Tianmen Mountain, 4,700 feet above the lush canyon floor below. But that’s not the scary part: a 60-yard stretch of the walkway is made of glass. Yes, glass, of the see-through variety, the kind that allows you to look through and imagine that you are floating—or plummeting to your death, as the case may be. If you can stand it, the mountain also offers a spectacular natural arch, a lovely temple and a cave that can be reached only by climbing 999 steps that were hewn out of the mountain rock. Evidently everything about the experience is breathtaking.

19) New Berths: Ecuador by Rail

21st century tours

What was birthed in travail now lives in luxury. Bedeviled by malaria, snakes, floods and landslides that regularly wiped out hard-won progress, the rail line between Ecuador’s two major cities—Quito in the Andes and Guayaquil on the Pacific coast—was proudly completed in 1908. Modern roads made the line superfluous, at least until somebody realized that modern luxury-loving tourists might find an elegant four-day, three-night journey aboard the stylishly refurbished Tren Crucero the perfect way to study the snowcapped Andes, to visit the amazing Avenue of the Volcanoes (including Cotapaxi, the world’s highest active volcano), to make the unbelievably steep, tight Devil’s Nose turn and to traverse one of the most biodiverse environments—why yes, I believe that is an Andean condor, the fabled Jaguar of the Air, right outside the window—that can be found anywhere on the planet.

20) Past Perfected: Ellis Island Hospital, New York City

21st century tours

When the grandly appointed Ellis Island hospital began treating patients in 1902, the immigration facility had already for ten years been a place of unusually raw emotion—hope, desperation, anticipation, confusion and, for some, heartbreaking rejection. Adding the emotional freight of disease and recovery, of 350 births and 3,500 deaths, the hospital only increased the island’s emotional resonance. In 1939 the buildings were handed over to the Coast Guard, which in 1954 abandoned the facility as it stood, with objects left in place, as though the occupants were fleeing an onrushing disaster.

The hospital buildings reopened to tourists in October and endowed with a stunning enhancement: an installation by the French artist JR of period photographs of the hospital and its patients, enlarged, made translucent and hung throughout the buildings. The ghostly images restore to the barren rooms the humanity that once waited there, so hopefully, to be loosed upon a new land.

Editors' Note, August 26, 2015: An earlier version of this story called Hang Son Doong in Vietnam the world’s “longest" cave. While it is believed to be the world’s largest cave, it is not the longest known cave. 


Miami, florida, skyrise miami, a 1,000-foot tower shaped like a money clip, will offer simulated base jumping. tentative opening: 2018.

21st century tours

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The louvre abu dhabi will be the first of three museums in the new saadiyat island cultural district. tentative opening: december 2015.

21st century tours

London, England

The world's most expensive footbridge—a public garden 1,200 feet long—will span the thames. tentative opening: 2018.

21st century tours

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

At 3,034 feet, kingdom tower will be the world's newest tallest building by hundreds of feet. tentative opening: 2018.

21st century tours

Giza Plateau, Egypt

The grand egyptian museum: 100,000 artifacts highlighting 7,000 years of civilization on the nile. tentative opening: 2018.

21st century tours

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Jamie Malanowski | | READ MORE

Jamie Malanowski has written for the New Yorker , Vanity Fair , The Washington Monthly and the New York Times . He is the author of Commander Will Cushing: Daredevil Hero of the Civil War .

Ranked: The best Grand Tours of the 21st century

We count down the best that this century has seen so far...

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21st century tours

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If the Grand Tour hadn't existed in 2000, would someone have invented it?

The cost, the complexity of running it, the sheer size of the event all for what are often fleeting moments of high drama would make it likely they would not have.

The Grand Tour format is in many ways a throwback to another time when a day's worth of racing would only serve to be packaged down into several pages of newsprint, not shown live all day long. "Do the kids of today have the attention span for a three-week race?" the sport's commissioners would have asked.

As a fan, you have to invest in a Grand Tour. While there are always intriguing and entertaining plot lines in the opening days, the main event frequently doesn't crackle into life until the end of the first week at best - despite race organisers' attempts to force the issue higher up the peloton's agenda. In that respect, though, it parallels a more recent phenomenon - the DVD series boxset.

A good Grand Tour is binge-worthy sport delivered on a daily release schedule. The best ones are The Wire ; should Contador have waited for Schleck when he dropped his chain is a question up there with whether McNulty would have ever caught Stringer Bell.

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The worst, well we simply don't think about them, they're dull and procedural and all the characters do exactly what you expect them to. But we tune in next time because we know that it's good when riders are going toe-to-toe, and when they're doing things we couldn't possibly imagine it's transcendent. Something like that would always be worth inventing.

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5. 2018 Giro d'Italia

21st century tours

British riders have won 10 Grand Tours this century, and this was surely the pick of them. Simon Yates dominated the first three-quarters of it, taking the lead when he and Mitchelton team-mate Esteban Chaves finished ahead of the other favourites on Mount Etna. Winner of three stages over the following 10 days, Yates gradually extended his lead to more than two minutes and still held half of that advantage after the stage 16 Rovereto TT.

Two days later, though, the first cracks in the Lancastrian's armour appeared at Preto Nevoso. The next day, Yates and the rest of the field were swept away by a daring 80km attack by Chris Froome that started on the gravel slopes of the Finestre. The all-or-nothing escapade gave him a full set of Grand Tour titles.

Final general classification

1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky, in 89-02-39

2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb, at 46 seconds

3. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 4-57

4. 2005 Giro d'Italia

21st century tours

Another race that adds weight to the theory that Grand Tours are often more exciting when the big names struggle or are absent. This one was supposed to be a walk in the park for Ivan Basso, and when the Italian took the lead at the summit finish of Zoldo Alto on stage 11, becoming the eighth holder of the maglia rosa in the process, it looked like the GC had been locked up for good.

Basso, however, was hit by stomach trouble two days later at Ortisei, where Paolo Savoldelli inherited the pink jersey. Harassed by Danilo Di Luca, José Rujano and, above all, Gilberto Simoni, Savoldelli held on until the finish.

Nicknamed 'the Falcon' for his almost incomparable skill on descents, Savoldelli drew hugely on that ability to save the Giro title on the penultimate stage over the Finestre, dropping like a stone to wipe out the race-winning advantage Simoni had opened.

1. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel, in 91-25-51

2. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita, at 28 seconds

3. José Rujano (Ven) Colombia-Selle Italia, at 45s

3. 2015 Vuelta a España

21st century tours

Another topsy-turvy affair, with Tom Dumoulin at the heart of the action that highlighted the tendency for the Vuelta to produce unpredictable contests at a point in the season when riders’ physical resources are running low. It featured the top-four finishers from the Tour de France five weeks earlier – Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali – but this illustrious quartet all ended as bit-part players in a contest that revealed several new Grand Tour contenders, notably Dumoulin, Esteban Chaves and Fabio Aru.

Like all of the best three-week races, it also featured plenty of other intriguing and controversial back stories to keep interest bubbling, beginning on the first day when the short team time trial into Marbella had to be neutralised because the polished marble coastal path was covered in sand. On stage two, it was Nibali’s turn to appear in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Delayed in a crash, he was caught on camera holding on to his team car’s door and being ferried at high speed back up to the bunch. That evening, the Italian was kicked off the race.

Chaves’s stage win that same day gave him the red jersey. He lost it to Dumoulin three days later when the bunch split coming into the finish, then regained it on the following stage thanks to a second hill-top finish success. The Dutchman snatched it back again three days later with a summit win of his own at the Cumbre del Sol, where Froome was a close second. Yet, just as the Briton’s form appeared to be peaking, he was forced out of the race after breaking his foot when he crashed into a kerb during a devilish six-climb tour of Andorra devised by local resident Joaquim Rodríguez. Here, Astana scooped the jackpot, Mikel Landa and Aru finishing first and second, the latter moving into the leader’s jersey.

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The see-saw contest continued across the Cantabrian mountains and into Asturias, where Dumoulin steadily ceded ground as Rodríguez emerged as Aru’s closest rival, moving within a second of the Italian thanks to a stage win at Sotres Cabrales on the third weekend, the Spaniard then moving a second ahead the next day. Would the Spanish veteran finally win a Grand Tour? Could he overcome his weakness in time trials? The long solo test delivered a resounding verdict – no! Dumoulin smashed it, Aru coped with it, leaving the Dutchman three seconds ahead. He doubled that advantage racing into Avila, two days from home.

Sadly for the Dutchman, there was one final twist, Aru and Astana shredding Giant-Alpecin’s defences around Dumoulin on the penultimate day on the heights to the north of Madrid. Isolated and attacked on all sides, he finally yielded, Aru riding away to claim his first Grand Tour success, a breathless contest finally decided.

1. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, in 85-36-13

2. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha, at 57 seconds

3. Rafał Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo, at 1-09

Points: Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar

Mountains: Omar Fraile (Esp) Caja Rural

Teams: Movistar

2. 2017 Giro d'Italia

21st century tours

Having flirted with victory at the Vuelta a España in 2015, before faltering at the last and losing the title to Fabio Aru, Tom Dumoulin took his first Grand Tour win with a gritty and hugely courageous performance, coming through from fourth place to first in the Milan time trial on the final day to beat former winner Nairo Quintana and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali. Along with Thibaut Pinot, this quartet spent the second two weeks of the race constantly searching to deliver a knock-out blow to their rivals, the momentum swinging wildly between them, the spectacle entirely befitting the Giro’s 100th edition.

The race provided a perfect contrast of radically different racing styles, most obviously on the climbs. Strapping Dutchman Dumoulin was the archetypal rouleur grimpeur, trying to maintain a steady rhythm on the climbs, happy to lose ground to punchier rivals then steadily claw it back. At the other end of the scale was flyweight Colombian Quintana, far more spring-heeled, constantly darting away from his rivals, probing for a weakness, full of verve. Nibali and Pinot, meanwhile, were somewhere in between, both full of vim and tactically very smart.

The race began in Sardinia, where points winner Fernando Gaviria claimed the first of four stage wins (on stage three), but was supposed to come to life after a rest day transfer to Nibali’s Sicilian homeland. However, a strong headwind on the Mount Etna summit finish kept a lid on the action. The GC contest finally erupted on stage nine to the fearsome Blockhaus summit finish in the Abruzzo. It began with controversy as the group of main contenders had to swerve around a policeman’s bike. Wilco Kelderman clipped it, the subsequent domino effect leaving Sky’s Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa on the deck, along with Orica’s Adam Yates, shattering the maglia rosa hopes of all three.

After Movistar had thinned out the lead group, dispatching race leader Bob Jungels in the process, Quintana fizzed into action. Initially countered by Nibali and Pinot, the Colombian went again, destined for the stage win and the pink jersey. It was Dumoulin, though, who emerged as best of the rest, judging his effort perfectly in order to limit his losses, Pinot clinging on to his wheel. Twenty-four hours later, the Dutchman struck back hard on his favoured terrain, demolishing the whole field in the Montefalco TT to take the lead with two and a half minutes on his rivals.

Impressive on the Blockhaus, Dumoulin was sensational at Santuario di Oropa. Apparently struggling when Quintana went on the rampage once more, the Dutchman worked his way back up to his rivals and then powered past them to win the stage and push his lead out a little further. The battle continued to rage the next day into Bergamo, where Jungels led in a very select dozen. Then came the biggest stage of the race, over the Mortirolo, Stelvio and Umbrail Pass into Bormio. It was always likely to be special, but we had absolutely no idea…

The peloton had been well shredded approaching the third of these mighty ascents, Dumoulin apparently well in control, until he braked to a sudden halt, flung off his kit and dropped into the ditch to relieve an urgent need.

For a while his rivals eased off, but when one attacked, the rest piled in. Out on his own, Dumoulin rode all out to protect the lead he’d built up. After Nibali’s descending skills, including bunny hopping obstacles, helped him to the stage win, Italy’s first of this 100th edition, Dumoulin came in more than two minutes down, his cushion now just 31 seconds.

Three major mountain stages remained, and each delivered an enthralling spectacle, fortunes yo-yoing this way and that, the favourites often so isolated from their team-mates that rivals would become allies for a few kilometres, then they’d be going at each other tooth and nail again. This was racing with the gloves well and truly off.

When Quintana swept the maglia rosa at Piancavallo two days from Milan, Dumoulin looked finished. But on the penultimate day over Monte Grappa to Asiago, he judged his effort and gave all he had to stay in the overall contest. On the final day, he unleashed everything he did have left and it was just enough.

1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb, in 90-34-54

2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 31 seconds

3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 40s

Points: Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick Step

Mountains: Mikel Landa (Esp) Sky

Best young rider: Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step

1. 2011 Tour de France

21st century tours

Often the best Grand Tours occur in between moments of dominance by a pre-eminent rider. Think of the 1987 Tour de France, when defending champion Greg LeMond was sidelined and the lead changed hands nine times, Stephen Roche ultimately claiming the yellow jersey on the penultimate day. Or of the 1956 race, which fell in between the last of Louison Bobet’s three consecutive wins and the first of Jacques Anquetil’s five victories, the lead changing hands eight times before the unheralded Roger Walkowiak took the title. In both of these cases, these riders emerged triumphant thanks as much to their astute tactical thinking as to their talent and endurance.

Among the five dozen races in the current century, the 2011 Tour went closer than any other to being a ‘Tour à la Walko’, of being a race where an outsider showed the nous and guts to upset the big guns and almost pull off the most unlikely of victories. The fact that this dark horse, Thomas Voeckler, was French also made this race stand out. What’s more, like the 1956 and 1987 Tours, the racing was often outstanding and unpredictable, with talking points aplenty. The context for the race increased the likelihood of it deviating from the standard script for Grand Tours. 2010 Tour winner Alberto Contador was under a cloud, awaiting the result of an appeal having tested positive in taking that title.

While he was waiting for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reach its verdict, the Spaniard had raced and won the Giro d’Italia, a challenge that had sapped his resources. This edition was also the last before Sky imposed its authority on the Tour.

The 2011 Tour route highlighted race director Christian Prudhomme’s desire to bring the overall contenders out of the shadows as often as possible. The short but steep finish at Mont des Alouettes on the opening stage saw Philippe Gilbert blast away from the pack to take victory, with Cadel Evans, one of the favourites for the title, the Belgian’s closest challenger, although the impressiveness of the Australian’s performance was largely overlooked by the first significant incident, a late crash costing Contador more than a minute. Three days later, though, Evans took all of the headlines as he out-thought and out-raced Contador at Mûr-de-Bretagne to win the stage.

As Garmin-Cervélo’s Thor Hushovd defended a one-second lead over Evans, attention switched to the sprinters. Mark Cavendish won at Cap Fréhel, the next day Edvald Boasson Hagen gave Sky their first Tour stage win at Lisieux. Cavendish won again at Châteauroux, where Sky’s very promising first week came apart. A high-speed crash in the bunch with 40km remaining, left a number of riders on the deck, sixth-placed Bradley Wiggins among them. A broken collarbone ended his race before the first week was over.

This Tour’s elevation from good to gripping began on stage nine to Saint-Flour, where Hushovd’s seven-day spell in yellow ended. The route took the riders through the heart of the Massif Central, crossing eight categorised climbs. Descending off the second of them, the Pas de Peyrol, another big crash in the bunch saw two more favourites abandon, Alexandre Vinokourov and Jurgen Van den Broeck. As the peloton eased up, the five riders in the break up ahead – Voeckler, Johnny Hoogerland, Luis León Sánchez, Juan Antonio Flecha and Sandy Casar – pushed their advantage out to almost eight minutes, presenting Voeckler with the chance of the yellow jersey.

In a day packed with incident, the most striking of all occurred when a France Télévisions car attempted to overtake the break, skidded in the grass verge and swerved towards the riders, clipping Flecha, who collided with Hoogerland, the Dutchman and his bike cartwheeling off the road and into a barbed wire fence. Although both riders were able to continue, Hoogerland’s multiple lacerations later required 33 stitches. At the finish, Sánchez breezed to the stage win, Voeckler took the lead, his advantage 2-26 on Evans, with the Schleck brothers just seconds behind the Australian.

After a third win for Cavendish, the race reached the Pyrenees. Just as he had in 2004 when he’d led the race for 10 days, Voeckler began to draw on the magical force of the yellow jersey. At Luz Ardiden, he lost 30 seconds to Evans and 40 to Fränk Schleck, who moved into second. Crossing the Aubisque on the subsequent stage into Lourdes, he lost nothing. Much more remarkably, on a six-climb stage through the Pyrénées Ariégeoises to Plateau de Beille, he was as strong as his rivals. Urged on by French fans, feeding off their enthusiasm, Voeckler began to make the almost impossible look slightly feasible.

Another win for Cavendish in his pomp was followed by a wet stage into Gap, where Voeckler’s daring on the sodden descent off the Col de Manse saw him gain time on the Schlecks. It presaged four days of the kind of wonderful racing that is rarely seen in the second half of any Grand Tour’s third week. On the first, to Pinerolo in Italy, Voeckler, pressing too hard, went off the road twice on the final descent, 27 seconds of his lead chipped away.

Then came the stage to the Galibier, the Tour’s highest-ever summit finish. Overnight, the Schlecks and their Leopard-Trek team-mates cooked up a daring plan, then set about enacting it. It began with Joost Posthuma and Maxime Monfort finding their way into the break on the long climb back into France via the Col Agnel. Approaching the highest sections of the second climb, the Col d’Izoard, Schleck junior took off on his own and bridged across to them. Although Posthuma soon fell back as they started towards the Col du Lautaret, Monfort lasted longer, before Andy Schleck pressed on solo. With Eddy Merckx an enthralled spectator in Prudhomme’s lead car, his ride was like something from another era, when long-range attacks that overturned the standings were not uncommon.

Andy Schleck’s lead over his rivals was four and a half minutes with 10km to go. At this point, sensing his Tour hopes were fast disappearing, the diesel-like Evans engaged his turbo. With barely any help from the other contenders, the Australian powered after Andy Schleck in what became the most extraordinary of pursuit matches. Evans’s barnstorming chase meant that Voeckler, who’d doggedly stuck to the Australian’s wheel, kept his lead by 15 seconds over Andy Schleck.

If that was sensational, the next day to Alpe d’Huez was almost as good. It was just 109.5km long, and Contador attacked almost as soon as the first climb, the Col du Télégraphe, began, Andy Schleck, Voeckler and Evans chasing after him. The Australian soon dropped back to find his team-mates. However, as Contador and Andy Schleck accelerated again, Voeckler found himself in no-man’s land. Rather than following the Australian’s example, he persisted with his chase, his long hold on yellow leading him to overestimate his own ability.

This uncharacteristic tactical misjudgement not only cost him the lead, but a place on the podium, as Andy Schleck moved into yellow, 53 seconds up on brother Fränk and 57 ahead of Evans. It didn’t look enough of an advantage to fend off the Australian in the undulating time trial at Grenoble on the penultimate day, and it wasn’t. Evans was two and a half minutes quicker and took the lead for the first and the most critical time. As Cavendish clinched a fifth stage win and the points title in Paris, Evans received the ultimate prize for his persistence, a very worthy winner of a wonderful race.

1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, in 86-12-22

2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek, at 1-34

3. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek, at 2-30

Points: Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad

Mountains: Samuel Sánchez (Esp) Euskaltel

Team: Garmin-Cervélo

Best young rider: Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar

The full version of this featured ranked all 60 Grand Tours of the century so far and originally appeared in the print edition of Cycling Weekly. Subscribe now to never miss an issue or find it on sale in newsagents and supermarkets, priced £3.25.

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Peter Cossins has been writing about professional cycling since 1993, with his reporting appearing in numerous publications and websites including Cycling Weekly ,  Cycle Sport  and  Procycling - which he edited from 2006 to 2009. Peter is the author of several books on cycling - The Monuments , his history of cycling's five greatest one-day Classic races, was published in 2014, followed in 2015 by  Alpe d’Huez , an appraisal of cycling’s greatest climb. Yellow Jersey - his celebration of the iconic Tour de France winner's jersey won the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards Cycling Book of the Year Award.

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ArchiTrip: Tours of 20th- and 21st-Century Paris

Caroline Hoarau-Beauval - cofounder of ArchiTrip at Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand-GLK

An encounter with Christine Hoarau-Beauval, cofounder of ArchiTrip, a Paris-based company offerings tours of 20th and 21st century architecture and urban planning that help travelers and residents understanding the evolution of Paris beyond the 19th-century upheavals of Baron Haussmann.

The wealth and stature of Paris have for centuries made it a breeding ground for ambitious projects and the desire of kings, emperors, presidents and recently mayors to make their mark while enhancing and expanding their city.

Though urban planners of the first half of the 19th century were already drawing up plans to break through the dense, epidemic-prone city so as to give it light and air and flowing traffic, it was the vast urban upheaval orchestrated by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann that came to define Paris, with its wide animated boulevards and avenues, its public parks and gardens and its absorption of the surrounding villages of Belleville, Grenelle, Bercy, Montmartre and others.

Haussmann’s urban planning of 1853 to 1870 and its follow-up over the next 50 years very much defined Paris until well into the 20th century. But as the century progressed, inadequate lodging, health concerns and the automobile became problems to be dealt with in a post-Haussmannian city.

“To say that we’re in Haussmann’s city is an absurdity,” says Christine Hoarau-Beauval, cofounder of ArchiTrip , a Paris-based company offerings tours of 20th and 21st century architecture and urban planning. “It’s untrue to say that we’re frozen in a uniform city that hasn’t since evolved and can’t continue to evolve.”

Caroline Hoaroau-Beauval-cofounder of ArchiTrip at Welcome City Lab, Paris - GLK

Founded by Hoarau-Beauval, a historian, and Delphine Aboulker-Soriano, a licensed architect, ArchiTrip is filling the void in the tourscape of Paris by revealing the intent and the reality of that evolution. Created in June 2014, ArchiTrip is still a toddler. Its office has been housed since June 2015 in Paris’s nursery for start-ups in the field of urban tourism, Welcome City Lab  (76bis rue de Rennes, 75006 Paris). Notably, ArchiTrip is the rare company among the 15 or so of the current class of start-ups to not be tech-oriented.

I have asked Hoarau-Beauval to meet me in Paris’s 13th arrondissement so that I could to learn in situ about ArchiTrip and its tours. In particular, I’ve asked her to show me a portion of the south-eastern edge of the city, a 130-hectare project underway since 1991 called Paris Rive Gauche.

It’s clear as we stand on the windswept plateau of the Bibilothèque François Mitterrand (1996), the library complex that anchors the quarter, that this Paris Rive Gauche doesn’t fit into preconceived notions of Rive Gauche à la Saint Germain Quarter or perhaps even of Paris altogether. Many visitors and residents may even shun it as distinctly “unParisian.”

Hoarau-Beauval tells me that three-quarters of the 13th arrondissement has been transformed over the past 50 years. This zone, formerly defined by industry, docks and rail yards between the Gare d’Austerlitz and the peripheral ring of the city, is still a fledgling district quarter that won’t be completed for another 10 years.

Caroline Hoarau-Beauval - cofounder of ArchiTrip at Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand-GLK

I tell Hoarau-Beauval that I find little to applaud in the architecture of the Mitterand Library (BNF) and the void of its plateau. She has her own horror stories to tell of being a student doing research inside and doesn’t try to disabuse me of my impression. She puts down the library’s original architectural and technical mistakes to a failure to include experts on the use of a building when the building was designed. She then presents the context, the intent, the experimentation, the creation and the evolution of this new quarter along the Seine.

Only recently, she says, has Paris Rive Gauche begun to reach its maturity as residences, businesses and Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7, with its 26,000 students and 2000 faculty)—in short, daily life—have settled into this edge of the city. The quarter is still a work in progress. The wide Avenue de France that runs through the zone, which currently appears to fall off a cliff to the east, will eventually aim towards two towers, the Tours Duo, respectively 180 meters (39 stories) and 122 meters (27 stories) high, as the edges of Paris rise and the region pursues its march towards earning the moniker Greater Paris.

Overlooking the Seine, Hoarau-Beauval speaks of a successful synergy that has developed between the two sides of the river with the completion in 2006 of Passage Simone-de-Beauvoir, the 304-meter eye-shaped, double-helix foot- (and bike-) bridge that connects the BNF and the left bank of the river with Parc de Bercy and the right. As she describes her admiration for the bridge, I hear in Hoarau-Beauval’s voice an enthusiasm not unlike that of a foreign visitor taking in the view of the Eiffel Tower from the overlook at Trocadero. It’s a comparison all the more appropriate in that the Eiffel metal factory, heir to the great engineer’s company, was actually involved in constructing this bridge designed by the Austrian architect Dietmar Feichtinger.

Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7), Paris Rive Gauche, 13th arr. Photo GLKraut

Led by Hoarau-Beauval’s enthusiasm, fluidity of explanation and evident expertise, we visit a portion of Paris Rive Gauche: green spaces, the varied architecture of recent apartment buildings, industrial building transformed to space for artists and craftsman, the university. We glimpse the brick smoke stack of the former compressed air plant of the 19th century that is now a part of the Paris Val de Seine School of Architecture. While Hoarau-Beauval admires some of the architecture and sections of urban planning in this zone more than others, she sees this as “generally successful experimentation.”

Some of the buildings have character, yet the businesses of the quarter rarely do. An exception is Fil’O’Fromage  (12 rue Neuve Tolbiac; closed Monday), the enduring cheese-and-wine bar of philosopher cheese monger Chérif Boubrit (“I’m the Cherif,” he says).

Asked about other new quarters on the edges of the city, Hoarau-Beauval applauds plans for new construction projects such as those in the Batignolles Quarter of the 17th arrondissement and the Triangle Tower in the 15th arrondissement. (Those developments that continue to have many detractors, as presented here and here on France Revisited).

In decades to come will we be as dismayed by architecture and materials of the 1990s-2010s as we are by some of those of the 1960s and 1970s?

“We’ve learned a lot from our errors with respect to that period,” she says.

Architecture School (Ecole nationale supérieure d'architecture Paris Val de Seine), 13th arr. Photo GLKraut

At times Hoarau-Beauval seems to appreciate buildings whose appeal I don’t see, yet her role and that of the ArchiTrip guides is not to sell us on the beauty or utility of these structures and the larger district but to help us understand the whos, what, whens and whys of their development.

As a historian she, she held a similar role of urban explainer when working from 2006 to 2014 at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal , an information and exhibition center devoted to urban planning and architecture in Paris and the surrounding region.

ArchiTrip’s other cofounder is Delphine Aboulker-Soriano, a licensed architect with a particular interest in Modernism. Aboulker-Soriano, who worked for two years in New York, is particularly interested in how architecture becomes recognized as heritage sites. In 2007 she cofounded Architecture de collection , a real estate agency dealing in remarkable architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Both cofounders continue to practice their specialization outside of their growing touring business.

A street in Paris Rive Gauche, 13th arr. Photo GLKraut

They are both bilingual, French and English, as are most of the 12 independent guides now working for ArchiTrip. Tours are also available in Japanese, Chinese and Italian. Hoarau-Beauval says whereas she first thought that these tours would be particularly attractive to foreign visitors, it was the French that took an immediate interest.

ArchiTrip regularly schedules 3-hour “discovery tours” on various edges of the city, as well as in the center. Among them are tours that examine: canal-side developments in Pantin, where suburban industry is giving way to an urban mix of culture, offices and apartments; the period between the wars around Trocadero in the 16th arrondissement; the Roaring Twenties on the Left Bank along boulevard Raspail and boulevard du Montparnasse; the 1930s in Boulogne-Billancourt; the constellation of 100-metre tower from the 1960s and 1970s built along the Seine in the 15th arrondissement; La Défense, Europe’s largest business zone, and others quarters.

These 3-hour tours include a well-situated café break, and, whether seated or walking, the tour guides encourage questions and constructive dialogue about the use of buildings and the life of neighborhoods and quarters.

Paris Rive Gauche detail. GLK

Discovery tours are designed for 10 to 15 participants, typically costing 36€ per person (18€ for the Pantin tour because partially subsidized by that suburb). Customized tours lasting 1½ to 3 hours are frequently organized for constituted groups of 6 to 8. There are also workshops for children ages 6 to 12, e.g. a workshop from Place de la Concorde to the Louvre by way of the Tuileries to examine the royal perspective to the west and observations about old and contemporary Paris.

An ArchiTrip tour may not turn you into a fan of the urban zones and architecture being examined, but it will open your eyes to how the powers that be in and around the capital city have conceived of its needs and its future over the past 100 years. Within and beyond the Paris that is so widely loved of an earlier time, the Paris of our own time merits exploration and understanding, whether we’d wish to stay/live in those parts of the city or not.

ArchiTrip, http://architrip.fr/en/

© 2015-2016, Gary Lee Kraut

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The Not-Quite End of the Book Tour

6 a.m. flights, three-person audiences, and “escorts”: inside the 21st-century reality of a storied institution.

21st century tours

As I was flying from my home in Slovenia to New York for a week-long tour to promote my new book in June, I fantasized about the knishes and bialys I would consume during my travels. Even while daydreaming, though, I was acutely aware of what a rarity it is these days for an author to be sent on a book tour at all. In recent years, and especially since the recession of 2008, when author advances shrunk and publishing had to tighten its collective belt , one of the first things to go were book tours (not to mention the all-but-extinct beast called the “book release party”).

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When Your Final Exam Is Surviving the Wilderness

For publishers, sending authors on tour is expensive—they have to cover transport, meals, and nice hotels. And perhaps more importantly, touring doesn’t necessarily translate into better book sales. It’s hard to tell, in fact, what effect they have at all, as sales records don’t show what prompted someone to buy the book, only where the book was purchased. With the publication of my two books, most recently The Art of Forgery in June, I’ve found myself part of a lucky group that still gets to partake in this somewhat fading institution. I’ve witnessed firsthand how publishers have adapted to a changing industry—by becoming more selective about which authors to send on tour, which promotional appearances to secure, and how to make the dollars stretch.

The editors and publicists I spoke to for this article explained that, back in the day, publishers would send authors out on tour fairly regularly—the more events and cities covered, the better. But in this new, more austere era, publishers only regularly pay to send authors who are compelling public speakers, authors with large established audiences who are guaranteed to sell well and therefore cover expenses (the James Pattersons, Gary Shteyngarts, J.K. Rowlings, and so on), or authors with a high profile that extends beyond books (such as actors, athletes, comedians). Publishers might send the odd debut writer, in hopes of more media coverage, but it’s no longer a given.

Obviously not falling into the second or third category, I’m more the kind of author who gets a kick out of the times I’ve been able to go out, meet people, and talk about my books. For me, writing is a great but solitary activity, normally undertaken in a dark room, alone, while I’m in my pajamas. I enjoy the adrenaline of performance; the bigger the audience, the better. I’ve spoken for audiences ranging in size from 700 to three (more on that later), and been interviewed by everyone from local blogs with a readership in the low hundreds to the BBC. But I’m aware that being offered these opportunities is a huge privilege, and not the norm—for most authors the publicity process involves phone or email interviews, with maybe a single local bookstore event.

In order to swing sending authors out on tour, publishers today have to make compromises. Previously, authors would get a company credit card and sort out their own travel arrangements, accommodations, and meals without supervision—often a wasteful approach. Then publishers began to experiment with sending publicists out with authors to serve two functions: as a fixer (with a theoretically more measured use of the company credit card) and chaperone. But this meant double the expense: twice the plane and train tickets, twice the meals, twice the hotels. Then arrived another solution that I only learned about on my first tour, back in 2007 for my novel The Art Thief . It peeled back the veil over this quasi-legendary concept of authors on tour (I imagined groupies, whiskey, cigarette smoke, typewriters), and exposed me to a new, and completely fascinating, role that I never knew existed: that of the awkwardly named “escort.”

Author escorts are local residents of the cities visited by those of us on tour, and are subcontracted by publishers to meet and guide authors who come into town. (You can spot them at airports and train stations, because they’re always carrying a copy of your book.) Most in my experience have been elegant, middle-aged women with pearl necklaces and SUVs and husbands in banking, women who read vast numbers of books, know their cities inside out, and are thrilled to show visitors around. They do have the company credit card, and anything you do while they’re with you is paid for (free food is the siren song for writers, impossible to resist). In all, the escort system is a more cost-effective way to get authors where they need to be: Because escorts live in the city in question, the publisher doesn’t need to fly them in or spring for their hotel.

Escorts, for their part, make hectic book tours exponentially easier. On my first tour in 2007 , I ping-ponged around 12 cities, and not in any order that made geographic sense (for some reason San Francisco was scheduled for the day between events in Austin and Houston). I’d get up each morning around 6, groggily pack up my bag at another hotel, and be driven to the airport for an early flight to the next city. There I’d be picked up by the next escort, who’d be smiling and brandishing my book. My escort would bring me to interviews, radio stations, TV studios, press junkets in hotel rooms, to meals (they always know the best places to eat), and then to the book event.

Blurry-eyed authors, uncertain of the day of the week, their current location, or just who is president of the United States, require handholding to maintain such a packed schedule. My most recent tour for The Art of Forgery , which ended in June, included five cities in seven days, with three of the cities featuring in a single day: up at 5 a.m. in Boston, a flight to New York to film an interview for CBS This Morning , then a train to New Haven for an event.

Escorts are often the most interesting person an author will meet on a book tour. In Chicago for The Art Thief, my escort was an aspiring writer planning to pen a memoir called Super Jew , while my San Francisco escort was a novelist who had a hit about Beat vampires back in the ’70s. Authors can go a bit stir crazy, repeating roughly the same presentation night after night, and answering the same questions interview after interview, so a bit of spontaneity and company can be refreshing.

By and large, book tours mostly entail maneuvering to get on radio shows or TV programs, and less glamorous elements, like attending bookstore readings where hardly anyone shows up. At one reading, I had only three people in the audience— including my escort for that city ... and my dad. At the time, I didn’t understand why my publisher had flown me all the way out to play, essentially, to an empty house. But then the store manager wheeled out hundreds of books to sign for the first-edition mail club, and I understood: Book events are not just about selling to the people who attend them, which even for prominent authors can mean only a few dozen copies sold. They’re about getting authors local media attention, getting bookstore staffers face time with authors so they can promote the books, and signing copies. While signed books do sell better, they also can’t be returned to the publisher if they don’t sell—a win-win for publishers.

The national end of things can be even trickier to navigate. From my publisher’s perspective, the main selling point on my U.S. tour in June was my appearance on Fresh Air , a nationally syndicated NPR radio show that’s considered the ne plus ultra of book-selling radio. The host Terry Gross is mistress of 4.5 million regular listeners who consume books like Tic Tacs and who are the target audience for all American publishers of non-fiction, and anything literary.

So many interviews these days are by phone or Skype or email that it’s not strictly necessary to have Author A in Location B in order to get media coverage, but Fresh Air is an exception, preferring guests who can appear in the flesh. And while I did major live events in Washington, D.C. and in New York, each event only reached a few hundred people, at most. My NPR appearance alone justified the considerable cost of paying my way to, and around the U.S. on this tour, because it was bound to offer a boost in sales. While touring alone may be expensive and rarely leads directly to better book sales, Fresh Air alone can launch a bestseller.

Programs like Fresh Air can take on an outsize influence given the tenuous state of book reviewing —the practice has been purportedly dying since at least 1959 . On the TV end of things, this year marked the departure of two major promotional platforms for the book industry : The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report , where renowned public intellectuals and authors from small presses alike could get national attention. As Alex Shephard of the independent publisher Melville House noted , “ an appearance [on those shows] couldn’t guarantee a book would become a bestseller, but it was about as close to a sure thing as you could get in an incredibly uncertain marketplace.” He added that the loss of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should serve as a reminder that the book industry has long relied on third parties such as critics for promotion and that it should think of new, better ways to market itself. It’s unclear whether publishers will see tours as part of the future of book-selling—but for the sake of readers and writers alike, they should.

With the exception of the recent movie about David Foster Wallace, The End of the Tour , there are few recent examples of book tours in popular culture, making the institution a hazy myth in most people’s minds. Which means few are aware of the unfortunate changes that have befallen the tradition. Book tours for the already-famous will always continue, but there’s a real danger that publishers will decide that the rest of us authors are no longer worth sending on tour at all, a trend that is well under way . This would be a great shame: Tours are often the only chance for writers to spend time with the actual people who read their books. There’s already a big disconnect between readers and authors, who often exist only as an abstraction, as a name on a book spine, or perhaps as a Facebook “friend” you’ve never seen in the flesh.

Tours bridge that gap. The TV appearances may be the shiniest of the trophies on publicists’ walls, but there’s no feeling as good for an author as shaking the hand of someone who genuinely loved something you wrote. And as a reader, I can say that I get a jolt of endorphins when I meet a favorite author in person; it’s a surreal event that all but guarantees I’ll remain a devoted reader for years to come. In a world this big, it’s a wonderful thing that encounters like these help keep people’s love of books alive. So it’s my sincere hope that the publishing industry won’t let the book tour die, not just as a writer, but as a reader. As flawed, fatiguing, and unreliable as it is, it is also undeniably special.

The Book Review’s Best Books Since 2000

Looking for your next great read? We’ve got 3,228. Explore the best fiction and nonfiction fiction nonfiction Short stories Historical fiction Poetry Thrillers Science fiction Mysteries Experimental fiction Horror Speculative fiction Satire Fantasy Romance Graphic novels Climate fiction Fiction Anthologies History Biographies Memoirs Science Narrative nonfiction Essays Investigative reporting Music Religion Sociology Politics True crime Sports Travel Art Letters Philosophy Food Media Current Events Climate change Nonfiction Anthologies from 2000 – 2023 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 chosen by our editors.

The 10 Best Books of 2023

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Notable Books of 2023

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New Orleans is a thriving hub for festivals, music and Creole cuisine. The novelist Maurice Carlos Ruffin shared books that capture the city’s many cultural influences .

Joseph O’Neill’s fiction incorporates his real-world interests in ways that can surprise even him. His latest novel, “Godwin,” is about an adrift hero searching for a soccer superstar .

Keila Shaheen’s self-published best seller book, “The Shadow Work Journal,” shows how radically book sales and marketing have been changed by TikTok .

John S. Jacobs was a fugitive, an abolitionist — and the brother of the canonical author Harriet Jacobs. Now, his own fierce autobiography has re-emerged .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .



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