Michael Shapiro at the LA Times Travel Show


Here is a guest post from Michael Shapiro about his two most recent events:

After a 22-event fall tour, I kicked off my 2005 schedule for A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives and Inspiration with an event at the wonderful Capitola Book Café and an appearance at the Los Angeles Times travel show.

The Capitola Book Café (just south of Santa Cruz) is one of those thriving indie bookstores that welcome authors from smaller publishing houses and celebrate a diversity of voices. My brother, Andy, a teacher in nearby Soquel, rounded up about 15 of his friends for the event boosting the turnout to 45 people. I read excerpts from the interviews with Tim Cahill, Jan Morris and Pico Iyer and then played audio clips from Arthur Frommer and Isabel Allende.

Andy and I and some friends then headed out for a late night sushi feast at Mobo, where we enjoyed delicacies like the Corrupter, a sushi roll with unagi, garlic, basil and chopped macadamia nuts. Sinfully good. 

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After a few hours of hiking and slug-spotting the following day near Santa Cruz, I flew jetblue from Oakland to Long Beach for the LA Times travel show. It’s a heady mix of panels, booths and music from around the world. I moderated a budget travel panel featuring Rudy Maxa, Susan Spano (who writes the Her World column for the LA Times) and John DiScala of johnnyjet.com, a site with thousands of travel-site links. We signed books afterwards at the Distant Lands booth.  Distant Lands is another great indie bookstore in Pasadena. Kudos to Louanne from Distant Lands who handled the throng of customers with grace and equanimity.

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The best part of the show was Saturday evening when our hosts from the LA Times generously invited us to dinner. I got to catch up with old and new travel-journalist friends including Doug Lansky, author of the Travelers’ Tales humor book, Last Trout in Venice and creator of signspotting.com; Amanda Jones, one of those rare people who is talented as both a writer and photographer; and the inimitable Don George, global travel editor for Lonely Planet. We put a significant dent in the Hyatt’s wine cellar and outlasted the last bus boys, vacating our table after midnight. I also spent some time with Rick Steves and Peter Greenberg, introducing them for their sessions.

The next day Amanda, JohnnyJet, Doug and I walked across the lagoon under clear blue skies to the Queen Mary, the historic ship that’s been converted to a floating hotel and restaurant. Walking around its abandoned ballrooms and dining areas felt a bit like peering into a sunken ship, lost in the mists of time. Nearby was docked a huge modern cruise ship, without a hint of the elegance of the Queen Mary, famous for its titled, burnt-orange smokestacks.

We headed back to the show around noon, just in time for Amanda and Doug’s panel on responsible tourism, expertly moderated by Don George. The show concluded with Peter Greenberg, travel editor for NBC’s Today Show, telling travelers how to beat hotels and airlines at their own game. By late Sunday night I was home, gearing up for some copy editing work the next day.

—Michael Shapiro