Travel shows that show you the world


#1

I’m not sure what shows this genre has exactly, but I’m currently kind of loving Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. I started binging it on Netflix a couple of months ago, and I’m on Season 6 now.

One thing that really helps the show is that half the time he concentrates on these delicious looking foods, and the other half he concentrates on the local culture or history. And that kind of saves even the least interesting places in the world. If the culture/history is not interesting, then the food picks up the slack (like in the Canadian Quebec episode), and if the food segment is lackluster (like in the Russia episode), then the culture/history picks up the slack. It’s a great way to take you around the world and make each episode interesting.

It’s also interesting when he reaches places in the world that I’ve recently seen on The Amazing Race. Hey, look at that, that’s the door in Zanzibar that was part of the challenge on TAR! Of course Parts Unknown slows down and really revels in each place much more than TAR does, which, by necessity, feels rushed.

Anyway, I started watching this because the Bourdain episode of WTF put the show on my radar, because he sounds like an interesting guy. But I initially didn’t like the show on CNN. But now that it’s on Netflix without all those commercials, it’s really a great show. The commercials kind of kill the momentum of the show. Especially commercials on CNN, which tend to be very repetitive and targeted towards old people.


#2

It is a really interesting show but I wish it had a different host, I really don’t like Anthony Bourdain. Actually I don’t like most television chefs, they all seem to possess a level of arrogance to some degree I find off-putting. Of course they are also highly competent, driven people which probably just goes with the territory, I just don’t like spending time with them.


#3

If you are interested in seeing the natural world and have Netflix, check out “Round Planet”.

The host is the polar opposite of Anthony Bourdain. I mean that in a good way. And I like Anthony Bourdain.


#4

My favorite host of this type of show, now retired due to age/creative differences with the Beeb, is Michael Palin. Pole to Pole and Full Circle were just amazing. Some of his newer material (which is still pretty old) is available on Netflix. I’m kind of worried about how well they hold up as I haven’t seen them in a while, but Palin:travel doc:: Attenborough:nature doc.


#5

Ooooh! I loved all of Michael Palin’s stuff. I watched Around the World in 80 days, Pole to Pole, the one where he did the Pacific Rim (was that Full Circle?), the Himalayas, Sahara, and New Europe, where he goes around eastern Europe, touring the countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain. My favorite was definitely the Pacific Rim one. I think that one should also hold up the best.

Looking it up on the net, (Full Circle!) it looks like I missed out on Hemingway Adventure and Brazil. I wonder if I can track those down on any streaming services.

And I’ll add Round Planet to my queue on Netflix too. Right now, I’m trying to finish Parts Unknown before it leaves Netflix. I recently started getting the warning that the show is only available until April 1st.


#6

My wife and I got quite into the show “Departures”. It starts off as a couple of dudes traveling the world for a year, then they fall in love with it and keep going. It works because the two leads are both great, charismatic and play off each other really well, and they go to some out-of-the-way spots.

We also enjoyed “Last Chance to See”, a sequel of sorts to the book (and apparently a radio show which I missed) with Douglas Adams from a couple of decades ago. Stephen Fry is no Douglas Adams, but it’s still pretty funny in places.


#7

Stephen Fry is quite good in Stephen Fry in America, from 2008. Happier times.


#8

I’ve worked in a few restaurants, and people can be dicks.


#9

My wife and I like Globe Trekker, which shows up on PBS stations I believe. There’s no fancy hosts but most of them are interesting. We watch with an eye towards someday visiting many of the places they go.

If you’re into shows that are a bit tourism-oriented there’s also Rick Steves’ shows.


#10

I enjoy the Rick Steves Shows, if you were planning on visiting some place you could do a lot worse than watch one of his videos on the area prior to going.

I had forgotten about the Michael Palin shows, those were very good as well.

I kind of have a love/hate thing with Bourdain. He currently has a show running on CNN on weekends I think.


#11

What I like about Bourdain is his respect and appreciation not only for food, but for the people who deal with it, whether they’re monomaniacal sushi chefs, or Cairo street vendors, or ordinary people cooking at home. It’s that larger interest in people that makes him a good travel guy.

He mellows over time, too. In his earlier shows, especially A Cook’s Tour, he’s still copping the edgy, bad boy attitude from Kitchen Confidential, which can be a bit forced and uninteresting. By the time he settles into a groove in No Reservations, he’s more natural.


#12

I was fond of “Wanderlust with Gerhard Reinke”, a travelogue on basic cable back in the day.


#13

Parts Unknown: The Season 6 finale, Charleston, was very cool. He hadn’t had an episode in a while that was mostly about food, so it was a great change of pace. In the beginning when they go to a Waffle House and sit and praise Waffle House food was very amusing as well. I was laughing out loud during that sequence. And then later, at the guy’s restaurant, it was cool that they were both Road house fans, and Bill Murray confesses to be a fan of that movie too. I admit, I’d never heard of the movie until my friends showed it to me in about 2005, but I did see why they loved it. I need to watch it again.

Then there’s the portion of the episode where they talk about how real barbecue has to be slow roasted for a long time to be as good as it is at that place an hour away from Charleston. I can attest to this principle in nearly all the slow cooked food I’ve had. There’s a Pakistani dish that is slow cooked for the whole day before it was prepared properly. I had that in 2015 in Houston, TX, and it was amazing. And in Bellevue, WA, in downtown they had a restaurant briefly that served slow-roasted Chicken. I honestly had no idea one could make chicken taste that good without a lot of spices.


#14

Just got an email that Anthony Bourdain’s book “Kitchen Confidential” is on sale at Amazon (ebook version) for $2.99, if you don’t already have it.


#15

Interesting. Alright, I ordered. I’m almost done with Fire & Fury anyway, so this will be a good time to slide into a new book.


#16

I saw the Senegal episode last night. It was beautiful. What a nice, optimistic, glowing episode about an African country. That was really a breath of fresh air. And, I got to see NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, who I’ve heard on the radio for so many years now. She had lunch with Anthony Bordain in Dakar.

Btw, I only learned in this episode that they no longer do the Paris to Dakar Rally anymore since 2008. That makes me sad. I think this kills the dream of that being a Codemaster’s Rally game one day.


#17

The Oman episode was really something special. I had no idea that there was a place in the world that looked like that. Quite amazing.

I’m done with the 9th season now, and can feel the episodes dwindling down to zero.


#18

PBS has a show called Globe Trekker that is basically a travel show. Episodes can feature food, train travel or a region.


#19

I didn’t know Globe Trekker was still on the air. I haven’t watched PBS in so long.


#20

I have recently discovered that my PBS station actually has 3 stations on the air. Globe Trekker shows up on one of the 2 extra channels so they could be old, but they are new to me.