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IT—Inside Traveler
By Jessie Johnston and Emily King

January 30, 2007:

Wired Woman Wanderlust: Top Travel Blogs

In this edition of Wired Wanderlust, assistant website editor Mary Beth LaRue introduces us to three fabulous female-penned travel blogs.

Tired of seven-day workweeks, BlackBerry handhelds, and impending burnout, three twenty-something New Yorkers who call themselves The Lost Girls left their media jobs in the winter of 2005 to travel the world. Their 35,000-mile (56,000-kilometer) journey around the globe begins in South America and crawls eastward through Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia—photographing and writing at every stop on the way. Our pick of their posts: a stop in Huacachina, a desert oasis town on Peru's southern coast, for sand dune surfing. 

NYU graduate and freelance writer Megan Lyles and her photographer boyfriend Michael Simon documented their just-ended one-year bus trip from New York City to the tip of South America on complementary, Bloggie-nominated blogs. Follow the duo as they delay their journey southward to help with Hurricane Katrina, try eating Peruvian guinea pig, and hit a reef in their sailboat heading from Panama to Columbia. According to Megan, the total time spent in transit—including all modes of transportation, delays, and time spent on the unmoving sailboat—was 680.75 hours. That's a lot of travel to blog.

Gadling contributor Dia Draper is about to spend a Semester at Sea and will be recording it all in her own blog, Funchilde: Around the World in 100 Days. Though the blog is in the pretrip planning stage, she'll soon be stopping in Rio, Salvador (where she'll be marching in three Carnival parades), Cape Town, Chennai, Penang, and Honolulu. Judging by her blog thus far, and the fact that she's part of the Gadling clan, we're betting this will be a great read.


What We Hear from Hiroshima

English teacher and Japanese resident, Jessie Szalay, spends her holiday breaks touring Japan, then—lucky for us—sends IT her dispatches. Her latest destination? Hiroshima and its outlying towns

"Hiroshima has become one of Japan's leading tourist destinations, as people from around the world flock to the Peace Memorial Park to remember the more than 140,000 people who were killed by the atomic bomb in 1945. A visit to the park and museum is a life-altering experience—something everyone should see, something everyone does see. Escape the crowds and head for the nearby sites that were luring travelers long before the bomb was dropped. 

"Miyajima Island is a mere twenty-minute train ride and ten-minute ferry journey from Hiroshima. One of the most beautiful and important islands in Japanese mythology, Miyajima is covered in virgin forest—a place where tame deer roam the streets and wild monkeys roam the mountains. The view from Itsukushima Shrine (the island's famous attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage site) is considered one of the Nihon Sankei, the three most scenic views in Japan. It overlooks a massive orange torii gate in the middle of Miyajima Bay, which, when the tide is in, appears to be floating in the water. The shrine itself is impressive. It is made of wooden platforms over the water; if you're lucky, you might catch a Noh dance performance on a central platform.

"Itsukushima is by far Miyajima's most famous shrine, but Daisho-in Temple is well worth a visit too (both are free). A hodgepodge of different architectural styles, colors, and Buddhist icons make it one of the most interesting temples in Japan. Revel in positive energy at the sutra staircase (climbing it will bring you good luck) and a cave filled with glowing golden Buddhas. Time and weather permitting, the two-hour trek up Mt. Misen, Miyajima's highest mountain, is gorgeous and the view of the island-dotted sea is spectacular. Alternately, take the ropeway gondola for 1,800 yen round-trip and save your legs from the climb. After nightfall, most tourists leave the island and only the locals remain on its dark, shrouded shore. You can stay overnight in a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) and experience the romantic silence and traditional kaiseki cooking. Hiroshima oysters are sure to be on the menu. 

"The old samurai town of Iwakuni lies another 20 minutes beyond Miyajima, and, though it offers slightly less by way of sightseeing, it is a peaceful, clean, and friendly town. Its most famous sight is the Kintai-Kyo, or Brocade Sash Bridge, which is composed of five massive wooden arches, and was built in 1673 without using a single nail. The original was destroyed in 1950 by a typhoon, but the reconstruction is faithful. It costs 300 yen to cross the bridge, or wait until nightfall and cross for free. Across the bridge you'll find Kikko-Koen, an attractive park featuring modern fountains spraying water high into the air, a traditional Japanese iris garden, and several samurai houses. The Iwakuni Castle is rather anticlimactic, but do pay a visit to the Whitesnake House where you'll see lots of Iwakuni albino snakes—which, according to myth, are said to bring good luck."


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Emily King, Traveler's assistant to the editor, hopes Punxsatawney Phil doesn't see his shadow this week; she is ready for cherry blossoms. Researcher Jessie Johnston, on the other hand, hopes the little guy does catch a glimpse, so there will still be pink on the trees when she gets to Japan in April.

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