Fantastic Story Weaver Awards

Take a stroll through Jmaa Al Fnaa, the main square in Marrakesh, and you will be sure to run across one of the legendary story weavers. Their enticing and dramatic tales are certain to draw any passerby into the circle. In addition to our love for Morocco at Morocco Tours, we also enjoy a spell-binding travel account.

So, without further ado we are proud to present our own Story Weaver Award Winners. After reading hundreds of blogs and writers over the years we have come up with our Top 40 Storytellers. We are sure that regardless their skin color, language or nationality, these wordsmiths must surely be related to some of the original Marrakshi verbal craftsmen. Therefore, each one of them has been honored with our story weaver award.

You won’t want to miss a single word as these narrators take you out of your seat and around the world with them.

International Cuisine

1. Daniel Roy and Helene Cormier-Rich in details, beautiful writing, dramatic explanation, and intoxicating illustrations, Daniel Roy and his traveling partner, Helene Cormier recount their food explorations from three diverse regions. Roy describes the tasting of foreign foods as “the act of ancestral trust.” Let’s face it, food is half of the purpose in travel, why not taste in style? Be sure to take a look at this post for a helpful lesson in national cuisine and appropriate dining conventions. You can catch them on their blog or follow them on Twitter @backpackfoodie.

2. Eva and Jeremy Rees– The authors of Forks and Jets, they detail their adventures as self-described amateur foodie traveloguers going around the world.  Their unique backgrounds bring a refreshing twist to the table when it comes to travel. The pictures on their blog are as compelling as the words!  Take a gander at their blog or visit them on Twitter @forksandjets.

3. Alkila and Patrick Cherry amaretto granola, carciofi ripieni (stuffed artichokes), sweet potato soufflé…is your appetite whetted yet? If not take a look at the images that go along with that list. Alkila and Patrick provide readers with a refreshing perspective on the intersection of food and travel. Passivity is not the name of the game with these two. The pair has gone beyond critiquing and delved into the preparation of decadent food for themselves, while sharing their recipes with readers. Whether you are able to voyage to the same locales or not, be liberated in cooking alongside them and testing authentic recipes from around the world in your own kitchen. Tomato lovers don’t miss the opportunity to create your own goat cheese stuffed tomatoes. The title alone should have you drooling.  Take a look at the blog for yourself or stop by their Twitter @theroadforks.

Central America

4. Joshua Berman The Tranquillo Traveler. Mr. Berman is an expert on Central America. His blog is a combination of his own writing, links to stories he has written in other publications and summarization of other interesting travel related articles on Central America. You can also read through his adventure of a honeymoon where he traveled around the world.

5. Rosalind Cummings Yeates- The Far-Sighted Fly Girl is a full time freelancing journalist who writes on culture, travel and style. Her blog specializes in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Want to get a taste of her writing? Read through the Travel Adventure section  of her blog to check out some of the fun she has had while traveling.  After reading through her blog take a look at her Twitter page as well @farsightedgirl.

South America

6. Matt Ridgway– Although Mr. Ridgway is not a vocational travel writer, his blog Corrugated City, reveals the beauty of Chile in the city of Valparaiso. The writing is foremost honest- there are no hidden sales pitches, no romantic idealism or flowery language, but there is a genuine love for the people and culture of Chile along with great pictures and in depth helpful information from an expat who has made Chile his home.

7. Vicky Baker– The author of the Going Local Travel blog is a freelance travel journalist originally from the UK who now bases out of Argentina and Montreal. Ms. Baker does a great job of connecting her posts on the blog with other places she has written professionally (like the Guardian) to give the reader a full picture of the destination or event she is describing.

Asia

8. Liz LeddenA Girl In Asia: Written from Vietnam this blog features descriptions of Saigon cafes, writing on expat life in Vietnam (like How to have a baby in Asia) and her travel adventures. Our favorite post so far: Bangkok Weekend of Arts and Eats.

9. Kiley Ariail Her online home is Go Vivi Go and since we are a sucker for great photographs you will see why we chose this storyteller to add to our collection. The Oregonian author writes from Northern China. Topics frequently covered are she and her family’s life and travels, general life in China, and her photography. Great post to “Sample”: The Kyrgyz at Lake Karakul and the Karakoam Highway .

10. Lilliane-Ditching the conventional life for the world, this blogger has allowed us to become a part through her descriptions and images. Lilliane doesn’t just stick to lateral exploration however; some of her excursions go a little deeper. Enjoy reviewing some of her dive trips to various Asian coasts, along with underwater images. Be sure to check out her scuba trip in Malapascua.  Along with her blog, Lilliane also has Twitter @wanderlass.

Europe

11. Karen BryanEt al from European Ala Carte: Started in 2006 with the purpose to inform, inspire and entertain travel-loving readers. One of our favorite posts was The Best of Vienna Travel Tips because of the large, beautiful pictures and the authentic local knowledge the writers use.

12. Spotted By Locals– We love this site! On the ground locals around Europe relaying the details about life in their cities that only locals would know. For example, read the post on “Best Panzerotti in Milan” to get a taste of the writing on the site.  Visit them on Twitter as well @spottedbylocals.

13. Anne Ditmeyer– A graphic designer with a love for travel (and a writing gift as well), she makes her online home at Prêt a Voyager We love the series of interviews on how people travel & the travel guides for Paris. You will see when you read her writing, she really has power to take you into the places she is visiting. Check out 28 Hours in London for a sample.  Take a look at her on Twitter @pretavoyager.

Italy

14. Angela Nickerson The Gypsy Guide. Ms. Nickerson has published two books on Rome, her blog definitely reflects her love for Italy. As of this writing Ms. Nickerson had published 70 posts on Rome alone, so if you are an Italy lover, be sure to subscribe to her RSS feed.

15. Robin Locker Lacey: My Mélange: A passionate lover of Italy and other European destinations, Robin’s writing is infused with gorgeous pictures see here: Easy French Appetizers, Along the Via Guiulia in Rome, as well as mouth watering recipes like Clafoutis.

16. Suzy Guese– This fiery redhead sheds an opinionated and refreshing light on the world of travel. Refusing to succumb to the conventions of traveling with a backpack, Suzy recounts the obstacles and comedies that come with employing “real luggage.” This inspired writer depicts her passion for Italy through every day, simple events that won’t be found in your latest edition of Frommer’s. Living in Italy without going broke is one of her more helpful subjects. Take a look at Suzy’s blog and plan your next trip to Italy!  Don’t forget to look at her Twitter page @suzyguese.

Themed Travel

17. Lara Dunston– Ms. Dunston writes professionally for various guidebooks and magazines like National Geographic, Lonely Planet and Fodors, as well as online at her Cool Travel Guide blog. Authenticity, transparency and care for the cultures and peoples she visits resound through her posts. In 2010 she is traveling from holiday home to holiday home around the world and chronicling the journey on Gran Tourismo.  Take a look at her on Twitter @lauradunston.

18. Brian Seltzer-Ever considered traveling cross-country motorcycle style? Get a practice run with Brian as he journeys from Texas to Alaska to California. The roadside is a little different from his perspective. His unique encounters range from attending the outlandish Burning Man to passing through picturesque Yellowstone Park. Possessions are few but experiences are vast on his trek through the States.  Ride over and take a look at Brian’s Twitter @bikeandboots.

19. The Longest Way Home– You have just arrived in the Philippines! No wait, that’s just an image on your computer, illustrating a scene of the local boats coasting across the clear as glass water, beneath an iridescent skyline, and rich emerald mountains with their arms wrapped around the entire image. The enthralling descriptions and breathtaking photography of the seasoned blogger captures not only a scene but the true essence of individual cultures. This traveler is not merely seeking pleasure in his explorations, but a new home. He claims he has found it within his blog. All are welcomed inside, so pull up a chair and grab a cup of Joe while you explore each “room” in one of the more descriptive and thorough travel blogs yet.

20. Ana O’ Reilly-Travel alongside Ana, a native Argentinean, as she tours the world with her native Welsh husband, Sean. Although their journey is career driven, Ana shares their experiences in a refreshing light. Don’t miss a hearty laugh and pretty accurate culture review in “Style Face Off: Dallas vs. Toronto” . Also check out her Twitter page @anaoreilly

21. Carolyn McIntire– Girl Solo in Arabia qualifies as one of the more intriguing themed travels on our list.  Embarking on her trip in Tangiers, Morocco, Carolyn will journey through 46 different  Arab countries.  The goal of her quest: following in the footsteps of the famed, Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta.  However, Carolyn is making her trip 700 years later in the hopes of recreating the prior traveler’s experience.  Trek alongside her as she continues her journey, no really, not just on her blog.  A list of upcoming ventures is posted on her site and she welcomes fellow globe-trotters!

22. Peter Neville-Hadley– Although most travel for pleasure, Hadley finds himself en-route for business.  His cunning and professional experience in hundreds of locales provides a bit of humor along with helpful information.  Hadley’s list of writing background overseas runs a mile long.  Although his compositions lean towards the cynical side, there are practical and informative references made available to the public.

23. David Stanley– An expert on travel guides and one of the author’s of the first Moon Handbooks in the South Pacific, David Stanley has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to travel.  With a theme of budget, his many written editions have enabled an entire generation to escape the confines of finances and explore the world.  One of our favorite posts is “Tahiti Travel Tips”.

Educational/Historical

24. Sean McLachlan– The Grizzled Old Traveler is a specialist in history and travel. His writing includes guidebooks Missouri, Phoenix, Byzantium and more. In fact, we would take a bet that McLachlan is the only author to have ever written a book on outlaws in Missouri and the history of Byzantium . We picked this writer for his posts on topics (with great pictures) on Snow in Madrid , and Teaching Children to Overcome Fear.

25. Paul Mattesini & The Writers at EF Tours Blog– In a world of commercial blogs that turn into promotional fluff, EF Tours Blog is a breath of fresh air. Rather than promoting locations and their own services in superficial and self important tones, these writers make you feel like you are actually on an educational tour with them, and by their writing, it’s the kind of tour you would go on again and recommend to your friends. Some of our favorite posts are Traveling through Paris: My favourite metro station and Why Students Should Tour Central Europe.  Follow them on Twitter as well @eftours.

Storytellers

26. Jeanine Barone– J The Travel Authority combines amazing pictures (you have to see the banner image on her site), videos she has made, and words to relate her travel adventures. Having written for National Geographic Traveler and Conde Nast, as well as posting consistently on her blog, her storytelling takes her readers into the lands she is exploring. Two thumbs up in our book.  Check her out on Twitter @JCreatureTravel.

27. Grace Meng– Nonprofit consultant and writer living in Brooklyn, she writes at One Fork One Spoon and the content of her blog, in her own words is “a lot of things — food, travel, and even privacy sometimes, but ultimately, I’m interested in good stories wherever I can find them.” We especially loved the following stories: Gwangju Questions , My Very Subjective Best of Oaxaca Guide Pt 2 and The Power of Beans and Sticky Rice Cakes on The Shortest Day of the Year.

28. Anja Mutic– Her online presence is at Ever The Nomad where this self-described traveler who writes and writer who travels expresses her experiences. Ms. Mutic’s writings describe places all over the earth, but she has a special affection for Croatia and New York City. A sample of the best of her writing is in the post on Patagonia,  another feature we like are the frequent guest posts from destinations all over the world.

29. Jen Lacenda-Freelance travel and lifestyle writer based out of Toronto weaves her stories with words and incredible images on Folie a Deux and The Travel Provocteur. As Morocco lovers and having spent lots of time in Marrakesh, we were thrilled with her Marrakesh city guide both in words and pictures, make sure to read it to whet your appetite for Morocco.

Around the World

30. Shannon O’Donnell– Ms. O’Donnell writes at A Little Adrift, which she began when she traveled around the world over the course of 11 months. We loved that her writing style allows you to seemingly connect with her personally, and jump into the adventures she is having. Check out “Dancing to Traditional Slovenian Music” and “A Cultural Faux Pas in Sarajevo.” Go check her page out on Twitter also @ShannonRTW.

31. Tom and Amber Swift-Let’s get down to the details of travel, I mean the nitty-gritty ones where you’re told how many pairs of underwear to bring for nine months. Concerned about what to pack, what gear to bring, or how to prepare your itinerary? Amber and Tom Swift have laid it all out for you in their 9-month travelogue to Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia. Their purpose: “Ditching our cubicles to discover the world.”  Look at their Twitter as well @aswift.

32. Barbara Wiebel– Take a rickshaw ride through the streets of Nepal, video style. Ms. Wiebel provides both practical tips like which phone applications to get for travel, to the tales of humorous scamming attempts in South Africa. After having left her droll career behind, Wiebel recounts her experiences from multiple countries and continents. The level of detail provided within each expedition is enough for any Travel for Dummies customer to embark on their next trip with confidence. Packing tips, travel safety, travel insurance, hitchhiking, frequent flier tips: this is merely a window on the large array of helpful traveling information shared. Take advantage of her experience through successes and failures in her own journeys.

33. Heather Cowper– Heather’s travels began around Europe in her childhood and continue to this day. More recently, her voyages have launched her to more exotic locales like the Amazon. Travel blogging is taken to an entirely new level with the enthralling photography, videography, and documentation kept throughout Heather’s explorations. Get lost in Grecian monasteries, known for the fine arts of honey and lace making. Take a gander at some of the most highly rated beaches in the Dominican Republic but don’t forget to plan your own trip after reviewing “Heather on Her Travels.” Take a glance at her Twitter page @Heathercowper.

34. Jamie and Martin-This X-non-traveler had her world turned upside-down from a study abroad trip to Italy. Although travel luster was lacking in her past, Jamie and her husband Martin are in the midst of a journey to go round the world, hence the name: “Traveling the World by the Seat of Our Pants.” Their travelogue is now rich in countries and expounding in description. Germany, Turkey, India, they’ve all been covered! Be sure to take a look at their traveling companion, Bacon and their Twitter @seatofourpants.

35. Jodi Ettenburg– Lawyer-gone traveler-gone freelance writer. Here’s your real life Eat, Pray, Love ladies and gentlemen. Regardless of whether the book or movie intrigued you, Ettenberg’s blog is sure to fascinate any reader. Her voyage began April 1, 2008 in South America. For those of you itching to travel but fearful of the research, this blog provides clear and organized archives complete with a directory on Google map, incredible images, and intriguing description.  Don’t forget about Twitter @legalnomads.

36. Mark Wiens– Feel free to take traveling risks like eating exotic bugs or viewing wild mammals on the prowl through Mark’s reads and videos in documentary fashion.  “Migration Mark,” as he calls himself has assembled an eclectic and unique collection of articles and information from around the world. Coming from an educated Global Studies major, readers can depend upon Wiens’ abundant knowledge and experience. Who wouldn’t want expert traveling information broken down into layman’s terms at no cost?  Take a look at his Twitter @migrationology.

37. Alex and Mina– Travel not only the world, but also back in time to an era of stamps and postcards. Alex and Mina’s en vogue blog will soon cover their recent settlement in ‘la belle province,’ “the beautiful province.” Their decision to retire the nomadic lifestyle landed the couple in Quebec. Although this quirky duo is beginning to plant roots their travel diary is sure to provide a plethora of intriguing information from Ecuador to Egypt. “We hope that you enjoy the often mundane, occasionally peculiar, and sometimes extraordinary things that we’ll share with you in this travelogue.” Don’t miss them on Twitter @send_postcards.

38. David Atkinson– An award-winning travel writer based near Manchester, Mr. Atkinson utilizes words, photos on Flickr, links to his published stories and videos on YouTube to convey his messages. One of our favorite posts of Mr. Atkinson is the story “Hiking in the Footsteps of Paul” and the line that resonates so true with our experience in Morocco:

The afternoon call to prayer echoed off the mountains, the local gasman pulled up a dusty truck to join us for a sugar-rush tea and Mustafa’s spiky-haired teenage son was animatedly describing his hopes for an influx of good-looking travelers on the trail signposted from the bottom of his village.

I’ll treasure those simple country pleasures, so rich in terms of experience but absurdly cheap in crude monetary terms. I drained my tea and shook hands with the family.

The smiles were genuine, not forced.

Humor

39. Leif Pettersen– Petterson offers readers more than your basic travel information; his refreshing and raw style will generate some laughter and amusement along the way as well. Throughout his witty commentary one is guaranteed a wide reading margin of topics ranging from food critique, to fastest escape from a strait jacket, to personable and practical tips from around the globe. One of his more recent posts, “The Top Six US Cities for Street Food (That I Want to Sample)”, is sure to leave your mouth watering and feet itching for a cuisine tour of the states.

40. Frank Goddard-How about a cocktail of sarcasm, humor, and travel? If that sounds about right for you then check out Frank’s tales and woes of adventure. Although an ocean lover, Frank can be found in flight or on foot anywhere around the world. Together, he and his wife explore through food, drink, and culture.

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