Marco Polo Didn't Go There - Rolf PottsIf you find the idea of visiting standard “tourist attractions” unappealing, or you are either committed to or dream about adventure, way-off-the-beaten-path travel, you’ll likely enjoy Marco Polo Didn’t Go There by Rolf Potts.

Writing in the tradition of Paul Theoux and Redmond O’Hanlon, Potts weaves captivating, hilarious and occasionally terrifying tales of travel to some of the most remote and (largely) “undiscovered” locales in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Australia, and Asia.

In this collection of twenty stories, some of which previously appeared in Salon, Outside, Slate, Condé Naste Traveler, Islands, and other periodicals, Potts manages to both educate and entertain as he explores odd, wondrous, and occasionally downright squalid locations, all the while delving into the meaning of travel in the 21st century.  Many reviews of Marco Polo Didn’t Go There mention some of the more sensational stories in this collection: Potts’s attempt to crash the set of a Leonardo DiCaprio film, getting drugged and robbed by Turkish hoodlums, or learning about the secrets of tantric sex from a guru seemingly plucked from the cast of a Peter Sellers film.  More compelling, at least for this reader, are the smaller, quieter stories that center on the connections he’s made with a fascinating assortment of characters – “Death of an Adventure Traveler,” for example, which concludes:

Then I did something Mr. Benny never had the option of doing:  I headed back across the ocean, to a place where “adventure travel” was not a way of getting by in life, but a whimsical, self-induced abstraction – a way of testing our limits so that we can more keenly feel our comforts.

This much is clear:  over the last decade Potts has established himself as one of the very finest travel writers working today.  As a bonus that’s of particular interest to anyone who writes or loves writing, each story is followed by “endnotes” in which Potts describes the background behind each story and its creation.

Marco Polo Didn’t Go There is available at Amazon and other book sellers; to see the book and read some user reviews at Amazon, click on the image above or any of the links in this post.  Finally, if you’d like to hear Rolf Potts interviewed by Rick Steves, click on the following link:

Rolf Potts on Rick Steves’ Podcast

If you’ve read Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, please share your thoughts by commenting – and feel free to recommend any other travel writing you’ve enjoyed!

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