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The Last Notes

The 10 swankiest, tastiest, booziest bowling alleys in America

The 10 swankiest, tastiest, booziest bowling alleys in America

Most people associate bowling alleys with greasy food, stiff well drinks, and that jackass friend who thinks Lebowski quotes constitute a conversation. Usually, they’re right. Except at these joints, which ditch thawed chicken tenders for steaks, rum & Cokes for craft Manhattans, and nicotine-stained lanes for high-end, nightclubby wonders of modern gaming.

Bankrupt Detroit: Memories of a guilty bystander

Bankrupt Detroit: Memories of a guilty bystander

A FEW YEARS AGO, a friend of mine mentioned that he’d just come back from Detroit.“On business?” I asked.“No, for vacation,” he said.“Are you joking?” I replied.The very idea of a vacation in Detroit dumbfounded me. Especially when my friend said what a great time he’d had, visiting the Motown Museum, the Detroit Institute of the Arts with its splendid Diego Rivera murals, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, and the Whitney Mansion for brunch.

What it’s like to sail the Great Barrier Reef [pics]

What it’s like to sail the Great Barrier Reef [pics]

Photo: Tourism and Events QueenslandI have never capsized a boat before. And hopefully today won’t be the first time. Our sail guide — a 50-something Brit named Geoff whose leathery complexion suggests a life of sea, salt, and sun — is grinning as he shouts gibberish naval terms to the two landlubbers under his command.

That time I got married at Burning Man

That time I got married at Burning Man

In a matter of hours, he would be my husband.Late that morning, on the way back from the bank of porta-potties at 8:30 & Dandelion, I looked up to see a black ring of smoke, rising slowly above the dusty horizon. I got off of my bike, dismounted with the clunk of my silver combat boots against the hard-packed playa, and leaned it against pink, fur-covered PVC pipe.

7 characters you meet at every hostel

7 characters you meet at every hostel

Puke-and-Rally Ken DollMention a drunk Australian and I’ll throw down cash money I can describe the guy you’re thinking of. Really tall, at least 6’3” (or about 192cm for my metric minions). Not fat exactly, but just sort of…round. Muscular, but you wouldn’t blink if the guy fell down and bounced.His face is flushed, his forehead glistening, with a dark patch of sweat on the front of his “Same Same But Different” tank top.

Michael and I will know each other only in Morocco

Michael and I will know each other only in Morocco

I make Michael dinner the night I tell him I’ve decided I would like him to kiss me.We eat on a rooftop overlooking Marrakech, the sandstone buildings of the old medina to one side and the sleek lights of the new city on the other. Satellite dishes dot the top of homes until the edge of the city, where palm trees are visible in the shadow of mountains.

What it’s like to be detained at Heathrow

What it’s like to be detained at Heathrow

THIS WEEKEND, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for nine hours. Greenwald alleges this was an act of intimidation by the US and UK because of his Edward Snowden-informed writings revealing the NSA’s widespread surveillance programs.This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process.

How to get the most out of your laptop battery on the road

How to get the most out of your laptop battery on the road

Moleskines take poor photographs, and have never been especially good at keeping a music player charged. And a music player, friends, is an important thing. Your undemanding best friend on long bus trips, where world-embracing wonderment must eventually hit the emotional wall of a screaming child or the driver’s poor taste in radio.

Coastal dwellers may want to move to higher ground after watching this new footage of the Japanese tsunami

Coastal dwellers may want to move to higher ground after watching this new footage of the Japanese tsunami

In March 2011, I sat on the edge of my chair, paralysed by the footage pouring into the media of the destruction caused by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The clip above — a video that only recently emerged — illustrates the disaster as it developed.1:50 – Small wave appears on the surface of the river; note the water level has dramatically reduced and sirens begin to wail.

How to be a hostel douchebag

How to be a hostel douchebag

Staying in a hostel is a rite of passage on the backpacker trail, where you have the chance to meet some really cool people, some decent people, and some people you wouldn’t even wish on your ex-girlfriend/boyfriend/pet.These characters have turned misery into an art form that would make Joffrey Baratheon blush with approval.

A visual tour through the landscapes of Iceland

A visual tour through the landscapes of Iceland

In the fall of 2012, after hearing countless stories of friends traveling to Iceland, I decided I had to visit the island. Nine days later, I was there. The plan was simple: Bring a camera and some film, buy a map, rent a car, and get lost.After viewing a map of Iceland, driving the ring road seemed like the right thing to do, especially in fall when all the “F Roads” that traverse the island are closed because of snow.

Exploring the ‘hidden curriculum’ as an ESL teacher in Italy

Exploring the ‘hidden curriculum’ as an ESL teacher in Italy

I’m currently working as an ESL tutor in Italy, giving private lessons to a range of people from hot-shot managers to unenthusiastic high school students. We practice conversation, prepare for interviews, and review, again, the differences between present perfect and present perfect continuous.But if you pay attention, between the grammar quizzes and listening exercises, there’s another lesson going on.

10 International Drinking Rules to enact at your next hostel

10 International Drinking Rules to enact at your next hostel

When I tell my parents about where I’ve been, I tell them about the days and places. They like to hear about the regality of the temples, the museums of modern art and ancient history, the way the light broke just so over that sleepy little village in the mountains of the Philippines. It’s the kind of thing they’d do if they were abroad, so that’s what I give them.

How the wilderness changes you, and how it doesn’t

How the wilderness changes you, and how it doesn’t

I have no memory of landing in Anchorage, of staying in a hotel, of meeting anyone from the Outward Bound group. There is only a blank space in my head between the plane taking off and me standing at the edge of the Little Nelchina River.For three months, I did not know what it meant to be alone. I had prepared for crevasses, grizzlies, long days and hard nights.

Boulder Creek floodstage paddling: Badasses weighing risk vs. reward

Boulder Creek floodstage paddling: Badasses weighing risk vs. reward

IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING that Mother Nature always has the final word. Whether it’s a flood, a fire, or heart disease. In the end she always wins.That said, there are those of us who feel more at home in her realms — deep canyons inaccessible except by kayak, surf breaks guarded by gnarly currents and inside sections, alpine aeries only reachable by ice-axe and crampons — places where we’re more at home than anywhere else.

16 floating and swim-up bars [PICS]

16 floating and swim-up bars [PICS]

Here are 16 floating and swim-up bars from around the world.***Explore the world party scene with 101 PLACES TO GET F*CKED UP BEFORE YOU DIE. Part travel guide, part drunken social commentary, 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die may have some of the most hilarious scenes and straight-up observations of youth culture of any book you’ve ever read.

How to piss off an Angeleno

How to piss off an Angeleno

Bitch about traffic.Look, we get it. We live with it every day. Somehow a city of three million people has four million cars on the highway at any given moment.But you know what? That biker splattered across four lanes of the 10 isn’t going to pull himself back together and hobble to the shoulder because you’ve got “Book of Mormon” tickets.

How to make the perfect caipirinha

How to make the perfect caipirinha

ONCE a boozy secret for South American travelers, Brazil’s potent cocktail has become “the new mojito.” Here’s how to make one in the privacy of your own home.There are multiple variations on the Caipirinha but we’re going straight down the middle for the classic recipe. The most important thing to remember in Caipirinhaland is to search for the best ingredients – there are only three, so don’t panic.

How to catch a van-taxi in rural South Africa

How to catch a van-taxi in rural South Africa

IN REMOTE South African farming villages like Sikhwahlane, amenities are few beyond the corner tuck shop stocked mainly with racks of fluffy white bread, neatly stacked cartons of UHT milk, and expired tins of corned beef. Sooner or later, you’ll have to catch a taxi to town to replenish supplies.Your first minivan-taxi ride can be daunting — here’s a handy survival guide.

23 of the world’s most insane caves that you can explore [PICs]

23 of the world’s most insane caves that you can explore [PICs]

For some of the caves listed below, you’ll need some pretty gnarly climbing / spelunking equipment and a support crew.For others, all you’ll need is a pair of sneakers and a few dollars.In any case, after checking out these pics you may want to read up on how to become a good caver.1Crystal Cave - MexicoGiant Crystal Cave, in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico, contains some of the largest crystals ever discovered.