Traveling at the End of the World: A Tour of Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula

It’s the Western Hemisphere’s original superhighway: Long before Route 66 or the Oregon Trail or even the Erie Canal — for that matter, before Henry Hudson ever sailed into New York Harbor French ships, trailing the wake of Indigenous peoples such as the Mi’kmaq and the Innu, were already navigating the St. Lawrence River to explore, exploit and settle the new world. To this day, the St. Lawrence moves more than 150 million tons of cargo a year. But it can also move people, in unexpected ways. Follow alongside, and it will take you through other countries. And realms. And even back in time.

The fleuve Saint-Laurent — a fleuve is a river that empties into the sea; others are merely rivières — flows northward from Lake Ontario for some 800 miles, but a good place to start shadowing it would be about a third of the way downstream, at the Plains of Abraham, in Québec City, where, in 1759, the British effectively secured their hegemony over the French in this part of the world for the next two centuries. Stand up there, on this elevated battleground, and gaze out — over the rooftops of the city that Samuel de Champlain founded 12 years before the Mayflower left England — at the fleuve, spreading out like a bay, and, to your right, two bridges that span it.

The last two.

You don’t have to go across; you could just remain on this side, where Champlain planted roots, and visit waterfalls, ski resorts, artsy towns. But that other side: It’s mysterious. Somewhere out there — around 500 miles of two-lane macadam away — is Rocher Percé (pierced rock), a striking offshore monolith, one of Canada’s great icons, and next door, Île Bonaventure, where cliffs rising hundreds of feet from the water teem with birds rarely spotted south of the border. Both merit the drive; but to do it straight in one day — rather than, as I did, over the course of several — would be like going to an épicerie, buying a Coffee Crisp bar (that cherished Canadian confection), framing the wrapper and throwing the candy away.

Cross over into the city of Lévis and pick up Quebec 132, the road that will take you all the way around the Gaspé peninsula. At first, suburban sprawl obscures the river; then, suddenly, you’re in the middle of lush farmland with open driver’s side views of the fleuve. This region is known as Chaudière-Appalaches, as in, the Appalachian Mountains. They’re up here, too, lurking somewhere off to your right.

You’ll pass many cyclists, their bicycles strapped with bulging saddle bags; the road here runs flat, and straight. The coast, though, does not, so while 132 goes right through some towns, others nestle off to its left. Detouring through one every five or 10 minutes is like unwrapping Christmas presents.

Though they all look like charming mashups of New England and old France, each is distinct from its neighbors. In Saint-Vallier, for instance, I stumbled upon an otherwise nondescript home, its front lawn festooned with more than a dozen elaborate scale models: houses, shops, a gazebo, a church. A neighbor who noticed me gawking walked over to explain, “They’re all buildings in town. The fellow who lives here used to make one a year. He’s 85 now and can’t do it anymore, but he still puts them out every June and takes them in come winter.”

The town of L’Islet has a splendid stone church with gleaming twin spires. Though the parking lot was empty when I passed through, a side door was unlocked; inside, a woman encouraged me to explore its capacious interior, warmer and sunnier than any ornate église I’d ever seen. “This is a patrimoniale church,” she beamed, meaning it’s landmarked, a designation that carries even more prestige here than it does in the States. “It was built in 1768, after the town outgrew two earlier ones.”

Follow the steeples. Churches here stand at the center of town; around them you’ll often find warm cafés, humble museums, public artwork, homemade chapels, placid riverfronts, little houses painted in bright colors. And sometimes — full disclosure — a potent whiff of cow manure. Fertile land, this.

At Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, past a sign welcoming you to the next region, Bas- (or lower) Saint-Laurent, a roadside shrine lists the town’s pioneers, going back to 1715. Others nearby were settled even earlier, like Kamouraska.

There are a few things that will stop you in Kamouraska. There’s that founding date, of course (1674); but there’s also its name — I’m told it’s Algonquin for “the place where rushes grow at the edge of the water” — which may well be the first thing you’ve seen on this whole drive to remind you that other people were living in these parts before the French sailed in.

But what will really stop you in Kamouraska is all the foot traffic, right along 132: people exploring historical sites, yes, but also plenty of boutiques, galleries, eateries. I asked the gentleman at the visitors bureau what drew people there in the first place, figuring the businesses had followed the tourists. “We’re known for having the second-most-beautiful sunsets in the world,” he said. Having heard tell of other Saint-Laurent towns with spectacular sunsets, I asked him where No. 1 was. “Hawaii,” he replied.

But for the silver-painted steeples and mansard roofs, this part of the drive, where the towns are now maybe 15 or 20 minutes apart, may remind you of the Low Countries — at least until Bic National Park begins, bumping smooth shoreline for rugged inlets and channels, peppered with little pine-topped islands, which evoke Norse country. Road and river reunite near Rimouski, population 50,000, by far the largest city this side of Lévis, almost 200 miles back. When I stopped at the tourism office there and asked where the historic district was, the woman behind the counter told me: “There isn’t one. The city burned down in 1950.”

Rimouski does have a pleasant elevated walkway along the shore, though the serenity you experience gazing out at the fleuve there may be tempered by a visit to the Empress of Ireland Museum, dedicated to a liner of that name that sank nearby in May 1914, taking more than a thousand people down with it in just 14 minutes. The museum has a fine film about the ship, how it sank and why it went down so quickly — despite having safety features inspired by the Titanic disaster just two years earlier — and displays hundreds of artifacts salvaged by wildcat divers: water heater, egg boiler, baby bottle, moose antlers. Only as I was walking back to my car did I realize the building itself is a Cubist rendition of the foundering ship, smokestacks and all.

At some point, it will occur to you that you can no longer see the opposite bank, and you’ll come to understand why folks here refer to the river as la mer, the sea. At Sainte-Flavie, you enter the region of Gaspésie. The towns get noticeably smaller and even farther apart, the Christmas presents more surprising, including working phone booths and mechanical gas pumps.

More than 200 years have passed since Métis-sur-Mer was founded by a Scottish seigneur, but it’s still somewhat Anglophone. (It was “Métis Beach” until 2002.) It still has a Presbyterian church, too; in its graveyard, scattered among the marble and limestone, you’ll find a few wooden markers, long since weathered to illegibility. At Baie-des-Sables, while you stroll yet another waterside promenade sprinkled with comfortable chairs, it may occur to you that there is in these towns a tremendous sense of civic pride: Almost everything in them is tidy, well kept (even abandoned houses have mowed lawns) and, by the shore, inviting.

Past Matane, the coast starts to bulge and buckle with approaching mountains. Towns bear-hug the water, sometimes even spilling out over it, like Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, where I came upon a large quay, its surface covered with vehicles, its edges with anglers. These settlements were built on fishing, but people here apparently love it so much they do it in their spare time, too.

Soon thereafter, you will have crested the peninsula, your car’s compass having gradually spun from NNE to just E. It’s here, at the ceiling of Gaspésie, that the Appalachians finally end, and not with a whimper. They crash right into the water, forcing the road to accommodate them by rising and falling and contorting such that you may feel it’s trying to shake you off its back.

But, then: those views. Here analogy fails me; I know of none like them. If you’re the type of person who stares at far-flung places on maps and envisions what they must be like, this one will exceed your imagination. At one point, for instance, a sharp bend in the mountainside road suddenly reveals a vista of more mountains alternating like the teeth of an opening zipper; before them, the village of Mont-Saint-Pierre clings to the slender rim of a half-moon cove. Stand on its dark-gray-speckled-with-white beach, looking forward and back, and you’ll wonder how any thoroughfare — much less the modest one bedside you — can possibly make it around the promontories jutting into the sea.

Past each, other mountains inch back from the shore just enough to accommodate settlements, some only one house deep; a few are simply a handful of small dwellings huddling together against blue infinity. Others are a bit larger, like Madeleine-Centre, where the lighthouse — you’ll have passed many by now: wooden, stone, brick; white, red, white and red — has a small museum that illuminates the history of the area, the life of a lighthouse keeper, and the indispensability of such structures, quaint artifacts though they seem now: In just two decades, from 1856 to 1876, the St. Lawrence swallowed at least 674 ships.

This raw coast, compelling as it is today, was, for centuries, terribly forbidding. The hamlet of Pointe-à-la-Frégate — named for the British frigate HMS Penelope, which ran aground there on April 30, 1815; more than 200 on board either drowned or froze to death — has a pocket park commemorating that shipwreck, with informative kiosks, a couple of picnic tables shaped like (pink) Napoleonic-era warships, and a cannon. You may be tempted to pose behind the porthole for a picture, but I wouldn’t: It’s mounted at the edge of a cliff.

If you like local, Gaspésie’s northern fringe is the place. When I cheekily asked a server at a small restaurant what other kinds of dining options were in the vicinity, she grinned and said, “There’s A&W in Matane, and McDonald’s in Gaspé.” Matane was then 100 miles behind me; Gaspé still 100 miles ahead. Sparsely populated as the area is, though, it has a great deal of history, not all of it tragic. At Pointe-à-la-Renommée, Guglielmo Marconi opened his first North American maritime wireless station in 1904. It’s still there on the spot (next to yet another lighthouse) that Marconi chose precisely because it was so remote.

At the eastern tip of the peninsula, Forillon National Park leaps out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Nearly 100 square miles of conifers, beaches and capes, it was created in 1970, though not without tears: As kiosks at an anse, or cove, there explain, a great many families, some of whom had been there for centuries, were displaced in the process; their memories and lamentations grace other kiosks. (“We had lots of fun at Christmas.” “Families always got together for meals; it was a tradition.” “I know it’s been over 40 years but it still hurts. We’ll never forget.”) Some of their empty houses remain, as does William Hyman’s store, which provisioned generations of cod fishermen.

That cove is called L’Anse-aux-Amérindians (thankfully renamed from L’Anse-aux-Sauvages) to commemorate earlier generations of displaced residents. A trail that starts nearby leads to this eastern tip’s eastern tip, Land’s End. Its French name, Le Bout du Monde, seems more apt — the End of the World. And yet, somehow, inadequate: Ride a whale-watching boat around the Gulf and you’ll behold a land-and-seascape — indigo water waging an ancient war on ochre cliffs, more than you can count — best described as otherworldly.

Heading on, you’ll pass Fort Péninsule, a preserved coastal defense dating to World War II, when the Nazis sank some two dozen Allied ships in the St. Lawrence, before you come into the city of Gaspé, population 15,000. The town of Percé — where the sights include not only Rocher Percé and Île Bonaventure, but more souvenir and tchotchke stores than I care to recollect, not to mention the first paid parking lots I’d encountered in 500 miles — is still about 45 minutes away; but, again, don’t rush. Gaspé, one of the great natural harbors on the Atlantic — with its nearby beaches and surprisingly warm water, enticing restaurants and shops, fine regional museum and snug main street, Rue de la Reine, where the lampposts and parking-meter poles are outfitted with rainbow-striped knitted cozies — is as good a place as any I can think of to hunker down for a bit.

Jacques Cartier would agree. A tall stone cross on Gaspé’s waterfront marks the spot where the explorer planted a more modest wooden one in 1534, when he stopped by seeking shelter from a storm, and decided to do some trading with the locals. And, while he was there, invoke the papal Doctrine of Discovery (the one that decreed Christian nations like France could just assert ownership of territory already occupied by non-Christian Indigenous peoples) to claim the land for King François.

What he claimed — about 35 years before Champlain was born — is what we now call Canada. Though Gaspé also sometimes refers to itself as the End of the World, it was, in fact, the beginning of a whole new one. And well worth traversing several to see.

Lodging: If you’re an R.V. person, there are campgrounds all along Route 132, some right on the water. If you’re not, there are large hotels in Rimouski and Matane, but you might also consider an auberge, or inn, in a Victorian-era house; there are a couple, for instance, in the village of Le Bic, which also has a very fine bakery, Folles Farines, and lovely views of Bic National Park. There are plenty of inns in lower Gaspésie, ranging from humble to much less humble, and small motels. Up on the peninsula’s ceiling, options range from pretty basic motels (which nonetheless usually look better in real life than they appear in pictures online), to small inns, to cabins. (Few will turn up in a hotel app search; better to just use Google Maps.) And in Gaspé, there are motels, inns and hotels; the Baker Hotel is upscale for this area, but not exorbitant. You deserve it after all that driving.

Dining: This area is, not surprisingly, known for its seafood, but there are also plenty of local specialties that don’t come from the water. You will find a number of more upscale dining options — though not as many as you would have before Canada started experiencing its own labor shortage; you can still get a good breakfast at many hotels and inns, and even motels, though dinner at these can be trickier these days — but the food at the roadside shacks (called cantines) is often outstanding, too, even when they’re the only option. The line at Cantine Ste-Flavie, for instance, just outside that town, can be very long, and there’s a good reason for that. Even on such an enticing menu, the poutine aux crevettes — a mountain of fresh local shrimp atop fries, cheese curds and gravy — stands out. (Be forewarned: They only take cash and certain debit cards.) La Banquise 102 de Gaspé offers a delicious Montreal smoked meat poutine; so does Brise Bise, a restaurant on Rue de la Reine. Cafe des Artistes and the bakery Oh Les Pains, both also on Rue de la Reine, are also very good, and the restaurant TÉTÛ at the Baker Hotel is a fine option. Just make sure these are open on the day you plan to go — again, that labor shortage. Finally, when you see the giant roadside strawberry in L’Isle Vert (about 45 minutes past Kamouraska, heading north/east), pull up to the little red shack — Potager Côte D’or — and get a sundae made with their fresh strawberries. You’re welcome.

Museums, etc.: There are many small museums and local historical sites all along the route; serendipity may well guide you to some you won’t forget. The Empress of Ireland Museum is part of a maritime heritage complex that includes a lighthouse and a Canadian submarine. In Gaspé, you might want to check out the nascent Site d’Interpretation Micmac de Gespeg, and the generous array of informative kiosks at a plaza down by the waterfront where Cartier planted his cross. But you definitely don’t want to skip the Musée de la Gaspésie, which has excellent permanent exhibits about the history and culture of the area, including millennia of Indigenous societies and centuries of Anglo-French intrigue and commercial fishing. There’s also a wondrous temporary one (running through fall 2023) called “Cher Léo,” about Léonard Lapierre (1928-2014), an ingenious area folk artist who made everything out of anything. (The exhibit’s name refers to the many fan letters Lapierre got from schoolchildren throughout Canada.)

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places for a Changed World for 2022.

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John Grindrod: In today’s world, with travel comes selfies

As we are about to turn the calendar page to the month when traditionally travel becomes more frequent, I have a question for you. When was the last time you took a trip that didn’t include taking selfies? My guess is, no matter your age, it’s been quite a while.

With the improvement of the photographic quality of today’s cell phones, the one item that used to be mandatory for almost all travelers, a camera, no longer finds its way into too many bags. Now, that phone we always have with us, you know, the ones that we absolutely can’t seem to stop tapping on, is ready to take just the right photo at the right angle that will stun and amaze everyone, especially those with all those Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

When Lady Jane and I decide to break out and check out parts of our world quite different from the place we call home, I’m the one who’s pressing that little white button from time to time to capture a moment. While most of what I’m photographing is landscape in nature (I’m, as Jane will tell you, a sucker for crashing surf and autumnal trees dripping in gold and crimson), I do think we should make an occasional appearance, not for social-media posting, mind you, but just for our own reflection on those days when our Ohio lives seem a tad banal.

Thanks to the wonders of the tech world in which we live, my photos automatically load to the iPad to create a much larger image. Gone are the days I was running up to Meijer to have photos developed unless there’s an occasional one I’d like to frame for that gal from Montezuma.

Now, when it comes to selfies, of course, it’s often a hit-or-miss proposition as far as whether both Jane’s and my face are properly aligned and centered. If you’re thinking one of those selfie sticks would be a purchase I’d consider, well, I wouldn’t, unless it comes with a person who’ll carry it! As for asking other fellow sojourners to capture Jane and my image, well, I have one rule. Unless someone asks me to take a photo of him or her first, thus, allowing me a chance to play the reciprocity card, I’m pretty much not imposing on other folks’ special moments.

Now, a box I always check when it comes to any photographic efforts during my travels, be they straight landscape or selfies with my gal, is the safety box. We’ve been fortunate enough to see some pretty amazing natural beauty over the years, oftentimes from vantage points from far above.

In places like the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland’s County Clare, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and many of the overlooks off State Route 1 far above the Pacific coastline in Northern California and so many others, I’ve seen my fellow travelers so very close to the edge of sheer drops of several hundred feet to capture an image. Anyone who’s had experiences at such heights knows that in addition to the altitude, there will often be sudden and strong gusts of wind.

In our advanced photo-taking times, there have been several who took that one step too far to get that really great shot. The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care conducted its own study and found that 259 fatalities occurred between 2011 and 2017 that were attributable to people perishing while trying to take an imprudently conceptualized photo.

At Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, which is the Grand Canyon’s eastern edge overlooking the serpentine bends of the Colorado River far below, there were two selfie-related deaths in 2018 just months apart.

In 2019 in an article in The Irish Post, author Aidan Lonergan wrote of a Trinity College Dublin student who fell to his death at the Cliffs of Moher while trying to take a selfie some 700 feet above the surf that crashes against the Atlantic’s rocky coastline. He tragically didn’t respect the altitude and the typical 30-plus mile-an-hour gusts that accompany the magnificence of what can be seen. And, of course, in Ireland, pretty much everything travelers see may just come with some crop-up rain.

When Jane and I were there, we both saw and heeded the words on the memorial on the path on The Cliffs that reads, “In Memory of Those Who Have Lost Their Lives at the Cliffs of Moher” both in English and in Irish and enjoyed our moments admiring what lay beneath us safely.

Yes, the traditional travel season is upon us, and there are so many natural wonders to imbibe, especially at national parks. Some come with my strong recommendations, such as Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Yosemite, but with the magnificent vistas that are there for the visual taking to store in memory banks, there also comes potential danger for those who simply can’t conceptualize the fragility of life.

When Jane and I were there, we both saw and heeded the words on the memorial on the path on The Cliffs that reads, “In Memory of Those Who Have Lost Their Lives at the Cliffs of Moher” both in English and in Irish and enjoyed our moments admiring what lay beneath us safely.

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected]

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Tunisian Court Bans Travel for Islamist Party Chief, Others | World News

By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA, Associated Press

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A court in Tunisia has issued a travel ban on 34 people, including the head of the moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, all suspected of involvement in an alleged parallel security service reportedly put into place after the 2011 Tunisian revolution.

Ennahdha party chief Rachid Ghannouchi and 33 others have been targeted in an investigation into the alleged service, dubbed the “secret apparatus,” which has been blamed by some for the still-unsolved murders of two leftist militants in 2013.

The spokeswoman for the court in Ariana, Fatma Bougottaya, claimed on Friday night that the suspects had illegally gained access to information concerning state institutions and allegedly shared it with someone with no legitimate reason to have it, which amounts to an abuse of power. She did not elaborate.

The travel bans were issued on orders of Justice Minister Leila Jaffel, the court spokeswoman told Radio Mosaique.

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Ghannouchi, who also headed Tunisia’s parliament — which was suspended then dissolved by Tunisian President Kais Saied — said in a statement that the “so-called secret apparatus is pre-fabricated” and represents a “falsification of facts.” He denounced “a deliberate operation” by authorities “with a goal of distracting the public from true problems” like the political and economic crisis and social problems in the North African country.

He denounced “continued pressure exercised by President Saied” on the judiciary, which he has ordered to hunt out corruption.

Ghannouchi, an adamant adversary of the president, has denounced the exceptional and controversial measures taken by Saied last July 25 as a “coup d’etat,” claiming the goal was to restore a dictatorship in Tunisia.

Saied conferred on himself sweeping powers. Besides dissolving parliament, Saied fired the prime minister and gave himself the power to rule by decree — measures the president claimed were needed to “save the country from imminent peril” and fight widespread corruption.

Under pressure from Tunisia’s allies, who are concerned about democratic backsliding in Tunisia, Saied has laid out a roadmap that foresees organizing a referendum on July 25 on political reforms to amend the constitution, then holding a parliamentary election on Dec. 17.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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MSC World Europa sets new standards for environmental sustainability at sea – Breaking Travel News

MSC World Europa sets new standards for environmental sustainability at sea  Breaking Travel News

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What is BBB’s advice for travelling in a post-pandemic world?

Canadian consumers filed 1,655 complaints against travel-related services to Better Business Bureau (BBB) in 2021, placing travel services as the industry with the second-highest complaints.

As of today, BBBs across Canada have received 1,164 complaints about travel-related services in 2022, a 200 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

This is likely to be related to the increasing desire for travel after provincial governments lifted a series of COVID-19 restrictions. 

To ensure you have an enjoyable vacation, BBB encourages you to check out the following tips when planning a vacation or looking for a good deal for a getaway:

  • Plan ahead. Allow plenty of time to research hotels, flights, and the area where you will be staying. Typically, the earlier the reservations are made, the better the deals and the lower the destination’s risk of being booked solid. 
  • Look for reviews from credible sources. Nowadays, It is hard to identify fake reviews from the real ones. While vetting hotels, travel companies, vacation rentals and more, check for a list of trustworthy Accredited Businesses. Check their business profiles and verified customer reviews before you make up a decision. 
  • Consider a travel agency if you plan to travel internationally. Be sure to check the Government of Canada’s website for any advisories affecting Canada or any issues that may impact your trip. Meanwhile, it is wise to find a reliable travel agency near you to help you navigate the challenges and changing landscape of COVID-19.  
  • That great deal probably isn’t for real. Scammers lure in targets by guaranteeing an amazing trip at a very low price. Always do your research first. If the hotel, travel or tour is much cheaper than similar options, be suspicious. Check BBB’s 5 top vacation scams to learn more about travel scams.
  • Do some snooping. Check the website for links to the company’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. Often, scam artists will link to instead of If they have social media accounts, check their activity and see if any other users have left reviews or voiced complaints. Also, look for typos and pixelated images. These mistakes are signs of a scammer, not a company that cares about its online presence. 
  • Avoid wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once the money is sent, there is no way to get it back. If you pay with a credit card, the charges can be disputed and dramatically limit liability from a fraudulent purchase.
  • Get trip details in writing. Before making the final payment, get all the trip details in writing. This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of the airlines and hotels. Also, review and keep a copy of the airline’s and hotel’s cancellation and refund policies and the cancellation policies of the travel agency or booking site used.
  • Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance covers things like trip cancellation, delays or medical emergencies. There are different levels of coverage based on what type of plan is purchased. Always ask questions and read the fine print to see what’s covered and what’s not.
  • If you decide to camp in local areas, be sure to bring the right gear. Outdoor activities have become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether you are looking for a tent, sleeping bag or cookware, check out BBB tips on buying camping gear

For more resources on planning a safe and joyful trip, visit BBB Travel and Leisure Resources.

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‘Highly unusual’: WHO on monkeypox spread outside Africa without travel links | World News

With the monkeypox cases having surged past the 90-mark in a span of ten days in 12 nations, the WHO has stressed that it was highly unusual to find patients “with no travel links to an endemic area”. The world health body – stressing that it has expanded its surveillance in non-endemic areas – further pointed out that cases are also being reported from sexual health clinics amongst “men who have sex with men”. The number of patients are expected to increase in the coming days, the UN health agency has said.

Monkeypox – which was first detected in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research – was largely confined to African nations for many decades. The first case in the United States was reported in 2003.

But since May 13, the virus has been spreading fast across nations. Twelve countries – including nine European nations – have logged 92 cases and 28 cases are suspected. Outside Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Israel have registered monkeypox patients.

Poland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Italy are the European countries where cases have been registered so far. All these countries are “non-endemic areas”. 

“The identification of confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox with no direct travel links to an endemic area represents a highly unusual event. Surveillance to date in non-endemic areas has been limited, but is now expanding. WHO expects that more cases in non-endemic areas will be reported,”

“Epidemiological investigations are ongoing, however, reported cases thus far have no established travel links to endemic areas. Based on currently available information, cases have mainly but not exclusively been identified amongst men who have sex with men (MSM) seeking care in primary care and sexual health clinics.”

The virus – which does not spread easily between people, according to experts – enters the body through respiratory tract, broken skin, or mucous membrane.

According to the top medical body in the US, the CDC, the first human case of monkeypox was “recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.”

Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana (identified in animals only), Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone are the nations identified by the WHO as the endemic countries.

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Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

There’s been a lot of Disney Parks and Resorts travel news recently. With so many announcements, it’s hard to keep track of all the opportunities. So, let’s take a look at the big items and important booking dates. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Walt Disney World 2023 Travel Packages

2023 packages for Walt Disney World Resort will open on June 8, 2022! You’ll be able to buy tickets, hotels, and packages for travel throughout 2023. We’re all waiting to see what those packages might be. Holidays and special event dates book up quickly. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions
There are lot’s of WDW 50th anniversary shows and attractions to experience in the parks. Our favorite is the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. A MUST SEE!

MiceChat Tip:  When you book with our travel partner, Get Away Today, your Walt Disney World Resort package will include their Concierge Services, which includes complimentary price monitoring, dining reservation assistance, plus additional perks and payment options. You can hold your Walt Disney World Resort vacation for just $200 down with the final payment due just 30 days prior to travel.

It’s Time To Book Halloween Tickets!

Tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom are now on sale to the general public! This year’s Halloween Party will take place over 37 nights from August 12 – October 31, 2022. We have a closer look at Halloween activities for 2022 for you below… there’s a lot of Hocus Pocus focus…

Disney Parks Halloween Announcements with a Focus on Hocus Pocus

Disney Cruise Line 2023 Itineraries

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Disney Cruise Line recently announced summer 2023 itineraries. Disney Cruise Line is a bit different than other lines. With Disney, the least expensive options are almost always booked early. Pricing goes up as more staterooms book up. So, we recommend booking as early as you can for best availability and pricing. 

Disney Cruise Line will be returning to Alaska, The Bahamas, and the Caribbean… including stops at Disney’s very popular private island paradise of Castaway Cay. And, beginning this July, you’ll be able to experience the brand new Disney Wish cruise ship for the first time! 

Here’s a look at everything you’ll want to know about Disney’s newest castle at sea: 

Disney Wish Cruise Ship – Everything You Need to Know

MiceChat was so excited about this next little bit of Disney Cruise Line news that we’ve already booked ourselves a spot. The Disney Dream cruise ship is being repositioned to Europe and will sail the fjords of Norway, through the British Isles, Iceland, the Mediterranean, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the French Riviera, and historic Greece! We love the idea of one of Disney’s bigger ships sailing Europe. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions
In summer 2023, Disney Cruise Line will embark on a variety of itineraries in Europe, including the Greek Isles.

NEW: National Geographic Expeditions!

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Disney’s National Geographic has announced a full lineup of 2023 signature trips by land. New to the lineup is the expansion of the Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: Ancient Temples and Natural Wonders expedition, giving travelers an even more in-depth and off-the-beaten-path exploration through the wonders of Southeast Asia. Bookings for 2023 Signature Land Itineraries open to the public on May 26, 2022. Bookings open early for the following travelers:

    • May 23 – Lifelong Explorers and Grosvenor Council members
    • May 24 – Past National Geographic Expeditions Guests
    • May 25 – Disney Vacation Club Members, Golden Oak Residents and Club 33 members
    • May 26 – Bookings open for the general public

Disneyland Travel Reminders

Just a reminder that Disneyland Resort theme park reservations are now available through mid-September. Although we haven’t heard an official Halloween Time announcement from Disneyland yet, now would be the time to start planning your fall vacation plans for the best reservation and hotel availability. We’re already starting to see reservations fill up for the summer, so don’t wait! 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Spectaculars and other entertainment have returned to the Disneyland Resort. For more information on the return of Fantasmic, Main Street Electrical Parade, Disneyland Forever Fireworks, and World of Color, please visit our Disneyland Entertainment coverage: 

UPDATED: Disneyland Spectaculars & Entertainment Return – Everything You Need To Know!

Get Help With Travel Questions & Booking

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  ExpeditionsSee a vacation you are interested in above? Have questions you’d like answered? To book Disneyland or Walt Disney World Tickets and/or hotels, Disney Cruise vacations, National Geographic Expeditions, or Halloween Party tickets, visit or call 855-GET-AWAY and one of their travel experts would be happy to help you.

Be sure to mention MiceChat when booking and use promo code MICECHAT for an additional $10 off any Southern California vacation package. 

MiceChat has negotiated special deals and offers on your behalf which can only be booked through Get Away Today. You are always welcome to use any travel agent or book on your own, but when you book with the MiceChat links in this article, we may receive a small amount on completed travel. 

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30 of the best fried foods around the world

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(CNN) — People have never been able to resist the crunchy craving of deep-fried food.

Archaeological evidence shows we’ve been enjoying fried dough and other delights since ancient Mesopotamians invented frying pans, and our love for the practice has only grown in the millennia that followed.

It would take an iron stomach and a lot of time to sample every irresistible fried food around the world or even to try every variation on a theme — funnel cakes versus jalebi, zeppole versus beignets.

So not all fried foods can be mentioned in a single story, but there’s enough fried goodness to get you started at least.

Here are 30 of the best fried foods around the world to get you salivating for your next trip:

Tempura (Japan)

Vegetable tempura is known for its light-as-air batter, made with soft flour, eggs and very cold or sparkling water.

Though shrimp tempura is also popular, vegetable tempura encompasses a wide variety of ingredients, including mushrooms, lotus root and burdock, seaweed and leafy greens such as shiso, green beans, pumpkin and other hard squash, okra and shishito peppers.

It was introduced to Japan via Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century as a meatless option during holy fasting days.

Hushpuppies (US South)

These savory cornmeal croquettes have been a traditional accompaniment to fried fish throughout the US South since the Civil War era.

Also called “red horse bread” in South Carolina (after the species of fish with which it was served) as well as “three finger bread” or “red devils” throughout Georgia and Florida, the name “hushpuppies” was the one that stuck when tourists discovered the fritters in the early 20th century.

Churros (Spain, Portugal and Latin America)

Delicious churros sticks are deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar.

Delicious churros sticks are deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar.

cherokee4/Adobe Stock

Originally popularized in Spain and Portugal, these ridged pastry sticks are a sweet favorite for breakfast or snacking throughout Latin America as well.

The batter is piped through a star-shaped tip into hot oil to give the churro its signature shape. Churros are frequently dusted with cinnamon sugar and dipped into café con leche, hot chocolate or dulce de leche.

Beignets (Louisiana)

Simple pillows of fried yeast dough dusted with powdered sugar, beignets are synonymous with New Orleans’ French Quarter, where they’re famously served with chicory coffee at Café du Monde.

These fritters arrived in the South via French Canadian (Acadian) settlers in the 18th century, making the beignet a standard of Cajun culture and cuisine.

Mandazi (East Africa)

Like many fried delicacies, these fluffy, triangular pillows go by many names along the Swahili coast of East Africa. The yeast dough can be made with milk or coconut milk (if coconut’s involved, they might be called mahamri or mamri) and flavored with spices such as cardamom or ground nuts.

In Ghana and other places in West Africa, the dough is formed into round balls, and the pastries are known as bofrot or puff puff.

Jalebi (India)

Indian jalebi are cousins to the Middle Eastern fried zulbiya and zalabiya — thin fried batter rounds that first made their way across trade routes in the medieval era. The batter is piped through a muslin cloth into the oil, then dipped in sugar syrup for a chewy-crunchy texture.

They are often eaten alongside other snacks such as samosas or with rabdi, a creamy sweetened milk.

Zucchini flowers (Italy)

These zucchini flowers are stuffed with ricotta cheese and parsley.

These zucchini flowers are stuffed with ricotta cheese and parsley.

Olga/Adobe Stock

Fried zucchini blossoms are a botanical bonus for gardeners: Squash plants produce flowers in spring, but only the female flowers will grow into zucchini by summer’s end.

Gardeners in the know pick the male blossoms and turn them into a delicacy, dipping them in a light batter and frying until puffy and golden. The flowers can also be stuffed with ingredients such as cheese, prosciutto, rice and herbs.

Cronut (United States)

A modern twist on the traditional doughnut, cronuts became the name on every dessert lover’s lips in the United States nearly a decade ago.

This hybrid of a croissant and a doughnut was introduced by pastry chef Dominique Ansel at his New York City bakery in 2013 and has inspired many imitators. The flaky, puffy pastry is filled with flavored cream, then topped with a glaze.

Fry bread (Native Americans in the US)

Fry bread, or frybread, is a byproduct of colonial displacement that has evolved into a complicated symbol for many tribes.

When Native Americans were forced from their farmlands onto reservations by the US government in the mid-1800s, they used the ingredients provided to them — such as flour, sugar and lard — to create this survival staple of a large, puffy round of dough.

Today, many Native cooks tweak their family recipes with ingredients such as locally milled corn and whole wheat flour.

Fried green tomatoes (United States)

Though they’re most usually associated with the South, fried green tomatoes have their origins in the Midwest. Recipes for this method of turning unripe tomatoes into a culinary confection appear in late 19th-century community cookbooks from Ohio as well as Jewish immigrant cookbooks.

However you slice them, fried green tomatoes are an American staple. They can be dunked in cornmeal batter or breaded with flour, cornmeal or cracker crumbs before frying.

French fries (Belgium and France)

Beloved the world over, french fries got their start in France and Belgium.

Beloved the world over, french fries got their start in France and Belgium.

shootingtheworld/Adobe Stock

The history and birthplace of french fries has been contested between Belgium and France, but the method of making pommes de terre frites has gone from haute cuisine to a fast-food icon beloved around the world.

As the lore goes, the name refers to the technique of frenching, or thinly slicing vegetables (in this case potatoes) so all the pieces cook evenly. Served alongside steak or a burger, with ketchup or mayonnaise, or topped with cheese and gravy, french fries go with just about everything.

Pakora (India)

Pakora is a catchall term for a variety of Indian vegetable fritters, which can be made with anything from potatoes and eggplant to cabbage and spinach as a base.

Traditionally made with a variety of chickpea flour known as besan flour, these fritters can vary in shape and size depending on the specific vegetables used. Bread pakora consists of slices of bread dipped in batter and deep fried, often with vegetables such as potatoes stuffed between slices.

Tostones (Caribbean and Latin America)

Fried once is great, but fried twice? Even better. Tostones are twice-fried green plantains with variations found throughout Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. Slices of plantain are fried once, then smashed and fried again to get extra crispy edges.

Like potato chips, tostones can be salted and eaten on their own, used as a vehicle for scooping up dips and sauces or as an edible vessel for other snacks such as pulled meats, cheese or ceviche.

Arancini (Italy)

These breaded fried rice balls are yet another delicious dish from Sicily.

These breaded fried rice balls are yet another delicious dish from Sicily.

Eleonora Galli/Moment RF/Getty Images

Sicilian arancini have been delighting Italians since the 10th century with their combination of rice and savory fillings. Though these breaded fried rice balls are a traditional food during the December feast of Santa Lucia, arancini are eaten year-round.

They can be stuffed with fillings as diverse as meat ragu, mozzarella, eggplant, mushrooms and even pistachios. Arancini, also known as arancine, can be round or molded into a conical shape in honor of the Sicilian volcano Mount Etna.

Fofos de arroz (Mozambique)

The strong Portuguese influence on Mozambique’s cuisine can be seen in arroz de fofo, breaded and fried rice balls that feature garlic and bay leaf-seasoned cooked rice with shrimp in the center.

Though rice, garlic and bay leaf were introduced as part of Portugal’s colonization in the 1500s, shrimp are a local delicacy for this coastal country in southeastern Africa.

Chiko rolls (Australia)

Inspired by Chinese egg rolls, the Chiko roll was invented in the 1950s by an Australian caterer who wanted a substantial snack for his outdoor events that could be eaten “in one hand, with a cool beer in the other,” according to the official origin story.

Filled with beef and vegetables and deep fried in a pastry crust, Chiko rolls have moved beyond tailgate food for sporting events to an iconic takeaway food throughout Australia.

Onion bhajis (India)

While there are many varieties of pakora, one special version are bhajis, or onion fritters laced with aromatic spices. Onion bhajis are a flavorful teatime snack and street food in South India. With the thinly sliced onions creating a web for the batter to hold onto, they are light and crunchy.

Banh cam (Vietnam)

Banh Cam is a deep-fried Vietnamese dessert.

Banh Cam is a deep-fried Vietnamese dessert.

Paul Biris/Moment RF/Getty Images

Though the name translates to “orange cake,” there’s no orange flavor in these deep-fried rice balls. Instead, these southern Vietnamese sweets are named for their visual resemblance to an orange. Made with tender glutinous rice flour and filled with mung bean paste, the balls are then rolled in sesame seeds and fried.

Banh ran is a similar variation found in northern Vietnam that is drizzled with sugar syrup and has a slightly hollow interior for the filling.

Scotch eggs (United Kingdom)

Possibly the most protein-packed bar snack in culinary history, a Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage, then coated in breadcrumbs and fried until crispy.

They might be decadently rich, but they’re definitely not Scottish. Some say this salty snack was invented by the British retailer Fortnum & Mason in the 1700s, while others maintain it’s a British take on the Indian nargisi kofta, a curry dish that features eggs wrapped in ground lamb.

Katsu (Japan)

When craving crunchy fried chicken in Japan, look no further than katsu. These panko-breaded cutlets are a staple of many a meal, served over rice or with a curry. Katsu sauce, a sweet and tart fruity sauce, is also a classic accompaniment. Beyond chicken katsu, tonkatsu specifically refers to a fried pork cutlet, and gyukatsu is the beef version.

Fried calamari (Italy and Greece)

Batter-fried or breaded, served with a lemon wedge and either marinara sauce or a creamy mayonnaise-based sauce, this now-ubiquitous dish has gone from a Greek and Italian coastal specialty to high-end American restaurants to a mainstream appetizer.

First reported on by The New York Times in 1975, these simple rings of squid might not be as trendy as they were in the ’90s, but the seafood sensation remains on many a menu.

Fried chicken (Korean and American)

Yum! Korean-style deep-fried chicken wings with garlic sauce and kimchi and pickled radish on the side.

Yum! Korean-style deep-fried chicken wings with garlic sauce and kimchi and pickled radish on the side.

pada smith/Adobe Stock

There are many ways to cook chicken, but two of the most popular (and crunchy) are American and Korean fried chicken.

American fried chicken is known for its thick and craggy crust, a result of dredging buttermilk-marinated chicken pieces in seasoned flour to build up the coating. Korean fried chicken has a thin, crispy batter coating that’s double-fried to get extra crunch, then coated in a gochujang-honey sauce.

Fried clams (New England)

Roadside clam shacks dot the New England landscape from Connecticut to Maine, selling the region’s most famous fried seafood. In New England, whole clam bellies are dipped in milk and then dredged in a cornmeal-flour breading before frying.

Typically served with tartar sauce, they can be enjoyed on their own or as a clam roll in a hot dog-style bun. Clam strips have the belly removed for a thinner, crunchier fried option.

Kibbeh (Middle East)

It’s the national dish of Lebanon, but versions of these fried meat-and-bulgur balls can be found throughout the Middle East. Minced beef or lamb is mixed with cooked bulgur wheat, onions and spices. It’s traditionally mixed and ground by hand, then shaped and fried.

Kibbeh can be formed into football-shaped balls, large discs or baked into casserole dishes. A raw version, similar to tartare, is known as kibbeh nayyeh.

Leche frita (Spain)

Leche frita is served with with cherries.

Leche frita is served with with cherries.

FomaA/Adobe Stock

Leche frita, or fried milk, is a favorite northern Spanish street food. Milk is cooked with flour and sugar into a thick custard, then chilled until firm. The custard is cut into cubes, dredged in flour and eggs and fried. Topping the leche frita cubes with cinnamon and sugar makes it a sweeter treat.

Prawn toast (Hong Kong)

Prawn toast (or shrimp toast) is a simple savory snack consisting of shrimp paste smeared on white bread, then deep fried to a golden crisp.

It was popularized in Hong Kong — some speculate that the bread component in this dish came from British colonization — and has spread to dim sum menus worldwide. Sesame seeds are sprinkled on the prawn toast before frying in a British and Australian variation.

Deep-fried Mars bar (United Kingdom)

It’s one of the best-known experiments of “will it fry?” The deep-fried Mars Bar is a Scottish novelty that has inspired many imitators, from fried Oreos to Twinkies.

Originally created in a Scottish chip shop — supposedly as a dare — a frozen Mars Bar (a chocolate, nougat and caramel candy bar) is dipped in thick batter and fried just until the chocolate is gooey and slightly melted.

Fried pizza (Italy)

Naples, Italy, is famous for its airy, thin-crusted Neapolitan pizza, but pizza fritta is the lesser-known staple of the city’s pizza traditions. Long a snack in the poorer areas of Naples, this style of pizza was said to have been popularized during World War II when ingredients were scarce and bombings destroyed many of the wood-fired ovens used to make Neapolitan pizza.

These puffy rounds of dough are filling, and even more so when stuffed with ingredients such as ricotta, crushed tomatoes and pork cracklings.

Chimichangas (Southwest US)

A deep-fried beef chimichanga with rice and beans should hit the spot. Antacid optional.

A deep-fried beef chimichanga with rice and beans should hit the spot. Antacid optional.

Brent Hofacker/Adobe Stock

Arizona lays claim to being the birthplace of chimichangas — deep-fried burritos that are now a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine.

Though two restaurants in Phoenix and Tucson offer competing origin stories, as with many Tex-Mex foods, the concept has multiplied throughout the Southwest. Burritos can be filled with rice, beans, cheese and meats such as ground beef, carne asada, pork or chicken, then fried until the tortilla becomes a crispy shell.

Chicharrons (Spain, Latin America and the Philippines)

Pork rinds may be popular with the keto set, but they aren’t a new creation developed by the big-name snack brands. Chicharron, or deep-fried pork skin, has been a method for making the most of every part of the pig for centuries. It’s most commonly associated with Spanish and Latin American countries, as well as in the Philippines.

It can be part of a main course when stuffed into tortillas, mofongo or arepas, as a crispy topping, or on its own with seasonings.

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