iOS app Android app

Peter Mandel
Peter Mandel is a travel journalist and the author of eleven books for kids including Jackhammer Sam (Macmillan), Zoo Ah-Choooo (Holiday House), Bun, Onion, Burger (Simon & Schuster), Planes at the Airport (Scholastic), and Say Hey! A Song of Willie Mays (Hyperion). A regular contributor to the travel sections of The Washington Post and The Boston Globe, he often writes about the misadventures he's gotten stuck in--including experiencing a coup in Ecuador, trying to hike a suburban strip mall, suiting up as a theme park character, seeing America by metered cab, and kayaking to the Statue of Liberty. Originally from Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, Mandel finds himself living in Providence these days with his wife, Kathy, and cats, Betty, Emily and Cecil. He's written cranky essays and op-eds for Reader's Digest, The Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal, and has won a few Lowell Thomas awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, including a 2005 gold for adventure travel article of the year. Check him out at or:

Entries by Peter Mandel

High Tea in Hangzhou: China's Prettiest City

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 7:44 PM

There is a button you must push to enter China. The guard at Hangzhou passport control is pointing. I am in a fog from jet lag after flights from Boston, Vancouver, and Hong Kong, but I must press.

"You are very happy with this desk?" he asks. "Not too...

Read Post

'My Struggle' in Reading Karl Ove Knausgaard in The New York Times Magazine

(9) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 1:45 PM

My copy of Sunday's New York Times Magazine flopped open by sheer accident to a feature that started off like this:

"I lost my driver's license over a year ago. I lose stuff all the time. Credit cards, passports, car keys, cash, books, bags, laptops. It doesn't worry me, they...
Read Post

To See What Your Kids Are Missing, Crack This Book

(3) Comments | Posted February 16, 2015 | 12:56 PM

Talk to a teacher. Have a chat with a parent. Even a pre-teen can tell you: Educational standards and high expectations are the order of our day.

Let's suppose that you borrowed one ten-year-old from the 1920s, and another from 2015. You emptied their pockets, weighed their bookpacks, and...

Read Post

Antarctica: To the White Continent by Ice-Blue Sea

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 2:08 PM

We are on a bus, which is carrying us to a port, where we will load up a ship. Nothing unusual about that.

Nothing strange, except for our fat wool hats, our puffy penguin-y parkas, our knee-high insulated boots. Nothing weird but where we are: Punta Arenas at the...

Read Post

Northern Secrets: What the Danes, Swedes and Dutch Do in Winter

(2) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 2:06 PM

Does Northern Europe exist in snow? The travel industry says no. Ski areas aside, most tours and cruises adventure to Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands in June and July, when the days are stretched out and soft, like fondue that's been melted in a pot.

Like you, I enjoy a...

Read Post

How Christmas Is Made: Behind the Scenes at Germany's Famous Markets

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 2:26 PM

It's the geographic question of the season. When -- and exactly, where -- does Christmas begin?

Some make pilgrimages to find the first orange leaf of fall. But I am in search of December. North Pole workshops could be gearing up at this very moment. But that...

Read Post

'I Am Penguin, Hear Me Squeak!' A Bird Speaks Out From Inside SeaWorld's 'Antarctica'

(13) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 4:30 PM

I don't know if you are aware of this, but we penguins have our pride. In my case, I'm no run-of-the-mill bird. I'm a King penguin, in fact--bred for blizzards at the bottom of the world.

Call it retirement if you want, but one day, I found myself stationed...

Read Post

'We Have Whiskers, They Have Whiskers:' A Man's Best Friend Is His Cat

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 4:25 PM

Way down deep, we're all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them. -- Jim Davis

There they crouch. The words "cat" and "courage" lurking quietly in the same sentence. As a man, I understand how I'm supposed to react.

"Cats?" I should object. "They're...

Read Post

Cruising for Moose in Maine

(0) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 4:16 PM

Neon moose. Stuffed, plush moose. Even a moose with wings: a handsome, hand-painted sculpture by the side of Route 15.

It was easy to tell, a few autumns back, that I was getting close to Moosehead Lake in Maine -- about 50 miles from the Quebec border. But while these...

Read Post

Southern Comfort: Saying Hello to Fall in South Carolina

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 8:09 PM

When it comes to the mechanically cooled contemporary American South, this may be close to blasphemy. But here goes: Some of us do not like central air. Indoor breezes are indoor breezes, if you ask me. You might be in a mall, or at the movies, or driving around in...

Read Post

Enjoying Your Shiny New SUV? (My Junk Heap Will Bury It)

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 8:33 PM

Traffic and parked cars have their seasons. Well, at least in a college town like the one I live in, they do. What during summer was a rich, tropical mix of rusted junk heaps similar to my 1988 Chevy Nova is now suddenly Germanic: October cold and clean.


Read Post

Extra! Extra! Famous Travel Writers Spill Trade Secrets (And Dish Some Dirt)

(1) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 5:07 PM

In the starry, spiraling universe of tell-all books, the biggest sellers tend to be those that sneak the reader behind the scenes and into the secret alleyways of presidential politics, corporate jockeying, and pro sports. But I'm glad to report that the travel world has a few pot-boiling exposes of...

Read Post

When New York Ruled the Universe: 50 Years Later, Revisiting the Dreamscape of the 1964-65 World's Fair

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 1:43 PM

"That chair you're seated in is moving...Moving into the future." -- Ad for the General Motors Futurama Ride


If you're like me, I'll bet there are bits of history that stop you short. In my case it's images, TV footage, even text from...

Read Post

In Bangkok: Fitting Right In

(28) Comments | Posted August 4, 2014 | 8:03 PM

Bangkok, listen. Bangkok, no. I say, no. I do not want a suit that's specially made. I rarely tie a tie. My wife may gawk at fitted Chinese dresses, she may touch their magically thick twill. She will not buy.

When we travel, a few years back, to...

Read Post

Walking to Wuthering Heights: The Brontës' Yorkshire

(1) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 4:36 PM

The pan-fried pigeon with black pudding I will say no to. No, on that. But as for pheasant -- pheasant in port wine sauce -- possibly yes.

I am wasting my waiter's time here at a restaurant called The Grouse Inn in Keighley, Yorkshire. Just as I am about...

Read Post

Getting Up to Speed: A NASCAR Skeptic Burns Some Rubber in a Rookie Course

(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2014 | 2:06 PM

How do the hungry drivers of NASCAR fuel up? With Ragu Rich & Meaty Spaghetti Sauce.

I snap off the TV. I flip past the magazine ads screaming about speed and about the men in helmets who achieve it.

I am sure that America's top drivers burn...

Read Post

The Unbearable Lightness of Prague

(5) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 9:09 AM

If Prague were a planet, circling and spinning past the sun, it would be one that sends back light to those who take the time to look. A Mercury or Mars, let's say. Rich and purple and alert for steps upon its soil.

During my first trip here, in...

Read Post

The Envelope, Please! Announcing The First Annual 'Blurbie' Awards for Truly Ridiculous PR

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 2:29 PM

These days, every industry boasts its very own, highly-coveted slate of annual honors and awards. This is as it should be. The few exceptions to this rule include the more shadowy, behind-the-scenes fields. Oh, you know the ones I mean. Industrial espionage, for example. Impersonation. Secret shopping. Bodyguard work. And,...

Read Post

Glasgow: From Pubs to Parks In Scotland's 'Second City'

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 12:51 PM

If you're a fan of edgy, Scottish-made movies, you might imagine that traveling here is like jumping through the screen into the bleak, urban landscapes of Trainspotting or Shallow Grave. And as far as Scotland's biggest city, Glasgow, is concerned, even the peat-smoky sound of the word evokes images of...

Read Post

The Cricket in Times Square: A Manhattan Children's Book Tour

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 6:07 PM

Manhattan can seem exotic just as it is. But try adding a drop of the imaginary and see what you get.

Maybe it's because the authors lived here, but dozens of classic books for kids are set in the center of New York. Crickets in their pages hang out,...

Read Post