2011 has been a big year for HuffPost Travel. We've introduced a lot of new writers for our site and these new writers have, in turn, introduced us to scores of places we might have otherwise overlooked and a variety of issues that warranted a second glance. Sorting through the hundreds of travel pieces we've published this year to find the eleven best was far more enjoyable than it was easy. We were forced to leave out too many stories that we loved -- too many baby whales and too many Argentinian cowboys. Regret, unfortunately, is always an ingredient of the end of the year round up.
That being said, we couldn't be more pleased with our final list, which runs the gamut from a think piece on cruise tourism to an investigation into the financing of a Bangladeshi attraction-cum-movie set. These stories captured our imagination, made us want to hit the road and reminded us that next year is full of new horizons.
In no particular order -- it was bad enough having to pick them out -- these are our best blogs of 2011. Read them now.
Hiking On The Steep: Filmmaking In Zermatt
By Arne and Claudia Hirschberger
Arne and Claudia are always creative, but the music on this tilt-shift clip of Zermatt -- and the amoungt of work that went into it -- makes it one of our favorite clips of this year.
Bangladesh's P.T. Barnum And His Knock Off Taj
By Dan Morrison
Morrison has a reporters eye and a healthy appreciation for the absurd. This story about one Bangladeshi man's attempt to manufacture a site of national importance on a shoe-string budget is both funny and touching. This is what happens when national pride and the tourist economy get conflated.
A Tragedy, A Miracle And A Brawl...Welcome to Ireland
By Tom Rhodes
It takes a certain type of writer to really embrace Ireland by getting into a fistfight. Tom Rhodes is that kind of guy. The fact that he witnesses a miracle along the way makes this piece all the more memorable.
It Takes A Village To Fight A Bull
By Andrew McCarthy
Ever the actor, McCarthy is quick to get in on the action even when the action involves getting chased by a bull. There is little we like better than questionable decision making in service of unquestionably fun writing.
My Flying Lesson
By Alec Baldwin
There is something about Baldwin's bombastic, self-deprecating sense of humor that always wins us over. The fact that he was fighting for his right to play Words With Friends makes him nothing less than a folk hero.
Zimbabwe's Safari Industry Rises From The Ashes
By Mark Sissons
This story is, like the best travel stories, not just a travel story. Sissons helpfully provides perspective on that always turbulent spot at the confluence of politics and tourism while providing a compelling picture of a place we want to go.
Friday Photo: Pink
By Kirsten Alana
We get to see Kirsten's photos every Friday, but this image -- along with her very personal story -- stuck with us for more than just a week.
Is Cruising Really Travel?
By Rick Steves
One of the most trusted European travel experts on this side of the Atlantic, Rick stirred the pot with this post that somehow managed to add fresh perspective to one of travel's oldest debates.
A Final Fall Campout In Great Smoky
By Matt Brass
Many a videographer attempts to capture the atmosphere of a place -- and fails miserably. Matt, on the other hand, makes us want to pack a rucksack with some beef jerky and a camera and set out for the territory.
Zambia: Africa On Foot And Unplugged
By Richard Bangs
We want to be like Bangs when we grow up. This story about his return to Zambia, a country where he rafted as a younger man, is not only about embracing Africa, but about very intentionally leaving the modern, electronic world behind.
If all Randy had was this headline, we'd love the sizzle of this post, but Randy's evocative photos and personal story make this post really pop and leaves us wanting more.