93. Travis Elborough; Vanishing Lakes in Uzbekistan, Californian Ghost Towns and Disappearing Yorkshire Villages - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode Array
April 7 , 2020

93. Travis Elborough; Vanishing Lakes in Uzbekistan, Californian Ghost Towns and Disappearing Yorkshire Villages

Dreaming of travel – because we can’t actually travel – has become a lot more meaningful during lockdown and this week I really loved being on the When in Spain podcast. Paul Burge from Madrid and me in London, talking about the country we love. This week The Big Travel Podcast also hit number 1 again in the Apple Podcasts UK travel charts, number in the UAE, 5 in Spain, 3 in Belgium and charting high everywhere including number 28 in the US which is a great as its such a big country! Hello to all our new listeners, I’m so happy to have you with us. We’ve also been featured a lot in the press including articles from Wanderlust Magazine and even The Guardian. 

This episode’s guest is utterly fascinating and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I do.

Searching for the quirk in the world, the places created for odd reasons and perverse town-planning, cultural commentator Travis Elborough has explored topics as diverse as the history of the Routemaster bus, vinyl records, donkeys at the British seaside and pirates in the Caribbean. He most recently collaborated with cartographer Martin Brown for The Atlas of Vanishing Places, winner of the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2020 illustrated book. And for this episode we’re actually in the wonderful Stanford’s Travel Book Shop, in London’s Covent Garden just before we went into Lockdown.


On this episode we cover:

Being inspired by the disappearance of The Aral Sea in Uzbekistan

Captain Cook and the ‘labyrinth’ of the Great Barrier Reef

Visiting the archaeological wonder of Xanadu in Mongolia

The lost colony of Roanoke in what’s now North Carolina

Was Helike, an ancient Greek city submerged by a tsunami, the basis for Atlantis

Ancient cities such as Alexandria and its great library and lighthouse

The replica Stonehenge in Maryhill, Washington State

Lack Havasu being created in Arizona by a champion chill chef and Disney Land planner

The Americans buying London Bridge and sticking it up in Arizona

The urban myth that they thought they were getting Tower Bridge

Driving Route 66 with a poet friend, how very Beatnik

Spring break party towns

Touring Lake Havasu with a Harley Davison gang

Having a fake Trafalgar Square to go with the original London Bridge

Towns disappearing under hydroelectric damns

The town in Australia poking up above the water

The ghost-town of Bodie North East of Yosemite in California

Chan Chan, the ancient capital city on the northern coast of Peru 

The Yorkshire homes disappearing into the sea at Skipsea

The fastest-eroding coastline in northern Europe

The tensions of what to keep and what to sacrifice

The positive affects of Coronavirus stopping travel

Venice being in in peril

The word ‘quarantine’ coming from Venice

The word ‘ghetto’ also probably coming from Venice

The extraordinary basilica buildings being built on world trade

The art project of bridges outside Rotterdam replicating the bridges on the back of a Euro note

The forts in the Solent that were meant to protect against invasion of the French

One of these being turned into a party venue

Slab City squatter camp in California with a golf course

Always looking for the quirk in his travels

Montana’s Glacier National Park that might disappear

The perverse attraction of a disused mine shaft

Being intrigued by places that are created for odd reasons

The crazy story of Fordlandia, henry Ford’s failed utopian village in Brazil

Titusville in Pennsylvania being the birthplace of Vaseline

The sunken pirate city of Port Royal in Jamaica

‘Town-Planning Perversion’

Walt Disney’s Celebration utopian village in Orlando

How Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express really takes on new meaning when you’re staring down long German boulevards

Thanks again to Stanford’s Travel Book Shop in Covent Garden for having us! They are still open online and would love to have you visit when the physical shop reopens too