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Being myself a travel freak, I make it a point to catch every possible travel related shows on TV. And having sampled many of them I find 'Lonely Planet' to be the Best among them! It is the only travel show that manages to capture the essence of the place being featured. It is unlike 'Travelers' were the hosts would visit only one place which is having some big celebration or 'Holiday', the BBC travel show which wraps about 4 places in half an hour. The "format" so to say, of LP is very systematic. They tackle a single country, or a part of it or one region and its surrounding islands per show. This helps the audience focus fully on that particular country or region instead of being taken on a ride, hopping from one continent to the other.
Of course the most integral part of the series are the travelers themselves. And had it not been for their sheer enthusiasm for what they're doing, this show might never have worked. Ian Wright and Justine Shapiro have hosted most of the episodes. Ian Wright's love for travelling is almost inspirational. With his trademark sense of humor, he is able to strike a bond with people from some of the most inaccessible parts of the world, who sometimes don't speak English or are familiar with the concept of a travel show. He makes even the inevitable dreary moments while travelling seem not-so-bad-after-all. He truly comes across as an eternal optimist, with a never-say-die attitude to life. I've seen many of the episodes hosted by him and the ones that I recall are his trips to Japan(part of it), New York and Alaska. Justine Shapiro is another traveler who comes across as a person and not just a host. She also has a really good voice which enhances the narration of the show. Her comments reveal what it's like to travel as a woman around the world. I have enjoyed her travels to South Africa(where she was born), Argentina, Southern India, Paris, parts of China and countless other places. It was a really pleasant surprise to find Justine nominated for an Oscar this year for her documentary film 'Promises'!
Another traveler that I really like is Megan McCormick. From her initial tentativeness, when I think she was more reserved, she seemed almost transformed in the later episodes when she seemed much more carefree, daring and willing to monkey-around the people and places she visited! She comes across as a really friendly person, which is important when you have to meet so many strange people. I enjoyed her travels around Western India, Northern Italy, parts of China and other places. I guess what makes these travelers so unique is their optimism when you realize that the task ahead of them is to "tackle" entire countries or at least a good part of them; to familiarize the oddest of places to any and all possible people. If it were not for the awareness on the audiences part that there was another person along with these travelers holding the camera, they seemed as good as alone. The photography was sometimes really breathtaking. I think they used more than one camera which enabled them to really capture some great footage. I loved the title music composed for the series. It's one of my favorites! Also they managed to include music from the places being featured which was really nice. It added to the aura of the show, adding to it an air of nostalgia almost. Very often they had these special shows were they would show excerpts from various episodes put together according to some theme or concept, usually narrated by either Ian or Justine. These special episodes were a double treat! All in all, 'Lonely Planet'(or 'Globe Trekker' by which it is now, (sadly) called) is for the real travel junkies! And though I wish I could be one, I satisfy my wanderlust by vicariously travelling with these really cool people!!
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