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Seth Stevenson: Volcanoes and the Joys of Slow Travel

Author Seth Stevenson, who came on the show recently to discuss his new book, "Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World," has a piece in the New York Times today, "Escape From the Jet Age," musing about the Iceland volcano eruption and the great travel fiasco. We're covering that story today, too, in our segment with two transportation reporters and a volcanologist.

During the global journey Seth took for his book, he avoided airplanes altogether. As Seth says in the Times today, planes have their drawbacks (try stating this in an airline cue somewhere in Europe ...):

Airplanes are a means of ignoring the spaces in between your point of origin and your destination. By contrast, a surface journey allows you to look out on those spaces — at eye level and on a human scale, not peering down through breaks in the clouds from 35,000 feet above — from the observation car of a rolling train or the deck of a gently bobbing ship.

Fast-moving global business travelers may have other views on the virtues of that "bobbing ship," but here's Seth's volcano-week wish:

My hope is that some travelers stranded by the volcanic eruption have been able to discover the joys of slow travel for themselves. With airplanes out of the picture over the past few days, pretty much the only form of public transport between the United States and Europe has been aboard the Queen Mary II, making one of her weeklong treks between New York and Southampton, England, or on one of the select few container ships that will rent spare cabins to civilian passengers.

Listen back to our hour with Seth and his travel partner, Rebecca Legrand.

This program aired on April 20, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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