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Great viewing for couch potato travellers

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Great viewing for couch potato travellers

by Millie Ball

According to some proverb or other, travel broadens the mind.

G.K. Chesterton had a slightly different take. "They say travel broadens the mind," he wrote in 1921, "but you must have the mind." Cheeky devil.

If travel broadens the mind and lightens the wallet, why not just watch travel programs on your home TV? Whether you want to voyage vicariously, watch fools go where and do what no mortal should, look for ideas for your own next adventure or simply be entertained, the travel-TV options are many, from basic cable or the whole HD package. Here are a few suggestions, from mild to wild.

Roadside Adventures has many things going for it. Host Derek Muirden is appealing in a folksy and self-consciously hammy way, and the locations are not far from home. The Mountain Lake PBS Web site describes the series, now in its third year, this way: "Tempting statewide-armchair travellers to come explore the history, culture, cuisine and natural wonders of the Adirondacks and beyond."

Muirden is a real character with a nice rumpled manner. His journeys are for regular folk who prefer road trips and shun schedules. A recent episode followed Muirden to New York's Saratoga Raceway, where he mixed with the plebes in the barbeque atmosphere of the "back yard" where $3 will get you a closed-circuit-TV-screen away from the horse races. After borrowing a pair of long pants, he followed the more elite classes to the luxury seats.

Roadside Adventures airs Saturday afternoons on Mountain Lake PBS.

The reality television series The Amazing Race might not be how most people would like to travel, especially when a team of contestants loses all its money and must advance to the next location by luck and pluck. But it's a great ride and provides more than a little been-there, survived-that amusement to professional travellers who are regularly plagued with too little sleep, horrible food, delays, missed flights, wrong turns and unbridgeable language gaps.

The 12th edition of this multiple-Emmy-winning series is being launched to fill the void left by the quickly cancelled musical Viva Laughlin. Although this franchise lost my interest during the uncomfortably bad Family Edition and the insufferable All-Star edition, it promises a return to form. Eleven teams of two will race 80,000 kilometres (stops include Ireland and Croatia) to win the $1-million US prize.

Season 12 of The Amazing Race airs Sundays on CBS and CTV.

Web site. and click on program list, then The Amazing Race.

Globe Trekker and Pilot Guides (two names for the same show) are like the crazy fun grandchildren of Smart Travels. Drawing from a stable of smart and tart hosts, these shows go off the beaten path to places that would appeal to younger or at least more adventurous travellers. And while the information imparted is also practical, such as where to stay and where or at least what to eat, the hosts are excellent entertainers and the photography is both bold and beautiful.

Coming up: Globe Trekker Special: Best Treks -- Caribbean Islands and New Zealand Sunday on some PBS stations.

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