From Jewish London to America by Harley and places in between
We explore points around the globe from London and the Jewish contributions to British society to America as we explore it’s history on the back of a Harley Davidson. We’ll stop at places in between and spend time remembering Anthony Bourdain.
When most people think of London their first thoughts are of the iconic attractions. Few, however, realize the influences that other cultures have made to British society. Author and tour guide, Rachel Kolsky, takes us on an in-depth tour of Jewish London.
We also welcome back three old friends.
Darley Newman, host of the Emmy winning show Equitrekking takes us on new adventures with her Amazon Prime show, Travels with Darley.
Bestselling author James Rollins uncovers new secrets in his latest Sigma Force thriller, The Demon Crown. He also shares a great scuba diving location.
Our good friend and favorite historian, Stan Ellsworth takes us along on his Harley Davidson to uncover more of America’s rich history.
Finally, we’ll remember a travel giant, Anthony Bourdain, who took his own life. We will reflect on this thoughts about travel in our final moments.
Join us as we discover thrilling secrets, adventures and cultural heritage, and as we learn about Cabo San Lucas and Saint Martin on World Footprints with Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick.
Ian: When most people think of London, their first thoughts are of the iconic attractions. Few, however, realize the influences that other cultures have made to British society. Author and tour guide, Rachel Kolsky, takes us on an in-depth tour of Jewish London.
Rachel Kolsky: So when you go to the Jewish East End, you got this multi-layering and then you’ve also got the stories of the people who made a difference.
Ian: This next hour, we welcome back three old friends. Darley Newman, host of the Amazon Prime show Travels with Darley, takes us on some new adventures. bestselling author James Rollins uncovers new secrets in his latest Sigma Force thriller, The Demon Crown. He also shares a great scuba diving location. Finally, our good friend and favorite historian Stan Ellsworth takes us along on his Harley Davidson to uncover more of America’s past.
Stan Ellsworth: Seeing what America is and how many different faces really make up the American family and finding out that underneath all the stuff that you can say, “Well, this makes us different,” is one heartbeat.
Ian: Join us as we discover secrets, adventures, and cultural heritage on World Footprints with Ian-
Tonya: And Tonya Fitzpatrick.
Tonya: Just ahead, we will explore some of America’s famous historic sites on the back of a Harley Davidson with American Ride host, Stan Ellsworth. We’ll also talk to bestselling author James Rollins about his latest international thriller in his Sigma Force series, The Demon Crown. James also shares one of his favorite scuba diving discoveries. We welcome back adventure traveler and television host Darley Newman, who shares her journeys and misadventures on her Amazon Prime show Travels with Darley. Plus we will enjoy a taste of Cabo San Lucas and the island of Saint Martin in the coming hour.
Tonya: But first, the Jewish presence in London dates as far back as the 11th century. Many of the attractions, inventions, food, art, and architecture that we attribute to British society were influenced by the Jewish culture. We will explore a different side of London with tour guide and author of Jewish London, Rachel Kolsky.
Tonya: London is very diverse and really a huge melting pot. Is that what inspired you to create this guidebook, Jewish London?
Rachel Kolsky: Firstly, you’re absolutely right. London is a melting pot. Although, curiously enough, the term “melting pot” always tends to be linked to New York and the States rather than London. We don’t tend to use the term “melting pot.” I’ve never really understood why. But London today, the phrase that tends to get used a lot in Britain is “multicultural,” although with that term has been… not everybody warms to it. But there’s absolutely no doubt about it. If you go to London today, just sit on a Tube, amble down a street, basically almost every accent or language you hear will not be English. It’s absolutely quite amazing.
Rachel Kolsky: And the other thing that I’ve noticed, as I have got a little bit older, I’ve just reached the big O, and I’m now officially a concession. I’m embracing it. I’m loving it. But one of the things I’ve really noticed is how old I feel and how out of place I sometimes feel because I’m older, and I’m English, and I’ve only ever really lived in London. I only haven’t lived in London when I went away to college. And even then, I went to another big city in the Northwest of England called Manchester. So I’m an urban girl. And that is the main difference one notices when you come to London now. It’s so international and it’s so young, which is great. There’s an amazing energy in London. A different energy to New York. People always talk about New York’s energy, but London is buzzy and it’s buzzy now 24/7. We used to always say that about New York. But there’s something going on every hour of the day in London.
Rachel Kolsky: And the notion of being interested in different cultures and the different heritage of the different immigrant groups, that is becoming much more… The interest in it is becoming much more noticeable. So for instance, I’ve been guiding now for nearly 20 years. I’m a librarian by profession, but I started guiding as a hobby. I enjoyed studying. I started doing it in my spare time at weekends and on days off. And then I left work around 10 years ago. When I started out guiding, I was one of the very few guides who did the tours of the Jewish East End. And the Jewish East End then was a little bit down at heel. People often weren’t quite keen to come because they couldn’t get a frothy coffee or a croissant. I’m talking about even the very late ’90s, very early 2000s. You know, “No frothy coffee, I don’t want to go.” It’s a little bit edgy.
Rachel Kolsky: But since then, that area, and we’ll probably come back to that later in the conversation I hope, that area, the Jewish East End, Spitalfields Area, just to the east of the city, has become, I consider to be one of the top 10 places to go in London when people visit. Like I said, I’ll come back to that. But also there’s a growing interest in other immigrant groups as well.
Rachel Kolsky: So, for instance, Brixton, where there was and still is a very considerable Caribbean community, dating typically from the ’50s and ’60s. I take a lot of groups now to Brixton. And, again, 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, Brixton’s reputation was such that, why would you go? I mean, you just wouldn’t want to go. You wouldn’t want to explore it. It was a little bit too edgy. You felt a little bit out of your comfort zone. And Brixton now absolutely. I’ve taken groups around West Hand, which is a very Bengali area, like some of the streets are 95% percent Bengali. And they’re areas that people, if you typically don’t live in that area, it’s not your community, people really enjoy.
Rachel Kolsky: People are really enjoying exploring and discovering other areas of London that are new to them with very distinct immigrant groups. And I think that’s all to the good. That’s all to the good.
Tonya: Yeah, I mean, you’re reminding me of a couple of things when I lived there. You know, when I think about the East End, I think of the show EastEnders-
Rachel Kolsky: Yes. Okay. Yep. Yep.
Tonya: Which is shown here in the states on PBS, at times. But Brixton also, Brixton reminds me of Harlem, New York. And Harlem has gone through a renaissance.
Rachel Kolsky: The reason I put now visiting the East End as one of the top 10 places to visit … So if somebody’s coming to London for the first time, or they haven’t been for a little while, and they say, “What are the things we should do?” I’ll always put on the East End. And the reason I do that is because the area just east of the city was where, historically, there have always been different immigrant groups making their home there. So if you go back hundreds and hundreds of years, the Flemish, from Belgium, were there. And then the French came in the late 17th century, fleeing persecution. Then the Irish came. And they, a lot of them lived in East London. They were building the docks or building the railways, building the canals. And they lived near where they worked. Then in the 1700s, so before the Irish, you had a lot of Germans coming over, and that continued well into the 19th century.
Rachel Kolsky: And then, of course, you had the Jewish community, which is a story in itself. Because after having been expelled, they came back in 1656. And the community gradually grew, and grew, and grew. And then, in the late 19th century, when so many of them had to flee the pogroms and persecution in Russia, Poland, that’s when those Jewish refugees joined the very established Jewish community that had built itself up and broken down a lot of the civic disabilities. And so in the late 19th century, you had this massive wave of immigration coming in. But they came into a London where the Jewish community that had already been established a little bit, could look after them and help them.
Rachel Kolsky: In the 1940s, after the war, you get a new group of immigrants coming in to the East End, the Bengalis, the Muslims, and they began to grow from the ’40s and ’50s. Then, mostly male. And then from the 1970s, women and children joined them because of the civil war in East and West Pakistan. And then another big group, considerable group I should say, coming in in the late 20th, early 21st century, would be the Somalis.
Rachel Kolsky: So when you So when you go to the East End of London, there are so many different things you can look at because you can follow the story of the Jewish journey, and you can weave in the stories of the other immigrant groups. They came and they went. They came and they went. And there are buildings in the East End, which have been used by different immigrant groups. You can find, one of the key buildings on Brick Lane, is a building that was built as a French Huguenot Chapel, Protestant worship. Then it became a synagogue. And then when the Jewish community moved away, the Muslim community had grown, it became a mosque. So you look at one building and you’ve got the story of three very different immigrant groups, woven into that one corner building on Brick Lane.
Rachel Kolsky: And you’ve got other buildings like that as well. So you can go to that area and experience that Jewish journey, but also not ignoring, you can’t ignore the other immigrant groups as well. But of course now, you’ve got a whole new immigrant group coming in. And those are the young people, whether British or from Europe. And they like to live in the East End because it’s so close to the city, or the Docklands where they work. Plus, London, it’s like an inversion, a housing inversion. So when my parents were getting married, they wanted to move to the suburbs, you know, semi-detached suburbia. Then my generation, we wanted, not so much to go to suburbia, we wanted urban suburbia. I suppose you’d think, I’ve been told I’m a Brooklyn girl, Brooklyn Heights girl. So that will give you an … Hopefully you might understand then my spiritual home in, my spiritual home is Upper West Side, but where I would end up living would be Brooklyn Heights. So my generation were very much what I call urban suburb people.
Rachel Kolsky: And then the new, the generation below me, they want to live as close to the center of London as possible. They want to live close to where they work. And then what’s grown up around them is just this massive, you know, eating, drinking, night clubs, doing things buzziness. So when you go to the Jewish East End, you’ve got this multi-layering. And then you’ve also got the stories of the people who made a difference. I’m a very, I’m a social history person. I’m always looking for what I call the human stories behind the buildings. So I look at a building, I’m walking around a street, I’m looking at buildings, and I’m always thinking, “Who lives there? Who worked there? Who died there? What happened in that building?” And you can build up this wonderful web of stories, of people.
Rachel Kolsky: Sometimes the buildings don’t exist anymore. Sometimes there’s just an empty space. And when I’m with my groups, my job is to show them that empty space, but paint the picture of what was there. Tell them what the building was like, what was there, and who came along, and what happened there. But when you weave the story, while you’re standing there, there are these notions of recognition, you know, when I mention an organization that everybody’s heard of, but they had no idea who founded it, why they founded it, where they founded it. And so it gives another dimension to things that they know of, on their day-to-day life, perhaps. But now they actually can see where it all began.
Ian: You’re listening to World Footprints with Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick. We’re talking to Rachel Kolsky about her cultural guidebook, Jewish London. We asked Rachel about the lasting contributions the Jewish community has made to British society.
Rachel Kolsky: That’s what I always hope. When people read the book, Jewish London, that, as they read the book, go on the self-guided walks, read the features, that they get an idea of, actually, how much the Jewish community, how entwined the Jewish community is into the community as a whole. You know, there’s so many people. Go around to High Street and go to Tesco, which is one of our big supermarkets, one of our big foods supermarkets, also that’s closed now, but, you know, that was started by a Jewish gentleman. He was born in London. But his parents were immigrants. And in fact, there’s a plaque on his home. And we included that in the book.
Rachel Kolsky: So lots of things like that. Marks and Spencer, which is a very famous clothing store and food store in London. Michael Marks was an immigrant, you know, and came over to the northwest of England and set up a market stall. And it just took off. There are names that resonate around the world, for instance like the Rothschilds. And, you know, people always think in terms of the Rothschilds being a Jewish family and a wealthy banking family. Absolutely, they were. But they gave back so much to the community. So you walk around, maybe, the East End, and you’ll see a block of flats that was built as affordable housing for the working poor, not the down-and-outs, but the industrious poor, as they were known. And that was a housing initiative by the first Lord Rothschild. here were lots of charitable endeavors by the Rothschild ladies.
Rachel Kolsky: And just by looking and seeking out stories, you will find them. People who work in the city, certainly years ago, always used to use a Reuters Screen as a very common, a name that was known a lot in the city world. And Paul Julius Reuter, he was born Jewish. I mean, he actually converted to Christianity. So lots of people did convert to Christianity, it was a way of getting on. But you can’t deny … They never denied their heritage. And so anybody that worked in the city would have to thank Reuter for all their information.
Rachel Kolsky: You’ve got a Jewish, what can I say, Jewish sports people, Jewish musicians, Jewish scientists. Whichever sort of-
Rachel Kolsky: Elements of society, or whichever artist. One of the tours I do is in the National Portrait Gallery. And the tour I do is through the gallery, looking at portraits of Jewish people, and also portraits by Jewish artists. And through, it’s actually one of my most favorite and popular tours, through looking at the portraits of people, you actually get the story of the Jewish community in England. You get the story, you start with an economist, David Ricardo. Ricardian economics is very well-known to people in the economics world. He was born Jewish. He actually sort of eloped with a Quaker girl. But the point is, he came from a Jewish background.
Rachel Kolsky: And I start there with the very earliest known portrait of a Jewish person on the walls at the National Portrait Gallery. And then you come to two gentlemen that nobody has ever heard of. But when I tell them, tell everybody the story of these two gentlemen, it’s a father and son, and then I say that their companies were all merged in 1926 or something, and it became ICI, Imperial Chemical Industries. In Britain, that’s one of the most famous companies ever. So people haven’t heard of the names, Ludwig Mond or Robert Mond, Alfred Mond, they haven’t heard of those names. But when I say ICI, “Oh,” you know, paints and chemicals.
Rachel Kolsky: And then of course you’ve got Benjamin Disraeli, you have Jacob Epstein, who’s one of most well-known and revered sculptors and artists. He was born in New York, as you’re probably well aware. You know, came over to Europe, came over to Paris, and then ended up in London. And then his son-in-law was Lucian Freud. Lucian Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud, probably one of the most, probably the most famous Jewish emigre of the 1930s. Here you are just going through, you know, and I’m just pinpointing these off the top of my head.
Rachel Kolsky: You know, we could go to music. You know, in Britain, you can’t imagine the music world and the entertainment world without the Jewish community. Eating in London, historically, and even today, we wouldn’t have Lyons’ Tea Houses, well we don’t have them anymore, but we had hundreds of them in their heyday, and that was two Jewish families coming together, the Salmon and the Glucksteins.
Tonya: My goodness.
Rachel Kolsky: Whatever it is you look at, you’re going to find Jewish people music. And then you look at the 1930s and the emigres that came over in the 1930s, and so many of them were interned, you know, as enemy aliens. But then they formed orchestras together, you know, and then they formed cultural festivals, you know, after the war.
Tonya: To explore more of Jewish London with Rachel Kolsky, visit golondontours.com and this show page at worldfootprints.com for a direct link to her tour guide page and book.
Ian: In this Destination Spotlight, we learn about the aquarium of the world, Cabo San Lucas, during our visit to the Adventure Travel Expo.
Cabo Rep: Cabo is located in the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, which is amazing because we actually have two converging oceans, the Sea of Cortez which is warm and a turquoise color, and the other side, which is the Pacific Ocean. It’s a little more colder. It’s a little more wild, but it’s a combination of both oceans. Actually, the landmark in Cabo San Lucas is The Arch there, in rock formation, which is there. And we have the Lover’s Beach on one side, which is in the calm side, and then the Divorce Beach, which is in the wild side, which is amazing, right? It’s kind of like a combination of all of the feeling of it.
Cabo Rep: And that place, you have the history, goes back to when the buccaneers were hiding from French, all the patrols, were actually hiding in that bay area, on the Lover’s side because it’s like a bay and usually the pirates were hiding in that side because the French were looking out for them on the Pacific side. There’s actually a hill, we have mountains there, which it leaves a lot of beauty around and it’s a desert. And one of the mountains there is called [Spanish 00:19:08], which is The Watcher. That’s where the pirates were on the top watching for the French coming and hiding, which is amazing. They were hiding a lot of stuff in there. And so some caves in there as well.
Cabo Rep: And also, well, let me tell you, the food in there is amazing. They will have some of the best chefs and restaurants in Mexico. And, of course, the gastronomy goes all the way from Mediterranean to Mexican, and French. You can find everything you want in there. The area is really small. It’s a small town, which is good because you can have a relaxing vacation while you’re combining with locals. You are combining with luxury resorts but also small resorts, or the boutique resorts, which offers you more of the authentic Mexican style.
Cabo Rep: There’s a place called Playa Grande, which is built in a hacienda style. So many other resorts actually take that because we want people to come and feel like they’re actually in Mexico, enjoying the desert, away from everything. And that’s what I think makes Cabo special.
Cabo Rep: And, also, let me tell you that it’s called “Aquarium of the World” because if you like eco tours, like scuba diving and snorkeling, you can actually go swimming, watch an amazing, I don’t know, it’s like being in space, and watch all these beautiful fishes and whales, whale-watching. You can actually stay on the beach and see some of the whales just jumping.
Tonya: The last time you met Darley Newman, she was traveling around the world on horseback and sharing her adventures on her Emmy-winning travel series, Equitrekking. We are excited that Darley is returning to World Footprints to share her newest adventures and, as you’ll hear, some misadventures on her newest television show, Travels with Darley.
Tonya: Darley, welcome back to World Footprints.
Darley Newman: Thank you, Tonya, it’s great to be back.
Tonya: So tell us, what’s going on in your world today? What has your focus?
Darley Newman: My focus has been traveling the world, as usual, but doing it with locals for a new series, Travels with Darley. And gone everywhere from Martinique to France to Wyoming, as of late. So really trying to experience a lot of different things and showcase different cultures.
Tonya: You know, we’ve always known you as a travel-show host. We first met you when you started your Equitrekking series. But how did these great adventures actually start for you? And when did the travel bug actually bite you?
Darley Newman: Oh my goodness. I feel like I’ve had the travel bug, probably most of my life. But I took a trip, a family trip, to California when I was six years old. And that was when I really had my eyes opened to a world of different cultures. I grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And then in high school, I was actually able to join a family friend on a trip to Europe. And it was my first time leaving the U.S.A. And I think we all, when we’ve traveled abroad for the first time, it really can be a life-changing experience. And that, just going to Europe and being in France along the coast, and going to Italy and trying that great Italian food for the first time, it just made me want to continue to kind of experience new things. And I’ve just wanted to travel and try to do so ever since.
Tonya: So what has been, throughout your travels, what has been your most transformational travel experience?
Darley Newman: I feel like I’ve had a lot of transformational travel experiences. But to pick out maybe a few, my trip to Botswana, Africa. I always tell people, they say, “What’s your favorite place?” And I’ll normally pick Botswana as one of my top ones, if not the top one because it was my first time going to Africa. And then just the experiences that I had there, being out in nature where wildlife is truly roaming free. And you’re in these untouched places. I thought that was one of the most transformational experiences. It just made me appreciate the diversity of our planet so much more. And to be able to experience that I felt really lucky, to be able to visit that destination in particular. It’s pretty remote, it’s hard to get there. And I felt like it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I hope to go back at some point.
Tonya: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now, have there been any surprises that you’ve uncovered or found through any of your travels, either personal travels or for your show?
Darley Newman: I think that’s one of the best things about traveling is that you do constantly come across things that you didn’t expect. I think that’s one of the neat things about it. And for sure, I’m constantly surprised. I just was in, in September, went all throughout the state of New Mexico, and found a lot of different surprising adventures there. We actually trekked along the Continental Divide Trail, which is one of our nation’s National Scenic Trails. And along that journey, we stayed in a monastery, in an area where Georgia O’Keeffe had been inspired to paint. And we went over to a place called Mount Taylor, which is very significant to a lot of Native American cultures.
Darley Newman: And just that journey along this trail, which has been so well preserved, we encountered a lot of surprising adventures. But they were all things, and they are all things that people can go and recreate, which is something we try to do with our series.
Tonya: And I know another thing that you’re trying to do with your series is show that travel is accessible to everyone, regardless of physical challenge. Tell us a little bit more about what you will be sharing in your future episodes.
Darley Newman: Yeah. Well, that’s one thing that I think can be so great about kind of getting outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to necessarily go far to do that. I mean, there are a lot of great adventures to be had in destinations close to home as well as far away. And what we’re trying to do when we’re filming, in general, is find those places that you can venture to, whether it’s … You know, I’m in the D.C. area now, and you are too, whether it’s in Maryland, or whether it’s down in New Mexico. And, actually, adventure activities that are available to a lot of people no matter what your skill level is. So whether that’s a hike where you can actually hike along the boardwalk, and it is accessible to people of all different abilities, or whether it’s a biking experience where you’re actually getting lessons and learning how to, maybe, mountain bike or do something else like that.
Ian: We asked Darley how viewers might react to some of her adventures, whether we’ll laugh or gasp as each journey unfolds.
Darley Newman: You probably will see both because, I mean, that’s the beauty of what I’ve been trying to do with the show, but also just with … I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone when we’re doing these things. I try everything that we do in our show and, in general, in my travels. Like I will do the mountain biking. I’ll go up in the hot air balloon, I’ll try surfing. So you’re probably going to laugh at me because I might not be so great at everything that I try, but I’m going to show you the pitfalls that are involved in travel and trying new things. And so I think you’ll probably laugh at me and then you’ll feel for me sometimes. But then you’ll say, “Well, you know what? I think I could try that too. If she can do it, I can probably try it.”
Tonya: Now, Darley, I mentioned Equitrekking at the top of the interview. You’re still doing that show, is that correct?
Darley Newman: We have developed a lot of different platforms with Equitrekking. So online we have multiple websites now with lots of different information that I’m consistently writing, and then we have other folks writing for us now as well. Traveling the world, riding horses, and finding those places that, again, anyone can go out and actually get on a horse and explore, whether it’s Iceland, or Botswana, or Wyoming, or Virginia. Places where you don’t have to bring a horse, you can go and saddle up somewhere. So we’re continuing to develop resources for folks, and videos, and all of that kind of stuff to show them how they can get out and explore on horseback.
Ian: We finished our time with Darley with a few quick-fire questions about her travels.
Tonya: What is in your travel bag? What are some of the things that you cannot travel without?
Darley Newman: Granola bars because you never know when you’re going to get hungry and you won’t have food, especially when you’re out in nature. Hand sanitizer, I think, is something I’m always bringing now. Sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, I always have a baseball cap with me because I got to try to protect my skin when I’m out in the sun all the time.
Tonya: Right. What is the best travel tip that you’ve found?
Darley Newman: I think you have to be prepared to roll with it when you’re traveling. And that means being flexible. So my biggest travel tip is just to roll with it. And whatever comes your way, try to take the good out of it and make it a positive experience.
Ian: To follow Darley Newman’s television adventures, visit darleynewman.com and this show page at worldfootprints.com for a direct link.
Ian: You’re listening to the award-winning World Footprints with Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick. Coming up next, we’ll sit down with bestselling international author, James Rollins, who gives us a glimpse into the world of the Sigma Force in his latest book, The Demon Crown. We will also travel across America on the iron horse with our other good friend, historian and television host, Stan Ellsworth. And we’ll hop over to the beautiful island of Saint Martin.
Ian: World Footprints is committed to bridging the cultural gaps and connecting the world through powerful and honest storytelling. We invite you to travel deeper by visiting our website, worldfootprints.com. While on the site, please sign up for our newsletter to receive a free gift.
Ian: James Rollins is a number one New York Times’ bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than 40 languages. The New York Times has lauded his Sigma series as “a top crowd pleaser.” And People Magazine says that “the Sigma Force novels are the hottest summer reads.” In each novel, James unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets. He returns to World Footprints to share what hidden secrets are unveiled in his newest Sigma Force novel, The Demon Crown.
Ian: Spoiler alert, James gives us a hint about his next Sigma Force novel.
Tonya: It seems like we just spoke to you, golly, just a few months ago. And we talked about The Bone Labyrinth.
James Rollins: Exactly. I mean, that’s the problem with doing two books a year. I sometimes feel like I’m overstaying my welcome.
Tonya: No, you’re always welcome here. Now, The Demon Crown is your 13th Sigma Force thriller. Remind us who the Sigma Force is and what threat they’re facing now.
James Rollins: Sure. Well, Sigma Force is a, they’re former Special Forces Soldiers that were drummed out of the service for various reasons. But because of special abilities or aptitudes or intelligence, DARPA, which is the Defense Department’s Research and Development Agency, secretly recruits them, retrains them in various scientific disciplines, basically to become covert operatives, field agents for DARPA. And the team basically protects the globe against various emerging threats. But as I describe them, the most apt term is they’re basically a scientist with guns.
Tonya: And also in this particular book, they seem to cross the globe quite a bit. What destinations are you featuring in this 13th adventure?
James Rollins: The book opens in Hawaii. Unfortunately, there’s a sort of biological Pearl Harbor attack that occurs, so you’re not going to get a lot of rest and relaxation in my Hawaiian vacation. This dangerous species is released across Hawaii. People begin to die. It appears the only way to stop this is to nuke those islands. So Sigma Force has to figure out, you know, where the species came from and try to find a way to destroy it.
James Rollins: But also we travel Europe. I did a little bit of research in Tallinn, Estonia. That’s on the Baltic Coast. And there’s also a Polish salt mine, going back to my Polish roots.
Tonya: And I’m curious, you know, through your travels is there something that may inspire a new storyline, that may take you in a different direction than you were actually planning? Has that happened to you?
James Rollins: Oh, definitely. Definitely. It happens all the time. I’m notorious for like walking up to a towns person or villager and saying, “Hey, tell me something about your place that nobody knows about. Tell me a secret.” And often times they will. And sometimes what they tell me is quite shocking. And I love, then, folding that into one of my novels.
James Rollins: Even in this story. I was at this Polish salt mine, and it’s a beautiful salt mine, and they’ve actually carved all the walls into these beautiful religious sculptures. And I found out the fact that the lower levels have been flooded, and that there’s beautiful statues drowned underneath the water, and that there’s crypts that nobody’s ever been to. And so, of course, me as a thriller writer, I’m going “you know, I’m going to go down there and blow things up.”
Tonya: So there is actually a lot of truth that’s kind of interwoven in your fictional storylines?
James Rollins: I try to be as authentic as I can. And at the end of all my books, I have a What’s True, What’s Not section, where I pull aside the curtain and let people know exactly how much is real. But I also leave some breadcrumbs. So if there’s any topic that interests them, whether it’s the history or the science, hopefully I’ll leave them a few breadcrumbs to follow.
Tonya: Is there anything that surprised you significantly when you were doing your research for this book? Any tidbits that you thought, “Oh my goodness, I had no idea”?
James Rollins: Yeah. Actually, there actually is. I was talking to this gentleman, and I’ve got like five entomologists on speed dial for this book because it deals with insects but also venomous creatures. And so I was talking to this one gentleman, he was telling me about this new drug that’s very popular in India, and that is cobra venom, powered cobra venom. Apparently that venom has some type of euphoric effect, besides being toxic. But that there actually is snake dens, similar to opium dens of the pasts, where rather than getting powdered cobra venom, they will actually get bitten by cobras, so that you go into this sort of euphoric, toxic high. You know, for me, I’ll take a beer, thank you very much.
Tonya: I know that you also have come to my neck of the woods, Washington D.C. and D.C. and the Smithsonian is featured in this book. Talk a little bit about that.
James Rollins: I’ve dealt with the Smithsonian many times because Sigma Force is headquartered there. So I’ve spoken to different regents and to librarians and to museum curators, trying to get some little tidbits. And I found out that the founding of the Smithsonian had some great mystery surrounding it. Now the Smithsonian was named after a British chemist and geologist named James Smithson, hence The Smithsonian. But it’s a mystery surrounding this fella’. You know, when he died, he left his fortune to the U.S. He never told anybody he was doing that. It was only discovered when they read his last will and testament. Yet this gentleman never set foot in the U.S. Yet he left his fortune to us. You know, why?
James Rollins: And then during the Civil War there was a mysterious fire that broke out that seemed to particularly target this gentleman’s heritage. It wiped out his field books, his research papers. So that’s why very little is known about James Smithson the scientist because it was destroyed during that fire. You know, even more of a mystery is that Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, 80 years after this gentleman died, he snuck across Europe, went to Italy, he lied there, he told everybody that Theodore Roosevelt sent him. Not true. He bribed officials. Then on a snowy New Year’s Eve in 1903, he broke into James Smithson’s tomb, secured his skeletal remains, put it in a zinc coffin, took it back to the States, where those remains are now interred at the Smithsonian Castle.
Tonya: You know, we mentioned this is your 13th Sigma Force thriller. How do you continue to come up with fresh storylines for your Sigma Force guys?
James Rollins: Well, if anything, I’ve got too many ideas bouncing around my head. I’m like that cat that chases that little light bouncing around the room. That’s me with ideas. You know, I’ve always got my antenna up for that next idea. I’m looking for that historical mystery. I’m looking for that science that makes me go, “what if,” “where’s that headed?” I’m looking for exotic locales to crash those two things together. Like I mentioned, I like walking up to people and telling them, “Tell me a secret about your place” or calling a scientist and say, “Hey, look over your shoulder. Tell me what you’re working on right now.” Because I want that ripped-from-the-headlines authenticity to my science.
James Rollins: And, again, sometimes they’ll tell me things that they would never put in print. And there they just become great fodder for future novels.
Tonya: Have you discovered something during the course of writing The Demon Crown that you may take into your 14th Sigma Force series?
James Rollins: Oh, definitely. I mean, even this book ends with a little bit of a big surprise for the team. There’s a big twist to the storyline. And I’m very excited to write that so much. I’ve almost written that 14th novel because what happens from there is pretty cool.
Tonya: Wow. Well, I guess-
James Rollins: I’ll give you a tidbit-
Tonya: Go ahead.
James Rollins: The next book I’m working on, I’ll give you the historical tidbits, really interesting. I think it’s fascinating. Is that there actually is a Catholic patron saint, Saint Columba out of Spain, Catholic patron saint for witches. Not against witches. She’s a patron saint in support of witches. How odd is that?
Tonya: Wow. Well, I’m intrigued for sure. Well, I guess we’ll be talking to you again real soon. I want to go just a quick different direction before we leave.
James Rollins: Sure.
Tonya: The last time we spoke, we talked about scuba diving. We’re both divers.
James Rollins: Right.
Tonya: So I’m curious if you have discovered any new dive spot? Where have you been recently?
James Rollins: I just came back from Fiji. Have you ever been to … The diving in Fiji is beautiful. You know, some places have been over, they’re crowded, they’ve been polluted by other divers. To me, Fiji’s one of the … I was just shocked how beautiful it was there.
Ian: To follow James Rollins’ literary adventures, visit jamesrollins.com and this show page at worldfootprints.com for a direct link.
Ian: In this Destination Spotlight, we experience the island flavor of Saint Martin during our time at the Adventure Travel Expo.
St. Maarten Rep: Saint Maarteen is located in the Caribbean. It’s in the northern part. It’s about 45 minutes away, by plane, from Puerto Rico. What makes it special compared to all the other islands of the Caribbean is that we’re half French, half Dutch. Everyone speaks English. It’s really an easygoing island where you rent a car, you go out and you explore.
St. Maarten Rep: We are a duty-free shopping island. Dining is exquisite due to the French and the Creole influences. So you will never have a bad meal in Saint Maarten. We do have a lot of day activities, zip-lining and all the watersports-related activities. But also, at night, nightlife is intense. There’s somewhere to go every night. We have 13 casinos, bars, nightclubs. So you will really enjoy being in Saint Maarten.
St. Maarten Rep: We’re also like the little hub to other islands. For example, Anguilla is 25 minutes away by boat. St. Barts is 40 minutes away by boat. Saba is 90 minutes away by boat. So while you’re on Saint Martin, you have the opportunity to visit other islands as well.
Tonya: So where, exactly, is Saint Maarten located in relation to other islands in the Caribbean?
St. Maarten Rep: So we’re in the northern tip of the Caribbean. So we’re very near Puerto Rico, 45 minutes away. And the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are about 20 minutes away. So we’re in that region.
Tonya: A lot of people tend to paint the islands in the Caribbean with a very broad stroke. What distinguishes Saint Maarten from some of the other Caribbean islands?
St. Maarten Rep: I think it’s the flavor and knowing that you go out and meet the locals. That what you do. You just don’t come and stay on property. We have 37 beaches for 37 square miles. So it’s really about going out and enjoying the place.
Tonya: You mentioned the gastronomy, the culinary scene is influenced by the Creole population, so what is your cultural landscape? You mentioned French, Dutch, but what about Caribs or Arawaks, the indigenous people who have populated other islands in the Caribbean?
St. Maarten Rep: We do have Arawaks, the Arawaks did originated the island. But we don’t have much vestige about them. But Saint Maarten is like a melting pot. We have about 120 nationalities that live on Saint Maarten. So with the French influence and the French gastronomy being so great, we were able, in our cuisine, to mix the French and then the Creole Caribbean flavors to it.
Ian: One of the foundational stories that we share on World Footprints is the collective history we all share. Our old friend, American Ride television host, Stan Ellsworth, shares American history from the back of his Harley Davidson. Just as the old settlers discovered America on horseback, Stan hits the highway to uncover the landmarks of American history on his iron horse.
Tonya: Welcome back, longtime friend Stan Ellsworth.
Stan Ellsworth: Tonya, it’s great to be back with you. We’ve bumped into each other a lot over the years, haven’t we?
Tonya: We have. You’ve been on our show a few times. We’ve been on one of your shows. We’ve broken bread together.
Stan Ellsworth: I know [crosstalk 00:42:21].
Tonya: Yeah. What’s going on in your world? What has your focus now?
Stan Ellsworth: You know, American Ride is going through some changes, which is just kind of great. We’re going to be on a larger network. I can’t say now. But keep your eye on social media. We’ll be launching probably in the fall. And we’re also going to be carried overseas, which will be neat.
Tonya: Oh my.
Stan Ellsworth: And, domestically, we’ve got a new, a YouTube channel. It’s Called History and the Highway. You know, can’t go too far away from “you are what you are,” you know what I mean? And then so we talk history. We talk bikes. In fact, we just did a big shoot I had at one of the largest Harley Davidson dealerships in the western United States. And it was a lot of fun. So we’re kind of, you know, getting back to our roots, cutting it down to the basics. We talk motorcycles, we talk history, and we’re going to start talking, like looking at current events through the lens of history, kind of as we always have. But we’ll discuss things like divisiveness, which, again, that always makes me sad that there’s so many that instead of trying to find common ground, do their best to push away and just stoke the base, rather than unite Americans.
Stan Ellsworth: You know, especially our representatives, the state, local, congressional, national, all these folks are the guys that are supposed to be bringing us together as one nation. And I’m just disappointed. But, you know, some days. Some days it’s just what it is.
Tonya: Well, you are leaving a beautiful footprint, Stan. And we’ve always known you as this Harley-riding, travel television host. But how did these great adventures start for you? For those who are just meeting you for the first time, give us a little CliffsNote version of your backstory.
Stan Ellsworth: You betcha. Well, somehow or another, I got into entertainment, never had any intention of doing it. I’m a football coach. And one of my, my favorite NFL team is the Baltimore Ravens, just that’s that.
Tonya: That makes me unhappy.
Stan Ellsworth: There you go, baby. But, you know, yeah, I love the Ravens. I think Harbaugh’s a great coach. Really, I’m for them because my daddy lived there in the ’80s, he lived in Annapolis, when the Irsay family took the Colts out of town, and he was brokenhearted by that. So when Art Modell moved the new franchise in, I just adopted them for my dad. And I think they had one of the best linebackers that’s ever played the game, one of the best leaders that’s ever been in the NFL, just a great man, a great gentleman. You know, the guy grew up in hard times. And he admits that he’s made some mistakes. And you see what the man has made of his life in spite of those errors and probably because of those errors. And I admire the hell out of Ray Lewis. I think he’s one of the best stories in football.
Stan Ellsworth: So I love the Ravens, I love Ray Lewis, I think they’re a great franchise, I think they’re a great story.
Tonya: You know, I have to represent my home team too. You played for my home team, the Detroit Lions for a while.
Stan Ellsworth: Oh, Detroit, yeah. There you go, the Lions. And we were no good. But, boy did we have [inaudible 00:46:08]. You know, and like they say, “If you’re any good in the NFL, your money works for you later in life.” And I’m still out busting my hump for a dime or two. So I must not have been that good.
Tonya: But you’re having fun. So you went from football to entertainment. And now we see you on all sorts of screens.
Stan Ellsworth: Yeah you do. I’m on the big, the little, the all over the place. And when I got into entertainment, I figured out if you don’t make work for yourself, there ain’t a whole lot coming your way. So I thought, “What can I do that nobody else does?” And that’s, I can talk history like nobody’s business. And I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was, I mean big motorcycles, not little mini-bikes. I’ve been riding Harley Davidsons since I was about 13. I had a friend whose brother was called up and gone off to the ‘Nam. And he had a new Sportster back then. And it was in that, you know, metallic green, just cool as could be. And I asked if I could ride it while he was gone, if I fixed it up because he just put it under a highway guardrail. And he told me if I fixed it I could have it. So I fixed it up, and there you go. And the rest, as they say, Tonya, is history.
Tonya: Is history. Yeah.
Stan Ellsworth: Yeah.
Tonya: So, through your travels, what has been the most transformational travel experience you’ve had?
Stan Ellsworth: You know, honestly, going to Independence Hall and to Valley Forge might have been two of the most transformational things in my life. And it really, I think it honestly changed me. You know, a lot of times, and I’m going to get all down-home, old timey on you now. But when I was in Independence Hall, you know, we’re talking about the Declaration of Independence there, I could feel the spirit. And I will testify to anybody that the work that happened there, that’s a special thing. That’s the place where this freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, you know, where governing ourselves really began. Because up until that time, there was nowhere on earth that that really occurred. And then I’m going to tell you, that’s God’s work right there.
Stan Ellsworth: And then when we shot our Valley Forge piece, the folks that ran the program, we shot that as our pilot. And it was cold. I mean, it was 14 degrees. That’s chilly. But there was no snow. It just plain got too cold to snow. And so we bring them back the footage. We cut it and turn it into our pilot episode. And they, you know, the higher, higher, the bosses up there, they watch it. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. They loved it. Wanted it. “Oh, we’re going to do this show. You betcha, we’re going to do this American Ride.” And then they turned to me and said, “But you got to have snow.”
Stan Ellsworth: And I said, “I’m not in charge of snow, fellas.” And I just said, “I don’t do that. I leave that to bigger people.” But, anyways, so when we were scheduled to get back into Pennsylvania/Maryland area, it wasn’t until late September. And as you know, late September out there, that’s warm. That’s nice weather. But when we showed up to shoot Valley Forge, and I ain’t joking with you, it started snowing the day we pulled in to King of Prussia. We shot for two days. And then it stopped when we pulled out.
Tonya: Oh my.
Stan Ellsworth: And so I said to myself, “you know, this is so much more than something that I dreamed up to keep me off the street.” So, you know, I accept, number one, it’s not about me, Tonya. It was never about me. And maybe it wasn’t even my idea at all. There’s a bigger plan going on. And I think for young people, all over the nation, no matter where you are, to remember what this nation really is about and what the gift is that is given to each one of us, that’s important to know.
Stan Ellsworth: And I went to, I talked at a couple of things for the Sons of the Revolution. And I did one down south for the Sons of the Revolution there in, I think it was Charleston, Sons of the Revolution in Charleston, South Carolina. And there was this old minister of an Evangelical church. And he came up afterwards, you know, he’s the great great great great grandson of a man of color that fought for the Americans. And he laid his hands on my shoulders, and he said, “My brother, your ministry is the spirit of 1776.” And when he said that, I just felt like a bolt of lightning went through my body. And I gave the man a hug, and we both cried a little bit.
Stan Ellsworth: And it’s been a special thing. So I never want to get too far away from what that good man saw as, you know, the thing I should be talking about. Because, look, he’s a man of the cloth, he’s closer to those people in charge of snow than I am.
Tonya: What a wonderful gift he gave you though, Stan. What have been, because you have gone through this, you know, throughout this country, you go into these small towns, and you share just treasures that we’ve never heard of. What have been some of the most surprising stories or attractions that you found on your travels?
Stan Ellsworth: Look, I got to tell you the best attractions that I find on my travels is always barbecue. [crosstalk 00:51:59] the 12 Bones and every mom-and-pop shop, from West Virginia all the way … Oh, I got to tell you. We ate at this place. The food, Tonya, I loved the food, but I ain’t going to do Anthony Bourdain. But we had like conch fritters down in Key West, and pizza in New York City. And, you know, but it’s just like every place … You know, and clam chowder in Boston. I mean, wow. It’s just, what a great opportunity. We’ve had Navajo tacos out on the res. And eating elk with the Blackfoot Indians up in Montana. This is seeing what America is and how many different faces really make up the American family. And finding out that underneath all the stuff that you could say, “Well, this makes us different,” is one heartbeat that makes us all the same.
Stan Ellsworth: We want better for our children. We want unity. We want equality. We want the rule of law. We really do believe that we’re a constitutional republic and all the blessings that come along with that. Every heart. Every heart. Doesn’t matter your color, doesn’t matter your religion, doesn’t matter where you might have come from long, long ago. Once you’re here and, you know, you adopt the American nation, you’re involved. And all these great stories about Washington and Lincoln and Sojourner Truth and, you know, Pecos Bill, even though he’s a story, what a great story. These are all our stories.
Stan Ellsworth: They’re our stories. And we all can celebrate them. Because when we pull together, we all win.
Ian: If you want to hit the highway with Stan to uncover American history, we’ll have a link to his new show, History and the Highway, on this show page at worldfootprints.com.
Tonya: This show has been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait because it was like a reunion, of sorts with three of our favorite friends and guest returning. And a new delightful guest joining us for the first time and giving me a glimpse into my former home of London. And, frankly, I love Rachel, and I could’ve spent hours talking to her and just the insight she shared with London gave me a very new perspective on my old home.
Ian: What was really exciting about London that you learned from Rachel this time?
Tonya: Well, I think just an appreciation that a lot of things that we attribute to British society were actually influenced by other cultures, like the Jewish culture.
Ian: And it’s always good to catch up with old friends as we did on this show. And one of those friends is Darley Newman, who we cross paths with quite a bit here in Washington. And it’s good to see her growth and progression from her PBS show Equitrekking to, now, her online show, Travels with Darley, as she embraces this new medium. And so it’s always great to see someone take off in new and exciting directions as she is.
Tonya: As our listeners know, one of the things that Darley and I share is our passion for horses. And she is so lucky because she combines two of my favorite things, horses and travel, and I’m sure two of her favorite things. But she has moved even beyond and has grown her travel show. And it was really fun seeing her at the premiere of Travels with Darley, where the first show is actually focused on Martinique, a place that we really love. And with a character, Chef-
Ian: Guy Ferdinand. Yes, Chef-
Tonya: Yeah, Chef Hot Pants.
Ian: Pants. He has very colorful pants.
Tonya: And they really are hot. And it’s a good thing he has great legs because he does pull them off. But I’m very very proud of the work Darley is doing.
Tonya: One of my favorite authors, James Rollins, joined us again. And I tell you this guy, he is the most prolific writer I’ve ever met. He cranks out his Sigma Force series, I think, two books a year. And I don’t know how that can be done. I mean that’s a huge feat. But he cranks them out. And each one is different. And, you know, I love the thought that he’s giving to his next Sigma Force novel. And I love the fact that he always gives me really good tips about scuba diving sites.
Ian: Catching up with Stan Ellsworth. Stan is like a brother to us. And, you know, his passion for this country, for history, always comes through. And if there were more Stan Ellsworths in this world, this world would be a much better place. And so I always enjoy listening to Stan. And you see this burly guy on a Harley, and he really has a soft spot and a soft heart there for people. And that passion comes through. And our common love of football, he loves the Baltimore Ravens. And he spent time in the Detroit Lions’ camp. So that kind of bridges us there as well. So, always great to catch up with Stan.
Tonya: Yeah, now you know, I really wish I had a Stan when I was going to school because I wouldn’t have been such a slacker with my history lessons. But Stan really knows his stuff. His show is just phenomenal. And the fact that it’s done on the back of a Harley Davidson is just the coolest thing.
Tonya: In closing, we are leaving this hour on a somber note. As you know, we recently lost a mentor and champion of transformative travel, Anthony Bourdain. What Tony accomplished on the big screen, we’ve tried to inspire travelers in the same way with our audio stories. So in closing, we want to honor him and share some of Tony’s thoughts about travel.
Tonya: “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts. It even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you. It should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully you leave something good behind.”
Tonya: There are some very powerful resources to help anyone who is suffering with depression. If you know of anyone who may be at risk, please call The Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. We will also have a link to The Suicide Prevention Crisis Center on this show page at worldfootprints.com.
Tonya: Thank you for joining us this past hour. We’re Tonya and Ian Fitzpatrick, and we look forward to sharing our next journey with you on World Footprints.
Closing: World Footprints Radio with Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick is a production of World Footprints Media, Silver Spring, Maryland. The multi-award-winning radio show can be heard around the globe on iHeartRadio, Stitcher, iTunes, and more. Visit worldfootprints.com for a complete list.
Closing: World Footprints Radio is a leading voice in socially responsible travel. At worldfootprints.com, you’ll find an archive of past broadcasts, travel news, reviews, and information you can use to deepen your travel experience. Listen, learn, and live it at worldfootprints.com.