Award Winners 2020

Fourteenth Annual Solas Awards Winners

Announced March 2, 2020

Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year

Gold ($1000)
Our Ravaged Lady by Erin Byrne

Silver ($750)
Love in a Time of Abundance by Amanda Castleman

Bronze (Tie: $250 per story)
Cubana Be, Cubana Bop by Tom Miller
Dark Train to Cusco by Chase Nelson


Category Award Winners

Adventure Travel
The best story of high adventure, danger, or physical challenge
Gold: What the Forest Knows by Jayme Moye
Silver: Ten Camels and a Passport by Jennifer Arin
Bronze: Under a Blue Moon by Tami Fairweather

Animal Encounter
The best account of meeting snakes, elephants, rhinos, gorillas, birds, or other creatures
Gold: Love at First Sight by Gaylord Brewer
Silver: Early Morning Rain by Tania Amochaev
Bronze: Leatherback Love by Laurie King

Bad Trip
The best account of when things go wrong, or the shadow side of a culture or individual
Gold: Casi Loco by Anita Cabrera
Silver: How I Ended Up in a Sex Club in New Orleans by Heidemarie Brandes
Bronze: Getting Stoned by Matthew Félix

Cruise Story
The best account of a trip on the water in any vessel, from the smallest kayak to the largest ship
Gold: Traveling While Black Across the Atlantic Ocean by Ethelene Whitmire
Silver: Grounded: Learning to Fly Solo by MJ Pramik
Bronze: Taming the North Sea Bully by Michelle Segrest

Culture and Ideas
The best story or essay about how art, history, currents events, fashion, or music affected a traveler or a trip
Gold: Spring Green Wisconsin by Marya Smith
Silver: A Tree Grows in Vlachte Bos by Keith Skinner
Bronze: Bailemos by Donna Hemmila

Destination Story
The best story about a place that captures its essence and reveals its attractions, making the reader want to go there
Gold: Duende by Gayle McGill
Silver: The Alhambra in Four Plus Movements by Gayle McGill
Bronze: My Monemvasia by Marianne Bohr

Doing Good or the Kindness of Strangers
The most inspiring tale of aid, comfort, philanthropy, or caring for others in faraway places, or of being the recipient of a stranger’s largesse
Gold: Kilo Karinga by Tania Amochaev
Silver: The Miracle of the Rescued Boy by Susan Bloch
Bronze: An Unexpected New Year’s Eve in Luxor by Diane LeBow

Elder Travel
The best story from a traveler 65 years of age or older
Gold: Children of the Dog Star by James Dorsey
Silver: Seven O’clock by Tania Amochaev
Bronze: The Trip That Took Me by Marcie Kaplan

Family Travel
The best story about traveling with family of all generations: grandparents, parents, children, cousins, siblings or journeying to discover roots
Gold: Once in a Lifetime: Visiting Bruegel in Vienna with My Mother by Michael Shapiro
Silver: Let the Kids Take the Lead on a Family Adventure by Michele Bigley
Bronze: The Costa Rica Bounce by Cyndi Goddard

Funny Travel
The funniest account of a misadventure or an essay about how the world can make us laugh at ourselves and those around us
Gold: Queens of the Nile by Lisa Alpine
Silver: Monks, Monkey Poop and a Mountain by James Dorsey
Bronze: A Weight-Watching American in Paris by Jennifer Arin

Love Story
The best account of love or romance on the road
Gold: Sweet and Sour by Amanda Noble
Silver: Fruit by Katie Simon
Bronze: Scotland Rendezvous by Lisa Boice

Men’s Travel
The best account by a man of a testosterone-fueled encounter or experience on the road
Gold: Sex in the Medieval City by Stuart Dischell
Silver: The Ride to Talpa by Daniel Gair
Bronze: In Heat by Tim Rousseau

Most Unforgettable Character
The story that best captures how one individual or group of people affected a traveler in a meaningful way
Gold: Roundabout by Barbara Robertson
Silver: San Francisco Storyteller by Tania Amochaev
Bronze: The Norwegian Sweater Detective by Sarah Pollock

Travel and Food
The best story where food or drink plays a role in introducing the traveler to a foreign culture or new friends
Gold: Bowing to Washoku by Anne Sigmon
Silver: The Haggis Hunter by Laurie King
Bronze: Sundays With the Chocolate Shaman by Alla Gonopolsky

Travel and Healing
The best story about visits with shamans, healers, holy men and women, or holy sites in search of a cure for illness or psychological malady
Gold: The Complicit Traveler by Eli Feldblum
Silver: The Winds of Mesochori by MJ Pramik
Bronze: What the Shaman Saw by Laurie King

Travel Memoir
The best story that draws heavily on the writer’s past to make a point or reveal the lessons of a lifetime
Gold: How I Learned to Travel: My Life on the Runway by P. F. Witte
Silver: Jack’s Ashes by Julie Pesano
Bronze: Jungle Fantasy by Anne Sigmon

Travel and Shopping
The best account of a shopping, bargaining, or haggling experience in a market, bazaar, outlet, or mall, anywhere in the world
Gold: Mexico’s Master Guitar Makers by Laura Fraser
Silver: Seeking the Center by Anne Sigmon
Bronze: Negotiating with Nomads by Mike Bernhardt

Travel and Sports
The best account of a sports activity while traveling, such as climbing, rafting, sailing, trekking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, skiing, baseball, Frisbee, polo, basketball, etc.
Gold: Good Enough by Anne Sigmon
Silver: Something Deeper by Sabine Bergmann
Bronze: Lake Powell by Kimi Ceridon

Travel and Transformation
The best story about the inner journey or pilgrimage, whether religious, mystical, psychological, or emotional
Gold: My First Trip to Mongolia by Matthew Félix
Silver: Reading Melville in Bhutan by John McDonald
Bronze: A Sixth Sense Experience by Laine Gonzales

Women’s Travel
The best account by a woman of an encounter or experience on the road
Gold: Dreams on Rhiannon by Jacqueline Sheehan
Silver: Women in Morocco: Up Against the Wall but Laughing Together by Diane LeBow
Bronze: Signs of Life by Julie Pesano

Young Traveler
The best story from a young person (aged 18-25 at the time of writing) taking time off to travel between high school and college, or during breaks
Gold: Old Cities by Derek Garrison-Bedell
Silver: A Constant Push for Perfection by Brandon McWilliams
Bronze: On Ex-Monks and Lime-flavored Ice Pops by Isobel van Hagen


Honorable Mention

Ma Ganga by Tania Amochaev
Angry Ancestors by Tania Amochaev
My Dublin Travels by G. Ashbee
Incense in Kyoto by J.I. Baker
Meeting Joy by Jennifer Baljko
A Child Explorer in the Amazon by Sabine Bergmann
Crossing the River Styx by Mike Bernhardt
In the Middle of Nowhere by Rosie Cohan
Reconciliation in Kosovo by Rosie Cohan
Las Mariposas (The Butterflies) by Martha Ezell
A Dire Miscalculation by Matthew Félix
Grin and Bury It by Matthew Félix
Behind the Veil by Lenore Greiner
The Sleeping Maiden by Lenore Greiner
Confessions of a Secret Sherry Sipper by Donna Hemmila
Eat, Pray and Scrub by Laurie King
Marie’s Tether by Alison Konecki
Waipi’o Disconnect by Pam Mandel
The Symbols Are Alive by Gayle McGill
There Are Places I Remember by Andy Murdock
High in Harar by Piia Mustamaki
Unexpected Detour by Dorothy O’Donnell
One True Sentence by Julie Pesano
How I Came to Fear French Doors by Maxine Schur
Smiles Across Siberia by Erik Trinidad
Following Truman Capote on the Island of Ischia by Susan Van Allen
The Yang of Travel by Mark Walker
The Enigma of Cuba by Teresa Yang
Siberia: The Moon, the Snow, and Dr. Zhivago by Bill Zarchy
Uganda: A World Together by Bill Zarchy

Travelers' Tales