Share |

Friday, July 27, 2007

Frommer’s: Travel Experts in the 50s

Yesterday, I ran across
Cyber Cossack’s recent post that sounded too bad to be true — until I saw what I saw.

As you can see, the post-Soviet reality has somewhat eluded Frommer's, one of America’s best sources on travel. Click here to view the original map displayed on the site.

Strangely enough, the map imparts a bizarre sense of history. While the Baltic states, of which only Estonia is identified, appear to be an entity separate from Russia, neither Ukraine nor Belarus enjoys the same status. (Washington recognized Ukraine’s independence on Dec. 25, 1991, a few weeks after the leaders of the major Soviet republics signed the Belovezhsky Treaty disbanding the USSR.)

By that time, Germany was unified, as shown in the map, but former Yugoslavia republics were still struggling to find their way to the world map. At best, one can look to this map as a chronologically inconsistent snapshot of Europe circa 1991. Being 16 years too old, this map belongs in an archive, not on an active site devoted to travel. (Unless, of course, the site deals with time travel.)

This discovery prompted me to write a letter of complaint, suggesting that the site’s slogan be changed to “Travel Experts in the 50s.”

Some numbers indeed have remained quite stable during the last 50 years, though. While Europe on 5 Dollars a Day is a relic of the past, Ukraine on 5 Dollars a Day is the lot of millions of Ukrainians.

P.S. After I shared this map with Strange Maps, I received the following response from Darrel Jones:

Missing from Taras’s map (see #19, above):

Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine

Appearing but unlabelled (apparently because there are no “travel opportunies”, i.e., tours, in that country): Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Albania.

Well, I guess, Ukraine is a slightly different case. The absence of travel opportunities could account for such “unidentified” countries as Latvia and Lithuania, which are shown as blank spaces with set borders.

But when it comes to Ukraine — a country the size of France/Texas with a population of 46 million — one can find no corresponding blank space. Ukraine’s borders and the country itself are totally missing from that map. (Belarus and Moldova are accorded the same treatment.)

Instead, we have a big Russia: a red space whose borders match the Soviet Union’s, less the Baltics. Which makes this map ubber strange: the U.S. recognized Ukraine’s independence on Dec. 25, 1991, a mere three months after it reestablished diplomatic ties with the Baltics.


Anonymous said...

Does Frommer's even have a guide specifically about Ukraine? But based on the way things are going, perhaps Frommer's knows something that others do not.


Taras said...

The “Countries in Europe” list does not include a country by the name of Ukraine. This man Frommer is apparently living in some kind of “lost world,” a nostalgic mirage.

The map’s survivability probably tells us that few American travelers have had the “geographic guts” to challenge that anachronistic worldview.

Ironically, Frommer’s “Europe on 5 Dollars a Day” rings true for Ukraine, where millions of people live on $5 a day.

Anonymous said...

Hey, went and clicked on the link to the Frommers map and it looks like it got updated. Ukraine is not identified by name but at least it is delineated. Perhaps they will put out a Ukraine guide or list it.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what continent the author of the following think Ukraine is part of --- from an article entitled "Universiade Gets off to a Spectacular Start ... Russia leads the tally with 21 golds, 13 silvers, and 24 bronzes. China comes next with 18 golds, 18 silvers, and 14 bronzes, and Ukraine third with 14 golds, 15 silvers, and 12 bronzes. No European or American nation is among the first five medal winners."
so even though Ukraine is third with a really impressive number of medals I supposed the author could not find it on a map. Ah the power of Frommers.


Anonymous said...

Update re: The UB Post - wrote to the editor and the last line was deleted from the article.

Taras said...

Don’t be so hard on Mongolia. Remember, the U.S. State Department steadfastly qualifies Ukraine as Eurasia:)))

In fact, there’s quite a bit of connection between Ukraine, Mongolia, and Frommer. As you know, the Mongols were great “travelers,” their routes spanning two continents.

In the 13th century, Ukraine hampered the Mongolian army’s tour of Europe. After the Sino-Soviet split in the late 50s, Mongolia became a client state of the Soviet Union. (Former president Natsagiin Bagabandi, for instance, studied in Odesa.)

Well done, Luida! (Do you read The UB Post on a regular basis?) The more we talk about Ukraine, the fewer THEs the world will put in front of it.

Taras said...

Helping Frommer find Ukraine was fun, wasn’t it?;)

As long as there are ghost-geography busters like us, Ukraine will never be lost!

Anonymous said...

I found it! I found the follow up story !

"Ukraine team grateful to be in the World Series and the USA"

Taras said...


You’re a treasure trove of precious information!:)

Special thanks to the reporters who contributed to the story. We need more stories like this to lift the West out of its “information poverty” with regard to Ukraine.

We shouldn’t gladly suffer the image of a Frommer-knows-not-where nation of poor and stupid subhumans, as many in the West tend to view us by default. Frommer’s eventual “Ukrotrip” (have you seen a movie called Eurotrip?) left me confident that information poverty can be curtailed.

After sowing the world with Field of Dreams, the inspirational movie that spiritualizes the baseball cult and marries it to the art of overcoming hardships, America often fails to keep its side of the bargain.

Rejecting a baseball team from Ukraine — a country where soccer is the ballgame — would have amounted to saying “If you build it, please don’t come.”

I’m glad that the Embassy realized the urgency and ramifications of this situation and acted resourcefully to open up the gates for our talent.

They may not be the best players on this planet, but these boys play baseball, not bin Laden.