Anthony Bourdain does the traveling and eating for you. Gain a plethora of knowledge about the world we live in without wasting time on reconnaissance trips to find the local bathroom.
"Beirut" What starts out as a showcase of the changes and hope that was filling Lebanon becomes a study of what happens to travelers when conflict erupts in their destination. Bourdain gives a soulful recount of his feelings and perspective during the conflict, which fills this episode with a power that normal travel episodes lack. Bourdain’s prep work in the kitchen has a narrative worth listening and pondering over long after the episode has ended. "Beirut" is a tremendous story that captures the human side of news that often gets ignored.
"Romania" "Crazy" and "Russian" had a baby with a permanent five o’clock shadow and named it Zamir. As Bourdian's occasional traveling companion, Zamir’s antics, drunken and sober, push any "No Reservations" episode far beyond the normal travel experience. "No Reservations" gives a history lesson on the past and present in "Romania." The knowledge you gain comes with an important lesson on drinking in moderation as Zamir’s birthday gets a booze- and pork-filled celebration. The house of Dracula scene offers you enough cringes to take vampires off the list of supernatural creatures you’re frightened by.
"Uzbekistan" "No Reservations" brings you to a melting pot of cultures and religions that spent decades under the flag of the Soviet Union. With a look at the return of local religion and the observation and warning to travelers that women are not equal citizens, “Uzbekistan” is an episode that takes travel to the limit. A brutal massage for Bourdain at the baths reinforces the idea that being a power bottom for your masseuse induces more stress than releases it. Make sure to catch the tea ritual for a nice bit of insight into the interaction between guests and host.
"Sri Lanka" The ordinary traveling troubles of lost luggage or a forgotten mint on your pillow become ludicrous when faced with traveling in a country at war with itself. "Sri Lanka" brings the reality of a people living under strife between the Tamil rebels and the Sri Lankan government front and center for you to ponder. The piece on the rebuilding of a destroyed village by The Foundation of Goodness is beyond touching and worthy of your attention.
"Liberia" The fallout from a revolution takes on an American connection as Bourdain visits a man in Staten Island who fled during the violence and his son who remained in Liberia. This "No Reservations" episode takes you far beyond the resorts and post card perfect sites that fall into the normal range of travel. The expression on Bourdain’s face as he's awoken by a rooster is a great television moment enhanced by his fear of the local rats peeing above him.
"Harbin, China" Normally, when going somewhere cold you go with the intention of playing recreational sports and not playing freeze tag with hypothermia, but that’s what you get with "Harbin, China." When you take travel past the normal limits you want extreme locales and unique characters like the amusingly westernized owner of USA Bucks. With a groove all his own, this special snowflake of a businessman provides enough warmth to push back the frostbite that surrounds Bourdain at every turn in this region. A great look into a place less trampled by your average tourist, Harbin’s cuisine and people make for an excellent trip from the warmth of your living room.