Travel Tavern: Stories from the Road

On March 20, meet up at Public Works in the Mission for our very first Travel Tavern! For our inaugural event, we're bringing you travel-sized tales, written and performed by local storytellers, in honor of World Storytelling Day. 


  • Athens in Flip Flops by Ashley Cowan
    Two sisters arriving in Athens are forced to navigate to their hostel with empty stomachs, loud shoes, and a European admirer.
  • The Best and Worst Things That Ever Happened, Ever, by Allison Page
    A selfish girl travels to Thailand to entertain locals in a language they don't speak, and raise money for orphans and elephants she doesn't care about, when a single event changes the trajectory of her life.
  • Gambatte, by Turner Wright
    Turner volunteers with clean-up efforts in Ofunato, Japan, two months after the deadly earthquake and tsunami that threw the country into disarray.
  • The Gratuities, by Bob Scott
    An almost-true story about traveling from Albuquerque to the high desert, with names changed to protect the imposters involved.
  • The Kindness of Strangers, by Gigi Hanna
    Little does Gigi know what awaits her as she begins an aimless bus journey up a mountain in Provence.
  • Leaving Israel: A Tale of 7 Checkpoints, by Matt Werner
    Battling a crippling stomach virus while staying at the cheapest hostel in Jerusalem, Matt visits Bethlehem for Christmas 2008. The start of the Israel/Gaza War is hours away. Will he get out in time?
  • A Monsoon Wedding Without the Monsoon, by Sang S. Kim
    A most peculiar summer wedding in India.
  • Why We Travel, by Michael Belitsos
    The true story of an adventure in the Amazon jungle.

After the performance, mix with other globetrotters and swap your own stories from the road, or chat up reps from local travel groups.

Hostelling International members are also welcome to attend the VIP pre-reception and annual member meeting.

Program Schedule

6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
VIP Reception and Annual Member Meeting (members only)
All Hostelling International members are welcome to attend the VIP reception and HI-USA Golden Gate Council's annual member meeting, which includes a review of the past year's activities and presentation of the Dorothy Erskine Award for volunteerism.

7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Travel Tavern: Stories from the Road
Enjoy an evening of travel-themed tales presented by Bay Area performers on World Storytelling Day, a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling. Every year on the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, and the first day of autumn in the southern, people gather to tell and listen to stories in dozens of languages across the globe.

8:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Mix 'n' Mingle
Meet fellow travelers, HI members, and reps from local travel groups -- and swap travel tales of your own!

Getting There

Public Works is at 161 Erie Street (off Mission Street, between 14th and Duboce)

BART: To 16th Street station and walk 2 blocks north.
MUNI: 14 or 49 to 14th Street, or 22 or 33 to 16th and Mission.
PARKING: Street parking is free after 6 p.m.; there's a paid lot on 14th between Mission and Valencia.

About the Performers

Michael Belitsos is a writer, magician, musician, and actor who lives in San Francisco. He recently received the audience award at the Marin Fringe Festival, appeared in Counting on Love at the Exit Theater, and will appear at the Exit this fall in a one-man show called The Movies of My Mind. He performs his unique brand of magical storytelling throughout the Bay Area.

Ashley Cowan is originally from Avon, Connecticut, and is a graduate of Roger Williams University where she double majored in Communications and Theatre. After graduating she moved to New York City to pursue the stage, but four years ago she was offered a role in the San Francisco production of Tony 'n' Tina’s Wedding and has been living, teaching, acting, and writing in the Bay Area ever since. Her most recent written work includes Word War, produced by No Nude Men Productions as part of PianoFight's ShortLived Festival, Genie in a BudLight and Occupy the Kids for San Francisco Theater Pub, and Athena and Phaeton for the San Francisco Olympians Festival.

Gigi Hanna is a writer, storyteller, activist, and pursuer of an artful life most of the time. That is, when she’s not making a living as a software geek. Currently living in London, Gigi was born in Cairo, and came to America at the age of ten. She lived in Cairo, New York, and Paris, before making San Francisco her home for 20 years. She also lived for over a decade in Columbus, Ohio, which needs to be stated in a separate sentence for obvious reasons. It is due to this diverse background that Gigi thinks of herself as a Middle Eastern Midwesterner from the Lower Haight. Gigi performs regularly with Spark London, a true-story telling series in the tradition of The Moth, performed at the Canal Cafe Theatre and the Ritzy Picture House in London. Gigi has a Master's degree in French Literature and Film, and is learning to play guitar.

Sang S. Kim has been a writer in his twin homes of New York and San Francisco for the past decade. A graduate of New York University, his work has been seen in the New York Fringe Festival and SF SketchFest. His writing has been featured in the Village Voice, Time Out: New York, SF Weekly, SF Bay Guardian, and the SF Chronicle. He's been a writer at SF Playground at Berkeley Rep, a company member for Thunderbird Theatre Company and Killing My Lobster, and a contributor to the Asian American Theater Company. Outside of theater, he's a practicing immigration and nationality law attorney and was a congressional staff member for former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Allison Page is a comedian/writer/actor with nice hair. She escaped the frozen tundra to come to San Francisco to make laughs and eat sandwiches, and that's exactly what she's doing. Allison is a proud company member of local sketch comedy monster Killing My Lobster and works frequently with Rooftop Comedy. Recently you may have seen her in SF Sketchfest, The Olympians Festival, in Book of Liz at Custom Made Theatre, in Zoosk web commercials where (as opposed to real life) she always gets her man, or at Angelo's Cafe on Clement Street eating chorizo breakfast burritos and trying to meet four deadlines at once. This one's for the old gang, who are always, always cheering her on from afar.

Bob Scott has written several solo performance pieces, and been a member of several Bay Area bands including his most recent endeavor, Lucky Lew, as well as the award-winning jazz/world music band Rhythm Kitchen and the Dave Marz Group, an all-original instrumental band. His recordings include work as an instrumentalist (guitar and bass) for anti-war activist Lee Goland, and The Belvederes, an American/Australian folk music quartet. His solo play The Jade Pyramid was recently featured at San Francisco's Lost Church performance series and was a semi-finalist in the Harriet Lake Festival of New American Plays.

Matt Werner has been a technical writer at Google since 2010. His technical writing for Google has been translated into 40 languages and quoted in dozens of publications, including the Wall Street Journal. Outside of Google, Matt's editing a book called Oakland in Popular Memory: Interviews with 12 cutting-edge artists from Oakland and beyond, being published by Thought Publishing in April 2012. He received a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley and a Master's in English from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he was studying when he took this memorable Christmas trip. Check out his writing at

Turner Wright grew up in the suburbs of Dallas and studied aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Desiring a more flexible schedule and a better perspective on the world, he left the U.S. in 2006 and began working his way around Asia. From teaching English and working at a biomedical firm in Japan, to taking care of the grounds of a Buddhist monastery in New Zealand, he tends to be comfortable no matter where he is. Turner's experience as a travel writer and in social media began in Japan after he shattered his wrist and started reporting on the Japanese medical system to fellow expatriates. He currently writes for several online travel publications, including The Matador Network and his own expatriate blogs, Once a Traveler and Keeping Pace in Japan. He volunteered with relief efforts following the Japanese tsunami, gave his time as an English teacher in underfunded government schools in Thailand, and helped build temporary housing in Haiti. When not on one his jaunts out of the country, he enjoys training for marathons and eating everything American culture can provide.

Co-presented by our friends at Meet Plan Go and Tripping!

Meet Plan Go

Public Works

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 -
7:00pm to 9:30pm
$10 (includes a free drink) / Free for HI members
Please Note 

The VIP Reception and Member Meeting from 6-7 p.m. are open to HI members only.

If You Go