I claim this is not a blog, because I really don't know what one is.
It also seems that people put a decent amount of effort into such
things. That won't be the case here, at least not consistently...
Anyway, much like a blog, I will be putting new entries here at the
top, because it's easier... I am writing and updating this page on a
PDA, so don't expect much fancy html or photos... Anyway, here goes:
October 18, 2011: One year and seven months between updates!
Guess I've been busy? Anyone still reading this?
Anyway, the big news of the day is that I'm back to playing
hockey. Arena nearby opened for the season this week. Less
notable news is that it seems that I am living in Montreal for awhile?
At least until summer? Probably continuing after that? Maybe this is news?
Let's see... Since my last update I've been too many places to name,
but here's an attempt anyway.... Morocco (again), France,
Portugal, UK, South Africa, Lesotho, Belgium, USA, Canada (Manitoba,
Ontario), Brazil, then more Canada (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New
Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, etc.) No, this isn't the exact
order, and there have been some repeats.
Will probably post some photos from all of this, but will do so sooner
if given a little encouragement. Send me an email if you're
reading this, and pick a country and I'll work on that one first. I'll
even send you a print of some photo. See how confident I am that
there are no readers!!
March 13, 2010: Uhm... Well, I do think about
making some updates here. Really, I do...
Anyway, I am currently in Madrid and just got back from a concert.
Lila Downs, who I had heard in Mexico - from Oaxaca.
a good show, and I realized that it is something of a tradition for me
to go to a concert by myself on or around my birthday? Two
ago I saw Bob Mould in Washington, DC, not letting my friends know
where I was going as I wanted to be completely focused on and immersed
in the music. Had a recollection of that tonight.
that night I also chose to sleep at the airport before my early morning
flight to Mexico, and now I have a room... and a flight to
Marrakech on Monday. On an odd note, I saw the calendar
this show in a metro station on my way into the city, and noted that
Brendon Benson had been playing the night before I arrived.
Always strange and good to see familiar names from Detroit
the Gold Dollar playing other places in the world.
I was last in Madrid about 5 years ago, and I remembered it as an
enjoyable city, but not really a favorite. Guess I
really connect to it, or maybe it was that I had been too impressed
with Barcelona and nothing could compare? This time around
though, it's a different story. Another great city...
November 13, 2009:
have been meaning to update photos and such on here. Hey -
at least I got to the map today. So much more fun
to be out
doing things than to be typing... I have been organizing my
photos much better than before, and writing more in my journal than
ever before, just haven't gotten around to sharing. I'm sure
will post bits of photos and writings at some point.
Really enjoying Nicaragua at the moment. Was here 15-18 years
ago, and the country has changed quite a bit, at least in the popular
tourist areas. Some are really overrun with foreign ownersip
Granada comes to mind, and in others it seems that perhaps nothing has
Speaking of overrun with tourists... See some truth to the
being the World White Web... I have noticed that when I see
of white people arouund at a hotel/hoste/restaurant I instinctively do
a search for a wifi signal, and usually find one.
Five months with no entries and all I write is this?!? Well,
that I publish at least. Eventually tales of my efforts to
another Brazil visa, my times in Brazil again, then Colombia, Ecuador,
Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Enjoyable times everywhere,
plenty of stories, no time to type.
But right now? Off to the coffee shop where the white people
gather - coffee costs seven times as much, but they have "free" wifi....
June 7, 2009: Oops, haven't gotten to updating in a very long
time. Since the last update I've been in Brazil, Argentina,
Chile, Uruguay and now Paraguay. Quite a lot to write about
of this, and someday I'll get the writing and photos posted.
think maybe I see so many people spending too much time on
facebook/etc. and for the moment want to do more experiencing and less
reporting? Who knows. Either way, I will start
some updates at some point. I have so much to say...
September 24, 2008: It's
1:00 am and I am spending the night at the airport... CDG in Paris.
Read horror stories on the internet about sleeping here, but
quite good actually, terminal one at least. Not too busy,
or loud. No problems. Of course not the decent
cheap food at all hours that I found at Gatwick, but....
have everything. Yes, sleeping in the airport by choice.
least planning on sleeping? Writing in my journal now, and I
might just continue that instead. September 20, 2008:
Uh oh, I've gotten old. Realizing now that my
walking, particularly my deliberate attempts to avoid further knee
damage/pain makes my motion seem like many much older than I.
It's ok though, since I have a little grey now? September 17, 2008:
GR20 / Corsica / What? / Ok, it's been awhile....
Hello from Corsica! It's a beautiful little island with a
of my favorite things: mountains and sea. Ended up hiking the
northern part of the
famed GR20. Don't worry if you haven't heard of it.
I hadn't either. It's like the famed RAGBRAI -
famous to those who have heard of it or are into that kind of thing.
The GR20 link above explains it better than I do, but the
version? It's a somewhat challenging 15 day hike in the
of Corsica. Not really any techicnical climbing, though a bit
scrambling and quite a bit of walking up and down steep slopes.
The scenery is fantastic of course, as the well marked trail
the tendency to straddle ridges much of the time, providing for stellar
views of mountains and valleys below. Anyway, I did the
ten stages in seven days, doubling up on a few days. What is
there to do after walking five or so hours carrying a heavy backpack
other than setting up the tent and sleeping? Why not walk
5-6 hours? Such was my addled thinking. Also, I did
route from Vizzavona to Calvi, going north instead of the more
traditional southerly route. Why? Well, in my
anti-social tradition I wanted to avoid hiking with other people.
Nothing like being alone in the mountains... It
well. Usually only 2-3 people in my direction each day with
going south - all passing by rather quickly. Of course I did
worry a little on some days that if I fell or was injuired there would
be nobody passing by until the next day to provide assistance.
Fortunately I had no problems. Ok, well.... I could
walk by the end of it and still feel a little bit of pain in my ankle
more than a week later. Was it worth it? Of course!
I'll try to post photos eventually, though you know how I am about
that.... And also, I have noticed that hiking photos do no
justice to the actual experience. The thrill of getting to
top of a ridge and watching the panorama unfold below....
that will never happen on a computer screen. Aside from lots
great hiking trails, Corsica also provided some excellent beaches and
plenty of good times. Thanks Patricia for introducing me to
Ok, now the more challenging part of this entry... What am I
doing here? Wasn't I supposed to stay in Canada and maybe get
back to working? My last entry was from Saskatchewan....
started writing many more entries, but never quite finished them.
Ok.... Well here's the very brief yet incoherent
the last year. Has it really been almost a year? It
doesn't seem that way...
Very much enjoyed my trip across Canada and near the end got a sublet
for a couple
of months in Vancouver. Nice city to visit, but...
overpriced place to live and it seemed to lack character in a way?
Hey - we all have opinions. It seems like a good
work, and it's (relatively) easy to get to the mountains, but...
I think the cost of living and the focus on getting outside
made the city itself a bit bland. Not terrible, but nothing
special. It is a beautiful place when the skies are clear,
buildings set against a backdrop of mountains. Of course the
skies were only clear enough for this once or twice in two months....
And then there's the uncomfortable pause problem, as
by many people from Europe and others not from Van....
Person from Vancouver: "Isn't this the best city in the world?"
or "Isn't this the most beautiful city in the
Person not from Vancouver: "Uhm, It is quite nice...."
(try to change the subject)
Really though, it's not a bad place. It's just not for me.
Best city in the world? Most beautiful?
We all have
opinions - and if it's your favorite place I can't argue, though I
might not agree. Much prefered the edgy personality of
or the small but lively Saskatoon. Continued on the trip to
Vancouver Island / Tofino / Victoria, etc. and left through Seattle.
Seattle... now that's a city with a good bit of
and a much better (to me) music and arts scene. A bit
though, but I seem to like that? The contrast was striking...
So what about Canada? Yes, I still have "Permanent Resident"
status, and I do plan to live there at some point. To keep my
status I need to be there two years of every five, or that equivalent
number of days. What does this mean? Well, I'll be
three years or less. Oh - and I need to be there for three
of four to get full citizenship. I do plan to do this
I like Canada! Thinking of doing a bicycle trip
Windsor to St. John's next year, though I might just decide to live
somewhere along the way. Somewhere a bit less expensive than
Vancouver. It's about quality of life! Yes, I will
be working eventually, but...
While staring at the map of Canada and thinking about what I should do
and where, I noticed another thing a bit further south...
I've spent a bit of time in Central America, but almost none
Mexico. Using an airline credit that I got from staying an
day in Manila the previous year, I took a series of one way flights to
visit friends and family... Denver -> Detroit
-> San Diego
-> Washington, DC -> Mexico City! Yes, all of
were free because I got bumped off a flight from Manila to Seattle...
Anyway, March 16 to May 25 I had a wonderful time wandering
around Mexico, eventually arriving at my brother's house in San Diego
after many adventures and long bus rides. Ok, stories and
at a later date...
What else? Took Amtrak from Los Angeles
to Washington, DC
via San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago. Had always wanted to
a train across the USA, and decided that after the long bus rides in
Mexico I was prepared... Ok, I know that many people get a
sleeper compartment for such a train ride, but it was out of my price
range. Chair across America!
After this I visited friends and family on the East Coast and then
headed for Europe on June 25, visiting friends in familiar and
unfamiliar places for a few months. Lots of good times and
photos that I will have to post eventually. Had thought of
staying longer, but Europe has gotten too expensive, so it's off to
Brazil on September 24...
The plan now? 3-6 months in South America - and then a
tour of eastern Canada? Well that's the plan for now.
know how these things can change.... It's all pretty vague.
More frequent updates this year? More photo sets?
Maybe! Ok, below are a
number of starts to entries that were never finished. Maybe
sometime they will be? China / Tibet =
Canada / Natives
= USA / Natives / = Australia/Aborigonals = France/Corsica =
England/Scotland/Wales/India/etc.. Of course there are an
infinite number of examples. Not saying it's right, just that
China is not the only country out there ever to have tried to overrun
another country/tradition/culture with its own. It being more
recent is the biggest difference? Really seeing how
nations people have been treated in Canada brought this one out for me.
So.... Anyone up for protesting at the London
free Scotland? Northern Ireland? Or is it too
Fight the empire?!? Rude tourist /
San Cristobal... Taking photos of locals who obviously did
want to be in his photos. So when he looks back at the
does he say to himeself "There's another person who doesn't like me?" Oops I'm in Mexico... Discoveries and joy
of the west. The freezer and a big thing of ice cream. Vancouver rain, but
two hours away is "real" Canada. Skating, winter...
why I moved from Michigan? Canadian Anger.
Canadians know the
USA (or at
least more about North Dakota and Minnesota than you will ever know at
least) It's all local, be it Europe, Canada, USA, China,
etc... Skiing, Vernon,
Penticton, etc. November 11, 2007:
Icefields - beautiful. Post photos. Lake
Post photos. Canadian hostel dwellers...
obnoxious one talked about having a Canadian flag tattooed on her leg
would know she wasn't American when she traveled.... and then
proceeded to discuss how people in Slovakia (mispronounced)
not as fashionable as people in many other countries..?!? It
strange... I try not to stay at hostels these days.... November 9, 2007:
It's a great place to... ?? Uhm....
Work? Go to the mall? November 5, 2007:
journey and quest.... No, I am not on a spiritual journey or
quest or anything of the sort. I enjoy my particular blend of
beliefs and contradictions. One of the essentials in my....
(Nelson, BC) - Join and.... Yoga fight! October 29, 2007:
City of Low Self-Esteem. Not the people themselves,
their view of their city. Kind of the opposite of the Boston
and/or Bay Area or Vancouver attitude. People seemed
shocked) that anyone would even consider living here by
Really though, it's a nice little city...
Some locals talk about Regina:
"Saskatoon is more interesting...."
"You're actually thinking of living here? Why?"
"I want to live somewhere warmer."
"If it weren't in the middle of the country, nobody would have to come
"Every year I promise it will be my last." October 27, 2007:
started for me last night. Slept in the van out in the fields
Saskatchewan and awoke to ice on the inside and outside of the windows.
The thermometer inside the van showed 23F (-5 C) and a small
thermometer I hung on the outside of the van later showed 5F (-15 C).
The warmest place was inside the refrigerator, with a
39F (3.8 C). Oops. Perhaps it is time to stop the
section of the trip?
Interestingly enough, I haven't been camping much of late.
12 nights in Winnipeg... in a house?!? Thanks Alix
Ethan for that one, also for an enjoyable time and a good bit of the
local culture I might not otherwise have experienced. Wish I
time to write here about it. Someday?
I know it's past time for a major update here, but for some reason I
can't seem to get to it. Had some thoughts last night as to
I was driving across the prairie with the intentional plan of
ending up pretty much nowhere at sunset. Why? Well,
night before I had enjoyed a beautiful open prairie sunset and decided
to check it out again. Avoiding the Trans-Canada Hwy, I found
myself in seemingly endless fields with great distances between small
towns. Though for the most part I failed to capture the glory
photos, I was glad to have another country sunset.
Of course the problem with this that after dark I am often far away
from much of anything resembling a motel or campground.
Continuing to drive in the dark, I realize that I'd prefer
driving in the day, as I am missing the scenery. What?!?
What scenery? Flat post-harvest farm fields
by the occasional dilapidated barn? The same thing for miles
miles? Driving this part of the country is considered quite
by foreigners and locals alike. No scenery at all I am told.
Somehow I saw it differently. The symmetry of the stubs of
stalks across the fields, with fences making seemingly arbitrary lines
and distinctions between things that appeared the same. Roads
power lines stretching off into eternity, the colors of sky, field and
road and the varying lengths of shadows of grasses in the wind.
Somehow I find this interesting. I find everything
interesting. I decided I wanted to wake up just before
the middle of the prairie and continue my drive in the early morning
with the brilliant light and long shadows. It was snowing.
Yes, it would be cold. It would also be an
experience. The snow stopped and the cold began.
were bright with the moon reflecting of the fresh snow in the suddenly
clear night. In awe of moon, cold and silence I drifted off to sleep...
Uhh.... What? Oh yeah - it was too cold for
That's it. A good excuse? Really it's
that I find
myself to be constantly pulled by too many distractions. Yes,
actually find updating this page to be interesting also, and wish I
would have done more of it in Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Kenora and
Winnipeg. Why didn't I? Well, the other experiences
more immediate appeal I guess. To me that is...
many who might not find a drive across barren lands and sleeping in a
cold van to be all that enticing? Why am I
quick update now? I needed to come into the library in Regina
warm up! Next stops: Moose Jaw and Saskatoon - just
they have names that I have difficulty saying with any degree of
seriousness. How do I decide were I'm going? It
October 6, 2007:
Here I am
in Canada. Odd that this trip started as a North American
trip in 2003, and has somehow returned to that?
Here's the quick version of what I've been up to:
Denver - July 18-24. Getting the van ready for another big
trip, visiting with mom.
On the way to Detroit had a funny and sad experience at a freeway rest
stop. An old woman on a lawn tractor was circling over and
again staring at some Arabic men in a car parked next to me.
Obviously that part of the grass had already been cut, and
thinking she was trying to do her part to stop terrorism?
not sure what was going through her head, but the sound of the
approaching lawn tractor got a bit annoying. Felt bad for the
guys as they probably get hassled everywhere. America, land
the free to be stared at and hassled.
Detroit - July 18 - September 5. Happy the van made it, I
10-16 hours per day every day archiving old multitrack recordings from
the bar. Quite a project. Will I ever put together
compilation CDs from this? Probably, but it will be awhile.
Some incredible music. During this time I was also
off and giving away many things. I thought I had done this in
2002-2003 and was amazed at how much was still left. Sadly I
wasn't able to spend much time with friends as I was working almost all
of the time. Selling most things was fine, but I was
that I had such emotional attachment to the few records I sold from my
collection. There wasn't such a feeling with the CDs.
Thanks to Sheila and Jerome for hosting me and letting me
(temporary) mess of one of their rooms, and also to Stephen for
assistance with equipment. I couldn't have completed it all
Canada - September 5 to present. For the most part I have
biking/hiking/kayaking, which is what it seems that one does in these
parts of Canada. Got tendinitis paddling the kayak too much
my knees went out from hiking and biking too much, but other than that
all is going well. Got hassled at the border a little for all
my travels, but that's how it goes. It's getting colder and
of the national and provincial parks are closing for the season in a
few days, so my outdoorsy days might be over for awhile. Ah
well... Not sure what happens next or where I'll be next
Not making any real decisions until sometime in December.
That much I have decided. For now, just making my
slowly west. Currently in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It
progress is slow, and I'm fine with that... July 17, 2007:
was supposed to be in the US now, about to land in Denver.
a severe lack of sleep I was a bit disoriented today, but I'm pretty
sure I'm still in Manila. Hmm... Ok, flight was
so I took the bump. I'll be arriving a day late it seems.
Another day of walking the streets... July 15, 2007:
Updates every day? Don't worry, it won't last...
Being back in a big city was a little bit of a shock.
think Manila might be a shock coming from anywhere? Affluence
poverty side by side, crowds and noise. It's quite a vibrant
so far. Ended up at SaGuijo
last night. Every once in awhile, I'm in the mood for
music from (to me) unknown bands. Usually it
find anyway, so when I heard of this place I decided I had to check it
out... Only saw three bands of the six or so playing.
skill and confidence levels varied quite a bit, from first time out to
seasoned professional. Styles varied quite a bit also.
to see some of this sort of thing going on. The show was as
up as something I would have booked. I would have stayed
but was really tired... Was also a little concerned about getting
across town late at night? You see, I have this tendency to
cabs... and didn't want to have to be figuring out jeepney
patterns after midnight... As for avoiding cabs, I suppose my
main reason is environmental? If I'm seeing individual
and its inefficiency as a problem, shouldn't I try to take public
transport whenever possible? For me though, I'll admit it's
more fun... I don't know anyone else who would see it this
Having a great time in Manila, except for the 6-8 hours per day I'm
working on preparation for US/Canada. Being a big city,
great variety of places / lifestyles / etc. Wasn't really
forward to coming here, but of course now wish I had another few
Updated the sale page a little... Here it is.... Sorry
it's not better! July 14, 2007:
Dumaguete and heading for Manila. The plane is an hour late,
I'm trying to make use of the time? I had looked at the
few days ago on one of my moto tours nearby, and had to go to the
airline website to verify that this was indeed the correct airport.
The runway looked far too short for a full sized jet, and
small single engined prop planes were in sight. There was a
for Cebu Pacific though. Would I end up in a small prop
Well, apparently the answer is no... According to
website their entire fleet is new Airbus A319s. Hmm...
Chatting about this with the owner of the all you can eat restaurant,
he said this is one of the shortest runways in the Philippines, but
don't worry about the takeoff, as that will be over the ocean.
It's the landing, he said that is difficult, and
always see the passengers helping to stop the plane, pounding imaginary
brake pedals with their feet.
Hope I didn't give the wrong impression in my writing a few days
ago.... Other than the child bride problem, there are plenty
wonderful people here, and it's been a pleasure being in the country.
Like many (most/all?) places in the world, beautiful
places/people/experiences. Not sure I could live here though,
with my enjoyment of discussion of religion and politics combined with
not being Catholic.
Now in the air and reading the inflight magazine. This
"interesting fact" about Dumaguete seems appropriate to quote:
"A belfry still stands in the city, which in the olden days warned
locals of the arrival of pirates who kidnapped the beautiful women of
Dumaguete. The city's name comes from the Visayan word
which means 'to snatch.'"
Hmm... air crew is trying to entertain - singing songs over
PA and having the passengers play name that tune for various small
prizes. Yes, discount airlines have livened up the industry a
bit. July 13, 2007: What?
Another entry? Just letting you know that
today golddollar.com com will be moving to a new server.
me know if
you notice anything missing. This one should be more reliable
than the previous one? At least that is the hope.
if it's down.... Might take a few days for the change to
propagate around the web... July 13, 2007:
shake - Should you worry when your hotel does this? Well
It's Friday the 13th, I just said bad things about the Pope
now there's been a little earthquake nearby about an hour after I woke
link works for the earthquake at time of posting..... It was
a 5.0 about 15km from Dumaguete, where I am right now. July 12, 2007:
unfortunate here that the practice of young local women with old
foreign guys has become so much a part of the culture. Sad
really, for all involved. Odd for me having people of
all ages and backgrounds ask if I am in the Philippines to find a
beautiful young wife?!? They seem disappointed when I insist
I am not. Then again, looking around at the expat community
it does seem to be mostly older guys and "underage" (in my opinion)
women. It's normal here? Ugh. One might
hope that in
such a deeply Catholic country someone like the Pope could make a
statement against it? Well, don't hold your breath...
the Pope still promoting ignorance (oops - I meant to say "abstinence")
as a method of birth control and way to prevent AIDS...
Then again, there wasn't a strong statement against priests abusing
young boys when that scandal hit a few years ago either, so...
On an almost unrelated note, interesting how the
"family values" in the US has come to mean being against gay
marriage, abortion, etc... Shouldn't "family values" have
something to do with love and respect? Maybe it would be nice
throw quality education and health care into the mix also?
Living wage? Those
seem to be things that might be of value to a family?
disillusioned today... And probably a bit
some. We all have opinions... Can't say for sure
is right, but it's what I believe... Good to live in a world
where we can express our opinions openly. Uhh... We
that, can't we? Sure we all get threatening hate mail because
it sometimes, but... Once again, we all have opinions...
harm intended to anyone from this end... Let's agree to
disagree. July 11, 2007:
Had a good
day of diving at Apo Island today. It seems I get out for a
hours a day here, and very much enjoy it. Most of my time is
spent getting things ready for US/Canada though. Ah well...
Until recently I had found food in the Philippines to be a little
frustrating. I would see lots of great fresh vegetables at
markets but couldn't quite figure out how to get them on my dinner
plate. Somehow I always ended up with meat and rice.
countries where it is relatively easy, I stay with my vegetarian
tendencies. Places where it is difficult, I stray.
little while things seemed a bit extreme here. Little corner
restaurants would have 5-6 pots of food ready, and looking under the
lids I would discover all to be meat!?! I don't mind some,
like vegetables! Finally discovered the "all you can eat"
Since veggies are cheaper, they have plenty. Also
have some meat, fish, seafood, etc. Excellent. All
again. Just guessing I won't find crab legs at a $2 all you
eat restaurant in US/Canada.... July 9, 2007:
Uh oh -
problems with my web hosting service... But then again, why
report it here? If you can see this then it is working again!
Had a really nice motorbike tour around the southern bit of Negros.
Great beaches, little fishing villages, etc.
July 5, 2007:
day of motorcycle touring.... Beautiful beaches and some sun.
As impressive as the beaches though, saw a guy building a
He had welded the basic frame and was forming the sheet
"Can you do this in your country, or is it all factory?"
He was building it for someone else, and taking motor and drivetrain
out of an old rusted out truck. There seems to be a good bit
vehicle building going on here.
Also noting a different mannerism here... I typically nod my
downwards with eye contact to acknowledge someone. Here it's
up-nod. A quick up-nod or raising of both eyebrows and
smile usually brings a smile. The up-nod in other places
(western) can be taken as an acknowledgment or a challenge at times, so
it is not my normal approach. Either way, it's easier to get
the habit of this one than the Indian head wobble of affirmative.
I think that one was for natives only.
Just realized I forgot the major holidays for my two countries...
4th of July (Independence Day, USA) and of course Canada Day.
Not really relevant here. July 4, 2007:
having an internet connection seems to help me get things done when I
actually get around to sitting in front of the computer. That
might explain why I am writing more often than uploading?
spent the day wandering around Siargao Island on a motorcycle.
was beautiful and calm, except for the occasional bouts of heavy rain.
Sitting on a dock at Del Carmen and trying to spot a
amongst the mangroves and stilt houses, I realized there will probably
be a bit of culture shock being in US/Canada for awhile.
for every country it seems.
Odd that I ended up with an actual motorcycle today, as I have usually
gotten motorbikes... What's the difference? Well,
motorcycle is apparently considered a little more "manly," even if it
is only 125cc. I know 125cc is not considered "manly" in the
US/Europe, but it is sufficiently powerful for most situations.
Here's the rundown, from what I can tell: Moped -
motor, automatic transmission or single speed. Usually kick
start. Scooter - Moped, but somehow stylish?
electric starter. Motorbike - Manual transmission,
clutch, electric starter. Motorcycle: Manual transmission,
and in this case, kick starter... I had just been thinking I
needed to get more practice on a regular motorcycle if I plan to get
licensed for one sometime soon. I've heard that a license is
"required" in US/Canada... :-) Haven't ridden
motorcycle regularly in 20 years? Ok, it wasn't
regularly then... Tried to appear "manly" as I pounded the
start and then eased off the clutch pulling on to the road with the
owner giving a worried look... Not to appear "un-manly," but
motorbikes are easier and more fun for the most part. After
forgetting the clutch and stalling a couple of times when coming to a
stop, it was smooth riding for the rest of the day...
Not sure why I went on about all of that, but...
In much of the world, the 125cc motorcycle is quite common.
America it is considered too small and not powerful ("manly") enough.
In India it is common to see a family of four riding on one.
Here in the Philippines they build something that's a cross
between a sidecar and a trailer and carry 4-12 people powered by a
125-175cc motorcycle. It's not fast, but is fuel efficient,
given the appearance of some of these vehicles I'm not sure I'd want to
be going particularly fast anyway. While a little more power
might be nice for this sort of hauling, I remember thinking the
motorcycle I first learned on had far too much power... I
it was a Honda Magna 700, with about 80hp? On the other side
the spectrum, my heavily loaded camper van is a bit underpowered at
48hp, but it does the job.
Why am I babbling about motors and things? Maybe because I'm
thinking about how I have to get the van running in a couple of
weeks... I know it's really not that interesting...
prefer bicycles when possible.
So far in the Philippines I have not been in highly touristed areas.
I realize that in travel, each person has different
and different objectives. Apparently I was in the mood for
less popular places? Enjoying everything so far.
leave Siargao though, I will likely be in more commonly visited areas.
This is the low season, so it might not be that different.
As always, the longer I stay in a particular town or country,
more interesting it gets and the more I want to stay. Wonder
that will happen with Canada? It did the last time I was
My little hut on the beach here seems to be infested with ants, and a
few cockroaches have wandered by. While I don't particularly
enjoy the situation, it doesn't really bother me as much as it might
have in the past... No way to avoid it, nothing I can do, so
worry. July 3, 2007:
yourself standing in the middle of a busy intersection wondering where
you are, which direction you were headed and why? Well, it
happen to me sometimes... and there are some busy
chaotic intersections here. Am I losing my ming?
happened maybe when I was 12. I'm just a bit absent minded at
times, particularly now with too much planning going on.
Eventually I find my way... whatever that is.... July 1, 2007:
Much to say
but no time to say it. Camiguin Island, Philippines at the
moment. Not much internet access, so not too many updates
expected. Are they ever really expected? I think
Anyway, odd and interesting country so far. For a
feels like Central America with the Spanish influence and some similar
version of Catholicism, but then something like karakoke reminds me I'm
in Asia... June 17, 2007:
flying these days. I generally try to fly as little as
for many reasons. I guess the main one would be the
The slower the method of transport the more thorough the
experience. Unfortunately though, there are times I do have
fly. Today I am heading from Johor Bahru (Malaysia - near
Singapore) to Tawau - Malaysian Borneo. Going diving at
Sipadan... Not sure what I thought of Singapore, but as
began to enjoy it more as time passed. What I did there for
most part was wander between food stalls. Being an orderly
they have eliminated street cart food vendors and placed them all in
"hawker centers." Not a bad thing really, as there is a great
selection in each place. My regrets for Singapore?
time I was out I'd see another stand or restaurant I wanted to try.
I can eat quite a bit, but alas there are limits and four
was not enough. Didn't try the black pepper crab, among other
things, though the white pepper crab was superb. Ah well....
Oh, and in between dining times there are other worthwhile
things - Singapore Art Museum and National Museum were surprising and
inspiring. There are malls with ice rinks, and sky bridges
through the woods that I never managed to visit. Ah well... June 12, 2007:
Just when I
start to like the place I end up leaving.... Taking a train
tonight from KL to Singapore. I think buses are faster, but
sleeper trains are always more comfortable. Well, then there
that "executive massage" day bus I saw today. Looked to have
wide fully reclining seats on the lower level at least...
One day after deciding that I might as well get out of Kuala Lumpur,
I'm wishing I had a week or two here. Now finding the city
between the malls and between the streets and very much enjoying it.
I think it's the mix of ethnicities and religions here?
good ethnic mix means of course a good mix of food, and KL is a thrill
for that one. Just finding the street vendors of choice now
trying whatever they want to sell me. I am starting to think
food in Asia is the best in the world? Lots of variety, even
American and European if one really wants... and the quality
the fruits and vegetables might just be one notch above?
Phnom Pen may have initially felt (only to me) a little bit
westernized, but KL is... Well, it's beyond that...
can there be so many gigantic malls? Fortunately many of them
seem to have small local businesses, not just the chain junk.
Some also have amusement parks, roller coasters, ice rinks, etc.
Then again, it's been many years since I've been to a mall in a western
country. Are they all like this these days?
Really wish I had more time for KL and for Malaysia, as I'd guess
there's a good bit of variety to this country.
Is it the business and shopping atmosphere? Is it too
The smile of Cambodia and goofy grin of Vietnam are not in
evidence here. Ah well... June 9, 2007:
meaning to write something here, but just haven't gotten around to it.
At the moment I am on an airplane, so I guess I might as
Heading from Cambodia to Malaysia, or Siem Reap to Kuala
to be specific. I decided that I didn't have sufficient time
enjoy Laos properly and would be stuck to the over-touristed sections.
Ah well... Instead heading for cities - Kuala
Singapore for a week or so, then on to Borneo for a bit. By
end of the month I'll be heading for the Philippines. This
is clearly moving much faster than my normal comfortable pace, but it
happen. Blame the Canadians.
It seems that I never got around to writing concluding remarks here for
India, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.. Really any country?
did intend to... But the babble below should not be
considered as such. It's just what's on my mind.
Odd leaving Cambodia so soon. Two weeks in a country is not a
long time. I guess the people flying in to Siem Reap / Angkor
a few days and then leaving would think it a long time? I
Phnom Penh enjoyable, with the things I have recently come to expect
from Asian cities. Large and perplexing markets (that's a
thing), great food, persistent moto-taxis, and big smiles. At
first it seemed western. Some big supermarkets and the common
of US dollars gave it that feel at first? I doubt anyone
from the west would have found it familiar.
The smile of SE Asia so far has been most noticeable in Vietnam,
varying from the simple and mild hello sort of smile to the over the
top ear to ear grin. My "smile for no particular reason"
seems to fit in well here. I got used to the silly grin even
trying to avoid the smiling aggressive moto drivers, smiling touts,
etc. The smile wasn't quite so excessive in Cambodia, but it
still there. I was still sporting the incessant big grin of
Vietnam, which tended to bring out the same in Cambodia. It
seemed that perhaps at times I was the one initiating it.
In some countries - many western ones it seems, direct eye contact and
a smiles are sometimes things to be avoided. "What are you
looking at?" is sometimes the feel of the response. There
to be some paranoia I think. Why is he/she smiling at me?
It can be something of an aggressive act. I can say
from personal experience... Anyway, that's not the case here,
my natural tendency towards eye contact and a silly grin seems just
Siem Reap was strange. The town center is touristville and
absolutely nothing to do with the rest of Cambodia it seems.
Glitzy hotels, upscale restaurants and bars and lots of white
people sporting the beach resort look. Not really my kind of
- at least that part of it. It seemed a bit out of
place in Cambodia
to me after riding a motorbike out into the country for four days and
seeing absolutely none of this.
Of course everyone is here to see Angkor Wat and the surrounding ruins
which are spectacular.
Uh oh... or maybe this is good? Hadn't really begun
to the point yet, but now the plane is landing.
had another hour. Apparently there is a time change... June 6, 2007:
Back from a
nice four day motorbike tour towards northern Cambodia, and now a day
long bicycle ride in the Angkor Wat area. About 90km (56
in the heat (97f/36c) and humidity (68). Great
visit though, and somehow I decided to go to the outlying ones by
bicycle. I was the only person to think this was a good idea.
It was. It's a better way to feel the life of the
May 19, 2007:
time update yet? Yes, I think so. India photos have been
completed, complete with errors. Please inform me when you
them and I will correct... May 17, 2007:
It seems that
I have not been in the frame of mind to do any updates to this.
Still almost ready to unleash a million or so India photos,
haven't quite gotten to the finishing touches yet. It could
done in 3-4 hours, but I never seem to find the time. Still
enjoying Vietnam, and extended my visa appropriately. It was
raining much of the time in the middle of the country so the views
could not always be captured. Good times still, and I'll say
my motorbike skills in mud and rain have improved, not really by
choice. Good at facing oncoming traffic too. This
is a good
skill not to have most places in the world.
I am currently in Saigon / HCMC and getting to know the place a bit by
my usual methods - avoiding "tours" and walking long distances.
When I'm too far out I take a city bus?!? Cool,
and rather empty, buses give good viewing of the motorbike mayhem
outside. Noted that they are not really given a mention in
Recently bought a ticket back to the USA, as I have a bit of work to do
there in August and I have to be in Canada by September 6 to keep my
status there. This means I actually have to do some planning
my remaining two months. I seem to have a tendency to stay
longer than most, but I won't have as much of that luxury in the near
future. The current plan? Mekong Delta area for a
boat to Cambodia. I'll likely only be in Phnom Penh and Siem
Reap/Angkor while in Cambodia. I say that now, but...
heading for Laos via Thailand. Not sure how much time I'll
in NE Thailand, though I hope for some? I'll only have a 15
visa for Laos, so I guess I won't be lingering too long.
that it's back to Bangkok most likely for a flight to Borneo, then on
to the Philippines. My ticket to Denver is from Manila.
From Denver I'll be driving to Detroit, the van of my USA
trip returning to where it started four years before?!? Not
staying long though, as I'll be beginning a 3 month or so wander of
Canada from Windsor, Ontario to Vancouver, BC. The adventure
continues.... if the van still runs?
I usually don't have this much in the way of organized plans, but at
least the timing of much of it is still a little flexible. I
have to remember to keep moving...
I'd prefer to be writing about Vietnam, but spent a number of hours
figuring all of this out, so it's what's on my mind right
Back to the moment hopefully in my next posting, whenever
happens. April 19, 2007:
updating much. Ok, that's obvious. Really enjoying
A country of lush scenery and silly smiles. Ha Long
Cat Ba Island, at the moment, and heading back to Hanoi in a day or
two. March 21, 2007:
- change of plan.... Was going to go hiking further
near Mae Hong Son... It seemed a little hazy here, and now
finding out it's worse there and both cities are considered "disaster
zones" because of the air pollution from tree fires. People
hospitals, etc. It was like this when I was in Alaska also.
The answer there was to go north until the air was clear.
In this case it's going south. So...
beach and diving
most likely? Noting that the pollution here still seems to be
less than many cities in India... March 20, 2007:
the fun of Thai food - cooking and eating, I am spending way too much
time getting things organized for my US/Canada visit. Too
tasks! Have to have the van ready to drive, papers and
plates in order, equipment for archiving the Gold Dollar recordings in
Detroit, etc. Oh yeah, doing my taxes now too.
forward to getting all of this done so I can get back to
living/enjoying where I am... March 17, 2007:
music blasting from the speakers, the waitress offers me a beer as I
gaze out the window watching the lights of the city begin to fade.
What the ?!? Did I get on the right train?
I am in
Thailand?!? March 10, 2007:
Can a meal
make a town? Well, in the case of a traveler like me it
can. In Agra there was Joney's - excellent food at half the
of everywhere else in town. It was in the only in the Korean
French guidebooks, and was usually filled with Koreans and a few
French. In Aurangabad it was Bhoj, a veg thali place where I
showed up early and heard the workers chanting and clapping.
was a family place, with great food and friendly happy staff.
Great to have the smartly uniformed waiters bringing more
food. Back to the point. Last night in Chennai it
Home Mathsya. It was a mildly upscale Indian veg place with
extensive menu. It was a little pricier than backpacker fare
had many things that were new to me. Food and service were
excellent. So excellent that I kept ordering more...
ended up chatting with a man one table over from me who I'm guessing
was either an owner or manager about it being an Indian family
restaurant, not on the backpacker circuit. The place was
and probably better off without the guidebook recommendations.
great night... March 9, 2007:
much has happened, much has been enjoyed. Want more detail?
Maybe later. Well... It seems that I am
in a few days and therefore busy attempting to organize my photos and
get them on the page. Ok, well at least I am busy claiming I
working? Currently in Mahabalipuram and spent the last couple
days enjoying the rock cut temples and relaxing on the beach.
Today it's more claiming to be organizing the photos, then
Chennai (Madras) for a couple of nights and then a flight to Bangkok on
the 12th. My India visa ends on the 13th, so I'm looking at
as a good indication that it is time to go. India has been a
wonderful experience, and I do intend to come back sometime. I do
realize that I have this feeling about most places, particularly when I
am leaving. I think maybe it's my attitude? I seem
enjoyment everywhere. February 11, 2007:
good time in Bangalore. Heading for Hampi tonight.
intended to get a bit done on the web page here, but... Well
did get some prepared though not uploaded, but most of the time was
spent sitting around watching movies in the hotel or eating at nice
restaurants. Not bad really. It's the most modern
have visited in India, which makes sense as it is the "Silicon Valley"
of India. On a side note, this web page is hosted by a
When I arrived here there were news reports of a bit of tension due to
the announcement of the Cauvery Commission about water rights from the
river between here and neighboring states. Protests and
riots were expected, but the city was quiet. All of the
businesses closed early and people were advised to stay off
streets. I guess the train station was closed with
were the roads between here and Mysore, but that was it, at least from
my perspective. Originally there was going to be a "bandh,"
general strike a few days ago, but it was reschedule for tomorrow.
Tomorrow shutdowns will include trains, planes, buses, taxis,
shops and restaurants. Kind of glad I won't be around, though
would of course be interesting to experience. February 2, 2007:
India - not much time online at the moment. More updates
eventually.... Aurangabad at the moment, heading for
soon... January 13, 2007:
happy new year.... How did I spend my evening?
on a rooftop in Varanasi watching Indian kids playing and dancing
amidst bits of fireworks. Of course I had to get out of a
musical performance that sadly turned into a lame-o hippie drum circle.
Ah well... Hoping to post some other of my
writings someday - maybe to the mailing list? It was quite a
I am currently in Kolkata (Calcutta to you) and working on catching up
on writing and photos. Of course I never will actually be
up, and making the attempt is always a challenge.
Where I've been: (I'll tell ya' later)
On my mind: (I'll tell ya later)
Sorry - really meant to fill in these blanks... December 25, 2006:
holidays, Merry Christmas, etc. Almost a normal day here in
India, though there were some festivities. Apparently it's a
vacation time here, so hard to get train tickets, etc. On an
unrelated note, overheard a young British woman talking about how
terrible it was for China to Claim to own Tibet, and how much effort
she had gone to to avoid paying the extra fee to the Chinese government
when going to Tibet. Ok, so I agree that China should not
claimed to own Tibet, but... felt like asking if she had ever
heard of the British Empire, colonialism, or the corporate colonialism
that still clearly exists today... Hmmm...
perspective I suppose. December 14, 2006:
been in India since the beginning of the month, and adjusted quite well
at the moment. Enjoying the noises, colors and smells...
except occasionally when I feel the need to escape from
Seen eating from rubbish piles - cows, dogs, monkeys, pigs
occasionally goats, though they seem to prefer auto parts.
all on the streets of most of the cities I have visited in India so
far. Want a more profound statement on the food, music and
culture of this wonderful country? Well... let me
you find one. Yes, I am very much enjoying the food...
though I have noticed that so far it is very similar to many
the Indian restaurants I have frequented around the world - not as
strikingly different as Chinese food in China compared Chinese food
around the world. Then again, I've only been here a couple of
weeks, so how would I know. Currently in Jaisalmer about
from the border with Pakistan. I'll probably be heading for
Bikaner or Desert National Park in the next few days - after I get a
photo set or two ready for posting... November 22, 2006:
it's called the "Great Circle Route..." Looking at the little
monitor mounted in the seat in front of me, I am noticing that the path
looks very different than the one taken from Hong Kong to New York....
That's right, I'm heading back to Asia. Hong Kong
for a few
more days, then on to India. Heading over the far north this
- right near the north pole at the moment. Too bad it's too
to see anything. I had noted on the flight to NYC that we
much stayed south of Canada the whole way. Must be that the
stream is the equalizer? Just as it is in sailing, sometimes
longer distance faster is the way to win the race. About
hours into the 15.5 hour flight now, which means that
like this one actually appear to make sense to me. If it
make sense to you, well.... November 9, 2006:
I have my
passport back with my Canadian "Immigrant" visa! All is well
except that instead of expiring in less than 30 days as I was told it
would from Hong Kong, it is dated for September 6, 2007. What
does this mean? Well, I guess I really didn't have to come to
York and go to Canada tomorrow as planned. I could have spent
three weeks in Hong Kong and saved the money, entering Canada any time
before September 6. Oh well, too late now. I think
still going to Ottawa tomorrow though it might actually be better to
wait - extending my "must be in Canada to maintain permanent resident
status" time an additional six months or so? Who knows.
bought my bus ticket last week, so I'll probably just go... November 1, 2006:
self... Write about China, Hong Kong (Asia for novices...)
then about how (why) I ended up in New York today? Yes,
where I am for a week or so it seems. Only found out I had to
here a few days ago... Those pesky (and not particularly
Canadians! Really though, not much time to update this while
was in China - didn't want to waste my limited visa, and then suddenly
this NYC/Canada thing when I had planned on relaxing in Hong Kong (and
updating photos) for a few weeks... Ah well... More
if/when I do have time. On the bright side, I guess this
have gone around the world in the last year - of three years of travel?
What was I doing for the first two years? Sadly
though, it breaks that sense of continuity that I was
feeling... Worse than that? It's going to cost
quite a bit
to get to India from NYC or Montreal..... Was this as far
I could be? Yes, still planing on wandering until maybe the
middle of next year and hoping to be in India by the end of November.
As for where I am living eventually? Perhaps
I'm not as excited about it as I was before. Given the time,
effort and money I have put into the project I should give it a try
sometime? Ok, moving back into my camper van and wandering
starting sometime in 2007? Who knows. Writing this
incoherence from a 15.5 hour non-stop flight from Hong Kong to New
York. Currently over Japan... October 11, 2006:
train attendant to switch on the power last night and got going on some
photos. The train ride has been quite pleasant. I
the carriage pretty much to myself. It seems that everyone is
traveling in the much less expensive seats rather than the "hard
sleepers" or the near luxury "soft sleeper" that I have chosen.
have to mention the attendants on the Chinese trains... Very
polite, professional and helpful even with a near complete language
barrier. Also interesting how formal they become at stops -
facing the same direction and standing the same distance from the doors
at the stops. As the train prepares to leave they all turn
face the doors in unison. Quite a sight. They are
casual once the train is going.
Currently working on photos while watching Pirates of the Carribean
dubbed in Chinese. October 10, 2006:
new train from Lhasa to Chongqing.... Great mountain scenery
quite a nice train. I'm in a four berth "soft sleeper"
compartment which I seem to have to myself. Quite a
accomodation. It is comfortable, quiet and has decent sized
multi-channel personal video systems. Of course looking out
window is usually entertaining enough for me. The only
unfortunate thing seems to be that the power outlet seems to work for
my phone charger but not the laptop, so I won't be able to work on the
photo updates much. That said, I did manage to get almost
complete functionality added to the Linux side of my laptop, while the
Windoze partition sleeps and awaits a full reinstall someday...
or if I'm smart I'll stay off of Windoze for good....
Though I worked on the computer for too many hours yesterday
afternoon, the morning was better. I visited two of the main
sights of Lhasa, Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastery. Both
rather stunning, and yes I will post photos eventually. The
temples are more spectacular and mysterious than any photo could convey
- close enclosures, the relative darkness broken by candlelight,
Buddhas and mysteries reaching up into the darkness, the smell of
incense and yak butter, chanting and humming, steep stairways and a
feeling of complete separation from the outside world. October 8, 2006:
I am still
in Tibet for a couple more days. Had a nice trip to Everest
Camp, along with a number of monasteries and lakes. Tibetan
Buddhism is a bit mysterious.... On another note, I had
almost ready to post, but am now having severe problems with my laptop.
The Windows side is dead - won't even boot in "safe mode" for
those who might be familiar with this. Fortunately I had
installed also, so this is allowing me some functionality. I
now spending too much time trying to get the Win side working again
while also adding the needed applications to linux to be able to post
photos. Argh! It might be awhile.... September
30, 2006: What's
my favorite city or place in the world? Well, since everyone
asking... Most. All have charms and I suppose
too, but it's so hard to choose. Anywhere can be beautiful...
(to be continued?) September 29, 2006:
always, not writing enough on here, and writing less in the near
future.... Supposedly flying to Lhasa, Tibet tomorrow...
Might not have much of an internet connection... September 10, 2006:
in the streets? Haven't really seen anything like this since
Paris. Ok, this is more... Was in Jingshan Park
morning and it was incredible. There were groups of musicians
everywhere, many people gathering and singing along. People
handing out sheet music and also selling books of music. Of
course I couldn't sing along as it was all in Chinese, but it's the
thought that counts. There were also big groups of people
dancing, jumping rope, wandering around with various musical
instruments and joining in with others. Unfortunately this is only a
cursory account, but the beauty of the music and the sense of community
feeling brought tears to my eyes. People singing together,
music together.... This park had the greatest concentration
this sort of thing that I have yet experienced anywhere. Also
noticed many other places in town with people dancing. All it
takes is a sidewalk or a parking lot and a boombox or a band.
There is so much more to Beijing than I could have
imagined.... September 7, 2006:
had time to relate all of the stories.... Beijing has been
wonderful so far, a great mix of contrasts of modern and traditional.
Also enjoying the food.... Canada medical exam went
and waiting with Chinese also in the same process brought about
thoughts of my grandparents coming from China to the US. I
the first American getting a medical exam for Canada in this clinic.
Strange being part Chinese and being here. Many
don't initially seem to view me as a tourist... but then they
figure it out. Oddly, I am almost always approached in
those in the adult entertainment industry. Do they spot me as
foreigner or is English the language of sleaze?
I'll be in Beijing for another week, as I applied for my India visa at
the embassy this morning and they will have my passport until the 13th.
Longer than I had planned on spending here, but I'm sure I
enjoy the times...
September 4, 2006:
Train Ride and Kindness of Strangers II.... oh yeah - and
Beijing... I've been in big cities like this before, but
Chinatown is bigger here...
Ok, so the Trans-Siberian (Trans-Mongolian actually) was quite
enjoyable. Met some nice people aboard and was intrigued by
changes of scenery. Some of the photos that I will eventually
post might not seem that exciting without the appropriate transitions,
but... Now looking at a photo from the Gobi desert.
open space or nothing to some, but the thrill of frontier to me.
Wish I would have had time to stop everywhere. Yes,
now been traveling for over three years but there will never be enough
time for everywhere. That all said, all of the writing and
organization for the website that I had hoped to complete during the
trip still awaits me. I was never bored. If only
were a little less interesting....
Arrival in China was beautiful and a little bit sad. Sad only
because after six days I had become accustomed to this lifestyle,
walking around the train and looking out the window. It was
of like the ending to RAGBRAI - for those who get that
Moving away from a city is a similar feeling also.
for situational friends to head their separate ways, all longing for
After arriving I made my way to where I was staying and then began the
task of finding the FedEx pickup point where I Cyndi had sent some
necessary paperwork. Yes, Canada.... My medical
Canada. The people at the hostel wrote the name of the street
building in Chinese on a small piece of paper and told me which bus to
take and I was on my way. I figured out easily enough where
bus was leaving from and who to pay on board and was on my way.
These procedures might seem simple, but being different in
city there is always a little apprehension. Anyway, I decided
tactic would be to show my little slip of paper to the naturally
curious and see what happened. Eventually there was some
discussion on the crowded bus, but a few people seemed to have some
idea of where the place was, which was comforting.
Eventually most of the people in the discussion got off the bus, but
one man said he would take me there. There was lots of
and I wondered at times if it would be faster to walk. We got
and he began to ask directions, eventually finding the place.
English was minimal, but of course better than my Chinese. We
try to have a little bit of a conversation. He gave me his
number, and I plan to call to work on a little bit of language
exchange. He said he wanted to work on his English and I was
first foreigner he had met. Of course this will involve
on the phone and picking a time and place to meet, and the language
barrier might be too much for this. We shall see.
way, I clearly would not have found the office without him.
August 26, 2006:
of kindness.... St. Petersburg is a striking place in its
beauty. It is excessive like Paris - some remarkable bit of
architecture every direction it seems. At first I want to
photograph everything, but then I realize the photos do not
capture the excitement that such a city makes me feel. In the
end, I take far too few photos and kind of regret it.
feeling though... it's about the feeling.... Never regretted
feeling. Wish I could capture it with photos or words, but
too internal... Really though I suppose a bit of
be attitude. Beauty is where you place it, not where you find
Certainly I appreciate the grand architecture of Paris, St.
Petersburg, Istanbul... but what about the other places?
Where is the beauty in the wreckage Detroit? Where
beauty in the "Soviet Style" cement cube apartment buildings?
is there... just give it a chance... Detroit - in the city is
still one of the most friendly places I have found in the US...
Ok, now back to the St. Petersburg suburbs....
First, I see that commonly the Soviets are blamed for boring cement
cube apartment buildings. Funny though, there are plenty of
rather dull cement cubes in the US - and all over the world really.
What's our excuse? And how about those new "fake
developments that are still really designed around
lots? Sameness with flare is still sameness...
profitability is not passion.... Let's not dress it up.
to disagree - just my opinions...
That all said, my most beautiful experience in St. Petersburg happened
in a neighborhood of Soviet cubes. Here's the background -
are websites where people offer to let travelers stay at their houses,
in extra rooms or whatever is available - no cost to anyone, kind of
cultural exchange. I had arranged this in St. Petersburg, and
a wonderful time with Anna, little sister Alina, brother Gosha, and
their mother while she was there. Anna had studied English
month apparently, and did her best translating our conversations with
dictionary in hand. Good fun for all of us trying to
The perfect environment, sharing conversation over a meal.
I think their mother's exit was somewhat lost in translation.
I guess I hadn't realized that after serving the meal she was
leaving for the week? Now the bit about "cottage, two cats
dog" makes more sense. I get it. Vacation time...
The next day Anna came with me through the tourist sites, helping me
get the student rate among other things, and really making the
experience enjoyable. She had a day off, why not?
it's practicing English... My eight words of Russian only
so far... Anyway, by the end of the day it seemed I was
developing a cough and a cold and becoming less into attempts at
conversation. I went to bed early. When I got up
morning there was a great and large breakfast prepared for me, but due
to my cold I was unable to eat much. Before I left
Anna insisted on packing up a box for me - pancakes, sausage and cheese
and a bag of Russian candies. It really made my day.
goodbye and headed into the city by myself. I checked my bag
into luggage storage at the station and did a quick and final walk
along a bit of Nevsky. Alas, it was time to get to my train.
Anna had helped me interpret the writings on my ticket, and I
glad for that, easily making my way to the correct car and seat.
About five minutes before the train was supposed to leave, a
familiar face appeared in front of me... Alina?!?
indicated that Anna was outside, so I followed. Anna
with a bag containing baked goods, grapes and orange juice while Alina
gave me a stack of pictures / postcards from St. Petersburg and they
were on their way.... The beauty of kindness.... Pass it
I'm near the end of an eight hour train ride to Moscow with
bad cold, fever and a headache. I also have a smile.....
August 22, 2006:
too rushed in the Baltics. Two days each in Lithuania, Latvia
Estonia. I blame the Russians, or at least the Russian visa
requirement. Heading for St. Petersburg tomorrow.
much time in the last couple of days making Canada arrangements.
Canada? Yes, well... I applied for a
resident visa a year or two ago and there is finally some motion on the
process, at possibly the least convenient time. They want a
medical report, which means arranging to have my paperwork from Canada
meet me in Beijing (thanks Cyndi), and setting up an appointment with a
doctor in China. I think I have all of this handled?
really want to live in Canada? I did, and I still might.
After all of the trouble and expense so far I guess I might
well play it out. Ok, enough about my paperwork.
Now on to
Russia.... Will be in radio silence mode Aug 29 to Sept 4, on
long train ride (Trans-Siberian) to Beijing?!? I actually
schedule?!? Sept 4 Oct 4 or? China, then maybe
India? August 9, 2006:
moved to Baltimore. Yep, Baltimore, MD USA. Of
was only on paper. The friend I was "living with" previously
Maryland moved to Seattle. Thanks Valerie for letting me move
- on paper. Of course now she's complaining that I haven't
doing the dishes.... I'll have to fly back to take care of
sometime. Maybe next year. Still in Prague tonight
moving on to Poland tomorrow.
Dentist today. Not really exciting I know, but it was
at the time. There was that language barrier... That's what
it interesting... But then it seemed easier in a way too
all of the annoying paperwork that I normally associate with such
things. July 27, 2006:
ready to say goodbye to Turkey. Having been here about a
I'm really going to miss the country. Thinking now of Egypt
both places I could have stayed much longer. Somewhere I
like to live for a time...? Then again, almost any place is
if you step back from your expectations and appreciate it for what it
is... Attitude... July 21, 2006:
A few weeks ago I had thought about going into Syria a bit,
having heard good things from others just returning from there.
almost ended up in Cyprus last week, but probably best that I didn't
since that's where they're dropping all of the evacuees. Ah
Ok, so I might get a bit of an overreaction for saying this,
isn't Israel overreacting a bit? They claim it is defense,
always seem to have a higher number of civilian kills than whatever
attack they are fending off... I'm still questioning the use
the term terrorist in the region. Hitting more civilians than
Hezbollah, they are working to convince the people of Lebanon to turn
more against Hezbollah... Hmmm.... Merriam Webster
Dictionary says "Terrorism: the systematic use of terror esp. as a
means of coercion - " Apparently this is fine with the US and
Britain. Let's go for one more dictionary definition...
Under "Terror" there is "Reign of terror: violent or
acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a
population or government into granting their demands." So
usually defined as the terrorist? Whoever has less money,
weapons and most importantly a second rate PR department. Of
course Hezbollah isn't exactly doing good things either...
it's amazing that Israel is (as always) trying to claim a moral high
ground?!? Let's face it, I'm not a fan of killing....
is no moral high ground here. Everyone is entitled to an
Had a nice day at the beach reading the news... Just had to
vent. July 19, 2006:
wonderful time in Turkey. Sights, beaches, people, rocks...
Not writing much here, but finally getting some photo sets
Egypt is available from the main page! My first
update since April 2005! Oops... Anyway, I think
below might have given some people the wrong impression of my times in
Egypt. Loved it. Want to go back someday...
took a little adjustment... July 2, 2006:
friend... (blah blah blah) What's your name? (blah
blah) Where you from? (blah blah blah) Welcome to
(blah blah blah) No buy, just look.... One minute my
Why you no want to see?" Variations
cousin has a shop..." "Taxi?" "Carriage?"
"Camel ride?" "Buy carpet?" It also seems
that if you
turn down the whatever is offered for sale first the others will be
offered. Sometimes on leaving, "I am angry. You
Egyptian hospitality!" At first I had difficulty enjoying a
where I can't ask questions or for directions, even from the person at
the desk at my hotel or the tourist police. You see, I like
walk places. Asking for a directions on walking somewhere,
everyone insists on calling their brother's friend's taxi or whatever -
and then expects a tip for the service even if the cab is refused...
after acting offended.... Hmm.... difficult.
- and the museum you're walking to? It's "closed for lunch"
come to the shop.... Your hotel? "Closed...
my friend's hotel..."
Yes, Egypt has required a new approach, and one opposite of what how I
like to be other places. Best rules for Egypt:
1) Don't make eye contact.... unless you want to hear a sales
pitch. Even little kids will practice a pitch even if they
nothing to sell...
2) Speak Slovak. Ok, I can't speak Slovak, but I wish I
Answering in an unknown language does help.... I
try pure gibberish - at which times I usually get the pitch in
Japanese. Trying French or Spanish I hear a few key phrases
realize that the salesman only knows a few phrases in any / every
language. He'll generally do the presentation in English
Pretend you don't understand, though really this makes no
3) Don't worry about logic. If the bicycle rental guy is
tell the same story again about living on the west bank of the river
when you tell him you might rent a bicycle tomorrow but not tonight,
well... and then you realize any excuse for not renting the
bicycle now (such as, it has a flat tire) also triggers the
living on the west bank story.... Just walk away "my friend,"
someone will be upset about your refusal of Egyptian hospitality.
4) Have some fun! Say you're from Canada... "Oh,
Dry - Canada Club!" Yep, 100% of the time. Learn
different references always given for whatever country you say you're
from. Try England? Australia? I will
admit that the
response to "Honduras" has not been consistent. Apparently
enough people visiting from Honduras to say "banana republic" or
5) Ignore... Keep walking. Walk fast. Walk into
Ok, this last one really doesn't work. Walking into
is normal here as a way to cross the street. I have noticed
the sales people can't seem to keep my walking pace though.
course when I want to stop and look at something - like the pyramids or
something like that.... that's when the ignore thing comes in.
Really difficult here to look at the sights. Have
people out. Tipping your guide? Ok now try tipping
someone NOT to by your "guide." Sometimes works, sometimes
doesn't. Keep walking.
6) Even if you have no idea where you are or where you are going....
keep walking. Egyptians only know the locations of
and papyrus shops. If they do know where your destination is,
just look up... you are probably standing in front of it!
Asking directions does not help, as you will be told your
destination is closed or no longer exists. An alternative
course be right around the corner...
(well, there are more - but you get the idea....)
Of course most of this is inherently against my nature. I
conversation and I like eye contact. Ah well. To be
1% of my conversations with Egyptians have not ended in a sales pitch.
Aim for that 1%. Really though, after a few days of
adjustment Egypt is a wonderful place. You just have to
that you will never ever be seen as anything other than $$.
finally gotten relatively comfortable in Egypt and it is already time
to go. I am just ending a great night in Alexandria.
were people out all along the waterfront having fun. It was
wild a time as any anywhere, with people of all ages wandering about
greeting eachother. Children on rides, mostly of the swing
variety, teens checking each other out, families sitting together and
grandparents watching it all go by. Children on bicycles and
trikes, some on small motorcycles doing dangerous maneuvers.
Actually, doing anything anywhere near a motorized vehicle in
Egypt is a dangerous maneuver, be it riding in a cab, crossing a street
or whatever. Hopefully I will have more time to write about
experiences here both positive and negative. It is definitely
challenging country, from the aforementioned street crossings to the
heat of the desert to the all-encompassing attempt to make tourists
spend money continuously. I had my doubts early on, but now
absolutely glad to be here.
(can ya tell this entry was written on two different days?) June 14, 2006:
prospect of Egypt hanging over me, so decided to hit it....
17 - July 5 it seems, then Turkey for a bit, then?? June 12, 2006:
Four mostly cloudy nights and three brilliant nights in
Friday: Arrival in the early morning on a train
Budapest. Yes, Budapest again - after islands of
Coast, then Ljubljana... Anyway, walked the town - and got my
visa for Russia... Ok, let's just talk about evenings and
for now. Wandered into SKC Student Kultural Center and saw a
great band - bass player, drummer, backup singer. The bass
was the show. Excellent - sounded like more than a full band.
If you are ever get a chance to see them... Disciplin a Kitchme
is almost worth a trip to Serbia. Really though - all parts
the former Yugoslavia that I managed to visit are quite different and
worth the trip. Get
there before tourists and highways (uhh... capitalism) ruin
Yes, this is happening - particularly in Croatia it seems....
But I digress...
Saturday: What do these things have in common? A
miniskirt, leopardskin hotpants, a large fuzzy stuffed pink pig, a
Hawaiian shirt , thigh high vinyl boots and Italian have in common?
If you guessed a brilliantly entertaining and modern staging
Verdi's "La Traviata" then you are a) Right and b) Disturbed.
It was in a theatre obviously not designed for opera, but
production more than made up for it. Also one of the rare
experiences where Violetta actually would look good in a sequin mini...
Ok, thought I was going to go to sleep early, but decided to wander
into one of the clubs on boats anchored along the river first....
First one I went to was almost empty... "Do you
reservation?" Somehow I got in anyway. The place
quickly with supermodel types, but the band wasn't that interesting.
Mostly covers early on - at least the ones in English that I
recognized. Guessing the rest were covers, but who knows?
Then on to a couple more places - which had appeared closed
I came out of the opera at 10:30pm.... One cheesy dance club,
then a slightly smaller place with a band playing what I suspect was a
genre called "Turbo Folk" that is native to Serbia. Think
European folk meets pop and techno? Well that isn't quite it.
Not really sure where it is...
Sunday: Really - not going out late again... Ended
seeing a couple of decent (though not incredible) punk bands in a
basement bar. What they lacked in talent they made up for in
enthusiasm. A good night, and a little earlier than the
others. Original music is always a good thing...
Ok, those were some highlights, though there were many more experiences
wandering around late into the nights. Belgrade - great and
innovative music and crazy nightlife. Who knew? May 28, 2006:
A quick break
from Croatia - in Sarajevo at the moment. The image
to have of Bosnia was from reports on the war, but my impression has
changed quite a bit. A city of wonderful contrasts, from
the call to prayer from the mosques to a vibrant nightlife.
there is still a bit of visible damage from the fighting, but things
are good here. May 19, 2006:
Just putting in a plug here for the place I am
staying tonight... www.fulir-hostel.com
It's a new place, and I seem to like startup businesses, having a
little experience in that myself... Oh yeah - it's in Zagreb.
Yes, I am in Croatia now after some wonderful times in
And I'm still claiming that I'll be putting putting some
up soon. Also still claiming I'm on the way to turkey. May 6, 2006:
Krakow, down with a cold, but it is somehow difficult to avoid having a
good time here anyway. Taking an overnight train to Budapest
turning myself in at the US embassy. Ok, not quite - turning
my passport in the hopes of adding more pages. It seems I
need more if I end up going to Russia and China. Too much
paperwork. Ugh. Ah well. It seems I am on
around the world. Perhaps a little planning would have
Then again, it's too big of a trip to plan all at once.
So... that all might happen after Turkey / Egypt /
Who knows. I hesitated for a minute about Egypt
going on there, but... I'm not sure I'll end up with an
opportunity like this again? Back to the present - Heading
Budapest. Not making much sense today. Too many
spinning around. April 30, 2006:
Slovakia and having a fabulous time. Mountains, hot springs,
and massage. A beautiful and friendly country. Like
quite a pleasant surprise. April 18, 2006:
If you happen to email or call in the next week or so, my
response might be a little slower than usual. I am currently
Slovakia and will be heading into the mountains... Since I'm
almost two months behind on email, what's another week or two?
Well, it's been awhile... In the last month I visited places
have been before with friends ... Barcelona, Paris and
That's the abbreviated version of the story. Now
into new (for me) places and am so far having a great time in Slovakia.
Why am I here? Well it was "on the way to ...." in
earlier incarnation of my current venture. I started reading
about it and got interested.... March 22, 2006:
Valencia, Spain - a quieter place after Las Falles is over.
tales you might read of this festival are probably true.
Here's the Wikipedia
entry, and another
entry. March 3, 2006:
Well, I was
going to upload the Iceland photos to the website tonight, but had a
strange computer glitch and all of the photos that I had chosen to
upload were deleted!! I was adding copyright data using a
change program.... I do have backups of the photos, but the
backups are in Denver, so it will be a long time before Iceland photos
are posted. So much for getting work done this week.
course I still have to do all of last year's Europe photos, and even
some from Alaska. I thought I was making progress today,
So much for being inspired by the photography museum here in
Point to make here - if you are doing digital
photography, make sure to have a good offsite backup, and run backups
often! Glad the photos weren't permanently lost!
part I did well on, but new note to self: Run another backup
before doing a bulk change! I thought about it, but have done
so many times before...
February 27, 2006: I spent a few days in Warsaw.
Hiroshima, amazing comparing photos of the destroyed city to the
current. Currently in Krakow, which is much more fun in
that in the study of history. Rented an apartment here for a
week and trying to get caught up on web stuff. That said, I
made a little map of the current confused trip. A few extra
flights shown because of the quick trip back to the US. I
to use routings for train or car rides and straighter lines for
flights, and it worked some of the time. For the current map <click here>.
We shall see how long I manage to keep it current. I'll leave
a link to it at the top of this page.
February 20, 2006: Films I like: Elementary
(Germany), From Subway with Love (Czech Republic). Bands I
Many... but Electric 6 and Frampton Brothers come to mind.
Electric 6 is still one of the more entertaining live shows.
Framptons (no relation to Peter F) disappeared years ago...
February 19, 2006:
seem as though nothing has happened? Well it looks that way
my ever so frequent updates. Let's see - currently in Berlin
still claiming I'm going to be putting up some new photos soon.
Hmm... Has anything happened in the meantime?
bit I guess. The short version? Rome, Switzerland,
(for Aunt Nancy's funeral), DC, Detroit for 15 hours, DC, Lyon, Berlin.
I'm sure I'm missing a few things, like interesting stories
all of that. At the moment I'm catching the end of the
film festival. Saw Legaturi Bolnavicioase (Love Sick) - a
Romanian film. Need to remember to sit further back for
films. Heading out now for Elementarteilchen (Elementary
Particles) which looks to be good? We'll see.
Poland tomorrow - because it's there? Because it's cold?
Hmm... Never really had a particular interest in
somehow looking forward to it now...
More soon. Really?
January 4, 2006: A long and profound entry for the new year?
Nope. Not going to happen. Still in
working on catching up on cataloging my photos from the last trip over
the summer. I know this website is long overdue for an
and I'm hoping to make it happen in the next week or two.
for Berlin tomorrow morning and have an apartment there for a week, so
maybe I'll get something done? It has been great
with Lenka and Michael in Prague and spending the holidays with them
December 21, 2005:
Back in Prague, and yes there are barrels of
carp on the streets. Skiing was great - lots of snow but low
visibility. An acceptable trade off. We had a minor
accident involving a guard rail on the way back. Everyone's
Conditions were difficult and I was kind of glad at times
Michael was driving and not me... Of course I ended up
other times... Spent more time than expected in Salzburg
for repairs. If you're going to have to take in a car for
do it somewhere beautiful? (It was.)
December 16, 2005: In Austria, home of pop singer Falco, well when he
was alive at least. Doing a bit of skiing, though I'm not as
as I used to be... Conditions are good though, and I'm having
fun. Here with Lenka and Michael - friends from Prague, and
Lenka's daughter Veronica. It looks as though I'll
Prague for Christmas, where the tradition is carp. Yes,
it. Keep the carp in the bathtub for a few days before
and then eat it - only after it has seemed like the family pet for a
Before this I was in London for couple of weeks spending time with
friends. Also had a nice but very short visit to Ireland and
Scotland. Had a great visit with Eileen, friend and roommate
Detroit who now lives in Galaway. Dublin was also a thrill,
oddly ended up meeting up with a couple of Electric Six fans I had met
at the show in Spain. A couple of days in Edinburgh, one of
most immediately visually pleasing places I have been in Europe, and a
final bit in Glasgow.
What's next? Well... I never really know... Yikes! I'm
in Iceland! Nov 14-24... then... ?
There's more to this trip... Everything except a
an end date! November 22, 2005: Well, I was going to write about
in DC and other bits of the US, but I didn't. Now I will.
Very briefly. It was great being
friends, old and new. I still think I might be moving either
DC or Baltimore or the Yukon. At least that is what I claim.
Clearly though, I'm not quite ready for this. The
temptation of the road is still too great. At some point I
write more about DC, but right now I'm in a moment. How's
for brief? Maybe it will end up on the mailing list...
How did I end up in Iceland? Well, I was sleep deprived after
long hike in Morocco and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I guess I like traveling in the off-season. Clearly
the off-season here, as I have had 40 bed hostels completely to myself.
I think something I like about the far north that I
the Yukon and Alaska is the solitude, and that might be elusive during
the summer here. In this season, Reykjavík seems
me a lot of Duluth, Minnesota. I am guessing that nobody
this has been to both Duluth and Reykjavík, so I think I can
away with this? A small city in the cold. Friendly
interesting. When you ask a question in English, the reply
sounds like English, well pretty much. I'm not sure if this
more true in Duluth or Reykjavík. Of course some
differences pop up immediately. In Iceland everything is
extremely expensive except hot water, electricity and heat.
is actually a good price for a drink at a bar. People leave
and windows open, and there are outdoor pools open all year.
Maybe if they had that in Duluth?
Hopefully I will be able to post some photos soon other than this one
in the background from today. It is a beautiful country, and
it does remind me of Wyoming and Minnesota number of ways.
In an odd turn of events, apparently the White Stripes followed me here
and I ended up going to the show. That was strange.
Now scraping dried fish in butter... mmm.... it's
what they do here...
September 1, 2005:
was quite a thrill. As expected, I broke my "no hiking" pledge to
myself and climbed the highest mountain in N. Africa! Too bad my camera
got stolen right when I got back to Spain. Lost about 300 photos.
Fortunately I was traveling with friends and collecting email address
for a bit of the time, so I should be able to get some photos from
them? If anyone in Malaga happens to come across an Olympus C-740 with
a broken screen... Ha! As though that could happen. Heading to Vitoria
August 22, 2005: Heading to Morocco w/ Lenka and Michael (met in
Prague...) More later...
August 15, 2005: Let's see - shutting down your business and
a month of is normal in Europe. In the US this is considered lazy.
Which do you prefer? (the entry below will be repeated tomorrow in the email list
many more words and experiences added. If you think that is a good
thing, check it out there instead of here.)
August 12, 2005: Ending my three days in Barcelona, and like many
(most) places I have visited, I want to stay longer, or at least come
back, or maybe live here. This is what makes such decisions so
difficult. I like everywhere too much. I guess I have been enjoying
enough that I haven't gotten around to writing much here or to the
mailing list. Ah well. Here's a quick update, which I suspect will be
in reverse chronological order.
Sailing: Well, I'm glad I didn't go on the sailing trip across the
Atlantic earlier this year. More info on my thoughts of this from an
earlier entry way down below... Anyway, the good news: I heard from
Howard (owner of the boat) and everyone's fine. Bad news: They only
made it to Bermuda where Larry decided he had had enough. The voyage
ended there. I had hoped they would prove my apprehensions wrong and
have a great trip, though I worried for their saftey. I guess the
result was somewhere between.
Spanish: Well, my skills weren't so great in the first place, but I
definitely know less than I did when I left Honduras in March. Actually
the peak of my abilities was the end of my two weeks of study back at
the beginning of February. That being said, I do understand a bit - and
I did manage to make hotel reservations for Madrid over the phone -
after calling many places that were full. I usually don't make
reservations, but I guess I'm glad I did this time. Oh yeah - ended up
with a euro cell phone - if you want to call me while I'm in Spain,
email and I'll send you tyhe #.
Barcelona: I didn't know much about Gaudi before - and I still don't
know much I guess, but the works I saw of his were uniformly amazing.
And these we think such fantastic structures are computer generated
special effects. Lots of entertaining street performers here.
Particularly liked the guy in the gorilla outfit who would sneak up on
people and scare them.
Figueres, a Paris moment, Berlin, Prague... Too much to write for this
format. I guess I'll continue this on the email list. (more in mailing
July 31, 2005: I'm in Florence for the moment. Strange how
time I have spent in Italy considering it wasn't really on my list of
places for this trip. Ah well, it's been enjoyable. Took the boat back
from Greece, stopped in Rome on the way to Sicilia, a couple of days in
Palermo, a couple in Catania, Mt. Etna, etc. Then Napoli, Amalfi Coast.
I finally decided it was time to get going, so here I am in Florence.
Taking a train tonight to Wien (Vienna to you...) and then a few days
later to Prague. I have clearly been enjoying Italy, but the objective
of this trip was new places - Greece, Prague, Berlin and Spain. Wishing
I could stay longer, but... Travel, like music, art, sports, and life
in general is about doing all that you can within limits, being tones,
hues and limits of time and life. Certainly the limits in some areas
can be expanded, but without limits there is no challenge or
Wow, wonder how I got off on that tangent? I guess I'm thinking that
life (and my trip) being short, it is important to make the most of
everything. For some this seems to be seeing as many things as
possible, while for others it is going in depth to one thing. I guess
I'm somewhere in between. I clearly get this feeling talking to other
travelers. Given that I have been on the move for over two years, many
think that I should have been all over the world. It seems that I like
to stay a little longer...
July 15, 2005: I really thought I would have left Greece by
but... Ah well. I must be enjoying things. After too much sun and too
many late nights on the islands I am in Litochoro planning a
(theoretically) quick ascent of Mt. Olympus. I always say I'm not
hiking or climbing anymore, but visiting the home of the original
superheroes is hard to resist. I have a bit of a cold, so we'll see how
far I make it... Geez - even in these little towns people seem to be
out all night?!?
July 5, 2005: Had a great weekend, and somehow managed to
two weddings on Ikaria. There were plenty of things I didn't understand
in both - the dance where the bride whips people with a belt? I guess I
missed this one at Hillary's wedding, but heard she wasn't really
hitting that hard. The other wedding - well I was numb at moments. The
bride had a good deal of strength and no hesitation in using it. And I
guess there was also some tradition about eating the tie? It was
expalined to me somewhat, and I took a few photos but I still have no
real idea what was going on.
The ceremony (Hillary's) was beautiful. This style of chanting and
singing was new to me, though I am sure has a longer tradition than
many of the wedding rituals with which I am more familiar - such as the
chicken dance... Wait, that's the reception not the ceremony... Anyway,
I didn't understand one word that was spoken or sung but enjoyed the
feeling and the surprisingly casual atmosphere... Now maybe I should
see that Greek Wedding movie for comparison?
June 26, 2005: A couple of wonderful days in Athens. A bit
here during the day, but not so bad as to get in the way of my
adventures. Feeling a little like a tourist, mainly just seeing the
sights. Hard to have much interaction with the locals without having a
clue in the language. Ended up out late last night wandering through
the nightlife with a woman from the DC area. We managed to get out of
the tourist zone by a few blocks and had a great time. As is often the
case, I am sitting in park... Heading to Piraeus soon and then getting
on a boat to Paros - my first island experience. I also bought a ticket
from there to Ikaria so I'm sure to make it to the wedding next
weekend. The boat gets into Ikaria at 3:00am, so I guess my first
experience there will be finding a nice sleeping spot along the
beach... Ok, enough random ramblings. Still kind of incoherent from
last night... June 22, 2005: Currently in Rome. Finally wrote another entry
list/group. While I did manage to get to many of the sights in the last
few days, it is sitting in a sidewalk cafe that is really making it for
me today. In a life of travel and strictly speaking without a home to
go back to, I have to make bits of "down time" wherever and whenever...
Going home and sitting on the couch just isn't an option. Finding a
home and buying a couch is not down time... Watching reflections from
the water dance around the base of a fountain next to a flower market
I have noticed that I don't seem to be very good at taking photos of
the historic monuments and all of that. Given the number of tourists
around, I feel kind of unoriginal in trying to capture the experience. June 18, 2005: Stopped off in Parma and all is well. Nice to
a place where just about everyone around is a local and I'm back to
having language problems ordering meals and the like. Reminds me of a
similar discussion in Guatemala - that it was nice that Xela, unlike
Antigua was too big to be overrun by the gringo. Too bad about Venice.
June 17, 2005: Last night I wanted to escape Venice-Disney,
decided to stay at a campground outside of town. Oops... Traveler trash
heaven - a bar, restaurant and pool. I would say the average age was
probably 22? Would have been great is I was into getting drunk with
American tourists. Yo dude - we're partyin' in Venice... Lame. Ok,
we're all allowed to do what we enjoy, but I'm not here to get drunk
with Americans. Not to be too much the cynical old guy though, I made
the best of my situation and did manage to have a good time. One I
could have had in any American suburb.
June 16, 2005: Well this is beginning to look a lot like a
I'm not sure how I feel about that. It still lacks depth or purpose, so
if it is a blog it is a rather weak one.
Last night I was in Milan and went to the fabled La Scala for La
Boheme. The cheap tickets were sold out, so I decided to splurge. Glad
I did, as it was a simply stunning production, ranking perhaps as my
best opera experience yet. Can it be topped? Not if I manage to stay
within budget! There is some thought in my head about checking out
opera in all of the major venues. The bank account hopes I think
otherwise, but if I happen to run into Salome - my favorite opera
I spent today in Venice-Disney. No such thing you say? Have you been to
Venice recently? I don't remember it being so over-touristed the last
time - which was 20+ years ago. Then again back then my perspective was
entirely different and I might not have noticed. Somehow just as I was
conceptualizing Venice-Disney, I walked by a Disney store.
The architecture and art here are of course still amazing, but the
feeling of discovery that I experienced in parts of Central America and
Alaska is just not going to happen.
I suppose that part of the problem is that I am really moving too fast
here. Nice, Genova, Milan and Venice in a week? Slower than some, but
much too fast for me... Slowing down soon...
June 11, 2005: I am currently in Nice recovering from jet
seemed like a good place to do it. Alternating a bit between the beach
and the many cafes. Outdoor dining and sitting around. Some of my
favorite things it seems.
It seems that in my recent attempt to learn Spanish my French has
suffered a bit. I find myself speaking more Spanish than I realized I
knew - all when French would be far more appropriate. Perhaps I will
get it together? Probably just in time for when I go to Spain. Ah well.
Actually heading to Italy quite soon I think. Spain and France will
likely be at the end of the trip. Perhaps my stuttering Spanish and
French will be fine in Italy and Greece?
Geek note: These pages are being updated using a wi-fi enabled Palm
type device (Clie TJ37 and keyboard) which allows me to be cheap...
finding unsecured wireless networks for email and ftp access. It also
allows me to update this page and answer email while enjoying a glass
of wine at an outdoor cafe. Much better than sitting at an internet
shop... I'll admit I was kind of proud of myself when I figured out how
I could make all of this work...
June 8, 2005: Was on a bus yesterday with some people who got
amazingly angry and irate about the air conditioning not working for an
hour or so. It really wasn't that unfcomfortable anyway. Too bad they
didn't seem passionate about anything important. Nation of whiners...
June 4, 2005: Well, the sailing trip didn't happen. The boat
no condition to go, and the weather window before hurricane season was
closing in too quickly. The short version? Well, the owner bought the
boat five years ago and sailed it a few times then. It has sat for the
last three years. My concern was that many of the systems needed to be
refurbished and would not have been tested if and when we got
everything working. I don't think this is proper preparation for the
open ocean. I stayed for a few days to help get the boat ready, but
couldn't convinve myself to go. I sincerely hope Howard and Larry (and
Stan, brought in to replace me) make it across safely.
I am now back in DC and about to head to the Black Cat to see PAIK -
friends from the Detroit music days. They are opening for Stephen
Malkmus & the Jicks. Glad I happened to call Ryan and he put me
the list. It's a sold out show. Fun to see friends playing big shows!
Bizarre (to me) that White Stripes have gotten big enough to play Red
Rocks - my favorite concert venue from growing up in Colorado. I told
myself a couple of years aog that I would fly from wherever to see any
band I knew personally playing there, but now buying a ticket from
wherever I happen to be in Europe for one night in Colorado seems
really unlikely. Ah well.
Hey! Maybe this does look like a blog?
May 28, 2005: I'm heading to Florida, getting on a boat and sailing
the Atlantic! 37' ketch, total crew of three - Miami -> Bermuda
-> Azores -> Portugal! After that I'll
be in Europe for about three months? I'll try to update this little
space on occasion, though the email list might work better? Updates
when I can, which won't be while at sea...