Saturday, February 23, 2013

Humbling the soul

You hear it all the time, "Travel broadens the mind". But what else does it do? Well for me, travel expanded my friend circle. I know feel an instant bond with those from other countries or people who share my love of adventure. If a discussion with me has lasted more than 20 minutes, then we must be talking about travel! However, recently I've realized a negative effect of travel on my personality.
In the last two weeks I have come in contact with two very nice women who have traveled more than me... which is not something I'm use to. We've began to swap stories and experience and I found myself filled with at evil green beast called jealousy! I couldn't believe it. Here I am, feeling story-topped and insignificant when I should be completely excited about finding people who share my passion. It has made me stop and realise that I have so much more to see and do in this world.
Travel should do more that broaden the mind, it should humble the soul. Travel should be a gateway to experiences and friendships. Travel should be only the start to an adventure. I vow to travel more, learn more, and share more. I hope you do the same.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

7 Wonders Trivia

I'm working a several posts at the same time currently, so I wanted to keep this one light and fun! Here are some fun facts about the Seven Wonders of the World. This required some research, so I hope you like it.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World that still survives. Can you name the other six wonders?
They are:
1) The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which were built on the banks of the Euphrates river by King Nebuchadnezzar II.
2) The gigantic gold statue of Zeus was built by the sculptor Pheidias at Olympia.
3) The temple of Artemis was erected in the Asia Minor city of Ephesus in honor of the Greek goddess of hunting and wild nature.
4) The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was a huge tomb constructed for King Maussollos, Persian satrap of Caria.
5) The Colossus of Rhodes was a massive statue erected by the Greeks in honor of Helios the sun-god.
6) The Lighthouse of Alexandria was built by the Ptolemies on the island of Pharos.
The Great Pyramid of Giza was built near the ancient city of Memphis for Pharaoh Khufu in the period of the Fourth Dynasty, between 2613 and 2494BC. The Greeks referred to it as the Pyramid of Cheops. A true wonder, it is immense: according to Mysteries of the Unknown, it covers a ground area of 13.1 acres composed of some 2.3 million limestone blocks average two-and-a-half tonnes each, enough stone to build a wall of foot-square cubes two-thirds around the globe at the equator, a distance of 16,600 miles.
**The oldest statue in the world is the Great Sphinx of Egypt. Carved out of limestone, it stands 65 ft high and is 240 ft long.

New Seven Wonders
At a declaration on 07/07/07 in Lisbon, Portugal, after worldwide online polling, SMS and telephone voting the New Seven Wonders were declared as being:
1) The Great Wall, China
2) Petra, Jordan
3) Christ Redeemer, Brazil
4) Machu Picchu, Peru
5) Chichén Itzá, Mexico
6) The Roman Colosseum, Italy
7) The Taj Mahal, India

Now is time for the fun facts:
  • The Great Wall of China is a lot greater than anyone thought. The first formal measurement of the world's largest man-made structure revealed the wall was more than twice as long as previous estimates. In an archaeological survey that took five years to complete, China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage announced yesterday that the wall measures 13,170.69 miles.
  • No one has ever seen the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, it is thought to be completely based on myth- like the city of Atlantis.
Now this last one brings up an interesting discussion topic. If mythological locations could be considered wonders of the world, what would the actual 7 wonders be? Here's my listing:
  1. The city of Atlantis
  2. Soloman's Staircase
  3. Machu Picchu (It's still amazing!)
  4. The City of the Caesars- Also known as the Wandering City and the City of Patagonia, a mythical city that is believed to have been located on the southernmost tip of South America in the region known as Patagonia. 
  5. Angkor (This place must have been beautiful!)
  6. Shangri-La, a mystical valley in the Himalayas. It is a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. The people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living years beyond the normal lifespan.
  7. Avalon (Jesus and King Arthur went there!)
*** Fun side note to my list of mythical wonders, the nazises went hunting for at least 3 of them! Atlantis, Shangri-La, and the City of Caesars. If the Nazises wanted them then you know its good.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

50 posts and still going!

Greeting readers.
I hope this post finds you warm and safe. To all the people effected by the blizzards in the North East, I hope that you are being smart and staying in your homes. It's been a rough year for them and my heart goes out to them!
I wanted this, my fiftieth, to be a "good news" sort of post; so here it goes "Good News, Everyone!"
Despite all the bad publicity, air travel safety has never been higher. Today is the 4 year anniversary of the last fatal aviator crash! And it's been more than a decade since the last accident involving a big domestic carrier.Globally, air travel has also been remarkably safe. "Overall, it was the certainly the safest year ever," Paul Hayes, director of safety at Ascend, told the Wall Street Journal. Last year "was almost twice as safe as 2011, which itself had previously" attained the distinction of being twice as safe as the year before, Hayes said. The safer skies for travelers can be attributed to more reliable planes, better navigation technology and improved sharing of flight information and hazards among regulators and airlines, and YOU. 
Travelers are wiser than ever!  We've finally stop fighting all the security measures and embraced the fact that you can take no more than 4 oz of shampoo in your carry-on case. Of course, that being said I just dealt with a guest at my front desk the other day whose bags were delayed and she had placed her medications in her checked luggage... DON'T DO THAT! So it's still not 100%, but we are getting so much better.
So OFFICIALLY, I would like to thank you, fellow travelers. You are helping keep the skies safer!
Happy Travels,

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Political Unrest and breaking down the barriers of sterotypes.

Political turmoil is part of life these days, and security in Europe has never been tighter. Countries from Britain to Italy continue to deal with internal discord, from separatists to religious extremists. An awareness of current social and political problems is as important to smart travel as a listing of top sights. As some popular destinations are entertaining tourists with "sound and light" shows in the old town, they're quelling angry demonstrations in the new.
Travel broadens our perspective, enabling us to rise above the 24-hour advertiser-driven entertainment we call news — and see things as citizens of our world. By plugging directly into the present and getting the European take on things, a traveler gets beyond traditional sightseeing and learns "today's history."
There are many peoples fighting the same thrilling battles for political rights we Americans won more than 200 years ago. Racial, religious, and linguistic groups rarely color within the lines, so don't just assume that an area is safe.
Understand a country's linguistic divisions. It's next to impossible to keep everyone happy in a multilingual country. Switzerland has four languages, but everyone speaks some German. In Belgium, there's tension between the Dutch- and French-speaking halves. And Hungarians living in Slovakia had to rely on European Court intervention to get road signs in their native language. Europe's linguistic underdogs will tell you their language receives equal treatment only on cornflakes boxes, and many are working toward change.
Look beyond the pretty pictures in your tourist brochures for background on how your destination's demographic makeup may be ­causing problems today or tomorrow. Start following newspaper articles and surfing the Web a few months in advance to gather political news on what's happening.
With this foundation and awareness, you can get the most out of the nearly unavoidable opportunities to talk with involved locals about complex current situations. At any pub on the Emerald Isle, you'll get an earful of someone's passionate feelings about "the Troubles." In Russia and Eastern Europe, whenever you want some political or economic gossip, sit alone in a cafe. After a few minutes and some eye contact, you'll have company and a fascinating chat. Young, well-dressed people are most likely to speak (and want to practice) English.
In the wake of the global economic crisis, European governments and businesses are struggling to continue providing the generous cradle-to-grave benefits that their citizens expect. As these items are trimmed from the budget, new waves of protests sweep across the already strike-happy Continent. While American tourists are at virtually zero risk from these demonstrations, it's smart to be aware of them so that you can avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time...and to better understand one more facet of the European experience.
Wherever you travel, be prepared for a challenge when the topic shifts to American foreign policy. Among deaf people, the international sign-language symbol for "American" is the "fat cat" — holding your arms around an imaginary big belly. Like it or not, people around the world look at America as the kingpin of a global and ruthless game of Monopoly. As a person who loves his country, I see travel as a patriotic exercise in promoting people-to-people diplomacy and global understanding. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Train Station

Watching Hugo for the 1st time and I'm struck by how magical the sets are, but I could help my stray thought "No train station in all of Paris looks like that!" In all of Europe for that matter... They are not these beautiful and mysterious places. Well maybe they are slightly mysterious, but that's not ALWAYS a good thing.
All I'm saying that if all you've seen is Platform 9 3/4 or the station from Hugo, don't be fooled! Here are some of my favorite train stations. Do they look magical?
This is the station in Cologne, DE

Neider Wollstadt was my final destination for many months in Europe. It was a hole in the wall, but I loved it... Just don't go there alone at night!