Viking Cruises, Koblenz Germany and the Middle Rhine

We docked in Koblenz on our third full day with Viking River Cruises and had several choices of tours. One of the features I love with Viking is the ability to scope out all tours ahead of time and sign up for the “included tours” as you complete your personal form of registration. Kim was interested in the tour of the Marksburg Castle, but given my back issues I opted to remain on board and hopefully capture the magnificent homes, castles and other architectural interesting buildings on the Middle Rhine. She went ahead with the tour. I was glad I remained on board. As we sailed to Braubach, where Kim and the others would rejoin us. I noticed that there was a cable car running high above the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers where we docked. The cable car takes passengers to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress and returns them after the visit. This was our view as the early morning tours disembarked.

 

Cable Car In Koblenz to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

 

As we pulled out of port I noticed this gorgeous statue off to the left of us and discovered it was erected in honor of William the Great of Germany. William was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Germany. He was a heir of the royal house of Hohenzollern and was exposed to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy. This had a major impact on him and he was rarely seen out of uniform. He was a major force in the creation of the German Navy that would eventually rival Britain as a world power. He enthusiastically promoted technology, industry, the arts and sciences as well as public education and social welfare. Kim and the group weren’t able to see this very large and detailed tribute to William.

 

Monument to William the Great of Germany

 

The Marksburg Castle was erected around 1100 is located above the German town of Braubach. The fortress was used for protection rather than as a residence by the royal families. It is part of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the only castle out of 40 castles between Bingen am Rhein and Koblenz that was never destroyed although badly damaged by American artillery fire in March of 1945

 

 

Entrance Steps to the Marksburg Castle

 

Obviously the stone steps are rough and you need to wear the appropriate type of shoes when walking through the castle. Kim also told me that certain passage ways were very short and people had to virtually lean to pass through a few halls. The tour was listed by Viking as “Demanding”, which persuaded me to pass. Kim told me she was glad I did.

 

View of Rhine from Marksburg Castle

 

Obviously the view from the castle across the Rhine was gorgeous and one I am sure I would have enjoyed. I am glad Kim took photos for the Nomadic Texan! This gigantic wine press was a novel item for me and I thought it worthy of inclusion. It would give me more confidence than people’s feet! LOL!

 

Wine Press in Marksburg Castle

 

The suits of armor were very cool and I think a knight would have to be really strong in order to parade around in these metal suits, much less go to battle and try to protect yourself. A typical suit can weigh anywhere from about 22 pounds to 110 pounds depending on its materials.

 

 

Suits of Armor in the Marksburg Castle

 

I had to show this photo, as we both thought it was a novel approach. The castle’s toilet actually protruded out over the garden and human waste was displaced onto the plants below as fertilizer. The door locked from the castle side as intruders sometimes tried to climb the exterior, enter the toilet (disgusting if they meant they came in through the seat) and try to vandalize the castle, steal it’s contents or maim it’s inhabitants. So locking it from the castle side prevented egress.

 

 

Toilet for Exterior Displacement in the Marksburg Castle

 

As we headed down the Middle Rhine I went up top to the upper deck. The weather was great. Every cruise I take with Viking I capture the Lifebuoy or if you prefer Lifering, so that down the road I will have no issues with the name of the Longship we sailed on. Love that it shows the home port of Basel Switzerland and how excellent the knot is tied. Makes me feel more comfortable about the overall maintenance of the ship.

 

Viking Eir Lifebuoy or Lifering

 

It wasn’t  long before we encountered structures on both sides of the ship along the Middle Rhine. It didn’t take much for me to be comfortable in the fact that I stayed behind. If I had gone I would have missed all this beautiful architecture, castles, hotels and houses. This section of the Rhine river is known as the Rhine Gorge and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It runs from Koblenz to Bingen and Rudesheim. The entire valley is known as the Romantic Rhine. There are forty plus Castles and Fortresses along this section of the Rhine River. I highly advise you see this section of the river from the ships during daylight hours!

 

The first castle pictured is the Katz Castle which was built in the second half of the fourteenth century as a stronghold and military base to protect the Rheinfels Castle. Both castles were built to protect the Salmon fishing in the Rhine. Salmon disappeared from the Swiss Rhine about 50 years ago, due to poor water quality and the construction of hydro-electric power plants. From the Katz Castle vantage point it was next to impossible to be conquered from the valley below.

 

Katz Castle in Altstadt & Burg Katz

 

Maus (Mouse) Castle was erected by Archbisop Balduin between 1353-1388. It is actually called Thurnburg. At the time it was one of the most modern and technically constructed castles of its time. The people invented the story that both castles spied upon themselves like a cat and mouse, as they were occupied by opposing forces in the 13oo’s. Today Mouse Castle is open for visitors to admire period furniture and interesting collections.

 

Burg Maus (Mouse) Castle Along the Middle Rhine, Named Because the Owner had another Large Castle Called Katz

 

Rheinfels Fortress was built around 1245 and was the Count of Katzeninbogen’s residence initially. When the Katzeninbogen dynasty passed the ownership of the castle transferred to the House of Hesse. With this conversion, it became one of the strongest fortresses in Germany. As the only military complex on the left bank of the Rhine river it withstood the troops of Louis XIV in 1692. In 1796/97 the French Revolutionary Army overtook the structure without a struggle and blew up the exterior walls and the castle. Today visitors are surprised by the size of the ruins, as well as the web of trenches and tunnels which in most cases still are functional.

 

 

Burg Rheinfels Castle at St. Goar

 

Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 900 and 1100. The Dukes of Schonburg ruled the town of Obelweser and were able to levy taxes on the Rhine. The most famous was Friedrich von Schonburg, a feared man who served as a colonel and general under the King of France in the 17th century. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate wars. It remained in ruins until it was acquired by the German-American Rhinelander family in the late 19th century and restored it. In 1950 the town of Oberwesel obtained the castle back and signed a long-term lease with the Hutti family who operate it as a prosperous Hotel and restaurant.

 

 

 

Viking River Cruises Docking Port on the Rhine in Obelweser with Schonburg Castle on the Hill, which is now a Luxury Hotel

 

Along with the various castles and fortresses roughly 450,000 people call the Middle Rhine home. The river is abundant with gorgeous hotels, houses and structures from 900 AD through present day. Most are very detailed and beautiful in appearance from the exterior. I couldn’t take photos fast enough and tried to view both sides of the river equally. It was difficult at times. The Rhine Gorge as mentioned above, refers to the narrow gorge of the Rhine running through the Rhenish Slate Mountains between Bingen am Rhein and Rudesheim am Rhein in the south and Bonn-Oberkassel in the north. The basin at Neuwied separates the lower and upper halves of the Middle Rhine. The following are samples of houses, hotels and other acrchitecture we saw.

 

House Along the Middle Rhine

 

Hotel Loreleyblick Cafe and Restaurant, Loreley Germany

 

Hotel Keutmann Restaurant and Cafe Along the Middle Rhine

 

Half Timber Houses in Loreley & Goarshausen

 

Zur Klosterschenfe Hotel

 

On our Viking tour of the Middle Rhine River we learned the reason for the German train tunnels looking like castles along the Middle Rhine. The Germans learned quickly that allied air force groups would try valiantly to not cause any damage to the extraordinary castles throughout Germany, as well as the beautiful cathedrals when possible.
The allied forces were instructed to avoid bombing well known structures when at all possible. This caused the German engineers to build most of the train tunnels along this area of the Middle Rhine, to resemble towers and walls of the local castles.

 

The allied planes focused on military and industrial targets such as factories. Additionally castles were usually located away from heavily populated areas. This doesn’t mean there was no damage to castles, but most were spared. This was actually a brilliant method of avoiding destruction of the tunnels. They played on our sentimental values and kept trains running, transporting tanks, German militia and supplies to the front lines. The castle disguises were successful.

 

Tunnel Entrance Constructed to Look Like a Castle for Disguise During World War II

 

 

Our middle Rhine sail with Viking went past the Lorelei Mermaid statue and rock. Legend has it that this siren, originally betrayed by her sweetheart, was accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to die, the bishop sent her to a nunnery.

 

On the way there, accompanied by three knights, she came to the Lorelei rock. She requested a climb on the rock to view the Rhine one last time. She scaled the rock, thinking she saw her sweetheart in the river and fell to her death. Afterwards echos of her name emanated from the rock when sailors traveled past.

 

Legend states as she was combing her golden hair the sailors became distracted. Her beauty and singing, then caused the sailors to crash into the rocks and perish immediately. Songs, amusing tales and local legends reaffirm this story and have helped it cultivate over the ages. Many poems and Operas were written to commemorate Lorelei!

 

Mystical Mermaid Lorelei 16 Foot Tall

 

That evening we docked in Rudesheim, a town in the Rhine Valley known for wine making, especially Riesling wines. In the center, Drosselgasse is a lane lined with shops, taverns and restaurants. We ate at the Drosselgasse restaurant and had a great time. Although people who imbibed had a significantly better time I’m guessing. It was a party with dancing, adult drinking games singing and lots of beer!

 

Rüdesheim lies at the foot of the Niederwald on the Rhine’s right (east) bank on the southern approach to the Loreley. The town belongs to the Frankfurt Rhine Main Region and is one of Germany’s biggest tourist attractions. Only the Cologne Cathedral draws more tourists from other countries. Making the town worth visiting is, not only the wine or even the Old Town itself, but also the picturesque Rheingau landscape together with the romantic Rhine.

 

 

Hotel Post in Rudesheim

 

Parkplatz Street in Rudesheim

 

 

Drosselgasse Lane in Rudesheim

 

 

Drosselhoff Restaurant Entrance in Rudesheim

 

 

Drosselhoff Restaurant Stained Glass Ar in Rudesheim

 

Drosselhoff Restaurant Salad in Rudesheim

 

Drosselhoff Restaurant Pork Entree in Rudesheim

 

This day was a stellar one, especially given I had purchased a zoom lens for my camera right before we left and I had a substantial opportunity to use it on this leg of the cruise. Between the architecture and the more than forty historic castles, I gained great experience. I have been a photographer for many years and even have used a zoom in the past with my old Nikormat from Japan. I was thrilled that Viking gave me this chance by sailing this portion of the Middle Rhine in the daytime. Now on to Heidelberg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Lewis N. Clark Travel Gear #3

I’m guessing that readers are probably growing weary of me commenting on items sent for trial by Lewis N. Clark. So this time I asked my family to choose items they thought they would use and send me their thoughts after trying out the products. I wanted to see if they arrived at the same conclusions I did with these travel items.

 

The first item tried out was this Secura RFID-Blocking Anti-Theft Convertipak (Burgandy) for my wife Kim. We recently traveled to Japan and all I can say is she wore this Convertipak every day and in various ways. I thought it was magnetized to her, literally! I have shown two different methods of wearing the Convertipak and will share her words in between photos.

 

Secura RFID-Blocking Anti-Theft Convertipak (Burgandy)

 

My wife’s thoughts: “The trendy burgundy color of my convertipack makes it perfect for daily use as well as traveling. For everyday use I am able to fit the entire contents of my purse, wallet, glass case and all into the anti theft bag. With everything secure inside zippered compartments I don’t worry about items falling out of my bag if it gets knocked over. When traveling I don’t carry a wallet and find the 4 card pockets perfect for my needs. My IPad fits great in large pocket. I love how quickly it can change from a backpack to a shoulder bag. I usually carry crossbody bags when traveling but with locking zippers and slash resistant straps/fabric I don’t not worry about using this bag as a backpack.”

 

 

My middle son Sean put his  “Cooling Gel Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Black” on his roommate and hoodwinked into a photograph. Sean has used it on several flights, including going to Vieques, an island off of Puerto Rico and his trip to Vegas this past weekend. He absolutely loves it. His thoughts: “Great product for flights or travel in general.  The first 30 minutes it was around my neck it did exactly what the name suggests, it felt cool to the skin.  After a good bit of time the cooling feature seemed to diminish but the pillow is one of the most comfortable neck pillows I’ve had the pleasure of using.” Thanks Josh Borchardt for posing!

 

Cooling Gel Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Black

 

Our youngest son Chris has a boat and chose waterproof items or something that works well around water. His first item is a Waterseals Waterproof Hard Case, Large in the color Blue. His thoughts after taking the hard case out is between the two photos:

 

Waterseals Waterproof Hard Case, Large, Blue

 

“This product does everything that it is supposed to. I was able to keep my phone and my wallet inside the case without any water getting into it and the closing latch is very easy to work. I used this product on a jet ski where there was quite a bit of water getting everywhere. The case also proved to be durable enough to withstand the beating it took while jumping waves and turning sharply. One of my favorite features of this case is the removable rubber padding that comes with it that allows for the internal valuables to be a bit more protected from the hard plastic.”

 

Waterseals Waterproof Hard Case, Large, Blue

 

WaterSeals Magnetic Waterproof Tablet Pouch- I was a little hesitant to place my belongings under water in this case when I first received it because there is not a “clasp” of any type on the product. As soon as got a chance to have the product in my hands my mind was immediately changed. The magnets work great! I spent more time than I would like to admit trying to figure out how something like this was so functional. The magnets work so well that you basically don’t have to do anything to seal the case. Just drop your valuables in the bag, let go of the magnets and this pouch will immediately seal itself. Another positive attribute of this pouch is that you can actually use your phone/tablet through the case so you do not need to open it with wet/dirty hands. I use this product on a jet ski so it is always risky business to be taking anything out of a bag while in the middle of a body of water. This has become a permanent addition to my trips the the lake!

 

Waterseals Magnetic Waterproof Mini Tablet Pouch, Yellow

 

So as you can tell my family’s opinion fairly well coincides with mine. Lewis N. Clark makes dependable, well thought out travel accessories and I recommend you take a look at their products. They are useful and provide security with their RFID function and secure agendas.

 

 

***All products were sponsored by Lewis N. Clark for testing and review. All opinions are as always, those of my family and my own.

Why I Deserve To Win The Viventura/Marketing Globetrotters Trip To Peru and Chile With Mike King and Yngrid Arnold

That is the $64 million dollar question. Why on earth should this little old man “Deserve to Win” this leg of the Marketing Globetrotters trips to South America? First of all it is the only leg I can actually take, as I have a prior obligation with a trip to Japan beginning November 28, 2014 to see my oldest son. Why should a travel and food blogger who basically been at it for around 18 months deserve this trip before what I am guessing will be tons of experienced bloggers, who have been doing this for many years longer than me? The good news is I have made “The Shortlist” and will hopefully continue to make the various cuts in the next two weeks. The decision for the November 3, 2014 through November 16, 2014 leg will be decided on October 25, 2014. #Video is coming!!!

 

 

Ladies Looking at Goods at The New Cathedral

Ladies Looking at Goods at The New Cathedral

 

 

Well for 1) I actually started writing at the age of eight, when I helped my father, Carter Hinshaw put out a weekly small town newspaper in Texas and ran a Linotype for him. I edited and proofread columns and was allowed to write a few stories. We usually worked all night long and I would always fall asleep in class the next day. The school finally called and told my Mother, Juanda Hinshaw that I should either get a little sleep or stay home from now on. Obviously I started going to bed at midnight from then on and our paper was distributed a little later the next day, but it was tremendous experience. So in effect, I have been writing for 56 years! And I actually have met and talked with Walter Cronkite, who was a true authentic journalist with the highest integrity! #Video is coming!!!

 

Indigenous Man

Indigenous Man

 

2) One of the qualifications has to do with Marketing and for many years in my former life as a retail executive in convenience stores, I oversaw and directed the entire processes associated with the department. This included contact negotiations with all vendors and suppliers, sales by SKU reviews, annual marketing plans broken down by category, with projected GP%’s, GP$’s and share of overall sales. Not to mention attaining total budgeted sales year after year which at the end, ran into over a billion dollars worth . #Video is coming!!!

 

Bicycle Mode of Transporation

Bicycle Mode of  Transportation 

 

3) I was identified byHolidaze in the first ever, “The Best New Travel Blogs You Haven’t Heard of Yet” awards, one of eight blogs awarded this award in the first ever nominations. I was literally dumbfounded that after only about nine months I was identified as a blogger on the rise and to watch. This was done on January 31, 2014. #Video is coming!!!

 

Don Colon and the Nomadic Texan

Don Colon and the Nomadic Texan

 

This was the verbiage written on my behalf: “Mike Hinshaw is one of the most kindhearted travel bloggers I’ve ever met in the course of my travels and it shows in his writing — although if you do something stupid then he’ll be the first one to let you know ;) Whether inspiring others to visit Texas (we’re both from Austin) or sharing the excitement from his most recent trek through southeast Asia, Mike’s posts are always a joy to read. This guy has more energy and life inside of him than other travelers half his age!” #Video is coming!!!

 

Perfect Pitch from the Harp

Perfect Pitch from the Harp

 

 

Additionally Bully Travel named me as their first ever Travel Blogger of the week. I was blown away again and this happened right at a year of actual blogging, on April 14, 2014.

 

 

Finally in August 16, 2014 I was identified as #76 on the list of Top Travel Tweeters of 2014, as identified by TrueNomads Here was the tweet that caught me again completely off guard “Top 90 Travel Tweeters of 2014: Wanderlust in 140 Characters or Less via . I was very honored and have significantly grown my followers on Twitter since this award and am nearing that magic 10,000 number. Fairly decent, given I have only been doing this for around 18 months and have never “Bought” any followers. I detest this avenue of growing your numbers. #Video is coming!!!

 

Nomadic Texan Grinding the Beans

Nomadic Texan Grinding the Cacao Beans

 

4) I have good numbers on other social media platforms and am amazed at how quickly some of these numbers have climbed and the fact that a few are responsible for additional followers and helping grow my audience. As an example I just looked at my Pinterest platform recently and found that I have 2,464 followers and represents about 1.5% of my referrals. On Google+ I have 3,141 followers and it accounts for 8% of my referrals. On Linkedin I have 6,146 followers and it represents about 2% of my referrals. I think we sometimes concentrate strictly on Twitter and Facebook and do not comprehend the value the additional social media platforms. These three additional platforms represent approximately 11.5 % of my referrals for my blog! Please feel free to connect on any platforms identified! Thanks. #Video is coming!!!

 

Interior Cacao Beans with Fruit

Interior Cacao Beans with Fruit

 

5) I have absolutely no knowledge of SEO and how to use it. I really could use a couple of weeks with Mike King and maybe even some one on one time to really get my numbers growing! How much more fortunate could a blogger get? #Video is coming!!!

 

A Meal Made for an Incan King, Cuy! With Chef Patricio from Restaurante Corvel in Paute Ecuador

A Meal Made for an Incan King, Cuy!  With Chef Patricio from Restaurante Corvel, in Paute Ecuador

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike King is a Digital Marketing genius and a very good rapper!

Yngrid Arnold is the CMO of Viventura of Berlin and co-founder of Trip.me

Why (and How) I Write: A Blog Hop Post

Recently I was invited to participate in a Blog Hop about one of my favorite subjects (Writing), by two of my favorite bloggers, Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel. They are both very kind people with a high interest in Ecotourism, nature/wildlife conservation and cultural preservation. They are both truly unique individuals with a perspective on “pouring every ounce of their passion, energy, love and dreams for their family into the site on a daily basis”. Just a few facts about each of them before I answer the four obligatory questions.

 

Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

 

Mary Gabbett

 

1) Mary was born in Staten Island, New York and lived there until she was 14.

 

2) Because her family had a French graduate student who worked as her au pair, her first language was French and she remembers none of it now, even though she studied it in high school!

 

3) Her parents would take off work every Wednesday during the summer, for family vacation and they would visit museums, art galleries, theatre and amazing ethnic restaurants in New York City.

 

4) Her first big trip as an adult was a month-long vacation in India, where 5 friends and her stayed with one of the girls’ extended family. That’s when she discovered she was a die-hard travel-lover.

 

4) She has a degree in Pyschology, and worked for 10 years doing personality assessments for corporate clients. She gave Bret an informal assessment of himself on their 5th date.

 

5) Bret and her met at a Universalist Unitarian Church Christmas party she threw at her house in 2008. She was just coming off a painful separation, and had only been dating for 5 days when they met.

 

6)  She moved in with Bret 14 months later, after her mother was hospitalized (she’s OK now), a tree fell on her house (it’s OK now), and a wanted rapist was arrested in her front yard. Clearly, the Universe was trying to tell her something.

 

Bret Love

 

1) Bret was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and has never lived more than 30 miles away from the hospital in which he was born.

 

2) His first trip abroad was a 3-week tour of Italy with the Atlanta Boy Choir when he was 11. It included 15 cities in 21 days, and performances for the President of Italy and Pope John Paul II (in the Vatican).

 

3) He grew up in an urban neighborhood that was 98% black by the time he got to high school. When he was 15, they moved to 32 acres in the country, with a majority-white school. Talk about culture shock! His GPA that year dropped from 3.6 to 2.5 due to constant bullying.

 

4) Bret got his first tattoo– of a Native American shaman, from the cover of National Geographic– when he was 23. He originally got it primarily to cover self-inflicted scars from his late-teen depression. But the more tattoos he got, the more he liked them. He now has 6, all of Native American or Celtic art.

 

5)  He’s a big fan of hip-hop, and had his own hip-hop/noise-rock band, The White Aphros, in the ‘90s. In 2000, he was hired by Sprite to put together a compilation of Atlanta hip-hop for a web-based project. They bought two of his songs, which were released under his rap pseudonym, B. Love.

 

6)  All his life, he’s had a policy not to date someone he works with. So its ironic that Mary and him now live, work and play together 24/7/365… especially because they rarely argue. She has definitely changed forever his definition of the word “partnership.”

 

 Green Global Travel Mission Statement

 

In 2000, Bret traveled to South Africa’s Kruger National Park on safari. The immense power of the experiences he had there– seeing cheetah cubs frolicking on the open plain, watching wild dogs digging under a fence to get back into the park, having a massive bull elephant coming so close to his Jeep that he could feel the breath on his face– changed his life forever.

 

It wasn’t just the beauty of seeing these magnificent animals in their natural habitat that moved him. It was the passion with which the park rangers and guides spoke of preserving this incredible gift for generations to come, and the way locals spoke of ecotourism as their hope for a better and brighter economic future. Ever since then he has dreamed of using his abilities as a freelance writer and photographer to help make the world a better place, not just for he and Mary, but for their children and their children’s children. Mary and him have launched Green Global Travel to do just that.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they are insatiably curious about new people, new places, new experiences and new ideas, and love sharing those things with other people in a way that will hopefully inform and inspire.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they are passionate about ecotourism, and believe in its potential to help save the world’s precious nature and wildlife by encouraging sustainable practices that both benefit and respect local indigenous cultures.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they truly believe that the words, photos and videos they capture along their journeys will both entertain you and help draw attention to the importance of environmental conservation.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because it is their dream to save the world, one story at a time.

 

Tam of the Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok Thailand and The Nomadic Texan

Tam of the Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok Thailand and The Nomadic Texan

 

1) What am I working on/writing?

 

I just finished a series on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. It was very educational and I learned that there is a huge circuit of reenactments, involving a large population of Civil War buffs. These people make the rounds dressing in period costume, which are by no means inexpensive. I was literally astounded by the number of people following the various events and the amount of money they freely invest in items that replicate the period, or happen to be authentic pieces from the various battles. Its amazing to me that at almost 65 I had no idea of this segment existed in our society.

 

I am taking a trip to Japan for six weeks, beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving and I am sure this will spark or generate a ton of photographs and blog posts. I will be in one of my favorite countries in the world and have a great deal of spare time, given I will be staying with my oldest son and he will come back to Austin for a week. He also must do that “Job” thing and work daily. This should allow me a freedom to explore and walk the streets trying to gather stories on the fabulous culture, the people and obviously the fantastic foods of Japan. I am drooling over this prospect and can’t wait for the trip to materialize.

 

One of my first stops will be at a chain of sushi and sashimi restaurants that carry the dishes via a conveyor belt. In 2012 when I last visited it was one of two restaurants that we ate at twice. I love the different items and luckily my son has a deep passion for these foods. So I see a blog post for sure on this experience. Then we can begin discussing the Ramen places, the Udon Noodle places (OMG I love Udon noodles), Soba noodles, Yakitori (skewered chicken cooked over a flaming grill) and anything to do with seafood. I might even do a Tempura meal this time and will have to probably do a great deal of these during the day, or when my son is absent. He gets rather embarrassed when I take photos of my food (if I can remember, as I forget half the time, until there is nothing left and it dawns on me I never took a photo and all my food is gone).

 

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

 

I am not sure I truly have a niche or a genre as many more experienced travel and food bloggers are constantly telling me, “I need to find a specific niche and generate my writing in that area”. I can’t tell you how many travel bloggers have stated this. I find this too difficult at almost 65 years old and absolutely love all aspects of travel and food. I love to cook and try to take cooking classes in every country I visit and maybe that is a difference, as I am not positive if others go out of their way to take cooking classes in every country. What better way to get to know a culture than through the foods they consume and the methods they use to prepare the dishes?

 

I also am a fan of architectural structures like cathedrals, temples, and shrines which SE Asia has a plethora of and one can turn any corner and stumble upon a new and different religious artifact or building and be drawn into the design and layout. In addition I am attracted to doors, windows and balconies. Specifically those with intricate layouts and impressions.

 

3) Why do I write what I do?

 

One area that is very special to me is volunteerism. This past year I helped an organization build a home in Tijuana Mexico over Memorial Day weekend, with my two youngest sons. It was a very emotional and gut wrenching process. I also walked away know that my sons had seemingly overnight turned into young men with purpose and were driven to help others. The biggest impact though, was when I asked the Mother of the two young children what she would like best about the new house we were building. She answered very quickly and very honestly. She loved that when it rained going forward, she would never have to worry about their dirt floors in the old home turning into mud again. I cried like a baby and had to walk away before I completely fell apart. It was one of the most humbling moments in my life!

 

I also write to help others learn about the countries that they will never ever have a chance to visit, or an experience that I think is unusual and will be appreciated by my subscribers and followers. What has come painfully apparent to me, is that an extensive portion of our society for one reason or another, has not, nor will they ever, venture outside of a 50 mile radius of where the grew up. I feel an obligation to share my experiences with these individuals and hopefully allow them to live vicariously through my travels and adventures.

 

I also have started spending time in Texas towns and writing a series on this experience. I am a huge history buff and love to write, photograph and experience anything to do with the Lone Star State. I have only done Palestine thus far and walked away with eight posts ,from the three days spent in this magnificent Pearl of East Texas. I also have written several posts on my hometown and the city I was actually born in, Austin. This coming spring I have been invited to perform the same function in the towns of Tyler for their Azalea fest weekend in March I believe and in Nacogdoches, both located in East Texas. It has been difficult to have the Convention and Tourism Boards in the mid-size to small towns around Texas understand the true value of social media as a Marketing concept or tool, but the walls are slowly receding and coming down in some cases.

 

Lately, after meeting online and getting to know Bret and Mary I have started looking into environmental processes and what can be done to help us save our planet for future generations, especially since I have three sons that will experience what we leave them. It all started with the movie “Blackfish” and I was so enthralled and captivated by the Killer Whale’s story, that I began to look more closely ate specific stories and posts involving this area, like the recent debacle over swimming with the dolphins at TBEX in Cancun. I had no idea how they were trained or given preparation for the swims. It breaks your heart to see the actual process. Not to mention what happens with Elephants in their training for humans to ride them, or the pain associated with a massive weight on their backs from the saddle.

 

I also have a vested interest in the war against GMO’s and the obvious damage they present to the human body. Thank God each time I venture outside of the US, I am reminded of what actual organic food tastes and looks like. Not to mention the fact that in the two weeks to a month in county, I always lose ten to fifteen pounds. There is no comparison and the taste is 180 degrees from the bland GMO structured “foods” we consume in my home country the USA. All supposedly in the name of furnishing cheap and healthy foods to the populations of the world without sufficient supply. I am sorry, but that is a load of horse manure and these people will eventually obtain the attributes that our society has taken on like Diabetes and obesity. I will argue all day long if your position is of the opposite side and will never, never settle with you!

 

My last tidbit in this area is in regards to healthcare and the continual plundering of our population, by big medicine and all the participants. Try getting sick in let’s say Ecuador and see what a real Doctor that is truly concerned with your health and not taking a CYA approach from fear of a lawsuit involving malpractice. Not only will you be shocked at the genuine care given, but the costs will place an arrow directly between your eyes, as it more than likely will only be about 5% to 10% of what you would have paid in the US. And my apologies, but you cannot come back on me and say the Doctors here are so much better qualified. They are of equal value and trained mostly in the US. They practice exactly what you would expect from an American Doctor and have the same abilities.

 

4) How does my writing process work? 

 

My writing usually revolves around placing selected photos in chronological order on my draft page and then I fill in the gaps so to say by reliving my experience visually with the aid of the photos. Every time I place a photo on the draft page it brings memories back, as they cascade across my brain and flood my gray matter with flashbacks of, or perceptions and involvement in guided tours, spa events, cooking classes and restaurants that make me drool from the recollection of the flavors associated with the countries and meals I have tried. I have been very fortuitous in my travels and been able to cultivate a wide array of trips and recollections of my travels.

 

Most of the time I schedule a time after morning coffee and surfing the Internet to devote strictly to my writing. That way there are no distractions and the words flow freely most of the time, given the photos ability to open up my thoughts. Just like others though there are times when mental issues or stress associated with life come between me and my writing. When this happens I get up and try to do other functions like eating (Ha!) or a minimum of house work. I have washing the whites down real good as I wear mostly white undershirts and white socks. Sorry Fashion patrol, but it is a fact! Usually it only takes a few minutes away to get my thoughts straightened out and then come back and finish.

 

The hard part and probably the area I dislike the most is editing and viewing my grammar, punctuation and run on sentences. I hate this necessary function sometimes! It too bad I can’t just blink my eyes and my draft be checked and repaired of all the errors.

 

And now I’d like to introduce you to my Blog Hop invitees!

 

Brianna Jellerson Simmons of the Casual Travelist.

 

Brianna Simmons of Casual Travelist

Brianna Simmons of Casual Travelist

 

Hi there, my name is Brianna and I’d like to welcome you to the Casual Travelist. I am a travel writer and blogger balancing my love of travel with a full time career. I prefer laid back luxury where the focus is on the experience and in particular culinary, city and nature travel. This blog is dedicated to having great travel experiences and making the most of your limited time to travel.

 

Welcome to the Casual Travelist! This blog focuses on experiential travel and in particular culinary, city and nature travel. I’m just a regular person with a full time career, friends and family that I love and a cat I adore; trying to balance my home life with my passion for travel. I aim to show that you can have great travel experiences whether it’s for 2 days or 2 weeks.

 

I’ve always loved exploring new places. I had a fairly nomadic childhood as a result of my father’s job living throughout the United States and stayed on the move after I joined the US Navy where I got my first taste of traveling abroad. After my stint in the Navy I got married, earned my doctoral degree and began a rewarding career as a physical therapist. I love my home life but the drive to explore remains. My travels have brought me to Europe, the Middle East, Central America, Canada and throughout the US including Alaska. I’m a big fan of traveling locally, you’ll often me exploring around my home state of Virginia as well as the Mid Atlantic.

 

Alison Abbott of the Green With Renvy blog.

 

Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy

Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy

 

Founder and writer Alison Abbott has been a multi discipline designer for all of her adult life. She is a serious design advocate, content creator and small business strategist, who is enthusiastic about keeping it local whether at home or abroad.

 

A passion for travel took hold early in her career, after production trips to the Far East for the fashion and design company she established in 1978. Twenty five successful years later, she segued into the world of renovating houses with an eco-friendly twist. A desire to combine that passion for travel with her growing knowledge in the world of sustainability led her to the launch of Green With Renvy. You’ll find the blog is an enjoyable riff on the concept of renovating your travel and lifestyle in sustainable shades of green. Reducing your carbon footprint can come in many forms, and even small steps can have a significant impact. Sharing these ideas and discoveries with her readers is what Green With Renvy is all about. When not searching for the best of artisans, growers and locales that make a destination unique, Alison shares her time between Boston and Nantucket.

 

Alison is a brand ambassador and Boston Local Expert with Afar Media. Recent work has been featured on Westin™ Finds from Afar, Stonyfield and Trip Advisor B2B. She has provided content creation and photography for both Chase Bank and Afar Media as they relaunch their web site​. Alison’s coverage of The Flower Markets of India was featured in Leaf Magazine. ​ ​ Visit Philly and Visit Aruba have partnered with the site, and she has reviewed hotels around the world.​ Her self guided walking tour of Nantucket – A Faraway Isle was published by Visual Travel Tours and is available for download.

 

As a writer, she explains, “Nothing could make me happier than hearing from a reader who has changed her travel plans for her son’s graduation to stay in an eco-friendly hotel that I recently recommended. Having a subscriber and her husband take a page out of my itinerary in Kerala, India because it sounded like the perfect start to ease them into the chaos that can be India is very rewarding. Something as simple as trying one of my Meatless Monday recipes with great results can make my day. I firmly believe that as individuals become better traveled and more mindful, culturally aware citizens of the globe, the world will be a better place”. With that thought in mind, Alison shares the experience of eco-friendly travel and lifestyle through Green With Renvy.

 

Let’s make a difference together.

 

Jim O’Donnell from Around The World in Eighty Years.

 

Jim O'Donnell of Around The World in Eighty Years

Jim O’Donnell of Around The World in Eighty Years

 

I was born to a middle class white family in a small town in Southern Colorado. We lived in a modest 1920’s stuccoed Spanish colonial style house made of cinder blocks and painted solid white. The roof was peaked and shingled gray. There was a chimney, but the fire-place didn’t work. A great black American Elm grew in our front yard. I lived there from birth to eighteen years old. My mother is still there.

 

In the backyard she grew roses, lilacs and rhubarb for pie. She made my younger brother mow the grass. My father had a plum tree for homemade jam and the lady across the wire fence held a massive wounded crow captive in an oversized cage.

 

On weekends we went to the mountains. In the Huajatollas we crashed up old mining roads in our International Harvester Scout. In the Greenhorns we ate fresh trout from Lake Isabel and picnicked on the grass next to Ophir Creek. In the San Juans we perused places like Rico, Dunton and Sawpit and climbed steep paths dappled in aspen.

 

At Monarch we skied, in the Arkansas we rafted, and in the mountain ghost town of Victor my dad bought a miniature, tumble-down miner’s cabin, from which we explored Long Hungry Gulch, Wilson Creek, Little Pisgah and Grouse Mountain. To the cabin we brought the things we found scattered over the nearby hills and mountains. It was Victor’s past: giant star shaped drill bits, amethyst colored bottles, blue and white Lenox porcelain chunks, milk-glass, pewter cups and rusted open-top cans.

 

I also brought to the cabin a curiosity for the mountain bluebirds, vireos and hummingbirds I saw, the elk that cut our path, the mountain lion we hoped to see, the bear tracks in the mud, the butterscotch ponderosas, the fescue, the Columbine and the way the wind blew rain from the West onto my face in August.

 

Yet, I failed to understand the pits the rain dug where the cows had eaten all the grass. The streams I wasn’t allowed to touch that flowed from the mine tailings. The hill sides that sloughed where all the trees had been cut.

 

The reason I couldn’t hear wolves howling at night, no matter how hard I tried. In the ruins of the ghost town there was a nutty old woman with spiked white hair and breasts that sagged to her knees. Her name was Mary and she collected fossils and miner’s lamps. She said the wolves had been massacred in the 20’s and 30’s and that they would never come back.

 

At some point along the way, I decided that I had to see the world.

 

 

Photo of The Day #78, My Special Pedicure at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

I am very fond of pedicures and having my feet massaged. When given the Spa menu at the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat I opted for a pedicure, as opposed to a massage. Over the prior week I had received two wonderful Thai massages. One massage was in Bangkok and the other one in Phuket, so I decided I would go for a change of pace. I made my reservation and went to spa a few minutes prior to my pedicure. The waiting room was filled with deep cushioned chairs and lounges and I thought, given a few minutes I might just doze off.

 

Entrance to The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

Entrance to The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

 

The attendants let me know that I would have a session in their Antioxidant room prior to the pedicure. When I inquired what that meant, they led me in and had me lay prone on a mat and relax. Almost immediately the room was filled with a very warm blast of air and I felt like I was in a sauna. The attendant informed me that my session, which would basically eliminate toxins from my entire body, was to last fifteen minutes. After what seemed an eternity, and an inability to breathe I got up and decided I had to leave the room and grab a few whiffs of oxygen. Once I was outside I discovered I had only been in the room for right at five minutes. I cannot understand how anyone could last the full fifteen minutes.

 

Antioxidant Room at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

Antioxidant Room at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

 

I was then lead into the pedicure room by the attendant scheduled to perform my pedicure and she began the process. I interviewed the young lady, as she began the procedure and I discovered that she was from India, a graduate of business school and was at the Banjaran to learn how to run a spa. Her dream was to return to India and open her own spa, after absorbing everything she could at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. I inquired how they interviewed her and she stated by a Google Hangout. I thought that was very cool, given we conduct a Google+ Hangout almost weekly with our son in Japan. I love the process. Obviously they thought she was what they needed, as she was hired and given two weeks to move to Ipoh Malaysia, where the spa is located.

 

 

The Pedicure Room for the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

The Pedicure Room for the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

 

My pedicure was to last one hour, but it turned out I was in the room for 90 minutes, as we talked about her dream and my travel blogger business. I was amazed to learn that she was fluent in four languages. She was a very intelligent, extroverted young lady and I could tell she would achieve her dream and have that spa one day. I believe this with all my heart. She was well versed in customer service attributes and was learning the details of all the spa processes. I wish her the best of luck and need to thank her publicly, for what turned out to be the best pedicure I have ever had. If she continues down this path, learning all the other spa treatments, her spa in India will be very successful and profitable.

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

Photo of The Day #73, Convenience Store Meals are Fantastic in Japan

I worked in the convenience store industry for thirty long years and loved every minute of it, especially when I was in the stores talking with employees, customers and vendors. No two days were the same and I had the luxury of meeting people that have become life long friends.  It was always an adventure filled with laughter, hard work and long hours. I am not a desk person and my job allowed me to travel daily. Some days were planned routes accompanied by other management people and some were just random driving with unannounced visits. My favorite method!

 

Drinks Section @ the Local 7-11

Drinks Section @ the Local Japanese 7-11

 

I first remember the US market attempting to do fresh food and make our own in-store food. It was kind of exciting to be on the precipice of this venture. I watched over time as the products changed from purely deep fried unhealthy calorie filled typical state fair or carnival food, to a more healthy alternative. At Circle K a decision was made to try and open “Take Home Ready Made Meals”, that just needed to be heated. It was a good move with lots of choices, but our customers weren’t ready for the process or option at that point. I am also not sure they thought a convenience store chain had any business producing take home meals.

 

Various light Snacks at the Local 7-11

Various light Snacks at the Local Japanese 7-11

 

Then I visited Japan, where the largest franchisee Ito-Yokado, bought 7-11 in 1998 and took it out of bankruptcy. It is also where they do the ready to eat so much better than we can ever think about. Daily a truck brings all fresh items and takes away their leftover product. I was blown away and utterly mesmerized by their process and the extent of the items offered. I could virtually eat at my local 7-11 in Japan and not have the same meal or item for I am guessing 90 days or more.

 

Yakesoba and Other Great Heat and Serve at the Local 7-11

Yakisoba and Other Great Heat and Serve at the Local Japanese 7-11

 

I was amazed and tried sampling many of their products. It was like I was at a restaurant in Japan or someone’s home. Yes it is really that good! They did it right and I wish that we could get it right in the US. I think geography has a lot to do with it, as their stores in Japan are just blocks apart. If you find yourself hungry after hours or any time of day, while in Japan, I highly recommend you visit your nearest 7-11 and try their food. You will not be disappointed, it’s a bargain and it’s obviously fresh, given they bring it in daily!

 

I am going back again in December to one of my favorite countries in the world (Japan) and you can bet your bottom dollar I will take every opportunity I get, eating breakfast, lunch and an occasional dinner at my local 7-11. I love their food and can’t wait to get back. I am sure their options and menus have expanded and I will be surprised with the new foods being offered. Definitely a business success story of the highest caliber!

 

Photo of The Day #67, #NomadicTexan #Japan #Kamakura #Weapons

As we walked from the train to the Big Buddha, we passed a very unique shop in Kamakura Japan and it caught my eye. I was enthralled with the display of fighting swords, weapons and throwing stars that this shop held. I took a photo and probably should have shot it from an angle so as not to have the cars reflection.

 

Japanese Weapon Shop

Japanese Weapon Shop

 

Although it does kind of give it a unique visual sense. As we were in a hurry I couldn’t stop and search through the various items as I would have liked and had to be satisfied with this photo for my memory!.

Photo of The Day #53

As I sit here tonight scanning my shares and connections on social media, I came across a musician friend that loves Japan more than I do if that is possible. It s been many years since Kim and I have been to Japan and I am ready to go back. If I could afford it, I would eventually retire in Japan. I love its people. its food and its culture. It is one of the countries in the world that still understands how to act with class. This photo is from my visit with my son to the Big Buddha and I love looking at this photo, as it reminds me how much I really miss Japan. Kyoto I hope you are ready because next time we are coming your way!

 

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha

Why Don’t You Just Take Me Behind the Barn and Shoot me?

As most of my friends who truly know me are aware, I wear my emotions on my sleeve and can become very irate over stupid people who perform or state stupid things. I am also a member of several groups that share blog posts and generally help each other out with exposure, as we all have varied traffic levels. I was going through my process today and a post showed up that totally infuriated me. This young man, who I am sure possesses a degree and has a position with a large company, wrote about “Managing Older People”, as if we are a different species. It must be the third eye I am sporting these days.

 

 

Old But Still Employed at a Jimmy Buffett Concert in Vegas

Old But Still Employed, at a Jimmy Buffett Concert in Vegas

 

In the past year I have had friends that have lost their jobs strictly as a result of their age and salary. There is a huge tendency to push  the more mature crowd out the door and hire young individuals with a degree, that supposedly have as much acumen as the veterans. In one such case a dear friend had been with a company for over 40 years and had about two years left before retirement. It was a case of second generation inheriting the responsibilities of running the day to day operations and the descendant made the decision to release my friend, after the person had dedicated his life to building the business with the father. I wanted to throw up it made me so sick.

 

Another friend worked over 25 years for a company that I was employed with for 10 years and had a Bachelors and Masters degree. He was a very intelligent individual who moved his family many times, always at the request of “the company”. He finally received a nice promotion and salary and was considered an astute business manager by all vendors and peers. He walked in one day last year and discovered he was no longer needed. His salary and tenure had worked against him, just like many my age.

 

What Do I Do Now?

What Do I Do Now?

 

Today’s writer stated many factors that needed to be used in managing the older generations. He stated that one shouldn’t come across “too strongly”.  He is basically saying we need to be coddled and handled vastly differently than younger workers? I guess its okay to be strong with younger generations. When I was in management, age was not an issue and I managed all generations equally.

 

He states that a manager needs to work around the more mature workers schedule and definitely not plan social gatherings when its inconvenient for the older workers. I guess that mean no parties after 7:00 PM, since we all go to bed at 8:00 PM apparently. He talks about the (fact?) that older workers are not familiar with social media and we probably don’t have Facebook profiles, etc. Huh? I have a Twitter, Google+, Facebook. Linkedin, Pinterest page and I have my own web site. I am 63. I must be the exception.

 

Lover of Ecuador and Travel Blogger

Lover of Ecuador and Travel Blogger

 

He states that a younger manager needs to pay attention as older workers need “more benefits”. This baffles me as I would think all workers need the same benefits. He finishes by stating managing older workers is a tricky task. I sincerely hope that this “writer” never ages or faces the discrimination that is rampant in the business world for the more “Mature” population in this day and time.

 

Carter Vance Hinshaw

Carter Vance Hinshaw

 

My father was a night city editor at a large newspaper in the DFW area and was allowed to work up until he hit 70. I am amazed at how substantially our world has changed in regard to this philosophy. Funny how this phenomena parallels our economy landslide. Maybe we really do have something to contribute if given a chance!

 

In my younger days we were taught to respect our elders. In Japan they still have strong regard for their elders and actually endeavor to take care of them. They insure they are taken care of right up to the end. I have generally found this to be true all over the world, with the US being the only glaring exception. In the US there is a race to push my generation out to pasture as quickly as possible. Consequently I say, “Why Don’t You Just Take Me Out Behind the Barn and Shoot Me”? It might just be an easier end!

Photo of The Day #3

Beer Display in Mall in Japan, During Cherry Blossom Time

Beer Display in Mall in Japan, During Cherry Blossom Time

 

As our son and I walked through a mall in Japan, we came across this beer display during the beginning of Cherry Blossom season. I was floored by the pink color. In the US, all beer displays are masculine oriented and one would never see such a base wrap or theme, associated with a beer display. This is one of the reasons I love Japan, they are not in to gender framing and are very open to diversity in all areas!

Black Like Me

When I was younger, oh so much younger, a book by John Howard Griffin entitled “Black Like Me” was published in 1961. I read the book around the age of 13 and became dramatically impacted by the issues Mr. Griffin brought to light. I grew up in Texas and had no idea that racism existed, as I always went to school with many Hispanic children. I knew no difference until I started high school and became a part of the first racially integrated class at Arlington High School, as ASID desegregated in 1965. I bring this up as it was discussed yesterday in my interview with Minority Nomad also known as Erick Prince-Heaggans.

 

Nomadic Texan with the Minority Nomad. It was a Pleasure Senor!
Nomadic Texan with the Minority Nomad. It was a Pleasure Senor!

 

Erick and I met online, as we are both residents of Austin when we are not traveling and came across each other on Twitter. We decided to meet at Madam Mam’s on Anderson Lane and I soon discovered why. For reasons I will not go into (old age) I was approximately 45 minutes late and Erick thought it was funny. I was totally embarrassed. We ordered our lunch and I got down to the interview as agreed upon earlier.

 

 

Question #1 What made you start traveling?

I have a project that is near to my heart and I needed to find a way to fund it. I want to inspire young Afro American Blacks, Latinos, LGBT community and other Diverse groups to travel and to let them know the world is a diverse and wonderful place. We as a country have about a 36% passport ratio, which lags substantially behind the rest of the world. I want to move this needle to at least 50% by the time I pass. I want us to shed the “Cul de Sac” mentality. I loved that quote and completely understand it”.

 

 

Question #2 Which country that you have visited did you like the most overall?

Without a doubt its Thailand. It has such an acceptable approach to diversity and tourism. I was treated like a “Rock Star”!”

 

 

Question #3 What type of food, in a country you have visited, did you favor the most.

Thai food is my favorite (okay now I know why we are at Madam Mam’s).”

 

 

Question #4 What country’s people that you have met, did you like the most?

Swedish, Finnish and other Scandinavian populations if you want an educated discussion. If you are talking friendliest, that has to be the Balinese. They smile all the time and are genuinely happy to see you, do things for you and ensure you stay is a wonderful thing. If you are talking fun to be around (Code for Party Animals), the Brazilians are a blast and I could hang with them for a long time! If you are talking people you meet on the road it has to be the Canadians and Germans. They are frequent travelers and I constantly run into them on the road. Plus they are fun to be with. Rounding out the discussion he stated the Eastern European people of Poland, Budapest and Hungary are the most genuine and you always know where they stand even if you don’t agree with them.”

 

 

Question #5 What culture have you liked the most in a country you have visited?

Thai for sure. They appreciate family, faith, diversity and most agendas I believe in.”

 

 

Question #6 If you were to do long term volunteer work which country would you go to? 

“If it was for educational purposes, it would have to be central Africa. They do not have the “Oil” or “Tourism” industries to support their needs and are struggling more than other African countries. If it was more to help the people, I would have to say Liberia, as we have made this country a mess. Even though it is probably the most dangerous and yes I would be scared to go. It needs our help more than any other country at this time.”

 

 

Question #7 What is the funniest thing that has happened to you on the road?

Well (stutter, as he wasn’t sure if he should share it) two of the gentlemen that went with us were crazy Aussi’s. VERY over the top and already three sheets to the wind. A quarter ways through the show three beautiful Thai women brought put a massage mat and asked for volunteers. The Aussi’s started goading me into volunteering and making fun of Americans. Being the person I am, I agreed. How bad could a massage be. Well once I got on stage the three women stripped me naked, stripe naked themselves, and proceeded to give me a naked massage in front of 150 people.”

 

 

Question #8 What is the worst thing that has happened to you on the road?

Well it has to be getting arrested in Buenos Aires. I went to a bar with people I met where I was staying (2 Italians, 3 Brazilians and me). I only had one beer and paid for it when I arrived. The Italians drank heavily and walked their tab. The server brought me the tab and I said it was their bill not mine and he should have collected from them before he kicked them out for fighting with local Argentineans. The server then called the police. The police officer  asked for my passport and I said I left it at the place I was staying, in a secure place. The officer told me I could be arrested and deported since I wasn’t carrying the passport as required. I told him that was not really a law. The officer said I was in deep trouble for trying to skip the bill and not having my passport. I had to spend the night in jail. The next morning the Captain, who spoke excellent English, listened to my story about the Italians and my passport. He laughed and told me I was lucky and he gave me a small fine and sent me on my way. Left a very bad taste in my mouth for Buenos Aires.”

 

 

Question #9 What is your least favorite country?

No question it is Russia. I was denied entrance twice (my military history) and resorted to a dock entry at a port and got in serious trouble. They questioned me hard for about an hour and a half. Funny, I will tell you later, why I now have Russia on a good list also. By the way since my incident in Buenos Aires, Argentina is near the bottom also.”

 

 

Question #10 What is your least favorite food?

Italian food in Buenos Aires. The cheeses have the consistency of gum!”

 

 

Question #11 How long will you travel?

That’s easy. I will never stop!”

 

 

Question #12 What is the one item you cannot do without on the road?

Have you read Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”? As he states, a “Towel” is the most important item you can have. It has a myriad of uses. If you are talking electronics, its my camera. I love photography and try to shoot about half raw and half with minor editing. I am not a fan of “over-editing”.”

 

 

Question #13 Where has prejudice been the largest issue and how did you handle it?

St. Petersburg Russia and Buenos Aires Argentina (endured for 30 days) are the two worst countries over and above any other.”

 

 

Question #14 What advice would you give minority or diverse travelers, if they are traveling?

I would tell them to do their research and make sure it is the latest information available. Do you know that 76 countries have laws against gay couple associations and it is very illegal in them? In five countries (Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran) you can receive the death penalty.”

 

 

Question #15 What has been your favorite “Tour”?

A walking tour in Warsaw, narrated by a fellow that worked at the hostel I was at. He was the event and social planner and knew the city literally backwards and forwards. Best of all it was free! I also took a tour on the Baltic Sea on a ferry from the St. Petersline over five days, that left a lifelong impression. It circled the Baltic sea, hitting all the Scandinavian countries, Russia and Poland. The ferries they use are frequented by dock workers and you find many workers in cabins on the boat. I had a couple of Russians, one on each side of my cabin and a Hungarian guy across from me. Over the next five days my impressions of the Russians grew worse each day.

 

 

One night the guy on the right of me starts pounding on my door at about 2:00 AM. He was very drunk and looking for his friend. He then kept apologizing, when he discovered his mistake. The next night his friend Igor starts knocking on my door late at night and had been drinking also. He gets apologetic also when I open the door, but he carries it a little farther. He starts touching my and his hearts and saying “America/Russia”! “America/Russia”! “Governments don’t like each other not us”! He gave me a huge hug that must have lasted two minutes or so. I almost was brought to tears by this and really then knew that all the people around the world are the same down deep!”

 

 

Question #16 What is your next “30-Day” adventure (He polls his subscribers with about 10 choices of what adventure to fulfill next)?

I am learning to Ski in Chile (August), Muay Thai fighting in Thailand (October), Brazilian Jui Jistsu in Brazil (December), Crab Fishing in Alaska (January). That’s what my subscribers voted for.  (Me-Are you crazy that’s absolutely the worst month to go?)”

 

 

Question #17 What is the country you would settle down in if you decide to stop traveling?

Thailand (what a surprise!), as I love its culture, its people and its food. Now if I was on an unlimited budget, it would definitely be Japan. I can’t tell you how much I love Japan. (Really, I can tell you, as its probably my favorite also, just can’t afford it these days!).”

 

 

I learned that Erick is a very compassionate and intelligent man. He has his life’s agenda set. His desire to help the underprivileged and center city kids struck me very deeply, especially after my recent visit to Mexico and how I was impacted by the Homes of Hope project. I was so energized by Erick and his agendas and told him of my travel desires and my wish to help young children in Ecuador or wherever I may be. I must say this young man has his head on straight and I think he will serve the world very well, in his capacity as a mentor, for the impoverished of the world. I can’t begin to realize or understand the issues he has faced, as a Black American growing up in the projects of Cleveland Ohio. Safe Travels mi amigo and I hope you get to that 50% ratio soon!

 

Thanks to our Sponsors


Recognition and Awards


Interviews



Latest Tweets

Flag Counter



Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



css.php