Thursday, December 27, 2007
Benazir Bhutto was a beautiful and courageous woman. I hope that the good fight for progress, social justice and democracy that she fought for her entire life will be upheld and honored in her legacy.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
* Great Wall
* Forbidden City
* Terracotta Warriors
I haven't been out of the country in over a year (gasp!) so I'm incredibly excited. This is also the first time I've ever planned a trip more than a month away. Spontaneous? Just a little bit. Other planned trips include:
LA for the weekend this fall to visit an old friend and hopefully San Jose/San Fran and Boston. My favorite cities! Not including NYC of course. I'm afraid the days of never being in the same place for more than a month have almost come to an end. Maybe that's a good thing. I haven't decided yet or given up hope to live in all place at all times. Still waiting on some physicists to work that one out for me. Maybe 2008?
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I came to talk about how two of my favorite artists are coming to Houston in November-Regina Spektor and Silverchair. Even better, they are playing at venues that are only a block away from my place. Regina Spektor will be at Warehouse Live on November 7 and Silverchair will be at Meridian on November 28.
Other bands I'm excited to see playing around these here parts are Dashboard with Augustana at Warehouse Live and Hot Hot Heat at Meridian. Yay Houston!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
The explosions occurred in the capital of Male in a park outside the national museum and injured 12 tourists-2 Japanese, 2 British and 8 Chinese. Apparently, this is the first bombing ever on this island. The government has not commented on possible suspects or motives.
One of my favorite resort and spa chains and subject of my obsessions Six Senses, has a resort called Soneva Gili which is a short twenty minute boat ride from Male. I hope that the bombing will not deter visitors to the island as I am sure that tourism is a huge part of their economy.
Additionally, in researching the Maldives bombing I came across a very cool blog, The Official Private Islands Blog, which I intend to check out often now.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I have always wanted to own a hotel. I would play "hotel" as a child where I sat up a reservations desk and welcomed guests (grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, neighborhood kids, my cat and dog- we were animal friendly) into my luxury hotel. I have not let go of that dream yet. Today I searched Yahoo under the search terms "women hotel owners," "female hoteliers" and "female hotel owners." I had a really difficult time finding out about owners of hotels that were female. I guess it's a non-issue. To be a hotel owner, it does not matter if you are male or female. What I did find angered me. Truly, I was really upset. Instead of finding hotels owners I found articles about how hotels are beginning to "woo" female travelers. I found FAQ articles about whether women should travel if they are going to travel alone. I found articles about female only floors at hotels. I found articles all over the Internet about women traveling solo, but I could not find what I was really seeking. Now, I'm angry. Frankly, I am offended. Why?
I am upset that women need to even ask if it is OK for them to travel solo. This, just like whether hotels are owned by women or men, should be a non-issue. I am not sure why this is such a frequently asked question. Why are women afraid of traveling solo, if at all? What is so scary about traveling?
Women take risks every day that are equivalent to the risks they would take if traveling. For example, if I need to eat I go to the grocery store and buy food. Usually, I need to find some mode of transportation to get me to the store to get my food. I have several options for transportation. I can walk, catch a bus, drive a car. It is simple really. I can do all these things even though I am a women. I imagine that women in Australia, England, Japan or-I'm going out on a limb here-even China, have similar struggles. In fact, I have actually observed women in Australia, England and Japan at grocery stores (not China because I have never been) when I was traveling. Alone. Gasp! Women in those countries I assume need to eat and like most regions of the world they go to stores that sell food so they can buy the food to eat. When I go to other countries, I must eat. I go to the store, I buy food, take it home, prepare it and eat it. Just like the women in those countries do it and just like I do it back home. Shopping for food (alone) and traveling (alone) can be accomplished regardless of gender.
By writing articles and books specifically geared toward teaching women how to travel alone we are perpetuating the myth that women should be afraid to travel. I feel like we are basically telling women it's a big scary world out there, traveling is risky and if you are going to travel in such a big scary place you better be prepared because this is going to be h-a-r-d. So hard, in fact, that we have to write this 200 page book about it. We will hold your hand and guide you step-by-step into this big, bad world. Be prepared because you might run into a man. When you do accidentally encounter the male species in the world, you will have wanted to pack your hairbrush but not your hairdryer (because your hotel might already have one and you need to save space for your black high heels that match all of your black wardrobe). I am going to go all out and say "Ladies! You should travel regardless, not despite the fact that you are a woman! You are already smart enough to survive in life, therefore you are smart enough to travel." Women travelers should not be admired. They should not be called brave. Women travelers should be treated like they would be treated at home-like normal, functional, decision making adults. Although, I do believe men should open doors for women. I will not treat women any differently. In fact, I will not even have a "women only floor" at my hotel when I have one. But I may have a girls getaway spa package. Don't worry, I'll have a guys golf getaway. But only because I believe in equal opportunity profit.
Friday, September 14, 2007
This is such a great deal, so I hope if you can get the time off you can take advantage of this offer!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia is making its world premiere here in Houston. The exhibit runs from August 31, 2007 to April 20, 2008 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Hall of Special Exhibitions.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Hurricane Dean presently is located about 330 KM east of Martinique and is moving west at 23 mph. The center of Dean is expected to cross the Lesser Antilles early Friday morning. Maximum sustained winds are near 100 mph and is currently rated a Category Two Hurricane.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Some ole, same ole.
Well, suppose you are in Antigua and a little bored with it all and looking to get out of your boring vacation routine. If this sounds like you, maybe you should check out Shirley Heights.
Shirley Heights on Sunday nights is the place to be in Antigua. People from all around the world gather at the peak of this lookout located in a National Park to experience magical sunsets, Antiguan food and drinks (Beware the punch! Don't say I didn't warn you!) and excellent steel bands and reggae music!
There is an $8 entrance fee, but they give you a ticket for your first drink free. In addition, the food there is excellent, so come with an empty stomach! It's usually a little slow around 5 pm but it's perfect light to see the beautiful island and yachts down below in English Harbour. As the sun sets, the crowds pick up and things get exciting! Ask your hotel or tour guide about Shirley Heights while you are in Antigua. You will have an amazing time!
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Tom Beach Hotel is my absolute favorite hotel in the Caribbean. Located on St. Jean beach on the island of St. Barts, Tom Beach Hotel is a luxurious hotel that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Created by Carole Gruson and Thierry de Badereau, the founders of the popular restaurant Ti St-Barth, Tom Beach Hotel is another successful St. Barts venture. Colorful and relaxing, Tom Beach Hotel is luxurious enough to boast a discerning and selective clientele, but scaled down to a fun loving and open minded group instead of a stuffy, Boca Raton sort of guest. This hotel only has 12 rooms, which makes it feel even more comfortable.
Of course, the hotel has a bar and a restaurant, La Plage, which is the sister restaurant to Ti St-Barth.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
What kind of luggage should I take?
It all depends on where you’re going and what you need to take with you. For the most part, you’re probably not going to need near as much as you want or think you will need. You’ll probably want just one medium sized suitcase (or if you’re backpacking you’ll want a good backpack). Then you’ll probably want a carry-on bag if you’re flying as well as a day bag or purse. This is probably all you will need. See chapter 8 about for more info about packing.
Isn’t it unsafe for young women to travel?
Absolutely not! As with anywhere you go in your own city, you need to take precautions for safety. We’ll discuss common safety practices that you can and should do no matter where you are in Chapter 8.
How much time to I need to travel?
It depends. If you only have a few days to get away and relax, that is fine. Whatever it takes to get you out there and experiencing the world it fine by us.
If you have more than a few weeks, that just means you have more wiggle room. Some people take months off to travel and others take years. It just depends on you and your resources (money!)
A big group of us want to travel together? How is that going to work?
Well, it may take a little more planning on everyone’s part to get the logistics right, but it is definitely doable.
Set rules and guidelines before you go about deciding on destinations and how to mediate disagreements. It is so much fun to travel with friends and the memories can be shared for a lifetime!
Shouldn’t I wait to travel until after I have retired?
Why would you do that? Why wait until you no longer look hot in a swimsuit to go tropical beaches or you no longer have the stamina to hike to the top of a mountain peak?
Will traveling now be a bad career decision?
If your employers frown upon employees who are interested in learning about the world around them and don’t like the characteristics of people who travel such as determination, ambition, self-motivation and organizational skills then, yes, it’s probably a bad career decision.
Won’t I feel lonely?
It is possible that you might feel lonely on occasion. Once you get out and start exploring you will get over that quickly. You will make new friends and, if you have to, your friends and family are only an e-mail or phone call away.
What if I don’t know what to do?
Believe in yourself! You will figure it out! If not, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help or research for information in a book or online. The great thing about traveling is learning to rely on yourself. For many of us, traveling is the first time we really get to learn independence and it can be so much fun!
What if I don’t know anyone?
Talk to people! The surest way to make friends when traveling is to talk to them, ask them questions and make yourself available. Just like how you make friends back home.
Am I too young?
There may be instances where you are too young. For example, if you are in a country where the drinking age is 21 and you are 18, then, yes, you are too young. Luckily for you, and don’t tell your parents we told you this, the drinking age in many countries is 18 or measured by if you can see over the bar!
Other than that, no way! If you can read this book, for the most part, we believe you are old enough to travel the world.
Am I too old?
Of course not!
Where should I go?
Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless! In chapter 3 we will discuss possible destinations.
What if I get lost?
Well, that is highly unlikely in this day and age. There are GPS systems, online maps, and who knows what else. We don’t think you will get lost on accident. At least not for very long. And we do recommend you get lost on purpose!
What if I get sick?
Before you leave home make sure all you vaccinations are up to date. Pack your prescriptions and if you can, bring extra just in case. We also recommend travel insurance. Often times you will return home having never used the insurance that you paid for. There may be a time that you do need your insurance on the road and having taken the precaution to invest in insurance will save you a lot of hassle, worry, time and money.
You should also be aware of the food you eat and what you drink. In countries that are famous for their unsafe water buy bottled water with sealed caps and be wary of ice made with the local water.
What if I don’t speak the language?
Take a language dictionary if you think you will need it. Sometimes locals will know a little English and will be very pleased to practice on you! If you cannot speak with the locals, try to be polite and courteous. Use gestures (the nice kind!) and be mindful that smiling is a universal language. Remember that speaking loudly will not help them to understand you any better!
What about my friends and family back home?
We will give you tips in Chapter 10 on how to keep in contact with friends and family while you are on your journey.
What if I don’t have enough money?
With a little bit of savings and some creativity you can find a way to stretch that budget. We’ll give you more tips on how to save money and to make money while you are on your journey in chapters 4 and 5.
Figuring out a profitable way to travel and make money is difficult obviously, otherwise loads of people would be doing it already. I believe the best way to get paid to travel is to find out what other people are doing is to model the idea and then try it yourself. For those interested in travel writing, here are some links of interviews or website of people who get paid to travel and their very wise and realistic advice on travel writing.
Ricks Steves interview on being a travel writer in Transitions Abroad.
Rolf Potts offers advice on how to become a travel writer.
Jen Leo offers tons of advice for travel writers on Written Road.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Norwegian Coastal Voyages has a special going on right now:
Book this 13-day program starting at $4,999 on board the MS Fram before August 31, 2007 and receive FREE airfare with a savings of $750 per person. Offer is good for new bookings only. Offer is valid on select dates. Click here for more information.
Upon your arrival in Santiago, you'll have some time to appreciate this cosmopolitan city while staying at a luxury hotel, before embarking on your exploration voyage. There is only one way to fully experience the frozen landscape and history of "The White Continent," and that's by expedition vessel. With the aid of our expert guides, who provide lectures onboard and off the cuff during landings, you'll have an educationally and enriching adventure.
Not knowing what the future holds in store for you makes it hard to know what to pack. Most people pack way more than they will ever need. Seasoned travelers will tell you to lay out everything you think you want to take with you on your bed. Then, halve it and that is how much you should really take. There are plenty of what-if scenarios, but believe us when we tell you that what-if scenarios rarely happen. With that in mind here is some advice on making the most of what little space you have in your suitcase.
•Passport (for international) or Government-issued Photo ID (for domestic flights)
•Any Visas or money for Visas, entry, or exit fees
•Hotel Information: Address, Phone Number, Reservation Number.
Luggage: What kind of luggage are you going to need? It depends on your travel circumstances. If you are going to be staying in one location for your entire trip, the type of luggage you will want probably will not matter. If you are backpacking, of course, you are probably going to want a sturdy, heavy duty backpack. You can find backpacks at REI (http://www.rei.com) or Bass Pro Shops (http://www.bassproshops.com).
Clothing: There is no need to bring your entire wardrobe with you on a trip. As tempting as it may be, resist the urge and try to pack smart.
What to bring will heavily depend on where and when you are going
•Always bring a pair of pants. You never know when it will cool down at night or you will be in an air-conditioned building all day. Also, if you visit certain countries you will need to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt as a sign of respect for the culture.
•Bring a couple other items like shorts, Capri-length jeans or pants, skirts that you can mix and match with your tops.
•A variety of tops is your best bet for dealing with changing weather conditions. Choose a couple of tank tops, t-shirts, and even a couple of long sleeve shirts. Layering is key in most places. Keep in mind that some countries require women to never show skin. In places like Italy, if you want to get into a basilica they will turn you away if you have bare shoulders. So plan ahead on days you may go sightseeing.
•Always pack a sweatshirt or hoodie for nighttime or cooler days.
•If rain is predicted, a waterproof anorak can keep you dry without making you too hot due. They usually fold up quite nicely for easy packing.
•Always pack a week’s worth of underwear. If your trip is longer, plan on doing a load of laundry. At last resort, you can always hand wash them in your hotel. Don’t forget bras too!
•Socks are key for keeping feet warm in cold weather and keeping feet dry and blister-free in hot weather. Bring a week’s worth and follow the washing rule for anything beyond this.
•Bring a swimsuit or two if you plan on doing any water activities. If you plan on being in the water frequently, having two may be better so you can let one dry while you wear the other one. Also, if you’re doing active water activities you may want a one-piece suit so you don’t have any wardrobe malfunctions.
•Never underestimate when you will need a swimsuit. Even in places like Antarctica, there are warm hot springs!
•Don’t forget a cute cover-up or wrap for your afternoon by the pool. Wraps are multi-functional anyway, so be creative!
Shoes: Yes, shoes are great but your new adorable gold sandals do not need to make the trek to Austria in winter. Pack smart in this category as shoes take up more room than you think. If possible, wear your bulkiest pair of shoes on the plane.
•A pair of athletic shoes will probably come in handy sometime during your trip whether it’s hiking in the Andes or using the hotel’s workout facility. If you plan on doing anything adventurous, shoes like this are highly recommend and sometimes even required for safety reasons.
•Bring a pair of inexpensive flip-flop sandals for protecting your feet from heat and bacteria in gyms, pool/spa areas, public showers, and hot sand at the beaches.
•If the climate is colder, snowy, or rainy, bring a sturdy pair of waterproof boots. Shearling boots are also great for warmth, but make sure they are protected with Scotchguard.
•If you are going near an ocean, lake, or river, consider getting a pair of mesh-type shows that allow you to walk in the water but also protect your feet from sharp rocks and slippery surfaces.
Jewelry and Accessories: Traveling does not mean you have to put a halt on accessorizing just find items that can work with multiple outfits. Bring one or two belts (perhaps, brown and black) and keep earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings to a minimum. Also, keep any flashy jewelry (even it is cubic zirconium) at home.
•Always remember sunglasses, even in snowy destinations, where the sun can reflect through the clouds off the ice and onto your face.
•If you must travel with your expensive jewelry, NEVER check it with your luggage unless you have insurance because once in goes through customs you’re never going to see it again.
Toiletries: You can rely on the hotel for the basics, but if you’re used to a certain brand, you may want to bring it yourself. Also, don’t stress out too much as you should be able to purchase the item, or a local variation, at a local store.
•All the basics for your hair: shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, styling products, brush/comb, hair ties and clips.
•Body and face lotion.
•Sunscreen for your body and face. Be sure to use it everyday!
•Dental care: toothbrush with case or travel toothbrush, toothpaste (bring a large one and share it with the group or opt for a small tube), dental floss, small bottle of mouth rinse.
•If you wear contacts be sure to bring enough for your trip and an additional week’s supply, solution, and a case. If glasses are part of your routine, bring them in their case with a small repair kit.
•Make-up: foundation, powder, eye shadows, eye liner, mascara and lash curler, blush, lip gloss/lipstick. Bring only what you usually bring, not your whole arsenal! Also, check out the packs of make-up that include eye, lip, and cheek product in complimentary colors...great space saver!
•Deodorant is always a must! Baby powder works too.
•If you are a fan of perfume, bring smaller bottles or samples from department stores.
General tips for toiletries:
•Plastic bags for everything!
•Look for screw tops over pumps as they are less prone to spills.
•Before packing, gently squeeze the bottle and then lock the top. This will provide an air cushion for the product and it will be less likely to explode in your suitcase.
•To save room buy empty travel size containers to keep things like shampoo, conditioner and lotion in. It will make a huge difference in space. Enough to add an extra pair of shoes!
•If you’re backpacking, you’re not going to need a lot of toiletries, hairdryers, curling or flat irons. When in doubt, leave it out!
Electronics: Electronic gadgets can definitely fill some time during your trip and can also help you make the most of your experiences.
•A camera is a must. Whether it is disposable, 35mm, or digital, you will want to capture the sights and scenery of the places you have visited. Be sure to bring the necessary extras: batteries, chargers, film, memory cards, and most of all, protective cases with straps.
•A video camera is another gadget that can allow you to bring your trip home. However, take into consideration that this is an expensive piece of equipment that has to be carried and protected at all times.
•Consider a camera-video combo if you’re in the market for something new. Two-in-one is a definite space saver!
•Bringing a laptop computer is completely optional and typically, not recommend unless explicitly needed (study abroad). For those Internet-fanatics, rest assured that most countries are flooded with Internet cafes.
•Pack a set of binoculars if you will be going anywhere to look for animals or birds.
•A portable DVD player with a couple of your favorite DVDs can be a great distraction for the perils of air travel. Although most laptops can play DVDs, a portable DVD player costs a lot less and tends to be smaller. Don’t forget chargers!
•MP3 and CD players are great for long journeys. Also, make a note that most airlines have in-flight music now. Check their websites to see if anything peaks your interest.
•Cell Phones are good to bring so that you can make calls when you are at domestic gateways. Once you’re international, most US phones will not work, however, some carriers still get service that will give you the local time.
•With any of the above items, be sure to check out the voltage of the outlet as well as the type of prongs that go into a wall. To use an item you bought in the United States, you will need two converters to use it abroad: one for voltage and one for the wall. Look for a pack that contains multiple prongs so you can use it for all your travels. Even if it looks like you can plug it in but you know it’s a different voltage-DON’T! You risk blowing up your appliances and maybe even blowing out the breakers!
•Ear Plugs: Even if you do not normally use them, a seat near the engine or a crying baby will make you glad you had them.
•Eye Mask: This can block out a bright movie screen and let you have a good night’s rest. Also can come in handy in your hotel.
•Flannel Pillow Case: Makes that airline pillow a little more like home. Also can be used at your hotel in lieu of that starchy white pillowcase.
•Toothbrush/Toothpaste: If you have a flight with meal service or when you will be going to sleep, this can instantly give you a wave of freshness, especially if there is a cute boy sitting next to you.
•Slippers/Socks: Depending on what type of shoes you wore on the plane, bring slippers and/or socks to keep your feet warm. Slippers will also make that walk to the bathroom that much more sanitary.
•Entertainment: Be sure to bring magazines, books, music players (CD or MP3 players), paper and a pen, and other items to entertain yourself. Never rely on the in-flight movie!
•If you wear contacts, bring your glasses, contact solution, and your contact case with you on the plane. As unglamorous as it might seem, your eye will thank you for sparing them of the dryness and pressure.
•Zippered Carry-On Bag: Nothing is worse than when you are flying and your carry on spills under your seat or in the overhead compartment with all your belongings inside.
•Water! Especially when flying, anything else you drink will either dehydrate you or make you sick.
•Layer your clothes. If you are wearing a tank top, t-shirt and have a sweatshirt you add/subtract as needed. Sweatshirts are sometimes even better than pillows!
•Lotion: Traveling dehydrates your skin and you will smell better after that 14 hour flight!
I just got back from my annual trip to Atlanta, GA. Every time I go I wonder why I don't live there. This time was no exception. My best friend, Rose, took me out to some great coffee houses, restaurants and venues while there.
I love the Spicy Chicken Pad Thai and Edamame at Doc Chey's Noodle House.
We also visited Octane Coffee House which was voted the best coffee house in Atlanta for 2007 by Creative Loafing readers. They were having a nut tasting while I was there. Yes, as in pecans, peanuts, most other kinds of nuts.
Another great coffee house that I went to last time I was in Atlanta and returned to this time as well was JavaVino. This coffee house also doubles as a wine bar. Every other Sunday they have wine tastings featuring wines from various regions.
We had dinner one night at Apres Diem, a coffee house and bistro. Food was delicious and the atmosphere was very trendy. I recommend the Nicoise Salad.
My last morning there we had breakfast at Highland Bakery which had a nice rustic, loft-y, bright and airyness to it. I had a delicious omelette with spinach and goat cheese along with coffee with soy milk. I felt healthy.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Kiss My Zipz has some colorful and fun zippered plastic bags that fit the TSA 311 guidelines for carry-ons.
* Set of 5 bags w /same design
* clear, plastic bag
* quart size
* blue print & zipper
* Meets Airport Security Guidelines for carry-on items
You know how when you're driving down the street and pull up to a red light where a disheveled man or woman is standing on the curb asking for money or any help possible? Well, they are all over Houston and I'm tired of giving them my money. I'm sure some of them make more than I do. In fact, I know they do! They should be giving ME money. Today I resolved to help them in other ways... I decided to give them granola bars.
I stopped in at Krogers on my way home today to buy granola bars which I have decided to hand out to the people standing on the side of the road. Now, I can no longer avert my eyes, while feeling ashamed and pretending I don't see the people standing by my driver's side window asking for help. I will help them. I will give them nutritious chocolate chip granola bars.
While in Kroger I decided that if these people are hungry they are probably thirsty and hot standing out there all day in the Houston heat and humidity. So I decided to buy a 24-bottle case of Ozarka water to give them water as well. As I'm walking out to my car in the parking lot with the case of water bottles in my arms while in my head patting myself on the back for how smart and good I am to be so helpful I notice some suspicious guys hovering around my Jeep. As I walk closer I see that they have knocked out the window on my rear driver's side window and are reaching into my car for whatever they can reach.
They see me walking toward them and begin to quickly jump into their getaway car which is backed in beside mine. They have the doors open and one of the guys is getting into the back seat quickly on the side closest to me. Not really knowing how to confront these guys who have broken into my car I do the next logical thing: I throw the case of water at the head of the guy closest to me and begin pounding him with it! He fights me but I keep hitting him as hard as I can with the water until finally the drivers start driving off and I fall back onto the pavement into the glass from my window. I watch the guys drive off and reach for my phone to take a picture of the car and license plate only to realize I don't have a picture phone!
The guys are driving a maroon Buick but instead of a license plate it just has a "Carmax" sign for a license. I think to myself, "how convenient."
I don't know what to do next because my hands and arm are bleeding so I realize I need to call 911. When the police woman arrives she shakes her head in disbelief as I tell her what happened. I can't tell her what the guys all look like because I was too busy pounding one of the guys head with water bottles! Another car was broken into the day before she tells me but there are no witnesses. I tell her that I guess I wasn't afraid because the guys looked like "normal" guys. Not like "thugs" or criminals. She says that if the guys had broken in and stolen anything it would have been a simple misdemeanor but because I actually fought the guys and was hurt it became robbery and assault which is a FELONY! She writes up the report and says to me, "There are two things I want to tell you: What you did was incredible brave and the bad guys don't always look like thugs. They could have stabbed you, shot you or pulled you into the car, taken you with them, raped you and killed you." In other words, you were incredibly brave and incredibly stupid!
So, the good news is I caught the guys in time that nothing was stolen. The bad news is it's probably going to be about $1500 to replace the window and my insurance deductible is $1000.
So after all the drama is over and I'm on my way home with my broken window and a bloody arm, I pull up to a red light with a guy sitting on an upside down bucket on the side of the road. I roll down the window and with my still bloody arm I hand the guy a granola bar and bottle of water. He looks at it, throws it on the ground and asks me for a dollar!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
For me it was really difficult to return back to Texas after traveling the world for three years. I've finally managed to wake up in the mornings and instantly figure out what bed I'm in and what city I'm in (my own and Houston are the correct answers) as opposed to waking up in my bunk in my coffin sized cabin on a yacht anchored off some Caribbean island that we arrived to that morning.
It hasn't been easy adjusting to normal life, but here are a few suggestions I have for fellow travelers trying to fit into society:
1. Know What to Expect
Get ready before you even return home. Know that life is just going to be different and so are you.
2. Establish a routine
The best way to begin re-familiarizing yourself with your own culture is to get into a similar routine that you had before you left. Before I moved to St. Maarten I would attend church on Sundays and then go to Starbucks afterward as my reward for actually making myself go to church! When I moved away to the Caribbean, I lost this routine. Since I have come back to the states, I've returned to this routine and I find it comforting. Obviously, you don't have to do what I've done, but think back to a routine you had before you left, say movie night every Friday with a group of friends. There is comfort in routine and you might find this as a good option to the return of "normalcy." This behavior also gives you a sense of control. More than likely you are going to feel a little out of whack with the rest of society for a while.
3. Surround Yourself with Friends and Family
You will find that most things will be the same as when you left, but a few things will have changed. Maybe your friends will have moved, gone through changes in their own lives, but the basic values that you and your friends shared that made you friends in the first place have likely not changed. After all, they have known you your whole life while the new friends you made while traveling only have known you for a few days or months. They may not really know you at all other than you are good with finding the best pubs to crawl.
While you may have different understandings and beliefs since you left, you are still in many ways the same. Your core has not changed. Surrounding yourself with friends and family will breed a familiarity that you may not have had in a while. Your friends and family will give you a sense of balance that's necessary for re-adjustment. Try not to talk too much about how great it was to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or how you went to the best party ever on New Years in Thailand. You'll only alienate yourself because they just won't understand. Only fellow travelers will really understand you then.
4. Keep in Touch
Stay in contact with your friends that you made while traveling. If they have returned home too, they are probably going through the same feelings of reverse culture shock as you. They are the ones that you can re-hash your travel tales.
5. Stay Busy
Don't sit around mourning that you've returned home from a fun filled adventure never to return again(like I did!). Allow yourself to get out there and experience your new city and to find new friends.
6. Recognize You're Not Alone
Remember that experiencing difficulty in re-adjusting to home is very common. You may find yourself getting upset with "how things are done" back home. This is normal. Try to look at your own culture with the same open-mindedness you had when you were traveling to new countries. Realize that in time, you can manage to re-adjust to your home while keeping the great experiences and life lessons that you had while traveling and remain the same person with just a little more understanding than the rest.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The Pineapple House is quite popular in the Antigua yachtie scene, but it's not just yachties that stay there.
Built along the side of a hill amoungst beautiful landscaped trees and flowers, the open air cottages have a million dollar view of multi million dollar yachts docked in Falmouth Harbour.
The cottages are open and breezy, you'll never need air conditioning. The most beautiful beaches on the island are a five minute walk in one direction and the best nightlife and shopping on the island are five minutes away in the other direction.Rates start at $1,100 a week in November. The Pineapple House is only open November 15 to May 15.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I accidently stumbled upon your blogspot after I googled "yacht crew and antigua"....haha anyways...I graduate from the university of florida next saturday, and my plan is to head down to the caribbean and work in yachting like you did....and i'm also pretty much flat broke like you were when you went to barcelona ( i listened to your podcast)...i've been down to fort lauderdale and have registered with the crewing agencies and everything, and i've gotten offers to work on boats,but i havent been able to accept any because of school. i love st maarten to pieces (i went there on vacation with my family about 3 years ago and fell in love with the yachting industry, and had a great time hanging out with all the yachties!), and i'm considering buying a one way ticket to the island. since lived there before, i was wondering what you think the chances of me finding a job are? i'm very torn because i love the caribbean and want to work there and i'm worried that if i stay here in fort lauderdale i'll miss my chances of getting work that goes to the caribbean because its not exactly the high season any more.....anyways, any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.....thanks!!
Congratulations on graduation! Working on a yacht is the perfect just out of college job in my opinion. Why don't you save yourself the money and get a yacht to fly you out to St. Martin instead of buying one yourself or find a boat delivery leaving from Ft. Lauderdale? If you go to St. Martin on your own, where would you stay? There are crew houses there in St. Martin, but I never stayed at them so I can't recommend any. Hotels are going to be pretty expensive. But you must know that to fly in to Antigua or SXM you MUST have a roundtrip ticket. It's required. If you get to the airport and check in and they see you don't have a return ticket you'll be required to buy one there or they won't issue you a ticket at all. And you'll pay full price for it!
High season starts in November and the boats start crewing up in September and October to go to the Caribbean. There is lots of work there, it's just a matter of working hard to find it...walking the docks and talking to the yachties. A lot of boats will be leaving from Ft. Lauderdale soon just in time to arrive in St. Martin to have the owners on board for Christmas and New Years. They are looking for crew to do deliveries.
I wish you the very best of luck! I know you're going to find a job really easily. I definitely do not think you are going to miss your chance in the Caribbean and you are going to have the time of your life!! Good luck, and please keep me updated!
I'm a fellow traveler writing for a bit of advice. i'm leaving minneapolis (managing a hostel and working at a co-op), and want to possibly get into yacht work like yourself... can you recommend any means of getting started, if possible, this time of year?
Glad to help! First, I recommend checking out some crew agency websites. They list the positions available on yachts, typical salaries and what to expect. You can register with the agencies for free, interview with them in person or over the phone, and they will look to place you on a yacht. The usual ways people start on yachts is by working as either a deckhand, stewardess or chef or combo of all three! These are the agencies that I worked with. They are all located in Ft. Lauderdale.
Now is a good time to start looking for work for the Caribbean season when all the yachts will looking to crew up to head to St. Martin, St. Barts, Antigua and the USVI. Some yachts will fly you out of whereever you are (minneapolis) or your best bet is to go to Ft. Lauderdale. You can day work there while looking for a full time job and pulling in anywhere between $10-15/hr. And if you need a place to stay there are crew houses where all the yacht crew go while looking for work.
Great for networking and so much fun! Basically, they're hostels. Anyway, check these sites out. They should be really helpful. Remember it's really hard work, but the payoffs are so worth it! Best of luck to you and let me know how it goes!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
A few months back I got lost on a drive from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills. Most people who know their way around would think that's crazy, but it's sad and true. Somehow I found myself in Laurel Canyon. At the time, I didn't really know what Laurel Canyon was but driving through it I thought to myself, "I would have never imagined to find a place like this right here in LA."
This video with Michael Walker, author of Laurel Canyon, talks about the history of Laurel Canyon and a little bit about what this surprising and refreshing little community tucked back in the hills of LA.
Foxy's, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Quite popular with the yachtie crowd and majorly popular with with the New Year's crowd. Foxy's is big time, even though it's on the smallest of the four main BVI islands.
Sunset Beach Bar, St. Maarten
Watch the beautiful sunset in St. Maarten and get sand blasted by Air France taking off at the airport all at the same time. For some reason, people seem to love this.
Watch out for their espresso martinis...they're lethal, but in a good way!
Duffy's Love Shack, St. Thomas, USVI
Famous bar with the best nightlife in St. Thomas.
Woody's, St. John, USVI
Kinda feels like a college bar and grill. Hang around long enough and you might catch a glimpse of Kenny Chesney
Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Home of the original Painkiller. Why is it called the Soggy Dollar? Apparently, sailors can't get their tenders into shore easily so they just anchor out and swim to shore. Then they have to pay for their drinks with soggy, wet dollars.
Friday, July 20, 2007
The other day I was talking to my best friend, Kristina, who just recently came back from Nairobi and Zanzibar. I was telling her about Exquisite Safaris and what a great idea I think it is to introduce people to the communities they are visiting. She agreed that philanthropic travel is a great idea, because she has actually been looking for tours like these but couldn't find them. Often times, when someone wants to travel to another country and volunteer at an orphanage or school they must stay in a budget accommodations. Not everyone wants to sacrifice in that way and that's completely understandable. Someday, if I can afford it, I plan on traveling this way, too. Until then, I'm completely content with sleeping in the back of my jeep or dorms with 12 other people all snoring in unison. Would Oprah and Angelina travel like this? Hmm, doubtful. So, why haven't more tour operators and the travel industry catered more to people who want to volunteer in under served communities while on their travels but who don't want to sacrifice some creature comforts? I think that Exquisite Safaris is definitely on to something big!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
If you've always dreamed of living in a tree house here's your opportunity to try it on for size. 3 Rivers Eco-lodge on the Caribbean island of Dominica is a unique and adventurous place to stay on your next island vacation.
Nestled in the heart of the Dominican rainforest, 3 Rivers Eco-Lodge offers a variety of choices for accommodation. From private cabins, camping areas, dormitories, home stays and even a treehouse in the sky, the independent traveler looking for an alternative experience is sure to not be disappointed.
Electricity and heated rainwater showers are available and provided by the solar panals installed on property.
If you are looking for a true and affordable return to nature, you should definitely check out 3 Rivers Eco-Lodge. Then again, shouldn't nature always be affordable?
Disclaimer: This post sounds like I'm being paid for it! I'm not! It just came out that way!
Islands, the magazine, has a top 20 islands to live on list in their July/August issue. While I have lived on an island, St. Martin, West Indies (French and Dutch sides), and spent a lot of time on other Caribbean islands (On getting Island fever; Losing Identity in St. Thomas; St. Thomas USVI; Off to St. John, USVI), I swore I would never do it or think about it again. In my opinion, living on an island is fantastic in theory, but not so wonderful once in reality. I'm torn between this opinion and my absolute love for the ocean and beautiful beaches. So I've concluded that I could be happy with just owning a very tiny cottage on a small lot of land right on the beach. Once again, this is best if practiced in my imagination, because beach front land is so expensive and hard to find. If I ever do carry out this fantasy my requirements are that the island must be easily accessible. Meaning I don't want to have to fly to the main island, then take a ferry to the next island and then take a puddle jumper to the next closest island, then take a tender to my wonderfully secluded beach front getaway on a paradise island. Because what if I forgot to go grocery shopping on the main island and the only store on my island is sold out until the next shipment arrives arrives in two weeks? I guess if my cottage was fully staffed year round with chefs, housekeeping and massage therapists who can think ahead for me I could survive, just like Richard Branson's Necker Island. Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. Best islands to live on...
The top twenty islands are:
Pico, Azores, Portugal
Long Island, Bahamas
Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Big Island, Hawaii
Norfolk Island, Australia
Cedar Key, Florida
Isla Colon, Panama
I've actually considered Dominica, I have a strong dislike of the Bahamas (although the people are nice), and I've always been in love with New Zealand. And why would I want to live on an island that is essentially Florida? Although, I do like Key West, but it's not on the list. I think I could handle New Zealand, but Dominica just seems too small for me.
The factors considered when compiling the list ranged from weather, number of expats, and starter housing prices. Fiji prices started at $50,000 for five acres of land near the beach. Too bad it costs a kajillion dollars to get there! Aruba seems pretty reasonable. I was surprised to learn that a three bedroom ranch style house starts at $85,000. Apparently, it's also pretty easy to buy there as long as you can pay cash.
So, there they are. Twenty great islands that are easy to get to and are reasonably affordable. Shh! Don't tell anyone so that the tourists don't catch on, move all at once and ruin the secret hideaways for us real travelers who truly appreciate these places! Let's just keep telling them how great St. Thomas, USVI is!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
In an article on Yahoo Travel called Geotourism trend: Authentic travel, the author points out that geotourism is a type of travel that allows travelers to understand the uniqueness of the places they visit. Instead of seeing McDonald's and Wal-Mart, you go to locally based businesses owned by locals employing locals. Excuse me while I get sarcastic here.
Wow! What a concept! That's what travel is in the first place! Basically, it seems to me that all we have done is go full circle in travel trends. From all-inclusive getaways, to theme parks, to eco-travel, to geo-travel. Although, to me geotourism isn't really a trend, I still definitely support the idea of travel to learn more about other cultures and history. I can't get the book Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain out of my head right now. I will try not to be so cynical and realize that I am just being a travel snob. The redeeming aspect of this article is that they listed links to the center for sustainable travel at my favorite magazine, National Geographic. Maybe it's just a form of marketing: buy the new and improved travel with new packaging. Maybe I should be happy if people embrace the idea of "geotourism" as I have always endorsed travel with purpose. If so, get out there and geotravel, people!
Many people don't realize that prices go down significantly during the low season (July 15-November 15) in the Caribbean.
The Turquoise Shell Inn in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten has special rates of only $95 per night or $590 for the week (tax included!). You will get a 1-bedroom suite with a fully equipped kitchen. All rates are based on single or double occupancy. That's an amazing offer!
For more information check out their website.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The 7 World Wonders were announce on 7.7.07. They are:
Great Wall of China, China
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Machu Picchu, Peru
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Taj Mahal, India
Sadly, I've never been to any of them!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
Pam, travel maven and author at BlogHer and publisher of her own website, Nerd's Eye View, quoted a snippet from my post, Wandering Aimlessly vs. Pursuit of Purpose, in her article, Why Travel? I've been following Pam's writings for a while so I was shocked when I saw my own quote in her July 4th post! Thanks Pam. Love the article! One of my favorite topics!
I have been looking for funding for a while to do a TV show about travel. I wanted to start my show in the Caribbean then move down into Central and South America. Well, I have raised enough funds so far to do a few shows, hire a crew and a CO-HOST! We have the production all line up and now all we need is the crew and possibly some more money (of course, who doesn't need more money?)! My friend's services definitely don't come cheap, but he's known me for a long time and knows I've been wanting to this for at least 10 years! So here's the timeline: Starting in November we'll be leaving for the Caribbean with me, the crew and co-host and begin shooting a few episodes. The episodes will be available at the new website (which is also in development right now). Check back often. I'll keep you updated on the progress!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
In my travels I have met so many people that have so many negative opinions of the United States and I have always defended my country. If we as Americans don't defend our home, who will? I know it's unpopular these days to offer much support for the United States. Even if I don't agree with the beliefs of the president or my neighbors I have the freedom to do so without fear of persecution. (Well, not much at least!) I'm not always proud of the things that happen in America or the things that some people do. But we are a good country, a GREAT country. My grandfathers fought hard for this country so I could have a good life. I love my country. I am proud to be American. I love my fellow Americans. What I wish for our country is that Americans would travel more to other countries and realize how truly blessed we are to have peace and freedom in this country. Happy Fourth of July America!
Monday, July 02, 2007
If you've read my blog much you know that I was in South Africa a few years ago and fell in love with Coffee Bay. Here are some of my past blogs from the trip:
Letter to dad:South Africa
While I was there I stayed at a backpacker called The Coffee Shack. Not only was the place really comfortable and the people truly friendly, but the the area that The Coffee Shack is located, the Transkei, can be described in no other words except magical. The locals were truly beautiful people. I just loved it there. I honestly didn't want to leave. South Africa is poor, but this area of South Africa is the poorest. I've been thinking for a long time that I wanted to help that area out in some way (Itching to do Something) and now I've found a way.
Coffee Shack has started a scholarship fund for students in the Coffee Bay area to attend senior secondary school. A large percentage of students do not go on to complete their education because there are no secondary schools in the immediate area. The closest school is 20km away. Many of the local families cannot afford to send their children away due to the costs of transport or boarding fees.
Each year Coffee Shack selects one student who will receive a full 3 year scholarship to attend senior school. This scholarship is aimed at the poor and disadvantaged children who would not normally have the chance to attend senior secondary school. The students' background and surrounding circumstances are a deciding factor in the selection process. The scholarship covers annual school fees, uniforms, books, stationery, food and boarding costs amounting to approx R5500 per year.
Here's what I suggest to you dear readers. I'm going to donate at least $100 to the scholarship fund, but I feel that if some of you are interested we can sponsor a student for all three years. I've set up a pay pal account for donations.
PATO JUNIOR SCHOOL FUNDRAISING PROJECT
All we need is $2343 US dollars. So easy! I suggest that if each reader donates $5 or $10, based on the number of visitors this site receives, we will have enough to sponsor a student within six weeks. What do you think? 100% of the donations will be sent to Coffee Shack's Scholarship fund as soon as we receive $2343. I will keep a permanent post with the total on the page so everyone can track progress. Please donate if you can!
Sunday, July 01, 2007
This book covers everything you need to know when starting out on a yacht as crew from what kind of luggage to take with you (collapsible) to tips about working out in small places!
Some other books I have seen out there that I wish I had when I was first starting out are
Obviously these books are geared toward stewardesses but I'm sure they have information for chefs and deckhands as well, especially if you are female.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Ski and Wine South America
The Rad Blog
Blue Suite Nomads
Work on a Yacht
One Girl, Her Suitcase and Some Airline Miles
Frugal n Fabulous
Karina's Travel Blog
St. Maarten Blog
Experiencias Y Aventuras (Experiences and Adventures)
Where the Hell is Matt?
Friday, June 15, 2007
All backpackers are probably familiar with Lonely Planet and the ones that are really obsessive, like me, know who Tony and Maureen Wheeler are. They are the travelers-turned-publishers turned publishers-who-travel and creators of Lonely Planet Guidebooks.
The Seattle Times recently had an interview with the couple about their new book, Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story. In the interview they discuss mixing work and marriage and joke that going on a book tour is a good way to break up a marriage. If they can spend 35 years together traveling around the world, I think it's a safe bet to say that their marriage is solid enough to survive a book tour!
My favorite magazine, National Geographic Adventure Magazine, also has an interview with the couple along with their recommended travel tips in this month's issue.
If you are a big fan of The Wheelers or Lonely Planet you will find this book super interesting. It's an autobiography of the couple detailing their travels and journey into the world of publishing.
Monday, May 28, 2007
In other news, our travel business has a new look, Via Via Travel, is revamped and we are getting ready to begin the Caribbean off-season.
I've already booked an eco-honeymoon in St. John, USVI, in September for a happy couple. The couple requested a weeklong honeymoon for under $1500. We found the perfect place for them at Maho Bay at $80 a night. They are going to have a fabulous time!
Today I was thinking about how much I loved Africa. Of all the places I have been no where else in the world touches my heart the way Africa does. One place in particular that I loved was Coffee Bay, South Africa. I stayed at The Coffee Shack and had the time of my life. I wish that on normal days when I wake up I could feel that same feeling I had when I was there. I would say the feeling was a "joy for life!"
While I think it is going to be a while before I can go back again, I was thinking I would like to give back to the community even when I am not there. I think it would be cool to set up a donation drive to send funds back to Coffee Bay maybe to help some of the school programs there. I am not really sure. I know The Coffee Shack has some programs set up. Does anyone out there know of some programs there that need funding? I want to set up a donation campaign here on my blog. Any ideas out there?
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The Lady Moura, 354' private yacht estimated to be worth $200 million, ran aground in Cannes today. The yacht, owned by a Saudi billionaire, spilled several hundred gallons of fuel and authorities had to evacuate nearby beaches. Fortunately, the boat could be pulled off the rocks by tug boats and repaired enough for the boat to head to Gibralter for more extensive work on the hull.
See the full story here.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Magen's Bay, St. Thomas USVI
According to Wikipedia, Magens Bay (18.366° N 64.930° W) is a world-famous beach on Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, located in the Caribbean.
Located on the North (Atlantic) side of the island, Magens Bay is a well-protected white sand beach stretching for nearly a mile. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island.
With its clear water, soft sand, and palm trees, it is commonly considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and National Geographic has recognized it as such.
The beach amenities are managed by a local government agency, the Magens Bay authority. They include lifeguards, a snack counter, bar, souvenir shop, chair and beach toy rentals, windsurf and boat rentals, and showers and bathrooms.
Legend (probably false) has it that Sir Francis Drake used the bay as an anchorage while waiting for ships to plunder.
Monday, May 14, 2007
First there was the Greek cruise ship, "Sea Diamond," that sank off the coast of Santorini, Greece.
Now there is the Alaskan cruise ship, "Empress of the North" that hit a rock south of Juneau.
How does that happen? There are depth radars, maps, officers on watch. How do you miss a huge rock?
Friday, April 27, 2007
easyCruise is offering a deal on their May 1 cruise embarking in Antwerp departing in Amsterdam on May 4 starting at $6 per person per night. Rooms are standard twin with a window (a real one!).
If Belgium and the Netherlands aren't your thing, easyCruise also has cruises planned for this Summer in the Greek Islands from $38 a night or in Classical Greece for around $42 in the Fall.