A Travellerspoint blog

Some Travel Tips

George Reporting...

sunny 70 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

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As we take a little ocean side break from our nearly 8 month long travels,
it's probably a good time to share with you some travel tips:

We are in lovely Albissola Marina located between Savona and Genoa Italy.
The temperature is around 70 degrees and mostly clear skies. The
beach is just outside next to a very long artistic boardwalk
made up of ceramic tiles created by artists from the mid 2oth
Century.
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As you know, we sold everything (including our house) and strapped
everything we have on to our backs to go see some of the world.
For many, this is a "dream come true" and I'd be hard pressed to
argue with that. However, traveling the way we do can be challenging
in many ways. We are approaching nearly 100 stops for about
30 weeks of travel. That's averaging over 3 stops per week. You
can imagine the level of effort it takes to nail down transportation
and accommodations for each one of those stops. This kind of effort
can wear you down and we find it necessary to make a 'long' stop
of about a week or maybe two. Even these breaks seem short as
nearly everyday is filled with some new sightseeing adventure or
another.
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Even though it is beautiful outside and the beach beckons, I'm currently
happy staying in the hotel room watching old MTV videos, writing
a bit and taking long naps. I can't tell you how good it feels to just
sit around and do nothing for a few days. I'm trying not to think too much
about our next destinations but instead not 'think' too much at all.

I suppose there is a considerable amount of mental energy that goes
into traveling like this and it can catch up to you at some point.
I've started to dream a little bit about lying around the house
and sleeping in all day and occasionally tending the garden. Does
that make me sound like an old man? lol I know that a few days of
doing nothing will make me antsy to go out and explore places and
that is precisely what I can use now. Andrea? She's always in motion
and is out by herself looking for adventure and hopefully lunch for
the two of us. She has so much energy that it makes it hard to keep
up with her!

Oh where was I? Oh yeah, tips on traveling.
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Traveling Home and Office (Smart phone in my right pocket btw)

After 8 months
Some Travel Tips:

Baggage:
Use a travel bag that you can wear like a backpack but also
carry like a suitcase. If it has wheels, then you can cart it
around when necessary. Make sure it's a bag that is regulation
size for carry-on to an airplane. These bags hold a lot and
you will be surprised at what you can include for a year long
trip.

Have an all-weather day bag to carry on the front of you which
includes all your most important items ie. docs/passport/computer
etc.

Money:
Try and ONLY use a chip credit card that doesn't charge international
fees and gives you points. For example, I use Capital One and
charge no fees of any kind and provide points so you can easily
pay yourself back later for some of the travel costs.

When you get cash using your check card, take out as much as you
can and be frugal with it. Try using your credit card whenever
possible so you can avoid cash withdrawal fees.

Setup your accounts so you can pay any bills via online.
Quick and easy and no hassle in whatever country you are in.

Create a monthly budget for yourself and stick to it. If you
saved some money, you can splurge a little the following month.
If you had an expensive month, live a little more conservatively.
You'll have fun either way.

Free Fifi is available in most airports
and also near any Starbucks or McDonald's.
Also try the WiFi at free museums or simply set your phone to grab an open WiFi signal
to pull down email and map info.
In actuality, there is far more free wifi than I would have hoped for. I haven't felt the need to purchase a data card.

Favorite travel websites:
Booking.com (www.booking.com)
I started with them from the beginning and they have given me
no reason to use anybody else. It's easy to use, you get great
hotel information for each city and a map to show you were you
could stay whether next to a park or train station. Use their
site enough and you will get discounted hotel rates the more
you use it. Free with signup.

Rome to Rio website (www.rome2rio.com) tells you how to get from point A to point B
via different modes of transportation and shows you the costs. Free

Google Flights Map (keyword: Google Flights) shows you costs to fly between any two
airports in the world and the costs. Now includes train
information and costs.

Favorite apps:
Currency Converter. Free
Google Maps. Free
Google translator. Free. Drawback is that you need wifi.

Pharmacies abound. Don't bother trying to bring liquids or
soaps through airport security. Just wait until you get to
your next country and buy small travel size toiletries.

Try and stay in one place for a week or longer otherwise you'll
burn yourself out stressing out over where your going everyday.

Get yourself a nice massage now and then. Lugging around 25lbs of stuff
nearly everyday can wreak havoc on your bones and muscles.

Try and book rooms with a fridge or mini kitchenette. Then go grocery
shopping at a local store and bring food back. You'll save a few bucks
and you'll feel a little bit cozier knowing there's grub in the fridge.

Try and book hotels that offer free breakfast. Many times this
is a great deal and you can eat enough to last you an entire day.
Tipping the staff is not necessary but send a positive message
anyway.

Most hotels have pretty good gyms that hardly anyone uses. Take advantage
of them to help keep your strength and energy up. But also use the pool
for a swim and feel free to just lounge around if you need to.

Always take a few free toiletry items from the hotel bath just
in case you need them down the road.

When flying, wear a pair of pants that don't require a belt. Nothing
more tiring than taking of your belt and putting it back on in front of strangers.

Oh yeah, take long breaks. Your mind and body will appreciate it.

Electronic tips:
Buy an extra large storage sim for your smartphone and load up
all your favorite music. Bring head phones so you can enjoy
them wherever you are in private.

Bring an ultra-small laptop so you can make travel arrangements,
check email, do research, write blog posts etc. rather than just using your smartphone all the time
otherwise you may go blind.

Get a flash drive with at least 32GB memory and store as many as
20 of your favorite films or TV shows so you can watch them while
taking that 2-3 hour flight using your laptop.

Skype is great and works better than ever. Using hotel/tour bus free
wifi you can Skype from your laptop or even on your smartphone with a far-off loved one
so you don't feel so disconnected from friends and family.

If you are like me and prefer to watch English language programs
on Youtube via a big screen, bring an HDMI cable so you can hook
up your computer to the hotel TV. Most hotels now use flat-screens
with various ports. You might even be able to power your phone
or camera this way too.

Auto Laundromats here have become increasingly hightech. You might
be able to find some that automatically inject detergent for your
wash cycle and they even offer free WiFi. Valencia had a great one
in the middle of town.

Indeed, be as nice and courteous to everybody you meet no matter how little they
deserve it. It'll keep you out of trouble and your attitude will stay positive.

These are just a few tips we've decided to share. There are quite a few others but we'll save those for a future time.

Remember John Lennon
& Maya Angelou
and all those who try to make it a better world.

Go Warriors!
Free Tom Brady!

Posted by woa 06:55 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Albisola Superiore Walk

~Andrea

sunny 70 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

A collage of pics from my walk along the gorgeous water on a gorgeous day in Albisola Superiore! Yesterday we had some rain here, but today.... sunny and 70. Later we both went for walk on the beach and found more sea-glass.

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Posted by woa 11:52 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Mediterranean Sea-Glass Jackpot

~Andrea

overcast 68 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

Last year on a road trip to Mendocino we stopped at a little sea-glass museum and learned a little about it. It basically comes from bottles, jars, tableware, windows, windshields, ceramics, even shipwrecks, which are rolled and tumbled in the ocean for years. The ocean rounds off the edges, and the glass becomes worn into a frosted glass.

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We always look for it when we walk on beaches. Well today we walked along the beach here in the Albissola Marina in Savona, Italy and there was Mediterranean sea-glass everywhere. This is another tactile experience for me. Rubbing sand off the glass which the ocean mysteriously smoothed and rounded. It's also pretty to look at. This is the most sea-glass we've ever found in one place.

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Below is the jackpot of sea-glass from my pocket. Typically you'd cash in the jackpot right? Well, I might narrow it down to a few pieces to keep and bring to the Merida house, but I really can't add weight to my travel-carry-on load, so I guess I will have to give it back to the Mediterranean ocean to continue refining.

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Posted by woa 07:21 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

The Accidental Pilgrims

George Reporting..

semi-overcast 70 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

I'm not sure when I realized that we had somehow become spiritual pilgrims. Perhaps it was on the flight to Turin, Italy with tickets in-hand to go see the Shroud of Turin which will be on temporary display. This comes just a few days after seeing the Holy Grail (Jesus' drinking cup from the Last Supper) in Valencia, Spain. That comes just several weeks after seeing Stonehenge and a few months prior to Chichen Itza. Val_holygrail_g.jpgstonehenge_ag3.jpgCI_Il_Castillo_g.jpg

What binds all these experiences was that none of them were planned visits. They were all places that we happened upon while on the way to somewhere else. We had no intention of going to see Chichen Itza or even Mexico for that matter but circumstances made it so. Stonehenge happened because we were in Bath Spa, England on the way to maybe see Liverpool. We didn't even know the Holy Grail was in Valencia until we got there. And Turin happened only because we didn't get the cruise we wanted out of Barcelona but could get the one we want leaving Venice. The best, cheapest and fastest way to get towards Venice was to fly into Turin first!
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Turin rarely exhibits the Shroud. So we thought, "We are here. Let's go see it." The tickets are free via online and we walked about 20 minutes to the exhibit. Hardly any waiting even though there were many tour groups and families in line. Visitors are clumped into large groups and ushered through a long path until you are before the Shroud itself for only 15 minutes.
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By happenstance we were the last two people in one group so we were able to stay and see the Shroud an extra 15 minutes. Because we were so slow to leave, the ushers thought us the beginning of the following group! Thus in our case, the famous biblical phrase rang true:

"Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first
who will be last." So the last shall be first, and the first last:
for many be called, but few chosen." Matthew 8:11,12

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I am not particularly religious myself. However here I was, silently looking at the Shroud while REAL pilgrims around me whispered prayers. I could hear the gentle sound of someone fondling rosary beads behind me. Its distinct, smooth rattle is easily noticeable to someone like me who was raised Catholic for a good part of childhood. These were all people, mostly older, very passionate about their beliefs and practiced so somewhat quietly.The loudest noise came from the exhibition staff who went 'Catholic' on anyone who broke the 'no flash photography' rule. Those of you who were raised catholic know what I mean by "going Catholic" on somebody. Mostly I can't quite
understand why somebody needs to take a photo of something that is already all over the Internet.

I'm still not sure what the meaning (for me) is of all these visits to places (or things) that so many people find so important and even personally revelatory. I considered in fortunate and fun for the most part. Extremely educational to say the least.

I will say this about the Shroud; Clearly somebody had suffered greatly and it was somehow captured on this cloth. The debate continues on whether it really is Jesus' imprint or some medieval forgery. Even if it is from the middle ages, I don't think medieval people thought, "Oh, let's make a forgery or a prop to fool people!" No, I could imagine medieval people thinking, "Let's actually get a real person and do to him exactly as the bible wrote happened to Jesus!". I mean, after all, they were MEDIEVAL (in every sense of the word) so actually using a real person and giving him real pain and making him bleed real blood made normal, contemporary sense to them. After all, were they going to get sued for this?

It very much appears that a man had suffered incredible pain and suffering that is exact to the biblical crucifixion. In my mind, it doesn't really matter if it is Jesus or not. What's important is that this kind of pain and suffering still happens in the world today and that I am fortunate that I haven't had that happen to me. It's also important to try and always remember that there is some great suffering out there and that I should better understand the world in the hopes of mitigating and not contributing to that kind of suffering. In a way, the Shroud is a snapshot of human existence pushed to the edge by....human existence.

Posted by woa 11:53 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Not enough time

~Andrea

sunny 74 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

First view of the Mediterranean from our train:
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A few days is not enough time to see all we wanted to see in beautiful Barcelona. It's a big city. We plan to come back in June following a cruise.

The Gaudi Sagrada Familia
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Lunch in the park near the Arc de Triumph:
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Barcelona Cathedral
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Park Güell, one of the major works of Gaudí in Barcelona
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The home Gaudi lived in for 20 years in Park Güell
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Joan Miró Park
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The Montjüic Park is a large area with so much to see, including amazing views! (http://www.whatbarcelona.com/montjuic-park-barcelona.html)
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We had a nice dinner at a restaurant on top of the former bullfight arena (which has a mall inside) building
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See you again in June Barcelona after our Mediterranean cruise. Onward to Turin, Italy today to the Holy Shroud of Turin!
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Posted by woa 01:31 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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