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Italy

Revisiting the first travel "Selfie"

George Reporting...

sunny 69 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

This is our First Selfie taken aboard a water taxi way back in 2001 in Venice, Italy.
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To me, a selfie is taking a picture of yourself at arms length with a camera. It is not the same as putting a timer on the camera and setting it down and running into place.

I think the main reason I took that pic was so not to bother other people to take the pic of us. Also, I think I was probably trying to impress, my then
girlfriend Andrea, with how many features my little palm-sized Sony camcorder had. That pic has been on my website since 2001, long before the
term 'selfie' was coined.

14 years later, we find ourselves on the way back to Venice, Italy to hop on a water taxi to recreate that moment. Why? Because it's a fun, goofy thing to do, that's why. Maybe we'll start a movement where folks will go back and recreate a 10-15 year old selfie of themselves? lol!

2015 Venice selfie
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Anyway, we are in Venice to take our 12 night Mediterranean cruise. We found a great, last minute deal while in Barcelona and it includes many places we are dying to visit.

The Itinerary:
12 Night Grand Mediterranean (Venice To Barcelona)

Day Ports of Call Arrival Departure

1 Venice, Italy --- ---
2 Venice, Italy --- 1:00 a.m.
3 At Sea --- ---
4 Piraeus (Athens), Greece 7:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
5 Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey 7:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m.
6 Istanbul, Turkey 9:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
7 Mykonos, Greece 1:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m.
8 At Sea --- ---
9 Naples, Italy 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
10 Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
11 Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
12 Toulon, France 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
13 Barcelona, Spain 5:00 a.m. ---
---------------
A cruise like this is a great break from backpacking through different countries. For 12 nights, we can unload our bags once and take advantage of all the things a cruise offers including all meals, a gym and (most importantly) not having to make travel plans for several dayss.

We set sale on May 31 and may not have Internet for awhile so blog posts might have to wait. OR, we could be surprised at find that wifi is no big deal and we'll continue to post. Don't really know yet.

Wish us a "bon voyage". It's true that we take a piece of you with us on these trips and we'll stop and think, "Oh So-and-So would love this or this place is so like So-and-So". Cruises like this promises something for everyone. So set a course for adventure, Your mind on a new romance.
And Love won't hurt anymore
It's an open smile on a friendly shore.
Yes LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!

Welcome Aboard. It's LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!

lol!

Go Warriors!
Free Tom Brady!

Posted by woa 05:12 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

24 Hours in Milano

by Andrea

all seasons in one day
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

We left the Albisola Superiore train station heading to Milan on Tuesday afternoon. During our train ride to Milan, some young guy starts yelling. He's on a phone having a loud and passionate argument, or perhaps a romantic meltdown. Naturally I get a little uncomfortable and say to George, "I might move to the next car." George says, "Stay here, don't worry it does not seem like a threatening situation."

I look behind me and see an older woman, who is possible the guy's mother sitting a few rows behind me. She talks to him seemingly to calm him down. However; he starts up again, on the phone yelling and moves to the next car, or the door between cars and we can still hear him arguing with Alessandra. This time it's anger and sounds of despair. Italy is a different culture and maybe this is no cause for alarm on my part. After all, I'm just over-hearing a passionate argument on a phone. If I were on this train in the U.S. I would definitely be more nervous because I'd fear this enraged guy, might be mentally unstable, might have a gun, and decide to shoot innocent fellow travelers just trying to get to their next destination. Frankly, George was impressed that the guy's voice carried that long without getting hoarse.

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(Unicyclist Juggler in Milan traffic)

In Milan we schlep to our hotel a few blocks from the train station on a quieter street. We decide to head back to the train station and buy our tickets for the following day to Padua in advance. This is a busy train station. George takes a number. We observe these guys of different ages and ethnicity, and dress (from nice clothes, to casual, to torn pants) who approach travelers and help them use the ticket machines. They do not work for Trenitalia. They just try and get people to use the machines in exchange for a tip, or the change from a cash sale. They also sweep their hand through the change return slot on a regular basis. The give-away for us was when the police come through, they scatter, only to return a few minutes later. A good number of people just brushed them aside and used the machines on their own.

It is definitely faster to use the ticket machines, but if you pay with credit card a pin number is required. Nearly two hours later our number is called. At the ticket counter we purchase the tickets for Padua, and we can't get out of this large, old, beautiful train station fast enough.

Milan_moleskine_store.jpg
(Look, a Moleskine store in the train station!)

We get outside and it starts to rain and we dodge three different guys trying to sell us an umbrella. The rain started getting a little heavier so we stopped for dinner at this Italian and Asian restaurant. By the time we finish the rain has stopped. We walk off our dinner a little, pick up a bottle of wine, and head back to the hotel. We sit on on the small balcony enjoying a cup of wine while the clouds grow thick and gray.

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We begin to see flashes of lightening, and then actual lightening bolts, we hear thunder and think this is an electrical storm. The rain eventually returns heavily. It was fierce, but not terribly long. Just another unexpected storm.

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Milan_streetcar.jpg
The next morning is calm, clear, and the sun is out. Upon in arrival in Milan, we learned Milan is hosting the Universal Expo this year (May 1 - Oct 31), and decided to go check it out since we've never been to one. We continue to learn of rare exhibitions or events only when we arrive in new destinations! We take the metro and manage to get to the Universal Expo when it opens at 10am.

Milan_Expo.jpg

It's like a huge international convention. The theme this year is food & sustainability "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". We only had five hours, not nearly enough time. We saw what we could, and were impressed with some of the installations, especially Israel with their 'Vertical Field'. There were some gorgeous displays in a variety of materials and mediums.

Milan_Expo_Israel_sign.jpgMilan_Expo.._corn_wht_a.jpgMilan_Expo.._field_sign.jpgMilan_Expo_China_yel_g.jpgMilan_Expo_UK.jpgMilan_Expo_soundfountain2.jpgMilan_Expo..Road_spices.jpgMilan_Expo_bottle_display.jpgMilan_Expo_Argentina_a.jpgMilan_Expo_plates_g.jpgMilan_Expo_vert_garden_g.jpgMilan_Expo..tain_wall_g.jpgMilan_Expo_lake_pineapl_a.jpgMilan_Expo_strawberries.jpgMilan_Expo_Eataly.jpgMilan_expo_wht_rock_g.jpgMilan_Expo_Poland.jpgMilan_Expo_ceiling_inst.jpgMilan_Expo_bread.jpgMilan_expo_planter.jpgMilan_Expo..lights_btls.jpgMilan_Expo_gardens.jpgMilan_Expo..wht_lights2.jpg

It was educational.
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Milan_Expo_IndCheese_info.jpgMilan_Expo_pkgsalad_info.jpgMilan_Expo_foodwaste_info.jpgMilan_Expo_corngiant.jpg

There was also a few 'Technogyms'
Milan_Expo_techgym_g.jpg

We agreed that the installation from the U.S. was non-impressive. Aside from hearing a recording of President Obama, it was video screens of nothing we stayed to watch, and nothing else to experience or engage in. Yes, a lot of countries had video components but with some tangible or different visual elements as well.

Milan_Expo_USA.jpg

There was a 'Supermarket of the future'

Milan_Expo_futuremkt_ga.jpgMilan_Expo..t_displays2.jpgMilan_Expo..remkt_quote.jpgMilan_Expo..remkt_robot.jpg

Overall, a great experience and definitely plan to spend the whole day if you go.

Milan_Expo_ga2.jpgMilan_Expo_Kazakhsan.jpg

That was all we had time for. Next stop: Padua Italy.

Posted by woa 00:10 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Some Travel Tips

George Reporting...

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

Albissola_beach_view_a.jpg71B828AFA1A6D708DB640333B5B76771.jpg
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.
Albissola_Marina_artprom2.jpgAlbissola_Marina_artprom.jpgAlbissola_Marina_artprom5.jpg
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.
alb_hotelgarden_winview2.jpgAlbissola_.._a_seaglass.jpg
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.
large_Bar_metro_..lday_gitems.jpg
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.

Albissola_seaglass.jpg [Albissola_..dofseaglass.jpg

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.

Albissola_seaglass_jkpt.jpg

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

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