Thursday, June 30, 2016

Photo


via Tumblr http://ift.tt/296TZgD

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Photo


via Tumblr http://ift.tt/29kqYNh

Allison Is Trying To Kill Me Part 1

I don't think she's got anything in mind, I just think somewhere deep down she wants to do me in. This isn't your classic death wish; maybe she figures that she would rather be the one to do it, instead of leaving it to a stranger. Maybe if she does kill me, then she can know I went quickly and with a sense of adventure. I should probably explain...

My wife Allison and I like to travel together. We go places both popular and off the beaten path. Allison is the spearhead of these adventures (a continuation of her single, solo travelling life), and it's one of the reasons I love her. Sometimes we go safe places, like Disneyland, other times... well, not so much. Allison and (now) I also don't like to spend a lot of money on these trips. It's very logical. If you save a dollar on one trip, you can put it towards the next trip. After all, a bed is just a place to sleep, and the adventure happens outside of your hotel... or hostel dorm... or tent.

So when we travel we often like to travel on the cheap. It's regularly allowed us to experience some pretty cool things, and it's also almost killed me on several occasions. But, as Allison once told me while I was on the brink of death, "If we live, it'll make a great story." So far all I have is stories, and here's one of them:

Australia - Travelling through Australia is already a dangerous thing. Most of the world's most dangerous spiders and snakes live in Australia. Even in the largest city, Sydney, at any point a deadly black window spider could bite you. Snakes aren't as big a concern in large cities as they are in the north and central areas. So you could imagine my joy when Allison wanted to visit Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the middle of the outback. This is, as I learned from a visit to a zoo in Sydney, the prime habitat for the most deadly snake in the world.

Ayers Rock is a very isolated place. The only place to stay is a small resort area a few kilometres from the famous rock. The resort offers everything from five star bungalows to places to pitch your tent. Seeing as I've joined Allison's cult of money saving while travelling, a cabin in the campsite sounded fine. Of course, we booked this long before I knew about the snakes.

We arrived at the campsite and I was nervous. After all, this was the outback, and only Paul Hogan can survive out there. As we walked up to the main campsite building, after walking past several of the five star resorts, I saw a giant sign pasted to the door: "Beware of Dingos".  Attached to this sign was a picture of a very ferocious looking dingo. While I was assured that there were fences around the campsite, I couldn't help but wonder why they would have this sign up if everything was "safe".

While this certainly didn't put me at ease, at least I knew that I was sleeping in a cabin, and not out in the open that night.  Sure I might run into a dingo, but at least I would be awake when it happened.  Not that I would have any idea on how to fight off a pack of bloodthirsty wild dogs.  In principle, I was on board with Allison's plan to make our steak dinner on the isolated "barbie" way out in the open, but in practice I was on constant lookout for the dingos.

That night was when I truly felt like I was going to die.  Allison had visited the southern hemisphere a few times in her life (this was my first time), but she never thought to go out at night and specifically look for the Southern Cross.  Seeing as we were out of a city, in the middle of nowhere, she thought it would be fun to visit a walking trail that was in the middle of this resort "town".  This trail was in a circle of wilderness around which all of the resorts were dotted . It takes about a half hour to walk from one side of the circle to the other.  In the middle of this trail was a raised hill with a place to look around at the countryside, and at night a nice dark place to see the stars.

What could be more romantic than a night walk under the stars eventually sitting on a bench and searching the skies for the Southern Cross?  Probably walking this trail with a guy that didn't insist on pushing you into the grass so I could walk in the middle of the trail because that was the only place I could make sure that there weren't any snakes.  While there was a possibility of the dingo fence keeping large dogs out of the area, I was pretty sure that the snakes could slither in and out as they wanted.  I also knew from my past visit to the zoo that these snakes could kill me. Quickly. There were lots of little bushes around the path; perfect places for any snake to jump out and finish me off.

Allison regularly reminds me that nothing happened, and we didn't come across any snakes.  I'm convinced that I kept us safe.  If it weren't for my regular whimpering and complaining scaring the snakes away, a copperhead or taipan may have jumped out and killed either one of us.

Later

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Travel Tip - Cyprus - History In Cyprus

Cyprus is an island that is covered with scars from its history. The geographical location of this island made it an important location strategically during many battles, and even today it holds several army bases. Fortunately one of the oldest pieces of important Cypriot history has nothing to do with war, and is in fact the birthplace of love. According to some archaeologists it is believed that Aphrodite was born on the shores of Cyprus, more specifically in the area near Petra tou Romiou.

The country is also littered with more than a dozen castles built mostly between the 10th and 16th century. These castles cover the island and once served as military posts, religious areas, and even as living areas. While some of these castles are in ruins, many such as Limassol Castle and Larnaca Castle are still in great condition and open to tourists. Another great piece of Byzantine architecture is the wall that surrounds the old town in Nicosia. Parts of the this wall are blocked off and not really accessible, however places like Famagousta gate are easy to find and offer you an opportunity for an up close look at this great piece of architecture.

History in Cyprus doesn't have to go back too far. With the continuing conflict between the Greek Cypriot army and Turkish army, there is evidence of the battles fought here in the 1960s and 70s all over the island. There are bullet holes in building, old flags, and even bunkers that are still in use all along the buffer zone.

Later

Photo


via Tumblr http://ift.tt/28Vnzrz

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

300 TripAdvisor Reviews (My New Project)

I've decided to set a new goal for myself; I want to post 300 reviews on TripAdvisor. I already have a pretty good rating on TripAdvisor as it is with a few reviews, but I want to see what happens if I go nuts and start reviewing everything.

My first rule for this project is that it has to be completely legitimate. I will not review things so far back that they go beyond what TripAdvisor allows (about a year).  Fortunately the last year has been a busy one for me and includes a trip to Sri Lanka, Africa, India, and Thailand. I'll also make sure that I write fairly detailed reviews. If I dislike something I'll explain why in great detail, same thing goes if I love it.
The only thing that I might do that's a little shady is get some help. Allison may help me contribute a few reviews, as well as help me remember a few details.

I'm not really sure why I'm doing this. It was inspired by our last trip when I noticed that every single reviewer on TripAdvisor I’ve come across had very few other reviews. Seven seemed like the high average, and about 25 seemed like the record high. Where are those people who travel a lot, and why are people losing interest in their accounts? I guess I want to see what TripAdvisor will do to my account if the numbers get really high, and I want to be a realistic voice for reviews on this popular site.

So far I'm at 11 reviews, I still have a long way to go, but it'll be fun to do it.

Click here to see my reviews so far.

Later

Photo


via Tumblr http://ift.tt/28OZYsu

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Travel Tip - Cyprus - Crossing To The North

Many people don't realize that although this country is still involved in a military stalemate, you can easily travel into both parts of the island, even if just for part of a day. For Americans and Canadians crossing does not require any kind of special visa or cost. You will have to bring your passport to the crossing; there you have the option of the Turkish-Cypriot "border guards" at the gate stamping a special document, instead of your passport if you wish. Rental cars do need extra insurance if you cross the buffer zone, it can be purchased when you cross for a nominal fee.

Crossing wise, the easiest way to get across for the average tourist is in Nicosia. Just walk up the pedestrian Ledras Street until you come to the Gris gate. You'll walk for about 20 meters through the buffer zone until you reach the other side. Show them your passport, and you're in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. When you're ready to leave, just come back to the same place, stop at the booths on the left, and walk through the buffer zone again, and you're back in the government-controlled area of Cyprus. Keep in mind that photography is allowed in some places while walking through the buffer zone, however there are certain areas where you cannot take photos, they are all fairly well marked. There are no crossings for cars in old town Nicosia, however there are several on the outer edges of the city and in other parts along the buffer zone.

Later

Photo


via Tumblr http://ift.tt/1YxcFsT

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Travel Tip - Cyprus - Photography On The Green Line

If you are to play strictly by the rules, photography of the Neutral Zone between North and South Cyprus is completely prohibited. There are many signs on the border telling you that photography is forbidden. Having said all of that, I have taken some pretty amazing pictures of this area. The first rule of photography that I follow in Cyprus is if there is a soldier, or a sign saying that you should not take any pictures in a particular area, you should not take pictures. There are a few places where you can see the Neutral Zone that have no signs up, or that there are no soldiers around. I've taken pictures in these areas with no trouble at all.

I've also had several occasions where I thought there were no signs (or soldiers) taken a few pictures, and been yelled at by a hidden soldier. (Simply apologies and leave, there are rarely any problems.) The reason this area is so fascinating to photograph is how the history from 1974 has been preserved. Since the neutral zone was set up, a certain amount of land between the North and South was abandoned, leaving a perfectly preserved version of Cyprus in 1974 remaining. There are cars, buildings, and stores that have been closed off from human contact for more than 35 years. There are also markers of the battles fought in this area preserved and untouched. Nature has taken its toll with trees growing up through houses and buildings, but it really is a beautiful place to see.

Later

Photo


via Tumblr http://ift.tt/1rgpwSX

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Travel Tip - Cyprus - Is Cyprus A Safe Place To Visit?

Most people think about Cyprus in relation to the 1974 Turkish invasion. This isn't an unfair thought, since the Turkish army is still occupying the Northern part of the country. There are still military guards from the Greek Cypriot army, the Turkish army, and the UN stationed all along the line. There is a great swath of land that is a no go zone for anybody except the military and it's been that way since 1974.

While these areas look fairly intimidating with their guard posts, old buildings with bullet holes, and oil drums blocking streets, life in Cyprus couldn't be further from this. There is no gunfire anymore, nobody is attacking anybody, while there is a political stalemate between The Turkish-Cypriot And Greek-Cypriot Communities, life for the average Cypriot is fairly normal. To give you a good idea of how calm it is, the main tourist street in Nicosia (Ledras) goes right up to the buffer zone, and meters from the border you can find a KFC and McDonald's.

The buffer zone has become an active tourist destination with tours available and walking trails along the buffer zone. There are rules that have to be respected, such as don't climb across any barriers, and no photography of many parts of the buffer zone. If you follow all posted signs and listen to the guards at any post, there is no danger to any tourist visiting this awesome country.

Later

Photo


via Tumblr http://ift.tt/1Zjj7lO