Author Archives | Brian

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful GIF

Before embarking in 2010 on what turned out to be a four-year-long, coast-to-coast U.S. road trip, we couldn’t possibly appreciate–or even comprehend–the stunning beauty of our home country. The diversity of its natural wonders is perhaps unique in the world. So on this, the 239th anniversary of a revolutionary experiment in democracy, we celebrate our nation’s founding by reminiscing over just a few of the remarkable scenes we had the pleasure of seeing during our journey from sea to shining sea.

Happy Birthday, America. You truly are beautiful.

Yes, you should still travel to Greece

Acropolis of Athens, Greece

With negotiations between the Greek government and its European creditors apparently breaking down the prospects for a financial collapse within Greece rose significantly yesterday. Stories of long lines and empty cash machines filled the news, suggesting that a full-scale run on Greek banks may already be underway. It’s uncertain at this point whether leaders can step back from this brink even if they want to.

With so much confusion and negative press it’s completely normal for naturally skittish travelers to shy away from such situations. Before leaving on our month long trip to the country in May several people expressed various levels of non-specific concern. People told us they were afraid to go to Greece but, when pressed, didn’t know exactly why. With the country’s financial crises potentially accelerating and news-streams filling up with even more bad headlines such generalized fears are likely to grow. But should that keep you away?

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Why You Can’t Listen to Anyone Else About Travel, South East Asia Edition

Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

“There are certain things that cannot be adequately explained to a virgin by either words or pictures. Nor can any description that I might offer here even approximate what it feels like to”1 . . .  lose yourself in a place that is completely foreign.

Try as we might, no one can really tell you about travel. Some things you just have to experience for yourself. That’s true even under the best of circumstances but especially so when talking about areas that are rapidly changing, like South East Asia.

Rarely have we experienced such disconnects between the things we read and our experiences on the ground as we did in this part of the world. So much is changing so fast that the travel article written even a couple of years ago is now badly out of date. The same is true of the stories you hear on the road. Time and again we met people who told us things about places that turned out not to be true.

Here are just some of the things that surprised us on our eighteen-week tour of the region.

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Airlines May Reduce Carry-On Bag Sizes, Who Cares?

Not long ago, this week’s announcement that airlines may further reduce the already small size of allowed carry-on bags would have filled us with dread. Today we just shrugged.  

You see, we used to be a carry-on-only couple. It was an accomplishment we had worked hard to achieve. And it wasn’t easy either. Downsizing everything you need in life to fit into the space of a fourteen-inch square box is no small feat.

We didn’t get there overnight, for sure. It probably took years of weaning ourselves of various “necessities” so that we could travel for any length of time utilizing only the contents of our carry-on bags. And like most other travelers who manage to make do with small luggage we felt a certain amount of pride, and even a bit of superiority, in our abilities.

Oh, how we’d scoff at all the travel noobs struggling with their monstrous suitcases. What do they pack in those things anyway? Spare children?  

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Where in Westeros Have You Been?

Cordoba Spain

The Roman Bridge in Cordoba, Spain is also . . .

I have to say that this has me geeking out a bit. It’s not every day you come across something that wraps travel, fantasy, television, literature and European maps all into one beautiful package. So it’s no surprise that when I discovered a map showing all the Game of Thrones filming locations it consumed way more of my time than it should have.

Longbridge of Volantis

The Long Bridge of Volantis (with added CGI)

The fun thing about this for us is seeing just how many of these places we’ve been to. We never got around to exploring any of the Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand. Somehow, though, we seem to have found ourselves at several spots used as backdrops for Game of Thrones.

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