These are among my pictures I like most of all.
taken by the girl riding shotgun
It’s very nice to go travelling, but it’s so much nicer to travel home.
Actually no it isn’t. In comparison to warm and sunny Orange County, the North of England in late November is bleak, boring, grey, and bloody cold, even down at my favourite boat on the marina it’s miserable today. And it’s a pretty long journey to get back here from where I was staying with my friend.
- Leave my friend at 04:00 Pacific Time on Monday 19th November.
- Uber to John Wayne Airport.
- Take off from John Wayne at 07:00.
- Flight to Dallas Fort Worth 2hrs 35
- Land DFW at 11:35 Central Time (2 hours time change).
- Take off DFW at 15:15 for London Heathrow, a flight of 9hrs 00, (benefiting from a 125mph tail wind over the Atlantic).
- Land London Heathrow at 06:15 GMT on November 20th (6 hours time change).
- Leave LHR for Newcastle upon Tyne at 09:45 GMT, a flight of 1hrs 15
- Arrive NCL at 11:00
- Leave Newcastle Airport by Metro Subway for Newcastle Central Rail Station at 12:40 GMT
- Arrive back at the garret at 14:30 GMT on Monday 20th of November.
Total journey time of 26hrs 30min. Time in the air 12hrs 50min.
It’s about 5,500 miles from SoCal to the North of England, all in all, and from 38,000 feet you damn well know the world is round when you look out of the aircraft windows.
Some say that it’s excitement and adventure that keeps a man alive. And, that when you can’t be bothered to go travelling, you may as well just curl up and die. All I know is that I loved every damn minute of my latest trip ~ maybe the best trip ever.
much on New Mexico is Indian land
(is one allowed to say that?)
Do not tell me how educated you are, just tell me how much you have travelled. ~ Mohamed
The apartment I live in is called ‘The Garret’ and I feel very much at home here. However, some recent thoughts, emotions, and events have convinced me that I’ve been spending far too much time in the garret. Ergo, I’ve decided to get out of the garret more, travel more, take more vacations, and relax in the sunshine a lot more.
Travel and change of pace impart new vigour to the mind. ~ Seneca
I have very few responsibilities, a hell of a lot of time on my hands, and more than a little money in the bank ~ so there is no earthly reason why I shouldn’t be taking 4 or 5 vacations a year, or even a round half-dozen should the mood strike me.
And, it’s not as though I want to travel to far-away and strange-sounding places. The camel route to Iraq holds no attraction for me. Neither do the madchen and the gay muchachas. And as for Paris, London, and Rome, I’ve spent so long in those cities that they’re like a second home.
There’s a hell of a lot of the world I just do not want to go to, not ever again. And you can include in that list all of Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. As for the America’s, I’d never cross the US border going South again. I caught malaria in Mexico.
The places I really like are the nicer parts of the USA, some of the Caribbean, and most of the Mediterranean. I also really like Tuscany and the South of France. Scandinavia isn’t bad either, (at the right time of year). None of which destinations are so very exotic, or so very dangerous. If I’m honest I like going to places where most of the locals can speak some English, and they serve really good food.
In a couple of weeks’ time I’m going to Crete, and after that probably back to California. Next year Malta, Cyprus, and Turkey are on my list. Who knows after that? But a Caribbean Cruise is looking attractive.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. ~ Helen Keller
The one downside for me is that I will mostly be a solitary traveller. But, who knows who I may meet along the way. And, one never knows, I may even find an attractive travelling companion to take along with me. On road trips, in a Mustang convertible, a guy needs an attractive and intelligent Girl Riding Shotgun anyway. A road trip without The Girl Riding Shotgun just isn’t a proper road trip.
Some say that travel is good for the soul. And, that a good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. All I know is that I hate dull routine disrupting my life.
So, from now on, if you can’t find me, it’s because I’m on vacation.
Santa Monica is pretty cool.
The world is a dangerous place. Travel is dangerous. Overseas travel is very dangerous.
I’ve been to more countries and more cities than most people ~ both on business and as part of my personal vacation time. From food poisoning in Paris, to being propositioned by a transexual hooker in Moscow, to being held up at gunpoint in Nassau, I’ve had my share of unpleasant excitement overseas.
Here is some of the soundest advice I can offer, which will hopefully reduce the dangers of travel to the far-flung parts of the world.
Avoid the Mosquito. There is a big chunk of the planet where this annoying little insect will wake you at night with its manic high-pitched buzzing. By the time you hear it the damn thing will already have tasted your blood. If you are mildly allergic to the mosquito you will get a blister where it’s bitten you. If you are bitten by the wrong mosquito it can be a lot worse than an unslightly blister. Much in the news is the Zika virus, which can shrink babies’ brains in the womb. This virus is now endemic in 24 countries, mostly in Central and South America. You know what? The Zika virus isn’t so bad, unless you’re a pregnant woman all you’ll get from Zika is a light fever. Much, much, nastier diseases spread by the mosquito include; a half-dozen types of encephalitis, dengue fever, malaria, black water fever, rift valley fever and yellow fever.
The map shows the areas in which the mosquito carries yellow fever, but one can be bitten by the damn insects anywhere from Italy to India. What I didn’t know is that one can get yellow fever and the Zika virus in California.
Avoid All Animals. Rabies is endemic in many parts of the world. Trust me, you do not want to get rabies. Don’t go near dogs anywhere, even a friend’s dog is not safe. Bats, cyotes, skunks and foxes also carry rabies. The most likely animal you will get rabies from is your local raccoon. Almost all wild animals can give you all kinds of deadly infections and most wild animals can kill you. Even supposedly ‘tame’ animals can easily kill you, especially a ‘tame’ elephant can kill you without even breaking sweat.
Avoid Africa. From Algeria to Zimbabwe all African countries are deadly dangerous. The whole continent should be avoided by anyone who does not actively seek stupid risks. You can suffer every sort of crime anywhere in Afrca from being ripped-off to being sexually assaulted, raped and / or murdered. There is terrorism, revolution and all-out wars going on across half of Africa. Africa is also filled with lethal wildlife and worse diseases.
Don’t Go To India. I’ve been to India, it’s backward and mostly lawless. Just do not even think about going there. India is a shocking place. ‘Foreign’ women are always in serious danger in India, even if they are accompanied by a man. If you go to India you will become very ill, sooner rather than later. Indian cities are as crowded as an ants’ nest, which is disturbing to Western eyes.
Be Careful Of Local Food and Water. If you do go to India or Africa you will get sick, probably from either drinking the local water or eating local food. In the third world even bottled water cannot be trusted, it could actually have come from a faucet in a dirty kitchen. ‘Delhi Belly’ isn’t a joke. Local street food may look interesting and fun, but a few days laid up vomiting and crapping your guts out is no fun at all. In the third world only eat at your hotel, and only drink light beer or gin and tonic ~ be wary of the ice…
Do Not Go Out Alone At Night. Especially if you are female, Do Not Go Out Alone At Night. This applies everywhere from London to Los Angeles. You may think you are a brave and independent feminist ~ in reality you are a potential victim, prey for criminally unscrupulous, violent, and sexually active males.
Do Not Have Casual Sex. Only bastards and sluts travel to have casual sex. Especially do not have sex with a local ~ sexually transmitted diseases are very unfunny. (You can easily contract Zika and several other parasitic and viral diseases from unprotected sex.) And, Never Ever Pay For Sex when you are overseas ~ excepting in Amsterdam. If you are a woman just don’t be a loose slut unless you want to suffer anything from forced marriage to murder. Sexually available and morally lax women and girls are asking for really serious grief in every part of the world. Acting like a tart will get you into trouble whether you are male or female.
Avoid Central and South America. From the United States / Mexican Border south to Cape Horn the whole of Central and South America is a violently dangerous, drugs ridden, shit-hole. You are in danger of robbery, rape, and murder anywhere in Central and South America. If you don’t speak fluent Spanish / Portuguese then forget it. If you do go there do not leave your hotel unescorted and do not get separated from your properly organised tour. All that is in addition to the danger of being bitten by some virulently infections bug or animal.
Do Not Get Drunk. Getting drunk in a place you don’t know is incredibly dangerous. If you get drunk you are at risk of everything from robbery to rape. Do not take illegal drugs, you may get arrested, or you may die. Also, do not gamble, do not lose your temper, and Never, Ever, argue with a uniformed official. Take notice of the advice given by the Foreign Office and State Department. Make damn certain you have all the appropriate documentation for the countries you are visiting. Make certain you have proper travel insurance. Make certain you have more than enough cash and credit on your plastic. Watch the news and don’t turn up in a country that’s just had a natural disaster. Make very certain you have had all the myriad of injections you need for whichever disease-ridden hell-hole you’re visiting.
The more adventurous and younger travellers may ignore some or all of this advice. In which case ~ Good Luck. Personally, and these days, I will only ever visit Western Europe and the various countries of the English Speaking World. I especially like California, where my favourite thing is to take a long road trip.
One of my friends is taking their first overseas trip in twenty-something years. That set me thinking a little.
I spent 30 years travelling to most places in Europe and North America, unluckily I also went to some more ‘off the map’ destinations ~ such as Ankara, Mexico City and Moscow. Most of these trips were ‘on business’ some were vacations, and some were both. I’ve been arrested, caught all kinds of unmentionable illnesses, been delayed at the airport for 72 hours, held on a non-moving aircraft for 8 hours, arrived at the wrong airport, returned to the wrong UK airport, been mugged by 3 Romanian girls in Rome, got ripped-off innumerable times, held at gunpoint in Nassau, worked / travelled / worked again for an entire week, lost my car at a London Airport, got utterly and completely lost in the middle of nowhere, lost my luggage innumerable times, been stuck in the dark in the Channel Tunnel for hours, and hours and hours….
Well you get the picture. Travel is often misery. International travel is often a lot worse than that.
There are some things one can do to alleviate one’s suffering. My ‘rules for travel’ are:
- Don’t go anywhere you don’t know anyone, or at least have a contact.
- Make certain all of your documentation is in order and in date. Passport, visa and driving licence are my starting point. Then check with the appropriate consulate, Foreign Office, State Department. This can usually be done on-line.
- Get all of the necessary injections.
- Book direct with the airline / hotel / car hire firm / travel insurance company, on-line or by telephone. Shop around. Check for deals and discounts. It costs me exactly nothing whatsoever to call a number in the USA using Google.
- Do not use budget airlines, down-market hotels, or car rental firms that don’t have a desk at your destination airport. Book coach on a decent airline, standard room at a decent hotel / motel. Personally I always rent an upmarket car.
- Study the geography so you know where you are going and where your layovers are. For example, transferring at Chicago ORD means you will be delayed.
- Pack no more than carry-on luggage, and check size and weight restrictions for that. (They have stores in most cities one can fly to.) Take some stuff which will allow you to look smart and clean at all times. In my case this is a shirt to change into during the journey, hand wipes, battery razor.
- Take at least twice as much money as you can possible imagine you will need. Check currency import regulations. Take at least 3 debit / credit cards, and know your PIN numbers.
- Plan on arriving a couple of hours early at airports / railway stations / ferry terminals.
- Have a fat book / tablet to keep you occupied during the interminable waiting.
- NEVER, EVER, EVER lose your temper with anyone ~ no matter how great the temptation.
- Keep your documentation, cash and credit cards very very safe at all times. Keep your carry-on bag with you at all times.
- Don’t pay for early boarding. This only means you will be at the back of the plane and getting off last. Getting on the plane last means that you get off first, (after First and Business Class travellers.)
- Don’t drink any booze during your journey.
- Try and sleep, go to the lavatory, stretch your legs in the aisle during the flight.
- Because you only have a carry-on bag and will be getting off the plane early you can probably stroll through customs and get to the car rental desk avoiding the crowds.
- Get a navigation system (sat nav), and check over your rental very, very carefully. Photograph any damage.
- If you haven’t rented a car, then take a taxi from the rank. Don’t use a gypsy cab, limo, or public transport. (except when arriving at a London Airport, when you should take the tube / surface train ~ better to rent a car)
- Learn your car before you get into the traffic. Set the sat nav. Know exactly where your hotel / friend / contact is located. Drive very, very carefully.
- Watch out for the 99% of the people you will meet who will try to rip you off.
- Do not expect anyone to be helpful, efficient, or polite. Be pleasantly surprised if they are.
- Attempt to speak the local language. Even in the States, US English is different from English English. Learn the local customs, and do it Fast.
- When the shit hits the fan, and it will, be polite and helpful. Do Not lose your temper.
- Have a nice day.
As it goes, all of the above is common sense, but so many times I have seen people get into very, very serious trouble for breaking any one, (worse more than one), of the above guidelines / rules. Sleeping on the beach isn’t the worst than can happen to you.