Monday, February 10, 2014

Free Things To Do in Edinburgh

One of Earth's great cities, Edinburgh (ED-in-burro) not only is beautiful, but chock full of wonderful things to do for free.  “Free” is important when traveling in expensive Europe.

* Calton Hill

One of Britain’s first public parks (1724).  Above Waverly Train Station, an easy walk to the top for spectacular views in all directions, including the Firth Of Forth.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dingle Peninsula - Ireland

Ireland's Dingle Peninsula is Earth and beauty, rural and luscious. A place of misty mountains and ancient, pagan dwellings rising from the fierce Atlantic. Europe’s most westerly locale is known locally as “the last parish before America".
Ireland Leprechaun Lucky Charms

I arrived with few expectations.  But my one desire – immersion in beauty – was satisfied in spades.

What little I knew of Ireland: Very green, potato famine, American immigrants, and alcohol.  Oh, and that bowler-clad, manic munchkin, the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

From an unnamed peninsula, a ferry to Dingle across the wide River Shannon. From that boat the broad rise of Dingle’s center – Mount Brandon – rose astonishingly from the sea.  Right then and there…

I fell in love with this open, grand, landscape.

Enchanting. Very green, of course.  But so much more than that.  Villages and their peoples live
within the landscape, not on it. The Dingle is not a fabricated eco-showcase but the real deal.  Nature is not an after-thought but a context.  It feels very good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Travel in Thailand: Practical Advice

Thailand Motorcycle
Honda Click.
I also rented Yamahas and Suzukis.
* Always test drive your motorbike - My Honda Click on the island of Ko Tao had horrific suspension, poor brakes and the speedometer did not work. 

* Renting a motorbike – Do it! Riding through rural Thailand is nirvana.  And flowing in the chaos of city traffic is fun! 150 – 200 baht ($4.50 - $6.00) a day.  Or go super-green on a bicycle for – wait for it - $1.50 a day.

Mushroom Satay
Mushroom Satay
at Brown Rice Organic Bistro
in Chiang Mai
* Driving on the left is easy, but remembering to do this is another issue!
* Restaurant tipping is 10 percent or less. The table-side service in all but the most expensive restaurants is always lackadaisical.  Food servers will never check in to see how your meal is.

Thai Language - Don’t be concerned with learning even the basics before your journey. In my trip-prepping I created a four-page vocabulary list, listened to pronunciations on Google Translate and then took pains to create my own, highly accurate phonetic spellings. All but useless! The Thai language is indeed very challenging for the western ear.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Buddhist Monk Speaks

When I see nuns or monks I wonder what the heck their life is about.  What is their purpose, both for themselves and the larger world? What exactly is Theravada Buddhism in Thailand? I met Tony in Chiang Mai and he graciously accepted my request to answer such questions.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tom's Thumb - McDowell Mountains; Scottsdale, Arizona

Since my family first moved to Arizona many (ahem) years ago, Tom's Thumb at the summit of the towering McDowell Mountains has kept a vigil over my life, a silent witness to my joys and dramas. Despite my love for hiking, only today - the day I leave for a first trip to Southeast Asia - was the first time I journeyed to that spit of granite in the sky. An arduous hike, but so worth it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's In My Backpack

Convertible backpack with wheels

All the months I've been mentally preparing for my first slow travel trip (five weeks in Southeast Asia) I've been wondering about just how little I can get away with taking with me. Becuase this sort of travel is all about freedom! So many "backpacking" writers suggest bringing as little as possible as one can always makes purchases on the road.

I went with an airline carry-on sized backpack with wheels.  This particular one is not normally available in the U.S. but my local Sport Chalet had apparently made a special purchase and I found this one on closeout sale for $100.  It goes against my ideal of super-lightweight everything but I feel confident that I've made a balanced decision given the incredible convenience of wheels (and telescoping handle).

So what exactly is in my backpack?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arizona Sunset

Arizona Sunset
Me ol' pal Alyssa mentioned in the last post that Arizona sunsets are superior to those where she is living now, on Maui, Hawai'i.  As if to prove her point, I just stumbled across this Arizona sunset shot from 2010. Hello?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

McDowell Mountains; Scottsdale, Arizona

McDowell Mountains
A magical full moon hike last night along Lost Dog Wash Trail.
I spent some formative years in this area, and the sacred ground of the McDowell Mountains were always within view. They are now very accessible, but sacred nonetheless.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Megan Earwaker, Global Traveler

Inspiration to create this blog arose from my desire to share the fascinating people I meet when I travel independently (camping, hosteling, couch surfing, or eco-resorts). Independent travelers think, well, independently, while also going at life with a certain fearlessness. Letting the flow take them. Megan is a prime example.

Click here to see Part 2.

Austin Film Festival & Hosteling International Austin

Jewphoria, a docu-comedy I produced with comedian Randy Kagan, premiered last week at Texas' Austin Film Festival.  This was our first go at film making and we felt privileged and humbled to be in the company of such enormously talented people.

Austin Film Festival 2012 Opening Night Reception
Opening night reception. 
Shown: Screenwriter David Margolis.
We stayed at HI Austin, a sweet, modest hostel on a million dollar piece of property on the banks of Lady Bird Lake ... home to cormorants, swans, and egrets. $22 a night, including breakfast.  A bus stop 1/4 mile from the hostel shuttled us 24 hours a day to downtown Austin, where the conference hub was based at the historic and palatial Driskill Hotel.  Of course, we could have chosen to shack up there (in the noisy city at $360 a night) or, instead, at our serene hostel for SIX PERCENT of that price.  I slept very well on a supposedly crappy bunk bed at HI Austin. 

Hostel International - Austin, Texas

Austin (pop. 821,000) is vibrant. It has the "city that never sleeps" vibe of New York but with very friendly people. To paraphrase Austin resident Billy Bob Thornton at last night's screening of his excellent film Jayne Mansfield's Car, even the homeless people are kind.
Hideout Theatre Austin Texas  Jewphoria
Our theatre and my lanyard!

A few of the many wonderful films we saw:  JunkThe Last Man(s) on EarthThe Pilgrim and the Private EyeThe Secret Keeper.

First Citizens Bank Building Austin, Texas
First Citizens Bank Building; Austin, Texas