Tag Archives: backpacking

The Route Map

So after working on this for a while I finally finished my detailed route map of the places I’ve traveled thus far in 15 months.  If you want more info like names of cities, routes  and even a short explanations zoom in and click on the pins and lines.

Google map engine cannot be embed on WordPress as of yet so here is the link:

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zgndsApmuZ3w.kOwjoWCpYmZU

Cheers!

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Filed under General Travel, Route Map

The Gates of Hell

For centuries people of different cultures have believed that below are very feet dwells a domain created for the torment and agony of damned souls.   It was also thought that there were actual gateways from the surface that lead down to these realms of fiery.  Mount Etna in Sicily, Mount Hekla in Iceland, and Mt. Masaya in Nicaragua are all active fire-breathing volcanos which have been documented in history as being entrances to hell. Last summer while I was in Nicaragua I happened to find my gateway to the underworld and its name was Telica.

Pretty much my entire life I have always wanted to see lava up close.  Living in Oahu, Hawaii in my early twenties I dropped the ball and never made it to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.  But during my stay in Leon, Nicaragua I found a tour company that not only allowed you to see lava but see it from the edgy of the crater at night.

After a quick ride out-of-town, a cruise along a gravel highway and a drive down a forest road that looked and felt more like a river bed we made it to the trail head.  The weather was looking so so with some rain clouds in the distance but clear over the volcano.  It wasn’t a very long hike and after couple hours we reached what I would call the no mans land, which was a barren landscape with nothing but rocks and volcanic debris.   At this point I started to smell the pungent stench of sulfur coming from the crater up ahead of me.

As I reached the edge the first thing that hit me was the loud sound blasting from the depths of this cinder cone volcano.  Being an Aircraft Mechanic the only way I could describe it was that it sounded like I was standing next to a Boeing 747 with one of its jet engines running  at Idle. Made me a little home sick 😉    With daylight beaming down on us and smoke billowing out of the crater you could not see the lava at this point so we sat down for a tasty snack of coffee and cookies to wait for darkness to fall. 

After watching a beautiful sunset over the other volcanos of the range we crawled up to the edge of the Crater and peered down into the abyss.  The site was one of awe and amazement and the cropped photos taken from my non zoom lens couldn’t come close to showing how my eyes perceived this awesome spectacle of nature.  Looking down into the pit I could see the bright red lava in patches in the shape of  a large circle.  The lava would go from red to black as it bubble up, burned and cooled.  It was like a living organism ever-changing.   With the red glow shining from the crater, the lava churning deep below, the blasting noise surrounding us, and the strong smell of sulfur it totally made for exhilarating experience!!

In a time when legend and lore explained the mysteries of nature not science it is very easy to see why people living in the distant past could mistake volcanos as being a gateway to hell.

Cheers!

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Filed under Nicaragua, North America

Annapurna Circuit Trek

So right now I’m currently editing pictures for the long overdue Antarctica post that I should have up in a couple of weeks.  That being said I do not have time to go through all 1300 photos that I took from the 20 day Annapurna trek in Nepal, but I would like to have some content up from the trip because everybody is asking how it was and wanting to see pics.  As a solution to this predicament I decided to link you the post that Dawn has written on her blog “Experimental Happiness”.  We have traveled together for good chunk of our RTW trips so be sure to take a look at the rest of her awesome blog to read about other amazing countries and destinations that we’ve been to that you can’t find on my site.

http://experimentalhappiness.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/the-annapurna-circuit-a-nepal-adventure/

Cheers!

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Filed under Asia, Nepal

RECAP!!!!!

Croatia hostel

After a big hiatus from blogging, I’m back! As I type this, I’m currently outside  Split, Croatia, staying at a hostel alongside the Adriatic Sea.    A lot has happened in the last 3 months since hiking the Annapurna circuit in Nepal! Hopefully in this long recap post I’ll capture all the highlights!

The best superman pose I could muster!!!

The Annapurna Circuit trek is one of my top ten greatest adventures of the trip so far.    Twenty days of hiking through some of the most beautiful, jaw dropping scenery that I have ever seen in my entire life.

After Nepal, the pace picked up with two short layovers in Dubai, UAE and Frankfurt, Germany.  Dubai being the most money I have ever spent in one day on the trip and Frankfort/Mainz  being the most beer and pretzels I have consumed in one day on the trip…or ever for that matter!   Next stop was Istanbul, a city I have dreamed of my entire life.  The place is oozing with history.  Oh how I wish the beautiful mosques and towering ancient city walls could talk for they have seen wars, crusades, the lives and deaths of kings and sultans, and empires rise and fall.    Definitely a city I will make it back to!  From Istanbul I traveled by bus around the coast ,hitting places like Ephesus, Kas, Antalya and Cappadocia (to see the crazy swiss cheese fairy tale rock houses).

From Turkey, I took a bus over to Greece and worked my way north to south, starting in Thessalonike, a charming cosmopolitan city on the sea.  Next, I cruised south down the coast by train to visit the Gods on the top of Mt. Olympus before ending up in Athens and Delphi to explore the wonders of ancient Greece.

The original plan was to head to Egypt from Greece, but all hell was breaking loose there so I scooted off to Jordan to check out two things: Petra and The Dead Sea.    Petra is one of the ‘7 new wonders of the world’. I could totally see why as I roamed through the desert mountain gorges, casting my eyes on a mix of Hellenistic and ancient eastern structures carved into solid rock of the canyon walls.  The Dead Sea was just plain fun!  With 33.7% salinity, you could float around on your back as if you had an air mattress under you,  bob up and down like a fishing bobber on the surface, and try to awkwardly swim on your belly as your body is to far out of the water.  Good times!

At this point my friend Dawn was just finishing up her travels in Greece and was going to spend her last two weeks of her travels in her family’s homeland of Italy.  After some intense flight searching, I found a cheap flight to Italy and met her in Rome for a week!   I didn’t sightsee too much as I’m going to meet my mom there for two weeks soon, but what I did see blew me away.  Every time you turned a corner there was some type of tasty visual treat.  Amazing carved fountains, charming cobblestones streets lined with cafes and Gelato shops, stunning domed churches, and STATUES!  No other place in the world have I seen the such beautifully carved statues that look so life-like.

From Rome the rail took me to Venice, a city built entirely on water.  If I had two words to describe it, I would say Romantic and Magical.   No other city in the world is like Venice with its gondola filled canals, small maze like streets and beautiful architecture. The city was just enchanting and alluring; one day did not do it any justice.

Back on the rails again as I headed to Slovenia, the number one biggest surprise country of the trip so far.  For a country that is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey, it has soooo much to offer. Mountains, castles, lovely clear lakes, breathtaking views, and super friendly locals…. I could go on forever, but you will have to wait for the dedicated post :).

Last but not least, I caught a train from Slovenia to Croatia, the country of my blood heritage, which has been an amazing and very special experience.  Croatia is known as the land of 1000 islands and has only recently in the past 10 years  become a hotspot for European and world travelers.    While touring around, I swam in the  gorgeous clear blue water of the Adriatic, stayed in small little cozy towns on the sea snuggled up against coastal mountains, and explored some the countries beautiful islands. The biggest treat here was being able to visit my family’s hometown of Mrkopalj, a small town nestled in the mountains near the port city Rijeka.    I really felt a very strong connection with this country and the people.  I could honestly say I would feel totally at home if I ever moved here.

mom and me

When I started typing this post I was in Split, Croatia, but as I finish it I’m sitting in an apartment in Rome, awaiting the arrival of my mother tomorrow morning.  My mom (age 74) decided to meet me in Italy for her first trip over the pond and first time out of the country (excluding Canada).  We have one week in Rome and one week in Florence, with side trips to Pisa and Sienna. Should be a trip of a lifetime for both of us!!!

Cheers!!!

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Beer and Pretzels


Germany_-3

The picture above pretty much sums up my 15 hour layover in Germany.  After getting off the plane, clearing customs, and arriving in Frankfort I beeline my way to Römer Square.  When I rolled into the square I found the nearest place selling beer and ordered a big frothing mug of golden goodness.   This was my the first experience drinking German beer actually IN Germany 🙂

While chugging down that tasty beer and eating yummy warm freshly baked pretzels with mustard I struck up a conversation with the friendly local next to me. During our talk he mentioned that I needed to check out the town of Mainz located west of the Frankfort airport.  He explained that they were having a festival today and I should head there after I finish my beer.   I had about 6 hours left before my next flight so I made the executive decision to move my personal beer drinking party elsewhere.

When I arrived in Mainz I knew I had made the right choice.  The town was totally in my mind what I thought an authentic German town would look like. Half timbered buildings, Romanesque churches, and cobble stone streets was what greeted me as I walked from the train station.  Sadly most of what you see today is restored/rebuilt buildings due to the constant bombing raids of the allies during WWII.   Walking towards the city center I stopped to read a couple of information pamphlets that said the city is famous for being the place where Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press and is also considered the Wine capital of Germany.

I honestly could not tell you what the festivities were for but it was sure a lot livelier than Frankfort on a sunday afternoon.  Many different stands serving Brahts, chocolate, beer, and wine lined the lovely streets of the old town area.  People drank and ate in picnic tables under the shade of umbrellas while local bands played music.  Perfect place to spend the rest of the day till my flight 🙂

As I strolled back to the train station I felt very fulfilled and happy with my first experience with Germany and can’t wait to come back in September for more Beer and Pretzels at Munich’s Oktoberfest!!!

Cheers!!!

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Filed under Europe, Germany

Snowboarding in Dubai

While in Dubai there was no way I was going to miss out on a  chance to snowboard on an artificial hill with artificial snow in the middle of Desert.   Not a very long run but a fun experience since I missed the season in the Pacific Northwest this year.

Cheers!

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Filed under Asia, UAE, Videos

A Day in Dubai

Night shot from the tallest building in the world.

I’ve always wanted to visit Dubai but the cost has always steered me away.  While researching for flights from Nepal to Turkey I found that my cheapest option was to buy a ticket from Kathmandu, Nepal to Dubai, UAE then use some of my United airline miles to get to Istanbul via Frankfort, Germany.  I gave myself one full day in Dubai which was very rushed but I ended up getting to see about every major attraction  there.

Only way to describe the city is OVER THE TOP.  Tallest building in the world, biggest mall in the world, man-made islands in the shape of a palms, 22,000 dollar rooms in hotels shaped like sails, Indoor Ski resort in the middle of the desert and the list goes on.  You can really tell that this middle eastern country made up of 7 city states has a lot of wealth and they’re not afraid to flaunt it.

Atlantis hotel

Most of the day I spent riding around on the Hop on Hop off bus.   Sadly I had only one full day to see everything so I only hopped off twice during the entire day to explore.   Probably two of the most standout items on my one day adventure was heading up to the view deck in the Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, and hitting the man-made snow slope at Ski Dubai in the Emirates mall.

I think if I had more time and more money I would have stayed at least 3 days in Dubai to see everything at a non rushed pace and possibly booked a Desert tour.  But at the end of the day I was happy with what I had seen and done and was ready to crash out on my long  flight to Frankfort, Germany.  skyline

cheers!

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Filed under Asia, UAE