Hey there! I’m still here! No but seriously, I’m still alive, even if this website may not reflect that. As a matter of fact, there has been SO much going on that I’ve barely even covered my external writing gigs. So don’t blame me! Blame Lonely Planet and GoMad Nomad and… well, to be honest that’s pretty much it on the publishing side. But I’ve also had to deal with a bit of a broken computer and a bit of a death in the family and OH LOOK AT THOSE PHOTOS!
See, here’s the thing. A cousin of mine, he decided to get married in D.C. in July. Which, of course, means the whole family is in town and everybody wants to go do something and of course I’m the de facto tour guide because why wouldn’t I be and so there’s no time to get on the computer and write anything because I mean I do kind of like these people cause they’re pretty all right so I try to hang out with them sometimes when I can. (Let’s not forget that I woke up around 4:30am to take that photo above. How’s a man supposed to write after that? I mean, really!) Read more
X Reasons You Should Get To Greece This Year
With a friend recently planning a trip to Majorca for her upcoming vacation, my cries that now is the perfect time to head to the Greek Isles fell on deaf ears due mainly to fears about the current state of the Greek economy. Though she didn’t listen, you shouldn’t make the same mistake. This summer is the perfect time for beach-hopping or culture-vulturing (is that a verb?) or hiking along poorly marked trails through the Greek Islands, and here’s why:
- The €urrency has never been more favorable.
Not only is the Greek economy down (like, seriously down) but even the €uro itself is at a historic low compared to the dollar. My Greece travel budget in 2013 was just under €34 per day, which at the time amounted to around $44. Today that same cost in Euros would equal around $38 per day, almost a 15% drop, and that’s not even considering the fact that costs are going to be lower as the economy continues to decline. There has been a lot of talk about ATMs running out of cash and people having difficulty accessing their accounts, but recent reports seem to indicate that this only applies to Greek bank accounts and that international travelers will be largely unaffected. Even better, you’ll be actively doing something to prop up that faltering economy – at a time when Greeks definitely needs all the economic support they can get. Take some spare cash, hop on a flight or ferry, and reap the benefits of a faltering global economy!
Instagram Updates – Best of May
Well, hello there. It has been quiet around here, hasn’t it? I’ve been off tramping across the dunes of Dubai and up the volcanoes of Indonesia for the last few months, and of course spending time glued to the computer for my desk job back here in Bishkek; but that’s no excuse! You deserve better! Luckily if you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ve seen a whole host of delightful updates. I mean, what better way to start your day than with this handsome mug?
No, but seriously, I spent the first ten days of last month climbing volcanoes and rafting rivers and biking above rice terraces and eating dirty ducks and watching dudes in Hanuman costumes dance through fire. Bali really is quite a spot, much moreso than the EatPrayLove-decrying hardcore traveler would ever give it credit for. I’ll blog about it all eventually, probably, but for now you’ll have to be content with the photos and the half-stories contained therein.
Instagram Updates: The Best of April
Though I’m writing well after, I took all and posted most of these photos before the string of earthquakes that hit Nepal starting on April 25th. I encourage you to view these photos with an eye to the beauty of the country, but don’t forget that it will be a long road of reconstruction in a country whose infrastructure was already underdeveloped even before disaster struck. If you haven’t already, consider supporting the country either through formal aid structures or informally through a Nepalese friend of mine (one who, for what it’s worth, I trust implicitly to use donations at her best discretion for whatever the greatest needs in her community are).
I was beyond excited to find out I would get to go to Nepal again this year. My first trip, in 2011, was one stuffed to the top with hiking and nature and wildlife and temples and religion and culture. I spent WEEKS in Kathmandu, more than a month on a single hike, and a fair bit of time poking around places like Janakpur and Chitwan in wonder about how amazing (and how photogenic) the country is. So many good people, cool places, and delicious food. It will take time to rebuild what can be rebuilt post-earthquake, but while I have other commitments at the moment I’m already thinking about when I might be able to make it back to the region – with any luck it will be before the end of the year even.
Some of the places in these photos no longer exist, this first shot in particular from Patan’s Durbar Square which was hit very hard by the disaster, but even if the structures themselves can’t be repaired the people and culture that make Nepal so amazing to visit will still be there.
Celebrating Victory Day in Bishkek.
I’m currently out of the country, missing this year’s Victory Day celebrations in Kyrgyzstan. This is a big year, though, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and likely the last big anniversary that will see a significant number of veterans of the fighting able to take part in the ceremonies in person. If you’re in a country that celebrates Victory Day, in the weeks leading up to May 9th make sure to seek out celebrations of this historic anniversary.
If you had to guess, what would you say was the best way to celebrate Great Patriotic War Against Fascism Victory Day?
Uri Fleischer in Vienna’s MuseumQuarter
(Note: this posted in a slightly different form in May of 2012, right after visiting the exhibit. I found it in the course of cleaning up old posts and links, and liked it enough to share it again. Enjoy!)
I had a LOT of time to kill in Vienna, hanging around for two weeks waiting on three different Central Asia visas to process. Many of my days there were bright and sunny and seemed to invite the city out to parks and cafes to revel in the the sun’s warmth.
Occasionally the day was drizzly and depressing, though luckily the city has more than enough museums to keep an itinerant visa seeker busy on blah days. Some of the best of these were all centrally located in Vienna’s MuseumsQuarter, with perhaps my favorite being the KunstHalle Wien.
I get that modern art is a hit or miss type thing. Either you’re into it or you simply don’t care. With the KunstHalle’s Uri Fleischer exhibit, I was definitely on the former side of the divide.
The exhibit itself is weird and fleeting and such that it can only ever be experienced in a given way one time; afterwards even a repeat visitor is living through a new version of the same. It is, in many ways, the same sort of feeling I have towards traveling. Even when going back to Vienna, a place I must have passed through five or six times in the past few years, every new visit is oddly different. The buildings are all still there and the currywurst still delicious, yet it somehow feels unsame.
Chariots and Pierced Tongues:
Bisket Jatra Festival in Bhaktapur
It takes something special to keep me in the city of Kathmandu for an extra week instead of jaunting off to the mountains of Nepal. I’ve had good luck in the past with festivals in this country, though, whether with Tibetan monks at the Mani Rimdu festival high in the Himalaya or way down in the plains of Janakpur where Sita and Rama were married at the Sita Bibaha. With the promise of a tongue-piercing chariot-dragging good time just outside of Kathmandu, then, how could I say no?
(Note: this one is pretty photo heavy. Put on your glasses, shut off your Dropbox, and welcome to the weird world of the Bisket Jatra festival.)
Even walking into the old town of Bhaktapur, the city feels transformed. What only a week before was a quiet warren of architectural inspiration of centuries past is now a teeming mass of people among whom the sounds of beating drums and full-throated yells that resound from every open space in the center of town. Anywhere there’s space, it seems, people are assembled en masse to watch processions of chariots and beshrined palanquins or to help pull down a symbolic wooden pole that doubles as a Shiva lingam. It’s loud, crazy, colorful chaos.
Vienna’s Most Elevated Art House
There’s a lot of pun built into that title, but I’m going to be a jerk and not explain it to you till the end.
There are just so many museums in Vienna. There’s Freud and Hundertwasser and Leopold and Strauss and Beethoven and Horses and Hofburgs and Furniture and Forged Art and… well, frankly, it would be ridiculous to try to combine them all into one trip. I mean I even LIKE museums and I’ve tried hard to catch some of the more impressive exhibits in Vienna but, come on, I like to see the sun every once in a while as well.
Which is all an excuse to explain away the fact that, somehow, it was my third trip to the city and THREE YEARS since the first time I was in town that I finally stepped inside the Albertina Museum.
(Also, on a tangent, it seems I waltz through Vienna exactly once per year these days. Who wants to join me in 2015?)
I say ‘stepped inside’ because I’ve actually visited the Albertina many times – there’s a beautiful terrace out front overlooking the back of the Opera House and the front of the Cafe Sacher AND Cafe Mozart. Even better, there’s a snack stand just at the foot of the terrace that sells a delicious currywurst for like two or three Euros. So, Albertina and I were acquainted, but I’d never properly made the time to stop in and say hello until this last trip.