March 25, 2009

Epic Journeys: Sailing and Travelling Around the World

Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin

Inspiration from movies

As a child, I loved watching the big colorful movies set on location or on the lavish sets of the 1950's and early 60's. This was the era of Singing in the Rain, It's a Mad Mad Mad World and Lawrence of Arabia. One of my favorite movies was Around the World in 80 Days, starring David Niven, a favorite actor of mine.

Armchair Travel
Now more than ever, having the funds or work opportunity to travel abroad is difficult to come by. Just keeping a roof over our heads is difficult, so for many the only chance to "travel" is by reading a great book. An author that captured my attention in school was Jules Verne. The Mysterious Island was a huge favorite as was character, Captain Nemo. Coming from a family who migrated from Maine to Washington State and included many merchant seamen, I loved mysterious ship captains and the hard work of a ship hand.

The Monty Python Angle
At first glance, I would not have put Michael Palin, a man with silly walks, in the role of Phileas Fogg (the David Niven movie role). However he doesn't disappoint in his incredible BBC series, Around the World in 80 Days! I couldn't stop watching it once I started and finished seeing all of the episodes in record time I'd wager...what a great way to see the world first hand. He does such a good job highlighting different lands and cultures - such a different persona than his movie and television characters.

Sail Around the World
Shortly after I became hooked on the Michael Palin series, I found this amazing advertisement in the Financial Times last weekend - explore the world by tall ship.

Two incredible journeys either exploring the South Seas or navigating around the globe are available on an authentic tall ship! Yes, you can live out your dream or escape - either way these are epic undertakings for those with a career sabbatical, life-break or gap year to enjoy.

The ship chosen for this project a modern fully equipped vessel, traditionally rigged squarerigger with a capacity to carry 25 voyage crew and 10 professional crew. Displacing 379 tons and carrying 11 sails, she meets or exceeds current British Survey and Safety requirements for worldwide voyaging. She is fully equipped with modern and traditional navigation equipment, satellite and long range communications and complete life saving apparatus.

You will be expected to work on the ship so it is not a cruise but a real life epic journey! This New Zealand based company has twenty years experience.
People of all ages, in good health with a sense of adventure will join from all over the world. This will be no passenger cruise – those joining will be fully participating in every aspect of ship’s life under the guidance and care of a professional crew. Active involvement, learning the traditional ways of tallship seamanship is central to the authenticity of the experience and the project.

photo credit to Uncle Leo

A Voyage Around the World
Undertake one of the world’s greatest adventures – to circumnavigate the globe by tallship. Just 25 berths are available on a modern, ocean going tallship departing England this April for an epic 30,000 mile passage of self discovery. No previous sailing experience is necessary to join this expeditionary voyage to South America, South Africa, Australasia and across the Southern Ocean to round the legendary Cape Horn.

Explore the South Seas
South Sea voyaging for people of all ages through the tropical islands of the South Pacific. We seek out the hidden Pacific - sailing the tradewinds to find the untouched beauty and undisturbed culture of the remoter islands and communities of Oceania. Escape with us for a voyage of discovery to places most people only dream about.

March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring: Primavera Frühling Printemps

A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost

OH, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

March 16, 2009

Tonic News: Writing about good deeds and good news to inspire!

Today started another wonderful writing relationship for me with a great website called Here is a little of what they are about:
Tonic makes it easy for people to do good things. The definition of Tonic is “anything morally, mentally, or physically inspiring” and we think it’s a good name for us!

We are a media company focused on the good that happens each day in neighborhoods all around the world. Our world is defined by a philosophy that people want to matter and make a difference instead of being defined by age, race, income, gender or geography.

One twist about us is that most media companies are typically sustained through advertising dollars, but instead we decided to create an online store filled with products that do something good for the world. Each product has a social benefit, either through how it’s made or some portion of the sale price being donated to charity. Since Tonic is committed to complete transparency, we will publish how much we have donated to various causes and post the cashed checks as proof. If we make a mistake, we’re going to publish that too.

The goal is to let you feel good about spending time with us. We promise to roll out more fun and great ways you can get involved. We'll let you to help us decide where our money goes. The more you read, shop and share, the more we can support projects that do good things.

I'm very happy to be associated with this great website and today my first story went live online, highlighting the mini-revolution that was begun by California-based Horny Toad, the maker of cute and comfortable clothes. Take a look at the story and join the revolution at Horny Toad today....

March 15, 2009

Best iPhone Apps for Travellers

The biggest gift last year for our household was the 3G iPhone and it has been a huge success ever since. We have used it for so many tasks and it saved our bacon when we needed to find a restaurant after we made a wrong turn due to some construction in the road. Being a traveller, a cool notion is how to best use this great invention to make the process a little easier so the enjoyment is higher....and so my first step was Apple Web Apps for Travel

Here are some of the new and cool applications for travellers that could make it to my iPhone soon. Getting help with foreign language when traveling is always helpful – my French is decent and my Japanese will get me to a hotel but that is about it. The Roadtrippr looks really interesting because visiting spots off the beaten path is right up my alley – and with the upgrade of international countries I’m sold.

Because Facebook is all the rage these days along with Twitter – Travel Buddies on the go could be a great addition. A friend of mine right now is in New Zealand and is looking for travel buddies while be bikes around the country. Take a look at these and if you use them please let me know – would love to get feedback and if you have any other suggested apps drop me a line as well. Thanks!

Language Translator
Translates any text between 41 different languages using Googles language translation service. It can even detect your source language.

What’s New in this Version
- added more languages (Albanian, Hungarian, Maltese, Thai, Turkish)

Pocket Norwich
A Free city information guide and map for your iPhone or iPod touch. The guide is unique in that it includes full audio commentary, streamed directly to your device - let your mobile become your own personal tour guide!

The hardest part of planning a road trip is finding places to visit. Everyone can find the main attractions, but most of the time the most interesting places to visit are off the beaten path. The purpose of roadtrippr is to help you find those places.

By adding these kind of places in your hometown, you can help everyone passing through find them. In return, when you hit the open road, your destination should have many places for you to check out.

We now support a few international countries, including Canada, The United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Switzerland!
What’s New in this Version
- The Webapp has been completely redesigned from the ground up.
- New Logo
- New Design
- User Profiles
- Friend System
- Email System

City Spin San Francisco
A comprehensive, insider’s look at what’s on in the Golden Gate City. Up-to-date info on everything from the best cheap eats in Chinatown to the exciting attractions along Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Complete listings of the city’s hottest restaurants, shops, bars and clubs, museums, attractions and tours.
- The latest 411 on air traffic delays, security wait times and weather for San Francisco International, Oakland International, and destination airports.
- Traveler Tools for on-the-go traveling.
- Brought to you by the local experts at
What’s New in this Version
- Addition of Traveler Tools for on-the-go traveling:
- Language translation for 27 different languages.
- Tip and Split: Not just any tip calculator, this app will split the bill too! You enter the amount and number of guests and this app will calculate how much each person owes.
- Real time world-wide currency conversion.
- Airport information includes security wait times, traffic, delays and mapping information

City Spin Miami
A comprehensive, insider’s look at what’s on in the Magic City. Up-to-date info on everything from the best places to dine in Coconut Grove to the latest happenings in the Wynwood Art District.
- Complete listings of the city’s hottest restaurants, shops, bars and clubs, museums, attractions and tours.
- The latest 411 on air traffic delays, security wait times and weather for Miami International and destination airports.
- Traveler Tools for on-the-go traveling.
- Brought to you by the local experts at
What’s New in this Version
- Addition of Traveler Tools for on-the-go traveling:
- Language translation for 27 different languages.
- Tip and Split: Not just any tip calculator, this app will split the bill too! You enter the amount and number of guests and this app will calculate how much each person owes.
- Real time world-wide currency conversion.
- Airport information includes security wait times, traffic, delays and mapping information.

Things to do in New York
Check out what there is to do in New York City. This is a site that you can go to at anytime for ideas and suggestions. You would be surprised what there is to do, even if you lived here all of your life.

Travel Buddies on the go
A mobile-friendly version of the Facebook Travel Buddies application. You can login with your Facebook account to access your travel calendars on Travel Buddies. The mobile site allows you to create trip events on iPhone, write your trip thoughts, and leave comments for your friends about their travel. All your information will be shared with your friends on Facebook instantly.

Pocket Barcelona
A unique tourist information guide for your iPhone or iPod Touch. It includes full audio commentary (streamed directly to your device), integrated maps, opening times, entry prices and plenty of photographs. Use it as your own personal Barcelona tour guide.

International Calls from 1p/minute from your iPhone
International Calls from your UK iphone from 1p per minute, the Web App features a rich video media interface with full instructions and using voip technology to place the call. International calls are made at local calling rates by using your inclusive minutes to connect to our London based number 02071246666. You pay from 1p per minute for the International segment via VOIP. Voice prompts advise on funds and time remaining for each call. You can topup by text anytime you need to. No complex calling card details, no pin numbers needed, no account to open, no credit card needed. Just Topup by Text (UK Only)

March 12, 2009

The beauty of San Francisco - A Thursday Thirteen

Where I find beauty in San Francisco...leave yours in the comments section.

  1. Riding the cable car from Powell Street through Union Square up to Nob Hill and beyond, dropping off locals along the way
  2. Walking through Chinatown and stopping to buy steamed buns in a tiny shop on Jackson Street
  3. Sitting at a window in Cafe Greco on Columbus Street sipping a cappuccino
  4. Sharing a Molinari Deli sandwich - with everything on it - on a big blanket in Washington Square Park then sipping a cappuccino at Mario's
  5. Staring at the view of the Hyde Street Pier from the end of Larkin Street
  6. Walking along the Embarcadero towards the Bay Bridge and the downtown ballpark
  7. Looking at the Golden Gate Bridge from the trail hidden on the western slope
  8. Walking up the Lyon Street Steps slowly while ogling the mansions at the top of Broadway
  9. Driving inside the Presidio and enjoying the new Vista spots that have killer views of the bay
  10. Riding my bike along Crissy Field and watching the windsurfers
  11. Sitting on a bench in Huntington Park during Christmas to stare at the lights in the trees with Grace Cathedral in the background
  12. Driving slowly along the Great Highway and watching the many tandem kite flyers along Ocean beach
  13. Going to North Beach to Stella Bakery and eating a slice of Sacripantina cake on the one hot day out of the year

March 10, 2009

Travel Deals, Flight Searches and Hotel Reviews - Oh My Metasearch!

It sure looks like the poor exchange rate for my dollar is going to be lasting longer than I thought. Which is depressing because it is so fun when travel bargains are found. Will this stop me from traveling? I'm not sure to be honest but probably not. Getting out and about is a huge priority for me, even if it is just out into my community - though further afield would bring me closer to my dream destinations of New Zealand, Iceland and India, to name a few.

Recently the urge to get on a plane has been high. With a friend's recent wedding and honeymoon in Dubai, the Maldives and India, the travel bug settled into my bloodstream. Seeing the cute kids win for Slumdog Millionaire furthered my descent into currency exchange math - which I am not so good at. Cue the headache commercial...

Is it responsible to charge the cost of a trip or should we move to the habits of our parent's and grandparent's generations, waiting until we have the cash, then travel or spend our money period? It wasn't that long ago that the credit card did not exist. We are being told everyday that part of the current economic problem is our fault - that we used more credit than we should have and saved less than we should have.

The travel site that I write for, recently wrote about the evolution of metasearch from flight prices to hotel reviews - then wrote a review after testing the metasearch sites of UpTake, VibeAgent, HotelsCombined, Trivago, TripAdvisor and Travelpost. Clearly trip planning takes more research today if we want to get accurate prices and the best deals.

This exercise got me to thinking that maybe there are bargains to be found out there, we just have to try harder to find them. Maybe if we put a little more effort into the metasearch process we could still find a way to travel - to get out and about - without taking on more debt?

March 6, 2009

"The River of Doubt", by Candice Millard. The President's survival, the Amazon's survival, our own survival.

This book is from the 2007 UC Berkeley Summer Reading List whose theme was Survival! It’s described to students as "…a harrowing tale of survival" and "…an important and fascinating description of the Amazon ecosystem, which as we now know is an important link in our survival." There are so many current issues facing the world today that impact our very survival. Our environment is being damaged. American children have little or no understanding of America. They can name one of the American Idol judges but cannot name one of the three branches of government.

The author - a former National Geographic writer – puts together a descriptive story that is equal parts travel diary and American History. The River of Doubt carries you through the process of putting an expedition together in 1913 that involves a very popular US president and his son. Given their stature, you get an incredible feel for the amount details involved, the number of favors given and the emotional drama for the families and members of the expedition.

Eco-Tourism: Friend or Foe
During the time of Theodore Roosevelt's epic journey, Brazil and the Amazon Rain Forest still included indigenous people who had yet to encounter a single person outside of their immediate tribe let alone another country or race. These populations have been touched by the continual curiosity of Western explorers and adventurers,.

Cândido Rondon, the co-leader on President Roosevelt's expedition, is famous for his lifelong support of Brazilian indigenous populations. He was the first director of Brazil's Indian Protection Bureau (SPI/FUNAI), and the Brazilian state of Rondônia is named after him.

Today we read a lot about many eco-friendly tours available, especially in developing countries. The industry is so popular and profitable that you can find an International Ecotourism Society, describing related facts and statistics. Some countries very survival may rely on those of us who book these types of tours to take us through remote regions of the world, yet our footprint is felt even with the best of intentions.

Different Sort of Biography
The man known for his boldness was almost brought down by this last adventure. For most of his life he was drawn to one physically punishing effort after another. When Theodore Roosevelt lost his last election, his wife Edith knew it was only a matter of time before he found a new adventure.

The author does an excellent job writing the narrative so that we feel we are sitting next to Roosevelt as he journeys across the world, when he writes letters home describing his worry over his 24 year old son Kermit's health, and later bedside when he decides to end his own life if it means the survival of his son and the rest of the expedition.

Survival of the Fittest
One imagines in early 1900's South America that man would be fearful. This was a time before penicillin! The ease with which the men came down with malaria and became infected from all of the insect bites was scary. I expected that layer in the story but what this book illustrates clearly is that men were afraid but less so under the bold and clear leadership of both Roosevelt and Marshall Rondon. These strong men tackle the journey with a clarity and compassion that I found amazing given the time they lived.

This is a story about man challenging the Amazon to give up its secrets. All of the men on the expedition including Roosevelt literally have the clothes rot off their back, the shoes off their feet. Their environment teems with carnivorous animals, plants and deadly insects. The Amazon River is filled with schools of bone-cleaning piranha.

The River of Doubt gives readers their own map to an incredible soulful journey by our 26th and 25th President, Teddy Roosevelt and a beautifully detailed story of the expansive and mysterious Brazilian interior.

March 5, 2009

Win a Free Week at a Beautiful Resort in the Caribbean!!

Divi Resorts is giving away a chance to explore the Caribbean with a free 7 night stay in one of their exclusive island getaways.
At Divi Resorts, the Caribbean is not just a destination, it’s the destination. We invite you to explore our collection of colorful Caribbean resorts located on the magnificent islands of Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, St Croix, and St Maarten. Each resort offers spacious vacation suites and hotel rooms along some of the islands best beaches- all with your choice of amenities.

Entrants will have to upload a creative photo of themselves waving goodbye to winter. That's the only rule, everything else is up to your imagination! If you are tired of ice storms, slippery wet roads or shoveling snow, get a photo of yourself waving goodbye to the cold and dreary winter.

Wave goodbye to winter and then say hello to a relaxing stay in a gorgeous resort in the Caribbean!

The contest ends April 15 so stop by now and check out the full details at IF.Net is a social networking site that connects people by holding contests sponsored by major brands. After IF members submit their entry, their friends and families can vote for them everyday to increase their chances of winning.
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