Monthly Archives: April 2011

Seeing Things For Yourself: Another Reason To Travel

Posted by on April 26, 2011

The city center in Budwise where I met the old Czech man

The city center in Budwise where I met the old Czech man

A few days ago in the Czech city of Budweis (home of the original Budweiser beer) I was taking photos of the town square when an old man on a bicycle came up to me and started to talk. I said I didn’t speak Czech and he started talking in very good English and asked me where I was from.

I told him I was American and his face lit up.

He said he had been to American many years ago as part of a musical group he was a member of. They toured the midwest playing Czech music in cities like Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Omaha, Milwaukee and Chicago. He was excited to tell me about how much he enjoyed America and how well he was treated by Americans.

He also went out of his way to tell me how much Americans were different from what the Communists told him. He offered to help me if I needed anything while I was in Budweis as a token of thanks for the kindness he received in America.

There is a lesson about traveling that I took away from the old Czech man on the bike:

You have to see things yourself. What he had been told about Americans by his government he had seen with his own eyes to be wrong. I’ve experience the same thing in the Middle East meeting Arabs. You can’t rely on what people in positions of authority tell you about the rest of the world. You have to see it for yourself and odds are what you see will not be the same was what you were told.

This is just one of the many reasons why you need to travel.

I have no idea what happened during that man’s trip to America, but whatever happened lead to him treating me nice in a random encounter in a Czech town square years later. I’m glad he was able to visit my country and I’m glad I was able to visit his.

Dealing With The Unexpected While Traveling

Posted by on April 23, 2011

Over the course of the last four years, only a small fraction of the things which happen to me end up on my website. Most either don’t merit a mention or sometimes I forget to write about it.

Today something happened that I didn’t think twice about when it occurred. They were simple enough events but are the sort of things that petrify some people and keeps them from traveling.

My goal today was very simple: I was going to get on the train in the Czech city of Ceské Budejovice (Budwise) and go to Vienna. I would have to make one train switch near the border, but that was it. It should be pretty easy considering there is no border control you have to pass through. (more…)

Thoughts on Prague

Posted by on April 21, 2011

The Astronomical Clock in Prague

The Astronomical Clock in Prague

This leg of the trip I’m on was never intended to be much more than an opportunity to see some of Europe that I hadn’t seen, before I head off on a cruise from Venice. My three days in Prague was no where near enough time to really explore the city, especially when you factor in a day of recovering from the flight over. Thankfully I should be back here in November for TBEX Europe where I can see some of the things I missed.

Here are some of my thoughts from the few days I’ve spent here: (more…)

Questions & Answers: April 2011

Posted by on April 20, 2011

Time once again to dip into the mailbag and answer questions about all things travel, blogging and Green Bay Packers.

Irish Polygot Benny Lewis asks: My question: Does the sense of wonder diminish with time over travelling, or do you still come across places that leave you breathless?

No, but things are different now.

There is a sense of anticipation and wonder of the unknown that exists when you first start traveling. Most of that feeling really doesn’t have anything to do with any particular location you visit. It is just part of doing something new. The thrill you get of actually being somewhere new, however, is still there for me.

One thing I’ve done is changed how I travel. For the first 2.5 years, I spent most of my time going from place to place as if they are links in a chain. Now I do more jumping around around the world. Next year I might do things in yet a different way. The key to not getting burned out is to change how you do things.

I’ve been to a lot of places, but there are still far more places I haven’t visited, than places I have. I could travel for several decades and never visit a place I’ve been before, with the possible exception of airports.

(more…)

8 Things You Might Not Have Known About the Czech Republic

Posted by on April 19, 2011

My arrival in the Czech Republic means not only a new country for me, but a new installment of “8 Things You Might Not Have Known…”

  1. Prague is the defenestration capitol of the world. If you are like me, you probably love a good defenestration. Two of the most famous defenestrations in world history both occurred in Prague. The first defenestration occurred on July 30, 1419 when seven members of the Prague city council were thrown out by a mob lead by a priest demanding the release of several prisoners. When the city council didn’t give into their demands, the mob stormed the city hall in Charles Square and threw seven people out the window where they were subsequently killed.

    The second defenestration took place on May 23, 1618 when a group of Protestants threw three Catholic representatives of the Emperor out a third story window in Prague Castle. All of the defenestrated survived the fall by landing in a pile of horse manure. One of the victims, Philip Fabricius who was a secretary to one of the imperial regents, was later given the title the “Baron of Highfall”.

    There have been other less noteworthy defenestrations in Prague over the years as well.

  2. (more…)

My Photography Gear

Posted by on April 13, 2011

I couple of things have lead up to this post:

  1. I am always asked by people what camera gear I use. Most people who dabble in photography are always curious what sort of cameras people use. I ask the question myself when I meet other photographers so I completely understand it.
  2. My new sponsor, B&H Photo, recently set me up with brand new gear which makes the discussion sort of relevant. I’m heading off to Europe for a few months and I’ll be doing so with camera gear I haven’t used before, so the subject has been on my mind the last week.

Overview

Unlike most professional travel photographers, I am traveling all the time. I don’t just fly into a location to do a shoot and then go home. Because I’m traveling so much, weight and space are the biggest factors in determining what gear I use and how much of it.

I find myself sandwiched between a high end photographer carrying around several pelican cases full of lenses and a traveler who just wants a point and shoot to cut down on the weight. This means that I carry around far more photography equipment than the average traveler, but far less than a pro who parachutes in with a particular objective in mind. (more…)

UNESCO World Heritage Site #127: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

Posted by on April 12, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #127: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

UNESCO World Heritage Site #127: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site

From the World Heritage inscription:

The main elements of the massive fortification of San Juan are La Fortaleza, the three forts of San Felipe del Morro, San Cristóbal and San Juan de la Cruz (El Cañuelo), and a large portion of the City Wall, built between the 16th and 19th centuries to protect the city and the Bay of San Juan. They are characteristic examples of the historic methods of construction used in military architecture over this period, which adapted European designs and techniques to the special conditions of the Caribbean port cities. La Fortaleza (founded in the early 16th century and considerably remodelled in later centuries) reflects developments in military architecture during its service over the centuries as a fortress, an arsenal, a prison, and residence of the Governor-General and today the Governor of Puerto Rico.

San Juan is the second oldest city in the Western Hemisphere after Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The old city of San Juan still has the feel of a Spanish Colonial city. The fortifications of the city are still mostly intact and served to defend the San Juan harbor. Tip: If you visit the old city of San Juan, make sure to stop by Carli’s Bistro and listen to former Beach Boy keyboard player Carli Munoz play jazz.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites