Monthly Archives: April 2011

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.


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.


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

Travel Anxiety: That feeling in your stomach before you travel

Posted by on April 12, 2011

Ta Som Temple, Angkor, CambodiaI’m leaving for Europe in a few days where I’ll spend the better part of three months visiting a whole lot of places I’ve never been before.

Believe it or not, despite four years of traveling and having visited almost 100 countries, I still get a bit of anxiety before I visit someplace new.

It isn’t the same sort of rush I had when I first started out, but there is definitely feeling you have before you visit somewhere new.

Not having been somewhere, no matter how much you talk to people who have been there before you, there are still unknowns that you will not find out until you hit the ground.

  • How will I deal with the local language?
  • How expensive will things be?
  • Will I have good weather?
  • Will my bank hold my credit card?
  • Did I forget to pack something?

Having been through this dozens of times it really isn’t that big of a deal for me, but I’d also be lying to you if I said that it didn’t exist at all.

For people who don’t have much experience traveling, these pre-trip doubts can be debilitating. There is so much worry and doubt that they end up doing nothing and never leave the places they are comfortable with. I’ve had many conversations with people who would love to travel but are so wracked with worry and doubt they never do it.

For me, I can always get over it by rationalizing that I am not the first person to visit anywhere. In the case of some places, millions of people have been there before me and managed just fine.

If you are a traveler, how do you get past the anxiety of visiting a new place?

If you want to travel more, what is holding you back?