Gary is currently in Grand Chute, WI (May 22nd, 2015)

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Monday Travel Update – Stranded in New York Edition


Castell group performing in New York City

Castell group performing in New York City

Last Wednesday I visited New York for what was supposed to be a quick 2-night stay to speak at a press event for Catalonia Tourism. The event went smoothly and when I was schedule to fly out on Friday, there was a wall of thunderstorms which hit the east coast. That, coupled with a fire in an air traffic control center grounded everything in New York for several hours. The backlog was enough to fill all the outgoing flights on Saturday and Sunday. Thankfully, I called up my assistant Amy who managed to get me on a Sunday night flight out of Newark.

The two extra nights gave me a chance to see the premier of a documentary film about Catalonian Castell groups called Enxaneta. They create human towers sometimes up to 10 levels high and it is a tradition which has been declared a Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The top levels are usually topped off by small children who are the lightest of the group. The castell group I saw in New York flew 140 members all the way from Catalonia to perform.

Here is a short video I took of them creating a 7-layer tower. Note the music and how it is synched to their progress in the tower. The people on the lower levels of the tower know how far along they are by the progression of the music.

I’m in Wisconsin for a few days before heading out to Northern British Columbia on Friday where I’ll be visiting Hadii Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). I’ll be there for about a week before heading off to Sweden to drive a a Volvo around the country for a week!

I’ve been working on a lot of back end projects the last week including a revamp of the website (no more white text on a black background!) and some bigger projects I’ll be launching this summer.


Did you know that if you are a reader of my site, you can get 20% off any and all purchases from Scottevest every day? It’s true. Scottevest is literally the only clothing I carry now when I travel.

There are two items I’m recommending this week, and they have become my favorite articles of travel clothing:

  • Hidden Cargo Pants – These have become my everyday pants when traveling. They are rugged enough to take the daily wear and tear of travel yet look good enough to wear in a nice restaurant. The best part are the incredibly deep front pockets. Not only are they big enough to carry my wallet, iPhone and Kindle, but they are virtually pickpocket proof without having the Fort Knox style zippers that some other travel pants have. You don’t have to mess with taking things in and out of the pockets.
  • Transformer Jacket – My navy blue Transformer Jacket has become my go to jacket of choice. At first I thought the removable sleeves were just a gimmick, but now that I actually have one I find myself using it all the time.

If you meet me in person, there is an 80% chance I’ll be wearing one or both of these items.

What I’m Reading

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined I picked up The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker because I was a fan of his previous book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. The premise of Better Angels is very simple: violence in the world has dropped and has dropped dramatically over the last several hundreds and thousands of years. Despite the horrific wars of the 20th Century and the constant news we hear, our world is a much safer and humane place than it has ever been in history. The past was incredibly violent and cruel and even the worst places in the 21st Century are probably better than an average place even a few hundred years ago.

Civilization: The West and the RestI’ve just started to read Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson. I confess I purchased it just because of the premise of the book, which isn’t that different from the premise of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond. I think the question of why western styles, ideas and norms have caught on around the world is an interesting one. That, coupled with the fact that I’ve read previous books by Ferguson was enough to sell me on it.


  • 9 Comments... What's your take?

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  1. Wow! Really cool video. It’s amazing they could pull that off. There could be much worse places to be stranded than in New York, eh? Always something exciting going on.

  2. Liz says:

    That picture is amazing and terrifying all at the same time! The next time you are in New York by choice or because the weather is being inconsiderate you should look into a tour with Family In New York! They offer custom private New York tours. They can create a custom tour that even for an experience traveler, like yourself, is sure to be the highlight of your trip! They specialize in tours that take you off the beaten path and they even offer New York layover tours! Whether you have the whole day to spend with them or just a few hours between flights you don’t want to miss out on the NYC Family In New York can show you!

  3. Brendon says:

    They way they build those human towers is incredible but scary. So easy for accidents to happen. If yo fall from the top…..

  4. Pol says:

    I love ‘els Castellers’! I used to be one of them for a year when I was around 12 :)

  5. ain says:

    its nice to read your views
    Must follow my tips before you deciding for your next trip.

  6. I have always tried to see being stuck as an opportunity. Being stuck in New York courtesy of the airlines, even better! Interesting performance!

  7. laura says:

    Wow so impressive! I have seen them in Spain as well… crazy people thought :D

  8. Tammy Lau says:

    wow..I live in New York and I do not even know about this event. Glad I came across your blog . what a great blog but how did you find out all this information? I myself is trying to hit 100 countries on my list after my Trans-Africa Trip. And I hope I can took great pictures from this upcoming trip just like yours:)


  9. Benjamin says:

    One word TALENT! Amazing first time seeing this. Thanks for that Gary, great article.

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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