Monthly Archives: July 2012

Random Thoughts From A World Traveler On The Olympics

Posted by on July 27, 2012

It is that time again. The two weeks every four years when we shift our attention from high paid athletes in team sports to lower paid athletes in lesser known sports. The time when television crews have to pretend they care about sports such as Equestrian, Synchronized Swimming and the Modern Pentathlon. The Olympics is upon us and because it is the most organized international thing which humans engage in, I figured I should add my thoughts to the already saturated opinions on the internet.
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Photo Essay : Isle of Man

Posted by on July 26, 2012

Located between Scottland and Norther Ireland in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man has a unique history and legal status. It is not part of the United Kingdom, nor is it a territory of the United Kingdom. It is a “self-governing British Crown Dependency” which means it is (in theory) a possession of the Crown and not of the country. Because of its location in the rough Irish Sea, the coastline can be very dramatic. I spent 4 days on the Isle of Man in late 2011. Here is a glimpse of what I saw.

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8 Places I Am Embarrassed To Say I’ve Never Been

Posted by on July 21, 2012

Over the last five and a half years I’ve managed to visit 116 countries and territories around the world. Despite that, there are still many places I have yet to step foot. Most people are surprised that I’ve never been to these countries because they are so big and many are popular destinations for travelers.

Sure, I’ve been to Nauru, Vanuatu, Samoa, Liechtenstein and San Marino, but they are just specks on the map. There are some enormous holes on my list of countries.

So with all humility, here is my list of places I’m ashamed to say I haven’t yet visited:

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Photo Essay : The Falkland Islands

Posted by on July 19, 2012

In January 2012, I went with G Adventures to the Falkland Islands. It was the first stop on a trip which included South Georgia Island and Antarctica. The Falklands is one of the places you seldom hear about unless it is in a news story about its disputed status between the UK and Argentina (who called it the Islas Malvinas). I found the Falklands to be a wonderful if not isolated, remote and barren collection of islands where penguins vastly outnumber people and tourists seldom visit.

I hope you enjoy viewing the photos as much as I did taking them.


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Sydney’s Second Chance and How You Are Never “Done” With A Place

Posted by on July 18, 2012

Sydney Opera House at NightIn February of this year I was invited by New South Wales tourism to attend the Australian Open of Surfing in Sydney, Australia. I’m not a surfer and I had been to Sydney several times before, so I wasn’t really that interested in attending and suffering through a 16 hour flight. However, having read my list of my 13 Most Wanted Destinations, they sweetened the pot by throwing in a trip to Lord Howe Island.

This, however, is not a story about Lord Howe Island.

This story is about Sydney and about how no matter the number of times you visit a place, you can never assume you have it all figured out.
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UNESCO World Heritage Site #181: Varberg Radio Station

Posted by on July 15, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #181: Varberg Radio Station

UNESCO World Heritage Site #181: Varberg Radio Station

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Varberg Radio Station at Grimeton in southern Sweden (built 1922–24) is an exceptionally well-preserved monument to early wireless transatlantic communication. It consists of the transmitter equipment, including the aerial system of six 127-m high steel towers. Although no longer in regular use, the equipment has been maintained in operating condition. The 109.9-ha site comprises buildings housing the original Alexanderson transmitter, including the towers with their antennae, short-wave transmitters with their antennae, and a residential area with staff housing. The architect Carl Åkerblad designed the main buildings in the neoclassical style and the structural engineer Henrik Kreüger was responsible for the antenna towers, the tallest built structures in Sweden at that time. The site is an outstanding example of the development of telecommunications and is the only surviving example of a major transmitting station based on pre-electronic technology.

As is the case with almost every industrial world heritage site I’ve visited, I found the Varberg Radio Station seemed sort of questionable before I arrived and positively interesting by the time I left.

The radio station is the oldest, operating long wave radio station in the world. It was originally built to communicate with stations in the US, primarily in Long Island, New York. Its sister stations have long since ceased operation, but the equipment at Varberg is still operational. They still even fire up the radio once a year to send messages, which is a big thrill for radio enthusiasts.

If you drive between Gothenburg and Malmo in Sweden, it is worth stopping by for a half hour to take a tour of the facility and learn something about the early days of radio.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

How Traveling Changed My View of Possessions

Posted by on July 15, 2012

Then

Then

Despite 5 years of traveling around the world I think I am still fundamentally the same person I was before I started traveling. I’m kind of a smart ass and a bit cantankerous. There hasn’t been any sort of spiritual epiphany which has lead to a brand new Gary.

That being said, my attitude towards some things have changed. In particular, my attitude towards stuff.

Before I started traveling, you could say I lived a good life. I had a nice house on a lake outside of Minneapolis. It was 3,000 ft² (278 m²) and had all the stuff that a 20-30 something bachelor would want: I had a bitchin 106″ giant projection screen TV and a 175 gallon fish tank. I purchased the house with the idea in the back of my mind that I’d probably be getting married in a few years. That, however, never happened. (more…)

UNESCO World Heritage Site #180: Carvings in Tanum (Sweden)

Posted by on July 14, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #180: Carvings in Tanum (Sweden)

UNESCO World Heritage Site #180: Carvings in Tanum (Sweden)

From the World Heritage inscription:

The range of motifs, techniques and compositions on the Tanum rock carvings provide exceptional evidence of many aspects of life in the European Bronze Age. The continuity of settlement and consistency in land use in the Tanum area, as illustrated by the rock art, the archaeological remains, and the features of the modern landscape in the Tanum region combine to make this a remarkable example of continuity over eight millennia of human history.

Northern Bohuslän is a land of granite bedrock, parts of which were scraped clean as the ice cap slowly moved northwards, leaving gently curved rock faces exposed, many of them bearing deep scratches made by rocks caught in the receding ice. These were the ‘canvases’ selected by the Bronze Age artists, all of them just above the shoreline of the period that began in 1500 BC, i.e. 25-29 m above today’s sea level.

This rock art is unique by comparison with that in rock-art areas in other parts of Scandinavia, Europe, and the world in its outstanding artistic qualities and its varied and vivid scenic compositions of Bronze Age man. The often lively scenes and complex compositions of elaborate motifs illustrate everyday life, warfare, cult, and religion. Some of the panels were obviously planned in advance.

Archeology sites are often some of the most difficult world heritage sites to visit because there usually isn’t much to see. My previous visits to Ban Chiang in Thailand and the Sangiran Early Man Site in Indonesia left me very underwhelmed. Absent taking part in a dig (which you can’t do) there isn’t much to experience, regardless how important the sites might be. I didn’t even know what I should take a photo of at those locations.

What is nice about Tanum is that the rock carvings are easily accessible. There are several carvings which are easy walking distance from the road. Also, many of the primary sites have the carvings highlighted with a iron based paint to make them stand out in the daylight.

In addition to the rock carvings, there is a nice museum and visitor’s center as well as an historic village that approximates what bronze age life in Scandinavia was like.

Tanum is located about 90 minutes north of Gothenburg just minutes off the E6 highway.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Photo Essay – Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Posted by on July 14, 2012

Paradise Bay was one of the last stops on the G Adventures tour I took to Antarctica in January. It is home to the Chilean González Videla Antarctic Base, which we visited as well as having some of the best photography I saw in all of Antarctica. I had a list of shots I wanted to get while I was in Antarctica and I was coming up empty on many of them before we arrived in Paradise Bay. There I was able to cross most of them from my wish list. It was absolutely the best location we had for viewing sea ice. I feel the need to note that the blue colors you see in many of the images was not manipulated. The blues were literally that deep in color.


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