Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Because I am tired of hearing about all these naive Americans who travel to foreign and dangerous countries, and then get “caught” by the authorities over there or even worse, caught by “tribesmen”, I felt it necessary to provide this helpful information for those planning to travel to these dangerous places in the future.

The U.S. Government has a website you can visit, to figure out what countries are safe, and what countries (if you had any sense), you would stay away from.

PLEASE, if you plan to travel to some exotic far away place…..CHECK THIS SITE FIRST:


Yemen: Country specific information: This link has everything you need to know about the country. It is valuable information about safety, recent news, entry/exit requirements, crime, medical insurance, plus much more.


This information is provided for each country you chose to research or read about.

The following is only a partial excerpt from the web site, under the Warnings section:


February 25, 2010

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities.  The Department recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to Yemen.  American citizens remaining in Yemen despite this warning should monitor the  U.S. Embassy website and should make contingency emergency plans.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Yemen issued June 26, 2009.

Interpretation:  DONT go there unless you HAVE TO.

To read the article about the couple caught by “tribesmen” in Yemen, you can find the link here:


This is my random information for you today…..hope it helps.

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While reading the latest news about the three Americans, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd, I can’t help but think, “Where was their common sense”?  Yes…common sense, defined as good judgment: sound practical judgment derived from experience rather than study.

courtesy photo

All three graduated from U.C. Berkley in California: Shane’s degree is in “Peace and Conflict Studies”, Josh’s degree, “Environmental Economics and Policy”, and he taught “sustainable living skills”, and Sarah’s, I’m not sure, but must be teaching, as she was teaching “English” while living in Damascus.

What do these degrees teach people about the real world? They all had ideals about how the world should be, peaceful, with human rights, everyone living in harmony, and so on.  That all sounds fine and dandy….but unfortunately, that’s just not how it is.

I find myself wondering about how they were raised…..by hippies?  That is kind of how it sounds to me.  Raised by parents who told them they could change the world, make it a better place.  Again, that sounds great too, but you also have to teach  naive young people, that there are some things that cannot be changed so well.

A great example, look at the radical Muslims.  We have been in a battle with a culture that has lived the same way for eons.  They don’t want change, they believe our liberties and our way of life is evil.   They are taught to destroy the infidel.

Did they ever watch the news?  Everyday there is something about people getting caught in these radical backwards countries (like Iran, North Korea), and anyone with any common sense can figure out, those aren’t the best places to “wander” around in, no matter how good your intentions are.

Side note: I know people who NEVER watch the news….because in their words, “It is too depressing”.  How lame is that?

Do I feel bad for them?  Of course I do.  But please, there is something to be learned from this:  There are evil people in the world, who don’t care about freedom, rights, personal rights, or justice. Use your common sense (and maybe watch the news every once in awhile).

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I like to visit New Orleans whenever possible, but not for the famous Mardi Gras, there are other things about that city that draws me to it.

The city and its people are rather laid back, I like that kind of atmosphere, a carefree style without concern about anything. Most of the people are friendly, and you can strike up a conversation without getting a sour look in return for speaking to a total stranger. Also, their accents of Creole mixed “French” is quite interesting to listen to.

A local getting ready for the day

I go for the authentic Cajun food, I can’t get enough of those wonderful spices they cook with. This last time we went, I had the “full Cajun” dinner, it consisted of Jambalaya, with spicy sausage, dirty rice, and of course some gumbo….it was like I died and went to heaven (gee I hope there’s Cajun food in heaven).

Another thing so compelling about the city is just the beauty of the architecture of the buildings. Many of the buildings were built in the late 1700’s, and the styles you will find are, Creole cottage, Creole townhouse, American townhouse, Shotgun house, and Double-Gallery homes. Many of these homes are surrounded by beautiful azaleas, and old oak trees. A good way to see these homes is by riding on one of the streetcars, such as the “St. Charles” line. This one passes many antebellum mansions, historical monuments, the Audubon Zoological Gardens, and Loyola and Tulane Universities.

A local Art Gallery

I do not advise going there in the heat of summer, but rather plan to go in spring or in the fall. If you have never been, there is a good reason for this advice. It is not a very clean city and garbage cans litter the back alleys and they are even posted out front of some establishments. I suppose the cans are there because it is a city where people are allowed to walk around with drink in hand (and not get stopped by the police).

Note the garbage cans lined up in the street to the right

New Orleans is classified as one of the most haunted cities in the United States. Given its history and how it was founded, it is no wonder it has this title or has so many sightings of ghosts. It is founded on a huge area of swampland, and was considered an ideal area to build because of its location on the Mississippi River.

The French believed it would be a good area for trading, so it was established in 1718, and built by prisoners that were sent over from France. These prisoners were the first residents of New Orleans, a population of thieves, murderers, and rapists. The living conditions were horrible, given that there were many mosquitoes, alligators, snakes, and disease. All of this made a perfect atmosphere for hauntings and ghosts.

The first time we visited, we stayed at Le Pavillon Hotel. It was built in 1907, and is listed as a member of historic hotels of America. It has many antiques and beautiful chandeliers throughout, a very elegant atmosphere.

Le Pavillon Hotel

Lobby in the Pavillon

It is said to have four resident ghosts, a teenage girl named Ada, from the 1840’s, a young man from the 1920’s era, and an aristocratic couple, also believed to be from the 1920’s. It is known for inexplicable sounds and smells, voices and poltergeist activity.

When we stayed there, one night I woke up hearing voices in the hallway….it was around 1:30 or 2:00 am. Nothing really that scary for me. However our most recent stay in New Orleans, we were staying at The Ambassador Hotel (not really that great, but the price was right).

The first night, I woke up due to the noises in our room. It is hard to describe what it was, but it sounded like someone playing a game of “jacks” on the floor. I could hear the sound of metal (the jacks) and what sounded like a little rubber ball bouncing off the floor. There were creaking sounds like someone standing there also. The whole hotel has hardwood planks that run throughout it, and it creaks whenever you walk on it. Sometimes it sounded like someone moving a step stool, flipping it over and over. I was tired, so managed to go back to sleep…even with the noises.

My husband says it was my imagination, and in his mind, that is all it was. Even though I woke him up to ask him if he could hear it also.

His response was that it was just hearing someone walking on the other side….and the sound travels through the planks. Well, gee…that doesn’t explain the bouncing ball noise or the metal sounds.

The next night (just as I knew in the back of my mind), the noises started again, same spot, around the same time. I once again woke my husband up, and he once again dismissed it. But this time, the noises became louder, and it even sounded like someone threw something big and hard against the wall….all the way on the other side of the room, by the window. This really unnerved me, and made me very uncomfortable. What if it throws something at me, or tries to hurt me. I decided to do something about it, as I couldn’t get to sleep. I remember reading in the Bible, that we can tell evil or spirits to go away, and it has to comply. But, you have to say specifically, “In the name of Jesus Christ, be gone”

So I sat up in the bed and said that in a very loud and commanding way. I also told it to “go away”.

It worked! No noises for long enough for me to go back to sleep. Of course my husband thought I was crazy and just annoying him, by waking him up again.

By the end of the day, for our final night, I knew it would happen again, but this time I was prepared, and went to sleep with my mp3 player on. I was not going to have that pesky ghost or whatever keep me up. Sure enough, like clockwork….it did happen again. It managed to get even louder, and more obnoxious….like it knew it would have to to wake me up. And once again, sounded like someone was throwing things against the wall (every once in awhile). I turned up my mp3 player and went back to sleep.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted to request a different room after the first and even second encounter, but my husband didn’t want to bother the hotel staff, and mostly he didn’t want them to think we were crazy (that’s the real reason). Because of my “open-mindedness”, I think I am tolerant of certain things that I cannot explain. If it weren’t for that, I’m sure I would have ran out of there screaming.

We have had other encounters with ghosts, so I just don’t understand why he is in denial. I will save those for another post.

Well, anyway, we managed to enjoy our stay again in New Orleans…..it has such a tormented history….no wonder it has so many ghosts. I won’t let them keep me away though, as there is always something new to discover there in that wonderful old city.

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Have you ever seen a sign and thought to  yourself, “that is just too funny, or weird, or disturbing”?  I am one of those people who takes pictures of things that strike me as bizarre (typically it is a sign).

Here are a few of my favorites……..

This was on the campus where I went to college. I think it is both funny and disturbing.

 The strange thing is there were many park benches thoughout the campus….enticing one to sit and possibly become a target for these “predators”.

While walking along in New Orleans, I spotted this.

I have no idea what kind of store or establishment this is….the “no drugs”…..now I’m thinking I should have checked it out.

Clever advertising.....also in New Orleans.


Tiny Terrors.....how funny.

I just love the vulture in this last one.  Do you think if you bought a gift from this store and gave it to a friend (for their kid), that they would be offended?

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In late 2008, a couple from South Africa crossed the Atlantic aboard the beautiful Queen Mary 2  alongside the Queen Elizabeth 2nd’s maiden voyage.  While taking pictures of the QE2’s historic crossing, their camera slipped and disappeared into the deep blue sea.

In January of this year, fifteen months after the camera was lost, a fisherman trawling the ocean floor found the camera in his fishing net. The camera was inoperable but the memory card and photos were intact.

The fisherman viewed the photos, which included a picture of a woman standing on the deck of a ship with the QE2 at sea in the background. The fisherman contacted the BBC, where a correspondent determined that the passengers had been aboard the Queen Mary 2.

Cunard Cruise Lines  was notified and they were  able to identify and locate the couple, and reunite them with their photos,which were  plucked from the bottom of the sea.

I read this story and thought….wow…that is so cool!

Needed to post something positive….before I go on “spring break”….so if I don’t post anything for a few days….well, I’m trying to either, relax, discover, experience, vegitate, forget, pretend, gamble, laugh, relax again, hurry because i’m late for something, hike, observe, enjoy, and finally relax again before going back to reality and work.


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I keep thinking that someday I will buy a vacation home somewhere in France or Italy.  Nothing fancy or big,  just something to settle into to really experience the people and culture of that area.  I know when you travel, the time flies so fast, you really don’t get to appreciate the surroundings and absorb everything with all the senses.

So, what would be better than to have a little place of your own in some medieval village, or just on the outskirts?  When I have the time, I like to browse foreign Real Estate sites, kind of like window shopping…..just looking to see what is available.  Recently I ran across these posts that…..well you have to read them (and see the pictures), to believe them.  It was just too funny and bizarre to me that there are actually homes available….with attached caves….should you need them.

The area I was looking at is called Poitou-Charentes, mid-western France.

Please read for yourself, and I hope you get as much laughs as I did.

Property type: House

Location: 8 km Aubeterre

Region: Poitou-Charentes

Habitable Space: Not Known

Summary: Nice old stone house, renovated. Plus little cottage to be restored

Property description

Nice old stone house, renovated.
Entrance, kitchen, dining room, sitting room with fireplace, bathroom, toilet, two bedrooms.
Possibility to make more rooms on first floor.
Barn attached to the main house, cave and garage.
Very nice garden of 5800 M2, fantastic views, very quiet location.
Near a little cottage to be restored.

Nice views, very quietly situated.

Price= 212,000 euros, or about $288,500.00…….wow, that’s kind of pricey…..do you suppose it is because of the attached cave?  It has to be.

Well…..just what I was looking for…..a house with its own attached cave!  Just the place to keep all my bats!!!  (I’m not talking baseball….I’m talking about the flying and hang upside-down kind of bats).

Note that the habitable space is listed as unknown.….hmmmmmm.

Talk about getting a chuckle out of me after reading that, but to top things off, while searching further, I ran across this lovely home for sale:

Property type: Restoration project

Location: Nr Montrueil Bellay

Region: Poitou-Charentes

Département: Vienne 86

Habitable Space: 1 m2

Property description

A RESTORATION PROJECT WITH A DIFFERENCE….A SMALL COTTAGE WITH ITS OWN GALLERIED CAVE SYSTEM PLUS A FURTHER RUIN WHICH WOULD MAKE A LARGE HOUSE. All located in an attractive wine growing village, just south of the famous and ancient château-town of Montreuil-Bellay.

The ruin, dating back to 16th Century, is located near to the entrance of the plot and its footprint would allow for a large two bedroom property. The existing cottage, located next to the escarpment, has already been partly refurbished and comprises a large room (sejour) on the ground floor and a good size room (mezzanine bedroom) and bathroom on the 1st Floor. This property has a new room and has already been insulated and dry-lined on the 1st Floor. Mains water and electricity are already available in this property.

The cave system is linked to the wine growing industry and also an old escape route for the local château. It has a large number of rooms and galleries, which not only provide for great storage space but also the opportunity to create some unusual accommodation.

The whole village is steeped in history and no more so than this property where relics of the past continue to this day, including stone carvings dating back to the mid 1700s.

Wow…..and all this is available for only €92,020  or just over $125,000!

This is an even better deal…..with all those caves and ruins….just the place to keep all my vampire friends!  Hahahahaha!

Talk about die laughing…..this just about did it for me.  Oh, I think I will just keep browsing.

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There used to be a time when I didn’t worry about where I would go for vacation, but now…because there is so much planning that goes into such an endeavor (and you do want to make good use of your vacation time), I now do much research, almost like an investigative reporter, as to what me and my family will be doing.

Have you ever had a vacation where after the fact, you thought to yourself, “Well, that was lousy and now I have to wait another year” Everyone can relate to that, right?

Here are some travel sites I use while planning: http://www.tripadvisor.com

For vacation rentals: http://www.flipkey.com

For transit systems: http://www.hopstop.com

To organize and share your Itinerary: http://www.tripit.com

I am always looking for new and helpful information, so please feel free to share your “secrets of travel planning” with me.



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