Executive Retreat for 7 days on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. Cruising is a special experience and I understand what people love about it.
Who knew Epcot lets you dive with their sharks. Outside of the obvious (Disney) I’ve not found that much to do in Orlando. I’ve searched (and searched) for stuff to do that is different, doesn’t involve lines (if possible) and hopefully is outside (or underwater). This is what I’ve found:
As a part of what we do at VoyageTV we get to some pretty compelling places. I mean we go where tourist are drawn to and we try to find the stories that make those places special. (Pictured: Dive boat out from Red Hook Dive Center)
Excuse the picture, but this was a fairly common view getting from one appointment to the next in Mexico City. Arrived Monday night to make a Tuesday morning meeting and left Friday. If you don’t want to read the entire post I can describe selling ads in Mexico with one word: hard.
I went to Atlantis. Squeezed in a quick weekend with coconut trees. Man I miss coconut trees when I don’t see them for a while.
I’m not sure that there is a more scenic road than US Highway 1 in the country. I had to venture out over the Golden Gate bridge on a recent trip for the TV of Tomorrow conference in California and stopped at Muir Beach for a break from business.
Getting to Turks was a little tough. I wouldn’t recommend waiting until the last minute as those “lift” reductions are no joke – basically fewer planes equals fewer seats and higher prices. Toss in the two year old and the desire NOT to have any major connections and you come up with limited and expensive options. But we went.
With both my parents from the Caribbean (Trinidad and Jamaica) I’ve probably spent more time there than many. But Turks is different and great. For me. Small and manageable with beautiful water and great diving (DIDN’T make it this trip). So this was one for the family — no diving or sailing or anything that required more than flip flops.
And if you want to slow down, Turks is perfect — we got there the week before Labor Day so the height of both the off season and hurricane season as well. Sure there were a couple of suspicious systems that could have developed, but the family was oblivious as I checked NOAA daily. I would def recommend the island and the hotel — Gansevoort. Great service and beautiful property. Rented a car for a couple of days just to see the place, and my minimal left-hand side driving skills were sufficient.
The island sports the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world so I will be back. Do want to hop on a boat as it’s pretty close to lots of interesting places. I posted a bunch of pictures on Flickr, and they tell just a part of the story. Consider the destination and the property highly recommended.
Man. Summer plan curve ball took shape at the San Francisco airport. Popped calf muscle chasing my two year-old. Wow. That was a long flight home. Then the soft cast. Three weeks later I can walk near normal….at least in the house. Little Grayden has little mercy. I think he understands on some level, but he’s not sympathetic and still likely to jump on the leg as quick as he would drive a tricycle into it.
So hiking, running and climbing are off the menu for a bit. Though we did “hike” Central Park today to the Victorian Gardens, a family amusement park at Wollman Rink. The whole episode has been a curious pause…walking much slower in Manhattan…making eye contact with the anyone else who has stepped out of the fast lane. I must admit I didn’t really notice the cadre of the afflicted until I joined the club. Walking slow isn’t that bad. There really is more to see on any given street. Will enjoy the pause while it lasts…created new playlist just for the purpose…
Somehow squeezed in a trip from Ft Lauderdale to Savannah Georgia on 52 foot Tayana. Got to test iPhone navigation app by INavx. The navigation charts downloaded to the phone so you don’t need a cell signal to navaigate, just the GPS.
And there is just so much to know, and Tayana Captain (friend) is a fantastic sailor. There’s so much to know on a boat and any time with someone who’s sailed probably 35,000+ miles is really like Gold.
INavx worked well — hard to keep an iPhone on deck in wet environment though Aquapack can help. Still need a bigger electronic chart on the computer and ideally the same as what’s on the iPhone. Again ideally you’d want to plot waypoints on the bigger screen of laptop and upload them to iPhone, but can do on phone with patience. In any case, good to have another chart on board (and GPS). Just took ASA 105 which is kind of a throwback Navigation class — lots of pencils and erasers….but it all helps…especially blue water…harbors too.
Trip was 400 miles — did 10 knots with the help of the Gulf Stream and was back at desk on Wednesday.
Will post more later. Even with all the grim economic news the world does not stop spinning. There are still beach hippies who couldn’t begin to tell you what the market has done or will do…good to see them. Diving later. Be at my desk on Monday. @ Esencia.
Nothing like heading somewhere tropical to drive home the point that you’ve been working hard. And I’ve been working in the travel business. That business, like the economy as a whole, is still stuck in reverse. That’s frightening, but the economy is well beyond my control so time to focus on what’s within reach.
Usually I am that person making sure all the t’s are crossed for the crews we have scouring the Caribbean for good stories to add to the growing video library of Voyages, but I managed to head down to the Caribbean for the Caribbean Hotel Association conference and once I landed in St Lucia it was pretty evident that the business, travel, still has a pretty positive pulse.
We’ve been looking at reams of research on the landscape, and one of the curious side-effects of the downturn is that traffic, web traffic, is actually up on many travel sites as customers search, and search and search for the best travel bargains. And they are out there. And all that searching means that for some, ad revenue’s are up.
So, while there is every reason to stay home and watch CNBC or Bloomberg as we step back from the edge (hopefully), there’s little that you can do about the market and less about the economy. I’ve postponed many, many trips over the years, but I can’t say that I’ve ever had any regret about any of the trips I’ve managed to actually take. So, even in tough times it feels good to be ungrounded. As for all the rest, all we can do is hope.
Reading the Telegraph’s story, Slumdog Millionaire: Mumbai’s real slumdogs, I’m thinking no, there can’t really be tours of the slums of Mumbai. Why?
Reality Tours believes, “that Dharavi, the biggest slum in Asia, is one of the most interesting places to see in Mumbai.” The tour offers to, “break down the negative image of Dharavi (and India’s slums) and its residents,” and to “bring people of different countries, races, religions and social classes together to increase understanding and empathy.” Hmm. The tour is ten bucks per person for the “short tour” or twenty for the “long tour” or you can opt for the “private long tour” for $80 bucks if you’d rather not have the company.
So there’s two sides to this (at least). Certainly the issues we never see never get addressed, so perhaps some good could come of it. And then, the fact that we’re so disconnected from one another that we need to take a tour to shock us into action is probably just the state of the state currently. Perhaps the US election will bear out that we hit compassion’s low point with the Bush Administration and my HOPE is that a new cloud-clearing era has arrived. Hope.
I don’t think the tour should be on the itinerary though. Volunteering seems a step in the right direction. I know there are a host of issues surrounding even that: “Gap-year ‘voluntourists’ told not to bother” outlines many of the hurdles there. But still, helping has to be better than watching.
I support Kiva where I can help people to help themselves with loans (micro) that have an amazing track record for repayment, and I choose the person with whom I want to ‘invest”. For the cost of a slum tour I have the chance instead to help someone start a sustainable business.
Admittedly, I am late to this party. Life & Debt came out a while ago, but I just Netflixed it, so I got to see the Stephanie Black directed feature late. Better than never.
The film tells the story of the island nation of Jamaica’s interaction with the International Monetary Fund. And the effects. I polled a friend and Jamaican native in an informal fact-check and more-or-less got the idea she didn’t agree with the film or the presentation. But Jamaica is a pretty partisan place, and the facts as laid out in the film are sad and the presentation pretty compelling. Belinda Becker, who I know as a New York trend-maker, narrates part of the film. Overall the film is riveting because some of the story-lines, the effects of the IMF relationship are so monumentally disastrous and often inhumane, that you’d think it would sit somewhere on the front page of the New York Times. Here is what the New York Times had to say recently about the film:
“The term ”globalization” is so tinged with rosy one-world optimism that it’s easy to assume the essential benignity of an economic philosophy whose name vaguely connotes unity, equality and freedom. But as Stephanie Black’s powerful documentary ”Life and Debt” illustrates with an impressive (and depressing) acuity, globalization can have a devastating impact on third world countries. The movie offers the clearest analysis of globalization and its negative effects that I’ve ever seen on a movie or television screen.”
Whoa. Watch it.
Hotel Por Venir was, by far, the cheapest hotel I ever stayed in. It was five bucks a night (cash). While it was pretty much in paradise, the price was a combination of supply and demand (little) and lack of amenities (door locks, etc). I’m waxing a bit nostalgic as September gets rolling and this hotel is more memorable and special than most any other.
It sits as one of three building groups on a very small island. It wouldn’t take ten minutes to walk the circumference. There is the airport building, the official building (check-in and two shops) and the hotel. The island is more a passing-through way station than a destination. But it’s a pass-through from the wild to the untamed, so it’s an interesting place with interesting guests. Lots of stories and few barriers to sharing them. I had just sailed 1200 miles in a cement-hulled boat, and then dingyed the 10 miles or so from the “Swimming Pool,” a place of pure paradise in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.
There were no door locks, just a string you could hook from the wooden door to the wooden frame if you felt insecure. The pipe that played the part of the shower was beyond rustic but welcome actually, as I had just sailed for two weeks from St. Lucia to get to Panama and a shower not measured in seconds was a welcome, welcome relief. The food was five star — chicken and rice. And soda.
The fact is that I don’t get and probably won’t get time to just piss off with little direction and those times, though not so shiny when they first came round are the times that I a feel hold the most reward. Sure the Sanderson in London is great (and expensive) and memorable, but it seemed more like an experience anyone with little imagination and enough money could duplicate. It wasn’t “my” experience though I love the hotel.
I look forward to heading back out to some dusty place. I’m not sure where or when, but finding these gems and the funny times in life when dreams become real is pure magic.
Greenland. I am reading Gretel Ehrlich’s (pictured) book which takes place in Greenland, “This Cold Heaven.” The first book I remember reading about Greenland was Lawrence Millman’s “Last Places.” That was funny, and Millman is a character in of himself.
Ehrlich’s book is much different. It’s not funny. She wasn’t a tourist in Greenland or even so much a traveler, she was a person living there for whatever time she had there (7 years on and off). So more “of” Greenland than a tourist. I found the book at Housing Works Bookstore on Crosby in Soho, a place as special as some of the books you find there. I was skeptical of “This Cold Heaven” at first and even second glance, but after reading the jacket I was hooked. It’s a very good book.
Ehrlich weaves in so much more than her own experience including that of super-explorer Knud Rasmussen and painter Rockwell Kent. Rasmussen was half Dutch and half Inuit and his search for the history of the place and its people took him from Greenland to Alaska by dogsled in an epic three year journey. And that just scratches the surface of who he was a person and what he contributed.
Like Rasmussen, Ehrlich’s focus is on the people, the Inuit and of course the land itself. Surviving the arctic creates a people who are unique on our planet. Stories of starving hunters and successful hunts follow one another like good weather after bad.
There are old stories told to Rasmussen, stories that make up spiritual life on the Inuit as well as Ehrlich’s own stories. She shares her friendships and experiences with stark and at times startling honesty. There is a certain rugged freedom and a connection to the physical; the weather, the animals, eating, sleeping and staying alive and warm.
The constant is the distance between this civilized yet harsh place and civilization as in Denmark or most anywhere else. Not just physical distance, but the distance of a Last Place, a place where disharmony with elements such as the weather can swiftly bring tragedy as it always has. A place where some people find refuge in the cold, when the streetlights and paved roads of the Great Cities seem too foreign, too unnatural. And it’s a place, if we’re right about the Planet warming, that we’ll hear more and more about.
We had talked about hiking (climbing?) New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington for years. Why so long? No good answer. But, in my experience, any trip that requires aligning more than one schedule is at risk for serious postponement. Talking finally turned to walking this past weekend. What is curious was the difficulty in getting info for what is a pretty popular trip in the Northeast that many, many people have tackled.
Here in New York City, neither Paragon Sports or EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) had a map. Basic. Tent and Trails had one. Literally one. But it was of the entire Presidential range. I’d get one when I got there.
Best site for me was this Earthlink page. The other Google top-ranked pages are pretty good. The takeaway is basically that the weather can be seriously dangerous above the tree-line, and you should be in shape.
The where to stay, what to bring, which trail is best is somewhat of a Rubik’s Cube as each ties into the other. If you’re up for a 7 hour-ish drive from NYC, don’t let the weather warnings deter you (at least in August and assuming you’ve got some sense — the days before we got there the temperatures at the summit were in the 30’s — add wind and rain and you get the picture).
Bring: rain gear, warm clothes, some way to keep warm clothes dry while you’re not wearing them, and other requisite hiking materials (food, water, etc). That’s for summer, any other season (especially winter) gear up and maybe get a guide from EMS if you don’t have serious winter camping skills (can you build an igloo?).
I love Pacific Magazine. The publication brings the indigenous culture of the region front and center without the subtle condescending tone I see in too much media.
Western culture has become so dominant that it could easily erase any other unless there is a strong effort at preservation. And while the medicine, learning, government, and scientific advances that go hand-in-hand with the Western world are many, the lack of connection to the planet is, for me, a very fundamental flaw. I’ve ranted about Captain Cook in previous posts and won’t do so here. Check out the article in Pacific Magazine and the images as they celebrate their culture in “American” Samoa.
Dove Dutch Springs this weekend. The notoriously cold and often cloudy water are the main reasons it took me five years to finally give up the ghost of only diving warm water (not to mention the crowds).
The whole trip was Internet-enabled in that I met (through www.meetup.com) a diving group in New York, Ocean Blue Divers and after a couple NYC-based events, took the plunge with a short trip.
Really good experience. Great group of people and smart. Smart enough to engage Lifeguard Systems to do our Rescue Diver training for the weekend. Rescue Diver is generally the third stage in the big dive organizations development: Open Water Diver; Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, and them perhaps on to Dive Master or Instructor.
Lifeguard Systems has a few maverick ideas about safety that may not always be shared by the dive organizations where the primary goal seems at times just to get as many people under the water as possible. Very valuable, would definitely recommend looking at them if you’re exploring diving. They seem a bit more objective than your average dive shop which seems intent on selling you your next piece of gear.
Got my first issue of Greenland Today magazine. As a former publisher I still really love print. And the plight of indigenous people around the globe is a magnet for my attention.
Greenland according to Wikipedia is “self-governing Danish province” which essentially means Colony. Interestingly, Greenland is taking steps towards independence with a Referendum later this year. In any event, it was one trip I had on the books that I never completed. I had planned to go kayaking with Ultima Thule of Iceland, but work intervened. Something to look forward to.