Thursday, April 26, 2012

A to Z: World Travel

World Travel is a luxury, but an affordable one.

I love to travel. I've mentioned it before, here and there and specifically in this A-Z under L, T & V and Last year's A-Z under B.  Not hard to find those if you'd like to see more.

You might have heard some misleading statistics, such as 'only 10% of Americans have passports'...
this isn't true, though it is pretty low compared to most countries.  About 30% of Americans have passports, though I have heard that it might be as high as 50% who never use them, or have never used them for any destination other than Canada or Mexico.  Whatever the exact number is, the condition is clear: Not a lot of Americans travel internationally and fewer travel very far.

There are some reasonable mitigating factors for this: the US is BIG.  The third largest country in the world.
And the two that are larger have a whole lot of ice!
That means there is a lot to see here without leaving the country, and that seems to satisfy a lot of people.
It is more expensive to travel abroad than domestically.  That is because the US is far from all countries other than Mexico, Canada and some islands in the Caribbean.
The further you go, the more it will cost, in general.
Lastly, since the US is so isolated, compared to countries in Europe, most people here don't tend to learn a second language, let alone a third or more, so it can be daunting to many would-be travelers.

I really envy the Europeans.  I really do.  I love to travel and enjoy it even more when going someplace foreign.  For a European, foreign travel can be as simple as taking a part-day train ride.  They can visit other countries with little more effort than we go from state to state, yet get so much more variety than we do out of the time & effort put into such travel. Talk about lucky!

But just because you might live in a country that is far from the rest of the world, like the US, Australia or New Zealand, or maybe in a research station in Antarctica, doesn't mean you can't travel abroad.
And it certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't.
I'll try to convince you of the why & how, and highlight some of my favorite places and experiences.

Traveling has been a huge influence on me. I first left the country when I was 18 and it was probably the best thing to ever happen to me.  Since then I've tried to find a way to get out there whenever I could.  One of my goals is to live in another country long term: not just a summer or so but for many years. Someday.

I know, this is a lot to read. It's a big world. But I promise there will be lots of pictures. 

First: WHY

I have been told on many occasions by Americans that they are not interested in traveling to another country.
I can not understand or relate to this at all, but I have heard it from many.  
Statements like "This is the best country in the world, why would I want to go anywhere else?" 
First of all, there is no "best country in the world." 

Just as there is no "best food" or "best music" or "best movie." Unless you are so one-dimensional that you never have a variety of mood, and are so limited that you only ever want to do one thing, how could there be one "best" when something as complex as a country encompasses so many different parts of life?  
You are human so you are more complex than that. Different moods, variety of interests, there can't be only one "best" for all things under such circumstances.
And even if there were one "best" country, which there isn't, does that make experiencing others valueless?

Even if Star Wars is the 'best movie' in every conceivable way, for every conceivable mood, does that mean you'd only want to watch that one movie over and over and never see a different one?  No, I suspect this attitude comes from fear: fear of the unknown, fear of being uncomfortable, fear of experiences that may call their belief into question.  Well, the unexamined life isn't worth living: go examine the world and live!

Growth & understanding: There is a reason it is a cliche to 'go backpacking in Europe to find yourself', there is a lot of truth to it: traveling doesn't just teach you about the places you go to, it teaches you about yourself.
Comfy at home, you might not have the kind of challenges and experiences that will cause you to find out what is inside you.  
I find it a lot more interesting to meet people from other countries than other states.  
Life is more different, experiences more different, it is just more interesting. In the same way, I'd rather go to another planet and meet an alien if I could, but that isn't an option for our lifetime. More's the pity.

Memories: I have this image in my head.  Old, facing death, knowing I have not much time in front of me and knowing that there are really only two things that comprise your life: what you create and what you remember.  Traveling is a great way to accumulate some memories.  Day to day life can be much the same, and goes by so very fast.  When this happens you might not make a lot of memories. Traveling is almost never this way.  It is new & different.  Sometimes it is great memories, sometimes it was crazy hardships, but in the end, it is all the stuff of stories.  Maybe this is why I hate 'Reality TV'... what a bunch of crap.  Just people in day to day life goaded by directors and producers into meaningless bickering and pointless drama. 
I'll take even a bad movie over that any day because it is a *story*.  
When you travel you are making stories. That's worth some extra money.

That brings us to HOW.

Yes, it will cost more.  But you can find deals. Look for them.  The first time I went to China I got round trip tickets for half the cost if I booked at least 3 nights in a hotel, which wasn't very expensive actually. Saved a lot.  Without looking for any deals, just now checking I see it will cost about $900 to fly from LA to London, $1k for LA to Paris, for a month trip in September. The cost for LA to New York was $350.  Three times the cost.. ok, that is more expensive, but you get the bonus that you're going to another country! Save up some money and go further, expand horizons and get more out of it.. it is worth it.  

Save money by going to less expensive locations.  London, Oslo and Tokyo are quite expensive.  Kiev, Minsk and Istanbul are not.  It can be more expensive to get to some further countries, but once there the costs come down sharply.  Here is a trick: Fly to a location that isn't too expensive, stay a few days, then get on a train and go to a less expensive country: you avoid the higher airline ticket price, get to go to more countries and save money: win-win!  Also, look for deals that are unexpected.  Did you know you can sign up for summer classes at a university and then use that to get to another country as an 'international student'? Often this will qualify you for free or nearly free student housing.  Such a good deal! it won't save you money if you'd only have stayed for a week, but if you want to stay for a summer it is a bargain!

That's another aspect: plan to stay awhile.  
Usually when people travel they look at a plane ticket as "this is for my 7 days vacation". OK, that can hurt: $1,000 for 7 days seems like a lot compared to $350.  But if you're staying for several months, it's not so bad.  I know this won't be a great solution for many people in the US: we have an embarrassingly small vacation allotment compared to most countries: we just can't go away for that long.  I also don't have kids, that right there will either delay or greatly limit your travel options, I know-but try to find a way. 
You know your own situation best, if you can find a way to make this work, you won't regret it.

My favorite way to travel is not to travel but to move.  Three times I've been able to live in another country for a summer or more: China, Denmark & Belarus. I wouldn't trade this type of experience for anything. Travel is when you live out of a suitcase for brief times. That is great, but when you can advance that to renting a place (or getting it for free) and have to grocery shop, do your laundry, etc, rather than staying in hotels, you really get a feeling for the foreign country.  Cruise ships I'd hesitate to even call traveling, that's more like mall hoping by water.  

For the Gamers: There are a lot of tournaments and conventions in other countries!  How much cooler to go to battle with your army in another country than the local scene yet again?  I've yet to be able to do this.. it is high on my list. When I went to Minsk I found a Blood Bowl tournament in Vienna, and I really wanted to go there, but the cost of the flights over those days, and landing there instead made it too expensive.
But look for the opportunities! 

OK, enough theory. if you're not convinced yet the only thing that might push you over is the first hand accounts... so on to those.

I have been to 18 foreign countries.  I've only been to 9 US states (well, 8 plus D.C). 
I am not a rich guy. Not even close.  Not even near the guy who is close. 
There are a lot of things I do want to see in the US, but if I have the time and money, I'd rather get out and about farther: the greater variety the greater the experience. 

Some of my favorite places:

As I mentioned I got to live here, in Copenhagen, for a summer.  Loved Denmark.
Wasn't so crazy about the food, but loved the country. 
You don't find a lot of buildings like this in the US:
It's a beautiful country:
It isn't all fairy-tale landscapes of course.  Then again...
Maybe it is. This is in Christiania. It's like Santa Cruz, except the hippies aren't so aggressive. 
Denmark has it's odd side...
From the museum of sex.  A 2 meter member, in the window. You're not in Kansas can tell because no one's outside protesting. What are they doing? 
Seemingly dressing up as frogs and pantomiming the act of procreation in front of strangers. What else? 

At my local metro station.  Hilarious if you read that red banner with thinking in English. Especially if you've been to the sex museum, just what are these people up to?  Unfortunately, it isn't advertising what it seems to be advertising. It just means a 'sale'? Oh well.  I thought maybe some kind of performance art. ;)


I loved this country!  I really wanted to move there- but since I don't have the job skills of someone 'highly sought' the cost of getting through the door is just too high. 

On traveling to Norway by train, we got stuck for a couple hours because of a train breakdown miles ahead.

Actually...funny story. Have you seen the series 'Lilyhaven?' Something just like the first episode happened to me. A young man was traveling with 3 young boys.  I don't know if they were all his sons- I doubt it.. maybe one was and the others friends? Not sure.  But these kids were out of control. Kicking the seat, being loud, generally obnoxious.  They were really riled up.  I noticed why: the three of them (oldest maybe 12?) were looking at a pornography magazine.  The guy knew.  What do I care? I'm no puritan, but clearly it was making these kids shake the bars of their cage like rabid monkeys. 
I asked them to refrain from intrusive behavior.  They didn't.  I asked the guy to control the kids.  He didn't.  
I didn't want to be "The Ugly American" but at that point I had had it.  
I went to the man and said "raise your kids how you want to, but I've asked nicely and don't think I'm being unreasonable, it's now invading my life: if they yell, or kick my seat one more time I'll take their magazine from them and stick it in your ass." The rest of the trip was peaceful.
Getting out to walk while the train waited for a couple hours, this is what I found.  
Just a random stop along the tracks.  One of the most beautiful spots I've ever seen.  
There was a small house here.  Someone gets to live here?  This is Earth?  It's fracking gorgeous! 

On reaching Oslo, which might be the prettiest city I've ever seen, since it's smack in the middle of beautiful water, I meet my first Norwegian: 
Yes, this is what they look like.  All of them.  If you see a human they're just another tourist.  I was assured that this is a Norwegian, all of them. Uff-Da! 
And this is where they live.  I love it!  Man that just looks cool.  And yep, I even saw one with a goat on the roof, eating grass.  Really disappointed I didn't get a picture of it.

Norway has some great old architecture.  I've been to Notre Dame in Paris, and it was amazing... been to the Pantheon in Rome, but something about these old Stav Churches speaks to me more.  Maybe it's because I just appreciate 'Dark Ages' (a misnomer) culture more. 
Inside is dark and the smell of wood is ever-present.  This must have been a key influence on Edoras.

This was a treat.  There is a museum with a lot of artifacts from the Viking age. 

Russia: St.Petersburg. 
Another city I loved.  I only stayed a few days, since it was a short trip while in Denmark. 
Cheap to get to from Helsinki, Finland, another nice city.  To save money I took an overnight Bus: no need to get a hotel that night when you do that, so it's practically a free trip! See the kind of tips you get when you don't just look at the pictures? ;) 
You feel really small when you're here.  This 'square' is absolutely massive.  In fact, the buildings in St.Petersburg left me with that feeling in general: of mass.  You can almost feel their gravitational well.  
Our cities have tall buildings, these aren't exceptionally tall, but they feel much greater. 

If you like religious art, this is a great city! I'm a big fan of the Middle Ages & the Renaissance too, 
just not crazy about the politically-religious in my country that want to drag us back to the middle ages! 
Fun time period to study and game, not fun to live in! Know the difference. 
For example...
This is amazing. Pictures don't do it justice, it's so much cooler in person.
But, there is a dark side to the culture that inspired this:
Oh man!  That's got to hurt. 
In an earlier post I mentioned meeting a cool old guy who was a caretaker of sorts at a Mosque in St.P.
A seriously impressive piece of art. 

Oh: and the food!  Wow, after paying a lot of money for food that was anything but impressive in Scandinavia, I have to say the food in Russia was very inexpensive and extremely tasty!  

I have to squeeze this in... just because she will say "hey! don't put me in there!" 

St.P is famous for their support of the arts.  I loved this memorial statue, this is all kinds of cool:
I loved Norway, but Russia beat them for food hands-down.  See what I mean about no such thing as "the best country"? I wanted to live in Norway but no way did I think the food was near as good as Russia. 

What a great time we had here. 
Visually, Pamukkale is otherworldly. 
But it is choked with tourists and venders, hotel keepers, etc are not nearly as nice as was the case in Goreme.  I think I'd have enjoyed Pamukkale more if I'd been there before Goreme.  Still, worth seeing!

Goreme: wow, I'll save that for its own post someday... one of my favorite spots on the planet: timeless atmosphere, genuine people, orgasmic food, beautiful views... we'll be back.

The most iconic of course is Istanbul.  I have a degree in Medieval History, so yes, I often do still think of it as 'Constantinople'.  Less so now that I've been there. 
I love the architecture.  The combination of domes and minarets is brilliant.  

Must see the inside of Hagia Sophia:
For a long time the largest internal structure.  Pretty big even today

You'll want to take a Bosphor tour, it's a great way to see some of the sites and get a feel for the city.
Plus the Bosphorus straight has so much history, it's a must. Here's a tip though: don't buy a tour through a group or from a hawker anywhere that isn't right on the Bosphor bank. The further away you are from the water the more you'll pay.  If you are at Hagia Sophia about a dozen people will try to sell you tickets, and of course they are the cheapest. Yeah right. Boats leave about every 10 minutes.  It's just about the easiest thing in the world to do to get a ticket onto one of these boats.  If you buy your ticket at the boat you'll pay 1/10 what you would further into town.  Also, not all boats cost the same, but they all do pretty much the same thing it seems.  Turkey is an affordable place to be a tourist, don't over-spend, you don't need to!  
Be frugal and stay longer!  There is so much to see, you won't regret a longer stay. 
Last hint: try to get a ticket for the last boat of the day. That way you get the sunset! 
So you'll get to enjoy both the light and the night. The main bridge is lit by lights at night and is really pretty. 

Istanbul is very pretty at night.

Another great spot is the Grand Bazaar: 
Touristy?  Perhaps.  But it has a long and authentic history.  Don't be shy about doing touristy things when you travel: you are a tourist after all,you'll regret not doing what you can. 
Notice the "no photographs' sign? I didn't.  
Another tip for Istanbul: get a Balik Ekmek! This is a fish sandwich, and it is heaven.  
It'd be like going to Chicago and not getting deep dish pizza.  Unthinkable not to. 

Last tip for traveling, since one of the main purposes is to experience life and create memories,
Travel with someone you love.

-Sorry for the length of the post: 
it's just such a big world, and I hate to leave anything out, though I left out more than I included. 

For those who like to travel or live somewhere that they think I'd like, where are your favorite places you've been to or suggestions for where to go? 

Enjoy the music!

This has been an A-Z Challenge post. 
For the month of April there will be an update for each letter within the theme of: Things that influence and inspire me, or the converse: things which I find distressing or make me want to rail at the world.
Some of these will pertain to the miniatures hobby, but many will venture off to atypical territory for the duration of the challenge, then it will be back to normal with mostly minis and an occasional blithering.
You can find out more about the A-Z challenge my clicking the logo at the top left of the page. 


Amanda Heitler said...

Love this post and the pictures. We're nailed to school holidays with a 16 year old, and that pushes up prices as well as limiting times, but we keep on saving and manage a foreign trip every couple of years or so. Absolutely worth every penny.

styx said...

Nice post, my wife and I have passports but we have only used them to go on cruise ships 3 times now.

We always wanted to go to Europe (and I want to go to Egypt and Asia) but the problem is money. To get there, to get around and time. plus, we have pets so we have to put them in doggie care and for long term is a major turn off. Also, my wife HATES to fly, so I would suspect i would have to drug her to make a flight overseas.

We have been to Panama, Beleize, Mexico among other sites. I have walked in Aztec Ruins, touched the Panama Canal and went cave tubing in the jungles of Belize...those memories stick with you....

Mr. Lee said...

Completely agree that moving to another country is the best way to go. Been in Turkey now 6 yrs, and it has changed me that living in Canada would never have done.

Looking forward to my next move to another country, and then also now that my son is almost 4, we can begin to take more trips throughout Europe without having to worry about what we have to bring specifically for him or feel bad if we were to travel without him.

Pamukkale actually used to be much worse btw.. there used to be a hotel on the top of the hills, but it caused the white stones to go black, and was taken down and fully removed. But this was years ago, and its as you have seen it.. crowded but white..

I think your A-Z ( which is what caught my attention to your blog in the first place last year ) is actually better than last years! And much more insightful! Thanks for this, and glad your doing it.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

A thoroughly wonderful post which I really enjoyed, thank you.

I have done a lot of travelling too - both privately and in the Navy. The only thing I can add to all of your thoughts is that nothing makes you appreciate what you have more than travel.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Oh yes, my family and I got to live in Southern UK for two years. We had a wonderful time and really made the most of having Europe on our doorstep!

Hobby Horse said...

Great post!

I live in the UK and have seen a fair bit of Europe. Italy is one of those places you should see before you die. Yes, it's full of tourists, but with good reason. If you like history and art, I can't think of anywhere on Earth that can match it.

Not sure about the statistics of UK travellers, I think most have a passport, but we do live on a island! I think the typical holiday overseas is to fly to a place with a hot beach, Spain or Portugal, Greece maybe. Of course, it's also a very wet island, so it can be forgiven a little. All that culture in our own country and on our doorstep, yet the majority fly off for a week in the sun, some never even leaving the pool at the hotel. I don't think you can claim to have exclusive rights on lame fellow citizens!

Dunc said...

There was an article in one of the broadsheets here about a decade ago which detailed a study of American college graduates. They'd been given a globe with the names removed, but political boundaries and colours left in. Something like 90% of them couldn't find the USA.

This perplexed me rather until I travelled the US. For a Brit, even one that's travelled as far as I have, the distances and size involved in the US is brain-bending. And, as you say, there's such a diversity of culture and people within the States that you never really need leave.

Even for a europhobic nation like the British, most of us leave school with a rudimentary grasp of at least one other language, normally two. Those dodgy furriners on the continent will usually leave school fluent in English. All helps.

Plus, as you say, it's entirely possible to get all around Europe for no money at all. Last time I flew to Salzburg, it cost me £40 and about 2 hours of my time each way.

I'd thoroughly recommend Salzburg (in the Summer) and Vienna when you're back this way. Then work your way along the Mosel/Moselle Valley, it's stunning through there. One of my favourite places in Germany;
You'll need to brush up on your German though.

S. L. Hennessy said...

First off, I love traveling around the US. It's a huge country, and should be explored and enjoyed. But it's not enough. World travel is important. And exciting. I'm going to Spain this summer and I cannot wait!

Anne said...

I've always had a hard time understanding why Americans don't go abroad. I understand what you're saying about the size of your country and the short vacations really limit you. That makes it almost impossible to really enjoy a holiday.

I had severe culture shock when I came to the States for the first time. I'd lived in Panama for 3 years and that was easy compared to adjusting to the States. The sheer size of everything was daunting. And so much wealth in one country was unusual especially after growing up in Ireland then living in Panama where poverty was the norm.

I haven't traveled as much as you have but I'm still alive and would love to travel again, but with the Hubby's back surgeries I don't see how I can.

I've been meaning to tell you that I looked at your photos in your link and was absolutely blown away. Of all the painters/gamers I follow you and Kris over at Wargames and Railroads are the two most talented I've seen.

Well it's been a wild ride today for we've had a good bit of wind last night. We're lucky we didn't wind up with tree limbs in the yard. (That's 6 W's for you today!)

Anonymous said...

The 3 years we lived in Bavaria were the best 3 years of my life! We took every opportunity we could to not only get to know our host country, but those around us. If we had the ability financially to move back there and become ex-pats, we would in a heartbeat!

It always amazed (and annoyed) me the number of our fellow compatriots who refused to go outside their comfort zone. These are the people who did all their shopping on base, never bothered to learn the language, and whined constantly about being homesick. What a waste of an opportunity!

My favorite view is the one that was outside our bedroom window. It looked like this (I think this picture was probably taken from somewhere near or in our old neighborhood):


Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks Amanda! I can imagine that'd make travel more difficult, but so cool that you still find a way. I started & was enjoying your post on Venice- but didn't get a chance to finish yet: will do soon. if anyone else hasn't seen Amanda's blog, go check it out- might start with V for Venice ;)

Styx: Great suggestions. I've been to Mexico,but not very far. Latin America is high on my list. My parents have been to Machu Picchu.. envious! Pets can be a problem to house while gone... I send my cats to stay with my birth-mom & her cats, they don't care for it much, but probably more than (and cheaper for me) animal kennels.

Paul: so true. When I came back from China it was such a strange experience. It is very different there, and I adjusted to it so that when I came back home, everything looked odd & 'foreign' to me. I saw California with fresh eyes, seeing it in ways I'd never seen before.

Laughing Ferret said...

Mr.Lee: I really envy you! As I wrote this I was thinking how great an opportunity you have. I'm glad they fixed Pamukkale! It is an amazing place, I can't imagine it ruined by looking dirty.

Hobby Horse: Thanks :) Italy is amazing! I loved it there- unfortunately all my pictures of it are on real film- I haven't been there in a long time, so it is before my digital age. Italy would be in my top 5 suggested places to go to someone who's never traveled, just such great opportunities of stuff to see! The summer weather is abysmal though, for my tastes in environment: not a fan of very high heat & made 3 times worse with humidity that makes you feel you must evolve gills or die, but doesn't matter,it's worth it!

Thanks for the tips Dunc! Vienna is high on my list of cities I haven't been to. I keep wishing we'll invent teleporters: the US is just so far from the rest of the world :(

Laughing Ferret said...

SL: Sounds fun! I haven't been to Spain in a long time- enjoyed it and would like to go back. True- there is a lot to see here, and there are places I really do want to go to here that I still haven't... New Orleans, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon (what a crime I haven't been there yet!) but when I get time and money to travel it's usually been more of a tempting draw to get out of the country.

Anne: At least you did get a chance to get back home to Ireland for a bit, but yeah, can see how it'd be impossible for any travel with everything you two are going through. I haven't been to Ireland yet, and really want to.
- well if certain powers have their way, poverty will be the norm here too. People seem determined to bring the US back to the 1880 robber baron days. The rich should keep their tax loop holes and apparently even people below the poverty level should pay income tax, no matter how little they have. maybe if more Americans did travel and see the rest of the world they wouldn't be so willing to throw what they have away at the jabbering of nonsense from those who would take it. Oh it doesn't take much to trigger a rant I'm afraid.. sorry :)
Looks like since I won't be moving to Belarus, Inka will be moving here- sure she'll have the same culture shock you went through.

re: painting: thank you! very kind of you to say that :)

I'm with you there Acommonsea! I'm dumbfounded by people who don't want to experience foreign places, or that when they do, they only want to talk to others from their country, and do things as home-like as possible. Just confuses me. I can understand getting homesick a bit- doesn't happen to me much really, but I can understand it- but not to the point of not getting stuck in to the new place you're in.

I wish it was easier for people to live in other countries. Borders, governments.. it's all just fake made up crap. Barely more real than the games children play. We're all human and this is our planet. We should be able to move and live where we please. Sounds like you had a great 3 years, wish you were able to go back seeing that's where you'd prefer.
Thanks for the visit!

Laughing Ferret said...

Dunc: I've heard stats like that, and sad to say, I don't think it's far off. For a lot of Americans, the rest of the world doesn't really register in their consciousness.

Language is an important part of the travel equation. In the US we don't usually have any foreign language classes until high school. That is too late to start really. All studies show language is learned most easily when the brain is expecting to learn language: very young. The longer you wait the harder it is. We wait until our brains are almost done forming- madness. I was in an experimental bi-lingual 4th grade class: the idea was to teach english speakers spanish & viceversa. It didn't work though: too much for 1 teacher to handle for sure- the class never reached an integration point, the 'they'll help each other' never happened, and so if you spoke english it never really got around to being your time to learn spanish. too bad, since it was a good idea- but no, I learned nothing from that. In fact, it left me with such a bad reaction to the process that when next opportunity to learn a language came, high school, I picked another and took french. But 2 years? it isn't enough. I did notice I'd understand a bit when I went to France, but couldn't speak a whole lot. I think it is a bit harder for people in English speaking countries to get motivated to learn another language, since our language is so common in other countries. Most people don't like to feel stupid or lost, so i suspect a lot of people with just english get scared off from traveling 'too foreign'.

styx said...

Yea, the Rain forest Tour and Cave Tubing was amazing in Beleize. We have touched the Panama Canal while in a boat going through the locks. Saw the Ruins of Tulam (Aztec along the coast) (amazing picture of the blue water due to the limestone, picked some coffee in Costa Rica at a coffee plantation and saw how it was done. I even swam with Stingrays at the Caymen Islands weeks after Steve Irwin was killed...wonderful creatures stingrays are and huge...among other things but all the above is great things to do if you go south of the United States...

Lead Legion said...

If you ever visit Scotland, two places you have to see: the Kilmartin Valley (home to more than 2000 sperate Neolithic sites and the coronation site of ancient kings) and the Devil's Cauldron, a waterfall waterfall and deep gulley that featured in "The Eagle" (it's where they had the big fight at the end).

In fact, there are a heck of a lot more places than that. Ig you ever make it to Scotland, give me a shout. I'd love to take you for a tour around some of our more famous (and obscure) medieval sites.

Another great place to visit is Oman. My in-laws own a school over there, which my wife and I have visited in the past (my wife as a nursury/primary educator and myself to assist my father in law with adult education). I've been to many countries, but other than Scotland, Oman is the only other place I've vistied where I actually want to live. I especially want to move there before we have kids -it's a fantastic place to raise children. No crime. No drug problem. Free education, free healthcare, no taxes, no homelessness (if you're an Omani without a home, the Sultan builds one for you) incredible culture, wonderfully warm and friendly people, incredible vistas. As close to heaven on earth as you are likely to come.

Lead Legion said...

@ Lynn Bavaria is an incredible place. Every home and building was literally a work of art, with exquisite, painted murals decorating seemingly every home.

However, many UK travellers are not so different from our American cousins. Yes, we travel more. But generally we go to warmer countries, to a tourist resort where Brits outnumber natives by dozens to one and where we can eat the same food, drink the same beer and dance to the same music we enjoy at home.

I think the actual percentage of UK travellers who go abroad to actuallt experience another country (as oppossed to experiencing some sunshine in a little home away from home) is rather small.

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