Travel and Tourism

adventures

4th & long…


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DCIM104GOPRO

Today I went to the 49ers – Seahawks game, it was freezing but I was well prepared. As for the game itself, it generally seemed like both teams were doing their best to lose… and at times the 49ers were blatantly throwing the game.

For me, attending sport live is purely for the atmosphere, and it was there in bunches, the noise was amazing, the crowd entertaining…

except for two things I’ll never understand, leaving early & getting smashed. One lady was trolleyed by halftime & keept falling over, eventually taken away by a medical crew. The other, bunches of fans left with 9 & 6 mins to go with their team down in a close game against a good opponent.

As a sports fan you live for these moments, sure you may beat the traffic home, but you’re leaving a potentially fantastic finish (how many Rockets fans regret bailing early in this game) not to mention you’ve just payed how much to be there?!!

Niners comeback & win.

 

I mentioned it was freezing, I read in the paper this morning that a homeless person died last night because of the cold… preventable death seems inherently more saddening.

While I’ve seen & talked with a couple of houseless people around the touristy areas, they are few and far in-between. It seems that for many on the streets money is made by recycling, scouring through the rubbish bins for cans & bottles, then trading them in.

In San Francisco, you can’t do that around the touristy areas, the bins are padlocked & have special lids.

vlcsnap-2013-12-26-21h46m14s67I would have thought, having someone sort your recyclables from land fill for free would be a good thing.

During the course of my travels this morning a run into two guys who work with the homeless & we get to talking… the plan is I’ll follow a houseless guy around for the day, either here in San Francisco, or in Oakland, I’ll get to go through soup kitchens, shelters and some of the social services. The catch, this still needs to be ok’d by the boss who will be back on Mon or Tues (I’m assured this shouldn’t be a problem as it’s been done several times before)…

Oh, and I’m due to fly to L.A 6am Monday morning.

4th & long.

Do you leave early or stay in hopes of pulling off something special.

 

Low: Darth Vader has left my dorm… only to be replaced by the worst snorer in the history of humankind. Imagine what it would sound like to give someone liposuction by placing a straw on their belly & trying to suck the fat through the skin (sort of a reverse raspberry), now mix that with a chainsaw.

fml.

If I’m arrested for murder you’ll know why.

 

High: Great conversation with a gay-Iranian cab driver on life in SF, his parents moving after the revolution & culture.

 

adventures

The Rock


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Last night I went out for dinner, which I’m aiming to do at least once every place I visit, but financially most of my meals will make use of my newly acquired minimalist skills. Anyway I had one of these, it’s a bloody marry with bacon (because it’s not American if you can’t add bacon), it also had olives, blue cheese, beans & shrimp.

WP_001549Said beverage drew the attention of the couple next to me (much like it drew my attention in the first place), we ended up talking & one thing led to another… no not like that, honestly I wonder who my readers are sometimes.

Long story short, she works at Alcatraz & I’m heading there tomorrow, so my day kinda went like this.

Got up really early to beat the masses, my info had been left at the ticket pick up so I could change my ticket to the first trip. The boat docks, and she’s standing there, she says I’m with her & I’m one of the first off the boat. Everyone else goes right & waits for the boat to unload to have a briefing, she says to do the audio tour later, miss the briefing, obey the signs, stay on the path, head left.

I pretty much have Alcatraz to myself for the next 45 mins…

Epic.

So while I can’t get into the cells before anyone else, I still have a blast wandering the parade ground & exercise yard solidarity. Not to mention it’s any photographers dream to be able to shoot tourist attractions without the tourists.
I work my way back to the beginning then do it properly, the audio tour is a must.

I spend about 4 hrs on Alcatraz, by which time it’s swarming with people (1000+ easy), then I head to the Golden Gate Bridge & shoot a couple of time-lapse series. I’ll add them when they’ve been edited.

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DCIM103GOPRO

On they way back, (it’s been an epic walk, 13+  km) I take some pics at the Palace of fine arts…

DCIM104GOPRO

DCIM104GOPRO

then stumble on to these tasty treats.

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Ice-cream + peanut butter = Mmmmm….

Surprise: I enjoyed learning about some of the islands non-prison history, in-particular the Native American protests.

Traveler Tip: Alcatraz – get on the 1st boat, miss the briefing, you catch a later one if you want, head left (like you’re going to the smokers area but keep going). Enjoy, after that 290+ people are dropped off roughly every hour.

High: Sitting by myself in the exercise yard

Low: So I chose a 4 bed dorm hoping it would be quite, turns out there are two snorers & a dude with a sleep-apnea machine… sounds like someone is dueling Darth Vader with a chainsaw.

adventures

Welcome to the USSA


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soviet-us

I remember studying Russia in history, it was one of my favorite subjects. Revolutions, Communism, Stalin, secret police… I always thought Soviet Russia would have been a cool era/place to visit, I will never get to. But I imagine I’ve come close…

I’ve had the opportunity to fly both to, and within the U.S, before & after 9/11. I remember bracing myself for craziness in post 9/11 2003 & being really surprised by the lack of security (with the exception of one internal flight to New York, where I had to go through security twice… long story).

So I was a little surprised by how amped up everything is now 10yrs later.

I can look past taking my shoes off, stripping naked, getting bomb tested & patted down at every airport check-in (ok the naked part is a joke, but sometimes I feel it would be easier to go through security in my pj’s & get changed after). I can ignore the cattle-herded lines, flipping gates & barking orders.

But the constant “report anything suspicious” PA announcements, the sign in the bus that reads “your image & voice may be recorded… Voice?!! wtf! what’s that about. The poster which reads “Can you spot what’s out of place?”, “Take a moment to observe your surroundings and report all suspicious behavior”…. well all that, that just feels like,

Welcome to the United States of Soviet America!

Just when I’m about to lose all hope, the guy barking at the cattle line cracks a joke, “Guy’s you don’t need to take your wedding rings off, I know you want to, but you can’t use us as an excuse”, he then proceeded to make fun of a kid with some impressive hat hair.

Faith restored.

Oops, spoke too soon… welcome back to Soviet Russia comrade Tim.

Honesty is not the best policy.

I made a cover for my kindle.

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I like the book feel, I like the added protection. I always declare what it is  when it’s scanned. Security generally chuckle & comment on it (Uganda, Australia, NZ, UAE, Bangkok).

Security go mental over it on my flight out of Hawaii, I have to stand aside, eventually 5 people are looking at it, I try to explain, I get told to “shut up & stand over there!”. It gets tested for explosives, scanned again, tested for explosives again… I get tested for explosives again & then have a 15 min conversation with two officers, where I noticeably feel dumber afterwards, the level of intelligence displayed is killing my brain cells.

The conversation goes in circles something like this,

they’re concerned the Kindle is “malicious”, I point out I had no ill intent by showing it to them, they’re concerned the Kindle is malicious, I show them it’s just a normal Kindle… but why did you hide it? I didn’t I showed it to you. Most suspicious, they’re concerned the book is also a “malicious device”…

this conversation repeats before I eventually laugh & say, “If I was going to bring a malicious Kindle I wouldn’t put it in a book & I wouldn’t show you”.

I get the book back with some parting muttering. Most suspicious.

I’ve learnt that inside the US honesty is not the best policy, I’ve since taken 4 internal flights where I’ve gone through security (one to New York) and have just left it in my carry-on bag without any questions. The secret to smuggling Malicious Kindles it seems, is don’t draw attention to them & don’t show anyone.

I land in LA, am fortunate that my transfer gate is next door & 15mins later I’m on my way to San Francisco. I arrive pretty sleep deprived, so consider it a minor miracle that I can figure out public transport to BART(speedy train) & bus my way to my accommodation.

That night I wander around the piers in the drizzling rain, there are not too many people around, it’s a refreshing change from the madness of Waikiki… almost as refreshing as the crisp air (6 deg.Celsius).

 

High: San Francisco feels like a refreshing change, I’m enjoying the crisp air.

Low: Airport Security… I wonder how many times this will make the low column.

Surprise: all the seals around Fisherman’s wharf, fighting & barking for position, power & female attention… not too unlike ourselves 🙂

 

adventures

Kauai


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A shuttle picks me up at, 3.30 am, I’m on my way to the airport (on 3hrs sleep), and off to Kauai. I only have time to visit one other island, it was a tossup between Kauai or Maui. I chose Kauai because of pictures like these.

Napali Coast

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I share my shuttle ride with a Grandmother, Mum & Daughter who are on their way to Maui for 2 days, I’m only in Kauai for the day.

Hawaiian Airlines were really average, they’ve just moved from “free-for-all” to assigned seating… so you pay extra to pick your seat etc, for a couple of long flights I’ve done that for the leg room, being tall in a plane is not that fun.

I didn’t this time, it’s a short flight. My mistake.

It’s the shortest space between seats of any plane I’ve been on, myself or the person beside me can’t put their tray down. My legs are hard pushed up against the seat & my knees are close to my head… but it’s ok because the emergency exit seats in front of me are empty, there are 7 of 8 seats free.

Except it’s not ok, I’m told I can not move because I didn’t pay the extra to choose my seat… I secretly wish for the plane to crash, because no is sitting there to open the door.

On arrival I stagger to the car rental & get a boring Sedan, the lady makes some comment about it being her last one & in demand… I’ve spied a few Mustang convertibles, so tell her I’d be happy to take one of those instead.

Jackpot! I’m in.

I spend the day driving from one side to the island & then to the other for the sunset. In between I stop at a few secluded beaches, do a couple of walks… oh & I put the Mustang through its paces on a couple of unsealed roads, bottoming out a few times & giving myself a couple of scares.

Thankfully it runs after dark, washing away the worst of my transgressions.

A few clips of the day.

On my flight back to Oahu all the emergency exits are empty, I just take one & “fall asleep” before I actually fall asleep… take that Hawaiian Air.

Kauai is nice, I’m still pretty blown away from the scenery from the day before, there is one massive coastal hike I’d love to do one day.

I get back to my room around 11.30 & crash… epic day.

Quote of the Day: “it’s for newlyweds & old people” –  the group that went to Maui.

High: Secluded beaches & the Mustang

Low: Hawaiian Air

Random Moment: Driving with the roof down & some sort of fruit fell out of a tree & exploded all over the back seat.

Inspiring Moment: On the flight back there is this old couple, kissing, holding hands, laughing & looking madly in love. They’ve been married 45yrs… beautiful.

adventures

Lost


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It’s an absolutely glorious day & I hit the beach early with Brenton, a tatt’d up Aussie surfer & all around top bloke.
So far in our 8 person dorm we haven’t got above 4 and I don’t really see the others.

After sun & swim I get picked up for a TV & films tour… in a hummer (which I would understand later). I’d heard a few complaints about the tour, that there were too many Lost locations…
perfect!

As a fan of the show I was amping, on the way we stopped outside Lockes dads house & the spot where Mr Echo died (I’m still bitter about that), it’s all very cool they have a big ring binder full of movie stills so you can compare.

Later on this would prove hilarious as you realise how much cgi has gone into certain shots from various movies or how the same location is used multiple times in the same show but dressed up differently. It’s amazing how many movies have all been shot in one little area of Hawaii.

It rains a lot more on this side of the island, so we got to do some sweet off-roading on the way, which seemed to be the highlight of my drivers day, he does the tour 3 times daily so it must do his head in, but I could never get tired of this scenery. Turns out that he was an extra in Lost and played about 3 or 4 parts, we flicked through his phone looking at pics of his scenes & with various actors.

Here’s a “Lost” themed clip of my day.


On my return I pay a quick visit to my new found houseless crew, then recharge batteries, eat, pack & grab an early night (10’s early right?) I’ve got a 3.30am pick tomorrow.

 

 
New Experience: the Waikiki beach experience, Hummer.High:  The scenery, even if I wasn’t a Lost fan, it was spectacular.

High:  The scenery, even if I wasn’t a Lost fan, it was spectacular
Low: The couple I went on the tour with had a million toilet breaks & voted ‘nah’ on the Lost Soundtrack being played during our journey… Hawaii five-0  fans, pfft.
Biggest Surprise:  the scenery wins big again…

adventures, News

Let the adventures begin!


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The Lone Traveler

I’m about to hop on a plane with a half-crazed plan, a bunch of tickets, a GoPro, $100 in my pocket & a whole bunch of the unknown.

I’ll be gone 2 months & will visit half a dozen countries. Some places I’ll definitely be at, some I’m hoping to get to, some I have no idea how I’m getting there, where I’m staying or how I’ll pay for it…

this will be a grand adventure of epic proportions or a cautionary tale.

 

Here’s a list of places I’m going to be (bracketed are places I’m hoping to get to), in rough sequential order. I’m already catching up with a couple of readers for coffee, so hit me up if I’m in your area pillscoffeeheresy@hotmail.com

Honolulu, Hawaii

(Kauai, Hawaii)

San Fransisco

(L.A)

Las Vegas

Springfield, M.O

New Orleans

Tel Aviv

Jerusalem

Bethlehem

(Jordan)

(Egypt)

Amsterdam

(Bruges)

(Prague)

Helsinki

New York

Osaka

 

A little over a year ago I decided I wanted to visit Palestine for 4 weeks over my summer holidays (Christmas in NZ), I guess that’s what set the wheels in motion. Turns out though, that flying to Tel Aviv from my little island country is ridiculously expensive.

So I started looking at alternative ways of getting there, and by alternative I mean Every possible combination of dates & places… long story short, I’m flying to a bunch of places for a little more than the original cost, albeit on some airlines that don’t appear to even have logos – there’s a good chance I end up in the back of a single prop full of crates of chickens.

Oh & this trip has ballooned from 4 weeks to 2 months.

So what do I plan on doing?

Well some of the trip I’ll be a traveler, some a tourist (yes, there is a difference), some a photographer, artist, filmmaker (more on that to come).

I’ll be writing this blog when I can, planes, airports & buses.

 

I’m chasing dreams & sunsets, welcome to the journey.

See you in Hawaii