Spanish Weather

Posted in Featured on July 26th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains. Well that is simply no so. When traveling through Spain is good to understand Spanish weather so you can be assured of a good trip. Nobody likes traveling in rain,s now sleet or hail. That is why I always reply on this site to help me figured out the weather all across the country. That way I can decide if i want to venture or not venture into a particular region.

This site also tells me about the country I am in, giving me great tips for places to go and see, who some important Spaniards are, how football is a favorite pastime, historical information, what foods to eat and other interesting facts one may not find in guidebooks.

Galapagos Cruise

Posted in Featured on May 9th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

I have always wanted to go on a Galapagos Cruise. I love animals and you certainly can not dispute the fact the Galapagos Islands has some of the world’s most strangest variety. I hear the animals are so unafraid of humans that the tortoises, penguins and seal lions come right up to you. (Best to watch out for the Kimono Dragons though and large iguanas.)

I have always thought the Galapagos Islands were out of my financial reach until I discovered the Galapagos cruise ship the M/V Galapagos Explorer II. Just hop onboard and all your needs are taken care of it. It is an affordable way to explore these islands while learning about this fragile environment. The trip includes your cabin, all meals, guided excursions to the islands, and a host of other activities such as cocktail making lessons, Spanish classes, whale watching, chocolate tasting, and lectures and conferences by expert naturalists.

So check out a Galapagos Cruise and welcome aboard.

Cheap Airport Parking

Posted in Featured on April 12th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

I love to travel and one of the reasons I am able to take as many trips as I do is because I found ways to save on costs. Getting to JFK airport and parking the car used to be one big expensive hassle. While the cheapest overseas flights were usually out of JFK, the JFK parking was so costly that it canceled out anything I might have saved on the airfare.

I found myself crunching the numbers trying to find an economical parking solution. Should I take the train and leave the car at the station or have someone drop me off at the station so I can leave the car at home? Should I drive an hour to the bus depot and park the car there and then take the bus to the airport? Or is it cheaper to park at the airport itself in the long-term lot, or hire a driver and leave the car at home, or park at one of those off site places near the airport with the free shuttle buses to and from the terminal? The choices used to make my head spin until I discovered http://www.cheapairportparking.org/jfk.

This company is great. They have many lots to choose from, all within mere minutes to the airport. All are short term or long and all have free shuttle buses to and from the airport. And if you are leaving from other cities across the country, you can still use their service because they are in 21 other cities. Check it out. It’s great service and a great value.

 

 

 

ORDERING TOILET PAPER ONLINE?

Posted in Featured on April 9th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

Guest post by Jewel Cole

I have recently gotten a little crazy lately with on-line shopping! It is just so much easier to use my clear pasco internet connection to get things that I need rather than having to run out to the store! My husband thought that I had lost it the other day when a huge box came to the house filled with Cottonelle toilet paper. He started laughing and asked why I needed so much toilet paper. I tried to explain to him that I could buy if off of Amazon.com for only fifty cents a roll with free shipping. When I go to the store, I usually end up paying upwards of seventy five cents per roll ( when it is on sale) and that I have to go a lot more often. Using your resources on-line is a great way to save money. I know that buying things like toilet paper hasn’t really caught on yet and people like my husband and mailman probably think that I am crazy, but hey, what can you do? I love to save money and get things in the mail!

More Journeys

Posted in Featured on April 9th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

Last time I left off with how I was in New Zealand crewing on an old cargo ship that was getting ready to voyage around the world. 

Finally the day arrives when we were ready to set sail, even though all of the necessary repairs had not been made because of Vladimir’s abrasive behavior towards the locals. With a broken water maker, and unreliable electric panel we set off for our first destination, Norfolk Island, located off the west coast of New Zealand and the east coast of Australia in the Tasman Sea.

As soon as we leave sight of land, everything falls apart. We have not been assigned schedules so we have no idea when we can sleep, eat, or are expected to be on watch. After a few days we do whatever we want. There is no order, and at sea order is absolute. Without order, everyone’s safety is jeopardized. Vladimir starts to become unglued. He doesn’t bathe, shave, sleep, or change his clothes for the entire two-week passage, and starts wearing his girlfriend’s scrubs.

 

The interior defense dines under the sabotage.

 

Bob and Dee have taken to fishing over the side. One day an albatross gets caught in the invisible line. It is too horrific to watch. I cry as this magnificent bird struggles to get free but in the end is so mangled that he chokes on the line and dies. Nobody seems disturbed by this except me. It is similar to when Vladimir asked me to throw the epoxy resin he had been using overboard. I refuse, citing how bad it is for the environment. He gives me a belittling laugh, insisting the epoxy will not pollute the ocean nor harm the sea’s creatures. Again, I am the only one disturbed when Vlad throws the hazardous waste overboard himself, as I would not.

 

One morning Kurt and Daphne awaken me early. They tell me to hurry up on deck and so I do. There, playing in our bow wave is a pod of white-sided dolphin illuminated by the glow of the phosphorescent surrounding them. To my left is Norfolk Island. A strange and quiet feeling comes over me as we approach the island. Here we were a shipboard community with our only reality and our entire world comprised of being aboard this 127-foot space. So to come upon an island in the middle of the vast South Pacific Ocean with nothing else visible, is really minded boggling. There is nothing around for miles and miles except this tiny, isolated island and the people on it; just a little dot in the middle of nowhere with life happening all over it.

 

We lower the anchor just off island. Without a harbor, getting ashore can be tricky as you have to time the tide just right, or you risk smashing your dingy into the rocks. The objective is to land at the jetty where a large crane with a hook on one end of it, extends a mechanical arm forward to pull the boat up and out of the water. This is how the islanders unload cargo from ships that stop in route to and from New Zealand and Australia. In the event that inclement weather prevents them from motoring or rowing out to where the supply ship is anchored, they are forced to wait until the following month for another to stop.

 

While we are anchored off island, things come to a head. The crew had been promised time off because we had been working 6 weeks straight. Naturally, we all wanted to go ashore. After a heated discussion, Vladimir informs me that he never intends to honor our agreement that we had made regarding my work hours prior to coming to New Zealand. We had agreed I would work 2 hours a day less than what was required of the rest of the crew, but since my arrival it has never been the case. The reason for this was to give me time to gather footage to create a promotional video to entice paying passengers to sign up for different legs of the voyage, which is how they were funding the trip.

As matter of principal I decide to get off the boat. Vladimir would not let me back onboard to say goodbye to my shipmates or to pack my own bags. When my belongings were delivered to me on shore, there were a few items missing.

So there I was, sitting on the jetty with more gear than I could carry, not having a clue as to what I was going to do but understanding that going home was not an option. I had just quit my job, sold everything I owned, and had only been gone just over a month. I wanted an adventure. I had two thousand dollars in my pocket. I thought I would take a hiatus and see this beautiful little island, and then fly to Australia and find another boat. Little did I know I would never make it to Australia.

 

Just down to finding a prom makeup idea

Posted in Featured on March 6th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

Guest post written by Betty Ackerman

I’m not sure why but my daughter’s school is having prom so early this year! It’s only in one week and I’m worried that she’s going to have to wear a coat out to prom because it’s still going to be so cool outside! But we’ll worry about that then. We’re still getting the last little things that she’s going to need for prom.

We just secured a pair of shoes at the mall yesterday, which I was really worried about. Now we have to worry about the beauty looks. I was helping her look through prom beauty ideas online when I saw the site debtsettlementusa.com and once I looked through it some I decided to use it to help settle our family’s debts.

We found this one really awesome prom makeup idea from a red carpet look of Taylor Swift’s. She always looks so glamorous, yet age appropriate, which make sit perfect for prom. She loved it too so I think that she’s going to go with that look. And I don’t think that she could find a cuter makeup look!

New Zealand

Posted in Featured on March 6th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

If you really think about it, the only thing that prevents of us from being able to travel as often as we might like is the man made construct of time and money. TIME; that we are not able to take off from our jobs and our lives, and MONEY; that we have to spend instead on necessities like rent, food, car repairs, health insurance, electricity, etc. I don’t actually subscribe to the time/money paradigm in my personal belief system and yet it affects me.

I remember the last time I saw my friend Tracy in 1997. It was the day before I was to leave New Zealand after a 4 month trip. I wanted to move there and although I had been offered a job as a producer/writer at TV New Zealand in Wellington, I could not get immigration to grant me the work permit because TVNZ had failed to advertise the position to the local community first. Unconvinced there wasn’t a talented producer lurking about in their very own country, immigration stamped “DENIED” in bright red ink across my application. (I have since heard from Joyce Metz of Preferred Travel in Essex, CT www.chuz2cruz.com that NZ just started a resettlement program and it is now much easier to immigrate there. Incidentally, Joyce is a great travel agent. If you decide to book a trip with her please give her this code, CBD 0110.)

Tracy and I were walking alongside a tiny brook next to a paddock across the road from her house in Kaikoura (www.kaikoura.co.nz) which is a magnificent place located on a peninsula near the continental shelf.  Sperm whales gather there year round for feeding, while pilot whales, orcas and other marine mammals visit regularly. You can go on whale watching tours and swim with wild dolphin and seals. I chose the later and must say it was a bit intimidating. These large, curious creatures like to swiftly approach you head on. And just as you are literally nose to nose, and think for sure they are going to ram right smack into you, they gracefully turned on a dime without touching you at all.

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As we were walking and talking surrounded by tranquil scenery, we were lamenting my leave of this gentle, sane country which to this day remains so near and dear to my heart.  Tracy and I did not know when and if we would be able to afford the time or money to see each other again. We pondered that this paradox, was the only thing keeping us apart. Certainly it wasn’t from lack of desire. We thought it was crazy! But apparently it wasn’t, because here it is 13 years later and I still haven’t made my way back to see my friend and my godchild, Finnegan, Tracy’s eldest son. This had not been my first trip to New Zealand and hopefully it would not be my last.

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In 1993, I was working at Mystic Seaport (www.mysticseaport.org), a maritime museum in Mystic CT, in their Film and Video Archives/Media Resource Division. People often donated historical footage to the museum, and as the Media Specialist, I got to view it all. One day we received a collection from a woman named Electa Search Johnson. (That was really her name, I kid you not, but she was called Exy for short.) She had sailed around the world seven times with her husband Irving, before exploring the inland waterways and canals of Europe, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, the Nile, and the Baltic. In total, they spent 43 years at sea from 1933-1976.

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The Johnson’s understood how unique their endeavors were and had the foresight to document every voyage on 16mm film. They circumnavigated the globe at a time when maritime laws did not restrict where a vessel could go. Some of the islands were so remote that the inhabitants had never seen a white person before. As a result, they experienced cultures, customs and places that have long since vanished due to changes in technology, weather devastation, political turmoil, and increases in development. I felt privileged to have archived this amazing collection.

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The Johnson’s told of real life bungee jumpers in the New Hebrides (now called Vanuatu) with vines wrapped around their bare ankles. These young men flew off 83 foot towers fabricated from sticks to signify their passage into manhood. On the equator where Darwin had once journeyed, they encountered friendly sea lions that had not been encroached upon enough to know to fear man. In Raiatea in French Polynesia, they watched in wide eyed wonder as native firewalkers braved glowing ambers barefoot. In Tonga they made the acquaintance of a 200-year old tortoise that was once fed by the hand of Captain Cook who had made the same passage a century before. On Pitcairn Island they raised the anchor from the HMS Bounty, where Fletcher Christian and his merry band of mutineers had sunk her Majesty’s naval war ship in an attempt to hide from the British Navy.

I never knew there were so many wondrous places on this earth until I saw this collection. My curiosity went wild. I could no longer contain my burning desire to travel. All my waking moments were suddenly consumed by one thought and one thought only: How was I going to do it? I did not make a lot of money working at a non-profit museum and I hadn’t been able to save any either. All I knew was this: I was only 30 years, and Mystic was not going to be my last stop!

I wanted to know more about life than what I had at my disposable in the confines of Connecticut. I wanted to know how people lived and worked in other parts of the world, what customs they practiced, what Gods they prayed to. I wanted to experience beauty. I wanted to explore and to be free. I wanted to answer to no one but myself. I wanted to go. I wanted see. I wanted to do, and I wanted to do it alone. The Johnson’s inspired me because they had done it. They made you believe that anyone could do it. In fact, they encouraged it. I thought: This is for me. This has got to be the way for me.

I had always been endlessly fascinated by the great explorers who braved the elements and gave up everything they knew in exchange for the unknown. What motivates people to do that? Was it purely adventure they sought? Or perhaps a desire to stretch and test themselves beyond what they believed their own limitations were, beyond the comfort and predictability of the place they called home. For me, it was a little of both.

One day, while I was working in the bowels of the basement of the Stillman Building, a dark musty space with only one window that I shared with my co-workers, I came across a very small classified advertisement while thumbing through a copy of WoodenBoat that read, “Looking for brave souls to sail around the world”. And I thought: That’s me!

This was the opportunity I was waiting for. I immediately rang the number listed in the ad. Hans, a doctor of some sort answered the phone. We talked for a while and came to an arrangement that I would go along as unpaid crew in exchange for room and board. And, with my newly purchased video camera, we agreed that I would give him a promotional video at the end of the voyage that he could use to solicit paying passengers which is how he was funding this trip around the world. Because I would need time away from my crewing duties to gather footage, I would not be subject to a 10 hour day like the rest of the crew. Instead, I would work an 8 hour day, using the remaining two hours for shooting. With this settled, I quit my job of three and a half years, sold what meager possessions I owned, put the sentimental stuff in storage, liquidated my bank account, purchased an obscene amount of Hi8 videotape, and said good-bye to all my friends and family. I boarded a plane for Whangarei, New Zealand to work on a 127 foot old cargo ship that had since been converted into a magnificent sailing vessel, or so I thought.

I am going to leave you all with that little cliffhanger until next month where my story will continue with my arrival in New Zealand, also known in the Maori language as “Aotearoa” The Land of the Long White Cloud.

THIS MONTH’S TRAVEL TIP: How to Survive the Airport and a Long Flight

I always get a bit nervous before flying, especially if I have connections to make, though I have only missed one in all the places I have journeyed and in all the flights I have taken. None-the-less, I am not the greatest traveler.  I don’t like waiting in the airport, landing or taking off, turbulence, or being confined to a chair with little leg room as I tend to get claustrophobic, so I have invented little ways to make the whole waiting/flying experience more enjoyable.

When I first book my flight I consult www.seatguru.com where I can view the aircraft’s configuration and get the low down on which seats are good, which are bad, which ones don’t recline, which have more leg, etc. I also call exactly 24 hours ahead when the airlines will release the emergency exit seats because they have more leg room.

Whenever possible I fly out of Newark International because I can take Amtrak from Old Saybrook right into Newark Station. This saves me the parking fees at the airport and lots of stress by not having to sit in traffic on 95 worrying if I am going to miss my plane.  Also, the flights out of Newark are frequently non-stop on Continental, and I like Continental as an airline in terms of on-time performance, comfort and service. (A lot of airlines are doing away with free food and movies, like American, where you now have to purchase these “luxuries” onboard.) Continental also has individual movie screens so you can watch whatever you’d like. That alone makes the trip go faster.

I board the train in Old Saybrook and get a friend to drop me off. That way I do not have to concern myself with leaving my car at the station for a lengthy period. I bring a brown bag lunch because the food on the train, if you can call it that, is absolutely hideous.  I also purchase meaningless celebrity gossip magazines that I have affectingly nicknamed the “Rag Papers”, and small nips to make the ride go faster. Once I reach the stop for Amtrak station in Newark, a free monorail takes me right into the airport terminal.

Because most of the places I seem to go have flights scheduled around suppertime, I usually arrive at the airport much earlier because of the train schedule  and sit outside as long as possible,  drinking my store bought nips, enjoying the sun, and people watching. This helps to pass the time and save money on bar drinks. Once it gets close to boarding, I peruse the gift shops and book stores near the gate to occupy more time.

Once onboard, I pull out my book, earplugs, an inflatable neck pillow which really saves your neck and enables you to sleep with a limited recline, and yes, 2 sleeping pills. I never used to take them but I do now. Sleeping soundly really makes the trip go faster and then you wake up at your destination refreshed and ready for fun. I then stay up until my usual bedtime, completely avoiding jet lag!

Until next time, safe travels. Enjoy the journey.

Caryn B. Davis

Next Month: My sojourn to New Zealand continues with landfall on Norfolk Island.

Caryn B. Davis is a commercial, editorial, architectural, marine and portrait photographer, and a published writer, with a studio in Chester, CT. Her images and articles have appeared in over 60 leading national and international publications. She is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers and teaches photography to adults and children. As an avid world traveler, Caryn enthusiastically and artistically photographs people, places and things at home and abroad. For more information log onto www.cbdphotography.com and www.thedesiretojourney.com.

A love inspects the distorted promise.

Travel Tips

Posted in Featured on January 27th, 2012 by Caryn B. Davis

I will divert from my story this month to offer some travel tips.

The first rule of travel is: Take one bag only preferably a carry-on with wheels. Here is the exception to the rule: If you are traveling through different climates in one trip you may need two bags or one large bag because of bulk.

When I travel in late winter to a warm climate, I wear my down jacket and a pair of sandals with heavy socks in the car. Then I leave my jacket with the car at the airport. I change into a hooded garment and layer it with a denim jacket that can be worn later with pants or a skirt. I remove my socks upon arrival and do not put them on again until we fly home. This way I only have to take one pair of shoes. I bring sandals with good treads in case we have to hoof it. I make sure all my clothes can be mixed and matched with whatever top or bottom I wear.

For a 21-day trip with temperatures ranging 70-75 by day and 55-60 at night, I take three pairs of linen or lightweight pants, which don’t wrinkle easily and dry fast if they get wet from rain or need washing in a hotel sink. I take enough underwear for one week. They can be washed in a sink as well. I take two skirts that are not so fancy they couldn’t be worn during the day, and not so casual they can’t be worn in a restaurant at night. I take three tank tops and three shirts so I layer when cold or remove layers when hot. I take a scarf for style and warmth. When packing, I roll my clothes. I get maximum space out of the bag and they won’t wrinkle.

In my toiletry bag I have the following: one toothbrush, one full tube of toothpaste, dental floss, soap, a small sewing kit, band aides, Neosporin, tweezers, nail file, razor, deodorant, one lotion for both face and hands, Q-tips, hand sanitizer and tissues (real handy when forced to encounter public toilets that are not cleaned with any regularity), hairbrush, hairclip (good for when you haven’t showered), ear plugs (great on the plane or for snoring companions), Tums (helpful while getting acclimated to food), and travel size shampoo and conditioner; some hotels provide them, some do not. You can always buy more while abroad without incurring a large expense. The small sizes take up less space and weight. I also take sunglasses, a paperback book that can be left behind when finished, and a Swiss Army Knife for cutting cheese, opening wine or reading the small print on maps with the magnifying glass. I don’t bother with make up or a blow dryer but if you must take a blow dryer, make sure it has a plug adapter that will fit the plug configuration in the country you visiting. You may also need an electrical transformer to convert your dryer from 110V to 220V for example, as in Europe.

If you find when you have returned home that you wore everything in your bag at least once, you did well. I recommended writing down or photographing exactly what you took, so next time packing will be a breeze.

COMMUNICATIONS:

Before I leave, I email myself all my important information like passport and credit card numbers, flight confirmation, hotel information, etc., so I do not have to carry those papers on me. I have a password-protected site that I send this to. (Remember, the key is to travel light and every little bit helps.) I can easily access the information at an Internet café and also conduct business while I am away, and line up business for when I get home. Internet cafés eliminate the need for carrying an expensive, heavy laptop that can get stolen. I can also check the local weather online if I am unable to find a newspaper or can’t read the language. If inclement weather is predicted for the region I am in, I can leave. And if I do, I can find lodging online in next town I want to visit.

Telephones vary from country to country. Some still have phone boxes on the street, while others have telephone offices where the person behind the desk connects the call for you, and you pay on your way out. I usually buy a 5-euro international phone card for example, when in Europe, that usually lasts the whole trip. I don’t bother bringing a cell because the international fees are astronomical. Making a local call to another area of the country you are traveling is more difficult than making an international call. It requires a different phone card than the international card. You will also need the city codes of the places you are calling, which can be found in a phone book or online. When phoning the US from overseas you must dial 011 first, then the area code, and then the number.

MONEY:

Nowadays we have the ultra convenient 24-hour ATM machine, which has rendered travelers checks obsolete. Some banks will reimburse you all your ATM transaction fees, and the conversion fees charged by the foreign bank whose ATM you are using. If using a credit card, be aware they charge 3-5% in conversion fees every time you use your card, so whatever you are purchasing will cost that much more.

 

 

 

 

 

Mother-in-law

Posted in Featured on December 17th, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

Content by Kyle Lowe

My mother-in-law is not very good with technology. She and her husband just got the internet recently after my husband convinced them that they really needed it if they were going to keep up with the rest of the world. He set them up with a provider that he found by searching “St. Paul wireless internet. I think they are happy with it so far. My mother-in-law got her email set up, and she literally sends me an email every morning and wants me to read it to our kids. All it usually says is hello and that she loves them. It is really sweet and kind of funny. Last week she emailed me asking me to send her a picture of our two kids together, which I did. She sent me another email yesterday asking if I had time to send the pictures. I told her I had sent them last week, but she said she does not know how to open an attachment. She wants my husband to come over and show her how to do that when he gets home from work. I guess until she gets that figured out, I am better off mailing her pictures or driving them over to her house. Believe it or not, it would probably be faster than teaching her how to open an email attachment.

Miami Airport Parking

Posted in Featured on November 26th, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

If you are like me and make frequent trips to Florida to explore Miami and the surrounding areas, or simply use Miami International Airport as a starting point to board a puddle jumper bound for the islands, then you know how difficult it used to be to find decent Miami airport parking. Gratefully, this is no longer an issue. I have discovered a great place to park my car that has very reasonable rates and great service. Their lots are clean, safe, and well lit, and in most cases fenced in. Some lots have options to park indoors or uncover. All the lots take reservations, and have complimentary shuttle buses that will transport you to the airport in plenty of time to catch your flight. When you return to the airport after your trip, you simply pick up the courtesy phone in the baggage claim area or call from your own cell phone, and the shuttle bus will arrive momentarily. Sometimes there are buses already circling the terminals and the wait is mere moments rather than minutes. It’s completely hassle free and easy.