Recent Entries in Travel

This looks like a lot of fun, if you avoid hurricane season.

THE PRIVATE ISLANDS BLOG: Tropical Island for only $100 a night!

If you are looking for a Robinson Crusoe style get away, then Sandy Cay is the island for you. You can rent the entire island for just $US 100.00 per night! It has only one house constructed on it - your tropical island vacation rental. It sleeps six comfortably. There is running water and electricity via solar generator, but no TVs or stereos.

The island is located approximately 1/2 mile off the west end of the main island of Utila, in the Bay Islands of Honduras. I love this area and spent several trips here looking at islands for sale for a friend.

Utila Island is itself located approximately 18 miles from the coastal town of La Ceiba on the northern coast of mainland Honduras. This private island fringed by sandy beaches and a pristine coral reef.

  MB live piracy map 2008

A neat Google Map of the latest piracy attacks around the world.

Piracy attacks map

  Killarney 2008

This past weekend, we got back from a week of backwoods camping in Killarney. Click the image below for the entire route (about 34-36km in total, including 5 portages).

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We did 5 days, and 7 people in 3 canoes. We had an ultralight Kevlar (~40lbs), a reinforced Kevlar (~55lbs), and our own ABS plastic one (~75-80lbs). Ours was a real bastard to get over some of the tougher portages, including this really crappy 465m one with rocks at either side, three mud sections (knee-deep, as I found out), and a fallen tree blocking the path. In retrospect, I'm surprised I didn't break my neck getting the canoe through that mess.

The initial trip in was 2 days of travelling, and we got to Gail Lake and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the trip. 5 people in the group took the lighter canoes and did the terrible-sounding 3km portage into David Lake to hike to Silver Peak (it sounded like a tough day). Apparently, they forgot to bring enough water, food, footwear, flashlights, etc. They arrived back at the camp site a little after sunset.

It rained the evening before the last day and continued to rain the whole night, until about noon on the final day. We started early, but it was overcast, so we couldn't keep proper track of time, and didn't know how long we had to canoe. We resorted to powering up the Blackberry, and (amazingly) we got a little signal near the north end of the park. We managed the entire red route before 6:30pm the last day.

My friend has a relative on Manitoulin Island, so we were able to spend a night in their cottage before catching the ferry back home. I use the term cottage rather inappropriately; it had full electrical service, plumbing and heating, satellite television, a hot tub, and there were racks of ribs and bottles of wine waiting for us on the way out. I'm pretty sure we were all suffering a bit of exposure by the time we arrived at the cottage.

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  Cool travel book list

Interesting list which includes such unlikely candidates as "The Life of Pi", "Heart of Darkness", and "The DaVinci Code". It also has one of my favourites, "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" by J. Maarten Troost.

The 50 Greatest Travel Books Of All Time

  10 Expensive Hotels

Need a place to stay for the night? Got an obscene amount of cash burning a hole in your pocket? Fear not, we can still accomodate you.

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Top 10 Most Expensive Hotel Suites

Number 1 -- Villa Cupola

Nightly Rate: $29,254.96
Hotel: Westin Excelsior, Rome
Perks: Pre-arrival, guests provide their preferences in flowers and cigars for custom arrangements and post-dinner relaxing. A stay begins with a welcome massage in the privacy of the suite, which features Italian frescoes, stained glass windows, a private kitchen and wine cabinet with over 150 wines to choose from. There's a walnut-paneled library, a fitness area and Jacuzzi with vaulted ceilings, a private cinema with surround sound and almost 2,000 feet of balcony space, including a sun deck, overlooking the Via Veneto district.

So be sure to keep a cigar preference handy. No telling when someone's going to need this information from you. Mine's a Cohiba Siglo II Petit Corona (in case anyone asks).

Apparently, it's pretty easy to do, and doesn't require a million dollars. The basic Swiss account can be obtained through a broker, with a minimum balance of $10,000. And you get the benefit of being either tax free, or mostly anonymous (interest earned by Swiss companies are subject to a 35% withholding tax, but you can get most of it back if you can prove you're not from Switzerland).

The other big benefit is that you are generally exempt from small crimes such as tax evasion:

Bank secrecy is not lifted for tax evasion. This is because failure to report income or assets is not considered a crime in Switzerland. As such, neither the Swiss government, nor any other government, can obtain information about your bank account. They must first convince a Swiss judge that you have committed a serious crime punishable by the Swiss Penal Code.

... or divorce/inheritance issues:

Bank secrecy will not be lifted for private matters such as inheritance or divorce if you have kept your banking information strictly confidential. It is up to plaintiffs to prove that the account exists if they wish the judge to pursue the case. In this respect, the numbered account provides the maximum degree of confidentiality.

Classic Swiss Bank Account

Unfortunately, this offer isn't open to residents of the USA. Nor is it available for Afghanistan, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Congo-Brazzaville, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, or Zimbabwe. Americans can still get Swiss Cantonal Bank accounts or the coveted Swiss numbered accounts.

This looks like a cool little trip, until you realize it's on the far side of Lake Superior (and on the U.S. side). Might be nice to sail there...

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Apostle Islands - The Lonely Paradise at Americaâ..s Ceiling - NYTimes.com

Twenty-one of these islands make up Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, an archipelago with a long history of logging, shipping, stone quarrying and fishing. Nonetheless, the islands remain so magnificent and nearly pristine in appearance that 80 percent of the national lakeshore is designated as wilderness.

Among the Apostlesâ.. notable features are six outstanding lighthouses, now on the National Register of Historic Places, that once guided sailing ships and steamships through the islandsâ.. channels. Over the years, I had paddled to the Gothic-style house on Sand Island built of locally quarried brownstone, the cheery white clapboard structure on Raspberry Island, and the two (yes, two) lighthouses on Michigan Island. (The second replaced the first, which had been built too low and, as it turned out, on the wrong island, having been intended for Long Island.)

  Food in Peru

Very neat blog about a guy who goes to Peru and talks about the food you can get in Lima. Our Sales rep is from Peru and promises me a bottle of pisco and a bottle of their local rum when he goes back.

Peru Food: Travelog: Peru Food In Peru, The First Three Days In Lima

I am a creature of habit, and I have a culinary tradition when arriving in Lima which I have kept during the last few years of travel here. On this trip, I was able to maintain my tradition. After checking into our hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima, we had a stroll around Miraflores' main park, Parque Kennedy, and I picked up the Lima daily, El Comercio, and headed to the Café Haiti, one of the grand old-fashioned Lima cafés to have my first Peruvian meal (lomo saltado and a frothy pisco sour) while people-watching. The waiters are definitely old-school and after so many times there, they know who I am. "In Lima again?" one of the waiters asked me, "Are you ready for your lomo saltado?" You have to love that type of service.

  Mike Tyson's Old House

Urban explorer checks out Mike Tyson's old abandoned mansion and takes a few pictures.

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Mike Tyson Mansion - illicitohio.com

Hey, this is a grand idea. Let's force everyone on a plane to wear shock bracelets.

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.

This bracelet would:


  • take the place of an airline boarding pass
  • contain personal information about the traveler
  • be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage
  • shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes


I kind of like the idea. I think pilots should wear them, so we can shock them every time they make a crappy landing; or how about giving them to the flight attendants? These could be tied into the call buttons, and might really improve the service on the flights. Oh, and if this bracelet really does incapacitate you for several minutes, why not just have them going throughout the entire trip. "Wake me up when we're there, thanks."

Seriously, I wonder if they gave us the option of stripping nude or wearing a shock bracelet, which would be worse. I know I'd be going in the buff.

Here are a few winners:

11. Prostitutes? Oh hell yes, there are prostitutes. Tons of them. So, let me get this straight, I canâ..t look at a naked picture of a person on the Internet in the privacy of my home, but it is okay to go out in public and buy a few for the night?

13. Not only do you have to get your bossâ..s approval to obtain a liquor license, but you must also get the companyâ..s approval to rent property, have a telephone, or get satellite TV.

The Top 20 Reasons Not to Move to Dubai (in no particular order!) By Tia Oâ..Neill

This is terrible. I love teff. I wonder what it'll mean for getting it here in North America.

Israel's Ethiopians Forced to Give Up Traditional Bread

Tens of thousands of the expatriates are being forced to abandon their traditional diets because of the skyrocketing cost of teff grain.

Teff, a nutritious and hardy cereal domesticated in Ethiopia thousands of years ago, is the primary ingredient in injera, a round flatbread that accompanies most Ethiopian meals.

A drastic shortage has caused the price of teff to jump by some 300 percent over the past year.

Some spots are more open to Canadians. We're lucky that way.

Foreign Policy: The List: Top Tourist Spots Americans Canâ..t Visit

Baracoa

Location: Cubaâ..s eastern tip

Why you should go: Baracoa is Cubaâ..s oldest settlement, founded in 1511 by Spanish conquistadors, and is believed to be near where Christopher Columbus first landed in 1492. Important archaeological sites dot the area, and nearby caves provide visitors an opportunity to view pictographs and ceramic remains of Native American tribes that inhabited the island when Europeans first arrived. Large forts, built in the 18th century to repel pirate attacks, provide breathtaking views of the bay and surrounding forests. The area is also full of sandy beaches, lush vegetation, and waterfalls, not to mention a healthy array of musical, artistic, and cultural happenings.

Why you canâ..t: Because it is impossible. For a host of reasonsâ..some of which have the last name Castroâ..U.S. tourist travel to Cuba is thoroughly restricted. Even travel to Cuba through a third country, such as Mexico or Canada, is technically illegal, and violators can face prosecution and a hefty fine of up to $65,000 upon return to the United States. So, although the U.S Guantánamo Bay Naval Base is located in the same province as Baracoa, American travelers who run into problems probably wonâ..t find much sympathy.

10 awesome places I've never been, but would love to visit. I suppose I could visit Oak Island without too much trouble...

YesButNoButYes: Top 10 Coolest Places On Earth

3. Meteora, Greece Sandstone pinnacles rising hundreds of feet straight into the air, capped off by 16th century Greek Orthadox monasteries? Is that something you might be looking for? Such a place exists, and it's called Meteora. (Not to be confused with the Linkin Park album, which as far as I'm aware, has nothing to do with monasteries or sandstone ... or Greece.)

Oh great. Now I can't take my iPod with me?

Copyright deal could toughen rules governing info on iPods, computers

The agreement is being structured much like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) except it will create rules and regulations regarding private copying and copyright laws.

Federal trade agreements do not require parliamentary approval.

The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.

The agreement proposes any content that may have been copied from a DVD or digital video recorder would be open for scrutiny by officials - even if the content was copied legally.

  Stuck in Detroit

I'm currently waiting for a plane in Detroit airport. I was supposed to be home yesterday, but a 5 minute technical problem and a 15 minute weather delay kept us from landing on time, so we missed our connecting flight.

I had attended a conference in Chicago, and was only supposed to be gone overnight. Apparently, a weather delay doesn't get you a free hotel coupon, but a minor technical problem does (though, it doesn't get you a meal coupon). The airport staff were very pleasantly surprised at my agreeable attitude, and confided in me that they *usually* have to call security in these situations. The process was actually quite streamlined and the hotel check-in was as simple as exchanging my coupon for a room key.

In any case, I got a good night's sleep, courtesy of NorthWest, and I can now get some duty free liquor. So, it's not such a bad situation.

Cool page showing some urban exploration photo collections, many of them Canadian.

Ahoj/Ä.au/Nazdar â.. Hello / Bye (both mean Hello and Bye, informal)


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