Leah, from leahtravels.com wrote a post about melodies and the travel memories they bring. It is a great idea for a post and I will be tagging 7 others as she tagged me in her writeup.
As a kid, we did not do family vacations as we did not have the means and we lived in an island (so no big drives across states!). But songs do bring memories and take me back to different places. Here are my songs…
Love Is Blue (Al Martino)
(Listen to it here)
It may not remind me of travel but I think it does transport me to one of my earliest childhood musical memories. As a kid who was learning English at school, I probably had no idea what the song was about except that it mentioned the color blue.
But what I do remember is that the melody of this song, when it would come on the radio, would IMMEDIATELY triggering a crying spree on my part. Apparently, I cried with so much emotion that the adults around me could not stop laughing. I recall one time that my Mom had to pull over with my grandma also in the car because they were laughing so hard that she couldn’t drive and was on the merge of going #1 right then and there. I hadn’t heard the song in likely over a decade until just now when I thought this song had to be listed here. (Happy to report only minor sobbing, barely audible.)
The color blue for those who want to know…
The Pinocchio Song (not sure if it even has a name! Canción Infantil Pinocho is how I have found it)
(Listen to it here)
Another song from my childhood taking me back to being 6 or under… It was a song my Dad -who had a great voice- would sing to my sister and I about Pinocchio (I remember the age because my memory of him singing it is when he was still married to my Mom). It was a song in Spanish and I remember feeling it was a sad song though it is the story of Pinocchio which ends well).
The song had evaporated from my memory until my Dad passed away a couple of years ago and my sister and I were trying to remember him in our childhood. She is 5 yrs older so she remembers more than me.
Since Disney would kill me for putting a picture of Pinocchio, I chose to include here a pic of the family instead. Toddler ilivetotravel on the left!
It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me (Billy Joel – The Essential Billy Joel)
This song reminds me of my drive around Switzerland with a co-worker and friend as we escaped from Paris for a weekend. This song played during a particularly beautiful part of the road between Bern and Interlacken and I remember re-playing it a couple of times at a good enough volume. Somehow, the mix of this song, the drive and the enjoyment of the trip was energizing!
What’s the matter with the clothes I’m wearing…
…You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers…
Don’t Stop (Fleetwood Mac)
I had not been much of a fan of Fleetwood Mac (for no real reason, just hadn’t caught on, I s’ppose) but then I went to the World Expo in Sevilla in 1992. Yes, seeing the pavilions while it was 40 C was fun. The pavilions themselves transported you to all these countries (and got you into air conditioning). But the REAL fun in the World Expo was the parties at night. This song by Fleetwood Mac played at some point well after dinner and well into drinks. I remember everyone climbing up on the picnic tables in the outdoor pavilion we were at dancing, and drinking some more. I definitely felt tomorrow WOULD BE better than before, as soon as the hangover passed.
Though in some ways the following words may seem to tell us not to focus on past trips (stay with me…), they sure tell us to keep planning away, to keep dreaming away our next destinations and discoveries! The song made me feel – and still does – that tomorrow will always be better. A great way to look at life indeed.
Why not think about times to come
And not about the things you’ve done
If your life was bad to you
Just think what tomorrow will do
Life Is a Highway (Tom Cochrane’s version)
Now this is a song that defines my outlook in life as a whole and may need to be played at my funeral. It means that travel is inherently part of life: going places, not being stationary. But, more importantly, travel also not in the geography sense but in the sense of movement, of progression, of starting points and endpoints, of not stagnating. The melody and the lyrics all work for me. My anthem!
Knock me down get back up again
You’re in my blood
I’m not a lonely man
There’s no load I can’t hold
Road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Just tell ‘em we’re survivors
Here are six fellow bloggers I am tagging to share the songs that conjure up some of their favorite travel memories. Please feel free to tag others after you’ve published!
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a song that instantly transports you to another place and time? What is it? Where do you go?
“One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.”
I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel by work and through my own means. The zeal for discovery began when I was about 7-8 years old and I started collecting stamps. Seeing stamps from many places that were so far away in distance and in reachability (pre- airline deregulation days!), created in me a desire to see those places myself. “Who was that guy on stamps marked Jugoslavia?” “Posta Romina is not about Rome?” “Where the heck is Suomi because it is in no map I have laid my hands on?!” I didn’t really believe I would get to see most of these places. Because of the times and the lack of financial means, I was not surrounded by a “traveling culture”.
I am not sure exactly when I started collecting stamps but the crucial moment was the summer of my 8th year when I spent a few weeks in Miami visiting my grandmother, uncle and aunt. My uncle had collected stamps as a kid for a little bit and I discovered his old and slightly battered stamp album from about 20 yrs before on the floor of his bedroom closet.
He gifted it to me and it was like the most awesome thing I had ever been given until that point in my life. I remember being so happy and they all enjoying seeing me so happy. I also benefited from my Mom’s sacrifice to give me “small” funds over the years to acquire some stamps (and this was a real sacrifice in a household with very limited means). Many relatives would save stamps for me (yes, those were the days when people STILL wrote to each other on paper!). Finally, my Dad, who worked at a data center Citibank had in Puerto Rico, would take me to the room where they received payments from people from all over the Caribbean basin (PR was the payment processing center) so that as the machine cut open the envelopes and pulled out the contents, I could go through the box where the envelopes would end up to start retrieving stamps! It was fascinating stuff (now you know what we kids did before all these fancy video systems, smartphones, etc.).
Well, many moons later, I contemplate the map of where I have been (in blue or red below; red means I have lived there, blue that I have visited, and green are places high on my priority list to visit!) and think of how that small seed planted at a young age has resulted in this awesome journey I have been on to see what this world!
I pay it forward by bringing coins or small bills from the places I travel and give to children of family and friends – because you never know what you may spark in a child by exposing them to the bigger world out there!
Check out my homage to stamps in my Twitter page wallpaper: https://twitter.com/ilivetotravel
Ilivetotravel Note: I saw this post on a friend’s Facebook page and thought it was a perfect reflection on what we, the very-frequent flyers, put up with in the less glamourous type of travel called “business travel”. Enjoy and thanks to Ashley (@mybookfetish) for a great post!
That’s me. I’m a bitchy traveler. I admit it. I’m bitchy because I’ve traveled enough over the years that I have learned what I call airport and airplane etiquette and it irks me when people who should know and practice it, don’t.
I’m not talking about the frazzled parents trying to get through security with children and all their paraphernalia. Although, I will offer a word of advice. If you have children, especially small ones, and can avoid it, don’t fly on Monday mornings or Thursday and Friday late afternoons/early evenings. Those flights are lots of single-minded business people, some of whom are really grumpy because the last place they want to be is on a plane. Again. If you can fly on a Tuesday at ten, you’ll find, I believe, a much friendlier group of travel companions.
I’m also not talking about people like my mother who fly maybe once every ten years. But I do coach her when she flies on what to do and what to avoid.
I’m really talking about people who should know better. Below, I present eight travel etiquette rules that have served me well over the last several years.
1. It’s not all about you. Or me. As much as I would like it to be, the airport and that plane are not all about me. Or you. We’re going to be cramped together for some portion of time and the least we can do is be polite and civil. We’re all hot/cold/tired/hungry/anxious to be at our destination.
2. Be kind to the people behind you in the security line. Don’t be like the fellow business traveler I was behind yesterday. The one who held up the conveyor belt of scanned carry on items so that he could reassemble his laptop bag and put back on his shoes and belt before removing a single item from the belt. He could have easily swooped up his belongings and moved to one of the empty benches to regroup. Instead, he let something like six bins and three people pile up behind him and try to maneuver their own gear out of the way.
3. If you approach gate agents, baggage claim workers, and ticket agents with a smile and good manners, you’re much more likely to get what you want if it is in their power to give it to you. Granted, that is not true of all these people. Some have had a really long day. Some just don’t care. But most I have encountered just want to serve their customers and make them happy. Much like we heard when we were children, “please” and “thank you” go a long way.
4.Remember, unless you’re the last to board the plane, someone is boarding behind you. Don’t stand in the aisle and rustle through your luggage, causing a traffic jam in the aisle behind you. And while we’re on the subject of luggage… unless you’re so tall that you need copious amounts of the leg room under the seat in front of you, use that space for your smaller carry on item. Especially if you’re going to be digging into them in the flight, and especially if you have more than one carry on. Give that person who has to board late in the process a chance to store their bag, too. And note to the guy in 15E – you stow your bag under the seat in front of you, not under the seat you are occupying.
5. Don’t be an armrest hog. Yes, it’s more comfortable to have both of them. But make sure your seat mate can use one if needed. I have a tendency to be guilty of this one, which I hate. I make a conscientious effort to remind myself to share. And 15 E? I’m talking to you, again.
6. Stand up and recline carefully. If you absolutely must grab onto the seat in front of you to hoist yourself to your feet for any reason, please, please be aware that the person in said seat can feel you do this. It’s annoying. Also, be careful that you don’t pull the hair of the person in the seat. Please. If you must recline (and who doesn’t like to, at least a little?) please do it carefully. There’s no need to slam back at full force. In fact, do you really need to recline the whole way? Really? Because it can seriously encroach on the comfort of the person behind you, setting off a chain reaction of fully reclined seats where no one is really comfortable. I’m all for reclining a bit, but do it slowly. You don’t know what the person behind you has on their tray table.
7. Be nice to the flight crew. Like the gate agents, a “please” and “thank you” can go a long way with the flight crew. So can giving them the magazine(s) you finished on the flight. Back and forth on planes all day, they must get a little bored. Unless they were on that Jet Blue flight the other day.
8. Good manners apply to deplaning, as well. We all want off the plane. Don’t be an ass while disembarking. It’s that simple.
I’m sure there are tons of etiquette tips I’m forgetting here, so please feel free to add your own, or share your own rude traveler story in the comments.
=== About Our Guest Blogger: Ashley ===
The Bitchy Traveler is better known as The Book Fetish, a voracious reader and book blogger. When she’s not masquerading as a software implementation manager, she occasionally blogs about something other than what she’s reading. You can learn more at http://thebookfetishblog.com/, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thebookfetishblog, or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/mybookfetish
Imagine… 10,000 years from now. Civilization has disappeared. Climate change eliminate snowfall. And some visitors come to the planet to find many items humans had used. Many will make sense, others will only make sense if they see videos/pictures, and yet others will never, ever, make sense to them.
I just used some of those items that may never, ever, make sense. I went skiing.
Oh, skiing is an awesome thrill: the challenge, the scenery, the speed, the almost-falls, the feeling of the air in the face, etc. I LOVE skiing. But I HATE ski gear. I don’t hate it when I look at it at a store. I don’t hate it when I see others wearing it. I hate it when I have to deal with my own.
Which psycopath determined that one ought to compress one’s calves into a piece of hard plastic (or whatever boots are made of!)? Or made the boots so incomprehensibly difficult to put on? Or made those snap locks so painfully hard to snap? And what tyrant designed the first ski park such that you have to walk carrying a sh–load of gear across steps and areas with lots of people to watch one stumble or struggle? Who was the brilliant engineer who designed skis to be so long that a small turn of the body as you carry them can destroy a small building or knock out an innocent?
Yes, I love skiing. I REALLY do. But I do suffer through dealing with all that gear. As my friend and skiing guardian angel said, maybe there ought to be the equivalent of a pool-boy/girl or personal butler for skiing, carrying your gear, putting it on for you, and carrying you to the actual lift? Just a thought…
A friend confessed to me a couple of months ago that he had become a mile/point whore with airlines and hotels. I laughed because I related to what he was saying though perhaps my interest wasn’t to the level of obsession as may have been the case with him. That is, until I started thinking…
I normally do care about my points and stick to one or two programs to ensure my miles accumulate properly. I also keep an eye out for special offers, rare as they may be, to get extra points. But with my friend’s comment I started thinking “what else could I do? have I maximized what can I do without going overboard?”
Delta Airlines AMEX Credit Card
I had always wondered whether getting an airline credit card was worth it. Especially since my Costco AMEX gives me cash back which is considerable given my business travel is charged through it. Cash on hand is better than points with a company that could change award levels, could go bankrupt, etc. So the questions that had been triggered by my friend the point whore intersected earlier this year with my desire to retain top elite status (Diamond) with my hometown airline (Delta). I have had that status since 2010 and thought earning it for 2014 would be cool, especially since simple math told me I would easily attain the level below Diamond (Platinum).
So on I went with research that I normally find tedious. Delta offered several AMEX types so I started by figuring out which would yield the Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) that I may need to top off my actually flown MQMs this year to reach 125,000 MQMs (the Diamond requirement). I then had to understand if the spend required on the card to earn those MQMs was realistic given my normal spend. After determining if that worked out (it did for the Platinum card), I had to see if the fee was worth it. It definitely seemed a reasonable fee given all the MQMs and non-MQMs I would receive plus the earning of the desired elite status. So, on I went with getting the new card.
I also learned in the process that having this card was yet another factor that could help me move up in regular and upgrade standby/wait lists. You would think this should not be much of a factor since as a Diamond and Million Miler I should be towards the top of the list. Most of the time that is true but nothing stings more at the gate before a flight to see you were the first or second person to miss out getting the upgrade! So for as much as it may help, I figured that was another bonus about the airline card. At least tête-a-tête with another Diamond Million Miler, the card could give me the edge if they didn’t have one. (I wish I knew the pecking order of factors leading to the placement on these lists!) Of course, what may be getting me some times is the fare basis paid for the coach ticket since I do have to follow the rules on fares purchased for my business travel. But I figured I have done all I could now, save travel more to maximize my MQMs and getting extra miles for free travel!
How about hotels?
I did give a thought to hotel credit cards but, for me, there seems to be little difference that I care about between, say, a Gold and a Platinum level. Again, I say that I care about because there are differences; it is just that it may be for things that I don’t need (I don’t do a lot of last minute travel, for example) or don’t care enough for. I also don’t want to have more credit cards than absolutely needed so it was either an airline one or a hotel one. My drivers for doing all this lined up more with the airline points so there you go!
I do monitor hotel special offers as they offer an easy (if you travel enough) way to score major points but if you are not paying attention, you may miss them since they are not automatic (similar to the rare airline special offers) – you have to “register” to earn them. I like Marriott’s typical offer of stay X nights in Y months and get ZZ,000 extra points. In 2010 when I spent most of the year in a Marriott in Chile, I made a killing with those deals – I got the max points every time which was far from chump-change! Now, I still get points but not the max every time since I may not be traveling every week in questions. Again, an easy way to get extra points.
What’s in a word? Points hoarder or chaser?
I originally had thought about ending the title of this entry with “Hoarder” instead of “Chaser” but hoarding implies collecting and never using which is FAR from yours truly so I decided that would paint a different reality. In 2011, I used over 600K airline miles to travel with family. Point hoarder I am not! Points are to be used and, if you have plenty, to share with those you want to travel with.
There are many other techniques and tips about maximizing points earning beyond those I have mentioned. Of course, plenty of boards and websites out there where good ideas and discussions happen (e.g., http://www.flyertalk.com/). But still interested in hearing about your “point chasing” goals and strategies!
Steve Jobs’ passing should come as no surprise. We are all going to die someday. What seems is so different about his is that it is about someone who in the span of sort of 30-35 years brought about a revolution in how technology fits into our lives. Or better said, of how our lives are enabled by the technology around us.
Let’s not overstate it (e.g., he didn’t invent microwaves, cable TV, remote controls, cell phone technology). Yet, nothing in technology has become so ubiquitous and so TRANSFORMATIVE as the personal computer and the derivative devices that made him so iconic (iPad, iPod, iPhone). Yes, the microwave transformed a potential kitchen slave into a cooking-slacker. No small contribution there and this writer is especially thankful.
Yet, the technology that we now live with and cannot live without – and which a generation ALREADY ALIVE will not understand how the world operated without it – was brought forth by innovation and a wave of creativity that Steve Jobs helped unleash.
The power of technology to transform our lives is evident to all of us and we can all think about how it has made our lives easier. I think about how travel has been made so much easier because of how technology has revolutionized just about every aspect of our lives…
Back in 1991 I was sent to Chile to work for a few months. Some of the ways I had to operate and live were so much harder due to being abroad.
- Back then ATMs existed but the international network either did not exist or did not exist in Chile. I could not withdraw money for my daily life as I would use in the U.S. Now security and communications technology make this a no-brainer. In fact, sometimes I may not need cash or a credit card but could use my device!
- To call the U.S. and speak with family was prohibitively expensive, at the tune of $2/min. Forget about calling friends. I remember one of the most expensive calls was calling my grandmother in Miami. We talked for about an hour. Looking back it was money very well spent as it would be one of the last times I ever talked to her. Now? Goodness, first, international LD is not that expensive; callback schemes make it even cheaper. Skype has made it even free if you have the right connection! And, let’s not forget – I can be walking around town and talk to someone. Back then maybe a cordless phone in the apartment was the extent of the freedom (we forget even these small details!).
- Expensive phone calls took care of staying in touch via live voice but surely a quick mass email, no? No. It was snail mail or nothing. I did write a few letters – I had to keep in touch with my Mom, sister, grandmother, Father, relatives, etc. But who wants to sit down and write a letter on paper? Back then I was used to it as I wrote to my grandmother usually once or twice a month but when I was in another country, making new friends, exploring in my early 20s, who wanted to sit down and write a letter by hand?? Use MS Word you say? It did not exist in our work PCs (in Chile OR in the US). Now we can SMS from our phones, email from any Internet kiosk or handheld, tweet every thought anywhere as we move about, etc.
- I explored a bit of Chile and loved Santiago. Sharing that with friends? Mailing post cards to my closest friends was the extent of it and some did not arrive. No posting tweets about the sight I am currently looking at, nor blogging about the discoveries I was making. Much less anyone clicking Like or leaving a comment to let me know they got it, they liked it, and that I was not forgotten!
- As I explored, I loved taking pictures of everything and anything that struck my fancy. That meant buying film, developing it, throwing away many pix, realizing some pix did not turn out how I wanted & regretting the lost chance, and then I had to carry TONS of pix back to the States when I returned. My family and friends, if they ever saw them, had to wait until I saw them in person to see my pix. And how many sessions of show-and-tell did I really want to do anyway? My friends in Chile (which included other expats from the U.S. and Argentina) also took a lot of pix and we all wanted copies of each others’ pix. I remember a session we had one night at my apt where everyone brought their pix and negatives and every marked which pix they wanted a copy of so then they could be made. And everyone paid for their copies. Think of the logistics! Today? God, so simple: the moment you take the pic you know if you have what you want; load them in Flickr, Facebook, whatever, and your family and friends can see what you are exploring; having them uploaded, other friends who traveled with you can get their own copies made and no work for you. SO SIMPLE!
- Even how we research, book, and manage our travel is so much easier and user-friendly. First, we have the Internet to do research with whether it’d be travel sites, Twitter, etc. Before it was just books. Second, we can price shop from the comfort of our couch and do it at our pace, etc without being forced to go to a travel agency. Third, we can book/modify/cancel at the click of a mouse. Fourth, we can use tools like TripIt and Kayak’s MyTrips to keep track of it all! Before, it was once you get the paper ticket, hold on to it carefully, put it all in one place, and maybe write down by hand the specifics of your itinerary.
- In a new town and all of a sudden out of ideas of where to eat or what are good places? Before, you were limited to the local info or the travel book which could be dated. Today? Jump on TripAdvisor and check out the latest reviews and contribute your own. Not sure where the restaurant is? Click on the address and find it on a map that is telling you exactly where you are as well.
I am glad I have been alive to see these improvements which have greatly enabled me to enjoy my travels even more!
So Steve Jobs (or his company) may not have invented all these things but he was a catalyst for bringing computing power and technology into the consumer’s hands – literally. His influence has shaped our world and helped improved how we live. He and other innovators and creators have transformed the world during my lifetime through technology. He was the most visible of these and, as the icon of this technology revolution, he will be missed. RIP.
As I have written elsewhere in this blog, I missed the Chile earthquake of Feb 2010 by a day and a half. How lucky of me! Our company did not allow us to return for 3 weeks and in those 3 weeks the more powerful aftershocks took place so I also missed those mercifully since I was staying usually at floor 20 and above at the Santiago Marriott during my stay in Santiago… I did experience a few smaller aftershocks most of which I was too busy/carried away with work to realize they were taking place except people would point it out.
This week’s Virginia quake, therefore, took me back to Chile and even my childhood in Puerto Rico where we did experience quakes like the one that just struck Virginia this past week. I knew what to do, I knew to worry but not panic, etc. But what I had forgotten was the rumble of the building as it shook – it is an eerie sound and many a person in Chile told me that was the worst part of the very long earthquake in February, more than the shaking itself.
Here are some of my pix from the damage in Santiago… Worth saying that these are only from the Centro. I did not see or capture damage outside of that area (I wasn’t hunting for it, most of these were near work!). Also, it is worth noting that these buildings are old and built before serious earthquake-safety codes were developed and implemented. Newer structures fared better.
A lot of my international travels have been part of or enabled by work. Whether is being asked if in 24 hours I could leave for Helsinki to spend 3 weeks there in the middle of winter, or whether the miles accumulated by years of sometimes-weekly travel have allowed me to go out of the country for vacation, work has always been a key factor in my exploring. I would say it is second only to my zest for travel and exploring!
As part of this reflection, I thought it would be cool to capture where all have I been to related to work whether for a one-day meeting to year+ assignments. Here it goes!
In Germany, my discoveries were how great German food is (not just the ones I had known like wursts). Also, my colleagues made it a point of making sure they were showing me places like beer halls and good restaurants and that hospitality -no offense intended- took me by surprise, especially when compared to other countries where I had expected a warmer culture.
Sulzbach/Bad Soden (outside of Frankfurt, Germany)
I have been to a good bit of France but for work these two sites were it. In the Riviera, I enjoyed being by the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean and yet seeing the Alps at a distance, staying in Cannes or Nice, depending on the week and the mood! Paris, well, what can I say. An incredible city even if it was hard to develop social contacts due to the long hours at work and perhaps the language barrier (I spoke basic French then; medium after I left there and focused on learning the language).
View from the terrace of the apartment building where I lived in Paris!
Basically shuttling between client offices in both towns. I was amazed at how small the country is and yet how exotic it felt to me. Den Haag much more subdued than Amsterdam. Amsterdam, just phenomenally interesting. Getting to work with the Dutch allowed to see how their cultural traits are unique and how some of the stereotypes I had heard of showed up in work settings.
Den Haag (The Netherlands)
Amsterdam (The Netherlamnds)
The rest of the European work sites were of shorter durations than the ones above with the longest being 3 weeks. But they all allowed me to explore each of the places and/or visit with friends who lived in those places. Work definitely gave me a good opportunity to see more of Europe. How else would I have spent 3 weeks in Helsinki had it not been for work?!
View of Oslo Fjord
My experiences in Latin America have been phenomenal. Perhaps the cultural affinity or the approach to life, especially in Brazil, but I have seldom been disappointed or failed to enjoy my stay.
Chile trumps all other places in L.A. by sheer duration of my work experience there (over a year). I had worked there many, many yrs before (check my other blog entries) and I got to see more of the country in that year. What a beautiful country!
In Peru, I got to explore more off the beaten path locations by the nature of the work assignment. I got to see many places the average tourist sees and many they would never get to. And, I got to enjoy the food of Lima which is just outstanding!
Brazil offered me good food and great fun besides the work. Spending weekends in Rio or going out for the nightlife of Sao Paulo, Brazil never disappointed.
Sao Paulo (Brazil)
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Panama City (Panama)
Church in Barrio Bellavista, Santiago
Here I definitely got to see some diverse places from Muslim and Arab Egypt, to deep Africa in Tanzania, to cosmopolitan cities in South Africa (I visited Cape Town too but not for work). I have enjoyed the unique experiences each offered whether it was visiting HIV/AIDS patients in the rural areas around Mwanza, to going for food in very local places in massive Cairo, to getting into the history of apartheid in Joburg.
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Stone Town (Tanzania)
At the Apartheid Museum in Joburg
I got to spend a LOT of time in Toronto and had a lot of fun with a great crew of Canadians whose key contribution to my skill sets was to have me start calling a puck “puck” and not “the thing”. I also learned that I needed better pacing drinking Canadian beer as it was stronger than the American variety. Finally, I learned how to curl (as in the game/sport).
What has been your most interesting and rewarding international work experience??