Pickpocket Gangs of Addis Ababa

Ethiopia is the first stop on our tour of northeast Africa. We had three nights booked in Addis Ababa and no organized plan ahead of time. All the other stops on this trip required fairly extensive visa applications and organized tour planning and Ethiopia was basically just left over. Looking at the stuff people do on itineraries of a few days here, we figured we would just wing it. I think we also figured that Addis would be the “easy” stop on this tour. It turns out it has actually proven to be pretty challenging. This is really not a city for the uninitiated to be roaming around in. You probably shouldn’t be roaming around at all here at night. Continue reading Pickpocket Gangs of Addis Ababa

Churros & Chocolate

We finished our quick little South American tour in the same place we started, Buenos Aires. Like Peru, and maybe even moreso, we know this is a place we’ll be returning to. It’s a major hub that will bring us to some of the other places in the region that we want to visit further. Also though, it’s just a vibrant city with great food, welcoming parks and lots of attractions throughout. Continue reading Churros & Chocolate

A Country You’re Likely To Miss

Years ago, we received a book called “501 Must-visit cities” as a gift. Despite sitting on the shelf amongst a row of much more specialized travel books, we’ve actually thumbed through the thing enough that it’s beginning to show a bit of wear. We go to the index and look up listings by country and just go from there. The book has essentially every major tourist icon around the world, as well as many more that even seasoned travelers may not be familiar with off the top of their head. Comprehensive is a strong word, but the book is close. As we throw together an itinerary, we often reach for that book to quickly skim and see if we’ve made any glaring omissions. Most of the stops on this trip are featured in the book. With one exception: Paraguay. Paraguay is not listed anywhere in there. Paraguay is not a part of many tourist itineraries in this region. After visiting, it makes more sense why that is. Continue reading A Country You’re Likely To Miss

You Can’t Visit Machu Picchu On A Day Tour

Our visit to Peru was an unexpected bonus, resulting from an unnecessarily arduous flight itinerary. Each of the flights between Montevideo and Asuncion included twenty-hour layovers in Lima. We took advantage of each of these with two custom day tours, including pickup and dropoff at the airport. Needless to say, this first visit to Peru did not permit a visit to the most obvious of landmarks, Machu Picchu. Continue reading You Can’t Visit Machu Picchu On A Day Tour

First Visit To The Dark Continent

Dozens and dozens of countries visited over the years, and not one visit to South America. A friend of ours called it “The Dark Continent” because, over time it started to seem intentional. The truth is simply that between mileage runs to East Asia and the fact that Martha knew she would be the de facto translator, visits there just kept getting pushed back. But the stars aligned this year for a quick visit to four more countries to close out the year. Continue reading First Visit To The Dark Continent

Without Even Touching A Dollar

Some trips are an adventure. Marked by stress and the excitement of the unpredictable, these trips are something like work. At times, you might be able to appreciate an adventure when it is underway. Oftentimes though, in the moment, they can be marked with the discomfort of deprivation. Appreciation, really deep appreciation of an adventure, comes after it’s over and you’re able to safely look back on the totality of it. You might even have some stories that are worth telling.  Continue reading Without Even Touching A Dollar

All flights lead to Rome

The prospect of being stranded and overstaying your visa in a weird police state and facing huge fines or even jail time is… sobering. That’s exactly what we were facing at 3 am at the Ashgabat airport. Travel can be stressful, and arguments can happen even on otherwise very nice trips. I’d say most arguments I can recall revolved around delays with food, drink, or a restroom. Or getting lost. Or some combination therein. Thankfully though, when a stressful situation demands focus and cooperation, we’ve been able to navigate things pretty well thus far, and this was no exception. On this trip, we had the added help of our friend Greg. We’ve known Greg a long time and he has traveled with us many times, and we all work together really well when situations demand it. So here’s what happened… Continue reading All flights lead to Rome

If North Korea and Las Vegas had a child

After seeing similar themes emerge in multiple countries, you might convince yourself that you’ve seen it all. And then… you visit a place so off the radar weird that you’re reminded of just how much there is to see in the world. Turkmenistan is one of those places. Over the years, my blog posts have gotten more and more abbreviated. Since 2011, they’ve shrunk from daily posts, to city/region posts, to now single country posts. Most of the recent posts have been an interesting story or two, a synopsis of what we did, and a photo gallery. For Turkmenistan, I’m going to try to give everyone a more thorough recounting of the adventure. Continue reading If North Korea and Las Vegas had a child

The Pensioner Pilaf Trail

Traveling through Southeast Asia, we came to recognize something we referred to as “The Banana Pancakes Trail.” This is essentially a well-worn tourist circuit where one can stay in cheap hostels and make your way across several countries. Most hostels seemed to offer banana pancakes on their breakfast menu, not exactly authentic local cuisine, hence the name. As we saw it, this trail probably runs from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, although you could make a more extensive one looping in Myanmar and Laos. Continue reading The Pensioner Pilaf Trail

Beyond The UPS Service Area

When I read that all private parcel couriers had left Tajikistan, I must admit that I made some assumptions about the country. I assumed their departure was related to either remoteness or violence and instability. In actuality, they were ejected for not playing well with the dictator that has run the country since the fall of the Soviet Union. I didn’t know much about Tajikistan before arriving there, but none of the details I did know sounded very encouraging. Continue reading Beyond The UPS Service Area

Here, There, and (hopefully) Back