Array ( [total] => 24 [pageSize] => 24 [page] => 0 [results] => Array ( [5629] => Array ( [iID] => 5629 [tTitle] => The Speculative Fund [tSlug] => the-speculative-fund [iTime] => 1468188000 [iUpdate] => 1516109784 [tDescription] => The Speculative Fund is an exercise in direct democracy. At a series of theatre festivals, this year in Italy, visitors get the 'right' to interact with the Fund after purchasing a ticket to any of the shows. One ticket allows them to add, disqualify or requalify a proposal, which typically, but not necessarily, will have a socially relevant component. After a festival finishes, qualified proposals are considered funded, after which participants can compete in gaining support to execute the proposals All activity happens online, but, during festivals, is directly reflected and influenced by a 'live' wall, which can be seen and interacted with at the festival in question. Visual design by Eduardo Cachucho. [iCategory] => 5 [tURL] => http://thespeculativefund.org [iViews] => 817 [iClicks] => 373 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1364 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => sparse [iHideMap] => 1 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 1 [iFullImage] => 1 [fLatitude] => -23.5269 [fLongitude] => -46.6848 [tLocation] => The Oliver residence [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Work [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 5 [categories] => Array ( [5] => Array ( [iID] => 5 [tName] => Work [tSlug] => work [tDescription] => Work, shmork! But, yes, one needs to make a living as well. I'm a self employed web developer with extensive experience in 'the south', that is, the developing world. I strongly focus on social applications, or, 'web 2.0'. If you're intrigued, you can check out my CV. My business is called Baba's projects. [iOrder] => 6 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => sparse [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => bf:blogitem=5629 ) [5602] => Array ( [iID] => 5602 [tTitle] => Saying goodbye to Chilean food [tSlug] => saying-goodbye-to-chilean-food [iTime] => 1441144800 [iUpdate] => 1441144800 [tDescription] => Chile is a lovely and unique mix of Latin and more Northern European traits that's quite distinct from the rest of Latin America. What contributed to this has been the successive waves of European immigration, quite distinct from other Latin American countries, the tiny black community and a nearly wiped out indigenous American community. Where Buenos Aires feels like a copy of a major Spanish city, much of Chile feels like it was supposed to be in Europe, somewhere in the south, but it's unclear where exactly, and got misplaced along the way. But, one thing I do not understand is Chile's love for the hotdog. Hotdogs have a strangely loyal following in much of Latin America, but Chileans actually have a painful surplus of hot dog restaurants. This includes a McDonalds-like chain centered around hotdogs and draft beer. By far the favorite is the Italiano. So called not because it has any tangible connection with Italy, but because of the extensive splattering of sauces, ketchup, mayo and guacamole, together forming the colors of the Italian flag. Chilean food, in general, gets a bad rap, but, mostly, I've eaten very good anywhere I went. Granted, this is not in the least because of the strong Peruvian influence, but lots of 'native' Chilean food is also very good, particularly as hangover food, a lot of the dishes being relatively greasy and heavy on the carbs. But, besides the strange love for hot dogs, there are also a few other idiosyncrasies. One is a cheap coaster-size piece of fried bread called sopapilla, basically functioning as a vehicle for sauces. And there's the weird love for drinking coffee with a straw, which I suspect is due to the popularity of mate, sort of a herbal tea, in other parts of the continent, which is always consumed with a straw. Another thing Peruvians have established as a staple is the extensive consumption of a wide array of sandwiches. Nom nom nom nom. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2909 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1425 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462182131 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 27 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -33.4378 [fLongitude] => -70.6505 [tLocation] => Plaza de Armas [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20150902 ) [5483] => Array ( [iID] => 5483 [tTitle] => European Christmas tour [tSlug] => european-christmas-tour [iTime] => 1389135600 [iUpdate] => 1389135600 [tDescription] => Six weeks of Europe in a series of short impressions. Sweden In Stockholm, Wednesday is called ‘little Saturday’. Young students can get into clubs that on Friday and Saturday are off limits to under 21s. Apparently, this started as the night out for domestic maids, young women out on the town on their day off, with he local youth chasing tail. My airbnb host not only was a distant relative of Max Von Sydow, but also has one of the most infamous Swedes as a grandparent. Hungary Instead of Holland’s Saint Nicholas, with his Black Peter helpers, central Europe is more familiar with Krampus, a goat-like creature who punishes children during the christmas season who have misbehaved. Although Saint Nicholas also awards well behaving children, Krampus captures particularly naughty children in his sack and carries them away to his lair. Meanwhile, Budapest is changing into a culinary capital of gastronomic adventures. Germany Cologne is the gay capital of Germany, exemplified by the ubiquitous presence of gay-themed stores around the office of my host in downtown Cologne. This is such a big thing that there’s even a gay-themed weinachtsmarkt in downtown Cologne. Belgium If Brussels still is the cheaper sibling of Paris, I feel sad for how high prices in Paris must be now. Netherlands 12 stores later, I splurged. I’ve denounced non-Apple products and am now an Apple fanboi. All I now need is the upcoming iPad Pro. To compensate for my excessive splurge, I added a 3.45 euro case from Aldi. Ireland A family visit for Christmas with a healthy sprinkling of absinthe jelly. England A day late for the ferry being cancelled due to high winds, I only had some 12 hours to get cosy with old friends. Then, as if the universe was conspiring to tell me something, my bus to Stansted had broken down. English train stations are sad facsimiles of their former glory, sadly dilapidated, a shadow of their former selves. Before flying out of Stansted, I stayed at a friend’s parents’ place in the town of Bishop’s Stortford, birthplace of Cecil John Rhodes. Italy A wonderful reception, a superb house party, and a rave suited to insecure twentysomethings, which should have been avoided. Raw horse meat sandwiches, farinata with blocks of cheese, and just too much good food and drink. Turkey A run through town on a long layover, paid for by Turkish Airlines. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5605 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1274 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1461971427 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 100 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 44.8052 [fLongitude] => 10.3263 [tLocation] => Palazzo della Pilotta [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20140108 ) [5480] => Array ( [iID] => 5480 [tTitle] => visible project [tSlug] => visible-project [iTime] => 1386630000 [iUpdate] => 1516111038 [tDescription] => Wordpress implementation for a research project in contemporary art devoted to art work in the social sphere, that aims to produce and sustain socially engaged artistic practices in a global context. In November 2017, with the fourth edition of Visible, a completely revamped website was launched in cooperation with LeftLoft and Silvestro Ferrara. [iCategory] => 5 [tURL] => http://www.visibleproject.org/ [iViews] => 2977 [iClicks] => 734 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 961 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462052399 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => sparse [iHideMap] => 1 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 2 [iFullImage] => 1 [fLatitude] => 47.4774 [fLongitude] => 19.0768 [tLocation] => Benno's pad [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 1 [tCategory] => Work [iCategoryFeatured] => 1 [iPrimaryCategory] => 5 [categories] => Array ( [5] => Array ( [iID] => 5 [tName] => Work [tSlug] => work [tDescription] => Work, shmork! But, yes, one needs to make a living as well. I'm a self employed web developer with extensive experience in 'the south', that is, the developing world. I strongly focus on social applications, or, 'web 2.0'. If you're intrigued, you can check out my CV. My business is called Baba's projects. [iOrder] => 6 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => sparse [iFeatured] => 1 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => bf:blogitem=5480 ) [5433] => Array ( [iID] => 5433 [tTitle] => Not the ark of the covenant [tSlug] => not-the-ark-of-the-covenant [iTime] => 1356476400 [iUpdate] => 1356476400 [tDescription] => With the rich history, mythical, mystical and real, and with the prominent place Aksum, even now, holds for Ethiopian Christians, the town and it's sights are a major letdown. The invisible centerpiece is the Ark of the Covenant, supposedly the actual container built to house the tablets with the ten commandments, given by god to Moses. Tradition holds that the queen of Sheba, of whose existence there is no contemporary historical evidence, visited King Solomon in Jerusalem, was more or less tricked in having sex with him and ended up returning pregnant, mothering the future king Menelik, who then went back to claim the Ark as his own, supposedly returning with a thousand Jews of each of the tribes, 12000 Total. All Ethiopian kings since have claimed direct lineage from Solomon and it is why, for example, the last emperor of Ethiopia, Heile Salasie, was called the lion of Judah. But, also, Ethiopians were amongst the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion, together with Armenia and Georgia and, because of these early victories over the Roman empire, the country has St. George as its patron saint, just like Georgia, Egypt and England, to name a few. In popular culture, the ark residing in Aksum only became common knowledge in the 17th century and is now housed in a small, rather boring, chapel close to the center of town. On one side, there is a nice 16th century church, perhaps on the site of the first church in Africa and off limits to women, on the other side, there's an imposing, not exactly getting it right, church built under Heile Selasie's patronage, while roughly under this modern church, in a museum, there's an impressive collection of crowns and crosses, very badly displayed. Sadly, the whole thing is very underwhelming, not in the least because the chapel with the ark is completely off limits, only one person having access to the chapel itself, but also because the churches and museum are simply not very interesting, or at least poor cousins of their cousins the world over. And the trick that, after paying a sizable amount for entering the grounds, a caretaker has to open up the churches for you, which really are closed, stays close, and then expects, however timidly, a compensation for his efforts, is a bit annoying. Granted, our 'guide' was friendly and helpful, but the setup is still a ploy. Other sights include mildly interesting collections of stelae, a few ruins and a few tombs. Little remains of the early Aksumite kingdom. Whether once ruled by Sheba or not, wealthy it once was, spanning both sides of the red sea. The founders, Sabaen, were once thought to be Arab, though recent evidence suggests it more likely that there was at least a significant local, African, component to it as well. Also, it has been shown that the Sabaens, one of the three 'people of the book' as mentioned in the Quran, were in fact likely Manacheans, followers of Mani, a third century prophet whose amalgamation of religions once had followers from Carthage to China, while the faith died out after the arrival of Muhammad. Still, it is then no surprise that Ethiopia's form of Christianity is an obvious mix of Jewish and Christian faiths, with perhaps a sprinkling of Zoroastrianism, Mani's third ingredient to his religious mix. Within striking distance, the rock churches of Tigray, semi-monolithic as opposed to Lalibela's monolithic churches, are said to be a worthy visit, but are also difficult to get to, and can require a lot of hassle with their religious caretakers. If they haven't gone off to market, collectively. Also nearby is the site of the biggest African defeat of a colonial power. Menelik II curbed the Italians' intentions in 1896, defeating them at the battle of Adwa. Important to Ethiopia, little remains at the battle site. Perhaps most fun was had on the terrace of the Yeha hotel. Staff crumble up uneaten bread which is then fought over by hornbills, squirrels and hawks, which also try to score the squirrels. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2446 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1204 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462173535 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 20 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 14.1321 [fLongitude] => 38.7192 [tLocation] => The Aksum stelae [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20121226 ) [5353] => Array ( [iID] => 5353 [tTitle] => In Podgorica [tSlug] => in-podgorica [iTime] => 1329433200 [iUpdate] => 1329433200 [tDescription] => Podgorica, Montenegro's capital, seeing over 50cm of snow with towns upcountry close to two meters, meant the country experienced the heaviest snowfall in 60 years. This inexperience with large amounts of snow, and probably the lack of equipment to deal with it was the reason the roads and train line up country, to Serbia, were closed for many days. Europe's newest country's capital's first impression is that it's very clean, almost clinical and boring. On top of that, the currency being the euro, it's pretty much like being somewhere just over the German border, in central Europe. Somewhere in the Czech republic perhaps. Or maybe northern Italy. Then, with tourism in the capital being very limited, it's the Mediterranean coast in summer which pulls the crowds, the cheapest room I could find, clean, but feeling run down, set us back 30 euros for the night. Whereas an excellent room in a very modern hostel in Belgrade was only 18 euros. Podgorica only reclaimed its former name in 1992, when it reverted back from Titoville, which was the name it was given after the second world war, to commemorate the father of modern Yugoslavia, who managed to skillfully steer his country's own course between the communist east and democratic west, after the war, while masterfully kicking out first the Italians, and then the Germans, during the war itself. All six former Yugoslav republics had a city named in honor of the marshal, but only Montenegro's was a republican capital. Even though it only took this mantle after the war, taking it from the nearby Cetinje. Montenegro is tiny. Some 150000 people in the capital and about 600000 in the country. 50% of exports and nearly 20% of GDP come from one employer, the country's aluminum producer. Add to that income from selling the .me domain, some 600000 and counting, and the result has been an economic growth of nearly 10 percent in the years after independence, that is, since the breakup of the union with Serbia, in 2006. Still, the average monthly income is under 500 euros and unemployment comes in at some 12%. Though that must be a fairly relative number, as with 1.2 million tourists per year, employment must be significantly seasonal. 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[tSlug] => moldova-not-moldavia-duh [iTime] => 1310853600 [iUpdate] => 1310853600 [tDescription] => Still the poorest country in Europe, being beaten by countries like Vietnam, Mongola and Yemen, Moldova has over 4 million inhabitants, but a third of its GDP comes from remittances from families abroad. Not very well known, the breakaway, self styled, country of Transnistria is even less well known, and only recognized by two other non countries, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There even once was a second breakaway province, Gagauzia, in the south of the country and split into four enclaves, which proclaimed independence before Transnistria did. Still, the Gagauz settled for only a slightly uneasy truce and autonomy within the republic, where Transnistria and Moldova went through a small war almost twenty years ago and only now see normalized relations slowly happening. And to make things more confusing, across the border in Romania, there's a province called Moldavia, though in some languages, both the province and the country are spelt the same. Moldova, across the river Prut, or Pruth, used to be part of what was called the mysteriously named Bessarabia, where country and province once belonged to the principality of Moldavia. We didn't play tennis, but did drink the excellent wines and cognacs. And had some rather excellent foods, while it is said that Moldova is a gastronome's delight. If anything, the city feels like other Warsaw pact capitals in the years after the fall of the wall; poverty is never far away, though not too obvious, while expensive cars ply the boulevards and fancy schmanzy restaurants and cafe serve decent food at inflated prices in glitzy settings, though next to decidedly more low key restaurants and cafes, still serving decent to very good, and very eclectic, foods at surprisingly low prices. And by those in the know, Moldova is said to be the home of the best wines and cognacs in Europe, most of which is never seen in western Europe. In fact, what is said to be a legendary cognac, Kvint, actually comes from Transnistria, the bad boy breakaway non-country of Europe. Though any self respecting restaurant in Chisinau serves expensive western wines and cognacs at relatively low prices, it's hard to beat the quality and price of the local stuff, typically sold at about a euro for 50ml, a large shot glass. Chisinau is surprisingly mellow, perhaps helped by the fact that the summers are dry and hot, and was extremely hot on our visit, though the city is also spatious, has plenty of parks and lacks the frantic atmosphere of some other southern European capitals. It also, apparently, has the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, though it's really boring, as far as cemeteries go. But there are also, still, the leftovers of a communist past. Benno and I were whistled in, by a cop, for jay walking. Perhaps angling for bribes at first, we agreed to accompany the officer to the police station, only to be given the suggestion of a few beers after work hours. We gladly accepted, though it didn't help that we didn't have a language in common, even though the fine officer spoke three. During our recent weekend on the shores of Balaton, we concluded that, though 15 years ago the women of Budapest looked much more enticing than they do now, this was probably due to our infantile, or perhaps juvenile, eyes, more obvious now as it seems that Budapest women tend to dress a tad slutty. What's wrong with that? I hear you say. Well, absolutely nothing, but for our aging brains to be less interested in the smut, more interested in the substance. Yeah, right. However, I'm not totally convinced this is the whole story. In my mind's eye, the women, fifteen years ago in Budapest truly were more attractive, physically, than they are now. And now, in Chisinau, we found that a disproportionate portion of the Moldovan woman are, indeed, truly stunning. I suspect that part of this is the Moldovan heritage. It is said that the Romanian language is the one language closest to ancient Latin and Moldovan is just a dialect. Though Italian women supposedly are truly beautiful, having been to Italy on numerous occasions, I never have been really impressed. However, how can there not be some truth to the legend of the beauty of Italian women? I suspect that legend once was true. But now, with the Italian language having been diluted and having moved away from it's origins, so have the Italians. Not so the Romanian language and, I propose, the Romanian, and Moldovan women. Sadly, this theory was thoroughly thrashed when visiting the Romanian city of Brasov a few days later. Perhaps those people are too Italian. Or tourists. However, I also think there is a second component, which explains Hungarian women seemingly having gotten less attractive over the last two decades. The injection of wealth into eastern Europe is affecting the intrinsic quality of life for those living there. Medical care might have improved for the more wealthy, access to popular and often less healthy foods has as well. Add to that eastern Europe's tradition of meat based meals, higher standards of living might have actually allowed for more focusing on meat oriented, less healthy, meals, instead of, driven by necessity, less meaty alternatives. I propose that part of the reason why Moldovan women are so hot is because the country has stayed poorer, longer. Then again, perhaps the woman simply are extremely hot, which would explain the typically long legged nymphets the Balkans and Caucasus typically field in the Eurovision songcontest. Or perhaps what would be considered slutty here, is actually more refined where I come from. Pushkin In more cultural news, the one museum we visited was Pushkin's home in exile from Russia. Having fallen out of favor with the Tsar for being supportive of, though not actually supporting, the Decembrists, Pushkin was exiled to, and lived for three years in, the corner of the empire that was Chisinau. The tiny house he shared with his uncle has been restored in it's original setting, while the next door building has been converted to a museum. Though we made it clear we were truly fine without a guide, we ended up with an English speaking guide anyway, whose knowledge and expertise was obvious, but who also seemed to have perfected the art of orating monotonously. To complement her stern performance, she carried around a telescoping pointer, alerting Benno and myself to the possibility of a spanking. Sadly, no spankings occurred during our visit. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 4892 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1096 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462168475 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 47.0255 [fLongitude] => 28.8279 [tLocation] => Stefan cel Mare park [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20110717 ) [4920] => Array ( [iID] => 4920 [tTitle] => Milan and Monza [tSlug] => milan-and-monza [iTime] => 1281391200 [iUpdate] => 1281391200 [tDescription] => Milan on a Sunday morning in august is more dead than all species of dinosaurs put together. The decoration of at least some of the McDonalds' is exactly the same as in Ireland. Burgers are priced similarly, but coffee is good and very affordable. Strangely, whole contingents of central and southern Americans seem to have been let loose on the city. Only later on my first day, on my why back to my hostel, did i discover the reason. The consulate of Ecuador was sponsoring a major event on the edge of the public gardens, live music, flag waving Ecuadorians and all. One banner read: "we are all migrants". Checking out the sights of Milan on my computer, the night before my arrival, it turns out that i have seen most of these the previous time i was here. Also, this being a Sunday in august, the city as a whole might be dead, the square in front of the Duomo felt like a chicken pen full of tourists. This prompted me to create... Taking pictures Check out the whole set of photographers. Perhaps as a reward, later, in front of the Duomo, nearing sunset, an older Italian lady sang me several arias, before she was scolded by her minder, who reiterated I didn't understand her because of my lack of Italian. Also, the square in front of the Duomo feels overrun by Africans selling crappy bracelets and necklaces. My shooting pictures indiscrimently prompted a few to angrily ask me why I was taking pictures of them. In staccato Italian, suggesting to me they were from French speaking Africa. Meanwhile, at the train station, gypsies are running a scam I'm not getting and Indians sell kid's toys. Monza Monday was marginally busier in Milan and, even better, in the evening, I even found several bars serving aperitivo, that Milanese thing where an expensive drink comes with free and good snacks. Not all is lost. The day I spent in nearby Monza, known for its race track. The track is part of the Parco di Monza, which is huge and also houses the Italian Schoenbrunn, the Vila Reale built in the late 1700s, which is currently in less than a great state. The town itself was even sleepier than Milan, but does have a few nice sights, including its own Duomo, a smaller version of the one in Milan. A museum The Brera museum was not too bad, but also not what i expected, with too many religious, though impressive, paintings from the late middle ages through the renaissance to the late 1800s. In the evening, I tried sleeping early, to get out of bed in the middle of the night to get to airport for my 6am flight, but was not successful. I left the hostel at 12 to get the 1230 shuttle. Surprisingly it was packed at the train station, a horde of people trying to get on the shuttle bus, and only because I had pre arranged my ticket did i get preferential treatment and got on board fairly easily. The hostel, hotel San Tomaso, was a bit odd, Friendly Chinese staff, a cheap and reasonable breakfast, but the oddity was its clientele. A few backpackers, mostly Italians and then some Africans. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2954 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1012 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462216914 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 97 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 45.5936 [fLongitude] => 9.27547 [tLocation] => Parco di Monza [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20100810 ) [896] => Array ( [iID] => 896 [tTitle] => Travel and travel websites [tSlug] => travel-and-travel-websites [iTime] => 1229209200 [iUpdate] => 1229209200 [tDescription] => With the recent death/hibernation of Travelhog.net, where all working travelogues were moved to oneview, I haven't stopped being interested in travel nor travel websites. Recently, a friend alerted me to the Dutch site vakantiegangers.nl, which is a slick looking travel-centered social networking website, where you can log your travels, add photos, also from photo sharing websites, and share trips with other members traveling with you. So, in effect, vakantiegangers.nl is something of a collaborative travelogue platform. This has potential though I think the major pitfall for this platform will be the challenge in finding the right target audience. Though the interface is pretty, very web 2.0, usage is a bit more complex than for most social networks, while many of those that are truly interested in logging their travel stories are probably already doing that on other platforms, needing a good incentive to actually move over to this new platform, however slick. Another new platform, this one publicly launched only two months ago, is GeckoGo, which seemingly goes for 'the minimal look', a bit comparable to Flickr (and, yes, I know, I just haven't shot any photos in the last 5 weeks!), but not really getting it right. There's, visually, clearly still some tweaking to be done. However, one interesting feature is the interactive map on the homepage which shows you the best countries to visit based on the type of holiday you're looking for and the month of the year you want to travel. Not very complex to build, sure, but quirky and, more importantly, useful. At least for the armchair adventurist. As you might know, I like mapping applications (and I'm close to building a new one for Johannesburg), so it's nice to see that GeckoGo uses maps on other pages as well. For example, if you take a look at the Thailand page, a small Google map displays user contributed attractions in a reasonably accessible way. Downside, though, is that it only shows five locations at a time. I would want to see all hotspots shown on the map concurrently. Likewise, Chiang Mai has no less than 50 attractions listed, but spread over 10 pages. It would be much more practical if I would be able to see all locations on one map, without having to page through them. Lots of user contributed photos too, which is nice, but what seems to be lacking is someone actually checking them for quality. And what, really, is the advantage for users of submitting photos to a travel site over, say, Flickr? Wouldn't it make more sense to match the GeckoGo user's account with their Flickr account and then matching on, say, tags? But, I'm impressed with the amount of information available. At least for Chiang Mai. Compare GeckoGo's Chiang Mai page with the comparable page on WikiTravel. Also not bad, and the latter has the lovely clean look copied from Wikipedia, but the user oriented GeckoGo does have a potential edge over WikiTravel. Though, as said earlier, they should revisit the way they present their information. Also, they seem to make a point of not being WikiTravel. One of the benefits of themselves which they mention is that the user can "Get REAL travel info, not encyclopaedia entries". Above, I mentioned vakantiegangers.nl. Their USP is the ability for their users to keep track of their trips. This is one thing lacking from GeckoGo. You can select the countries you've been to, a gimmicky thing which has been available on the web for years, but also without real value. GeckoGo does tie your location to other users going there in the near future. It's something which other travel websites have been doing for a while, but still a nice bit of functionality. Though I don't think I would initiate contact with someone coming to the city I'm in, unless I was traveling myself perhaps. What might be better is if I could see who's coming to my neck of the woods and resides in my extended network. This would be a form of implicit quality control of these individuals and would lower the barrier for contacting them. Not surprisingly, GeckoGo allows you to import contacts through your email accounts. Out of the 3110 contacts in my gmail account, a sum total of zero were already on GeckoGo. And that's pretty much where the interaction with other websites ends. I would have liked Flickr integration, to name one. But why not throw in Twitter (or, say, FriendFeed) integration as well? Then, the only way to blog about your travels and have them show up on GeckoGo is to blog directly on GeckoGo. What if I'm already blogging somewhere else? I'm not going to then blog in two locations. Why can't I simply show my existing blog posts from elsewhere with my GeckoGo profile? Or link to my blog posts on particular locations? Still, the difference in objective and setup between GeckoGo and vakantiegangers or WikiTravel is obvious. GeckoGo wants to create a user-driven global tourist guide, like, for example, the Italy Travel Guide, or the Thailand one mentioned above. Not so much with neutral information, like WikiTravel, but with personal opinions. This is clever as the personal aspect has a certain value more objective information doesn't have. However, it can be only a matter of time, assuming GeckoGo gains a significant user base, before spammers and advertisers will infiltrate the ranks and start polluting the data. And I suspect this is already happening. Take a look at the comments for the entry for the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. The later comments are much shorter. Though it seems GeckoGo also sorts comments and reviews by length, not by date. This promotion of verbosity I have not seen before and is intriguing. Obviously, this won't really work with comments, as you immediately lose the threading. That GeckoGo's presentation still leaves something to be desired can also be seen in how it displays accommodation options for the area you're checking out. Although booking is possible through a special tab in the top level menu, it's not possible to book accommodation directly from their respective pages when actually looking at the details of a hostel or guest house. This means that if you find a hotel to your liking, you have to note down the name and location, and then hope it will come up when you go through the booking process. The hotel search engine they use, by the way, is courtesy of hotelscombined.com, which is also still available on Travelhog.net. It's an excellent service for it checks multiple booking engines at the same time, able to offer each hotel at the cheapest rate. GeckoGo also mimics Yahoo's answers forum, focusing on travel questions. Interesting and practical, but with now only some 1500 questions in the list, this will need some time to become truly useful. You can currently win a trip to Indochina if you sign up with GeckoGo, though I'm not sure if this covers more than Vietnam and Thailand. 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Part 7 [tSlug] => whats-for-dinner-in-thailand-part-7 [iTime] => 1181080800 [iUpdate] => 1181080800 [tDescription] => While I'm working hard to understand HDnet's digital responsibilities and desires on my cheap laptop, I'm also eating. As one has to. Yesterday night, I had dinner with Elyse again in an Irish pub, one of several, where Elyse had fish 'n' chips and I had mushrooms and shrimps with rice. This morning, I had a great scrambled eggs again while, in the afternoon, I had pad pak ruam, a bit like mixed veggies, fried in a wok. Although the menu didn't say it, they also threw in some beef. To be kind, I'm sure. Generally speaking, portions here in Thailand are small. Tonight, I had a decent tuna salad and a very decent fettuccine with blue cheese and broccoli cream. But after finishing that, I was ready for more, while there wasn't. I did have my first encounter with the bugs of Thailand today. At the restaurant, a 12cm flying cockroach was creeping around. And he seemed to love our table. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 4125 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 539 [iOldID] => 914 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1461680384 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 1 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 18.7942 [fLongitude] => 98.9903 [tLocation] => HDnet office [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20070606 ) [389] => Array ( [iID] => 389 [tTitle] => Milano moda [tSlug] => milano-moda [iTime] => 1127685600 [iUpdate] => 1127685600 [tDescription] => Back in Milano, we checked out the city a little bit more, before enjoying yet another aperativo. We first visited the magnificent main train station. Franco had a lot of faults, but his taste for architecture wasn't one of them. Next, we visited the Castello Sforzesco where that same evening, the season's first major catwalk show was going to be held. Of course, even though we saw them build up the catwalk, we had to read it in our own newspaper back home, the next day. For some reason, the castello seemed to be a hotspot for marrying Chinese couples. Later, after joining up with the newly-weds, we checked out the shopping district. That is, shopping for the likes of Paris Hilton. Wallets for 8500 euro, watches for over 20.000 euros and a kilo of mushrooms for only 4500 euros. We laughed, enjoyed the Milano moda and went for food and drinks. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 9225 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 34 [iVoters] => 10 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 385 [iOldID] => 757 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462223919 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 9 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 45.4695 [fLongitude] => 9.18086 [tLocation] => Castello Sforzesco [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050926 ) [388] => Array ( [iID] => 388 [tTitle] => Vino [tSlug] => vino [iTime] => 1127599200 [iUpdate] => 1127599200 [tDescription] => A quiet day, hanging in the garden, drinking some vino. Cleaning up and heading back to Milano. Almost finished with cleaning up, Cecilia's mom showed up with several guests. All the food that was still in the house was prepared and we started off on another enjoyable session of wine and food. Gotta love those Italians. 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[iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050925 ) [387] => Array ( [iID] => 387 [tTitle] => Il profumo della passion [tSlug] => il-profumo-della-passion [iTime] => 1127512800 [iUpdate] => 1127512800 [tDescription] => With some 30 people staying over, some had to sleep in the garden. Luckily, Betsy and I had the privilege of a small room. The day was relaxing, with everyone slowly building up to another party in the evening, some 30 new guests arriving from all over. In the evening, the newly-weds had to participate in a game where they were tested on their knowledge and passion for each other. Easily the best part was 'Il profumo della passion', where, blindfolded, they had to recognize their lover by the smell of the other's armpits. 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[iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050924 ) [386] => Array ( [iID] => 386 [tTitle] => The start of three days of partying [tSlug] => the-start-of-three-days-of-partying [iTime] => 1127426400 [iUpdate] => 1127426400 [tDescription] => Today was Giovanni's and Cecilia's wedding. The ceremony in a packed 'Arena' lasted only 20 minutes but that was also not the focus of the upcoming three day celebrations. Almost immediately, we joined Monica, Giovanni's sister, and Marco for a drive to Salice Terme, where the party would keep us until late on Sunday. A 'family' Friday, a 'friends' Saturday and a recovery on Sunday. It was also the start of a very relaxing, highly enjoyable weekend. What was to be expected, I suppose, was the food and drinks. Wine or water. Food from 2pm till 8pm, course after course of gooooood fooooood. I'm pretty sure I could live in what can only be god's country. After Cecilia's sister sang some very good jazz, some friends had arranged for a folk music band with highly catchy Celtic and gypsy tunes. Surprisingly, many people knew, or pretended to know convincingly, how to dance to the ancient tunes. We met an Iranian photographer working for National Geographic, living only 10km away from our house in Delft. And we met Cecilia's father, something of a rocket scientist who often travels to the ends of the earth for some NGO on nuclear energy. He counts El Baradei among his close friends. Six degrees Which brings me to the 'six degrees of separation'. I think the current concept has to go, for when do you 'know' a person? As far as I know, this is required for 'one degree' . I think the concept of 'knowing' has to be replaced by the 'handshake'. Six degrees away means six handshakes away. El Baradei is two handshakes away, Freddy Mercury four, as is the queen of England. 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[iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050923 ) [385] => Array ( [iID] => 385 [tTitle] => The last suppers [tSlug] => the-last-suppers [iTime] => 1127340000 [iUpdate] => 1127340000 [tDescription] => Strolled around town today and enjoyed 'The last supper' by Leonardo da Vinci. I was not so much impressed. The painting is a popular destination. You have to make reservations to see the painting and when we arrived, asking if we could still get in, we were told to try again on October 1st. Some more questioning resulted in the suggestion to come back after a couple of hours to check if anyone didn't pick up his reservations. We were lucky and got in. The next stop was Il Duomo, which has had its facade hidden for renovation purposes for years. The square in front of the cathedral is impressive, with fascist architecture on all sides, most notably the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele where, on the other side of the gallery, you can find the one and only original Scala, the city's famous opera house. Then, on to Cimitero Monumentale, where some of the dead live in more expansive housing than some of the poor in Italy. Aperativo Milan has an interesting custom. Every evening, practically every bar in Milano, serves 'aperativo'. All drinks at one price with all sorts of food included. Needless to say, many Milanese can be found outside from 6pm till 10pm, savouring their drink and filling their stomachs. Yesterday, when we stumbled upon a bar offering aperativo just an hour before we were set to meet up for drinks with Giovanni and Cicilia, we couldn't believe our eyes (and mouths) with all sorts of pasta, fish, mussels, bread and pastries up for grabs. We had too much. And then, for drinks with the soon-to-be-married-couple, we had yet another aperativo. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 4693 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 380 [iOldID] => 753 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462195207 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 17 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 45.4664 [fLongitude] => 9.16929 [tLocation] => Santa Maria delle Grazie [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050922 ) [384] => Array ( [iID] => 384 [tTitle] => An Italian wedding [tSlug] => an-italian-wedding [iTime] => 1127253600 [iUpdate] => 1127253600 [tDescription] => Back in Afghanistan, I threatened Giovanni I would visit him for his wedding if only remotely possible. Bought tickets back in July, so off Betsy and I went. Ryanair rules and although the cost of parking our car was about the same as one round-trip ticket from Eindhoven to Milano, it was also worth it. Because the battery of my phone/mp3-player/pocket-pc died halfway through the trip I lost most of my notes so I probably don't have that much to say. You'll have to survive on the pictures. Icecream sandwich Some weeks ago, after visiting a bookfair in Utrecht, I had an ice cream sandwich at Roberto Gelato, the only place in the Netherlands serving these delicacies. Of course, my friends thought I was crazy for buying something this disgusting. When we arrived at Milano central station, waiting for Giovanni and Cecilia to pick us up, I went over to a nearby snack-stand to get, well, a snack. Of course, I got an ice cream sandwich. And it was good. Oh, Eindhoven airport smells like cat pee. 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[iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050921 ) [673] => Array ( [iID] => 673 [tTitle] => Piran and Ljubljana [tSlug] => piran-and-ljubljana [iTime] => 1034287200 [iUpdate] => 1034287200 [tDescription] => So there were no ferries going to Slovenia or Croatia that we could use. We had no choice but to go overland. This also meant that going all the way down to Dubrovnik was no longer an option. Due to Austrian control in the 19th and early 20th century and Yugoslav control during most of the 20th century, train travel is not made very easy in this part of Europe. Most tracks radiate away from either Vienna or Belgrade. It is possible, through a detour, to travel from Ljubljana (in Slovenia) to Trieste (in Italy), but getting to Dubrovnik or Split, by train, is simply impossible. Split (like Dubrovnik in Croatia) is not connected by train at all and although Dubrovnik does have a train station, connected through Bosnia to Belgrade, trains hardly ever stop there. We decided our first stop was going to be Piran, a quiet little town on the Slovenian coast. In the middle ages, the Italians, and most notably the Venetians controlled most of the Adriatic coast and this legacy is hard to miss in many of the towns on the coast in both Slovenia and Croatia. Piran is no exception. In fact, many people in this part of Slovenia still speak Italian and Piran is even officially bilingual. Walking the narrow winding streets of this lovely town, it's hard to notice you're not in Italy. Our next hurdle was finding a doctor for my girlfriend. She turned out to have a bladder infection which needed to be taken care of. We lost a day but decided to move on after only one night in Piran. Bad mistake. We considered going to Croatia from Piran but dismissed it because of it being very time consuming. Train travel is out of the question since you have to first travel to Ljubljana before being able to go to Zagreb, which is quite useless if you want to stay on the coast. Buses do go across the border near the coast, but only twice a day, at most. We took a train to Ljubljana to stay there for the rest of our vacation. Ljubljana is a really lovely town. Although it's the capital of a country, it still feels like a small provincial town. With a citadel perched on a hill overlooking the city, the central European architecture dominating the town, and the consistent morning mists, walking around in the old town creates a feeling of being in a fairy tale featuring talking dragons, beautiful princesses and raging battles. We hadn't timed our visit very well. On the day we arrived, Ljubljana was host to a gathering of meteorologists, a convention of philharmonic orchestras (!) and 'the international city of women'. We went from hotel to hotel only to find some free beds, way out of town, after walking around town for over three hours. Up to our arriving in Ljubljana, we still considered also visiting Zagreb later in the week. Now, we decided we would not leave Ljubljana before going back to Venice. 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[iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20021011 ) [718] => Array ( [iID] => 718 [tTitle] => The Israelian fighting machine [tSlug] => the-israelian-fighting-machine [iTime] => 1013986800 [iUpdate] => 1013986800 [tDescription] => Taking two consecutive boats and one train, I arrived in Rimini, from where once every two hours a bus departs for San Marino. The 'garderoba' in Rimini was closed. A sign told me this was for 'Safety reasons'. Asking around, I learned that the safety reasons were 'September 11th'. It meant I had to drag my backpack along on my day trip to San Marino. Additionally, upon arrival, I had missed my bus by only a couple of minutes, meaning I had to wait two hours for the next bus. Getting on the bus, the driver didn't accept my 50 euro note as payment; I had to change it into smaller currency. After running around for several minutes, the only other tourist on the bus, an Israeli, helped me out by paying my ticket for me. On the boat from Split to Ancona I was trapped on both sides. On the right, a Bosnian girl from Banja Luka where, she claimed, women outnumbered men by 25 to 1. She was studying graphical design in Firenze. When the war broke out in 1991, she was living in Sweden but felt so depressed out of boredom, she felt more at ease in a war torn Bosnia than in an everyday-is-the-same Sweden. On the left, an older Croatian women couldn't stop talking about her now-dead husband who had been a fencing champion in the 1970 Olympics. A three time Olympic champion. She was now living in Foggia. When she stopped talking, after two hours or so, falling asleep in the rather uncomfortable 'air seats' was easy. San Marino is a real tourist trap. A few small museums, some expensive restaurants and many shops selling touristy knick-knacks. True, the view from the rock the country is built on is fantastic. It is said. When I was there, a thick all-encompassing fog was blocking my view continuously. When we, the Israeli and myself, were waiting for the bus back to Rimini with five others, the bus just passed us by, ignoring us completely. With two English guys, also waiting for the bus, we went for a couple of beers, in the hope the next bus wouldn't pass us by either. Back in Rimini, the gods still weren't favourable. Because of a strike, many of the trains weren't going so we ended up in a small bar where, with an outside temperature of some five degrees Celsius, the Italians were still wearing sunglasses. Pretty soon, we were talking about the situation in Israel. After a while, Justin commented on the problems in the Middle East. He started off on something that could only conclude with a negative remark on Israel's stance in the matter: "The situation is... ". Everyone was holding his breath. Tal, the Israeli, who claimed to have served in a secret military unit, seemed ready to grab a knife and slit Justin's throat. "...difficult." I could physically feel everyone's relief. Tal's train was leaving, heading for Ancona. The English and myself headed for Ravenna. In the Ravenna youth hostel, I asked where we could still get something to drink. The man-woman looked at the clock: "10:45? Ha! Everything is closed in Ravenna!" I took out a bottle of brandy I had brought from Croatia and we finished it in some 45 minutes, just before curfew. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 3682 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 731 [iOldID] => 1091 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462158513 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 4 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 43.942 [fLongitude] => 12.4463 [tLocation] => Smack in the middle of town [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20020218 ) [763] => Array ( [iID] => 763 [tTitle] => Firenze [tSlug] => firenze [iTime] => 997480800 [iUpdate] => 997480800 [tDescription] => After coming back from Monterosso and staying in Pisa for one more night, we moved out early the next morning to catch a train to Firenze. During the day, I had already tried to book a room at one of the hostels in Firenze, but none actually accepted reservations, so you would never know if you could sleep in one, until you would show up on their doorstep. I choose a hostel that's located quite a bit out of town to diminish the chances of it being full. Luckily it wasn't and, supposedly, the hostel we staid in is one of the most beautiful hostels in Europe. A pity there is no bar, a curfew at 12am and lights out five minutes later. Still, Firenze, if not crowded, is wonderful. The difference with Pisa amazing, mostly of course because of the many tourists frequenting the city. Many Africans selling expensive bags and sunglasses on the streets, long queues of people waiting to see Michealangelo's David or the inside of the Cathedral, street artists. Yes, a thriving tourist city but well worth the visit. We had to buy another bottle of that liquid gold and, in a distant part of the city, almost had our face smashed in by an angry Italian with a wrench. To Jim, it was a mystery why he came after us. To me, it was a surprise that Jim so easily forgot he had peed in the man's dustbin just minutes before. Korsakov truly had visited us. In the evening, after getting back to the hostel and having to go to bed at 12, we first tried to chat up a number of Spanish girls with no luck. Then, still feeling like the evening had only just began, we started a late night party in one of the washrooms, together with guy from Portugal, Ricardo, and a Dutch guy, Sander. For some strange reason, we were fooling Sander into being Indian (Jim) and Iranian (myself), although we occasionally tried to talk Dutch to Ricardo, standing right next to him. Of course we didn't try to talk Dutch to Sander, at first. Although even when we did he still didn't believe us. Finishing the second bottle of whisky for the day was just a little bit too much for us to get through our Sunday with no harm. Traveling back to Pisa the next day and in Pisa itself, Jim and I basically did nothing else but sleep. In the train, on any of the benches, fields of Pisa, on the plain, in the car driving back to Rotterdam, etc. Still, we had quite a bit of fun. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2888 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 777 [iOldID] => 1136 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462091935 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 37 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 43.7951 [fLongitude] => 11.3458 [tLocation] => Youth hostel [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20010811 ) [762] => Array ( [iID] => 762 [tTitle] => Monterosso [tSlug] => monterosso [iTime] => 997394400 [iUpdate] => 997394400 [tDescription] => Il Cinque Terre are five little villages on the coast of Tuscany, where the houses are truly built inside of the rocks. All five villages are supposed to be truly magnificent, but we only got to see one. We headed out to the largest of the five villages, Monterosso, since its easiest to get a train going there, many not stopping at the stations of the other towns. However, its supposedly very easy to walk from one town to the next. The day before, when walking upto the hostel in Pisa, we started chatting with an Irish girl by the name of Florence, whom we also found traveling with us towards Il 5 Terre the next morning. We had already started on our second bottle of whisky and she was appalled at us drinking so early in the day. That is, maybe for 10 minutes, after which she started drinking like a true Irish girl. Florence had a hard time deciding on where to go next. The ticket she had bought brought her to a town just before Il 5 Terre but, on the train, she decided she wanted to go on to one of the villages of Il 5 Terre. Since we had run into some minor problems with a conductor (you have to stamp your tickets on the train station before leaving, which we didn't know), we talked her into hiding on one of the toilets until we would be at her stop, which, she figured, was going to be the third stop after her original destination. Little did she know, and neither did we, that the train's first stop was going to be the last of the 5 countries. So if she truly hid in the toilet and was counting the stops, chances are she ended up in Genoa, maybe some 50km past her desired destination... One of the guides we had convinced us Monterosso was being overlooked by gigantic statues cut out in the face of the rock. According to an awkward person at Information, we had to walk up a mountain on the north side of the town, which would be a 15 or 20 minute walk, to see the statues. Walking to the next town, Vernazza, would take maybe 90 minutes. Supposedly, Vernazza is the most beautiful of the five villages so we decided to first look for the statues and then walk on to Vernazza. By the time we came back from our walk up north, it was more then four hours later. We were dead tired. We were not going to see Vernazza. In stead, we started looking for some supermarket, found a German Spar and ate Dutch cheese. Just before boarding our train back to Pisa, we not only bought another bottle of Whisky, but also took a swim. A nice ending to an interesting day. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 3654 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 775 [iOldID] => 1135 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462193930 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 28 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 44.1458 [fLongitude] => 9.65417 [tLocation] => Monterosso [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20010810 ) [761] => Array ( [iID] => 761 [tTitle] => Pisa [tSlug] => pisa [iTime] => 997308000 [iUpdate] => 997308000 [tDescription] => The very first pleasantry we enjoyed when disembarking from the plane was the heat. Although back in Holland the weather hadn't been that bad for the past couple of weeks, it's difficult to beat Italian weather. As specially Tuscany weather. It was hot. I had made reservations some days before at the only hostel in Pisa. The hostel is closed most of every day, only taking bookings between 6 and 8 in the evening. It took awhile before I finally found that out, since they also do not carry an answering machine. Even so, I was happily surprised they still had room. By the time we arrived at the hostel, we already fully understood why they still had some vacancies when I called. The hostel is located some 30 minutes walking out of town. Additionally, there is truly nothing to Pisa, outside the Campo del Miracoli, the square that houses the leaning tower, as well as a very impressive baptistry and a cathedral. Although you can not say the city is not nice, particularly in August, it's as dead as a city can be. I have to note here that in August, all Italians, everywhere go on holiday themselves. That is, the only restaurants, shops, etc. that you find are open, purely cater for tourists. Since, apparantly, tourists only visit Pisa for the leaning tower, it was very, very difficult to find anything that was open and not a five minute walk from the square. Originally, we had planned to stay in Pisa for a full four days, but it became painfully clear that we would not make that. Although the supermarkets did sell very affordable and good whisky, we decided to travel to Il 5 Terre the next day, and Firenze on the third day. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2580 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 774 [iOldID] => 1134 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462047854 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 20 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 43.7231 [fLongitude] => 10.3964 [tLocation] => The leaning tower [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20010809 ) [760] => Array ( [iID] => 760 [tTitle] => 4 days in Tuscany [tSlug] => 4-days-in-tuscany [iTime] => 997221600 [iUpdate] => 997221600 [tDescription] => Taking two friends of mine on a short trip to Tuscany, where we visited Pisa, Monterosso in Il Cinque Terra and Firenze. You can never go wrong in Italy, although August, when most shops and restaurants are closed and there really are too many tourists, is probably not the very best time to go. We started our trip in Brussels, flying RyanAir to keep the trip affordable. And it also meant we would have a decent night out on the town in the European capital Brussels Since we were flying with RyanAir, one of the cheapest airlines in the world, we first had to drive down to Brussels, or more exactly, Charlerois, to catch the early airborne bus to Pisa. Since I wanted to make this short holiday an eventful trip, I decided we would drive down to Brussels the night before flying out, stay in some hostel over there, get up early and then drive down to the airport. Ofcourse, even this simple task almost went wrong. For one, we only went to bed around 3am. Not bad, but considering we had to get up before 7am, this was going to be a short night. In addtion, we wanted to wait till 7:30am for breakfast to be served at the hostel. This was not a good choice, for two reasons. One, the breakfast was of meagre quality. Second, we had to drive like crazy to get to the airport in time. Driving down to Charlerois airport from Brussels takes upto 45 minutes or an hour, depending on traffic. If we had arrived only 5 minutes later, we would not have been allowed to board. Anyway, we had made it. We hadn't bought any whisky yet, and we had planned to do this at the airport, something we had done before on numerous occasions. Not, however, flying for the first time with RyanAir to another Schengen country, it turned out that we were not allowed to buy anything at all at the airport,. That is, tax free. We had to wait for the whisky until after arrival. The flight was uneventful if not quiet. Not all seats were taken and I got to take a nap on three seats for an hour or so, the flight taking no more than 80 minutes. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5842 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 772 [iOldID] => 1133 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462239229 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 9 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 50.8494 [fLongitude] => 4.34722 [tLocation] => Da Kao [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20010808 ) [694] => Array ( [iID] => 694 [tTitle] => Rome antic [tSlug] => rome-antic [iTime] => 964216800 [iUpdate] => 964216800 [tDescription] => The next day, the sun shining brightly in the morning sky, beautiful Rome welcomed us, the city still being as wonderful as I remembered. It was still before 7am and when I arrived at the hotel my girlfriend had made reservations at, no-one seemed to be there yet. I don't mean just my girlfriend. No-one. It took a while before someone finally opened the door. The older Italian who finally did arrive, spoke nothing but Italian, understanding absolutely no English or even French, and it took quite a while before some form of communication existed between him and me. The result being that he told me to come back at 12pm, since he had no record of a reservation on either my name or my girlfriend's and at 12 his daughter would be at the reception, who spoke English. So I spent the morning in one of the city's parks and went back at 12. Indeed, a very good-looking girl, speaking perfect English, was waiting at reception. I got the key to the room and went up to get a shower. Now, I only had to wait for my girlfriend to arrive, supposedly at 7pm. Branson messing up The Virgin flight my girlfriend was on was supposed to arrive at 7pm. At 9pm, it still was showing on the monitors as having not arrived. By that time, I had already done some inquiries from the airport information desk but they didn't know what they were talking about. At first I was told the flight was delayed. Then that the flight had been canceled and that everyone must have been transferred to the later Virgin flight. But the one thing I wanted to know, was if my girlfriend actually had been on the flight or was put (if the flight had been canceled) on another flight, they couldn't tell me. At the Virgin desk, a rather grumpy old man was doing some paper work. When I told him the situation, that I had been waiting several hours for the flight to arrive, and that I really wanted to know if my girlfriend had been on the plane, he told me, with a heavy Italian accent: "You know, in Italy we have privacy!". I had to come back the next day. I thanked him, cursing him silently. So since I had no more options left (I had already called my girlfriends home, getting no answer there and had also called the hotel, learning that she hadn't arrived there either), I went back to the hotel, feeling totally beaten. To my surprise, when entering the hotel room some 75 minutes later, Vinca was taking a nap in our huge bed. She HAD been on the Virgin flight, but it had been called as a Sabena flight and she said she had no idea I was going to pick her up and, in Rome, got lost trying to find the hotel... So we had both finally made it. Rome lay at our feet. We spent a couple of days in Rome before heading back to the Netherlands. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. The wonderful Italian coffee, the beautiful sites, the fantastic wine and each other. A perfect ending to a great vacation. 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[tSlug] => nice [iTime] => 925509600 [iUpdate] => 925509600 [tDescription] => 8 countries, 5 idiots, 4 days, 3 cities. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => http://www.flickr.com/photos/mastababa/sets/72157621129651905/ [iViews] => 1184 [iClicks] => 298 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1281 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462217541 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 52 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 43.6944 [fLongitude] => 7.26128 [tLocation] => Nice beach [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 19990501 ) ) ) Keyword: Italy :: BabakFakhamzadeh.com