Some Thoughts..and Photos.. After 100 Posts

I have been thinking about the past three years.. and before.. Some randomness since, I just realized, I have made 100 blog posts..

I lived and worked in the good old USA for almost my whole life.. Electrician by trade and a really good one at that. Houses, offices, department stores.. pulling wire, running conduit, installing lights, switches.. you know.. everything a good electrician does..

Wiring a Transformer

 

Working 60+ hours a week..waiting for that wonderful 2 week break I knew was coming once a year.. That time when I could leave the worries and the stress behind, at least for awhile..

Vacations at that time meant jumping in the car and driving..New states..new cities..Disneyland. Oh sure, occasionally I would be able to afford a trip to Mexico..maybe the Caribbean (I absolutely adore the Caymans) but, mostly, it was “road trips”. Road trips are a fantastic way to explore, but let’s face it..traffic, rest stops, car problems..these things don’t lend themselves to the most relaxing trip..

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                                    Me in 1995 Pikes Peak, Colorado

Then .. an amazing thing happened.. I landed a job in Columbia, South America.. Maintenance supervisor in a coal mine of all places..

Coal mine in Columbia

                      Coal Mine Electrical Supervisor in Columbia..

14 days on.. 7 days off .. with 2 weeks paid vacation and enough money to actually start traveling.. Of course after 14 straight 12 hour days, I didn’t really feel like getting out on my off time.  Long flight back home to Colorado and a week to recuperate and get ready for the next shift..  Good experience but not what I was really looking for.

So back to the 60+ hours a week when the ROF came..  the road trips to Las Vegas, Memphis, etc etc..

I read an ad one day about a job opportunity working for a company that did contract work for the US Embassies overseas.. I applied.. and was hired..

Thus the new life in Kyiv, Ukraine and a whole new world appeared before me…

I had found the perfect job.. 40 hours a week.. tons of holidays and 2 weeks paid leave a year.. which I take 16 – 24 hours at a time.  Let’s face it, 300 dollars will buy a plane ticket to almost anywhere in Europe from here.. and 4 days in Paris or Prague is a wonderful way to spend a long weekend.

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This chance happening in my life has allowed me to explore new countires, expand my way of thinking about different cultures and, hopefully, improve my outlook on life..and my photographic skills..

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So far..  Poland, France, Italy, Greece, UAE, Hungary, Sweden, Cyprus, Georgia, Spain, Turkey, and the Czech Republic..

 

 

 

Let’s face it.. most Americans don’t travel outside the country because it is so expensive.. and so far to go.. I have been given an opportunity (granted through a lot of hard work and perseverance) that few people get.. I plan to enjoy it, revel in it.. there is beauty everywhere..and I plan to find it wherever I go..  Next stop Bucharest and Ploiesti, Romania..

I hope you feeling like joining me in this journey .. 100 blog posts so far.. and still many many miles to go.. We will be exploring 6 more countries in the next few months..

There are reviews, advice and a lot more photos available   here... my personal Travel related website…  TRAVEL WITH STEVE

Come along.. Let’s Travel!!

Exploring the City – Getting Started

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You’ve seen them.. the urban explorers.. Huge packpacks..2 cameras hanging around their neck.. walking stick, hiking boots, a battered map in their hand.. The epitome of the modern day adventurer. You’re just waiting to hear them say –

“Livingston, I presume?”

But what are they doing? They are taking the same old picture of the Eiffel Tower …following the same herd to and across the Charles Bridge .. joining the masses in front of the Parliment Building..

Parliment Building in Budapest, Hungary from the south side of the river.

Parliment Building in Budapest, Hungary from the south side of the river.

If you are going to see iconic landmarks in a city, a map is hardly neccesary. Just look for the biggest conglomeration of people with cameras and tag a long.. and make sure it is, at least midday because adventure may wait for no man, but it can,by God, wait until after breakfast..

Arles, France

Arles, France at Sunset

Don’t get me wrong.. seeing the landmarks is one of the reasons we travel to different cities.. Can you imagine going to Paris and NOT seeing the Eiffel Tower..or the Arc de Triomphe .. or the Louvre?  Of course not..  But exploring a city is so much more…

It’s side streets and back alleys.. it’s small hidden cafes and a neighborhood bakery. It’s an open air market with vendors yelling unintelligible things in very loud voices.. It’s watching the sunrise over a new place.. and sunsets with new friends..

Ok..with that being said, there is no “wrong” way to explore during your vacation..some ways are just more right. Let’s go over a few of the different ways you can see what you “must see” and still have a relaxing vacation..

Budapest - Bridge at Twilight

Budapest – Bridge at Twilight

1. Walk.. walk..and walk some more…  Walking, by far, is the most common way to get out and about.. Map or no map, walking allows you to enjoy more of the sights, sounds and even, the smell of your surroundings.. walking gives you total immersion in your enviroment..but it takes the most time and energy..  Granted, you can add the subway or buses to save time, but that’s not really walking ..is it?

2. Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours …  My opinion, the next best thing to walking… You “hop off” at your destination..take photos..explore the surrounding area (I have been know to walk to the next stop) … and “hop on” the next bus to the next spot.. There is no tour, the bus is just a ride between landmarks.  Most cities have some version and most are fairly inexpensive. Whenever I visit a new city, at least one 24 hour period is devoted to seeing the landmarks..and I usually choose this way to do it.

3. Bicycle … This is another good choice but it takes common sense, a degree of caution and, in most cities, nerves of steel.  It is a fairly quick way to travel that still allows you to enjoy your surroundings, even more so going uphill..which usually morphs from cycling back to just walking.. only this time, walking AND pushing..  My biggest complaint about this is taking care of the bicycle..if you want to go inside a museum or gallery, you have to lock it up.. carry your helmet ..

4. Guided Tours … My least favorite of all ways … They have their place,of course, but just not my cup of tea.  I took a mountain wine tour outside of Batumi, Georgia that was very enjoyable..even though the tour guide spoke only Russian and I understood only one word in 10.. Still, the tour was fun, the other “tourists” were pleasant and a great meal was included.. Still, having to move when everyone else moved, stop when everyone else stopped and, even worse, was having to pass up on great photos because noone else wanted to stop..

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Eiffel Tower — Nightime from a Boat

Packing for a day trip can be as much an adventure as the actual trip .. we’ll talk about what to pack..and why.. next time..

Until then  HAPPY TRAVELS!

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Interesting Entrance to a playground in Kyiv, Ukraine

Interesting Entrance to a Playground

Shot of the Day – Buda Castle (Budapest)

Buda Castle Courtyard

Buda Castle sits at the southern tip of Castle Hill and begins what is commonly called the Castle District.. It looks down on the Chain Bridge and some of the best views of Budapest are from the paths that surround it.  It can be reached by walking one of the beautiful paths up the hill.. or the Castle Hill Funicular.. Either way, it is well worth the time to explore..

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HAPPY TRAVELS!!

Shot of the Day – Budapest

Pest from Buda castle

Following up from yesterday, here is a view of the Pest side of Budapest and the famous Chain Bridge from Castle Hill in Budapest, Hungary.  The trails through the hills are seemingly endless with many viewing points of the city below. Beautiful!

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Shot of the Day – Budapest

Matthias Church

One of the many wonderful sights to visit in Budapest is The Church of Our Lady, more commonly known as Matthias Church . It stands in the heart of the Buda Castle District in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion.  Beautiful gothic architecture and wonderful views of the Pest side of the river make this a “must see” in Budapest.

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Shot of the Day – Shoe Memorial on the Danube

Shoe Memorial

The Shoe Memorial in Budapest honors those executed on the banks of the Danube.  Both Jewish people and those accused of “Jewish Activities” were forced to strip naked and face the river.. They were then shot in the back so their bodies would fall into the river to be swept away ..

You can learn more about this very moving memorial here:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoes_on_the_Danube_Bank

Budapest – Shot of the Day

 

Buda Castle and Chain Bridge ...

                                       Buda Castle and Chain Bridge …

Budapest is wonderful at night… The Chain Bridge and Buda Castle dominate the skyline from the river. This area, close to the Shoe Memorial is easily accesible by foot, tram, or bus from the town center.

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