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30 November 2012

He Visited All Countries in the World - Without Boarding a Plane?

Graham Hughes, a British man from Liverpool, just set a record by visiting 201 countries - all the countries of the world - without flying on a single airplane!

What a great accomplishment, but think you can do it too? I mean, visiting some countries can be challenging in itself (for safety/security reasons), but traveling to some remote places without an airplane - I can only imagine!

"He says people tend to wonder how he got into the further-out countries like North Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, but he says they were the easy ones." Ok, I can trust him on that I guess. And yes, getting to all those small island nations in the South Pacific seems particularly difficult!

14 November 2012

Let's Fly Around London

Check this out: A flying drone taking you around some of London's most famous sights, but with unexpected but amazing views!

I would love to ride in a mini-helicopter or something to get up close to these landmarks. Alas, I don't think it will happen very soon.

30 October 2012

Airplanes Landing at Heathrow (Time Lapse Video)

You may know that I'm a sucker for time-lapse videos, and I've stumbled upon a cool one this morning. It's of airplanes approaching to land at London Heathrow's airport. It really gives you a sense of how frequently planes are landing at one of the world's busiest airports. (Apparently an airplane either takes off or lands at Heathrow every 45 seconds - incredible!) Check it out below!

21 October 2012

The Scotland Video

Here's the video of my road trip to Scotland earlier this year! It was really fun, if you couldn't tell. Man, it really makes me want to hit the road again.

17 October 2012

Empty America: San Francisco without the People

Live in the city is bustling, but it can also be lonely.

Here's a fascinating and beautifully-made time-lapse video from Thrash Lab. It shows scenes from the beautiful city of San Francisco, but with all traces of living people removed. Imagine the amount of Photoshopping needed to pull this off. It's simply stunning. Bravo!

Watch San Francisco Time Lapse (Empty America) on Youtube.

A Look at the Greatest Journeys

For many of us intrepid travelers, the thrill of our journeys comes with breaking through into the unknown. The discovery of new places and meeting new people seems to evoke a sort of parallel self-discovery within ourselves. By putting ourselves in a new environment, we challenge ourselves to grow in some way. It's truly invigorating.

Some of the greatest  journeys in history have done just that, pushing out into the frontier, and, in many cases, challenging the collective values and knowledge of society itself. For any full-time traveler, travel enthusiast, or aspiring traveler, learning about these historic journeys is fascinating, enriching, and inspiring.

And I just discovered a great interactive map, brought to you by the fine people at GOOD. Check it out, and enjoy: History's greatest journeys, from Magellan to Kerouac.

25 September 2012

Scotland Road Trip 3: Sunny Edinburgh, Lake District, and Total Exhaustion

It was the Sunday of our crammed weekend road trip to Scotland. After a full day of driving around the highlands and a night living up Edinburgh's nightlife, waking up at a decent hour was really not easy at all.

By some miracle we were up and ready around 11am. We left a few beers for our host with a thank you note scribbled on a paper plate, then we departed to do a quick exploration of Edinburgh itself.

Since I had visited Edinburgh previously (despite getting stranded in the city), I was the expert on the city and gave my friends the best 2-hour tour that I could muster. We started on the royal mile, not far from where we found a place to park the car (there was the Edinburgh Marathon finishing up that morning, which led to a lot of road closures and parking restrictions).

The warm and bright sun really contrasted the dark neo-gothic architecture of Edinburgh. It made it feel more like an amusement park than an actual city. Nevertheless, it is impossible to avoid being charmed by the history and Scottish culture around every corner.

We walked past St. Giles' Cathedral and all the way up to the castle itself. The castle was crowded with tourists, and we were strapped for time, so we didn't go inside. Also, the esplanade outside was largely roped off with construction as they were setting up large sets of bleacher seating. So, we walked down the stairs, passing by my previous hostel, the Castle Rock Hostel, which has a spectacular view looking directly upon the castle itself.

We proceeded down to the Grassmarket, where I explained the story of Maggie Dickinson. And then around to Greyfriars Kirk, where I told another great story, that of Greyfriars Bobby.

Not far from Greyfriars Kirk is the Elephant House, which proudly proclaims itself as the cafĂ© where J.K. Rowling frequently sat as she wrote the first Harry Potter book. Here's the view of the castle from the back window. Think it would inspire you to write a world-famous story of wizardry?

Maybe a brilliantly sunny and warm day isn't the best day to experience the expected brooding, dark atmosphere of Scotland. Nevertheless, in this part of the world, you simply do not complain when the temperature is 27˚C and there is not a cloud in the sky! So, after taking a quick peek in the National Museum to see Dolly the Sheep, we wandered over to the Princes Street gardens. There, we joined the growing masses of people to soak up the ephemeral Scottish sunshine!

I got a small ice cream and an order of fries (always a winning combination!) and we relaxed for a few moments in the gorgeous gardens. But we couldn't waste the rest of the day, we had a long drive back to London ahead of us. And we had a few amazing stops along the way.

19 September 2012

Scotland Road Trip 2: Driving Around the Highlands

The weather was incredibly beautiful for the late May weekend thatwe were in Scotland. Remarkably, there was not a cloud in the sky, and the long late Spring days made for perfect sightseeing and traveling. As I awoke, I glimped outside my window and took in the splendor of Edinburgh and the hills surrounding the city.

After a long drive from London that didn't get us into Edinburgh until 3am, we understandably were a little slow to wake up for the first full day of our Scotland weekend. We picked up our other two travelmates (who were staying at another friend's place) and soon we were all on the road again.

It didn't take long outside of Edinburgh for the city to give way to countryside. Scotland is, after all, a mostly rural landscape. The motorway had a little congestion as we passed by construction, but all in all it was smooth sailing as we headed onwards toward our first destination: Stirling.

07 September 2012

Scotland Road Trip 1: The Long Drive to Edinburgh

It was the last weekend of May when my flatmates and I made a weekend road trip from London to Scotland. It was a busy weekend full of things to do, but because of everyone's schedules, we couldn't leave until after work on Friday. Nevertheless, just the drive from London to Edinburgh on Friday night was a memorable adventure!

It should have been a relatively simple drive (by my American standards), only 7 hours by Google Maps. But the journey turned out to be more complicated: Figuring out how to get the rental car (all the way at Heathrow); dealing with rush-hour traffic; eating far more fried chicken than we should have; picking up a travelmate in Sheffield; and learning that I simply cannot drive a stick shift!

And so here goes the story of how an afternoon/evening drive turned into an all-night journey.

Time-Lapse Video: Road Trip Across the USA

I love time lapse videos, and I really love road trips. So having discovered this video, I feel obliged to share it! This guy drove across the USA, seeing many of the most iconic sights along the way. If you ever have the chance to make such a trip, do it! The size and diversity of landscapes in the States is almost overwhelming, and this video does a pretty good job of showing what you can see in your car.

(For best viewing, watch the video in fullscreen!)

05 September 2012

A Day in Cambridge

It was a cool and cloudy (typically English) May day when I traveled to Cambridge, one of the most historic and academically prestigious cities in the world.

I actually lucked into this trip, thanks once again to Couchsurfing: A fellow couchsurfer, Ethan from Taiwan, had two extra tickets to Cambridge because his two friends weren't able to make it to London in time. So he graciously posted, and I responded. I invited my friend Ziva (visiting from Slovenia) to come along with us.

23 July 2012

Traveling Shoes [Video]

With no recent travel adventures myself to share, I thought I'd share a fascinating and inspiring travel video. It shows a very cool idea: Having your shoes be travel guestbook/souvenir. Check it out!

From Follow the Foot.

18 July 2012

Life in North Carolina

So earlier this year I spent 4 months in North Carolina. How was it? Incredibly fun. I mean, being an exchange student in the US gave me (in many ways) the best of both worlds, foreigner and local!

One of the first things I did was buy a car. It was surprisingly easy to get a pretty big car for not so much money. And it was easy to sell it too. (In case you're wondering, she's a 1999 Ford Explorer, and appropriately, we named her "Dora.")

15 April 2012

Some Travel Inspiration from The World Geography

A great and simple website that I often find myself browsing endlessly is The World Geography. It's mainly a compilation of pages listing interesting destinations, but some of them are truly fascinating. Here's a sampling I have recently browsed through:

33 Picturesque European Towns and Villages

9 Unique and Unusual Travel Destinations

11 of the Most Colorful Cities in the World

9 Offbeat Countries

10 Tallest Trees on Earth

9 Really Unusual Deserts

11 Leaning Towers from Around the World
- did you know that Big Ben leans slightly? (and that the tower itself isn't actually named "Big Ben"?)

Top 9 Strange Streets in the World

14 Strange and Interesting Facts Worldwide

A Beautiful Photo from Every U.S. State

and finally: 10 Unbelievably Beautiful Places You've Probably Never Heard Of

14 April 2012

18 Ways to Travel Free (or Nearly Free)

A helpful website that I often happen upon is Traveldudes. They have a multitude of articles focused primarily on traveling close to the ground, interacting with locals and such. (As you might be able to tell, that is really the only way to travel, in my opinion.) And Traveldudes also provides a great community of like-minded travelers to share tips and inspiration.

One interesting tip they recently shared is 18 ways to travel free (or nearly free). Check it out, and hopefully try out some of these tips yourself!

12 April 2012

Tuk Tuk Travels

Check it out:

11 April 2012

Made in Iceland

Here's an amazing video about Iceland, from the perspective of a girl who hiked across this spectacular land. It does a fairly good job of capturing the sense of other-worldliness and pure wonder that you can only get from visiting Iceland yourself!

MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo.

05 April 2012

Travel Inspiration: Eat, Move, Learn

Three compelling short videos from Rick Mereki that really make you want to JUST GET OUT THERE! Enjoy...




22 March 2012

North Carolina's Outer Banks

It has been a loong while since I've posted here, and, boy has a lot happened since I cut off last year. In short, I arrived in London and got straight to school, stayed through the holidays, met lots of great friends, had a raucous New Years, then flew to the US in January for my exchange program in North Carolina. That is where my story picks up, and today's post is about a day trip that I made with some friends to the Outer Banks.

Just so you know, here's a map of North Carolina:

North Carolina has on its licence plate "First in Flight," representing the fact that the first airplanes in the world were flown here. And that's where we went on our trip, to Nags Head, on the state's northeastern coast. It was a 4-hour drive, so that meant starting off early! And for us students, early means 9-ish am!

And off we were! First stop: Waffle House, the ubiquitous chain of diners all around the South. After all, what's a mini-road trip without huge amounts of greasy food?!

As we left Raleigh, I introduced my friends to one of the most fun things to do on a road trip: The Chinese Fire Drill. Basically, whenever the car comes to a complete stop, the driver declares "CHINESE FIRE DRILL," and everyone immediately gets out, runs around the car, and returns to a random seat. This means that someone randomly ends up the driver. Thus, we all got turns to drive.