Category Archives: Travel

Transit vs Car: Four More Points

Yet another post! Despite an implied battening-down-of-hatches in 2015. I’m sorry. I still lived stateside in 2015. My perspective has changed. For now, four more bright red subheads: LOS ANGELES AND SAN FRANCISCO TRANSIT VS MADRID TRANSIT: NO COMPARISON My ’14/’15 tourist treks showed me the chasm between transit West Coast and transit West Europe. […]

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Mugged in Guatemala City

Before I saw the mugger’s knife, I noticed his shirt: a roll-your-own-logo tee, the kind you’d order online as a gift with a relative’s favorite hokey catchphrase. Official Olympic Beer Drinking Team. Duct Tape Ph.D. I’m With Stupid. That kind of shirt. An English catchphrase on the shirt, even though he mugged me in Guatemala […]

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Madrid Impressions: Round Five

The latest installment: VENEZUELAN DIASPORA I meet Ecuadorans and Colombians in Madrid — and should, according to immigration-to-Spain stats — but not as often as I meet Venezuelans: two waiters and a manager in one restaurant; the part-owner of another; students, job seekers, new arrivals. Ties between the two countries are old, run deep. Some […]

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Rail Day Trips from Madrid

You’re coming to Spain! You want to stroll among the beautiful people on Calle Arenal, ponder Madrazo at the Prado, chug-a-lug calimochos in Latina, black out in a Malasaña patrol car. But, before or after your well-deserved arrest, you’d like to sample the Spanish rail system, too, and book a day trip. Maybe you’ll find an […]

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Madrid: Second Impressions

Now that I’ve been here a month: FANTASTIC PEDESTRIAN LIFE The clip below shows some of the pedestrian streets branching off from Puerta del Sol. I’ve been too busy boning up on my irregular verbs to study recent Madrid history, but gather that callers-of-shots here are determined to put people and transit before cars in […]

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Gear for Long-Haul Travel

A little over a year ago, I described myself as a ‘carry on at all costs’ flier. No longer! I arrived in Madrid in early July with a one way ticket and no return plans, had to prep and pack for a far more distant horizon than in journeys past. Pre-trip research suggested I buy […]

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Tracy, California: First Impressions

(Or first impressions this century: I once feared Tracy and the whole San Joaquin Valley as a hitchhiker’s no man’s land in my ride-thumbing college years, have yet to forget an eleven hour wait for a ride in North Fresno.) Tracy is a city of about 87,000 in the agricultural flatlands east of San Francisco. […]

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Marrakech: First Impressions

Marrakech is two places: the walled, labyrinthine, thousand-year old Medina, and the relatively modern city that sprawls around it. The airport, train station and plush hotels are in the outer city. The Medina has all the tourist color: mules tugging carts through open air souqs; alleys twisting between pink adobe riads; passersby in hijabs, djellaba, […]

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Budapest: First Impressions

“Bad trip idea, Tim,” I thought, and grimaced as my dilapidated Soviet-style metro creaked into yet another gruesome station on the M3 line. This was my first trip to Budapest, and my ride-in-from-the-airport impressions boded badly. Clunky bus to the subway, unpromising countryside, metro stations like the one above. Resigned to a lousy visit, I […]

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Istanbul: First Impressions

(♦)  Istanbul ranks with Athens and Rome as a ‘must see’ for history buffs. King Byzas, Constantinople, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Ottomans: ancient humans were busy here. I hadn’t understood this, frequently pictured myself with a dunce cap while conducting pre-trip research. ‘Course, I’m the same guy who hadn’t known that cricket is popular; […]

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