Updates from May, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 5:55 am on May 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hardei Karges, Lisbon, Portugal   

    Featured City: Lisbon, City of Fate, City of Fado 

    Sintra_Palacio_da_Pena_01

    Lisbon’s Palace

    LISBON (Lisboa) is the capital and largest city of Portugal and shares its history from the beginning.  As such it was one of the most important cities in the world in the 16th century.  Unfortunately it was also earthquake-prone and had many.  The worst was in 1755, which resulted in a tsunami that killed some ten percent of the population and devastated coastal areas from Britain to Morocco.  The city was rebuilt in a more modern style, much of which remains.  Today the city has much entertainment and many festivals, especially in summer.  And for those of us who like our nostalgia in dimly-lit clubs, listening to some fado in the old Alfama district can be quite worthwhile.  Portuguese bullfighting can be witnessed at the old red-brick Campo Pequeno. The Tower of Belem, located on the riverbank, is a UN World Heritage site.  No place exemplifies the current European hostel explosion better than Lisbon.  Quality is very high.  Many of these places qualify as “best ever” for many travelers. (More …)

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  • hardie karges 6:56 pm on May 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , communism, , Mao Zedong   

    Got this blurb off the Lao-language LA-based Asian Pacific News, seemed interesting: Mao Zedong’s grand-daughter is now a gazillionaire (what’s the current RMB exchange rate?) who finished her studies in the US, got secretly married and now has three children (as citizen of a country that only allows one)… That’s the scoop, all the latest in that reality TV mega-hit, “Keeping Up with the Communists”…. film at eleven…

     
  • hardie karges 7:48 pm on May 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

    Announcing the Publication of “500 Hostels in the USA (& Canada & Mexico): Backpackers & Flashpackers” 

    BookCoverImageUSA

    Backpackers & Flashpackers

    Well, the files are prepared and the digital proofs look good.  I’m just waiting for an actual physical copy to make sure it doesn’t have a marshmallow center or something weird like that, then the book should be up on Amazon within a few days.  I’ve been known to skip the final step to speed up the process, but considering that the first physical proof two weeks ago had forty-four blank pages, it’s not just idle speculation or misplaced caution.  So I rejected it and spent $200 more to save you two bucks off the price of a book.  How’s that for service?  Maybe you’re scratching your head wondering what this hostel bizniz is all about, anyway.  Here’s the back cover:

    Have you been to Europe before, staying in hostels all over, and wondered why there were so few in the US, and so hard to find?  Well, you’ve come to the right place, and I’m happy to report that American hostels are alive and well, and on the verge of breaking big any day now.  Already the two coasts have quite a few and the interior is gradually filling up in places like Chicago and New Orleans.  The surprising thing is that the quality is actually quite good, up to modern ‘flashpacker’ standards, so it’s just a matter of time before any place worth its name will have a good hostel or two, or ten or a hundred.  (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 2:50 am on May 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Georgia, , Tbilisi   

    Featured City – Tbilisi: Georgia on my Mind 

    Tbilisi- Wikipedia photo

    Tbilisi: Capital of Caucasian Georgia

    TBILISI is Georgia’s capital and largest city, and home to over a hundred ethnicities.  In the same neighborhood, you can see churches, synagogues, and mosques.  If that sounds like a typical immigrant magnet, well, it’s always been that way here.  Tbilisi was named for the numerous hot springs here, so maybe that’s why so many different people came and left some baggage behind—Persia, Byzantines, Arabs, and Turks.  The 12th century was Georgia’s “golden age,” until the Mongols came in 1236 and stayed for a century.  Then the plague hit in 1366, as it did almost everywhere else in Europe (though apparently least in the Slavic countries with banya).  After that it was the bone of contention between Persians, Turks, and Russians until the modern era.  Pick your master; Tbilisi was a predominately Armenian city at the time by the way. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:36 pm on May 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , writing   

    How can I respect a travel writer who brags about his daredevil exploits, brags about his publishing creds, and then says–with no trace of self-consciousness–something stupid like “run the gambit.” Where’s the editor when you need her? Now if you want to say something like that, then fine, but please show a little self-consciousness! That’s what I’d do. You can either be cute and snicker about your little funny or if you’re not cute–like me–then you can just be blunt and just write something like (pun). Otherwise somebody might think it’s a typo or poor grammar or–God forbid–bad spelling! Now them’s fightin’ words! 🙂

     
  • hardie karges 10:59 pm on May 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Thessaloniki   

    Featured City – Thessaloniki, Greece: It’s a Party 

    salonica

    Thessaloniki waterfront

    THESSALONIKI is Greece’s second city, as it was long ago in the Byzantine Era as “co-capital” with Constantinople.  If Athens was the cultural capital of ancient Greece, then Thessaloniki is the cultural capital of the modern one.  Equal parts Greek, Balkan, Anatolian and Mediterranean, it has always stood along the border of cultures mixing and mingling as circumstances demanded, be it ancient Macedonians, Illyrians, Thracians, and Slavs, or modern Turks, Jews, Muslims, Slavs, and…oh yeah, Greeks.  There are transport links in all directions.  Thessaloniki was also an important early Christian center.  Paul wrote First Thessalonians here.  In the 9th century Greek missionaries Cyril and brother what’s-his-name methodically standardized the Old Church Slavonic language, the first literary language for Slavs.  There are many Byzantine churches still standing, including the Ayia Sofia, the church of Ayia Dimitrios, the Panaghia Chalkeon, and the church of Osios David. Today it has a rep as a party town.  Have fun.

    RentRooms is one of our partner hostels in Thessaloniki, featuring free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, restaurant, bar, and bikes for rent.  Sounds like home to me.  What else do you need?  Beds start at only $22.  C U there…

     
  • hardie karges 11:33 pm on May 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cyrillic, , ,   

    If you walk down the streets of Moscow window-shopping, you might get the mistaken idea that vagabond wear is all the rage. After all, window after window has signs in it that read ;HOBO’, ‘HOBO’, ‘HOBO’. But no, ‘HOBO’ in Cyrillic alphabet is pronounced ‘novo’, meaning–you guessed it–‘new’. Seems they got as many words from Greek as we did, though Latin usually gets the credit. They usually get it straight from the Greek, though ‘novo/hobo’ may be the exception.

    Once I cracked the code for Greek Alphabet, words just starting popping out at me as I walked up and down the streets of Athens. every dual language street-sign a little Rosetta Stone, one way in which you can truly ‘pick up’ a foreign language, despite grandiose claims by some language learners about their abilities to absorb language like a new sponge. Such claims typically fall into one of the 3-B categories: bluff, bluster, or pure BS. I’ve busted a few.

    Written language is purer, mathematical equations without all the torch and twang, personalities and politics. It works with Russian, too, though it seems the alphabet that Cyril and his brother what’s-his-name so methodically codified gets progressively more complex and difficult in direct proportion to the distance from the Greek source. I hope to master Old Church Slavonic one day, about the same time as Cakchikel.

     
  • hardie karges 2:38 pm on May 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Thai girls like to chop their hair off after a nasty breakup…while adopting menacing poses and eating particularly spicy food. I guess that’s one way of washing that man right out of your hair. Maybe they saw ‘South Pacific’ one too many times, or ‘Splendor in the Grass,’ but I doubt it. It may be instinctual, but probably more like an act of Buddhist renunciation…cleansing…renewal… cop-out. Speaking of which… When a prominent Thai politician’s son shot a policeman in the head in a crowded bar, after 6 months on the run he entered the temple, instead of jail…not guilty…Buddhist justice. Me, I like to shave my head when the weather turns hot, once a year, spring cleaning, no big deal if you’re ‘balding’ anyway… 🙂 Aaahhh, that feels good…

     
  • hardie karges 4:15 am on May 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Czech Republic, , , Hostel Lipa, , Prague   

    Featured City: Prague, City of Bridges, Past into the Future 

    bridges of prague

    bridges of prague

    PRAGUE sits on a prime piece of Vitava River real estate that was occupied by Celtic tribes, then Germanic, before Slavic ones came in during the great migrations that followed the post-Roman era in Europe.  Merchants would settle here just to trade, and by the ninth century were in place the beginnings of Prague Castle, then bridges, then cathedrals.  Germans had their neighborhoods, as did Jews, but this was not without tensions, especially when the Industrial Revolution increased wealth and defined social classes.  When Hitler entered Czechoslovakia in 1939 (and the West did nothing), Prague’s fate was sealed, for a while at least.  At war’s end, Prague was the capital of a Soviet-occupied tank-filled Czechoslovakia that not even “Prague Spring” could change.  Today it is the main tourist destination in the Czech Republic, it being one of the first cities behind the former “Iron Curtain” that Western tourists, mostly young, flocked to and started ad hoc colonies for the purposes of low-budget partying. (More …)

     
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