"Just Looking for What's Around the Next Corner..." sargentjeff's Profile
I hardly ever get on VT anymore, but am still quite the traveler. I recently moved to the United Arab Emirates and live in the thriving city of Dubai. It's an amazing place full of really interesting things to see, do, taste, and explore. Here's a smidgen... World's tallest building, seven star hotels, a manmade palm tree island, an indoor ski slope (it was awesome), a gigantic fish aquarium in a mall, and countless other things. I live next door to a building that actually twists 90 degrees as it rises about 70 floors.
Well, I didn't go to Stavanger in November '07 as I had foot surgery, but after a few weeks in the house I had to get away somewhere so I took advantage of a cruise I had stored up for and reserved it on a Thursday for a Sunday departure out of Puerto Rico. Seven nights in the Caribbean can cure quite a few ills for sure.
Stavanger? All I can say about that place are two things - 1) The scenery and fjords are totally gorgeous, and 2) pack a suitcase with food because you will be totally blown away at the cost of things, especially if accustomed to US dollars. London is by no means cheap, but is an economy trip compared to Norway.
Anyway, drop me a line if you'd like. firstname.lastname@example.org
(See my Album below, as well as my new pages for updates.) Seldom if ever updated anymore.
Also, I do have some experience with quite a few things in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Germany, Belgium, and Italy, so drop me a note if you have a question about something and I'll do my best to help.
The Hague is a beautiful city. I lucked out and was booked in a hotel one block from the beach, but unfortunately for me January isn't the best time for beach going in The Netherlands. It was pouring rain the day I arrived and had no idea which trolley to catch from the main train station to get to the western portion of the city where I was to stay. Finally found an english speaking police officer who helped me out and I was on my way. The 20 minute trolley ride gave me a great overview of the city and I have to admit I was impressed with the layout. Lots of nice architecture and several statues are scattered throughout the city. I jumped off the trolley right next to a massive casino that sits adjacent to the sea and walked the two blocks to my hotel. After thawing out a bit I was eager to get out a bit and see at least the area in vicinity the hotel.
I put on my warmest clothes and strolled down to the beach as the sun was going down after grabbing a 6 pack of Heineken. I had the beach all to myself, save a few walking their dogs and 5 insane surfers. That's right, it was 0/32 c/f degrees out and I could barely make out their silouettes. It was pretty windy on the beach and I can only imagine how friggin cold it was out in the water. Anyway, sitting there watching the waves crash in drinking a few beers isn't a bad way to close out a day.
It was a work trip, but I did squeeze in a bit of sightseeing. After a brief visit to the tourism office I found that the M.C. Escher Museum in the city. I have always admired his work so it was settled, the museum would be it. After a short trolley trip I wandered the streets admiring the buildings and enjoyed being out amongst everyone going about their afternoon. I stopped to take a few pics of a beautiful treelined canal and no more than 4 minutes later two police officers stopped me and asked what I was taking pictures of. Surprised, I told them the truth, a canal and some nice trees. Officer: Did you not see the US Embassy right next to where you were taking photos? Me: Um, no, obviously not since there are no signs, flags or anything distinguishing it from the rear where I was taking photos. Anyway, they asked for my passport, which I had left in my room, so I whipped out my military ID and explained I was there on business. They finally let me go and I walked the short distance to the museum. After about 30 min. in the museum a man in a black suit walks up and asks me if I was the one taking pics. Again, the truth I tell him. He says, "I work for the chief of security at the embassy we'd like to have a few words with you if you agree" Me: Okay sure, but I'm going to finish the museum first." You can imagine I was distracted for the rest of the time, but I did enjoy the museum very much.
I head back to the rear of the embassy and a stern looking man with an automatic weapon sneers at me as I tell him why I am there. "just a minute" he says. Okie-Dokey... Finally I get inside and am asked for my ID's. They make copies and the chief of security comes out. I explain the entire thing to him and the fact they should consider putting some identification of the building out back. He says "You were a pretty good drill for our security staff today" Me: "glad to be of assistance. I am from the State Department and you guys passed my inspection" We all got a laugh and I almost asked them if we could take a group photo, but opted to just get out of there as quickly as I could. The stern looking guard was now smiling and cordial, which seemed kind of weird, but that's the way he was programmed to be for this job I guess. So, that's my trip in a nutshell...
The best places are where you can be yourself. I spent 15 months in Iraq, heard all too often about culture, repsecting this custom, and that custom. Showing the soles of your feet is bad, asking about another man's wife is taboo, blah, blah, blah. People are just waaay to up-tight. Wouldn't it be great if, as a tourist, the locals wanted to know more about the visitor's countries. I mean c'mon, we pay good money to visit these places, and then they expect conformity. Another example that just popped into mind - I certainly don't condone streaking through the Vatican or anything, but not being able to wear shorts inside is just silly!
Hey, why is it that all the travel books are full of historical things to see? And mostly friggin churches and museums with paintings. How many people actually even go to church anymore? Better yet, how many people have been, are, or will be artists? I took an art class in college, but that's about it. It was interesting, but I don't really enjoy looking at a clay pot made in 1 a.d. Who cares, "Wow, they made a bowl, Whoopie!" We have come much further in our lifetimes than any civilization ever. We are making history with all sorts of cool new stuff now. I want to enjoy now, what people in three centuries will be reading about in their travel books and taking disposable camera pictures of in museums. I can see it now in the museum of computer history. I'm sure there is one, there's a friggin museum for everything. Man to wife: "Hey honey, come look at this this computer, It has Windows 98 installed" Wife's response: "Wait a minute I'm checking out this antique Zip drive."
I guess we all travel for different reasons, and that's cool. I like to see old stuff too, but don't get all worked up about missing the museum of dinosaur bones. I enjoy taking pictures of the environment most, sunsets, lightning storms, the moon, ocean waves, and shots of life as it is. People make photos interesting. A building seems pretty sterile sitting there by itself. I like to look at photos later and wonder about the people in the shots. What is their name? where are they from, what do they do? what are their problems? Just interesting thoughts. Totally irrelavant, but then why else do we "People watch"
The Army gave me the opportunity to travel quite a bit, as does my current work. I've been stationed in Hawaii, Italy, Germany, and all over the U.S. A California boy, and will always love that place. There is no other state like the Golden State!
To travel is to live. we have no human need to travel to new places. animals travel for need only. they travel to migrate to a new food source or to get away from the cold winter. we are the only species that travels for pleasure. we humans do lots of things only if for pleasure's sake. kinda cool that we aren't happy sitting around all the time. Well, sometimes we are happy sitting around. Traveling has a tendency to tire us out. Ever been walking around a city all day and just want to "sit your a** down" Oh yeah baby, watchin' the world go by holding a tall cold one in the shade.
Summer is the best. Women are like lizards, as soon as it starts to get warm they all come out to lay on the rocks. Hey, where was everyone all winter. Summer is time for BBQ, cold watermelon, swimming, school break, friends, light until 1000 p.m., and another "Summer Blockbuster" promising to be better than all the rest.
Unfortunately its also time for sweltering heat in traffic jams, sticky gum on the sidewalks, higher prices in every tourist location, sweat, sunburns, and school break
Travel often leaves us weary for the worse. All the planning and anticipating some well deserved relaxation. But that time long for to clear our heads can often have the opposite effect.
The times I most enjoy during vacation are when I'm alone, left to explore something. In the adjoining photo I was snorkling alone off of St. John and had some fun expermenting with the underwater camera. Times like these are what remain after all is said and done.
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