"pedroswift on travel" pedroswift's Profile

Throw away your world maps - here is " the correct version"
The same "science" that produced the one with which you are more familiar has been applied to produce this one!! ie arbitrary choice of orientation (which way IS up?) and arbitrary location of the Prime Meridian!
Set your clock to Uluru Time Corrected!
Of course, the International Date Line passes through the Atlantic Ocean - a line drawn arbitrarily to avoid important Islands ( such as Iceland) just like the one with which you are familiar.

July 2011: New look vt = new look "Home Page". Now called "Profile".
Will I publish a side-on photo of self!!???....probably not!!!

No quotes from rich and famous travellers.: just one from my daughter after we took her to Paris for a week and London for a week to mark her 21st birthday.... "All you guys do is eat, drink and look at things!"
Travel is that simple! Or is it?
Not quite! For my wife and me, it's selective "looking, eating and drinking". The hours of research before leaving home are rewarded with silver and golden experiences on the road. Would the hair on the back of my neck have stood on end as I climbed the steps of the Porta Nigra in Trier if I had not spent some time reading about the Roman History of Trier? A little bit of knowledge turns a pile of rocks into a semi-religious experience!
Would I have shed a tear in the Alamo had I not read James A Michener's "Texas" before the trip?
So do the homework and reap the extra enjoyment. What a marvellous resource VT Travel Guides are for we avid holiday researchers!.. (Obviously under-utilized if some of the ill-considered questions on the Forum are any guide).
eg. For Paris, France and other places one can't go past BeatChick with her links to many other enlightened travellers.
For Rome lacristina & mccalpin for Rome & Italy pages. see air/rail transport on Bill's(mccalpin) Italy Page see the comparisons between Rail Pass fares and point to point fares (updated aug 2011). see all of Bill's Rome tips.

Avatar : Personal Photo or PPP (top right):Pedro .. so good (in use now)
Alternative photos - "R.I.C. - Rest in Champagne" - 2nd photo is down page....Love a glass of the good stuff on any day of the week ending in "y"!
Alternative photo 2 - "Pedro 1985" last photo down page

VT Name??? "Pedro" - Pedro Ximénez (HEEM-en-ay) also known as "PX". White Spanish grape producing an intensely sweet, dark, dessert sherry. So I lied about the "Port" in the caption on the photo I use of the barrel. Who cares? The "sherry" tastes luscious & the picture reflects my listed Travel Interest "wine tasting".
The "swift" bit. Is use of 'irony' as a literary device.

My VT Tip posting policy
I hope I can refrain from duplicating the multiple tips to be seen on the VT site & be factually correct. Pse e mail me if you find something you Know is incorrect. You don't believe everything you read on the internet....do you??
I'll try to concentrate on restaurant reviews which have not been done before. Sticking to the positive unless the place is a trap for the unwary.
Other stuff?? Maybe some unusual esoteric stuff that no one else will be remotely interested in as long as it has not already been done to death on VT!
E.g., notes on places to stop when navigating the French Rivers and Canals... in Travelogues at places where we have moored listed in travelogue on Bourgogne Page.
I'm always a little wary of Tips more than a couple of years old! I can not promise to regularly update overseas restaurant tips, but I can maintain currency of the ones in Brisbane. I have recently removed restaurant reviews which I did 4 years ago. Will revisit and update.

I'm not a twitcher so don't expect to see lists of places I've visited neatly ticked. I don't think I'll be highlighting counties we have visited unless I can supply fresh tips. The only list I'm likely to publish on my pages is one of all the "Cheval Blanc" pubs/bistros in which I've had a drink. OK! I will admit I've published a map with all the states we've visited in the Good Ole USofA (Managed to do that despite not being the techno-nerd of the year). I also have a "reading list" in a travelogue on my France Intro Page.... includes some titles well worth reading before your trip(s) to France.

Forum Postings: Hope to encourage "mouse plus nous"...why answer a question with a trite answer if giving a source of info that can be bookmarked for future reference will help the o.p. become self reliant (o.p. = original poster of the question).
Of course, when posting a carefully crafted answer embodying this philosophy, I know some "goody-two-shoes" will post : " The train leaves from platform 29a at 2345 daylight saving time during leap years and costs 34 US dollars & today's exchange rate is .44444 recurring.".....thereby spoon feeding the original poster ! grrrrr grrrr!
Thanks to Julie, travelmad478 - For this link: www.lmgtfy.com - the perfect answer to all those inane Forum Questions that you just hate!

A tip for YOU re tip posting Never ever post long tips by direct entry into VT Always write first in Word etc , save regularly. Then copy and paste into VT. As sure as eggs if you do it direct there'll be a glitch and the lot will be lost!!!

I promise to review all my pages every once in a while to correct missing/incorrect info or non functioning links.
In keeping with that pledge, from mid 2008, I've started to include Google Earth derived latitude and longitude for locations in tips and main pages where appropriate. All care no responsibility re accuracy. Don't feed coordinates into your auto pilot and fly hands-off!!?? (Using Google Earth for this purpose has revealed how disorientated a lot of people are. Many of the posted photographs are miles from where they were taken.)

Favourite Destination? - France of course!

We keep going back. Not just to Paris : but to the lesser tramped areas.
Why France? Probably because we learnt French at school and when we took that initial trip to Europe naturally enough Paris was the first stop. We have never recovered from the thrill of that first encounter. Each visit evokes the emotions felt over a quarter of a century ago. You may wish to check out generic tips on France especially if you are planning a road trip.

Being nautically orientated, we have taken to the inland waterways as a way of seeing some of those lesser known areas. We have been fortunate to have spent more than 12 months of our lives exploring our favourite destination at walking pace via the canals and rivers.
I can recommend canal cruising. See some stuff on canal life on my Bourgogne Page

Best France Page I'm happy with my Loches contribution....also
"Villers-Bretonneux - Planning Anzac Dawn Service Visit" aimed at first-time Aust/NZ visitors to France.
Champagne Ardenne Intro - I do like sparkling wine!!

Best Advice to tyro travellers -

Get a map! Before you go: not when you arrive! Down load and print or better still buy a Michelin or Auto Club map.
When consulting your new map, check out the "scale". This will help you understand the distances between cities. If you know the distance you may then guess the driving time. So often new vt posters ask questions like, "During my 3 day stay in Paris, can I drive to a nice sea-side beach for lunch and get back to my hotel in time for dinner?" A map could have saved the query. (but maybe not!! sob!sob!)
Yes! I'm big on "Orientation". For example - my Paris Intro Page is all about navigating Paris without GPS.
Don't neglect the web based navigational sites such as Mappy dot com which can provide you with a driving itinerary complete with road signs, distances, directions, times, road tolls (the lot). Also viamichelin.com.

Keep a Journal. Don't be one of those switched -off travellers who can not even recall what cities they visited on the big trip!!!
Madam uses "Travel Diary" by the Book Company aimed at Australian & N.Z. users with contact details for Consular Services around the world and a host of info on converting Metric/Imperial; time zones; airport codes etc ..
She records the financial expenditure, daily temperatures & general weather as well as where and what. Tips on what to take next time are there to be consulted prior to the next trip!!

Dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s. Take out Travel Insurance. Read your home country's government advice on travel. 10 tips from Australian Foreign Affairs Dep to add to my 10 tips in Travelogue below.

Do homework on "Roaming Charges".."Smart" phones ARE NOT!

Don't lose your inquisitiveness! Take the time to ask the questions that arise from your observations during your travels. Ask the locals "What?"; "Why?"; "Who?" eg one question I just had to ask when I first saw the" Night Crawlers For Sale" signs beside roads in the USA :"What the heck is a Night Crawler?"

Stop to Smell the Roses. Don't go rushing around like a blue-arsed fly trying to fit as many famous sites into your day as you can. Take a day off to smell the roses; visit a quiet backwater; watch the local football team play on Sunday afternoon.

Do it while you Can!

"Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive."

Don't put it off "until you retire". That could be too late!
Says he who, since retiring, has had two visits to orthopedic hospital wards. One after spinal injury & one after ankle broken in three places. Luckily no long term reduction in mobility suffered. However the experiences have reinforced that adage "Do it while you can!!"

Fellow travellers , especially females, wishing to delay the onset of "when you can't" might like to ensure that they obtain the recommended intake of calcium. Supplements may be necessary if normal diet does not provide enough. Will a "cheese crawl" through France every second year be enough to prevent osteoporosis in my old bones?

Another health matter overlooked by tourists:
Did you know there are over 60 diseases, some fatal, transferable from birds to humans? Avian flu or West Nile virus, histoplasmosis and Cryptococcus are some. I'm always appalled to see people playing with, touching or being sat upon by birds in city squares around the world. Be wary. A friend nearly died from Cryptococcus possibly contracted riding trains in China in which chickens had been transported on a regular basis.

Although unusual, Even some Australian nesting birds can cause injuries and death!

Deep vein thrombosis Google it! Prevention is aided by moving your feet up and down, rotating your ankles and generally keep your legs moving while sitting in an airplane seat for many hours. Walk up and down the aisle at least every two hours; and avoid dehydration by drinking lots of water while flying. avoid alcohol.

Travel Insurance The importance of having adequate travel insurance can not be stressed enough!The importance of having adequate travel insurance can not be stressed enough! Some of the horror stories one reads about injured travellers missing vital medical assistance because they lack up front cash or proof of insurance before treatment is provided reinforces my belief in taking out travel insurance. N.B. You would be wise to make specific arrangements with your insurance provider if you have a "pre-existing condition".

Using Credit Card on-line to book stuff Make sure you have the original credit card used to pay for the ticket or accommodation when you collect same or check in at airport. Some companies will require a new(time consuming) transaction to be made if you don't have that original card. Part of their security precautions against unauthorised use of credit cards!!

What to wear in cold climes!

If you come from Brisbane, most other places are cold!? Many experts advise one to take clothes so one can "layer against cold". eg Thermal u/wear, three layers of this or that. I disagree ...(to a certain extent).
For city tourism, London & Paris in Winter for example, we prefer to take one heavy jacket/coat to suit the outdoor temperature conditions Plus light-weight rain & wind-proofing (folding umbrella & gortex jacket). IMO there is Nothing Worse than going to a department store, museum or taking public transport, all of which is invariably overheated, and not being able to remove clothing. (can one remove thermal underwear for example??) Taking one heavy coat off is easier than peeling through the "layers".
Very important is choice of foot wear. Forget joggers. Get water proof boots. Wear two pair of sox &/or insulating sole liners. My lasting memory of a winter visit to Paris is the cold pavements and my freezing toes!! Paris average temperatures in Jan - min 1ºC: max 6ºC.... but minus 15º has been recorded.....the pavement stays frozen for most of the day so Don't skimp on the footwear ... and the Rain Jacket!!

Once bitten I can see no good reason to ever again visit Paris/London during winter.
It's just too blimin cold for us Tropic dwellers....
written Jan 2010 with Paris maximum temp : minus 3ºC (27ºF) & minimum temp minus 12ºC (10ºF).....seriously cold.

Footwear... After seeing several tourists with sprained ankles & even worse injuries in Istanbul recently, I have to warn you that cobblestones can ruin your holiday in an instant. Cobblestones are everywhere in Europe! Commonsense over fashion!! Shoes without heels please ladies! Don't take walking on cobbles for granted...take care!!! Regardez!!!

Preparation for the Trip
should include consultation of astronomical tables. No ...not astrology : astronomy!. Check out time of sun rise and sun set. Angle of sun above the horizon and direction at mid day may influence the direction you choose to take during road trips. See example on my Australia Intro Page.
Aussie visitors to Europe/NA during our summer ie their winter may wish to factor into their travel plan the reduced hours of day light(typically from 0830 to 1730) as well as the cold temps.
Your "significant other" may think more highly of you if you arrange that waterfront dine out night to coincide with moon rise. "How romantic, darling?"
I check tide times, as well, even if I'm not boating or fishing. The difference between high tide and low tide is vast in lots of places around the world. Could affect your photos of a place. Or the above mentioned waterfront dinner, "The mudflats are smelly tonight my dear - but the moon looks nice!" Or have access implications. Visiting St Michael's Mount? Driving on beaches on Fraser Island?.....check the tide table first!

Check the Calendar for Public Holidays Be aware of dates of public holidays ..... services may be curtailed or nonexistent. Some tourist site may not even open.

Driving a Car in Big Cities?? Check for exclusion zones in all the cities you hope to visit before you leave home. Ignorance is no defence after you get the €140 fine in the mail 2 months after you get home!!!! For example: London, Rome, Florence all have 'no go areas'. No doubt there are other cities - check first. Better still, plan to visit major cities without a car!!!

Give your trip a "theme".

Do you have a passion? Music? Literature?History? Sport? Hobby?Wine perhaps? Give your holiday a focus by concentrating on one (or more) of those passions or interests?
Example: Golfers would have to see the Ryder Cup and play at the Holiest of the Holy - The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Literature buffs have to do the Da Vinci Code circuit! Opera Buffs: La Scala?? Are you passionate about bicycling?see Nemorino's Opera pages & tips on bike riding in Paris and elsewhere.

We start our travel plan with the esoteric "interest (s)" driving the route to be taken and major stopping points.... from there we research a wider range of other activities to pursue. Literary references, factual and fictional, may be incorporated in the plan. Certainly, geographical land forms are researched. "Got to see Devil's Tower!!" National Parks!. We research the regional food specialities (French cheese ,for example): the wines: wine festivals: special events on the entertainment/sporting calendar etc. End result is a comprehensive plan with "not to be missed" places/events highlighted on a calendar.

Not spontaneous enough for you? Plans are meant to be broken! I hate to pre-book accom. I'd rather have the flexibility to take a side track on a whim or a suggestion from a local or a fellow traveller!

Churches are likely to feature in any European holiday visit. Check out Adrian Fletcher's wonderful web pages at www dot paradoxplace dot com for a wealth of info.

Road Trips

Often asked in Forums - Where can I go? and what do I see? and in how much time??
I have a couple of road trips of Australia + Sth Island & North Island NewZealand + France + USA
with distances travelled ; overnight stops ; Eating places ; and highlighted touristic places on my travel pages. Including:-
State of Tasmania
State of Victoria An Itinerary of Northern Victorian Winery Tour via Yarra Valley.
Itinerary of Ocean Road and More - Ballarat, Ocean Road, South Australia Limestone Coast, Coonawarra, Grampians and dresscircle Victorian Wine Regions.
New Zealand Itinerary of two weeks road trip of NZ South Island excluding Marlborough area - Christchurch to Christchurch
plus N.Z. North Island 12 day Northland Eastland road trip.
State of New South Wales NSW South Coast - Canberra - NSW to QLD with Central NSW and Eastern Victoria thrown in.
Loire Valley France 6 day road trip.
also Spain-Portugal 2 week Road Trip
USA 14 day circumnavigation of Lake Michigan
16 day Chicago-Black Hills/Mt.Rushmore-Chicago;
21 day Western States National Parks & more;
14 day Canadian Rockies & North West USA

Packing. Ideas on washing clothes on the run to keep luggage under 15 kilograms & other packing & security matters - packing tips

Happy Trails...................not trials!?

  • Intro Updated Jan 1, 2014
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