"The Life and Times of Michael" MichaelFalk1969's Profile

Music for Travellers

To me, some songs will always represent travelling. The best example is Enya`s "Orinoco Flow": The lyrics are made of exotic place names like Cebu, Bali, Peru, Tripoli and just evoke a longing to travel, to discover those places. Brian Eno`s "Spinning away" comes to my mind whenever I see something awesomely, stunningly beautiful ... the list goes on and on

My personal all-time favourites:
1. Enya: "Orinoco Flow", "Anywhere is", "Book of days", "The Longships"
2. Loreena Mc Kennitt: "Penelope`s Song", "Neverending Road", "Skellig" ..
3. Brian Eno "Spinning away"
4. Alice "Nomadi"
5. All Saints "Pure Shores"
6. Al Stewart "On the border"
7. Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac "7 wonders", "Gypsy"
8. Otis Redding "Sitting at the dock of the bay"
9. Chris Rea "Auberge", "Gone fishing", "On the beach"
10. Proclaimers "5.000 miles"
11. Beachboys: "Cocomo", "I get around"
12. ABBA "Eagle"
13. Siouxsie and the Banshees: "Passenger"
14. Natasha Beddingfield: "Pocketful of Sunshine", "Unwritten"
15. Lenny Kravitz: "Fly away"
16. Amy McDonald: "This is the life", "Run"
17. Blondie: "The tide is high"
18. best classical "travel music": Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez

Books for Travellers

When I am not travelling, I love to read books on travelling. My personal favourites:

1. Peter Moore "No shi**ing in the toilet"
Peter Moore is an Ozzie backpacker who has written some truly funny books on his extensive travel experiences. The best one is this. He has done rankings on his best and worst travel experiences, like Top/Bottom Ten plane/ship/bus Travels, accomodation, food, sights, and combines them with truly hilarious anecdotes. His other travel books ("The full Montezuma", "The wrong way home", "Swahili for the broken-hearted" etc. are enjoyable but not great reads either).

2. "Molvania"
A fictional travel guide written in "Lonely Planet"-style on a nonexisting East European country. It is incredibly detailed and uses all common stereotypes and prejudices of Eastern Europe, yet in an incredibly funny way. The book cover says it all: A toothless peasant with a fur hat, offering garlic brandy. P.S.: There is a follow-up book on a fictional South-East-Asian country that resembles Thailand ("Phaic Than") and a fictional South American country called "San Sombrero".

3. Aidan Hartley "The Zanzibar Chest"
This is not exactly a travel book, but the memoirs of a war correspondent in the 1990`s Africa who was born in Kenya and covered Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan to name but a few destinations. The book also features his expat-familiy history over a span of four generations. Sometimes brutal, sometimes weird, sometimes funny, yet you can`t keep from reading.

4. Jules Verne "Around the world in 80 days"
The book that got me hooked on travelling as a kid. I always envied Phileas Fogg for having both the money and time he could spend on travelling. On the other hand, I like to take my time, so 80 days is not exactly much to explore the world!

5. Patricia Schultz "1000 Places to see before you die"
Though the hotel recommendations are mostly too "posh" for my budget, and the travelling tips are rather superficial, the exotic places listed in this book are a constant reminder that I still have lots of travelling to do!

6. Robert Young Pelton "The worlds most dangerous places"
Hair-raising firsthand accounts of travels in countries most uf us would rather skip on our travel itinerary due to political unrest, civil war, famine etc. Contains great one-liners ("Givemeyawallet-Land"). I also recommend - from the same author - "Three Worlds gone mad".

7. Karl May
This classic and popular German author from the late 19th century is famous for his fictional travel adventure stories featuring mainly the Middle East ("Durch die Wüste") or North America ("Winnetou") and other places like South America, China, Africa, and the Pacific. His style is now a bit old-fashioned and overly patriotic, but his books have mesmerized young and adult readers for generations and aroused interest for travel and foreign cultures. The best thing about his books are his vivid and detailed landscape descriptions - all the more astonishing as he could never travel much in his lifetime. Only long after his commercial success could he visit the USA and the Middle East.

8. Paul Theroux "Dark Star Safari"
This book is the story of a Cairo/Capetown - trip of the famous travel author. Sometimes a bit to cynical for my taste, when he is in his annoyed mood, but a master of the English language and he has some great stories to tell. All in all a fascinating travel account of Africa as most people will never now it. Another book of him, "The Great Railway Bazaar", is highly praised but didn`t really impress me.

9. Tom Parker Bowles "The year of eating dangerously"
An Englishman travels around the world in search of extreme and unusual culinary delights (ant eggs, moths, dog, fugu fish, insects, wood (!) etc.), leading him to exotic destinations like New Mexico, Korea, Japan, China, Galicia and Sicily. Hilariously funny and informative by an author who loves food in all shapes and sizes.

10. William Dalrymple "Age of Kali"

My best travel experiences

I love to make lists ... my favourite films, songs, books, places ... so naturally I created lots of travel-related lists over the years. I will probably never finish them as long as I travel!

Most relaxing vacation: Sardegna 2005
Most exhausting vacation: Venice + Tuscany 1997 (8 cities in 11 days)
Most expensive vacation: South Africa (total costs) - though on a daily basis, Norway + London are top
Cheapest vacation: Europe 1991 - France, Spain, Portugal on roughly 1000 € for 1 month
Longest vacation: India 12/08 - 2/09

Friendliest people: Ecuador, New Zealand, Canada

Best accomodation:
1. "Elephant House" in Addo / South Africa
2. "Poopally`s Homestay" near Allepey/Kerala (India)
3. "Eagle`s Landing" - Vancouver Island (Canada)
4. "Braeside B & B" - South Africa, near Stellenbosch
5. "Klein Bosheuvel" - Cape Town, South Africa
6. "Gitanjali Homestay", Mysore (India)
7. "Tirimoana House" - Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
8. "Lavender Manor" - Hermanus, South Africa
9. "Bushwillow Lodge" - near Hluluhwe Park, South Africa
10. "Vanilla County" - Cardamon Hills, Kerala (India)
11. "Riad Dar el Hana" - Fes, Morocco
12. "Muslibegovic House" - Mostar, Bosnia

Worst accomodation: a nameless backpacker-hostel in Edinburgh with a punk concierge and no showers

Best Airline:
1. Air New Zealand
2. Thai Airways
3. Fly Emirates
4. Air Malaysia
5. South African Airways

Honorary member: RyanAir. I know some hate them, they have no comfort and the jingly announcements are annoying, but I only once had a RyanAir flight that was not on time. And that counts for something.

Worst Airline
1. ALITALIA - no doubt about it !
Unreliable & grumpy staff pretending they don`t know a word of English; unintelligible announcements, only in Italian.
2. Continental Airlines/American Airlines/Delta/United
On inter-USA flights: Unmotivated staff and you have to pay extra for board entertainment. My opinion: If you have already paid a few hundred bucks for your ticket that wasn`t even cheap, you`re entitled to free board entertainment and a reasonably friendly staff. The situation is very different though for transatlantic flights: Had a great trip with United with extremely good service, food and entertainment.
3. Iberia
No complimentary food on a transatlantic flight ? Not even a tiny bag of peanuts ? Shame on you.
4.. Lufthansa
In general reliable, but they do not always live up to their reputation. I found that Lufthansa flights are very much hit or miss: sometimes with excellent service, entertainment and food, sometimes grumpy flight attendants with zero passenger interaction. Dealing with arrogant ground staff can be painful.

My favourite cities (worldwide - excluding Germany):
1. Prague
2. Vienna
3. Budapest
4. Paris
5. London
6. Madrid
7. Barcelona
8. Dublin
9. Damaskus
10. Sydney
11. Cape Town
12. Edinburgh
13. Siena
14. Venice
15. Mysore (India)
16. Quebec
17. Dubrovnik
18. Rome
19. St. Petersburg
20. Aleppo
21. Mostar
22. Bruge
23. Stockholm
24. Auckland
25. Brussels

My favourite (big) cities in Germany:
1. Berlin
2. Munich
3. Hamburg
4. Dresden
5. Leipzig
6. Frankfurt am Main

My favourite (small - medium) cities in Germany:
1. Bamberg
2. Weimar
3. Münster
4. Freiburg
5. Wernigerode
6. Ulm
7. Goslar
8. Bayreuth
9. Ansbach
10. Tübingen

Most overrated German city: Cologne

Ugliest cities in Germany (completely subjective):
1. Siegen
2. Ludwigshafen
3. Solingen
4. Pforzheim
5. Wuppertal

Magical Places:
1. Urnesfjord / Lustrafjord - the Molden viewpoint - Norway
2. De Hoop National Park - the Dune Trail - South Africa
3. Castle Queribus/French Pyrenees
4. Backwaters Kerala
5.Felix Bar in the Peninsular Hotel overlooking the Skyline of Hongkong
6. Hampi (Karnataka/India)
7. the view from the ruins of Les Baux over the Provence
8. Glencoe Valley
9. Hawaii - all of it
10. Matera / Basilicata

My favourite square:
1. Piazza del Popolo - Rome
2. Gendarmenmarkt Berlin
3. Piazza del Plebiscito - Martina Franca
4. Königsplatz - Munich
5. Old Town Square - Warsaw
6. Plaza Colon - Santo Domingo
7. Plaza Mayor - Madrid

My favourite street:
1. Andrassy Utca - Budapest
2. Unter den Linden - Berlin
3. Nerudova - Prague
4. Las Ramblas - Barcelona
5. Calle Mayor - Madrid

My favourite park:
1. Retiro Park - Madrid
2. Vigelandspark - Oslo
3. Palmengarten - Frankfurt
4. Holland Park - London
5. Lazienki Park - Warsaw

My favourite harbour:
1. Collioure - Southwest France
2. Otranto - Puglia
3. Cape Town - South Africa
4. Oslo - Norway
5. Pearl Harbour - Oahu, Hawaii
6. Hamburg Harbour

My favourite beaches:
1. Lanikai & Kailua Beach - Oahu, Hawaii
2. Playa Bonita - Dominican Republic
3. Playa Coson - Domincan Republic
4. Playa Rincon - Dominican Republic
5. Shoab, Arher & Qualanisya Beach - Socotra
6. Beaches of Costa Rei (near Muravera/SE-Sardegna)
7. Varkala (Kerala/India)
8. Bolonia Beach - Costa de la Luz - Spain
9. Punta Penna Rossa / Torre di Guaceto / Puglia
10. Noosa Beach / Queensland
11. Hermanus Beaches (South Africa)
12. Whitsunday Islands - Queensland, Australia

My favourite museums:
1. Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) - Wien
2. Victoria & Albert Museum - London
3. Alte Nationalgalerie - Berlin (Museumsinsel)
4. Musee d`Orsay - Paris
5. Louvre - Paris
6. Russian Museum - St. Petersburg
7. Hermitage - St. Petersburg
8. Museo de Antropologia - Mexico City
9. Natural History Museum - London
10. Museo de las Artes - Mexico City
11. Filmmuseum - Berlin
12. Warsaw Uprising Museum - Warsaw
13. Glyptothek - Munich
14. Doll House Museum - Basel
15. Edinburgh National Gallery
16. Städel Museum Frankfurt am Main

My favourite ruins:
1. Vijayanagar ruins of Hampi (India)
2. Teotihuacan - Mexico
3. Hadrians Wall (England)
4. Palmyra (Syria)
5. Dead Cities (Syria)
6. Bosra (Syria)
7. Hadrians Villa - Tivoli
8. Ruins of Ostia (near Rome)
9. Heidelberg Castle Ruins
10. Open Air Museum Xanten (near Cologne) with reconstructed Roman buildings, including an arena

My favourite nature experiences:
1. Snorkeling with Manta Rays - Big Island, Hawaii
2. Shark Diving in Gaansbai, South Africa
3. Heaphy Track New Zealand
4. witnessing the migrating Monarch Butterflies in Piedra Herrada, Mexico
5. Riding an African Elephant in Addo, South Africa
6. Braveheart Battle Trail Run Münnerstadt, Germany
7. Riding an Arabian Steed on a beach in Hawaii
8. Sitting among a herd of peaceful kangaroos on Kangaroo Island / Australia
9. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
10. Canoeing on - no pun intended - Lake Canoe in Algonquin Park, Canada
11. watching a stampede of Wildebeests in Weavers Nature Park, Zululand, South Africa

Best food experience:
1. Bushwillow Lodge - South Africa
2. Mirchi - Asian Crossover Cuisine - Berlin
3. Ristorante da Pio - Martina Franca/Puglia
4. the home-cooked food in South Indian homestays
5. Thong Thai Delivery Service (Eschborn) (:-)

Worst food experience:
1. crappy and overpriced "Tourist Menu" in unknown Siena ripoff-restaurant
2. "Canzone dei Cantici" - Otranto (crappy and even more overpriced)
3. breakfast in any London hotel or B&B

My favourite tourist-trap: Madame Tussauds - London (I just love it)
My least favourite tourist traps: everything remotely related to Dan Brown novels and his crappy conspiracy theories

Top Ten Zoos in Germany:
1. Hellabrunn Zoo Munich
2. Hagenbeck Zoo Hamburg
3. Zoo Leipzig
4. Expo Zoo Hannover
5. Tiergarten Berlin
6. Berliner Zoo
7. ZOOM Gelsenkirchen
8. Zoo Cologne
9. Wilhelma Zoo Stuttgart
10. Sababurg Wildlife Park

Top five zoos world-wide
1. Taronga Zoo Sydney
2. Melbourne Zoo
3. Alaska Wildlife Sactuary on the Anchorage-Seward road
4. Auckland Zoo
5. Vienna: Schönbrunn Zoo

Travel Wishes yet to come true:
1. Hot Air Ballooning over the Serengeti
2. flying in a Zeppelin
3. finishing the New York Marathon
4. snorkeling with Whale Sharks
5. Transsiberian Railway
6. hiking Bidean Nam Bian mountain range in Glencoe
7. visiting Gorillas in Ruanda
8. a horse safari in Southern Africa
9. hiking Germany from the North to the South in one go (ca. 800 km)
10. getting drunk on Bordeaux while running the "Marathon du Medoc"

Travel Plans for 2014: Mexico City, Leipzig, Hadrians Wall Path, Bregenz (Austria), Venice, Valencia, London & Richmond, Ruhr Valley Cycling Trip, Netherlands, Marburg, Alsace, Luxembourg, Namibia, Altmühltal (cycling), Amsterdam

to be continued ...

The credo of Jack London

Finally, a few powerful lines by the author Jack London - a life-long traveller himself - I found just by accident and I would like to share with you. As I read them, I thought that they sum up perfectly my attitude towards life and the way one should use the precious time that is given to us:

"I would rather be ashes than dust.
I would rather that my spark should burn out
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time."

  • Intro Updated May 6, 2014
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Comments (126)

  • iris2002's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    Wuensche Euch eine super Sommer und viel Spass mit neuen Abenteuern - sorry - war lange nicht mehr auf VT ... also HAKUNA MATATA :D

  • rosata's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Happy New Year, Michael!

  • davidjo's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    HAHA, have to get hold of Peter Moore's book and Molvania---sounds like my type of thing!!
    i can beat ur 1991 cheap vacation. In 1973 i spent 10 months hitch -hiking around Europe, as far as Syria, in fact and spent a total of 300 pounds!!!! Those were the days, putting the tent up anywhere and sometimes waiting a whole day for a ride, living off of the cheapest local food!!!

  • Parisforless's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Happy Birthday to you...happy birthday to you...happy birthday to you...never to late...Svetlana

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Michael. All best Wishes

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    Hope you had a good birthday yesterday Michael! best wishes from Xi'an!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Sep 26, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Michael, happy birthday.

  • rosata's Profile Photo
    Sep 26, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday, Michael! Greetings from Sicily!

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Sep 26, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Hello, Michael! Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag! Segen auf all'n Deinen Wegen!)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Sep 26, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Happy Birthday Michael! Have a great day!

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MichaelFalk1969

“and miles to go before I sleep ...”

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Michael Schalk
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