"Lets Go Trippin' - My travels so far!" arturowan's Profile
I've been a VT member for many years, but still not gotten around to filling out my own personal page!
It was only last year that I had the inspiration to cover my travels in my own country, because like many VT members, I'd thought of my experiences abroad as those of relevance here...
In 2013 I did not go abroad - I discovered some new places in England, mostly in & around Thetford Forest - & covering these experiences has been my latest occupation on VT...
All my trips covered on VT are 'road trips', either under my own power by bicycle (I can comfortably cycle 100km in a day, weather co-operating!), or further afield by car, coach & ferry...
In some ways, the ideal excursion for me would have no destination - rather a meandering road or rail trip into places unknown...
When I discovered the Baltic coast, it was on a Danish-operated coach, & that must be the best way in order to view this beautiful scenery, especially in the evening when the sun is setting over the islands...
Every so often, the coach has to board a ferry in order to cross between coasts, & this is a perfect opportunity to stretch your legs on deck & breathe the saline air...
I make no apologies for being a fan of slow travel, & for also being of the opinion that modernday tourists are in too much of a rush & miss out on the EXPERIENCE that travel should really be about...
I would never have discovered such hidden gems in Thetford Forest, last year, such as a holy well, pilgrims wayside cross, & neolithic burial mound, had I not been on my bike & off the beaten path...
A lot of my travel reports are written under the, 'off the beaten path' section, & this does reflect a lot about me, & what I like to travel for...
I've never lost my love of learning, & from all my travels, I've learnt a lot, & I believe, in itself, travel is a great educator...
So, in the words of surf guitar legend, Dick Dale; "lets go trippin'!"
I was reading the profile page of 1 of my favourite contributors on here, (briantravelman - travel show star of the future I am sure...) who gives an inspiring account of the events when he was younger, which inspired his own interest in travel. When I was younger, the travel shows on tv only ever seemed to visit capitol cities, then no go further than the central high street - they were shopping shows as much as travel, (& I do so loathe shopping!) My inspiration for travel came from the same source as my original love for music, & that means 1 name - Boxcar Willie! I can still remember as a child, looking at the cover of his 1980 Take Me Home album, with the photo of him walking alongside a track, with a freight train coming around the cover, then turning the cover over, & both have gone from view...
This concept of random travel - just going where the train happens to be heading, has always fascinated me, & even as a child I identified with his tales of riding trains to unknown locations. My love of Boxcar Willie's music has never left me, & I still have the dream to see the States, in his words; From A Boxcar Door - if I was to ever make a travel documentary, then I know just what I would choose to do - travel the States, taking a random journey by freight trains. You do not have to be a hobo or a bum - in his autobiography, the late Patrick Swayze admits to having travelled at random this way in his youth. The only trouble is, since the demise of the boxcar, for the freight-container, in the words of BW; there Are No More Trains To Ride...
Lecil Travis Martin, Boxcar's real name, died of leukemia in 1999 - I will always think of him as the man who started both my love of music, & travel - wish I could have known you - Peace in the Valley to you...
Rock'n'Roll Tourist is a book by sometime bass-player, Graham Forbes. It combines 2 of the absolute favourite subjects in my life; travel & rock'n'roll - so, needless to say, I loved this book so much I read it again, & again - I hope to write something like it 1 day. Travel books were the publishing phenomenon of the late 20th Century - a reinvention of the book almost, & unlike with traditional titles, you did not have to be a stuffy old academic in order to write 1
In fact, quite the opposite, because the best travel books capture the excitement of the journey, rather than loading down the reader with a boring old bag of dates. I have read many travel books over the years, having only begun a couple that I did not finish, because they were heavy-going with irrelevant waffle. If you are an aspiring travel writer, than cut to the action - do not write 3 chapters just about the packing list - go straight into the journey & stick with it - you can always be reflective towards the end, when you have the reader hooked. There are so many good travel titles, I could never list them all, but some have made unforgettable impressions;
Through Hell For Hitler - Henry Mettelmann
In many ways this is an autobiography of a former German Panzer commander, coming to terms with the fact that fighting for the Nazi cause is a mistake. However it is also a travel book, because it catalogues the Panzer advance across the plains of Ukraine, towards Stalingrad, so it paints a fascinating picture of pre-war Ukraine. Many tales of personal encounter are recited along the way, from the amusing to the tragic.
7 Pillars 0f Wisdom - T.E.Lawrence
Most people have seen David Lean's epic movie of the legend that is Lawrence 0f Arabia, but few have read what is really 1 of the original travel books. T.E.Lawrence's account of his time fighting with the Arabs during WWI, is really a detailed diary of his excursions back-&-forth across the desert, riding a camel, or his Rolls-Royce armoured car. Some have ?ed Lawrence's exploits latterly, & have tried & failed to recreate his camel rides, in the time he claims they were achieved in his book, but nonetheless, even if exagerated in sections - 7 Pillars 0f Wisdom, is a classic travel tale.
The Long Way Round - Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman
You do not have to be a biker in order to appreciate this epic tale of 2-wheeling it around the world, & both writers contribute in lucid style. Not surprisingly, the chapter that appeals most to me is their crossing of Ukraine - something definitely only for the brave on 2-wheels!
RUSSIA - Jonathan Dimbleby
Any book about Russia just has to be an epic, & Jonathan Dimbleby accomplishs the task with aplomb, though his catalogue of 5 separate trips across the largest country in the world, obviously leaves him exhausted! Just how he managed the feat, without much knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet, is astonishing, though the BBC did pay for him to have an interpreter, or the events that befell him might have been even more extreme - I have read it 3 times - it deserves it!
Around The World In 80 Days - Michael Palin
Former Monty Python actor, became a travel show presenter by going in at the deep-end & embarking on a journey inspired by the Jules Verne classic. It took him 79 days & 7 hours in order to achieve his world tour, without using aircraft. His book-of-the-journey is a must read for any travel enthusiast, wanting the details of his epic tour completed in 1988
LONDON - The Biography - Peter Ackroyd
This is not a travel book technically speaking, but a biography of a city of this age & diversity, cannot be classified as mere 'local history'. The author suggests the same opinion as me, in that some1 with the skill of observation could live all their life withoiut ever leaving London, & still know more about the world than many a well-travelled tourist. This is another book I love so much I have read it several times - it is 1 of the best books I have ever read!
If you live in Massachusetts & have ancestors back as far as the original settlers, it is possible they were once resident of the counties of Essex or Suffolk. I am cataloguing the towns & villages which I have visited, in these 2 counties from where the original settlers departed in the Great Migration. The most obvious example is Harwich, twinned with the town of the same name, Massachusetts. 0thers to find on my pages, index;
During 1942, East Anglia was transformed by the so-called "friendly-invasion", during which the USAAF set up airbases throughout eastern England. The scale of construction was extraordinary, with concrete runways & control towers, & metal hangers, popping up in the countryside like the overnight spread of mushrooms, after an autumn rain. Most of these airbases are now derelict, though some of them have been transformed into other uses, such as racetracks or industrial estates. Although only traces of the original runways remain, almost all these sites are marked by a memorial to the American servicemen who sacrificed their lives while on duty. Those I have visited, are to be found on my index;
Coney Weston (RAF Knettishall)
I like to think of myself as a traveller, not a tourist! Maybe that is snobbery, but if so, sobeit, that is just the way it is. I do not respect followers who just go somewhere because everybody else is doing so, then just lie about on a beach all day, or sleep all day & nightclub all night. This sort of tourism has no appeal to me, probably because I am an unashamed nerd & want to be learning something new all the time! I cannot see the point of going to see some tourist trap, just because it is there & there is an entire souvenir industry to support it. The Eiffel Tower?
So what, it means nothing to me!
Sacrilege for some, but that is my feeling, & for me, to get off my butt in order to go somewhere, I need to find a meaning in it - a connectioon with the destination. If I do go somewhere famous, I do not feel the need to return with the T-shirt, I prefer in order to use my memory. I like 'off the beaten path' sort of places, & somewhere found quite by chance, can be as memorable as something planned. A random element is essential in travel, I believe, despite which, I am a 'planner' by nature, not a 'chancer', & like to use sites such as this in order to plan out my travels as an itinerary. But you can never accurately predict all the incidents along the way & where they will lead, so 'follow the balloon', so to speak. The important thing is to have a '+ve mental attitude' & to try to turn whatever goes wrong along the way into some sort of learning opportunity. Despite some of my travelling disasters, I still prefer to consider non-obvious tourist destinations, rather than follow the crowd. Holidays as such, do not really interest me, I want to learn something about a place & be influenced by it forever after. What I really cannot understand or tolerate is holidaymakers who go abroad & then only eat McDonalds, just the same as in their own country! What is the point - if you are in a foreign country, eat the local cuisine - it is the culture, there is no other point in going otherwise! Going to 0dessa influenced me enough in order to learn Russian, & I have always struggled with languages, so that is the impression that travel has made upon me...
I received an encyclopedia at an early age as a birthday present, & though I have not set eyes on it for at least 3 decades, every page remains etched on my mind, so evocative was each article; flags-of-the-world - the adventures of Livingstone the explorer - the building of the Mont Blanc tunnel - the history of fire engines - the biography of Juan-Manuel Fangio. When I read the text & looked at the paintings of his racing cars, I became an instant F1 fan & this has remained an interest throughout my life. Through television, I was introduced to other countries, which all seemed like exotic places, where the F1 circus was visiting, from fortnight to fortnight. At that time, each circuit had its own identity, & the grainy tv images were all part of receiving footage from such far flung locations as Mexico, Japan, or South Africa. I make no apologies for claiming that F1 is not the spectacle it once was, since the speed of the cars has surpassed the confines of the truly great tracks such as Brands Hatch, Mexico City, & the old 0sterreichring. F1 is now a clinical event on purpose-built, Herman Tilke designed facilities, which posess none of the character of the old circuits I grew up with. F1 remains an international circus which is truly a world championship as far as locations are concerned, however, & it still can captivate my imagination, if not like it once did...
My VT pages are rated on a 5* grading;
*0000 = a place with few visitor attractions & no facilities
**000 = a place with 1 main attraction, & little else
***00 = a place with a number of attractions & some facilities for the visitor
****0 = a place with many attractions & good services
***** = a place that will not disappoint
+ = 1 0f my most favourite places, whatever its visitor attractions or facilities, (or lack of them...)
My tips are of 2 types; impressionistic, & historical - many of them started out as just impressionistic, than they became historical when I researched them further...
Nowwhere has made a greater impression on me than 0dessa, & when I first began writing about my experiences there, they were very much from a personal observation, point of view...
Since my fascination with 0dessa has deepened, my writing about it has become increasingly historical, as I discover more & more about its history, from the plethora of online sites dedicated to this idiosyncratic place...
Some of my historical tips are too wordy for some peoples taste, but they happen to reflect how deep my level of interest is for somewhere that has truly altered my life & affected how I think...
I only wish I'd known as much about its history as I do now, then my early visits would have been much more rewarding & full of purpose...
0dessa - will I ever understand this volatile meeting place of extremes?
Ukrainian folk have told me that it's no use trying to understand them - they don't understand themselves, so what hope an outsider?
Whatever, now the love of 0dessa has overwhelmed me, I'm always thinking about this city, & what I might learn from it, should I return...
Last time I was there, I did not want to return - I'd found an ideal apartment online, to rent, & I wish I were still there now!
I never thought, after always having lived in the country, that I'd feel this way about a city, but 0dessa is set out on the old pattern of courtyards, & this is the true nature of the city, when you truly get to know it...
How I'd love to live in 1 of the apartments, overlooking a courtyard, with a grapevine growing up the balcony, & some cucumber plants as well!
I could even adopt an 0dessan 'koshka' (cat)!
This is my dream - maybe 1 day it'll come true?
2004 - Stockholm & Uppsala, (via Copenhagen & Berlin)
2005/07/09/11 - 0dessa, (via Kiev)
2012 - Sofiya x2 & Varna, (via Prague)
2014 - ?!
In the words of Boxcar Willie;
"before I turn to dust, let me ride the wheels from off a Greyhound bus!"
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