Monthly Summary for November 2016 (11th Month of Travel)

 

Monthly Summaries… Why?

I’m starting up monthly summaries again. Its been about a year since did them and its time to start again. I finally feel I have enough travel experience under my belt to be able to write stories about it. Building confidence is a strange thing and sometimes it takes a while to hit a good stride. I finally feel like I am at the place where I have things to share with others

What?

This newsletter is going to cover part of October as well as November. I realize that makes it more than a monthly summary. It just makes more sense for me in how I divide my travel up in my head. October marks the month when I left North America so it seems a good place to start. Read on if this tickels your fancy. Or if it tickles anything really. Actually if you are feeling tickled tell me where because i’m interested to know…

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The Sound of Crunch as my Camera hit the Concrete

That time I destroyed a lens

I turned around and my heart dropped. There was my one month old camera and 10-24mm lens rolling down the concrete steps of a London tube station. The lens mounting surface still attached to the camera body. My heart sank and all I could think was ‘oh F*ck…’. I just destroyed a lens…

Traveling full time is full of adventure. Meeting new people and seeing lots of amazing sights is great. People often tell me I am living the dream. However, bad stuff still happens. This story is about one of those times

Things started going downhill after attending an awesome 90’s party in Tooting, a suburb of London, UK. The walk to the tube station on my way home was raining and windy. Normally the directions in the stations are awesome. Late at night a lot of areas are shut down and the signs led me to a dead end. So at 4:00 am after going the wrong way I was backtracking and rushing to catch my train.

Broken lens on tabletop destroyed a lens

Damaged lens

I was hurrying down a set of stairs when I heard the ominous smack of a metal object smashing into the concrete near my feet. Looking down there was my brand new camera on the ground. APCS sensor exposed to the world. Beside the camera, most of my lens rolling towards the next step. Part of the lens still attached to the camera body. That was a total ‘oh sh*t’ moment…

Apparently my backpack was not been zipped up all the way. The weight of the camera in the bag pulled the zipper open more. Going down the steps was enough to unzip the bag just enough for the camera to slide out, and crunch.

Picking up everything I stuffed it back into my pack not even considering the sensor was still unprotected. Thinking back I should have taken a photo of the scene but I was in a rush to catch my train. I was also in shock at what just happened. When I got to the train I remembered I had my second lens so I attached it to the camera to protect the sensor from the dust and moisture in the air.

Busted lens mount

Busted lens mount

I felt like total crap. Both camera and lens were just over a month old. On the train home I sat dumbfounded. I just stared out the window at the passing concrete walls, amazed at my capacity for being so careless. The cost of replacing the lens kept running through my head. Typically I don’t get upset when a piece of gear gets lost or damaged. But this lens was so new and expensive. I was feeling stress over where I would get the money to pay for a replacement.

When I got to my hostel the first thing I did was post about my stupidity on Facebook. I wanted everyone to share in my misery. I got some sympathy and understanding. Why is it that having people share this kind of pain helps things feel better? Misery loves company?

Then I got a taste of the power of Facebook. A friend suggested the purchase protection insurance on my credit card might cover this incident. I hadn’t even considered this option. I purchased the lens using my Visa card. Checking the benefits that come with the card showed this damage qualified. According to the benefits agreement any damage or theft within 90 days of purchase is covered!

A call to Visa, and three transfers later, got one of their insurance agents on the phone. They sent me a form to fill out along with a list of documentation I needed to provide. The agent said the entire purchase price is covered under the insurance. WooHoo! As soon as I receive the refund I will be buying a replacement lens.

Though I went though a few days of misery in the end things are turning out ok. Not having that lens is inconvenient but I still have a second lens I can use to keep shooting.

I guess the lesson is to make sure my zippers are done up?

Has anything tragic like this happened to you while traveling? Share in the comments section below.

My Roadtrip and Ten Days in Scotland

Ten Days in Scotland

I’m just completing the end of my ten days in Scotland. My original plan was to only spend a week there. After my first 5 days in Edinburgh I was tempted, and gave in to the temptation, to go further north. I really didn’t want to take a train or bus as that would limit me to staying at a hostel. All the Airbnb’s are a bit more remote in the north. The solution was to get a rental car. 

Rental car on the side of the road in a snowstorm. Ten Days in Scotland

My Scotland Rental Car – Awesome little diesel powered Peugeot. This thing was a champ in the snow.

Today i’m back in Edinburgh and getting ready to return south to Manchester and London. The weather the entire time in the north was overcast, chilly, and grey. But from what I understand thats pretty typical so I feel my experience in Scotland has been pretty authentic.
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How to Travel to Cuba for Canadians

Travel to Cuba

Yes Cuba is as amazing as you have imagined! Inexpensive yet delicious meals. Hardly any traffic, warm weather, warm water, warm and friendly people. Bottles of rum for $3.60 USD. No Mcdonald’s, or any other fast food you have ever heard of. Live music, lots of dancing, and a super lively night life. All this in Havana which also has super reasonable rates on accommodations. I’m going to review my experience to help you with your travel to Cuba.

Before the Trip

I just returned from a two week visit to Havana and Varadero. A lot of the research I did in advance of my trip turned out to be less than reliable. I am passing on the experiences I had so you have better information than I had. This post is relevant to the date that I posted it so please take that into consideration.

Before traveling I was warned to expect shortages of everything. One guy even said they ran out of toilet paper at his hotel, and that these shortages were common. Upon arriving I found that there is lots of everything. At least for travelers.

In Cuba I found a land where there may not be an excess of stuff. I cant speak for the locals but all the required necessities were available in amounts that made sense for travelers. I did not experience any shortages of anything. People are not wealthy but the system of government does provide basic a standard for everyone. The Casa Particular I stayed at warned us to not give anything to beggars because the social services provide for everyone. The entire time I was in Cuba I only encountered two beggars so it wasn’t much of a concern. I can’t walk on a downtown Vancouver street without passing at least 5 panhandlers.

Havana Rooftops at Night

Havana Rooftops at Night

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#RoadtripNick has stopped being so shy

#RoadtripNick has stopped being so shy

I have no explanation why #RoadtripNick has been so absent in the last few months. I think he’s just been going through a bit of a reclusive period. Lately he’s been hopping out of my backpack to welcome many new friends. Its interesting how thing happen in cycles like that. 

In this cover photo #RoadtripNick joined the group to have a beer and get his photo taken. Actually it seems every time I slide my computer out of my backpack he is right there, flying through the air, wanting to get involved.

Adventures in Travel

People often tell me that because I travel all the time that I am Living the Dream. I don’t feel that I can really argue with them. However, It’s not like i have a personal assistant who takes care of all my travel details, nor am I staying in fancy hotels. In the last few months I have slept on solid marble in India, in the dirt at Burning Man, and sometimes I am on the third level of a bunk bed in a room too small to open my backpack.

Camden Smart Hostel

Camden Smart Hostel

The bunk in this hostel was the closest thing to a coffin that I have ever slept in. It didn’t help that I was pretty drunk and dehydrated by the time I crawled into it. Breakfast was a meager Corn Flakes or toast. I ate my breakfast and left as quick as I could. 

The other issue with traveling constantly is the need to be continually moving. Every few days I have to pack up my entire life, carry it to a new place, then get settled again. The other day I didn’t even know where I would be sleeping that night till about 1pm. Definitely not the most relaxing kind of day.

Still, I would not give up travel just to have a secure and comfortable place to live. At least not yet. 

Losing stuff

I am constantly losing track of my stuff. Considering I don’t have a whole lot of stuff this is surprising. Yesterday I realized that I lost all the cigars I bought in Cuba. Well most of them, as I had already enjoyed a few. The problem I have is that I can at no time remember when this may have happened. All I can hope is that I don’t forget my laptop or camera somewhere, because then I will be really screwed.

Future plans

My original thoughts when I was planning Europe was to make a break for the south as fast as I could and avoid winter. I wanted to see all of the north mediterranean. After spending some time in Cuba and learning some Spanish I am now thinking that I may like to camp out in Spain for a couple months. Of course I would go to the south where its warm. Then I could chill out, learn some more Spanish, and avoid the nasty cold weather in the north. I guess i’ll figure out whats going to happen in the next couple weeks.

Cats

Just because I can, here are some photos of cats. 

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