Bangalore India

It has been a few years since I visited Northern India so…I decided it was time to visit Bangalore in southern India on a business trip and of course, I had to explore every second I found some free time outside of work.

It was a nice trip on British Airways when you can go upstairs to the upper deck of a 747 where it is so quiet and peaceful.  It is so easy to adjust your sleep schedule to be ready for a time zone that is 12.5 hours ahead of your normal cycle.

When I travel, what do I to acclimate myself to the time zone and explore the area?

Go running of course! The routes are not simple running trails.  They are more of an obstacle course with trees, debris, trash, electric wires and scooters/bikes chasing you everywhere.

When you explore, you never know what you may find. I am still trying to figure this one out myself…

It was mighty hot and humid and hard to run more than 5K despite the 3,500 elevation which is much cooler than the surrounding area.  You know it is hot when the security guards outside the hotel need to use shade umbrellas…

You can find some great boutique hotels here in Bangalore that are cozy and quaint that are close to the high tech center areas of the city.

You can also find enormous variety and choice of local delicacies along side the road when you need a snack or a lunch break.

The high tech sector is very packed and crowded.  The traffic is brutal in these areas and it can take 1.5 hours to get to the high tech areas when you are only 12 KM away in a large hotel.

But if you want to truly see and experience Bangalore, you need to go to the city center and visit places like the K.R. Market.  The traffic is not bad and it is a lively place.

Very safe, fun place to explore and experience the lifestyle, culture and be part of the daily flower market.

You can also meet and make some great friends who roam and shop the market with you.

Now, the real treasure and highlight of the older and historical part of the city center was the Bull Temple.  This is really the origin and history of the city.  It is a place you must visit to fully understand and learn about the culture and history of this very old city.

If you would like a little more recent history and learn about some of the British occupation and battles, you can see some of the remains of the old Bangalore Fort.  Most of the walls and prison cells are torn down now, but the one remaining section gives you a feel of what the original city was like.

The largest building is the government building which has been extended in the early 200s.  The state parliament is near the huge Sri Chamarajendra Park and the former British parliament house which is now the state courthouse.

I only wish my hotel was close to the Cubbon Park and this is an awesome place to go running and is like New York City central park.  Highly recommended for runners.  If interested, here are some of the other places I have run in the world when I was exploring:

 

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Visiting the Greek Isles

Here is another retro post back from 2006 when we took a cruise around some of the Greek islands where there is so much history!

Of course we started in Athens and visited the Parthenon, but the memory card on the camera got corrupted and we lost almost all the pics except this one!  😦

So, this post, I am going to focused on the aisles which are unique and gorgeous to visit the spring through the fall.  Visiting places like Crete and taking a drive gives you some amazing views.

The coolest thing about Crete is you get to explore and experience some of the mythical stories about Theseus and the Minotaur!

Also on Crete is the city of Knossos which is known as Europe’s oldest city!

We did not go swimming or diving, but Corfu is another awesome island to visit and explore.  The waters are so clear and the coast is so scenic.

Definitely take a walk along the beach in Palaiokastritsa which is on the island or Corfu.

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Exploring Ephesus Turkey

A retro blog from when we took a Royal Caribbean cruise around Greek and Turkish islands and visited Ephesus Turkey.

Ephesus is an amazing historical place to visit where you can visit and see the Library of Celsus which is believed to be one of the oldest and largest in world ever (for its time).

Now, we visited in May and be ready, it can be really really hot so be prepared with sunshade and lots of water as you explore all the ancient Roman ruins.

Also famous for some people is the very large theater called the Odeon.

One of the cooler stories and places you can relive history is this spot is where the water you used to come up to the port and was where Mark Antony and Cleopatra from Egypt came together and visited this city.

 

 

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Exploring Puerto Rico

Here is a retro post from 2004 based on demand from readers.

Puerto Rico is a territory and not a separate country, but it has many interesting places to explore.  A great way to visit is to take a cruise or stay at a famous hotel like the Caribe Hilton.  Did you know this is where the pina colada drink was invented?

Of course, when you visit in San Juan, you have to walk/hike up to the old fort.  It is historical and quite a site in the old capital city.  Quite safe, scenic and many things to see and do around it along the way.

I know it is controversial, but visiting Bacardi rum distillery is fun and educational.  Is it Cuban or Puerto Rican, I won’t argue, but overall a very easy place to get a quick tour and a taste of rum.

There are also some awesome hiking and cave tours you can take all in reasonable distance from San Juan.  They are mostly easy, low cost guides and quite adventurous.

Now, here was the highlight for me: The Arecibo Observatory.  You may remember this site at the beginning of the movie Contact.  I also visited the large array in the movie in another blog post.  There are no formal tours here, but you can hire a car to take you there.  It is worth the low cost taxi price.

It is so huge, it is practically impossible to take a single picture of the radar dish unless you are flying above it in a helicopter.  It is breath taking and quite a site for science or science fiction fans to visit.  Highly recommended.  They have a great museum here.

 

 

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Munich – Dachau Concentration Camp

This is a retro blog post for a visit to Munich and since it is Holocaust Remembrance Day (May 2, 2019), I felt it was my duty to add this posting in addition to the visit I made to Krakow and Auschwitz several years ago.

Very few people know, but Dachau started as an SS Training Camp earlier in the war.

We took a public bus to visit Dachau which is about 30 minutes outside of Munich.

It was liberated by the US Army in April 1945.

It is a very educational experience in seeing and feeling the horror of the camp first hand.  we visited in the middle of the winter and you could barely imagine on how you could actually live in these cells and bunkers where there is ZERO heating and no bedding.

and in the corner of the site were the building with the furnaces.  The picture itself should shock you.  This is not fake news.

The most shocking element is how close the camp was to the village and homes nearby.  It was not hidden, it was not far away.  People lived and accepted the atrociousness that were only a stone’s throw away from their homes 😦

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Visiting Haiti

I have now visited country #63 so far!  It could not pass up the opportunity to visit Haiti, learn a little, explore a little and maybe even go for a run!

No, I did not fly down, I had to take the opportunity to take the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas cruise ship down south.  It is a huge ship, which is not my preference, but I cannot complain about its itinerary.

 

The main positive is the cool new shows like the ice skating shows which were quite spectacular and 5 star…the downside is the ship is so focused on premium features.  Half the ship is filled with restaurants that are premium service only.  Many require $25+ per meal if you eat at them.

Now, back to Haiti.  Of course, I snuck in a 10K run throughout the restricted resort areas that are isolated from their rest of the island and local village Labadee.

It is a combination of a beach run, a trail run and a little resort running.

If you explore the edges, you can find some cool hidden treasures like the old fort and gun emplacements that nobody else will show you.   Did you know that Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti on December 5th, 1492?

I also went over to the local Labadie Bay village and visited Norm’s Place.  The waters are so blue and clear, I believe this is also a great diving and snorkeling place although I did not have enough time to explore that here in Haiti and the dive facilities are very limited.

Now, many people think that this area is only for cruise ships because it is isolated.  Not true.  It is isolated for everyone who have lived here for hundreds of years.  There is only one road and one way out for everyone and most of the villagers have to take a boat back and forth just to get to the one road because there is no path along the coast.

In the village, you can learn a lot about the culture and history and traditions.  Check out the massive earth oven that was created and used by the Spanish many many years ago, but is still part of the tradition and history in building huge fires to cook things deep in the hills of the surrounding mountains.

And of course, I got to learn and experience a little of the historical music, dancing, medicine, religion and voodoo!  Voodoo is no longer a dominant religion or practice, but still lingers and influences many things in the local culture and daily life even if it is subtle.

A very fun visit and wonderful experience.

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Diving in the Bahamas

I decided to go back to the Bahamas and dive again. I spent an evening in Miami and of course got a nice run to Miami Beach in the morning before headed to the cruise ship terminal.

The first time I visited since the last time was back in 2007 (blog posting) and much has changed on the island since then.

Now, this time, I took a cruise ship there.  I got a good deal to try out the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas. a 1-week cruise, balcony room for < $1000 and a $250 room credit.  Cannot complain about that.  It is huge ship and it was a zoo.

On the inside, it was like the huge shops and walkways in Las Vegas.  It almost felt like the Venetian or the Bellagio.

Now, the good thing is a found this surprise in the room when I boarded…cannot complain about the Platinum American Express concierge travel service!

As mentioned above, the goal was to go diving and I scored a big run with this excursion…the ship arranged a dedicated dive master and boat for myself with Stuart Cove.  I could not believe there was not a single other diver on this huge ship.  They missed out!

There are a large number of great wreck dives and coral walls to check out.  They go deep and can have some strong current, so you need to be experienced.  I was exploring a 12 old military ship at around 65 feet when I noticed this sea turtle above.  I had to be careful and not rise up to the surface to just take better video of him.

Here is another fun video of the remains of a DC-3 plane wreck in the ocean.  These are fun to explore — the only challenge is you do not have enough air to spend more time probing through all the wreckage that is spread out!

This one was a surprise.  I am still not sure what it was.  Was it a sea cucumber?  It was so big, yet, so light.  It felt like it weighed less than 1/4 of a pound.  Any ideas?

I was also confused by this underwater grass?  What is it?

I forgot to mention at the start, the ocean was filled with these very small jellyfish.  They are EVERYWHERE.  You have to try and avoid them, but it is hard.  The dive master warned me they do not hurt when they sting, but they make your skin itch horribly.

This was one was a little easier, but it moved fast.  It was a very large barracuda.  Apparently they can get quite big and are not just skinny fish.  Learn something new every dive!

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