Touring Scotland

A lot of people and friends have been planning to visit Scotland this summer, so I thought it was time to do a retro post from a few years ago when I visited a few famous sites around the country.

Where to start?  Edinburgh of course!  Here is a view of the castle which is fun to visit during the day and then attend a tattoo at night (see below).

August is a great month to visit Edinburgh as they have what is known as the Fringe Festival.  It kind of like SIFF in Seattle, but it is based on live performing arts and theater, not films.  It is a blast and so much fun to see the plays, theater and creative actors in many different venues.

Now the “must do” in Edinburgh is attending the Military Tattoo which I think is held almost every night and it is a great fin performance whether you love military parades or not.  Make sure you book your tickets well in advance as almost every night sells out!

OK – everyone knows there is tons of great music and entertainment in Scotland along with some great beers.  But when going out, what must you try and eat?

Haggis of course!  it seems that every restaurant and every area around the country makes it a little differently, so that is your excuse to try it.

I like beer with my haggis myself, but when touring around the country, you should try out and visit a Scotch distillery or two. We stopped by Blair Athol and leaned quite a bit and was surprised to see they make Johnnie Walker blends here.  It was pretty cool to see barrels that had whisky in them that was made 50 years ago and is still waiting to be blended.

Now, if you visit Scotland, you also must visit Inverness.  Why?  To get a chance to see the Loch Ness monster known as Nessie.  It was bad weather and a little stormy, but we did get to see her!  Check out the shot!

Yes, I know bad weather can sometimes create visual illusions, but we also used technology.  And the sonar showed and captured the truth.  The monster is real and still living and on some days, you may be lucky enough to see it in person.  We did!

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Visiting Reykjavík Iceland and Grand Circle Sites

This is a retro post from back in 2011, but so many people have been asking for recommendations, I decided I needed to add an entry for Reykjavík in addition to my previous postings about Grundarfjordur and Husavik.  Some people call some of the sites we visited to be the Grand Circle Tour.

We flew into Reykjavík and spent a long weekend touring around the surrounding areas.  It takes about 45 minutes to get from the airport to the main city.  You basically get to cross and see massive lava fields that dominate the landscape.

The city is very energetic and supportive to bikers and runners. There are very wide trails that go inside and outside the city and you can get some phenomenal scenery in your morning runs.

We took a tour to explore of some of the famous cites within driving distance of the city.  The first was the famous Gullfoss waterfalls.  It is amazing on how close you can walk right up to them and practically jump in if you wanted to!

Next, we went to visit the famous Strokkur geyser.  It was wet and rainy, but it was fun to see these geysers spewing and bubbling everywhere.

Did you know that you can actually touch and see where two continents meet in Iceland?  Yes, in Thingvellir National Park, the North American and Eurasian continents meet and was the meeting place many hundreds of years ago for the local governments.  I think they have a lot of pagan festivals every year year too…

Along the way, we also stopped an hiked around Kerio a little.  Some say it is a volcanic crater, but others have speculated that it was a launch point many many years ago for alien visitors that left the earth before our time and this was the takeoff blast crater.

Last, but not least, is the Blue Lagoon.  This is a must visit place for all travelers and is an amazing experience, second only to the Dead Sea in Israel.  It is not just a spa, it is a magical experience that is worth the money.  Be ready, you need to take public showers and that is how you enter and leave the facility.

 

Now, I wanted to say that running around the world is always fun.  Some of my other favorite spots I have blogged about:

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Visiting Cartagena Columbia

Latest retro post highlighting a quick stop and visit to Cartagena Columbia that was possible from a cruise ship port stop.

A lot of people ask and wonder: is it safe to visit?  Yes, it is.  You can visit the old fort, walk around the old city and see many of the famous old buildings which are very colorful.  This is the famous fat lady statue in case you were wondering…

Some people may remember the famous English pirate name Sir Francis Drake who has a lot of history attacking and looting this city back in colonial times.

The most interesting thing to do (in my opinion) is to go out and visit some of the mangrove swamps and small villages that live and exist among them.

Basically you rise along and paddle with some of the locals in some canoes.  These were not ours, but you get the idea 🙂

Despite the poor villages and squalor, it was very safe and friendly.

If you love wildlife and photography, paddling around the canoes through the swamp areas and villages allows you to capture some great shots that you were never see in the city.

 

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Maui – Hawaii

It was time to add a retro post for a domestic visit to Maui Hawaii a few years ago. I know most of my postings have been international cities and countries, but Hawaii is very foreign for many people…no pun intended!

Without question, Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to truly and experience the fact that the world is flat and you can slowly see the sun set below the edge of the earth as it goes down in the west.

Clearly, Maui is the island of relaxation and resorts and most people to relax and not adventure very much.  We rented a condo and stayed in Lahaina.

We took the risk and could not miss the adventure of driving around the North Shore of Maui and the difficult route to visit all the small villages and sites around the northern part of the island.  Needless to say, with a rented Lincoln town car, with very narrow, tight and limited space one lane roads, it was a little treacherous in some spots.

But adventure is my middle name and it is almost a rite of passage in truly visiting Maui in my humble opinion.  We did it, we survived and will relish the experience forever.

It was a short trip, but a great trip and I was even able to introduce a friend to scuba diving for the first time to do a shore dive right in front of our rented condo.  Anyone recognize the emerging cyber-security experts here…?

 

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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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