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Tag Archives: travel

Hawaii Hi-Five-0.

Aloha folks!

I’m currently cooling off after a visit to the Big Island of the Hawaiian archipelago. What an amazing place – tipping the emotions over the edge with its mixture of perfect weather, pristine oceans, vibrant volcanism, opulent jungles and overall breathtaking beauty. Aloha Hawaii, and mahalo Hawaii :).

That things aren’t as 100% American as apple pie you kinda get the idea of when on the flight approaching the USA’s 50th state (it was the last state to join the Union, in 1959). Instead of the usual ‘thank you’ at the end of tannoyed messages, the stewardesses say ‘aloha and mahalo!’ as if heralding the fact that it isn’t quite, fully, the United States you’re approaching… It’s just different – so get ready!

Hawaii

Read on: Hawaii is really quite distinct from the other states…

Korean new office; Hainan déjà vu & fish.

Hi folks!

Another intense stint of globetrotting is over – finally. We’d been on the road for almost two months, visiting eight countries in total. It went like this: Dominican RepublicBrazilChile (Patagonia) – Saudi Arabia – Italy – Germany – Korea – China.

The second half of the journey turned out to be really tough – non-stop sprinting as opposed to the steady-jog pace which we normally aim for. Meetings, speeches, and moving around from A to B to C… with hardly any let-up whatsoever, not so much as a stroll after a long day – for two whole weeks! I was starting to burn out – when the habitual zip and zest and general lust for life just vanishes and everything seems either uninteresting or irritating or both. A bit like jetlag – which incidentally had also been building from acute to chronic… Cue some much-needed MANDATORY down time. Happily for me – in Hainan – the Chinese island some 30 kilometers to the south of the mainland. I had about a week there. Oh boy, did I need it. And, oh boy, how I enjoyed it.

Hainan, Sanya

Summarizing this latest world tour won’t take all that long as, since Patagonia, there was hardly any time for tourism. So, briefly…

Read on: It started with an intercontinental leap…

Patagonia: Pata-utopia.

Jules Verne, fat adventure novels, In Search of the Castaways, Paganel and Patagonia

Such childhood reminiscences are indelibly etched somewhere in the deeper recesses of my memory. I always conjured up images of mysterious countries in far-flung corners of the world, all exotic and unusual… but always beautiful.

Turns out those images were pretty accurate. For four decades later I found myself in Patagonia on a hiking trip, and if I was only allowed one word to describe the place, it would not be difficult choosing it: beautiful.

We wound up there after having a few free days left over after our visit to Brasília. And since that visit was a culmination of non-stop mental effort and oratory exertion, the timing was just right for some serious back-to-nature getting-away-from-it-all with lashings of fresh mountain air.

Of course, the whole of Patagonia can’t be checked out in just a few days as it covers such a massive territory. Still, we did manage to experience one of the most precious jewels in the Patagonian crown – the Torres del Paine National Park.

Torres del Paine National Park

Read on: 120 km in 5 days…

Not p-p-p-picking up penguins in Porvenir.

Tierra del Fuego, Chile. I’d always known it to be a mystically mysterious place if ever there was one, after having images of it seared into my brain as a child from being absorbed in the travel thrillers of Jules Verne and the like. Fast-forward three or four decades, and here I am – almost – in the Land of Fire itself. (Where the ‘Fire’ quite comes from I’ve yet to fathom, as there’s nothing hot about this place.) Actually, we’re just across the Strait of Magellan from it – in Punta Arenas, from where the fiery archipelago can be viewed with the naked eye! Once observed from over the water, that was it – we just had to get over there and check it out, if only to cure our curiosity…

Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Read on: Hallucinogenic landscapes. Unusual. Unreal…

Punta Arenas nostálgico.

Greetings all!

Punta Arenas – Sandy Point in English – is right at the very bottom end of Chile. It’s on a bank of the Strait of Magellan, across from the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. In other words, quite literally, the middle of nowhere. Unless, one day, you might fancy flying down to Antarctica… then it’d be where you’d want to be in the middle of, as flights down there leave from here. Actually, you’d need to be a little to the south of Punta Arenas, not in the middle of it, but that wouldn’t have given me the pseudo-witty play on words.

Punta Arenas, Chile

Read on: This was not my first time in Punta Arenas…

Brasília: capital city, minus the traffic jams.

Olá folks!

As you’ll have gathered from the title, I’m writing this in the capital of Brazil – the South American upcoming powerhouse with a burgeoning economy. It’s a city of 2.6 million, but there’s no traffic congestion here. You find this with some capitals of large countries, just not often. But here’s a +1 of such capitals visited for me – Brasília, the capital of the republic of soccer, Cachaça, Samba and carnivals…

Brasilia!

You didn’t believe me?

Read on: an alternative way of getting to Brazil…

The fog in Spain lies mainly in the plain.

Two mega-cars from Scuderia (a Challenge and a GT3) + a completely empty Aragon race track in Alcaniz, Spain + a fog thicker than school-dinner semolina = tragedy.

You drive in an exquisite bit of motorsport kit, but the pedal stays a good way off the metal. Visibility is down to silly meters, and you’re trying to get some decent speed up. Rather, you’d want to. But you’re not as silly as those meters… So, like I say… a tragedy.

alcaniz-aragon-track-1

Read on: visibility superciliously silly…

Lovely weather in Rome, Christmas in Maranello.

Ciao all!

Herewith, the two next – Italian – installments from my recent Trans-Europe Express-2013.

Installment No. 1: Location, location, location.

We dropped in on one of our partners in Rome, whose office is handily situated in a building right in the city center. The panoramic view from up top was just incredible – as you can probably guess. Got me thinking how on earth the guy ever gets any work done. Hmmm, I guess you can’t just keep staring at the view for days… but I found out you can for hours! My conclusion: if the rooftop terraces here weren’t covered with those pesky Roman pigeons I’d give the place a perfect 10.

It's (always) sunny in Rome

AC and a Xerox

Read on: Felipe Massa gets an engine…

Low season Swiss mist.

“This world is a desert that is a circle.

Heaven is closed and hell is empty.”

Octavio Paz, Elegía interrumpida (Interrupted Elegy), mid-20th century

I recalled these lines of this great (though not all that well-known) Mexican poet just recently on my latest travels – driving across Switzerland. Have to say I wasn’t expecting low season here to be this low. Place was practically deserted, with most of the hotels practically empty too. But of course: Summer is a distant memory, and neither Christmastime nor skiing-time has fully kicked off yet…

Making the place even more eerily desolate was the thick fog that had descended…

Not a horror movie

Rocking

Read on: 800 kilometers of autobahn…

Japanese scenes and seasons.

“A melancholy time, so pleasing to the eye.”

            - Alexander Pushkin, Autumn, 1833

That excerpt of poetry comes to mind every time I look at a multicolored bit of autumnal scenery, which I did quite a bit of just recently over in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Ashinoko Lake

Fall in Osaka

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to Japan. 15-20? 20-25? Something like that. The first time was back in 2004 for the AVAR conference, and the trips have just got more and more frequent ever since – now up to three times a year. Can’t complain of course – Japan is one of my fave countries in the world, if not the fave. However, I’d only ever been to Japan in the spring, summer and winter. Never fall. But the ‘best’ two seasons in Japan are spring (for the cherry trees blossoming) and fall (for the autumn leaves dropping to the ground). So (finally!) I’ve made it to the country in November – to take in the lush Japanese landscapes of shades of yellow, green and brown!

Read on: Odawara, Kamakura, Hakone, Fuji in November shades…