Friday, October 5, 2018

Trip Blogging Gives Way to Instagram

I have owned my personal website ( domain name and been an avid blogger for about 15 years -- always writing for my own enjoyment/re-reading more than any other purpose.  I still enjoy reading my old blogs as they remind me of the details of my travel experiences.  However, over time I've learned that while I enjoyed blogging when traveling solo, it is more burdensome than fun when traveling with Dana.  So after a few unsatisfying attempts to add narrative content to my shared photo albums -- Dana and I decided to create a joint Instagram account in which we would attempt to select special photos to represent our travel experiences.  The account is  So, while I expect to continue to use this blog site when I feel like being more verbose or just have thoughts I want to share (like this one on my vagabond addiction), please also follow us on Instagram.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Noel's Solo Trip to Switzerland and Greece

So, as Dana begins another year of teaching kindergarten at Ojai Valley School, I'm off feeding my vagabondness with a 24 day trip equally split between southern Switzerland (the Italian speaking canton Ticino where my paternal ancestors are from, where I continue to stay in touch with cousins there, and where I have visited many times) and Greece (first time).

The trip started as many do -- with me finding an incredibly cheap airline ticket flying roundtrip from Los Angeles to Zurich -- for $316 cash value of Chase credit card points.  The flights from Zurich to/from Greece were $119 and $134, respectively.

August 28/29 - comfortable Delta flights from Los Angeles with a connection in Atlanta - departing 8:45am on August 28 and arriving Zurich at 8:45am on August 29.  I then picked up a rental car at the Zurich airport and drove 3 hours over (and through - many tunnels) the Swiss Alps to Gordevio -- a still small village within a dead-end valley known as Valle Maggia.  I've written before about my roots here in Gordevio - here is a good overview.  I've posted photos from today on Instagram here.

I'll be staying at a cousin's home here in Gordevio until September 9 when I'll fly to Athens.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

China, Bali, Singapore - Summer 2018 - Photo Link

Wrapping up another totally fun adventure -- we obviously didn't blog this trip -- but here are a few of our favorite photos of the trip.  This is just a small sampling -- leaving out photos of the many friends we connected with along the way.

Click here to see the album and if you haven't already, follow us on Instagram ( where we shared many of these photos.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June/July 2018 - 3 Countries in 37 Days - China, Indonesia (Bali), and Singapore

Back in January I was watching/searching for another opportunity to return to China (my 5th trip to China in 9 years) so that I could share the fun I have traveling there with Dana (who would be making her first China trip) and accomplish another “bucket list” adventure: taking China's high speed train from Shanghai to the southern border city of Guangzhou (in 2009 I enjoyed traveling on the high speed from Guangzhou to Wuhan – as it was not yet complete to Shanghai). So I felt fortunate when I found an “open jaw” summer trip when Dana could join me -- from Portland to Shanghai and returning from Singapore to Los Angeles for $576 each on United Airlines new 787 aircraft.

And with some relatively inexpensive Air Asia flights from Guangzhou to Bali and back to Singapore – I had the bookends of this 37 day adventure that started today – June 25, 2018. It's my 6th Bali adventure and Dana's 3rd since I first visited Bali in October 2015. It should be clear that we love Bali - especially the north shore beach-sidevillages that are commonly and collectively referred to as Amed – even though we never actually stay in the town of Amed.

So, this morning – June 25 – Dana and I flew from Portland to San Francisco (a 2 hour flight) and are currently about half way through the 13 hour flight from San Francisco to Shanghai. We were lucky to get all three center seats to ourselves – and have been enjoying the wonderful leg room and comfortable seats of United's 787 aircraft.

For those who usually ask – Shanghai is 15 hours ahead of Portland/San Francisco time – so we left San Francisco at about 1:20pm on Monday, June 25 – and will arrive Shanghai at about 5:25pm on Tuesday, June 26 after the 13 hour flight.

As always, I'm not sure how much blogging I will do – but we'll definitely post photo links here. A general outline of the trip is this:

June 25 – Portland to Shanghai
June 26-29 – In Shanghai (Airbnb)
June 30 – 6 hour high speed train from Shanghai to Guangzhou
June 30-July 3 – Guangzhou
July 3 – Fly to Bali (airport connection in Kuala Lumpur)
July 29 – Fly to Singapore
Aug 1 – Fly nonstop from Singapore to Los Angeles (again United 787)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Am I Addicted To The Vagabond Life?

It's true - sometimes it seems that in my retirement I have become increasingly addicted to a vagabond ("having an irregular course") life.  But, like all things, it's way more complicated than any single word might express.  Let me try to explain.

It has been my observation that if you ask anyone fortunate enough to even be contemplating retirement about their plans -- among the first answers you get will be "travel."  But I've also observed that most just say it wistfully as they really have chosen to occupy their lives with commitments (houses, gardens, lawns, pets, activities and routines) that discourage more than short holidays much like they took while working.  And, some of those further limit their "travel" interests to specific, expensive destinations (only western Europe, for example) or to managed travel (cruises, tours, groups).  All have their place and purpose -- but I think my addiction is, therefore, not just to "travel," but rather to an "irregular" course of life.

I'm a little different.  I tend to love everything about the kind of travel that I undertake -- adventure budget traveling -- from the finding, booking, planning - to the in-country execution (navigating, exploring, learning) - to the satisfaction I get from completing my plans.  I never was a fisherman or a hunter -- but I suspect that my addiction to traveling as I do -- is similar to the fisherman/hunter.  Great satisfaction is gained from all aspects from anticipation/preparation to reflecting on the trophy photo/memory.

I'm addicted to the gambling-like rush that I get when I find the incredibly low air fare, when I score a bargain accommodation, when I successfully find great local foods, when I navigate in lands where I am sometimes forced to meet my daily needs without an ability to understand the spoken word, speak the language or read the signage -- where I must rely on my own ingenuity (and increasingly travel/translation apps).  I'm also addicted to what I call "senior backpacking" - where I make budget choices that keep me staying among interesting, similarly situated fellow budget travelers.  And, I am committed to the backpacking lifestyle such that I refuse to buy any souvenir or trinket or gift.  I try to keep the focus on the experience - my photos provide adequate reminders of the trip.

So, yes -- I am addicted to the vagabond life.  It's not for everyone -- and I don't know how long my addiction will last -- but for now I'm having a blast.  If I never mow another lawn again in my life -- that'll be fine by me.

Santiago and Buenos Aires - Until Next Time

After 7 nights in wonderful Buenos Aires, I flew back to Santiago -- moved into yet another Airbnb - super nice in different location - and set about another couple days touring Santiago.

Tonight - May 3 - I catch Latam Airlines (the largest Latin American Airline) to Lima, Peru with a connection to Los Angeles - arriving Friday, May 4 at 8:00am.

Another wonderful and satisfying adventure complete!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Week in Buenos Aires

Well, once again - as sometimes happens - my blogging spirit has diminished -- as I reflect happily on my amazingly fun week in Buenos Aires.  It seems an insurmountable task to try to capture the many contacts, conversations, tours, meals, walks, vistas, impressions, thoughts, and feelings that I experienced.  Even my photos seem incomplete and inadequate to explain the visit.

Suffice to say, as I did on Facebook:  
Just wrapping up a week in beautiful Buenos Aires with great thanks to my Great Barrier Reef dive partner who graciously gave me her apartment to stay in and shared her family, friends, and time with me.

And if you want to see some of the photos that will help me remember my friends and activities, I've linked them in this album.
I definitely want to return to Buenos Aires -- and travel farther and longer in Argentina -- and keep in touch with my friends there!  What a great week!