Gimme Shelter — Cool Structures and Statues

© Edward Schuck

Travel Oops is introducing another new feature — it’s not actually about Oopses, either. I wanted to include photos of architecture in the blog, since buildings can be such beautiful sights. So here’s the first cool building to feature: Uspens ky Assumption Cathedral Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, in Kiev Ukraine.

This is one of the many gorgeous cathedrals in Kiev. The golden onions are so striking especially against a vivid blue sky. Because of seeing so many 1980s movies with Soviet villains and sinister settings, I was constantly amazed at the beautiful colors I saw in Kiev when I visited in 2006. You almost go there with the impression everything will be grey, steel, cement and dark. Or course there were the Soviet cinderblock buildings, but the wonderful sensory details are so prominent in Ukraine.

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The Travel Ahh…

© Stephanie Glaser

Even at our hotel in Sanur, Bali, we saw a lifeguard place a “Canang Sari” and sticks of incense on the cement pool deck near the waterside. These simple but beautiful baskets are traditional offerings meant to thank the Hindu gods, and you see them everywhere in Bali.

The baskets, made out of coconut leaves, contain flowers, rice and sometimes money. It is a comforting sight to see the Canang Sari and these offerings remind everyone, including tourists, the importance of following traditions and being thankful.

The Travel Oops Interview (The Rickshaw Wreck)

For a Westerner, India seems ready made for a Travel Oops. Certainly, at the very least, visitors, inevitably, encounter the unexpected.

Jane Whitmer, a program manager who teachers a Nurturing Parenting class for the Family and Youth Initiative in Salida, CO, says her travel mantra is “Be open to the Possibilities.”

With that attitude, she traveled to India in the summer of 2012, and at one point, she even told one of her traveling companions, “You’re in for a ride now, Helen. This is India.”

A seasoned traveler, Whitmer had wanted to visit India for the past 10 years. After arriving there in June, her adventures included having a cobra rest on her head; meditating and doing yoga at an ashram; staying at a rickshaw driver and his family’s house; walking on a back road that included obstacles like irrigation channels, barbed wire fences and bulldozers; and riding on a bus that traveled via a one-lane road over an 18,000 ft. mountain pass — just to name a few.

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The Travel Ahh…

© Edward Schuck

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “Yeah, this is why I travel.” A Travel Ahh…

My mom has been featured in the last two posts, so here is my dad, Ed, in Peru. He is showing kids from an Amazon village their images on his video camera. Since they had not seen this technology before, they were very curious. My dad was clearly thrilled to have an audience appreciate his filming, which can be nonstop and somewhat annoying when you are traveling with him. However, ultimately, I’m glad he captures so many memories on video, and this is one of my favorite photos of my dad.

The Friday Travel Ahh…

Uluru’s  watering hole. © Stephanie Glaser

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “Yeah, this is why I travel.” A Travel Ahh…

The many sides of Uluru 

Most people will recognize the iconic scene of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) from afar and its glowing aura that absorbs and reflects a sunset. However, when you visit Uluru, what is truly surprising are all the nooks and crannies and unexpected offerings of the monolith that you will see up close. When people say, “It’s just a big rock,” they, clearly, have no idea of its magnificence. There are so many wonderful stories about its creation and significance to the Pitjantjatjara. A magical, spiritual place, Uluru has many sides to its story.

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Driving in the Insane Lane

© Stephanie Glaser

There’s a problem with stating that you need to learn how to drive on “the wrong side of the road” when you are a visitor in Australia, Great Britain, India, Indonesia and in many other nations. The main issue is that for the residents of these countries, it is the right side of the road — meaning correct — despite the fact it’s the left side of the road.

However, even if you state correctly that you are learning to drive on the left side of the road — it feels wrong. Very, very wrong.

My first attempt at driving on the left side of the road in Adelaide, Australia, was when my family needed groceries. We had no food except for Vegemite and crackers. That is a motivating factor in giving driving on the left side a go.

Backing out of a garage was bewildering. I had to have my husband Kurt do that since I kept looking the wrong way and moving the steering wheel in the wrong direction. The next confusion came when preparing to turn on to a main street. I moved my left hand to hit the turn signal. Wwwwipe…wipe…wipe (actually it was more like a sssscccrrrape since there was no rain to lube up the windshield wipers.) Turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal would plague me up until about five months into our stay in Adelaide.

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Avoid the Oops — Not Trying the Food

Time to suck it up!

Steph’s note: The adventures of travel are unpredictable and Travel Oops is all about celebrating the unexpected results. However, there are some travel oopses that you definitely want to avoid. Here is advice about the Avoidable Travel Oops.

The Avoidable Travel Oops: Offending your hosts because you don’t want to eat the food they offer.

Most travelers have had a dilemma like this: you don’t recognize what is on your plate; it smells like feet; it may even slither or crawl on the plate or it is of a hideous texture that induces immediate gagging. What do you do? Refusing to eat the food, in most cases, is an insult. Telling your host you are full may backfire since you might not get anything else to eat, and let’s be honest, it’s a pretty bogus excuse anyway.

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The Friday Travel Ahh….

An icon sandwich

© Stephanie Glaser

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “yeah, this is why I travel.” I’m choosing Fridays to be the Travel Ahh… day.

When you are in between the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, you feel like you’re in an icon sandwich, at least I did. The two are such famous images worldwide.  I took this photo as my family and I left the harbour on a ferry to Manly Beach. It was our goodbye to Sydney and to Australia, in a way, because the next day, we were leaving the country we had called home for one year. It was such a spectacular farewell. It was really more like a “see you later.”

This Buda’s for You — in Greek

A beautiful building in Buda. I have no idea what it is.
© Stephanie Glaser

The tour minivan emerged into what had to be an important historical area of Budapest. The view from the window closest to me was of an especially stately palace adorned with statues, gates, towers, spires — typical castle stuff.   The guide began to speak, and I eagerly waited to find out what iconic Hungarian landmark I was looking at.

“There are 16 McDonalds throughout the Buda and Pest metropolitan areas,” said Gabriella, a college student from Greece, who was translating the guide’s commentary, since I was on a tour of Budapest conducted entirely in Greek.

“Huh? Are we stopping for lunch?” was my first reaction to Gabriella’s comment. However, the seriousness of her tone convinced me that this was actually an authentic cultural tidbit she was relaying. Meanwhile, the tour guide, along with the rest of the passengers consisting of Iga, a woman traveling with her seven-year-old daughter, Katerina, as well as her parents and sister, turned to assess my response. None of them spoke English. Continue reading