Stuff I Learned From Travelling


Summer’s finally/ almost/ nearly/ just about/ over, and it’s time to travel again.  That’s one thing I’ve learned during my years on this planet: never travel in the summer.  Actually, I’ve learned a lot of things travelling, and, cuz I’m a good guy, I’m going to pass some of them along.

The people at airport security have had their sense of humour surgically removed.

When someone with an accent says “No problem!” there already is one.

If you travel far enough, often enough, you will eventually run into a restaurant that serves mystery meat.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “For the love of Jesus, people! Venice is full.  One more busload of tourists and they’re going to change the name to Atlantis.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Heathrow Airport was designed by Rhesus monkeys.”

Think about it.  If you can survive a month in Europe living out of one suitcase, what the hell are you doing with all that crap cluttering up your closet?

Advertised discount airline prices are like unicorns: everybody’s heard of them, but they don’t actually exist.

If you do it right, culture shock happens both ways.

The natural habitat of the traveller is sitting behind an adult beverage.  The natural habitat of the tourist is standing in line.

Nobody “wins” a vacation.  Slow down!

Nothing – NOTHING – looks like the website.

Unless you’re a professional photographer, nobody back home is going to give a damn about all the cool pictures you took.

Packing for any trip involves two things, 1) you’re going to forget something essential and 2) you’re going to bring something totally useless.  Oh, well!

Never get too attached to your luggage.

Speaking louder does not instantly make strangers bilingual.

Unless you’re trekking the Sahara, it’s going to rain.  Get used to it!

If you travel from North America to anywhere else in the world (including the Antarctic) you’re going to be held responsible for Donald Trump.  Get used to it!

And finally:

It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do — you’re going to need more money.

Happy Trails!


PS – To all my faithful readers: I’m planning to publish a collection of some of my blogs, and I need a few good people to write wonderful things about me for the back cover.  Any volunteers?

Email me at


News Of The World (2019)


Generally, North Americans believe that the rest of the planet is inhabited by angry people who hate us, so it follows that most media outlets don’t concern themselves with “foreign” news.  However, as spring slowly slides into summer — and there’s not much going on locally except baseball and basketball playoffs — a few items slip across the ocean, just to prove we remember that the rest of the world is still rotating.

In Hong Kong, a couple of thousand people held a march to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.  (Yeah, it’s been 30 years!)  Meanwhile, in the rest of China, nobody much noticed because officially the Tiananmen Square Protest (read Massacre) didn’t happen.  Oddly, most of the marchers look as if they weren’t even born when Deng Xiaoping ordered his tanks to clear out the student protesters and reaffirm Mao’s maxim that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

The European elections are over and, like 99.99% of North Americans, I have no idea what just happened.  First of all, it looks as if everybody and his sister gets a political party in Europe, and aside from the Greens, they’re all known by a variety of acronyms.  Plus, aside from the far right and the far left, to the untrained eye, they all look remarkably similar.  Then there’s the question of who represents who.  Here’s just one example (and this scenario played out all over Europe on Sunday.)  According to the media, in France, Madame Le Pen kicked the crap out of Monsieur Macron — except Le Pen’s group got 23.3% of the vote and Macron’s got 22.4%.  That’s less than a 1% difference!  And, according to my math, this means the majority of French people (54.3%) voted against both of them.  I understand that Europeans have been playing at politics for a lot longer we have and – look around — it’s worked out pretty well.  Besides, given our recent electoral history, we have no room to point fingers.  However, from this side of the Atlantic, it all looks like Game of Thrones – minus the dragons.

And finally, back in Asia

There’s a serious problem on Mount Everest – overcrowding.  Apparently, so many people want to stand “at the top of the world” that climbers have to form a line to reach the summit.  That means standing around in the cold and the wind and the lack of oxygen, waiting your turn.  And this year, the wait time is anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour and a half.  The problem is, like tourists everywhere, these idle alpine adventurers are dropping tons of trash on the pristine mountainside – which (from the pictures I’ve seen) isn’t pristine any more.  And, unlike most tourist attractions, there aren’t any janitors up there to clean up the mess.  As much as I worry about climate change, I’m beginning to think it’s going to be bucket lists and selfies that destroy this planet.

Tune in again next year for more news of the world.

7 Types Of Tourist (plus 1)


Europe is awash with tourists.  You can’t go three metres in any major city on the entire continent without tripping over some foreigner trying to take a picture.  In fact, Europe is actually in serious danger of becoming a gigantic theme park on the nose of Asia.  And since tourists are unavoidable west of the Ural Mountains, here are 7 (plus 1) types of tourist you should definitely avoid.  (Trust me; this is only a partial list!)

The Tour Guide – No, not those “umbrella in the air” Pied Pipers who march through the streets with a phalanx of old people in their wake.  No, not those people.  These are the folks who, armed with Wikipedia, have taken it upon themselves to explain to the entire restaurant (at concert pitch — and usually in English) the significance of whatever their group saw that day.  Everything from when Dante met Beatrice to Botticelli’s favourite dessert!

The Photographers – These are the people in the art galleries who are all assholes and elbows, kicking you out of the way to get the perfect photo of ….  Hey, buddy! You’re taking a picture of a picture that’s been professionally photographed a million times and studied in minute detail for 3, 4, or, sometimes even 500 years.  To do what with it?  Take it home and show it to your brother-in-law?  “Wow! What an unusual smile!  Who is it?”

The Selfie Sticker – Somebody is going to put somebody’s eye out with one of those damn things.

The Telephoner – These are the folks who decide to talk, text or check Instagram in the middle of a crowded street, at the top of the stairs, at the bottom of the stairs and at the entrance to every store, restaurant, museum and art gallery they run across.  The only thing worse is those doofuses who stumble around town, staring at their Google maps instead of actually looking where they’re going.

The Baggage Handler – These are the people who’ve loaded every conceivable item they might possibly need in the next 7 days into a backpack and stomp through the streets as if they’re trekking the Andes.  They swing those things like lethal weapons and insist on rearranging their crap at every opportunity – usually, in the middle of a crowded street, at the top of the stairs, at the bottom of the stairs and at the entrance to every store, restaurant, museum and art gallery they run across.

The Bros – These are the boys (friends or co-workers, in their mid-30s) who came to Europe together and have somehow managed to escape from their women for the afternoon.  Alone in a strange land, they huddle together in a defensive group to sample European culture by the bottle.

The Girlfriends – These are the wives of The Bros.  They don’t actually like each other very much, but (because of The Bros) they’ve spent so much time together their menstrual cycles are in sync.  They travel in a pack, and they’ve come to shop, and they’ve come to talk, and everybody else can piss off.

And finally:

The Parents – These are the young couples who’ve bundled up baby for a “vacation” in Europe.  They are pushing a stroller the size of a Smart Car and hauling around enough baby stuff to outfit a Malawian orphanage for a decade.  Mom looks like she hasn’t slept since the night the child was conceived, Dad looks like he’s been hit in the face with Novocaine and the poor kid is jetlagged out of his mind.  Folks, this is not fun – for anyone.  What the hell were you thinking?  Even if a child that young could remember anything — which they can’t — from their vantage point, all they’re seeing is the tourist bums directly ahead of them.  Besides, I’ve seen those strollers rattling over the cobblestones and I don’t think it’s legal to shake a baby like that.

FYI – for those of you keeping track, they’ve found our luggage.  It’s in Zurich!