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Friday, January 31, 2014

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TO DEUTSCHLAND

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Normally, it costs $10 (again, in USD) to enter the Dominican Republic.  Since I was just transferring to a different plane, they kindly waved the fee.

Despite what I'd been told in Lima by the airlines, a nice man told me I'd need to pick up my luggage to manually transfer it to the next plane.  You have to keep an eye on your luggage despite what many airports tell you.

The best thing about the airport is you could smoke almost anywhere in it.

The worst thing about the airport is they could double the size and it still wouldn't be enough.  It is a madhouse.

Teams of a dozen porters would assault every van pulling up and have the luggage unloaded before the passengers even had a chance to get out.  They were all after the tip.

They tried to have mandatory picture taking with a bunch of native girls dressed in native clothing.  Later, they tried to sell you the pictures.  This might have worked back when photographs were a rare and wondrous thing but in these days of digital cameras it seems a bit silly.

There were a lot of flights to and from the USA.  The airport was full of fat Americans shuffling listlessly about or, when their bulk had become too great, being pushed about in wheelchairs.

Going with the ancient tradition of 'put the person with the worst English on the mic', they had some lady who sounded as excited and incomprehensible as a soccer announcer begging someone to please show up to somewhere.  All I could understand was that their plane was leaving without them.  Even had it been my own name announced, I wouldn't have understood it.  Hell, I don't know if she was comprehensible in her native tongue.


While sitting there, bored out of my mind, I decided to write an article on 'five types of tourist you are likely to spot'.

Golden oldies:  These are the people who kept saying 'Some day, we'll go on vacation to a foreign country'.  Eventually, they woke up and realized they were nearly dead.  They'd put off going on a vacation for so long they now get to lug wheelchairs and oxygen bottles with them as they peer out through the world with rheumy eyes.  They're going for their last gasp (literally) for life outside the box.

Older professionals:  These aren't the line workers - they don't have any real vacation time.  These are the bosses pulling down real money and have a good enough job to have a couple months of vacation time.  They are often found with their middle aged fat wives or with the newer, younger, slimmer upgrade.  They enjoy treating the locals like their wage slaves and would fire many of them if given the chance.  Cutting in lines and being the 'Ugly American' (despite nationality) is their passion.

Youthful and idealistic:  These two things often go together because age demands compromise. There are several different categories.  They may be of the vegetarian "I can make the world a better place unlike the filthy savages that live there and obviously need white leadership" sort or just people who enjoy volunteering.  They could be students during a gap year.  Either way, they wander around wide eyed and keep their faces planted in Lonely Planet guidebooks.

Fashion hippies:  I call them 'fashion hippies' because I've met actual hippies who were protesting the Vietnam War - while it was still going on.  Yes, I'm old.  The current hippies, in order to show of their unique individualism, keep to a strict uniform dress code.  Big hair whether multicolored or in dreads, piercings, tattoos and bright often native clothing festoon them with cheap native jewelry and bracelets made from string and plastic.  They either work as they can get it or more often have indulgent rich parents who are happy to get rid of them.

Young, rich and beautiful:  Where these people come from and how they get the money for traveling is a complete mystery.  They often have matching suitcases or can afford to take their small children to different countries.  The scarier versions often have the family all in matching track suits or some equally as appalling wardrobe.  In general terms, these are the jet set.


I don't really fit into any group but I'd like to inherit a bunch of money and get in with the jet set.  If you were curious.  In a few more years, I'll probably be a 'golden oldie'.  Sad.



ALLES FUR DEUTSCHLAND

Back in Germany.  Again.  Were I more wealthy, less tired and demotivated I'd catch a cab for a few hours and tour the sites of Frankfurt.  Since the opposite is true, I sat my fat ass in the huge airport for my fourteen hour layover.

In my quest for affordable food, I mistakenly ate McDonalds but a couple of antibiotics stopped the sludge from continuing to come forth from my bottom.  Yes, it was real McDonalds and affected me just like the stuff in the states did.  Why do I listen to the siren's call of evil American fast food?

In German airports, everything works.  They allowed my baggage to be dropped off over ten hours before my flight rather than most airports only allowing it a couple hours ahead of time.

The only real bummer was getting rousted by the cops.

One of them yelled at me till I woke up.  "What?"

"Can we see your boarding pass?"

"Ah  - you think I am a homeless person?"

The female cop gave me a big manic grin.  "Maybe!"

They left me alone after they found out I did indeed have legit business at the airport.

Unfortunately, other Germans not knowing I spoke German (or caring) made various dark mutterings about the homeless in airports as they passed me.

It's not only difficult to afford a better wardrobe but even finding stuff in my size is nearly impossible.

After chatting to some girls working at a bar, they sold me a weiss beer for a bit less than the posted price.  Hopefully they weren't thinking "What a charming homeless man!"

Later I went through airport security.  The security guys were better than the ones in South America but they still missed my security pouch, which is about the size of a snub nosed .38 pistol.


I've been told in Ukraine smoking on the streets has been made illegal.  Hence, I checked with a German guy and asked him in German "Can I smoke outside?"

He looked as shocked as though I'd questioned if Germans were still aloud to have children.  "Natürlich!" (naturally) he responded.

Heck, there was even a smoking room at my gate.

Score!


Eventually, I flew off to Turkey.  More on that sleazy airport in the next blog!



DOLLARS SUCK

Because Americans like to stay in the USA, they don't get to see the value of their dollar going away in quite as dramatic way as the rest of the world.  The dollar has been steadily losing against the brand  new Euro pretty much since the Euro was first printed.  Fortunately, Americans don't worry about anything even if it kicks them in the face.



TRAVELERS TIP

How much luggage is too much?  If you are rich enough to pay off porters to lug your stuff everywhere, you can take as much as you want.  If you are a normal person, here is my opinion:

You have to be able to carry everything you want to take with you for 500 meters.

You.  Not your boyfriend, husband, wife or dog.  You.  Can you carry it for 500 meters?  Have you tested this or are you guessing?  Test it.  If you are rolling it, pick it up.  Dragging doesn't count.  There are way too many unexpected mud fields you have to cross where dragging it isn't an option.

If you are winded at the end of it (or have collapsed under the weight of your crap) you have too much.

This is for a short vacation.  If you are going on a longer one, take even less as you will often be carrying it.



PHILOSOPHY

I've always been more impressed with architecture than natural beauty.  It's the difference between "We built this" opposed to "We haven't fucked this up yet!"

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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