Sevilla, Brazil and the Olympics, Crazy people, and on having a post go Viral

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flying over Albania

Above: The coast of Albania on our Istanbul – Lisbon flight.

 

Aug 30 Newsletter

Greetings from Sevilla, Spain!

A lot has happened since our last newsletter 2 months ago.  After I came back from Mexico, Lissette and I spent another 3 weeks in Split. I’ve written a lot about Split, it is one of our favorite places anywhere. And we still love it – but I would never go there again in June and July. I’ll be writing a post on that in the next little while. In late July we spent 10 days in Skopje (Macedonia) which I wrote about last week. That post ended up going viral. More on that further below. We left Macedonia, flying through Istanbul, and landed in Lisbon where we spent most of the month of August. Then, just a few days ago, we took a bus ride to where we are now – Sevilla, Spain. I’ll be honest, things didn’t go well in Lisbon (another upcoming post) and we couldn’t be happier to be in Sevilla. It will be our base for most of the next 2 months.

I realized when sitting down to write this that we’ve been in 12 countries so far this year: South Africa, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia, Mexico, Macedonia, Portugal and now Spain.

Future plans: We’ll be going to Japan at the end of October. I’ve never seen Lissette as excited to be going anywhere. We’ll be there 7 weeks, including 3 weeks of vacation (“real” vacation – I know some people think we’re on permanent vacation but they don’t understand the realities of the way we travel). I can tell you that she’s going to go crazy there: she wants to dress like a Geisha, dance around in Japanese anime costumes, take Ninja classes, do karaoke, and get drunk with Japanese businessmen. I think we’ll have a good time. We look forward to it.

We’ll be back in the Balkans in early December, this time in Belgrade (Serbia). We’ll likely spend a week. Things are up in the air after that…By the way, we booked tickets Madrid – Tokyo – Belgrade for $730 CAD (that’s about $580 US) with Turkish Airlines. Really cheap, I have the feeling people are avoiding flying through Istanbul.

So that’s our plans for the rest of the year.

sevilla cathedral

Above: Seville (Sevilla) Cathedral

 

On Brazil

With the Olympics Games in Rio having just ended, I thought I would include a few older posts on Brazil in this newsletter. For those who don’t know, Brazil has been the least favorite place that we’ve been to. We were in Portugal during the Olympics, a country that has a large Brazilian community. We were actually asked a few times if we had been to Brazil and what we thought of it. We were honest. We got some good feedback out of it, being told for example that Brazil is very class conscious and that being white may actually have classified me as being “stuck up”. We were told even by Brazilians that they could only take Rio de Janeiro for a couple of days. That was good to hear. So it’s not just us.

Anyway, these older posts still get the most comments on the blog.

1) On Rio and feeling “welcomed”. Click here: Why we didn’t like Rio De Janeiro (or just click on the photo below).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2) The title kind of says it all: Why I won’t be going back to Brazil.

Brazil-map

 

Did anyone go to the Rio Olympics? If so did you feel welcomed? We didn’t see much of the Olympics because of the time difference but from the little we saw it looks like the Brazil ended up doing a good job. Any thoughts?

 

Crazy People

Crazy people – and I mean eccentric and not “I’m going to shoot you in the head” crazy – lead to some of the most memorable experiences when travelling. In a world where people are conformist, things are increasingly homogeneous, and when the physical travel experience is usually pure tedium sometimes you need a bit of crazy.

We got a bit of that when taking the 7 hr bus ride from Lisbon to Sevilla. The driver was a lady in her mid-50’s who apparently thought the bus was her private living room. We knew it would be an interesting ride when an American woman in the first row tried making conversation with her; “It must be very difficult driving for 7 hours straight. How do you do it?”. The driver responded that in actual fact she enjoyed the driving, that she would sometimes drive 12 hours straight. “The only problem I have is with the passengers” said she. She said that so matter-of-factly that I let out a loud snort. We saw evidence of that barely 10 minutes into the journey. We were going down the highway when the bus slowed down. I saw the driver reaching for her microphone, her eyes looking back at all of us in the mirror above her head. “Someone is eating, who is eating? There is NO food on this bus”. She waited for an answer and got none. “I know someone is eating, it smells like soup or stew. You have to STOP eating!”. She snapped her microphone back in place. 5 minutes later a young lady told her she needed a bathroom stop. Our driver clicked her teeth in annoyance. She pulled over a few minutes later at a gas station. “2 minutes to go pee pee, make it quick!”. While 3 women ran out the door she decided to have a walk down the aisle, trying to find the food-eating criminal. She seemed even more annoyed when she didn’t catch anyone. 2 minutes had gone by at this point and she started honking the bus horn. I have to admit that I laughed watching 2 women running for the bus, another far behind as she blasted out of the bathroom door.

Our driver visibly relaxed as the trip progressed. By the time we were crossing the Spanish border she was playing music loudly (mid-80’s music like George Michael and Tears for Fears) and happily announced “We are now in Spain. Olé!!”. She had everyone laughing.

All I’m saying is that you need slightly crazy people to make life interesting. Lissette and I still remember this story (Ayutthaya, Thailand – Train rides and Drunk Germans) from one of our first trips together in 2008. It’s those kind of things that sometimes make all the difference when you travel.

alsa bus

 Above: our bus from Lisbon to Sevilla

 

On having a post go Viral

Our recent post on Skopje went crazy within a few days of being published. Sometimes when you write a post you know it’ll do well – I knew this one would do well because Skopje isn’t a place that many people know anything about. I think it got people curious. Over 3 days the post averaged 3,000 unique visits a day. For most people that’s considered going viral.  It’s tailed off a bit the last few days mostly because Facebook cut off our ad due to bad language (which is funny because Spanky never stops seeing FB pages featuring guns, dismembered bodies or X-rated sex. Never mind all the photos of penises regularly sent by “fans” to her FB inbox*).

* That’s in addition to the “indecent proposals”, wedding proposals, and girls who dress like prostitutes who want to be her friends. Facebook is a strange place.

Anyway, the post is still bringing a lot of traffic. If you haven’t had a chance to see the post, here it is: Wild, Wacky Skopje (Macedonia). One of the strangest places we’ve been

Skopje-boat-on-river-macedonia

 

Plans for our time in Sevilla

We’ll be in Sevilla until late October, that’s almost 2 months. We plan on doing a lot of exploring of Sevilla and of Southern Spain – but another reason to take that much time is to gear up for our time in Japan. So we’ve joined the gym and started on a “get healthy” diet. We’re helped along here by one of those modern fridges that starts beeping frenetically when the door is open more than 15 seconds. Like it’s calling us fat. Damn fridge.

So the plan is to get in shape, get some sleep (which we didn’t get in Lisbon), and catch up on some posts. And of course discover Southern Spain.

 

What would you call this?

burkpanty

A little last minute add-on to this newsletter. We saw this store display coming home from the gym today. Look at the one in the middle. It has a little veil-like thing covering the front and back of the panty. Could it be American Indian-inspired?  Maybe it’s the latest in Islamic lingerie wear? With all the stories about the burkini in France the best I can think of right now is the “burkpanty”. Maybe the “modesty veil?”.

Who can come up with the wittiest name? Winner gets to have his/her name splashed right here in big, bold colors along with their winning submission :)

* Winning entry “Coochie Cover” by Patricia at Travels and Tipples :)

 

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Thanks for Reading and have a great month of September!

 

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Comments

  1. All sort of awesome in this summary. Grats for going viral on the Internet; we’re all glad it not a disease kind of viral. Have a great time in Japan.
    Hung Thai recently posted…Fishy Tourists Ruining Coral HavenMy Profile

  2. That was a hilarious and varied post to wake up to today, Frank. Thanks for the chuckles. I have no name for the knicker arrangement, at the moment… shall think on it!
    Jane recently posted…The Humble Postie BikeMy Profile

  3. wow! We’ll be back in Japan for a week or two next year – actually booked some of the tickets and booking the rest later today. I totally missed your post on Skopje fantastic that a post about a little known destination is the one to go viral!
    Andrew recently posted…Some thoughts on the Olympics.My Profile

  4. Howling at your description of the bus driver! Makes you miss the luxury buses of Mexico doesn’t it, with the drivers in crisp shirts and ties and their formal demeanor? Great catch up on your doings for the last month but from the sounds of it, your visit to Lisbon was less than stellar. Maybe, like Croatia, high season and definitely August in both Lisbon and the Algarve is to be avoided. I’ll be interested in reading your posts and hope you have a great time in Seville. We may try and make it over that way towards the end of October (only 3 plus hours by bus from Lagos) before you head out so that we can finally meet… Of course by then, you two will be all buff from your gym time and we’ll still be digesting all our food from our family reunions in the US! :) Congrats on going viral!
    Anita recently posted…A Hop-On, Hop-Off Boat: Cruising the Canals of CopenhagenMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Anita! The rest of the world has a lot to learn from Mexican bus companies, I can’t get over most of the buses we’ve seen in some of Europe. The Alsa bus was actually very comfortable – but the toilet was ‘broken’ because someone had put too much toilet paper in it (this according to our driver). So we had to make 3 or 4 bathroom stops…
      Lisbon – the number of tourists definitely had something to do with it. It’s a pretty city and I think we would have enjoyed it much more without the hordes. Our airbnb apartment was also really bad and it seemed like we were in an “Airbnb Guetto”. Every 2nd apartment was rented by tourists and most of them acted like jackasses. With no AC and windows open all we heard were these damn monkeys all night long. Tourists ruin places.
      Enjoy the US.
      We hope we get to meet you! We leave the 21st of October.

  5. I found Japan a bit boring. Nice temples, good trains, food is pretty good, clean cities but the place seems like one big sterile museum. I wouldn’t bother going back.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      We know a bunch of bloggers who’ve been and who absolutely loved it. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. We’ll see, maybe it’ll be a disappointment – but I doubt it. It so different culturally and has so many idiosyncrasies that it has to be interesting. Maybe we’ll even film ourselves sitting on one of those high tech toilets for you Tom! :)

  6. I didn’t hate it. Just thought I would have liked it more. It’s good for photos. See how it goes for you. I only went for a week. Maybe I missed the best places. The tiny hotel rooms and bathrooms are poor value compared to what you get in Thailand. I’m also more of a beachy type person and not that into temples and structures. You may well love it.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Tom. We’re kind of opposites, we don’t like beaches all that much. We’re looking forward to all the bizarre :)

  7. Frank & Spanky, we just got yesterday late afternoon to Levanto, Cinque Terre, our American Airlines flight came 3+ hours late to Madrid where we were to take the Air Europa flight to Rome and of course we lost the connecting flight, there was no place in the one for the following day so we stayed in Madrid for 2 days lossing the same time in our Airbnb in Rome.
    Rome gratefully surprised us with a clean fountain of Trevi, Vatican City and Spanish Steps (not jet open to the public) but it is a shame the rest of the city was so full of garbage, most of the streets need a good cleaning process. Temperature was high in Rome and at night not so cool, here in Levanto it feels a little bit cooler.

    Seville is a small treasure, there are a lot of beautiful narrow streets, interior gardens and windows and balconies full of flowers in a small space, don’t miss the White Towns (Los Pueblos Blancos) especially Ronda, Setenil de las Bodegas and Arcos de la Frontera with it’s great “Mirador”. Go to the Bay of Cadiz, visit el Puerto de Santa Maria and San Lucar de Barrameda try here the tortilla de camarón and drink lots of Manzanilla, the local wine family of Sherry wine (Jerez) and of course pay a visit to Granada (the Alhambra) and Córdoba (la Mezquita) among other interesting things in both places.

    Because of our trip I have not read your last posts but you know I will, we will be in Madrid to return home from th 19 to that 23, we have yet to go to Several places in Italy, by the way it was not that crowded anywhere in Rome, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel we can say were empty.

    Ok, this was a long one, enjoy your stay in Andalucía.

    Take care

    Carlos

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks so much Carlos for all the suggestions. Sounds great. Yes, we already like Sevilla for all the things you’ve mentioned.
      Yes, Rome feels like its got a coat of grime on it. Maybe several layers. But it is special isn’t it? Yeah, I can imagine gets hot in summer. I’m surprised it wasn’t overcrowded, even when there in April it was really busy.
      Thanks again Carlos! Enjoy the Cinque Terra.
      Frank

  8. Sounds like an epic couple of months you’ve had. Bus drivers always crack me up, they either have the most eccentric personalities or think they behind the wheels of an F1 car. Congrats on the post going viral – it’s always nice to see the long hours stuck behind a laptop are paying off.g

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes, we’ve had all kinds. The scariest, scariest drive I’ve ever had was Medan to Lake Toba in Sumatra. 5 hours of thinking for sure I would die.
      Thanks for the comments Barry :)

  9. I tried to comment yesterday from my phone but it didn’t work. My suggestion would be along the same lines as yours – “Veiled Threat”. That’s the cleanest one I could come up with. :)
    Have enjoyed reading about the 12 countries you’ve visited so far this year. We’ve been to 11: Italy (two trips), Portugal, Ireland, United Kingdom (two trips), the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Iceland, France, Switzerland and, of course, Germany. Going to Austria next month and maybe one or two others between November and December. Mr. Tipples will have me beat as he is going back to the U.S. for a visit; I probably won’t go until next year.
    Can’t wait to read about Sevilla – of course it’s on my list!
    Travels and Tipples recently posted…Nine Towns In Four YearsMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      “Veiled Threat” – I don’t know, sounds a lot more threatening and less sexy than “Veiled Secrets” :) Thanks for your contribution Patricia.

      You’ve had a busy year! Ireland and the UK will make it on our list one day. As a few people have said, the UK a lot cheaper these days. Poland is a place we also want to see, maybe sometime next year. Any favorites?

      • Well how about “Coochie Cover”? :)
        I haven’t spent too much time in Poland so not a lot to recommend, unfortunately.
        My first trip was to Krakow and while it seemed like a great place, I was there in February and it was so bitterly cold that I was miserable half the time. The salt mines were fabulous though.
        This summer we went to Wroclaw, which was a very pleasant surprise and well worth the trip. On our drive from there to Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, we stopped in Świdnica, Poland to see the Peace Church(a UNESCO site) and that was amazing.
        My only other Poland experience was when we were staying in Görlitz, Germany where you can walk across the bridge to Zgorzelec, Poland. The beer on the Polish side of the bridge is much cheaper!
        Travels and Tipples recently posted…Nine Towns In Four YearsMy Profile

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Ok, you win it with “Coochie Cover”. I like it :)
          Bitterly cold we don’t like but it’s a possibility for April maybe…Krakow has always been on the list and we’ve met a lot of Polish bloggers through the blog and they all seem weird and friendly. I think we would like them. I’d also like to do a hike in the Tetra mountains.
          Yeah, that’s another thing – cheap beer. Think we would like that.
          Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Photo Essay on Lisbon, Portugal. And why we were happy to leave…My Profile

  10. Seven hours on a bus without an onboard bathroom? And, no eating for 7 hours?! That’s a tough ride!
    Patti recently posted…The Atlantic City Beach & Boardwalk ~My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes! We had a 25 minute lunch stop halfway through the drive and stopped 3 other times for bathroom breaks. But a lot of people we’re happy when they got on and found out the toilet was non-functioning.

  11. I like Polish food and beers. They produce an excellent dark ale. One of the few Euro countries that interests me.

  12. As always a very interesting read. I am looking forward to your posts from Sevilla and Southern Spain, an area we have been planning to go for years…And I am so curious how you will do in Japan. Unfortunately we will not be there this autumn, we are going to Egypt (an update for a guidebook) and Sudan, another place that was in our mind for quite a long time. And there (again!) was the cheap Turkish Airline flight available (Belin – Cairo, Khartoum-Berlin).
    Natascha (from WESTWARDS) recently posted…The amazing Solar Furnace in Parkent in Northern Uzbekistan – and how to visit it!My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Wow, you’re going to some sketchy places! (Isn’t there fighting in Sudan right now? Or is that Southern Sudan?) But you are both experienced travellers and I’m sure you’ll have interesting experiences.
      Yes, have to admit we’re both nervous yet excited about Japan. Thank you for all the information you’ve given us, you are true experts on the country!

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