Although it’s easy to feel envious of Andy’s travels around the world, his writing is vivid enough to make you believe you had joined him. His latest series of posts, detailing a trip trough Africa, are no different. It sounds like an amazing continent, one that offers the intrepid traveller some incredible sights:
Great rich earthy trails of red, amber and ochre form streaks across huge plains of deep green foliage and scrubland. Huge white outcrops soar up through groves of yellow-pocked acacia trees, chunky bare-trunked baobabs and the fluttering sprouts of the banana plants…
Blade-like roads slice directly through villages where bright white eyes peer out from under the leafy shade of communal trees, and terracotta coloured, tin-roofed houses are lined up like matchboxes to each side of the varying qualities of tarmac – which range from rough to barely present.
Yet this beauty is threatened by a persistent danger, be it from wild game circling your isolated camp, or from fellow humans in a crime-ridden city:
It was repeated to me a few times that you don’t stop at red lights after dark in Johannesburg, nor do you drive with your windows fully up (it stiffens the glass which makes it an easier task to smash with a crowbar at an intersection). Security is a massive concern of daily life, and every brick built house squats in a concrete or iron-fenced compound, and comes with a big board showing which particular company will provide the armed response. It’s quite a strange sight for European eyes.
What an experience.
A new pair of jeans, the reignited love for a city and an inevitable answer to a surprisingly surprising question. Just some of the artefacts collected during two weeks in America.
Once again, I’m in Austin for SXSW Interactive; the forth time I’ve attended an event I find easy to disparage. Yet this is the first stop on a trip that will take in several hundred miles of Interstate highway between here and San Francisco; two points of familiarity on an itinerary that promises to be anything but predictable.
For the final leg of my North American tour I transcended the West Coast on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Getting to San Francisco wouldn’t be much fun, boarding a coach in Vancouver at a ridiculous hour in the morning and dealing with an offensive US border guard before arriving at a closed King Street station in Seattle sounding its fire alarm.
Some cities are best arrived at by air; only by flying over Sydney, London or New York do you get a sense of their scale and majesty. San Francisco is best approached by car, with some of the best views of that city seen as you cross the Bay Bridge. Others are best suited to arrival by train. Toronto is one such city.
Having tried so diligently last year to reduce the amount of flying I do, I hoped to keep this year’s long-haul flights to one. With an important part of my family now settled in São Paulo, and some of my best friends based in San Francisco, maybe such lofty goals are foolhardy. Before I write about my most recent travels, I address the hypocrisy in taking such a trip.
October has been a crazy month, and I’m not even done with it yet!
Somewhat forgotten in the last few months has been my thoughts on Brasília which I visited all the way back in March. For such an incredibly city it seems remiss not to record my thoughts before they fade into distint memory.
Much of the excitement has come in the form of web conferences, and looking back, I find it surprising just how many I’ve attended this year already.
For anyone coming to Brasília for its modernist architecture, no visit would be complete without a stay at this hotel. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and opened in 1958, it hosted dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth and Che Guevara before being devastated by fire in 1978. After facing decades of abandonment and neglect, it was modernised and reopened in 2006.
Me, after a day spent exploring my former home of San Francisco:
Underground cables rumbling, sirens wailing, horns beeping. Trams ringing and drums thumping. San Francisco has a soundtrack, and I like it.
I’ve decided to attend next years SXSW Interactive festival followed by a tour of North America. The details of where I’ll be visiting and for how long remain undecided, but I imagine my itinerary will be varied and involve much travelling by train.
I ended my review of 2009 promising to write more about green issues and how I plan to lessen my impact on the environment. Now I expand on those ideas further.
I’ve long held two ambitions. The first: to return to Australia before this decade is out. The second: to welcome in a New Year on Sydney Harbour before I turn 30.
As predicted, I was unable to blog during my travels across Europe last month, although less predictable was this being due to the death of my laptop mid-trip. I’ll be posting reports and photos from the cities I visited over the coming weeks, but here are a few general thoughts to start off with.
Brussels will quickly be forgotten.
After a number of years focusing my travels around big American cities, today I start a three week jaunt across Europe.
Today was largely taken up by a flight back to London from San Francisco, where I spent the last ten days.
As I approach the end of my latest trip to America, I continue to fight the losing battle that is getting people to understand me when I say my first name.
The California Zephyr is a 56 hour, 2348 mile long train journey that starts in Emeryville, California. After speeding across the deserts of Nevada and Utah, it climbs over the Rocky Mountains, tunnels under the Continental Divide before heading towards its final destination of Chicago’s Grand Union Station.