A Travellerspoint blog

June 2012

Welcome to my Travel blog!

Index of Worldwidemike's entries

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Thank you for checking out my travel blog here on Travellerspoint. I've created this entry to make it easy for you to find my entries. They start at the top with the most recent, and get older as you scroll down. I just finished (summer 2019) going back and taking the travelogues from my original, Worldwidemike site, and re-posting them here. So, virtually every trip abroad I have taken in my life is listed below.

The list begins with multi-entry, day-by-day accounts of places I've been since I started the blog in 2012 (with my trip to Georgia, Armenia, and Karabakh). These tend to have lots of photos and are much more detailed. It continues with ones I've brought over from the Worldwidemike site, the more recent ones having a fair number of photos, dwindling as I go backward. The site was hosted on Earthlink, which had strict rules about how many MBs of storage you could use. The list finally ends with my first overseas adventure -- backpacking across Europe after graduating high school in 1981.

If you're looking for a specific country's entry, don't forget to scroll down and look at the sidebar on the left. If you're just browsing, the entries at the top of this list directly below will be more substantial than those at the bottom. Enjoy!

Bhutan, July, 2019

Philippines, June, 2019

Singapore, June, 2019

Azores, March, 2019

Monaco, June, 2018

Curacao, March, 2018

Sri Lanka, June-July, 2017

Uruguay, March, 2017

Argentina, March, 2017

Philippines, July, 2016

Laos, June 2016

Singapore, June, 2016

Bosnia-Hercegovina, March 2016

Croatia, March 2016

Italy, June 2015

Ukraine, July 2015

Nicaragua, March 2015

Vietnam, June 2014

Taiwan, June 2014

Cyprus, March 2014

Iceland, March 2013

Karabakh, July 2012

Armenia, July 2012

Georgia, June 2012

Mali, February 2009

Aruba, December 2008

Denmark, November 2008

Peru, October 2008

Slovenia, May 2008

Malta, December 2007

Egypt, October 2007

Albania, April 2007

South Africa, October 2006

Lesotho, October 2006

Swaziland, October 2006

Mexico, March 2006

Syria, September 2005

Easter Island, June 2005

Jamaica, April 2005

El Salvador, October 2004

Spain, December 2004

Andorra, March 2004

Indonesia, March 2003

Myanmar, March 2003

Bulgaria, August 2003

Lithuania, November 2002

Kong Kong, September 2002

Macau, September 2002

Belize, June 2002

Thailand, November, 2001

Cambodia, November, 2001

Brazil, October, 2001

France, August, 2001

Guatemala, February, 2001

Czech Republic, October, 2000

Bermuda, September, 2000

Estonia, June, 2000

Russia, June, 2000

Finland, June, 2000

Sweden, June, 2000

Jordan, December, 1999

United Arab Emirates, November, 1999

Hungary, October, 1999

Malaysia, May, 1999

Italy, Vatican City, San Marino, July, 1999

Turkey, November, 1998

Netherlands, August, 1998

Spain, June, 1998

Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Guadeloupe, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, May, 1998

Wales, August, 1997

Ireland, July, 1997

Portugal, May, 1997

Costa Rica, August, 1996

Belgium, June, 1996

Greece, May, 1996

Poland, October, 1995

Italy, September, 1995

England, August, 1994

Bahamas, May, 1993

South Korea, June, 1987

Panama, July, 1986

Honduras, July, 1986

Scotland, July-August, 1985

Canada, 1982

Israel, October 1981- February1982

Switzerland, October 1981

Austria, October 1981

Germany, September-October 1981

Luxembourg, September 1981

France, September 1981

Here's the alphabetical listing of all 91 countries I have visited

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Austria
  • Azores
  • Bahamas
  • Bali (Indonesia)
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia-Hercegovina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Curacao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republick
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Easter Island
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • England
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Karabakh
  • Laos
  • Lesotho
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Myanmar
  • Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • St. Lucia
  • San Marino
  • Scotland
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Swaziland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Vatican City
  • Vietnam
  • Wales

Posted by world_wide_mike 15:11 Comments (0)

So Where are Georgia and the Caucasus?

A Map showing Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Even if they have heard of them, most people would have a hard time pointing out Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on the map. So, I thought I'd paste a map here showing where it is in relation to the Europe and Asia.

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Posted by world_wide_mike 11:51 Tagged map georgia azerbaijan armenia caucasus Comments (0)

Starting a Travel Blog for This Summer's Trip

Worldwidemike's Journey to the Caucasus -- Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Hi, it has been more than 3 years since I took a real journey abroad -- the longest period of time since I turned 18 and went backpacking through Europe. As most of you know, I cut back on the travel while I was studying to get my teacher's license. Then, job searching and getting my first two years of teaching under my belt consumed all of my spare time. Now, I'm ready to start taking advantage of my summer breaks and resume my travels. I'm ready to become Worldwidemike, again!

This summer's trip is to the Caucasus Mountains -- yes, where the word "Caucasian" comes from. This area between Turkey and Russia is technically Europe, but is steeped in influences from Asia. When I began to read about its gorgeous mountain scenery and the medieval towers and monasteries that are relics of its rich past, I was hooked. I plan to leave towards the end of June and will be gone for a month. Before I leave, I will make a few entries outlining my planned route and what I hope to see. You can subscribe to this blog and receive emails when I update it. I plan to update it as often as possible while on the road. I don't know what internet access is like in these countries, but hope to find out some more about that before I go.

Feel free to pass this blog address along to friends, family members or anyone else you think might enjoy it. And in the meantime, feel free to check out my Travel page which has many travelogs from the 70+ countries I've visited so far in my life!

My travel page: Worldwidemike

Posted by world_wide_mike 11:51 Comments (1)

Have hat, ready to travel!

Worldwidemike, version 3

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One of my traditions over the past couple decades of travel has been wearing a personalized "Worldwidemike" hat. I just had this one made at Easton yesterday. My previous WWM hat was pretty sweated out and was a little worse for the wear. I thought I'd go with a black one this time. I think it looks pretty cool. Others may think it's weird having a hat with your nickname on it, but hey! Others think it is weird I'm going to Georgia and Armenia in the first place!

Speaking of my destination, Azerbaijan has been officially trimmed from the list. I simply don't have enough time to secure a visa for my visit. I was hoping the embassy in Washington D.C. would let me show up in person and apply and get it in the same day. That's what I did for Mali, Syria and other countries who have restrictive visa policies. Azerbaijan apparently does not do this, and you instead have to wait 10 business days for it to be sent to you. That was cutting it too close for comfort, so I've decided to put a visit to the country off to another day.

The good part is that this lets me spend more time in both Georgia and Armenia. There is so much to see there. I'm really excited about this trip. One thing I'm trying to do is be more "21st century" with my travel preparation. I've used Facebook to contact people in Georgia and Armenia to have them answer questions I have. I'm still debating whether to take an iPad or iPhone with me. There is an app that translates what you want to say into Georgian or Armenian -- writing it out in their Cyrillic script, showing how to pronounce it, and even saying it for you. Not quite the Star Trek universal translator yet, but it is getting closer. And needless to say, I don't speak a word of either language, yet!

Next, I'm going to try to "email update" feature of this blog. Apparently, I can send an email to a certain address and it automatically updates this blog with what I send. I want to see how it works before I leave, so expect that to be coming shortly. I am now less than 2 weeks away -- so I'll soon be updating from the road!

Posted by world_wide_mike 10:54 Comments (0)

Planes and airports, planes and airports (repeat)

Loooong two days of travel ahead...

So, the big day has arrived and I'm finally on my way to the Causcasus. Right now, I'm sitting in the Philadelphia airport after the shortest of the flights I'll be taking. Here's my travel schedule:

Tuesday, 1:30 USAirways flight from Columbus - Philadelphia
Tuesday, 6:15 USAirways flight from Philadelphia - Zurich
-- I get in at 8:25 am on Wenesday morning.
Wednesday, 1:20 pm Ukraine International Airways flight from Zurich - Kiev
Wednesday, 8:30 pm Ukraine International Airways flight from Kiev - Tlibisi
-- I finally get in at 11:55 pm Wednesday night. The place I'm staying is sending a driver to pick me up at the airport.
It costs about $5-10 more than a taxi, but will be worth it, I feel. That way I *know* someone will be expecting me there. if I weren't getting in so late, I probably wouldn't worry about it. Arriving after midnight in a strange city where I don't speak the language seems to tell me it's worth it.

This is going to be a long two days, I'm sure. I have my new ipad to entertain me in places like this with wifi. I'll try to sleep on my overnight flight to Zurich, but I'm not always best at doing that. Well see...

Feel free to leave comments on my posts. The way the blog is set up, I have to "approve" comments. So, it may take a day for the to show up here, but they will. From this point on, I promise my posts will get more interesting! Oh, and if you "subscribe" to the blog, you'll get emails when I put up a new entry.

Talk to you soon...!
worldwidemike

Posted by world_wide_mike 13:17 Comments (4)

Near-disaster on Day 1

When it rains, it pours...

rain 75 °F

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My reentry into the world of staying in hostels didn't go so well last night. Despite totaling maybe 3 hours sleep over the last two days, I could not get to sleep. I was staying in a 6-bed dorm with 5 other travellers I did not get a chance to meet because I didn't get in till after 1 am. I am an incredibly light sleeper, so the noises of people shuffling through their stuff, going to the restroom and so on kept me from falling asleep. Oh, and did I mention two cat fights outside our balcony and the drunken disturbance down the street? Yeah, so I went into Thursday half a zombie.

I'd like to think that was my alibi for the disaster I mention in the title. Somehow, as I was out wandering the streets of Old Town Tbilisi, I managed to lose my passport. Not misplace, or forget where I left it. No,I dropped in the street somewhere. When I noticed it was missing, I retraced my entire morning route. I returned to the hostel and told them about it. Before calling the police, the hostel worker made me empty my pockets and bags for her. When I checked with the embassy, they confirmed someone had found and reported they would be turning in my passport. They called a couple hours later when they had it. I jumped in a cab and raced to get it. In 72 previous countries, I had ever lost either my passport or wallet. Yikes. I'd better get some sleep tonight or this could be a rough trip!!

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So, what did I do and see in Tblisi today? Mainly, I made travel arrangements like purchasing my ticket to Mestia -- the scenic heart of the Caucasus Mts. In Georgia. I checked out hotels for when Jenny joins me in mid-July, and I picked out places to visit. Definitely a "light" day on sights, but a potential heavy-weight disaster. I met a lot of the other travellers staying here at the hostel. It was fun gettting to know them. Tomorrow, I am out the door early to take a marshrutka (shared minivan taxi) to Akhaltsikhe. And yes, I even learned how to pronounce that mouthful of a name. Georgians love their consonants! So far, my favorite is Mtskheta...5 consonants before the first vowel!

Hopefully, I'll have more sights to report on tomorrow, along with no dazed mindless mishaps...!

Posted by world_wide_mike 07:40 Archived in Georgia Comments (3)

Deep into the Wooded Mountains

Akhaltsikhe and Sapera Monastery

sunny 81 °F

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Today began with my introduction to the main form of public transportation in Georgia - the marshrutka. This is a large van that functions as a bus, going between towns and cities, and even within cities themselves. You don't see Western style buses on the roads much here, but marshrutky (plural of marshrutka) are everywhere.

A quick early morning walk to the metro station, and six stops later, I was outside the main marshrutka station in Tblisi. My guidebook called it "sprawling," and it was that. Not being able to read the Georgian letters - they use a form of Cyrillic, like Russia - I asked around and quickly found my van. The price was less than 14 Georgian Lari, which comes to less than $10 for a 3-hour plus ride.

The scenery steadily became more mountainous as we drove southwest from the capital. About halfway there, we lost the nice, 4-lane divided highway and were reduced to a potholed 2-lane country road. I'd heard Georgian drivers are, well, nutballs behind the wheel. Mine was aggressive, becoming frustrated when he couldn't pass slow, diesel smoke spewing trucks that coughed along ahead of us. I'd made a vow, though, that I would watch the scenery and not stress out about the driving. It worked, and I enjoyed the ride through steadily more mountainous terrain. Ruined castles and towers brooded atop some hills, while on others patches of weathered stone covered in dark green moss peered out from behind the thick coating of trees. I was the only one of a dozen passengers enjoying the view. I was the only traveller to Akhaltsikhe - everyone else appeared to be Georgian locals.

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The word Akhaltsikhe has two of one of my favorite foreign sounds that we don't use in English. Make a hawking sound like you're getting ready to spit. That is what the "kh" sound is in Georgian. Akhaltsikhe is lucky....it gets two,hawking spits in its name! Once in town, I struck out along the main drive looking for one of two hotels I'd picked out from the guidebook's description. This was actually one of the few stops I did not reserve a room over the internet beforehand. I did have to ask directions to find hotel Prestizhi, but was glad I did. For $30, I got a great room with balcony, bathroom, shower - and most importantly, all to myself! Last night in Old Town Hostel in Tblisi, I'd conked out early and slept for about 4 and 1/2 hours. Once I woke up about 3:45 am, I never could get back to sleep. Mister Snorer in the bunk below me had his sleep apnea kick in then, and it woke me up despite my ear plugs. I was definitely looking forward to my own room!

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Next up was my #1 reason for coming here: Sapera Monastery. I cut a deal with a taxi driver to take me up into the hills on dirt tracks for 8 miles and bring me back. I didn't know how bad the road was, so now I understand the 25 lari price better. The scenery was stunning. I savored the forests, alpine meadows, deep river valleys and green hilltops while getting slung back and forth in the back of the taxi. Sapera is halfway up a steep slope, and the stone walls and tile roofs of the monastery seem to rest at peace in its remote forest. The oldest buildings are more than 1,000 years old, it is a gorgeous, serene place. My taxi driver accompanied me the whole way, soaking it in alongside me and pointing out places to take nice photos from. You could go inside two of the churches, and the medieval era frescoes on the walls were stunning. Georgians take their religion seriously, and the sparse handful of others there were lighting candles, crossing themselves and bowing. Sapera's monks seemed cheerful. In fact, they would fit right in at any gaming convention with their unkempt beards and quirky humor. It always cracks me up, too, when a monk pauses to answer their cell phone...!

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Once back, I decided to explore the castle. Akhaltsikhe means "new castle" in Georgian. To give you an idea how old the land is, the castle was built in the 1100's AD. The castle looms over the town on a steep hill. Right now, it is one massive sprawling cot structure site. The government is pouring millions of laris into a huge renovating project. All of the castle buildings and walls are being completely rebuilt to look brand new. There were hundreds of workers cutting stone, driving backhoes and doing every job imaginable. This has got to be the biggest employment source in town, if not the whole region. There is even going to be a reconstructed village at the base of the castle. In about a year or so, this is going to be a cool place to visit! I played nonchalant and wandered in amongst the construction, taking sly photos now and then. My three day beard growth, dark glasses and (I've been told) Georgian features meant that no one stopped me.

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Afterwards, a nap was calling to me. Having less than 8 hours sleep over the last 4 days added up, and I conked out in the hotel room for an hour or so. The rest of the day was spent exploring the town and finding cool stuff to photograph. So far, the only wifi I've found is at a gas station convenience store. Hopefully, I'll find a better spot and upload this. Tomorrow, I'm off to a highly scenic valley chocked full of historic sights. Stay tuned for more updates....

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Posted by world_wide_mike 19:04 Archived in Georgia Comments (2)

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