DUBROVNIK, CROATIA TOPS MY LIST

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Prague, Czech Republic versus Dubrovnik, Croatia

Both incredibly “storybook” places and settings. Both very filled with narrow alleyways, ancient walls, hillsides and castles…

The defining difference? That which makes me favour Dubrovnik over Prague?
The Adriatic Sea. I think that has to be it. The sea breezes, the beautiful colours, the boats drifting just off shore… I’m a sucker for the sea.

A bit more about my experience in each place.

PRAGUE (a couple years ago):

I rose very early — shortly after sunrise, leaving my hotel around 6.30am — to wander. Non-stop. That’s saying a lot, because I am not by nature a morning person. At all. But this place inspired me. I wanted to be the first to hit the city’s streets in the morning so that I could watch the city wake up.

I discovered new and beautiful vistas around every corner, and took a record number of photos. One of my favorite photos EVER was taken in Prague, under the Charles Bridge. You would be shocked if I told you how many photos I took in just one day in Prague. Prague is a fantastically beautiful city — so fantastic, in fact, it is hard for me to put into words just how fantastic. In fact, I decided to call it Prague-tastic. It is its own level of fantastic! And I’ve been comparing all places to it, considering it an 11 on the wow meter, and metering my assessments of all other cities in the world against it.

Until now.

DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

I was wowed from the air, before I even landed. Looking out of the airplane window, foggy from far too many hours travel to get here, I wasn’t sure I could believe me eyes. The city already emanated a fairytale quality, and that was with me only seeing dark, torch-lit fragments of it. But I think that’s what did it. The torches, I mean. I thought it was just flickering lights at first, but they really were torches, as I discovered the following evening.  Dubrovnik’s Old Town is almost entirely lit with small torches — radiating brilliant light into the night sky and in many places reflecting it unto the sea — rather than actual lights! Even outside of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the city has an incredible ancient appeal to it. The city has narrow winding streets, its homes are tiered along the hillsides and it feels more like a big village than a city.

I hadn’t even seen the city in daylight, and I was already sold on the place by the time my driver transported me to my hotel.

As I awoke the next morning to the beautiful sound of the Adriatic Sea lapping just below my patio and the views of its turquoise waters against the backdrop of the Old Town walls, my suspicion was officially confirmed.  I’d found somewhere even more fantastical than Prague. I have yet to come up with a word to sum it up though. And I guess I have to drop Prague-tastic from my travel vocabulary now?

I spent the day wandering the Old Town streets. Every alleyway, every corner, every torch-lit entrance set Dubrovnik’s fate in my mind. At dusk, I settled into a torch lit street-side cafe in Old Town, for a dinner of deliciously fresh calimari, to contemplate my Croatian discovery.

Dubrovnik just has that “it” factor. I think it’s the combination of the Adriatic and the fairytale like Old Town coastline that does it. Now I just have to invent a new word to sum up Dubrovnik…

This photo from my iPhone just doesn’t do it justice.

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Travel Opportunities Abound in IRELAND right now!

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I’ve heard from a lot of people that Ireland is really trying hard to attract tourism dollars back into the country. So, it’s a great time to visit Ireland, and really max out on the experiences this great little country has to offer. I might have to book myself a trip there ASAP!

Here’s a great article about the state of Ireland travel at the moment.

An interesting Energy Consciousness comparison!

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These pictures say it all and really make you re-think things!
(not that I want to be giving up my car to pile onto a stack like in the second photo, but still…makes you think about how we define things, doesn’t it?!)

Energy consciousness Contrast these two images, and tell me which society is more serious about energy efficiency: … Read More

via The Pigs Sty

THE DEFINITION OF NO FEAR…CLEANING OUT A COBRA CAGE?

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I came across this video, and it leaves me speechless. Seriously SPEECHLESS. And I’m a guy who likes to talk!

Some people think they have it rough…but CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE doing this? What’s even more astonishing is how non-fussed this guy is about it! It seems to be just another day, another dollar…. It’s no matter that he’s surrounded by hundreds of deadly cobras, a few of them looking ripe for a strike at any second as he just tosses them aside so he can go about his business sweeping!! WOW.

This is UNREAL!!!

You must watch it. I’d LOVE to interview this guy!

GETTING PERCY-nal: My answers to some FAQs

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Why do you like traveling so much?
Well, for many reasons… I grew up in a cold, rainy place and I think I have some kind of seasonal rain disorder because after about a month of cold, grey rain I just can’t stand it anymore. So, for that reason alone, I like to get out of Dodge!Then there’s also that aspect of “Myth Busting” that I enjoy. People tend to label destinations as good or bad, often based on all of the false information or exaggerated rumors floating around. I like to see for myself and then, through my reports on the way things really are, I like to get busy shedding the light on the places that get a bad rap when they really don’t deserve it.

What kind of traveler are you?
I find I’m just as comfortable in a 2 star as a 7 star. So, I’m not sure what that makes me. A bit of a chameleon traveler, I guess? I try to blend into whatever situation I am in… Although, I’ve never been much for roughing it in the woods… I really enjoy my showers, even cold ones. Although, I have slept a night in an igloo!

What’s the favorite place you’ve visited?
I get asked that a lot and of course it’s all very subjective. Much has to do with the mood I’m in when I get asked. But, to make it simpler, I recently came up with a standard short answer…and that would be The Seychelles. It’s hands down one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

What’s the strangest place you’ve ever visited?

Timbuktu just because it’s such an iconic name in and of itself. There’s not much there of course, except a ton of “I’ve been to Timbuktu” T-shirt shops…

What’s the quirkiest event you’ve reported about?

Probably has to be the Fire throwers  of Nejapa in El Salvador, but I did visit the first Condom Factory in the world in Erfurt Germany and it is certainly a close second!!  Those Germans are sure good at manufacturing almost everything.

Favorite reports?
My interview with CANCER (the person, or at least the actor playing  the character of “cancer”) and my interview with Bailey Jr., the 1600 pound “pet bison”!! Coincidentally, I filmed both of these exceptional stories in Alberta, Canada!  

What’s the most EXTREME adventure you’ve ever had?
Jumping off Canaima Falls in Venezuela on a hang glider with a guy who didn’t really have a lot of experience. I think we were the last people permitted to do this because the Government just deemed it insane after we did it. I think they made a good decision.


What’s the worst travel experience you’ve ever had?

From my experience…Moscow is consistently one of my worst experiences — rude people, horrible service, ridiculously over priced everything… and last time I was there, they had the record heat wave and out of control fires smoking out the city. It’s just never a good time for me there!

If someone offered you a private jet to go anywhere in the world at this very moment, where’d you go?

Seychelles!! With refueling stops in London and a little side trip to Madagascar!

What FIVE places would you say everyone must visit at least once in a lifetime?

Seychelles, Madagascar, Iguazu Falls, Guatemala (Peten region, with the Mayan ruins), Tanzania

Any words of encouragement for your followers?

Get packing!!! The world awaits!

The plight in flight of the TALL GUY…

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This post is inspired by a recent Sympatico article about dealing with height in standard airline seats…

I’m not the guy in this article, but this basically IS my reality every time I travel, unless I book first class…

From the Sympatico article: “A 6’9” passenger was removed from a Horizon Air flight because he didn’t fit into his assigned seat… According to the Consumerist website, the passenger was a frequent flying MD who always tries to book a seat in the exit row of the plane in order to give his legs extra room. He was unable to reserve a similar seat for this flight as they were previously booked. The passenger made several appeals to get his seat changed, on the phone and at the gate before boarding the plane. His requests were denied and he was told that his long limbs were now the flight attendants’ problem…”

READ the FULL Sympatico article about the tall guy getting kicked off of a flight!

I know EXACTLY how this guy felt!! In all of my travels, at 6’5″ I’ve gone through similar discomfort and blame far too many times myself! While I haven’t been kicked off a plane…YET, I’ve certainly been blamed for something that surely is not in my control…my long limbs!

I’m curious what your thoughts are about this? Read the article and write a comment for me below…

London in Five Hours?

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by Tracy
Producer, Percy’s World Media

With preparation for London’s 2012 Summer Olympics in full swing, I thought it was time to pay tribute to this wonderful city — literally my home away from home.

So, you may be wondering, given the title of this post…is it possible to experience London in five hours?
Really?

Indeed, it is!

But you’ll surely be aching to come back for more!

While I was living and working in London not so long ago, a friend emailed me, saying he’d be in London (for his first time) for less than half a day during a quick stopover. The challenge was his idea.

Not one to turn down a good challenge, I immediately accepted. He would see all that London is and has to offer (more or less) in 5 hours!

THE CHALLENGE BEGINS…

We start on High Street Kensington, just outside at High Street Kensington Tube station. I lived in the area, and it happens to be a fantastic starting point for getting to know the city.

When my friend emerged from the station late, flustered and spewing forth apologies about train delays and misinterpreted transfers, I assured him that he was right on schedule on well on his way to being an honorary Londoner for a day! He had already ticked off the first essential London experience — delays. It’s just the way it is there. This isn’t Switzerland after all.

Next experience? Sticker shock. Out on Kensington High Street, surrounded by the likes of Marks & Spencer, French Connection and Dixon’s Electronics, it is hard to ignore the alarming prices — at least once converted to a foreign currency. Yet, we were not there to dwell on prices or alarming exchange rates. Instead, we found a caffeine fix at my favourite fuel stop (High Street Kensington’s Coffee Republic) and set out on our journey. (And the good news is the exchange rates have gotten much better for travelers since my friend’s visit, and are looking relatively good leading up to the Olympics!)

Our next stop was the bus shelter, where we willed the arrival of the C1 bus. Like waiting for late trains and standing in long coffee line-ups, waiting for a bus is an essential London experience. London buses are a thrill to ride — I especially love the hopping on and off — which more than compensates for any tardiness. And the bus “queue” is as authentic a London experience as sitting in one of its pubs. Sadly, our five hour time limit didn’t afford us time in a pub, though we would walk by and take pictures of many of them.

A few rounds of “spot the Smart Car” later (they truly are everywhere on London’s narrow roads), the C1 arrived. The C1′s route includes Earl’s Court, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, South Kensington, and Sloane Square. Posh London at its best! We kept our eyes out for the London’s rich and famous strolling its streets.

The C1 took us past Harrod’s, surely the world’s most opulent Department Store. More than 250,000 customers visit Harrod’s on any given day. It doesn’t take long to shed your pounds there — the currency, that is! Justin Timberlake once reportedly spent more than one million British pounds during a one hour visit to the store. It’s hardly shocking though, given all the store’s temptations in its 330 departments spread across over one million luxurious square feet!!

From Harrod’s, we finished our C1 tour and continued on to salute the Queen at Buckingham Palace, a short walk from the C1′s last stop (at Victoria Station). Perhaps the most fascinating feature of the palace, though, is its trademark “little red men.” Stiffer than can reasonably be imagined, and ant-like against the grandiose backdrop, these men dutifully guard the entrance. Most impressive is their uncanny ability to forever remain still and stare straight ahead amid the many ogling tourists. We tried desperately to make them laugh, or even twitch, bouncing around in front of them with our cameras. Nothing.

Still giggling about the guards, we strolled giddily toward Trafalgar Square. Big Ben was one of a few signature London sites I was unable to include on our short tour. However, halfway to Trafalgar Square, peaking out at us over the trees, we spotted Big Ben. A great Kodak moment.

We spent only a few minutes at Trafalgar Square, chuckling as tourists gawked at the mass congregation of pigeons and then we moved on to Piccadilly Circus. A quick few moments  of our own gawking at the famous intersection’s neon banner ads, and we were off again, charging towards Oxford Circus — London’s shopping street. But not without a quick stop at one of London’s ubiquitous EasyInternet cafes (the same company that operates the incredible low fare airline EasyJet) to send an email from central London. Another item ticked off of my list.

We hopped on a bus near The Ritz, getting off again at Tottenham (pronounce it very quickly/short to sound more local!) Court Road and Oxford Street to begin blending into the shopping and tourist masses. As well as being the location for such London shopping institutions as Selfridge’s and John Lewis, Oxford Street is also where you will find more souvenir stands than anywhere else in London. We found my friend a “mind the gap” fridge magnet along the way to Marble Arch, the entrance to Hyde Park. Yet another item ticked off.

At the corner of Hyde Park, Sunday’s quirky Speaker’s Corner was in full-swing. Perched atop soap boxes, Londoners voice their opinions on absolutely any topic, from hot dogs to taxes and sometimes even a bizarre blend of the two! After listening to a few of the corner’s more eccentric speakers, we carried on to Bayswater Road’s ecclectic art market that lines the fence bordering the road from Hyde Park.

Our five hour tour nearly complete, the last stop on the list was Clapham Junction, an up-and-coming section of the city filled with great restaurants just a quick tube ride south. And by this time, our stomachs were rioting with hunger. A self-described burger-holic, my friend could not leave London without sampling British beef so I had to take him to the best burger joint in town. Time Out Magazine calls Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s burgers the most gorgeous burgers in town. While these burgers are more expensive than anywhere else, the burgers are every bit gourmet and delicious. I personally recommend the Habanero burger — if you can handle the heat!

Our bellies filled, it was time for my friend to return to Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow Express. Back home, he now officially has the bragging rights to having experienced London in five hours…

Lost in the crowd — London’s Victoria Station.

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