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Archive for November, 2008

The Russians have a term — avoska — for a small tote bag carried “just in case.” Theirs were used for the random times where lines spontaneously formed for things like bananas. When lines appeared, people would join even if they weren’t certain what was on offer (on the grounds that, if people were lining up, something good must be for sale)!

In the same “Be Prepared” spirit, such a reusable tote bag is one of the smartest things a no-budget traveler can stash in the outer pockets of their luggage or in their handbag.

The nice folks at Wellcare want you to have this tote for free. It appears to have nice long straps for shoulder carrying. If you don’t like the design, I recommend you simply turn it inside out!

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It was six men of Hindustan to learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant (though all of them were blind),
That each by observation might satisfy the mind.

blind men and the elephant

The first approached the Elephant and happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side at once began to bawl:
“Bless me, it seems the Elephant is very like a wall.”

The second, feeling of his tusk, cried, “Ho! What have we here?
So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ’tis mighty clear:
This wonder of an Elephant is very like a spear.”

blind man and the elephant trunkThe third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Then boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake.”

The fourth reached out an eager hand
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant is very like a tree!”

blind man and the elephant earThe fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Hindustan disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right and all were in the wrong.

So oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant not one of them has seen!

— John Godfrey Saxe, “The Blindmen and the Elephant”

Photographs taken in the Garden for the Blind, Freizeitpark Rheinaue, Bonn, Germany (June 2008 )

  • Like travel photography? Join the Photo Friday crew here.
  • More of a poetry fiend? Follow along with Poetry Friday here.

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Greetings fellow travelers and welcome to this week’s Carnival of Cities. I’m happy to be your host as we jet around the world following tales of tapioca, tumbling and taxidermy. Intrigued? Read on . . .

New York City, NY, USA: Sascha Zuger from Travel Savvy Mom scoops a great hotel package, describes her run-in with Sesame Street’s Gordon and highlights the Kids’ Night on Broadway offer in her post Broadway, Baby!

Rome, Italy: speaking of perfect hotels, Mara at Mother of All Trips has identified a real winner for young families near the Coliseum in her post Mondays Are for Dreaming: Hotel Lancelot.

Naples, Italy: Karen Landes is blogging at WhyGo Italy on the shades of life on display when slicing Naples in two in the post Spaccanapoli: Naples’ Historic Main Street.

Washington, DC, USA: Jon at The DC Traveler gives us a peek at the folks folding themselves in half and risking their lives nightly for our enjoyment when he goes Backstage at Cirque du Soleil KOOZA.

San Francisco, CA, USA: DFernandez takes us along on a twisty insider tour of his favorite tourist spots in The (Crooked) Road Not Taken at You’re So City.

London, UK: Caitlin at Roaming Tales is serving up top tips for London’s East End — not the least of which is where you may spot folk-dancing squirrels selling high-end clothes . . . Check out her post A Stroll through London’s Quirky East End for directions, or simply let your badger on a leash lead the way!

Prescott, AZ, USA: Granny J takes in an impressive number of public scupltures in Prescott’s Heroic Bronzes at Walking Prescott.

Dublin, Ireland: A detail on the airport wall caught the eye of Fin Keegan in the post Bitter in the End.

Dresden, Germany: You’d have to be blind to miss the detail on the tiled wall called the Procession of Princes in my post Saturday Photo Friday #4 here at Less Than a Shoestring.

Bangkok, Thailand: The news about hundreds of air passengers stranded as rebels seize the airport putting your Thai travel plans on hold? Conan Stevens serves up a perspective on the impact of the foreign spender in Is Thailand Safe to Travel in Now?

Shanghai, China: Our benevolent leader Sheila Scarborough gives us the scoop on a bubble tea chain discovered in China which has a branch in — no joke — Albuquerque in the post Stop into China’s rbt for Tea and Juice Drinks at the Family Travellogue.

Mexico City, Mexico: Gilocafe has a video to share from their visit to Teotihuacan Pyramids: Mexico City, Mexico.

Kanyakumari, India: Maneesh of Admirable India shares his photos from two museum visits in the post Trip to Kanyakumari: Chapter 2: Wandering Monk Exhibition, Kanyakumari and Government Museum, Kanyakumari: Part 1.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Jason Sarracini of Trip Quips gives a quick resort tip for a stay on the island.

That concludes this week’s Carnival — the next Carnival of Cities will be hosted by the friendly folks at UpTake. Submit your (one, non-spammy) blog post about any aspect of ONE city to the next edition before next Tuesday using the carnival submission form. If you like these posts, try browsing the extensive Carnival of Cities archives.

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Target (or, if you’re classy like me, Tarzhay) sponsors a weekly or monthly free admission day at museums around the country. Readers in or visitors to Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City take note: multiple museums in these cities offer free entry, thanks to this corporate sponsorship!

Check for a free museum close to you here. If there is a Target in your city but no local museum partnership, I’m researching how to get your museum a grant to fund free admission. Keep watching this space for more details.

  • Like culture? Read previous Friday Freebie museum offers here.

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Traveling in Europe for nearly a decade, I’ve reached a saturation point with churches. Some study-abroad students come down with an unshakable case of ABC Syndrome (short for “Another Boring Church”) in just 10 weeks! Don’t get me wrong: I studied church art intensively and am still moved by the beauty and majesty of many religious temples — but these days it takes a soaring recommendation from the guidebook to get me in the door, which happens only once or maybe twice per trip.

Sometimes I am surprised, however, by a jewel of a church that I just have to recommend. The Pisa Cathedral (Italy) is one I’ve already mentioned; the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig (Germany) is another.

St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig

The pastel color scheme and the natural light give the church a truly uplifting feel while the unique palm-frond column tops reminded me of the tree-like columns designed by Gaudi in Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. Your eyes are naturally drawn heavenward by the architecture.

I wanted to visit the Nikolaikirche because of the significant role it played in the peace movement leading to the end of the German Democratic Republic in 1989. I was not prepared for it to be so beautiful!

Johann Sebastian Bach was the choirmaster and organist here for over a quarter-century. Regular concerts of Bach’s compositions are held at the church; tickets are 10-15 euros and can be ordered online.

Open daily for visitors (even during weddings and services, it is possible to enter the rear for viewing and gift-shop purchases), even cheapskates can appreciate as admission is free.

Photo Friday aficionados — follow my fellows forthwith!

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Just Floating It out There . . .

Let’s say a certain no-budget traveler was considering some field research in NYC around New Year’s . . .

Would you be around to meet up? Have a guest bed to offer? Or will you all be off somewhere else?

No promises at this point, just threats. Leave your offers in the comments or send a message via the contact tab.

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For the times when the airline loses your bag . . .

. . . or your clothes get so grotty you can’t stand to put them on one more time.

. . . or you forget and throw all your laundry in the machine, leaving you with nothing dry to wear.

. . . or you think, a few sheets to the wind, you *will* just join that wet tee-shirt contest.

Back-up wear is never a bad idea. Here’s the perfect solution: a FREE compressed tee-shirt! Stick it somewhere in the bottom of your carry-on, then forget about it till emergency strikes.

More Friday Freebies here.

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