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Mr ‘Stranded’ American and the ferry from Italy to Greece

I wasn’t expecting it to be quick. I wasn’t even expecting it to be on time.

Travelling within a slightly disorganised country can be difficult enough. But taking a 16 hour ferry from one chaotic (but beautiful) country to another? Good luck.

My expectation for the ferry’s timeliness turned out to be well-founded on a long overnight ferry from Brindisi, Italy to Patras, Greece. But the 16 hour journey was difficult enough to begin.
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Albanian hospitality – Çift, çift?

Albania is a great place to be a tourist. While some may associate Albania with communism, the country’s citizens greet visitors with welcome arms and open borders. And plenty of curiosity.

Albanians are anything but shy. Soon after crossing paths, you’ll tell them about your trip, they’ll get excited about the regions in Albania you’ve visited (‘shumë bukur’‘very nice’, should follow as a description of each city) and eventually, inevitably you’ll get the question:

‘Çift, çift?’
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Guilty until proven innocent?

When I arrived back in the States after 20 months in Europe, I had no way of getting a hold of my dad to tell him my flight had arrived at the airport and I was through security. I hadn’t planned ahead so I didn’t have any American dollars to call from a phone booth. I decided to do what I had done many times with a language barrier but without hassle. I decided to borrow someone’s phone to call him.
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My Rick Steves book contribution

Perhaps my luck in the travel world started from birth. I grew up a few hours from Edmonds, just north of Seattle, the home of Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door where hundreds of travellers and like-minded individuals work tirelessly to constantly update and improve guidebooks for those who want to enjoy Europe on a budget.
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Secrets of London’s Oyster Card

Planning a trip to London? Great! This post is for you.

Live in London and haven’t discovered all the perks of your Oyster Card yet? Read on.

London’s Oyster Card not only gets you around London but also offers secret 2-for-1 deals not prominently advertised and unique card designs you have to ask for specially.

Oyster Cards are more than just the travel card most people use them for. Even a Londoner can learn something here.
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Diary of a mad Icelandic volcano – Grímsvötn attacks

Everyone heard about Eyjafjallajökull (say it with me: Aey-ya-fiat-la-yo-khult, Eyja means island, fjall means mountain and jökull means glacier), commonly referred to as ‘the volcano’ or simply ‘Eya’, that erupted in April 2010.

Most of Europe was affected for weeks by the ash cloud as it coated the continent and cancelled air travel.

When I visited Iceland in December 2010 I realised why.

Even 7-8 months after the eruption, there was still ash on the ground and every wind gust blew blinding ash at us, making driving difficult and causing our cameras to fail temporarily.

The fine ash from Eyjafjallajökull got into every nook and cranny. There was ash in our car and in our bags. It coated anything that was wet or damp and created a fine layer of ash on our skin.

It was an adventure and we laughed about it, but we could easily see why it wreaked so much havoc on the continent.
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Cheer for the local team! Following sports while travelling

‘Go Canucks! Go!’ is what I was thinking a few weeks ago. No, I’m not Canadian, but visiting Vancouver on a hockey game day meant I had to cheer for the Canucks in their play-offs. I don’t really care about sports or even who wins. As long as it’s a good match, I’m fine with it. But while traveling, sometimes watching a sports match is the most authentic and unique cultural experience you can have! Just be sure to cheer for the right team.
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