Trams – Amsterdam

Tram (vehicle with green roof) in front of Concert Hall on Museumplein - opposite from the Iamsterdam sign.

Tram (vehicle with green roof) in front of Concert Hall on Museumplein – opposite end from the Iamsterdam sign.

 

Oftentimes it is the simple questions which WOEFULTOURIST finds so captivating.

Or frustrating, depending on the celestial influences of the day.

Why is water wet?

Why is the sky up?

Why is bacon so darned good?

Aside from the simple answer of, “because”, there do not seem to be any simple answers to explain the simple questions of life.

Take for example the simple question of, “How much is too much?”

Or if you prefer, the opposite simple question (not the opposite of simple, rather the whole “much” deal).

Specifically, “How little is too little.”

Avoiding for as long as the hills are alive with the sound of leiderhosen, the somewhat related, though much more complicated deal of, “How do you figure out the perfect amount of something – where it’s not too much, and not too little?”

After all, how do you figure out where to draw the line?

Is it here?

Or there?

And what about trying to determine when it’s appropriate to cross that same line.

Is it trial and error?

Is it trial by jury?

Is it Ben and Jerry?

Again, no simple answer.

At this junction WOEFULTOURIST should interject and he will.

This is not to imply that there are no simple answers.

Yes comes to mind.

Sometimes why, is another.

Rather it simply seems that simple answers do not often appear to help solve simple questions.

Redundancy?

Often simply asked, rarely simply resolved.

Take trams for example.

Rather, take trams in Amsterdam.

After all, they are convenient, readily available and are much more comfortable than clogging your way around the fine city of Amsterdam in wooden slippers.

Yet, if simply hopping on and off the modern trams is insufficient to satisfy your tram-addiction, Amsterdam offers an easy way to scratch that itch.

Namely the “Tram Museum”.

And just for convenience you can take the modern tram to the Tram Museum.

There, you can walk around and touch old trams and make believe that you are the engineer and hoot the horn to warn the Indians on the plains that the buffalo are stampeding right for the outlaws trying to steal the mail off the last tram car.

Plus, if you have the foresight to be there on a Sunday, you can actually take a ride on an old tram.

Joy of joys.

Happy of happys.

And what better way to end such a glorious tram holiday than by leaving the Tram Museum behind and taking a modern tram back to whence you came.

Simple pleasures for simple minds.

Why?

Because.

Posted in General Travel | Leave a comment

Charleston, South Carolina – US

Market Hall, marking the start of City Market, located on Market Street, in Charleston, South Carolina

Market Hall, which marks the beginning of City Market, which just happens to be located on Market Street, in Charleston, South Carolina

 

Upon returning from a recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina, WOEFULTOURIST received more than a few questions along the line of, “What is Charleston like?”

From WOEFULTOURIST’S distracted point of view, that is a very good question.

Depending on the month, it may even qualify as an especially excellent question.

Perhaps, if one chooses to live in the land of make believe, it may, in fiction, be one of the best questions he has heard in hours.

Yet in spite of all of that, it remains a question which WOEFULTOURIST declines to answer.

Why?

Because.

It’s really not more complicated that that.

Oh, sure, WOEFULTOURIST can go into more-bidity to explain such an action/inaction.

He can certainly spew out all sorts of philosophical mumbo gumbo about the fact that while it is theoretically possible for him to analyze in explicable detail all of the different categories which his readers concern themselves with when dealing with potential vacation spots; then pointing out the positives while glossing over the negatives of each per-amater –

But, then that unwelcome guest known locally as “reality” rears its ugly head and forces him to accept the fact that while it is theoretically possible it is practically – not.

It all comes down to pov.

Or, for the artsy – perspective.

Or, for the fartsy – too explosive a topic. Simply ignore.

What some of his readers fail to grasp, is that the world does not re-orient itself in order to make the brass ring easier for them to get.

The truth being what it is (usually a dark, unfeeling morass), the simple interests and expectations of others, sway him not.

Rather, WOEFULTOURIST functions on a level exclusively designed to make his life easier to fulfill.

So instead of telling his readers what Charleston is like, (easy for them to ask, not so easy for him to deliver) he will tell them what Charleston is not like – since that’s a much easier task.

For one, Charleston is not like New Orleans.

Don’t let the plethora (50 cent word of the day) of wrought iron railings and balconies fool you.

Or the fact that both fine cities have areas in their older district that are known as the “French Quarter” – (for those wondering, Charleston has the one where the streets don’t smell like day old beer and urine.  On the down side, the one in Charleston does not have a single “Huge Ass Beer” sign, or equivalently large beverage to be consumed by the lucky consumer who happens to order one. Or three for one – after all you are on vacation and it’s happy hour somewhere.)

For two, Charleston is not Boston.

Sure they both have real old buildings that pre-date the Revolutionary War and still look pretty cool compared to the modern glass and steel stuff modern architects seem so addicted to in these modern times.

Both also have large markets where all manner of trinkets and food items can be found (for those wondering, the market in Charleston is conveniently located on Market Street. Although which came first, the street or the market still remains a mystery to this very day).

And while Boston and Charleston have wonderful harbors, Charleston is the one where dolphins (real, live ones, not the inflatable pool toy variety) readily ply the waters.

For three, Charleston is not New York City.

This even though both have naval vessels permanently anchored that serve as floating museums.

Plus, both cities have baseball teams associated with the Yankees (Charleston is home to the River Dogs, a Yankees farm team).

And while New York City has an extensive bus and subway public transportation system, Charleston has the DASH “trolley” buses.  Oh, did WOEFULTOURIST fail to mention that Charleston’s trolleys are free.  As in, no multi trip cards, no turnstyles and no possible fare increases.

For four, Charleston is not like any other city, anywhere.

What Charleston is (deferring to the simply minded requests from some of his readers, though not  fully disparaging their intelligence levels) – is uniquely Charleston.

It is not trying to be like anywhere else.

It is not looking to duplicate what other places are copying from some other place.

Charleston is different because it is happy to be what it is.

As for what that actually is?

Guess what, he’s not going to tell you.

Remember that earlier “your ‘simple’ has little influence over his ‘simple’” rant?

Didn’t think so.

Regardless.

All WOEFULTOURIST will add is that the only way to find out what a place is really like is to get off your booties and go visit.

Especially Charleston, a lovely city doing its own thing and proud of it.

Posted in General Travel | Leave a comment

Wacky Travel News

Fake Sputnik Capsule – Berlin

Wacky Travel News that’s out of this world – (as is the totally inappropriate commentary that follows.

February 15, 2018 Edition

Buzz off: Ohio college want vultures to leave campus
Jan 21, 2018

GRANVILLE, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio liberal arts college is hanging effigies in trees and using pyrotechnics to move destructive vultures off campus.

The Columbus Dispatch reports vultures have caused at least $50,000 damage at Denison University in the last year by picking at roof membranes and at caulking around vents. Vulture droppings left around air-handling units have created stinky health hazards.

Initial efforts to scare off the birds appear to be working. Vulture effigies hung by the U.S. Department of Agriculture send danger signals, says USDA wildlife biologist Jeff Pelc. Only non-lethal methods can be used because vultures are a protected migratory bird species.

Granville officials don’t want the vultures moving into town. Village administrator Mollie Ann Prasher says residents should bang pots and pans to scare off vultures when they’re spotted.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “Vulture effigies, as well as pots and pans to scare away birds. The science of animal control really has evolved over the centuries.”

 

Harry Potter river cruise to set sail on River Thames
AFP Relax News•January 22, 2018

It’s no flying car, but Harry Potter fans are being courted in a new river cruise that makes stops at key filming locations like 4 Privet Drive, the real-world inspiration for Hogwarts, and the Warner Bros. Studio where the Harry Potter movies were made.

Admittedly, at around US $4,190 a person, the “Harry Potter Magic Cruise Itinerary” is not exactly aimed at the modest Muggle.

To kick off their sailing and set the scene, guests start with a traditional English Cream Tea at the Hotel Stafford in London.

After a champagne welcome onboard their floating home, the Magna Carta, and the first of several Hogwarts-inspired dinners, guests set off the next morning on their seven-day itinerary.

Along with historical estates like Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace — a stunning Tudor Palace that belonged to Henry VIII — the tour also stops at Virginia Water, which serious fans will recognize as the site where Harry first meets Buckbeak in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Fans will also be chauffeured to Picket Post Close, which doubled as 4 Privet Drive in the first Harry Potter film.

At Oxford’s Christ Church College, fans will recognize its Great Hall as the inspiration for The Great Hall at Hogwarts, and the dramatic 16th century stone staircase which received screen time in several films.

The itinerary also includes a visit to the Warner Bros. Studio – The Making of Harry Potter, where fans will be able to behold the original set, props and costumes.

Less Harry Potter, more “Downton Abbey”? There’s another river cruise for that.

While the itinerary for Downton Abbey shares the same historical stops — Windsor Castle and Christ Church College at Oxford — guests will also be chauffeured to Highclere Castle, where the drama was filmed.

The Harry Potter river cruise has two sailings, Aug. 5-11 and Aug. 19-25, 2018. The Downton Abbey cruise begin in April and run through August.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “One would have thought that the cruise would take place upon a much more magical waterway.”

 

 

Posted in General Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Family Vacations vs Personal Vacations

Key West - a great place for a personal vacation, not so great for a family vacation (unless you have a very weird family).

Key West – a great place for a personal vacation, not so great for a family vacation (unless, of course, you have a very weird family).

Apparently, there are still people out there, you know who you are, who cannot differentiate.  Whether it’s between pleasure and pain.  Between work and play.  Or to the very heart of this post, between family vacations and personal vacations.

Unfortunately, for some medical quackery of an excuse, you just don’t get it!

So WOEFULTOURIST will do his best to help those of you in need to feel helped, indeed.  At least when it comes to better understanding the differences between family and personal vacations.

Family vacations, for the differentiated challenged, are hectic, seem to take forever just to get to where you are going and undoubtedly designed to drive parents crazy.

Heaven forbid that a favorite toy, or electronic device is forgotten.

To say nothing of the endless battles over the firmness of the hotel bed, the configuration of the swimming pool, or the quality of the meals at the resort of choice.

Family vacations are exercises in how much abuse parents can hoist upon themselves in the fruitless attempt to keep all of their kids occupied and not at war with each other, for an entire 5 to 7 day period.

A personal vacation, on the other hand, is a peaceful thing.

It is a time spent luxuriating in the joy of being able to do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about not having to get up at the crack of dawn.

Or, conversely, it allows the personal vacationer to over indulge in whatever pleases them, assuming it falls within their budget and is not likely to get them thrown into the hoosegow.

That is not to imply that illegal and unaffordable activities are not available to personal vacationers, just that the consequences of choosing them, greatly outweighs the pleasures they might provide.

Plus, spending the night in jail really puts a damper on your personal vacation spirit.

For those wondering, when WOEFULTOURIST delves into the world of personal travel, he does so, exclusively, as a solo tourist.  No kids.  No wife – sorry honey.  No buddies.

Just WOEFULTOURIST by himself, fleeing to somewhere he can do a whole lot of nothing without being disturbed by the sounds of screaming kids, broken furniture, or the couple in the next room practicing some sort of exploratory surgery on each other.

Not only does he not take anyone with him on these treks, WOEFULTOURIST doesn’t even try to contact friends he may have in the locales he happens to be visiting.

This is for two reasons.

First, the only thing worse than planning an itinerary for your family, is doing one for your friends.

Second, if he gets together with only one friend he will alienate all of the other friends he has in that location.

It’s like the chewing gum in the classroom deal.  The teacher will only let you chew gum if you have enough for everyone.

So rather than anger all of the friends that he didn’t see, WOEFULTOURIST chooses to ignore them all and hope that they don’t somehow find out that he was in their backyard and didn’t have the common decency to get in touch with any of them.

When that inevitably happens, WOEFULTOURIST uses his time tested excuse for all missed assignations.

“I just got a new cell phone and all of my old contacts were in the old one.”

Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t.

But, hey, it’s his vacation, not their’s.  They just need to learn to better differentiate!

 

Posted in General Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Wacky Travel News

Fake Sputnik Capsule – Berlin

Wacky Travel News that’s out of this world – (as is the totally inappropriate commentary that follows.

February 13, 2018 Edition

‘Serial stowaway’, 66, sneaks past US airport security AGAIN and flies to London without a ticket
Andy Wells,Yahoo News UK Mon, Jan 22, 2018

A woman who has managed to sneak onto planes and fly without tickets for years has once again done the seemingly impossible.

Marilyn Jean Hartman, 66, boarded a flight in Chicago without being spotted and flew to Heathrow, where she was arrested.

Hartman managed to not only get past security, but fly without a ticket, boarding pass or passport.

After her arrest last Monday, Hartman, known as the ‘serial stowaway, was flown back to the US on Thursday, where she was charged with criminal trespass and theft.

America’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now investigating how Hartman managed to sneak past security.

They said in a statement: “During the initial investigation it was determined that the passenger was screened at the security checkpoint before boarding a flight.

“Upon learning of the incident, TSA and its aviation partners, took immediate action to review security practices throughout the airport.”

Lauren Huffman, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation, said no passengers or visitors were ever at risk.

She added in a statement: “We are working with our law enforcement partners to support a comprehensive and thorough investigation, while continuing to maintain the highest levels of security at O’Hare Airport.”

Hartman has been caught attempting to board various flights over the years and was jailed in 2015 for trying to bypass security at Chicago’s two major airports. In 2016, she was sentenced in Chicago to six months of house arrest and placed on two years of mental health probation.

She apparently tries to blend in with large groups to get past airport security, according to previous reports.

Hartman was living at an apartment facility for low-income seniors before her latest arrest and is due in court on Saturday.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “Makes him feel safe and secure to know that the TSA is on the job doing whatever it is that they do.”

 

Storm blew historic building to Canada; Maine wants it back
Associated Press•January 11, 2018

LUBEC, Maine (AP) — A fishing-industry building on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places is half-submerged in waters near a Canadian island, and conservationists fear it could disintegrate before legal tangles are resolved.

The Jan. 4 blizzard tore the brine shed from its mooring at McCurdy’s Smokehouse off Lubec, Maine, and it was blown to nearby Campobello Island in New Brunswick, the Bangor Daily News reported .

The shed is among five buildings that comprise the last traditional smoked-herring facility in the U.S., and an organization called Lubec Landmarks has worked for almost 25 years to preserve it.

Lubec Landmarks President Rachel Rubeor said legal tangles, including salvage rights claims by some Canadian citizens, could doom the building.

“The bureaucratic nonsense is hampering us big time,” said Rubeor, who said vandals with chain saws are threatening to dismantle the building.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said the senator’s staff has worked to facilitate communication among organizations across all levels of government on both sides of the border “to help save and possibly preserve this historic landmark.”

The shed’s remains, which include significant portions of its roof, flooring and fireplace plus some side walls, floated under the bridge between Lubec and the Canadian island.

“It is just a miracle that it didn’t hit the bridge. It just sailed right through the pilings,” said Lubec Town Administrator Renee Gray.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “A spokesperson for the building says his client was duped into believing that if they moved to Canada, property taxes would be much lower.”

 

 

Posted in General Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment