Wacky Travel News

Fake Sputnik Capsule – Berlin

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

March 20, 2018 Edition

China banned the letter N from the internet after people used it to attack Xi Jinping’s plan to rule forever
Alexandra Ma,Business Insider

China censored the letter N from its internet for at least a day.
The ban came as China cracked down on online discussion over the Chinese Communist Party’s proposal to scrap presidential term limits.

Abolishing term limits would allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

It’s not entirely clear why the government targeted N, but we have a few theories.

China temporarily banned the letter N from being published online after people started using it to criticize a plan which paves the way for Xi Jinping to rule the country indefinitely.

The Chinese Communist Party on Sunday proposed to abolish the two-term term limit for the president and vice-president, sparking an online backlash which it has been trying to control.

Critics flooded Weibo and WeChat — China’s version of Twitter and WhatsApp — to protest the plan, but were swiftly met by the country’s censors.

Various Chinese characters for terms like “emigrate,” “lifelong,” and “I disagree” were banned, alongside … the letter N.

The screenshot underneath shows a user on Sunday attempting to type “N” into Weibo, and receiving an error message that the “content is illegal.”

The other words that appeared to be banned in the screenshot are: “Xi JinP,” “emigrate,” and “indefinite control.”

The letter is used in China to represent unknown numerical values, like the letter X in algebra.

Professor Victor Mair, a China expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a Monday blog post it was “probably out of fear on the part of the government that ‘N’ = ‘n terms in office,’ where possibly n > 2.”

CA Yeung, a Perth-based China bogger, also posited that “N = infinity.”

It could also represent “no” in Y/N select items. As Twitter user Kasumi Shen said: “You can’t choose N in a (Y/N) select item as long as you are still living in China.”

Images of Winnie the Pooh were also banned on Chinese social media. Xi critics often mock him by posting images like the one above which imply that he looks like the fictional, honey-loving bear.

Chinese state media, for its part, has been trying to play down China’s latest crackdown on internet communication.

In a Tuesday editorial, state-run newspaper the Global Times accused Western critics of “hysteria” over the government’s latest round of censorship.

“The biggest reason for all this is that the rise of China has reached a critical point where some Westerners cannot psychologically bear it any longer. They wish to see misfortune befall the country,” the Global Times said.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “With the successful ‘N’ ban behind them, Chinese communists are looking into banning vowels, as well as sometimes ‘Y’.”


Christians shutter famous Jerusalem church to protest taxes
Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — The leaders of the major Christian sects in Jerusalem closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, for several hours on Sunday to protest an Israeli plan to tax their properties.

The Christian leaders responsible for the site issued a joint statement bemoaning what they called a “systematic campaign of abuse” against them, comparing it to anti-Jewish laws issued in Nazi Germany.

The Christians are angry about the Jerusalem municipality plans to tax their various assets around the city and a potential parliament bill to expropriate land sold by the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The churches, which are major landowners in the holy city, say it violates a long standing status quo.

The Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and the Armenian Apostolic leaders said the moves seemed like an attempt to “weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem.”

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a major place of worship in Jerusalem’s Old City. Christians revere it as the site where Jesus was crucified and where his tomb is located, and its closing is highly unusual.

The Jerusalem municipality said it would continue to care for the needs of Jerusalem’s Christians and maintain their full freedom of worship. It said the church, just like other sacred sites in the city, is exempt from municipal property taxes and that will not change.

“However, hotels, halls and businesses cannot be exempt from municipal taxes simply because they are owned by the churches. These are not houses of worship,” it said in a statement. “We will no longer require Jerusalem’s residents to bear the burden of these huge sums.”

Jerusalem is one of the country’s poorest cities, and the tax revenue from the properties is estimated to be tens of millions of dollars.

Separately, parliament is pursuing a bill that will appropriate lands in Israel sold by churches to anonymous buyers since 2010. The bill’s sponsor, lawmaker Rachel Azaria, said these questionable sales have plunged thousands of Jerusalem residents into uncertainty over their living conditions.

She said the bill was aimed to protect apartment owners against property speculators and had “nothing whatsoever” to do with the churches. “We have no intention … to make them feel unwelcome,” she said.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “Guests at the Sepulchre Hotel and Casino Resort were unwilling to comment, or give up their favorite slot machine to take a bathroom break.”



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Destiny at the Cracker Barrel

Take the next exit to the Cracker Barrel

It may have been Destiny that made him take the next exit to the Cracker Barrel


For the record (or album if you prefer) WOEFULTOURIST is not an extremely superstitious soul.

In spite of the many rumors floating around out there, he did not put the “voo” into voodoo.

Nor the “mo” into mojo  (or mojito – which is the topic for another bar).

That is not to deny the fact that whenever it is a Friday the 13th he calls in sick to work.  After all if bad things are going to happen to him, it’s far better for them to occur while he is close to home than in a galaxy far, far away.

That is not being superstitious – that is being “risk-submissive”.

So when he sees a black cat cross his path, walk under a ladder then see his shadow in the broken mirror at the curb, WOEFULTOURIST knows for certain that bad things will happen to him if he continues to go where he had planned to (as well as the fact that it’s going to be another 6 weeks before Spring finally comes).

Fate is a lonely hunter and WOEFULTOURIST can’t help but be a social animal for which there is no open season.

Pronoun problems, aside.

He has difficulty enough getting through the day without it ending up with a four hour wait in the emergency room of the hospital de jour with an injury that pails in comparison with the story of how he managed to do to himself that which he did.

So exacerbating the point by increasing the odds of the gods looking down upon him with scorn and contempt just aint in the cards, as far as he is concerned.

After all, what is wrong with reading his horoscope every morning just as a precautionary move.

Not that he believes all of that mumbo jumbo.

But one can never be too careful.

Which is why he never leaves home without a rabbits foot – (the left one, usually).

Or a St. Christopher medal around his neck.

Or his insurance card, verification of blood type and a clean pair of underwear because you just don’t mess with hi-jean.

Which is really the crux of the problem if you think about it.

Namely, that one doesn’t know, do one.

Things would be so much easier if one knew exactly what was heading down one’s path.  Why then, one could either embrace the thing with open arms, or run to the hills and hide – since there are so many good hiding places, there, though most are alive with the sound of muzac.

Having said all of that, WOEFULTOURIST should qualify things by saying that he knew Karma once – but that was long ago.

Way back when she was simply known as, “paybacks are a bitch”.

Is she still the same soul that she used to be?

One can only hope.

Which WOEFULTOURIST always does, not just on Sundays.

Yet, in spite of all of his planned avoidances, stuff still happens.

Destiny being one of them.

WOEFULTOURIST never planned on it happening that way.

Never thought in a gazillion years it would ever occur.

But it did.

And in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant, know less.

What are the odds (or negative evens)?

Who could have imagined that upon entering that fine dining establishment WOEFULTOURIST would run into her.

And live to tell the tale.

He can still remember it as if it happened a little over a month ago – which it did.

He pulled into the parking lot of a nearby Cracker Barrel Restaurant.

Preparing for nothing more than a hearty, satisfying breakfast, he made his way towards the greeter.

WOEFULTOURIST had no premonition of what would happen next.

Or that it might be life-altering.

Nevertheless, to his ultimate surprise, as the greeter walked him to his table, in almost a cavalier, matter-of-fact tone, she let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

“Destiny will be your server.”

Which left WOEFULTOURIST speechless, of course.

Then again (then) fateful things usually happen out of the blue.



No tests to study for.

No speeches to ready for.

Destiny was his server, just as God was his co-pilot in more than one battle fought thru the years.

The resulting experience left WOEFULTOURIST speechless for much of the rest of the day, although by evening he was nearly fit to be untied.

For those wondering, Destiny was a lovely young lady who filled up his coffee cup without him even having to ask – which come to think of it, is what one would/should expect from Destiny.

Afterwards, not wishing to cause any rift in the fabric of the universe, WOEFULTOURIST left her a twenty five per cent tip just to be safe.

Because from inexperience he knows that sometimes caution is good.

So why take chances.

Or roll the dice.

Or tempt Fate – Destiny’s younger brother.

Better be safe.

Though it has nothing to do with being superstitious.


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Andechs Monastery (Beer) – Bavaria, Germany

Part of the Andechs Monastery (and brewery).

Part of the Andechs Monastery (and brewery).  Hey, the monks have to do something to keep busy.  Idle hands and all of that.



WOEFULTOURIST isn’t sure where he knows the word from, although in all likelihood he simply absorbed it while having a pint at some pub or other.

Yet, it’s the only explanation he can come up with regarding the strange experience he had going to the St. Something Monastery, in Herrs – (fill in the blanks, because if WOEFULTOURIST does you can be sure it will be misspelled), Germany.

Now for those wondering, no, WOEFULTOURIST did not have  a born again religious experience and feel a need to get closer to the Almighty.

Rather, he heard it through the grapevine (the hop-vine being closed for the holiday) that the beer brewed at the monastery was to die for, and if you’re gonna go, what better way to do it.

So he went.

Now the grapevine also told him that not only was it easy to get to the monastery via train from Munich (where he was staying), but that the scenic walk up the mountain was a joy in itself.

Being quite fond of joy (and her second cousin, easy) WOEFULTOURIST boarded the train.  Then filled with all manner of beer dreams, he made his way to Orrs – (you fill in the blanks).

When he got to his stop (yes, he found the right Osterr – (you fill in the blanks) a strange reality took hold of him causing him to realize that he wasn’t in Kansas, anymore.

What was obvious by its total lack of presence was any overt mention of the Monastery.

No billboards touting the healing properties of the fabulous beer.

Nothing painted in the street saying, “For monastery beer, start here.”

It was as if there wasn’t a monastery nearby, at all.  Or that it was so good the locals wanted it all for themselves and not share it with the beer mad tourists.

With no idea as to where to go, WOEFULTOURIST stopped a respectable, spectacled gentleman walking by and asked for directions to the monastery.

To which the spectacle responded, “Just follow the road.  You can’t miss it.”

So WOEFULTOURIST did as he was told and followed the road, until it came to a “t”.

With still no signs to guide him (perhaps they were all getting re-painted for the upcoming leiderhosen festival) he went to the left where he spotted a general store of some kind.  The respectable, unspectacled woman at the counter told him to simply follow the road and he couldn’t miss it.

Which of course he did.

Miss it, that is.

The lack of a sidewalk should have been a clue.

The lack of other brethren walking along the road on the way to beer heaven should have made him wonder.

It didn’t of course, since WOEFULTOURIST was miles off course.

He realized this, but being WOEFULTOURIST, decided that it was foolish to turn back and start again since he had made it this far, so he just kept going forward and upward.

Somehow he came to a cross road and he can only explain it as divine intervention that he turned right, where 5 miles later, nearly lifeless, he staggered into the monastery grounds.

He had come for the beer and in spite of all the aches and pains in his thoroughly out of shape body, WOEFULTOURIST dragged his sorry ass to the bar and ordered some kind of potato salad, some kind of pork product and a large stein of beer.

Unfortunately, in solidarity with all the aching muscles in his body, his taste buds were on strike so he really couldn’t appreciate, what under other, more joyous and easier times, would undoubtedly have been a fabulous beer experience.

Yet, being the beer trooper that he was, he finished his brew, spent three minutes admiring the scenery, before stumbling across the real path thru the woods that was hidden behind the monastery (again, no signs acknowledging the fact in any language –  foreign, or domestic).

Since the path was all downhill, he decided to stagger down it.

Where  half way down the path WOEFULTOURIST came across the respectable, spectacled gentleman who had given him the directions, earlier in the day.

Being a gentleman, he smiled at WOEFULTOURIST before saying, as an afterthought, “You did turn right at the end of the street, I hope.  Going to the left would have been a long, painful mistake.”

WOEFULTOURIST lied, of course. Said all was good and thanked him for the nebulous directions.

Was it too much to have actual signs to the major attraction in Bierr – (you fill in the blanks)?!

After all, not everyone is Bavarian and can know by sense of smell how to get from where you are to where you want to be?

Because not everyone, especially not WOEFULTOURIST, has the gift of osmosis.

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Wacky Travel News

Fake Sputnik Capsule – Berlin

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

March 15, 2018 Edition

Mysterious abandoned Boeing 737 is turning into a tourist destination                  By Andrea Romano | Travel + Leisure
With no leads on its origin or the fates of the crew members and passengers, the plane remains just another mysterious attraction by the side of the road.
An abandoned plane is sitting in the middle of a field in Bali, and the mystery on everyone’s minds is how it got there.
The Boeing 737, which sits off the Raya Nusa Dua Selatan highway, five minutes from the beach, is something of a tourist attraction these days, News.com.au reported.
The plane itself has no branding, so it is unclear whether or not it belonged to an airline. Some people speculate that the surrounding shipping containers concealed it from view for a while, according to The Sun. Others have theorized that the plane was meant to be converted into a restaurant, but the owner ran out of money and abandoned it.
Now, it sits behind private gates and is protected by a security guard. Tourists who want to see it must buy tickets and very few actually get to see what’s on board. Some visitors and travel bloggers have tried to get up close to the plane, to no avail.
With no leads on its origin or the fates of the crew members and passengers, the plane remains just another mysterious attraction by the side of the road.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “Conspiracy theorists agree that it isn’t a plane at all, but an alien device cleverly disguised to look like a 737.” 


Ancient Roman boxing gloves discovered near Hadrian’s Wall                                    By James Rogers | Fox News 

Archaeologists in the U.K. have unearthed ancient boxing gloves at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, just south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England.
The leather gloves, which are not a matching pair, have thrilled archaeologists. One glove even has the impression of the wearer’s knuckles.
Unlike modern boxing gloves, the artifacts have the appearance of a protective guard, according to The Vindolanda Trust. “The larger of the two gloves is cut from a single piece of leather and was folded into a pouch configuration, the extending leather at each side were slotted into one another forming a complete oval shape creating an inner hole into which a hand could still easily be inserted,” it explained, in a statement. “The glove was packed with natural material acting as a shock absorber.”
The larger glove is extremely worn on the contact edge, and has also been repaired – a circular patch covers a tear. The slightly smaller glove was uncovered in near perfect condition, according to The Vindolanda Trust. It was constructed in the same way as the larger glove but has been filled with a tight coil of hard twisted leather.
Archaeologists think that the gloves were used by Roman legionaries for sparring. Known as caestu in Latin, the gloves are likely a practice version of the gloves used in professional ancient boxing, which employed a metal insert. Wear and tear on the larger glove may have rendered it unfit for use, although experts think that it many have been kept alongside the ‘newer’ model because the owner was so attached to it. 
“I have seen representations of Roman boxing gloves depicted on bronze statues, paintings and sculptures but to have the privilege of finding two real leather examples is exceptionally special,” said Dr. Andrew Birley, CEO of The Vindolanda Trust and its director of excavations, in a statement.
The gloves, which were found last summer and revealed on Tuesday, are just the latest in a series of fascinating finds at the ancient site. Last year, a trove of artifacts, including Roman swords, was discovered at Vindolanda. Researchers also found 25 wooden ink documents at the former fort, offering a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in the Roman Empire.
Researchers also discovered 25 wooden ink documents at the former fort, offering a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in the Roman Empire.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “Also scribbled on the wall was the ancient inscription, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.’

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The Bastille – Paris

The Arch d’Triomphe, Paris (nowhere near the Bastille)


WOEFULTOURIST has always had a soft spot in his heart for the old swashbuckler movies.

Captain Blood, starring Errol Flynn remains one of his favorite movies of all time.  It also happens to be one of the dozen books he has actually read in his lifetime, so it must be special.

Another of his favorites is The Three Musketeers – not the 1948 version with Gene Kelly (yes, that Gene Kelly).

And not the 1993 version with Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland (yes that Charlie Sheen).

Rather, the 1973 version with Michael York, Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch and Charlton Heston (yes that Raquel Welch).

Now that was some pairing.

WOEFULTOURIST loves all the pomp and circumstance of those kind of films.  And of course all of the swordfighting.  All for one, and all of that.  Where in the end, the good guys got Raquel Welch while the bad guys got to spend the rest of their days in that most evil of prisons, the Bastille.

Just the thought of it makes WOEFULTOURIST all excited.

So it was with heightened enthusiasm that he made his way to the site of the famed fortress on his first trip to Paris.

This would truly be the highlight of his trip. With camera in hand, and extra batteries in his pocket, WOEFULTOURIST made his way to the 4th, 11th and 12th Arondissements to the Place de La Bastille where he excitedly anticipated his first encounter with the fabled prison.

But when he arrived where the Bastille was supposed to be, it wasn’t there.  Only a little plaque that essentially said, “The Bastille used to be right here.”

Which after a brief moment of outrage, where two AA batteries were stomped into flatness, seemed somehow appropriate to his oddball sensibilities.

After all it was the “storming” of the Bastille which is considered the French version of our Battle of Lexington and Concorde – i.e. the start of their Revolution.

“Storming” in this case meaning that they broke in, freed the 7 prisoners still there, stole – er, repatriated anything they could find of value, then basically destroyed the place.

Given his distaste for spending precious vacation time to look at “ruins”, WOEFULTOURIST was grateful that there were no actual parts of the structure still standing.

If it wasn’t completely intact then he didn’t want any part of it.  And logic says that it couldn’t be intact if it was destroyed two hundred years ago.

No, ‘tis a far far better thing to have made a plaque, than a rebuilt version of the original.

So, although he was somewhat disappointed that the plastic Star Wars light saber battle that he and his sons had carefully choreographed to take place within the walls of the Bastille was not to be, WOEFULTOURIST was nevertheless filled with optimism.

Because he knew, in his heart of hearts, there just had to be another appropriate venue where the three of them could cross light sabers, successfully, in the City of Lights.

Perhaps Notre Dame.

Or the Arch d’Triomphe.

Or the Eiffel Tower.

So many choices, so little time.

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