Month: April 2017

Hot Time in Iceland

With no preconceived notions about Iceland and lured by a cheap flight, I headed to where the summers are short and daylight can last most of the day.

A newbie to international travel? Iceland is an excellent place to start adventuring. With its combination of Danish and Nordic influences, the carefree but enterprising spirit of the Danes and the mild manner of the Norse combine to deliver small town charm in a chic metropolitan capital.

Beginning in 2010, when a volcanic eruption near Reykjavik shut down surrounding air traffic as far away as London for several weeks, people have wanted to see what Iceland is about. Tourism boomed. The infrastructure is excellent. Booking a trip to anywhere you want to go through one of many suppliers at nearly any travel desk is easy. The trips will almost always include pick-up and drop-off wherever you are staying.

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Third World Resort at a Third the Price

 I’m thinking I need to return to Cienfuegos, Cuba. I originally visited as part of a back roads trip to Cuba to experience the country outside Havana and the popular beaches.

I came away impressed with everything about Cienfuegos, and I know it would offer even more on my next trip.

I stayed in a private home, part of the casas particulares network of private places to stay in Cuba. Private enterprise has taken hold. Cubans have learned that they can make a lot more money privately renting rooms in their homes than they can working for the state, the only alternative to private entrepreneurship.

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Can’t We Stay As Warm as Iceland?

Insulated pipes (cutaway shown) transport naturally hot water throughout Iceland

 Imagine if the U.S. didn’t need to concern itself with oil supplies from the Middle East. Well, in Iceland, when the oil crisis of the 1970s hit, they decided to do something about it. Today, Iceland generates 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable resources. Why can’t we? They have a combination of hydroelectric power, wind power and geothermal power. What I found most interesting was the geothermal power generation.

Like Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful, Icelanders were also able to see geysers in their country. In some places, they could see steam seeping to the surface. They knew that there were super-hot places below the surface. Today, Icelandic scientists are the leaders in harnessing this power.

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Get Thee to the Brooklyn Flea

The venerable Williamsburg Savings Bank Building in downtown Brooklyn stood for years as the tallest building around. Its clock tower served as the timepiece for the surrounding neighborhoods, and its clock face was the largest ever at the time. Built in 1927 in a modernized Byzantine-Romanesque style that is hard to duplicate today, with large amounts of limestone and marble accompanied by beautiful mosaics and tinted windows, it was, and remains, an architectural masterpiece. Eventually it was eclipsed by taller buildings, converted in part to luxury loft condominiums, and today the old bank floor with its 63-foot-high ceiling is the centerpiece of one of the coolest uses you can think of … a Saturday flea market known as the Brooklyn Flea.

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When You’ve Got to Go, India’s a Pain

Emirates Airlines is a major carrier flying to India. And it’s the airline I used for a recent trip there. So you would think that the airline would warn its passengers about the bizarre Indian airport security system. But it doesn’t. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

I was scheduled on an Emirates Airlines flight leaving Delhi, India’s busiest airport, en route to Dallas. I always recommend checking in online for your flight if you can. Usually you can only do this 24 hours in advance. I did this for my return flight using my computer and the internet connection at the hotel. Note that many Indians do not have computers or ready internet access, so doing this would be impossible.

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