Tag Archives: Austria

BAVARIA. Get Lost!


Schloss Neuschwanstein - Bavarian Alps, Germany - May 2011

In Texas, we have something called “Texas Pride”. Now, I’m not saying that Mozambique, Estonia, Arkansas, Hungary, or The Philippines don’t have pride. I’m merely saying that no where else in the world will you find “Texas Pride”. Or so I thought. To steal a line from ESPN’s (Coach) Lee Corso… “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!”.

The charming and unspoiled town of Fussen, Bavaria - Germany - May 2011

So, what IS “Texas Pride”? In my opinion, it’s when you’re in Queenstown, New Zealand; Barcelona, Spain; London, England; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Guanacaste, Costa Rica; or more recently, Lake Bled, Slovenia, and somebody asks you… “Where are you from?” and you simply smile and say “TEXAS”. I’ve heard the same question asked to others, and I’ve heard “Switzerland”, or “Sao Paulo, Brazil”. But most commonly, you’ll hear “we’re from the US”. Then they might mention their city and state (i.e. Little Rock, Arkansas).

Munchen - Hoffbrau Haus - May 2011

You’re probably scratching your head wondering “what’s the difference?” and “why does he keep mentioning Arkansas?“. I’ll tell you. My Alma Mater – Texas A&M is playing Arkansas this weekend in Dallas, Texas. I’ve been distracted by college football all week! Oh, and so the difference is… Texans are Texans first. Americans second. It’s not arrogance. It’s just “Texas Pride”. Sorry. The Bavarians proved to me that they have that same bloodline of pride. Bavarians first. Germans second. And after spending some time in Bavaria… I understand.

Traditional Bavarian Beer Garden - Munich's Viktualienmarkt - Germany 2011
Munchen, Germany - They don't know Tex Mex food; But... The Bavarians KNOW beer!

Small confession. It took my wife (Anna) and I over 10 hours to get from Munich, Germany to Salzburg, Austria. If you live in Texas… that’s about the same distance from Austin to San Antonio. In other words… well under 100 miles.  115km to be exact. If you look at a map of Germany, it’s quite easy to see why Munich is considered The Gateway to Bavaria; so, as bad ass as it is to travel mach 5 with your hair on fire at 200km/h on the Autobahn… we wanted to take “the road less traveled” and visit Schloss Neuschwanstein – The Walt Disney looking castle. It’s common sense that if you want to find a castle on a mountain, you have to drive to the mountains. Our first stop… The Bavarian Alps.

The picturesque town center of Fussen, Bavaria - Germany

Now before I get too far into my wordy story, I want to share some insight about our general attitude when we travel. As a rule of thumb, we only truly care about TWO things:

1. Enjoying and appreciating our destination.

2. Knowing where we’re sleeping each night.

Other than that… NOTHING is set in stone when we travel.

Ratskellar - Munich, Germany - May 2011

Looking like a couple of Cheshire Cats, we grinned from ear to ear in anticipation of our visit to Schloss Neuschwanstein. Two Texans in Munich, Germany, driving a Swedish Volvo V60 D5 with a British navigation system we called “Margaret”. I quite fancied her; however, I’ve been fooled by a pretty voice before. Let’s not bother with that story. Anyway, moving on. We made the decision to stop at the 700 year old Bavarian town of Füssen. What I’ve discovered about travel is… The greatest surprises in life are the adventures never expected. Situated at the southern end of the Romantic Road, Füssen is an absolutely charming and well preserved Medieval town. It was quite easy to see why it is considered the romantic soul of Bavaria.

Fussen - "The Romantic Soul of Bavaria"

Arriving early that morning, we leisurely strolled along the town center’s uncrowded pedestrian streets and narrow lanes. One charming vision of art and beautiful architecture after another. From the base of the town center, we embarked on what I can honestly say, without hesitation was the BEST cafe mocha I have ever had in my life. Served at a small cafe in Füssen Bavaria by an Italian man. Could have just been the atmosphere. Or perhaps it was his meticulous preparation and care he put into making each of us a glorious cup of coffee. Sure, he was Italian; but, he showed us Bavarian Pride! I think one of the things I most admire about practically ALL Bavarian cities, towns and villages (correct me if I’m wrong), is the architectural and religious presence of a church. Religious or not, it is hard to deny the beauty and historical value this presence serves in Bavarian society. I, myself made it a point to say a prayer for friends, families, and those who came before me to the Basilica, as part of my appreciation for my destination. As if you couldn’t already tell… I’m a fan of Füssen.

"Fresh Bread" - Fussen, Bavaria - May 2011

After a slow and pleasant walk back to the car, I programmed Margaret for our key tourist destination… Falkenstein Castle. Pulling out of Fussen and making our way around a few roundabouts, something felt a bit off. Or as my Cousin Roger from England would say… “well dodgy!”. Nevertheless, I’d like to believe that Margaret was smarter than I am; however, when she had me pull off the main road up a mountain path that looked like somebody’s driveway, we decided it was best to pull over and see where the heck she was taking us.

The Bavarian Alps - Germany - May 2011

I vaguely recall Anna asking me to check the map again. Yeah, “Falkenstein Castle”. It was showing the destination was only a couple kilometers away. Anna being the smart person she is, quickly identified that you can see Neuschwanstein Castle from miles away. Like a fool… I had typed in FALKENSTEIN CASTLE, located in the Texas Hill Country – built by Texas businessman, Terry Young and his wife, Kim. The irony of it all… there really IS a Falkenstein Castle in Bavaria. The highest castle ruin of Germany.

LOST in Bavaria - somewhere between Fussen and Schloss Neuchenwanstein

WE WERE LOST! Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit here. You’re never truly lost if you have a physical map and a car with a navigation system. Overall, probably the best mistake we made during our vacation, because we found our way through a portion of Bavaria that we may never have seen. We discovered pristine alpine lakes and views, and in all reality, we weren’t that far away from Neuschwanstein Castle after all. Once again… The greatest surprises in life are the adventures never expected.

Anna - Lost in The Bavarian Alps, Germany - May 2011

Walking up to Neuschwanstein Castle has got to be one of the most awe inspiring feats of architecture I have ever seen in my life. Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain is truly impressive. So is St. Mark’s in Venice, Italy; however, Schloss Neuschwanstein poised amongst the Bavarian Alps was absolutely incredible. It was obvious that King Ludwig II was clearly off his rocker when he had this place constructed. I’ve got some more architectural wonders to check out during my lifetime that I’m sure will surpass this experience – The Vatican, Taj Majal, and Taktsang Palphug Monastery (“Tiger’s Nest”) in Bhutan; but, for now… Neuschwanstein was fantastic!

The hike up to Neuschwanstein Castle - May 2011
Schloss Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany

I don’t recall how many hours we spent at Neuschwanstein. The day was getting long, so we called our residence for the evening at Hotel & Villa Auersperg in Salzburg, to inform them… we’d be a little bit late. If you’re ever visiting Salzburg, I highly recommend Hotel & Villa Auersperg. Warm, friendly, and attentive staff. CLEAN rooms. Sure, air conditioning is absent; but, it’s Europe. I live in Texas. No Austrian heat can phase me. Plus, even in May, the nights were cool with an awesome breeze, so we slept with the windows open. Care to learn more about my thoughts on Austria, you can check out one of my previous blogs: Austria! Well, then… G’day mate!

Austria Lake District - Mondsee on the way to St. Gilgen, Austria - May 2011

Although time was irrelevant, we started feeling a bit like the cast of Gilligan’s Island. Just a bit off the map. A few jaunts through some beautiful winding Bavarian roads along the Deutsche Alpenstraße and we found ourselves in Bad Tölz – another unspoiled village that drew us with its amazing charm.

Bad Tolz, Bavaria - May 2011
The unspoiled charm of Bad Tolz
Anna - "window shopping" in Bad Tolz, Bavaria - Germany 2011

I’m not Bavarian. I don’t live in Germany. But, in my opinion, and from my short stay in Bavaria… I would define “Bavarian Pride” as “An unbelievable preservation of culture, history, architecture, cuisine, sociability and hospitality within a magically picturesque region of Germany”. Bavarians first. Germans second. In summary, and my recommendation if you should find yourself in Bavaria… Take your time. Get lost!

The charming town of Fussen, Bavaria - May 2011

TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

Advertisements

Sometimes… a picture says 1,000 words


The first time I saw Shamu… I was 4o years old. The first time my 3.5yr old saw Shamu… he was 2. Every week since then, he asks us when we can go back to SeaWorld San Antonio again and again… and again. We’ve been back probably 4-5 times over the past 18mos. The only other question that trumps Shamu in frequency asked is “Daddy… Can we go to the beach?”. “Soon Cameron… Soon”. That’s my cliche answer. My wife often gives me that look that silently… but oh, so blatantly says “you’ve gotta do better than that!”. Hey, I was able to fool him a few times by telling him Lake Travis and Lake Austin Spa Resort were the ocean; but, he’s watched Finding Nemo and one too many episodes of Hawaii 5-0 to know that his father is a liar.

Happy July 4th - 100+yr old USA Flag - Woodstock, VT

Living in Texas, we have the luxury of not being a land-locked state, so we actually have a coastline. The challenge with Texas is that everything is BIGGER in Texas. Sounds like a cheesy t-shirt some 38DD Texas gal or a 6ft 9 350lb offensive lineman everybody calls “Tiny” would sport during Spring Break on Panama City Beach, Florida; but, I’m not kidding. Texas is BIG! Story time… I had a friend from Greensboro, North Carolina who drove 9hrs across 4 states to go to school at Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana). He was shocked when I told him I used to drive 11.5hrs from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas to Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. In the same state! Yeah, I only went home once or twice per year, because it was too bloody far! Speed limit was 55mph back then. Now I’m having flashbacks of my driving experience on Germany’s Autobahn. 180km/h. That’s no punk. We could learn a thing or two from the Germans about highway efficiency. But, that’s a whole other topic. Lucky for me, my parents moved to Austin, Texas back in 1991 during my Junior year in college – thus the blog name – Austin GlobeTrekker.

Mustang Island, TX - July 4th Weekend 2011

So… now that the anticipation has been built, the question came from Cameron once again… “Daddy, can we go the beach?”. The answer he had been waiting for… “YES! Cameron… we CAN go to the beach!”. It’s kind of like my frequent visits to Starbuck’s. It’s not that I favor the flavor of a Starbuck’s coffee; but, more out of routine and convenience that I’ve become a regular. My drink? Tall raspberry-hazelnut mocha – no whip. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even say anything. They just make it. I just pay for it. One day, I walked in and said “grande black coffee of the day please”. They laughed at me “ha ha ha! yeah right. We’ll have your drink ready in a minute”. But back to Cameron. When it finally registered in his fuzzy little head that I said “YES! Cameron… we CAN go to the beach“, it was as if the angels came down from the heavens, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra started playing Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Ha-lay-eee-loooooo-yah!!! For the rest of the week, he kept callin’ me Moses. A bit much if you ask me; but, I entertained the idea and responded each time politely with a “YES my son?”… in a deep Moses type biblical voice. You know… so he wouldn’t feel awkward. The staff, long grey beard and gold robe may have been a bit overboard on my end; but, I felt it was my responsibility to fit the part.

"The Bird Man" - Mustang Island, Texas

July 4th Weekend arrived, and the family loaded up in the car for our 4.5hr Texas road trip to Corpus Christi on the South Central Coastline of Texas. As we hit Gonzales, Refugio and Cuero, I kept reminding myself that I recently drove 4hrs from Lake Bled, Slovenia through Austria and Bavaria up to Munich, Germany. Similar… but different. VERY different. All eyes were closed when we reached Corpus; but, the excitement began when we pulled into our hotel at Holiday Inn Express – Corpus Christi. Really nice place for a family stay in Corpus. Clean. Friendly. Close proximity to restaurants, USS Lexington aircraft carrier, the Texas State Aquarium, and not too far from North Padre Island – Port Aransas – Rockport, Texas and the surrounding coastline. We made our way around Corpus for the 1st day; however, it was the 2nd day at Mustang Island State Park, Texas that told the story of the entire July 4th Weekend.

Sometimes... a picture says 1,000 words - Cameron at Mustang Island, TX - July 4th Weekend, 2011

Remember… I was 40 years old, the 1st time I saw Shamu. The 1st time my 3.5yr old saw Shamu… he was 2. At that point in time, I had never been so happy in my life for somebody other than myself. That was until July 3rd, 2011 when my boys – Cameron (3.5yrs) and Jordan (19mos) saw the ocean for the FIRST time in their lives. The entire experience can be summed up like one of those Mastercard commercials –

  • July 4th Weekend – Family Road Trip from Austin to Corpus Christi, Texas… 225 miles
  • 20gal tank full of premium unleaded gasoline… $75.00
  • Seeing the ocean through the eyes of your kids for the very first time… PRICELESS!

Sometimes… a picture says 1,000 words. For everything else… sure, there’s probably Mastercard.

TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

Austria! Well, then… G’day mate!


Every once in awhile, I refrain from correcting people. Even when I know they are wrong… or stupid. Instead, I prefer to select sarcasm as my weapon of choice, and see how far I can go with it. Not too long ago, somebody overheard me talking about my upcoming trip (at the time) to Europe. Something like “blah blah blah Germany… yada yada yada… Austria… yickety yackety castles and beer… “ Then in all its glory came the comment I will never forget – “Did you say Austria? Oh man, are you gonna see some kangaroos? Always wanted to see one up close. Austria’s like super far, right?”

Austria Lake District - Salzkammergut - on the way to St. Gilgen, Austria - May 2011

Although sarcasm is just one of my many skills, sometimes the prey is soooooo easy, that it makes it overwhelmingly difficult to restrain oneself. As the corners of my mouth began to curl to a warm grin, all I could think was “where should I begin!?”. I was about to make the error of actually correcting the individual, and clarifying “no no no… not Australia. Austria.” Unfortunately for them, my friend sarcasm took over. Granted, we were in a bar, it was late, and a bit loud; however…

  1. you can see a kangaroo in most primary zoo type establishments, right here in the USA. Or, if your name is Oprah, then I’m sure a kangaroo would willingly come to your estate.
  2. unless you are Jamaican, named Usain, with a last name of Bolt, and you happen to have a couple of pieces of gold laying around your home that you got in China during your Summer 2008 visit… it’s not likely you’re going to get “up close” and personal with a kangaroo in the wild.
  3. Maybe I did say Australia instead of Austria. Who knows! But, Australia isn’t even IN Europe. In fact, last time I checked an encyclopedia… or Google for that matter, it was a continent.
  4. My 3.5yr old is scared to death of kangaroos (don’t ask me why, I have no idea) so why would I be going to see some kangaroos up close and personal?
Modern Art Exhibit - Mozartplatz - Salzburg, Austria - May 2011

It was so stupid that I questioned a few more things while I prepared for my sarcasm.

  1. Why am I scared of clowns?
  2. Does it really need to be so hot in TEXAS?
  3. Why is there a GIGANTIC gold ball with a mannequin looking man on top of it in the middle of Salzburg, Austria?

These are the frightening things that keep me up at night.

I have no idea what this is - Big Gold Ball? - Salzburg, Austria

Regardless, the whole experience brought back hilariously fond memories of an all-time classic movie, “Dumb & Dumber” (1994):

Lloyd: That’s a lovely accent you have. New Jersey?
Lady at bus stop: Austria.
Lloyd: Austria! Well, then. G’day mate! Let’s put another shrimp on the barbie!
Lady at bus stop: Let’s not.

After sorting through the buffet of sarcastic responses, I chose to go with “Yeah, you’ve gotta love those Australians in Austria”. Don’t remember anything else from the conversation. What I DO remember… is my time in AUSTRIA. I’ve blogged and blabbed about Germany and our time we spent with The Bavarians, and I apologize to all of my friends in Austria; because, I’ve gotta tell ya… I absolutely LOVE those AUSTRIANS in AUSTRIA!

St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut, Austria - May 2011

We made our way from Munich through the Bavarian Alps via the Deutsch Alpenstrasse up to SalzburgerLand and made our stay in the beautiful city of Salzburg. I did a LOT of research (too much mind you); but, well worth it, because we found a super cool hotel just outside the Alstadt (old town) called Hotel & Villa Auersperg. If you’re thinking about heading to Salzburg, save yourself some time, and book this place. Clean, updated, nice size rooms, good service, clean, GREAT breakfast (get the package), and did I mention clean? The only thing they didn’t have was air-conditioning in the rooms. It’s Austria… not Austin, Texas. You can survive over there without AC. Just open a window. Besides, we were a nice, safe, casual 5-10min walk to the center of Mozartplatz – Mozart Square; however, what I really appreciated were the recommendations by the staff. 1st night, we were tired after driving in from Germany. I know… a lot of you are saying “but, Germany is like an hour away!”. Not when you’re going through small villages, stopping for coffee and hiking up and down the Bavarian Alps lookin’ at castles. Continue reading Austria! Well, then… G’day mate!

TRAVEL: That everlasting first impression


Since I love to travel, and I love photography… I’m always looking for that everlasting first impression. I recently spent 10 days in Europe (clearly not enough time) celebrating my 5yr wedding anniversary with my wonderful wife (Anna). Rented a car in Munich and traveled around a small quadrant of Germany (Bavaria), Austria, Slovenia, and Italy. A friend asked me… “so, what was your favorite part?”. When it comes to travel, you might as well have asked me which one of my kids is my favorite. The truthful answer (even though it sounds like BS) is that I loved every region for different reasons; however, their commonality was the way each culture simply loved and lived life!

Sunrise on Lake Bled, Slovenia

Of course, if I had to pick just ONE outstanding memory… waking up at 5:40am and witnessing Sunrise on Lake Bled, Slovenia. Definitely an everlasting first impression. Sure, I’ve seen pictures on the internet and in magazines across the world; but, that morning, it wasn’t just a picture… it was an experience! The sound of ducks and swans on the water’s edge, the light breeze and fragrance of mountain air, the amazing view of Bled Castle perched above the lake, and the absence of people. There very well could have been somebody else out there with me; but, at that time… the lake felt like it was all mine. Not sure what it is with me and lakes. Lake Tekapo and Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand – Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri – Lake Louise, Alberta Canada – Lake Austin, here in Austin, Texas – and now Lake Bled, Slovenia.  What can I say… I like lakes.

View of Bled Castle from Lake Bled, Slovenia

See… now I’ve opened up a can of worms, because hiking in the Bavarian Alps to see Schloss Neuschwanstein  (aka Castle) was a lot more dramatic than I could have ever anticipated. There’s a reason Walt Disney used this as an inspiration for his castle. Once again… that everlasting first impression. I remember saying over and over to my wife “how did they get all this stuff up here?”. No more than 15mins later, she would ask me “how did they get all this stuff up here?”. The inevitable madness of mankind. That’s how. Where there’s a will… there’s a way. But still, a marvel in its own right.

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Bavarian Alps, Germany

Yet still, there was more for me to be astonished by. VENICE, Italy. What the Venetians put together with their intricate canal system is nothing short of spectacular. The Grand Canal is truly miraculous; however, Basilica di San Marco (aka St. Mark’s) has got to be one of the most remarkable first impressions. Maybe we got lucky by having perfect 72F weather with clear blue skies; but, something tells me this place is magical every single day of the year. Regardless of the weather. Overall, Venice is a city of 90,000 locals, and will receive almost 25 Million visitors by the end of 2011. That’s impressive!

Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's) - Venice, Italy

Now, don’t get me wrong… Germany and Austria had their highlights on our vacation too; however, there are some experiences that pictures and words struggle to comprehend. Like driving 180km/h on the A8 (Autobahn) from Munich to Salzburg… and getting passed like you’re standing still by names like BMW, Mercedes, Audi. Maserati and Porsche. Truly the ultimate driving experience. And definitely a lasting first impression. That’s all for now. Stay tuned for an upcoming “social culinary” recap of Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Probably titled something like “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!”. I think you get the idea. Travel well my friends! CHEERS!

The Everest thing…


“Two asthmatics are on a mountain…” It almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke you’d hear in an English pub, or down at Ginny’s Little Longhorn – one of my favorite dive bars right here in Austin, Texas. But, that’s how TRAVEL starts out… Right? Storytelling. Reading a blog (like this… hopefully), spotting an exotic location in a magazine, seeing some beautiful backdrop in a movie, talking to somebody about their vacation, watching a TV show that inspires you to seek life’s adventures – The Amazing Race, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Dhani Tackles the Globe, or my personal travel inspiration – Globe Trekker w/Ian Wright and Megan McCormick  (Pilot Company). No matter what the medium… Find your Everest thing…

Oxbow Bend
Oxbow Bend - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming USA

I’m an enthusiastic fool when it comes to TRAVEL. Add a sucker who is willing to be a partner in crime and help me push beyond my physical limitations as an asthmatic, and you’ve got my fellow asthmatic buddy Nickerson. We were working together for a large technical corporation named after the owner. No… there’s no Mr. Google, Mrs. Apple, or Sir Facebook, so you’ll figure it out (if you don’t already know). He moved from Chicago to Texas, then realized that wasn’t a drastic enough culture shock for him, so he and his wife moved to Singapore. He even found time to start up his own TRAVEL company – Beyond Travel. After what seems like 5 or more years, they’re are moving back to Texas in June 2011. As a proud Texan (more specifically… Austinite), I understand; however, I’m incredibly annoyed with myself for never making the trek East to visit them and explore Asia (one of the continents I MUST see!).

Sunset - Gulfo de Papagayo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

The Everest thing… So, how did the conversation start? I don’t remember. Wait… sure I do. I was running my mouth on Facebook, because my wife was away on business in Costa Rica. LOVE that place! Spent a week there for our honeymoon up in Guanacaste, Costa Rica – Gulfo de Papagayo (May 2006). That has absolutely nothing to do with this story. Anyway, I was looking after my sons (Cameron and Jordan). A little adventure I like to call… KIDWATCH 2011. Somewhere between Day 3 and Day 9, I finally lost all rationale and sanity and blurted out that the 17mo old was conspiring with the 3.5yr old, and swore the cat was in on it. It led me to this now famous statement…. “I think I might move to Nepal and train with the Sherpas. Everest 2020 baby! Who’s in?”

The rest of the exchange went something like this…

  • Mark NickersonCount me in! Trying to find time to get out to Kathmandu this spring

    February 25 at 9:43am ·
  • Jason CookeCrazy or not… I’m really serious about Everest. If I get this bronchiothermoplasty surgery for my lungs this year (or next) then I want to set a goal to reach Everest Base Camp @ 17,000ft before I turn 50 in 2020. Nickerson… let’s do it! Going to test myself in Bavarian / Austrian Alps (Austria/Germany) and Julian Alps (Slovenia) this May.

    February 25 at 9:56am ·
  • Mark NickersonI also have a goal of getting to base camp! Yea we WILL do this! Two asthmatic old wheezing fools risking an embolism just to go sit halfway up a mountain. Sounds about right!

    February 25 at 10:00am ·

Nickerson has it all planned out for 2020 (or sooner so it seems). In his words, the biggest expense is the flights – getting to/from Beijing. From there, taking the train down through Xi’an and on to Lhasa in Tibet. The nice thing about the train is that you start off at sea level and at its highest point reach about 16,600 feet above sea level. The journey takes about 3 days. Should help with altitude adjustments necessary for the trip. From Lhasa, we would then want to fly to Kathmandu, then hire a truck to drive us BACK to Lhasa; but, with stops along the way at monasteries, and of course, Everest Base Camp (17,000ft).  Factoring in time for sightseeing in China, Tibet and Nepal, plus, the fact you have to apply for special overland permits in Kathmandu (which takes a couple of days) and the transit time itself, the estimate is a solid two weeks round trip from Beijing to Beijing. Then he finished up his statements by saying “much jealous of your trip to Slovenia. I’ve been wanting to get there for donkeys ages. See you guys soon!”. Really? Really? See… Nickerson inspires me! You never know who you will meet that could change your life… for the better.

The Lone Star Flag
TEXAS! The Lone Star Flag - OX Ranch

In reality, that’s what this blog is all about. TRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER. Sharing stories, meeting crazy cool and interesting people, building relationships, and in the process… hopefully learning a thing (or two) about the world we live in and the amazing cultures that make up this smorgasbord /ˈsmôrgəsˌbôrd/ we call Planet Earth. It’s a fascinating place! We’ve sent people to the moon… Doesn’t it only seem fair we discover a bit more of what’s in front, behind, next to, and all around us?

Join the Conversation! What’s your “Everest thing…”?

TRAVEL: Is it the similarities… or the differences?


So… What exactly is it about TRAVEL that makes the corners of your mouth curl north into an inescapable smile? Is it the similarities we share with the places we go? Or, the differences from the people we meet that set us apart? Why not BOTH? For me… It’s the similarities AND the differences that make me HAPPY. That’s what drives me toTRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Groucho Marx said “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, TODAY , and I’m going to be happy in it.” That’s my approach to TRAVEL. Whether it’s getting soaked while hiking out on the Isle of Skye in The Highlands of Scotland… Peacefully strolling along the canals amongst narrow row houses in Amsterdam… Playing “Where’s Waldo?” in Mercat de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain with 2 idiot drunk friends… People watching with my wife at a bar in Whistler Village, British Columbia, Canada… Or, 2:47am chillin’ with a hazelnut mocha (no whip) at Strange Brew 24 Hour Coffee Shop in South Austin, Texas. Whatever it is… TRAVEL is fuel for the heart, soul and mind. It makes me HAPPY.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I’m not a writer. I’m not a photographer. But… I am a traveler, dreamer and explorer. So, here I am with a novice appetite for photography and an uncontrollable hunger for TRAVEL. A state of mind I like to call TRAVEL.i.CIOUS. And still… I’ve barely scratched the surface of this vast world.

Sunset in Christchurch, New Zealand

It was November, 6th 2005 and my “girlfriend” and I were in Queenstown, New Zealand on the South Island. We found ourselves stumbling out of a frozen ice palace of absolut wonder called “Minus 5”. Yes, the pun is intended. It WAS -5 C inside, the bar was made of ice, the glasses were made of ice, and the beverage of choice was absolut vodka. They gave us HUGE thick Eskimo looking coats to wear, since nobody could have possibly prepared for the elements in that joint. No… This was not at all similar to any bar I’d ever been to back in Texas. As my “girlfriend” and I proceeded to toss back the blackcurrant vodka, we surveyed the bar with our magnificent people watching skills, only to realize that we were not the only ones in pure amazement at our surroundings. “Pretty cool, huh?” said a tall man with a German sounding accent. I responded, “Never experienced anything like this in my life. Fantastic!”.

Friends from Germany and Austria in NZ
Minus 5 Ice Bar, Queenstown, NZ

We continued to discuss the ice bar, then struck up a conversation about Queenstown, and swapped stories of our time on the South Island of New Zealand. The surprising comfort was that we were two globe trekkers talking about TRAVEL. There was no mention of “what do you do for a living?”. Only the age old travel question… “Where are you from?”. My response… “We’re from Austin, Texas”. His response… “I’m from Germany, my wife is from Austria; but, we are living in Switzerland”. They laughed about the fact that people from Texas, first and foremost, ALWAYS say they are from Texas instead of from America. Then they proceeded to tell us that Austin, Texas was on their list of “places to see”. Unbelievable! A proud and exciting moment in travel. Lance Armstrong, SXSW Music Festival, the Texas Hill Country. Impressive. They knew about my home town – AUSTIN.

Sunrise - Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, NZ

From what I recall, there was a time limit on how long you could stay inside the ice bar, so we proceeded to make our way back to the hotel when a loud ruckus came from across the waterfront. It was already after 3am, and I had already blown nervous plans that evening to propose to my “girlfriend” and ask her to be my “wife”. That didn’t happen. Somehow… Some way… We ended up in another bar watching Tana Umaga and the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team playing Wales in the 2005 Internationals in Europe on TV at 5am with a German, an Austrian, and a bunch of passionate Kiwis. WHAT? 

Church of the Good Shepherd
View inside Church of the Good Shepherd - Lake Tekapo, NZ

That evening, I learned more than I ever thought I would about Germany and Austria. Inspiring info for an Austin GlobeTrekker. The All-Blacks went on to beat Wales 41-3. Three days later… on November 9th, 2005, I had the PERFECT opportunity at Lake Tekapo, NZ to ask my girlfriend to be my wife. She said… YES! On May 15th, 2011 we will celebrate our 5yr Wedding Anniversary. WHERE in the world are we traveling? Almost 2 weeks in Europe – Germany, Austria, and Slovenia.

So ask yourself the question… TRAVEL: Is it the similarities… or the differences?