Categories
Travel

Changes on Oahu – Is this still my home island?

It feels incredible to be back on Oahu. I love it, I love this island. It has changed though. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that. In Kailua, I was virtually the only person who was stopping to let people cross the street…in Lanikai I stopped so a mom with a stroller could cross and the lady behind me gave me a loud mainland kind of honk! Another mom with three little keiki whom she was trying to herd gave me a grateful look when I stopped and motioned for her to go safely…the look felt like she was surprised. I’m sure that the aloha spirit still exists here, but it has a much tougher environment to live in than it did even ten years ago. The apartments I looked at yesterday were all incredibly cramped without much in the way of amenities. One had no air conditioning (and a $100 fine for drips from the window), another had no windows in the living room, another had no yard or outdoor space – and each of them were more than the salary I’ve been offered will cover. The landlords were asking for three times the rent as a minimum income…I can’t show that. I will be able to earn it, but I can’t demonstrate it because much of my income will and does come from writing, book sales, and more. A move here means a move to a very serious rat race and not much chance to improve my family’s finances in the near future. I want the job, but I’m not sure that Oahu is where we are meant to be. A woman across from the hotel is screaming like bloody murder at 6 am. Lots of people looking, but not sure if anyone is helping. I will go down and see. Police arrived…so no need for me to go down now. I hope she is alright.

I took an early morning walk through Waikiki. The homeless and the wretched. They are truly hard to ignore and ultimately, really, should not be ignored – but it’s impossible to enjoy this expensive paradise without ignoring them. So, last night, the crazy man yelling “Fuck you. All of you just go away. Just get the fuck out of here.” I felt compassion for him. The drunk young man passed out against a wall outside a bar at 6 am this morning. The haunted looking homeless old lady staring at the rich passers by who do not notice her. The old Chinese man pushing a stolen shopping cart loaded with cardboard. The tents and homeless camps in every available spot on this island. And the cost to live here, the way it drives those who do not have fantastic income and the sense of entitlement it gives to those who do. All of this is reality. This is the reality of Oahu.

I was unable to determine what happened this morning. My guess is someone died or domestic violence, but either way it was horrid. I checked out and the charges were less than I expected, I didn’t get charged extra for my rental car, and airport security was such a breeze that I’m again 3 hours early for a flight I could have come 2 hours later for…and yet, I feel we have a chance right now…a chance to have a better life. I know that. I know that somehow, we have an opportunity to do something wonderful. I don’t want to miss that.

The changes here…Trump Tower is awful. I miss the old International Marketplace and the Honolulu Academy of the Arts which is now called the Honolulu Art Museum – that’s a bad name change for me and the International Marketplace took something authentic and wonderful and turned it into a big expensive mall. I’ll be honest, I hate it. I miss the old Daiea markets in Kailua and near Ward. I miss Island Air, Aloha Airlines, Go Airlines, and the old interisland terminal. Kailua isn’t affordable – actually, nowhere on this island is affordable. People don’t smile as much. I heard few “Howzit”s and not very many “Mahalos” or “Alohas”. No one under 50 wears an aloha shirt unless they are a tourist or at work. The prices are much more insane than I remembered – except for milk and gas. I’m glad I was here when I was here but I’m not sure at all that this is the place I’ve dreamed of. This morning, I was ready to leave Waikiki. I swam in Kailua once, swam in Waikiki twice, took long walks through Waikiki, chanted at the SGI culture center twice, drank a Kailua Monkey from Lanikai juice, ate a Shogun Dunburi from Ninja Sushi, looked at three rental units, drove quite a few miles and frankly, that was probably enough tourism for me.

A group of Tibetan Monks just walked by. One of them looks a lot like the Dalai Lama. A slightly chubby Dalai Lama. Any way about it – that is a very cool thing. That doesn’t happen in Reedsport. Meditating on compassion and the similarity of all living things. The miracle of the idea that each of us is a miracle. We are all miraculous beings made from star material. I wasn’t crazy about my hotel in Waikiki, but the Buddhism book in the drawer was a comfort and a better companion than the TV and the Bible which one usually finds (it was there too). The monks (I think) are going to Maui. I never felt a huge connection to Maui the island. In my mind, it was always the rich people’s island. Maybe I never gave it the chance it deserves.

There was a strange spectacle walking to the gate. A busty woman sitting in a massage chair – lots of jiggling going on. She was one of those middle aged, ruined skin from the sun, white ladies who look like she could be a biker’s lady. Ever so disturbing and almost impossible not to look at.

The Buddhism book in the hotel, had the passage where the Buddha became the Buddha marked and next to it was Dec 8, 2001 in Waikiki. I was in Waikiki then. I was having dreams of sand castles on the beach Christmas muppet specials and trying to find a way forward in my life. And just think, while I was doing that – someone blocks away at the Ambassador hotel was marking that passage. How very strange.

When I was checking in for this flight, there was some confusion, it said there was another Damitio on the flight. That’s odd. I didn’t find out who it was. That’s never happened before unless it was a Damitio I was traveling with.

So I came to the Big Island of Hawai’i to check out a property and potentially buy it. The property was gorgeous and remote but the house – my wife would never forgive me if I moved her into a house that far out and in that state of a mess. So I can’t do it. Big Island is beautiful, but it seems that Oahu is not done with me. I’ve lived in Kailua, Punalu’u, Waikiki, Lanikai, Punchbowl, and Manoa. Now I get to see what Salt Lake is all about. I’m pretty stoked actually. I’m an archaeologist and moving my family to Oahu. Cool. I am filled with gratitude. I am excited about this life, this new adventure that begins now.

When I moved to Oahu the first time, I managed the Polynesian Beach Club Hostel. After taking care of it while my boss was away, she bought me a trip to the Big Island. Hilo was the first place I went in Hawai’i that wasn’t Oahu. This is more balance because here I am again.

Categories
Antiques Travel

Flea Markets in the South of France

The south of France is a beautiful area, full of culturally rich cities with countless holiday destinations, hotels, villas and cottages to choose from. But how can you choose one specific destination? Well that all depends on what you are visiting France for. France is famous for its flea markets, and while Paris is home to many famous ones, for more traditional and cultural markets – that means a distinct lack or knock off bags and phones – it is sometimes better to travel farther South. Here we look at some of the great flea markets in the south of France.
south of france flower market

Toulouse

Toulouse hosts a monthly market full of lost treasures in Allees Jules Guesde, on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every month, excepting October. With classical books, military and pre war-time memorabilia, the Toulouse monthly market is an ideal place for those seeking out tidbits of modern history.  Toulouse also offers selections of traditional French porcelain, plus a variety of other treasures.

Aside from the larger monthly market, there is also a weekly market in Toulouse, with around 50 stalls in the Place Saint-Sernin, ideal for those looking for a good bargain.

flea market

Cannes

The covered market in Cannes is more of a cultural experience than a shopping experience for the tourists amongst us. It is great for those living in rented accommodation as students, or living in a villa as this is an ideal place to shop for fresh foods. You might even see some famous faces, as many of the best chefs in France shop for their ingredients.

Plus if you get there early enough, the fish stalls are an educating experience as many of the aquatic varieties on sale there are not available in the UK, and you are unlikely to see them anywhere else.

Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

The market on the Isle-sur-la-sorgue – a small, medieval town built on the islands over the Sorgue River – specialises in antiques, with over 300 stalls appearing every Sunday. This is an amazing market to visit for those looking for a real piece of history to take home, or for those who just like to browse bric-a-brac. And for the literary collectors, the final Sunday of every month is host to a book market.

flea markets

Arles

Arles is a market famous for its size. It is one of the largest markets in the South of France, with over 450 stall selling a huge variety of merchandise, anything between fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices and other consumables, to a variety of high quality, individual fabrics.

Arles market occurs every Saturday, and be sure to pack a picnic basket, because the market provides a huge choice of delicious goods to purchase for a romantic meal for two, or a simple family picnic.

Seasonal Markets

The south of France is home to a number of special seasonal markets, whether it is Easter, Christmas or Valentine’s day, the French love markets. Check out your local trip advisor for a list of seasonal French markets, as these can be both beautiful and culturally significant, with more traditional markets popping up nearer Christmas time.

Discover more from the French Tourism Office.

About the author:
Clare Cook is a self confessed Francophile with a love of spelunking. She has contributed this post on behalf of South France Holiday Villas Ltd, premier providers of high class holiday homes in the south of France

Categories
Art and Beauty Travel

Exploring the World and Finding Valuable Antiques – Edinburgh Antique and Collector’s Fair

I didn’t expect to become an expert on antiques and collectibles, but that is one of the strange side effects of returning to America. I’m not sure exactly how it happened…I’ve always had a love affair with art and there are certainly particular aesthetics that have called to me – it’s the reason I went to Marseilles – just so I could walk through and feel the magnificent Le Corbusier – the masterpiece of architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, to some it would look like a fancy concrete apartment block, but to me – it was a divine inspiration.

Le Cite de Radiance

Le Corbusier was at the forefront of a movement in art and design which is now referred to as Mid-Century Modern. This is the shape of the middle 1900s from about 1940 to the 1970s. It was the aesthetic of our grand parents and has recently been popularized through the AMC series Mad Men. This is the stuff that used to get tossed out when people passed away but which now brings huge dollar amounts. In many cases, antiques from the mid-century period are now bringing in more than pieces from the Art Deco or Victorian eras.

It’s the same thing that drew me to the Antiques and Collectors Fair in Edinburgh, a rollicking event with more than 300 dealers spreading their treasures out and thousands of visitors seeking to find an overlooked gem. I was backpacking then, and while I bought a small antique opium pipe, I was forced to pass on the larger items that spoke to me. I was staying at the Hiedinburh Hotel, because while I backpack, I really can’t stand hostels. I wish I’d had more money, more space, and more time…but maybe next time. I’ll post the specifics of the fair below for those who may be fortunate enough to visit Scotland this spring.

Antiques Fair Edinburgh

In any event, returning to America, I discovered that I had an eye for these gems of Mid Century Modernism. In some cases, this hobby of buying things at garage and estate sales has been the work that has put food on my family’s table. Along the way, I’ve discovered that I also have an eye for other treasures and I’ve learned from buying things, researching them, and discovering new things. I can walk into a thrift store or yard sale and generally double or triple my money – there is always something that has been passed over by everyone else.

I’ve had a few big scores. I bought a box full of old razor blades for a dollar that turned out to be worth nearl $1000, I purchased a first edition Betty Crocker cookbook for 50 cents and sold it for $250, I bought a box of old baseball cards for $100 and have valued them at close to $5000 (but haven’t sold them because let’s face it, no one buys baseball cards when the economy sucks) – but I’ve realized something in perusing the bottom edges of the sea of stuff that is for sale – the big money lies in the more expensive venues. Just as there are treasures overlooked by the legions of pickers at garage and estate sales, there are much more valuable treasures awaiting discovery in the multitude of antique and vintage shops that fill every corner of the world.

To this point, I haven’t had the budget to take bigger gambles – a painting at $500 is beyond my budget and a piece of furniture for $2000 isn’t something I can do – not yet, but I’m getting closer. I’m an expert at finding $50 items for a buck or discovering the occasional $200 piece for ten bucks, but to go for the things worth $70k-$100k, you have to be willing to spend a few thousand. People undervalue their treasures, that’s what makes the antique world such a hotbed of activity. That’s what excites me.

Hunting for antiquesAs promised here are the details for the Edinburgh’s Antiques and Collectors Fair for 2014. Happy Hunting!

Edinburgh Antiques and Collector’s Fair – Scotland’s premier event for Antiques & Collectibles

Royal Highland Centre,
Ingliston
Edinburgh
EH28 8NB
Telephone : 07774 147197

Dates at this venue
Saturday 1st March, 2014
Sunday 2nd March, 2014
Saturday 10th May, 2014
Sunday 11th May, 2014
Saturday 27th September, 2014
Sunday 28th September, 2014
Saturday 22nd November, 2014
Sunday 23rd November, 2014

Categories
Travel

Lottery Green Card

A lot of people would love to immigrate to the US because this is a great country! A land of opportunities as a lot of people say…
The US Immigration offers the opportunity to any citizen in the world to apply for a green card (or permanent residency) through lottery. It’s a weird system but it has been there for decades!
The most important is that this program is FREE! You heard me it’s FREE!
That’s why you don’t want to use all those SCAMS that will get money from you to apply for a green card. All these websites are SCAMS! Do not use them because applying to lottery is free…
The only official website: http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/
Good luck and don’t hesitate to apply every year!

Categories
Travel

California resorts not what they used to be

Recession got you down? Need a vacation? Think you can’t afford one? Think again! I would go one step further though, if you sleep on the couch on someone’s porch and leave before they wake up you don’t have to pay anything!
There are always ways to save money and reduce your travel budget.

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) � For their one-and-only family getaway this year, the Billingtons checked in to an upscale San Diego resort on Sunday with many of the usual vacation accessories — bathing suits, board games and golf clubs.
But they also brought flashlights, sleeping bags and an inflatable mattress because the pool-side room they booked for just $19 comes with a tent where the beds normally would be. They even had to pack their own toilet paper.
While many of Southern California’s luxury hotels are battling a severe slump in business by offering extra services and more amenities, the Rancho Bernardo Inn is luring guests with the exact opposite — no frills and barely any basics.
Called the “Survivor Package,” the hotel’s deeply discounted promotion lets patrons trim its standard $219-per-night rate on a sliding scale of deprivation, lowering charges with each amenity stripped from the room.
The most basic version: a room for $19 with no bed, toilet paper, towels, air-conditioning or “honor bar,” and only a single light bulb in the bathroom for safety. The next level up adds in a bed — sans sheets — for $39 a night. For a bed plus toiletries and toilet paper, the rate is $59.
Maureen Carew, assistant general manager of the four-star inn, called the promotion “clever marketing in a downtime.”
THRIFTY VACATIONS
Herman Billington, 39, a personal trainer who owns his own business, says it’s the only vacation he, his wife and their two sons, aged 9 and 10, plan to take this year as they concentrate on “keeping it lean.”
“The boys get to feel like they’re camping, and I get to go to the spa,” said their mother, Erica Billington, 37.
Luxury hotels and resorts have fallen on hard times during the recession, as corporate travel planners shy away from lavish spending and consumers plan thrifty, if any, vacations.
Across the industry, occupancy rates have dropped about 10 percent Carew said. The slump has pushed room rates down, with many of California’s more luxurious properties throwing in a breakfast, a round of golf or extra night’s stay for free.
The outlook for the rest of 2009 is bleak, according to Smith Travel Research, which predicts that U.S. hotel revenue per available room will fall 17 percent and demand will drop 5.5 percent by the end of the year.
Carew said Rancho Bernardo’s promotion drew more than 420 reservations, including 240 bookings at the $19 rate and 116 at the $39 rate.
Like the Billingtons, mortgage banker Brian Sciutto, 36, is watching his pennies. His Sunday night stay at the hotel is his first getaway in two years, though he brought his iPhone and mail from home to keep busy.
“I feel like I’m on vacation but I’m not,” Sciutto said as he enjoyed the cool breeze blowing in from the golf course outside. “I feel like I’m being spoiled for 19 bucks.”

Categories
Travel

Super Cheap Hotel

Here’s a real bargain for you!

ROME (Reuters) – Hundreds of holiday makers struck lucky when they chanced upon a very special offer — a mistake in a hotel booking system which offered a romantic four-star weekend in Italy’s lagoon city of Venice for 1 cent.
The offer, a tiny fraction of the Crowne Plaza Quarto D’Altino’s normal rate of up to 150 euros (130 pounds) a night, was quickly withdrawn when staff realised the mistake, Italian state TV reported.
In just a few hours, some 1,400 nights had been booked under the tariff, costing an estimated 90,000 euros for the hotel, part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group, the world’s largest chain, media reported.
Staff at the hotel, some 25 km (16 miles) outside Venice, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Intercontinental Hotels Group was not immediately available.

Categories
Travel

Top 5 reasons vaction rentals rule!

vacation rental beach
One of the better lessons I’ve learned in my travels is that staying in hotels is generally over rated. While some hotels are nice and I’ve certainly met a lot of nice people everywhere I’ve gone, if I am going to spend a few hundred dollars, I would much prefer to stay in a vacation rental.
vacation rental mountains
Rentals are fantastic for quite a few reasons.
1) You have complete and total privacy.
2) A vacation rental can be in the thick of things or more remote
3) Vacation rentals typically have kitchens so you can cook
4) I’m not a big fan of having my room cleaned while I am out (but if you are, you can usually arrange that at a vacation rental too
5) Sometimes, the best part of a vacation is the time that you lay down on the couch with the remote control, pop open a beer, and watch something on the boob tube.
vacation rental countryside
Sure, I like hostels, I love couch surfing, and it is usually pretty cool to be in a fancy boutique hotel somewhere, but there isn’t much that beats a vacation rental for my money.

Categories
Travel

New York Airlink Car Service

car for hire new york car service
I can tell that as a guy who used to pick people up and drop them off at the airport, I truly appreciate a good car service. In the past, I’ve spent time running to gates, yelling at cab drivers, waiting for rides, and sometimes even missing flights. I hate missing flights.
That’s part of the reason I believe that GO Airlink NYC is such a great service. It takes all of the hassle and worry out of getting to or from the airport and allows you to think about other things, like what you are going to do when you reach your destination, remembering to take your pocketknife out of your carry on bag and put it in you checked bag, and thinking about what kind of food you will bring with you on the plane.
Go Airling NYC offers affordable, on time and safe SUV and Car service transportation throughout New York City, Westchester, Connecticut, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports. It’s not just limited to going to or from the airport. In fact, back when I was a driver, I used to go to some places that I’d never seen, meet people that I never would have met, and make friends with my clients, if they were that kind of people.
For the best Car Service NYC style, check these guys out. One thing though, don’t forget to tip your driver!
car for hire New York

Categories
Travel

Cruising the Big Apple in a Tourist Bus

The next time I am doing some New York sightseeing, I will definitely look these guys up.
new york sightseeing
I’ve got friends that were recently in New York and they’ve been telling me about the best way to see all of the major sights. While for me, a long walk through the cold streets of the city offer the most compelling way to see things, not everyone else is so inclined. In fact, I would venture to guess that most people would prefer to hop on and hop off of double decker buses while they visited all the neighborhoods, New York City attractions, and New York famous landmarks.
New York Sights
My friends told me that the company to go with is CitySights NY. This company has been operating the best Big Apple tours for quite some time. The value of these tours is obvious from looking at the pictures of the city that my friends brought back. From the sounds of it, they just stayed with this company for the entire trip by booking harbor cruises, arranging museum visits, taking helicopter tours, and even taking shopping day trips and one-day escorted motorcoach tours to Boston, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia &
Amish Country.
New York sgith seeing tours
To me, what sounds the coolest is the Night Tour which is filled with amazing views of the illuminated Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn waterfront. Then the Brooklyn Tour takes you to trendy and
historic neighborhoods.

Categories
Travel

Apartments in the Ukraine and Russia

Apartments for rent in Russia and Ukraine
apartment in russia
Lately I’ve been looking at teaching jobs all over the world. One of the big concerns that arises is figuring out where you are going to live when you arrive in a country where you have never lived before. Some schools offer free or cheap accommodation, but many of them leave you on your own. For instance, I applied to a school in the Ukraine that provided housing but didn’t allow guests, had a curfew, and was probably in a pretty bad location.
apartment in Kiev
So I started looking at ways you would find an apartment and I found this website Apartments for rent in Russia and Ukraine.
It got me to thinking about the obvious advantages of being able to rent an apartment, even if you are just a traveler. This particular site offers everything from studios to five bedroom flats so that you could either rent it by yourself or with a group of friends. They are located in 26 different cities in Russia, Ukraine, and CIS. In general the rent is less expensive than hotels so you can save money, you can have people over any time you want, and on top of that this particular site is a sort of one stop shop with transfers, visa support, and translation services. They seem to be pretty reputable since they have been in business for the past 8 years and have thousands of customers.
apartment in Odessa