SHABL’s 2011 Travels in Review
Let us discuss the travels of this website in 2011, yes? 2012 is shaping up to be egregious, indeed. Before we break on thru to the other side, let us remember what went down in 2011 as it was a year filled with adventures on this fine planet… Have also linked to most destinations & some posts of interest. If you’re new here, this should bring you up to speed.
Celebrated New Years in Arusha, Tanzania with my pilot friends before heading off to a small village 20 minutes away from Pangani. Lived in a cashew tree fort for what was supposed to be 2 days but turned into 5 weeks. Afterwards headed to Dar Es Salaam which is basically a large slum I wish to never return to. From there headed to one of my favorite places on this planet, Zanzibar. Spent 4 days somewhat ill in Stone Town before heading to Nungwi Beach aka the most beautiful beach my eyes have ever see.
Took a local dhow from Zanzibar to Pangani and headed to Tanga. The next day was almost jacked before bus from Tanga to Lushoto 10 minutes after I was thinking to myself “I’m such a good traveler”. Headed to Lushoto which is the Geneva of Africa supposedly. Suffice to say it’s a popular mountain region with stunning views. If you go, just hire some local kid to take you on the hike to the Lushoto view point, it’s not expensive and it will be authentic if nothing else.
From there took a bus from Lushoto to Arusha and began feeling devastatingly ill. Got diagnosed with malaria while taking doxycycline (day 2, day 3) and felt horrible. After the medication was done, was feeling much worse. Went to another Doctor and got a huge set of tests. Turns out I had Dysentery and Relapsing Fever. A part of me died under that mosquito net in Arusha Tanzania. Huge “props” to my friends wife for dealing with some seriously ill half dead drifter dying in her house for 2 weeks.
Caught a one way ticket to Bangkok and moved into a hotel room aka apartment in Siam Square. Life was good and Songkran was a night I’ll never forget for various reasons. Everything was working and the living was easy in Bangkok while eating like a king and hanging with my friends at Qbar Bangkok and occasional Insomnia Night Club.
As my visa was expiring, ignored the advice of a friend from Singapore to come visit for a weekend then fly back. Instead I flipped a coin between Turkey & Greece and Greece won. Once in Greece, explored Athens with some new friends then headed to Santorini. Enjoyed it and even hiked to Ancient Thira. Then headed to Naxos and explored with a rental car. Don’t go in May the islands are dead and it’s freezing cold #epicfail. My mom said she wanted to see me so I caught a flight from Athens to Rome, Italy.
Visited Rome with my mom then we went to Sicily and stayed the rest of our time in Taormina which is just simply stunning. We took a day trip to Giardini Naxos and eventually headed back to Rome. I caught a flight to Istanbul and met up with an old friend. We explored the Blue Mosque and other attractions before heading to Cappadocia. What a place Cappadocia is, you should visit it even if for only a few days. Recommend hiking around Goreme.
Headed to Antalya and got a Turkish bath. Felt like some large hairy man was washing me like he would his dog. We headed north and went diving in Kalkan. ended up loving Kalkan and chilling for about a week. Check out this breakfast with a view. Headed back to Istanbul and my friend left.
I caught an overnight bus from Istanbul to Varna, Bulgaria and stayed a few days wandering about Varna before heading to Constanta, Romania. I loved Constanta and may visit again one day. Caught an overnight to Odessa, Ukraine and fell in love with the place. Stayed a few weeks and developed a crew. Check out the beaches of Odessa. From Odessa, caught a train through Transnistria to Moldova. There I met some peace corp volunteers and went to Rusesti Noi and had a life changing experience.
Left Moldova and headed to Bucharest, Romania. Loved Bucharest and Caru Cu Bere is one of my top 5 restaurants in the world, easy. From there flew to Istanbul to catch a flight to Amman, Jordan and take part in SHABL’s first ever press trip. This trip was insane mainly because Jordan is beautiful and my private guide and driver were great people. It was like hanging out with good friends on a crazy itinerary through history. Petra is outstanding, Wadi Rum mesmerizing and the Dead Sea a must see. Big thanks to Jordan for taking a chance on SHABL.
Flew from Jordan back to Istanbul and was feeling tired, really tired from 22 months of being on the move. Relaxed on a roof top in Istanbul for about a week before taking an overnight bus to Skopje, Macedonia. From there explored , met a lady and joined her on a trip to Kosovo. We visited Pristina and loved DOKU Fest in Prizren. Returned and eventually head off to Ohrid, Macedonia. Ohrid is one of my favorite places on the planet in the summer. It’s so lively and reminds me of Taormina. Attended a David Guetta Concert before making a big decision.
My grandfather is really old and not doing so well and decided to post pone my trip to spend time with the family. Also it had been near 2 years since I had seen the people closest to me and it just made sense. Flew home and went to a wedding in Toronto and worked with VIA Rail. Didn’t get much coverage of Toronto for a few reasons namely it was a short visit and the time spent was very personal.
Drove from Ottawa to Boston to visit family with my mother. Afterwards went fishing in the Rideau Canal and worked with Tourism Ottawa to “Explore the city like a tourist”, it was good fun. Spent some time in the St. Lawrence Seaway aka the border of Canada on one side, USA on the other with an old friends. Explored Montreal with Montreal Tourism and as it happens, Montreal changed my perspective on things… Also got to see the extended family again for Thanksgiving #bonus.
Enjoyed seeing some friends but not enough of them. Enjoyed seeing family but realized Ottawa wasn’t my home anymore it was my hometown. Attended another friends wedding, played some golf, went fishing a lot. Then flew to Palm Springs for a friends wedding and worked with the La Quinta Resorts and PGA West Jack Nicklaus Tournament Golf Course. While in La Quinta aka a town near Palm Springs, decided going home after 3 days was ridiculous and the fine people at West Jet fixed me up on another plane home from LA.
Took a bus filled with ex cons from shady Indio to LA and went through Compton on the metro to a friends in Huntington Beach. Hung out in Huntington Beach for a few days before heading back into Los Angeles for Blog World Expo LA. My core business is involved so figured it would be “ridonkulous” not to go say what’s up to some friends. Saw the travel panels, they were good and realized that next year, I’m on those panels AND MORE.
After Blog World was over met up with some old University friends and went to Secret Cinema LA; great times. Told you West Jet had hooked me up, yes? We worked it so I had a 18 hour layover in Vancouver so I flew in at about 1PM and took the sky train downtown. Called a friend and he picked me up, went to some friends to watch Football then Sushi at Dream Sushi. The next morning I caught another flight back to Ottawa at 5am. #Exhausted
The next day I was lucky enough to have been invited to work with the Jamaica Tourist Board and headed there for 5 days with a group of other bloggers. This trip was a lot of fun and I really loved Jamaica. It’s crazy that Jamaica is only about 5 hours from Canada. You can go across the world to find a beautiful beach or just roll into Montego Bay… There we did Zip-lining, the Jamaican Bobsled Experience and my fav was the Catamaran Cruise.
Flew home and 3 days later found a super cheap flight on Aeroplan aka Canada’s main reward point system. Flew to Boston and saw my family once more before meeting up with Ryan from Pause the Moment and flying to Managua, Nicaragua. We arrived at 2am and at 6am, caught a taxi from Managua to Granada. Granada was great and headed to Leon. Felt what it was like living in Leon before taking a bus to Las Penitas. Lived the life in Las Penitas for 2 weeks and thankful I did, super chill place.
Now I’m back in Leon and tomorrow I’m moving on.
It’s been a busy year, it’s not over yet and 2012 plans on being even more egregious. In talks with numerous companies but definitely taking part in the Costa Rica #GiftofHappiness Campaign and going on a 7 night 8 day Adrenaline Junky tour of Costa Rica. The others aren’t solidified but stay tuned. In the mean time I’ll continue doing what SHABL does best… Wandering the globe from city to city with no fixed plan and most certainly no fixed address.
Tomorrow I’m leaving for the mountains in the north of Nicaragua, stay tuned…