Friday, May 25, 2018

VAGABOND ALERT - WHY IS THE FOOD SO BAD ON AIRPLANES?

AIRLINE FOOD IS ALWAYS NOT VERY GOOD, SOMETIMES AWFUL AND SOMETIMES JUST FREAKING DISGUSTING. 

Just a quickie for ALL Vagabonds who have experienced some of the disgusting food that is put on your drop down tray. I have posted numerous times about the utter lack of edible food - cashew nuts not withstanding - served on airplanes. So here is a must read for people who wish to be informed.

WHY DOES AIRLINE FOOD SUCK? Just click the link and be informed. One piece of advice - buy some munchies before you get on the plane. That will help get you through the inedible part of the trip.

Happy Trails My Fellow Vagabonds 

D.L.Stafford
thenomadarchitect

P.S. - I just flew round trip DELTA from Tallahassee to Athens then from Lisbon to Tallahassee - the Master Chefs have NOT addressed the garbage that was served on any of our flights. Actually, I think they could make a lot of people happy if they would just give everyone a bag of Mini-Snickers when seated and forget the rest.

Monday, May 7, 2018

SORRY TO SEE YOU DISAPPEAR FROM OUR VISION SANTORINI - WE'LL NEVER FORGET YOU

The photo at left, taken by my bride and fellow vagabond for 45 years, makes plain the fact - when it comes to the unfettered beauty of nature, there are few places to match the shear power of God's Good Earth in evidence everywhere on this most romantic island in the Greek archipelago - Santorini Island.

As we got into the taxi with Spyros to take us to our AIRBNB, the travails of the last two days discussed in my last post began to fade. When we arrived at The Morfes Luxury Residence and met our host, Ion, all thoughts of Athens faded into distant memory. I have said before that you must do your homework when making hotel or AIRBNB reservations. You have to find ALL of the reviews that are out there. I had done that obsessively on this particular place,since we were going to be there five nights. And, Ion and his amazing place did not disappoint. Overlooking the world famous Caldera of Santorini Island, this AIRBNB included an immaculate, highly detailed living, kitchen/dining, bedroom with a killer bed and icing on an already amazing cake, a large terrace with its very own tree and a large, warm hot tub with complete views of the Caldera, the primary reason people come to this beautiful piece of heaven on earth. And it was completely private, overlooking the small town of Fira only steps away from dozens of great restaurants but away from the madding crowd.

Like most AIRBNB hosts, Ion was always available when we had a need. He even left a cell phone with his number that we could call when needed. I called for a rental car which was delivered to our place when I requested. We even ran out of sugar and he had some delivered for us. Service to the utmost. In addition, Ion was very helpful in suggesting places to see, eat and enjoy. One of the advantages of AIRBNB is the personal care and service provided by the hosts. And in this area, Ion exceeded all expectations.

I will be bringing more experiences we had on Santorini, - but - as an Architect always looking for just the right place - this place is, by far, one of the most  well designed, comfortable and reasonably priced places we  have ever laid our heads. And, by the way, Ion has another great AIRBNB, Morfes House, that has two bedrooms if you want to bring the kids. Just click on AIRBNB for the best place to hole up for a few nights on one of Greece's most beautiful islands.

ta léme sýntoma (see ya soon)

D.L.Stafford
thenomadARCHITECT

And-Praying for the Rain:

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

LIKE SOMEBODY FROM GREECE TOLD ME A LONG TIME AGO - JUST DON'T GO TO ATHENS

Well, he is absolutely correct, but, we really didn't have a choice. I will make this post very simple with a point by point sampling of what happens when a trip or at least part of a trip goes completely and irrevocably south. Here goes:

As I explained in my last post, we lost an entire day in Athens due to some iffy weather and mechanical problems, returning to the gate and changing planes out of Atlanta, thus causing us to miss the connection from JFK to Athens. After a night in NYC, we got to JFK early enough to ensure that we would make the flight.

With an uneventful flight to Athens with some of the most disgusting food I have ever been served on an airplane and a very brief trip through customs, we went to collect our luggage. We all know how that works - you stand there and watch the rolling conveyor deliver the bags for 280 plus tired souls that have been cooped up in a sardine can for nine hours. And then it happens - THE CONVEYOR STOPS AND YOUR BAGGAGE IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND! And then your day takes that inevitable turn to the dark side of travel. That's right - CUSTOMER SERVICE AND LOST BAGGAGE CLAIMS -  IN GREECE!! As I gave the very nice Delta representative all of the information I had, it turned out the bag was sent to Heathrow and then returned to JFK. Well OK then, this will be fine. I can just wear what I have had on for at least 12-14 hours for another 24-48 hours. However, due to the calm demeanor of my better half, I did not loose my mind at this prospect.

We were able to see some of the Acropolis the morning of our flight to Santorini - more on that later - and the travel gods did take pity on us and allowed my lost luggage to show up at the Athens Airport, so I was able to pick it up before our outbound flight to Santorini. When we got on the 55 minute flight to paradise, the thought of Athens began to fade and when we arrived at one of the most amazing AIRBNB's we have ever stayed in, Athens became a distant memory. So all became well. It is impossible not to feel good in this beautiful island paradise. My next post will be on the Morfes Luxury Residence and the incredible people of Greece and Santorini. All great.

tha milisoume argoter (we'll talk later)

D.L.Stafford
thenomadarchitect

And for some great listening of a new country/pop/rock artist from Oklahoma who is making his way into the big time after appearances on ACL and other critical venues - 23 year old Parker Milsap doing a little ditty called Pining.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

START SPREADIN' THE NEWS - WE'RE LEAVIN' TODAY - SEE YA NYC

THIS IS A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR US BUT IT HAPPENED
Due to a little bit of bad weather and a return to the gate due to mechanical problems, changing and re-boarding another aircraft, for Atlanta to JFK, our flight was delayed over two hours, which caused us to miss our JFK to Athens flight, so - drum roll please - we missed one day/night in Athens, one night of pre-paid AIRBNB and two prepaid tours. I am now a firm believer in Travel Insurance.

But the best part? The never ending visits to Delta Customer Service to ensure our spots on today's plane to Athens, to get them to cover a hotel for one night near JFK. I must say however, the hotel was simple, clean and professionally run. Although the bed was a challenge. I mean, let's face it, when a real vagabond travels, the bed is numero uno on the list of things important. If you think Atlanta Airport is bad, and it is, JFK will make you fall in love with the constantly improving Southern Command.

To be safe, we are now at JFK four and a half hours before boarding. The shuttle was a "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" experience for sure. I have said many times - It's the journey, itself, that matters. However, I am looking forward to our arrival after nine hours of blissful air travel to the cradle (See yesterday's post). 

So here is a thought for the day for Vagabonds and Nomads of every ilk.

"When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money" - Susan Heller

Now that, my fellow travelers is some unblinking truth.

Gotta Go - See ya Soon

D.L.Stafford

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

WE ARE HEADED EAST TO THE CRADLE OF WESTERN CIVILISATION

That's right my fellow vagabonds, this one is pretty big. First Athens - to see where it all began almost 8,000 years ago. We are very excited that we will finally see the birthplace and current life of Western Civilization through some of the greatest architectural and cultural icons of antiquity that still stand today to remind us that we didn't just show up. Around the fifth century BC in Athens was born the first known Democracy in the world.

I studied the buildings and the culture in Architecture School, so, this will be a trip of a lifetime for me and, of course, my bride of 45 years is always a willing participant when it comes to seeing places not yet visited and experienced. Her desire to go way off the beaten path informs every trip we take. And, even though Athens is one of the most visited places on the planet, we will search out the hidden places that make travel both a journey and a never ending series of unique experiences. 

After Athens we will be spending a few days on one of the most romantic islands on earth - Santorini. With ancient walls and minimalist modern places to lay our heads, we will see what brings romantics of every ilk to this unique place. When I have the time, I hope to provide posts that will delight you and get you out of the house. I have said it many times - Travel changes you in ways unexpected and makes you understand life better. It just takes some planning and a fair amount of work to put it all together, but, I think we have most of the bases covered for this venture. It will be mostly  brand new  for us, since we have never been to this part of the world before. But, in my experience, it's the real unexpected and serendipitous  that make travel such fun. 

τα λέμε σύντομα (See you soon)

D.L. Stafford

P.S. To make sure that we remember the good stuff from America too, take a listen to one of America's most unique and  talented groups performing today - The Avett Brothers doing a tune that just makes you better IMHO.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR FELLOW VAGABONDS - GET PACKIN'

2018 is here. 2017 was a very strange year. A new president. Strange elections. The best economic growth we  have had in the US in 17 years. So far so good. Well - 2018 gives us a brave new world that we must see while it's all still standing. So get busy on your bucket list. In the world of international finance, the EURO is down considerably against the DOLLAR as compared to five years ago so you can get more bang for your buck, especially if you go to the right places at the right time.

In the interest of assisting Vagabonds who want to, need to, absolutely must get out of the house for awhile, I have compiled a TOP TEN RANDOM LIST of things to consider when planning and going where no Vagabond has gone before. Keep in mind, this is all based on my own experiences and opinions. I hold myself harmless for any misinformation, bad advice or general screw ups. So here goes.

1) Be Safe - Unfortunately, we live in a world that can be dangerous and threatening. If you just watch the evening news, you see bad people doing bad things all over the world. While you cannot allow fear to control you and your travels, just pay attention and, you've heard it a thousand times - IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING. 

2) USA -  We live in a BIG country. Unless you want to break the bank, head to Southern Oregon. It's as beautiful as Central California and a whole lot less expensive. Besides, California's Central Coast is difficult to access right now because of massive land slides. Recommend you stay at Wild Springs Guest Habitat. With only five well appointed cabins in old growth woods and a 1,000 gallon hot tub overlooking the Pacific, this family run place will satisfy all of your R & R needs. 

3) Europe - If there is one city that must be on your bucket list it is Venice. Most romantic big city - Paris. We arrived late, checked in and decided to take a walk. We turned the corner and there it was - the Eiffel Tower in all of its shining glory. It just doesn't get any better. And a bucket list city you must see before you die - Barcelona. This beautiful city boasts some of the greatest art and architecture in the world.  The Sagrada Familia is worth the trip in itself.

4) Cheap, Cheap Cheap - If you want to keep money in your pocket then you must commit to spending some time on the internet to find places that offer five star deals at three star prices. In Europe, Spain is, by far, the least expensive in terms of hotels, AIRBNB's and food. In the good old USA, head to the Southwest. Even in the art filled mecca of Santa Fe, you can find really great places under $200 a night. 

5) AIRBNB - If you really want great and cheap, then I highly recommend AIRBNB. You have to search and read reviews, but, I have found AIRBNB's that were fabulous for under $100 a night.

6) Best Food - Italy, France, Spain. 'Nuff said.

7) Planes, Trains & Automobiles - Unfortunately you have to fly and it all sucks, so, just go to sleep once you're on board. Trains, in Europe, are the best and the cheapest. And when they say high speed, they mean high speed. It's like riding on a cloud. Keep car rentals to a minimum and use UBER when you can.

8) TEXAS - It is, in fact, a whole 'nother country. Austin is one of the most fascinating fun cities in the state. And if you really want a truly unique experience, head south of El Paso to Cibilo Creek Ranch to see South Texas in a very small five star resort just 40 miles from the art enclave of Marfa. Amazing! 

9) New York at Christmas - The Big Apple at Christmas time should be on every Vagabond's Bucket List. The lights, the theatre, the museums and the shopping, if you must. Times Square and Manhattan is sheer delight at Christmas. And New York does have great hotels at reasonable prices.

10) Bentonville - This one is not on most people's list of places they just gotta see. In addition to Walmart's first store, this small town has a world class museum, Crystal Bridges Museum, a great hotel, The 21C Art Hotel, and one of the most elegant modern glass chapels by renown Arkansas architect Fay Jones, The Thorncrown Chapel,  less than an hour away in Eureka.

So Get Goin' - This world has so many fascinating places, people and cultures to see you can't just sit there and watch it go by. And, if you approach it like a true Vagabond, you will find and experience things that will amaze you and scare you, maybe at the same time. Happy New Year and Good Travels to you all.

Random thoughts for sure. But - I have enjoyed every second. Peace to you and yours and pack your bags and just go! It will change you, I promise.

d.l.stafford
thenomadARCHITECT


Monday, December 25, 2017

NO.1 ON THE 2017 CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN - SOMEBODY SAY HALLELUJAH!!!

It's finally here. It is my fervent hope that your Christmas Day will be everything you wanted it to be. On the Countdown today I have selected songs that honor THE REASON FOR THE SEASON - THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. I have three selections that will bring that honor into focus. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU & YOURS.



ENJOY NO. 1 ON THE 2017 CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

1- Tom Jones performs a powerful version of  Mary's Boy Child celebrating the birth of Jesus



2- Hallelujah You're Worth To Be Praised by one of America's greatest gospel choirs



3-The greatest  piece of music ever penned - The Hallelujah Chorus by the unparallelled Mormon Tabernacle Choir with some interesting virtual additions - One of the most unique videos you will ever see.



MERRY CHRISTMAS ON THIS BLESSED DAY!

d.l.stafford
thenomadARCHITECT