Archive for May, 2014

  • Is Dark Tourism Immoral?


    Over the weekend I came across an IAmA post on Reddit authored by a man (u/Zombie46) who had recently returned from a leisure vacation to North Korea.  Obvious questions came to my mind immediately.  “Why the hell would anyone want to visit North Korea?” was the question that I muttered most often.  I could not fathom why anyone would want to visit an autocratic, prison camp infested land of despair and oppression.  Truthfully, after reading the author’s responses I’m still not sure why anyone would spend good money on a visit to the DPRK, but many readers brought up a far more interesting criticism.

    Read more

  • Rail Travel Horror Stories: Spray Deodorant is not Appropriate


    Rail travel, the quintessential method of transportation in Europe, is the great equalizer of the classes.  Yes, air travel within Europe has expanded greatly over the last two decades thanks in part to the stripped down micro-fare carriers like RyanAir, but rail travel is still the preferred method for most Europeans.  There are no security hassles, no pat-downs, no lines, no grotesque parking fees, no $15 bloody marys, no delays on the runway and no two hour pre-departure rules.  In fact, I have taken many train rides to and from Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Munich where my ticket was not once checked by a train attendant.

    Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, many have applied the laissez-faire nature of train travel to their own onboard behaviors.  Train stations are often carnivals of unwashed, unmedicated souls who either have life figured perfectly or are completely lost.  Curiously, the interiors of the trains are rarely as sketchy as the stations themselves; leading me to believe that many of the characters hanging around the stations are doing so in the name of entertainment or camaraderie.  I must admit, if I were single I’d probably thoroughly enjoy drinking beers and hanging out at any of the larger train stations in Europe.

    Read more

  • Super Fun Japanese Snack Time – Tiny Rings of Hell


    Continuing the trend of following thoughtful posts with superficial click bait, I present to you what will hopefully not become a running series on this site.  Truthfully, the Japanese snack review thing has been done really well elsewhere.  If you have never had a chance to see the “Emmy Made in Japan” series on YouTube,  I urge you to give it a try as she can actually explain what the snacks are and provide the extra insight that comes along with the ability to speak Japanese.  I, on the other hand, have a dull palate and no idea how to read any of the Japanese alphabets.  This might be a disaster.

    Read more

  • Mark Twain Hates Your Travel Essay


    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

    - Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

    I may be guilty of violating the main tenet of this site by posting an epigraph so meaningful – dare I say whimsical – but life is too short not to be hypocritical on occasion.  Twain’s position is one of infallibility.  I cannot think of an argument that is capable of diminishing Twain’s assertion that is not saturated with cynicism.

    Read more

  • Fake Questions from Make Believe Readers: Volume 1


    Yes, it’s an unoriginal gimmick but I still have a few months of optimism left before this site becomes a mess of cynical listicles and discount airfare redirects – enjoy the content while it lasts. Let’s get on with it.

    Q:  You mentioned in an earlier post that you used to live in Germany.  What is your favorite German city and what city would you recommend for a first time visitor?

    Preston T. Wellington – Juarez, Mexico

    Read more

  • Las Vegas is Infinite: My First Royal Flush


    I once had an oceanography professor who tried to convince the class that all coastlines are of an infinite length, as length is relative to the metric that is used to conduct the measurement.  No one really understood what the hell he was talking about, partly because he was a barrel chested Frenchman who sounded like a drunk Gerard Depardieu, and partly because he would never stop babbling about something called the Coriolis Effect.  It wasn’t until years later, during a trip to Las Vegas, that I finally understood what he meant by the infinite coastline.  Most people consider Las Vegas to be bi-modal by nature; the Las Vegas of residents and the Las Vegas of tourists.  In reality, Las Vegas is infinite – it just depends how you measure.

    Read more

  • 5 Questions about Paris – Beginner’s Edition


    There is not much to say about Paris that has not already been covered elsewhere.  The city has been a muse for the masters of  literature and the arts for centuries so it is understandable that the Paris of the 21st Century has been adequately cataloged by the millions of tourists who visit it each year.  Occasionally, an actual Parisian is able to pull himself away from his pichet of Brouilly and his burning Gauloises to write a few meaningful sentences about the city.  You, the first time traveler, should consult as many differing viewpoints on Paris as possible because Paris is a different city for everyone.

    It is almost with a sense of shame that I admit I have had the good fortunate to have visited Paris no less than ten times in the last six or seven years; some visits lasting over a full month.  It is possible to immerse oneself in the Parisian lifestyle over a long weekend but I would not recommend such an ephemeral trip.  A week is a fine amount of time to spend in Paris – two weeks is better and a month, if possible, could alter the course of one’s life.  Be warned, Paris does not owe you, the tourist, the romanticized version of itself as portrayed in literature and film.  Paris is an airport inside a museum inside a theme park – tourists will be shuffling from line to line with expressions of bewilderment and exhaustion.  It is your responsibility to experience the city in a way that suits your sensibilities.

    Read more

  • Shaun: A Very Short Profile of a Regular


    Courtesy of

    “If Shaun’s not here by nine I’m going to call the hospital.”

    The bartender at the unfortunately named Thursty Nelly’s Irish Pub had made this joke countless times and anyone who knew Shaun, or spent any time at the pub, understood the underlying humor. Shaun never missed a night. 

    Read more

  • An Open Letter to the Man I Saw Passed Out in a Puddle of his Own Vomit in Osaka

    The famed “Glico Man” – the most famous neon in Dõtonbori.

    Dear Sir,

    First let me say, I applaud your commitment to the “salaryman” lifestyle.  Your friends did not seem to mind looking after you that night so I am going to assume that you’re an okay guy who rarely finds himself face down in a puddle of his own vomit.  If I am incorrect and this is a normal Friday evening for you, perhaps you should step away from the sake bottle and let your friends give the Dõtonbori pavement a try – they might like it.  Either way, it’s only fair that you take a turn wiping the puke off your buddies’ ties for once.

    Read more