Monthly Archives: August 2014

Highland Games in Dunoon, UK, 2014

We happened to come across the Highland Games in Dunoon Scotland. It was a very interesting sight to see! There were a ton of bag piping bands and then there was an actual competition between a group of guys and gals to throw various heavy objects various distances. I have no idea what the game names are so I’ve done my best to come up with the titles and the objectives:

  • Name: Tree trunk throw. Point: throw pointing tree trunk farther than the other guy.
  • Name: Ball and chain throw. Point: throw a ball and chain farther than the other guy.
  • Name: Stone throw. Point: throw a stone farther than the other guy.
  • Name: Rectangular stone toss. Point: throw a rectangular stone higher than the other guy.
  • Name: Baton toss. Point: throw a huge baton around without injury anyone.
  • Name: Sorta wrestling. Point: Wrestle with each other without using hands – so bear hug and body slam.
  • Name: Dance. Point: Dance.

I get some of the sports. I’m not too  sure about all of them. I think lots of alcohol was consumed, bets were made and all of a sudden it was a sport for the Scottish.

Enjoy the photos!

Chris W.


Iceland 2014

Fortunately for us, the volcano Bardarbunga  didn’t erupt and we were able to leave for Iceland as planned. We saw a lot of natural sites like waterfalls, mountains, and so on. We spent some time in Iceland’s biggest city, Reykjavik, and then went out into the countryside to see the natural beauty of Iceland. We didn’t see the sun too much except for the last day.

Interestingly enough, hot dogs and lobster soup see to be the national delicacies. We had both and, unsurprisingly, they were delicious.

We spent four nights in Iceland, I think that was just right unless we spent more time exploring the countryside. If I were to return, I’d really like to drive the entire ring road.

Things we learned about Iceland:

  • Tiny coffees that are expensive: 8oz for about $3. Don’t tell Starbucks or they may lower their serving size and increase the price.
  • The Icelandic language is very difficult to learn and say. It’s pretty much the only place I’ve visited were I decided that learning, “Please” (vinsamlegast) and “Thank You” (þakka þér) are not worth it.
  • Gas prices are about the same everywhere. In the US, it’s common to have different gas prices in different areas with touristy / remote areas being the most expensive. Not the case in Iceland. That was really cool!
  • Outside of Reykjavik, it’s really desolate! About 2/3rds of Iceland’s population (~300,000) lives in Reykjavik.
  • The topography is amazing, it looks a lot like Alaska but way more accessible and no trees.
  • Hot water from the tap has a sulfur smell. Cold water not only tastes great but is nice and cold.
  • It’s not sunny like all the pictures portray. In fact, it’s quite cloudy and damp.
  • It’s completely possible to take a little Hyundai i10 offroading.
  • Hay and sheep seem to be the main crops for the locals.
  • Everything looks like it was purchased from Ikea.
  • Most everyone speaks English and Icelandic.
  • Iceland’s international airport is really nice.
  • Gas is super expensive at about $8/gallon.
  • There are no stop signs, just yield signs.
  • The grass & lichen are neon green.
  • The roundabouts are awesome.

Enjoy the photos!

Chris W.


Toronto 2014

We had a really fun time in Toronto. We stayed with a rather eccentric fellow who happened to be a wonderful cook. We hiked around Toronto Island and has some great views of the skyline.

Toronto itself was a very walkable city. We really enjoyed walking from the waterfront, to St. Lawrence Market, to the financial district, to Eaton Mall and to Yonge Dundas Square. By the time we arrived in Toronto, all the French had pretty much disappeared. That was super helpful since neither Jacquelyn nor I know any other languages other than English.

St. Lawrence Market was a lot of fun. Good smells and tasty food. The rest of Toronto we pretty much people watched. Yonge Dundas Square was quite a bit like Time Square in NYC but, well, way smaller and filled with homeless people. We had these amazing peaches called “bathtub peaches”. They were soooo juicy that people are supposed to eat them in the bathtub. I had no idea peaches grew in Ontario!

Toronto was our last city we visited in Canada. We really enjoyed our time in Canada, the people were friendly, the sites were cool and overall it was really fun!

Enjoy the pictures!

Chris W.


Montreal 2014

After visiting Quebec City we had a short two or so hour drive to Montreal. We didn’t really have a lot of time in Montreal. We did take the time to eat at a couple of Montreal Institutions like Fairmont Bagels and Schwartz meat’s. We hiked up Mount Royal to get a beautiful view of the Montreal skyline. We had a great host in a neat neighborhood kind of south of downtown. The morning we left we walked over to Atwater Market and enjoyed some delicious pastries before we left.

The park below Mt. Royal had a lot going on. Lots of people playing drums, fighting each other with foam covered swords, smoking pot, laying around in the shade, biking, hiking, and running. Lot’s to do!

I wish we had more time in Montreal, maybe we’ll go back some day.

Enjoy the pictures!

Chris W.

Quebec City 2014

Our first visit to a foreign country was to Canada and our first city was Quebec City. We made a lot of mistakes – like forgetting to convert currency but we still did alright. We didn’t have any hard times crossing the borders between the US and Canada even though we had a fully packed car! The wait time into Canada was pretty long, about an hour, getting back into the US was a lot easier.

Overall, Quebec City and Quebec seemed a lot like the USA. There were similar brands and scenery but everyone spoke French and things were more expensive in Canada compared to the US. We stayed in Levis and took the ferry to Quebec City. Overall, that was a great idea because it was significantly cheaper for us and it was easy for us to arrive / leave the Quebec City area.

I really liked the citadel and the city walls. Of all the cities I’ve ever visited, it seems like Quebec City would be the most prepared for a zombie attack since the city walls are still there and they are in great shape.

The best part were the fireworks we saw – totally awesome! The fireworks lasted 25min and were set to music. Our gracious host was the one who informed us of the fireworks and brought us to the great location. In the summer, Quebec City has fireworks twice a week as part of an international competition. Who knew? I didn’t think to bring the Nikon so the

Enjoy the pictures!

Chris W.

Traveling for Work 2014

Over the past year and a half I spent quite a bit of time traveling for work. I had somewhere around 57 flights, not counting connections, in the last year to a multitude of different places. Between January and February I spent just over 75% of the time traveling for work. Work travel is very, very, very different than traveling for vacation, fun, or with family. For me, it came down to learning that each business traveler I come across while traveling for work is in it for themselves and, since they’ll never really ever see me ever again, there isn’t a need for them to be nice, treat others like humans, or follow generally accepted ways of behaving — like queuing up correctly in line, being polite, saying please and thank you, and so on. Once I learned that, work travel became a lot easier.

Work travel is incredibly lonely. It’s weird to think that I when I traveled for work I was always surrounded by people but was still lonely. However, none of us knew each other, none of us really wanted to talk to each other, because, well, why would we? We’ll never see each other again.

Work travel involves waiting in line for everything – in line to get on planes, in line to get rental cars, in line to get food, in line to get help for some travel hiccup. I can see why there’s the ‘fast lane’ for a lot of business travel services.

Redeye traveling is the most stupid way of traveling, especially to different time zones. It only took three or four times waking up at 3:30AM to catch a flight to the midwest from the east coast to get to my office around 9AM on a Monday for me to realize it was better to wake up at a reasonable time, show up after lunch and not be a zombie.

Work travel is expensive and the add-on fees are annoying. Companies dedicated to work travel (Marriotts, Hyatts, airlines, etc) just nickle and dime the crap out of their customers (internet fees, priority boarding fees, and so on). I found it incredible annoying. The companies can do it because their customers are generally not paying the fees.

There are really neat perks to work travel. Loyalty programs can turn out to be really neat – upgraded rooms, cars, and flights. New places to eat all the time, it’s great! New sights and sounds to experience all on someone else’s dime. Overall, I enjoyed the experience a lot but it was a pretty steep learning curve for me. I also learned that smiling and being nice to people helping me went a really long way. It seems like most customer service reps in the work travel industry are used to being screamed at or being treated poorly. Just being nice bought me better experiences.

So, I’m done with work travel for awhile. Next, I’ll be doing a lot of personal travel with my wife. It’ll be fun to see how it’s different!

I added a few  photo albums of travel pictures – just pictures I took over the last year or so and why it was meaningful to me. For everyone else, it’d probably be pretty boring.

Chris W.


The cool part of work travel:

The sweet plane views:

The boring part of work travel: