The Relunctant Traveler

The Reluctant Traveler Diaries

NorwayStreet5x (15K)

The Reluctant Traveler (TRT) Diaries are the chronicles of someone (me), who has never really desired or dreamed of traveling the world, suddenly finding himself doing exactly that.

bad hair day (37K)

Travelling is always interesting. Often it is even enjoyable, that is, once you get there. And there are always surprises. The TRT Diaries are mostly pictures pages with a bit of a story line.

I dream of the day when they have finally have the Star Trek transport beam system working. Step onto a dance floor, evaporate in a column of bubbles, and appear at your destination moments later in another column of bubbles. No luggage necessary, you just need a cell phone with the tricorder option so you can figure out what's in the food.

In the meantime we use planes, trains, and automobiles for transport. Somebody asked me, somewhat bewildered, what I don't like about traveling. Uh - planes, trains, and automobiles?

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In Brugge

brugge12 (79K)

Brugge is a old town in Belgium that has be one of the most beautiful in Europe.

The canals, the shops, the bridges, the boats, the courtyards, horse drawn carriages and the majestic trees. It's all so perfect.

Most of these shots are panoramas of 3 or more shots stitched together. There is so much to take in that one photo never does it justice.

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Heathrow Revisited

I absolutely dreaded coming back through Heathrow because if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong at Heathrow. When they opened the new Terminal 5 not long ago so much luggage was lost they had to sent it to the Italians to get it sorted.

But here we are. As far as I can tell, we landed on time and with minimum fuss. Off the plane, down some stairs and on to a waiting bus. The bus departs soon after we seat ourselves and a TV announces that we will be at terminal 1 in seven minutes. We are. We breeze through security. No queues. Security staff are pleasant and speak perfect english. I don't even have to remove the laptop or charger from the backpack.

We have a cup of coffee. I have this great smoked salmon and crayfish salad while we are waiting, did not care for the beet salad prison food served on the plane. Everything is on sale here. The £ is $1.70 CDN and almost at par with the Euro. I'm astonished. I buy a pair of Reluctant Traveler shoes, the kind that will handle a walk in the park in 100km winds after freezing rain. The shoes are a great price!

The world is upside down. I am enjoying Heathrow, I am buying stuff in London at the airport and it's a great deal. I am impressed with the efficiency and experience of this airport. Have I died? Perhaps this is limbo?

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Year end blogging

sandCastle1 (50K)

Picking up where we left off, in our last episode, our reluctant traveller is thinking about packing for another trip…

Monday, Dec 15

Tomorrow I go for an MRI and the day after we leave for Calgary.

As I write this it is -28°C in Calgary, but this is set to improve. By the time we arrive, all things going as forecast, it should be a balmy -18°C. and sunny.

Pack the sun-screen honey, we're going home!

Tuesday, Dec 16

Had the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) today, a weird experience. Forgot to remove my wedding ring but it wasn't a problem. There was this pump running in the background throughout the session that made me think of the car in the Disney movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

I was given a pair of ear muffs to deaden the sound and a rubber bulb to squeeze if something was wrong. They attendant tells me "No one can hear you if you yell".

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Cultural learnings and Snow jobs

snow (19K)

Calgary - We were home for the holidays, and yes, the world is turning upside down.

My home province Alberta is one of the biggest generators of greenhouse gases in the world, thanks to the honest business of oil extraction from the tarsands.

In spite of these efforts to warm the world and keep it moving, it is a bone chilling -28°C here as the plane touches down. It gets a little better over the next few days, maxing out at -19°C for a time, with brillant sunshine, crunchy snow, and conversations captioned in the clouds that billow from each breath.

Yes, it is beautiful in a way. I check the weather back in Holland - it's +8°C a and sunny! I smile for the camera. I think about brass monkeys.

It is a white christmas across Canada, the first in 37 years! While we personally manage to avoid most of the chaos, cancelled flights and lost luggage that so many other air travellers experienced, we were able to share in the simultaneous boredom and terror of driving on Calgary's extensive network of skating pathways, which, under more favorable weather conditions, serve as roads.

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Another trip

sandCastle1 (50K)

Wow, it has been a long long time between updates, the last being over six months ago.

We had an interesting trip to Armenia. I left that country pretty convinced that capitalism worked better than communism, as examples of the ugly sides of both systems are on display. Outrageous opulence within view of sprawling shabby Soviet-era apartment blocks.

A week after our return, I had a total wipeout riding my bike, and separated my left shoulder. 2½ months to recuperate from that setback and still some way to go.

Then in October the Canadian dollar dropped 20%. The stock market losses have been double that. Things continue to melt or freeze in the markets, depending on your perspective.

Today I go for an MRI and tomorrow we leave for Calgary. As I write this it is -28°C in Calgary. But this is set to improve. By the time we arrive, it should be a balmy -18°C. and sunny. Pack the sun-screen honey, we're going home!

I'm thinkin' 2009 is going to be a much better year!

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Home from the holidays


I stayed at my Mom's for Christmas this year, which was kind of weird because the last time that happened was almost 35 years ago. I remember why. There was not enough room for me. There is still not enough room for me.

It's her castle and the rules are love it or leave it. A simple and effective strategy that has worked, for the most part.

Mom claims that she watches hardly any TV even though the TV is almost always on. She likes news, weather, and shows like Wheel of Fortune; programs with no time commitment or plot. After all, she has a busy retirement.

The favorite over the holidays was channel 106, which I shall call The Fireplace channel because it featured a crackling fire set in a cozy 32 inch fireplace. Every now and then, a poker appears to stoke the fire.

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AntwerpCrest statue4

The Reluctant Traveler (TRT) and his sidekick, MLW, visited the city Antwerp in Belgium on this weekend.

For those of you who are wondering why TRT goes by that name, it should be explained that it's the act of traveling that he fears and loathes. Once at the destination, things are all right, even pleasant at times.

TRT looks forward to the day when we can just ethereally transport from place to place at the speed of light, avoiding things like airports and queues and the like. Until that time, TRT will soldier on, reporting to all the joys of "travel".

The train trip to Belgium offered a perfect backdrop for your intrepid reporter.

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MaastrichtOnMap (16K)

We went to Maastricht, a city located in a teardrop shaped piece land surrounded by Belgium and Germany, but belonging to the Netherlands. It is in the province of Limburg and is the deep south of the Netherlands. They speak dutch there, but it sounds kind of funny. Maastricht sits very near the Belgium border.

It is one of the oldest occupied areas in the Netherlands, having been occupied by the Dutch, the Romans, the Dutch, assorted kings, conquerers and churches, the Dutch, Napoleon, the Dutch, Germans, and of course, the Dutch. It may be worse. Like the repair bill for an old car or most of history, this is just a rough estimate.

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The Reluctant Traveller visits Norway

NorwayStreet3x (14K)

The Relunctant Traveller found himself in Norway for reasons that were, like the weather, never very clear. We saw about six hours of sunshine in the six days we were there.

We stayed in Stavanger, a pretty little town on the west coast that is a service port for North Sea oil production.


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