Flying to Africa – A Marathon of Endurance

Posted by Pat on January 12, 2017 in Travel |

10-12 January 2017

Tipping our wing to the lights of predawn Chicago

Travel has become a Marathon experience. Or maybe it’s just me. Distance, time, lack of convenience, age? Either/or, or all of the above?

Distance is a challenge in itself. I am flying from the West coast of one continent to the East Coast of another: United States to Africa, California to Uganda.  Read more…

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Frankfurt Germany – A Pleasant Stopover 44 Years Later

Posted by Pat on September 26, 2016 in Travel |

25 September 2016

“Hate at first sight. If there is a thing as love at first sight, then Frankfort is at the opposite extreme. Left peaceful Heidelberg for dust, strip joints, and drug addicts. Got my mail at AmEx and got on next train out of town to Mainz .”

These were my words in the summer of 1972 after 50 days of travel and what must have been a tough night. I remember I went straight to the AmEx office, picked up my mail, got some cash and boarded the next train out of town. Flying through Frankfurt in 2016, I decided it was time I revisited this city. I am extremely glad I did. Read more…

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Albania’s Adriatic coast – Beaches and Vistas 

Posted by Pat on September 24, 2016 in Travel |

23 September 2016

Albanian Rivera

Albanian Rivera

Departing Corfu, our hydrofoil arrives into Sarandë after a quick, smooth crossing of the Ionian. It is a beautiful, sunny day and our route will be via SH8, a relatively new coastal road that snakes its way north along the spectacular and relatively undeveloped and unspoiled east coast of the Albanian Riviera. The hills smell of heather and nature and alive with the sound of music: cow and sheep bells, birds and butterflies. And west is the blue, blue expanse of the Adriatic. Olive trees and rustic shepherd shelters dot the hillsides and cows outnumber cars on the road.  Read more…

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A Return to Corfu

Posted by Pat on September 23, 2016 in Travel |

21-22 September 2016

I was last on this same spot two years ago in July 2014. Then, I was here via a cruise ship celebrating a friend’s retirement; no other reason for a retired person to be in this region in summer. Had a great time visiting Achilleion Palace, a sweet monastery and even sweeter winery. Probably my sweetest time on Corfu was in 1972 when I backpacked with a couple newly found friends onto Pelekas Beach to sleep on the sand under the stars and moon.  Read more…

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Gjirokastër, Butrint to Sarandë, surprising Shqiperise

Posted by Pat on September 21, 2016 in Travel |

19-20 September 2016



It is a beautiful 2-3 hour, 85-mile drive over very rough roads to reach a new highway through the mountains. New facilities are being built everywhere, Kostrati Gas Stations popping up like mushrooms, ultimately changing the landscape and culture of the Albanian. Rural Albanians are feeling the change – building of infrastructure and what looks to be modernization of their country to make it tourist friendly. We motor to the historical region of Epirus and its capital, Gjirokastër, situated in a picturesque valley between the Gjere mountains and the Drino River.  Read more…

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Exploring the villages of Durrës and Berat – Shqiperise at its best

Posted by Pat on September 19, 2016 in Travel |

18 September 2016

Berat fortress walls

After a breakfast of tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, shepard’s cheese, yogurt and fruit, we motor west to the second largest city in Albania, Durrës, which sits on a lovely bay of the Adriatic Sea. The blue-green seas are calm and beautiful. But we zip past the inviting seas in pursuit of knowledge. Our destination is not the sea and beach but the ruins of the Roman amphitheater. I find consolation that at least the Romans may have been able to stop and smell the sea breezes.    Read more…

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Tirana, Shqiperise – Capital of Albania

Posted by Pat on September 17, 2016 in Travel |

17 September 2016

dsc04948Upon entering the city of Tirana, it strikes me as a typical capital city, a 1950s square concrete modern; Communist architecture at its “best.” Buildings are crowded, unremarkable, overbuilt. Streets are crowded and noisy. There lacks the charm of the smaller villages and cities mainly because it is so crowded I don’t see it. Newer construction has discovered the joy of color and stands out like a ripe strawberry among slices of day old bread. I miss having a pedestrian street to enjoy. If there is one, I would have to risk life and limb crossing streets to get there. Maybe this is as good a time as any to explain my version of “Albanian Rules of the Road.”

  1. Don’t hit anybody.
  2. No matter what, just assume nobody is going to hit you.
  3. Assume waving your thanks is enough to be forgiven all sins of driving and the other guy really meant for you to cut in front of him, make a u-turn, or park in the middle of the road.
  4. “Shiten” is not an expression of frustrated drivers, it means “For Sale” in Albanian. 
  5. Kostrati is not what one driver threatens another, though he may think it. It is the name of a large oil company.  

Read more…

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