Flashback Friday

Every once in a while we like to pull old pictures from our archives from past trips, this is the first time we’re doing it for #flashbackfriday. What good memories they bring!

These are from a music tour we arranged for a client to Europe back in 2009. We actually have a couple of groups going to here in the coming months! Any guesses as to which country these were taken in?

Schloss Bogenhofen

Bogenhofen Church

Posing with a statue

Salzburg Dome

Happy travels!

-JB

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Memory Lane

There are many things one remembers from visiting historic American towns – the buildings, the scenery, and of course the tales of history that make those places so special. But another aspect of historic America that comes to mind for me are the streets.

Streets were not always paved, nice and even, the way they are today. If a road wasn’t simply patted down dirt, old time America often had what is known today as cobblestone streets. There are apparently some variations in what we call cobblestone but one thing is certain – they often made for a bumpy ride.

Today, cobblestone streets are seen as charming and idyllic. Sadly, however, fewer and fewer are surviving due to costs of maintenance. There are still several Instagram-worthy historic streets out there, though, so be sure to go find them before they disappear.

Here are a few of the best known:

Elfreth Alley, Philadelphia, PA

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River Street, Savannah, GA

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Old Market District, Omaha, NE

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Laclede’s Landing, St. Louis, MO

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Wharf Street, Portland, ME

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Acorn Street, Boston, MA

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Aren’t they charming? Take the chance to enjoy a part of historic America by walking where those who came before us walked. Take pictures, enjoy the area! Oh, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Cobblestone aren’t known for their respect for high heels.

Find out more about the prettiest cobblestone streets in America here. And be sure to share with us any pictures you’ve taken of these historic streets during your travels, we’d love to see them.

Happy traveling!

-JB

Note: None of the above photos are the property of Insouciance Abroad.

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In Step with Livingstone

David Livingstone, born in Scotland in 1813, left home at the age of 27 to work as a missionary and physician in the then largely unknown and unfamiliar continent of Africa. He spent the majority of the rest of his life in Africa preaching, healing, and exploring. In fact, Livingstone is viewed as one of the most famous explorers of his century for traveling further and deeper into the African interior than any European had ever done before.

During the years 1852-1856, Livingstone and his guides went on an expedition to explore the Zambezi River, which flows through several modern day countries of Southern Africa. In November 1855, Livingstone and his party traveled by canoe down the river to discover a spot the natives called Mosi oa-Tunya, or “smoke that thunders.” What they discovered was a magnificent waterfall, whose roar and columns of spray were heard and seen from miles away. On that day, Livingstone became the first European to see the largest curtain of falling water in the world, which he named Victoria Falls.

In May 2011, I had the chance to visit Victoria Falls myself with a group of student missionaries working in Lusaka, Zambia. At the entrance gates we were instructed to follow a path that led us past a statue of David Livingstone and to Knife Edge Bridge. Any bridge with a name like that doesn’t necessarily instill the greatest confidence in a person and having to cross it while barely being able to see for all the mist didn’t help much either.

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The ponchos we had purchased for the occasion barely kept us dry and the vibrations of the falls’ roar shook every part of us as we walked over the ravine. It was an intimidating experience, but upon arrival to the other side, our group was greeted by a cheerful rainbow and a gorgeous views of the entire curtain of water.

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Standing before these mighty waters, flowing between the lands of Zambia and Zimbabwe, my thoughts were taken to what it must have been like for Livingstone, seeing this grandeur and power from a canoe, surrounded on all sides by the “smoke that thunders.” I imagined the how difficult it must have been, the trials he and his crew must have endured, in order to reach this place.

It was an 8 hour bus ride from Lusaka to the city of Livingstone, where the falls are – the same distance would have taken days back in the 1800s. I walked on cleared, paved pathways to get to the falls, he had to cut through thick rainforest vegetation. I crossed the river by a bridge to see things from above, he paddled a canoe, gazed upward, and imagined what the view must have been like for the angels.

Experiencing Victoria Falls is a memory that would be hard for anyone to forget, but what I will also always carry with me is the knowledge of knowing that I walked where one of the greatest missionaries and explorers had walked, had seen what he saw. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it was almost like going back in time. To walk in the steps of Livingstone – what an honor and privilege.

Have you experienced a piece of history during your travels? Share an experience with us, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy traveling!

-JB

Find David Livingstone’s own account of his experience with the falls from his journal entries which can be found here.

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Free Culture

A BuzzFeed video caught my attention the other day titled, “Signs You’re Still Not an Adult.”

The very first sign is that free equals exciting, even if you don’t need it. My question is, why should free ever mean anything but excited? Especially if what is free is actually really valuable and interesting. Who wouldn’t be excited for a free, enriching, fulfilling experience?

Believe it or not, there are still free things in this world and even though travel is not always one of them, things you do while traveling can be.

Over the weekend, SmarterTravel.com presented a list of 10 *FREE* museums all around the world filled with culture, art, history, artifacts, and even animals!

Of course, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC had to make the list. It’s made up of 19 institutions, including a zoo (there’s the animals!). Since I’m from the DC area, I have to admit that I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to museum-going.

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The Musee D’Art Moderne is the smaller, but just as cool sibling to the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay found in Paris, France.

From experience, I can promise that The British Museum in London, England is an absolutely fantastic institution and totally creates enough reason to fly across the pond. Warning though, you won’t get through it in a day, so plan for a slightly lengthier visit.

The Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen is Denmark’s largest museum and apparently one of it’s most beautiful. Besides all of the wonderful history, they have a children’s portion of the museum where children can try on traditional Danish clothing and explore a life-sized replica of a Viking ship. Can I be ten again?

Portugal has a rather unique museum in Lisbon that is in a space once used as a power plant. It is aptly named the Museu da Electricidade and is all about the history and uses of electricity.

Berlin, Germany has already been considered by many as a hip and happening place, but the Daimler Contemporary has just proven it to be more so. This museum is devoted to contemporary art of all mediums and is constantly rotating exhibits – you’ll probably never see the same thing twice!

Next time I go to Brazil, I’ll have to be sure to add this to my must-see list: The Museu Afro Brasil is located in São Paulo and is dedicated to the African influence on Brazilian culture. There’s a slight catch with this one: it’s only free on Thursdays and Saturdays. Otherwise, it’s 50 cents. I’m so going to plan for a Thursday.

If you want to learn about all the Eastern history that Western text books never tell you, then you need to visit the National Museum of China in Beijing. I’m sure there’s bound to be plenty of insightful displays and delightful surprises in its halls.

The Nicholson Museum in Sydney, Australia has the largest collections antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere. And it’s not even that big of an institution. They are located on the Sydney University campus, which provides added variety for their visitors who decided to take a break from the sun, surf, and sand.

Finally, there’s Te Papa Tongarewa in New Zealand, dedicated to the country’s history, bi-cultural character, and natural environment.

Don’t these places sound amazing? Makes me want to buy a plane ticket!

Have any of you ever been to one or more of these museums? What was it like?

Are there other museums that you found amazing and want to tell us about? Or maybe you don’t know any and want to learn more. Take a look again at SmarterTravel.com, they’ve created a bunch of great lists for museums and other cultural locations to enjoy while traveling.

Let us know your experiences! We’d love to hear from you.

Happy traveling!

-JB

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All In a Day’s Work

Do you know how it feels to have a super busy day? Or several nonstop days in a row? Pretty exhausting.

Now, imagine that your days were like that – all the time. You might just get a glimpse of what it is like for the busiest airport in the world.

Here are some numbers, per day:
Landing and takeoffs: 2,589
Passengers: 250,000
Bags checked by the TSA: 28,000
Garbage removed: 57.75 tons

Which airport would you guess this is? When I first saw the numbers, what immediately came to mind was Heathrow in England or the Tokyo International Airport in Japan. But nope – it’s Atlanta.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has held its first place position as busiest passenger airport for a few years now, with 94.4 million passengers who roamed its floors in 2013. That’s a lot of shoe scuffs.

So, if you ever happen to be flying to or through Atlanta’s airport, you can say with satisfaction that you have been in the busiest airport in the world. Perhaps it will help make your days seem a little less hectic.

Lean more about what goes on each day in Atlanta’s airport and who the runner’s up were by visiting CNN.com.

Let us know about your airport experiences, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy traveling!

JB

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In Remembrance

America the Free

Today, 13 years ago, the world changed.

Flight 175

Today, we remember.

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer

“God bless America, land that I love
Stand behind her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above
From the mountains, to the prairies

“To the oceans white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home.”

                                     -Irving Berlin, “God Bless America.”

-JB

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Post-Summer Blues

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With the passing of Labor Day, summer has “officially” ended and everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is returning to a season of books, pencils, classrooms, and studying. It seems like this summer went by so quickly! I’m sure more than a few people are wishing they were able to spend just a few more hours relaxing at the beach, spending time with long distance family members, and allowing themselves to enjoy life.

On the other hand, I for one have to admit that I enjoy a return to more structured schedules, regular routines, and increased productivity. But the feelings and desires of summer linger on… The need to explore, to enjoy being with others, to feel excited about the next adventure.

The good thing is that just because school and work are back in full swing doesn’t mean that you can’t already plan for next summer! Yes, enjoy the moment; be present in the present. Not many people seem to know how to do that nowadays. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look ahead to how you can reward yourself for excellent work in the office or for graduating from high school or college.

With your now regulated schedule, set apart some time to start planning your dream trip. Talk with others, put away money, learn about where you want to go, get a little of the language under your belt. If you’re traveling with a group, give us a call! We can help you with making the necessary plans for group travel easy and simplified.

Your next trip doesn’t even have to be that far in the future (winter here is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, *wink, wink*).

So don’t allow yourself to settle into the post-summer blues, use your happy memories to help plan your next escapade. It’ll give you a goal to work for while you are enjoying your productivity in the here and now.

Do you have any favorite stories or photos from a trip you took this summer? Share them with us! We’d love to hear from you.

Happy traveling!

-JB

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Do You Wanna Be My Pen Pal?

A Note of Assurance: This is not yet another parody of the snowman song from Frozen. Just thought putting that out there.

When I was younger, one of the most exciting things was to get a letter in the mail. Understand, that when I was growing up computers were already starting to take hold of society, so it wasn’t that I was so excited about getting something handwritten as I was about getting something for me.

As I grew older, a steady flow of things began to arrive in the mail, just for me. But now… They weren’t quite as exciting. I mean, sure, college paraphernalia was pretty cool but bills… Not so much. I began looking for something new and different to make the daily arrival of mail a little less boring and monotonous, so in high school I decided to get a pen pal.

I have heard of services that set you up with pen pals from around the world, but I didn’t go that route. Instead, I went looking for a pen pal myself. On one of my earliest trips, an academy mission trip to Belize, I was determined to find someone who would be willing to write letters to me. The use of email was still kind of a novel thing, but my academy friends and I were sharing our addresses with those who wanted them and claimed to have internet access. However, I had started to develop by this time an appreciation for handwritten notes and letters, so despite being happy that so many people wanted my email, I wanted to find someone who wanted to be my pen pal.

There are many people that I got to know during my time in Belize, but there was one girl that became really attached to me. I really enjoyed chatting with her but soon discovered she did not have an email address. My eyes lit up when I asked her, “Do you want to be my pen pal?”

We have been writing back and forth since 2006. We’ve shared good times, bad times, happy times, and sad times. We’ve offered each other spiritual support and words of encouragement. We’ve watched each other grow, from a distance, and I am so proud to call this intelligent, dedicated, and beautiful young woman my friend. And the best part? Coming home to find special and unique handwritten notes in my mailbox.

Pen Pal Letter

Do you have any pen pals? Where are they from? What do you talk about? Or, if you don’t have one, would be interested in finding one? Perhaps one for your kids? Its a fun and educational experience, helping people gain the perspectives of others from around the world. I’d even be willing to write to you if you’d like! Just comment below and let’s get writing, because you know… There really is nothing like receiving a handwritten letter.

So, do you wanna be my pen pal?

Happy Traveling!

-JB

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Five Hour Enchantment

Did anyone guess where the photo from the other week’s post was from? It was Seattle, Washington.

I had the privilege of spending about 5 hours or so in Seattle last year and boy, was that certainly not enough time to see everything the city has to offer. Since we were on a tight schedule, we had to prioritize our time and chose to see two of the most famous locations within Seattle.

Sadly, we arrived too late in the day to see the fish tossing at Pike’s Place, but we did manage to visit the flagship Starbucks. Apparently, its almost like a required pilgrimage for any Starbucks lover to go at least once to this shop, which still retains the original logo. There are specialty drinks that can only be found at that shop and the baristas were very outgoing and interactive with the customers.

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The other must see of Seattle is the Space Needle. It was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and was thus dubbed due to the country’s obsession with space at the time. There is a fantastic (but pricey) restaurant at the top and the view of Seattle and the nearby bay and mountains is unparallelled. Tickets with specific times have to be bought before entering the building, as an effort to control traffic at the top, and we managed to be at the top just as the sun was setting the city lights were gleaming.

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I was enchanted by Seattle. Hopefully the next time I’ll have more than five hours to enjoy its various experiences and opportunities. What should I visit next time I go? Do you have any stories of Seattle you like to share? We’d love to hear from you.

Happy traveling!

-JB

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A Beautiful Year

As my days in the UK begin to dwindle I can look back on a great year spent here. A beautiful time of new people, new places, and lessons learnt, and of course a whole lot of time spent in the library, but I supposed that is guaranteed upon deciding to be a graduate student. Although I won’t miss the library, classroom walls, or lectures which seemed to last forever, I am grateful for what I have gained from all those hours. The opportunity to study here was something I had to take advantage of. Being a lover of travel and history I just couldn’t say no, and I’m glad that I didn’t, since my time in England has been full of both.
I think that there are always positives and negatives of the places where one decides to travel or live. That seems obvious, but I think the important part is to remember the amazing positives. I could focus on those cold winter days when it just wouldn’t stop raining, but the summer weather so far has been warm, sunny, and incredibly beautiful. I’ll remember the friends that will hopefully last a lifetime, the laughs, the trips, the memories, and even breakfast tea with a bit of milk.
-CG

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