Top 5 things I learned while traveling the world!

I have been traveling since 2016 and just recently completed a trip all the way around the world starting in Orlando, Florida USA landing in London, England. 15 countries countless cities and back to Orlando again in 6 months. Through out this time traveling and walking the Camino De Santiago twice these are things I learned along the way.. about people, culture and more. 

1.) Always travel with an open mind! 

When you travel you cannot have a closed mind to new experiences and culture. To have an understanding that in other cultures and parts of the world they do not live like you. They have different customs and more that you may not agree with but that you must be open to.

You will encounter different religions and ways of thought that you may not be used to or may not agree with. This does not mean you can’t respect that. Like in Morocco and the evening call to prayer blasts over the loud speakers. Certain cultures that eat with their hands or only eat with the right hand and more. 

When you open your mind while you travel as I did you will possible have so many amazing experiences and memories that it will change you for life. 

2.) Travel with a smile! 

While traveling one of the greatest things you can do is smile! Now I know there will be these frustrating times where you may be trying to catch that train or bus or flight and you are stressed. Maybe trying to find the place you are going to stay and it can be overwhelming. But always try to smile and greet people as you go along. You will be surprised at how far a smile will go! 

A smile opens you up to a person and invites them to smile back. You may not speak the same language but a smile is universal and says a lot about a person right from the start. Not all cultures shake hands but all cultures smile! 

I could name so many times that a smile generated a great conversation, a helping hand or even a great new friendship along the way!

I remember one time in Athens I just missed my train to Drama. I was so upset and wasn’t sure what to do next. I decided to go to the ticket window and talk to them about my ticket. When I got in line I could see the ticket agent was not having a good day. The customer he was dealing with was aggravating him and my the time I got to him I thought my chances were slim at best to just get a later ticket and not have to pay again. I walked up to the window and smiled and said having a rough day? He kind of laughed and said yes one of those days. I said yes I have been there before but it will get better. I then went onto explain what happened to me through a small conversation. He said hold on and left to speak to the manager. He came back and said I took care of you with a big grin on his face and said here’s your new ticket no charge! I told him if I could hug you through this window I would!! He laughed out loud got up from his seat came out from the office and said here!! I gave him the biggest hug ever and we laughed! He said thank you for changing my day and I said thank you also!! Such an awesome memory and it was created at first with just a smile! 

3.) Stay positive! 

Now I know this can be very difficult at times and you will have those negative moments but don’t let them last very long! Don’t let them consume you!! Some how some way there is always a positive within the negative that you are experiencing! It could be you end up meeting someone new through a negative experience! You just never know! 

I remember while walking the Camino De Santiago with my new friend Joshi from Germany we both got so frustrated at one point because we just could not find an Albergue to stay at. Everything was full as we were getting closer to Santiago. We walked around this city for over 2 hours just trying to find a place to stay! Sweating to death frustrated and more I told Joshi don’t worry some how the Camino will provide! We decided on one last place. A private pension that’s door was open. The owner came down and said sorry we are full. He spoke very little English but I managed to explain to him our situation and for 2 hours we couldn’t find anything and if he could help in some way! He got on the phone and made some phone calls and after about 5 calls he found us a place to stay for only 10 euro a night! The place wasn’t the best but even in our negative moment we found a way to hold onto something positive and through this kind persons help we ended up having a great sleep and a great night! 

4.) Most of all have fun!! 

By fun I don’t mean go out and party although that is fun too! But have fun doing things new! Break out of your bubble, try new things, don’t worry about looking silly. dance in the streets with joy, give strangers a hug, go bungee jumping even if you are afraid, take a crazy ride on a tuk tuk! Have fun!!

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand I met some awesome locals! I really wanted to try street food but was nervous about not knowing which ones wouldn’t get me sick. They invited me out and took me all over the back alleys and to all of these great local street food places! I tried so many different foods, local foods and even ate some fried maggots and snails!! I would order those every day but I was determined to be like a local and have fun with great new local friends! We had so much fun the sun came up and we were all still talking and having fun! 

I stepped outside my comfort zone, tried new things, met amazing people and had so much FUN!! 

5.) Do not be afraid! 

So many times in our lives we allow fear to control us rather than us control it! Fear is good when it is controlled. Fear and instinct tell you this is a shady place and more. It is good to be aware while traveling but don’t let that fear control you! Don’t let the fear peddled on social media or major news outlets control you and where you go! More often than not this fear is a small issue but they make it seem larger than life! Now I don’t recommend flying into a war zone or anything either! Every country in the world has it’s negative side and bad areas to stay away from but it does not represent the whole country. 

When I was flying into South Africa to go to Cape Town and Johannesburg all I got from friends and family was be careful there. They hate people, are burning down farms and attacking people! Not making this political in anyway and they do have some issues there with these things but again it is not the whole country. I arrived there and met some of the most amazing people from different tribes and cultures! I walked the streets of both cities, climbed table top mountain, walked through Soweto and the home of Mandela and stopped in the Soweto Brewery and everywhere I went I was welcomed with a smile, a hand shake and a hello! I never felt uncomfortable or threatened and from I saw most of the population was making it together. So do not believe all you hear and do not let that stop you from where you want to visit. 

In closing I just wanted to say this, Through out all of my travels I have found this from observation to personal experience. 

Everyone around the world values most of the same things! Family, love, friendships and peace! So many places I went I saw parents picnicking with children, people playing games together in a café, enjoying movies together on the couch, going to the malls for a family shopping day, hugging each other, laughing with each other, talking politics, going to church, going to school, having their own struggles, meeting up with friends and more! We are all more alike than we are different! We need to stop allowing people to divide us! If we could do this then this world would be even more amazing than it is now! 

There is a saying that I always repeat. Ghandi once said “Go forth and be the change you wish to see in this world” I challenge you to be that change as I tried to be that change as I traveled the world! 

Peace, love and let’s experience this beautiful world together!

Backpacker Mike 

THE BEST PIZZA IN ITALY!!! I found in Venice!!

I have traveled a lot of Italy on this trip and was so excited to try the pizza when I arrived!

Arriving in Lamezia, Italy first I found there are many different places to get pizza from and as I traveled from Lamezia, to Pompeii, Napoli, Catania and Bari I found the best cheap meal in Pompeii was a small Pizzeria near the Ruins but not for the pizza but rather the rotisserie CHICKEN!!

After arriving in Venice I had enough of trying pizza to find that best pizza that everyone speaks of in Italy! I had some good pizza and some of THE WORST pizza ever on this trip through Italy. From Pizza with almost no sauce to canned mushrooms and sauce that tasted like ketchup thinned out with water!

I began to miss my favorite pizza places in the states! Pizza Oven in Ohio for one is my favorite! So, while exploring Venice I happened upon this small little pizza shop near one of the canal’s in Venice. I saw some people sitting on the small bridge outside the Pizzeria having a slice of pizza and I could smell the pizza coming from this place! So I thought well they sell it by the slice, let me see what it is like! It can’t hurt to just have a slice!

I walk through the door and there is the nicest Man and Woman in there working with their matching red shirts on. The pizzas were in the case in front of me and as you asked for a slice they then put it in the over to heat it up for you! I order the 4 cheese pizza that I am sure had Gorgonzola, Asiago, Parmesan and Mozzarella on it! It was only $2.00 Euro a slice so around 2.50 USD. Pretty standard price back home for a slice.

I decided to take the pizza just outside the door to give it a try and leaned against the wall next to the canal. As I took my first bite of this pizza I was amazed. The cheese was delicious and just the right amount! The crust was some what thin and slightly crispy! The right amount of sauce and the sauce had such an amazing flavor! I was in love with this pizza!! This was the pizza I was looking for in Italy this whole time!! The holy grail of pizza was found here in this small pizza shop down some random walk way in Venice!!

After finishing that delicious slice of goodness I had to go back in and try another different slice to make sure I was correct on this pizza! I explained to these very nice people that this Pizza was the best in all of Italy and they sort of laughed in a joking fashion and while they thought I was kidding I was actually very serious! IT TRULY WAS!!

The next slice I order was a ham and artichoke slice and WOW still just as good!! It was then I thought I need to write this blog about this pizza and how AMAZING it is!! I asked them for their information and took some pictures to share with you all!

When you are in Venice, Italy PLEASE LOOK for this place and tell them Backpacker Mike sent you!

You won’t regret it!

This is the information from their business card:

RI.AL.

Pizza al taglio

e da asporto

Stuzzicheria

Sestiere Dorsoduro 1309

30123-Venezia

Tel: 041-5236518 – 348 5354629 

 

 

Ireland by car and the Wild Atlantic way

Ireland from Dublin all the way around and back in 7 days!

I ferried into Dublin on March 16th, 2018 on Irish ferries from England and the port of Holyhead. The ferry cost around 40-50.00 Euro and not a bad price and it docked in the Dublin harbor. The ferry was very large and nice equipped with a bar, restaurant, store and various other things to do. You could go upstairs onto the deck and see Dublin as it approached and smell the Irish sea! After docking in Dublin as the sun was setting I decided to head into the city center before going to my Airbnb so I could get something to eat. The city was busy with the anticipation of Saint Patrick’s day coming the next day!

I decided to stop in this sort of American Icon place with racing bikes and Harleys! They were playing 80’s music outside and inside and it seemed to have a nice menu. It was called I believe Thunder road. This was where I ordered my first Guinness in Ireland and wow how good that tasted!! So creamy and rich and full of the flavors I love. I have had some good Guinness in the states but this by far was at the top of the list! With the Guinness Brewery just minutes away I would expect nothing less! I ordered the wings which were also amazing and they came with Chips (fries).

I then went to my Airbnb and met Ronald and his wife who were amazing people and very welcoming. They lived north of the city center and the taxi was roughly around 25 Euro from the city center. After getting settled in it was time to go to bed for the big Saint Patrick’s day to start!

The next morning I woke up to a lovely breakfast of eggs, pancakes, toast, fruit and more. This was all included in the price of the Airbnb and it saved on money for a meal! I then headed downtown by bus for Saint Patrick’s day! What a crazy excitement on the streets and people dressed in all kinds of costumes! Laughing and smiling and having a great time! People from all walks of life enjoying each other! I walked pass the iconic Temple Bar (which all the locals told me not to bother) I went into the Nordic pub and a few other places I am afraid I cannot remember the names. It was just walking and stopping into a pub and having a drink and then out to the next pub. It was an amazing experience and one that I recommend for everyone to do at least one time! The night ended with rain and cold… I decided to get a cab and I left my phone in the cab! That is a whole other story but I ended up getting it back the following day!

The next day I woke up to SNOW!! YES SNOW!! Lot’s of it! I headed out to get my rental car and also get my cell phone back from the tax driver! So thankful I got that back! I was going to head to my friend Billy’s who lives in Carlow but with the snow he told me to stay one more night in Dublin. I booked a hotel near the Guinness brewery so that I could take the tour. My plan was originally to take the tour when I returned to Dublin in a week. So things worked out as they should like they normally do while I am traveling.

The next day I went to take the tour at the Guinness store house! One of my bucket list items for sure! Check this off the list! What an amazing adventure through the brewery of my favorite beer of all time! The tour was well worth the 25.00 Euro and the free tasting and also the free pint! I drank mine at the top in the gravity bar! The tour took you through the history of Guinness and how it has become what it is today! After drinking my pint in the gravity at and taking in the 360 view of Dublin I decided to have some dinner at the Guinness restaurant. This is where I had some lovely smoked trout with Irish brown bread and some of the best Guinness Irish stew I have eve had!! WOW!! The flavors were amazing and spoiling myself for this dish was the best idea I had! Well enough of the Guinness store! You will see a lot of it in the video!

I left Dublin after the Guinness tour and drove to my friend Billy’s to stay a couple days and spend some time. Let me tell you, getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road and making weird turns took me awhile to get used to! About three days in I think I got the hang of it! I got to Billy’s late and met him at a local pub/hotel for a few pints before heading back to his house. He has a beautiful house in the Irish countryside and Billy was so accommodating! From breakfast to buying the pints and more. I will forever be thankful for him helping me out! The following day we drove down to Kilkenny, Ireland only about 30 mins away. We went to the castle and walked around downtown. Stopped and had some lunch that was delicious and then for a pint at a local pub I believe called the bank! Eventually I ended up leaving Billy’s and headed to the Rock of Cashel that has some great history! It was about 8.00 Euro to get in but a nice lady that owned a café in town gave me a coupon to get in free as long as I went to her café after for a café or sandwich.

The Rock of Cashel is a beautiful place but the castle itself is fairly run down. Missing it’s roof and some other sections. But the grounds and scenery are beautiful. If you are near Cashel it would be worth a quick stop and the little village and the café is nice also.

Next the trip took me from there to the Dingle Peninsula where I stayed in a nice B&B called The Old Anchor B&B in Annascaul, Co Kerry. You can contact them at www.oldanchorinn.com. A beautiful little place in a small village just off the wild Atlantic Way. They offered a beautiful breakfast included in your stay. Their names are Brian and Beata Lucey and please tell them Backpacker Mike sent you. Beautiful people and very nice. Brian will explain to you all about the Wild Atlantic Way and how you can walk part of it or drive it. He will also give you maps and suggestions. Thank you for the wonderful stay.

The next it was off in the rental car driving the narrow country roads again and along the Wild Atlantic way. The wind was blowing strong and the misty rain of the Atlantic felt like needles hitting your skin from the strength of the wind. Driving the cliffs of the way on the narrow roads proved to be stressful especially when passing cars approached you. some spots where it was most treacherous there were pull over spots to give the other cars room to get around. At one point I got out of the car to look at a memorial of a cross with Jesus and other figures and the wind was so strong it almost blew me over! The way lead through beautiful farms and rolling hills on one side and high cliffs that lead to the Atlantic ocean on the other. After driving the way around the Peninsula I headed back past the Inn and down to the 1 inch strand to walk to beach. Not the most pleasant beach walk but I could at least say I touched the Atlantic on the coast of Ireland! The wind was so strong I couldn’t even get my DJI SPARK drone off the ground. I imagined how beautiful the video would have been from the drone on a beautiful day on the 1 inch beach!

I stopped in the small café there on the beach to warm up and get some café. I then got back into the car and continued on to Limerick and Gallway and eventually to Killybegs, Ireland in the North east coast. I got in late and it was a beautiful fishing village where I could see the catch of the day being brought in on the fishing boats. The smell of a fishing village was in the air and hit my senses as soon as I got out of the car. After I checked in I went down to the hotel pub and enjoyed a Guinness and a glass of Jameson to ease some of the tension from a long day of driving on narrow roads and the wrong side of the road for me. I was getting more used to this driving though with each passing day! The next day I arose with the sounds of seagulls screaming through the window as they flew around the marina searching for scraps of the fish mongers as they prepared the catch from the night before. I looked out my window and saw the beautiful glistening of the sun on the bay and the smell of the ocean air filled my lungs. It was truly a beautiful morning! I then headed down to a local café for something to eat and then I headed on my way. 30 mins south of where I was lied the Donegal castle and one I thought would be a beautiful castle to visit. After arriving it was around 8 Euro to get in and I found that it was more of a family residence castle. It had been destroyed a few times so that the English could not use it as an outpost. It had been around since about the 8th century but only part of the original structure remained. After leaving here I headed north east towards Belfast to the Giants Causeway and then the birthplace of the Titanic!

Arriving at the Giants Causeway I had an idea of what to expect but those expectations soon gave way to the realization that this was larger than I could have ever imagined! The vast beauty of this place is unspeakable and bigger than life! The views were amazing and I could only wish I had more time to explore this beautiful area! You could literally spend all day here walking and exploring! The rock formations were amazing and the cliffs were so high it almost made you feel like you were looking from the perspective of a small ant. The video clip in this video of my Ireland short film does not do it any justice!

The time was getting late and the sun was setting! It was time to head to the Airbnb! While driving to Belfast in search of a nice Airbnb I booked just north of Belfast I drove through a park region that was surrounded by high mountains and streams. It was a beautiful drive and the roads were wide. I then approached a sign that said checkpoint ahead. This was an old sign that had not been removed when the UK dissolved the border crossing from the republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. Not long ago you would have gotten stopped and asked for documentation and e subject to possible searches. This no longer exists and as I kept driving I could feel the influence of England on the roads and in the structure of buildings and more. The round abouts were more wide. The streets were wider and stop lights on the round abouts were actually a welcoming sight. Finally reaching the Airbnb late around 8:00pm I was greeted by Lilia who was very nice and then shown my room. A few particulars she showed in the room and also the wifi password. I then left to find something to eat for a late dinner. The Airbnb was a pleasant place with a nice bed and in room bathroom. Breakfast was included and she cooked to order whatever you would like to eat. I chose the full Irish breakfast the morning and she definitely delivered!

After eating my full Irish breakfast it was off to Belfast to the Titanic Museum and after getting lost on the Google maps a few times with the strange roads I finally found my way to the museum. The tour was very nice and explained a lot of the history of the Titanic. We walked out to the dry docks where Titanic was built. I learned that the workers only made on average about 3 pounds a week. They had no health insurance and didn’t get paid if they stayed out sick! So they continued to work through illness and injuries! The riveters would go deaf from the constant pinging of the hammers on the rivets. Some would get shards of hot metal from the rivets in their eyes and had to pick them out and keep going because there was no eye protection. Some workers would climb up to 400 feet to work on giant beams that were fashioned as ladders. They had no safety harnesses either. Amazingly enough through all this there was only 9 deaths during the construction of the Titanic. This number pales in comparison to those who lost their lives when it sank. The day was filled with history and also sadness. I felt as though the crew of the Titanic were a little more “cocky” so to speak than other ships because they believed the Titanic was unsinkable and therefore didn’t worry about icebergs as much as smaller ships. This would be their demise…

The next morning I woke up to another beautiful breakfast and headed to the Carrickfurgus castle in Carrickfurgus, Northern Ireland. What a beautiful castle this one at one point taken possession of by King Robert the Bruce in the 7th century from the Norman’s it became a major trade port and also a castle that was attacked many times through out it’s history. It was a beautiful stop on the way back to Dublin to finish out my trip of Ireland.

After the castle and a bite to eat at the local café it was off to Dublin again! A beautiful drive on mostly wide roads and highways. It was nice to finally get back to Dublin again. Sad that the trip was coming to an end but happy that I was able to accomplish so much in a short time! A trip that will not soon forget!

Arriving back in Dublin I checked into my room and parked the car. Went to a nice little pub for dinner and went back to the room for some much needed rest and video editing and more. The following day I turned in the rental car and got a taxi back to the Jameson experience. What a lovely tour this was and worth the money of roughly 20 euro to go through that includes 3 shots of whiskey for tasting that included Johnny walker black, Jack Daniels and of course Jameson. At the end you also got a free Jameson tasting of your choosing. It was a beautiful experience and I recommend also trying their whiskey that is only made and sold for the distillery and one you cannot get anywhere else in the world.

After Jameson I wondered down the Dublin streets to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and when I entered this church I was amazed at the details and architecture of this church. Built I believe in the 12th century it held a rich religious history, sculptures and amazing paintings. I highly recommend this visit also and the cost is fairly in expensive. I believe 5-7 Euro.

The next day I had to pack up and head by Taxi to the airport as I was headed to Amsterdam but my beautiful Journey will never be forgotten around Ireland. The beautiful people, culture, Country roads and farms I was able to see and experience were amazing. My great friend I met on the Camino Billy and his generosity to put me up and show me around was very gracious! I would love to make it back some day to spend hopefully 30 days exploring more of Ireland and during better weather! A more detailed trip to experience the depths of Ireland and it’s beauty!

Thank you for reading and watching and joining my journey! I thank you as always for the support!

Let’s experience this world together!

Backpacker Mike

#livingthedream

 

 

Flying into Gatwick Airport outside London, England

,

What a trip from Orlando, Florida USA to Gatwick, England!

I was able to find a great deal through Norwegian at www.norwegian.com for $209.00 USD plus $45.00 USD to check my backpack and it was a non-stop flight!

The TSA in the United States took very long to get through. Longer than I have waited there ever before. It took about an hour to get through the line and on the tram to my gate. While at the gate the attendant there was nice enough to change my seat since I forgot to ask that at the ticket counter. For a fee you can pre-book your seat but I suggest not spending the money to do that and just do it at the ticket counter or the gate. They will usually accommodate you for say a window seat if it is available and it is free. So save your money.

Another option you have while booking online is to order a meal for another fee I believe 25.00-35.00 USD and I also recommend not to do that. You are allowed to bring food snacks and large bottle of water on the plane after the security checkpoints and a small amount through the checkpoint. This will save you money also. If you do get hungry on the plane sandwiches and drinks are available from between $5-9.00 USD still cheaper than a full meal price. Another tip is to try and get a flight that is an overnight flight and eat before flying this will be perfect for just a snack and a bottle of water overnight.

While on the flight it was difficult for me to sleep because there was a child that was having a rough flight and crying a lot. Understandable for small children not their fault. But this is where I suggest another tip, EAR PLUGS!

When I arrived in Gatwick it was a beautiful day and sunny out! The airport is beautiful and had two beautiful Murals of the Queen made out of several other small pictures. It was created to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s coronation. After a bit of a walk I finally reached the Border Force/Customs. The lines were very long and took me about an hour and a half to get to the agent. Finally there she really started to grill me about why I was there, how long, do I have tickets to leave (which you don’t need in the UK or EU) and so on. I explained that I am a travel blogger and that I knew I had 90 days and that I wouldn’t be here that long. After some more what I thought was unnecessary questioning she finally let me through. I finally got my backpack and headed to the hotel bus section and  it cost about $6.00 USD for the bus to my hotel. The hotel was just convenient and close to the airport and it cost $62.00 USD a night.

I would recommend however if your main purpose is London keep in mind Gatwick to London is about an hour by train from the airport and around two hours by bus to the London city center.

I will only be in London here for 2 nights and then off to Dublin for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Hope the tips will help you on your next trip to London!

Backpacker Mike

http://www.backpackermike.com 

Let’s experience this world together!

#livingthedream