Blogging A-to-Z Challenge 2016, 2BlueEyes blog, www.2BlueEyes.com

Recap: Blogging A-to-Z 2016

I made it! I crossed the finish line! The 2016 Blogging A-to-Z Challenge is complete. Many of you who read my blog can also pat yourselves on the back for a job well done because writing 26 posts in rapid succession is no small undertaking. Here is a recap of the things I’ve learned and can improve upon for next year’s challenge: Continue reading

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Z: Zagreb, Croatia

Croatian National Theater; 2BlueEyes blog, www.2BlueEyes.com; Photo by Roberta F. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Croatian National Theater; Photo by Roberta F. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

For my final Blogging A-to-Z post we’ll be visiting Zagreb, a place that has been on my travel bucket list for many years. It’s a hidden gem of a capital nestled at the intersection of the Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe. I first was attracted to Zagreb when I was planning a backpacking trip in college. Many of the bus routes and train lines run through the city so I thought why not take a look around? Unfortunately, the backpacking trip didn’t happen but Zagreb has been on my mind since then. As I learned more I discovered that it was founded in Roman times and officially got it names just over a thousand years ago. More recently what attracted me to Croatia is the fact that “Game of Thrones” films in some of the coastal towns. The drive from Zagreb to the coast can’t be that far. For those of you that have been to Croatia, what’s it like?

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Y: York, England

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I’ve been to York twice. The first time I was eight, the second time I was in college, and both times it was drizzling rain. How unusual for the UK…..I’m joking haha. York is a beautiful city in the North-East of England. You can take a tour of the city while a guide tells you grim tales of medieval fighting tactics (a la pouring buckets of boiling pee onto your enemies) and the history of the beautiful cathedral, York Minster.
York

It is quite a nice town to explore and it is very easy to walk around. Don’t miss out on strolling down The Shambles, one of the most crooked and fascinating streets in England. It was once home to dozens of butcher shops but now none are there anymore. I’m sure things smell much better nowadays! But my favorite part of York was stepping inside York Minster and standing in awe of its architecture. The building seems even bigger from the inside and the sound of shoes stepping on stones echoes up to the ceilings. It’s a majestic display of art. You can even tour the crypts underground if you’re interested.

The Shambles, York, England; 2BlueEyes blog, www.2BlueEyes.com; Photo by Vincej at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Shambles, York, England; Photo by Vincej via Wikimedia Commons

Blogging A-to-Z - 2BlueEyes - www.2BlueEyes.com

X: Xtra Thoughts

Alright, alright. You caught me. Xtra Thoughts isn’t a real place let alone one you can travel to! I’ve been dreading this day. The letter X doesn’t really lend itself to a travel blogging theme. But that’s okay because I’m going to use today’s post as a way to talk specifically about why I enjoy traveling.

Adventure

No matter if you’re traveling locally or internationally, going somewhere different is an adventure. Along the way you’re bound to encounter new things, new people and make some lasting memories. For me, geographical change fuels my sense of adventure and helps me challenge myself and try new things. Somehow I’m braver and more daring when traveling. I can think of a few times where I chose to do something out of my comfort zone and I’m sure that being in the travel mindset is what goaded me into those decisions.

Context

I’m the kind of person that has to experience something firsthand to understand it. Learning theory based math or politics in college was difficult for me to digest and understand. However, give me a real life example to work through and I’ll pick up on the concept in a jiffy. The same thing applies to travel. You can’t truly begin to understand a place until you get there and start walking around. The flora and fauna, street organization (or lack thereof), and a litany of other things are what make a place unique and distinguish it from the town or country next door. Reading through past journals I’ve had a good laugh comparing my pre-trip expectations to my actual experience.

Personal Development

This one is less tangible and a slow burner. I would even go so far as to say that travel has long term effects on a person both good and bad. For example, after living abroad in a place where my appearance alone attracted a fair amount of unwanted attention I learned to be on alert and aware of my surroundings. Of course it’s always good to pay attention to what is happening around you but feeling uneasy isn’t the best way to enjoy your travels. On a more positive note, learning a new language and living in very different places helped me gain confidence and learned to go with the flow. The little blips and snags that occur in daily life and especially are bound to happen when traveling don’t bother me as much anymore. Shit happens and years down the road I won’t remember that the hotel room was smaller than expected. Do you catch my drift?


There it is: some of my thoughts about travel and why I appreciate it. What have you learned while traveling?

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W: Washington, D.C.

The capital of the United States: Washington, D.C.. For as much worldly travel as I’ve done I have yet to make it to our nation’s capital but I really want to go. It looks like I may go sometime soon because so many of my friends have move (and are moving) there! My to-do list is loooooong and understandably so because D.C. is jam packed with fascinating history and culture.

The White House, Washington, D.C.; 2BlueEyes blog, www.2BlueEyes.com; Photo by Matt H. Wade/CC-BY-SA-3.0 at Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:UpstateNYer)

The White House; Photo by Matt H. Wade/CC-BY-SA-3.0 at Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:UpstateNYer)

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U: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

“What did you buy in the city?” was a question everyone was asked when they returned from the capital city of Mongolia. In a country the size of Texas and sparsely populated with only 3,000,000 people it is not possible to have many cities. There are a handful of provincial towns (aimags in Mongolian) and even more villages (soums) but cities, there is only one: Ulaanbaatar. Today I’m going to tell you about Ulaanbaatar (called UB by most people), the coldest capital city on earth and a place I know very well from my time in the Peace Corps.

Ulanbaatar, Mongolia - posted on 2BlueEyes blog - photo credit www.twosecondstreet.com

Chinggis Khan Square (formerly Sukhbaatar Square) // Photo credit: Adam at www.twosecondstreet.com

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T: Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona; 2BlueEyes blog, www.2BlueEyes.com; Photo By View_of_Tucson_from_Sentinel_Peak_2.jpg: John Diebolt Old_Pima_County_Courthouse_Nima.JPG: Zereshk Arizona_Uni_fountain.jpg: Jscarreiro Saguaro_Sunset.jpg: Saguaro Pictures St._Augustine_Cathedral,_Tucson,_Arizona_(2).jpg: Ken Lund Tucson_shab2.JPG: Zereshk derivative work: Anqrew [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tucson; Photos from the top, left to right by John Diebolt, Zereshk, Jscarreiro, Saguaro Pictures, Ken Lund, and Zereshk

I’ve lived in Arizona for over a year now and seen a lot. I visited the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, explored the mystic shops in Sedona, and done some fun stuff in downtown Phoenix but I have yet to make my way down south to Tucson.

It has quite the interesting history and for hundreds of years has been a town at the center of cultural mixing and political clashes. Over the years Tucson has been the home to Native Americans, Spanish, Mexicans, Mormons, Confederates, and eventually Americans. In the late 1800s Chinese were brought to work on the railroad and eventually settled in Tucson. Their presence could have been a point of conflict but they worked well with Mexicans and Americans alike. The University of Arizona was founded in 1885 and contributed to the areas growth. For some reason people were drawn to Tucson and the city continued to grow. It could easily have been the capital of Arizona but Phoenix outpaced it and won out. Continue reading

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S: Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden - 2BlueEyes blog - www.2BlueEyes.comI picked a double S for today’s Blogging A-to-Z post: Stockholm, Sweden! This was my first ever solo trip and it happened while I was finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree while studying abroad at Lund University which is in the very south of Sweden. For the holidays, I traveled by train to spend Christmas with one of my roommates in a town west of the capital and then spent about five days in Stockholm. The first few days it felt strange to be alone on vacation but once I got over that feeling the trip was wonderful. My one regret is that I didn’t visit during the summer time when the sun was shining for most of the day and the harbor is perfect for swimming. Oh well, that just means I have another reason to go visit one of my favorite places in the world!  Here are a few of my pictures and impressions of visiting the Swedish metropolis, Stockholm, in the winter. Continue reading

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R: Russia

Russia is the largest country on Earth and a cultural and political titan throughout the ages. The country spans from the Pacific and almost gets as far as the Atlantic. It reaches the Arctic circle and borders eastern Europe, the “‘stans”, Mongolia, China, and even North Korea. And Sarah Palin was not wrong when she said you can see Russia from Alaska. If you’re on Big Diomede Island (Russia) you can see Little Diomede Island (USA) only 2.5 miles away! A country this vast and filled with such a rich history makes it impossible for any one trip to cover. That’s why I would like to visit Russia via the Trans-Siberian Railway. What better way to explore a country than by train? I won’t have to stress about renting a car and driving on Russian roads (yeah we’ve all seen those crazy Russian dash cam youtube vids), nor will I feel tired after a day of putting the pedal to the metal. Getting a ticket in a sleeper car with the option to hop on and hop off whenever I like seems like a blissful way to travel. Plus, once I reach Lake Baikal and Ulan-Ude I can take the rail line south into Mongolia for a quick side trip to visit friends and co-workers.

Russia and the Trans-Siberian Railway; 2BlueEyes blog, www.2BlueEyes.com

Russia and the Trans-Siberian Railway; St. Petersburg is my starting point ending in Vladivostok many, many days later

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