Book Review: A World Worth Seeing by Brian Nelson

How to better start autumn than with a traveler’s journal? If you ever wondered what it would be to quit your job and go see the world, then you found exactly the book you were looking for!

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A World Worth Seeing is the type of book that will make you want to get on a plane to your dream destination and never return to your mundane living. It might sound idyllic, but as the author is describing easier than it sounds. Narrated in a friendly manner you will be taken on a journey across the globe, with personal notes on each visited destination and photos of the iconic attractions. Even if you are among those who didn’t think travelling is for them, you might experience a change of heart just as you turn the last page.

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In the first chapter you will learn more about Brian’s life and how he ended up making the decision to leave America and go see the world, along with some very important information related to travelling, from visas to safety measures, costs, languages, weather and ways of sustaining yourself when you are abroad and you have to work for your next meal. You will also find tips and tricks for different parts of the world, like never getting your passport stamped in Israel since you will be denied entering other Muslim countries, or the type of vaccines you need to have before traveling to Africa, or even where to exchange money so that you get the best rate in Myanmar. Answers to questions you didn’t even know you have to ask are present in this first chapter entitled Vacation 101.

The next 5 chapters will be divided by each continent and contain the itinerary Brian took to check all major attractions from North and South America, Australia and the Pacific Islands, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and Africa. I have to say that I would have loved for him to go a little bit deeper with the description of each place he visited, but given the huge amount of cities that would have to take us a while to be able to finish reading.

As I read about places that I also checked I smiled and saw them once again but this time from a different perspective and part of an itinerary. Small dots on a map that are holding so many memories, some that happened and some that are waiting to happen. Creating a map is not always easy, neither is knowing what to expect when you get there, so reading about the alternatives are always welcome. I love the fact that now I have a roadmap of all the countries from each continent, not to mention inside information about locations that are not so easy to reach, for example North Korea, Venezuela, Columbia, Cambodia or Kenya, places that I never thought I would be interested in, are now part of my “master plan” as well.

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Travelling the world is on the bucket list of many of us, unfortunately not all have the courage to give it all up and live the dream, some of us are still influenced by the media and never get to leave their home country because “it is not safe out there”, failing to see that the danger is leaving inside their own mind. Reading the adventure of a traveller that is not doing this for the media, or to get money from advertising, is the best feedback about the world you can get, to see each country through his eyes makes you realize how lucky you are to be borne on a place like Earth. As the author finishes his book you are warned: “World travel can be addictive“, but this type of drug is exactly what we need to feel alive.

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Acknowledging Your Weakness is a Sign of Strength

If you thought the strongest person is the one that knows it all and has a way of dealing with every situation alone, you are so wrong. In life we don’t act like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible or Bruce Willis in Die Hard, we depend on the help of others and knowing when to ask for it is one of the most important things in life.

 

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When we are kinds we are under the impression that our parents are made of steel, they can solve all the problems and have an answer to everything, we are protected by their strength. They do their best to shelter us from the real-life problems and this is why we get the idea that one day we will be able to be as powerful as they are, but what we don’t see is what is happening behind the scene, the loneliness, the crying, the desperate moments, for us they have 0 weakness.

As we grow up and we enter adulthood we get exposed to all sort of myths, that we should always be strong, that we should not let other people know that we have problems, that as adults we should be able to figure stuff out on our own, or that showing your weakness you will be perceived as a cry-baby and will affect your credibility. So we end up putting photos of us doing bungee-jumping on social media and creating a bulletproof profile, that we cannot always sustain in the real life. But what is wrong with being weak? Let’s face it, fears make us survive, if it weren’t for them, we would do really stupid or crazy things. Same for weaknesses, even Achilles had one.

In a society filled with fake profiles and unrealistic expectations, we are told that the strongest persons are the ones that never show the world their problems, the ones that figure out a way of dealing with anything and everything, the ones that can fight a bear and then sleep in its fur. Reality is so far for this, that is as small as Mars seen from Earth, really tough people are the ones that know when to ask for help when to stop, when to cry and when to show weakens.

The most well-balanced and mentally strong people I know are the ones that every once in a while see a therapist to deal with their problems, the ones that talk to their friends about personal issues and the ones that are not trying to create false images of themselves for other to see, they don’t even care about the opinion of others. The strongest person you will meat will never have photos of him or her doing extreme things, but rather enjoying whatever mundane activities make them happy and usually they’re alongside their friends and families.

Strong people don’t have to prove anything to anyone so they don’t care if they are seen as weak, or imperfect. They are not afraid to ask for help, as they are comfortable with saying no to things that scare them, what is the purpose of jumping off a plane if you are so afraid of highs that you know you could faint or even worst get a heart attack?

I am not saying that you should start relining on your close ones for everything, or that you should never take any risks, some risk are worth taking , what I am trying to say is that you should see strength in a realistic manner and that you should never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You are human, it’s normal to have weakness and you don’t need to prove anything to anyone.

Life With Pets

Ever since I can remember I was surrounded by animals, as I grew up at my grandparents’ house I always had contact with cats, dogs, and other farm animals, so for me, pets are not just animals but members of my family.

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When I was 11 years old I started taking horseback riding lessons, even if I never made any performance in this field, I am still pretty much in love with horses and their soft noses. At least once I year I like going to the stables where my sister has her horses and take one for a walk, there is no better relaxation than synchronizing yourself with the horse and focusing on its moves. All my problems vanish when I mount and the world becomes a better place for me.

The expression like father like daughters cannot be more correct for the love me and my sister show for horses since he also was passionate about this and, as kids, we got to see him on a poster in our coaches office. He passed down to us the love and respect for animals, not only horses but all kinds. When I and my sister were kids, I think I was only 3 years at that time, he brought us as gifts puppies, one was a German shepherd and one was a Doberman, mine was the last. Cora was the name of the puppy and it accompanied me everywhere I went, every summer you would see us swimming in the nearby lake, every winter riding a sleigh.

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What my mom passed down to me was the love for cats, she was more of a cat person and we always had cats around us. When I was in high school we got our first cat in the apartment, until then we only had cats at my grandparents’ house. It was a gorgeous Burmese cat with eyes as blue as the sky, unfortunately, after 5 years the cat passed away due to lung issues and we ended up with 2 other cats, that are living with me today, Tess a beautiful Norwegian forest mix and Bell, a Snowshoe mix. Both of them rescued from the streets, they are now part of my family.

Apart from them as a kid, I also had 3 fishes and a hamster. Losing my pets was one of the hardest moments that I had to face, but even in this case, I cannot imagine my house without them. It’s not always easy, but the moment my cats curl into my lap and start purring I know I am home.

To me, how people treat animals is a sign of their character, I could never respect or tolerate a person who is cruel to them since I think it’s the first sign of criminal behavior. I hope in the future we could educate the population into understanding that pets are family members and should be treated as such.

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One of my biggest dreams is to buy that white fence house so that I can get a puppy, adding a Frisian horse would be even better, but for now, I know this is not realistic. My house will never be a home without my furry friends and if you are the same you will know exactly what I mean by this.

Traveling: Unlocking Vienna

Who hasn’t heard or dreamed about visiting one of the best places on Earth to live? The Austrian city is known for its high quality of life and its people are having one of the best standards of living, so what makes this city so desired? Read along and you will understand exactly why.

 

Vienna is the capital of Austria, placed on the eastern part of the country, is the 7th largest city in Europe by population and before the World War I, it was also the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Known also as the City of Music, for the famous musicians that lived here, probably the most famous ones are Johann Strauss,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, but it is also known as the City of dreams, since here the first psychotherapist Sigmund Freud lived.

In the early time, Viena was also the home of one of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, also knows as Sissi, the Bavarian beauty that stole everyone’s heart, she is often compared with Princess Diana, since both of them were loved by the people but hated the court life. The history of Austro-Hungarian empire can be learned when visiting the Schonbrunn Palace and Sissi museum.

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For visiting this amazing city I strongly recommend wearing VERY comfortable shoes since Vienna is best discovered by foot, the beautiful buildings most of them in the Baroque architecture, will take you back in time. If you want to feel like a royal you can even rent a carriage to take you on a tour of the city center.

Since there are so many must-see attractions, I recommend purchasing the Vienna Pass, this will grant you access to almost all of them, including the Hop On – Hop Off with that you will need to get to the Schonbrunn Palace or to the city panoramic. I purchased the 3-day pass with 110 euros from the official website and collected the pass from their office from Karlsplatz. Using this pass we visited the following attractions: Schonbrunn Palace, Schonbrunn Zoo, Palm House Schönbrunn, Imperial Carriage Museum, Gloriette Schönbrunn viewpoint, Spanish Riding School, Time Travel – Magic Vienna History Tour, Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel, Belvedere Palace, Madame Tussauds, City Cruises Vienna, State Hall of the Austrian National Library, Imperial Treasury Vienna, Museum of Natural History, Museum of Technology, Danube Tower, Sissi Museum and of course the Hop On Hop Off bus.

Some of them were totally worth it, some of them can be skipped, for example, the City Cruises Vienna will take you on a boat ride on the Danube canal, unfortunately, there is nothing to see and we just wasted one hour of our time in the city. Also if you already went to Schonbrunn, the Sissi museum will not bring much over what you already saw. The Imperial Treasury Vienna museum doesn’t hold much in it since all the royal jewelry was lost after the falling of the empire. Madame Tussauds, Museum of Natural History, Museum of Technology don’t bring much over other museums from Europe so you might not want to waste your precious time on them if you’ve already seen something similar.

If you want to get a panoramic view of the city I strongly advise you to visit the Wine Village Panoramic, you get to see their famous vineyards. There are restaurants there so you can also plan to have a glass of wine while looking at the city and the forest. Another way to see the city is by going to the Danube Tower, if you are planning on going in the afternoon you can see the city during twilight, the best time in my opinion. Make sure you also go to the coffee shop or restaurant, since they turn to offer their customers the 360o view.

A mandatory attraction for all the bookworms out there is the State Hall of the Austrian National Library. If you didn’t dream about wandering into a huge library then you are not a genuine book lover, but if you did make sure you put that on the list.

I will not make a case why you should visit Schonbrunn since this is a defining place for Austria, Bavaria, and Hungary. If you are there make sure to visit also Palm House Schönbrunn, Imperial Carriage Museum, and Gloriette Schönbrunn viewpoint.

 

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Even if I am not found of Zoo’s the Schonbrunn Zoo is advertising the fact that they are helping the animals by offering them a safe place to breed and after seeing the leopard and panda pups I am starting to believe they are doing a good job. The only way I agree with keeping animals in cages for display is if it offers the endangered species a place to breed so that we don’t lose these gift of nature due to the evil of humans. I recommend a visit to this place since all the animals are cared for, have plenty of space and seam good. Also if you love animals, especially horses the Spanish Riding School, is the place for you. Most likely you will only be able to see the morning training, but the Lipizzan  horses have a natural beauty that will make you want to book a riding lesson when you get home.

Apart from visiting, Vienna is also a place to relax and enjoy a frappe in the morning, a delicious meal in a restaurant or a glass of wine on a terrace. Not to mention a great ice-creme dessert, you don’t even have to pick, all the places where we eat were chosen random and the food was amazing, a well deserved break.

The calm and relaxed atmosphere of the city’s inhabitants can be spotted in the beautiful parks that can be found all around, people walking their dogs, doing yoga, reading in the park, jogging will make you understand why Vienna is one of the best places to live.

Cannot say that it made me change my mind about where I would like to live, since to me Spain will always be the best place to live, but I started to understand why the norther country’s have such a high standard of living. Vienna is clearly one of the best European cities to visit and it should definitely go on everyone’s bucket list.

 

 

Important Things You Have To Know About The Traveling Virus

Not all of us have it, but the numbers of those infected are increasing every year if it wouldn’t be this beneficial maybe a cure would be sought. Perhaps it’s because of the internet era and the access to information, or it’s the Instagram posts that make us what to be infected, the one thing is sure, more and more people are getting this virus of exploring the world, and it’s contagious.

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When I was a kid I heard my parents talking about people who went abroad working and that when they came back they were unable to adapt, they wanted to leave once again and travel so more. My father made an analogy with a virus and said that those who caught it, will never be able to leave in a single place all their life. Years later I finally understood what he meant. Tasting the freedom will change your DNA and will make you addicted to that feeling.

For me it all started with the desire to go to America with Work and Travel program, I struggled to save the money needed to apply, but in June 2011 I got the Visa on my passport and left for Boston. Even if the experience wasn’t a very pleasant one and I found out that even the “greatest” place on Earth can be a s*tty one, something change in the way I saw my country when I came back. I started to compare things and realized that I want to see more, explore more, learn more about other cultures. It was then that the traveler in me awaken, years later this virus makes me incapable of saving money for anything other than plane tickets and travel expenses.

Traveling made me far more efficient in packing and excepting that picture perfect doesn’t exist. Made me realize that comfort has priority over fancy looking and that the best moment in life will never be captured exactly on the camera. Learned that sometimes that perfect vacation can turn into a nightmare if you are not prepared properly for it, I got sunburned, sunstroke, back pains, food poising and so many other complications while I was away.

You would think that unfortunate experience will make one change his mind, but it doesn’t it just adds up to the adventure. Months later when you remember the things that made you go crazy, you just laugh and know you would do it again, if you were offered the opportunity. You learn to deal with events like this and even be cool about it happening, it becomes part of your lifestyle and so is getting out of your comfort zone. I would lie if I say I love to fly when there are big turbulence’s, but I learned to adapt to them, to go to my happy place and to be confident that the pilots know what they are doing, regardless of me worrying.

Just like wine, it gets better in time and I am still learning how to enjoy the moment for what if offers me. With every trip, I uncover more land and meet new cultures, learn more about our planet and our people. Maybe the best and most important lesson is about accepting people as they are and fight for equality.

 

 

 

 

 

About Fears

We all have them, whether is the fear of failure, highs or spiders, there are our number one hold-back when it comes to taking risks. Unfortunately, not only the risks are avoided but also living life to the fullest. So what can we do when our fears stand between us and our happiness?

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I know so many people who love to travel but are afraid of flying, it doesn’t matter if it’s the safest mean of transport, or that you can choose to go with a safe company, they just cannot do it. Leaving them with only limited options, they are forced to drive for hours to get to places like Greece, Austria or Italia, that would normally take around a 1.5h flight. They also say that they will take the risk once they are done with what can be visited by car, unfortunately, years pass and they aren’t getting any closer to the tropical vacation they are dreaming about.

I will not be a hypocrite to say that whenever there is truculence in the air I feel safe, or before I land I don’t say a few prayers in my head. It’s ok to be afraid of something that you cannot control, yet I educated myself to believe that the pilot has no intention of dying whatsoever and that he knows what he is doing and so I keep on walking down my favorite isle and traveling around the world.

One of the biggest fears that I have is of failure and of making a fool out of my self in the process. I just love perfection and I keep on judging myself really hard that I am not spotless in everything I do. One of the hardest moments was to get in front of 30+ people and speak at a conference, yes some give me negative feedback and some just loved my style. Facing that fear made that day one of the best days of my life.

5 years ago I had a longer delegation to the Netherlands alone, I had almost 3 months there and I had to do almost everything on my own. I was 23 and that was my first job, not to mention that I’ve never traveled alone for such a long time before. In the first 2 weeks, I was only going to work and back at the hotel, I was so afraid of dining alone that the only food I ate during supper was nachos and salsa from the supermarket. After 2 months I was going shopping, stopping to get coffee, reading in the coffee shops, visiting cities from the neighborhood and finally eating all by myself. Still not a fan of traveling or eating alone, but those days I will always remember as the days I was completely independent.

I still have many other fears that I am constantly battling, sometimes I am winning sometimes I am losing, but the important thing is that I am trying. Maybe I will never be able to see doctors as my friends instead of my enemies, maybe my fear of needles will never allow me to have a tattoo or maybe my fear of loneliness will make me accept all sorts of people as my friends, but I will try to battle each and every one of these until I am no longer breathing.

Fears, just like other demons, don’t settle down and die in time, quite the opposite they keep on growing until you are helpless. Along with those, frustration with oneself appears and even depression. Even if it’s not a pleasant thing to do, facing the fears is imminent if you want to fully enjoy life. Make a list of what you fear most and start working on finding a way to deal with them, in time you will see the progress.

The Festival Experience, Electric Castle and Untold

In the last years, the trend of the festivals was started, two of the biggest are Coachella and Tomorrowland, but there are two pretty big ones that happen in Cluj Napoca, Romania. If I caught your attention read along to find 2 gemstones for the festival lovers.

For those who don’t know this yet, I live in Cluj, a gorgeous city in Transylvania, Romania. The city is known also for the 2 music festivals that take place during the summer, Electric Castle at the Banffy Castle in Bontida village and Untold, that takes place in the heart of the city. Even if the music style is quite different from one to the other, it’s still very common for the people to be the same. Let’s divide and conquer this 2 festivals.

Electric Castle

A medium size festival that takes place near Cluj Napoca, at the Banffy Castle. The main type of music is the electric one, but also include “rock, indie, hip hop, electronic and reggae, as well as art installations” as they advertise on their official website.

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The first edition took place in 2013 and it was a huge success, since then each year the number of people coming is increasing, reaching a 210 000 people, 9 stages and numerous local and international artists. Apart from great music, there are also a bunch of activities that can be done at the festival including riding the giant wheel, getting temporary tattoos, doing your hair and make-up, participating in contests, experiencing the local and international cuisine, 4D cinema experience, VR, beach volley and so many others.

Even the myth of the Banffy curse didn’t scare the people off, but only drown more people in. The legend says that the castle is hunted and each year there will be heavy rain to scare people off, 3 years ago the rain was so powerful that Skrillex had to stop his show, yet this created a trademark for the festival and the official footwear are the rubber boots.

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If you are curious of this year’s line-up here are a couple of the artists that were present: Damian Marley, Jessie J, Mura Masa, Richie Hawtin, Groove Armada, San Holo, Wolf Alice, Subcarpați, Little Big and many others. If you plan on joining you should know that the festival will take place in July and the ticket for all days (5 days) is around 300 RON (65 euros).

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Untold

Is the largest electronic festival from Romania, it’s held in the Central Park from Cluj Napoca and it has won the prize of Best Major Festival in 2015, the year when it all started. For Chapter 1, the line-up included: Armin van Buuren, Avicii, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and ATB. This year, Chapter 4, had an even more impressive line-up including The Black Eyed Peas, The Prodigy, Bonobo, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Alesso, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Diplo, Kygo, The Chainsmokers, Jason Derulo, Tiësto, Fedde Le Grand and Steve Aoki.

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For 4 days you can enjoy electronic music, a series of activities within the park and on the Arena, the main stage is present, where you can see the biggest artists come and perform.

Although I cannot say I am a big fan of electronic music or of crowded places, I have to say that the park looks amazing during the festival and the vibe you get from the people is a great one, everything is festive and everywhere you look there are people having fun. It is one of the best places to be in August. If you plan on coming you should know that the accommodation prices will be higher during this period and you should consider booking with a year in advance. The price of the full pass is around 450 – 500 Ron (100 – 110 Euro) and usually, the festival takes place at the beginning of August. Tickets are available starting from the fall.

If I haven’t convinced you to book your plane and festival ticket, I will try to do that with appending a couple of photos from Cluj Napoca, the city where I am living now and the heart of Transylvania, see you at the festivals next year!