Iberia Airlines Plays Song About Death and Dying Before Takeoff

Earlier this week I had the distinct displeasure of flying from Copenhagen to Madrid with Iberia Airlines. While my trip ended up being fantastic, the flight itself was an unmitigated disaster.  The flight crew was unfriendly, rude and all around difficult to engage with. Which, fair enough, is disappointing but not all that uncommon in this day and age. But, ultimately I ended up being in for two distinct surprises that left me all around shocked.

The first was when I reached my seat, went to sit down and had to squeeze into it. I’m 193cm (6’3″) and long-legged so it’s always a bit of a challenge.  This time though? Utterly ridiculous. The space between each seat was so tight that even in the more spacious sections between the seats it was still tight enough to leave my normal sized water bottle self supported and securely stuck as shown in the photo below. I realize I’m a bit tall, but I’m not unreasonably tall…and this? Less than a water bottle’s worth of space from seat to seat? Pure tomfoolery. And for those of you who are tall and curious?  Yes, the stewardess managed to ram my knee with the drink cart with significant force, shrug it off, and go back to business without even a passing apology.

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But, the real icing on the cake came as we prepared for takeoff. In between the cabin crew’s safety talks music was playing over the cabin speakers.  A nice touch and one that ultimately should be soothing and relaxing.  So, knees getting bruised by the seat in front of me, I settled in and tried to enjoy the music. Then, something about the lyrics seemed off and caught my ear.

Incredible Slow Motion Footage of a Large Hummingbird Charm

There are moments that we come upon while traveling that enchant us. They are the milliseconds that blend with minutes to leave us lost outside of time enraptured and mesmerized by the beauty of whatever the experience is we’ve stumbled upon. At times these stem from people, culture, food and music but I find more often than not they come from nature.  The hour or so I spent watching a massive charm of hummingbirds in southwestern Colorado about 30 miles outside of Dolores falls into this category.

In the following footage you’ll find several species of humming birds, captured at 240 FPS and recorded in slow motion. The roughly two minutes of real-time footage becomes 13 attention-stealing minutes of incredible sounds and sights as the hummingbirds sing to each other, spar, and feed.  The first few seconds are in regular speed to give you a frame of reference … enjoy!

To see more footage from my Colorado trip head to my YouTube channel and don’t forget to subscribe!

Footage was shot using a selfie stick and iPhone 6 at close range. Slight color enhancement was applied. Filmed just before dusk in mid-summer.

Six Short Stories From The Roskilde Music Festival

Last year I wrote up my experiences as a first timer at the Roskilde Music festival. The festival is world famous, not only for its size, but for it’s unique and quirky atmosphere.  The experience was rich and deeply enjoyable in no small part due to the people I had with me.  So, this year, I recruited Juan Martinez, a close friend and periodic consultant for VirtualWayfarer. I gave him free reign and set him loose on Roskilde with the charge of recording, documenting, and then coming up with a creative look at the festival. What follows is “Obi” Juan’s insights into the festival as a long-time festival veteran and one of my de-facto tour guides.

The Orange Feeling (n) defined as: Good friends, good vibes and good times

Six short stories of the Orange Feeling at Roskilde Festival

by Juan David Martinez (flickr | Instagram)

Camp Unknown

My phone rang. It was a lovely Wednesday summer afternoon and our camp aptly named “Camp Unknown” was beginning to start the party in the camping area. We had one day until the music started and the friends who couldn’t be there the entire week started coming in. Beer in hand, we took in the much needed sun, and told stories of festivals’ past. I answered my phone. I heard a soft familiar voice, but seemingly saddened.

It was my friend Andra. She was in tears – the ticket she had bought was fake. The festival had sold out that year and she tried to purchase the ticket via an online website. The frailty in her voice drove a dagger through my heart. Some of our close friends were already at the festival and she was the last person we were waiting for. My heart started racing, and I asked where she was and immediately started running that way.

I told the rest of the camp what had happened, and immediately the party stopped.

We Discovered The World Together – RTW Family Travel 20 Years Later

I was 11, tall for my age, lanky, a bit shy, and perpetually curious.  I wasn’t a huge fan of school and found the whole thing awkward but, I had my core group of friends and powerful interests.  I was introduced to travel before I could walk – carving long furrows in the golden sands of Puerto Penasco’s pristine beaches while joining Dad in our inflatable Sea Eagles for light boating.  That relationship to travel persisted as I grew up first in Colorado, and then moved at the age of six to Sedona, Arizona. We’d camp, we’d hike, and when not making trips to Puerto Penasco, Mexico we’d spend time in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.

It was a great childhood, and yet, I was far from outdoorsy. My passions and interests were equally dedicated to our computer. I spent as many afternoons and evenings as I could hogging the computer, and later as we got access to the web, the phone line as I battled through the nail- biting sounds of an old dial-up modem.  My folks were concerned that my social growth might be impacted or that I was rotting my brain – luckily, they’ve come around and in the interim made sure there was ample non-digital stimulation to keep things balanced.

So it was with some shock and disbelief that I received the news that we’d be renting our house and leaving everything behind for 11 months.  There wasn’t much warning. I didn’t really know what to expect, and at the age of 11, I’m not sure you even really properly understand what a trip 11 months long could possible entail. I vaguely remember thinking it was the end of the world and a grand new adventure.  At a certain level I think it felt like I was moving, more or less never to see my friends again.

London on a Budget – Day Two – 36 Hours to Explore

36 hours in London, a budget of 150 GBP and a mission to re-discover the best parts of the city. This is part two in my two part look at London. Learn more about the challenge behind this trip, issued by Tune Hotels, in part one as well as a brief overview of my long-standing mixed relationship with the flagship of the British Empire.

The Pride Pooch

My second day in London got a late start. As a general rule of thumb, I’m a B person. This means I prefer late nights and late mornings to early evenings and early starts. So, Tune’s late-checkout was perfect.  My flight back to Copenhagen departed from London Gatwick at 20:35 PM. That left me the majority of the day to relax and explore before catching my train back to the airport around 5:30PM.

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge

Lunch

London is a Mecca for travel writing talent, so when Dylan of The Traveling Editor and founder of The Ripple Movement heard I’d be in town, he invited me to join him for a quick chat about travel and local’s guide through Soho for lunch.  The day started with a light rain – the type that I’ve become accustomed to in Copenhagen, and which some might say defines London.  You know the type – enough to bespeckle your glasses, but not enough to merit an umbrella or running for the nearest doorway.

The London Underground

The plan was to meet Dylan at Oxford Circus shortly after 12:30. The trip from Liverpool Street Station was effortless and took no more than 15 minutes. Planning to jump around town more than I ultimately would I opted for a full-day metro pass (12 GBP). This, ultimately, was a 9 GBP mistake as I once again only utilized the metro once during the day…not good…but, hindsight is 20/20, right? Live and learn.

London on a Budget – 36 Hours to Explore

There are cities you love the moment you step foot in them.  Then there are other cities that take you a while to warm up to.  Of course, the flip-side of this is that there are also cities you hate instantly or fall out of love with.

My relationship with London has been a complicated one.  It’s not a city that I can say I love, but at the same time it’s also not a city I can say I hate. I’ve now visited London a number of times and each visit seems to launch me to-and-fro from loving the city to mildly disliking it and then somehow winning me back once again.

London's Charm

Of the many European cities I’ve visited as an adult, the city of London is the one I have the most complex relationship with.  In 2004 I returned to Europe for the first time as an adult.  The trip was done through Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College and was a guided six week whirlwind taste of the British Isles with the first three weeks spent in London. Despite the incredible amount of ground we’d covered during the year-long visit to Europe my family and I had engaged in when I was 11, we’d never crossed the channel to explore the British Isles.  This made London extra exotic and the ideal place to re-launch my wanderlust as an adult. 

As you might imagine, I loved London as I wandered from the Tower to its grand Museums and then out into the countryside to Stonehenge, Bath, and the White Cliffs of Dover. Each cobblestone street teased my imagination and inspired me to explore further. Since then my visits have typically, but not always, been more utilitarian.  A trip to London for a conference, to see friends, or for a wedding.  These visits are likely at the heart of my mixed love affair with London.

The visits that have given me the best taste of the city of London as an entity were the ones where I was most involved with as a tourist. It was on many of the  more utilitarian visits that I found myself disgusted by London’s sprawling, slow and at times grossly over-crowded public transportation system. By the ludicrously short hours for the Metro, and by the sense of dystopian bleakness that defines some of the city’s suburbs. Suburbs that often remind me very much of a scifi megalopolis designed for three or four million but now lumbering under the weight of four or five times that all colored by an aging infrastructure, crime, and urban decay. While this, and the reality that Londoners in some areas are lovely, while Londoners in others are…not, is all true but I’ve come to realize misses what the city has to offer.

Nordic Eats – Digesting Uformel, BROR, Marv and Ben

There are foods that our eyes tell us must certainly be mouth-wateringly delicious. They are beautiful, they are aromatic, and the ingredients are a collection of meats, vegetables, and spices that are familiar and nonthreatening.  Then, there are other dishes assembled with ingredients or in a fashion that leaves even the most stalwart culinary adventurer skeptical.

My favorite is the Icelandic dish, Hákarl. It is fermented shark that has been buried to slowly rot for at least six months before being dug up for preparation and consumption. I always chuckle thinking about the long road of experimentation that led to that discovery. After all, there had to be some folks that dug up the shark at 2 months, 4 months, or 24 months to give it a go.  The horror and comedy of it gives me goosebumps.

I have to admit that I haven’t tried Hákarl but, quite often I find that many of the New Nordic dishes end up embracing many of the same principles that led those early pioneers to sample Hákarl.

I’ve mentioned New Nordic, though now that more than a decade has passed since Noma launched the New Nordic movement, there is pressure to move away from the term simply embracing “Nordic” or even more specific niche terminology invented by a plethora of restaurants, many of which have been founded by Noma disciples. Each of these restaurants shares some common traits and approaches – a focus on local ingredients, freshness, a head nod to fusions, historic dishes, ways of prep, or hyper-local foods. Yet, each has distinctly unique approaches to how they assemble their menu, the meals they seek to inspire, and how they prepare dishes.

One other compelling hallmark of the Nordic culinary scene is its sense of camaraderie and collaboration.  In an era where most chefs are glorified for being overly flamboyant hyper-competitive petulant tantrum-prone assholes, the Danish food scene is, as far as I can tell, extremely supportive, nurturing, and widely collaborative.  Traits I find mirrors the organic and healthy nature of the food and which makes me feel good about supporting the chefs and their undertakings.

In the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to sample three of Copenhagen’s Nordic restaurants. One of these visits was for work, one upon the invitation of Visit Denmark, and the third, a celebratory birthday dinner with a friend at a restaurant of my own choosing.  These restaurants were Uformel (the new sibling to Formel B, Marv & Ben (Marrow and Bone…not two men’s names), and BROR (which means brother in Danish).

Given the focus of each of these restaurants on seasonal ingredients, it was interesting to see and experience commonalities between many of the plates. Things that stood out in particular were the use of burned cucumber and mushrooms. The burned cucumber was tasty and good across the board with a fairly similar taste, though each had their own unique way of preparing the cucumber.

Nyhavn Transported Through Time

Copenhagen’s picture-perfect old harbor is an enchanting sight to see even on the gloomiest of days.  Nyhavn (the New Harbor) as the old 17th century waterfront is called, is lined by popular cafes, a vibrant mixture of multi-hued historic buildings, and a floating of museum with historic sailing vessels moored along the harbor’s stone docks.  It’s a favorite spot among both tourists and locals alike for food, sightseeing, and a six pack of beer or bottle of wine to be enjoyed in the sun with friends.

However, this past spring Nyhavn was transformed. The metamorphosis was unlike anything I’ve seen during my four years in Copenhagen and, with a bit of celluloid magic, Nyhavn and all of its charm was transported back through time nearly 100 years. Pavement was replaced by gravel and cobble stones, the sails on the old wooden vessels were raised, the sound of wagons and fishmongers suddenly echoed off of the old stone walls and the modern world suddenly gave way a romanticized version of Copenhagen’s past.  As part of the filming of the movie, The Danish Girl, which is being directed by Tom Hooper and stars the likes of Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, and Eddie Redmayne, and in partnership with the city the majority of Nyhavn was transformed into a a detail-rich movie set.