All posts by ChristopherAleman

Is that a flub?
nope it’s BLUB!

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We just got back from our 7 day Mediterranean cruise. It stopped at 5 ports, but only 4 due to weather conditions, but that’s not what I am talking about now. So, let me give you a little background. I had been to Florence, Italy in the year 2001 and now, 15 years later, I am HAPPY TO TELL YOU it is STILL beautiful, magical, and as vibrant as I remember.

So aside from the usual monuments which are incredible to anyone visiting, whether your first time or not, there is something new to the city. And as much as I am against meaningless tagging and graffiti, this “street art” was just too fun for me to pass up. It all started at the beginning of our walking tour with Sam.

You can read more about him here http://samtheguide.it/ and one of the fellow walkers was taking a picture of something on a wall, so I walked over to him and saw why he was taking a photograph. As the tour went on, he and I would point out spottings of this “street artist” and snap snap away we did.

After returning to ship, I did a little internet surfing and found the name of this artist is BLUB – and let me tel you, to ask what the BLUB is that over there, is to just add to the mystery, magic and truly explosive art scene in Florence, Italy.

For further reading on the artist, please click the information below and ENJOY! and please try to OPEN your mind to this type of art!!!

Undercover Interview With Italian Artist Blub

Super Stellar
Stalinist Skyscrapers

Are they HAUNTED too???

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IMG_1495[1]GOSH – try saying that three times real fast…

Super Stellar Stalinist Skyscrapers
Super Stellar Stalinist Skyscrapers
Super Stellar Stalinist Skyscrapers

but seriously folks, the Stalinist Skyscrapers are Super Stellar. Oh, and the one I stayed in may be haunted too, story to follow. So as I said, it was my wish to not only see but experience what one of these massive and truly amazing buildings feels like.

So, to begin, the tour guide told me that many people like to refer to them as Seven_Sisters_(Moscow) but NO ONE and I do mean NO ONE will know what you are talking about in Russia because they do not refer to them in this manner.

But, if you were to mention University Of Moscow or let’s say you mention Kotelnicheskaya_Embankment_Building or in my case where I stayed at, the Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya you are more in luck!!!

After deciding to spend some money on ONE night at a nice hotel, I did my research and found the Hilton Leningradskaya. Not only was the hotel reasonable at 60.00 for one night, but they served a truly beautiful buffet breakfast (this was about 25.00$USD) and to top all of this, it was in a true original old Stalinist Skyscraper.

From the moment I stepped foot into the hotel, you could tell is was OLD. I don’t mean old in like, visiting Grandma’s house and the place being shabby old chic, but truly CHIC was this place. The ceiling is beautiful, the furnishings match the original old brass chandeliers and the archway to the elevators is pretty neat…makes you feel like you are about to visit Nkita Khrushchev or perhaps Stalin himself.

Once in my room, the space itself is fine. The windows are nice, the walls are new, and the bathrooms are GREAT!!! But again, it wasn’t necessarily for the room I stayed here but the actual building itself. Now, this was day 5 of my trip and let me tell you, the sight of the pool and jacuzzi was QUITE welcoming. As you can see from the pics, it was awesome…

In the end, I would give this hotel ALL thumbs up! It was clean, quite, everyone speaks English and it was amazing or let me say it in my own words,
This Super Stellar Stalinist Skyscrapers was in fact Super Stellar!

Now folks, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I said the Skyscrapers are Stellar and indeed they are but, I do think it is HAUNTED too…I have made a video of the story and folks, this is a TRUE story of what happened to me.

Globetrotter Chris reporting on
Hilton Leningradskaya

A Cemetery isn’t CREEPY!!!
It’s CREEPY COOL (LOL!!)

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Well Folks – anyone that does know me, and now those of you that may not know everything about me, knows I love old cemetery’s. In Chicago we have the amazing Graceland Cemetery which I love riding my bike around.

So of course, it was one of the things I looked up before going to Russia by searching for the spot where all the famous people are buried. I found that it is in Novodevichy Cemetery where many of the famous Russians call their final resting spot.

In this Cemetery you have all of the folks most people would and SHOULD know. Such as Yeltsin, Prokofiev, Chekhov, and countless others. For further reading, click HERE.

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IMG_1447[1]Aside from all these folks, for me the one person buried here which is most significant for me, is my favorite composer.

Here is where Dmitri Shostakovich, composer is buried. When you enter there is a list of all the people buried there but be warned, they are ALL IN RUSSIAN. But I used google translate to find out how to “spell” his name in Russian. I found him to be located at #248. At first I wasn’t sure exactly how to find the exact spot but some Americans were very nice and gave me their map they had bought.

To get somewhat of an idea of how cool this place is, CREEPY COOL that is, just watch the short video I made on location.

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They do sell a map and it is best advised to get this map as it will help you find your way around. Honestly, the place is MUCH BIGGER than you think it to be and it is easy to get lost.

But, getting lost was part of the fun for me. Not lost but just taken aback by all the beautiful and truly artsy monuments they have erected there. Just look at these 2 monuments, after further research I found out that this one was for a famous heart surgeon and the red part of the monument was just too neat. And there was this one amazing resting spot for a famous gemologist.

Folks, the place is FREE and what a great treat to have this part included on my adventure to Novodevichy Convent.

So again folks, as Globetrotter Chris discovered while on location, ORDINARY people can and SHOULD travel to EXTRA ORDINARY places. Thanks for stopping by!!!

Chris

Say, are the Peterhof Fountains worth da hype?

Well, here are my thoughts….

Everyone’s “to do list” usually will include a visit to the Peterhof Palace and YES, the fountains are worth the hype…

When deciding to visit this place, I opted to take the Peterhof HYDROFOIL and am so glad I did. Not only was the 40 mins or so ride pleasant but the view upon approaching the palace is just awesome.

Now, to continue on this notion that da HYPE of the fountains is worth the visit, I have made the following short video while on location, but the second BLOG on my visit is even more important.

More than just those darn fountains

Peterhof has so much darn NATURE too…

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So as I stated in my first blog, yes, da fountains are worth the hype. But what I discovered after spending about 2 hours inside the Palace itself, was that Peterhof also has SO MUCH DARN nature as part of its grounds.

I literally went walking for several hours and found countless benches, where you can sit down. They of course have a cafe but it’s a little $$$. There was also the really fun section for kids and I talk about it in the video I made, where they can run on rocks and see if they dodge the sprinklers from the tree.

But honestly folks, this was much more of my favorite part. Click on my video below for my short blurb on location..

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It was filled with trees, flowers, yes more fountains, but countless spots for wonderful moments to take in nature. Ponds galore and they offer a trolley ride to take you through the various areas…

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SO just remember folks, you heard it here from me, Peterhof is SO MUCH MORE than just those darn fountains!!! Enjoy!

– Globetrotter Chris on Visit to Peterhof

Holy Historic Canals Batman!!!

Hey Folks – like the title says, “Holy Historic Canals Batman!”. This was a visit to the fun and totally unexpected amazing suggestion Mom made while in Los Angeles in January 2016. Anyone wishing to visit the Historic Canals area, be prepared for the following obstacles:

1. Parking is TERRIBLE around the area. Be prepared to walk a little, as the parking within the are is LIMITED
2. Parking is NOT free on the major streets, but you will have a better chance of getting parking on one
3. The area is visited by many people, but it is a place where people live, so be mindful

After all this though, enjoy the area. The flowers, plants, homes and general spot is AMAZING. Be sure to comment on any of this blog and I will have more details posted about the cruise itself.

And always remember, “ordinary people, like me and you, can travel to extra ordinary places”…

Pedal your way through OLD MAZATLAN

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Well folks, it’s been a few weeks since Mom and I returned from our AMAZING and SUPER AWESOME Mexican Riviera Cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line. I will be writing more about the cruise itself, but am currently in the middle of planning my next two trips for this year. Don’t hate!

The one excursion which Mother and I chose while at Port in Mazatlan was that of the “Bike Tour”. I am including the URL from NCL’s website.

As you can see, the bikes are vintage and gives you that feel of “Old Mexico” and why not be part of it, you are IN MEXICO for crying out loud. Before you leave, you are checked and re-checked for safety. All helmets are included, vests too. I of course only left the helmet on long enough for Mother to take my pic.

The actual company’s information can be found here – EXPLORE MAZATLÁN WITH US!

Now, for all your Cruisers of a CERTAIN AGE. My Mom is 60+, in good shape and JUST LOOK AT HER – doesn’t she look great! She did so well with keeping up with the group and if you are of limited exercise ability, you will be fine. This trip is not very physically demanding. Mom was a pro!

SAFETY: There is always this concern – you have 2 guides with you at all times. The main guide is at the front and there is a guide in the back of the group to make sure no one falls into the Ocean – KIDDING! We were so luck to have Tito as our guide. He was amazing and here is why….

Every so often he would pull the group to the side and explain the history of Mazatlan. He grew up in the area and his passion and love for this city is amazing. He shared with us how the fishermen make their money and offered us fresh lobsters and crab from the buckets on the beach. He shared w/ us the history of the famous fountain w/ the man and sea horses but the highlight is the amazing and truly special Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Thank you to Tito and the folks involved with Baikas Bike Tourcompany who were professional, timely, and absolutely amazing!

What’s so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

What's so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

What's so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

What's so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

What's so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

What's so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

What's so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

What's so RAD about the Quad Bike tour in Giza?

Hey folks and fellow travel peeps! Wanted to take a section of my site and share with you my experience, thoughts and opinion on this amazing, truly wonderful tour I took while on my Egypt trip. The sites of the Pyramids, and the Giza Plateau on this quad bike tour will truly amaze you.

To begin, the Quad tour takes you through the desert area around the Pyramids and outside the Giza area called the desert of Giza. Appropriate enough! The tour will go on as the sun sets and the sun setting in the backdrop of the Pyramids and Giza itself will astound you. Also, this is an area where no cars and tour buses go so you will feel as if you are almost alone out there w/ the Giza Pyramids in the background.

I elected, along with my travel mate, to book this tour through the tour company we used for the overall trip, Memphis Tours. I have included a link to their site on this tour through the Giza Plateau. See below:

Desert Safari by Quad Bike Around Giza and Pyramids

The tour guide suggested we didn’t need to bring any scarves with us but we did anyway. And thank g-d we did, the sand was a lot but added to the adventure. I wrapped the scarf around my mouth area and that proved beneficial as you will not want to “eat” sand while go through the Giza area.

Next, the overall operation of the bikes themselves are very very easy. Before you leave, they provide you with a bottle of water, I would bring a back pack as my water fell off the bike, and it gets dry out there. Also, the tour included that a guide as well as driver from the tour company is with you at all times along the way.

The guides we had were friendly, helpful, and made the best of our time out there. Now, as I am never one to follow rules, you will want to exercise precaution while traveling around cause it is the desert and the bikes can go fast…but here is what I did:

I would always be in the back of the group, go slower which then allowed me speed up really fast. It was AWESOME. So, this trip and tour comes HIGHLY recommended and again, this is truly one UNIQUE way of enjoying the views of the Giza Plateau like no other.

If you need any other suggestions, or would like more information, let me now. Enjoy!

And as always folks, remember, “ordinary people can travel to extra ordinary places”….

Rush to Rosh Hanikra – Israel

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During my 4 day tour of Northern Israel, one of the stops which was most impressive was that at Rosh Hanikra. At first, you have to pay an additional fee to take the tram / cable car down to the grottos. Because I am a budget traveler, my initial response was, no. But, one of the fellow travelers in our group decided to treat myself and a fellow traveler and I am SO GLAD he did this.

Once you make it down to the Grottoes, it is simply OUT OF THIS WORLD. The rock formations, the sounds, the water and the overall history of the place cannot be denied. It is set to send anyone in AWE. We spent a short while watching the movie about it’s history and that really added to the mystery and splendor of this place.

While much of it’s history is shrouded in death and despair, you cannot but fall victim (in a good way that is) to it’s hypnotic aura. Please be sure to make this a stop if you are in Northern Israel. And as a reminder, this was the tour I was on…

Northern Israel tour – Rosh Hanikra

So, please be sure to RUSH to this incredible spot of the world and experience something that you shall never forget. Also, if you are traveling with children, they will LOVE IT as they can get wet if the waves are strong enough and they usually are and the kids go nuts over this type of thing. I should know, as a big kid, I was nuts over the whole place.


Chris
Israel 2015

Giza, Egypt – Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?

Giza, Egypt - Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?
Giza, Egypt – Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?
Giza, Egypt - Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?
Giza, Egypt – Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?
Giza, Egypt - Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?
Giza, Egypt – Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?
Giza, Egypt - Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?
Giza, Egypt – Camel Ride? IS IT WORTH IT?

Camel Ride IS IT WORTH IT?

So, you spend all that time and $$$ to go to Egypt to gaze upon the ONLY surviving Ancient Wonder of the World and there’s all those cool pictures you have seen with the pyramids and camel riders. You wonder, how can I take one of those and NOT jeopardize becoming a mummy in the tomb cause you picked an unscrupulous camel vendor. Camel Ride IS IT WORTH IT?

Well, I have to tell you – I asked ALL these questions myself. What took place when I went there is what I am here to share with you.

Is it worth it – YES!
Can it be done safely – YES!
And will the pictures justify the price – YES!

So, when we went the cost was 150 LE (Egyptian Pounds – at the time, $18.75 USD). Since we were with a guide, we had NO issues. We took the ride which was about 25 mins and the guide was more than happy and willing to stop and help us take awesome photos (included).

For additional reading…

So, here is my big HINT: make sure you only deal with the actual camel OWNER. Many times, guys will come up to you and say they are the “brother”, “cousin”, or “uncle” of the owner. NO! Only deal with the OWNER.

If you do not speak Arabic – look around for a guide that DOES speak English and they will be more than happy to help you. And as a side note – please tip the camel guide at least 20 LE ($2.50 USD).

– Chris 2015