Category Archives for "Travel"

Visiting Pompeii Italy with Chris Hughes

August 1, 2017
Location: sitting in the Suite de Catalani Hotel in Napoli, Italy
Time: 12:03 pm

So yesterday Sam and I went to explore Pompeii…

Let’s talk briefly about Pompeii…

Pompeii is a vast archaeological site in southern Italy’s Campania region, near the coast of the Bay of Naples. Once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city, Pompeii was buried under meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The preserved site features excavated ruins of streets and houses that visitors can freely explore. via Wikipedia 

Visiting Pompeii

To be honest with you, I wasn’t that excited to visit Pompeii. I guess I just didn’t know anything about the city, the eruption, the history… nada.

Plus, the fact that Sam and I have been traveling pretty much non-stop the last month and a half, it’s been pretty overwhelming.

Good ole History class at my high school never caught my interest. It just never was too interesting to me. Probably the lack of enthusiasm. Maybe the evolution of Augmented Reality will change that for future generations, making the cities/history come alive in real time just like a traditional tour guide can do.

(honestly, that’s a great idea to set up for anyone building AR businesses)

However… in my travels I’ve noticed that history can be pretty epic. In fact, it can be super interesting if you find someone who’s truly passionate about the subject to guide you.

Our guide, Maria , was definitely the right person for exploring Pompeii.

Right now we’re staying up in Napoli (aka Naples), so it was a pretty short trip compared to going from Rome to Pompeii. In fact, it’s pretty simple if you follow this guide on how to get from Naples to Pompei.

The Pompei Scavi station…

Upon entering into Pompeii, you have a view from the outside that is just an introduction into how massive this place actually is…

Did anyone survive Pompeii?

It is estimated that from 1,500 to 2,000 people died in Pompeii during the 79 AD eruption; most scholars believe that the number of inhabitants of the city was somewhere between 6,000 to 20,000; therefore most Pompeians survived the pyroclastic clouds, possibly because, alerted from the early signs of the eruption, they escaped by foot, probably heading south (the Vesuvius in north of Pompeii).

 

Here’s a glimpse into present day and what it was said to have looked like…

Here’s some of the artifacts that were dug up in Pompeii

A person laying down, possibly asleep

This appears to be a person covering their face and/or praying before they were completely covered…

Shoutout to Minaal the best travel bag available! I love both of mine 🙂

It’s incredible the details that were preserved in many of the houses/restaurants… for instance check out the walls here

A look into a bath house from the time period… the Pompeiians had 3 separate rooms for the process.

A hot room, a warm room and a cold room, with plumbing running water to each of them.

The rooms were lifted so that a fire could spread heat below the floor of the bath as shown below…

One thing to keep in mind while you’re walking through the streets there or if you’re just looking at these pictures is that… this was all covered by the earth. Not just a few feet either.

How deep was Pompeii buried?

The majority of Pompeii was covered in 4-6m (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice.

Something I found to be incredible is that they had lead pipes moving water from place to place around the city… along with public fountains where the normal people were able to get fresh water…

what’s unreal is that the little groove, where Sam’s hand is, has normal everyday wear and tear from the townspeople using this very fountain back before 79AD… the little face was where the water would flow out.

You can’t really see it in this picture, but you can actually see grooves in the road where the carts would transport goods.

Actually, here’s another interesting find… these little stepping stones were used to cross from one side of the street to the other in order to keep people’s shoes clean. The roads often had water in them.

Photo source: Gray Cargill

It’s so impressive that during the excavation these pillars continued to stand.

Thanks for reading!

Are you planning on going to Pompeii anytime soon? Leave a comment below

Running With The Bulls in Pamplona 2017

July 14, 2017
Location: sitting in the Panaria cafe in Valencia, Spain
Time: 12:01 pm

It’s 3 days after the run and I still get goosebumps thinking back on this. The last few days have been pretty crazy. We left Pamplona, where the actual run was a few hours after the run and weren’t 100% sure where we were going to go… so last minute we ended up going to the train station and booking tickets to Valencia… a very nice city closer to the ocean in southern Spain.

While on the train, I decided to pull out my phone and write out an overview of the emotions, thoughts and everything that I experienced the day before, the night before, day of and during the Running With The Bulls event at the Festival of San Fermin Pamplona.

I’m not going to act all brave and tell you I had my shit together the whole time coming up to the run, because…well, I didn’t.

It was similar to how I felt before swimming with sharks in the Bahamas… Pretty nervous, but excited.

Okay so let’s get right into it…

the night before my girlfriend Sam and I had the pleasure of wandering around the town a little bit and seeing just endless crowds of people with white shirts, pants and red handkerchiefs and belts EVERYWHERE. It was truly an incredible site.

At around 10pm we headed back to the hotel and I started reading EVERYTHING I could about the running. Peoples stories of strategies, where to be, what to do, everything I could.

Sam also found where she would be for the run… ABOVE the bulls up in a balcony, like a normal, sane, human… unlike myself.

She found a great balcony overlooking Dead Man’s Corner

While I was reading through all of these peoples blog post encounters, just like you’re doing right now, I came across one that mentioned that every night at 23:00 (11 pm) there was an epic fireworks show. I looked at the clock, and it was 22:40 (10:40pm) just in time for us to walk out, grab a beer and watch the fireworks.

It was pretty impressive, although from the blog post I read it promised to be the best firework show anyone would ever see. Turns out I got really spoiled living in Orlando, Florida because I was right down the road from Disney and SeaWorld who both did unbelievable firework shows…and I’d see them pretty much every night.

I also worked at Universal Studios as one of my last jobs (bartending) so I was able to see amazing shows there as well.

Okay, back to the story… after the fireworks show was over, we headed home and decided to go to bed because I wanted to wake up around 6  to make sure I was ready for the run, even though it officially didn’t start until 8am.

4am: woke up… went back to sleep

5am: woke up again.. went back to sleep

I was both nervous and excited, so kept waking up not wanting to miss it.

5:45am: got up and out of bed and felt a calming sensation come over me. The dream I had left me assured i’d be fine.

6:30am I start walking towards the square extremely nervous

6:45 follow a few different groups of people until I find the actual course

7-7:30 walk up and down the course a few times and I see Sam up in the balcony she’s watching from

Chris Hughes running with the bulls

Chris Hughes running with the bulls

Fear subsides a bit and I feel a sense of calm come over me.

I start chatting with a kid from Seoul and it’s his first time there as well. Chat with him a little but then the cops come to clear off the street. They told us we needed to go to a different spot..

7:35 cops close the steeet and make everyone get off the track

I see a group jogging down side streets and ask a policeman if there is another spot to get on the track and he tells me yes and to follow the crowd pointing to the group running down these side streets.

7:40 I arrive at a spot close to the beginning (near Santo Domingo) and see people crawling under a fence.

At this point, I think “well, I could just watch from the fence here and be safe

I mean, it’s crazy to run with bulls. It’s insanity. They’re HUGE…right?

Well, 5 seconds later I realize I came to run and I will run. It is decided.

I climb under the fence and start stretching and jumping around keeping my muscles warm.

7:50 I overhear the group next to me chatting and one guy told his friend he didn’t look well… guy was sweating and a little nervous looking so I patted him on the shoulder and told him he’s got this. I then ask him a few positive questions to get him present.

Tells me he’s from North Dakota and here with his friends and wives. Turns out Sam was in the same balcony as the wives (and one of the husbands who nailed)

He starts smiling and I wish him luck.

7:55 5 minutes until the release. Stretch and breath

The next 5 minutes flew by and I was just jumping up and down and stretching. Chatting a little bit to a group from the midwest USA… turns out Sam was up in the balcony with these 3 guys’ wives. Small world, huh?

…. the clock ticks closer and closer and the crowd starts getting louder…

8:00 the first firework goes off symbolizing the first bull has left… and maybe 10 seconds later the next.

I see the people in the balcony watching and cheering, cop taps me on the shoulder and yells ‘corre!’ And I jump off the wall quick to run.

About 5-7 seconds later the crowd is crazy, about 3 people between me and the center of the street… everyone pushes to the sides as the bulls approach and come flying past. My head is swiveling from side-to-side looking for both people, the street and the bulls. I spot the first bull of the group coming around behind me and a half second later its directly to my right.

There’s 2 guys to my right and the first bull flies right past, doing what it wants to do… get clearly through the pack without running into anything or anyone.

The next second the rest of the pack is there… I’m basically at a very slow jog because EVERYONE rushes to the sides and slows down. All the bulls run past and…

My adrenaline is pumping like crazy. I read how its super fun to get into the arena at the end of the run and see the excitement of the crowd once you arrive. So, I decide to run behind with the rest of the people who chose to run.

After about 5 seconds, I see an older gentleman who was knocked down and ask if he was ok. He pointed to his hip and smiled to signify he was okay… I offer a hand, but he declined so I kept running.

I follow the bulls far enough behind to not distract (as the rules stated to do) and follow them all the way to the arena. I’ve got tears of joy in my eyes… and they don’t seem to stop.

The whole way i’m running, I have cotton mouth and am just grinning from ear to ear… to the sides of the street I see a few people on the ground holding their legs or hips or shoulder but didn’t see anything too bad. No one was gored in this run, thankfully.

At the turn sam was at, I look up and see her and try to yell hello.. my cotton mouth is too bad and I can’t get the words out. She turns and goes back in the apartment before I can get her attention, so I sprint off towards the arena.

I get closer to the arena and some of the cops are yelling that it’s time to close the gate… I sprint ahead to make sure I get inside… once inside, I immediately run to the side of the arena as I was told to do in a few of the posts I read.

I’m very teary eyed.

But i’ve got a big ass grin on my face and tears of joy rolling down my face. Everyone is hugging and taking pictures and cheering.

Thousands of people in the stands are cheering and I tear up again. This happens about 5 different times where an overwhelming feeling of joy hits me. It’s crazy.

Once you’re in the arena, they let other new bulls inside the arena… fresh bulls, not the ones that just ran… I move even closer to the wall.

Here’s the official statement of what happens once inside the bullfight arena (Plaza de Toros)

“Immediately after the Bull Run (encierro) heifers (vaquillas) are released in the bullfight arena (Plaza de Toros). They will chase all the runners who made it into the arena. It is less dangerous to be hit by a heifer, especially because their horns are taped. However, they can cause damage and one man has been paralyzed from being hit.”

As soon as these heifers get back into the arena, I stay and watch some people dodging them  and seeming to play around with the heifers. One makes its round and then exits… after that a countdown happens and another is rushed in…

And then a countdown begins. I was hoping it would be for a cheer or something…

Turns out it was for another massive heifer. It runs around the arena and appears to be heading in my direction. All the people are moving towards my side of the wall. I’m about 2 people off the wall, but theres still a lot of people in front of me closer to the center of the arena.

The heifer starts in our direction…The crowd runs directly towards the wall and I’m about the 3rd person out of 5 off of the wall now. I’m pretty nervous… but then the bull stops, and decides to run the other way. Maybe another person got its attention and directed it away from our side..

Either way, I find the nearest exit and get out of the ring as soon as possible…. I remember Sam was going back to the hotel after so I could meet up with her, so I decide to head back. I’m teary eyed and jacked up out of my mind with adrenaline.

That really just happened.

Fuck. That happened.

I did it.

Big ass grin on my face and more tears of joy.

I read that most of the runners grab a beer after the run to calm themselves down a bit and I see quite a few runners in a pub immediately outside the arena and I decide to join them in the mini-celebration.

I order a beer and watch a little bit of the re-run to see what happened on the run… nothing bad comes up and I’m happy.

And just smile.

Here’s a few videos of the run that I was in that took place on July 11, 2017… the 5th day of the Running of the Bulls.

 

Here is a longer video of the full run:

July 4, 2017

Bonjour from Paris, France

This is the view that Sam and I first had upon arrival at our Airbnb in Paris, France…

But these pictures are from the train station in Frankfurt, Germany (where we got coffee and sandwiches before departing)

Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof

and… a shot from the train

Sam’s excited to head to Paris

We arrived in Paris on June 25,2017… after a few nights in Frankfurt, Germany. Read about Frankfurt here.

The problem was that I didn’t get a local SIM card so we couldn’t contact the Airbnb host for check-in… so we dropped our bags off outside the building we were going to be staying in, while Sam walked around the corner to a cafe that was nearby to get wifi to contact the host.

Ahh, the joys of travel! Unsuspected minor problems….

While Sam was over at the cafe contacting the host, I just sat and people watched. It was entertaining for sure, but nothing compared to the people watching at the cafes on the streets. But I’ll get to that later…

That night, we went out for Croque-Monsieur and some wine.

 

The next day we woke up and decided that we were going to go visit Notre-Dame de Paris.

(Notre-Dame de Paris means “Our Lady of Paris”), also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France.[3] The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of FrenchGothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture.

in front of the Notre-Dame de Paris

 

and the other side of the Cathedral

 

and then we went to a cafe to have some coffee and people watch…

Which led us to deciding that we should go visit the Eiffel Tower because it was so nice outside. Lucky we did, the next day it was rainy and colder.

 

We had a nice little picnic of grapes, a baguette, some delicious cheese and great wine. It was awesome just hanging out with my girlfriend and enjoying the view.

I also had the opportunity to take pictures of people taking pictures… which is honestly one of my favorite things because of how people pose.

For instance, people love making it look like they’re holding whatever landmark it is inside of their hand.

I spun that a little bit and tried to make it look like the man was in my hand…while the Eiffel Tower was in his hand.

While it was a little off… you get the idea.

The next day we did an open bus tour throughout the city… and it rained pretty much the entire time, but that didn’t stop us. We still sat upstairs on the bus and got soaked.

This took us all around and we got to see much more of the city than by just walking or taking the metro.

Arc de Triomphe Paris France

I didn’t get too many other pictures of this because of the rain and trying to not ruin my phone by getting it wet…

Funny story, we planned on going to the Louvre after this bus tour and actually got out, walked to the entrance and found out that the only day that The Louvre was closed is on Tuesdays… and it happened to be Tuesday..

There was a private event going on, but it was black tie and we didn’t have nice enough clothes to try to crash the event… and neither of us speak fluent enough French to talk our way in.

So, we postponed our original plan of heading out the next day and extended our stay one more night so that we could go to the Louvre.

The next day we ended up visiting the Louvre!!!

Venus de Milo

That little device above, the Nintendo, was really great in theory. It’s supposed to update wherever you are and give you a guided tour of the exhibits.

Turns out, it only worked about 30% of the time. It was really helpful being able to type in the number of the exhibit and then an audio explanation would start playing and you could learn more about each individual thing.

But, they still have a lot of work to do in order to make it better.

Here’s a few other pictures from The Louvre…

Actually this is one of the creepiest things I saw in there…

What about seeing the Mona Lisa?

Exactly! That’s what I went there for… actually its the only thing I knew about the Louvre. I’m so cultured.

This is what you see when you walk up to see the Mona Lisa… it’s the painting in the middle.. where EVERYONE is simply taking a picture of it with their cell phones.

To me it was really weird. Immediately outside of the museum and in the gift shops and stuff they sell professionally done photos and paintings of the same exact thing, but people were using their phones to capture it.

So instead of being normal and taking a picture of a picture… we took a selfie with the Mona Lisa…

Some of the most impressive parts (at least to me) weren’t what I originally was excited about seeing (Mona Lisa)

The ceiling in a few of the rooms was incredible.

I’m in no way an artist nor do I understand the amount of work that goes into doing paintings or anything similar to what was inside the walls of this museum… but it was incredible seeing some of these things.

Hello from Frankfurt, Germany

So my girlfriend and I had been apart for a few weeks while she went to the states to visit her family and for a wedding along with a baby shower for someone in her family.

That meant I went over to Bali again to visit with 2 of my best friends and got to surf a little. After that, my girlfriend and I were looking for a place to meet up that was around the same distance of travel for both of us.

Which… led me to Frankfurt, Germany!

I had only been to Frankfurt once and it was a layover on my trip to Mallorca Spain in 2015.

The thing is, I didn’t do much research at all about Frankfurt and it turns out its not that much of an exploring city for travelers. It’s more of just an everyday life city for most of the people there… which worked out really well because it allowed me to focus a lot on work.

The office in the hotel in Frankfurt

For the most part, my schedule was the same and I really liked it.

I’d wake up around 6, read for an hour and then go have breakfast at 7. I don’t normally eat breakfast, actually I never do. I usually do intermittent fasting which means that I’ll only eat from 2pm to 9pm each day and then fast the rest of the day.

But, when there’s a bunch of delicious meats and cheeses that were included with the hotel, it’s hard to turn that down.

I actually read the full book Ready Player One while I was staying here for the few days and didn’t want to stop reading it. It was a highly engaging book and I highly recommend reading it.

The truth about being here is that I would work from the time I finished up my breakfast until I got hungry for lunch, which was usually around 3pm and then i’d walk around until I found a place that looked good for lunch.

Here’s a few of the lunches I had…

Here’s a few of the things I came across while walking around…

 

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