Getting greasy in Greece....

The thought of 5 star holiday treatment had me dripping at the mouth.  Yet it was the 28deg heat that really had me releasing bodily fluids faster than I could replenish them.  Greece, you turned it up, even though things are looking pretty down.  



I've not long returned from a much needed break away to an idyllic island getaway, with horizon stretching sea views and passing pods of dolphins, stocked mini bars and bubbling jacuzzis, bling bowling alleys and all you can eat 5 star cuisine, secluded private beaches with glass elevator entrances, pool side cocktails and lazy loungers...  


The classic 'country cliches' were funny to watch unfold over the lazy 7 days, much of it were spent mooching around the pool and beach, a place where people still play out their idiosyncrasies, even when half naked.   



The Germans lived up to their classic towel-bandit behaviour round the poolside.  They love getting dibs on the loungers and god forbid you move a towel, all scheisse breaks loose.  My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of watching some middle aged lady go sicko at some dude who obviously didn't speak a common language.  
She appeared outa nowhere and I hadnt seen her all day, yet someone had moved her towel.  Call the Gestapo, its not like theres at least 12 other empty loungers around!  Figures out, she had miscued it altogether, wasn't even 'her' lounger, it was 5m away to the right.  Take a chill pill lady and use it to park your fat ass, cos the sooner you take it outa the way of my sunlight here, the better!



The Belgians loved to have a wee chit chat, talk about the Brussels and the Euro crisis, but were quite stiff when it came to etiquette.  Sliding doors separating the outside diners from the inside, were monitored by the Belgians.  They didn't like to mix their space with the alfresco dinner air and made a few unruly scenes over it.  





An observation that annoyed me came from an overly demanding young Indian couple.  They annoyed the shit outa me with their constant pestering and bickering of the waiting staff.  Hounding them with orders of freshly made dishes, (there were over 40 options to eat from as it were, all cooked fresh) requests that appeared out of thin air, no menus in sight, clicky fingers, and having worked in hospo for many years, nothing gets me more wound up than clicky fingers.  


But their attitudes to people and the world in general annoyed me.  They left rubbish strewn wherever they parked up, expecting others to pick it up after them, when a bin was ever only metres away.  The way the dude wore his jocks around the pool also had me in stitches, but sick stitches.  They looked like he wore them all day and all night, day in day out, and the dude was flapping about in my pool? Sicko.  Get some swimmers on, I dont care if you wanna crank out the budgie smugglers, the board shorts or the in-betweeners, but dont roll round in your bloody sweaty ass jocks and then go dip your bollocks in the stagnant water we all share.  Come on man, take your head outa your ass.





I hate going somewhere and at least not being to say a couple of words of the spoken dialect.  The standard pleasantries is usually the bare minimum, however rubbish it sounds rolling off the tongue, its an effort to relate.  The week had me thinking on the dynamics of the European Union and how there were so many languages and cultures, so many mannerisms and ways of dealing with situations, that observing several countries all trying to enjoy themselves, was entertainment in itself.  


The English were reserved, polite and did their things without too much bother.  They thoroughly enjoyed the selection of 'full english' accompaniments at breakfast times. Although, if I were to make an observation slightly more interesting than the normal cliches, the only women to roll out the fake plastic racks of boob were three independent English females... what does that say, someone please enlighten me. 





A group of young Scottish girls were loud and boisterous and were an entertaining conversation to overhear in their booming scottish accents....
'oh, aye, looks like I rolled in at 3am lassies, ive got a txt here saying 'im langered goin home', youse hussies must of stayed til morn'    
They were backpackers in a 5 star. Partypackers giving it the large one every night.  Had obviously scored the same sweet deal we did on Groupon ;)  Although, we arrived on the Flashpackers ticket.  Preferring to swap the hungover slept-in mornings with an ocean swim and a 4 course breakfast by the pool to start our days.   





The only North American accent I heard all week echoed out from the bar, a solitary guy, sitting there  talking to anyone that would listen. He was out buying property.  I switched off after that.  


The funniest episode came when an Eastern European man, of about 55yrs, waltzed into the pool arena and started entertaining three big boned women, who all seemed to know him.  I had them down as Romanians but it was only a guess.  Anyways, this old dude is strutting it in a pair of saggy speedos and his 'package' just seems to be abnormally big, it was seriously the first thing you noticed when he spun round, spose it didnt help that he was flapping his arms around like a bird, and squatting with his arms out like a 'im a little teapot' dance.  


He broke into a aerobo class and started punching the air, Jackie Chan styles, followed with the grunts and sharp yelps.  He had everyone quietly laughing, but it seemed like he was in his own little world, we weren't even there, him and his harem of 3 big elderly companions just cackled away, squealing and hollering with old mate taking running jumps to land himself in between 2 of them on the loungers. He was hilarious.  Whoever and where ever he came from.  He was my poolside hero of the week. 


So obviously I had too much time on my hands to poke fun at country cliches whilst indulging in the sweet sensation of 5 star treatment on an island getaway.   





To everyone else, we probably looked like a pair of smuggy bastards, talking a mish mash of english, spanish and portuguese, always munching on food and drink, making strange noises to each other, the couple that made sandwiches at breakfast to eat for lunch, who were always on the verge of laughing in the elevators, who always thanked in Greek, who farted in an elevator as they jumped out to waiting dinner guests, who bought beers at the local shop across the road and drank on their balcony, who played music in their room, who played pool at the run down local taverna down the road. But to that I say................. nada.  Cos we cleaned as we went, we acknowledged as we went, we tipped as rolled and smiled as it all unfolded.  
But I see how that can be perceived as smuggy.  But as long as its done humbly and with conviction, its cool.  





And that is what traveling has taught me.  Be humble, and if you do something, do it with conviction.


Efharisto Greece for another lesson in travel. 




#lovestreetdogs 

Inspired by Egypt

Egypt.  Where it all began...
egypt
(ayman rafat - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)


I wrote a blog post about Egypt just last year. It featured in my list of Worlds Worst Places to Backpack, muscling in at #8.  


Probably not the most esteemed introduction to a competition where candidates are encouraged to write inspiring pieces about traveling to Egypt. 
To be brutally honest, I toyed with the idea of not even mentioning it, but at the end of the day it speaks volumes. 
Im an impartial blogger, not here to butter up the bells and whistles, I'm here to tell it how it is.  And back in February last year, this is how it was... 


(Recommended you read this post first)


EGYPT-PROTEST/
(giaitri59 - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

You see, at the time of writing that post, Egypt was too hot to handle for your average traveler, it was boiling with rage and anger, with blood-stained violence spewing out onto the streets.  


Martyr's blood
(Jonathan Rashad - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)


So I ask myself what has changed? What has inspired me to go there now, when several months ago I clocked it as one of the worst places in the world to visit? 


A simple word.   


Change.  


One of the most inspirational quotes of all time is Gandhis 'be the change you want to see in this world'


For some, these words will always be void of any real meaning, they continue their lives in vain. For others, these words become the inspiration that strengthens their voices and pumps blood through their veins.  


Tragically, Egypt gave up many sons and daughters in the name of change.  But the power of the proud Egyptian people prevailed and change arrived.   


Today, the gateway to the country 'where it all began' is beckoning the intrepid traveler to return.  


DSCF0085
(Alaa Morabet - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

Although much has changed, somethings remain the same.  


The iconic Pyramids of Giza still stand as the ancient cities of Cairo and Alexandria still bustle. 
EGYPT
(Boaz - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)


Street Market in Old Alexandria, Egypt
(UncornedMarket - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)


The sands in the Sinai still blow as the majestic Nile still flows.   


Egypt - Bedouin Hideout - Sinai
(Stuart Matthews - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)
Egypt Nile River at Cairo
(Kassemgr12 - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

The magical Mediterranean still laps up against the white sandy beaches, the coral-carpeted-coast still harbours its striking features.
   
Dahab, Sinai, Egypt
(Jay8085 - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)
Samadai Reef - Red Sea Coastal Development in Egypt
(Greenpeace UK - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

But all these aesthetically pleasing treats aside, what really inspires me to travel to Egypt - is the people.  



Egypt 2010
(Junior Kimbrough - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)
Happy Semeet Baker - Old Town Alexandria Egypt
(Egon Phillip - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)
Egypt 2010
(Junior Kimbrough - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)


Ok, there is one other thing. Unashamedly I  still possess a nostalgic buzz with a teenage crush on Cleopatra
She stole my adolescent innocence and there were many, many days spent day-dreaming of her and her silky jet black hair, feline physique and those piercing green eyes.
  
(or was that just my fascination with this silly 1980s soap commercial spiralling out of control during my pubescent days? cant decide ;)



But in all seriousness, I have been fortunate to travel quite extensively throughout my life and I have witnessed and experienced some tantalising assaults on my senses.



The road to Sakarra, Dec 2008 - 56
(Ed Yourdon - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

A smorgasbord of sights, sounds, smells and tastes have been devoured over the years.  However, the most profound memories I cherish from my travels are undoubtedly encounters with people.   

Trucking Mixing The Old With The New
(Toby Saville - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

This is the essence of travel for me. 


Engaging with people. 


AT THE BAKERY
(Boaz - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)


If you care to read my short #InspireTravel blog post on 'What' inspires me to travel you can see I'm only regurgitating what I preached before.  People inspire me to travel.  


egypt.aswan.122708__DSC1409
(Owen Murray - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

The Egyptians inspired a global revolution and once again, kick started an evolution for mankind.  


egypt.dakhla.042311_OMM5358
(Owen Murray - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

I've been inspired by Egypt, but on a different level than most.  It has been the Egyptian people who have inspired me to experience firsthand what change can bring if you believe enough in what your fighting for.  


Egypt: Fruit Seller
(Hafiz Ismail - Flickr - Creative Commons Licence)

Please send me on a holiday to Egypt. This is my #InspiredbyEgypt entry to the Easy Jet Holidays Inspired by Egypt Competition. 
© Denis Corcoran


Find more information at Easy Jet Holidays


Or follow @EasyJetHolidays to follow the competition.





Inspiration Initiative


The traveling enthusiasts over at @easyJetHolidays have initiated a cool little game of pass the parcel within the travel blogging community. The theme is centred around Travel Inspiration.  (hash tag #InspireTravel for those with a nose for more prose)
easy
(Paul Downey - Creative Commons Licence)


Travel in itself is inspirational, the offshoots of these experiences shape our characters and define who we are today.  We all blog because we love travel. But Easyjet have dug a little deeper and probed the big 4 - the Who, the When, the Where and What has inspired one to travel...


Without further a dooo heres my who....



Who

This guy kept talking to me. Incessantly.

Telling me there existed frontiers where buffalo roamed in their hundreds. I was nose deep in a law degree at the time and the thought of roaming buffalo across wild frontiers was an elusive illusion.

A backpacking illusion.

I asked my friends, my family, lecturers and classmates. They all thought it was a crazy idea midway through my studies.  

They were right.

It was so crazy that it changed my life. I listened to that guy, taking his advice in the face of a wall of unanimous opinion advising me not to 'do it'

That guy was me. I inspired myself to set off alone into foreign lands in pursuit of elusive dreams, and in doing so, I was and still am my personal inspiration. 
(Ha, hero alert)


When

It was somewhere in between Tanzania and Zambia on a long and narrow, dusty baked red-earthed road. The midday heat was creeping up and a bluebird day perched high above me. The empty road ran onto the horizon in each direction. There was no one, or no-thing within eye shot.

The Long Road to Mali
(Geezaweezer - Creative Commons Licence)

I had a 1/4 bottle of water. A banana and $1US dollar. 
No passport, no pack, no phone. No nada.

I stood there contemplating my direction. Contemplating my life. Contemplating this whole travel thing.

I had been robbed and now faced the simple decision of heading for my final destination, 3 countries away and 2400km to the south, or a 800km mission back to my origin.

I thought for a second about my travel experiences so far in my life. Real gritty story-telling travel experiences - I couldn't draw on any in that momentary lapse of thought in the stifling heat. 
I had inspired myself to travel and now here I was standing on a country road in the depths of Eastern Africa, stripped bare of all my possessions, alone, confused and with no one insight to turn to for assistance. 


Before me lay an experience I knew would either shape me or break me.

I made a call that day. And that was to keep traveling, no matter what circumstances life dished up at me. 
And so I headed south.





Where

Last frontiers have always fascinated me. I often wish I was born a couple of centuries earlier so that I could of lived a life of frontier pioneering. That somewhat selfish sense of glory when you discover a secret gem of a place is a hard one to disguise.

Places where only few travellers have ever visited are indeed gems amongst a well worn planet. There are very few places untouched by the rathe of the traveling human being.
I do however hold one place in my heart. Its a slice of paradise. Even the few inhabitants who live there call it paradise.
It is an idyllic couple of bays that nestle into a jagged coastline with a rolling blue sea behind it. There is brocoli-blanketed lush rainforest melting into a mountainous backdrop. No roads, no power lines.  Access by boat only.  Coming in from the rolling sea, its like descending upon heavens gates.












Unfortunately its a secret I cannot share, even for a competition ;) But it is undoubtably my most inspirational place on the surface of this earth.





What

And so we travel.

Through changing worlds and shifting sands
over high seas & foreign lands
and what stimulates our emotions
as we cross these oceans
staring at the stars
and walking the land
carved from gods own hand

It must be the people
in the smiles
in the faces
of all earth's glorious races

We breathe & we see
we do & we be
but theres nothing quite like
being free.

And so we travel...

© Denis.



#inspirationinitiative


In the name and vein of inspiration, the 5 travel enthusiasts who I wish to pass this parcel to are...


Neil www.backpacksandbunkbeds.com 
@packsandbunks 


Christina www.thetravolution.com
@thetravolution


Emma www.sparkyseestheworld.wordpress.com
@Emma_Sparks


James www.backpackerjam.com
@backpackerjam


Victoria www.pommietravels.com
@PommieTravels


---------------------------------------------


Easy Jet Holidays www.holidayblog.easyjet.com 
@EasyJetHolidays 


”Holiday










Life. Looking back...

Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life you will regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.
(H.Jackson Brown Jr)



What if you could go and lie on your deathbed for a moment. Just a moment to steal that opportunity to glance back at your life....... to ponder the good and the bad and feel the pain of the regrets wash over you....


Its a sobering thought if you fast forward yourself to your closing moments of your life.




















Internet obsessions aside, as far as regrets go, they dont get more insightful than this. An Australian nurse spent several years caring for the dying and she's put together a book with her observations and interactions with those on the way out of here.
There was no mention of sex or bungee jumps, these epiphanies rock your socks to the very core. They are a sober reminder of why we need to constantly check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

Here they are, top 5 regrets from the dying...


1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

- the most common regret of them all. This comes down to the choices you make in life. We often fall victim to societal and family pressures. Its a shame, cos so many dreams and aspirations fall by the wayside as one marches down the road of life...


2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

- all the men she nursed talked about their regret spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. We weren't put on this surface not to enjoy everyone and everything else that was put here with us. Sometimes we are so busy we bypass the most simplistic pleasures in life. Time. And people. And peoples time.



3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

- people carry a lot of baggage with them on their journeys through life. Theres a lot of shit one has to wade through to keep afloat, harbouring bitterness and resentment are painful pills to swallow.


4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

- I think this one I can relate to a lot. I value true friendships. I think it is one of the most simple and beautiful things we have in this world. The ability as humans to connect with one another on levels that sink deeper than most emotions.

The Nurse heard too many stories about regrets of not giving friendships the time and effort that they were worthy of. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying....


5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

- probably the most unexpected of the 5, but according to this nurse, its one of the most common. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. Too many get wrapped up in patterns, habits and roles, and their emotions adapted accordingly. Deep within everyone loves to laugh, to have silliness in their lives and smile from the inside out. Happiness is a state of mind.


And on that note, heres the Dali Lama with the closing ceremony....

Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others' actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others' activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.
(Dali Lama)

If you want to read the full article get a slice of it here...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

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