Travel Compass #1

El Tatio geysers in Chile. My travels few years ago.

 

In the past I’ve been putting all the interesting travel news into separate posts. But that got a little too spammy. So here goes this article – a little information, with some inspiration, discovered somewhere around the web. Have fun!

 

Trans-Siberian Odyssey: one of the best travel videos I’ve ever seen.

#TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou

Saving manuscripts of Timbuktu.

History of California. The sun, the beach… and the oil wells.

Chic in Paris. During war.

Live map of news tweets. Get perspective.

And if disaster happens near you – here’s a cheat sheet on what to do.

Check how rich you are, compared to the world. Humbling.

The stories I’d pay to hear.

Always competent foXnoMad on how to best use wall outlets when traveling.

 

What about you? Any interesting travel discoveries from the world of great wide web?

Take care,

Iz

Ad Maiorem Vini Gloriam | Maribor, Slovenia

Stara Trta | Maribor, Slovenia

Wish I’ll look this good at 450 years old.


Ad maiorem vini gloriam. That’s a quote next to Drava-shaped ceramic pattern on the floor of Hisa Stare Trte in Maribor, Slovenia.

It’s also a welcome greeting of Ljubljana’s Honourable Wine Convent of St Urban. With a reply:

Tako bodi! So be it!


Some women, like wine, just get better with age. But I guess 450 years is too ol for both.

Some women, like wine, just get better with age. But I guess 450 years is too old for both.


I traveled to Maribor tempted by the opportunity to see world’s oldest vine and hoping to discover wine culture surrounding it. And ended squeezing into wine barrel in one of the biggest classical wine cellars in Europe, with tunnels 2,5 km long conveniently located underneath Maribor’s central square, Trg Svobode.

Through a hole at my waist’s high, head first. Be careful, lift your ass, so you won’t cut yourself on the sharp edges inside – I was following my guide’s instructions. Surprisingly lacking any smell, the inside was brightly lit and a little claustrophobic. And loud – whatever I said echo repeated ten times over. Apparently a group of orchestra musicians visiting the cellars took advantage of that by playing a mini-concert inside.


Run-down, but ornamented, passageways or 'optimistic' gravestones built onto outer side of a church. That are Maribor walls for you.

Run-down, but ornamented passageways or ‘optimistic’ gravestones built onto outer side of a church. Those are Maribor walls for you.


But what would be a wine cellar tour without a wine tasting? After strolling through dark long corridors flanked by wooden, steel and concrete wine barrels, we were offered 8 different types of wine. I’m nowhere near a wine connoisseur, but have to say that local Laski Rizling was pleasantly refreshing on a hot day, just as was the chill air in the cellars itself.

Once upon a time, before the war, you could go by tunnels from Vinag wine cellars to Lent, an old part of Maribor, where Stara Trta grows. It has been growing for about 450 years now, as certified by Guinness Book of Records. And it’s still producing between 35 and 55 kg grapes per year. Many notable people, including Bill Clinton, Emperor Akihito of Japan and Pope John Paul II have been presented with a bottle as a symbolic ‘key to the city’.

And one more final tip – listen to the locals saying and beware:

You can get drunk in Maribor just by breathing the air!


With Old Vine Museum inside. Most notable possession - undrinkable wine.

With Old Vine Museum inside. Most notable possession – undrinkable wine.


QUICK INFO

Sleep

That’s a problem in Maribor, especially for budget and long-time travelers. When you search for accommodation online there are some options. Unfortunately none that would recommend.

Eat, Sit and Possibly Drink

Grill Ranca – and their specialty pljeskavica. Giant plate with juicy, but crispy meat surrounded by various types of peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions and other delicious accompaniments. In Lent, with a view of Drava and a feeling of it’s breeze.

Isabella (Postna ulica 3) – seems like panini is in fashion everywhere in Maribor. But here it’s fresh, local and often organic. Plus the interior is clean, bright, with colorful accents to make things interesting.

Plantaza Caffe – more for locals, less for tourists, little off the center, but everything’s close in Maribor. And the coffee is delicious!

Additional Info

There’s public Wifi on Trg Svobode.

It’s definitely not a backpacker destination.

There are good and comfortable train connecting Maribor to Ljubljana and Graz in Austria.

 

IATA proposal to unify cabin luggage size

That made a mess, alright.

Even a US senator jumped on board to get some political credit out of it. Luckily, Skift’s comment on that is spot on:

“We’re happy that Sen. Schumer has weighed in on this subject as he does with most others: grand statements based on limited information. Thankfully, he won’t stick around to do any real work on the issue once the headlines die down.”


But more to the point, what’s going on?

IATA, an association of almost 260 airlines, proposed its members to unify the size of an allowed carry-on. The new standard is called ‘Cabin OK’ by IATA and has dimensions of 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5”).


That is somewhere in the middle of what airlines allow right now – some let you have a slightly bigger bag, some require it to be even smaller. Some time ago I even wrote a post putting together luggage allowances from many airlines – that gives you some idea how different the rules really are right now.

What’s the biggest annoyance (for me at least) is that if you change flights and fly with different airlines, you have to check size allowances for each one of them. So IATA’s concept itself isn’t so bad.

But judging by the confusion, maybe it wasn’t proposed right? For those of you that still have questions, Skift also put together a FAQ on the subject.

Where angels stopped the time | Lanckorona, Poland

Hello from Maribor in Slovenia, where I just arrived. The city with world’s oldest vine. Plus almost 3 km of wine cellars. Oh, and there are some historic sights too.

Barely standing (it’s a good thing I’m sitting right now) and dizzy from traveling by train from Poland yesterday, walking around Graz in Austria for a whole night (because why waste money on expensive accommodation) to catch a first morning train to Maribor, I remembered I have a website. Maybe it’s not such a stupid idea to write something here from time to time.

Can’t tell anything about Maribor yet, because all I found so far is this lovely Plantaza Caffe, from which I’m writing right now. But about a month ago I escaped to my beloved Polish hideaway – Lanckorona.


Lanckorona | Poland | Main Square


It’s one of my two favorite places in Poland. The other is Warsaw – when I want some energy. But when I just want to relax – I choose Lanckorona. Only 30 km south from Cracow, yet it seems like worlds apart. Here everything seems simpler. Nobody is in a hurry, and that’s contagious.

Like a more authentic version of currently fashionable slow-life. Anyway – how could they hurry. Anywhere you wanna go, it’s ether hike up or down. A translation – either you’re dying getting up that hill, or you’re resting after it, while walking down.


Lanckorona | Poland | Old Cottage


The steepest market square of Amber Road. XIX – century wooden houses with rooftops that seem just too big for the construction underneath. And ruins of a cute little castle, that now are just a pile of stones. That’s in short the tourist description of Lanckorona.

Curiously, for centuries Lanckorona used to be a military stronghold, protecting a border with Silesia and a road to Cracow. Current idyllic atmosphere is, ironically, an outcome of a XIX – century fire that burned down a good part of a village. Rebuilt around an original square and influenced by nearby pilgrimage destination – UNESCO-protected Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – is how it’s current character has been created.


Lanckorona | Poland | Wooden Elements


And that character, between First and Second World War, attracted many artists. They in turn added a little extra something, that ‘creative vibe’ that is so hard to capture. Even now Lanckorona is often described as ‘a village of artists and angels’.

Why artists – you know. But angels I’m gonna leave for you to find out on your own. There’s no fun without an effort. I’m just gonna mention that a festival ‘Angel in Town’ taking place in Lanckorona every December is a good place to start.


Lanckorona | Poland | Arka and All


QUICK INFO

Sleep

Willa Tadesz – opened in 1924 by Tadeusz Lorenc, remains in a family and is now run by his daughter Alicja. Hidden in an enclave in Lanckorona hill, surrounded by a forest, has a big, half-cylindrical, window-walled porch, perfect for bright mornings.
Willa Zamek – built by Jozef Lorenc, Tadeusz’s father, is right up on the hill over Lanckorona. And because of that, when you go out on your room’s balkony the view you see is not only over nearest valley, but also over five next.

Eat, Sit and Possibly Drink

Cafe Arka – spacious and bright half caffeteria, half art gallery, located in one of the wooden cottages. It was created by artists, Ewa i Jacek Budzowscy, which can be seen on every step.
Niebieska Kawiarenka – seasonal garden in front of one of the houses on a main square. Just lay on a blue sunbed, eat home-baked cake and soak that view.

Additional Info

There’s no ATM in Lanckorona. Nearest is in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.
Connected by bus with Cracow, Stryszów, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and Wadowice.
Roads leading to Lanckorona are steep and narrow – beware.
Take a walk to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska!

News Sources

In my recent quest to escape the cold I moved south – first to Bulgaria, then to Serbia. That didn’t help for long and now I’m lustfully eyeing Africa.

But that’s kind of problematic. From destinations I wanted to visit, Senegal is awfully close to Ebola outbreak. Kenya is still not safe after recent attacks. And even for Morocco there are travel alerts regarding possible retaliations after strikes on ISIS.

I guess I’ll just have to follow the news and monitor situation. So here’s the question – what are the best news sources to follow? Below are my choices.


RSOE | For Disaster Alerts

It’s the Hungarian National Association of Radio Distress-Signalling and Infocommunications (RSOE), operated by Emergency and Disaster Information Service (EDIS). Basically just disaster alerts, with information like place, no. of affected people, damage level and basic description.

Usually I just scan through to see if something has happened near the area I’m in.

Channels
  • Alert map (RSOE website and Facebook)
  • RSS
  • Newsletter
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Android app

CDC/WHO | For Health Alerts

They are both pretty good at providing information about current health risks around the world.

The great thing about both of these sources is that, aside from alerts, they also have a huge knowledgebase. So you can find lots of information about a certain disease or an outbreak. Or check health situation and necessary vaccinations for a place you’re planning to visit.

Channels
  • CDC
  • Newsletter
  • RSS
  • WHO
  • RSS
  • iPhone app (WHO Info)

BBC World | For World News

The best global news source I was able to find so far. I love their clear and factual style of reporting. All available info is presented in the main article. If there are any expert opinions, they are on the side and not mixed with the facts.

Quite often there is also a ‘knowledge box’, with things like timeline or background information, that are essential to better understanding the news you’re currently reading.

Channels
  • RSS
  • Android, iPhone and Blackberry apps

LOCAL NEWS | For A Zoom-In

That’s where I look at when I need a deeper or more local information. Google Translate really helps then ;)

As for what kind of local news – I prefer newspapers, printed or even better – online versions. That gives me the option to translate things I don’t understand, as opposed to TV and Radio, when I need to know the language. Usually I ask someone local or familiar with the region to give me recommendations on what newspapers are reliable and providing the best information.

Channels
  • Whatever I can find ;)

And what is your way of staying up-to-date?