Travel Scavenger Hunt: Neck Pillow

I got a neck pillow for two reasons: to use on the eight-hour flight from Charlotte, North Carolina and to use on the long and overnight train rides through the Continent. Now that my flight has ended, I am able to verify the effectiveness of a neck pillow! I have no idea why, but airplane seats are designed like scoops, but if your back is flush with the back of the chair, your head will end up sticking out from your body and the chair in an award position. If you have your hair in a pony tail like I do, your frustration will be amplified, especially with the darkness (overnight flight) and long period of time that will harken you to sleepiness.

So, although taking up the most space in my bag, the pillow is extremely light-weight, and will undoubtedly come in handy on train rides, and hopefully in hostels as a second pillow. Will include further pillow updates in my hostel reviews!

Price: <$10 USD

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Week 1 Bahamas: Local Conversation

While visiting in the Bahamas you will most likely notice the sometimes short and aggressive way in which many of the locals speak. Humor may often be mistaken for insult if one does not take into account the social or conversational context. Also, as like many of their Caribbean counterparts, tend to speak faster than most Americans are used to and with a unique way of placing intonation at various parts of sentences and to indicate varying meanings for words. it is best to explain to locals that you do not understand them when you don’t, saying it later will cause more problems than not. Bahamians are generally upfront and usually appreciate bluntness that isn’t in itself insulting or derogatory.
My job at school partially consists of finalizing reservations for faculty and students traveling abroad on our programs. When making the reservations on two Bahamian islands, I was glad that it was I and not another of my co-workers, as the laid back attitude of the staff at the hotels would probably have been mistaken for impoliteness. I knowing that this was not in fact intended, was quite fine with the receptionist not placing the phone on hold to call up her boss.

Back to my travel, at the airport terminal and in the airplane, a lady displayed the classical Bahamian sociability. It may be mistaken (incorrectly or not) for intrusiveness on his/her part, but most Bahamians like to talk. Most will start a conversation with complete strangers, especially if their current situation or task makes them affiliated, if only momentarily. She spoke not only continuously, but loudly and clearly as though the world was a stage and her special audience. She spoke with the American businessman heading to the Bahamas to help in planning building construction; spoke with other locals that were headed back home; spoke with the stewardess; spoke with the man opposite her on the flight; and she spoke with me. Rather, being a Bahamian myself, I spoke with her :-D!

This “intrusion” into the conversations of others often proves helpful, as visitors are often from countries where one would rather accept being lost as one’s fate instead of asking strangers around you for help. This also usually results in Bahamians being more polite, saying hello, thank you, and good bye to strangers, coworkers, and fellow customers. I hadn’t realized this until a few Bahamians had visited the US with me and said “good afternoon” about three times because the customers and staff weren’t used to people saying that and hence, hadn’t given a response. Confessedly however, this can also be seen as rude and unwanted at times by visitors and locals alike.

So remember, when you visit, have an open mind to experience other cultures, and you’ll be fine.

Airports, Seaports, Train stations: Wien Westbahnhof, Vienna, Austria (Background)

One of the most exciting places to visit while traveling is usually the first place you leave and the first place you arrive at at both the start and end of the trip. Modern airports, seaports, and train stations are designed to mesmerize and to entertain visitors. They do this not only to keep visitors occupied, but to make sure that they spend their last dime before leaving the host country. The website’s background is currently a photo of the Wien Westbahnhof in Vienna, Austria. It is one of the two train stations I will be visiting on my travel through Austria.

Tip 1

Remember that if you were to get lost, maps are only as helpful as they are legible. It is important that you learn the endonyms for places you plan to visit.The German Wien is the endonym for Vienna and Bahnhof translates to station in English. German is sometimes fun for English speakers because of the common linguistic heritage. Hence, the west in Wien Westbahnhof means just that, west or western.

Tip 2

If you are going backpacking through Europe, do not assume in planning (as I once did) that your destination train station to a country will be the one you will use to leave that country for another. This will occur twice on my trip, In Vienna, Austria and in Paris, France. Below is a small gallery of photos of the Wien Westbahnhof and Bahnhof Wien-Meidling and some interesting places near both that I plan to visit. By these stations I will enter Austria (Österreich) from the Czech Republic and leave for Italy (Italia).

Nearby Locations

  • Schloss Schönbrunn
    Schönbrunner Schlossstraße, Wien
    1130
  • Naschmarkt
    Wienzeile 1, Wien 1040
  • Stephansdom
    Stephansplatz, Wien 1010
  • Museumsquartier
    Museumsplatz 1, Wien 1070
  • Prater
    Prater, Wien
  • Hundertwasserhaus
    Löwengasse 43, Wien 1030
  • Belvedere
    Prinz-Eugen-Straße 27, Wien 1030
  • Hofburg
    Michaelerplatz 1, Wien 1010
  • Staatsoper
    Opernring 2, Wien 1010
  • Ringstraße
    Wien 1010

New: Travel Planner Website!

I found an excellent resource for planning your travel abroad. You can use www.tripwolf.com to load interesting locations that others have voted on into a printable/downloadable trip planner. You can use it to search for nearby hotels and food places as well.
It creates a map to help you plan your movement and make sure you use your time efficiently, especially if you are are getting around by foot and do not have much time in which to see everything.

The link has been added to the list of links near the bottom the website’s pages.

http://www.tripwolf.com/

Week 1 Bahamas: Opening of Parliament

I had planned to sunbathe in the country where the sun always shines as the sea breezes cool the shores. But alas, for the duration of my entire trip to the Bahamas the island of New Providence will be drenched in rain!

The rain, however, forms no impediment for the need of a government to carry out business, as witnessed earlier this week with the Opening of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

The Sovereign

The Bahamas is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign. Her Majesty is represented in the Bahamas by the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes. At the Opening of Parliament, the legislative agenda of the newly elected and formed government is read by the Sovereign (or her representative) from the Throne, where every reference to the government is made as “My government.” Explaining how one natural person can hold more than one legal personality is confusing to many, especially those from outside of countries with such monarchies. In short, however, it may be said that the Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is simultaneously Monarch of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and Monarch of Canada, etc. In relation to each country she is a separate legal entity. As such, the laws of the United Kingdom have no effect in the former UK dominions (vis-a-vis Statute of Westminster). It is the prerogative of the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister to call for a general election at any time. This has usually corresponded with the 5-year term limits of Members of Parliament (MPs).

The Branches of Government

In a Westminster-styled parliamentary system like that of the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth, although the sovereign in parliament is sovereign, the separation of powers associated with democracy are still present. Subsequently, in the Bahamas, there is a Judiciary an Executive (Prime Minister and Cabinet), and a Legislature (appointed Senate and elected House of Assembly). Differing from other democratic systems, like the US presidential one, the executive and the legislature are fused, as the former is primarily chosen from the latter.

 

Lower House
  • The House of Assembly
  • 38 Members called Members of Parliament
  • 5-Year terms
  • Membership by constituency majority election
  • Majority party (or coalition) selects the Prime Minister
Upper House
  • The Senate
  • 16 Members called Senators
  • Membership by appointment by Governor General (on advice from Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition)
  • May amend and block (two times) bills of, and refer bills to the Lower House

For photo credit hover over the photo. Yontalay Bowe, http://www.thebahamasweekly.com, and The Bahamas Weekly.