Monthly Archives: April 2016

Trivia for travellers

Read on to find out which country inspired the phrase ‘banana republic’, where people consume vodka with gusto to cure all their ills, and what world-class museum relies on a pounce of resident cats to keep its masterpiece-clogged galleries mouse-free…


  • Antarctica: Antarctica’s ice sheets contain 90% of the world’s ice – 28 million cu km – holding about 70% of the world’s fresh water.
  • Azerbaijan: ‘Layla’, Eric Clapton’s classic rock song was inspired by the Azeri epic poem Layla and Majnun.


  • Bangladesh: The national game of Bangladesh is kabaddi, a group version of tag where players must evade the opposing team while holding a single breath of air.
  • Belarus: Many Belarusian folk-remedies involve vodka: gargle with it to cure a sore throat, wash your hair with it to alleviate dandruff and pour it in your ear to treat an earache.


  • Canada: Every year the British Columbian town of Nanaimo holds a bathtub race, where competitors speed across the harbour in boats formed from bathtubs.

Radio telescopes in the Atacama Desert © Ruben Sanchez / Getty Images

  • Chile: The Atacama Desert has the planet’s best star-gazing potential: the Alma Observatory here is the world’s largest astronomic project.


  • Denmark: Denmark really does have an extraordinary inventive streak: many innovative creations including the loudspeaker, magnetic storage and Lego have Danish roots.


  • Ecuador & The Galápagos Islands: Tiny Ecuador is home to some 300 mammal species and over 1600 bird species – more than Europe and North America combined.
  • Ethiopia: When the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front tanks rolled into Addis Ababa in 1991, they were navigating with the map in Lonely Planet’s Africa on a Shoestring.


  • Finland: Finns are renowned for being quiet – there’s an old joke that they invented text messaging so they wouldn’t have to speak to each other.

Travel ideas for holiday

unduhan-11Nevertheless, it can be fun to tally up your adventures to appreciate just how far you’ve gone. Inspired by the new edition of The Travel Book, we asked a gaggle of travel-mad Lonely Planet staff to do just that.

I travel because… Away from home, everything – from road signs to what snacks people are eating – suddenly becomes fascinating. It’s so much fun to have every day feel like a series of mini-adventures.

Travel highlight of 2016: I visited the Latvian capital of Riga during the depths of winter when its cobbled streets are dusted with snow. It was absolutely freezing, but one evening I found the best place in the city to warm up. Tucked into a basement in the old town, Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs is a traditional tavern that hosts weekly folk dances. Though I planned only to watch, over beers I got chatting to one of the band members – a charming violinist and former Eurovision star – and she convinced me to take a turn around the floor. It was full of young people who knew all the moves, but they were extremely patient with the mal-coordinated novice in their midst. Mercifully the steps were quite repetitive, and I had more fun than I could have thought possible!

Next on my travel wishlist: Austria and Kenya

I travel because… It frees my mind. The brain shifts into autopilot in a familiar environment; I suppose that’s just the way we’re designed. Travel isn’t the only way to jolt yourself back into manual, but it might well be the most enjoyable method.

Travel highlight of 2016: Island-hopping in Bohuslän, West Sweden, edges out stiff competition to top my list this year. I just adored the laid-back atmosphere of this region, which stretches from Gothenburg up the coast to the border with Norway. It’s a beauty parade of fishing villages cum summer resorts – Lysekil, Smögen and Fjällbacka among them – that share a distinctive look and feel: red wooden huts, pink granite boulders, deep blue sea.

Up near the border, you can catch a ferry to the car-free Koster Islands, which lie at the heart of Kosterhavet, Sweden’s only national marine park. I joined a kayak tour of the archipelago at dusk, which is a magical time of day to explore the tiny islets and secret bays uninterrupted by a single sound apart from your paddle entering the silky, clear water and the occasional sea bird flying home to roost.

Traded a rocking chair

To mark the new edition of The Travel Book – our epic journey through every country on earth – Lonely Planet talked to Debbie Campbell, half of the blogging couple known as the Senior Nomads. Nearly four years ago, Debbie and her husband Michael left their home in the USA for one last great adventure before retirement, and they’ve been travelling ever since.

We caught up with Debbie in Georgia – the 54th country of the Campbells’ never-ending tour – to talk about how it began, where it might lead, and what they’ve learned along the way.

How did this odyssey begin?

Our daughter Mary lives in Paris with her French husband and our three youngest grandchildren. When they were visiting us in Seattleover Christmas almost four years ago, the subject of our retirement came up. We weren’t sure what the next few years would be like, but we knew we had ‘one more big adventure’ ahead of us before settling into our rocking chairs. We just weren’t sure what that might be.

Mary asked if we had ever heard of Airbnb? We had not. She suggested we think about stopping work earlier and travelling full-time, staying in Airbnbs. At first, we couldn’t imagine doing that – but just six months later we had sold most of our possessions, including our cars and our sailboat, rented our house and put what little was left in storage. We’ve been on the road ever since.

Our philosophy is: we are not on vacation – we are living our daily lives in other people’s homes, just as we would have if we’d retired in Seattle.

What do your family and friends think?

No one expected us to be gone this long, that’s for sure. It’s like we went on vacation and forgot to come back. We know our grown children are very proud of us. And in fact, our oldest son was so inspired that he and his wife quit their jobs and took their two young children out of school for a year making a lap around the world, also living in Airbnbs.

Do you have an end in mind?

We like to say we’ll keep doing this as long as we’re learning something new every day, having fun, staying close to our budget and we are still in love. So far, so good.

Aisle or window seat?

That is something non-negotiable. I always get the window seat.

Do you have any travel habits or rituals?

Well, we do have a few things that could qualify. On the days when we break camp and head to our next city, we sing Willie Nelson’s hit On the Road Again throughout what we call ‘Travel Day’.

Another would be keeping our daily journal up to date. Every evening, we recount the day’s activities and total our expenses. Then we tape the receipts in the book along with any ticket stubs or other reminders. We’ve filled over a dozen books so far and counting.

And we travel with our bed pillows – that way, anywhere we lay our heads is home.