Is It Safe To Travel Right Now?

The holidays are here. Thanksgiving was great. Christmas and New years is right around the corner. Everyone is getting ready to deal with the inlaws, eat way too much food, and watch a football game.

The question that’s been on everyone’s mind for awhile now, has been; ” Is it safe to travel? “. The conclusion that I came to was” Yes, it is”.

We are all scared right now because of Muslim extremist groups. Rightly so but, have our fears taken too much control over our lives? How bad is it affecting your holidays? I hear people talking about canceling their flights because of the attacks in Paris last week. This was the single deadliest terrorist attack in French history, that is true.

Up until now though France has been a safer country to live in than the US. In the 21 st century there have been under 50 deaths due to terrorist bombings or shootings in all of France. Excluding Both World Wars all of France has suffered under 160 deaths due to terrorist attacks in the 20th century. That’s not bad, because we are talking about 100 years.

A terrorist attack is;

The FBI uses this definition: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

It is no more dangerous now than it was in the 60’s. The difference is now we have a face to put with the danger. Radical Muslims!! When your enemy now has a face, he looks a lot more terrifying than before. A paranoia has set in on our country. The truth is, the world can be a dangerous place, with or without ISIS. Wherever you are or wherever you go, you will be at risk for something bad to happen.

Here are some statistics on Terror attacks in the US since 1970. These facts are from Wikipedia.

In the 70’s there were 16 attacks.

In the 80’s there were 3 attacks .

In the 90’s there were7 attacks .

In the 2000’s there were 31 attacks.

In the 2010’s there have been 15 attacks.

These #’s are misleading though. When we think of a terrorist attack we always think of something big, where the damage and casualties are staggering. That is not the case though. Look at the definition of terrorism above again. It says” the unlawful use of force to coerce in furtherance of political or social objectives.” It doesn’t say how big or how many are involved in the attack. The thing you should look for when reading about a terrorist attack is,,,, was it a mass murder or a single act of violence by one man in the name of his faith?

For instance here are some examples on Wikipedia’s list of terrorist attacks;

9/11 USA, New York, NY
Islamic hijackers steer two planes packed with fuel and passengers into the World Trade Center, killing hundreds on impact and eventually killing thousands when the towers collapsed. At least 200 are seriously injured.

3/19/2002 USA, Tucson, AZ
A 60-year-old man is gunned down by Muslim snipers on a golf course.

5/27/2002 USA, Denton, TX
Muslim snipers kill a man as he works in his yard.

7/4/2002 USA, Los Angeles, CA
Muslim man pulls out a gun at the counter of an Israeli airline and kills two people.

So you see terrorist attacks are defined the same but should not be categorized the same. On the whole list I saw only about 4 that can be defined as a mass murder. The others all were random acts of violence, basically “Hate Crimes”

Mass Murder defined;

Mass murder (sometimes interchangeable with “mass destruction”) is the act of murdering several or more people, typically simultaneously or over a relatively short period of time. The FBI defines mass murder as murdering three or more persons during an event with no “cooling-off period” between the murders.

Mass Shooting defined;

Mass shooting refers to an incident involving multiple victims of gun violence. Mass shootings can be a form of mass murder, which is commonly categorized as the murder of four or more people with no cooling off period.

The US statistics on the other hand are quite shocking. According to Wikipedia, there have been over 100 mass murders in the country since the 70’s. Interestingly enough it started with the Manson Family murderers in 1969. These are not religion related.

I hope I didn’t freak you out with all these facts. My point to all this is that we don’t have to feel like prisoners because of the threat of a terrorist attack.

We haven’t had a plane hijacked since 9-11. There have only been six planes ever hijacked in the US. So don’t be afraid to fly.

There have only been 4 railway attacks in the world since 2010. So don’t be afraid to take the train.

Your as safe now as you’ve ever been. I’ve got a better chance of getting hit by a bus than kicking the bucket in a terrorist attack.

Have a great Holiday season. Feel free to travel our country as you please.

This article was in no way meant disrespectful for those who have died or been affected in anyway from a terror attack. Nor am I in agreement with any terror group, middle eastern or not.

Best Wishes,

My name is Will Garrett. I am a Travel Agent in California. I love what I do and I’m always looking for more people to help. Whether that is to plan your ideal family vacation to the Caribbean for ten days, or a romantic couples retreat to Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I will also help you become a travel agent, so you can build a rewarding business for you and your family as well. I can help you discover your new Career. Being a travel agent is being a problem solver, a researcher,and a professional planner.

You get to study the beautiful and exotic place’s in our world. Find out everything you can about what they have to offer, then you get to help make someones dreams come true by planning out all the details and making all the arrangements.

Check me out on Facebook if you are interested in my services.

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Man Overboard

It is with some apprehension that I commence this article for I will surely get a right bollocking over my role in the events that follow but, I say, ‘publish and be damned’. If this story can save one life it will be worth any embarrassment to myself and will have served its purpose.

So, what happened on that fateful January day? Coffee at our favourite café (thank you Diva) and then the agonising decision how to fill in the rest of the day. Hadn’t been sailing over Christmas as none of us wanted to lose our precious anchoring spots this time of year. ‘Gone in 60 seconds’, as they say, however most of the real workers had gone home or elsewhere and just the old hardies and retirees were left, me included.

I suggested to my new neighbour Big John, we go for a sail and strangely, he said “yes, haven’t been for a while”. Great day, nice wind, not much swell outside, boat newly anti-fouled and clean as; let’s do it. A bit too casual, cock-a-hoop maybe, didn’t really think about preparation too much, we’d just go outside the seaway for 30 minutes and come straight back, simple. Didn’t need much of a briefing, he was a man of the sea with his own boat and (although not a sail boat) he had handled a sheet or two before. So the briefest of briefings; where the lifejackets were and the operation of the engine thrust lever.

Why bother with anything more, let’s go, I’m excited, breeze is up and pointing the right enough way so up with the main and out into the channel and pull on the furled genoa. There really are fewer pleasures for a sailor when you feel the power of the wind start to propel you through the water and in particular, a trimaran which while in her late 30’s, is as spritely as when she was first wet.

As a nod to correct protocol I called the Seaway Tower and after changing frequency supplied all relevant details. Out we went into the big blue with a sea state a bit steeper than I had factored on but nothing of concern today, just pure fun to be out under Queensland sun, the cool ocean breeze soothing my Christmas tortured soul. Then he said it! “You know if you fall off this I can’t sail it”? “Yes”, I said thinking how impertinent. Now normally, regardless of regulation to the contrary, I always have a self-inflating life jacket on and insist that all else on board wear one as well. It is a requirement in NSW seaways which I think QLD should also adopt. Wearing one through the Seaway you tend to leave them on as a matter of course. Today, I didn’t. Why? I can’t tell you!… Am I telegraphing this already?

So, there we were slipping along at 8 knots or so and before long about 2 nautical miles off. “We’re going to lose that” John said, indicating the fender rolling around on the port trampoline, with some water coming through the Pirelli mesh, due to the sea state. After a small cognitive groan I stepped out on said trampoline to retrieve it and safely deposited the offending item in the cockpit.

Now here’s where it gets a little bit hazy but I remember that a bit of bucking, pitching and lurching went on under my feet which sat me unceremoniously on my bum. John was on the helm and said he heard quite a thud as I probably hit the rear crossbeam. All I remember after that was rolling quite gracefully backwards then being surrounded by salt water.

Hmm… while thinking to myself instantly that this is ‘not a good look’, I was confident that things would be OK. John would work it all out, get the boat turned around and come back to pick me up… Really?

Shortly after that, I had come to another conclusion, that it was a trimaran, doing at least 8 knots in a 2.5 metre sea with some waves white-capping, John was on his own, trying to stop the boat, get the engine started (did I show him that drill? NO) and as far as keeping an eye on yours truly, fat chance!

That is a big ask of any sailor and I wondered even if I myself would have been up to it knowing the boat as well as I do and I wasn’t happy with my response. I could see the boat had stopped and I could see my sail as it was way above the sea but I knew that John could not see me. I immediately removed my yellow shorts and began to wave them above my head as I tread water. Who was I kidding?

Surviving on the surface as possible shark bait…

Then it came to me that this could be a long haul and with no life jacket I should start conserving energy right now. I knew Big John would be superb on the radio after many years with our friends in the constabulary and obtaining a quite lofty rank, and he was. He made the appropriate calls to Seaway Tower and got a search and rescue underway. Somehow he traced the line to the furler and managed to get the genoa in; half the battle. He also managed to fire up the Lombardini diesel and, with the main still up, joined the search. At the 17 minute mark, he was joined by the Police in their 2 power cats; MV A L Greaves and MV D A Shean. VMR also attended and the search for yours truly was commenced.

Me, I was treating this a bit like a really hard day at the office and I knew that these good people would do a fantastic job, doing what they do, and it was my job for the day to still be on the surface when they found me. Was I kidding myself? It didn’t matter, I needed all the optimism I could muster. I NEEDED to be very pragmatic if I was going to make it and I forced myself to remain calm. I called in all my training as a pilot and remembered the adage dealing with crisis, ‘force yourself not to panic’. Easier said than done, but doable. I was also going to need all those meditation skills I had been taught and indeed had taught myself for some years as a counsellor.

Oh, and guilt; I had a very clear thought of, ‘if at all possible’? I would have to return in some way (spirit medium sprang to mind) to apologise to John for leaving him with such a hideous predicament, anticipating what he must have been now going through.

Did I think about sharks? Is the Pope a catholic? I did indeed very early in the piece take a look underneath me down into the black depths and decided that if I didn’t put that right out of my head it would do me in quicker than treading water! I had vaguely heard around the traps that the Mullet and Jewfish were running up the coast accompanied of course by many hungry B

Places to Visit in Switzerland

Switzerland otherwise called the ‘roof of the world’ is a land-locked country in central Europe. Bordering five countries: Austria, Germany, France, Italy and Lichtenstein, it is a true paradise. Known for its lakes, towns, fields, mountains, villages, cities, culture there is almost everything a tourist wants to find.

Top 5 Cities to Visit

Zurich
Largest city & financial center of Switzerland.
Cafés, traditional shops, famous art galleries & museums are in abundance.
You can take a strolling walk to enjoy Lake Zurich.
Train ride is available to Uetliberg Mountains that gives a panoramic view of the city & country side.

Geneva
Lies on western shore of Lake Geneva.
Snow-capped mountains cover the city (awesome view).
Walk; rent a bike or public transport, all at your convenience.
Top locations include farmed water fountain, Reformation Wall, Place Bourg du Four, St. Peter’s Cathedral & the birthplace of UN.

Lausanne
International Olympic Committee’s residence
A scenic city and inspirational destination for sports fans.
Do not miss the Olympic Museum & Lausanne cathedral.
It’s just 40 minutes from Geneva.

Bern
A medieval iconic city & official Switzerland capital.
Most famous for Zytglogge, an antique clock tower.
The old-world charm makes it a UNESCO world heritage site.
Has the longest shopping boardwalk in Europe.
Attractions: bear park, rose garden, fine arts museum, national history museum, Federal Palace, Cathedral of Bern, and Town Hall.

Basel
Located near River Rhine.
Industrial & pharmaceutical hub.
Highest number of museums, a culture-centric city.
Attractions: Zoo, toy museum, paper mill museum, Basel minster, Art museum, Rathaus & Marktplatz etc.
There are plenty of other locations that offer scenic beauty, adventure & fun in Switzerland. They are small yet lovely all year round. Some of them are –
Lucerne – a dense city in central Switzerland, you can visit Mt. Pilatus, lake Lucerne, Chapel Bridge, Mt. Rigi, transport museum etc.
Interlaken – popular as a tourist resort, it possesses three mountains- Eiger, Jungfrau & Monch. Camping activities are available at the nearest Bernese Oberland Alps.
Zermatt – the small town is famous for skiing & mountaineering due to Matterhorn Mountains. Walking is a favorite here as gasoline driven vehicles are not permitted.
Montreaux – located at the heart of Swiss Riviera, the town has an 11th-century castle “Chillon”, which has courtyards, tower, frescoes, dungeons, house weaponry, & furniture.
St. Moritz – an expensive & rich people’s hub, the city is a winter resort offering summer & winter sports.
Rhine Falls – the largest waterfall in Europe where you can see, feel & hear the pounding waters, visit castles & see the Rhine Falls basin.

Other Points of Interest
Switzerland Tourism also offers other locations that give you a true experience of leisure with their heart-warming appeal.
The Jungfrau region
Swiss national park, Zernez
Swiss Alps
Vineyards
Ticino region
Gotthard pass
Bernina & Glacier Express (trains)
Jungfraujoch (Europe’s top)
Ruinaulta
Some beautiful lakes in the country: Lake Thun, Maggiore, Constance, Como, Hallwil, Sils and Lake Lugano.
Some green, clean & perfect villages: Saas-Fee, Pontresina, Murren, Village Grindelwald, Appenzell, Wengen, Murten and Locarno.

Why You Should Travel Young

‘Do it while you are young, or you’ll regret it later.’ We all have heard this sentence at least once in our life and scratched our heads in surprise. Well, it might sound weird but actually a young body and a young mind has much more power than any other age’s person. It is said that a youngster has the potential of creating a new world and a treasure of things that are hard to be done by anybody else. Similarly, traveling and taking trips while one is young helps them in a lot of things. From personality to behavior, everything gets a makeover when you travel while being young. Here is the list of the reasons that justify the same strongly.

1. It helps you in making decisions about life: A young mind has all the energy and enthusiasm to think about various aspects of life but making decisions about life requires a strong and mature mindset. While you take a trip, you get to explore new places, people and discover many new vistas that eventually helps you in making opinions and decisions too.

2. You become Smarter: Traveling isn’t only about discovering new places, meeting different people, but it is also about making choices that matter and affect you directly or indirectly. It gives you the power of deciding between what is wrong and what is right, hence giving you a mindset with the help of which you eventually become smarter.

3. You become an interesting person: This is yet another positive aspect of taking a tour that makes you likeable among others. The places you explore and the people you meet influence you in one way or the other, thus you tend to understand their perspectives and give yourself a new personality which is interesting and different too. You can notice the change yourself after taking a trip.

4. You’ll grow culturally and socially: This particular point clearly signifies the importance of taking an excursion while being young. The more you travel, the more you will get exposure and the more you’ll grow. Making a move takes you to different cities, places and get to know various cultures that teaches you the values and importance of culture and social life.

5. You learn to manage your life: Now this is something we all need to do but if you are wondering how you can manage your life while going on an excursion, then here is the answer. No trip is easy, you have to face many challenges and take hardships to reach your destination, and similarly, life has many ups and downs that can be managed once you start exploring.

6. It changes your way of relating to the world: Everyone has a different vision and their own type of intelligence. The behavior and actions of a human being also vary to different situations and even places. You might act normal at your home but accept it you are different at various places and with different people too. So if you go on an expedition, you get to know more things and act accordingly.

7. Because you deserve it: Like totally! I don’t think that this requires a justification even. It’s your life and your time so live and enjoy as much as you can because nothing stays forever and time doesn’t stop for anyone. So, book a cheap flight soon and explore that place you’ve been planning from long.

It is not always good to procrastinate things so have as much fun as you can because you won’t be forever young.

An African Queen to Crown All

When on December 12, 2014 MV Mutambala, a ferry operating on Lake Tanganyika, sank in a storm there was little news coverage. The disaster claimed the lives of up to 150 passengers, mostly women and children. Strong winds and overloading are said to be the cause of the tragedy. It is not uncommon for ships operating on Lake Tanganyika to sink, usually for the same reasons.

This great lake of Africa allows us a peek into a world far apart from the mournful world we live in today. In this remote interior of the Dark Continent is still to be found evidence of German innovation, cutting-edge technology and benign colonialism. Operating on the lake today is a ship that really does appear to be unsinkable. What a remarkable history this vessel has. The 1,600 ton MV Graf von Goetzen was built in Germany in 1913 but not in a conventional way. The shipbuilders, Meyer Werft built the Graf von Goetzen in thousands of separate parts.

After assembling it to make sure all was as it should be the MV Graf von Goetzen was disassembled and its parts packed in 5,000 crates. These containers were shipped to East Africa, then a German Protectorate. Germany’s economy in 1913 was on a high as were German spirits. That year, the Kaiser’s daughter Viktoria Luise, was to marry a commoner. Like millions of fellow Europeans many thousands of Germans emigrated to Germany’s overseas colonies and protectorates.

On reaching the East African port of Dar es Salaam the thousands of crates, each containing parts of the 234 feet ferry-liner, were unloaded. The containers were then shipped across the jungle savannah to Kigoma, a small lakeside town an incredible 1,300 kilometres distant. Soon afterwards, teams of German master fitters and shipbuilders arrived and set about rebuilding the liner on the shores of the great lake. Lake Tanganyika, the second largest lake in the world and named after the Deutsch-Ostafrika protectorate, borders four countries. The length of England it is an average 50 kilometres in width.

There was little or none of the plunder and bloodletting suffered by the colonies of other European nations. James Conrad, the great Polish-English novelist, was scathing about cruelties practiced in the Belgian Congo. “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it.’

Such bliss was not set to last. In 1917, three years after the outbreak of the Great War, British troops advanced on Lake Tanganyika. To prevent the ship from falling into British hands this fine vessel was scuttled and it appeared to have met its Waterloo at the bottom of this fantastic lake. The town’s German captives were taken into captivity and were to remain in British concentration camps until 1920 two years after the war’s end.

Later raised to the surface, the Graf von Goetzen, now named Liemba, was returned to service. In 1951, it became internationally famous. The Liemba is the gunboat, Luisa, in the movie, African Queen. The stars were Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Today, this proud liner still carries passengers from township to township, delivering produce to markets, and offering a vital supply linkage to the four Central African republics.

It was disheartening to learn of the recent sinking of the Mutambala with such terrible loss of life. Somehow, I am relieved to know that the ship involved was not the Graf von Goetzen. When this incredible feat of German engineering goes keel up may it do so with honors.

Historic Lamu Town Mombasa – Kenya

The island of Lamu is one of the most popular destinations of Kenya and is known for its calm and peaceful environment. The island has been a trading port for centuries and is now a certified tourist attraction. Located just northeast of Mombasa, Lamu’s main town, which shares the island’s name, is the oldest living town in East Africa and thus, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Because of Lamu’s narrow streets and compact layout, riding a bicycle or donkey is the most practical and fun way of exploring the town. Walking around Lamu’s old settlement, whose history goes all the way back to the 12th century, is like walking into the past. You will see narrow streets with labyrinth-like layout, where donkeys still dominate the scene, and you will appreciate structural masterpieces that are inspired by Arab, Indian and European architecture. And yet, Lamu Old Town exudes that distinct Swahili design with its charming courtyards, rooftop patios, and coral stone buildings.

The Lamu Museum is one of the main attractions in town. Visiting the museum offers a great insight to the Swahili culture and to the region’s marine history. Head out to the Lamu Fort for another date with history. This two-story World Heritage Site was built in the early 10th century and features exquisite Swahili architecture. These days, the fort assumes the role of a public library and environmental museum.

After immersing yourself with the past, it is worthwhile to spend time with adorable and hardworking creatures in the Donkey Sanctuary. This facility was built with the intention to take care and maintain the donkey population in Lamu as they are the only means of transport on an island that has barely any motorized transport.

Lamu is a Muslim populated town, and visiting here promises to be a rich cultural experience, especially when most inhabitants still wear traditional attire. A strong representative of the religious culture reigning in Lamu is the Riyadha Mosque, which is the centerpiece of the annual Maulidi Festival, held to celebrate the birth of Prophet Mohammed.

Another great festival you may want to experience in town is the Lamu Cultural Festival. It is a four day celebration held every November and highlights grand artistic exhibits and cultural events. People in Lamu are known for their warmth and friendliness and many locals can converse in English. So don’t be afraid to engage them in conversations especially when you are in a traditional café trying out an authentic Arabian coffee.

The best way to reach Lamu Town is by air. There are regular direct flights coming from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and the Moi International Airport in Mombasa. Once you land at the airport on Lamu Island, you will need to take a short boat or ferry ride to the opposite side where the town is situated. An alternative albeit less convenient option is to take a bus or hire a car to drive to Lamu from Mombasa.

Finding accommodation is not an issue in this African town as there is a range of lodging options. Beach hotels are quite popular but guesthouses are available for the budget conscious. Lamu also has a growing luxury accommodation industry.