Miscellaneous

A blend of posts about this blog and various travel subjects

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2016 Year in Review

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Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

2016 is gone, for better or for worse, and it is at this point that I traditionally recap the Trip Accomplice blog’s contributions in the past year (again, for better or for worse). Here’s a breakdown of what was covered, just in case you weren’t paying attention.

Destinations

This year I was a little light on dedicated destination posts – covering 5 foreign countries (3 in South America and 2 in Asia) and 5 U.S. destinations.

South America

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Check your straight-edge at the door at Casapueblo

I suppose I was feeling nostalgic for South America with three posts based on my 2008 Antarctic cruise.

In Playful Patagonian Penguins: A Lesson in Chilean Alliteration, I had some grammatical fun recounting a trip to Seno Otway and its resident penguin colony in the remote city of Punta Arenas, Chile.

Speaking of remote, I combined an obscure Pink Floyd Song with an even more obscure travel destination in Echoes of Pink Floyd in the Falkland Islands which details what to see and do on a visit to the Falkland Islands. It also lays the basis for a unique soundtrack when doing so.

I also shared some tips for visiting a surreal Uruguayan locale in Straight Lines are Overrated in Punta del Este

Asia

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Nighttime on Lotus Lake, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

During nearly the entire month of November 2016 I was off exploring Southeast Asia with my wife and parents. Despite a wealth of new material to cover, I only got around to two of the many destinations I visited.

In Kaohsiung, Taiwan – The Nicest Little City You’ve Never Heard Of I provided practical advice for visiting this interesting ‘little’ city in Southern Taiwan.

I also shared a review of a great hotel for a relaxing stay in Bali, Indonesia in the appropriately-titled post  Hotel Review: The Samata, Bali.

You can be sure I’ll get around to some of the other spots in the months ahead.

U.S. Destinations

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Come for the sand. Stay for the sunsets.

Within the United States I shared the beauty of the Gulf Coast in the post Brazos Bend: Stars Above, Gators Below for a look at this lovely wetland landscape.

I also provided detailed information on visiting two of New Mexico’s greatest attractions in the posts Elevator Appreciation at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands: Sun, Sand &…Sledding?

Lastly, I really enjoyed reflecting on a return to my childhood stomping grounds in A Travel Snob Returns to Disney World where I shared my thoughts on Disney’s progress versus preservation.

Top Tens and Other Lists

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Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles

The beginning of the year saw me attempting to summarize some of my favorite places in the ever-popular ‘Top Ten’ list format with My Top Ten Beaches, And Why They Should Be Yours and My Top Ten List of World Monuments (Who Said Anything About Dying?)

I also went the list route with Safety Tips for the Skittish Traveler – a rundown of simple precautions to make sure your trip stays all about having fun, along with An Apology to the 14 Countries I’ve Visited More Than Once Without Doing Them Justice which highlights the sad fact that it’s nearly impossbile to see everything a destination has to offer on one (or even multiple) trips. Just as a side note, I now have to update that number from 14 to 17.

Pet Projects

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2016 also saw me widening out my repertoire to include some pet projects. I shared my passion for travel art and showcased some of my work in Putting the ‘Art’ into the Art of Travel. And I also announced my travel-themed  public speaking business in the post I Am the Globechatter…. Both then and now, I invite you to check them out if you haven’t already done so, and share these posts with anyone you might know that would be interested in the services offered.

The Year Ahead

As mentioned before, I still have lots to share from my recent trip to Asia. Keep an eye out for more on Bali, both as a general review and site specific posts. My return to Singapore and Hong Kong will result in updated posts in the coming months, and I look forward to sharing my take on places in the Philippines and Borneo, Malaysia.

Other than that, I have nothing set in stone, as my own travel plans are wide open at this point. But as you well know by now, dear loyal readers, you can be sure of two things: 1) I’ll go somewhere, and 2) I’ll be sure to write about it.

Wishing everyone the best in the days, months and years ahead; I thank you for another year of being my travel companions.

Ben Pastore

 

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Putting the ‘Art’ into the Art of Travel

Travel is known to inspire many things: wanderlust, broader horizons, and sometimes even cases of good-natured envy. Among artistic types, the scenes and experiences had while traveling have often served as a muse – just ask Paul Gauguin, Ansel Adams and the people who’ve created those fascinating travel posters during the last century. Regarding the latter, I’ve always admired the style, artistry and design sense displayed in their productions. So it’s no surprise that when my internal need to create became too loud to ignore, I directed my efforts into a creative outlet that echoed the travelers who have gone before me, and put in visual form my own twist on those posters of the past.

How it started

For me, my inspiration came during a visit from my parents. My mother -artistic and talented in her own right – wanted to stop into a store called Hobby Lobby. Apparently this craft store is well-known beyond my native Long Island, but since moving to Texas I had never once stepped foot inside. For those of you in those same proverbial shoes, think of an enormous, Texas-sized craft store brimming with enough raw materials and finished goods to keep oneself occupied for the next few decades. All of sudden, my latent creative juices began to flow.

Some of the many items for sale are framed prints, which also include maps and vintage-style travel posters for various locales. Seeing these, I examined them and thought – as many wannabe artists are wont to do – “I can do that”. With my self-imposed challenge in place, I not only picked up some fresh art supplies in a nearby aisle, but also mused about how exactly I was going to reproduce something in that vintage style.

The first attempt

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My first attempt at a travel poster recreation was a map of southern Africa (see above) that detailed my travels in the region. Not only did I design the title to reflect fonts appropriate to the setting, but came up with the idea of several insets that were entirely based on my own photographs. I was quite pleased with the end result and this 30″x 40″ painting still generates conversation among my house guests.

Keeping it goingsouthamerposter

The problem with opening any creative jar is that once you get going, its hard to stop. There’s an inborn need to improve and expand one’s work. Or at least that’s my own take. It might be my mild case of OCD or eating Mexican food after 9PM, but once inspiration strikes me I find it difficult to tear my mind away from future projects.

So, with plenty of wall space still available, I embarked on another project; one that would not only include the same motif of a map with photo-inspired insets, but would now include graphic elements taken from the region. In this case, the toucan, orchids, Inca-syle stone lettering and jungle-like background were all inspired by my travels to the South American continent and are also meaningful to the client (namely, me).

A new line of work?

They say that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. I’d tend to agree with that, and I think we’d all agree that the pay is better than actually never working. After consulting with a friend who also happens to be an extremely talented professional artist (click here to see more on him) I decided to try my hand at making paintings on sale to the public. Here’s the first of my generic travel series. For the record, this one’s for sale. If you’re interested in the painting or a print, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

posterI’m also considering offering  custom paintings in this inset, vintage travel poster motif. Like anything else, I know I’ll have to get it in front of the right audience, but if you or someone you know would be interested in commissioning a custom painting using their family name and photos, I would welcome the chance to talk about a possible collaboration. My direct email is ben@tripaccomplice.com

Either way

Whether or not this custom travel poster recreation thing turns out to be a viable line of work or just another hobby, I can affirmatively vouch for the satisfaction derived from having a creative outlet and satisfying the artistic need to create. And whether its handicrafts, sketches, sculpture or interpretive dance, don’t forget to venture out into the big wide world for some inspiration. Oh, and you might want to pass by Hobby Lobby as well.

 

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Risk Addiction & Win A Free Book

You Can Keep Your Adventure bookSo just the other day I came across a geography game I was addicted to years ago (and am now once again). In short, you are given the name of a city or place of interest to be found on the accompanying map. These maps are not labeled, and being a rather small window, many of the small islands are hard to see, if they’re even visible. To score points, you must not only click the spot on the map where you think the location is, but must also do so in a limited stretch of time – with greater points for accuracy and speed.

Not only is this a fun test of your current geography skills, but a great way to improve on said skills as well. At times, instead of being given a city name, you’ll be given clues, which adds a whole other element of difficulty. If you wind up holding back a stream of uncomplimentary words while saying to yourself “That’s not fair! I’ve never even heard of that place!” take comfort in knowing you are not alone.

Now for the contest. So confident I am in my geographical prowess, that I am willing to send a FREE copy of my eBook You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper to anyone who can beat my Travel IQ record (which is listed once the game is over) of 138. Take a screenshot and send it to ben@tripaccomplice.com and I’ll send you a copy along with my great admiration.

And if you can’t beat it, take heart in knowing that at least you’re a little more geographically literate than before. Plus, unless you’re really cheap, you can still buy the book at your favorite online retailer.

Without further ado, the game:

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