Category: Advice

A Short Film To Inspire You To: Travel More

I hope this short film I made encourages you to do just as the title says, Travel More. Pass it along to all the people in your life you want to take a trip with or anyone who might need a little encouragement to start their next adventure.

How To Visit The Game Of Thrones Filming Locations In Southern Spain

Much of Game of Thrones is filmed in Spain, even places you might assume were shot in Ireland like Dragonstone, can be found across the country. Although the Baratheon stronghold is in the north (of Spain) there are many easily accessible filming locations in Andalusia.

Whether or not you’re a Game of Thrones fan, these filming locations in and around the popular southern cities of Seville, Cordoba, and Granada are well worth seeing on their own – dragons or not. You can watch how to get to these sites in the video above or read on.

Starting Point

Those of you who are in or planning a trip to Seville, Cordoba, or Granada have several good choices for Game of Thrones (GoT) sites to visit. Keep in mind if you’re going to be in Granada, your best bet is two separate day trips toward Seville or Cordoba. Seville is roughly a 2 hour 45 minute drive and Cordoba about 20 minutes closer to Granada.

real alcazar de seville

Go For The Closest

In Seville, there’s  the Real de Alcazar where parts of Dorne were filmed. The palace is a major tourist attraction in the city and its gardens are well known to GoT fans. (The show’s first choice was the Alhambra but those plans fell through.) Be sure to get your tickets online otherwise you’ll be waiting up to 30 minutes or more to enter.

real de alcazar seville dorne

Since we’re already in Seville – a 15 minute drive just outside the city is the 2,000+ year old Roman Italica Amphitheatre Jon Snow would recognize as Dragonpit of King’s Landing. Further out, roughly an hour from Seville or 90 minutes from Cordoba or Granada, is the Osuna bullring. It’s no longer used for bullfighting but rather to attract tourists to this small town. The Plaza de Toros bullring isn’t open everyday so be sure to check the schedule before driving there.

Being Picky

In case you don’t have a lot of time and want to be selective of where you go, I would recommend setting aside a day and visiting Highgarden, er, Castillo de Almodovar del Rio, outside of Cordoba. It has to be one of the most picturesque places I’ve seen personally, beautifully perched on the top of a large hill overlooking the town below.

almodovar del rio

It doesn’t get a lot of tourists but what’s especially endearing is Almodovar know why you’re at the castle so to help you navigate, they’ve put up handy photos showing you what GoT scenes were filmed where.

castillo de almodovar balcony thrones

Castillo de Almodovar del Rio is one of those places many would miss but you’ll be glad GoT brought you to this Moorish castle from the 8th century.

Tips On Getting Around

In theory you could do this all in one very, long day. Rather, I’d recommend splitting these up into two day trips, depending on which city you’re staying in. (Let me also add the Roman Bridge in Cordoba, the entrance to Volantis in GoT.) Rent a car, roughly 25-40 Euro per day, and you can save a lot of time on buses to get to all of these places. Renting a car also gives you the flexibility to move at your own schedule, plus pull over to catch some spectacular views along the way.

Why You Should Visit Granada, Spain

Granada is the only place to ever be voted by you, twice (and in a row), the Best City to Visit. With the 2019 contest nominations coming up in February (here’s where to enter your city), I wanted to show you all the intangible reasons Granada, Spain has deserved the top spot for the past two years. For many travelers, Granada tends to be a day trip from nearby Seville or Cordoba, but as you’ll see in video above, that’s how they miss the best parts of southern Spain.

How The U.S. Government Shutdown Affects Traveling Americans And Visitors From Abroad

washington dc

The United States Federal Government has been partially closed since December 22nd, indefinitely, until the Congress with the president’s approval can pass a budget to allocate funds for several major agencies. Since government shutdowns like the one in Washington DC are exceedingly rare elsewhere in the developed world, the procedures and cutbacks pertaining to services, travel or otherwise can be unclear.

Many are ad-hoc to an extent; based in part on how long the showshutdown will last. For those of you planning a trip to, from, or within of the United States, here’s what you need to know.

A Brief Breakdown – What Is A Shutdown?

Since 1884 The Antideficiency Act prevents the federal government of the United States from spending money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. The current government shutdown is a partial one, affecting roughly a quarter of the U.S. government.

Why The Shutdown Happened –Congress and the president cannot agree over the allocation of funds, in particular, regarding a border wall with Mexico. As The Balance explains,

The Constitution gives Congress the power over the federal budget. Article 1, Section 9, states, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequences of Appropriations made by Law.”

The president’s role is to submit a budget proposal to Congress. He asks all federal agencies to submit their budget requests to him. The Office of Management and Budget compiles these requests. The president submits this budget to Congress. Congress usually follows this budget as a guideline to create its own budget resolution. That is used to create the appropriations bill. These bills allocate funds for different categories of government agencies. 

Approximately 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed (temporary unpaid leave) until a budget is passed. Only those employees deemed “essential” are still on the job. For example, only 3% of NASA employees are at work right now but not getting paid. The Transportation Security Administration is also affected; meaning although staff are at work, they will not be paid until a federal budget is passed. No money, no funny, no government.

How Long Will The Shutdown Last?

The biggest question at the moment is: when will this shutdown end? President Donald Trump has said it could go on for years but that seems highly unlikely. Already hundreds of TSA employees are calling out sick as there’s no paycheck in sight. Since the federal government shutdown 3 times in 2018, other disruptions likely, so this is what travelers need to keep in mind.

Travel Visas To The U.S. – No Change (Theoretically)

The State Department remains operational, meaning services such as visa applications that are funded through fees should continue to be processed at relatively normal time frames. However, during the one shutdown in 1996, nearly 30,000 applications went unprocessed per day.

new york new york

Travel Visas From The U.S. – No Change

Since visas applications for other countries are handled by the consular services of those governments, your tourist visas won’t be delayed or disrupted due to the U.S. shutdown.

new delhi airport

Passport Services For U.S. Citizens – It Depends

Although the State Department is processing new passports, renewals, and page additions as normal, several of their passport offices are located within government buildings currently closed due to the shutdown. If your passport is in one of them, it won’t be processed until the shutdown ends.

U.S. National Parks – All Closed

Including the Grand Canyon, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Virgin Islands National Park in the Caribbean. Here’s a Wikipedia page with the full list of now-closed national parks.

Smithsonian Museums And National Zoo – Closed

In Washington DC, Smithsonian Museums, plus the National Zoo, are closed during the shutdown as well as the American Indian Museum Heye Center and Cooper Hewitt in New York City. A shame, because both the National Air and Space Museum in the city and right outside, remain some of my favorite in the world.

U.S. National Forests – Partially Closed

It’s not practically possible to close all National Forests, which total 769,000 square kilometers (297,000 square miles) so rather, all campgrounds and offices must remain empty. National park rangers and security will still be working though, these are the services currently running.

dharamsala india forest

Monuments, Capitol, White House Tours – Closed And Canceled Until Further Notice

Most of these US National Monuments are affected but their websites aren’t being updated during the shutdown. Here’s a list of DC monument statuses, the Statue of Liberty is open, but you’ll need to do some Internet searching to get details for most sites. Tours of the US Capitol Building, one of 5 popular tourist destinations that won’t disappoint you, are also on hiatus during the shutdown. State monuments and government buildings like the Texas Capitol Building in Austin are open however.

Will The Airlines Refund Me If My Travel Plans Are Ruined?

Having contacted a number of major airlines, most will not provide a refund or voucher even if you can prove your trip to a destination (e.g. National Park) is directly affected by the shutdown. (U.S.-based carriers seemed more sympathetic to such concerns; if you’re a furloughed employee, be sure to mention that as well.) You may though have trip insurance through the credit card you used to purchase airfare; otherwise check with your insurance provider – you may also have opted for trip protection through (e.g. Expedia), be sure to double-check that as well.

This latest government shutdown has been one of the longest in U.S. history. It seems, given the trends from the last year, more shutdowns are probable so it’s best to get travel insurance prior to a trip to or within the United States if you’re planning to see federally-funded sites. Or, if you aren’t feeling particularly impatient, make plans to visit these places with fully functioning governments.

This is an updated version of a post originally written in 2013.

Save Money On Utah’s Mountains By Visiting In Summer

alta mountains

Right now it’s a frosty few degrees below freezing, with light snow in Alta, Utah, an idyllic place to ski, but such popularity on this very expensive real estate comes at a price. Starting at over $500 a night during the cold months on average, come summer, hotel prices drop to well under a hundred dollars in what’s some of the best hiking territory in the Rocky Mountains.

Road Trip It

The first time I visited Alta was by happenstance during a road trip I took when Ford gave me a car. Wandering up into the mountains after visiting the “Up” house (long story) before the next day’s drive, I came across Alta Lodge. Inside was mostly empty in the cozy ski lodge posing as a summer hotel. The regular rate for a four-person suite was $99 a night which they gladly reduced even further with a bit of gentle negotiation.

alta lodge utah

The hiking is incredible and these views you’ll have pretty much all to yourself, are genuinely special.

alta utah lodge

Salt Lake From Above

Those of you visiting nearby Salt Lake City on a road trip adventure of your own should considering adding Alta as one of your stops.

alta utah skiing

Off-season prices are less than a quarter of ski season with some of the most accessible hikes of all levels in this part of the United States.

alta utah

Aside from an excuse to post these pictures, I write this because Alta is so simple that without the skiing, it’s not a destination you’ll find much about during the greener months.

best photos alta utah

For many people who love the outdoors though, Alta is a unique spot neglected by large groups of people – much like Iceland in winter.

Keep Your Feet Off The Car Dashboard To Avoid Gruesome Airbag Injuries

dashboard airbag

It’s a fairly common sight, particularly on highways to see someone in the passenger seat of a car have their feet up on the dashboard. Few worry about the consequences of being involved in one of the 3,400 car accidents that happen daily, but it’s actually the device designed to keep you safe that can (literally) destroy your legs.

Here’s why you should never put your feet up on the car’s dashboard, if you’re not entirely convinced already.

Airbags Faster Than You

Car airbags are designed to deploy in accidents as slow as 12kph (8mph) into a solid barrier. The average car airbag inflates completely within 1/20th of a second, about twice the speed of an average eye blink. An airbag needs to get in place (and even begin partially deflating) before your head collides with the windshield or dashboard. Airbags are faster than a human blinks, let alone physical reactions.

So it’s impossible to move your legs out of the way in time during an accident.

romania car drone

Achieving these speeds requires a lot of force (roughly 3.33×104 Newtons) – one good reason you should never put your phone or any other object over the airbag ever. When your airbag deploys it can turn an air freshener or your legs into a powerful projectile.

Knees Coming At You

Overestimating how fast you can react to move your legs out of the way is something many passengers do, as is underestimating what an airbag does to your legs. Numbers and Newtons are hard to grasp but the Mythbusters video below does a good job of showing you how bad things can look.

Part of the issue might be the name “air” bag. We tend to associate air with something soft. Bags are those fluffy things that hold our groceries but Audra Tatum’s story might change your mind on both counts.

Adding Injury To Injury

Make no mistake about it – when an airbag deploys if your legs are in the way they’ll be forcibly displaced. Some people have their faces damaged or eyes lost because your knees come hurdling back under the strong force of the airbag. Others, like Tatum, suffer severe compound leg breaks, as you can read below (or click on the link to see a photo which should be warning enough).

“The airbag went off, throwing my foot up and breaking my nose,” Tatum, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, told CBS. “I was looking at the bottom of my foot facing up at me.” Besides her nose, Tatum broke her ankle, femur and arm, telling CBS she still walks with a limp and can’t stand more than 4 hours at a time.

Another thing to note is airbags don’t always deploy due to a collision, millions are recalled each year due to malfunctions like activating when they’re not supposed to. I won’t bother telling you stories of people who had their legs out the window before an accident. Needless (I hope) now to say, don’t put your feet up on the car dashboard, they’re hardly as safe as planes, and rather let airbags do what they’re good at. For those of you who travel with pets, don’t let them hang out in the front seat or better yet, make sure they’re secured in a proper car harness in the back.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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