Today, I turned 37. I only really know one thing.

Nature BoyThere was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy.
They say he wandered very far,
Very far, over land and sea.

A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he.

And then one day,
A magic day, he passed my way.
And while we spoke of many things,
Fools and kings,
This he said to me:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.”


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Vintage Travel Posters: Fly Folks’ 43rd Anniversary Edition

Forty-three years ago today, my parents got married. As high school teachers, they had to wait until summer break before jetting off for the honeymoon, and some kind of way, they heard that it was better in the Bahamas. Well, that’s debatable, but my parents seemed to have enjoyed it (I’m not 43, by the way…or maybe I am and just look damn good for my age ;-)). Personal logistics aside, many of the world’s airlines sold fantasies of post-nuptial holidays to eager newlyweds back in 1970, and I unearthed a few of the contemporary travel posters used in trafficking exotic destinations to would-be travelers in bell-bottomed trousers.

Eastern Airlines travel poster 1970

Royal Air Maroc travel poster 1970

National Airlines travel poster 1970

Pan Am travel poster 1970

TWA travel poster 1970

El Al airline poster 1970

Braniff travel poster 1970

United airline poster 1970

BOAC travel poster 1970

Mexicana travel poster 1970

Japan Air Lines travel poster 1970

BONUS: The #1 radio hit on April 29, 1970? That’s easy:


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A Christmas Story –or– Eine Kleine Weihnachtsgeschichte

A Christmas StorySometimes, you just can’t flout rules, even with an eagle on your passport. As tourists or businessfolk, we star-spangled Americans are allowed to spend up to 90 days in any given six-month period in most of Europe without having to actually visit a country’s consulate and applying for a visa. And as a star-spangled American, I simply took for granted that I could come and go as I pleased, the consummate jetsetter, throwing diplomatic caution to the wind and never paying attention to the 90-day rule on any of my previous visits. Well, as of December 22, 2012, I had hit Day 90, having entered and left the European Union six times since July. I had only discovered this grievous transgression on December 21st.

Now, I, Fly Brother, should have known better. I’ve lived in four countries outside of the States and have snagged more than a few visas with little more than a Coke and a smile for the consular official, so I’m usually up on my visa game. But we’re talking about Europe, here; specifically, Germany. I mean, we spanked Germany in 1945. Badly. By rights, I should have the run of the place, nahmean?!

Remember dat?

Remember dat?

Well, I’m in the process of applying for a PhD program in Germany (fingers crossed), and the Germans are actually pretty good about letting foreigners (well, Americans, at least) apply for work and student visas while on German soil. Catch is, you have to register with the municipal government in the city you’re living in before your 90 days are up. In order to register, you have to provide a lease agreement or some other proof that you’re indeed living in Germany, and in my case, I was going to register as the roommate of a German friend I live with.

Well, when I went to register with the municipal government, I found out that said friend never registered with the municipal government. In fact, he’d moved from his hometown, two hours away from Berlin, ten years ago and never filled out the simple single-page document stating his new address in the German capital. So in order for me to register, we’d have to wait for the landlord to send a letter stating that said friend still resides in the same apartment. Two weeks later, no letter. Landlord’s office said they’d send another one, but it wouldn’t arrive before Christmas. That’s when I get the idea that maybe I should check to make sure I’m not spending a little too much time in Germany. This was December 21st, Day 89.

Well, I had to get the hell outta Dodge. Immejitly. Germany is known as being a stickler for rules and regulations (me, not so much), but I didn’t want to jeopardize any future chances of obtaining a work or student visa in Europe—remember, we’re talking almost the entire EU here, not just Germany—so I went online and found a 600-euro one-way ticket from Berlin home to Florida, including a transatlantic crossing on—ta-daa—the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380! For an airline geek like me, it can’t get much better than this: flying on the world’s largest passenger airplane operated by arguably the best airline in the world.

Singapore Airlines A380 NYC

Well, my elation was short-lived, however, when I realized that a) I didn’t really have 600 euro earmarked for last-minute plane tickets, b) I had, oh, about 12 hours to pack for a trip with an undefined return date, c) I would conceivably have to remain out of Germany for another 90 days minimum, and d) all the plans that I’d made, including Christmas and New Year’s parties, work projects, German lessons, social activities, errthing, had to be postponed indefinitely or canceled. Yes, I’d get to spend Christmas with my family (always a good thing, even though I’d just seen them at Thanksgiving), and I could send off my PhD application and apply for the student visa from the States, but damn if this wasn’t an expensive way to take an unscheduled break from the limb-numbing central European winter.

Pretty. Cold.

Pretty. Cold.

Well, on Day 91, I embarked on my six-airport, five-leg, three-airline itinerary (the type you get when you snag a “cheap” last-minute deal): Berlin to Munich to Frankfurt on Lufthansa, Frankfurt to New York on Singapore (the route goes JFK>FRA>SIN and back), and New York to Washington to Jacksonville on US Airways.

BERJAX

The saving grace was that borderline-luxurious flight on Singapore, which included two full meals in economy, plus between-meal snacks, served up by an attentive, courteous flight crew. To top it off, I caught four great films I’d either been meaning to see for a while, or figured, “why the hell not?”: Frankenweenie (Tim Burton!), Oslo, August 31st (poignant and evocative), ParaNorman (EXCELLENT soundtrack), and Vertigo (one of the few Hitchcock opuses I hadn’t seen).

Kim Novak emoting on the A380

Kim Novak emoting on the A380

And though I’m still unsure when exactly I’ll be returning to Germany, I did make it home in time to catch the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon on TBS. All is right with the world.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

Readers…Tell Me What You Think!

Image by PaulSh

Hello, my good people. I’m moving into another stage of growth and development with the site and I’d like to make sure that I’m moving in a direction that is of most use to you, my readers. Therefore, I’ve devised a very quick survey just to get an idea about how I can best encourage, inspire, and enlighten you to travel. So, please do me this quick solid and many, many thanks for reading!

-Fly Brother

***** Click here to take the survey! *****

Packing a Lot of Crap into Two Small Bags: A Photographic Essay

Back in 2009, I took a three-month round-the-world trip to a planned five continents, and with the help of Fly Mother and some Zip-Lock bags, I was able to squeeze an adequate amount of clean underwear and other necessities into two very light-weight carry-ons. Observe:

That would be: One dress shirt and a pair of khakis, some jeans, 6 pair of draws, four pair of socks, 3 white tees, swim trunks, gym shorts, four short-sleeve t-shirts, two long-sleeve tees, and a pair of size-13 loafers.











Ta-Da!

Gracias, Mamita!

Please tweet your comments @FlyBrother, or email me (see About page). And don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook!

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I’m participating in Vai Via’s 15 Day International Travel Challenge, but doubling-up, as I’m not a daily blog poster. So…

Day 06 – What does “home” mean to you?
Of course “home” will mean wherever my family is, but I consider my circle of good friends as family as well, so there’s no geographic limit to “home” for me anymore. There’s also the feeling of belonging to a place, of walking down the street and being claimed by that place. For the moment, that place is São Paulo.

Day 07 – Besides people, what did/do you miss from home?
Barbecues, driving through cities at dusk with the perfect music for each place, cheap domestic airfares, cheap everything.

Day 08 – A favorite food from another country/culture
Mangú (mashed plantains) from the Dominican Republic. Yum! And a nice, flavorful chai from India (though they sell that at Starbucks here).

The Greatest Freakshow on Earth

Image source: Folha de S.Paulo

New York might have the “Naked” Cowboy and Tokyo might have outlandish Harajuku street fashion, but São Paulo’s where you’ll see 40 skateboard punks commandeer a city street and a truly-naked homeless man walking down the street swinging low amidst the skateboarders. Then, seeing people coaxing the man into his clothes without the slightest tinge of judgment, as if this manner of streaking were a common occurrence.

Two streets over from my house is the world’s highest concentration of transsexual prostitutes in existence, where a truly woman-like person in fishnets and stilettos shivers on the street corner, every now and then letting out a heavy cough from a man-sized esophagus, not unlike the sound of a construction worker choking on asbestos. The humor is in how many passing cab drivers actually slow down as they pass her/him in order to get a better look. The other day, I saw an addict (heroin?) stumble in front of a moving moving van that, fortunately, squealed to a halt as dude bounced Meet Joe Black-style into the street before slurring angrily in unintelligible Portuguese at the driver, at the same moment a couple of cops were harassing two more homeless addicts in broad daylight, one of whom stood defiantly against the wall looking like a mix of Minnie Pearl and the light-skinned half of Kris Kross in a “What the hell y’all want, pigs?” pose. Oh, the hilarity.

Elsewhere in Cracolândia (yes, that’s what it’s called), things took a New Jack City-ish turn last week when an exec in suit-and-tie got caught on camera chupando the glassy phallus (see photo above) while the police do nothing, and just a few blocks away, the March for Jesus rallied thousands of evangelicals in “take our city back” mode yesterday.

This Sunday: the world’s biggest gay pride parade, according to the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records, with an estimated 3 million gays, lesbians, transgenders, bisexuals, and non-homophobic straight folk trying to pack onto Avenida Paulista, screaming what they think are the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” At 1:30, there’s an extra-special city-sponsored flash mob Waltz for Diversity, where you’re supposed to grab whoever’s next to you and twinkle-toe to the strains of “The Blue Danube.”

That might be kinda fun, actually. See, you gotta be freaky to live here.

Please tweet your comments @FlyBrother, or email me (see About page). And don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook!

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I’m participating in Vai Via’s 15 Day International Travel Challenge, but doubling-up, as I’m not a daily blog poster. So…

Day 4 – a picture of me in another country:

Istanbul, September 2009

Day 5 – what I take with me while traveling: my iPod, clean underwear, the latest Monocle magazine, the laptop, an open mind. ;-)

The Non-Conformist Traveler

Would you dare dream of visiting every country in the world? Would you dare try?

One of my biggest inspirations when it comes to international travel is Chris Guillebeau, a young entrepreneur who has made it his personal ambition to travel to every one of the Earth’s countries by his 35th birthday. He’s made it to 151 so far, with 41 to go before his deadline on April 7, 2013.

I’ve mentioned Guillebeau on this site before, as author of the blog and book, The Art of Non-Conformity, and inspiration to definitely a few thousand people who want to live outside the box. He’s written ebooks on travel hacking (i.e. finding ways to travel comfortably and frequently for very little money), making money from art, and starting your own micro-business; most recently, he organized a meeting of about 500 free thinkers already engaged in non-conformity. But it’s his relatively simple goal of touching down at least once in every nation that resonates with me as a sufferer of acute vagabond neurosis and an overall travel crackhead (meaning, I’ve spent rent money on a plane ticket in the past).

Already a self-employed world traveler, crucially armed with a credit score that many of us could only dream of, Guillebeau decided to go for the gold back in 2006. He explains on his site how a combination of savings, frugal living, and airline points earned by credit cards net him dirt-cheap airfares and keep him on the go. Granted, most of us will never have the resources in sufficient alignment to hit every country on the planet, but there’s nothing to keep us from trying; it’s all about priorities.

And it’s not even about going to every country or doing something because someone else is doing it. It’s about reaching a personal goal and feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes with attaining that goal.

So rummage through The Art of Non-Conformity and get started on your own personal greatness. Or try to beat him at his own game – you’ve still got 22 months!

Please tweet your comments @FlyBrother, or email me (see About page).

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I’m participating in Vai Via’s 15 Day International Travel Challenge and yesterday’s challenge was about where I’d like to travel next. Angola tops my list for sometime within the next 12 months, followed by Mozambique and Australia, but there are hundreds of other places that I still need (and want) to get to.

Today’s challenge is, literally, an adventure or challenge while traveling. As most of my trips have been citified, most of my adventures have as well. Navigating traffic in Cairo as a pedestrian is one of the most harrowing experiences that I can remember, while almost being caught in an altercation between the police and a gang in Caracas is another one for the books. Physically-challenging experiences just aren’t that appealing to me; while I like exercise, I’m not keen on mountaineering or other feats of nature that endanger life or limb, LOL.