above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog


Exploring Vienna the Best Way, by Bicycle!

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Arriving in Vienna was a shock after the calm and small town feel of Bratislava we have enjoyed the past few days. We were deposited right in the Museum District - which is a busy section of the city filled with massive and imposing historical buildings in all directions. Vienna has so much to see that we quickly decided trying to see some of its impressive architectural offerings on foot was not a good idea. We have been here several times on … [Read more...]

Long Weekend in Bratislava, Slovakia

Bentianna, a drink made from a 15th century recipe

I had arranged to meet my brother for a long weekend in Bratislava. He was on his way from Verona Italy where he lives and I was on my way from Kyrgyzstan where I had been trekking the past few weeks. We arrived at our floating Botel on the Danube River within 1 minute of each other. Talk about great timing! Ready to imbibe in some alcohol after a several week dry spell we immediately headed to the Grand Cru tasting bar, and ordered several … [Read more...]

A Speech on Travel in Almaty, Kazakhstan

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An acquaintance I met on Couch Surfing a few nights ago is a member of a local Toastmaster's club here in Almaty. A day ago she informed me that she would like me to be the guest speaker at their upcoming bi monthly meeting which draws both students and expats. Toastmasters started in Santa Ana California as one small club in 1924 and now has local chapters in over 120 countries often with multiple meetups/groups in the same city. Their focus … [Read more...]

Dreaming of Iceland

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Iceland has long been on my list of countries to visit. I fly over this rugged looking country several times a year on my way to Europe - I glance down about mid flight depending on the time of year and gaze down upon its snow covered landscape. At other times I see rugged geography, a landscape devoid of people and large portions covered by glaciers. A friend who has family living there visits every once in a while and returns with stories of … [Read more...]

The Arasan Baths, Almaty – Kazakhstan

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Always looking to find a local experience while on the road I hopped in the car with Isa, a likeable individual who has opened his home for me to stay during my time in Almaty. He is an ex military man who is now a boxing trainer. He definitely has the build and look of a boxer. During the ride over the theme song from the Titanic movie came on the radio and he started singing along. Almaty is a huge town - spread out for some distance. There … [Read more...]

Arriving in Almaty, Kazakhstan

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I left Chopan Alta, Kyrgyzstan at 8am this morning and arrived in Almaty, Kazakhstan at nearly 6pm. If there wasn't a mountain range between these two points, a line of site drive would probably be a few hours at most - but the route around these mountains through the main border crossing is much longer. Kazakhstan recently opened the border as visa free for citizens of the USA as well as select other countries on a trial basis and supposedly … [Read more...]

The Realities of Adventure Travel Sometimes

Horses on road up to Arashan

I finally arrived in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan on the Eastern edges of Issyk-Kul Lake - ready to head up into the mountains that are always in view from wherever you are in this town. In late summer this town is extremely dusty - washing socks and shorts in a sink left the water brown again and again many times. This town looks like it has seen better days - most of the roads are dirt with lots of rocks and a number of the streets are torn up for … [Read more...]

End of Tian Shan Mountains Trek & Drunks in Minibus

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Upon cresting a Tian Shan Mountain pass at 3200 meters above Song Kul Lake we were treated with spectacular views of a valley far below and towering mountains in the distance. The scenery reminded me of parts of Southern California - especially around Bakersfield or around Death Valley. We hiked for several hours, ultimately reaching a small village in the valley. Looking back at the tall mountains it was impressive to see the great distance we … [Read more...]

Oh the “Yurt Mice”, Fermented Horse Milk, Travelers in Kyrgyzstan and Visa Woes

An oasis in a remote area - Yurts along the shoreline of Song-Kul Lake

It was brought to my attention that our latest yurt was infested with little mice running around the edges. I dutifully assumed the role of "mice whisperer" and tried to encourage them to leave our habitation. However this was to no avail, as these pesky little furry critters kept up their scuffling about all night. My spot in the yurt this evening was next to a 2 liter plastic soda bottle filled to the brim with some sort of berry jam that was … [Read more...]

Travel Massive October, Los Angeles

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The latest Los Angeles Travel Massive was held poolside at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills. I've been to the mega shopping complex, the Beverly Center across the street a number of times (one of Los Angeles's premium and very profitable shopping centers) but never actually visited Sofitel. Travel Massive Los Angeles is co-chaired by MaryAnn of JetSetExtra and Arnette of Round the World Girl. I've attended these meetups several times in town - … [Read more...]