Category Archives: Travel Outside of China

Visiting Venice: ATVO Bus Company – What a Great Experience!

ATVO Bus Company saves the day!

I had a very positive experience with the ATVO bus company in Italy / Treviso.  Last week, I arrived on a Ryanair flight from Sofia (Bulgaria) at Treviso.  Our objective was to get to Venice.  We had been traveling since 5:30am that day – first driving for 2.5 hours to the Sofia airport (from the mountains in Bulgaria) and then waiting and flying to Treviso. Perhaps the sequence of events that followed can be blamed partly on a lack of sleep, but personally, I think the blame lies primarily with the dangerous lure of the seat back pocket.

Italy  Venice

Once we boarded the bus (with luggage in the storage area of the bus) I had taken my laptop out of a backpack to make sure it did not get damaged.  For convenience, I had put it in the mesh pocket of the seat in front of me…..and somehow, I ended up leaving it there when we arrived in Venice and disembarked the bus. Note to self–never put anything in the seat back pocket that you don't want to lose!

It wasn't until the next morning that we discovered the laptop's absence, and needless to say, I was horrified!  We rushed to the hotel front desk to see if they could help us call the company and look for it.  The front desk could not reach anyone based on the phone numbers from ATVO's web site, but I eventually managed to find a number with a live person on the other end, and I passed the phone over to the front desk clerk, who subsequently relayed the information that we would need to call back later that day and see if anything found.

Too keyed up to simply wait until later, we decided to go to the main bus station in Venice and try our luck there.  Once we arrived, we spoke with an Italian clerk guy who really did not speak much English and who also told us to come back in the afternoon….at an undetermined time 🙂

Luckily, my wife found a number for the Treviso airport ATVO office where we had originally boarded the bus…and sadly the number was not correct.   But then the Venice clerk gave us a brochure that had a similar number but with one more zero – that worked!

Now came the very pleasant surprise. I called and spoke with 'Alicia', and shockingly, a laptop matching my description had been turned in!!!!  After several minutes of back and forth – mostly me trying to explain what a laptop was – Alicia, who was extremely helpful, concluded that this laptop was indeed mine and offered to send it to Venice on the next bus.   She was very eager to do so, and when I told her, "No I will come over to Treviso", she was somewhat surprised.  However, I just couldn't wait, so I jumped on the bus and an hour later I had my laptop in my hands…!

What an experience!   Once again, I must commend the ATVO Bus company, Alicia and the kind stranger who found and turned in the laptop to ATVO. There is so much negative news in the world that you sometimes forget the important fact that most people are kind and decent. This experience really brought that into focus for me.

Venice is a beautiful place – you can see it in my photo book available on Amazon.   But the people at ATVO made it even nicer.  Thank you!

 

Bulgaria Off the Beaten Track – Karanovo Thracian Tomb

Karanovo Thracian Tomb

Several years ago I went to this site when it was relatively new and even less known.  So this year, on our recent trip to Bulgaria, I decided to bring the family, especially given that my daughter had developed a relatively high interest in ancient Greece, and the ancient world overall…

Guess what !?!? – Bulgaria is full of antique places, ancient ruins are all over the country, and there are plenty of places to visit and experience archeological finds which are rare and to a large extent inaccessible in most parts of the world.   Here you can see excavated artifacts which are usually accessible in such form only to archeologists with a lot of experience and while on specific digs.

See the pictures below and you will know what I mean

Bulgaria Karanovo Thracian Tomb
Four-wheeled chariot of Thracian Aristocrat – 1st century AD

Two horses and a dog accompanied the disassembled chariot placed in the ancient tomb.  It was really interesting to get so close to the dig and the findings…

Here is one more photo from the tomb and the vista at the entrance of the tomb – very impressive sight overall….

Bulgaria Stara Zagora Karanovo Thracian Tomb
Thracian Tomb at Karanovo

The tomb is located about 29 kilometers from Stara Zagora in Southern Bulgaria.  Finding the place is NOT easy.  Finding Karanovo is relatively speaking OK – just use Google maps and you will find the road to the village.  Getting to the tomb is a feat on its own.  No signs point to it.  Enter the village with your car and start heading towards the Northeast part of the settlement and plan to exit the village.  Most likely you will have to ask somehow – ask for “Mogilata” phonetic pronunciation…

Unfortunately Google Maps failed us on finding the exact path to the tomb.  We asked some local guys and one of them guided us on his motorcycle with us following in a car…

I will plan to publish more photos soon. 

Bulgaria Karanovo Stara Zagora Thracian Tomb
View from the Karanovo Eastern Tomb

 

Here is a link to a brief guide and photo book I setup on Amazon.com – hopefully you will find it useful.   Thanks!

 

More from India — The Taj Mahal in Photos

Taj Mahal

Agra - Taj Majal

  Agra Taj Mahal

This is probably one of the world’s most photographed sites.

The mausoleum and its surrounding buildings (like the guest house shown on the photo here) are all incredible demonstration of architecture and art.

But my words and descriptions are not much compared to the actual images – so you can just go ahead and browse them…

I have migrated my photo galleries to a new Blog.  The objective is to provide a much more focused and easy to use – I hope that is the case, but you be the judge – interface and overall setup. 

The new Photo Blog is located here and the Taj Mahal set of galleries on it can be accessed via the image link below.  Enjoy and do let me know with feedback.
Thanks!

India Taj Mahal

Picturesque Bulgarian Village – Brashlian

Bulgaria-BrashlianClick on the image to follow a link to the Brashlian Page and Gallery on this Blog.  Enjoy!

Trip to the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic

Well folks – we now have experiences and photo albums from the Caribbean, following the recent trip our family took to the Dominican Republic.  To be honest with you I had come across references to this island nation on multiple occasions but have never spent time enough to pay attention to its actual location in Central America / the Caribbean.

This Christmas the opportunity presented itself and off we went to Punta Cana

Spent a week and while there also did a couple of visits to tourist spots

  • The Marinarium – we heard a lot of mixed reviews, but overall for us the experience was not bad…
  • Saona Island – I think on this one – you just have to look at the photos and you be the judge…Enough said

Punta-Cana

Dominican-Republic-Punta-Cana
The Beach at Punta Cana, Dreams Palm Beach

Kadikoy – a Day Trip from Istanbul

Kadikoy Day Trip

Kadikoy as I already mentioned in a previous posting earlier this week, is located on the Asian side of Istanbul.  It is an interesting place to visit for a number of reasons, but from a tourist standpoint, those reasons are mainly food and fun.  Istanbul is a huge city (I think the latest estimates have it close to 15-million residents?  not exactly sure), and it is a city that straddles two continents.  Think about it – when was the last time when you can have breakfast in Europe, walk to a ferry station and 4-Turkish lira later have brunch in a seaside cafe in Asia…

Welcome to Kadikoy!

Istanbul-FerryAs you guessed probably already, the trip to Kadikoy starts with a ferry ride.  Şehir Hatları and other ferry companies offer rides across the Bosphorus and make it to the Asian side.  The ride is cheap and of course it also offers great photo opportunities as you can tell from the many images I have on this blog to various sites seen from the water.

Istanbul-Ferry  Kadikoy-Istanbul  Ferry-boat-Bosphorus

Once you are in Kadikoy, there are many places, restaurants, cafes to enjoy.

Kadikoy-Istanbul

There are plenty of great shops selling Turkish delight, Halva, and other interesting and tasty sweets.

There are other markets – it appears Kadikoy is certainly famous for its markets – you want fish, you desire olives, yes, it is very likely you will find it here…

Kadikoy   Kadikoy  Kadikoy

The neighborhood streets are not easy to navigate – we could not find enough street signs in the back areas, so it will be good to have good bearings as to where you are headed to and of course prepare ahead of time.  One pointer – the main shopping areas is good to explore starting from the bull statue – see photo above – the intersection of six roads, among them, Bahariye Avenue, Söğütlü Çeşme Avenue, leading to the coast, and of course, the shopping corridor.

KadikoyIf you are looking for local arts people, you will need to find the street with the statue of Ali Suavi (see photo here), a unique monument to Ali Suavi – per my understanding from local guide – one of the first progressive Ottoman political figures.  Ali Suavi was apparently a thinker,teacher, theologian, and reformer, and an activist against the Ottoman sultan…hence a reformer.  At any rate, the street with his name has a bunch of eclectic stores and artisans offering various types of jewelry, and other crafts.

All in all, Kadikoy offers a nice addition to your travels around Istanbul.  It is worth the day trip and is certainly accessible within that one day.   Plan well and Enjoy!

Kadikoy

Kadikoy – Istanbul – The Asia Side

Kadikoy – Istanbul

If you are visiting Istanbul, you will enjoy a hop on the ferry from one of the many terminals on the European side and crossing over to the Asia side of this cosmopolitan city. To reach Kadikoy we boarded a ferry from Beşiktaş – and even the ferry ride itself was very enjoyable as it allows you to see the city and many of its sites from a different vantage point.

Istanbul-Kadikoy

Kadikoy and its numerous cafes, restaurants, art shops, is considered by many as the cultural centre of the Anatolian side of Istanbul.  Enjoy!

Istanbul, a Few Photos a Day – Installment 4

Well, time to add some more photos from Istanbul.   Hopefully, by seeing those images you will develop an interest in visiting this incredible diverse and full of history city. This time around will share with you images from

  • Bomonti (the new part of the city) situated on a hill overlooking the ancient area with Hagia Sophia, Topkapi…
  • Hagia Sophia – just a few images and then will get to a story about this incredible church converted to a mosque – in subsequent posting
  • Topkapi – the sultan’s palace for several centuries – another site that will have its own posting soon enough here

Istanbul-Bomonti

Turkey-Istanbul-Old-City

Church-Mosque-Unesco-HeritageUnesco-Heritage-Church-Mosque

Sultan-Palace-Istanbul

This is a continuation of several previous installments…Enjoy!