A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about travel

2020

what just happened?

sunny 80 °F
View Turkey 2020 & Montana & Wyoming 2020 & 14ers 2017+ & Colorado and Utah 2020 & Israel 2020 on MurkTravels's travel map.

Looking Back

2020:
Well, that was an interesting year.
There was some things that were new and crazy like the pandemic and my truck getting stolen and totaled. Meanwhile other things stayed the same just like any other year with camping, hiking, biking, running, volleyball, moving, and road trips.

Most activities this year was somehow affected by COVID related news, including working remotely for 41 weeks of the year. I had several concerts, events, and international travel cancelled. The trips would have been to Italy, Croatia, Austria, Canada, and the Cayman Islands.

However that allowed me to take more US based trips. I was able to check out a lot of National Parks included Rocky Mountain, Colorado Monument, Dinosaur Monument, Arches, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons. Plus had the time to see a lot of family, friends, and enjoy hobbies (all at a distance of course).

Well, here's the review:

Activities

Things that happened in 2020:

Big Travels

Quick Trips

Challenges

Events & other activities

  • moved to downtown Denver - February
  • had 4Runner stolen, along with all my camping and outdoor gear, to be found a week later totaled and trashed by drug addicts - August
  • concerts: none
  • races: none
  • volleyball, biking, running, walking, hiking
  • Denver Travel Show
  • Prudence turned 3 - August

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums

Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 03:21 Archived in USA Tagged me sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes trees museums nature travel california colorado mountain egypt turkey utah camp africa usa rockies festival hike bike israel europe asia denver qatar roadtrip montana wyoming macedonia ultra challenge sup nationalparks 14er 2020 murktravels in_review fkkt Comments (0)

Istanbul 2020 - Turkey

Turkey for Thanksgiving - the country not the bird

sunny 40 °F
View Turkey 2020 on MurkTravels's travel map.

overview / intro

After being mostly contained all year (minus some road trips, camping, hiking, and seeing family) we decided it was time to break out of the country. It wasn't an easy decision. To travel during a pandemic, knowing that if everyone wouldn't have traveled anywhere for a month at the start of this thing, it would be over long ago.
We considered the safety of travel; however we, the airlines, the hotels, and almost everyone we interacted with took great precautions.
We considered the impacts to family and friends and even strangers; but we quarantined before and after and got tested several times.
We considered the financial impacts; it wasn't that much for us, but it was a huge difference to the groups we talked to that rely on tourism to live.

Our trip included a flight from Denver to DC, then a long ride to Doha Qatar. Once there, we couldn't leave the airport, so managed overnight there before heading onto Istanbul Turkey. We were in Turkey for Turkey Day ... although we ended up eating lamb instead. During the day was some sight seeing, and during night for a week or so was working, back on Denver time.

But then there was a full week of vacation. It included seeing more of Istanbul. It is such an interesting city where Europe, Asia, and the Middle East all meet and have cultural influence. I also spent a few days in the Cappadocia region. It's pretty much right in the middle of the country and is known for the fairy chimney rock formations and the underground cities and churches carved into that same rock.

We took a hot air balloon ride, visited countless mosques, had great local food, witnessed talented artists making Turkish rugs and pottery by hand, tasted local wine, toured underground cisterns, museums, castles, churches, did some shopping and bartering at the bazaars, slept in a cave (hotel), experienced a Turkish full service bath (hammam), and again ate some really good food.

We also add a few days of the vacation in North Macedonia.

Recommend - Istanbul:

  • Topkapi Palace
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Galata Tower - to watch the sunset
  • Dolmabache Palace
  • Suleymaniye Mosque
  • Kadikoy & Moda
  • full Hammam experience

Recommend - Cappadocia:

  • watching a sunrise with a hot air balloon ride over the region
  • Goreme Open Air Museum
  • views from Uchisar castle
  • underground city tour

Trip Map

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums
and for this trip : Turkey album

Cappadocia
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Dolmabahce Palace
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views around Istanbul
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Beyazit and Ortakoy Mosques
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Istanbul at sunset from Galata Tower
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Links

MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 20:43 Archived in Turkey Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises churches boats museums travel turkey wine europe asia 2020 murktravels Comments (0)

Cairo 2020 - Egypt

a trip back in time

sunny 85 °F
View Israel 2020 on MurkTravels's travel map.

overview / intro

After visiting Israel, we extended our trip into Egypt. We ventured from the Red Sea beach area across the desolate Sinai peninsula, and into the large metro of Cairo.

There is so much history here with the ancient kingdoms of Egypt and all the artifacts, both large as pyramids and as small as tiny jewels and carved art. Unfortunately, regional and global events have devastated the countries economy. A large and visible portion of the population is in extreme poverty, and their is little in the way of social services to help individuals or even keep the city clean.

They are building a new Egyptian musuem near the Giza pyramids. But we got to tour the original one in the main city area. In addition we saw a couple other museums, and local craft stores dealing with papyrus and rug making. Our time was short, but we saw some highlights and got a feel for the city.

Recommend:

  • Egyptian museum
  • Memphis museum
  • Giza plateau for sites of the pyramids
  • local shops that make rugs, parchments, or other products by hand

Trip Map

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums
Egypt folder

Giza
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Memphis
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Egyptian museum
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Red Sea resort
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Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 10:31 Archived in Egypt Tagged me churches museums history travel egypt africa 2020 murktravels Comments (0)

Copenhagen 2019 - Denmark

Danish capital

overcast 60 °F
View Scandinavia 2019 on MurkTravels's travel map.

the Danes

What a very cool city. I can't even quite put into words the experience I had of exploring Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. The Scandinavians use the hygge term to refer to a comfort and cozy feeling; it was like that but more hip, exciting, freedom, everyone's equal type vibe.
What makes Copenhagen so cool? It doesn't seem to try, but it just is. It's just enough classy (Tesla taxis) and enough trashy (the Christiana free town squatters) to make it all work together. There is an abundance of transit options: subway, commuter trains, boats, buses, walking, cars and the king of the road known as the bicycle. All of these seem to just work together.

I had almost no plans or research into the city. I knew I was staying near the center, and wanted to just see what I could stumble upon. I rented a bike for a few days to live like the locals. And even though there were several heavy rain downpours that I got caught in, I saw some interesting areas and sites. With minimal fanfare, that list of sites include among others:

  • the Kastellet fort
  • Rosenborg Castle
  • Kings Garden
  • King's New Square
  • Østre Anlæg Park
  • Ørsteds Park
  • Amalienborg Palace
  • the Free town of Christiania
  • Opera house
  • Amager strand
  • shopping streets
  • canals and islands
  • Tivoli amusement park
  • central station

Recommend:

  • renting a bike
  • Amager strand beach and park
  • Nyhavn
  • Strøget pedestrian shopping street
  • bars and restaurants of Westerbro

Some of my favorite photos:

One of the many waterfront picture scenes you can see around town
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A waterfront neighborhood near Christiana Free town
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The New Harbor - Nyhavn
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Trip Map

related:
Malmo Sweden
Stockholm Sweden
Lofoten Norway
Oslo Norway

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums

Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 14:51 Archived in Denmark Tagged me trains museums travel castle capital europe denmark copenhagen murktravels 2019 Comments (0)

Lofoten 2019 - Norway

Norway, above the arctic circle

storm 45 °F
View Scandinavia 2019 on MurkTravels's travel map.

link to the related Norway post from my time in Oslo

overview

My first sailing journey.

I headed from Oslo to Svolvaer in northern Norway, above the arctic circle. This is in the Lofoten region consisting of a pensinula and lots of islands sticking into the north Atlantic. It has a long history of islands, sailing, fishing, incredible natural environment, and fjords. Myself and a small group spent a week on board a sailing catamaran.

We checked out several fjords; which of course are long, narrow, deep inlets of the sea between high cliffs typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley. The first and most impressive was Trollfjord. The last and equally beautiful was Ulvagfjord. The entire landscape of the region is unique with the dramatic rising of steep cliff walls onto rocky and jagged peaks. All of this is wrapped in a vibrant green coating of trees and moss and shrubs. On the few areas that are a bit flat are the coastal towns, the occasional sheep farm, or even a few beach sites. But since the locals thrive on the fishing industry, you'll see lots of harbors, ships, fish drying racks, and water based businesses.

One of the nights, we spent glamping in teepees. Even woke up at 2 in the morning to catch glimpses of the northern lights. There we also got treated to an amazing meal from a local chef - cod and mackerel caught that day, some herbed potato mash, and the worlds best cake for dessert (it's actually named that; search it and be amazed).

Another couple of days were filled at the town of Henningsvaer. It's an artsy and hipster town, that got a bit of viral Instagram fame for it's soccer pitch on a rocky island. There's also several art shops, local craft and clothing stores, and a brick oven and sauna pub to spend time at. There's even about 25 posters around town that provide information on the history; most in Norwegian but they also have a code to scan to get translations.

Near the very end of the chain of islands is the town of Reine. It has a few places to check out in town, but the real draw is the hiking and views around the town. Despite some strong winds and rain, we trekked up to the top of Reinebringen to be amazed at the sight of islands, seascapes, towns, and mountains. The entire drive on Lofoton is covered by the E10 highway. If you take it, you can find some hidden lakes, fields, additional hiking, and some surf spots.

Recommend:

  • glamping on Skrova island
  • Reinebringen hike and views
  • Henningsvaer sights
  • Trollfjord and Ulvagfjord
  • fresh caught fish

Trip Map

related:
Copenhagen Denmark
Malmo Sweden
Stockholm Sweden
Oslo Norway

Relive Video

A hike around the fjord

Pictures

see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums
or for this Lofoten trip: Norway album
some of my favorites:

The dramatic landscape from the water - sailing to Trollfjord
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The dramatic landscape from the land - hiking around Trollfjord
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Ulvagfjord
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rainbow during a sail and a hot tub with a view once we got to a destination camp on an island
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Our glamping site with multiple beach options
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The famous Henningsvaer soccer pitch and a sunset with some pizza
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A lonely but picturesque church in the countryside and some local beach graffiti art
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The stair hike up Reinebringen
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The view of Reine and surrounding towns and islands from near the top of Reinebringen
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Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 14:53 Archived in Norway Tagged waterfalls lakes boats travel sailing camping europe boating norway challenge 2019 Comments (0)

Kyoto and Hakone 2019 - Japan

history in real life

overcast 60 °F
View Japan 2019 on MurkTravels's travel map.

classic spa

After leaving Tokyo, we headed to the area of Odawara and Hakone, to spend the night at a ryokan. It's a traditional Japanese inn, involving shoes off, straw mat floors, mattress on floor for bedding, tea ceremony, traditional meals, with kimono-like robes ... all very authentic. There was also public and private onsens (hot springs water spa) available. It was very relaxing. The one we chose was also close to the Japanese museum for the Little Prince book, including a replica French town and information about the author's life. Sharon is a big fan, so we checked that out before hopping another bullet train (Shinkansen) to the former capital of Kyoto.

classic Japan

Kyoto, the very historic and ancient Japanese city. It's well known for all the shrines, temples, and religious sites. Here we saw a lot of locals and families dressed in traditional kimonos and clothes. First up was a smaller Buddhist temple that we randomly stumbled upon taking a back way (a less crowded way) to a more famous site. I don't even remember the name of it (Otani?), but it was very peaceful. Then onto a large packed site of Kiyomizu-dera. It has a very instagram infamous temple balcony as well as several pagodas. It's part of the UNESCO world heritage site within Kyoto made up of several temple grounds. We then wandered around the historic area of Gion and found the Hokanji temple pagoda (which was a famous picture we used as the background photo of our trip plan).

Our second day in Kyoto involved a quick train ride a little south of town center. That took us to Fushimi Inari. It's a mountain (really a small hill, compared to Colorado living) that is covered in orange torii gates as memorials to relatives that have passed away. Some are huge enough to walk through (they go over the pathways), while others are small hand held versions just laying around. There's miles of trails and tens of thousands of the gates. We walked to the top of the mountain and had some great views of the city. We ended our time in the city at Nishiki market. It had all authentic local food and crafts, and not so tourist based souvenir junk seen at a lot of popular markets in Japan.

Recommend:

  • a stay at a ryoken w/ an onsen
  • Kiyomizu-dera
  • Fushimi Inari
  • timing - if you're really into temples and history you could spend a week here. we only had a couple partial days to see some of the famous sites that were relatively close to the train station. but there's a ton more that was on our list that we could have done if there was more time: silver pagoda, bamboo forest, golden temple, parks, philosophers walk

Japan Trip
Tokyo
Kyoto and Hakone
Nagoya
Osaka

Trip Map

Pictures

View of Kyoto and Kiyomizu-dera
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the Gion pagoda
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orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari
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Murk Travels - Japan album
see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums

Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 02:12 Archived in Japan Tagged churches skylines trains nature japan temple travel castle asia 2019 Comments (0)

Ramen and Sushi tour : Tokyo 2019 - Japan

Shibuya and Shinjuku

overcast 60 °F
View Japan 2019 on MurkTravels's travel map.

Our trip to Japan involved packing in as much as we could. So in 10 days, we checked out multiple areas of Tokyo, Kyoto, Odawara, Hakone, Nagoya and Osaka. We experienced authentic and historic Japanese culture as well as their more modern advantages.

just a bit of Tokyo

We started and ended our trip in Tokyo, since that's where we flew into and out of. So there were a couple days right after we landed where we checked out the most popular neighborhoods ... out of the 30+ that we got recommendations on or heard about. There's plenty to see and do in this mega-city for several trips.

The first night was the arrival around 8pm. I had to find a bus from the Narita airport (a little farther away from the city center than the Haneda Tokyo airport) into the main Tokyo station. We stayed in the Hanzomon area. There's not a lot going on there, but it's close to a lot of where we wanted to go. It's very convenient to get a local suica metro card to ride all the trains between neighborhoods. Also, get a local sim card (with unlimited data) from stores in the airport, or most metro stations. It helped a ton with directions, websites, translations, and train schedules.

The first full day we spent checking out Shibuya and Shinjuku neighborhoods just a little west of central Tokyo. They are both large areas with huge metro stations. We walked through the Shinjuku Gyoen national park and botanical gardens to see the start of the cherry blossom season. Close to that is Yoyoji park with the Meiji shrine. While there we saw a traditional Japanese wedding, followed the local customs with fountains to cleanse the evil spirits, and made wishes into the great unknown. We finished off the day with some crazy entertainment at the Robot Restaurant.

Robot Restaurant is a type of story told with humans, robots, lasers, and a number of other secrets. Yep, it's specifically over the top touristy, but it's worth it for a unique take on the culture.

The second day involved getting our breakfast extra fresh at the Tsukiji fish market and visiting the shopping mecca in Ginza, before catching a ride on a bullet train to our next destination (check out the Osaka, Kyoto, and rural Japan posts).

A week later we came back to Tokyo and had a few more partial days. That included a trip out to the Odaiba man made island of entertainment where we saw a statue of liberty replica, the amazing Team Labs Borderless exhibit, and plenty of shopping. I had an extra day after Sharon left and checked out Asakusa for the temple, markets, and river walk.

Borderless labs is a huge warehouse of multiple rooms of a diverse range of interactive art. Some you physically crawl and jump on, others you draw and visually interact, and others are nature based moving images. I don't want to spoil it for anyone that goes, but it is a MUST DO.

Of course the city is famous for it's ramen, sushi, and a ton of Michelin rated restaurants. We tried a lot of local food places and they were all delicious. Other sites and activities we saw included: the Shibuya scramble/crossing which is said to be the busiest pedestrian intersection, the observation floor at the Tokyo Government center, an izakaya (bar) alley for locals, walking through Yanaka (old school Tokyo), Ueno park, Akihabara electronics nirvana, shopping in Omote-sando and Harajuku, and catching more cherry blossoms by the Meguro river walk.

Recommend:

  • Team Labs borderless
  • Robot Restaurant
  • any of the green spaces in the city : Yoyogi park, Gyeon gardens, imperial gardens
  • eating at the fish markets, or any of the local noodles and sushi places
  • Asakusa sites

Japan Trip
Tokyo
Kyoto and Hakone
Nagoya
Osaka

Videos

Robot Restaurant neon dance
Robot Restaurant dance
Borderless Labs crystals
Boderless Labs lamps

Trip Map

Pictures

Gyeon national gardens
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endless city skyline
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liberty replica
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Robot Restaurant
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Borderless labs
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Murk Travels - Japan album
see more on Facebook Murk Travels albums

Links

MurkTravels Vimeo - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Youtube - videos of my trips & entertainment
MurkTravels Facebook page - pictures, posts, and regular updates
MurkTravels Facebook photo albums
MurkTravels Instagram - my attempt at artistic travel images
MurkTravels Travel Map - all the places that I've been and the things that I've seen

Posted by MurkTravels 18:54 Archived in Japan Tagged art trains tokyo japan travel asia murktravels 2019 Comments (0)

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