Countries With the Most Travel Friendly Passports

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Countries With The Most Travel Friendly Passports

I’d rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff.” Anonymous

I used to think that the USA had the best passport. We could go almost anywhere but we do need an awful lot of visas. The Henley Passport Index periodically measures the access each country’s travel document affords. The ranking is determined on the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. It is based on the exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association, which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information. Here are the top countries starting with the best passports to have. We are not number one. 

Japan retained its top spot as the world’s most powerful passport in 2019 for the second time in a row with access to 190 countries.They believe it is due to strong security regulations, economic security and international reliability. They are good guests.

 Singapore is in second place with 189 countries. People from Singapore are welcome almost everywhere.

South Korea is in third place with 188 countries.The Asian countries are dominating this category.

Germany and Finland are in fourth place with 187 countries. Germany has given up its  previous first place ranking. (Finland)

Denmark, Italy and Luxernbourg rank fifth with 186. No one expects trouble from this group.  (Italy)

France, Spain and Sweden are next with 185. They are independent, they don’t usually break anything and they are quiet. (Spain)

Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland and Portugal are behind them with 184. I feel very welcome in these countries so I understand why counties like them.(Portugal)

Belgium, UK, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Canada and USA rank eighth  with 183. Brexit has not yet impacted the UK score -nor has our President changed ours. (Greece)

Malta has a  score of 182. This tiny independent,European Union country has a very attractive passport to many people.Wealthy individuals seeking secondary citizenship for security, have their eye on Malta, which doesn’t impose taxes on their worldwide income and assets and applies only a flat 15 per cent tax on money brought into the country. 

Czech Republic follows with 181. It is doing very well for an ex Communist country.

Lithuania,

Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Lithuania jointly share the eleventh position with access to 180 nations. (Iceland)

 The findings suggest that visa free access is improving in the world. The last time I went to Brazil I needed one. This time I do not.

Fly safe,
JAZ

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Countries With The Word The

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Countries With The Word The

“Man 1: Where are you from?  Man 2: From a place where we do not end sentences with prepositions.   Man 1: Okay, where are you from, jackass?” Unknown

I don’t remember all the rules of grammar.  I was doing fine until we started texting. My words are always bumping into each other. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they misspell a word (thnx) or leave out punctuation (me). If you are trying to learn something, like visiting all the countries you can, you should probably learn how to pronounce their names correctly.

In English, we use “the” if a country has a political title in its name, or if it refers to a group of islands. There are also countries, such as The Netherlands, which people commonly attach the definite article to even though it does not follow the two rules above. Just to make sure you are doing it right, here is the list.

The Bahamas

The  Falkland Islands

The Maldives

The Virgin islands

The Czech Republic

The Philippines

The United States

The Dominican Republic

The Netherlands

The United Arab Emirates.

The Ivory Coast

The Central African Republic

The United Kingdom

Since it has been in the news a lot lately, it is not “the Ukraine”.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Want To Do In Brazil This Time

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Things That I Want To Do In  Brazil This Time

“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”    Kurt Vonnegut

Eat At Mocoto In Sao Paulo again.

Wander around Pelourinho.  It is the old city in Salvador. Bahia, with colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Salvador is filled with music, dance, capoeira schools, restaurants and bars.

Experience a Candobie ceremony in Salvador. Candobie is a religion that melds together the traditions, customs and deities of African religions, Catholicism and even some indigenous beliefs. An opportunity to experience a candomblé service or ceremony is a fantastic way to see the Afro-Brazilian culture come alive, and the ceremonies often involve music and dancing and are held throughout the year.

See the art in Bahia – street, galleries, museums. 

Spend the day on a boat going to different beaches near Salvador.

 Stay at a lodge in the Pantanal. The best place in South America to see wildlife is not the Amazon but the Pantanal, a Florida-size wetland on the far western edge of Brazil that bursts with animals — capybaras, caimans, jaguars, anacondas, giant otters, colorful hyacinth macaws, kites, hawks, and flocks of storks and herons .

Do a jaguar tracking tour in the Pantanal. Ii is not a guarantee as it is late in the season but there might be  smaller cats such as the ocelot, as well as other animals such as foxes, howler monkeys, and caiman. Tapirs, giant anteaters, capybara, and peccaries, all rare in most of their remaining habitats, are seen here.

Take a boat down the river and see all the birds and fish.

Go Piranha fishing and eating.

Fly safe,

JAZ.

Ten Things That I Want To Do In Uruguay

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 Ten Things I Want To Do In Uruguay

“When you’re traveling, ask the traveler for advice, not someone whose lameness keeps him in one place.” Rumi

Punta De Este is the “Hamptons Of South America.” Relax at a beautiful hotel and visit the beaches.

See Casapueblo. It is an art museum in a nine story white washed hillside  building owned by artist Carlos Paez Vilaro, in Punta Del Este.  

Eat at La Huella in the trendy fishing village of Jose Ignacio with its interesting shops, lighthouse and beautiful beaches.

Take a street art tour in Montevideo. 

Since I won’t be there for Carnaval, there is a Carnaval Museum in Montevideo. 

Visit the Mercado de los Artesanos, packed with local handicrafts, or Sunday’s sprawling Feria de Tristán Narvaja in  Montevideo.

Walk La Rambla in Montevideo which is the longest sidewalk in the world that runs the full length of Montevide’s coastline (13.5 miles – so maybe half and uber back) Stop at the Mercado Del Puerto.

Have some good asado ( barbecued meats), yerba mate and dulce de leche (similar to Argentina).

Visit a vineyard and do some wine tasting. Uruguay is known for the red Tannat.

Drive along the coast and stop and different fishing villages and beaches.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Travel Bathrooms

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Travel Bathrooms 

“bathroom: (n.) where Americans go to argue about gender while the country goes down the toilet.” Sol Luckman

I have many looking for a bathroom around the world stories.  They go from pantomiming the activity in Budapest to walking into the wrong one because I couldn’t read the sign in Russian, Japanese, Cambodian….The list goes on once you leave the tourist areas in many countries. The  door drawings were confusing in Parety, Brazil and Bogota, Colombia. The hallway was dark in Santorini Greece and Lisbon, Portugal. I am often in the wrong one. 

There are squat toilets in Asla, buckets in the jungle, holes  in the ground  in places you wouldn’t expect, but that is probably a different blog. i have strong legs for this reason.

I thought bathroom was a universal word like taxi until I started traveling.  My rule of thumb is if it’s a single unit bathroom, I can use either.  I prefer the women’s only because I’m not a fan of the urinal in the men’s bathroom and I stay as far away from it as possible. It never looks clean. Why do they have two things in theirs?  They don’t at home. Sometimes I choose the bathroom based on toilet paper, cleanliness, smell or lack of. 

Lately many different kinds of gender neutral bathroom signs have been popping up on single unit bathrooms. It is confusing to me because if a bathroom is empty I just use it. When I have to go, I don’t stand on ceremony. I don’t get  the transpanic thing on single unit bathrooms. (Sweden)

 Doesn’t everyone just use the empty one? Can we all agree that any one-person, private restroom can (and, I’d argue, should) be a gender neutral restroom? It basically already is. Use whatever sign you’d like, or just do it the British way and put W.C. on the door. I believe it stands for “Who Cares? (US)

Fly safe,
JAZ

The Golden Circle, Iceland

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The Golden Circle, Iceland

“Earth’s crammed with heaven. But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Everyone who has been to Iceland will tell you that a day trip driving the Golden Circle  is necessary, and they are 100% correct. The Golden Circle is the most popular day trip  from Reykjavik.

The first stop is Gullifoss which I have already talked about.

The next place to visit is the geysir. The English word “geyser” is actually derived from this exact geysir here in Iceland.

There are lots of bubbling pools to check out, along with the two famous geysers, Geysir and Strokkur. Strokkur is the only one still active today, which erupts every 5-8 minutes or so, sometimes even more (meaning you’ll see it shoot out it’s steaming hot water multiple times) What’s cooler than watching a hot spring spout steaming water up to 60 feet in the air without any mechanical support? That’s geology for you.

The last  stop is Iceland’s first National Park, Þingvellir. Not only is it the first national park and Iceland’s largest lake,  but it’s also the location of Iceland’s first Parliament, started back in 930 AD. Back then an assembly of 48 chieftains would gather to discuss Viking law and hold court. It’s regarded as the founding of Iceland as a nation and historically important to Icelanders. Pingvellir has recently been accepted on the UNESCO World Heritage list because of this.

And for all you Game Of Thrones fans, this is also the place where many scenes of the show have been filmed,

 It’s  considered to be  the best place on earth  to view the North Atlantic divergent ridge (where the North Atlantic and Eurasian tectonic plates collide),

The plates are slowing moving apart at around 3cm per year, ultimately meaning the continents are being brought closer together.

I was lucky enough to be able to tour Iceland in a Smithsonian group led by geologist Scott Burns. It was on my bucket list to do Iceland with someone who could explain the rugged beauty, glaciers, climate change and volcanoes. Scott was just intimidating enough for me to know that he knew his stuff, and just as easy-going to answer my questions. I learned so much and it was fun. I look forward to more trips with him. I have a lot of this earth to understand.Thanks for everything.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Eight Other Things That I Did In Iceland

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Eight Other Things That  I DidIn Iceland

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.” John Keats

Deildartunguhver is Europe’s most powerful hot spring. Most of the water used for central heating in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes is taken from Deildartunguhver.

The hot water pipeline to Akranes is 64 km long, the longest in Iceland and the water is about 78 – 80 degrees when it reaches Akranes. If you have taken a shower anywhere within a 65 km radius of the spring, you have already bathed in the hot water from this powerful spring.

Rising about 170 meters above the ground, Grabrok Crater belongs to the volcanic system of Ljosufjoll. It can be easily accessed via a footpath. The crater is quite steep and steps have been built on part of it to make the hike easier.

This volcanic crater is located east of Lake Hreðavatn in the fjord of Borgarfjörður in West Iceland. Spread over a distance of 90 km, it is also the largest of three craters (Stora Grabrok, Grabrokarfell and Litla Grabrok); it was formed about 3400 years ago in a fissure eruption.

.Once at the rim, I got a nice view inside. The path allows you to walk all around the crater but the strong Icelandic  wind almost blew me into the crater.

The Icelandic Horse is the only horse breed from Iceland and their ancestors were brought there in the ninth and tenth centuries by Vikings/Norwegians. It is a small breed of horse – not a pony. In the 10th century they banned importing horses into Iceland in an effort to keep the Icelandic breed pure. The ban still stands today. If an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland, they are not allowed to return.

The Icelandic  horse is fairly sleek in the summer months – though they retain a heavy mane and tail – but in the winter they grow a special, three-layer coat, which helps them survive the freezing Icelandic temperatures.Tthey are known for their sure-footedness and the ability to cross Iceland’s rough and diverse terrain, 

 Glaumbær Turf Farm was the perfect place to see these beautiful little buildings with mud roofs up close and learn more about Iceland’s history and culture. The farmstead is still inhabited. The old house is a part of the National Museum’s Historic Building Collection and houses part of the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum.  This site has been inhabited for centuries.  Glaumbær is mentioned several times in the medieval Saga literature. The age of the buildings vary considerably, the youngest dating from around 1880 and the oldest back to mid 18th century.

Glaumbær is composed of fourteen clustered houses.  Exhibits show four tradesmen’s workshops  (carpenter, blacksmith,  watchmaker and saddle maker), personal history of the local novelist Guðrún Baldvina Árnadóttir,  two storage houses, living rooms, bedrooms. the hearth kitchen and three pantries.

Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice due to its long history of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tongue twisting names for glaciers. The Lava Center Museum in South Iceland is worth a visit. This innovative museum opened in 2017 not far from Mt Hekla, an active volcano that was considered to be the gateway to hell in the Middle Ages. The interactive, state-of-the-art exhibit depicts millions of years of Icelandic volcanic activity, including earthquakes, eruptions, glacial floods, rift systems and the formation of Iceland’s landmass.

Siglufjörður is the northernmost town on the mainland of Iceland. This also means something quite exciting: The midnight sun shines bright all night long.

The highlight of any visit to Siglufjordur is the Herring Museum. Rather than describe the golden age of fishing from the Fifties through to the end of the Sixties, the award-winning museum recreates it, with figureheads and navigation lanterns galore. There are vintage photographs of fishermen with wind-lashed faces, ankle-deep in the day’s catch, and of the “herring girls” with bright Nordic smiles.

Akureyri is arrestingly pretty, with antique wooden houses, corrugated modern ones, tempting restaurants, bookshops, an excellent art museum and heart shaped red lights.

It is Iceland’s second largest city. and considered to be the capital of North Iceland.

Asbyrgi (Shelter of the Gods) is a remarkable horseshoe-shaped canyon. Viking/Norwegian settlers believed it to be a hoof-print formed by Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged flying horse from Norse mythology. Some people say that it is the capital of the Hidden People of Iceland.

Geologists believe that Asbyrgi was formed as the result of a catastrophic flood from the nearby Jokulsa glacial river. Located in Jokulsargljufur within the Vatnajokull National Park, Asbyrgi has 100 meter (330 ft) high cliffs which form a 1 kilometer (.5 mi) wide ring of protective shelter around the rich vegetation and forest.

Fly safe,

JAZ