Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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*Classic Post* I miss being in Greece ..

Posted by Rishiray on March 21, 2016

*Classic Post* I miss being in Greece … Here’s 13 thoughts for your laughter #trinitravel @rishiray @trinitravel #http://htl.li/ZMqTs

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What to do in PEI #4 : Go find a ridiculous PEI Mailbox!!!

Posted by Rishiray on August 4, 2014

In all our driving here in PEI over the last two summers, it seems that people love putting up strange and unique mailboxes. For instance, on our way to North Cape yesterday, we happened to see this giant PEI mailbox.

It looks like Majo could fit inside the mailbox

I do love Don Murphy’s glamourshot for his ad though!!

Here’s another set of classic mailboxes

This was on our way back from Souris. These people change his clothing with the season!

As we’ve travelled over the island I’ve realized that people take tremendous pride in their lawns. There are houses and farms with very unique and interesting spreads that range from amazing flower displays, hand made bird feeders to lighthouse mailboxes protected by concrete gargoyles.

There are also farms with super creepy scarecrows … especially those in the middle of nowhere. However far you drive in PEI, you’ll always find something great on people’s lawns here.

How many buoys do you count here?

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What to do in PEI #3 : Have Lunch on Spinnakers Landing

Posted by Rishiray on August 4, 2014

[mappress mapid=”114″]

If you’re heading to the North Cape lighthouse, you’re probably going to drive through Kensington and Summerside on the “2” (2 refers to the highway and a lot of Islanders will refer to the highway number rather than the proper name which the Veterans Highway). If you happen to be driving on a Sunday, many restaurants will be closed in Summerside but those at Spinnakers Landing will definitely be open during the summer.

It’s very similar to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco with the layout, accessibility and feel.

Since we were there for lunch, we intended to head over to the Deckhouse Eatery and Pub but I happened to see the Mussel Shack. I really can’t pass up any place that has mussels, especially as finding mussels cooked differently from the traditional “Au Natural” style here will take some finding.

What did catch me initially was the red building itself. I don’t why the red stands out so prominently but it makes the building look very inviting. Of course, the mussel flavors were what made me order …

I had to try the “El Diablo” …

They have a great patio and you can get a nice shot of the other shops in Spinnakers’ Landing. The builders modeled Spinnakers’ Landing after an old fishing village … I don’t know how many fishing villages look like this but the bright pastel colors are definitely a Maritime thing, since you’ll see the same colours in St. Johns, NF or Halifax, NS.

As for the snacks, I was very happy with my “El Diablo” mussels. It wasn’t hot at all but definitely quite nice with the julienned carrots and tons of garlic. Definitely a repeat for me and I’ll have the other flavours next week (sans the butter of course)

After the Mussel Shack, we wandered along the boardwalk and through some of the little shops.

After my initial snack, it was then over to the Deckhouse Eatery and Pub. I’ll have to be honest as I always am, I wasn’t impressed with the food or the service. I’ve come to expect slower service here in PEI, but I have come to also expect very generous portions to compensate for the slower service. This wasn’t the case with the meal.

In all, our party of five had the following

  • Spiced Onion Ring (Decent)
  • Caesar Salad (Decent)
  • Quesadillas  (A very basic chicken quesadilla)
  • Two portions of Fish & Chips (The fish was very overdone and the fries were just poor. I’ve come to expect very good fries in PEI and this was just sad)

As a F’n’C lover, it was hard for me to stomach the overbattered, burnt Fish. They did have a very nice Tartar sauce though, but it definitely wasn’t a Maritime portion

I like my fried fish with fish, not a ton of batter and breading

Overall the meal there was highly, highly average but they did have nice views of Spinnakers’

So the Deckhouse was just another tourist joint. It was packed for lunch time, but I wouldn’t go back immediately. The next time I’m at Spinnakers’, I’ll definitely raid the Mussel Shack.

Twitter :

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What to do in PEI #2 … Go on an epic PEI Fries tour

Posted by Rishiray on August 1, 2014

PEI is known for many things …

  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Rolling hills and pastures right out of an Irish countryside
  • Cows Creamery
  • Malpeque Oysters and ….
  • Potatoes

Here’s a great note from the PEI Potato Board …

Just as connoisseurs of fine wine say they can taste the soil in which the grapes are grown, the Prince Edward Island potato has a flavour that is unique because of the Island’s rich red soil. If you could visualize the perfect place for growing potatoes, it would be Prince Edward Island. The Island’s rich sandy soil, clean air and water, and its long cold winters that naturally cleanse the soil, provide the perfect environment for growing high quality potatoes. In addition, experience and adaptation of the latest growing, storing and shipping techniques have given Prince Edward Island growers the ability to deliver excellent quality potatoes.

Everyone loves Prince Edward Island potatoes and they are in demand around the world. Prince Edward Island is small, but its quality potatoes can hold their own in competition with the world’s best.

P.E.I. farmers have been producing potatoes for the world since 1790. Today, potatoes are P.E.I.’s primary cash crop. Potatoes account for more than one-third of the total farm cash receipts in the province, which is more than the combined value of all other Island crops. Prince Edward Island enjoys the reputation as Canada’s leading potato province, responsible for almost one-third of Canadian production.

In addition to the important Canadian market, seed and table potatoes are shipped to over 20 countries annually. Some customer countries are Venezuela, Italy, Ukraine, Portugal, and Thailand. While markets vary from year to year, over the past few years about 50% of our table potatoes have been sold in Canada, 20% have been marketed in the United States, and approximately 30% are sold to other countries.

When you’re in Charlottetown, there are a number of chip trucks around. Most of these are semi-permanent structures and over the course of the last month, I’ve tried 6-8 of them. I’ve not been disappointed with any of the chip trucks and I’ll definitely say that Charlottetown has some of the best fries/chips I’ve eaten in the world!! However with all the chip trucks I’ve tried so far, Ken’s Island Fries are definitely at the top of my list.

They aren’t kidding!!

They’re located in the parking lot of Walmart across from the Charlottetown Shopping Center. It’s not the classiest of places, but when you’re looking for good food, you don’t care where it is. A great rule of thumb … when you see old ladies sitting on benches in the sun, eating fries and poutine, you know you’ve come to a good place.

This is not a complicated menu whatsoever … but the fries are awesome!!!!

Pictures can’t really describe the well done, slightly crispy fries … and definitely can’t truly describe the portion size. For 3.50$, you’re getting a heaping hot piles of oil fried spuds. The poutine is also ridiculous … as evidenced below.

This was my large portion with gravy … it’s bigger than my head

See the can of coke on the side … yeah … it dwarfs it!!!

So if you’re looking to start an epic PEI fries tour, Ken’s Island Fries will be a great start, but actually you should end with them or Wicked Fries, since I thought that these two are joint for the best we’ve had so far.

Ken’s Island Fries
1 Buchanan Drive, Charlottetown, PE C1E 2E4
Twitter @KensIslandfries

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What to do in PEI #1 … Go for a PEI Lobster Supper

Posted by Rishiray on August 1, 2014

In building our holiday “cottage” here in Prince Edward Island, we’ve had to take visitors around the island. One of the more well known activities here would be going to a traditional PEI Lobster Supper. I’ve been to the New Glasgow Lobster Supper a couple times as I’ve found that it’s consistent, the service is fast and very friendly and the drive to Hunter River allows me to stop at the “By the Bridge” bakery.

They have also have a great view of the Clyde River with the rolling hills that makes for a scenic drive.

In the summer, you’ll get a great view of the Clyde River and a very pretty sunset. Make sure and call to reserve the window tables.

The building itself looks a lot like a small town community hall and the decor reflects this. This is definitely not a fancy type atmosphere, so don’t bring your Sunday best out. While you’re waiting to seated, you can browse through the pictures on the walls showing the original buildings in great B&W perspective. You’ll also learn that lobster suppers have been served there since 1957 when the District Junior Farmers Organization first bought it for their meeting space. The meal for that first supper included hot buttery rolls, potato salad, homemade pie, and tons of fresh lobster.


When you get into the building, you’re greeted in an efficient manner and you pick your entrees. No matter what the entree option, you’ll always have unlimited soup, salad, mussels and pie. For my first time, I had the surf and turf … but at 50$, I thought it was a bit much, especially since I really want to go for the unlimited mussels.

And I really go to town on those mussels …

They bring out the mussels in 2 lb buckets … and I usually will clear out 3 buckets by myself … i.e 6 lbs of mussels!! I’ve learned to make my own mussel marinara by shelling two lbs of mussels into a small bowl of Tomato Basil soup with tons of black pepper and some extra salt. This is PEI, so the majority of the food you’ll have will be plain and barely seasoned with anything.

This was bucket #2 with all my mussels in my Tomato Basil soup. Excellent!!!

It is the food which is the real star at New Glasgow. The lobster is excellent and combined with all the unlimited mussels, dessert, soup and salad, you really cannot go wrong with this meal. In the last two weeks, we’ve been with family and friends twice, the lobster is also precracked for easy eating.

The lobster is definitely the star here

Our Irish waitress Catrina and Majo … the service was excellent … I do recommend having them put the bib on you, just for the camp value of it all.

The family and friends love it, and the kids had a great time as you can see🙂

They have some great cole slaw there along with Potato Salad … once again … I crushed my plate!! I have no shame in ordering as much as I would like … you shouldn’t either

You can get Lobster Supper at many bars and pubs in PEI, but if you’re looking for the “traditional” Lobster Suppers, here’s a list of the PEI Lobster Suppers

[mappress mapid=”113″]

  • New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
    • This is PEI’s oldest running lobster supper … they’ve been serving lobster suppers since June 24, 1958. They have their own on premise lobster pond. All meals include unlimited rolls, seafood chowder, cultivated mussels, salad, desserts and beverages. Enjoy lobster, scallops, salmon, chicken, roast beef or baked ham. It’s also locally recommended by our friends in Stratford as the best Lobster Supper.
  • Cardigan Lobster Suppers
    • If you’re on the Eastern side of PEI, then Cardigan is your best bet, but they don’t offer the unlimited option that you can get at New Glasgow. For me, this would be a no-go because I love my mussels!!! However, they do have different options from New Glasgow
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Supper
    • This is next on my list, since they proudly proclaim that they have the 60 ft salad bar. Any Lobster Supper where I can get all the mussels I want with Tabouleh and Hummus as sides, I’m going to beating a line to it.

    St Ann’s Church Lobster Supper

    • I’ve got to do more research on this Lobster Supper, but as they don’t claim to have unlimited everything, this isn’t going to be a priority stop along the way for me. The reviews on TripAdvisor are also a bit mixed which doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies about it either.

When you’re all done with your Lobster Supper, you can stop off at the covered bridge and the Bakery alongside it

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Destination Wedding at San Jose el Viejo in Antigua Guatemala: Rishi & Diane

Posted by Rishiray on July 30, 2014

Destination Wedding at San Jose el Viejo in Antigua Guatemala: Rishi & Diane

Here continues the photo blog for our wedding … I thought I was being a bit self indulgent with my pre-ceremony posting, but I’ve gotten so many positive notes and comments from my readers, so I’m just going with it. It also helps to have some great pictures to post … so here is part 1 of our ceremony at San Jose el Viejo in Antigua, Guatemala.


















Photography and Film: Julie Comfort : Comfort Studio | Shoes: Amanda King : A Crafty King | Floral: Escensia | Videographer: Jonathan Yonkers | Reception: San Jose el Viejo and Las Capuchinas catered by Westin Camino Real | Invites: Diane Mitchell : Handstampology.com | Hair & Makeup: Melissa Woods : Golden Studio | Grooms suit: Manhattan Tailor, Phuket Thailand | Truffles: Antigua on the arch street | Cookies: Maria Jose Garcia Gandara | Dress: Pronovia Gowns, Washington, DC | Wedding Favors : Diane Mitchell : Handstampology.com

Posted in Central America, Guatemala | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Yet another I Do Guatemala horror story …

Posted by Rishiray on July 30, 2014

Over the last year, I’ve gotten many responses and e-mails from brides to be about to my negative “I Do, Guatemala” wedding planner review. A regular business is only as good as the satisfaction of it’s customer … but wedding planners are a bit insulated from this feedback model because it’s a referral business. It also helps when you have a business that has a quasi-monopoly on being a destination wedding planning business to English speaking brides. If you can’t find the links to the first I Do, Guatemala review or my FAQ, here they are

Normally, I wouldn’t post the back and forth e-mails, but Veronica’s story was so similar to our story that I had to cross post. We would have cut ties with Diana but she held our wedding venue reservations for Las Capuchinas and San Jose el Viejo and we didn’t want to risk her cancelling the venues and hence completely ruining the wedding planning. The letter is just an opinion and is meant to help prospective brides with their planning … like any business interaction, your mileage may vary and Diana could be a good planner for you, she just was terrible for us and now Veronica.

Name*: Veronica Gomez
Email*: ligia21@att.net
Website: http://
Subject*: Wedding 2015
Message*: Good afternoon Rishi,

I had emailed you before, regarding the experience I was having with Diana of I do Guatemala. As it turns out both my fiancée and myself agreed 110% that cutting ties with Diana was better than dealing with her inconsistency, even if we lost our deposit (which we did!). I’m not sure what month I emailed you, but late last year we had a lot very personal and unfortunately family circumstances that prevented us from continuing the planning of our wedding and when tried to talk to Diana over email or Skype she was very short in her response and never available. My heart was not in it, I even tried contacting her and explaining what we were going through, but she never responded; very unprofessional.
I saw that you posted my original email and I’m glad you did, because now more bride/grooms will know not to hire her based on what they see online or pictures she posts, which was my original mistake.

My fiancée and I have been together for 10 years and have two beautiful little girls and happy to report that we are moving forward with our plan to get married. I’m for the most part doing a lot of things on my own, which means I will probably be traveling to Guatemala and with the help of my sister in law who lives in Guatemala I will put together a wonderful and beautiful wedding.

I’m so happy to see that you answered a lot of the questions others had and I’m going to be using some of those tips and contacts.

Planning a wedding can be an overwhelming and scary thing to do, that I’m glad people like you are out there to help guide those of us that can feel lost in the process.

I had one more question, in your list of contacts I did not see any information regarding the bartenders you used. I would like to maybe use the same ones you used; I would be very grateful if you could provide that information.

Thank you again for everything.

Best Regards

Veronica Gomez

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I Do Guatemala review follow-up : Questions and Answers

Posted by Rishiray on July 4, 2014

It’s been almost a year since our epic wedding in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s also been almost since our exorcism from the wedding planning outfit of “I Do, Guatemala” … we’re still not over how upset we were with them. Based on the number of e-mail responses from other brides who had WORSE experiences than us … I think enough time has passed and enough responses gathered to ascertain that we were not the only ones who were completely screwed by the lack of planning, preparation and care exhibited by “I Do, Guatemala”.

Here’s a sample list of questions from one

  • Could you possibly give me a rough idea of what you did yourself and/or what was provided? For example, you had gorgeous little notes with your wedding favours, and I love the fans that doubled up as programs. Were those provided by you or I Do Guatemala?

    Done by Diane … in fact, because of “I Do”, she made ALL of the favours. The lessons she learned from the wedding translated into a thriving little side business at handstampology.com (Good things can happen from bad people)

    https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/HandStampOlogy/

    The fans are not available right now, since Diane’s been inundated with orders and she’s at capacity because of wedding season. However she can send you a private listing of the fans that she’s sold … or you can see fan pics at

    https://www.facebook.com/handstampology

  • What did you decide to do on your own because it was cheaper?
    We organized the liquor, the food, the housing, the transport … it was all cheaper and easier to do on our own. A lot of the props like antique boxes and the old school bell, we bought in the craft markets prior. We stored all of our stuff with friends who live in Guatemala City.
  • How was the food? What did they provide?
    The food was catered by Hotel Camino Real (The best hotel in Antigua) … the food was amazing, however we did many tastings – I’m very specific about the food. The hotel catered the servers, food, and transport along with cutlery etc.
  • Was the quote for flowers, etc., enough? Or were there lots of hidden extras?
    The quote for flowers was worked out with Escencia. Not many hidden extras to speak about.
  • You talk in your blog about a contact list, but I couldn’t see it – would you be able to send this to me?
    I didn’t ever publish the contact list – since there were too many emails to go through and I just haven’t had the time to collate this. Invariably … it got pushed to the wayside.

    What I do have to publish are the other horror stories from other brides who have emailed me based on their experiences with I Do. It’s not pretty.

  • I may try to do the whole thing without a planner. Is that possible???
    • Only attempt this with the following parameters
      • If you’re from Guatemala or speak Spanish AND
      • If you have a network of friends there who are willing to go back and forth between Guatemala City and Antigua AND
      • If you have a husband with unlimited airmiles who can fly you there 3-4 times between now and your wedding for tastings, meetings and shopping AND
      • If you have friends who understand the Guatemalan way of booking things, permits and doing business
I Do has business and can keep screwing people because as beautiful as the place is, they know that people will pay a premium not having to deal with all the BS on having to do business in Guatemala.
  • Do you have a trusted friend or person that you can refer me to, that can help with my wedding??
    If you’re looking for someone to help you, we have a friend who also got into the business after going through this with another friend. I’d be happy to pass along the information to you. Please e-mail me directly for this.
  • You’re scaring me … so you’re saying that I should have a planner, but you can’t recommend “I Do” … can you recommend someone else?
    No … read our story again. Multi-level failure by Diana at I Do … that scares anyone from using another planner.
  • How many events did you have in your wedding week?
    We had four days of events
  1. Day One: We had an Antigua tour which we rented the hop on-hop off buses and they provided a really great Antigua tour, followed by a meet and greet with traditional Guatemalan food, drinks and music (marimba) at the houses we rented.
  2. Day Two: we had the rehearsal and dinner for immediate family followed by a salsa night out where we provided nachos, drinks, salsa lessons, etc.
  3. Day Three: the wedding day.  The lanterns, table decor, flowers, etc. were all done by our designer/decor guy who’s name is Mario Ayala from Escensia
  4. Day Four: the day after brunch was held at Hotel Camino Real-they have a beautiful outdoor area, and a delicious buffet.  We also priced out the terrace at Trocolli. I gave up on that idea because I kept getting different prices and the quotes just never seemed to work out.
  • How did you find a hairdresser there?
    We lucked out … we had an amazing hair/makeup artist … Melissa Collins, she’s a Canadian woman who lives in Antigua – she was phenomenal. Unless you’re Latina or Guatemalan, don’t go with the Guatemalan makeup girls … we had a number of trials. The makeup artists were either late, no-shows or put on clown make up for Diane. I don’t get the whole Latina, overdone make up BS.
  • I loved your videos & photos but couldn’t you have hired a Guatemalan video/photographer
    We previewed many wedding videos … most of them were just not great. You get what you pay for and what you research. I suggest that you put a LOT of time into picking our your videographer. It’s probably the single most expensive item you’ll pay for and probably the item that will be shared the most.http://vimeo.com/81519327 : This one looked like a Mexican telenovela – there’s a lot of this. It wasn’t our style.
  • Your officiant was great … how did you find him?
    He was amazing! In fact, he was one of the only good things that Diana did. We’re both not very religious and he completely understood what we wanted our ceremony to be about.httpsvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ejRqOF4Cco
  • Are you sure you’re not making this stuff up?
    It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? Well I’m posting a couple emails I’ve received from readers who had similar experiences – I’ve taken full names out and masked the email addresses.

    • From: Alissa Jo******* <alissa******@gmail.com>
      Date: Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM
      Subject: The “I do” review!
      To: rishi@rishiray.comHi Rishi (and Diane),

      First, thanks for posting your review of I Do Guatemala.  I’m getting married in Antigua with Diana in a little over a month and experiencing nearly everyone of these issues!  So frustrating!  So at least this validates my frustrations! I luckily do have some really great friends and contacts living in Guatemala that have been able to help… but still…! Will also set up some sort of review when this is all said and done!
      I’m writing as it being too late for me to fire her… I’m wondering if you can pass along the contact sheet you mention in your review.  I’m also interested in knowing where you got your lanterns, as that is a line item that seemed really pricey for what it was!  And flowers- how did she end up charging you for them?  She just has this arbitrary number no matter what I say I like that is confusing me and she won’t give me any more details about it…
      I guess any other tidbits you have that helped you manage are appreciated too!
      Again, thanks for posting.  Your wedding was beautiful and I’m sure everyone had an amazing time!  This whole process has made me want to move to Guatemala and be a wedding planner… I could do SUCH a better job… clearly, you could too:)
      best,
      Alissa
    • Name*:    veronica Gom****
      Email*:    carleal_*****@msn.com
      Subject*:    Antigua Guate. WeddingMy fiancé and I are planning our wedding in Antigua Guatemala for 2015. It scares me to read your review of I Do Guatemala, because we have already put a down payment for the venue and I Do’s service. Like you I’ve yet to see our receipt and have not heard back on some items that I needed information on. I’ve thought of doing everything myself, but because I don’t live there I wouldn’t have a clue where to even begin.I’m wondering if you can provide me with a list of the contacts you used (i.e. make up, flowers, vendors…) I would greatly appreciate it. This whole process has caused me so much stress, that I have even thought of cancelling it all together and see our deposit as a loss. I just think of how beautiful it all can be, that I almost have talk myself back into having it there.
      Gratefully yours

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Why Brazil will win not World Cup 2014

Posted by Rishiray on June 20, 2014

In an ongoing battle about Brazilian ridiculousness, I’m willing to overlook many things

  • Supremely high crime rates in Rio
  • Pollution beyond belief in areas outside the major cities
  • Shocking poverty in many of the favelas, especially for a country purporting to be 1st world!

What I cannot overlook is the unsubstantiated and unwavering belief that Brazil will win the FIFA World Cup 2014. After 2 matches, I’ve seen a very unconvincing win over Croatia and draw that Brazil was lucky to have.

Make no mistake, in that first game … Croatia, by the middle of the second half, were boring the world to death, so I’m not going to shed a bunch of tears about that drawn penalty. But make no mistake: Fred dove to draw what would turn out to be the game-winning penalty, converted by Neymar in a performance that fell something short of electric but nestled snugly into the realm of “opportunistic.”If you didn’t see the dive, here’s a replay of it

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP20D5vQsmM

Here’s other multiple angles of the dive

This epic diving performance was enough, in the World Cup opener, to give a Seleção the “W” … it was unquestionably the turning point of the game.

As for that second match with Mexico, the focus on Guillermo Ochoa is justified. That man, the myth, the legend … he was like Quetzlcoatl coming back to life … he saved as though he remembered that the Aztecs decapitated people after losing matches in Chichen Itza. The Mexican goalkeeper had a brilliant match — coming up with six saves (a tournament high) and at least four of them were stunning. It was like the man had 10 fingers …

… on each hand

Was this the Mexican goalie?

However stunning that performance, Mexico were superb in defence, they were quick on the counter and their tackles were hard but most importantly, they weren’t afraid of Brazil. They came into the match with a plan and stuck to it. And with some luck they could have won as well.

With Hulk missing out due to injury, Fred had to lead the line and he had an awful match. Fred — no, he didn’t dive this time round — completed 8 of 16 attempted passes (50 percent) and just one of the passes was in the penalty area. His almost invisible display meant that Brazil were rarely threatening enough in the final third of the field. Also while Neymar is expected to score goals, they need the strikers to step up and make their mark as well. If Brazil want to harbour any hopes of winning the World Cup, they need to show more attacking onus.

However, if Brazil have to go back home early … they won’t be crying … here’s a little bit of what’s waiting at home

Finally …. here’s why Brazil will win not World Cup 2014

Even their sand sculptures are sexy

Posted in FIFA World Cup 2014 | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

English football fans should just give up on life …

Posted by Rishiray on June 20, 2014

Many people cheer very, very loudly when the “Three Lions” … now aptly renamed to the “Three Mice” are soundly beaten. I can imagine loud singing of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” or “Ally’s Tartan Army” or “Men Of Harlech” for Irish, Scots and Welsh respectively. As it stands right now, things don’t look too good for the Three Mice.
loss

 

Even the most diehard, patriotic England supporter must be slightly nervous of the prospect of Roy Hodgson’s men crashing out of the World Cup with defeat to Costa Rica now.  With the Three Mice’s loss, it will be confirmed when Italy draw with Uruguay in their final match, since it’s assumed that Italy will beat Costa Rica .

To prepare any die hard England fan that reads this blog, you should think about the dreariness of the English summer and really about adopting a new team, since England’s World Cup dreams end at the first hurdle. Unlike the Spanish who have tons to look forward when they go home … lets first think about the English and what they go back home to …

London

When the “Three Mice” team are back home, they can wander about on the Tube getting lost, the same way they look on a football field. Maybe they could start jumping from double decker bus to bus with no aim and purpose, just like Wayne Rooney’s header

wayne-rooney-cant-buy-a-goal-against-uruguay

Yep, it’s as dreary as you think …. Mind the Gap!

Double Decker buses?

English fans looking like they normally do

Stonehenge

Completely dismal, overrated pile of rocks in the strange place, in the middle of nowhere. Come to think of it, the English team played like an overrated pile of rocks … then I guess really it’s the right place for them to be. Wayne Rooney should make his house out of the stones, in fact when I think about Wayne Rooney …

It’s as overrated as it looks, just like Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney?

If someone told me this was Wayne Rooney, I wouldn’t have a hard time believing them

As for teams that they can follow

  • Belgium

    We love a dark horse and, while it may be difficult for Belgium to still qualify in this category with so many people backing them to do well, there’s still not the nailed-on expectancy which accompanies the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Germany. Plus, many fans of Premier League clubs will have a link to Belgium, with Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton all represented in their squad.

  • Holland

    Well if you’re going to ditch England, you may as well pick a side with a chance of success. The Dutch were runners-up at the last World Cup in 2010 and have started like an absolute train this time around, embarrassing Spain before seeing off Australia. They play attractive football and if they can win their group (and likely avoid Brazil in the next round), they have a good chance of going far.

  • Switzerland

    There’s little English connection in the Swiss camp, but they’re a pretty inoffensive team to follow. They’ve yet to play France in Group E, so already they’ll have the backing of many an English fan and with a win already under their belts, they’re a good bet to reach the last 16.

  • GhanaThey may have lost their first game of the World Cup to a late USA winner, but they’ve yet to play Germany or Portugal – two teams England fans have little affinity towards. And come on, who can’t love the Ghanaian players’ brilliant attitude?
  • Cartoon Dream Team by Nike

    This will be the closest that Rooney comes to greatness.
    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy1rumvo9xc

English football fans should just give up on life … seriously😀

Posted in FIFA World Cup 2014 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Spain crashed out the World Cup … but don’t feel sad for them.

Posted by Rishiray on June 19, 2014

Spain, the world champions, the double European champions, the team of the decade, are out of the World Cup . The reign of Spain is over because they were plain, uninspired and out-played. With Spain’s shocking exit from the FIFA World Cup 2014, I felt a little sad for them.
The Spanish were perennial underachievers in every World Cup, always a “dark horse” or underdog … no one ever gave them the footballing respect they deserved until they won in 2010.

However, when I think about the Spanish football team, I don’t feel sad for them because they get to go back to super model girlfriends, eating amazing food and being back in their own beautiful and safer cities than those of Brazil. Let’s think about this starting squad and where they get to go back to …

Madrid

The home of Casillas, Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Koke and Diego Costa is a gorgeous old city along with having two semi decent football clubs in Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid. I’m pretty sure while they’re playing along in this fine stadium, they won’t be thinking about the loss and embarrassment felt by their Spaniard countrymen around the world.

It’s an ok stadium, if you’re into that

I wouldn’t be crying if I could walk around and have drinking along the square like this

Tossed in a random church shot … just cause

… still feeling sad for them? How about those who go to …

Barcelona

If wandering back to Madrid wasn’t a nice enough start, there are those like Gerald Pique, Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Bousquets and Pedro Rodríguez who get to head back to Catalan country and Barcelona. If you don’t love the warmth of a beachside city, then you have the nightlife off Las Ramblas and if not nightlife, then you have the food and architecture.

I love this bubble art

When you enter … the tingles start!

I love this little bar off Las Ramblas … it surely won’t be there the next time we go back

Walking along the boardwalk at midnight … not the worst thing ever

The human carnival of Las Ramblas

I don’t know how many of those guys pray, but I think after the beatdown … they will want to hide somewhere and La Sagrada Familia isn’t the worst place to hide … in plain sight

I’m sure that there will be some graffiti with an homage to the Spanish failure coming soon to a store front in Barcelona!

… still feeling sad for them? How about those who go to …

Seville

Sevilla isn’t one of the glamour clubs in Spanish football, but I thought that I had some of the best food in Spain here … even better than Barcelona. Seville has some seriously incredible food…and it’s cheap! I spent a lot of time finding tapas bars and ordering lots of tasty dishes to sample. As much as I love Barcelona, I have to admit this is one thing Sevilla does better – way better. Two places to try are Tapas Viapol (C/José Recuerda Rubio 5) and Bodega Dos de Mayo (Plaza de la Gavidia 2). The Andaluzes are loud people who eat tapas, dance flamenco, go to bullfights, and sometimes even shout “¡Óle!” … I’m sure that Alberto Moreno won’t be crying in his Clara con Limon to go back home.

Enjoying my tapas all round.

How about some Flamenco in a Monastery at night? Yep … and it’s free!

You thought I was kidding eh?

While you’re there crying for La Roja (“The Red [One]”), La Furia Roja (“The Red Fury”), La Furia Española (“The Spanish Fury”) or simply La Furia (“The Fury”) or whatever you want to call those Spanish football pretenders … you must also visit the Real Alcázar de Sevilla. Hands down my favorite thing to see in Sevilla. It’s modeled on the famous Alhambra in Granada, and I actually liked it even more. Every inch of the palace is covered in intricate detail, the mix of architectural styles is fabulous, and the gardens are stunning.

Here’s the view from the Real Alambra though

More gardens ….

So in the end, Spain crashed out the World Cup … but don’t feel sad for them … I certainly don’t!

Posted in FIFA World Cup 2014 | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How do you keep a travel blog running when you’re not travelling?

Posted by Rishiray on May 13, 2014

What happens when you’ve done an epic trip and you’re back?

Or you’ve finished your around the world trip, posted amazing stories and pictures and had great stuff to write about every day while you’re travelling. Then you get back “home”, get back into the routine of work, errands and generally moving back into the daily grind, and you can’t motivate yourself to write or put any new content to put into your blog. Well folks … welcome to blogger fatigue or blogger burnout. Most blogs start off as well meaning projects by their writers, but then invariably fall to the wayside through neglect, boredom or just a new hobby coming along the way.

I’ve been at this travel blogging thing for about 8 years.

8 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Over the last 8 years, I’ve seen my traffic spike from 10 people a month visiting it to about 8000-10,000+ visits a month. When I have fresh new content i.e. when I’m travelling to some exotic destination … my visitors also go up. So what happens when you don’t update anything for about 2 months … I’ve found that my traffic hasn’t done poorly … it’s dropped to about 7000 visits a month. This being said, it’s tough to keep yourself motivated when you’re back home without a new adventure on the horizon to stoke your travel blood and wanderlust.

On the road, it’s easy to feel like this … but being at home does make you feel like that too🙂

This is my first post in about 50 days! It’s the longest I’ve gone without posting in the last 5 years … there’s some good reasons

  • Family visit to Trinidad
  • Working a lot more
  • Shift in responsibilities
  • Catching up with friends when I was back in the new year.

It’s easy to write a travel blog, if this is your morning view. You just want to write and share … this picture courtesy of awesomeness in Arenal, Costa Rica!

How do you keep a travel blog running when you’re not travelling? I went to a number of well known travel blogs to find some tips on keeping this blog running during this non travelling period and found a couple tips … but they didn’t all reasonate with me …

  1. Top Ten Lists:

    Since I have travelled to a lot of countries, I do have a wealth of experience from the road. I thought about putting up top 10 lists in all the countries I’ve visited. I’ve done this before when I was tired of writing … top 10 list are the “linkbait” or “fast food” of blogs. They’re easy to write, easy to read but generally never enough to actually be thorough informative. I could compile list of restaurants, picture blogs or just “stream of consciousness” posts … but I’ve just been too lazy. So screw that!!

  2. Blog Carnivals:

    I could invite other bloggers that I respect and admire to submit a link to their favourite posts. But who am I kidding … this is my blog, when you come here, you’re going to read my bullshit and no one elses. Having other bloggers write for you is an excellent way to build friends in the community and drive traffic up … did I mention that I’m lazy and I could care less for more friends. I can barely keep up with the friends that I do have.

  3. Guest Posts:

    I thought about inviting friends to write guest posts on my blog … I’ve extended the invitation to travelling friends for the last 5 years. Guess how many friends took me up on writing a post … hint … it’s rhymes with Hero or Nero or Gyro.  Note : The number actually rhymes with Won, Done or Hun … You get the idea … I’d love to have a different writer contribute to the blog … but then again, I just have to refer to bullet #2 above.

  4. Fantasy Posts:

    Have you seen these types of posts. Bloggers write about their dream vacations or dream destinations. This doesn’t work for me … because I’m a jealous asshole when it comes to travelling. When someone goes to a country that I haven’t been, I tend to get pretty obnoxious about it (and pretty petty about it too).
    I’ve used that travel jealousy to push me to go somewhere new … but I must be getting older now, since I have less and less travel jealousy.

  5. Being a tourist in my own town:

    When I’m in Toronto, I have almost no desire to leave the house. SERIOUSLY!!!
    I can traipse around the world, figure out complex destinations, flip over golf carts or tuk tuks but when I’m home, I find nothing exciting about it … even though I know I live in a world class city with world class food and events. Nothing is very exciting when it’s in your backyard … especially when you think you have all the time in the world to see the stuff in your own backyard. So while I want to be a tourist in my own town … I’m just lazy (see bullet #1)

    This guys was shot in Torres del Paine in Southern Chile. It’s awesome and shows why I won’t bother with doing this at home

    Even when I lived in Trinidad, I never did everything I could … hence why my “100 things to do in Trinidad” post has about 80 things.

  6. Photo Collections:

    I have a bazillion pictures online … Who doesn’t love pretty pictures? Who doesn’t love cute kids? Who doesn’t love a little link loving from their fellow travel bloggers? I have so many pictures, that I could post reams of them for months and still never really run out of pictures to post and blog content to create. This is one idea that should be so easy …
    EXCEPT
    I’m such a perfectionist with my photography that I only want to blog about my great pictures … as though all the crappy pictures don’t tell stories by themselves. Of course … how can you brag about all the places you’ve been, if you have completely shitty pictures? That’s just a thought … but no matter what any bloggers say to themselves … a travel blog is the height of vanity projects!

    Oh look at me … “I’m so awesome travelling all around” or “I know stuff cause I drank snake venom and vodka” or some other blah blah blah writing. I’m under no such pretense!!!

For those people who think you can write a travel blog without having travelled or travelling very little … I’m here to tell you stop. Would you want to listen to me give you tips on your jumpshot or would you listen to LeBron James?

Exactly!!! You want to write … then go out and travel. When you’re a little tired of travelling, then you can sit in your house, be a hermit for a while and complain about not writing!!

Posted in Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Timelapsing Through Trinidad

Posted by Rishiray on March 28, 2014

Timelapsing Through Trinidad : Here’s a great timelapse video shot in the island of Trinidad by photographers Kevin Huggins and Anthony Fung. The journey takes you from the beaches, to the cities, to the country side and back to the beaches. It is flawlessly produced and has a powerful soundtrack that enhances the amazing visuals. I’ll quit talking now and let you watch this. I promise, you’ll be amazed.

How They Did It

WINNER OF MOST ORIGINAL FILM AWARD AT CHRONOS FILM FESTIVAL
chronosfilmfestival.com/

For 10 days in August 2011, Anthony and Kevin set out on an “epic” adventure to timelapse some of Trinidad. In their words

“The adventure was awesome… some of the TLs not so much… but hey it was literally all about the journey… and shooting a tremendous 25,000+ stills”

I must confess that the music is definitely more epic than some of the clips. Still, hope you enjoy the vid :)

Music: “Globus” by 1M1 Music
via Music Loops
musicloops.com/royalty_free_music_composer/1m1-music-12/

Photographers & Videographers:

  • Kevin Huggins
  • Anthony Fung

Camera Equipment:

  • Canon 5DMKII
  • Canon 7D
  • Panasonic GH2

Posted in Caribbean, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Food, drinks and a great night in Mendoza, Argentina

Posted by Rishiray on March 19, 2014

On my Antarctic odyssey, we Mendoza is one of the best places to visit in the West of Argentina. It’s a vibrant city, renowned for its marvelous art, history and it’s almost impossible to not to have a great night in Mendoza. This land is the most important viticulturist center in south America and houses hundreds of wineries.

The city is centered around the Plaza Independencia , with a pedestrian street (Calle Sarmiento) running through the center.  The Plaza Independencia is a huge plaza in downtown Mendoza. It easily covers 3 – 4 large city blocks in a square. There are vendors selling their wares along one side, a beautiful massive water feature in the middle of the Plaza where you can rest on a warm Mendoza night enjoying the light spray from the water or listening to an impromptu speech or Fringe performance from actors. A safe great place to visit any time of day or night.

I love Argentina for the ease and relative safety of nightlife. … you can walk in the main areas at almost any time of night

Around the fountains is hub of activity (after midnight) for the city. Kids practicing parquet, gymnastics, families wondering around, stalls, afternoon snoozes etc. This place has it all.

I love the feeling at night … everything is so safe. I wish I could walk around Trinidad like this at night.

Light sculpture in the Square

After walking through Plaza Independencia, you could head over for dinner at the Hyatt Plaza Mendoza.With an impressive façade that resembles a European palace, the Park Hyatt is nestled the center of the city, adjacent to the Plaza Independencia. With white columns and marble floors, the grand lobby, though sporting a modern furniture, harkens back to days of old. Distant sounds of bells and whistles from the connected casino blend with soft piano music playing in the background.
My plan was to have a death causing amount of amazing steak, sausage and parilla. The concierge at the Sheraton told me that if I was hungry for cow, then the Hyatt would be the place. The quality of the meat was excellent and while pricey by Argentine standards … paying $40 for about 3 lbs of steak, sausage and other “amazingness” is a phenomenal value.

I didn’t hit the Casino … but this is definitely a swank hotel! It made the Sheraton presidential suit look like shits and giggles.

Dinner on the patio … probably is a good option unless you’re looking to eat 25lbs of meat in one sitting.

Who cares about salad? It’s the food that food eats.

I also tried the empanada, which was execution in excellence!

Now this is the type of grill that I need in my house.

Other friends ordered some excellent steak … and to be fair, it looked great.

I took this down like a champ … well I took down half of it

Roar!

The previous night I was sent for meat to an old school restaurant called Don Mario. I was told that it was one of the better ones in the city, but on my night there, I was completely unimpressed.

Even having heard from two people in Mendoza this is a traditional, GOOD place for meat, the reality is pretty far from the (questionable) fame it has. The restaurant’s ambiance is absolutely neutral, impersonal and unattractive. The service provided to the three of us was very, very poor and the food was well below an acceptable average.

This was just terribly done. I definitely wouldn’t recommend Don Mario

Nightlife in Argentina is well known worldwide and Mendoza is no exception. There were a lot of people drinking … in fact, there were a disproportionately high number of women outside drinking. It was almost like a fashion show in the center square.Mendoza produces 70% of Argentine wine and Argentina is the fifth biggest producer in the world. Thursday through Sunday are the biggest nights, when people get started around midnight.

Which floor should we go to?

Looking for a patio to sit down

Still searching …

Guess what we ended up drinking?

The locals are friendly for sure!

I think this sums up the night!

Posted in Argentina, South America | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I miss being the only Trinidadian in Uzbekistan

Posted by Rishiray on March 18, 2014

It’s been about a year since my epic first adventure through Central Asia and specifically being blown away by Uzbekistan as a tourist destination. In a somewhat perverse way, I also miss being a sideshow attraction of being a Trinidadian in Uzbekistan. For instance, when I was walking through the Walled City of Khiva, I subject to many curious glances and a lot of people said “Hi!” …if just to figure out where I was from … since they hadn’t seen a big brown guy before.

While walking out the city .. the kids attacked me for candy

Here’s my longing glance at the camera hoping for rescue from the cute children.

Everywhere Lev (my Russian guide😛 ) and I walked, people were interested in chatting with us. They asked some of the following questions

  • Where are you from?
  • You’re not from India are you?
  • You can’t be from India because you don’t look like an Indian, right?
  • Where is Trinidad?
  • Is Trinidad in Africa?
  • Why are you friends with a Russian?
  • How did you meet your Russian friend?
  • Your accent is so awesome and funny … do all people from your country speak like that?
  • Can I take a picture with you?

Posing for pictures and being the center of attention … of course I would never like that

The guy in the jacket even looked like my bodyguard

Having lunch in a restaurant, the staff wanted me to take a picture of them and with them.

I’m trying to figure out the right settings. It was some shady lighting in there.

I also miss the super terrible wine that I had in Uzbekistan. I’m not a oenophile but I know shitty tasting shit when I drink it, and that wine in Uzbekistan was super shitty shit … but it’s also a must do experience if you’re there in Samarkand.

Reactions of pain and helplessness

How about wandering through Registan Square in Samarkand?

Ummm why is there a crowd taking my picture?

Yep … this is me trying to escape .. and you’re wondering why I have the same shirt on different days … I bought three of them!

The other thing I miss is bypass all aspects of face control. This was a big concern of mine while I was over there. I thought that since they hadn’t seen many brown people over there, that I wouldn’t have free reign over where I wanted to go. This was never the case, even though I saw signs like this everywhere …

I wonder if they could institute both of these in Trinidad without serious issues?

I think I was also the only person who could dance over there … and I am a terrible dancer for a Trinidadian unless I’m drunk, then I’m pretty awesome … (to my drunken self)

Who doesn’t love a club in the middle of nowhere with all the ladies sitting down?

Posted in Asia, Uzbekistan | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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