Category Archives: Travels

Whatever happened to that trip you were taking?

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated and my apologies for that. I’m at a bit of a crossroads for Subism.com. I greatly want to revamp the site to add a store, but I also want to integrate a responsive web design layout. Unfortunately,  things require learning a lot and I’ve been pre-occupied.

As you may recall, or if you scroll down approximately two entries, late last year I was working on a social media travel experiment. The gist of it was that I was backpacking through Europe via train. Along the way I was taking people’s suggestions and recommendations via social media or where to go, what to do with the intention of reporting it here and sharing the total findings at this year’s SXSW interactive festival.

For a while I was posting daily, then it crept down to posting once per city and then finally I found out that the SXSW panel had been rejected. While that took a lot of the wind out of my sails I intended to keep going regardless. I kept collecting data and working on it daily just the same. I have a Moleskine notebook filled with notes, a ton of “starred” Tweets and gigabytes of photos to share. However, the issue that remains is what to do with it all. Without the panel as a destination, how the data would be presented requires a dramatic rethinking. I will compile it with conclusions at some point but right now, I’m unsure exactly what that will look like.

Aside from the SXSW rejection my trip was suddenly cut short. This was due to a variety of personal reasons including a death in my family. Despite my abrupt return to the states, I had still planned to head back out towards Asia and Oceania. However after a little while it became clear that it simply wasn’t the right time for me to do so.

All that said, I’ve been busy since my return. I’, working on a few different projects that I will hope to share sometime soon. I’ve also been spending a lot more time over on my Tumblr.

One of the things I will elaborate on very soon is something I’m calling The Impossible Year. Feel free to check it out ahead of time if you wish.

Cheers!

PS – The book is still on sale!

“Standing But Not Operating” – Book On Sale!

UPDATE 4/15/12: ‘Standing But Not Operating’ is now on sale on Apple’s iBookstore.

I am pleased to announce that I now have a photography book on sale for the holidays!

The book is entitled “Standing But Not Operating” and is a compilation of shots of Six Flags New Orleans.

For those unfamiliar: Six Flags New Orleans was flooded under 9 feet of water and destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The property was subsequently left to rot by Six Flags who cherry picked what they could from it and left the rest as a liability for the city.

James and I ventured down there in April and found our way into the park illegally, eventually being caught by the police for trespassing and graciously allowed to retain our images.

From the back cover:

“Standing But Not Operating” is a term used for an amusement park ride that is still standing in place but for whatever reason not operating.

Since being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005 the amusement park formerly known as “Six Flags New Orleans” has been standing but not operating after facing abandonment and an uncertain future.

For the few who have visited the park since it’s closure it has served as a place frozen in time. A haunting memorial to the devastation and perseverance of the city of New Orleans.

This is a 40 page 10″x8″ softcover book and includes 37 of my favorite shots from that trip which I am selling for $30. I am also making an iBooks compatible ePub available for $9.99 if you’d rather have that.

To date this is personally my most beloved photo project. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do and I really appreciate your support.

You can pick up the book here: Standing But Not Operating

Of course the original photo set will continue to exist on Flickr at a lower resolution. If you’d like a preview of the images feel free to check them out here: Standing But Not Operating on Flickr.

Thank you!

Paris Day 2

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that will define me for the next few months; that of a backpacker. My goal is to explore the world, learn about other cultures and meet new people all through the aid of digital tools and social media. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes I am making my way based on recommendations of friends and followers.


The Louvre before sunset

On my second day in Paris I gave up trying to find a constant connection for my devices and decided to knock as much off of my checklist as possible and planned to leave the next day. So I got up early and found my way to the Catacombs. Lis Rock and others were pretty adamant about it too

I had long heard about Paris’ dramatic underground tomb & tunnel system so I made it a point to get to it on this trip. The cost of entry was 8€ + 3€ for the audio guide. The walk through is entirely self paced through an unguided pathway. Any diversions in the tunnels have been gated off to prevent visitors from getting lost. The path has very few modern signs or notes in the tunnels and almost none of them are in English making the audio guide well worth it.

The combination of the calm voices of the audio guide and the long walk wound up being a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the Paris streets. Kinda odd when you consider being surrounded by the remains of thousands of the dead.

After walking up the 83 steps back to the street level I immediately found the gift shop across the street (surprise, surprise). There I picked up some postcards and a bottle of Absinthe. On my way out I decided to ask the gentleman working there where in the area I could get a sandwich. Immediately after I asked I could see the excitement on his face, he then told me that his absolute favorite place in Paris was just three blocks away on a little corner by a roundabout. He quickly jotted down directions and emphasized “best sandwiches in Paris. No tourists.” This was exactly what I wanted to hear.

I took his advice and headed up the block and over to a little place called Le pPin d’Auguste (unfortunately not found on FourSquare) and found there was only one other customer. After she finished ordering I attempted to ask for a sandwich in the crudest most gratingly awful French ever spoken. The girl behind the counter laughed and told me, in English, that normally she wouldn’t have time to make a sandwich from scratch but she would for me since there was no one else around. A few minutes later I was eating the most delicious ham and cheese ever on the best French bread ever. Well done Catacombs gift-shop guy, well done.

After that I needed to recharge mentally and physically so I stopped at a Starbucks, got on Wifi for a bit, and caught up with the world and took suggestions for the evening.

From there I headed back to Notre Dame like the day before. This time I quietly explored the area while mass was in session and I marveled at the amazing stained glass work from the inside. I then relaxed in the plaza for a while and then decided to take the advice of Tim Dreyer on Twitter to check out the Musee de l’Orangerie and see their impressionist collection. With that in mind I used my map and found it to be on the other side of the Louvre courtyard area so I headed off that way. By the time I got there though it was closed, I looked at the signs and checked, and it wasn’t supposed to be for another hour. I don’t know why but they had closed early this evening. Damn. Out of luck and unsure what to do next I headed to the riverside to watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower.

Out of ideas for the evening and more exhausted and hungry again I took a walk along the riverside. Eventually I came to the Musee d’Orsay, which was also closed, but I stumbled upon a statue of Thomas Jefferson that caught my eye and a street vendor who was grilling some sausages. I stopped, bought a water and a sausage and just as I went to leave the guy asked me, in very broken english, if I had been to the Tower. Not wanting to get into semantics about when I was there (two years ago), I told him I had. He then handed my a silly purple souvenir Eiffel Tower keychain. I thanked him for his generosity and headed in for the night to work on photos and relax at the hostel as I was getting up early the next morning to head to Munich.

Full photo set.

Little Troubles in Big Paris

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that will define me for the next few months; that of a backpacker. My goal is to explore the world, learn about other cultures and meet new people all through the aid of digital tools and social media. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes I am making my way based on recommendations of friends and followers.


When I arrived in Paris via the Eurostar from London, it seemed like everything was going according to plan. I had a restful train ride in which I wrote, edited photos and caught up on that week’s episode of ‘Breaking Bad’. When I got to the station my friend Kirsten was there waiting for me at the gate with a big smile on.

Kirsten is over in Paris for grad school and had moved here just days before my arrival from Chicago. The original plan was for me to stay with her on my arrival and she had anticipated to have an apartment but due to a series of reasons was unable to secure a place beforehand and was staying with someone from her college alumni association. Luckily she had managed to contact me ahead of time and I scrambled in London to find a hostel for Paris.

She needed to pick up her monthly train pass so I took the opportunity to purchase a series of train tickets as well. The next thing on my agenda was to pick up a prepaid SIM card for my phone so I could proceed as planned with the crowd sourcing of the trip. In England there were vending machines at the station so I assumed the situation would be similar in Paris. Not so.

When checked into my hostel I asked the guy at the desk about getting a SIM. I was told that the country has recently cracked down on them, due to anti-terrorism legislation you now need to supply ID and fill out paperwork even to buy even a temporary pre-paid SIM. With little to go on Kirsten and I head off towards the Louvre shopping area to run errands and I figured the guys that the Apple Store would be able to supply more info.

Once there I was able to check in and get my bearings and the staff informed me that there was an Orange store nearby that might be able to solve my problem.

Sure enough, once we arrived at Orange there was a gentlemen who was extremely helpful in getting me setup. For 9,90€ I had what i thought was a working SIM card with 500mb of data in just minutes. We got next-door to the post office and suddenly nothing worked. I popped the SIM card out and plugged it back and suddenly things worked again. Then moments later, they didn’t.

I went back to Orange and eventually discovered that I needed to top up the phone with an additional 10€ to make it work on data, and on top of that, it wouldn’t work until tomorrow anyway.

After a little bit of cross cultural customer service battling I was able to get my money refunded and returned the card. I set out looking for other carriers but soon found myself frustrated and resorting back to a paper city map.

The plan was to catch back up with Kirsten and her friends at a gelato cafe across from Notre Dame around 7. By the time I found myself in the area however I couldn’t locate the cafe in question and spent my time walking up and down the street peering into restaurants for someone I knew before eventually giving up. Tired, hungry and surrounded by expensive food I resorted to the cheapest thing I could find that I knew I could get quickly: Subway.

I tried looking for wifi connections I could use to figure things out but it turns out that the same law that restricted SIM card purchases also restricted open WiFi

Refusing to let the night be a complete bust I trekked back to Notre Dame and spent my time sitting in the courtyard people watching. As I sat there soaking in the incredible architecture, detailed craftsmanship and the camaraderie around me I determined that even though nothing had gone as planned, it didn’t matter, it was still a beautiful night. Also I was eating gelato. Gelato rules.

After some time wandering around I head back towards my hostel and found open WiFi at a bar near the Stalingrad plaza. When I finally got to catch up on tweets, fellow Chicagoan, Elaine noticed I was in Paris and so was she, I then hopped a train and headed her way.

Small photo set posted, more coming soon.

London Part 2

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that will define me for the next few months; that of a backpacker. My goal is to explore the world, learn about other cultures and meet new people all through the aid of digital tools and social media. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes I am making my way based on recommendations of friends and followers.


I got up Monday morning and Blair was determined to show me what she claimed was “the best place to get bagels” in Europe. A claim I was instantly skeptical of, having grown up in New York, I’ve been spoiled for much of my life with great bagels.

It turned out that the place Blair wanted to take me to was somewhere that Lis Rock had already suggested via Twitter from her travel experiences and interestingly there is a competing bagel shop right next door as well so we decided to try both and decide which I preferred.

In the end I preferred the second place’s butter better and they did have poppy seeds which the other did not. These bagels had little in common with the American style bagels I’ve been used to. They were smaller, softer, typically plain (as opposed to seeded or spiced) and near as I could tell neither place offered the option to have them toasted, so my preference was far from a conclusive decision.

After breakfast Blair and I wandered off through the city to the flower market where we listened to street musicians and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of people around us. We then took off exploring through the city checking out the architecture of the financial district and St. Paul’s Cathedral and explored the shopping areas of Covent Garden before taking the advice of Jim Binder once again and checking out a pub called the Nag’s Head. The Nag’s Head was an irish style pub with an extremely short bar and a variety of Adnam’s beers on tap. Blair and I rest there with a pint and some snacks before moving on to meet her husband Patrick for dinner at a pub around the corner from their flat when he returned that evening.

The next day Blair and I went out again and head over to The Victoria and Albert Museum on the suggestion of my aunt. where we found “The Power of Making” exhibit which explores the ways people are creating things of beauty or function out of other things one would not expect. An example of which would include an awesome Crochetdermy bear.

We explored some more from there before getting dinner at The Albion with Patrick and catching some friends of his for a drink nearby and soon calling it a night as the next morning I was off to Paris via the Eurostar.

My time in London was quiet and laid back as I would have expected… from here on out the real trip was set to kick off.

Full London photo set.