In front of the Paris Military Museum 

  Another one of those places in Paris that you would need a week by itself just to see everything.

The Travel Writers Bag

The Travel Writers Bag

By Jack Profijt

The writers bag

The Writers Bag of Tricks

There are tons of articles on the net about travelling and where to go and what to see. There are plenty of different things to read about different travels, and how to get to where we want to go. But have you ever given thought as to how travel writers, or writers in general get what they see and experience onto the written page? All people that write can call themselves writers or authors, however they all have their own style of how they get the things they see or experience on paper or the electronic screen.  I have been asked in the past what I carry in my satchel (Man Purse) that I find to be indispensable as far as getting the ideas right.  So here is what I carry.

First you need a good bag to carry all of your writer junk in. One that is compact yet sturdy, however it doesn’t have to be expensive, but keep in mind you get what you pay for. The one I use has plenty of pockets and a place for everything, including a water bottle and a snack.

A good camera is also a good investment if you plan on doing any of your own content creation. I am currently using a Nikon DSLR3100. I think this camera provides a good balance between portability and quality. It has a crazy amount of options and shooting configurations, and can be mounted on a tri pod. I also carry a cell phone camera as well, this is also a cheaper option. Some of these modern devices have exceptional photo quality as well.

My choice for a note pad is quality over quantity. After all pen and paper are the tools of our trade, so I chose to work with the good quality notebooks bound in an Italian leather case (thanks to my wife). At the very least, I would also look for a refillable book cover, for obvious reasons. Along with this I use good quality pens. Parker Pens are my weapons of choice, if you asked my wife she would tell you that I am a little fanatical about my pens and note books but that is another post. It also doesn’t hurt to have a pencil packed into your writer’s bag of tricks.

One thing that I think is overlooked in the modern age is the good old fashioned voice recorder. You never know when those thoughts are going to strike or if you come up with an interview idea on the spot. Voice recorders can be picked up cheap from any electronic store. However in my case my wife found mine in a puddle, put it in a bowl of rice.. presto chango .. Good as new.

This may seem over the top but a good knife/blade is always useful. It harkens back to my Army and Boy Scout days. It’s better to have one and not need it than to need it and not have one. Besides you never know when you will need to slice into piece of French bread and butter or uncork a bottle of wine or trim a cigar.

Last but not least on my list of items in my writer’s bag of tricks are my watch, wallet, cell phone and of course my glasses. My watch is a Tissot with date and illuminated hands. My phone is an iPhone 4s on which I have an app called Commander Compass. It acts as a GPS and compass. With this app I can find points on a map using several different coordinate systems and then set way points with those coordinates. It is a useful app with too many features to list here. Also the phone carrier that I have has great overseas coverage so I am never out of contact.

So now ya know what’s in my writer’s bag of tricks

An Adventure Can Start In Your Own Home Town

One of the things that I often hear from friends and acquaintances is that traveling to faraway places is too expensive to the point where it is cost prohibitive.  So they don’t go anywhere or do anything that they would consider “traveling”. I think this view is very wrong or a the very least a bad attitude when it comes to what I call the Vagabond Spirit.  What I mean is that the spirit of travel should start with the person, and at home, where they already live.

An adventuring spirit can start right in your very own home. You don’t really need any expensive equipment, just a will to explore. I usually start with a good old fashioned book. Yes I said book. The kind that has numbered pages and crazy stuff like that. The book can be about anything really but they are usually what give me my ideas on what to write, or about places I would like to go. Once the seed is planted the rest just kind of happens. One thing leads to an other and the next thing I know I am out the door.Fountain Montebello Park

To illustrate the point, on the last occasion where I needed to quell the Vagabond Spirit, I took a walk and found myself in a park in my area. Montebello Park in St. Catharines, Ontario for those of you that care to look. I had been in this place a hundred times before but on this occasion I found that I was looking at it through different eyes. It was a place of beauty and quiet, in an otherwise  busy little city. I snapped a few photos and and just sat in the park and watched the world go by. For those that have never tried this I highly recommend this because it is such a simple pleasure.

After my little visit to the park, I recalled that someone had once told me that this park was designed by a famous landscaping architect. So I thought I would take a look and see if there was any truth to the story. Well after a quick google search I found that the story I was told is in fact true. The park was originally designed and created by Frederick Law Olmsted. I found that our little park has lineage with places like Central Park in New York City, the Grounds of the US Capitol Buildings and Mount Royal Park in Montreal.

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

This little piece of quiet in the city has 25 varieties of roses in a well-kept rose garden, and peaceful fountain in the center. It’s a great place to spend a few hours with a good book, on one of the many benches or to listen to music at the many festivals that are held throughout the year.

This little story just serves to show that you don’t need crazy amounts of money or an expansive budget to have a little fun and adventure. It can start with a simple step out your front door.

Sperlonga: Il mare e la spiaggia {Sperlonga: the sea and the beach}

Some great Photos of the Italian coast. Perhaps on the next trip, never can tell .

Rico a Roma

View of Sperlonga and the Tyrrhenian Sea View of Sperlonga and the Tyrrhenian Sea

After spending most of 6 weeks in Rome, I felt like I needed a break from the heat and commotion of the city and the feel of an ocean breeze. I had researched several coastal towns within 1 to 1 1/2 hours from Rome. After seeing the photos and hearing others talk about the beauty of Sperlonga, I decided that would be my destination and since I would be traveling with Rico, an overnight stay where he could rest in a hotel room with air conditioning was going to be the best way to experience this coastal town.

On a Thursday morning, Rico and I walked to Roma Termini train station to hop the train to Fondi. The train ride is 1 hour, 20 minutes. From the train station in Fondi, it’s about a 15 minute bus ride to Sperlonga. When the bus…

View original post 165 more words

Alone at a Table for Two

What I like the most about being someone that travels are the little stories and little things that pass through our lives that make things memorable. Places have the ability to mark us in ways that nothing else can, they leave their imprint upon our minds and more importantly our very soul.

On our last trip to Paris my wife and I had dinner at the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Our birthdays are only a day apart so we thought we would celebrate in style and have dinner in one of the most Iconic places in the world. As we were enjoying our dinner my wife noticed a young lady around twenty five years old, sitting alone at a table for two. She was nicely attired in a brightly coloured sun dress. Her hair was nicely done, and the accents for her outfit were well thought out, and complimented her well. In short she was elegantly dressed for a warm April evening in Paris.

Her table was set, with two glasses of Champagne, white linens, shining silverware, and she was surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a very busy restaurant.  The atmosphere was nice but somehow she seemed sad, and it was my wife that noticed why that might be.

Propped up on a little stand was her mobile phone and on it could be seen a photo. The photo was of an older man, he was smiling in a pleasant way. He had grey hair and looked like a pleasant fellow. We couldn’t help thinking that this little vignette that was playing out was the result of tragedy. That perhaps there was a plan that had not taken shape, or a promise that could not be kept. Perhaps she was saying goodbye, to a father or grandfather and marking the end of her grief. We could see that she had been crying a little, she held a linen napkin at the ready.

In a way we were eavesdropping on a moment in time, a private time in a very public place. It is a moment that now lives on the minds of others. The moment is now a part of the place, it will live on in the young woman’s mind as the place where she said good bye. Paris was created by moments like this, in one place there is happiness and at the very next table there is sadness. There isn’t a street or a cafe that does not have its own unique story to tell, a story that is sometimes hidden from view. However, all that is required to read the story is to take a closer look.

Do’s and Don’t of being a Tourist and Other Tales From Europe

Ending's Beginning

If you’ve ever been standing in the Louvre looking at the Mona Lisa and had people push and step on you to use their selfie stick it may make you want to join the French wait staff and roll your eyes and say “touriste” in disgust.

On this European adventure there’s a few dos and dont’s that I’ve noticed to avoid being reduced to a stereotype.

1. Do have as much amazing coffee and pastries as you want because you will have all the walking to burn it off! Heaven!

2. Don’t ask European wait staff for things that they don’t have- and isn’t apart of their culture. Demanding ice or some condiment not common in Europe and being annoyed when they don’t have it is… uncouth. You’re on a different continent- embrace the differences.

3. Do wear nice clothes. Underarmour is okay for the gym or Target on a…

View original post 86 more words

The Metro is a Great Place to People Watch

I would agree with this … but then again all of Paris is a great place to watch people

Coffee and Check-Ins

Our main mode of transportation was by the Metro and RER.

It was amazing getting a glimpse into the Paris life. People watching on the train was still interesting. From my limited french I could tell that one fashionista was talking to someone about her dress options. Another boy was apologizing profusely either to his mom or his girlfriend. Another two businessmen were sitting across each other discussing euros and deals.

No matter what I wore in Paris i always felt underdressed. These people have everything, and even if they don’t they’re good at faking that they do.

I must have blended in well enough though because there were several people who confused me to be French.

We went to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Musee D’orsay, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and even hopped on one of those open air buses where we toured the city. We ended up in…

View original post 84 more words