What is Ottsworld? It’s my journey! I quit my corporate IT job 2 years ago and said goodbye to blackberries, meetings and New York City. I traveled around the world to 23 countries, finding a new exciting world outside of my office walls. I’ve decided that I can never go back to that world. This may be a little crazy, but I’ve decided to keep this wonderful adventure alive. I am now relocating to Vietnam to teach ESL, do photography, and continue blogging and writing. It’s a huge change, but I’m willing to give it a shot and see what happens.
Join me on the journey!
I was mesmerized by the icebergs in Antarctica- each unique like a snowflake."
Sure – they smell…badly – but I found the odor pretty easy to overlook in light of their general adorableness."
First rule of ‘Kayak Club’ in Antarctica is that you are not late to kayak club meetings. The second rule of kayak club is that you ARE NOT late to kayak club meetings."
I had made up my mind, I wasn’t going to do it. Nope. Not doing it."
It may be one of the last places on earth where man hasn’t taken over."
While cruising around Antarctica I was amazed at the works of art that the sun, calm water, and ice can make. In fact, if you didn’t know that these were taken in Antarctica you would think are just abstract paintings – each ice pattern different and eve"
“But I don’t like to eat alone” – I hear this all the time from people who aren’t nuts about the idea of solo travel. The next comment normally is something about, “I feel weird sitting at a table by myself.”"
You don’t have to be able to dance tango to go to a Milonga in Buenos Aires."
I have said repeatedly that I have no interest on being on a cruise. The confinement and mode of travel just don’t fit my personality and desires. However there have always been a few exceptions to this statement – Antarctica is one of them. …"
I had seen those people before – the ones with the duct taped boots or better yet the people who left their torn up destroyed boots on the trail as an offering to the hiking Gods. I always thought, “What idiots!“."
I understand the word luxury and mountain hiking aren’t typically things you would put together, but when I had the opportunity to stay at Ecocamp, a unique environmentally responsible lodge at the base of the Torres, I figured this allowed me the …"
The W trek is a 4 to 5 day trek in Torres Del Paine park covering approximately 50 miles. It’s the most popular route in the park and it’s named for the shape of the route. I found the route challenging – physically and mentally. What …"
Because of demand, Whaling ‘stations’ were popping up in Antarctica and one of the booming ones was at Deception Island."
“Welcome to Antarctica!” the voice in front of me boomed. Surprised to hear the sentence verbalized for me, a wave of excitement rolled through my body."
I leave after eating a couple bites of my fruit and retreat to the horizontal position that the Drake Passage requires me to be in."
“It is Monday December 17th. The temperature is 2 degrees outside, the winds are 11 knots and the skies are cloudy. We are currently anchored at Danco Island. Good morning.” Julio says."
I hadn’t originally intended to go kayaking until Adventure Life suggested it to me. Kayaking down the Serano River and camping overnight near the Tyndall glacier sounded like a nice break from using my legs after hiking for the last 4 days. Day 2 …"
“But what about those who travel on a budget? This nagging question is what kept going through my head when I initially arrived in Lana’i."
On the island of Lana’i “herding cats” is common place – and the volunteers of Lana’i Animal Rescue Center (LARC) make it look simple."
Steve led me to Kehekili’s Leap (aka Warrior’s Leap) where cliff diving was supposedly ‘created’ when King Kamehameha’s warriors proved their bravery by leaping aprox. 70 feet into the ocean below."
It’s not as if you really needed any reasons – but just for the fun of it – 10 reasons to kayak in Antarctica."
The falls are in a national park and an entry ticket (130 pesos) is required to get in. Made up of 275 cascades spanning a distance of 2 mi/3 km and rising up to 300 ft/90 m high, it’s said to be one of the most impressive sights in the wor…"
One of the things that struck me on my last trip to Hawaii was the culture and industry around leis."
As I walked around the city as a tourist – I found some great designs and placement that caught my eye. It’s hard not to. Here are some of my favorites."
Lana’i has some of largest pine forests in Hawaii – yes, pine forests in tropical paradise! There’s no better way to see them than by on foot – where you can slowly take in their majestic beauty, aroma, and texture. The Koloiki t…"
I try to squint, I try to free my mind, I try, I try, I try – but I just see rocks."
I went to the bath with a group of other travelers and female friends"
I vaguely remember coming to Hagia Sophia (meaning Holy Wisdom) on my first visit to Istanbul 12 years ago. It was my first exposure to the Islamic religion and the first time I had been in a mosque (even though it was no longer a funct…"
Selcuk is a charming little town that is the closest town to famous Ephesus ruins – one of Turkey’s biggest tourist attractions after Istanbul. Strangely many tourists just take the bus in to see Ephesus for the day but don’t …"
As luck would have it I was able to plan a little test run of the Lycian way as part of my Intrepid Travel Turkey trip. The Best of Turkey itinerary had us hiking a small portion of the Lycian Way for a day. I was overjoyed at strapping back on…"
I boarded the Selin 3 and surveyed the deck."
Places visited:Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – cheese made there right in front of you – and then served up in a scrumptious mac and cheese!Etta’s Seafood Restaurant – delicious crab cakes and a famous chefPike’s Place C…"
They say that taking a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia Turkey is a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ – which quite frankly I scoff at whenever anyone uses that term. But what made it really exciting and unique for me wasn’t the f…"
Most people who visit Cappadocia Turkey choose to float above the jagged landscape, however when the opportunity arose to drive through the landscape on quad bikes I eagerly raised my hand and said “YES!”. Hitchhiker Tour company rents vehic…"
My parents recently did a European trip which included Germany and Italy. They had a great time and enjoyed all of the cities and sites…except Rome."
I look at the walnut at the end of my fork and inspected it closely. It wasn’t just the nut part that we normally crack the shell to get to – but instead it was the whole shell poised on my fork prong."
We took our time and stopped at some scenic lookouts and then took the 35 mile scenic drive through the South end of the park. There we were wowed by the landscape, buffalo, and prairie dogs!"
From the elegant surroundings from days gone by to the proper way each coffee is delivered to your table, the coffee houses suspended me and held me in this elegant world of a time that seems to be disappearing. From the moment I opened the door, I felt l"
Gondoliers maneuvering their sleek, black gondolas are the symbol of Venice; the canals are like veins carrying blood to the heart (Rialto Bridge). Much like being a NYC taxi driver, it’s not easy to become a Venice Gondolier. The boat is expensi…"
Put the word “secret” in front of anything and you’ll get people’s attention. It congers up thoughts of voyeurism, hushed tones, sneaking around, mafia, politics, and religion. Putting the words “Doge’s Palace” b…"
“Thou shall not steal” is known as the eighth commandment – Christianity is built on the Ten Commandments. Yet somehow the most holiest of places in Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica, exists thanks to people breaking the 8th commandment…"
The Rialto Market is buzzing with activity; boats pull up to docks and burly men unload crates of blood red oranges and artichokes, locals laugh and socialize with the shop keepers, and the fish mongers scale and prepare the fresh catches of the day.&nbs…"
If Venice is named the Floating City, then Cimitero San Michele should be named the Floating Dead. Yes, it sounds eerie, but cemeteries can also be quite beautiful and moving to visit. The Cimitero di San Michele has no shortage of moving stories and i…"
I took the one hour English tour one afternoon which allows you to see the inner workings of the Opera House, arguably the busiest opera house in the world, in addition to getting all of the facts and trivia that your mind can handle.&nbs…"
Did you ever have a meal you didn't want to end?"
From the moment I arrived in Vienna I was intrigued with the famous Austrian Ball Culture. I of course looked up the schedule and found that there were no balls going on while I was visiting (which is probably ok since I had nothing to wear, nor knew how…"
In the world of the Habsburgs monarchy, size does matter. This grand summer palace has 1,441 Rococo designed rooms, and a 435 acre garden(s) – so plan to spend a whole day here if you want to wander the grounds. The palace offers tours insid…"
Imagine if you lived in a country where you couldn’t choose, you couldn’t express discontent with your government, or even be associated with anyone who expressed discontent. This was East Germany and the GDR after World War II. It was a pawn…"
From the first moment I saw pictures of the memorial in a magazine back in 2005, it has always looked like modern, scattered graves to me. It evokes a feeling of simple yet chaotic. The Landscape of 2,711 pillars called stelae are open 24 hours a day but…"
Even fun has a shelf life – this is what runs through my mind as I walk around Spreepark, the abandoned, dilapidated amusement park in Berlin. I can’t help but get visions of the many cemeteries I have visited in the past – th…"
Today I’m exploring and photographing abandoned Berlin."
Sausages, sauerkraut, potato dumplings, spaetzle, and cabbage..."
It has always been a goal of mine to take the train around Europe and now finally when I’m well past the age of backpacking Europe, I find myself riding around Europe for 2 months on a Eurail pass."
All of your basic questions about walking the Camino de Santiago answered! Where do you sleep? There are many choices and you do not have to carry camping gear unless you choose to sleep outside. Albergues are the cheapest option ranging 4 to 10 Euro …"
The Reichstag building was part of that dramatic past and paid the price in many ways including burning down at one point. But it was rebuilt in 1999 and named “The Bundestag” and serves as a meeting place for the German Parliament. The glas…"
Finally, I learned there was even a bell to alert the bell ringers!"
Cemeteries tell a story, and the Weissensee Cemetery in Berlin is a giant historical war novel. However the story is not necessarily about what’s in the novel, it’s about what is missing from the novel. Weissensee is one…"
“What do you mean you haven’t heard of El Celler de Can Roca? It’s the 2nd best restaurant in the world!” This is the 1st reaction I received when I asked about the restaurant we were going to that afternoon for lunch. This …"
Inside the Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station the exhibition “Border Stations and Ghost Stations in Divided Berlin” This was one of my favorite exhibitions since it was actually set in an old ghost station. Ghost stations were subway stations that we…"
Let me first just say – I’m biased – I of course think when I walked it in April/May was the best possible time to do it! Yes, I did get rained on a bit and it was muddy, but I will take those conditions any day over he…"
The Cathedral is the center of attention in Girona and a trip inside is necessary as it gets me closer to the bells. Luckily, I also have a guide who leads me to where most people cannot go – inside the Girona bell tower. We enter the big nave and…"
I woke up early and wandered aimlessly around the ferry docks watching commuters pour off of boats and through the back streets of the Spice Market. In the early morning hours, it looks quite different – it’s softer. Men drink tea and have th…"
Costa Brava means the Wild Coast – but it’s way more than just a beautiful coastline. The region actually sits within Catalonia, and is considered to include the northeast coast of Spain (north of Barcelona) and it extends from the shoreline …"
Skip the tourist dervish shows in Istanbul and get to the real thing. Yenner our guide took us to the Whirling Dervish Lodge in Bursa for their nightly spiritual gathering where we were among a very small handful of foreign tourists in the crowd. I hones…"
“The horses are not pets. They are workers. Do not let the horses eat; they have all day to eat. Now they are supposed to be working, they are on my time now.”"
One of the most unusual sites I witnessed in my travels was experiencing Christmas in Asia."
Paine Field and the Boeing manufacturing plant is located about 30 minutes outside of Seattle. It’s hard to miss since it’s the largest building in the world by volume coming in at 4.3 million a square feet and 472 million cubic feet. To put …"
After a mouth-watering breakfast we started walking to the market. Motorbikes zipped by us honking, and big trucks rumbled by billowing black, choking smoke. I had gotten used to walking among this chaotic traffic on the roads, in fact the whole things s…"
I was last in Ulaanbaatar in the summer of 2009, and it has always been one of my least favorite cities in the world. Strangely, the country of Mongolia is one of my favorite countries in the world and it continues to pull me back to its different a…"
Kaumana Cave is an extinct lava tube which once carried molten rock from Mauna Loa’s upper rift zones down to the ocean. We descend deep into a damp cave, ducking jagged rocks and carefully placing each step along the slippery rocks. Taj, my guide…"
The lava field piece connects with the rainforest piece. The brown desert piece connects to the turquoise waters of the coast. The towering mountains connecta with the fertile ranch lands and rolling hills. The wet side connecta with …"
I wasn’t searching for wild game, instead I was searching for good photography..."
The trees look as if they have plotted a slow attack to take over the road. Vines hang down trying to slyly block my way and hinder my vision. The road isn’t straight nor does it have any defined shoulders or boundaries. The asphalt is laid around …"
Planes are zooming in, rat-a-tat-tat echoing around me, bombs exploding, smoke everywhere and the footage continues to roll past me in black and white. The Pearl Harbor attack; a day I’ve only read about. As I sit and watch the movie of the attack,…"
Carry a fan."
The first thing I noticed in Malta were the balconies; colorful, enclosed, wooden, and on every single home."
The land in Volcanoes National Park, and specifically the Chain of Craters Road, is no laughing matter. It’s the site of destruction; the product of the volcano goddess Pele and her wrath against Mother Nature. Even though I’m pretty sure the…"
Akaka Falls State Park on the Hamakua Coast is a rain forest with densely packed foliage providing the backdrop for the famous Akaka Falls. A 442 foot waterfall awaits you as you casually walk through the rain forest on a short .4 mile paved trail. As …"
Start early and arrive by the city gates so that you can experience the commute of locals entering the city. The city is more of a business hub than a living hub. So people live outside the city and commute in every day for work. This is the time of day …"
I’ve traveled around the world and I’m here to tell you that English is the only language you NEED to get around a country."
Don’t be fooled into thinking that there are good restaurants in Times Square or anywhere near the tourist sites. I’m going to state the obvious; only tourists go to eat in and around Times Square and places like Little Italy."
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a country that is so untouched by Western tourists…"
I believe that there is something very special about the Mongolian skies."
How do you stay connected?"
I hate scary movies; I’ve been a terror wimp my whole life. I have never even watched Jaws"
The church of La Sagrada Família (Sacred Family) is a work on a grand scale which was began in 1882 and is scheduled to be completed in 2025. This religious and architectural masterpiece by Anontio Guadi is a short walk from my Barcelon…"
Teresa, our guide and chef for the day, started by explaining the layout and history of the market. She rolled her little two-wheeled shopping bag into the heart of the market briskly passing the stalls in the front which were more expensive due to their…"
As you walk around Barcelona you can’t help but be memorized with the tile work and architecture thanks to Guadi’s many masterpieces sprinkled throughout the city. The colorful, intricate and sometimes flamboyant tilework is everywhere …"
As of March 2011, the Observatory started charging 10 pounds to get into the facility, which was the only way you could really take a picture of your feet in two different days. I was quite upset about the whole thing. 10 pounds is 16 US dollars – …"
Even though I like to live in the present, I couldn’t help but imagine the past as I was led through the Iolani Palace in Oahu. The docent painted a perfect picture of arriving at a ball in the mid 1880’s – the sites, sounds, and even t…"
This used to be the old highway used to get from leeward to windward side of the island. It was literally built on the side of a mountain barely hanging on – it was an adventure to traverse to the other side of the mountain no doubt. It’s now…"
The first thing you need to know about islands is that there is a windward and leeward coast. The windward coast is pretty self explanatory, but the leeward coast is basically the downwind coast and therefore generally the more calm side of the island. F…"
Anil Polat answers Sherry's IT questions pre Mongol Rally"
Favourite overall place and why:"
The Embekka Devale temple wasn't sturdy, but the carvings were impressive. The temple consisted of a long hall with pillars and intricate carved designs on each pillar, with no two alike. The guide pointed to the ceiling and said in his broken English t…"
The brickwork in this temple was stunning. Rounded domed corners made of red bricks seemed to defy gravity."
Sherry and Russ walked across the hot pavement and towards the entrance of Gadaradeniya Viharaya and a man came up to them and started to talk about the temple explaining it’s history. Sherry immediately thought to hersef, “Great – we h…"
One of the best ways to get around the little island nation of Sri Lanka is by train. They are old, crowded, slow; but there’s really no need to ever be in a hurry in Sri Lanka – so we just sat back, relaxed, and watched the green hills go by…"
The crouching lion was still as a stone and surrounded by the jungle below. I approached it cautiously, wiping the sleep out of my eyes wondering what I had gotten myself into so early in the morning. I proceeded as the clouds overheard darted by the sun…"
Footprints seem to mark the beginning of life for humans. We are born, and soon our little foot is being dipped in ink and imprinted on our birth certificates – marking our ‘official’ beginning. In Sri Lanka the birth of the main religi…"
When we arrived in Nuwara Eliya we found a driver to take us into town from the train station. He was full of information about tours, and lodging, and then he mentioned something that really caught my attention. He mentioned that there was a festival/pa…"
There really only one reason travelers stop at the dusty town of Tissa in Sri Lanka, and that’s to see leopards. Yala is a large national park (378 Sq. miles) that is the pride and joy of Sri Lanka. It’s filled with peacocks, lizards, w…"
Welcome to Hill Country in Sri Lanka. It certainly lives up to it’s name. The hike to Ella Rock is a challenging 3 hour hike known for it’s phenomenal views of the valley below. The small town of Ella is nestled in…"
Let's do the math:"
I actually lost weight in Jordan thanks to the food and the cultural food habits of Jordanians."
Lebanon is such a confusing country"
“Put, Put, Puuuut, Putttttt, Puttttt, Purrrrrttttttt….”The slurping, whirring, bubble noise broke through the background lounge music startling me."
These observations are things the locals don’t notice at all since it’s a part of their day to day lives, but to a foreigner they stick out like a zebra in a pack of lions."
I took a bus further north to Tripoli and met a friend there who showed me around the new city and promised to take me to the old souks. I tried to be very clear that I wanted to see where the locals shopped and I wanted it to be dirty and old. He unde…"
Today was my day to go walking through time; a walk through downtown Beirut photographing the bombed buildings which still exist in the Beirut skyline. I was in shock of the hundreds of bullet holes scarring the buildings and that’s when I …"
A raincoat and umbrella clad crowd gathered at the AUB main gate. As each new person walked up they asked if this was the Beirut Walking Tour and Ronnie personally greeted each person and shook their hand. Ronnie is the mastermind behind Walk Beirut an…"
With one month in Lebanon, you can cover a lot of ground. However I can’t say that I really traveled the country thoroughly and I certainly didn’t get to all of the traditional tourist sites. Instead I was too busy sinking int…"
My teammates and I are traveling through 15 countries this summer and I diligently went through the process of researching each country’s visa requirements for Americans"
On my drive from Wadi Feynan to Wadi Musa my Bedouin driver kindly stopped for me every time I motioned at my camera."
I started climbing to the High Place of Sacrifice and it wasn’t long before I was greeting by a young boy on a donkey who watched me huff and puff my way up the steps. When I reached the area where he was waiting he asked,“Donkey mam?”&…"
Petra’s modern day inhabitants are cats. They lurk around every monument as if they own the place. In many places they seem to blend in to their surroundings with their orange fur; the same color as the buildings. They are pros at ‘working…"
In the heart of the old downtown of Amman you’ll find the famous Hussein Mosque. Built by King Abdullah I in 1924, and restored in 1987. The mosque is more interesting as a hive of activity than for any architectural splendor; the precinct i…"
Expect to be questioned when you go to Jordan.Of course you will be questioned by your friends and family as to why you would go to the Middle East, but you will most definitely be questioned by the locals when you arrive in Jordan. You will stand out as…"
When you get those late night hunger pains, attacking your insides as if they miners in an empty cavern; when you can hear the echoing grumbles of your insides – what do you do? In Amman you go to Salah El-Din sandwich shop. At 10PM on Thursday …"
The Tibetan Buddhist Monastery named Songzanlin is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan and one of the most famous in the region. The monastery was constructed in 1679 and looks like a Kasbah – with houses stacked on top of each other o…"
As I walked with the morning alms procession in Luang Prabang and took photos, I eventually came to a temple where the monks were finishing their procession. One of the monks said that it was ok if I came in as it was a good chance for them to practice t…"
I peered out the plane window and saw the brown, uninhabited landscape which made the aerial view of Nebraska look like a metropolis.; what would this land new country be like? I arrived in Jordan sleepless, and worked my way through the visa queue easil…"
This is one Chilly Bean! While in Chicago I braved the cold windy weather (yes, it is called the windy city and they aren’t lying!) to go see Millennium park and the ‘Bean’ sculpture. However, that’s not it’s rea…"
Imagine being 9 years old again, your parents are in Orlando and they are dutifully following all of the signs to Disneyworld. The excitement is building within you. Your nose is pressed against the window eagerly trying to get that first glimpse of …"
Speeding down the open highway you see a sign and quickly read it as you zip past. Four miles to the biggest ball of barbed wire. Scenic overlook next left. Welcome to Hastings, the birthplace of Koolaide. You instinctively and spontaneously pull over …"
Death Valley is aptly named; it’s the driest, hottest, and lowest spot in North America. On average is has 2 inches of rain a year! What a difference from my life in Vietnam where the average rainfall was 71 inches! But the two places did have one …"
I adore markets; they are my single favorite place in any country or city to photograph, visit, interact, and write about. By going to the market, you experience the culture and commerce of a country. When I was told about the Sunday Midi Market in Brus…"
Tick Tock, Tick Tock… The alarm went off at 5:15AM and I wondered why I was doing this to myself. It’s just flowers, I could sleep a little while longer – right? Yet my desire to see flowers ended up winning out over my desire to slee…"
The Annapurna Circuit has been called one of the top 10 most beautiful hikes in the world. The trek normally takes around 16 to 18 days to complete and it begins in a different place than where it ends; making it a circuit hike."
The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is a tourist stop in Bluegrass country of Kentucky; about an hour’s drive from Louisville. Passing by horse farms and rolling hills, the village is located about 7 miles outside the historic town of Harrodsburg. …"
You can’t miss the Louisville Slugger Museum…mainly because there is a replica of a GIANT bat outside the building. The museum and factory is downtown, a somewhat unlikely place for a factory, but it was really convenient for tourism. There…"
Where am I? From a fashion perspective, it looks like Park Ave., but there are no sky scrapers. A vendor walks by with 3 dozen mint juleps in his ‘Ice Box’ crate; I smell an odor of horses and cigars. For one brief day, this town is the queen…"
One of the most famous temples in all of Sri Lanka is located in Kandy, the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa). It was built in the 17th century and proudly boasts it is the home of Buddha’s tooth. The tooth is kept in a two-story inner shri…"
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa housed some of the biggest and most intact religious ruins around the Sri Lanka. This stone carved Buddha was one of many which were standing the test of time. For those of you interested in visiting UNESCO World Heritage …"
I came all the way here; I couldn’t chicken out. No matter what, I had to get in that buoyant water. Winter be damned, I was going to go float on the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. One of the great things about the Conversation Corps program…"
I sighed and handed over my 55 Dinar ($77USD) to the man at the ticket counter; a hefty sum for an otherwise budget friendly country to travel through. This fee would buy me two days in the ancient city of Petra. He asked me to type my name in the comput…"