Want to get away from every thing? If you do, we have the perfect place for you: The Tibetan plateau (34.7°N, 85.7°E). From here, it is a three-week trip to the cities of Lhasa or Korla - one day by car and the remaining 20 on foot.
How do we know this? Aa new map of connectedness created by researchers at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, and the World Bank shows the most remote places on Earth.The maps are based on a model which calculated how long it would take to travel to the nearest city of 50,000 or more people by land or water.
The model combines information on terrain and access to road, rail and river networks. It also considers how factors like altitude, steepness of terrain and hold-ups like border crossings slow travel.
So, the next time that you wish to take a vacation on a place where you would not be disturbed at all, you know where to go. By the way, be prepared because the most remote place on Earth is 5200 meters above the sea and there is no hot shower available.
We just came back from Costa Rica and I took lot of pictures which I will be uploading to my Flickr account.
On the following posts I will be writing about some of the places we went, but for now I want to write a review of Hotel Vista Linda del Norte, near the Arenal Volcano.
The hotel is just beautiful, with a breathtaking view of the Arenal Volcano and the Arenal Lagoon. The hotel is small, yet all the rooms are very well distributed among the mountain side. There are three types of rooms, standard, junior suite and honeymoon suite. We stayed at the junior suite and I really recommend this one, as it has direct view of the volcano and the lagoon. It is also big enough to fit 4 people comfortably.
The hotel has a pool bar that overlooks the volcano and the lagoon. This is a beautiful setting to have some drinks and relax at the pool or the Jacuzzi. There is also a patio on the second floor where you can take your drinks and just enjoy the view.
Linda Vista offers free breakfast buffet, with fruits, cereals, bread, coffee, natural juices and a la carte omelets cooked while you wait.
People in Costa Rica are very friendly and helpful, yet some people are willing to go the extra mile to help you out, and some of the staffs working at Linda Vista were the perfect example of this. The night we arrived, the restaurant was about to close, so instead of hurrying up we decided to order some food from the pool bar. The girl working the bar told us that because of the time, we could only eat at the restaurant; however she suggested we drive a short distance to a small place that sold hamburgers, sandwiches and other types of fast food. Without having to ask her, she picked up her own cell phone and made a call to the owner of the place to get the menu. She then waited for us to write our order and called him again to place the order for us. In the process she asked them if they would deliver the food to the pool, which the owner agreed.
When the food arrived she set up a table for us and gave us glasses with ice to pour the soda bottles we have ordered. She did all these things without even expecting a tip, which we gladly gave her anyway.
If any of your grandparents came from Spain between 1930 and 1956, chances are you could apply to become a citizen of Spain and have dual nationality. On December of last year, a new law called “Ley de la Memoria Histórica” or “Historic Memory Law” became effective in Spain, giving the possibility to grandchildren of Spaniards who migrated to the US and other countries during Franco’s dictatorship to apply and obtain Spanish citizenship.
Why would you want to do that? For many reasons. If you become a Spanish citizen you will automatically become a member of the European Union, which in turns gives you all the benefits that comes with it, such the rights to live, work and study in any EU country (in many EU countries the education is free or heavily subsidized by the government) .
But also having a dual citizenship is good for travelers. For example, the EU has very specific laws protecting travelers. If you are denied boarding, your flight was cancelled, you experienced long delays or your baggage was lost, you may be entitled to compensation under EU law and you can complain to the relevant enforcement body. Also when traveling within the EU, if you suddenly fall ill or have an accident in another EU country, you (and your family) are entitled to immediate healthcare there.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an articleabout how easy it would be for a hacker to steal the information embedded in the computer chip inside your passport.
Friday the State Department warned 400 passport applicants of a security breach in its records system that may have left them open to identity theft. Although the breach is not related to how your personal information is stored in your passport, it does represent a major issue that only increases the fear some people have about how their private information is handled by the government and the private sector.
The State Department have already notified 383 people (most from Washington DC) that their passport application containing personal information, including Social Security number may have been illegally accessed and used to open fraudulent credit card accounts.
The breach was noticed back in March, but the State Department has not released any additional information on how it occurred, other than to say that it is still under investigation. So far one man has been arrested and one State Dpt. employee had been reassigned and might face further disciplinary action pending completion of the investigation
In my old blog, I had describe some of the security risks associated with the new RFID tags that are being embeded into the new passports that the US and other countries are issuing.
In that post I wrote how easy would be for someone to steal your identity without even touching your passport simply by reading the RFID chip with a special scanner at a reasonable distance.
Now a group of hackers had gone a step further and demonstrated a technique to change the data stored in the RFID chip thus giving them the ability to crease fake passports with whatever information they choose. They posted their finding and even the methodology they used to hack the passports on their website for the world to see.
Any person willing to spend $80.00 in cheap electronic equiptment can pretty much read your personal information from your passport and then move it to their own fake passport. Picture included.
Since the government changed its rules requiring all US citizens to have a passport if they want to travel abroad, there had been a flood of passport applications which caused many delays and problems.
But now there is another alternative to passports. Since last month, the US government began issuing a “passport card”. This wallet size card, is similar to a Driver License but it can be used for people returning to the United States from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. This makes it perfect for cruise passengers traveling to the Caribbean.
And there are even better news. The new passport card is cheaper. It cost $45.00 if you don’t have a regular passport ($20.00 if you do) and $35.00 for children. And it is valid for as long as a regular passport: 10 years
The only drawback is that it cannot be used for air travel or for places where you are required a Visa stamped in your passport.
You can request the new passport card already through the regular channels, such as post office, or the State Department
On a related news, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that it will propose allowing teenagers 18 and younger traveling with teams or organizations, and all children 15 or younger, to use a certified birth certificate to cross the border from Canada, instead of a passport.
The change is an attempt to solve the “team bus” problem, in which critics said school trips and games between teams of neighboring towns would be canceled under the new U.S. rules requiring a passport to cross the border.