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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:53 pm
by General Snoopy
@IlliniDave: You have it down to the half-hour? You have less than three years, but the count-down is still way too high to begin the count.

@Dragline: Agreed. Didn't everyone my age have chickenpox in our youth? The recommended age for the Shingles shot is age 60. Another useful shot to take is Pneumococcal at age 65.

Health: Well, it couldn't last forever. I have now reinjured my ankle (an old running injury) and it hurts like hell. I believe it was because I increased the distance on the treadmill from two miles to three miles. I have a degenerative tendon injury that I thought I had arrested. I was wearing orthotics, so I am troubled that my injury has re-emerged. I have now switched over to the stationary bicycle. The whole purpose is to build up my cardio system. It is possible to rehabilitate the tendon, so I will start doing that as soon as I can walk normally. Additionally, I have injured my shoulder. I was doing overhead presses and suddenly started experiencing weakness and pain. Strangely enough it is mainly when I am lowering the weight rather than lifting it. The other exercises where I engage the shoulder are fine. I hear some clicking and crunching even when I am using no weight. I am laying off the shoulder overhead presses and will engage with light weights once I have recovered.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:35 am
by General Snoopy
Looks like the day is coming faster than I thought. Due to a reorganization, I am now surplus. I’ve been offered an Early Retirement package or I can take my chances on being placed (placement with pay retention likely, but relocation also likely). While I anticipated the reorganization, I am surprised at the scale and how it has turned out.

I’ve decided to take the Early Retirement offer. I’ve spent the entire weekend going over all the particulars and it seems the best option. I’ve been getting worn-out on the job, but at the same time I am also disappointed that it is coming to an end. There is some unfinished business that I would have liked to see through to the end. I have rather mixed opinions about retirement, but it seems one door is closing and another door with a big question mark is opening. Last day at work will be 31 December 2016.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:37 pm
by Ego
Happy New Year!

Congrats! You qualified for the pension you mentioned in the first post, right? The big adventure awaits!

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:09 pm
by SavingWithBabies
Wow! That is disappointing to get so close and then leave on others terms. However, I would feel some relief at being done a little early. I hope you feel the same. I look forward to your updates that I hope you intend to make during your travels!

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:22 pm
by jennypenny
I guess there's nothing to do but look at the bright side and be grateful you had planned on an early exit anyway. I hope you got a good ER package to ease the transition.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:32 pm
by General Snoopy
Quo Vadis?

I am now retired and I have been so for about two weeks. I retired from the federal government. The contractor I oversaw has strongly suggested I consider them for employment. I am flattered and such a move would yield a significant pay increase. I am relatively happy with what I have accomplished in my career and I believe I have made a significant difference in my industry. With that said, I believe it is time to move on.

Taking a job with industry would only bring me money and that is the one thing I don’t need. I have a pension (albeit, relatively small) with subsidized health insurance, significant assets, social security not that far off, and an inheritance waiting in the wings (my dad did well). With income security, I can do anything. The question I have been wrestling with is “What now?”

Of late, I have been binging on YouTube videos. Some of the best are very well done and provide informed commentary on current events that is better than the mainstream media. This seems like something I would like to do. The costs involved appear very nominal where one is limited only by their creativity and reasoned argument. Since I am retired I have enough security where I can take on controversial subjects. So, there it is. I will become a YouTube social/political pundit.

When the Cold War ended, my industry went through a wrenching consolidation. At that time, I took an extended career break and did some extensive traveling in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. It was a period of personal growth and I believe it set the stage for my later career success. I’ve decided to proceed with another extended period of travel. It will set the stage for the next stage in my life.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:53 pm
by Chris
Have you considered combining your YouTubing with your circumnavigation plans?

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:07 am
by General Snoopy
It is surprising that it has been more than three months since I retired. Where has the time gone? I retired the last day of December 2016. I have spent the last few months on the final preparations for my upcoming round the world trip. Departure day is rapidly approaching.

The Thrift Store will be by on April 24th for my apartment stuff. I will depart California May 1st and the United States on June 15th. I am fairly glad that I have delayed my departure a few months. It has allowed me time to handle the inevitable snafus that have cropped up – all very minor. Since summer is the peak travel season I have by now booked most of my accommodations through Oct 1st. I am principally using AirBnB.

My planned route has been reviewed and adjusted. I had originally planned to winter in Cyprus; however, that appears unworkable so I will now winter in Greece/Rhodes. Political instability and terrorism is causing me to reconsider traveling in Turkey, so perhaps I will go to the Ukraine instead and cross the Black Sea by ferry. Not possible to obtain the Chinese Visa on the road, so I have obtained it before my departure. Border is closed between Nepal and Tibet due to severe road damage from an earthquake and flood. When it will re-open is not known. If it is still closed by the time I get to China, I will bypass India and cross into Southeast Asia by way of Vietnam. Bangladesh appears to be very dangerous, so I will minimize my time in country as much as possible (I will in consequence obtain the Myanmar Visa in India). The land border between India and Myanmar is open, but requires a few hoops to obtain the necessary permits; No public transit across the border, so will need to walk. Sea transport from Singapore to Australia exists, but is almost non-existent. From a logistical point of view the Singapore-Australia leg will require the most preplanning.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have gone through a few packing exercises to make sure that I can fit everything I’m going to carry into my luggage (carry-on sized backpack plus a messenger bag as a personal item). I’ve had to make a few adjustments.

When I went on my last big trip about twenty-years ago, pre-Internet era, I took a lot of risks and it all basically worked out. This time around, with some advance preparations, I am trying to avoid those risks. I am not as adventurous (or as crazy) as I was twenty-years ago. I think I have covered everything, but I can’t help but think I am missing something important. We will see.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:10 am
by General Snoopy
Chris wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:53 pm
Have you considered combining your YouTubing with your circumnavigation plans?
I haven't made any decisions on this. Additionally, there seems to be a lot of controversy within the YouTube community due to a significant increase in demonetizations with a corresponding lack of transparency. I'm not sure if I want to deal with it.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:09 am
by General Snoopy
Dateline: 25 July 2017 – London, UK

Been on the road a few months. Currently in a hostel in London, UK. I will be departing for the continent in a few days.

On 30 April 2017, I moved out of my apartment and spent the night in the Queen Mary Hotel (former ocean liner that is now moored in Long Beach). The following day I began my trip. I took the train across the United States from Los Angeles to New York City. I stopped in Pittsburgh to visit family and I also stopped in Washington, D.C for a short visit. I took a sleeper train from LA to Pittsburgh for 3 ½ days with a change of trains in Chicago. The leg from Washington, D.C. to New York City was through the Amtrak Acela Express.

To cross the Atlantic Ocean, I took the Queen Mary II ocean liner with service from New York City to Southampton, UK. It was a good trip. Became acquainted with the British custom of afternoon tea.

Landed in the UK on 22 June 2017. Have done a loop through the British Isles. From Southampton traveled to Salisbury, London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Dublin, Limerick City, Rosslare, Cardiff, and back to London. Will soon be departing for the continent to visit Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Budapest. Will use the Eurostar and Thalys. The trip from Berlin to Budapest will be by overnight train. These plans will take me through 1 October 2017.

Have not yet planned the route for the next leg of my trip. Most likely for the next three months it will be through Belgrade, Montenegro coast, Albania, and Macedonia. With three months out, I will then be able to reenter the Schengen zone and will thus enter Greece.

SNAFUS: There have been some breakdowns, but none have been significant.

Good Decisions:
(1) Credit Card - Chip w/ Priority PIN: The USA has two of these credit cards (UN FCU and First Tech). I’ve been using the UNFCU credit card and it has been working well – a signature has never been required. Travel notifications can be done online. I also have the First Tech card.
(2) Debit Card: For ATM access, I have the Fidelity card and the Charles Schwab card.
(3) VOIP: While I can receive voice mail and voice calls on Google Voice, I have not been able to figure out how to use it to make free calls to the USA. I have been using Skype and for the most part it has been working well.
(4) VPN: Have been using Private Internet Access (PIA). On occasion, it does not connect to a server, but mostly it works well.
(5) EU SIM Card: Have been using Meteor Ireland. As of 15 June 2017, all roaming surcharges within the EU have been dropped. EU providers can implement fair use requirements to prevent abuse. Meteor reduces the data available for its roaming customers. For 30€, receive unlimited phone calls, unlimited SMS, and 15 (6 roaming) GB data.
(6) Accommodation: Have been using a variety of accommodations and have been largely happy with them. If I am in a place for a week or more I use AirBnB. For less than a week, I use hostels, Hotels, Guesthouses, and Bed & Breakfasts.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:02 pm
by Noedig
Retire...plan trip...execute plan. Admirable.

As a Londoner myself I apologize for the recent "summer weather", also for the tourist trap nature of much of the West End. Much else to do in London that is good. What's sort of things do you enjoy: Architecture? Walking? Food & Drink? Art? Performance? Markets? History?

Pardon the questioning: I am taking vicarious pleasure in the prospect of your travels, as similar adventures are at least a couple of years away for myself. I hope you are spared major mishaps, and have an absolute blast.

Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Budapest. Sounds like, if that takes you to October, a couple of weeks in each.

I recommend Eurostar down to Lyons/Avignon if you have time.

Also, though I know you've just been there, the Edinburgh Festival if you have any liking for.... any performance of any kind.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:52 pm
by General Snoopy
@Noedig: Greetings. Yes, summer in the British Isles has not been very warm - this probably has surprised me the most. So, what do I enjoy? I enjoy the little things ... like ... afternoon tea - a civilized custom. I also enjoy art and history. With art I like seeing museums with the old masters and I also enjoy art exhibitions with the artists of today; although, I have a hard time understanding modern art. With history I like seeing how the past has shaped the world of today - museums, monuments, and locations. I've also been getting in touch with my personal historic roots; thus, my trip to Ireland and County Limerick. Finally, I like London, since I think of it as the center of the world.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:09 pm
by halfmoon
General Snoopy wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:09 am
On 30 April 2017, I moved out of my apartment and spent the night in the Queen Mary Hotel (former ocean liner that is now moored in Long Beach).
This is the ship that my DH took from Germany to NYC in the early sixties. My first thought on reading that it's now a hotel was: "Wouldn't it be fun for us to spend the night there?" My second thought: DH said the passage was extremely rough and stormy. Passengers were puking all over the place. Maybe not such a great blast from the past... :lol:

I'm assuming you had a reasonably calm trip on the Queen Mary II, in which case that seems the ideal way to get to Europe from the US when you aren't in a hurry. It's got to be far superior to flying. Congratulations on actually following through with your retirement dreams!

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:03 pm
by Ego
General Snoopy wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:09 am
Good Decisions:
(1) Credit Card - Chip w/ Priority PIN: The USA has two of these credit cards (UN FCU and First Tech). I’ve been using the UNFCU credit card and it has been working well – a signature has never been required. Travel notifications can be done online. I also have the First Tech card.
Oooohhh. I was just looking at the UNFCU website. I think I am going to join. Good tip.
General Snoopy wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:09 am
(3) VOIP: While I can receive voice mail and voice calls on Google Voice, I have not been able to figure out how to use it to make free calls to the USA. I have been using Skype and for the most part it has been working well.
This is what we do as well. You can change your caller id number in skype to match your google voice number or any other number for that matter. It can be helpful when calling financial institutions that automatically recognize you using caller id and have higher suspicion levels for those calling from voip.

https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA1248 ... -set-it-up

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:01 am
by General Snoopy
Dateline: 30 September 2017 – Budapest, Hungary

Currently, in an AirBnB in downtown Budapest. It is quite nice. It is a studio apartment and I have the whole place to myself. I will be departing the Schengen area for Serbia tomorrow.

Spent a month in Berlin and another month in Budapest. Afterwards, I will be going to Belgrade/Beograd, Serbia then Bar, Montenegro and will be spending a month in both places. I will say that spending a month in a place is great; you don’t feel rushed and can unpack and relax. My current reservations take me through 1 December 2017.

Greek ferry schedules will soon be published for the winter months. When they do so, I will plan the next leg of my journey. After Montenegro, I will travel to Albania and Macedonia. Then afterwards will go to Greece/Rhodes and finally to Italy. The ferry trip to/from Rhodes is only once a week during the winter months.

Return to the USA: I’ve decided to attend a 2018 conference in the USA, so I will be pausing my round the world trip. Since my rule is to avoid the airplane I will return to the USA by way of a passenger-freighter. The freighter will depart Italy and arrive in New York City after a 17-day voyage.

Foreign Languages: Where ever possible with rare exceptions, I try to speak the local language. My aim is to not be the arrogant imperialist by expecting everyone to speak English. My skills are at the toddler level. My biggest problem is pronunciation – it is a definite area for improvement. Been able to order a beer in a bar, order in restaurants, basic greetings, etc. My biggest accomplishment was when I went into a copy/print shop and was successfully able to communicate only in German for my request: some scanning and for it to be one file. While English is widely spoken, I try not to be an imperialist about it. I have spoken French (Belgium), German, and now Hungarian. I have phrase books as well as the Google Translator app.

Finances: Things are going well. According to Personal Capital, I am now a millionaire. Woo Hoo!! According to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millionaire, 23% got that way through paid work – that would be me. It feels good, but it hasn’t changed anything.

Residency: I left California and have established residency/domicile in Florida (a zero-tax state). The practical circumstances of the Florida residency are the FL driver’s license, FL voter’s registration, FL telephone number, and FL mailing address. I will also file my Federal and California tax return using my Florida address. The problem arises with Pennsylvania. With the death of my father, my mother transferred ownership of the house into her childrens’ names. Real Estate is a strong link to the state, so Pennsylvania may decide I am really a resident and should be paying tax to them. Additionally, my mother has not filed a Gift Tax Return, so there has been no informational filing establishing the basis in the property; therefore, when the property is eventually sold there could be issues with the tax people. Problems are just waiting to happen here and I am not sure how to proceed. I believe I have done everything possible to avoid hassles with the California tax people.

Ireland: My mother’s grandmother was born in Ireland. Under Irish citizenship law my mother is eligible for instant Irish citizenship. We have begun the process by requesting the supporting documentation. Upon my return to the USA we will submit the application for a Foreign Birth Registration and eventual passport. We have decided that it would make a good family get-together for all of us to spend a holiday in Ireland to celebrate our Irish heritage. We will probably do this in 2019, so it could be done in conjunction with my mother’s 80th birthday as well as allowing sufficient time to process the Irish paperwork. Looking forward to it.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:00 pm
by thrifty++
Congratulations on reaching early retirement. It sounds like your having quite an amazing time. And at hitting the millionaire mark sounds like you can relax and not need to worry much about finances.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:04 am
by General Snoopy
Dateline: 10 October 2017 – Belgrade, Serbia

The journey is the destination.

Greek ferry schedules for the winter are still not available - they have only been published through October 31. The planning for the next leg of my journey has not been easy. Have had to rely on various travel sites, forums, as well as web sites in a foreign language. This route is not well traveled by people outside the region.

Belgrade -> Bar (Montenegro): Day train available, although part of the journey will be accomplished by bus due to work on the tracks. Night train has been suspended.

Bar->Kotor: I’ll be staying in Bar, but will spend a weekend in Kotor. Multiple daily minibus departures available.

Bar -> Durres (Albania): Due to the complexity of the route, I’ve decided to go with the taxi option. They will provide door-to-door service, online reservations, and with the price fixed in advance.

Durres -> Tirana: Albanian Railways is operational on this route with a combination rail/bus.

Tirana -> Struga (Macedonia): This route was the hardest to research. Bus line available with a 9am departure, thus an early afternoon arrival. A lot of this information was in a foreign language, but was able to confirm validity on a travel website by people that have traveled the route.

Struga -> Ohrid: Multiple daily mini-bus departures.

Ohrid -> Bitola: Will be using the taxi option. Price fixed in advance. Taxi driver recommendation through a travel web site.

Bitola -> Florina (Greece): Public transit not available for the border crossing. Will be using the taxi option with the same driver.

Florina -> Thessaloniki -> Athens: Plan to use the Greek railways. The major risk being the threat of strikes, since there has been resistance to privatization. Buses available if necessary.

Athens/Pireaus -> Rhodes: Ferry schedules have not yet been published. In theory there should be a weekly service in the winter.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:01 am
by slowtraveler
From my research, once you've stopped living in California, as long as you have no license, insurance, library cards, voter registration, car registration, and a few other things, they can not tax you anymore as long as you have left with no intention of returning. Cool journey seeing the world. Thanks for sharing it, it helps us new ones see how to do it.

Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:03 am
by mxlr650
Not sure how much it would help now, but

In Albania, just make sure the taxi drops you all the way to the destination instead of stopping midway and sending you towards destination by one of the local buses . Outside of Tirana, Albania has pretty crappy infrastructure and it is not uncommon for Airbnb posting and pictures to be completely made up (reviews likely done my the hosts' friends). When crossing Albania border have few dollars so Mr.Immigration-rubber-stamp can send you off in a jiffy.

If you are a nature buff, Montenegro is awesome. Dormitor national park near Zabljak is awesome (by Balkan standards not North American/Australian standards) although it may be nearing closure by now.

Hope you are going to Skopje just to witness how pissing away millons of dollars will only make it look like a joke instead of a serious contender to Greek heritage.

Greek's unionized ferry workers go on strike in summer to have the most leverage, so while strike may not be an issue in winter, its pretty common for ferries to get canceled or arrive late, so keep itin flexible (airbnb accommodations with flexible cancellation will help).

While in Thessaloniki if it comes up in conversation, locals will greatly appreciate if you refer to Macedonia as FYROM (former yugoslavian republic). You may already know why :)

IME, Bosnia was depressing, Albania was just scammy, Bulgaria was overpriced and utterly boring, where as Croatia/Montenegro/Serbia were just awesome!

Safe travels!