Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure

Unusual Place of the Month: Chernobyl

Posted: 31 Mar 2010 05:47 AM PDT

Ever thought of visiting a nuclear power plant? How about one that had a meltdown? Well, think no more. Over twenty years after Chernobyl blew up, you tour the are. They have been running tours for the last few years to the site of the worst nuclear catastrophe known to man.

The Chernobyl Power Complex, lying 130 km north of Kiev, Ukraine, had a critical meltdown in 1986. The accident destroyed Chernobyl 4 reactor, killing 30 operators and firemen within three months and hundreds more from radiation over the subsequent years. Moreover, large areas of Belarus, Ukraine, Russia were also contaminated to varying degrees. It was a huge disaster for the then Soviet Union.

On April 25th, the reactor crew at Chernobyl 4 began preparing for a test to determine how long turbines would spin and supply power following a loss of main electrical power supply. A series of operator actions preceded the attempted test and by the time that the operator went to shut down the reactor, the reactor was on its way to critical.

A steam explosion released fission products to the atmosphere. About two to three seconds later, a second explosion threw out fragments from the fuel channels and hot graphite into the surrounding area.

It is estimated that all of the xenon gas, about half of the iodine and caesium, and at least 5% of the remaining radioactive material in the reactor core was released in the accident. Most of the material was deposited close by as dust and debris, but the lighter material was carried by wind over the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and to some extent over Scandinavia and Europe.

After the explosion, some 45,000 residents were evacuated from the area, notably from the plant operators’ town of Pripyat. This place is now a ghost and a big part of any Chernobyl tour. On May 4th, all those living within a 30 kilometer radius were evacuated and later relocated. Oddly (and crazily enough) about 1000 people have since returned unofficially to live within the contaminated zone. In the years following the accident, another 210,000 people were resettled into less contaminated areas, and the initial 30 km radius exclusion zone was extended to cover 4300 square kilometers.

If you are so inclined, you can tour the Chernobyl area. Tours cost about $130-160 dollars and will last a full day, departing and returning to Kiev. Tours leave early in the morning and return around 6 p.m.

On your exciting and really creepy tour, you’ll head to Chernobyl passing Dytyatky, the border into the containment area. At Chernoybal, you get to meeti with the leadership of “Chernobylinterinform” Agency and hear all about the accident. You’ll get to feed some radioactive fish in the cooling channel and then go see reactor # 4 covered in concrete. After that, it’s a stop nearby the “Red Forest.” The name comes from the ginger-brown color of the pine trees after they died following the absorption of high levels of radiation. (Good times huh?) Finally, you visit Pripyat, the town they evactuated because of radiation poisoning. There’s nothing here but abandoned homes, cars, and a few crazy people who wanted to move back. After that, its back to the control point for a quick radiation check (try not to glow!) and back to Kiev.

All of the tours do the same thing so the only difference between companies is quality and price. To find out more, you can do a simple Google search but you are better off booking any tour in Kiev as you can probably negotiate your price towards the lower end.

©Nomadic Matt's Travel Site. Learn to have your blog pay for your travels!

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Marvellous Maldives Holidays

Posted: 30 Mar 2010 06:26 PM PDT

guest post by David Collins The Maldives is a collection of islands off the coast of India, and is a popular holiday destination for those looking for a little piece of paradise. The archipelago has something for everyone to enjoy during their stay on one of the many islands, each of which is like your own private resort. Popular with honeymooners and those who are looking for the chance to...

Read the full story at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Photo of the Week: Sky Tower at Night (Auckland, New Zealand)

Posted: 29 Mar 2010 02:37 PM PDT

The Sky Tower (around 330 metres in height) in Auckland offers superb views over all of Auckland from its observation deck or revolving restaurant. Somewhat unnerving, the observation deck includes panels of glass in its floor letting visitors look straight through to the ground. Brave folks skyjump from the building in a form of bungee jump via a fixed wire to stop the person hitting the tower...

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Featured Travel Site: Reel Streets: Travel Blog

Featured Travel Site: Reel Streets: Travel Blog

Link to Travel Blog

Featured Travel Site: Reel Streets

Posted: 29 Mar 2010 08:34 PM PDT

British Film Locations from the 1920's To 1980's.

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Disney Blog

My Disney Blog

Disney Fan Interview with MarkKeren

Posted: 28 Mar 2010 07:31 PM PDT

I am so excited to announce another great interview on! This idea was suggested by Nicholas Tedesco, also known as @DisneyandBeyond on twitter. I thought it was such a great idea, that I asked him if it would be OK to use it on MyDisneyBlog. 

This is the second in a running series of interviews I am doing with random Disney fans. The second person to offer to answer the questions was Mark Wojtowicz Jr (known on twitter as @MarkKeren). Thanks so much for offering to answer the questions, Mark and for your patience as I took a temporary break from blogging :)

1) What is the first Disney animated film that you vividly remember seeing as a child? (submitted by @markymarc70) 

I loved Lady & the Tramp, the Fox and the Hound as well as other Disney animated films in the early to mid-eighties. However, the first Disney movie I remember being blown away by was the Little Mermaid. I must have been 13 or 14 at the time and my cousin had brought the VHS tape over.  As soon as the movie ended I rewound it and watched it again.  I'm sure the advent of the VHS contributed to making this memory so vivid in my mind but I couldn't get enough of that movie. I've lost count how many times I've seen it but it is still one of my favorites.  

2) What is the number one thing that makes you "The True Disney Fan" (submitted by @mayzic, as well as @WDWJill)

What a tough question. I would have to say that it is my affection for the concept of Disney and Walt's vision as a whole. It is so much more than the movies, merchandise, and parks. A business model not only predicated on the idea of profit but to create an experience unlike any other. An experience you can feel when you watch the movies, visit the parks and interact with the cast members. A simple goal to bring happiness at all cost.     

3) How deep into Disney do you think you are compared to how people around you think you're into it? (submitted by @BMSLOU)

I think they are the same. I would imagine people who don't know me well are more surprised to find I'm as big a Disney fan as I am.

4) What attraction/event, etc defines "Disney" to you? (submitted by @yourcuppycake)

The monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom. The feeling you get in your stomach as you pass through the Contemporary.  The excitement you feel when you see Space Mountain in the distance.  The flutter you get in your heart when you arrive at the station, walk down the ramp and up to the train station and finally walking through the gates and onto Main St USA. I could spend hours walking up and down that street, wandering through the shops and just soaking in everything.  And nothing is like the feeling you get when you look down Main Street and see the castle for the first time that day. The whole experience is breathtaking and all you have done is arrived.    

5) What draws you back to Walt Disney World or Disneyland time after time? (submitted by @bonnieg88)

The quality of what they do.  The parks always look new and clean. They have created some of the most memorable  movies and animated characters of all time. Not to mention, they have somehow managed to bottle childhood wonderment. It doesn't matter how old you are, you can completely lose yourself in your imagination, like you did when you were a kid.  It is truly magical.    

6) What are your impressions of Disney Cast Member's? (submitted by @afterthemouse)

They are fantastic! So dedicated to playing their roles and making the entire experience so great.  When my wife and I retire, we hope to join them to make someone else's experience memorable.

7) What made you fall in love with Disney, and when did this happen? (submitted by @marcmantoo, as well as @tiffiniholland)

I was always a fan of the cartoons as a kid. The classics with Mickey, Donald & Goofy as well as just about every animated feature Disney has released.  But I fell in love the first time I went to Walt Disney World.  I was a junior in high school, 1993 and I went with my family.  Everything about the experience was surreal, dreamlike.  I had always wanted to go there since I knew it existed and it was everything I hoped it would be and more. The intricate theming, dedicated cast members and commitment to excellance solidified my life long love with Disney.

8) How do you save money for Disney trips? (submitted by @Disneyfotoblog)

It hasn't really been a problem. We are pretty fiscally responsible and also get some help with our Chase Disney Rewards Card. My wife and I also don't have kids. I understand they can be rather expensive.

9) What is your Disney "happy thought"? (submitted by @Disneyfotoblog)

Main Street USA. I love it. I can walk up and down it all day, wandering in all the shops, people watching from the benches at the train station.  I remember the first time we went to Disney, they had a theater that played the six original Mickey cartoons in black and white. I remembered when we were leaving, it was the last thing I had to visit before we left.  When I was in the theater, I felt my heartbreaking at the idea of having to leave. I promised that I would be back one day.  I don't know if I was promising Mickey, Walt or myself but Disney has been a part of many landmark events in my life.   

10) What would be your "Perfect" Disney vacation? (submitted by @Disneyfotoblog)

A tour with Walt would be a dream come true.  If we are talking about something that could actually happen, a tour with an imagineer, preferably the old timers...or stay in the castle.   

11) Name something you've never done at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, but it seems like everyone else has. (Submitted by @rickgregg)

Honestly, I can't think of anything.  I've even done things that people didn't know you could do like Segway around the world showcase and behind the scenes tours. I highly recommend both.   

12) When you take a mental trip to a Disney park, where do you imagine yourself? (submitted by @deefordisney)

The Magic Kingdom, either on the monorail ride to get there, on Main Street USA or walking through the castle to get to Fantasyland.

13) What is your NUMBER ONE "must do" at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? (submitted by @dwsandy)

For me, it is to walk through the castle into Fantasyland. It is my favorite of all the themed lands at the Magic Kingdom.  I find the experience very similar to the monorail ride up to the park.  It's just Magical.

14) What is your favorite Disney song? (submitted by @tiffiniholland)

Wow, I don't think I could narrow it down to one song. How about movies. It would have to be either Aladdin or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Aladdin's songs are so fun and a Whole New World really puts into words what it feels like to fall in love. Hunchback's theme and strong vocal choir gives me chills every time I hear it. The songs really compliment the film and enhance the story telling.  I look forward to when Disney gets back to the musicals like the Little Mermaid.

15) What attraction, movie, or song sums up your love of Disney? Why? (submitted by @MagicNeverEnds)

I would have to go back to the monorail ride up to the Magic Kingdom. It is so dramatic and awe inspiring. You travel from the parking lot, over a lake, through a cool looking hotel building up to the Magic Kingdom. It was so well thought out. I love it.

16) What is it about your favorite Disney Park that makes it so magical to you? (submitted by @MagicalMousecap)

I feel like I keep repeating myself but it is the details. The heavy theming is so interesting to me. I think it enhances the entire experience. No one else puts that much effort into an attraction.

17) What is your favorite attraction, and why? What is your least favorite attraction, and why? (submitted by @imacdan)

Just about anything with audio animatronics. They absolutely capture my imagination and they keep getting better.  Any Fantasyland dark ride, the Carousel of Progress, the Hall of Presidents, I enjoy them all. 

18) What is your favorite World Showcase Country? (submitted by @DisneyandBeyond)

I don't think I have one. I have countries I don't have a interest in but not a favorite. I like Japan and China for the food, England for the beer, America for the show and Mexico for the atmosphere.

19) Most Underrated Disney Parks moments? (submitted by @DisneyandBeyond)

The only thing I can think of is the Monorail. I love that thing. I could ride it all over the place. I think it adds so much to the ambiance of the experience.  Maybe the trams. Those guys are great. Who expects to be entertained while getting to and from your car.

20) Most Underrated Disney Movie? Character? (submitted by @DisneyandBeyond)

I'd have to say Hunchback of Notre Dame and Quasimoto.  I'm a huge fan of the music and the stories theme "don't judge a book by it's cover".      

21) Favorite Disney TV Show? (submitted by @DisneyandBeyond)

The Wonderful World of Disney.  It was the gateway drug that lead to my Disney addiction.  My favorites were when Walt would take you behind the scenes. I am always fascinated to seeing how things work and Walt was always careful to not spoil the magic of it all by not giving away too much. I really miss him.  

Thanks again to Mark for the great interview! I look forward to seeing many more interviews over the coming months. 

--- DisneyDean (@DisneyDean on twitter) 

My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure

9 Reasons to Volunteer on Your Trip

Posted: 29 Mar 2010 07:29 AM PDT

volunteer overseas with hodrMoving around all the time is exciting, but after months of changing location several times a week, a traveler can long for a place to unpack their bags for awhile and try something different. Volunteering internationally is the way I choose to step off the backpacker trail and, since doing this, I feel like my life and my travels have both been enriched. I am giving my time and energy to people who need help but I am getting so much back in return that it almost feels as though I am the one benefiting the most. Volunteering is a great way to give back and get back while you travel. Here are 9 reasons to make volunteering a part of your next backpacking trip:

  1. Get involved in the local community – As a volunteer you will often find yourself well off the tourist trail and immersed in a world that a traveler passing through would never experience. This will mean plenty of invites into people’s homes, weddings, trips to beautiful spots that aren’t in the pages of your guidebook, and getting to participate in local events like pig hunts, voodoo festivals, fishing trips, local soccer matches, and all sorts of really cool events.
  2. Make new friends – Spending a bit of time volunteering will allow you to meet all sorts of people you would never have otherwise crossed paths with and working together towards a common goal makes it easy to make friends.
  3. Become more socially conscious – Often volunteering will be done in parts of the world that are very poor with people living with less money than you might spend on a coffee back home. Living in a way that is different from your day-to-day life at home could help you to reassess your priorities and become more socially conscious.
  4. Gain work experience – Volunteering of any kind looks great on your resume and international volunteering looks great for anyone interested in development work, disaster relief, teaching, social work or a bunch of things. It’s not paid  work experience but it will give you something to pad out your resume which is especially helpful for students or recent graduates.
  5. Learn a new language – Spending time immersed in a foreign community is a great opportunity to pick the local language. If you are volunteering in a remote area then you will have plenty of people who can’t speak English to practice with.
  6. Save money – If you are able to find a volunteering opportunity where living expenses are covered, you will probably find that you don’t spend much money. Volunteering for weeks or months at a time could allow you to live more cheaply than you would at home.
  7. Get fit – Not all volunteering opportunities involve physical work but there are plenty out there for you if you’re interested in getting sweaty. Disaster relief work and farm work are both great for getting fit and challenging yourself physically.
  8. Have a base for more traveling – Volunteering isn’t all hard work and often you will be given evenings and weekends off. This leaves plenty of time for exploring the area and meeting locals. It’s a great way to get the local experience travelers so often speak about.
  9. Help people – With all the other benefits you get from volunteering, it’s easy to forget the biggest one of all: the satisfaction that comes from helping out, even if just a little bit. While many people’s motivations for volunteering are different, one thing they all have in common is that they’re helping people in need and that brings with it a great sense of satisfaction.

There are lots of people out there who need your help and plenty of local organizations to volunteer with. You don’t need to pay thousands to volunteer, you just need to look a little harder to find placements that are free or charge a reasonable living cost. Make the effort to make volunteering a part of your next backpacking trip – you won’t regret it!

Kirsty left Canada in 2001 and has been traveling, working, and volunteering abroad ever since. She has spent 11 months out of the past two years as a volunteer doing disaster relief work. She has written an ebook called The Underground Guide to International Volunteering that she hopes will inspire other travelers. You can follow her travels on her blog, Nerdy Nomad.

©Nomadic Matt's Travel Site. Learn to have your blog pay for your travels!