Monday, 23 June 2008


I have a bit of a passion for travel. I have a currency collection which the missus kindly scanned for me yesterday. Ta much - missus! - I've just had a brainwave on how we can be rich, but more on that later!

Some would say I'm a wanderer, others might call me a tinker or a gypsy or a knacker. My first big adventure away from home was for a month about 150 miles from Dublin in the Gaeltacht (Irish language summer camp) of Ballvourney County Cork . You stay with a local family and take Irish classes during the day. I was 12 years old and practically starved due to an extra stingy mean host but survived off my card gambling earnings. On return to Dublin, I literally cried a river and thus began my wanderlust.

At 20 years old, during college summer break, I went to Copenhagen, Denmark in an effort to earn money to help pay for my upkeep. I landed a prestigious job in Burgerking where half of Dublin seemed to work and became an expert at tossing whoppers (sounds lude but it's not!)

The work was mind numbingly boring but we made our own 'craic'. You'd start out bottom rung of the ladder, cleaning the toilet, restaurant and work your way up to the broiler, fry station, whopper table, sandwich table and maybe even as a cashier if you could memorise 'double whopper med ost'. (double whopper with chese!)

I can still visualise and almost smell the nasty grease tray from the broiler which collected the drips of fat - yeuch! I went back for a second stint a year later as you could make more money in BK at that time than in a 'real' job in Ireland. After all the hard work, I figured I had earned a well deserved rest so I ended up blowing most of the dosh in 10 days island hopping around Greece :-(
fyi - I have not eaten in Burgerking since then - When you know what and how its cooked you steer clear! - Don't Supersize me!

After college it was either join the dole (collect unemployment benefit) or go to London, so off I trodded to the UK. I spent 3 years there and in retrospect had a good time although it wasn't where I wanted to settle down forever and Irish people were not flavour of the month at the time due to the troubles in Northern Ireland (Thankfully now over). So I headed to Australia where I spent another 3 years. I saved enough money to go walkabout for 9 months and if it wasn't for a slight visa complication (um..err.. I didn't have one), I might still be there as I absolutely loved the place.

I headed back to the UK and tried to make a go of things in Liverpool for six months but it just didn't work out so I returned to London where within a week I landed a good contractor job at a US bank. It was then that I won the lottery, yes I WON THE LOTTERY! - WAHOOOO!!!!!

Okay, unfortunately it wasn't a money lottery, it was a green card visa lottery where you submit your name and if you're lucky, a computer picks your name at random and if picked and after much paperwork you get to go and work in the USA. I managed to swing a transfer with the same US bank and off I went to the Big Apple, New York. It's a fantastic city and there is so much to explore in and outside of NY. I ended up staying 10 years and traveled extensively east coast, west coast and in between. The bug had not subsided so back I went to London for 2 years and rode the Ryanair/EasyJet cattle planes many many times to see as much of Europe as I could.

I've now been in Argentina for a year and have been fortunate enough to see most of the highlights in this great country and well beyond. The time has come to think of somewhere new however so I have a couple of questions for you the reader.

  1. If you still live where you were born, were you ever tempted to leave, why did you stay, and what keeps you there?
  2. If you moved, what motivated you to leave and would you consider moving back?
  3. Finally - What's the favorite place you've visited home or abroad?
Oh! and I almost forgot - FREE MONEY!

Wherever you are, you can place a low value local currency note in bleach for 2 minutes to remove the ink. Let it dry and then stick it in your printer and print off a note from the currency collection below. Don't say I never gave you anything and spend it wisely....and no I won't bail you out so don't even ask!




Nick June 23, 2008 3:30 am  

Well, as you know Jenny and I moved from London to Northern Ireland but that's obviously not a very exciting option for you. My favourite places (of the limited number I've been to) are Sydney, Vancouver and Venice. But I wouldn't recommend living in Italy, it's now so currupt what with Berlusconi and the mafia. Not to mention the increasing anti-immigrant sentiments.

Quickroute June 23, 2008 3:41 am  

Nick: That's interesting - all your top spots are in my top 5. If you don't mind me asking what was the driving force behind the move from London to Belfast?

Nick June 23, 2008 7:26 am  

All sorts of things. London was so congested with people and traffic, the trains and buses were always jammed, and it took so long to get into the centre from any outlying area. The crime level was chronic where we were living. Our block of flats had continuing problems with subsidence, maintenance and noisy neighbours. London being flat, getting to anywhere scenically interesting took several hours, and walking around London itself was unexciting.

Jenny has a long-standing Irish family, we had had several enjoyable holidays in Northern Ireland, and Belfast had none of the problems above (once the Troubles were over), so we decided to move across. Here we're in a spacious and uncongested city with very low crime levels, we have a house with no maintenance or neighbour problems, and there is loads of stunning scenery and great walking opportunities within easy reach.

And we've both found excellent jobs while we've been here.

How's that??

Shaunj June 23, 2008 7:57 am  

How are you? Fascinating snap shot of a life well travelled there. It puts me to shame:)I spent 3 summers working in Germany , a few times as a dish washer in a micro brewery. I was the best "ceramic hygiene engineer" they ever had apparently:( Dont know if that is a good or bad thing.
I left Dublin for Poland because I got tired of working for a big US company and the high cost of living/rat race that Dublin has become. The last thing that swung it for me was how much Ireland has changed in the last ten years. Don't get me wrong- it beats the depression of the 80's but we have forgotten about the things that are important in our surge to prosperity. I don't regret a thing and only miss one or two things about home. One comes in a glass and has a creamy head :)

Anonymous,  June 23, 2008 12:51 pm  

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and I was tempted to leave after graduating college. I lived in China, Vietnam and got to visit Hong Kong ( HK is to different from mainland China so I don't consider it part of it) and Japan. I am currently back home doing grad studies but I know that if all goes well by the time I finish my Masters I'm taking off agian. I'm torn between the UK and Canada for pursuing my PhD. Favorite place was Hong Kong and Sapa in northen Vietnam.

I dream of going to Italy and Spain but I keep hearing about how racist they are and it turns me off.

I like your questions. Oz sounds like agreat place to visit and live in.

Xbox4NappyRash June 23, 2008 1:18 pm  

Well, I headed for Holland 7 years back, just for a change. For work and it seemed a good base to get some other traveling in from. It has been.

I can't see us moving home any time soon, we have no desire to go live in around Dublin, and the opportunities don't seem to exist for both of us elsewhere.

Honestly my favourite 'traveled to' location was last November in Cork, we spent an afternoon in the Oval and it was the happiest 2 or 3 hours I've had in a long long time.

Overall, I'm most impressed with Memphis and a lesser extent New Orleans. Memphis has simply the friendliest people on the planet.

(nice collection btw)

Quickroute June 23, 2008 1:39 pm  

Nick: Good information - thanks. I used to visit a friend in Holywood, Belfast which was close enough to the city but literally on the doorstep on some great scenery and walks.

I agree, I'm not a big fan of London either. I tend to end up living in large cities / financial centres because of my job (finance/tech). But I think I'd be prepared to take a pay cut for a better quality of life.

Quickroute June 23, 2008 1:48 pm  

Shaunj: That's right, Germany was the big destination for Irish students looking for some summer work and of course good beer!

I don't really recognise Dublin any more either. There was humility and simplicity that no longer exists which is a shame. The real estate prices and general cost of living have pretty much sealed the deal for me NOT returning to live there.

So is Poland going be your base for good or do you have other plans?

Quickroute June 23, 2008 2:13 pm  

Nature Lover:I'm not sure about Italy but from what I've heard there definitely is an anti-immigrant mentality in Spain which is a pity as it's a beautiful country.

If you head to the UK for your studies I would advise Edinburgh over London. It wins hands over in my opinion.

I'm considering Asia as the next destination depending on if there are work opportunities. Singapore and Hong Kong are on the short list. I visited Hong Kong before the handover and liked it. I don't know much about Singapore except it has some ridiculously strict laws. Any advice you have would most welcome.

Quickroute June 23, 2008 2:31 pm  

Xbox: That was interesting timing on your exodus. Most of the traffic was going the other way due the Celtic Tiger. You're in a great central spot alright and just a few hours train ride from so many countries.

I've never been to Cork but I'd love to go to the jazz fest there one day.
I liked new Orleans but should probably have done more research for my trip so it didn't coincide with this weekend. It felt as if we were the only straight people there. Your visit to Memphis was motivated for jazz, blues, and Elvis I presume?

Xbox4NappyRash June 23, 2008 2:38 pm  

It wasn't really heading the other way, not in my line anyway, IT.
the mid 90s to 2001 was the IT peak in around Cork. You had the construction and services industry still booming after that though.

2000 & 2001 saw a lot of closures and cuts in IT down our way at least.

Plane, train and automobiles from here is perfect pretty much.

We hit Memphis simply as a stopover on our way to New Orleans, but unknowingly ended up there during the 18th anniversary of his death in 2005.
The blues joints around Memphis are just brilliant, no other word for it.
We went from there onto New Orleans where we got hitched, and had just about moved onto New York when the Katrina panic set in.
New Orleans for street jazz was blindingly good.

Anonymous,  June 23, 2008 3:58 pm  

Singapore is a great place to be in if you're in the bussiness field. I had an Australian friend there and she loved it. It's also very expesive and yes it has some ridiculous laws. Laws go beyond getting a ticket for spitting or throwing litter on the streets. I call Singapore Disneyland with a death penalty, very pretty but to strict. LOL

I've heard great things about Malaysia. A lot of foreigners like Shanghai, but I personally don't like it. It's just like any other big city to me and as a native New Yorker I cringe when ppl compare Shanghai to NYC, they must be on acid to do this.

I am staying away from London, never been there but it seems to be to croweded based on the ppl I've met from there and the comments I've read.

Shaunj June 23, 2008 4:04 pm  

Plan is to stay here indefinately-build a wee house maybe in the near future.
I've been to both HK and singapore and although both are interesting in their own ways I'd opt for HK every day. Dirtier and more lively /exciting. Off to Beijing and Shangai in the nexy few weeks so shall report back.

Baino June 23, 2008 5:00 pm  

As you know I moved from England to Oz as a child but I've travelled to Europe (a few times), Thailand, Fiji, Tahiti and the west coast of the US. My 'knacker' has got me interested in the Gringo trail but I'd love to spend a long time in Canada and Alaska and to touch base with friends in New Zealand. I like the cold! Then Oz is so big, I could travel for the next 10 years and barely touch the sides. I've never been to the Barrier reef!

Megan June 23, 2008 5:03 pm  

Been in California all my life (north and south) except for a nine-month stint in Boston where I wasted a lot of my parents' money drinking beer instead of going to class...

Considered moving many times but family always keeps me here in the end. We are all very close and I would miss them too much.

I did spend 2 weeks in Dublin way back when - 1987. Enjoyed every minute of it.

Nomadic Matt June 23, 2008 6:26 pm  

How about your print the fake money? just in case....

Quickroute June 23, 2008 6:35 pm  

Xbox: Yes, I remember now reading about the IT layoffs. My brother is a programmer and came back to Dublin when it was still a hot job market got layed off a year later.

The talent of your average street musician in New Orleans is phenomenal and the people with a regular gig slot just blow your mind.

Close call on Katrina - lucky!

Quickroute June 23, 2008 6:43 pm  

Nature Lover: "Singapore Disneyland with a death penalty" - Love it! I heard there is a law about having open containers of water as they attract mosquitoes who carry dengue fever. The police have special powers to break and enter any residence they suspect may have open water containers.

Thanks for your advice.

Quickroute June 23, 2008 6:46 pm  

Shaunj: Sounds good - it's always good to have a base or a fixed abode as my parents keep telling me every week!

That sounds like a great trip - I look forward to hearing about it and of course photos please!

Quickroute June 23, 2008 7:00 pm  

Baino: I'd like to go to Alaska too. It seems so remote and cold almost like the opposite of Oz. I really like Canada, west coast in particular is beautiful. I reckon you should follow your daughters good example and pack your bags and go see more stuff! You're right you don't even need to leave the country!

Megan: You have two very great things going for you. West coast USA has some of the best scenery in the world. Close family ties are invaluable - You are to be envied!

Nomadic Matt: Give it a whirl and let me know how you get on, but don't call me from jail!

Queen Goob June 24, 2008 10:46 am  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Queen Goob June 24, 2008 10:47 am  

No I don’t live where I was born – I was born in a coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania. Our family was packed up and moved when my father accepted a position at a church in South Florida. No I wouldn’t move back to Western Pennsylvania but I’m still a huge Steelers fan. I haven’t had the chance to travel as much as I would have liked so my favorite place is not exotic or foreign. My favorite place is the small towns of Eastern Pennsylvania where daylilies grow wild on the side of the rode and traffic slows behind the horse-drawn carriages of the locals. If given the chance, I’d move there as well. I’d like to visit the family in Ireland but it doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon so I’ll take a minitrip here and there just to get out of town for long weekends. Those weekends will be spent at any given beach I land upon.

Quickroute June 24, 2008 3:54 pm  

Queen of Goob: I didn't spend much time in Pennsylvania, mostly passing thru. It seems to be over shadowed by its neighbours. I spent a long weekend in the home of Rocky, Philadelphia but I hear there are tons of forests and natural wilderness.

I thought there might be an irish connection with a name like Marnie Flanigan. Do you know which part of the emerald isle you have connections?

Queen Goob June 25, 2008 1:14 pm  

My family is in County Clare, Ennistymon.

One of these days I'll make it there!

Quickroute June 25, 2008 1:41 pm  

Queen of Goob: Nice spot! - Ireland is $$$$$ expensive these days so wait till the exchange rate comes back to something normal-ish.

Xbox4NappyRash June 25, 2008 1:51 pm  

About how expensive it is in Ireland, I think you really need to leave and come back to notice it.

I'm home 2-4 times a year and I'm still stunned at the cost of living there now.

RED MOJO June 25, 2008 2:05 pm  

Wow, you've had a really interesting life. I've traveled extensively in the USA and lived many places, but I've only been to Europe once. I visited Spain and North Africa. I think living somewhere for a while is the way to really know it though. I envy your travels!

Quickroute June 25, 2008 3:03 pm  

Xbox: True, I think leaving and coming back gives you a better perspective on how much the prices have rocketed. I trawl the travel forums though and Ireland is getting a bad rap as just too expensive to visit!

Red Mojo: Americans sometimes get criticised for not travelling much outside the USA but with such diversity of people, scenery etc in such a large country I can see why they don't.

Your right about living somewhere else as opposed to just visiting. You get a completely different insight.

TCL October 22, 2008 5:53 pm  

I was born in Taipei and didn't have a choice when my parents moved the family to Los Angeles. The first chance I got (college), I moved as far away from Los Angeles as possible without leaving the country and landed in Washington, DC.

I recently told my mother that while I appreciated the efforts they made to move me from a small congested island in the Pacific to the US, it's time for me to go and explore the world for myself (beyond fits of 2 weeks - 1 month trips). So it's BsAs for 8 - 12 months starting January 2009, then hopefully France or Belgium for graduate school (plan to sort that out and actually write the application while I'm in Argentina).

What is motivating me to go? I want to see the world and I'm tired of Washington, DC, politics, and the US after working on Capitol Hill for 10 years. Time for me to see a new place and BsAs seems about as good of a place as any. My only criteria were 1) I can live off my savings for a year; 2) I learn a new language other than English or Mandarin Chinese.

Favorite place thus far - to live or to visit? I adore the Jordanian desert but don't think I'm the goat herder type. Maybe I can get by taking travelers to jump rocks or race camels? Maybe the Chilean altiplano. There are so many places I visited and really enjoyed. But as far as living, I've only lived in Taipei, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC and I don't like any of the choices (out of all those probably Taipei and that's because their metro system actually works and I can get fantastic food 24h a day).



Quickroute October 23, 2008 11:07 am  

@ Ted: Seems like a lot of people are fed up with the current gloom and doom of economy and are looking to escape.

I think you'll enjoy it down here and as long as you are careful with the money - it will last you a year.

I'd love to see the Jordanian desert - I hear it's amazing

TCL October 23, 2008 3:07 pm  


For me it's part escape and part exploring. I think I have ADD. If I stay somewhere for an extended period of time I get bored easily and need other distractions to see me through. For that reason I've always traveled.

I'm an awful photographer but here are my Jordan pictures, complete with a Roman Legionnaire reenactment at Jerash. Hope it gives you the idea. The desert is amazing and the Bedus are supremely warm people. But the north of the country that's close to Syria is as green as it gets (OK maybe not Ireland green).

Quickroute October 23, 2008 8:46 pm  

Staying in one spot has been a problem for me too. Nice pics - reminds me a little of Arizona only much better

TCL October 23, 2008 11:31 pm  

HK and Singapore are both fine towns. But I'd vote for Singapore with fine access to some of the world's loveliest beaches in Malaysia.

If you're still keen on Asia and thought about Taiwan I'd be happy to talk. Not as cosmopolitan and not as many financial jobs as the two former UK colonies but I can enlighten you with where the boozers and low-lifes hang out in Taipei.

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