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Everything posted by Andromeda321

  1. Wow, you know what's a really great way to stop having any interesting contributions to this thread? Submitting a PhD thesis. I am at T minus six months, so nothing much is happening until then. I keep thinking it would be fun to go for a weekend to Vienna and then pop over to Slovakia for a day, but just never seem to find the time for it. I did want to pop in though and say I have cached in 39 countries and turned 30 last month, so guess I'm a member of the more countries than age club too. I am however having fun fantasizing about the trip I want to take when I submit my PhD thesis in August or so. See, I never did the Baltics, and while August is popular I naively think I could head there last minute for a "hooray, I'm free!" kind of jaunt. Add in Finland too, and the 72 hours visa free on the ferry to St Petersburg, and I think that would be a really memorable trip! And I'll definitely have some more countries later in 2016 besides that- I do a lot of science writing on the side, and it's amazingly paid off well enough that a literary agent and I are working on a book proposal on my area in astronomy. So with luck I'll be doing that for a year or so, and I would really like to take the excuse to do stuff like go to Cape Town for a month to meet with people there and work, etc- fingers crossed!!
  2. Congrats on Malta. Hang in there. As I am sure you have heard: "It's a marathon, not a sprint" But the 'Cycles agree that it is worth the effort. Are you ABT (all but thesis) or still doing coursework? In the Netherlands, we don't do coursework at all as part of the PhD program- that is what you do during your MSc. Which I prefer! But basically my project has suffered technical delays that are not my fault, and my advisor is definitely the inattentive/busy sort, which is rather frustrating when you've less than a year of funding left. (Another reason travel has to ratchet down, at this rate I may need that money to finish...) Our pace has slowed considerably. I blame the job and the toddler. When neither interfere, my top priority is spending time with the wife; geocaching comes in 4th. But I will get the opportunity next weekend to take a solo road trip and get some more pages for my NM Delorme. Glad you enjoyed Malta, it was one of our favorite places to visit when we lived in Europe. Just very different than most of the countries you can get to from Germany. Where in NM will you be in December? (I will be spending half of the month in a tent somewhere in Dona Ana County, as my unit will be in the field for two weeks just before Christmas.) Opposite side of the state I'm afraid- a few days in Albuquerque for a conference, then heading up towards Los Alamos for a weekend to hang out with a college buddy and sightsee until flying back to the Netherlands. I am looking forward to it! (Side bonus is I am visiting the folks first for my first American Thanksgiving in over half a decade, which will be great.)
  3. Went to Malta last weekend for country number 39! Yay! And it was my 26th country in Europe to boot... I've gotta say though, my geocaching pace has definitely slowed down this year because of the increase of PhD work and it shows- the two geocaches in Malta were the only two I got for all of September. I guess that's what happens when you're working late almost every night, no time to get out to grab some geocaches and then when the weekend comes you're too tired to get out of the apartment. But obviously, trying to not force anything, I can always get more back into it when I have the PhD in hand. But I still miss it. And on a similar new note, nothing new planned unless we count the state of New Mexico in early December.
  4. I did this a few years ago while vacationing near Arezzo/Italy. It was a good two hours drive from there. Just be aware that San Marino lies in a mountainous area and the driving times from Google maps are a bit optimistic. San Marino itself is quite worth a visit, lot's of old buildings and some great views from the mountaintop. We only visited the old city. Of course San Marino is quite touristy and busy. I also have visited San Marino, albeit pre geocaching. It's a wonderful drive! It's also a rather popular tourist place to visit because shopping is cheap there.
  5. Malta is lovely! I visited pre caching (story of my travelling life haha!) and stayed in a lovely hostel/boutique hotel right inside the walls of Valetta. It's a great island and getting around is easy. We can get there quite easily from Turkey, so maybe we should revisit before we leave here. Lots of places in Asia are very accessible from Aus, so fingers are crossed for you and the job. I'm sure your previous travels will mean there's still loads to contribute here Singapore I've also visited before caching, so I can only hope that a long layover one day will mean I get to cache there too another time In the meantime, it looks like our next new country will be in March 16... still to be decided but the main contender at the moment is South Africa (just a bit excited about the possibility of that!). Until then it's to-and-fro between Turkey and the UK. Such a long time to wait, but I'm sure it will be worth it! Yeah, looking forward to Malta! I currently have a bunk in what is allegedly a super friendly hostel in St. Julian's, but may yet opt for a room near Valetta. One of those complicated things where you're trying to balance meeting people as a solo traveler and maximizing your free time while traveling. And thanks for the kind words on getting the Aussie job! I think the main thing being Melbourne based is I can definitely get some new countries, but not just on a weekend jaunt as I can now. No lack of cool weekend trips though from there, to be clear, just not new countries! (Excepting NZ, which is a 3 hour flight away... next closest new country tho, New Caledonia, is 5 hours flying.) But hey, where there's a will there's a way... I'm sure I'd get up there at some point, and one can get creative with Pacific islands and stopovers when heading to the USA I think. It's also btw interesting to "re-calibrate" when checking out geocaches in Australia compared to Europe. Here it's not unusual in Amsterdam for the more tourist-friendly geocaches to have over a thousand favorite points, but there it's rare to have one with over 100! So it must just be a small but vibrant community. And good luck getting to South Africa! Southern Africa is in the "pre-geocaching, gotta return" corner of things for me- visited 6 countries in that part of the world during my backpacking days, and gotta get back! (The Aussie prof actually has lots of connections in South Africa so traveling there is a distinct possibility if I were to work for him, but I'm not entertaining the thought much on the grounds of counting chickens before they're hatched and all.)
  6. It looks to me that the distance between Melborne and countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philappines is about the same as it is from New York to most of Europe. Pretty much! Which means they're closer for sure, but definitely too far for weekend traveling. Being based in northern Australia would be a different story. And while I have heard nice things and have friends living there, there is no way I would opt to live in Perth, the most isolated major city in the world.
  7. Can you tell me which state is 51st? After counting them all I'm stuck at 50 and then there's D.C. which is not a state. GC lists DC as a state though, hence the 51! (Puerto Rico et al count as their own country in the GC stats.)
  8. So I'm going to Malta at the end of the month. Woohoo, new country! Not many that are easy to get to in Europe for me by now! Also, I should note that things are winding down in Europe- like it or not, my funding runs out by August 2016- so time to look for a post-PhD job. Applying for one now in Melbourne, Australia which would be an amazing opportunity- here's hoping even if they don't hire me they do want to do in-person interviews! (I should note though, I would soon have fairly little to report in this thread if I moved to Australia, beyond getting there and NZ. Not many other new countries within easy striking distance of Melbourne, and Groundspeak doesn't even have a special map for the states of Australia like they do in the USA/Canada it turns out...)
  9. Well guys, I successfully geocached yesterday in my 38th country- Monaco- which also was my 60th visited country overall. Huzzah! Even won all of 40 cents at the Monte Carlo casino! Also had some nice poolside/wandering in Nice the day prior while a storm with hurricane-force winds battered the Netherlands, so think that was the best timed weekend getaway ever. Funny thing I noticed reading up on the country post visit, I've now visited the two smallest countries on Earth (Vatican City and Monaco). The next two are Niue and Tuvalu, so that's probably not happening in awhile. Also, they're not countries, but last month while traveling for work I got 3 geocaches in Arizona for a new state- hooray! It's also looking like work is sending me to New Mexico in December, which would be my 20th US state I've geocached in. Unfortunately, between having cleared out my nearby radius and trying to finish a PhD thesis this next year, I'm not sure if the new country number is going to budge. I still have a long line of five unvisited countries stretching south from Finland- maybe I'll backpack through there after I submit but before I defend (as you have this awkward several week gap there at my university). Definitely won't have time between now and then to do so.
  10. The Blue Lagoon is right next to Reyjkavik airport- you could visit it even if you had a 4 hour layover IMO! (Plus it has an Earthcache, so that angle is set.) Reykjavik proper is about an hour from the airport. Note, if you're flying with Icelandair and book via their website, there is no additional cost for a layover up to a week in time. So it's not a cost issue really. Anyway, on my front, nearing the summer plans (but hard to tell in a country that's 60 degrees F and rainy/windy...), and should be getting Arizona in a few weeks so that's nice. Also booked a weekend to Nice, France in late July so will spend one of the days heading over to Monaco- country #38 for geocaching, and my 60th country overall!
  11. Got Slovenia at the beginning of the month! #37, not too shabby. But when 2/3 of those are in Europe, it's starting to get more difficult to easily pick up new ones, particularly as I have a thesis demanding more and more of my attention. I will get Arizona next month though, so that'll be nice for a new state- last visited there a decade ago, well before I began geocaching. The annoying thing though is I'm spending virtually all the time on a mountaintop in an Indian reserve observing, but I'm sure some opportunity or another will present itself at some point!
  12. Susancycle can say the same about Gaza/Palestine, again no caches but the picture of the rocket damage to the checkpoint was interesting... There are caches in Palestine though. Regarding the layover thing, it really depends on my mood. I've interestingly only ever gotten three geocaches in Switzerland, all while waiting to fly out of Geneva airport (as I've flown in there to head to France a few times). Last month though I unexpectedly spent almost a full day in Zurich due to flight issues (but of course the delays were so slow in being announced it was never enough time to go out to see Zurich) so should have grabbed another layover cache... but meh, couldn't be bothered.
  13. Slovenia next weekend- whoop whoop! Also checking in to note that I'm excited to be going to Arizona this summer for observing. I haven't been in ten years or so, ie pre geocaching, so I'm excited to have that state filled in! Funny thing there though is the observatory I'm going to this time (Kitt Peak) is on an Indian reservation, ie no geocaches available at all for the majority of the week... but I'm sure I can grab one or two in Tucson while coming/going from the airport, as it seems like the area is really well populated with them. Also adding more to my counts in Massachusetts, Ohio, and New Hampshire, all of which I haven't been to in years, so that'll be nice. Also toying with weekends this summer to nab Monaco, San Marino, Lithuania, and Latvia- we'll see which end up happening!
  14. Greetings from Jerusalem! Have just caught up with some logs, and am proud to report adding two geocaches: Jordan and Israel. Both are amazing and you should definitely plan on visiting them! Tomorrow I was originally thinking of going on a day trip to get a geocache in Palestine, but honestly I'm a bit tired and think I'll opt instead to just hang out in Jerusalem (during Shabbat, so everyone else will be chilling out too I know). I'm feeling tired after the running around of the past few days trying to see all the amazing things this area of the world has to offer, and it's a recipe for showing up to work even more tired next week than I was when leaving- likely not the best idea! Also, interestingly, I should note that I've been through the West Bank several times as if you're going to the Dead Sea and Masada from Jerusalem it's kinda impossible to avoid it. There are also several geocaches in the West Bank that are listed as a part of Israel- I suspect it's not so much a political thing so much as Groundspeak opts to list UN-recognized countries, and these caches predate the recognition of Palestine. Either way, Jerusalem and Petra are amazing and everyone should put them on their geo-lists!
  15. For me, I definitely do combine the two if the opportunity allows. Increasingly ski resorts have geocaches (often with super high terrain ratings!) so I've bagged a few of those, and it's always a great bonus! I also have a little boat here in Amsterdam (old rowboat someone slapped an engine on type thing) and have gotten all the boat caches in the area as well.
  16. Thanks all! I really like the Temple of Doom one in particular. I think it could work, just make an Indiana Jones reference.
  17. Hi guys, I'm doing a talk this Friday at Amsterdam Nerd Nite on geocaching, and did the run through yesterday with the organizers. Should be a fun talk! But they had an idea that on the last slide for the Q&A session I put a picture of a treasure chest or similar as lots of people go for the "treasure" angle when first hearing about it (even tho obv that's not why people stay). So I thought it would be more fun to put a picture of a geocache that is modeled like a treasure chest. I mean, surely this exists somewhere, but Google doesn't give me too many cache-specific ones. Anyone know of one? Thanks!
  18. I'm doing a talk this week on geocaching and was looking to update how many countries have geocaches in them now (answer: all but 3! Solomon Islands, Central African Republic, and North Korea), and spotted this eventin Somalia. Well not really in Somalia, the coords are off the coast of Somalia. And apparently you got the real coordinates just before the event, and the few people who logged it did so after logging geocaches in Oman (which is close on a map, but still hundreds of miles away type thing). So, armchair loggers who really wanted Somalia on their stats page? Or did someone actually rent a boat from Oman and navigate pirate-infested waters?
  19. T minus 10 days to the Israel/Jordan/maybe Palestine trip. Anticipation! Also we have May 4/5 off in the Netherlands so I booked a few nights at a nice-sounding hostel in Slovenia, by Lake Bled. That part of the world looks gorgeous! Also it looks like a small enough country that there's no point in moving around to somewhere else, as I can just do a day trip for all of it from right there. If the Palestine cache works out (and looks like it should- things are quiet, and a day tour run by my hostel in Jerusalem into the West Bank goes near two of them) then Slovenia will be #38. Also, not country related as it's just an hour north of me now, but I'm excited to report that I will finally get my Mega event icon this Saturday so huzzah! And also I'm giving a talk next week at Amsterdam Nerd Nite on geocaching, which should be super fun... beyond a general discussion about the topic I'm focusing on some of my adventures traveling and geocaching around the world to keep it interesting.
  20. I'd love to see a way of logging UNESCO sites, but I don't think this would work within GC, apart from Waymarking. Usually there's no cache nearby (permission and vacation caches) and EarthCaches are hardly ever the right type of cache either. A cooperation with the UNESCO for somehow logging those sites would be great but I don't see that happening. Plus there are a thousand UNESCO World Heritage sites. If Groundspeak can't get out souvenirs for the most popular countries in a timely fashion, I just can't imagine how long making world heritage sites would take! (There's also a lot of politics involved in choosing said sites- much as I love Italy and Spain for example it makes little sense that ~10% of all sites are there, but the USA which is so much bigger only makes up ~2%.)
  21. I live in the city center of Amsterdam, not too far from the Anne Frank House so it means there are loads of people in our neighborhood! On the one hand, it's really nice because it means then we get lots of geocachers passing through to find the caches! On the other, it also means they go missing a bit more quickly than ones further outside the city... most people I know will also disable and remove their caches a few days near King's Day, April 27, when each year hundreds of thousands of people descend upon the city in the biggest party no one's ever heard of outside the Netherlands. If it doesn't get lost on April 27 it inevitably will when the cleanup crews diligently remove party debris in the days after.
  22. I have never ever had occasion to post in this thread, but I'm excited to be able to do so now. I will be traveling to Istanbul, Israel and Jordan, staying for 13 days in the middle of May plus a a travel day on either end. (It means missing a Geo-Woodstock that's close to home, but them's the breaks.) I expect we'll be finding some of the same caches! I've already eyed those "Palestine" caches in Bethlehem and Jericho, both of which are on my group's itinerary. Our organizer says that we will skip those locations if there is a tense or active security situation, which is why I'm glad to have a tour company who puts a security officer on our bus. If we stop there, I'm definitely finding those caches if they are within walking distance. I will be traveling with a group of about 40 people from my church on an organized tour, but with some windows of free time for "shopping" which I will spend caching. When we are at a major tourist stop, I will either need to find virtuals and earthcaches, or break away quickly to find a physical cache. Any tips on finding caches when with a large group of non-cachers? Oh, very cool, and welcome to the thread for exploring the big wide world via geocaching! (Btw in contrast, small world but you found one of my caches once, when my parents still lived on Foxhurst Dr north of Pittsburgh...) I've found geocaches before when on tours with others, and usually people are pretty cool with it and some are actually quite interested. One good icebreaker is before getting somewhere to fiddle with your GPS a little in public while the group is waiting, as then others in the group will inevitably ask what your GPS is, and you can explain about geocaching. Then when you see you're near one and say "excuse me" and step away a minute (which I've done sometimes when you realize you're in a square, say, and would rather find the cache quickly during a guide's narration) then people know what you're up to and you don't get questions then. Put it this way, everyone's got eccentricities that become apparent when traveling, and our tendency to wander off is a mild one so long as you don't get lost and disappear completely (as most people are more busy snapping photos than caring about geocaching). Beats the guy who stumbles back drunk at 2am for his eccentricity, you know? Otherwise, normal geosenses prevail, except the only other one that's sometimes important abroad is to remember you're much more likely to attract Muggle attention depending on the country. Not sure how it is in the Middle East- I suspect Israel might be fairly normal (I remember Istanbul wasn't much of a hassle) but touts in Jordan might be a different story. Ah well guess I'll find out, and it looks like the Jordan ones are likely to be virtuals/Earthcaches (as my main stops there are Petra and Wadi Rum). Anyway, I'll be sure to post how it goes now! Nice thing is I noticed my hostel in Jerusalem arranges a "best of the West Bank" day tour that goes to Jericho and Bethlehem, so I might opt for that over visiting Tel Aviv at the end, as I was sorta thinking of earlier. At the end of the day geocaches aside I'm primarily interested in history, so I think in the interests of time those sites win over a modern city.
  23. Astronomer. Speaking of, looks like I'm going observing for a week at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, in June. I was last in Arizona a decade ago, pre geocaching for sure, so yay new state for the stats! (Not on Kitt Peak tho as that's on an Indian reservation, I'll have to nab one while in Tucson.)
  24. 1) No fee required to attend 2) 20 minute presentation 3) Event itself is March 20, but they want to see slides and run through it with me a week before. I guess they don't like people waiting to the last minute!
  25. I know. I've been to Canada a half dozen times or so but not since I started caching. Google maps tells me it's less than 3 hours to the border from where I live but I just haven't managed to make it there in the last 8 years. I've also been to Mexico 3 times, once since I started cache, but don't have a find there either. I have... almost 20 countries like this, ie that I went to before geocaching. Basically I studied abroad in New Zealand for a semester in 2007 and traveled around there a bit, and then did my six month trip around the world in 2009... and discovered geocaching when I was bored about being home again and wanted to explore post-trip! TBH I think I'll get some of those sooner instead of later- I find it hard to believe that I'll never ever return to Australia/NZ or Thailand, for example- but dadgum some are gonna be hard. One doesn't often find themselves in the region of the Cook Islands and even if you do you probably opt for another island nation you haven't been to, right? NZ is very cool though and I highly recommend it, but for what it's worth I don't know if a cruise is the best way about exploring it. So many wonderful mountains to explore!
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