Territorial Disputes Over Tourist Attractions

Gibnews.net, Wikimedia Commons

Spain is being accused of intentionally holding tourists in long lines as they make their way back from day tripping in Gibraltar. The British Overseas Territory claims the traffic jam — which has so far affected more than 10,000 vehicles — has been deliberately orchestrated because of a disagreement over a creation of an artificial reef in territorial waters. Of course, this isn’t the only territory in the middle of a tug-of-war match by two — or sometimes more — countries. Here are just a few of the dozens of places with disputed borders where you may find yourself stuck:

  • Mont Blanc Summit (France vs. Italy): Both countries have had a long but peaceful dispute over ownership of the summit of the highest mountain in the Alps.
  • Liancourt Rocks (Japan vs. South Korea): this group of small, craggy islets has become a tourist attraction in recent years, but its sovereignty is still being disputed.
  • East Jerusalem (Israel vs. Palestinian Authority): Jerusalem’s Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are just a few of the attractions that lie in this hotly debated territory.
  • Ceuta (Spain vs. Morocco): the majority of this city’s population are ethnic Spanish who are opposed to the idea of being ruled by Morocco.
  • Tennessee River (Tennessee vs. Georgia): Georgia lawmakers claim surveyors who mapped out the border between these two states in 1818 got it wrong, and part of the Tennessee River should actually belong to Georgia.
  • Paracel Islands (China vs. Taiwan vs. Vietnam): three countries lay claim to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The islands have the potential to become a popular tourist attraction because of their large reef system, but currently tensions between the countries are too high.
  • Southern Half of Belize (Belize vs. Guatemala): All of Belize was formerly part of Guatemala, and today the debate still continues over who is the rightful owner.

Tangier, Morocco: Stop And Stay A While

Tangier
Almudena Alonso-Herrero

Every now and then in my travels I find a spot where I want to stop for a while. Damascus, Harar and the Orkney Islands have all captured my imagination because of their rich culture and laid back atmosphere.

Damascus is lost, sucked into the maelstrom of a country intent on destroying itself. Harar and Orkney are far away. So I’m lucky to have discovered Tangier, Morocco, less than an hour’s flight from my home base of Madrid.

Set in a broad bay next to the Strait of Gibraltar, it’s been an important spot since ancient times. On a high hill stands the Casbah, once the domain of the Sultan but now an exclusive neighborhood for rich Moroccans and an increasing number of expatriates. Below lies the medina, a jumble of houses and labyrinthine streets that are home to shopkeepers and laborers. There’s also a sprawling new city thanks to the booming port.

Tangier is a fascinating city. You can see all the tourist sights in two days and spend the rest of your life figuring the place out. Tangier has one of the most mixed populations I’ve seen. Arabs rub shoulders with Berbers from the Rif, Sahrawis from Western Sahara, and an increasing number of Senegalese and other migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The men dress in everything from the traditional djellaba to T-shirt and jeans; the women in everything from the niqab to miniskirts. There’s also a long-established expat population of French, Spaniards and British.

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This ethnic alphabet soup means you hear half a dozen languages as you walk down the street. The local Arabic is called Darija and is distinct enough that my rusty Levantine Arabic is almost useless. Berber is often heard too. If you don’t speak either of these languages, chances are that any individual Moroccan will speak French, Spanish or English, or perhaps all of them. I’ve never met an African who spoke fewer than three languages.

It’s often hard to know which language to use first. I generally start conversations in Spanish because that’s more widely understood than English, although one young guy immediately switched to English and asked, “Why are you speaking Spanish if you’re from an English-speaking country?” Conversations often slide from one language to another. This is a place where you can end up using four languages just asking a waiter for a cup of tea!

Speaking of tea, sitting in a cafe with a cup of Moroccan mint tea (cloudy with sugar and with the mint leaves still floating in the water) is the best way to see Tangier. The locals love to relax with friends and watch the world go by. My favorite place to sit is the Petit Socco, a small square in the center of the medina through which everyone seems to pass. Not far off and outside the old city walls is the Grand Socco. It’s even more lively but the blaring traffic makes it less relaxing.

You won’t have to sit long before you’ll get in a conversation with someone. Moroccans are very social and you can learn a lot about life in their country by spending a couple of hours lounging in a cafe. I’ve been treated to everything from Berber tales of spirit possession to catty gossip from longtime expats.

Tangier used to have a bad reputation for hustlers and touts. They’ve been mostly cleaned out in recent years although you’ll still have young guys coming up to you asking to be your guide. A polite “no” will work if repeated two or three times. This doesn’t work in Marrakesh or Fez! Once you’ve been around a couple of days they’ll all recognize you and stop asking.

There are other advantages to staying for a while. Most visitors spend only a day or two in Tangier, or come as day trippers from Gibraltar or Tarifa and disappear after a few hours. The locals quite understandably see these people only as sources of money. Once the folks in Tangier have seen you around for a few days they start getting curious. Soon you’ll get to know the people who hang out at your regular cafes. The kids will start following you to get English lessons. You’ll start getting invitations for lunch or parties or day trips.

This, of course, works most places. What makes Tangier special is the diverse range of people to meet and the vibrant feel to the place. It’s a place of constant movement. People come here to make their fortunes or to use the city as a launchpad to get to Europe. It’s welcoming to newcomers because so many people are newcomers. You’ll meet a lot of interesting people with interesting dreams in Tangier and to become part of the scene in this endlessly interesting city requires only a bit of time and an open mind.

Tangier
Almudena Alonso-Herrero

Game of Thrones Tours Launch In Europe

horslips5, Flickr

Game of Thrones fans can now visit familiar filming locations on new walking tours around Belfast, Northern Ireland and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Here all all the details for you Game of Thrones fans out there, courtesy of tour company Viator:

  • In Belfast, a 9-hour private tour takes visitors along the Causeway Coastal Route, which should be instantly recognizable to any fans of the HBO series. Pose for photos on the Dark Hedges road before crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and see the caves where Melisandre of Asshai gave birth to a shadow baby before stopping for lunch at Ballintoy Harbour, which is known as Lordsport Harbour in the series. The tour also includes a stop at the UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway.
  • Four-hour walking tours in Dubrovnik take fans to the setting of King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in the series. Visitors will check out Lovrijenac Fortress and climb the city walls that were attacked by the Baratheons in the first series, from which point they can look out over Blackwater Bay. According to Viator, a guide will also take visitors to several city parks used to film countryside scenes in the series.

In addition to Northern Ireland and Croatia, Game of Thrones has also filmed in Malta, Iceland and Morocco – but no tours have been announced there as of now. The fact that these tours have been developed, however, is a powerful testament to the effect popular culture has on tourism.

[Via Skift]

Travel All The Time With Jobs Like These

travel all the timeThose who travel all the time can go to far away places as routinely as others might go to buy groceries. They have somehow managed to be employed in an occupation that requires travel as part of what they do. Commonly, we might think of sales people who hit the road to get face time with regular or prospective customers, and many do. People with the word “travel,” or something like it, in their job title are normally on the move a lot too. Travel writers, flight crews and astronauts come to mind.

But there are a number of other occupations that include travel as a key element of the job description. Some travel occasionally and for others, the job is on the road. If a traveling job sounds like a good fit, consider thinking along these lines:

Education Professionals
Pick your topic (one that you love would be a good choice), get credentialed and throw your hat in the ring to teach anywhere on the planet. TeachAbroad can tell you all about it here.

The idea for this post actually came from a teacher. Also the photographer on last Saturday’s Photo of the Day, Lauren Irons is TheTravelingTeacher and her travel/work has seen Cambodia, Malaysia, Morocco, India and other countries around the world. Irons takes fans along for the ride via her blog, rich in colorful photos and first-hand accounts of her adventure.

Military members
“Join the Navy, See the world” is still a very viable option for an occupation that might have a great amount of travel, and not always into battle zones. The U.S. Navy, even today, touts the travel opportunities available:

“If you enjoy traveling, you will be able to take advantage of flying for free on military aircraft as they travel to different destinations around the world. You will even be able to hook up with lodging at the different Navy bases and other military bases, which are under an American flag. This will allow you to see even more great places while you are enlisted in the US Navy.”

Medical people other than doctors
Don’t get me wrong; there are traveling doctors too. Doctors Without Borders will be quite happy to tell you about their volunteer opportunities. But Nurses, aides, technicians and others are in high demand worldwide.

“In college I dreamed of having an international career,” writes Caroline Polt, RN at Transitions Abroad, an online source that helps people work, live, study and/or volunteer abroad. “Several years after my sister ventured off to foreign lands to teach English, I decided to pursue the same route,” continues Polt, noting, “healthcare organizations worldwide are scrambling to recruit nurses.”

travel all the timeTravel Agents
Part of being a travel agent is experiencing destinations, modes of travel and other elements of booking travel that require personal contact.

These days, webinars have taken the place of a lot of what travel agents commonly saw on familiarization trips, hosted by a tour operator, resort, cruise line or other travel source. Still, there are a whole lot of free or reduced-price options that can get you traveling all the time.

Location Independents
These are people that are experts in their field so they travel to share their knowledge/gifts with others. For example, someone who is an expert on repairing a certain amusement ride at Disney World is an invaluable resource. Someone who is an expert at repairing amusement rides in general will be on the road a lot.


Work On A Cruise Ship
Jobs are available and cruise lines are hiring now. AllCruiseJobs lists job openings, currently boasting 665 cruise ship jobs from 49 recruiters. Think working on a floating hotel is something you might like to do? A reality check is in order.

“They eat, sleep and live on the two crew-only decks when they are off-duty, and only enter passenger areas to work,” says Paul Motter from CruiseMates in a FoxNews report. Yes, they do sail to exotic destinations all over the world, but on the ship, they are in a world quite different than paying passengers when not working.

“The crew area also includes a bar, usually open every night for varying hours for drinks and dancing, and a deck area with a small swimming pool and deck chairs,” says Motter. “Everyone works seven days a week, but the number of hours varies a great deal depending on the particular job. “

Or Any Other Job On The Planet
The key, it seems, is to actively search for the job that will have the right amount of travel for you. Want to be home on the weekends? There are jobs that can make that happen. Want to travel just in the United States? Other jobs do that too.

Maybe travel is not the number one priority when looking for a job. Indeed, for many, any job in a tough job market will do. But that surely does not mean that we can’t make our jobs what we want them to be, eventually.



[Photo credit - Chris Owen]