After 16 years of trying to be funny, I’m thinking of branching out. Over the last 15 years I’ve traveled more than most, but not as much as some. I love traveling and I love dreaming of new places that I want to see up close. I’m considering starting a travel blog incorporating reviews of hotels, attractions and restaurants, interviews with real travel experts, and humorous stories about things that have occurred in my travels. Would this be a blog/website you’d want to read? Or are there too many travel writers out there? I’d love your feedback, comments and suggestions. If you were to have only one travel blog/website to read, what would you want to hear about? Please vote on my poll and share your thoughts in the comments.
Ok, I think they’ve removed the poll option from the admin options. I’ve installed a plug-in for polls and I don’t like it already. If you think I should add a travel blog to The Phil Factor portfolio, please hit like and if you’re feeling generous, I’d love comments with suggestions about what you like when you’re reading travel reviews or articles.
Admittedly, this is a re-run. But it’s an appropriate one because I’m in a hotel all week this week for work. And, c’mon, seriously, who doesn’t want to live in a hotel? Am I right?
10. No lawn to mow: At hotels I won’t have any yardwork and yet the hedges will always be impeccably trimmed and sometimes in the whimsical shapes of animals. Or should it be the shapes of whimsical animals? Are animals capable of whimsy? I’m not even sure I am.
9. Housekeeping! Who doesn’t want their room cleaned every day? I imagine though that I’d develop an unhealthy Mom complex with my housekeeper to the point that she asks to be re-assigned to another floor.
8. The hotel bar: If I lived there it would be like Cheers and everyone would know my name and yell “Phil!” when I walk in.
7. Coffee in my room: I love just hopping out of bed, turning on the coffee maker and then hopping back in bed with my fresh cup of joe to watch the morning news.
6. The in room hotel safe: I don’t care if it’s tiny. I still feel cool as hell having a safe to lock things up with my secret code. I feel all Mission Impossible-like when I use the safe. I still can’t find a way to lower myself from the ceiling when I’m pretending to break into my own safe.
5. Fresh towels! Soft, cushy and clean every day. They make me feel like that fabric softener bear in the commercial. And btw, I’m only using them once. Re-using a towel is not going to save the planet. I saw a trash receptacle at my local supermarket that said “179 recycled milk jugs were used to create this trash can.” Are you kidding me? The time, energy and fossil fuel needed to make a giant trash can out of milk jugs probably shortened the life of this planet by a year. Don’t tell me to re-use my towels!
4. Weather: I grew up in upstate New York and I still live here. I’m sick and tired of snow. No, I don’t like the change of seasons. You know who says they like the change of seasons? People who live somewhere warm. Jackasses. Spend your whole life digging your car out of the snow six months a year and see if you like the change of seasons then. When I live in hotels I’ll never have to see snow again if I don’t want to.
3. If You’re tired of the view you can move: If it’s the view from my room or just the city the hotel is in; if I’ve seen all there is to see I can just go to another hotel somewhere else. At some point you know I’ll be in Snow White’s Castle at Disney World. That will be awkward.
2. The friendly hotel staff: They have to be nice to you whether they like you or not. It’s not that I have any problem with people not liking me, but in real, non-hotel life sometimes other people are having bad days or whatever and are not nice. Within the safe confines of a hotel everyone is friendly and there to help. Who doesn’t enjoy groveling sycophants?
1. Being driven around: If I sold my house and car and lived in hotels I’d never have to drive again. At some point in the distant future my sight and reaction time will decline to the point that it would be unsafe for me to continue driving; but you know what? I’ll still have a driver’s license and no one will stop me. When I live in hotels I’ll just call for a taxi, shuttle bus or town car if I need to go somewhere. Me living in hotels will save lives, so if you would all go buy all of my books to the point that I get that trillion dollars I need, it may even save your life. Who knows? If left to my own devices I could be driving down your street someday and you don’t really want that do you?
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(09/20/2011) Believe it or not, TSA allowed me on a flight to Europe last week. I think they were hoping I only had a one way ticket because I definitely had an easier time getting out of the U.S. than back into it. My job took me to Spain and I managed not to get into a fight with any one from any country. Apparently The Phil Factor is universally adored.
The trip however, was an education.
1. Europeans are not afraid of lung cancer. How cool is that? In the long run that isn’t a bad thing either because it will result in fewer Europeans. Apparently word that cigarettes are bad for you hasn’t reached Europe yet. The Europeans love their cigs just about anytime of day anyplace they are no matter what they’re doing. The world class hotel I stayed in even had an entire floor of rooms set aside for smokers. Fortunately although I am not a smoker, I was graciously placed on the smoking floor so that I could enjoy the wonderful European ambience.
2. Europeans aren’t afraid of skin cancer either. Based on my observations I think Europeans are in better physical shape than Americans and they are damn proud of it, especially at the beach in front of my hotel where clothing was optional. Unfortunately much of their pride in their bodies was sadly overestimated by the owners of many of those bodies. There needs to be an upper age limit imposed for beach nudity. And the dudes over there seriously love their Speedos. I saw a guy jogging in a Speedo, and he was smoking at the same time.
3. 9 o’clock is the new 4 o’clock: I think I figured out why the Europeans are in better shape than we are. They eat at weird times. They don’t lunch until about 2 pm and dinner until 9 or 10 pm. If I had to wait until 10 pm for my dinner, most days I would either pass out from low blood sugar or just plain fall asleep and miss the meal altogether.
4. The Euro rocks: The American dollar may buy less and less these days, but the Euro is awesome. One Euro is like $40 American! Do you know how many Speedos you can buy with a Euro? Me neither. I swear. Apparently all the Europeans spend their Euro’s on Speedos, cigs and Vespas.
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Since I’m in Florda as you read this I thought I’d pull out this classic Phil Factor from April of 2013 to pay homage to the great state of Florida. Considering that the movie Patriot’s Day just came out, the second line is kind of eerie
(04/20/2013) Wow it’s been a weird week hasn’t it? From the tragedy in Boston to the explosion in Texas to the nutjob sending poison-filled letters to politicians to American Airlines grounding a days worth of flights because of a computer ‘glitch’. That is a lot of big news and unusual events. At the end of it all, I have to travel for work. Tomorrow I am taking my talents, such as they are, to Miami. You might think that with all the crazy events this week I would be nervous about flying. If you think that you’re wrong.
I’m nervous though. I’m nervous about going to Florida. You’re probably saying to yourself, but Phil, why would you be nervous about going to the Sunshine State? First off it’s weird that you said ‘but Phil‘ when you spoke to yourself. Secondly, you might wonder how any state with Disney World, aka the costliest happiest place on Earth, could be a scary place? How could I not be nervous about Florida? I’m not sure how, but Florida has seriously pissed off Mother Nature. There may not be a more cursed place in the world.
The entire state is like the Fire Swamp from the movie The Princess Bride. Remember The Fire Swamp scene in The Princess Bride? Westley and Buttercup had to battle a myriad of unseen dangers to get through. Florida is a lot like that.
Much like the lightning sand in the Fire Swamp, Florida has sinkholes. It’s like the entire state was built on Swiss cheese. Just like you’ve seen in a million movies where someone steps into quicksand, you could just be walking along happily and the ground apparently just decides on it’s own to open up and swallow people. That’s crazy. Why would you live somewhere that’s a possibility on any given day?
The Fire Swamp had the R.O.U.S.’s, aka the Rodents of Unusual Size. Florida has I.O.U.S. Insects of Unusual Size. In my research for this Phil Factor I came across two news articles. One referenced a Florida infestation of “giant mosquitoes” called gallinippers that are “20 times the size of normal mosquitoes.” Their bite is described as “being stabbed or having a hot nail driven into your skin.” Delightful huh? But it doesn’t end with mosquitoes. There are also giant, “rat-sized, tire puncturing” African snails invading Florida. That’s got to be all kinds of fun when you step out in your bare feet to pick up the morning paper. And seriously remember the R.O.U.S.’s in the movie? Tell me those didn’t look and walk like alligators!
I know that this is a Throwback Thursday post, but I’m adding new material today. See that video above, that was actually filmed on Monday in a Florida town that I drove through.
In the immortal words of Prince Humperdinck, “I always think everything could be a trap…which is why I’m still alive.” Wish me luck this week. If I survive the Fire Swamp known as Florida I’ll probably have some good material for next weeks Phil Factor. As always, if you like what you read here please hit the Facebook Share button and feel free to follow me on Facebook by clicking the ‘Like’ button up there on the top right. I’m adding this later, but just for fun, how about if everyone who reads this puts their favorite Princess Bride quote in the comments section?
This will come in handy for anyone traveling to the U.K. or France. I just didn’t have the time to create a new list this week, so here’s a classic from two years ago.
10. It’s just a ten minute walk: If you ask anyone in London directions to anywhere they’ll tell you it’s just a ten minute walk. Me: “Excuse me sir, I’d like to visit the Swiss Alps. How do I get there?” English doorman: “Oh that’s easy. Just go to the corner, turn left, walk a bit and then go right at the sign. It’s about a ten minute walk.”
9. The English are terrible at giving directions: No offense to my English friends, but some of your countrymen are completely barmy when giving directions. I don’t know, maybe they were just screwing with tourists for fun. When I’d ask for directions I always needed to ask directions two more times along the way.
8. It’s time to spruce up your money: The queen is on every piece of money. It’s confusing. You’re a country that’s been around forever and only one person is worthy of being on your money? How about Elton John, David Beckham, Dr. Who or the Monty Python guys?
7. Every building is important: I took a guided tour of the city in the open top of a double-decker bus with a tour guide giving information over the P.A. system. Every frickin’ building in London is at least a thousand years old and used to be something important. Tour guide: “The building on your right may be a McDonald’s now, but in the year 1237 it was the McDonald’s where William Shakespeare wrote all of his plays while noshing on a McRib.”
6. The English don’t learn: About 500 years ago half of London’s population was wiped out by a plague transmitted by fleas from rats. The English were saved when Bennie Hill accidentally knocked over a lantern in Mrs. O’Leary’s barn and the whole city burned down, killing the rats and their fleas. Last week it was a very pleasant day as I strolled through a park and saw many, many English happily feeding squirrels out of their hands. Yes, the same squirrels that we in America regard as nothing more than rats with fluffy tails. Hello? Has it occurred to the English that squirrels can carry fleas? When there’s another plague in London I won’t be surprised.
5. The French are nice: Contrary to their reputation I found the French to be very friendly. Of course I only spent a day there and I was spending money in their shops and restaurants, but whenever I entered anywhere I was greeted with a cheerful “Bon jour!” and when I left a just as friendly “Au revoir!” Definitely nicer than going into stores in the States. The picture below is me on the second observation deck of the Eiffel Tower.
4. If you’re lactose intolerant France is not your friend: I ate at two small restaurants on the day I was there. Every item on both menus included cheese.
3. The English know how to start the day: Big breakfasts full of ham and sausage and eggs. I miss those. The English don’t stop there though. They add eggs to all kinds of sandwiches all day long too. They also eat a lot of duck. Duck eggs, I’m not sure about.
2. The American Champagne: In conversation with me an Englishman joked that Coke is “The American Champagne.” Um, yeah, so what? You want to start a war over it? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
1. Bicycle, Bicycle! I want to ride my bicycle…: In England the cyclists are suicidal. The cyclists share the roads with cars, and there is no designated bicycle lane. London streets are not straight. They’re mostly curvy and the taxis, cars and buses fly around as if they’re in a Grand Prix race. The cyclists, without helmets as well, weave in and out of traffic with aplomb. What’s nice is that since cars are on the opposite side of the road over there, at most crosswalks they painted “Look right” or “Look left” for the pedestrians. I only almost got clipped by a taxi once.
1A. Hyde Park is good for jogging and snogging: London’s Hyde Park, which isakin to New York’s Central Park is good for “jogging and snogging” as my sarcastic tour guide put it. I’m not sure if the jogging and snogging are simultaneous or occur on separate trips, but it’s nice they’ve put up a sign and designated an area of the park for it.
As always, if you enjoy #ThePhilFactor please share by hitting a social media button or two below. Have a great Tuesday! Au Revoir!
Since I’m still on my Disney World trip, I found this post from my 2005 trip to Disney World. It may be an ancient post, but if you haven’t read it, it’s new to you. Hopefully I’ll have more good stories from the trip for next week.
(May, 22, 2005) For the most part I enjoyed all the rides at Disney World and most of the people who rode them with me and my family were well behaved and considerate. I was a little disturbed by the 40-ish woman who went on Splash Mountain alone, sat next to me, and seemed to chuckle at every thing the robotic cartoon characters did.
In 1976 when my parents took me to Disney World they, for some unknown reason, elected not to take me on Pirates of The Caribbean. Maybe they were fearful I’d run off to join the merry hooligans as they wreaked havoc upon the seven seas. Or maybe they, like most parents, didn’t give a rats ass what their kids want towards the end of 10 hours walking around Disney and just wanted to get back to the hotel bar for a beer. Either way, I’ve spent the last 25 years feeling cheated that I missed out on that ride.
I felt that finally justice would be served as I proudly marched my kids into line for Pirates of The Caribbean. Then I noticed 4 young adults in line in front of me. They were “skinheads.” I say this not just because the three young men had shaved heads. It wasn’t the knee high leather boots they were all wearing that gave away their political leanings. Using my brilliant powers of deductive reasoning I concluded that they were “skinheads” because one of them had a tattoo on the back of his neck. It said, “skinhead.” I’m thinking that you’d better be pretty damn sure about your political affiliation to have it tattooed on your neck. What if in ten years he decides to be a Republican? Nevermind, bad example.
I just never imagined that skinheads would choose Disney World for vacation. Don’t you think they would want to visit Alcatraz or perhaps the jail cell that Mr. Howell locked the Brady’s in when their Grand Canyon trip went awry? Although I don’t agree with the skinheads’ political and social beliefs I do have to say that this group was polite and well behaved, unlike my friend from Pittsburgh.
I’m traveling for work this week so I thought I’d pull out one of my favorite posts from 2012 about flying.
(April, 29, 2012) I would have written sooner but I had to travel for work and when I was getting on the plane to return I was stuck in the aisle behind a Carry On Person. What is a Carry On Person you ask? And why does Phil keep capitalizing?
We all carry bags on when we’re flying, and I’m fine with that. I always have a carry on. So what is the difference between us and the real Carry On People? The Carry On People are the people who live in fear of either having their luggage lost or of having to wait too long at the baggage carousel. As a result of their psychotic fear of either of these events instead of calling Dr. Phil, they pack everything they’ll need for a two week vacation into their carry on luggage. To be perfectly honest, I’d rather fly on a plane full of zombies than these morons. Have you ever seen a Zombie with luggage? Me neither.
The Carry On People take so much time trying to get their overstuffed “carry on” bag first down the aisle as they hit the elbows and heads of every passenger unfortunate passenger who was seated before them that the flight is inevitably delayed because these traveling hoarders have mucked up the boarding process so much. Then when they finally find their seats they instantly become a piece of human cholesterol blocking the artery that is the aisle as they first request help heaving their 80 pound carry on bag up to the overhead compartment and then as they pound and shove an try to hammer their Volkswagon sized bag into a space obviously designed for something much smaller, like possibly the persons head you think as you wait impatiently with the pressure of more and more passengers building up behind you until you fear that the pressure will cause you to become an Augustus Gloop like cork. And guess what? God forbid that you are seated further back in the plan than a Carry On person because you’ll have to relive the horror all over again when you try to get off the plane.
And what’s the deal with Zombies? About two years ago everything was vampires but now it’s Zombies. And frankly I don’t mind. Now if Zombies were allowed on flights they could at least eat their way through a Carry On Person freeing up the aisle for the rest of us. Zombie flight attendants, now there’s an idea. Oh wait, we already have them.
If you want to join my petition to only allow people with an I.Q. over 100 to bring carry on luggage please click the Facebook “Like” button below and subscribe to The Phil Factor on your Amazon Kindle. Have a great Thursday! ~Phil
I’m traveling for work this week and will be spending too much time inside airplanes. This post is actually a re-run because I’m too busy to put the time in to craft a new coherent Top Ten list. Also, the time change is screwing me up. I’m 6 hours behind my home time and for the people in the U.K., they’re 12 hours ahead of me. I’ll be surprised if anyone reads this. The first time through, this was very popular and elicited a lot of suggestions from comments about what the readers would like to see airlines change. Feel free to chip in with your two cents.
It’s hard not to notice how some airlines have stripped down the comforts of flying to save money. On some airlines it’s so bad that I’m surprised the seats aren’t just lawn furniture duct taped to the floor. Obviously when I’m elected President, or Sexiest Man Alive, whichever comes first, I’m going pass laws mandating minimum standards of comfort on flights. Here are The Top Ten Things Airlines Should Change:
1. Heated massage seats: Seriously, how great would this be?
2. When boarding the passengers, fill the plane from back to front: This would prevent people from walking down the aisle hitting all the other passengers with their ridiculously oversized “carry on” and from preventing you from getting to your seat while they clog the aisle like a piece of human cholesterol (the bad kind) trying to jam their bag in the overhead compartment. And you first class people can stop your whining now. Whether you get on first or last the plane still leaves at the same time.
3. Have the pilot mix in a loop de loop now and then: Flights are boring. This would spice things up a bit. Hello passengers, please fasten your seat belts and put your hand on top of your drinks.. My co-pilot Bucky just bet me ten dollars that I can’t get this thing to do a barrel roll.
4. Just let us roll down the window a little bit: There’s nothing worse than sitting next to the farty passenger in the stale, stagnant, recycled air. Sometimes I want to pull down the oxygen mask just to get a fresh breath. We’d only need to roll down the windows a little. They could put a lock on them so we can’t put them down far enough to get our heads out. (who just pictured being in a plane with your head out the window like a dog?)
5. ThemedFlights: Just like themed cruises. Costumes, music, Disney characters, whatever. Hooters flights, why not?
6. A USB charging port at every seat: This is the biggest no-brainer ever.
7. A Shoes on policy: I don’t care what you’re reason is, no one should take their shoes off on a flight. It’s not a beach and I don’t need to see or smell your feet.
8. McDonald’s food on board: Or any decent baseline food that most people can recognize or accept. Airline food is not acceptable and under the Geneva Convention of 1949 qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.
9. The flight attendants should have sedatives: Not for anxious passengers, but for obnoxious ones. The flight attendants could release it remotely through those little blowers above each seat and the annoying passenger would doze off for the rest of the flight not even knowing why.
10. What’s Your Seat Wheel! All seats, including first class, will be determined by a spin of the wheel at the gate. How fun would that be? There will also be a mystery celebrity on board every flight and the seat next to them is also on the wheel. Congratulations! You didn’t get first class, but you do get to sit next to Dustin Diamond!
If you enjoyed what you read at #ThePhilFactor today please share by hitting the Facebook, Twitter or reblog buttons below. Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil
My guest this week is, as the title implies, someone from Norway. Maja Asgautsen is a blogger from Norway. I became curious about Norway after getting regular views from Norway over the last several months and they weren’t all Maja. My curiosity about Norway first lead me to make fun of it and while doing that I realized how little I really knew about the country. Maja, who has a really great blog which you should go visit, was kind enough to agree to my “interview” about Norway.
1. What is the one thing you’d like people from other countries to know about Norway? That we are actually a country and not the capitol of Sweden, or a city in Scandinavia.
2. When people from other countries visit Norway what are they most surprised by? Many of the tourists, especially from countries outside of Europe seem to be very surprised by the fact that we don’t have polar bears walking up and down the streets (there are no polar bears on the mainland in Norway just on Svalbard, an island that belongs to Norway). Some also seem to be surprised by the winter darkness and midnight sun up north or they are equally surprised to find out that this only occurs in the North of Norway.
3. What differences do you see between Norwegian culture and those of other countries? Norway is a country where equality is very prominent, both in how our welfare state works and in the fact that we have come quite a long way in gender equality. Norway is a very democratic country and even if there are quite a few political parties they fundamentally don’t disagree on things as they do in many other countries, in an international scale they would be quite similar. This doesn’t stop them from arguing very passionately for their view points.
We generally are not that big on hierarchy here in Norway, at work we don’t tend to dress formally and most places we address our colleagues by their first name regardless of their position in the company or their title.
The “typical” Norwegian is quite taciturn. And we tend to like to keep to ourselves. You hardly ever see a Norwegian person sitting next to a stranger on the bus as long as there is a possibility of sitting alone.
We take great pride in winter sports and in the winter Olympics we tend to win a lot of medals especially if you consider that we are a notion of 5 million people. But most of our athletes are quite modest, the Norwegian way of thinking is that a person should never think he or she is better than anyone else. From time to time there are people that differ from this, but these are normally viewed as a bit un-Norwegian.
4. What is the best thing about living in Norway? For me the best thing about living in Norway must be the closeness to nature. You never seem to be far from a beautiful scenery with mountains, fjords and the like. I also don’t think we always fully appreciate how well our benefit system works and we have a lot of freedom that we often take for granted.
5. As evidenced by your blog, you obviously are very well versed in English. Are most Norwegians bi-lingual? Which language do you use the most? Thank you, you flatter me. Most Norwegians can speak English in varying degrees as it is taught as a subject in school, but it’s not like a second language to us. We can also choose to learn a bit of German, French or Spanish in school, should we wish. In fact in Norway we have three written languages and two spoken. Two of the written ones are a bit similar and is called bokmål (book language) this was heavily influenced by the Danish language from when they ruled us and so they made a new one called New Norwegian that is based on a collecting dialects around the country. The other language is not written or spoken by many, but it’s the language of the Sami people and it’s been given the status as an official language in Norway.
I own this tie and wore it today to support this post. I’m not kidding.
6. Besides Edvard Munch and you, who are some other famous Norwegians that people from other countries would know? The composer Edvard Grieg’s music is quite well known around the world. The band A-ha used to be quite popular. We have quite a few famous explorers some might have heard of Nansen, Amundsen and Thor Heyerdahl. Jens Stoltenberg is currently the Secretary General of NATO. Magnus Carlsen is good at chess, Alexander Kristoff is good at cycling, Mats Zuccarello Aasen is good at ice hockey. There are quite a few others you might have heard of depending of what your interests are. If you are curious a list can he found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Norwegians
Maja, thank you so much for taking the time to educate me and the rest of the world about your beautiful home country of Norway. Everybody go follow Maja’s blog for regular posts on life in Norway. Have a great Wednesday! ~Phil
Self-proclaimed grand poobah of leisure and author of humorous suspense novels The Sneaker Tree & White Picket Prisons, the humor essay book Fifty Shades of Phil and the long running blog The Phil Factor.