Posted by: trekguyd | January 31, 2014

Things to know about trekking Kilimanjaro

Across the saddle, Kilimanjaro

Across the saddle, Kilimanjaro

If you are interested in hiking Kilimanjaro this winter with Trekguyd, there are a few things to know. Here is a brief description of the trek: The trek goes up one side of the mountain and crosses over the saddle and then back down the other side. It is not that difficult if you train and do some good up hill walking. You cannot train for altitude. It is up to your body and you will not be running right along. Your body will be in slow motion and you will have to tell yourself to pick up each foot to move along. We start off slow, so your body can adjust to the altitude. You may feel a slight headache when you start to climb, but this is normal. If the headache continues and starts getting much stronger, it may mean you might have to go back down. If you start to cough and it persists, you will be forced to turn back. The water in your lungs can be very dangerous and even life threatening and therefore you have to return. There will be no water to bath in on this trek. A bowl of water will be given to you each morning for washing your face and hands. So for 5 days you will be in the wilderness, no bathing, no shaving and sleeping in tents. There will be three meals provided a day plenty of drinking water. Do not throw away any food or water, you may want it later. I was given juice on one of my treks up Mount Kenya and didn’t drink it all and saved it in my backpack. Coming down my partner was dehydrated and I kept pulling out juice for her to drink. I was glad I saved it.

Kilimanjaro Campsite

Kilimanjaro Campsite

The trek starts off in warm temperatures, wearing shorts and short sleeve shirts. This is where your porter comes in. He will carry your sleeping bag and items you won’t need until you reach camp. So be sure you have your gear with you when you start in the morning. He may be ahead of you setting up camp and you will not be able to retrieve your things until you reach camp. When the porters pack in the morning, you need to have everything packed and ready for them. They break down the campsite as you leave on the trek. You will start putting on more gear as we climb, so be sure you have your warm gear packed and on your back. I always bring a pair of long johns. They are good to trek in and warm enough in my sleeping bag at night. Some places have huts for sleeping. I prefer tents and the nice open fire to sit by at night because people in the huts tend to talk all night. You need to get some sleep, because you are going to get up at 1:30 am to summit to the peak and then back down, which will be a 13 hour day. Going down will be long and hard. This area of the mountain has sand that will roll into your boot as you go down. Gaiters will stop this from happening and a good walking stick also helps in the downward trek.

There will be a stop to get your certificate of the climb and you can buy a t-shirt. They also sell beer for $20, but you can wait until we get to the lodge.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime experience that will leave you with a real sense of accomplishment and friends for a lifetime.

Hope to see you in East Africa!
Your Trekguyd

Posted by: trekguyd | March 11, 2013

Scontrino

Many travelers don’t realize the importance of the little paper receipt that they receive each time they buy something in Italy, often leaving it on the counter and walking away. I urge you to always take the receipt with you as you leave, no matter the size of the purchase. scontrino2

When ordering a coffee or pastry in a bar, for instance, some bars require that you to pay in advance at the register, and then carry the receipt to the barrista, who then makes your drinks and fills your order. Often the receipt is torn slightly when the order is completed, but walking away without that little piece of paper can sometimes lead to a big problem that can be easily avoided.

The Guardia di Finanza is the branch of the Italian government that collects taxes from citizens and merchants, and they have agents both in uniform and in plain clothes who may stop a customer within 100 meters of a shop or restaurant, show their identification, and ask you to return with them and with your receipt to the place where you just made a purchase. The Guardia agents will compare the records of the merchant to your receipt, to assure that the receipt is for the same amount that the business has recorded for tax purposes. If your receipt and that of the business are equal, you are thanked for your cooperation and are free to go. If, however, the merchant can show that you didn’t carry the receipt that he provided out with you, or you have no receipt in your possession (discarded already), you may be subject to a fine that you never anticipated.

The point of this system is to help the Guardia di Finanza to identify merchants who are operating “in nero,” avoiding paying taxes on their sales or a portion of their sales, and pocketing some or all of the money received without any written record for tax authorities. The merchant is required to provide a receipt to the customer, but it is also the customer’s legal obligation to carry the receipt out of the business, in case the Guardia stops him and asks for the receipt. This applies even to street merchants and produce sellers at the farmers markets, who must give a receipt for each sale directly to the customer.

scontrino3

For an example, last fall a group of 12 friends went out to eat at a local pizzeria, paying individually at an outdoor cash register. Some of us were already outside when two officers of the Guardia di Finanza in plain clothes showed us their IDs, and began asking each of us for our “scontrino”—our receipt. Although it was 10:30 p.m., the tax officers were still at work, looking for any tax cheats by comparing the customers’ receipts with the records in the pizzeria. In this case, each scontrino matched the records of the pizzeria, and the tax agents moved on without issuing any citations or finding any suspicious transactions.

You may be thinking, “I paid for it, I received a receipt, and they saw me receive and take out what I bought—so who needs to take the paper receipt?” Because of the methods of the Guardia di Finanza, it is important that you know taking the receipt is your responsibility, and you can be fined for not complying with a law that you may not know exists. And, understand that you must return with the officers to the business when shown their official IDs, but only for a few minutes and only if you are still within 100 meters of the business or restaurant where you made a purchase. If you have the receipt with you, you are in the clear and will be quickly on your way.

The next time you are in Italy and you are given this little piece of paper, it is not insignificant—remember to take the “scontrino” along with you when you leave!

Posted by: trekguyd | February 22, 2013

How to “Eat” in Italy

antipasti

antipasti

When you go out to eat in Italy, it is an experience. First off the bread comes and then the menu. Now you have the anti pasta, the first dish, the second dish and then fruit and cheese or just right to the desert. O’ yea, let us not forget the caffe at the very end.  Of course they will ask you if you want water, natural or gas and what type of wine? This also comes with its own menu in some places. Wow you say to yourself and wonder where am I going to put all this food.

In Italy you are not pushed to eat in a hurry, as a mater of fact, you will be completely done and they will let you sit there. You must ask for the check if you want to go home. If you do go to a nice restaurant, don’t just order the pasta. This is not looked well upon and you really come off as a cheep tourist. Fine out what the specials are, or if you are in a fish area, order some thing with seafood. The same goes for meat, find out what is good from a local before you go. When I go out to a favorite of mine and I order something special, the heads all turn to what is being brought to me. Sometimes the person I am with orders something different and we share, this is allowed in Italy. Share the pasta and get 2 different main courses. You don’t have to order everything, but remember this is not an everyday occurrence.

When the bill comes, check it out to make sure you got everything on it. The first thing is the contra, this is also called service in some places, but it is not for your server. This to pay for the table wear, napkins, table cloth, and bread. You will not see the word TIP on there. It is customary to leave 10% at place like this. Not at pizzeria or bar who offers food. If you go to big cities like Rome and hit a tourist place you will find tip on the bill and some will say so on the menu. You can always ask as well. For many years no one ever left a tip at a bar and now they have tip jars. This is from the young Americans who started to leaving them. If you do this in England, they will throw the money back at you, it is insult to leave a tip. The waitress or waiters make good money compared to the US, but they can still use a little help. Of course if you feel your server wasn’t that attentive, well less tip. Try to see how busy the place is when you do consider this and how many tables they have.  If I see them on the cell phone just talking and I need something, ask another wait person. They will get it for you or tell your server.

So now you are ready to go out and eat in Italy. The final word to get your check is ” Contro Preffeviore” You might find out that they will offer you a free after dinner drink.

Buon Apetito..

Posted by: trekguyd | December 4, 2012

Trekking alone in Cinque Terre

It was a cold morning to wake up to, but I could see that the sun was rising to make it a beautiful day. The people down below my flat were bundled up, but I put on black trekking clothes and head out with my back pack an camera. The center of Riomaggiore was cold, as it had no sun. As I walked up towards the castle the sun was beaming and so was the heat. I took off my jacket and headed off towards the trail.  I looked down at my little farm and then passed it as I crossed the bridge to head up on the trail. I have done this trail hundreds of times and this time I was alone. I started up looking back as I always do. It is different in winter, with the colors and the day was sunny, so the shutters were open to let the sun into the houses. In summer they have them closed to keep the heat out. As I have said it was a beautiful sunny day and with wearing black made it very pleasant to hike in light weight clothes. The higher I went up on the path the more I could see of the islands and the snow on the French Alps.

As I came to the top of the hill which is above the center of both the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola  It became clear to me how wonderful this day was going to be. The camera does not have the eye of a human and what I could see was wonderful. I did my best to take such good shots so people could at least get an idea of what you could see if they were there. As I went higher towards the pink house I could only hear the twigs braking under my feet. I walked out on to the muddy road which leads through the forest towards Volastra. I noticed how much water we had received the last few days and the places that were dry during the summer now had a stream of water. I made it to the village of volastra and passed the olive groves which we being trimmed after being harvested. There were only a few trees left to be done.  Then I started down the path towards Manarola and now I passed 4 people coming up. I kept my eye on all of what I passed and could also see where I had just come from. Down now on the paved road and through the tunnel, over the bridge to my next and last trail down to Riomaggiore. Looking up at the area I had just trekked and knowing I just made a full circle. I was now home and as I write this there is a thunder storm raging out side my window, no rain.

Posted by: trekguyd | September 30, 2012

Via Dell’Amore closed

The Via Dell’Amore is currently closed to rock-slides. Four tourists were insured last Monday, of which one  was rescued by helicopter to a hospital in Genoa. Authorities said that, given this landslide occurred during a dry period, they are worried about what will happen when the rainy season starts. The path is currently out to bid for repairs and it is not clear, when the path will re-open.

Rock slides at the Via Dell’Amore

Posted by: trekguyd | August 22, 2012

Tabacchi is bigger then you know.

Traditional Tabacchi Sign

Have you ever wondered what was behind this Big “T” store front? You knew it sold cigarettes, but this store hold many other odd and helpful things. You can play the lottery or put money on your cell phone. You can buy regional train and bus tickets as well. Have a post card and need stamps, you can get them there too. They even sell a tax stamp for contracts for official Italian documents. With some you can pay bills, such as your TV Tax. The weirdest of them all is they sell SALT. That is why you see SALI under the T, as it was taxed at one point in Italy. If you have ever been to Tuscany and had their bread, it is somewhat hard and tasteless. They where not happy with the tax and made their bread without salt to protest. They still make this bread the same way they did back then and keeping with tradition.

Posted by: trekguyd | July 17, 2012

The Hills of Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore Hills and Train Station

Riomaggiore July 17, 2012

Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful places in the world and thousands of people have come and gone, just to walk up and down the Via dell’Amore. They run as fast as they can to get to each village from point A to B, just to take a photo. But this is place to slow down and see the beauty all around you, get to understand how the rock formation was caused, where the people lived during the war, what type of work was done here and how huge the vineyards were at one time. Grab some fruit, bread, cheese, sliced meats and a bottle of Cinque Terre wine, then trek up to a great vantage point, sit down and take in the beauty that is all around you.

walk through the vineyards

It is good to know someone who can tell you what your looking at and take you to places that are not on the beaten path. One of the main reason I started this business, was to share my knowledge of the area. This way you get some insight in what you are seeing. I trek some of these trails 3 days in a row and I always find something different to look at. So find your way to Cinque Terre and come with me to discover it.

Pall

TrekGuyd

Posted by: trekguyd | July 5, 2012

The History of Trekguyd

from Pall Forloney, Trekgyud, Cinque Terre

Trekguyd came to visit Cinque Terre 22 years ago, but then I was just Pall Forloney. I was on my way to see my sister in Positano and someone told me about this place to take my sister there for lunch. As I soon discovered it was 7 hours away and no way possible. I spent 2 days walking the #2 blue trail and the original Via dell ‘Amore path. It wasn’t a national park back then. The information booth was in the La Spezia train station. It had this qurky map that folded like origami and the girl working there put down all the areas of falling rocks.

View from Corniglia onto the traintracks hugging the coast

When I look back on these villages now it is hard to believe all the changes. Corniglia was not painted at all, it was stone gray. It had 2 little grocery stores, a bar, a restaurant  and 2 B&B’s.  For those who have been there recently, know it isn’t like that anymore. I used to sit up on the wall in the marina in Riomaggiore at night and look at the lights on the buildings. It was special low amber light that really made the villages look so beautiful.

Marina in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

There are only couple of these lights left in the villages. It was not just to come to Cinque Terre during the day, but to enjoy its beauty at night as well. Also back then, there wasn’t that many tourists and everyone passing on the trail would greet one another.

I started coming back each year to see the area and the friends that I had made here. I met a lot of nice people who still are my friends today. I came at Christmas, Easter and before long I was called the four season tourist. We would all get together each night to go out to eat at a restaurant and have fun laughing. We would end the evening at the marina looking at the beauty and talking about our dreams. When I was in Riomaggiore for Christmas, I was invited to dinner. Christmas dinner is a two day event in Italy and each day at someone else’s house. I started to get to know more and more people, as my stays became longer.

Riomaggiore Train Station

When I decided to move here, this took some work. I needed to find a place to live at a reasonable price. This is where my true friends really helped me. They had to vouch for me as they found this apartment for me. I had to meet the owner and pass his test. Before long I was set up in this little apartment by the train station and everyone wanted to see what I had done to the flat. They all called it modern looking and bright. The lady across the way, asked me one day “you like your windows open”. She said the person who lived there before me never open her windows. This lifestyle is so different the US, if you want someone, you just yell up into their flat. I hang out my wash on the line and wave to the people across the way or talk about the day.

Pall in his garden in Riomaggiore

My friends were younger people and I knew their parents. The older people in town knew me, but really didn’t speak to me. They would come to me if an American did something wrong and complain to me though. How I found my way to get the older people to talk to me was not that hard really. One day a friend of mine told me about this little strip of land that was abandon. He told me if you clear and clean it, you can grow on it. So I set off with a big machetti like knife and started to clear the thorn bushes that we very thick on this land. My arms were bleeding even though I wore a long sleeve shirt. What I didn’t know that people were watching me and the word got out around the village. Then one day, a person yelled down to me and told me that the land I was cleaning had not been worked in 20 years. They said that the land was rich and i should do well with it. Now when I go into town the older people ask how I am doing with my land. A couple of men came to ask me “the American” how did I grow plants so healthy and nice looking tomatoes? Working the land on my hands and knees, plus seeing me wanting to grow, made my in. These older people really like to see someone who enjoys working with their hands. If you look above the school down by the main street in Riomaggiore, you will see people working the land and the garden that helped in getting accepted by the local people.

More stories to come. Stay tuned..

Posted by: trekguyd | May 28, 2012

Recent trip to Cinque Terre

Our recent trip to Cinque Terre was totally enriched by the expertise of Pall as he led my husband, son and myself on a full day Tour of the 5 Villages.  Pall gave 110% to make sure we saw amazing points of interest that daily tourists might miss along with customizing the day to suit our individual needs.  Punctual and professional would be words to describe Pall.  He kept a “forward march” schedule that allowed us to see and do so much from 9am to 5pm including a hand picked lunch spot and pointers on local “facilities”!  The boys will never forget the mountain trek to see the wondrous Monk Cave, wild orchids, and incredible view.  We cannot imagine attempting to see these magnificent 5 lands without Pall’s flavorful dialogue and keen guidance.  It was our pleasure to have him make Cinque Terre memory maker for us!

The West Family from NC–USA

Posted by: trekguyd | May 11, 2012

Travelers share their experiences

I welcome you to share your experiences on the trails of Cinque Terre with Trekguyd. Pictures are welcome!

The trekguyd at the Santuario

The trekguyd at the Santuario

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