Europe 2015: Day 1.1 – Dinner in Oslo – Bacchus

We met up with our local hosts for the evening, friends of my travel partner’s family for years, and headed off to dinner.

This is what’s great about visiting locals on this sort of trip. Odds are, I never would have selected this restaurant out of all the choices in Oslo. It wasn’t near the hotel, it didn’t seem to have anything that stood out in particular in reviews… but I would have been missing out.

Cafe Bacchus has some phenomenal food in a comfortable atmosphere. This was the menu the night we went:

The menu of Bacchus Cafe the week I was in Oslo. Notice the allergen warning key listed at the bottom. I'll come back to that. (Warren Schultz)

The menu of Bacchus Cafe the week I was in Oslo. Notice the allergen warning key listed at the bottom. I’ll come back to that. (Warren Schultz)

Normally, I don’t go for fish at restaurants. I can appreciate good fish, but my past experience has taught me that cooking fish perfectly involves a bit of art. Bacchus clearly has been practicing their art.

Europe 2015: Day 1.0 – Flights and Oslo

For the first time since I was in college, I am back in Europe. I studied art at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and spent a little over a month of the summer between my third and fourth year of school studying in Florence, Italy (Firenze, Italia). I’d gotten a Eurrail pass, and planned to travel outside the country on the weekends, but the realities of recovering from the weekdays of school, plus other opportunities in Italy meant that I never was able to achieve that goal at the time. I made the goal for myself to get back to Europe and photograph the places I’d missed at the time.

It’s taken me a few years, but I’m finally doing just that.

For those who didn’t follow along with the creation of Geek Field Guide, the concept is that GFG travels the world documenting through photographs, writing, and other media the unique places that you may not be able to visit on your own. My business partner and I ran an Indiegogo campaign that funded enough to get us to Europe, but life got in the way for a bit, causing my partner to regretfully leave the company, and me to take time to deal with health issues, causing the project to be put on hold. Fortunately, things finally have turned around enough to where I can make this happen. My former business partner wasn’t able to join me this time around due to previous commitments, but a friend has offered to travel with me as a photo assistant as we visit some of the places that she wanted to see as part of a trip she’d already planned. This was a great opportunity for me, as it will allow me to talk to her local friends and experience the culture in a way that I wouldn’t be able to as a tourist alone.

First off, TSA Precheck is wonderful. Preparing for a major trip is stressful enough. Not having to worry about unpacking half your bag at the airport helps ratchet the stress down a bit.

Security complete, we had plenty of time before the flight, and relaxed until the flight.

Side note: I am 6’2″, and not skinny. The investment in getting seating with extra legroom was money well spent.

All in all, the flight went smooth, if long, and we arrived in London-Heathrow airport some blurry number of hours later. If changing time zones is this annoying, I have to imagine time travel is going to utterly suck if we ever figure that one out. Also disorienting? Riding the shuttle bus from one terminal to the other. As an American, it’s easy to get a bit anxious when the bus you’re crammed onto turns right into the left lane. Your brain screams, “WE’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY,” but you see everyone else is driving on the left, so it may actually be okay after all.

The main terminal of Heathrow is… an experience. I’ve seen high-end malls which… no, scratch that. Even in Los Angeles, I’ve not seen a mall as high-end as what Heathrow is like. Every big ticket brand is represented in some way. It’s like someone dialed capitalism to 11 there (it’s louder?) and just let the corporations go nuts.

Examples of rampant capitalism and touristic mentality:

4.5 kg, 80£ block of Toblerone chocolate (Warren Schultz)

4.5 kg, 80£ block of Toblerone chocolate (Warren Schultz)

Continue reading

On the road again

Yeah, it’s been a long time since the last update.

A lot has happened since then for me personally, and GFG has been on hold while I worked through some health-related issues.

But now we’re back, and are going to be bringing you new updates over the next few weeks from Europe.

Stay tuned!


Europe 2015: Pre-travel

Nothing like a little travel before a long trip.

Several weeks ago, I found out about the Global Entry program run by U.S. Customs & Border Patrol. The idea of Global Entry is that it allows you to enter the country without a lot of the usual hassle, and also gets you entry into the TSA Precheck program, which expedites your security screening at the airport.

When you’re hauling around a ton of photo gear, not having to take every electronic device out of your bag for “enhanced” screening is a real time saver (and headache-preventer).

The timeline was going to be tight, as the way GE works is that you apply online ($100), wait for a security screening to be completed (a few weeks usually), and then you go to your closest interview station to get interviewed and fingerprinted. Because I found out about the program a bit late, it came down to the wire, and Charlotte (the closest location) didn’t have availability until late October, it meant going to the next-closest place with open slots to book… Washington, D.C.

I booked a room downtown through for pretty cheap for later that week (Friday). The plan was to drive up Thursday night with my travel partner, stay at the hotel, get up for our early appointments, and then cruise back down to N.C. as soon as we were done. (Getting me back to work for my last day in the office before the trip.)

Added excitement: I didn’t notice until Thursday night that it was the 10th of September. We’d be navigating D.C. traffic and security on 9/11. Joy.

Fortunately, traffic heading north wasn’t too bad. A few slowdowns here and there, but it wasn’t obscenely late when we arrived. (Just late, and dark.) Enough time to walk around downtown a little bit, but not as much as I would have liked. On the upside though, this reminded me just how reasonable a drive it is from Durham to D.C. (when traffic isn’t abysmal, of course), so I’ll be more likely to take trips up that way to get some better photos. And it did give me the opportunity to get this shot of the Washington Monument.

Washington Monument at night. Washington, D.C. (Warren Schultz)

Washington Monument at night. Washington, D.C. (Warren Schultz)Buy this photo

Since I’d been there last, security at the White House has been further increased. It was a bit sad to see the additional 8-foot perimeter fence outside the existing iron fence, complete with uniformed Secret Service officers in the gap between the two. You can no longer walk up to the fence and get a nice photo between the bars, which was a bit of a disappointment, so I’ll have to find a better vantage for the photo if I want to try again next time.

The White House at night. Washington, D.C. (Warren Schultz)

The White House at night. Washington, D.C. (Warren Schultz)Buy this photo

Early the next morning, we made good time across the city on foot and got to the CBP office for our interviews. A note: if you’re traveling for vacation, you’ll likely have fewer questions to answer. Since I was traveling for photography, they had a few more questions to ask, but nothing unreasonable, just due diligence. While my partner’s appointment was scheduled 45 minutes after mine, she was called to go because there was no one else there, so we were in and out in less than a half hour.

After the late night and early morning, a half hour nap at the hotel got my brain back in some semblance of order before the drive back. Once we hit the road, we were glad to see that we weren’t heading into the city, because the backup was huge, and getting worse by the minute. We saw a huge group of veteran motorcyclists with police escort heading towards the city, and that wasn’t helping the traffic situation either.

Once outside the city, things cleared significantly, and we were back in Durham in reasonable time.

As part of the Global Entry/TSA Precheck process, you are assigned an ID number. That gets put into your airline reservations on the travel/air carrier website, and your tickets will be printed with a TSA PRECHECK label, allowing you to go through the fast lane. If you haven’t experienced one of the “trial” Precheck events when flying, it means you empty your pockets of metallic items, and put everything through the scanner, without removing shoes or items from bags. By the time we were home, that number had been confirmed, and I plugged it in to the American Air website for both of us, and we were good to go.

Next stop, Europe.



A new journey

I decided it was time to reboot the Geek Field Guide site and start fresh in anticipation of the fulfillment of the Indiegogo campaign.

For those just joining this program already in progress, Geek Field Guide was founded in 2013, with the intent of gathering photos and other digital assets as reference and source material for other content creators. We ran into some setbacks, but have returned, and am moving the project forward again.

We ran into a couple significant technical snags that prevented more than terse updates while on the road in Europe, so the notes from the journey will be pre-dated to keep the chronology correct… I just may have some additional insight edited in by posting after the fact. 😉

I aim to educate and enlighten whenever possible, but most of all, I hope you enjoy following along with the journey.

If you see something you like, let me know! Share with friends and spread the word. The more interest I see from a post, the more effort I’ll put into focusing on that topic or type of content in the future.

I look forward to hearing from you!


P.S. I’ve imported our old posts, but my archive on Photoshelter had to be rebuilt, so there will be broken links until I get everything sorted out. Apologies!


2013-03-14 The Road Home

Warren writes:

The problem with every great trip is that it eventually comes to an end.

I woke early on Thursday morning, around 5:15am, about 45 minutes before our alarm was scheduled to go off. My mind instantly started racing with the events of the week, the video recording we’d done the previous night for the Indiegogo campaign, and everything that we had to do to take the week’s work and turn it into a final product that would make people as enthusiastic about this project as we are about it.

More on that later…

With my thoughts moving a mile a minute, it was inevitable that I couldn’t stay put. Unfortunately, my inflatable mattress is really good at insulation, but crinkles pretty loudly when I’m doing anything more than lying still. This is not a good recipe for sleep for anyone within a 15-foot radius. Cynthia got up a bit later, with a minimum of growling and threats of bodily harm.

Continue reading

2013-03-13 Setting reasonable goals

After the awesome adventure that was our hike into the canyon the previous day, even I was able to sleep in. This is saying something. Whether business or pleasure, my ability to sleep in while traveling is limited.

We decided to take it a bit easier today, so that we could actually *finish* a trail that we started. (Crazy, I know.)

We went through our typical routine to prep for the day and hit the trail. (Queen’s Garden to be specific).

Since we weren’t doing a full campaign hike like the previous day, I had some of the extra gear along for us to test, like the audio recorder. This time, we captured the sound of our footsteps in the mud for posterity. (Check out the promo video for an example).

 (Warren Schultz)


Continue reading

2013-03-12 The Big Hike

Warren writes:

After a slightly better night of sleep, I woke before dawn, and realized it was time to try to catch Sunrise Point at sunrise.

Hauling ourselves over there after a doughnut-sugar infusion, we made it roughly in time.

So, here’s our first piece of travel advice if you go to Bryce. The scenic overlooks of the canyon face east. Into the sun. You’re probably seeing where I’m going with this. While the golden light of the rising sun does make for a beautiful view, but it’s rough for photographs and not too kind to your eyes. You may want to try to get down into the canyon before dawn and look back on the eastern cliff face as the sun rises.

The best you can hope for otherwise, is something that looks vaguely like this.

Sunrise Point at Sunrise

Sunrise Point at Sunrise

Continue reading

2013-03-11 Into the Canyon

Warren writes:

We lived.

I have slept in unheated rooms before in the winter, but sleeping on snow in a tent, with nothing but a tarp, tent, thermal air mattress, and sleeping bag between me and the snow was a new experience. (Ok, yes, I was wearing thermal base layers, a midlayer hoodie, and my outer shell jacket also. And a stocking cap)

It was chilly, to put it mildly.

And it should be noted that it wasn’t just the temperature. We left Las Vegas in 70-degree weather. We arrived to Bryce in something around 16 degrees. The human body doesn’t react well to temperature deltas that big. (There is a reason why soldiers in the desert need parkas at night, even though it is still 80 degrees out.)

But it all worked out and we didn’t become geekcicles, so that’s a good thing.

We got things sorted and headed off to see the sunrise, a bit belatedly, at Sunrise Point.

I don’t know how else to say it, but the view as we walked up to the ridge line, looking down into the canyon made all the travel and general frozenness worth it.

It was amazing.

Continue reading

2013-03-10 Westward, ho!

Warren writes:

We headed out for Bryce Canyon, early early early in the morning. My (Warren’s) flight departed at 6:05 AM from Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) in North Carolina. Little did I know that the chill morning air would be balmy compared to the majority of our time on the road.

Fortunately, ticketing, checking luggage, and security screening all went off without a hitch.

I was lucky enough to have a direct flight, although the anticipation of going to Bryce throughly destroyed my ability to sleep on the plane.

This was not a total loss. While I only managed a few decent photos through the smudged window, the views were great, as you can see.

Snow-capped mountain on the flight to Las Vegas

Snow-capped mountain on the flight to Las Vegas

Continue reading