Site Changes

As you’re probably aware, this website is powered by the WordPress CMS. I’m using a theme that makes use of portfolios which seemed to me to be the perfect way to produce travel posts when I embarked on this road, especially in light of the fact that my posts will typically be more photo-heavy than those of other travel bloggers. With the benefit of hindsight this turned out to be not quite the best way to do things. Initially, I discovered that displaying the portfolio hierarchy on posts wasn’t supported out of the box so I had to modify the theme to include some kind of breadcrumb on portfolio posts. More recently, however, I came to realise that what was really missing was the ability to tag posts. Tagging is an option for blog posts but not for portfolio items; a search online produced nothing that worked nor many people even seeking the option so I eventually downloaded a plugin that added tag capability to pages and modified it to work on the portfolio item taxonomy instead. Success! This has meant I’ve had to go back through all 220+ portfolio posts created at this time just to add tags. One of the things I also did was create a simple tag display widget to list all the used tags except for those containing a year; I’ve tried to tag every post with the month and year in which the photos were taken but didn’t want a long list of months and years in the tag cloud. Anyway, the list of used tags is now on the website’s homepage, at the bottom. Portfolio item tags are also listed at the bottom of their respective posts.

Instagram

I’ve now added my Instagram social icon to the site footer. I used to use Instagram quite a lot with a few of my older phones because they had great cameras but with them running Windows and not a more popular OS the software was neglected until it became too much of a pain to work with. In the last couple of months I’ve finally made the grudging shift across to Android and rediscovered the joy of sharing some of my better photos with artistic filters (it’s the law). I tend to post mostly untouched photos on this site and on Flickr but there’s more of a showiness to Instagram that’s quite appealing to me. My link: https://www.instagram.com/mrneonbubble/. I’m mostly posting occasional photos from past travels at the moment but when I’m actually travelling this year I’m going to try to use it a little more in closer-to-real-time too.

Reading

A few interesting travel-related reads recently:

In China Day 2: Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Summer Palace Upeksha describes a visit to four of the key destinations for any tourist hitting Beijing. What was so appealing about this post was just how many good memories it triggered from our own time there. It was lovely to see the photos too and compare them to our own visits to the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.

In MSC Opera Cruise Ship: The Good, Bad and the Ugly! Paul and Carole describe a recent trip from Cuba around part of the Caribbean on board the MSC Opera. This was of particular interest as my wife and I have been thinking about MSC for some cruises from 2019 onwards (we’re all booked up this year). The thing is, we’re not big fans of huge ships so the newer class of MSC vessels don’t really appeal; this is not to say that we’d be looking at a ship like the Opera either but this was an interesting read to get a feel for what does and doesn’t happen with that cruise line. As it turns out, customer service was really poor. We’ve had poor customer service on the Royal Princess so I know that sometimes you just get a bad crew/cruise. Adding a few other things from that review – sanitisers, poor theatre shows and layout, etc. – and it’s fair to say we’ve decided we’ll need to do more in-depth investigations of MSC if we’re to consider them. I know some other cruise bloggers have recently been on the MSC Meraviglia (Honest Cruising and Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People (review to come)) but they’re younger and haven’t yet been crushed by life so I have to take what they say and water it down.

Watching

As we’re visiting Guernsey for the first time in May (assuming we can get ashore – it’s got quite the reputation for cancelled tender boats because of sea conditions) I’ve been taking a look at what’s around in the port as we’ve decided not to arrange an excursion. This led me to the following video by Lexy Rose on the Caribbean Princess back in August. I would describe her video-editing style as hyperactive. Her enthusiasm shines through.

Somebody else who’s usually positive is Don but even his patience is tried in this video blog where he recounts the annoying types of people he recently encountered on his cruise aboard the Caribbean Princess (again!) over Christmas and New Year. We’ve encountered many of the same sorts of people. The video also includes a bit of relationship advice at the end which is worth watching.

Finally, a video found while looking for something else. I was hunting for ship tours and reviews of the P&O cruise ship Oriana as we’re boarding her next month for the first time and the following video by Elizabeth Goes Cruising Again was suggested after one I viewed. What I like here is comparing the British cruise ship’s very similar sailing to our South American cruise on Star Princess in 2016, especially as both our cruises were only six weeks apart. Great to see the Amalia Glacier under clear skies.

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