Friendly Planet Blog

Archive for March, 2010

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Hi everyone, I’m Dave Blazek, the cartoonist behind Friday’s Friendly Funny

What is a cartoonist doing on Friendly Planet Travel? I dunno. See I was walking down the street and this truck with a Friendly Planet Travel logo on it screeched to a stop and there were these people with large canvas bags and sedatives and …

Well, OK, no. They e-mailed me. But I’m happy to be here. Now, who the heck am I?

Hey, everybody, I’m Dave Blazek and you’re going to be seeing my cartoons right here on Friendly Planet’s blog. I hope to poke and prod the travel experience until it rolls over and reveals the humor underneath. In short, I like to think I’m the oxygen mask dropping down on your flight from reality.

What qualifies me to do this? Well, I’ve been a syndicated cartoonist for 10 years now. You may know my comic Loose Parts. It runs in dozens of papers across the country and even overseas. Yeah, weirdly, I’m big in Malaysia. Grab a copy of the New Strait Times next time you’re there.

I have four books of cartoons out (they make great travel gifts and can be used to start fires). I used to write the comic “Dr. Katz Professional Therapist” through Comedy Central. I’ve worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer for (cough, cough) years. I was a stand-up comedian for awhile too. Oh, and I’ve replaced my small and large intestines with two medium intestines.

If you want to see more of my work, saunter over to After you’ve spent hours here, of course.

So what do I know about travel? Probably no more than you. Though I have kayaked after a few whales, laid on a few beaches, drank in a few weird places, and been in a few rainforests. I’ve also cursed little shampoo bottles, been caught in hurricanes, slept in hotel rooms overlooking garbage dumps, sunburned my lips, and embarrassed myself thoroughly. You should have been there when I wanted ketchup and asked the French-speaking waiter for Le Sauce Rouge.

But I guess if you’re here, we’re kind of alike. We don’t do well in captivity. Face it. Travel is funny. You know why? Because one of the things you need to find humor in things is perspective. Travel pulls us out of our ruts. It lets us look at our lives from different angles. And that allows us to appreciate the weirdness of it all. If the lovely people here at Friendly Planet are smart enough to have me here, I’m going to do my best to make it worth your while.

I hope you enjoy the cartoons. The best thing I can imagine is that you’ll like one so much, you’ll pin your laptop to the fridge with a magnet. And if you see something odd you think might make a great cartoon, let us know. It’s less work for me that way.

In the meantime, it’s back to the drawing board. Pass me Le Sauce Rouge.

Friday’s Friendly Funny

A look inside Friendly Planet Travel’s Iberian Coasts Cruise

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that here at Friendly Planet Travel, we can’t ever over-emphasize the importance of world travel and cultural discovery. That’s why Peggy makes a point of encouraging everyone in the office to get out and explore Earth’s riches whenever possible.

ALL ABOARD: The M/V Louis Majesty

The benefit, besides being surrounded by travel enthusiasts, is that every Friendly Planet Travel employee can talk your ear off about how a trek to Machu Picchu or a cruise down the Yangtze River or a meal of tapas y cervezas in a Spanish piazza changed their life. That’s one of the reasons Peggy sent me off on Friendly Planet’s Iberian Coasts Cruise the other week. And over the next few weeks, I’m going to tell you ALL about it.

The nine-day cruise aboard the M/V Louis Majesty embarks from Genoa, Italy and spends time at fascinating ports of call in Marseille, France; Barcelona, Spain; Alicante, Spain; Gibraltar, B.C.C.; Tangier, Morocco; Casablanca, Morocco; and Malaga, Spain. As you can imagine, it’s a dizzying adventure to some of the most culturally significant and extraordinarily beautiful sights of Europe and Northern Africa.

Here on the blog, I’m going to tell you about my own experience on the Iberian Coasts Cruise, and give you an in-depth look at life on and off the Louis Majesty. So stay tuned, because I’ve got a head teeming with stories, a camera brimming with photos, and fingers that are itching to unload them all here!

Update: Is it safe to travel to Thailand?

This information has been updated here.

Last week there were numerous travel advisories telling people to be cautious when traveling to Bangkok, Thailand. In my previous post, I told you the advisories were issued because the Thai supreme court was announcing its decision regarding the seizure of assets from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Feb. 26. Diplomats were worried the decision would spark demonstrations.

I wanted to update you on what has happened since last week. It was ruled that Shinawatra did abuse his power as Prime Minister to enrich himself, and $1.4 billion of his frozen $2.3 billion fortune will be seized. There was plenty of reaction from Shinawatra’s supporters, but no demonstrations were held.

However, there are reports from his supporters about a mass rally taking place in Bangkok in mid March. With that said, if travel advisories are issued for Thailand around that time, Friendly Planet would take all of the measures I discussed in my earlier post.

There is no need to change any of your travel arrangements if you’re going to Thailand. I will keep you updated here and on our Facebook page if the situation does change. You can always e-mail me with any additional questions.

“The Best Travel Tips Ever,” according to Students in Europe

GRADE ‘A’ ADVICE: I share my traveling tips to Europe

Being a college student and getting the chance to study abroad for a semester is one of the best experiences a person could ask for. But, even if you’re just visiting Europe for fun, I can offer you some valuable tips to make the most of your time.

Students in Europe, a resource for studying abroad and students traveling to Europe, just published a Q&A I did with one of its writers, Krista Stryker. We covered everything a traveler would want to know, from the best cities to visit, to living like a local without emptying your bank account. Krista dubbed her post, “The Best Travel Tips Ever.”

Thanks for your questions Krista! I had a great time telling you all about Europe. Read part one and part two of our discussion, and learn more of my money-saving tricks while abroad.

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