All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

Travelling in Magic Movie Worlds – Game of Thrones Walter Mitty, and More

Films and television series are some of the best ways to see stunning backdrops from around the world. More and more, tourists are being inspired by familiar locations from their favorite box-sets or movies. They are getting off the sofa and venturing forth to sample some of these iconic views in real life.

You don’t need to travel far from UK shores in order to share a bit of the limelight; it’s easy to compare flights online and find tickets to some of the best film locations in Europe this summer. If you are looking for a place to go with a story attached, here’s three locations to explore.

Game of Thrones
For fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones there are plenty of incredible filming locations scattered throughout some of the most picturesque places in Europe. The old walled Croatian city of Dubrovnik was used by the production in season two to double for the fortress of King’s Landing.

Kings Landing - Image of Dubrovnik by Connie Ma

Dubrovnik is a stunning (and well-preserved) walled city dating from the Middle Ages and as it is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, it is very accessible from most European airports. The bay outside Fort Lovrijenac (the Red Keep in the show) was where filming took place for the naval battle of Blackwater in which Stannis Baratheon attempted a dramatic invasion to dethrone King Joffrey.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Enigmatic Sweden, with its huge forests, gorgeous towns and cities (not to mention its 95,000 lakes) has been made famous of late thanks to the Scandi-crime phenomenon brought about by Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. In both the Hollywood and Swedish film versions Stockholm plays a major cinematic role thanks to its cobbled streets, dramatic waterside views and arctic summer light.

For Stieg Larsson enthusiasts, Stockholm offers visitors the chance to follow in the footsteps of the antisocial computer-hacking heroine of the book and film series by following the self-guided detective trail. More information about this tour is available from the Stockholm City Museum where there’s a permanent exhibition.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has given Iceland a leading role in a Hollywood blockbuster. Filming took place at locations across the country that reflect the diversity of the landscape. Seyðisfjörður in the east fjords, surrounded by Mount Strandartindur and Mount Bjólfur, is part of an energetic skateboarding sequence, which is both dramatic and inspiring. For the ultimate adventure (what the Walter Mitty film was all about) a trip to Iceland will not disappoint.

Film tourism may be a budding industry but it’s one that brings both magic and adventure to an otherwise ‘typical’ holiday. For the chance to walk in the footsteps of some of the greatest stars of today and behold the majestic vistas as your favourite characters, consider a cinema or television inspired holiday this summer.

Dubai for Cheapos – Yup! You don’t have to be a millionaire…

When people think of Dubai, they usually imagine Formula 1 Grand Prix races, millionaires, James Bond, fancy hotels on man made islands, indoor skiing, and well – let’s just say – things that most of us can’t afford.  This article isn’t about that – it’s about Dubai for Cheapos.

free dubai

In fact, there are plenty of cheap holidays to Dubai, but you have to know where to look.  First of all, you should know – Dubai is an international hub connecting the East to the West.  Airlines rarely do huge trips all the way around the world and so it is nice to have stopping off points in convenient places like Dubai. This is one of the reasons why the airports in Dubai are so amazing…

Want to do the cheapest holiday to Dubai possible? We did it for free! Of course, it was because we were on a trip from Morocco to the USA and Emirates Airlines had a long stopover – so we were able to explore the huge airport terminals and even have a few meals courtesy of Emirates – we walked in the gardens, ate some food in the restaurants, and relaxed while window shopping and browsing through every luxury shop in the world. That’s the cheapo way to see Dubai, Yup, we did it. We saw Dubai from the airport terminal windows and from the window of the airplane when we arrived and departed.

Of course, most people (including us) want to see a little bit more than that when we go someplace. Here are a few tips to get you around in Dubai without having to rob a bank to do it…

1) Book your trip to Dubai well in advance. Airlines like to give deals on last minute tickets but they also like to know they will have full flights. Make  your arrangements ahead of time – if you can do it – make your trip to Dubai a trip that is between destinations. If we had been able to, we would have set up a week in Dubai between Morocco and the USA – airlines like Emirates offer incredible stopover packages that are generally way cheaper than doing a full spectrum vacation

2) Find out when the low season is – if you go during a huge event or during school holidays or the time of the Hajj, good luck finding a hotel for less than $1000 a night. As hard as it is to belive, there are 2 and 3 star hotels in Dubai  – you might even find a one star if you don’t mind having a valet with wholes in his jacket.

3) Eating cheap. Street food is plentiful in Dubai and you will find cuisine from all over the world. Sure, you pay more for Indonesian food in Dubai than you do in Indonesia, but that’s not a big deal when you save $100 from eating at the hotel.

The best place to grab a cheap bite is Al Dhiyafah road. This  is where the locals go to get a cheap meal. The restaurants and carts spill into the streets and you will find everything from Indian to Iranian food here.  If you like grilled lamb – this is where to go but you will also find plenty of Moroccan or Asian foods here too.

dubai balloon festival

4) As far as cheap entertainment goes – Dubai is like Las Vegas there are always festivals and celebrations and shows being put on by the hotels. You can pay for a desert safari (and you should) but you can also spend weeks wandering the streets of Dubai and enjoying galleries, festivals, and culture from the world over.

Italian Road Trip: How to Eat Your Way Through Calabria

Living in a city with excellent public transport, it can be easy to forget that some places just aren’t do-able without a car. Italy has a decent national rail system but, practically speaking, it only really connects the major urban centres. The places we wanted to explore were typically provincial, off the beaten track; everyone we know who’s been to Italy comes back raving about the food, and it’s no secret that Italian cuisine is regionally distinctive. In fact it can even vary from one town to the next, let alone between broader regions, and our most trusted sources – namely friends, and favourite bloggers like My Bella Vita, were adamant that, unless you have really good cycling stamina, regional Italy can only be explored by car.

Thus our Italian road trip was conceived. One of the chief benefits of travelling by car is you’re not strictly stuck to one route or itinerary – beyond “fly in here” and “return flight from here”, there’s a great deal of freedom in it. So we plotted a general course and left plenty of leeway for rabbiting off up mountainsides to follow up local recommendations, and generally wandering off course to follow our noses.

Having decided to start in the south and work our way north, we fly in to Palermo in Sicily (three-ish hours from Gatwick, shockingly cheap – how are they funding these air-traffic concessions?!) to explore Sicily for a couple of days before heading to Messina and catching the ferry across the Straits to Villa San Giovanni on the Italian mainland.

Reggio Calabria. Commons image by Alfie Ianni.

Bergamotto Cake in Reggio Calabria

Heading briefly south along the coastal road, we first come to Reggio Calabria, the largest city in the region and reputedly the second oldest city in Italy. This area is famous for growing 80% of the world’s bergamot, the aromatic citrus fruit that flavours Earl Grey tea and Turkish Delight. Susumelle al Bergamotto is a delicious, light cake that is made with honey and at first glance resembles a flattened iced doughnut, but is much cakier with a more sophisticated flavour.


Anchovy Pasta in Melito de Porto Salvo

Anchovies are common in these coastal waters, and make a cheap, healthy and delicious meal when prepared with garlic, olive oil and fresh pasta. From Melito, we head inland to explore the gorgeous mountains of Aspromonte National Park. This region has an ancient history and interesting wildlife, including peregrine falcons and golden eagles. It’s easy to find a great meal here, with homemade pasta dishes prepared to old family recipes available in the small villages en route.

Village in Aspromonte National Park. Commons image by PD-Self