Archive for February, 2015

Travel Insurance

For travel medical emergency or any other travel insurance, my advice is, if you travel from the USA or Canada, try not to buy insurance in North America – be it via a travel agency or some local banks or insurance companies, or online. Unless – for medical or other safety reasons – insurance must be bought starting from the home location to the destination country. My experience has taught me, to get far better deals buying the insurance either in Europe or wherever you travel to, in that country. Example: In 2010 I travelled to Germany and spent over 4 months there in Berlin. I had taken out a medical insurance on a broker’s internet site. The insurance had their seat in Toronto, Canada. I had a claim, tried to call the insurance from Germany, on my cell phone, told them I need a claim number. They put me on hold while some old guy in the background walked away from his desk ?  In conclusion, I cancelled this insurance requesting a refund on my credit card. Immediately one day after I bought a travel medical insurance in Germany (including every coverage possible) at a fraction of the cost that the one in Canada had cost me. The insurance in Canada eventually processed the refund, but not my lost telephone costs.
Cost comparison: Canada/USA = $2,000; Germany = €130 same length of trip. Next example: Previously I had bought several package travels with a German agency (also online) including for each a good travel medical emergency insurance. Low cost again (for one month travel = €100).  You can trust these agencies there, they will deliver. And most importantly, they are reachable. I find it more disturbing if an insurance carrier cannot be reached in the event of an emergency (even taking into consideration the time difference) than the higher cost. Reason for the high cost of insurances headquartered in North America is more likely than not the enormous cost for law suits and third party liability suits.


Washington DC

Washington DC is not only one of the most interesting cities in North America, but also, one might say, “the center of the universe” when it comes to symbolism.
There is a strong mystical presence in all of the massive public buildings, many housing secretive historical collections. One of the founding corner stones of this city, the Freemasons, is also one of the most powerful brotherhoods and considered secretive societies in the world [ ]. How powerful can such an expression of symbolism become, when the Grand Father of this city, George Washington himself, had been elevated to almost ‘Godhood’. The ceiling dome of the Rotunda in Washington’s Capitol depicts the mural painted by the Italian Master Painter Brumidi in 1865 and depicts the various Forefathers as residing in Heaven as Gods. [ ]. (Apotheosis inferring Deification.) I believe that of all of Washington DC’s top secrets there are many, yet, hidden somewhere in this vast city of super grand buildings, many constructed based on Greek and Roman principles.
Contrary to common believe, Washington DC had not been built on a swamp. Unlike – a good comparison – Russia’s St. Petersburg, which was built on the Neva River and in many respects resembles Amsterdam in its design (thanks to Peter the Great).

I have visited Washington DC several times to visit family. Once in the summer of 2001 and then twice in 2002. When the situation had changed in the inner City and most of the famous landmarks and wonderful museums, like the Smithsonian, were now subject to elevated security measures. I also at that time did some research at the Library of Congress and obtained a temporary library card. It had been a long and arduous process. I love Washington DC especially old Georgetown, with its old brown stone houses, some from the 17th century. Georgetown is fantastic with its indoor international markets and the little Cafe’s and boutiques. And the shady old walkways along the canals. I stayed at that time near Dupont Circle, a historic District in NW Washington, one of the best areas, an easy walk to the Washington Zoo, the Smithsonian National Zoo, one of the landmark Zoo’s in the world. [ ] Admission was free. As were all other buildings for tourists. At the time of my visit I had been lucky enough to also view a couple of new born baby animals, a most adorable little playful elephant, and several tiger cubs. What a treat !
I would love to re-visit, but I think it will never be the same. Near the home we stayed (an old Grey stone house) it was also an easy walk to Dumbarton Oaks Park
[ ]. Very enjoyable and educational experience. What I also liked about this city are the many international book stores and Cafe/Book Stores.