Streaming Services in Other Countries Are Tempting, And a Security Risk

Most travelers know that you cannot use the digital download service you use in your country, say the US or Canada, in another country. Due to licensing regulations, agreements, and what not, you cannot use your US Amazon account in Ireland or the UK. Why would you want to, you should be enjoying your trip? Problem is, we are all addicted to some form of wind down, and while traveling, if you have ever tried to rent a video download from a hotel, you have a very limited selection and it costs double what it does at home. Or if only you had that country’s various streaming services. Ah, the clever bot comes out of your mind.

I was trying to be a clever traveler. I paid the price for three years. When in Glasgow in the summer of 2016, I had rented an apartment off of the Clyde river. It had very limited Sky network services. While watching shows that would take 1-2 years to show up on US streaming is fun, I was still not happy with the choices. My US Amazon account would not let me stream. Apple TV the same. I thought to myself, “Why not set up an Amazon UK account and shut it down when I get back after a month? Only download pay-per-view and no frills.” Big mistake.

When I got back to the US, I contacted Amazon UK and went through the lengthly process of trying to shut down the account. I thought I had after a weeks worth of emails. Amazon makes it very difficult for your account to be shut down. If they tell you it’s for your safety, it’s for theirs. It’s because they want to keep your money coming in. It’s part of that making you addicted to their services and invading your life thing.

Move forward three years.

I noticed a small, funny $.07 charge on my credit card. If you have spotted these funny charges, usually with an IP address and no name on description, you are being queried for possible fraud. A computer program is testing your card’s validity. It’s a sign to go through your accounts for the last few months, and really check the activity. I decided it was time to cancel the card and get a new one. While I was verifying the monthly charges with the Amazon US customer service, we came across charges nestled in with their billing from the UK account I had cancelled 3 years prior. Or I thought I had. The account I had closed had been billing me for 3 years Prime Video membership in the UK. Someone had gotten a hold of my information and was accessing the account.

After two days of dealing with customer services in the UK, explaining I never authorized or signed up for Amazon Prime Video UK, that I couldn’t even watch the streaming from the US because of their licensing agreements, I got a response. I reminded them I had cancelled the account. I demanded a refund. I was told they could only credit me back 15 months, less than half the amount. I then had to go to my Credit Union and ask them to reverse foreign exchange fees, minimal but it’s the principal that counts. I told Amazon I wanted the UK account cancelled. Three days later, and after I had cancelled my credit card, which lead to many other account re-workings, they cancelled both the US and UK accounts. I had made the mistake of using the same email I did for the domestic account. I had to start all over again with a new account. This tells me that I am not the only account holder who has gone through this. That customers accounts are snagged frequently, and that Amazon goes into self protection mode. They don’t like giving refunds.

The UK account. That ugly epiphany moment sunk in. I surmised that after I left Glasgow, someone had accessed the account information from the apartment I was renting, most likely the WiFi. Yes, there are various nefarious ways through either the device you plug into, Smart TV ,or the WiFi in general that this can be done. Remember, Smart TVs participate in the Internet of everything, constantly on checking for updates via WiFi. This leads them open to access if you don’t have a very secure system. Whoever it was, signed up for Prime and had free video downloads for the three years.

Because they had not, luckily, started buying like crazy on Amazon UK, I didn’t pick up on it until years later because Amazon does all of its billing at the same time. Therefore I saw Amazon Prime. Not the UK part of the billing at a quick glance. Someone may have hacked into their system and found the information to restart the account when I cancelled, or Amazon never cancelled as requested (I surmise this is it). There may be a hacker living in the building who knows there are several vacation rentals and has hacked the WiFi. Or the cleaning service has a disloyal employee. Any combination of these and your trip continues to cost you money.

So my advice is; don’t stream at all. Just enjoy your vacation as you should. But if you must:

  1. Stream off of your laptop or WiFi and monitor the account. Shut it down, and keep doing so when you get back.
  2. 2. Use a email that’s for travel, I have a gmail account I make for this purpose so I can load files into it and access when abroad.
  3. 3. If you must have a mirror account because you travel a lot, get an account very separate and watch it for signs of miss use and change the password when you leave the country.
  4. 4. Use a service like Mobdro (open source), Swift Streamz, or Showbox, MUBI, and BBC iPlayer apps if in the UK. In Ireland: Now TV, The RTE Player. But check with any friends you may know there, and ask what they use. Know you will need to shut it down when you get back. 

Just be aware it’s not only your credit card information you need to be secure with while traveling. If you use Amazon, it is easy for someone to also start ordering high ticket items and on your dime. Once they have taken over your account, change the password, they can pose as you and try to keep locking you out.

So maybe it’s just best to enjoy your time away from that much media, there will be plenty of other media things going on while you travel. The interactive ones at museums and galleries are usually the best. AND, change your passwords before you leave town, and when you get back. Someone can do the same thing in your home country while you are distracted and away.

Be aware of streaming in the EU and UK if you purchase a local box to view, such as a Hulu box. There are illegal knock offs. They allow you to stream, but it is an illegal setup and not only will they go after the bad guys, your hotel or rental door may be the first to have the Gardai knocking. When illegal streaming is done, they start at the download and work their way back.

Illegal Kodi Boxes

Best Legal Streaming UK

Guardi Crack Down On Illegal Streaming

Avoid Getting Hacked When Traveling

My Netflix Just Got Hacked

Life’s Savings Lost Because of Amazon Hack

The Best Laid Schemes: Money Matters While Traveling

How cycle friendly is Dublin? — BICYCLE DUTCH

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I couldn’t remember when I last felt afraid on my bicycle. Not just anxious, but genuinely fearing for my life. I do now, after I cycled in Dublin last week. The 4-kilometre-long ride from my hotel near the Phoenix Park Gate to the Conference Centre of Dublin was just one long straight line on the […]

via How cycle friendly is Dublin? — BICYCLE DUTCH

E-Scooters: Blessing or Environmental Hell?

Yes, the last few tourist seasons have seen a growth in the electric scooter (E-Scooters) for hire schemes. Every tourist town has them. From Portland to Seattle, Vancouver B.C., Dublin, Edinburgh, and of course London and Rome. It started with bicycle rental schemes, hire a bike and pedal through town. These are not as annoying or fraught with danger, while one must consider not having a bike helmet is a bit of a danger. The problem is, someone takes it a step further and goes for electric scooters. And they are everywhere and have become the bane of many a township. The concept of a mobile transport with electricity you can just grab seems so eco friendly. But is it really?

It seemed innocent at first, but very dangerous if you drive a car. Many impromptu riders don’t dress for visibility or take good road precautions, much less obey traffic rules. Tourists come from all over the country and other countries, and usually the riders of these electric scooters are very young, ages 10 to 25. They do not obey local traffic laws, ride the scooters on sidewalks. And the minute they run out of electric juice, they abandon them, everywhere they can. In Portland, Oregon alone the police have pulled 50 E-Scooters out of the river. Its seems because they are small and disposable looking, that is what people do with them. Apparently the fact they need recharging doesn’t seem to enter the minds of the riders, or the responsibility of planning a route where you can leave one scooter to charge and pick up another is apparently too taxing on young brains.

From Austin and Denver to Chicago and Nashville, citizens have thrown them into trash cans, traffic, and yes, rivers and lakes. The practice has become so commonplace, in fact, that you can find dozens of accounts on Twitter and Instagram dedicated to their destruction. – Conner Cawly

So, why do cities allow these scooters to operate? Or are they clamping down? Or why is it people sick of the scooters are throwing them into rivers and damaging our ecosystems? Police have taken it in stride, asking that you not park the scooters in rivers. How can you make riders more conscious of others and not leave them stranded under over passes, peoples yards, and the middle of the street? Image result for e scooter logo

We expect a bicycle etiquette, well many bike riders have become very militant lately of their right of way and treatment in traffic. However, they adhere to safety rules and self police on dedicated bike routes. The E-Scooter crowd goes anywhere and everywhere, without thought to rules or curtesy. Let’s go to Copenhagen, a city known for free thinking and a very laid back atmosphere. They are not so happy about the recent epidemic of drunk and disorderly E-Scooter riders. It has become quite the thing to get really drunk and grab a scooter in town. Denmark has had enough. They cracked down and made over 20 arrests, citing alcohol and recreational drugs abuse. So beware friends, the police are ticketing in Copenhagen and other cities. The fines start at $300.00 and go up. But San Francisco, the ever on top of it City County city I lived in for years, has topped the list. They have sued, and won a great sum of  money. Now they have a permit system, and will crack down on offenders and have banned several operators from the city.

So how did such a great, eco friendly way of transport get so abused? If you support the environment, why leave them about like trash? Using logic, perhaps that app that allows you to rent the E-Scooter has a locator for safe places to park the scooter? Or, would that would would imply responsibility on the part of the rider? Most towns don’t recognize them as street legal, so some ride the sidewalks. Are you an angry citizen who has had enough? Instead of getting in their faces, or having a scooter rage episode, maybe educate. Contact the scooter companies and explain you want visible assigned places where they can be hired and returned. Contact your city and tell them that the scooters left on any corner should get fines toward the companies not picking them up in a timely manner. Many cities are already attacking the issue. Research a responsible E-Scooter provider where you are traveling to, and look at Yelp or other review sites. Talk to the local constable on the corner. Read articles for the city you are visiting and see what their official take is on the E-Scooters and which ones have a permit, and any guidelines they have so you won’t be fined money.

Please use responsibly, and safely. If you are traveling abroad, places like the UK have very old laws and some new ones on the books that monitor travel with such hedonistic devices. And they have very steep fines. Besides, if you are in such an exciting city, just walk. It’s much more rewarding. If you hire a scooter, use the app, find maps of bike routes and be courteous to lane sharing. You don’t want to go down some cobbled areas with small wheels, you’ll just upend.

Portland Police Pull 50 E-Scooters Out of River

E-Scooter Safety

San Francisco Crack Down on E-Scooters

Vlog 9 – My Experience with Anxiety and Travel — Caitlin Jean Russell

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This particular vlog is something I’ve debated for several months now on whether or not to make it and how to go about doing so. I’d like to preface it by saying that everything I talk about within the video are all examples of my personal experience with panic disorder and anxiety and I am…

via Vlog 9 – My Experience with Anxiety and Travel — Caitlin Jean Russell

Game of Thrones Tours 2019 Northern Ireland

download.jpgOne of our most beloved television series, Game of Thrones, is concluding it’s 8 season run this coming week. To celebrate, fans from around the world are flocking to Belfast and Norther Ireland for touring. I’ve written about the joys of touring based on film and television fan travel in the past. This year even more places abound, with fans of Game of Thrones completing the journey. The current and final season now showing, with only two episodes left, were filmed in Northern Ireland, Croatia, and at the studios of Titanic Studios, located in the harbor of Belfast in the Titanic shipyards. Now that production is done, you can tour the studio area as well as take some tours to the filming locations.

Titanic studios are also hosts to two great attractions, The Titanic Belfast Museum, and the SS Nomadic. And if you travel to this wee ship, the last of the Star line, you may catch a glimpse of actor Duncan Lacroix (Outlander, GOT) shoveling coal in one of his earlier acting gigs.

Game of Thrones Touring Exhibition is now open in Belfast through September 2019. An amazing costumes and props exhibition encompassing the series 8 seasons, highly recommended. It goes on tour again in October and may hit a city near you. Some tours from Dublin are including this in their itinerary. Check if you need to purchase viewing separate from tour.

Tours

Want to dress up a bit? Visit filming locations and totally geek out? Here are a few companies just for you:

Game of Thrones Tours

Winterfell Tours

Stones and Thrones

Kings Landing is filmed in Croatia. Tours are here https://www.kingslandingdubrovnik.com/game-of-thrones-tours

Keep in mind that the tours with smaller vans will be better at getting into places and more intimate. The Dark Hedges may be blocked soon, as the beech trees are getting more damaged with tourism, and the trees themselves are coming to an end of life. Park in the actual car park and don’t ruin the view for others. Please check tour review sites for feedback. Since this is the season after the last season of GOT, many of the tours are booked through fall, and it is recommended that you book early online if possible.

Self Guided GOT Tours

There are several resources for finding locations by yourself for a much more quiet and intimate experience.

Self Guided Tours

Croatia King’s Landing Map

Game of Thrones Doors Map 

These unique doors were created as a result of a couple of the Dark Hedges trees coming down in a storm. Now you can travel N. Ireland and visit many locations where the doors, each uniquely carved, have been put to use.

Northern Ireland GOT Map

Fandom filming locations article, links to episodes information

These Fangirls are diehards. Read their locations guide here.

Article on sites

Outlander Touring Season 2019 in Full Swing

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Midhope Castle

Many of you lucky fans are hopping the Atlantic and exploring Scotland to follow in the footsteps of Jamie and Claire. There are a great many locations for seasons 1-4 and if you went solidly to just see all locations, it would take more than three weeks of travel. You may have to make some choices and come back again. That wouldn’t be so terrible.

Having gone to Scotland twice since the filming began, and relying on public transport for most of my stay, I found it very limiting in some cases when on public transit to try to get every day filled with locations. There are Outlander Tours a plenty if you have it in your budget, and knowing which ones are good can be difficult, as all of the commercial touring companies have set up tours. Not all tour companies have quality tours, for any of their tours. Check out trip reviews before you use one. Large tour buses to sites are highly annoying, difficult to get around to sites, and you will be limited to where  these monsters can go. Keep in mind that some tours may cancel or skip some locations due to time constraints. If you want a smaller intimate tour, which I do recommend van tours, check out my Tours Page. I am collecting information and feedback from people who have taken tours, and so far the ones listed have had favorable reviews.

Check out Traveling Savage’s Scotland article:

Traveling Savage Hire Cars Know Before You Go

Obtaining a hire car with several travel friends can be managed,  however familiarize yourself with the driving laws, and the driver cannot have access to a phone for navigation. There are heavy fines for phone use while driving. Many companies will take a huge deposit and not return it if there is even the smallest of scratches on the car. Check out hire car reviews!

I have created a resource after my last visit. This and a good map should help you to plan. It is a Google Docs Document:

Outlander Locations: Access by Public Transport Access or Vehicle Only

PDF Download Outlander Locations Table

 

 

 

End of Winter Travels Lead to Great Places, Glasgow

It’s winter snows or pounding storms in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, this March?It’s the dregs of winter, and should be spring. There’s been a bit of snow? Whether you are a end of winter traveler taking advantage of off season pricing, or a resident day tripping, finding your way to sights to see or experiences to get out of the winter doldrums of your mind are paramount. But remember, it’s Scotland, The UK’s version of PNW weather, wait a bit, it’ll change. This great city of Glasgow is a fabulous walking town, and the best way I found to get around is by taking the subway, fondly called Clockwork Orange still by a few, but just ask for the subway. It makes a big subterranean loop and can keep you out of the elements for a quick journey to a part of the city, climb up top and you are within walking distance of many out of the way entertainments. Explore alleys off Sauchiehall Streets’s West End, or stroll the parks as there are many. And just like the PNW, people rarely use a brolly. Up your hood and go.

For some unusual things to do, check out these places. Contact them direct for winter hours of operation.

Day

download-1Glasgow Necropolis Beautiful both in snow and rain, and well, if you sneak in at night, moonlight. It’s filled with some very old grave sites and commands a great view of the city. Situated just behind St. Mungo’s Religious Museum and Glasgow Cathedral, Tennent’s Wellpark Brewery flanks it. Drygate area, John Knox Street.

Fossil Grove This is a subterranean find that will get you out of the elements. Travel to Victoria Park and take in this fun and spooky view of 11 fossilized stumps.

Hunterian Museum Spooky and kooky exhibits from medical and strange things. Check to see they are in operation, as in 2017 the museum was shut for rework, and still has some exhibition pieces not available. If you can’t make it to Edinburgh, it’s one of the best collections of oddities outside the capitol city. Fun stories of resurrectionists and all kinds of odd things. The anatomical collection is by appointment only. Off the Glasgow University (Hogwarts) campus. Just off the Hillhead station of the underground.

imagesSharmanka Kinetic Theatre. An animatronic, kinetic field day can be had here. Created and run by a Russian emigre Eduard Bersudsky, this theatre is filled with macabre to delight all. It illustrates the history of Russia with a murky feel. The main attraction is the heart of the theatre, but there are traveling exhibits in many parts of the world. TRONGATE 103,Glasgow, G1 5HD

downloadGovan Hill Baths Back in it’s Edwardian day, this community resource was where you went to swim, at one of the three pools, and do your wash (Steamie). It was shut down in 2001, but the public had sit ins to protest the loss of the historical baths. After several years, the community rallied back and now the large pool has been repurposed as an arts installation and performance venue. It is still going through renovations, but you can see community and old history in action as productions for theatre and music are hosted here. 99 Calder St, Glasgow G42 7RA

Night

Riding Room/Jodownloadint on the Corner BurlesqueCabaret and other quirk-filled acts. 7 Days or nights a week. Food and drink. Reasonably priced in the Merchant City area. 58 Virginia St, Glasgow G1 1TX

 

 

The Riverside Museum, Glasgow

Glasgow Weekend