Thrilled to be darting worldwide
How did Bermuda become the focus of a Romanian’s YouTube travel series?
Well, Sorin Mihailovici threw a dart at a map, and it landed squarely in the middle of the Atlantic.
Tiny Bermuda became his only choice.
“I was actually happy when I saw the dart hitting the ocean and found out the closest country was Bermuda,” he said. “I had to come.”
Mr Mihailovici visited this month. The trip was his fifth for Travel By Dart, the series he developed with his friend, Matt Cook, last year.
Previous episodes profiled the North Pole and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard, Russia, Easter Island and parts of Indonesia.
It all started in 2012 when Mr Cook asked then 34-year-old Mr Mihailovici to describe his idea of success.
“I said to just throw a dart and be able to take my wife and children wherever it landed for the weekend,” Mr Mihailovici said, explaining it would mean he both had the freedom to travel and the financial means.
His friend urged him not to wait until he married. Still single at 40, he’s glad he didn’t.
The pair bought some darts and a world map which they set up in Mr Mihailovici’s basement. Another friend pulled out his mobile phone, and started filming.
As luck would have it, the dart landed on “an expensive destination”, the North Pole.
With a tiny budget, they were initially reluctant, but sponsors made it possible and the pair were able to add nearby Svalbard to their itinerary.
“We said we’d do a commercial at the North Pole for anyone who helped us and we’d donate $5 from every donation to the World Wildlife Fund to help the polar bears,” said Mr Mihailovici, who lives in Alberta, Canada. “We ended up raising $7,500.”
The trip led to a documentary Polar Faith and Travel by Dart.
The YouTube show’s journeys cost between $2,000 and $3,500. Some are sponsored but, most often, the men pay themselves.
“In my case I have a full-time online business so I can work on it from Canada or Bermuda or wherever,” said Mr Mihailovici, whose scam detector app alerts people to worldwide fraud. “It makes me enough money that I can travel the world before I have regrets.”
He got the travel bug while still in communist Romania, where travel was heavily restricted.
“I remember seeing planes going across the sky and dreaming about where they were going,” he said. “My father had a stroke at 40 and was left wheelchair-bound.
“His biggest regret was not getting to see the world. I didn’t want to be like him when I reached that age.”
Still, he was 19 before he got on a plane.
“I was working for a newspaper in Bucharest,” he said. “They sent me to the Czech Republic on assignment.
“It was only a two-hour flight, but I was so excited. Some people are anxious the first time they travel, but not me.”
He visited Canada in 2001 to cover a world sporting event in Edmonton. He fell in love with the country, found work as a television producer and moved there soon after.
Although his aim is to see the world, there are certain places that he refuses to visit. If the dart lands anywhere on Canada or the United States he throws again, preferring to travel farther afield.
War-torn countries are also a huge no-no.
“My second throw landed on Russia,” he said. “I didn’t particularly want to go there. It reminded me too much of Romania in the 1980s. Although many people were friendly, there were tons that didn’t give me a good vibe.
“Not that they are bad, but they are very stoic. You know that feeling when you walk into a shop and everyone is smiling at you and you instantly feel good? That didn’t happen in Russia.
“They don’t smile at all unless you are their friend and they know they can trust you. There is no such thing as chit-chat in Russia. You really have to care when you ask someone ‘how are you?’”
He described Bermuda as “amazing” although he wasn’t so thrilled with how much everything cost.
“Even Google says Bermuda is the most expensive country in the world and I definitely felt that,” he said. “I went to Dog House on Front Street and for two beers I paid CAD$40.
“In Canada, I could have bought a 30-pack with that. I’m in Colombia right now and the beer is about $3. It’s the same with the food.”
While here, he stayed at Grotto Bay Beach Resort & Spa. The Bermuda Tourism Authority gave him a Renault Twizy to help him get around and a jet ski tour that he also enjoyed. He counts visiting Commissioner’s House in Dockyard and watching the St George’s ducking stool re-enactment among his highlights.
“The BTA also gave us extra video footage as I was only here for a week and it rained for part of that time,” he said. “If we had more time in Bermuda, we would have done more tours through the BTA. They were phenomenal.”
Look for Bermuda on SorinTV’s YouTube channel next month.
• For the dart throw that led him here, visit: http://bit.ly/2DlX5yk.
Follow his travels on www.sorin.tv or @sorinmihailovici on Twitter