Category: mini travel guide

Notes From The Road: Sydney Side

For the last nine months I’ve been living out of a backpack – in India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and New Zealand.  Now I’m on my way home via Australia, Taiwan and California.  You can read about my previous adventures here.

 

visiting sydney australia

 

The above photo is not really representative of how lovely Sydney is.  I am, however, including it in this photo dump because I am embarrassingly proud of myself for learning to navigate Australia’s train system. Yes, I traveled through Laos by myself.  Yup, I totally slept on a bed made of sticks in the mountains of Bolivia.  Whatevs.  I CAN BUY TRAIN TICKETS AND — USE THEM CORRECTLY.In addition to riding trains like a boss, I also explored Manly beach, watched rugby, checked out the botanical garden’s giant bats, took one million photos of the opera house, saw a play about Jullian Assange and had dinner with a few of you cuties!

Those aren’t seed pods, guys.  They’re flying foxes.

Next up, hiking in Katoomba and then a 16-hour layover in my old stomping grounds of Taiwan!
  (I’m probably the first person to ever be so excited about 16 hour layover)Do you wanna live out of a backpack for nine months?  Check out my ebooks on long-term travel.  12,000+ words, 60-minute podcast, 14 worksheets = $15!

Notes From The Road: Melbourne Mania

 

In case you were unsure, I’m here to tell you that Melbourne is fantastic.I’m adding to my list of Fantastic Artsy/Interesting/Food-and-music-loving Cities. (Other cities on this list are San Francisco and Minneapolis)

I’ve been staying with the fantastic Lady Smaggle, in her adorable loft with her adorable mister and flatmate.  We’ve been talking non-stop about all thing blogging-related, drinking 8 million coffees and doing that thing where you wander through boutiques picking things up, putting them down and smelling candles.  We also recorded a podcast, had a wee miracle berry party and ate dinner with a bunch of you lovelies.  And nearly hyperventilated with laughter at Bridesmaids.

I also (inadvertently) taught Carly some of my ridiculous American slang.

Next stop, Sydney!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Have you ever been to Sydney?  Any tips or must-sees for me?  (I’ve been once before but only for three days)Wanna know how I quit my job and travel for months at a time?  Check out my Wanderlust Workbook!  Only $15 for 12,000+ words, 60-minute podcast, 14 worksheets!

Mini Travel Guide: Egypt

Looking for a travel guide for Egypt? Click through for Egypt travel tips on what to do, where to go, what to eat, and how to travel Egypt cheaply, safely, and respectfully!
Thinking of traveling to Egypt? Wondering what to eat and where to go? Never fear! Danielle just returned to America after living in Egypt for two years and she’s going to give us the low-down!

Egypt is one of the most ancient and fascinating countries in the world; as the homeland of complex civilizations dating back thousands of years before the birth of Christ, there are tons of things to see and do here.

With the majority of its inhabitants living within 20 miles of the Nile’s banks, over 80 million people call this North African country home. Since the recent ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, the face of Egypt is constantly changing. Arabic is the official language, but many people in the major cities of Alexandria and Cairo speak English as well.

Must Go in Egypt

Dahab

Dahab is a funky little hippie town on the Sinai peninsula where the rules of Egypt don’t apply. About a nine hour bus ride from Cairo, this place is a backpacker’s paradise and is much more relaxed than the nearby resort destination of Sharm el-Sheikh.

You can relax on the deck chairs at the seaside thatched hut housing Yalla Bar and sip Egyptian beer, choose from an array of hilariously-named beach-adjacent restaurants, and shop for Egyptian wares without the craziness of other markets.

Accommodations in a bamboo hut on the beach are as low as 40 LE (about 8 USD) per night, and on a clear day you can peer across the Red Sea and see Saudi Arabia looming on the horizon.

Khan el-Khalili

Khan el-Khalili is the historic bazaar located in the Husseyn district of Cairo. There is every kind of shop imaginable filling the alleyways and you can find almost anything.

Don’t forget to haggle! A good rule of thumb when you begin haggling is to make your starting offer approximately half of the shopkeeper’s. Bonus points: don’t be afraid to wander deep into the market; you won’t be lost for long and all the good deals are well-hidden, as the most accessible shops are aimed towards timid tourists and the prices along the main drag are sky-high!

Must Do in Egypt

See the pyramids

You can rent a camel for an hour to take you around the area (about 50 LE is usually as low as most camel owners will go, despite a price cap of 35 LE set by local police). There is a museum opening near the complex in the near future; however, don’t miss the boat museum that already exists and don’t be afraid to wander down past the large drop-off to find the elusive Sphinx!

Take a Felucca Ride Down the Nile

Renting one of the small, flat boats for an hour is a favorite of locals. Interacting with the ancient Nile is exhilarating (just make sure not to jump into the polluted waters!).
The best time to do this is on a cool night- feluccas are decked out with thumping music and neon lights after the sun goes down and are the perfect venue for a moving party! Be aware, though, that in some cases, the drivers will charge extra if you want to bring alcohol on board.

Must Eat in Egypt

Felfela

This restaurant is on everyone’s agenda when they visit Cairo. Located on Talat Harb just off of Tahrir Square, this diner is a little strange for most first-timers.

You order your food and pay upfront, then take your receipt to the appropriate area of the restaurant, where the chef receives it. After your food is prepared, you stand at one of the many counters lining the walls to devour your feast. Felfela serves everything from burgers to traditional fare like shawerma.

Cultural Tips for Travel in Egypt

Grab a pocket-sized English-Arabic dictionary and no matter how unsure of yourself you may be, try and use some basic Arabic words when interacting with locals.

It’s the easiest way to endear yourself to people and will almost always get you a better prices in markets, not to mention make invaluable contacts with people who can help make your stay easier.

Traveling on the Cheap in Egypt

Rather than taking a taxi everywhere in the major cities, try the Metro! It’s only 1 LE per ride and there is a car especially for women so you don’t have to be crammed like sardines against strange men. The Metro in Cairo runs close to every major sightseeing destination and is fairly easy to navigate, as all the signs are in English and Arabic.

Airbnb is almost always cheaper than a hotel and a better bang for your buck. This entire apartment has a view of the pyramids and costs $50 a night! If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking.

Have you been to Egypt – any tips to share?  Questions for Danielle?

Photo by MOHAMED OSAMA, ustoa.com,  Roxanne Desgagnés, wikipediaJeremy Bishop,

Mini Travel Guide: Nigeria

Looking for a travel guide to Nigeria? Click through for from-a-local Nigerian travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it cheaply and safely!
Ever since I started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books, I’ve been craving a travel guide to Nigeria. Thankfully, Lape stepped in to share all her best Nigerian travel tips!

Nigeria is the most populous country in West Africa and has over 140 million citizens.  With over 200 ethnic groups speaking the same number of languages, the country is a culturally diverse one.  Although its people speak so many languages, English is the official language in Nigeria.

Not only is the country very different culturally, it varies greatly geographically with beaches and a coastal region in the south and deserts in the north.  Providing a travel guide for such a large and varied country in such a short article is difficult but this guide aims to highlight items that are most notable about Nigeria.

Must Do in Nigeria

Go to a beach

Lagos, the commercial capital of the country, which is located in south-western Nigeria, is known for its beaches.  There are several public and private beaches to choose from in this city so ask around and head for the one you fancy most.  Don’t forget to use sunscreen.  Nigeria is a tropical country.

Party like a Nigerian

Nigerians, especially the Yoruba people, love a good party.  The typical Yoruba ‘owambe’ (Yoruba slang for ‘party’) involves a crowd of people, lots of food and drinks and a live band singing traditional and Western music.
The highlight of such parties is the ‘spraying’ which is when people dance and money is placed on their foreheads and bodies by their friends as they all dance.  The person being sprayed mustn’t appear too eager to hold on to the money although they do try to keep an eye on it.  The whole thing is a sight to behold.

Buy gold in Abuja

Abuja is the capital of Nigeria and is in the northern part of the country.  Wuse Market in Abuja is a good place to buy intricately-designed gold jewelery at reasonable prices.  Wander around the market to check out other items on sale and remember to bargain for what you want.
what to do in nigeria

Must Go in Nigeria

Obudu Cattle Ranch

Obudu Cattle Ranch is a calm spot in the hills of Cross River state which is in the eastern part of the country.  There is a resort at the ranch from which you can go hiking in the forest trying to spot monkeys and other animals but people generally go to Obudu Cattle Ranch to chill.
There are parts of Obudu Cattle Ranch that are so high up, you feel like you can touch the clouds.  It gives new meaning to the phrase ‘walking on air’.
must eat in Nigeria

Must Eat in Nigeria

Suya

Although originating in Northern Nigeria, suya is a snack now enjoyed throughout the country.  Suya is a type of thinly-sliced, peppery beef kebab usually served with sliced onions and tomatoes and enjoyed with a glass (or two) of cold beer.

Pepper Soup

Pepper soup is a broth that is peppery – imagine that!  Made from the broth of beef, chicken or fish, it contains beef, chicken or fish pieces and is spiced with pepper and other ingredients.  Pepper soup is often enjoyed in the evening with some beer.  Yes, beer sells very well here.

Chapman

This drink seems largely unique to Nigeria as outside the country, bars don’t seem to have heard of it.  Chapman tastes slightly different in different bars and restaurants around the country but it is a staple enjoyed by both adults and children.
Chapman is made by mixing roughly 3 parts Fanta, 1 part Sprite, a little blackcurrant cordial (or Ribena when push comes to shove) and the special ingredient – a few drops of Angostura Bitters.  Pop in a few ice cubes, garnish with slices of lemon and cucumbers and the delightful drink is ready.
Looking for a travel guide to Nigeria? Click through for from-a-local Nigerian travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it cheaply and safely!

Cultural Tips for Traveling in Nigeria

Although English is the official language of Nigeria, you are more likely to come across Pidgin English wherever you go.  Pidgin English is a kind of broken English that is pretty easy to understand  – there really aren’t any rules of tense or concord like there are with proper English.
cultural tips for traveling in Nigeria

Traveling on the Cheap in Nigeria

Although there are several large hotel chains in Nigeria, it’s probably better and cheaper to stay in smaller, boutique hotels.  You would save money, hotel staff will probably be more attentive and you are more likely to feel like you’re staying with friends than staying in a hotel.
Of course, Airbnb is usually more affordable than any hotel and offers a more “authentic” experience. Here’s an entire apartment for $40 a night! If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking.

Any questions for Lape?  Have you been to Nigeria?  Share your links and tips in the comments!
photos by airpanther, wikipedia // cc

Mini Travel Guide: Australia

Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!
Looking for a travel guide to Australia? You’re in the right place! Of course, Oz is huuuuuge, but this bite-sized travel guide will when your appetite, get you pointed in the right direction and if you read all the way to the bottom, potentially save you hundreds of dollars!

Must do in Australia

Take surfing lessons

Sure, it’s a little intimidating to straddle a floating board in the company of a painfully hot blonde dude whose accent you might not understand.  But if all else fails, you’ll still have a lot of fun, get heaps of great pictures and be able to start stories with “This one time, when I was learning how to surf in Australia…”

Snorkel the great barrier reef

There are heaps of companies that run snorkeling trips to the great barrier reef.  You can also do  a scuba trip if you’re certified or even take classes to become certified, but if you have neither the patience nor the dough for a scuba course, snorkeling is a cheap, easy substitute.

Roadtrip

Australia is almost 3,000,000 square miles (!) and host to desert, beaches and rain forest.  If you’ve got a good bit of time, rent a car or a camper van with your friends and explore.

Hold/pat one of many ubiquitous Australian animals 

Policies have changed regarding koala cuddling and many places now only allow you to pat them sedately on the back while you have your photo taken. (Though, to be fair, I wouldn’t want to be passed from stranger to stranger all day).
There are also heaps of parks where you can feed wallabies.  And yes, feeding a wallaby is about as awesome as you’re imagining it to be.

The Sydney Opera House

It’s on every postcard for a reason.  It’s gorgeous and luminous and positively clam-shell-y.  Amazingly, the opera house has a ‘studio’ theater where they run more cutting-edge, dynamic pieces and you can frequently get tickets for as little as $25!  I went to a show there for my 28th birthday.
Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must eat in Australia

Lamington

Cubist, cakey, chocolatey, coconutty goodness.  And sometimes you can get a pink version as well!  Americans, imagine a grown-up version of those snowball cakes we used to buy at gas stations in middle school.

Prawns

Contrary to popular belief, Aussies do not actually strut about crowing “Throw another shrimp on the barbie!”  Shrimp are called prawns here and they’re delicious, enormous and served in soups, salads and pastas.

Vegemite

Do not let the fact that Vegemite is a “a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract” prevent you from trying it.  It is something of an acquired taste but you’ll be more likely to acquire it if you put the thinnest smear of it atop a buttered, toasted slice of white bread.
Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cultural tips for Traveling in Australia

Aussies are about three times more sarcastic than Americans are – at least the Americans that I know.  (That even includes my BFF who actually lists ‘sarcasm’ in the interests/hobbies section of her resume).

So don’t feel flustered or offended if an Aussie you don’t know teases or good-naturedly hassles you.  It’s a cultural phenomena known as “taking the piss.” Also?  “Pissed” means drunk, not “angry” and “biscuit” means cookie not “bread.”

Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cheap travel tips for Australia

Seeing the country in a camper van is lovely and about a gajillion tourists do just that. every year.  Most tourists only drive their vans one way, flying into Melbourne, driving up to Cairns and then flying out.  But what happens to all those camper vans stuck up in Cairns when people want to rent them in Melbourne?
Rental companies rent out vans for $1 a day to tourists willing to drive the vans back to their original location!  Google ‘rental relocations Australia’ or even try walking into rental agencies and asking!

Airbnb is cheaper than most hotels and nicer than a hostel. Here’s a whole apartment in Brisbane for $56 a night and here’s a gorgeous two-bedroom apartment in Adelaide for $60 a night. If you’ve never used Airbnb, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Looking for a travel guide to Australia? Click through for great Australia travel tips - ideas on what to do, where to go, and how to travel Australia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

100 words from an Aussie

From Carly: Have a BBQ on a beach, eat incredible multicultural food, go bush-walking, see the Sydney Harbour Bridge, eat amazing seafood, wear zinc and sunscreen, go snorkeling, go camping, learn to surf.

Have Vegemite on toast, drink beer in a beer garden, see live gigs in our rural pubs, go on a massive road trip, stargaze, shop, relax.

Aussies!  Tell us what we’re missing!  If you’ve traveled to Australia, what did you love?
Photos by Sam Wermut // wikipedia // Cris Saur // Jeremy Bishop // Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash