Cairo protests: travel bloggers in the midst of violence

Protests have erupted near the Algerian embassy in Cairo after a World Cup play-off game was lost to that country’s soccer team. Eleven police officers and 24 protesters were injured yesterday and Rich Frohl, our blogger on the ground is right in the middle of it.

People protesting the results of a soccer match in the streets of Cairo

People protesting the results of a soccer match in the streets of Cairo

“‘Stop taking pictures you cunning white one or I will throw a stone at you,’ are the words one angry protester hurled at me as I tried to document the anarchy that has taken over the streets of my neighborhood here in Cairo.

On Wednesday, Egypt lost to Algeria in the game that decided which of the two would go to the world cup. I was told by my Egyptian friends that this would happen if Egypt lost, but immediately after the match, the eerie silence in the streets of usually-bustling Cairo calmed me, making me thing that Cairo might stay quiet after all. I was wrong. The anger just needed a gestation period.

We stood on a street corner as ambulance sirens and protester shouts echoed around us, trying to figure out what to do. As nervous and out of control as we felt, it was also kind of exciting.

This morning, I set out to get some pictures, assuming I would simply get to photograph the aftermath. Though definitely not as serious as last night, some were still going strong on the 26th of July Street.

As I walked out onto the street, people were turning themselves into human barricades, blocking the street (turning main street into a parking lot). People shouted pro-Egypt and anti-Algerian cheers and jumped on cars.

As we navigated the road blocks, trying to explore more of the unrest, I realized that English was going to get me a lot farther than Arabic (a first here in Egypt).

I can only imagine what is going to happen tonight. Don’t worry, I’ll be staying safe behind 10 lines of riot police in my room in a sealed-off safe zone. Not like I have much of a choice anyways…police aren’t letting folks go anywhere with any level of ease.” – Richfrohl

Travel news TravelPod in the news

Pittsburgh TravelPod meetups

On my latest foray into the good ol’ U.S. of A., I met up with a bunch of awesome TP bloggers in Pittsburgh! VisitPittsburgh was kind enough to provide me with airfare and a hotel room during my stay there.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t all get together on the same night, so I met up with everyone in the area individually.

Here’s a run down of the awesome bloggers I met in Pennsylvania:

Jeremy, aka Jeremystravels, was only in town for Halloween weekend. He’s a frequent forum poster and just came back from a whirlwind tour of Egypt.

We met up for my first taste of the famous Primanti’s sandwiches and then joined his girlfriend Angie at Clearstory Studio for an amazing hipster-tastic costume party.

Jeremy and I at Primanti's on Halloween

Jeremy and I at Primanti's on Halloween

Jeremy and his girlfriend Angie all ready for the Halloween party at Clearstory Studio

Jeremy and his girlfriend Angie all ready for the Halloween party at Clearstory Studio

On Monday, Erwin aka mrshyguy and Allison aka jessnallie came out to enjoy the nighttime view of the Pittsburgh skyline at the Grand View Saloon. Erwin is a new member of TravelPod, just checking out the scene. Allison is quite the frequent blogger herself, writing about the trip she took with her daughter to New Zealand earlier this year.

Allison, Erwin and I at the Grandview Saloon

Allison, Erwin and I at the Grandview Saloon

Allison and I at the Duquesne Incline outlook at the top of Mt. Washington

Allison and I at the Duquesne Incline outlook at the top of Mt. Washington

And then there is Ray, Mr. Roundtheworld.

Later on in the week, I met up with Ray who happened to be in the area on his big giant American road trip to Florida. He has been a TP blogger for the better part of the last three years, writing and posting about all his adventures in Asia and Australia.

He picked up a shiny new TP water bottle and we shared some beers with my Couchsurfing host, Arunan at BBT (Bloomfield Bridge Tavern)

Ray at Fat Head's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Ray at Fat Head's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Ray with my Couchsurfing host at BBT

Ray with my host at BBT

TravelPod Buzz

Chris Guillebeau’s 9 overrated tourist destinations vs. 9 alternatives

Chris Guillebeau came up with the 9 most overrated destinations and then offered alternatives to each of them.

I wanted to put them to the test, so I checked out what TravelPod bloggers thought about all 18 places.

1. Niagara Falls (Thumbs up)

Donhad thought Niagara Falls was "worth the trip"

Donhad thought Niagara Falls was "worth the trip"

“We had a whole day to do all the main tourist stops …..including a trip behind the falls, the Niagara experience (a movie in the round that rains and snows on you as you watch it). Up the space needle like tower for photos, a walk along the rapids, and of course the Maid of the Mist boat ride (WOW ….and in the front of the boat).” – Donhad

Alternative: Victoria Falls (Thumbs up)

Flolafol taking in the scenery of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Flolafol taking in the scenery of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

“Swimming in Devil’s pool, a natural pool right by the edge of the Victoria Falls, white-water rafting the Zambezi, relaxing in a great chilled backpacker, spending time with wire Zimbabwean artists teaching me how to make my own wire baobab… the program in Zambia was hard !!!” – Flolafol

2. Grand Canyon (Thumbs up)

Jimandlaura thought the Grand Canyon was impressive

Jimandlaura thought the Grand Canyon was impressive

We entered the national park around 4pm, paying $25.00 for the privilege, and stopped off at ‘Grand View’ overlook for our first sight of the Canyon. Wow…it was as awesome as it looks on the telly! It certainly dwarfs the likes of Zion Canyon. – Jimandlaura

Alternative: Sedona (Thumbs down)

Bobnkaren thought the intense tourism in Sedona was "painful"

Bobnkaren thought the intense tourism in Sedona was "painful"

“It causes almost physical pain to see stupid retail shops built so near these breathtaking cliffs. It’s criminal. It just shouldn’t be. Arizona caved on this one–this should be a national park, not the purview of the wealthy.” – Bobnkaren

3. Bahamas (Thumbs up)

Hecqs really enjoyed Bahamas' Exuma islands

Hecqs really enjoyed Bahamas' Exuma islands

About 40 miles south of Paradise Island and an hour boat ride via IslandWorld Adventures….. We reached Saddleback Cay, a part of Exuma Islands. This is another out island adventure ….. I will say the best so far I had from Nassau. Lemon shark feeding shoreside in a clear aquamarine water… we were also greeted by the local stingray….. and a little historical tour of the island….. and a moment on a sandbar…. – Hecqs

Alternative: St. Kitts & Nevis (Thumbs up)

Ri-anne.cruz loved the seaside views at Frigate Bay in St. Kitts

Ri-anne.cruz loved the seaside views at Frigate Bay in St. Kitts

“First he showed us the town of Basseterre– a gracefully revived town and capital of St. Kitts. After decades of sleepy existence, this elegant and graceful West Indies town was restored from its shabbiness. Now with careful and sensitive restoration it revealed all the original charm and preserved its Caribbean architecture.” – Ri-anne.cruz

4. Paris in the summer (Thumbs up)

Gilmoregirls was impressed by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

Gilmoregirls was impressed by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

“Arc de Triumph more impressive than I expected. Decided as this was our last nigh in Paris that we would have dinner on the Champs Elysse and this was a good decision. Waiter was the typical French stereotype, suggesting what Madam would enjoy and being very attentive. Happily food and atmosphere lived up to expectations.” – Gilmoregirls

Alternative: Paris in the winter (Thumbs up)

Clandybar found great discounts and shorter lines in Paris in February

Clandybar found great discounts and shorter lines in Paris in February

“We only stood in line for about 10 minutes at the tower, then we were up the elevator and on our way. It was just as exciting as I imagined it would be. Great views! We had sun for the first part of the afternoon but the sky got grey by about 2:30 p.m. We made it up to the very top of the tower – a bit chilly in February but totally worth it. We were lucky that we didn’t wait until Saturday as the top level was closed due to bad visibility.” – Clandybar

5. Las Vegas (Thumbs down)

Alvrez got lost amongst the Las Vegas lights

Alvrez got lost amongst the Las Vegas lights

“Afterwards we decided to show the kids the neon of the Las Vegas Strrip again, but instead got hopelessly lost (yes, even with the GPS working properly!!) and eventually gave up and went back to the hotel to bed.” – Alvrez

Alternative: Any American Indian casino (Thumbs up)

Modernoddyseus squinting at the bright lights of the American Indian casino

Modernoddyseus squinting at the bright lights of the American Indian casino

“Casinos are only fun if you make them fun. Or, if you win. Then they´re really fun. Otherwise, casinos are just a bunch of dull people who mistakenly think they´re not just throwing their money into a hole in the ground.” – Modernoddyseus

6. Dublin, Ireland (Thumbs up)

Magicwoman82 in Dublin with a Bulmer's

Magicwoman82 in Dublin with a Bulmer's

“I am just back from 6 days in Dublin and I had a wonderful time. Many of you might now that I am madly in love with Ireland (and yes with you too Fernando 😉 ) and that I have lived there for 6 months back in 2007.” – Magicwoman82

Alternative: Smaller towns in Ireland

Neason's friend, Elaine hanging around in Stewartstown, Northern Ireland

Neason's friend, Elaine hanging around in Stewartstown, Northern Ireland

“This weekend a guy in my class invited all the 3rd years up to his parents house in Northern Ireland for his birthday… The house was amazing, it used to be lord someone’s summer residence and was a very impressive Georgian manor. There were 11 bedrooms (used to be 16 but they merged some ’cause it just wasn’t necessary to have 16 bedrooms in a 5 person household), at least 3 kitchens, an indoor swimming pool, tennis court, 2 lakes, stables, gate house and a big fountain in the courtyard. And it was all furnished in antique/period furniture. – Neason

7. The Pyramids (Thumbs up)

Brianporter felt more than a sense of accomplishment in Egypt

Brianporter felt more than a sense of accomplishment in Egypt

“Few countries can match Egypt’s wealth of ancient monuments and temples; the relics of Pharaonic culture have been drawing visitors for centuries. On arrival in Port Said, we felt a sense of accomplishment, that we were about to set foot in a country that most dream of visiting. There is universal fascination with the ancient Egyptians who established a magnificent and enduring civilization that flourished from around 3000 BC to 30 BC, ruled by approximately 30 dynasties. Pyramids, pharaohs, mummies, King Tut and Cleopatra. How can you top that?” – Brianporter

Alternative: Jordan (Thumbs up)

Rose of Boydandrose floating in the Dead Sea

Rose of Boydandrose floating in the Dead Sea

“We arrive at the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea whose shores are at 420 m below sea level. It is now 3 PM and the sun is already starting to drop into the horizon. We change into our bathing suits for a quick dip in the Sea. It has a dark sandy beach leading up to the water, then a fairly rocky bottom for the first 2.5 m and then it is sandy again. We walk about 10 m into the Sea and then sit down in the water. Instantly, it feels like you are on a tire tube (except there is no tire tube). It is one of the most interesting phenomenons we have experienced. There is no way you can sink.” – Boydandrose

8. Singapore (Thumbs down)

Stevewade eating Indian in Singapore

Stevewade eating Indian in Singapore

“We are exhausted but the second we arrive we decide we need to explore. A bite to eat (tasty as fuck duck red curry!) and a beer (well a jug of tiger) later i’m down 80 quid. We decide to go to a bar full of hookers even though we’ve no money and no desire to shag hookers which was retarded. Cream’s bank card doesn’t work in any ATMs so I’m funding his trip it seems, the hookers wouldnt believe him when he said he had no money, but it was genuine. I didn’t realise Singapore was like that, the bars are full of them and they are mostly ugly and demand drinks (nae chance!). It was all a bit weird actually, I felt akward and just wanted to enjoy my pure blonde.” – Stevewade

Alternative: Malaysia (Thumbs up)

Stevewade enjoying a party in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur

Stevewade enjoying a party in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur

“This place was way off the beaten track not another tourist in sight and certainly no white people. On the way we came across this bizzare ‘shop’ which had a long rectangular pool, around this pool were families with fishing rods fishing for shrimp, what they catch they take home to eat. Was so surreal. We also saw lots of local eateries and what we’re told is a Malay pastime, lots of people gathered in a restaurant eating and watching a film. When we reached the house we found inside a multicultural group of people from all over the world who either lived there permanently or were stopping off on their travels including a couple who have been cycling round the globe for the past 4 years. We got everyone on the rum and cokes, got tanked, talked about shit, played a great card game that involved matching patterns and grabbing a stick which was rowdy fun and we found out what everyone’s favourite dinosaur was thanks to probably the strangest opening question from a newly arrived couchsurfer. An unforgettable night and then the couchsurfer stayed with us and this morning we had a traditional breakfast in china town, me eating fried duck and rice, G chinese rice porridge wqith chicken and spices then toured round KL seeing the sights, twin towers, KL towers etc, both mightly impressive.” –Stevewade

9. Dubai (Thumbs up)

Jring stretching to reach the top of the famous Burj tower

Jring stretching to reach the top of the famous Burj tower

“On the face of it Dubai is very materialistic with a strong divide between rich and poor but beyond that there is plenty of culture to be had away from the luxury resorts.” – Jring

Alternative: Oman (Thumbs up)

Tobyh on the edge of Wadi Ghul in Oman

Tobyh on the edge of Wadi Ghul in Oman

“Well, it turned out to be about three hours round-trip, but was one of the best hikes I had done for a long time. The trail almost immediately passed over the rim of the canyon, and then hugged the edge of the canyon as it slowly descended, with spectacular views of the other side of the canyon, and the peak of Jebel Shams itself above. Not for the faint of heart, the trail was barely more than a goat path about 30cm wide, with a sheer drop off to our right – looking down, the bottom of the canyon was about 1000m below! I kept my eyes on my feet. Eventually the trail ended at an abandoned village of primitive stone huts, where some adventurous people had, incredibly, created steep agricultural terraces on the canyon side. A bit ghostly in the absolute silence of the canyon, we then re-traced our steps back to the start, stopping frequently to admire the awe-inspiring views.” – Tobyh

Uncategorized

Photo of the Week: “It goes forever”, Dahab, Egypt

The perspective in this photo is priceless. Check out the man in dark clothing at the bottom of the screen. Awesome! Ebowley is a fantastic photographer, make sure you check out the rest of the pictures in her blog.

1.1243956672.it-goes-forever


We reach the summit, exhausted, heaving, gasping for air. Our muscles are screaming, our stomachs are churning and our heads are light and dizzy from the exertion. We don’t care. The pale blue of dawn is peaking through the fading night and we know we are minutes away from the sun rising. We find a spot,over looking the mountains in the distance and enjoy the serenity that is around us. No-one speaks.

This was a magical experience. Ebowley

Photo of the Week

10 man-made world wonders by Howard Hillman

Howard Hillman of the site Hillmanwonders.com puts together many lists of travel-inspiring destinations. I’m going to take a few and compare them to the experiences that TravelPod bloggers have had there. Shall we begin?

1. Pyramids of Egypt

Rucamuffin got majorly ripped off at the Great Pyramids of Egypt

Rucamuffin got majorly ripped off at the Great Pyramids of Egypt

A man with not a full set of teeth greets us and brings us into his courtyard front yard area. He proceeds to write the “prices” of riding a camel into the dirt. I’ll spare you all the sad painful details of the haggle. Basically after unloading all our US money and Egyptian Pounds, we settle on the official dirt posted price of 500 Egyptian Pounds each. Feeling a little uneasy with the deal, we mount up, ready to take on the pyramids!
Now here is the best part…….We come back to our “hotel” and told the nice guys that work here how it went. When they found out we paid 500 Egyptian Pounds EACH, they laugh and say we could have bought our own camel with just a little bit more money! Great……. – Rucamuffin

2. Great Wall of China

Akbar thought the Great Wall of China was incredible

Akbar thought the Great Wall of China was incredible

Great Wall (SPECTACULAR – must see before you die) – Akbar

3. Taj Mahal

Rachellecornel also recommends a visit to the Taj Mahal

Rachellecornel also recommends a visit to the Taj Mahal

We saw the Baby Taj, the red fort and the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was so amazing. Definitely something everyone should try and see! – Rachellecornel

4. Machu Picchu

Jwmoles at the top of the Huayna peak

Jwmoles at the top of the Huayna peak

People start lining up in the middle of the night at the gate. From the gate, it’s a two-hour hike to the Sun Gate (the first view of Machu Picchu). Many people hike fast (and even run) to the Sun Gate for a view of Machu Picchu at sunrise. We were toward the front of the line and managed to make it to the Sun Gate around sunrise for a beautiful view of Machu Picchu about a mile away and 1,000 feet down. Absolutely breathtaking.

It’s an amazing place. Ruins everywhere. Mountains everywhere. I set out for the hour hike to the top. It was very steep and required the use of fixed cables for support in some of the steeper sections. The view at the top was amazing. I spent thirty minutes on top and headed back down to the city, which by then was populated with all the lazy tourists who ride the buses into Machu Picchu. A city built for 500 was holding about 5,000. Tough. I’ve heard rumors that the government has tentative plans to place further limits on the number of peeps who can hike the trail and enter the city. – Jwmoles

5. Bali

Thebogantrekker in Bali

Thebogantrekker enjoying the facilities in Bali

We paddled down the Telaga Waja river for a good couple of hours, on what was, all in all, a pretty tame ride. For what it lacked in adrenaline it made up for twofold in scenery, the river snakes its way down between cliffs and ridges covered in jungle, with the occasional waterfall or farmers rice paddie cut into the side of the hill. We finished the course pretty much unscathed bar a killer sunburn on my legs. – Thebogantrekker

6. Angkor Wat

Harryvs traveled to Angkor Wat on his Gap Year trip

Harryvs traveled to Angkor Wat on his Gap Year trip

We ended the day climbing up to a top of a temple on a hill with thousands of other people which gave us a panoramic view of thick jungle, the sunset, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. There were so many people that we thought we’d head down before the sun actually set. – Harryvs

7. Forbidden City

Sywellfrasers inside the Forbidden City

Sywellfrasers inside the Forbidden City

We were not quite expecting what we saw at The Forbidden City as it is such a large place, the buildings are so amazing and very colourful – through one square into another and another and so on. The emperor had a building for every part of his day and life!!! There were 9,999 rooms (not surprisingly we did not visit them all!!) Hard to believe that for over 500 years the chinese people were not allowed anywhere near this city let alone enter it. – Sywellfrasers

8. Bagan Temples & Pagodas

Mannchild... in Bagan, Myanmar

Mannchild... in Bagan, Myanmar

The ancient capital of Myanmar, Bagan, is a great place to chill out. It is surrounded by green mountains, full of dusty roads, and oh yea, is the site of about 4,500 ancient temples, stupas and pagodas in a 45 square kilometer area. It is an absolutely breathtaking experience to see 11th, 12th and 13th century temples that dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. The pics do no justice to the experience of seeing this amazing place. It was one of the coolest places I’ve seen in my life. – Mannchild…

9. Karnak Temple

Sabenafrica in front of the Karnak Temple

Sabenafrica in front of the Karnak Temple

The Hypostyle Hall with its hundreds of columns was stunning and well worth seeing, but the rest was just many ruins overrun with thousands of inappropriately dressed (although some single men and women i know would disagree) tourists from Eastern Europe. – Sabenafrica

10. Teotihuacan

Meluebke on top of Teotihuacan's pyramid of the sun

Meluebke on top of Teotihuacan's pyramid of the sun

After an amazing lunch, we traveled to the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, a nearby district of Mexico City. The Pyramid of the Sun is the 3rd largest pyramid in the world. It is claimed to have been built by the Aztec Indians but, as our amazing tour guide, Armando, explained, this is false because the structure and details of this pyramid do not match with other Aztec structures. Thus many speculate that the Aztecs were trying to claim the pyramid as theirs when, in reality, no one is quite sure what tribe constructed it. – Meluebke

Featured blogs

10 Breathtaking Drives Around the World

ABC News featured some of the most spectacular roads around the world. Here are the top 10 with experiences from TravelPod bloggers. What’s your favourite drive?

1. Karakoram Highway, China

Markwilliams84 ventured by bus on the Karakoram Highway

Markwilliams84 ventured by bus on the Karakoram Highway

The Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved border crossing in the world and the highest point on the Karakoram Highway. The roadway across the pass was completed in 1982, and has superseded the unpaved Mintaka Pass and Kilik Pass as the primary passage across the Karakorum Range. Due to the altitude of the Pass its closed for most of the year because of the snow, its only possible to cross between May 1 and 15th October and that’s if you are lucky and the weather is good. Very reassuringly the name Khunjerab Pass is derived from Wakhi for ‘Blood Valley’ because for centuries this crossing was used by caravans plodding down the Silk road where locals took advantage of the terrain, robbed the caravans and slaughtered their merchants. – Markwilliams84

2. Western Desert, Egypt: Cairo to Kharga

Wwatling took a tour of Egypt

Wwatling took a tour of Egypt

The major form of transportation appears to be horse carriage for us tourists- there are very few cars/taxis. Many vendors though all with great offers- but selling much the same stuff. – Wwatling

3. Grand Canyon, U.S.: Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

One quarter of Hally_ollie at the Grand Canyon

One quarter of Hally_ollie at the Grand Canyon

From this point you can see the whole of the canyon and also the desert as well. Along the drive there were signs to watch out for mountain lions but thankfully we didn’t see any. – Hally_ollie

4. Alsace Wine Route, France: Strasbourg to Mulhouse

Bruno.toutain cycled in the Alsace wine region

Bruno.toutain cycled in the Alsace wine region

Cycling the “Route des Vins” takes you through the scenic, hillside vineyards and flowery little villages that dot this picturesque landscape. All in all, combining the region, the wine, and the cycling, you’ll get one of the most amazing and sensory experiences you could dream of! – Bruno.toutain

5. Dalmatian Coast, Croatia: Zadar to Dubrovnik

Randyandchrissy took the long way around the Dalmatian Coast

Randyandchrissy took the long way around the Dalmatian Coast

This place is beautiful. The Coastal road is worth it. You’re riding on this road that’s not too high off the water with a mountain on your left side. Nice. – Randyandchrissy

6. Savannah Way, Australia: Cairns to Broome

Fishtails04 drove through many creeks on the Savannah Way

Fishtails04 drove through many creeks on the Savannah Way

Despite attempts to seal all the gaps with tape, the fine powder had found its way in and coated the car’s contents, including ourselves – luckily I get a kick out of being grubby while camping! – Fishtails04

7. Causeway Coastal, Ireland: Belfast to Lame

Mlbalmeo exploring the causeway coast

Mlbalmeo exploring the causeway coast

The fickle rain gave way to glorious sun, and we got to experience the beauty that the north coast of Ireland is known for. Today we left Belfast and moved to our northernmost destination, Portstewart, where we got to see the so-called eighth wonder of the world, The Giant’s Causeway. – Mlbalmeo

8. South Africa: Cape Town to Mpumalanga

Elopfamily enjoyed the South African scenery

Elopfamily enjoyed the South African scenery

For the next day and a half, we explored the nearby, and very scenic, Blyde River Canyon area. This included such gems as God’s Window, the weird Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Pinnacle, and the Berlin and Lisbon Falls. The beautiful scenery was enhanced by the early morning mists that would drift through, often below our vantage point. – Elopfamily

9. Southern India: Cochin to Kovalam

Tomandanna-rose motorcycle along the mountains to Cochin

Tomandanna-rose motorcycle along the mountains to Cochin

We met the boys in Fort Cochin, after a mASSIVe but beautiful 12hr ride through stunning mountain scenery and lush tea plantations all the way from Madurai, (coincidentally meeting up with the Germans for lunch and noting the considerable wealth and abundance of tasteless pastel villas in Kerala). – Tomandanna-rose

10. Beach Highway, Mauritania: El Mamghar to Nouakchott

Hmax driving through the Mauritanian Desert

Hmax driving through the Mauritanian Desert

Our tarmac road disappeared and the truck bogged for the first time. This was promptly followed by another bog in which we all slowly learned the technique of “sand-matting” the truck across 150 metres of soft sand – which involved digging out the wheels, placing sand mats (steel 2m tracks) in front of the wheels, and moving the truck far enough along the track to allow placement of another sandmat….a slow and exhausting process in 39 degree heat. – Hmax

Hot places Uncategorized

Photo of the week: Snorkel Site, Dahab, Egypt

I love the simplicity of this shot. Just the boat, the rock, the sand, sea and sky. Perfect.

freedom_07-08.1225217100.104_1

The highlight of Dahab is without a doubt, the snorkelling. This is an absolute underwater extravaganza, some of nature’s most magnificent work. We snorkelled nearly everyday and in this time went to the sites of The Blue Hole, Three Pools, Moray Garden, Golden Blocks and The Islands and also visited the spectacular Ras Mohammad National Park at the very southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula near Sharm-El Sheik.Inoursuitcase

Photo of the Week

Ginny and Tavi’s lifechanging trip around the world

This week’s featured blog is about a Canadian couple who took a trip around the world last year.

They finally came back in May and their blog is now complete.

On a trip that took them through Europe, parts of Africa and a big chunk of Asia, they learned a lot about the world and themselves.

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Here are some excerpts from their thoughtful blog:

We think that everyone on earth lives on a certain plane of existence: some higher, but most on lower levels. At the lower levels, concerns are about the simple problems of existence and so they are universal: what will we eat tomorrow? will I be loved? how do I acquire more power?

From Marrakesh to Chicago most people live in a world filled with these concerns and it is only the details that are different.

It may sound presumptuous but we find that backpackers generally live on a higher level: a thin elite of romantics scattered around the world. The great ideas of the future may indeed come about in the backpacker ghetto of Khao San in Bangkok, or in the lodges of Nepal or the coffeshops of Amsterdam. Time will tell.

One from Munich, Germany:

Speaking of racial tensions, we noticed a fair bit of that in modern Munich. We have never seen such a concentration of fundamentalist Muslims in any western city to date, and they do not seem to mix very well with the Germans.

The city seems to be going through a new bout of ghettoization, which is evident downtown in the fact that cafes are the almost exclusive domain of Muslims while the Germans congregate in the beer gardens.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that communities which have a very different culture, live side by side but don´t mix in social situations will sooner or later come to a conflict. Which considering the historical precedents of this place can be quite worrying.

Another from Cairo, Egypt:

We don’t want to sound like we are complaining, but unemployment and low salaries for those who are employed have created a real problem with the tourist industry here in Egypt.

Most Egyptians are very nice people who go out of their way to help you, but unfortunately the average tourist on vacation who only goes to certain touristy spots, will probably not get to deal with any of them. Instead, what the tourist will get is a seemingly constant barrage of people (touts) who call you their friend, use the same canned jokes over and over again, and who want to get your money in one way or another (and usually not in a fair way either).

Nowadays, we have learned to laugh at the whole situation.

You can find the rest of their blog on TravelPod

Featured blogs

Top 10 travel videos on TravelPod

There are lots of interesting travel videos on TravelPod.com. Here are the ones getting the most clicks this month:

1. Megan’s Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Smachim took a short video in Megan's Bay

Smachim took a short video in Megan's Bay

Although the island has extraordinary geographical features (Magen’s Bay, views of the BVI, etc), we didn’t like the hectic traffic, the pushy vendors and the crowded beaches.Smachim

2. Mumbai, India

Angiedarren gets a head massage on Chowpatty Beach

Angiedarren gets a head massage on Chowpatty Beach

After saying no multiple times, Darren relented when the price tumbled and got a head massage for 25p. The masseur gave him a good pummeling. At the end, just when he thought it was all over, his head was tipped to one side and his neck yanked sharply. Darren shouted ow, Angie shouted oh, and his neck made a loud crunch. The masseur was unperturbed and proceeded to do the same on the other side. Darren felt a new man afterwards.- Angiedarren

3. New York, United States

Orizarska raised money for girls' schools in Asia with this slide show

Orizarska raised money for girls' schools in Asia with this slide show

For one night only in New York , we have collected enough money to send 34 girls to school for a year. A year is enough to learn to read and to do simple math. Imagine a life with and life without those skills. – Orizarska

4. Okayama, Japan

Kateinjapan's outrageous Naked Man Festival video

Kateinjapan's outrageous Naked Man Festival video

Eyo is a 14-day New Year ritual during which monks of the Shingon sect pray for a year of bountiful harvest and good fortune. On the 14th day, amulets (an object that protects a person from trouble) said to guarantee a good year were presented to the elders representing the people. But an increasing amount of believers began to gather for these amulets. People fought until their clothes tore off!! Thus the paper amulets were replaced by wooden sticks which were tossed into the crowd. Good fortune is bestowed to those who catch these sticks. By the end of the 19th century, the event had evolved into the current style, being held naked (not completely but rather in a ‘thong’ that looks similar to that worn by sumo wrestlers). Recently, the festival has been attracting over 10,000 naked men who thrust themselves into the crowd upon the release of these wooden charms at midnight. Despite the chilling temperature, the intense fight produces steam that casts a mysterious spell on this winter event.Kateinjapan

5. Phuket, Thailand

Surfy_sarah riding a mechanical bull

Surfy_sarah riding a mechanical bull

The night life is very good! A huge number of bars & clubs to choose from. I met a couple of dutch girls, an Aussie called Sam & a couple of Americans & have been hanging out with them. Mainly drinking at Happy Night Bar where ladyboys dance on a podium all night! All good clean fun!!!Surfy_sarah

6. Koh Samui, Thailand

Lisaandpaul watched an unbelievable snake fight in Thailand

Lisaandpaul watched an unbelievable snake fight in Thailand

Oh my goodness the snake guys are crazy, they pissed the snakes off so much and then got out of the way when they striked. quite scary.Lisaandpaul

7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Globedecker falls off a surfboard at an indoor waterpark

Globedecker falls off a surfboard at an indoor waterpark

Katie redeemed her birthday gift from me today, an afternoon at Wild Wadi Water Park! (wadi is the Arabic word for creek or stream) See the videos to laugh at our exploits with the surf rides.Globedecker

8. Doha, Qatar

Andreadd caught the call to prayer in Doha

Andreadd caught the call to prayer in Doha

This video is around the corner from where I’m staying. i was walking home from the grocery store at prayer time and I was the only one on the street. All of a sudden the muezzin’s call to prayer sounded from all the mosques in the area.andreadd

9. Oaxaca, Mexico

Johnb22 witnessed a big dance party in Oaxaca

Johnb22 witnessed a big dance party in Oaxaca

Speaking of the Oaxcans – what a friendly bunch! I’ve been met with nothing but smiles and politeness. It’s such a simple place – the town’s people seem perfectly content going about the day’s business, which, from what I’ve seen, consists mostly of two things. 1} chillin around the Zocolo {center plaza}, chatting and generally kickin back, or 2} retailing food, drink and-or clothes. – Johnb22

10. Cairo, Egypt

Aszliross took a video of the traffic in Cairo, complete with mood music

Aszliross took a video of the traffic in Cairo, complete with mood music

We ran out of time before we were burnt out, and we headed back to the van to struggle through traffic back to our hotel. There are a couple very appropriate videos that give you a slight idea of the traffic ‘rules’ in Cairo. – Aszliross

TravelPod Buzz

5 Best Places to Live Overseas

Matador’s Travelers Notebook came out with this short list of the best places to live outside of America.

What do you think?

Best Small City: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Elagid loves the architecture in Ljubljana

Elagid loves the architecture in Ljubljana

Ljubljana is a nice city with a variety of architectural styles. – Elaqid

Best Surf and Sand: Dahab, Egypt

Elizacass relaxing in Dahab

Elizacass relaxing in Dahab

Years ago this used to be a big hippie town, and still is by most standards. But as times change and always seem to go more upscale, so goes out the more casual way of things, and in comes the more modern style to attract more of a diverse crowd. It is still very laid back here, no high rises, and still very poor villages just around the corner from where all the tourists stay and hang out. – Elizacass

Best Hot New City: Shanghai, China

Missyjoymel enjoying Shanghai

Missyjoymel enjoying Shanghai

If I didn’t know I was in China, I’d have thought I was in a nice suburb of Paris. Really! – Missyjoymel

Best Adrenaline High: San Gil, Colombia

Juddy79 caving in San Gil

Juddy79 caving in San Gil

San Gil is working its way to becoming an adventure capital of South America. You name it, you can do it here. – Juddy79

Best Big City: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Karsenault getting ready for the bar in Buenos Aires

Karsenault getting ready for the bar in Buenos Aires

There is so much going on and I’m already exhausted from walking around for seven hours today! – Karsenault

Hot places

Top 10 most disappointing tourist spots in the world

eTurbo News recently listed the 10 most disappointing tourist spots in the world. TravelPodders seemed to disagree with all but one of the 10 on the list. Here’s what they have to say:

1. The Eiffel Tower – TravelPod verdict: Not so disappointing

Jcharwell's dinner in Paris

Jcharwell's dinner in Paris

“I then headed to the Eiffel Tower lawn to enjoy some vino and watch the sunset. After a bottle of wine and a spectacular view, I headed for the top to the Eiffel Tower.”Jcharwell

2. The Louvre (Mona Lisa) – TravelPod verdict: Not so disappointing

Mona Lisa at the Louvre

Mona Lisa at the Louvre

“A week or so ago, I had he pleasure of finally seeing Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. Admire from afar, like a true beauty, is all that one can do – but it was amazing none the less.”Klauridsen
3. Times Square: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Times Square with Kristenjohn

Times Square with Kristenjohn

“We had a wander around all the streets, we went to M & M World, possibly the best place on Earth!!”Kristenjohn
4. Las Ramblas, Spain: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Kwt1981 in Las Ramblas

Kwt1981 in Las Ramblas

“We all loved the area around the Museum of Modern Art, Las Ramblas -artsy, small winding cobblestone streets, shops, cafe’s, old, young – fantastico!” – Kwt1981

5. Statue of Liberty: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Paulandcarolyn at the Statue of Liberty

Paulandcarolyn at the Statue of Liberty

“Today we went to see the Statue Of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum on the ferry. Not the best day weather wise – very overcast and hazy. Very interesting though and worth the trip.”Paulandcarolyn
6. Spanish Steps, Rome: TravelPod verdict – Big disappointment

Christineraymo at the Spanish Steps

Christineraymo at the Spanish Steps

“We walked to the Spanish Steps, not a very big deal, just a bunch of kids sitting on an really big staircase. Stairs were about the last things we wanted to see at that point.” – Christineraymo

7. The White House: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Nietsreuef at the White House

Nietsreuef at the White House

“Architecture here is magnificent. The Capitol, White House, Museums, Treasury Department, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, Old Post Office, to name a few of the best.”Nietsreuef
8. The Pyramids, Egypt: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Justinrowe in Egypt

Justinrowe in Egypt

“There’s no denying that The Pyramids are spectacular. It is just astounding how the Ancient Egyptian managed to construct such enormous monuments.”Justinrowe
9. The Brandenburg Gate, Germany: TravelPod Verdict – Not so disappointing

The Brandenburg Gate at night

The Brandenburg Gate at night

“From there we headed through the impressive Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag, the German Parliament.”Meganandkevin

10. The Leaning Tower of Pisa: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

“Chris and I were the very first people to climb the tower today and what a spectacular sight it was to behold Tuscany at such a young hour of morning.” – Katieandchris

Hot places

Cairo bombing victim was on highschool trip

One of the unfortunate victims of the latest bombings in the Middle East was a teenager on a school trip from France. It took place on Sunday in the Khan el-Khalili marketplace.

Tourists flock to this place right in the middle of Islamic Cairo to sip coffee and smoke shisha late into the night.

Some TravelPod bloggers were there too, soaking up the history, scarfing down dinner and just taking in the scene. Here a bunch of interesting blogs from their trips:

TravelPod forum regular exploreamerica haggled his way through the “souq” and gives us a little bit of background to the famous centre of commerce. He notes that even in the distant past, the market was a “center for subversive groups”:

Khan el Khalili market

Khan el Khalili market

“The market was built in 1382 by the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili in the heart of the Fatimid City. Together with the al-Muski market to the west, they comprise one of Cairo’s most important shopping areas. But more than that, they represent the market tradition which established Cairo as a major center of trade. Perhaps, this vary market was involved in the spice monopoly controlled by the Mamluks, which encouraged the Europeans to search for new routes to the East and led Columbus, indirectly, to discover the Americas. During its early period, the market was also a center for subversive groups, often subject to raids before the Sultan Ghawri rebuilt much of the area in the early 16th century. Regardless, it was trade which caused Cairo’s early wealth, even from the time of the Babylon fort which was often a settlement of traders.”

-from “touring Cairo (religious sites and more)” – Cairo, Egypt

Bradandsandi toured around Africa this January, and had a few action-packed days in Cairo:

Brad eating in the Khan el-Khalili market

Brad eating in the Khan el-Khalili market

“With 22 million people, Cairo would be a bit intimidating on our own. We arrived at about 4 pm on Thursday, and spent most of the evening walking across bridges over the Nile, looking for a restaurant (and trying to avoid getting run over…. driving is insane here). The Nile was beautiful at night. Friday we toured the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, the ancient capital of Memphis, and the oldest pyramid at Saqqara. Friday night went to the huge night bazaar Khan el-Khalili.”

-from “Cairo, Egypt” – Cairo, Egypt

Alison and Ben, aka Fifoota stopped at the market as part of their around the world trip last year. They described the chaotic atmosphere surrounding the place at night.

Khan el-Khalili marketplace at night

Khan el-Khalili marketplace at night

We were reminded once again of how chaotically people can drive when they believe their lives are simply in the hands of god and have nothing to do with how they operate a vehicle. We took our lives in our hands by taking a taxi across town to visit the Khan El Khalili bazaar … We spent an hour or so soaking up the atmosphere, with locals of all ages out celebrating Ramadan, shop keepers selling their wares, the scent of spices in the air and men smoking their shisha pipes in cafes. We even bargained for a few kitschy souvenirs, which ultimately were very cheap.

-from “Farewell to Egypt” – Cairo, Egypt

TravelPod in the news

Caribbean Expert Profile: Guy Paul Dubois

This week’s feature Local Expert is Guy Paul Dubois, aka troispistoles a resident of Tortola, an island in the British Virgin Islands.

As you might expect, aside from traveling, he loves surfing and diving. You can find him doling out valuable insider information on the Caribbean islands in the TravelPod forums.

Guy Paul in San Gil, Colombia

Guy Paul in San Gil, Colombia

Why did you become a Local Expert?

Because I like to help other travelers to make the best of their trips. I know I would love to have somebody there for me if I was going to a new place. I have been living in the British Virgin Islands for 6 years, so I know everything that can be done there!

What are the best and worst things about living in the Caribbean?

The weather is the best part for sure, we don’t have to worry about rain too much. Going on boat trips on week-ends whenever we want is also amazing! The worst things have to be the service and driving. It’s impossible to get good service, anywhere! It took me 3 months once to get hooked to the internet. Same in restaurants! When I come back to Canada, I am always amazed at how fast we get food. As for the driving, on top of bad drivers, there are cows and chickens roaming the streets. Not to mention that drunk driving isn’t illegal in the BVI…

What are the top five or 10 things for travelers to do in the Caribbean?


1. Boat trip around the islands, enough to see loads of things!
2. One day on Virgin Gorda, island close to Tortola (main island), where you can see giant boulders on the beach.
3. One day on Jos Van Dyke, a nice island, with its famous bars and white sand beach.
4. Spending one night at the Willy T, a boat-bar, where you can party like crazy.
5. Diving at the HMS Rhone, a ship wreck really famous in the world, where you can get inside.
6. Spend a week-end on Anegada, a remote island where you can eat really fresh lobsters.
7. Watch a sunset at Bananakeet, drinking a special cocktail!
8. Go to Sky world, to see a 360 view of Tortola.
9. Go to Bomba Shack on a Full Moon Party, to see people from all around, and try their drinks made with magic mushrooms
10. Just spend the day on a near empty beach, one of the nicest you will ever see (Little Bay, Lambert Bay, Smugglers Bay etc.)

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

My best experience would be the Inca Trail. I was with a realy good group, we had a lot of fun. I was so tired at the end, but to arrive at Machu Picchu is so magical, it was worth it! My worst experience would be going to Tai Shan in China (south of Beijing) to climb the mountain. Everybody was stopping to take pictures of us all the time, which was funny at the beginning. At the end, nobody could speak English, we couldn’t get a train ticket to go to X’ian and this guy stopped to take a picture of me! That was too much for me! We had to go back track to Beijing by bus, because that’s the only word they could understand!

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I have to say to move to the British Virgin Islands. I just got out of University, my English was not so good, and I moved to this place where I had no friends. It was really hard the first 6 months, but now I just love it.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?

Everywhere!! I am planning to go to Nepal, India, Thailand, Egypt…. Don’t know where to start!!!!

What do you do with most of your time?

Planning new trips! Searching for travel deals! And work work work!

What’s a typical day like for you?

Wake up in the morning, go to work, then go out with friends. There are not much to do on Tortola at night, but to go out! The cinema is still under construction after 4 years! Week-ends are always special activities, like boat trips or week-ends on other islands.

Got questions about the Caribbean?
Come to the TravelPod forums to get your answers.
See you there,
Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager
TravelPod Local Expert profiles