When I visited Dubai a few months ago, I ran across quite a few naysayers; people who disagreed with my choice to travel there because of their moral objections to the city. As a traveler (and wanna-be anthropologist), my goal is to visit and observe a place and its people. I am not there to pass judgment or to tell people how to do things better or differently. It’s my belief that every country–its culture and its people–are different and should be respected for those differences. But given the response I got from some when I decided to go to Dubai, I began to think about the ethics of travel–both with regards to Dubai and in general.
No matter what you’re into, Philadelphia has a ton of things to see, do, and eat. But if you’re sick of the normal tourist trail and want to see something that won’t have crazy lines or crowds (i.e., the Liberty Bell), check out these equally awesome options.
When I traveled through Morocco, I made a point to stay within the medina in every city in which I visited. While that meant a lot of chaos, cacophony, getting lost, and sometimes being overwhelmed, it also provided me with what I felt was an “authentic” Moroccan experience. I loved meandering through the souqs and seeing how regular people lived, how they shopped, and how they relaxed. This photo was taken early in the morning in Marrakech before the hordes of people filled the souq. I loved the light streaming through the thatched roof and the sort of quiet calm before the storm. The mornings and evenings were my favorite times of day in Marrakech–the mornings for their quiet beauty and the evenings when the streets and square were teeming with people.
It’s no secret that I am kind of obsessed with Pinterest. I spend a lot of time on there curating my boards and finding new places to discover and quotes to inspire wanderlust (such as the one below, which I found on Pinterest).
I decided to try my hand at creating a few of my own (using others’ quotes, of course). Here’s a selection of what I think are some of the best travel quotes around! (And you’ll find the location of the photo afterward.)
The van cruised along, seven of its passengers asleep, leaving just me, our driver, and tour guide, Ismael, to take in our surroundings. They’d done this tour hundreds of times, but for me, it was the very first time I laid eyes on the Sahara–and it felt like a welcome sight after the past couple of days making it there.
My friend Chris and I booked a Sahara Desert camping tour based on a recommendation from his uncle and because of a blog post I’d read a year or so prior to my trip to Morocco. It was the thing I was most looking forward to–riding camels, camping under the stars in the desert, and sitting around a fire. But the journey there was a rough one. The driver, who’d navigated those roads and knew them like the back of his hand, took them at breakneck speeds–whizzing past other cars and whipping around hairpin curves. The control-freak in me was white-knuckling it through–holding on for dear life and, despite my lack of religion, calling upon Morocco’s deity, Allah, to keep us from toppling over the edge and plummeting to our untimely deaths. Others in the van were worse off than I was–reaching for the plastic bags that held their souvenirs just to have something to vomit into.
Two weeks ago I visited upstate Pennsylvania for a cousin’s wedding. Before I left, I had a thought: I’ll be in the middle of nowhere, with no service, surrounded by woods. After a bit of research, I found that the area of Pennsylvania where I was headed was one of the darkest areas in the state. I was beyond excited to try my hand at shooting the Milky Way. I’d tried my hand at star photography in Iceland and Morocco, but hadn’t quite figured it out, so I was bound and determined this time. After stopping to buy my third tripod (I always forget I’m missing a part that connects the camera to the tripod until I actually need a tripod and don’t have time to order a part), I waited for the sun to go down, set up, and was grateful that the moon wasn’t going to be anywhere in sight that night. The sky was mostly clear and I could see the Milky Way with my naked eye, so I was hopeful my photos would turn out. After my first couple of shots, I was thrilled to see the images even before post-processing.
This was one of my four favorite shots from that evening. It took a bit of editing to get it exactly how I wanted it, but I am so happy with the way it turned out and cannot wait to try my hand at it again! What do you think?
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Over 1.5 million people call Philadelphia home, and of that number, around 600,000 are immigrants. That means one amazing thing in my eyes: diversity. Of culture, of language, and especially food.
I visited Philadelphia last weekend with one mission: go on a food tour of South Philly with my friends Dana and Chad, who run the awesome podcast, Jeet Yet?, highlighting and reviewing some of the tastiest eats in the City of Brotherly Love. We tossed around a lot of ideas for this food tour and ultimately settled on one that pleased both of us: exploring the cuisines of the burgeoning ethnic groups moving into South Philly. The area was originally Jewish, then Italian, but has now seen an influx of Southeast Asians and Mexicans, meaning the food choices have grown beyond pizza and pastrami.
So, we spent about seven hours walking roughly nine miles, stopping at one eatery after another, tasting as much as we could before our stomachs, feet, and wallets started to feel the impact.
There are all kind of gadgets out there to make travel easier–some are completely worthless while others are almost essential, especially for longer-term trips. There are five things that I refuse to leave home without if I am traveling for more than a long weekend (or a beach-only vacation). Everything I travel with is relatively compact and lightweight as that’s imperative for me when packing. Additionally, I throw all of this stuff in my carry-on so that I always have it at arm’s length. So, what are my five essential electronic gadgets for travel?
I hate heights. It’s always been one of my biggest fears. I get this trembling in my legs, my stomach jumps to my throat, and I get so lightheaded that my eyes sort of gloss over and little stars twinkle and flutter around. And what makes this fear even worse? When the thing that’s high in the air isn’t totally secure or shake-free. Couple all of those things together and you’d quickly see that suspension bridges are basically the bane of my existence. When I was a kid, I loved them. I walked across the Mile High Swinging Bridge without so much as a second thought–wind blowing in my hair as I practically skipped and giggled my way across. Cut to years later. I was doing a tour at Gumbalimba Park in Roatan, Honduras, where my main goal was to cuddle with some monkeys, and part of the tour requires you to cross a suspension bridge. It’s not especially high or anything, but high enough, and it sways and shakes with every single movement. I never know quite how to handle these situations: walk as fast as possible just to get it over with or take it slowly as to not cause unnecessary movement. I stayed a few feet behind my sister and guide so that the bridge didn’t have quite so much bounce and I kept my eyes on my shoes and my hands on the ropes after snapping a few photos at the beginning. For years I’ve been dreaming of doing a canopy walk in Costa Rica, but after this short suspension bridge, I know I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to overcoming my fear of heights.
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A few months ago, I watched the Bollywood Film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (or You Don’t Live Twice) for the first time and it inspired some serious wanderlust for a Spanish road trip. The culture (and dialect) varies in different regions throughout the country, which adds even more interest for me. I think I could spend quite a bit of time driving around Spain, trying to delve into all the different regions and discover something I love in each. Given that I don’t really have that kind of time right now, here are the top five places I’d see on a road trip through Spain!