Photo Friday: Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech

jemaa el fna marrakech morocco games

When I visited Marrakech, Morocco, one night I met up with my lovely friend and fellow travel blogger, Jill, and her beau Mike for a night in the square: Jemaa el Fna.

There’s so much to see in Jemaa el Fna, at all hours of the day. You’ll find people touting spices and cookies; orange juice stands; women who will chase you down and try to put henna on you; snake charmers; pop-up restaurants; monkey handlers; and cross-dressing men who dance in front of audiences. But one very popular past-time seems to be this odd game where you have a weighted ring tied to the end of a string that dangles from a wooden pole. You then try to get this ring around the cap and neck of a bottle of soda, which are arranged in a circle, and if you get it–you get to keep the soda! It’s a pretty inexpensive game, but also a mildly irritating one because it’s a lot more difficult than you’d think! The men who run the stands make it look so easy, but stand around and watch the people try it for a few minutes and you’ll see that it’s not. The guy who ran the place even explained to us how he did it, but none of us could figure it out.

If you’re hanging out in Jemaa el Fna, spare a few dihram and give it a shot!

Like the photography on Meganotravels? Check out my Etsy shop to order prints!

Best of Austin: Tacos, Bars and Restaurants, and Entertainment

best of austin

It’s been almost exactly one year since I left Austin behind in search of something that fits me a bit better, and while I haven’t quite found it yet, I feel like I’m well on my way. I don’t miss Austin with the great pangs of sadness that I thought I would, but there are a handful of things that I miss on an almost daily basis and I wish I could take them with me wherever I go. So, with that, I’ve compiled a list of what I think is the best of Austin. If you’re headed to Austin, be sure to check out the following places!

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Photo Friday: Northern Lights

northern lights thingvellir iceland

Well, the Northern Lights season has officially begun, and because of that, I thought it’d be appropriate to share a photo I took of the Northern Lights in Iceland last October.

If you’ll recall, I spent a week zipping around the South coast of Iceland trying to spot the elusive Northern Lights. It finally paid off on my last night there. It was spectacular–and it wasn’t even one of the high activity nights. Seeing them dance in the sky above me was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life, and I look forward to the day when I get to see it happen again.

I’m working on a post right now about how to shoot the Northern Lights, so be on the lookout for that if you’re headed somewhere to spot them! It’s not terribly hard to catch them, it just takes a little trial and error to get the right settings!

Ethics of Travel

boat dubai fountain dubai mall burj khalifa

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.

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Non-Touristy Things to do in Philadelphia

non-touristy things to do in philadelphia

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.

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Photo Friday: Marrakech Souq

marrakech souq marrakesh souk

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.

Best Travel Quotes (in Photos!)

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 left my heart in so many places

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.)

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Camping in the Sahara

sahara desert morocco camel shadows

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.

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Photo Friday: Milky Way

milky way photography

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?

Like the photography on Meganotravels? Check out my Etsy shop to order prints!

South Philly Food Tour

where to eat in south philly south philly food tour with jeet yet?

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.

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