Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Lebanon Food Tour for a real Lebanese experience

Lebanese cuisine is quite popular and well known all over the world. The first thing that comes to mind is the Lebanese Meza, which is our appetizers such as Hommos, Cheese Rqaqat, Moutabbal, Kibbe Nayyeh, baba ghanouj, etc.... However, this post will not be about our Meza, this post is about specific food I'd like you to try when you're visiting Lebanon in order for you to get the real Lebanese experience, whether it's a specific food item that you can find anywhere in Lebanon, or it's specific to a restaurant or a town.

Disclaimer: There are more food I'd like you to try, many Lebanese dishes (in La Tabkha), Boneless chicken sandwich (from Bouery with extra garlic), Fish, sea food, Kebab.. all of which should spread around the world. For now, I limited them to 30 only and this was not an easy job.

p.s. A Vegan only post is coming soon as well, moreover some of the below options are vegan.

I am not the best food photographer, but I "know the taste of my mouth" (Lebanese expression that means I am just a big foodie).

Without further ado, here are my favorite 30 Foods & Drinks to try in Lebanon:

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Best tips and recommendations on things you can do in and out of Sofia

Destination: Sofia
Travel Companion: Graham
Duration: 5 days
Budget: 700$ (including flights)

The name "Sofia" came in the 14th century from the temple of Saint Sofia. It holds a lot of history having been under the Byzantine empire for a while, then occupied by the Ottomans and until  recently under the ruling of the Soviet Union. All of these brought different flavors and spices together to create something different on many levels. It created a place that is certainly worth visiting.

Sofia is quite wonderful, it has beautifully decorated restaurants with refreshing outdoor spaces, many large free for all parks, and great value for money. It's the kind of city that will definitely make you want to go back, it's quite low-key and chill, it's not Paris or London or Prague, and it's not Berlin or Antwerp, it simply is a humble city, represented but its modest and friendly residents.

Sofia - Bulgaria

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Quick Guide to visiting Barcelona

Destination: Barcelona
Travel Companions: (1st time: Jennifer; 2nd time: Maria, Sandy, Nancy and Elie; 3rd time: Bechara, Marie and the little Rafael)
Duration: 5 days
Budget: 550$ (excluding flights)

When I visited Barcelona back in 2011, I wasn't writing down any travel tips. But fortunately, I went back again two more times, so hopefully there's enough to help you plan a trip to Barcelona with some quick recommendations and must do's.

La Sagrada Familia

Vacation Do's and Don'ts

I shared this on my page:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Quick Guide to Chicago; The Windy City

Destination: Chicago
Travel Companion: My awesome Dad
Duration: 4 days
Budget: $650 pp (excluding flights; FYI internal US Flights are around 200$)

Chicago was such a pleasant surprise. I've been traveling to the U.S. for over 12 years now, and visiting at least once a year for the past 6 years. I've been to 5 states so far. So I decided to start exploring more of the U.S. and visit a new state, after all, this is a huge country with a lot to see! I picked Chicago because a friend lives there and suggested I check it out, moreover it was one direct flight away for both my dad and myself. So I went for it!

The Cloud Gate aka Chicago Bean - Millennium Park

Chicago definitely exceeded my expectations, even though the weather wasn't very nice to us and my dad and I had only packed t-shirts only with just one hoodie, yet we still made it work!

Anyway, here's a quick guide to things you can do in Chicago! If you're ever in the U.S., do check it out. I can easily say Chicago is one of my favorite American cities so far.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Cambodia: The Land of Enchantment & Complexity

Destination: Cambodia
Travel Companion: Betty & Maria
Duration: 10 days
Budget: $560 pp (including internal flight)

Cambodia was the last stop during my South East Asia month, right after Laos and Vietnam. What first led me to Cambodia was a yoga retreat I had chosen to attend in Siem Reap which was situated among temples and nature, however my plans changed once I found out my friends were going to be in Cambodia at the same time as me. 

Our itinerary mainly included spending time in two cities: Siem Reap and Sihanoukville; the latter took us to a nearby island called Koh Rong Samloem for one night, which is a smaller island than the famous Koh Rong and supposedly more exotic.

Monday, May 14, 2018

An overwhelming but equally incredible country, it's time to Vietnam

Destination: Vietnam
Travel Companion: Anthony & Pia (Ha Long Bay & Hanoi), met up again with Kate - from Laos (Hanoi), Gayle (Hoi An) and met Sue (Ninh Binh)
Duration: 14 days
Budget: $1,500 - $2,000 pp (including internal flights - they're as cheap as $25 one way)

I did everything I could to get the chance to visit Vietnam, including working with an agency that charged me triple the price of what I would have paid if I planned the whole trip by myself, just because that was the only way I was able to get a visa. Vietnam, will overwhelm you, whether it's its past or its present. But spoiler alert, when you leave Vietnam, it will leave a mark on you and you will remember moments from your trip at random.

Warning: this is a very long post, but well... it's because there is a lot to say about Vietnam. To make it a bit easier on you, you can see below the different sections I am covering, so feel free to jump to the section that is the most pertinent to your ask!

In this post I will cover the following:
  • Duration & Budget
  • Visa Info
  • Location & Itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • Transport (Bus, Train, Plane, Tour or Car)
  • Money (Cash or card)
  • One to Two Day trips in and out of Hanoi
  • Places to Visit in Dong Hoi
  • Places to Visit in Hue
  • Places to Visit in Hoi An
  • Food & Drinks
  • Vietnamese words you can use
  • Fun Facts about Vietnam and Vietnamese people 
Ninh Binh - Vietnam

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Buddhism teaches 6 things

During my trip in South East Asia last November, I took quite a bit of interest in Buddhism, and this was only a continuation of a curiosity that was sparked during my visit to Kathmandu followed by Bali. Specially when seeing the very young monks, you're going to wonder: "what's going on?" More on that later.

When I was in Vietnam, my guide was showing me around and told me that Buddhism teaches 6 things which I really liked, they're simple, and could apply to anyone really, no matter the religion, or lack of it:

  1. Keep giving and sharing
  2. Keep a clean body
  3. Keep patient
  4. Keep learning
  5. Keep moving
  6. Show respect to the elderly

Luang Prabang - Laos

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Quick Guide to Copenhagen

Destination: Copenhagen
Travel Companion: Wissam (from all the way in Canada)
Duration: 2.5 days
Budget: $530 pp (excluding flights - return flights from Beirut are around $600, internal flights / euro rail tickets in Europe can be very cheap)

As you know, there are now direct flights (3 times a week) between Beirut and Copenhagen with FlySAS and this is only going to mean one thing: my walking tour guide will be meeting many more Lebanese people! Lucky him :). Jokes aside, Copenhagen is beautiful but is equally expensive! At first glance, you will feel like this is a place that will be outside your budget, but if you plan it carefully, you will be able to manage.

Nyhavn on a sunny day - Copenhagen

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Predicting the Aurora for Photography

I am part of this awesome photography community, and the members constantly share great tips. Here's one I thought a lot would benefit from (Aurora Time-lapse by Jeff here):

By Jeff Wallace (Facebook Page) -  I remember the first time I saw the northern lights. It was sometime in the early 80s, a green glow on the horizon while traveling on a bus in northeast Minnesota. I think everyone was sleeping, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from the window.

Since moving to central Alberta in 2009, I’ve been a regular aurora photographer and happy to share my approach to predicting the aurora for photography.

From time to time, I’m asked if the auroras will be out, or when is the best season to see them. Outside the aurora chasing community, most are unaware that space weather is monitored continuously, and the auroras are more or less predictable now. Their appearance isn’t the random happenstance it once was. 

By Jeff Wallace

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Quick Guide to visiting Istanbul

I have been to Istanbul several times (around 10 times where 9 were for business)! Even though I never really got down to writing any travel tips, luckily, having the chance to go there time after time, I eventually got to see it from locals' perspective and accrued some cool tips specially when it comes to areas that aren't touristy, but still quite exquisite! Without further a due, here's your quick guide to visiting Istanbul!

Istanbul - Turkey

Friday, March 23, 2018

Quick Guide to visiting Madrid

Updated: July 2019

When I visited Madrid back in 2011, I wasn't writing down any travel tips. Luckily though, I still remember enough to share with you a quick guide to visiting Madrid. Most of these tips were actually handed over to me by Samer, my awesome friend who was my guiding force when I first started traveling :).

Puerta del sol

Friday, February 16, 2018

Things to do in Luang Prabang - Laos

Destination: Luang Prabang
Travel Companion: Solo (but met awesome people like Kate, Ashley, Gayle...)
Duration: 5 days

If you came here from my Laos blog post, then you should already have a lot of info related to Laos in terms of transport, visa, budget, tips etc.. if not and this information is important for you, kindly jump on this link!

Luang Prabang is definitely one of my ultimate favorite cities. When I booked my trip to Laos, with my first stop being Luang Prabang, I didn't have much expectations. To my great surprise, it was one of the chillest, coolest, most awesome cities I have ever been too, and I knew that only 5 minutes after being out of the airport and on the way to my hotel.

Things to do in Vang Vieng and Vientiane - Laos

Destination: Vang Vieng and Vientiane
Travel Companion: Solo
Duration: 3 days

If you came here from my Laos blog post, then you should already have a lot of info related to Laos in terms of transport, visa, budget, tips etc.. if not and this information is important for you, kindly jump on this link!

Vang Vieng

  is one for the books, still a very unspoiled land, very different from Luang Prabang. It's still raw and natural. Small and modest houses, vast lands with only a population of 25,000, most people don't speak English (reminds me of a funny story with the tuktuk driver I picked to take me to my hotel who I had to use sign language with). Anyway, it's a beautiful town, a must visit. If you somehow are able to rent a car, you will find even more fascinating areas to stop at on the way to Vang Vieng, such as the town called "Pha Tang", a quiet area, might be suitable for a retreat and just be one with nature! You will see plenty of school boys and girls commuting on their own mopeds, students no older than 14-15. On the way to the Blue Lagoon, I saw plenty of cows just roaming around the roads that sometimes we'd have to wait for them to move away so we can be on our way.

Beautiful Vang Vieng

Laos, an unspoiled country with a lot to offer

Destination: Laos
Travel Companion: Solo
Duration: 8 days
Budget: 580$ pp (excl. flights)

Luang Prabang Blogpost "Top things to do in Luang Prabang"
Vang Vieng and Vientiane Blogpost " Top things to do in Vang Vieng and Vientiane"

South East Asia Trip: Least expectations were for Laos

I had to plan a month trip that included Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, and I was expecting the least from Laos. Plot twist (you saw that coming) I fell in love with Laos, 5 minutes after getting out of Luang Prabang's airport. It immediately reminded me of the friendliness I saw in Sri Lanka, the modesty, the marvelous nature (competes with Vietnam and Indonesia) and the food was quite delicious (Vietnam would still win on the food front though).