Ain Sokhna, Egypt: Beach Thursday video and naughty Arab lesson

It is Beach Thursday and I have a video that will teach you something naughty 😉 I didn’t even dare to post it on my Travel the Middle East site! See it until the end, as the lesson is on the last half of the Ain Sokhna video:

Beach time! Naughty Arab lesson found at 1:55

Yes, I just taught you the middle finger or Arab sign language for “f**k you.” You know, travel brings many things with it. I can’t just paint a pink picture on my blog every single time. Keepin’ it real! 😉

About Ain Sokhna, Egypt

Literally meaning “hot spring” in Arabic, Ain Sokhna is located in the Eastern Desert and happens to be the highest peak there (Wikipedia). It is a popular beach spot, but mostly to Egyptians. In fact, I didn’t even see one other foreigner during my visit, except for the fellow Couchsurfers that were with us. As I was told by my host Moussa, the resort we stayed at is of mostly middle-class Egyptians.

Photo time!

For your entertainment, photos of the grounds. Enjoy! (Note: Yes, I know I blatantly ignored all rules in regard to how to dress in Egypt or any conservative country, but I was told by Moussa this was a safe spot to wear my tank top. And, as a Latina, feeling ubber liberated, I so did…!)

Ain Sokhna beach, Egypt

Me at Ain Sokhna beach. The sandy part

Ain Sokhna sandy beach, Egypt

Ain Sokhna sandy beach teni (again)

Sokhna mountains

Barren mountains, too! This is from the rooftop of Moussa’s apartment, with his cousin and fellow traveler Jaimie (Aussie)

Sokhna resort view

Ain Sokhna resort view from our friend’s flat

Sokhna hookah

Hookah time! We went to a café/resort on the road from Ain Sokhna to Cairo

Have you been to any off-the-beaten-path spots in Egypt?

Travel bucket list compilation and photos: It’s #TravelBL time!

It’s that time of the week again: Travel Bucket List Wednesday, aka #TravelBL! Inspiring each other to discover new destinations, events, and all things TRAVEL. I’m happy to announce that I received (and found!) some travel bucket list posts around Twitter and the web, so today we’ll read about the travel dreams of others besides yours truly 😉 Hope you enjoy them!

Pinterest travel bucket list, Portugal

My favorite image off Raul's visual travel bucket list - Portugal is on my list now!

Raul’s travel bucket list

Raul (@ilivetotravel) sent me his travel bucket list via Twitter. What I love most is how he has listed his items on his blog (link above), but he also has a visual travel bucket list! Raul “pinned” the destinations he still wishes to cross off on Pinterest. His image compilation actually inspired me to add some countries and regions to my own list, such as Portugal, Spain’s Basque country, Mali, and a Hill of Crosses in Lithuania.

Tuvalu, travel bucket list

Tuvalu, 350.org campaign (Photo: Nacanieli Speigth, Flikr)

On Kel’s travel bucket list: Tuvalu

While Aussie Kel (@kelaussie29) didn’t share her full list with us, she did introduce us to an unknown country (to me anyway) until today. Her tweet was a response to a post about “15 least visited countries that tourists need to visit more often,” saying Tuvalu is not “too far away.” Would be exciting to know if she means that she will visit this year, as we will want to hear all about it! This little dot on the map is located in the South Pacific and, presumably, would be one of the very first places to be submerged (aka disappear) if sea levels keep rising due to climate change. I would love to experience that culture before it’s too late! You can reach Tuvalu via Fiji, by the way 😉

Karla's travel bucket list

Photo collage: Karla Aguilar (travellersoul76.wordpress.com)

Karla’s travel bucket list – just updated!

Just updated, Karla’s list (@Travellersoul76) has many of the usual suspects: Visit Thailand, Bali, the Taj Mahal, and Petra. My favorite item off her list, though, is to publish a photo on National Geographic For some reason, that line made me reflect and think how relatively easy it is for freelancers today to reach such high-end publications. Social media, contests, and partnerships between travel agencies and publications are some things that have made all this possible. It also reminded me that one should reach for the sky, work hard, and always put yourself out there. With the Internet, you never know who’s watching! 😉 (aaand I’m sorry I just went on a small tangent haha).

Socotra Island, travel bucket list

I'm sure Michael missed this beauty! (Socotra Island, photo by Soqotra2007, Flikr)

Michael’s (sort of) reflective travel bucket list

Tweeted as “A bucket (list) for Monsieur” by @traveldudes, Michael wrote a post about his favorite, and least favorite, destinations and experiences whilst traveling. I must admit, it kind of irked me when I read that his least favorite is the Middle East, “whose desert landscape is rather monotonous.” Unfortunately, it seems like Michael has only visited the “most common” places in the region and has not seen other hidden beauties. Socotra Island, Egypt’s oases, and Haifa (Israel) are perfect examples. Highly doubt he would have published that statement after visiting those! But to each their own though, right? 😉 On the bright side, his post was still entertaining and rather informative. I didn’t know a disposable travel toilet existed?! Yikes! I want one now 😀

What’s on your travel bucket list? Any of these items made the cut?

X-rated travel bucket list: Parte DOS (photo essay)

Due to the extreme popularity of part one of my R-rated travel bucket list, I have decided to sprinkle even more spice. Indeed, I will continue the publication of my extensive X-rated travel bucket list. Wait–X-rated!? Oh yah, because this sequel is a tad bit…raunchier…!

X-rated travel bucket list item #1: Inside the Colosseum at night

X-rated travel bucket list item: Colosseum at night

The Colosseum at night…soo tempting…

Granted, it would be way too difficult to get down with a lover inside the Colosseum among the troves of tourist that visit during its opening hours. So the only way to cross this off an X-rated travel bucket list? To break in at night. You would probably need to befriend a guard (and got some fat wallets) to achieve this, but hey…maybe the guard can be your lover. Wink wink? A girl can dream…

X-rated travel bucket list item #2: In a van under the northern lights

northern lights in Greenland

make love under the northern lights? Romantic dream of mine! (Photo: Nick Russill)

Having sex inside a car with a big sunroof under the northern lights in the middle of some remote Arctic countryside…everything about that is plain epic. If I weren’t from the tropics, I would probably just do it outside and suck it up (errm, the cold). We all know it gets too hot in the end, right? But this hypothermia-prone Latina prefers it inside a warm vehicle. By the way: Which car/van out there has the biggest sunroof to date? Anyone? Because that’s what I’m renting to cross this item off my travel bucket list in 2013, when the northern lights will be the most fired up (baha).

X-rated travel bucket list item #3: On an open vineyard, Tuscany & Napa

do it in a vineyard - on my naughty travel bucket list!

Vineyard in Tuscany…calling my body… (Photo: Addictive Picasso, Creative Commons)

There’s no doubt: Tuscany is in virtually every single romantic travel bucket list worldwide. Thus, it is only natural it made it to my X-rated list in the form of making beautiful love out in one of its open vineyards. Ahhh, becoming one with your loved one in an open field, surrounded by hundreds of grapevines: Risky, romantic, sensual — so many adjectives to describe such magic! And Napa? You know, because I want to be able to say I pulled this off on both sides of the world. I’m just kind of a princess like that 😉

X-rated travel bucket list item #4: Inside a natural pool in Pamukkale

I have previously shared with you a dream 40-day Turkish Delights itinerary that is part of my “regular” travel bucket list. What I have not mentioned, however, is how I secretly want to get busy inside one of those gorgeous natural pools. They are so inviting, aren’t they!? And given to the fact I already did it in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon…I feel, somehow, this feat is doable (quite literally). Fear not, my friends — I do not plan for him or me to finish there, it’ll be more like a tease in order to say “done! Crossed off!” just like the Blue Lagoon act. I know, still too naughty…but…but…

x-rated travel bucket list - Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Blue Lagoon: Where things really went down…

Always in small doses when it comes to my X-rated travel bucket list items! 😉 I will thrive to share more of my raunchy list with you on a monthly basis. I know you will either blush, laugh, and/or be inspired. Or be grossed out. Either way, I’m gettin’ it on! Bahaha *evil grin*

Yours truly!

watch out! ‘Cause I’m coming…          to a city near you! 😉

What’s on your X-rated travel bucket list?

Weekly travel bucket list: Unusual restaurants, tree hotels & more!

Travel bucket list Wednesdays are back! Get your wanderfix by the weird, amazing travel bucket list items fellow tweeps and I add every week. Very fortunately, this week I got some submissions of your travel bucket lists, so we get to explore what’s on those wandering minds. Additionally, I found some unusual restaurants, unique tree hotels and other interesting items that landed on my own travel bucket list. 

Marcy's travel bucket list

(C) Marcy! (tootimidandsqueamish.com)

Marcy’s travel bucket list 

Great inspiration for any adventurer: From a safari in Africa to six different places to ride in a submarine. My favorite item on her list, though? The Guinness’ “Perfect Pint” certificate – indeed, she poured a perfect pint and has a certificate to prove it. Adding that one to my list for sure.

Great Lakes Circle Tour, USA

Great Lakes Circle Tour – on Aaron’s travel bucket list (Photo: Great-lakes.net)

Aaron’s travel bucket list

My partner in crime in several sessions of the #TravelBL chat, Aaron (@elatlboy) has the ability to inspire any type of wanderer. His list has a great mix of romance, nature, foodie adventures, and even sporting events.

travel bucket list, unusual restaurants

Redwoods Treehouse Restaurant, New Zealand (Photo:RunawayJane.com)

10 unusual restaurants around the world

I love how varied RunawayJane’s restaurant travel bucket list is. From romantic to downright weird, some items on this list I happened to have on my list already (i.e. Zanzibar’s Rock Restaurant). However, some new additions are New Zealand’s Redwoods Treehouse Restaurant (pictured above) and Dans Le Noir (England), where you dine in the dark. Adventurous much? Always on me!

travel bucket list, coolest tree houses

Cool tree house in Laos (Photo: Christian Haugen, Flikr)

The coolest tree houses in the world

Speaking of tree houses, this list is…self explanatory? Sort of. While I have stumbled upon many of these lists, I am very happy to say that I had never seen any of the tree houses mentioned on Matador’s list above. Ahh, eleven new additions to my travel bucket list – nothing like fresh meat!

travel bucket list, engagement concierges

the Paparazzi Proposal package, offered by Tides Rivera Maya, has a photographer secretly stalk you, from the start of your vacay all the way to proposal, in order to perfectly document every moment. Me want! (Photo: Tripadvisor)

Hotel engagement concierges – the ultimate dream!

Like many girls around the world, I was dreaming about my future Prince Charming & his proposal by the time I hit preschool (thank you, Disney). Thus, I literally squealed when I saw this – now a few select hotels (listed in the link above) have an engagement concierge who specializes on helping my man to create the most memorable proposal ever?! And let’s be honest here: I am sure our Princes are very glad that some weight will be taken off their shoulders. Double winning!

travel bucket list, Acqualina Resort

Acqualina Resort, located in Miami FL, also offers special engagement packages (Photo:ACQUALINA RESORT)

Want to be featured next week? Then do this: Post your travel bucket list on your website, copy/paste the permanent post link on a comment below (no bit.ly’s, su.pr, etc), tweet that post with the #TravelBL tag and then cc me (@latinAbroad) on it. LISTO! It’ll be RT’d to the travel twit world + be featured on next week’s Travel Bucket List Wednesday post. If there are no submissions on a given week, I’ll simply stumble the travel nets and repost the best of the best on our travel bucket list. The wanderfix doesn’t end there, though! Join the #TravelBL chat on Twitter, every Wednesday at noon & 6:15 pm EST! Next topic will be Latin America. Oi, you know that’ll be a spicy one indeed, can’t miss it! 😉

What’s on your travel bucket list?

Eating iguana in Curacao: My culinary adventure

For Cultural Tidbits this week, I will finally start telling you about my Curacao travel without a plan experience. First off? Traveling through their food. And the most unique culinary experience of all? Eating iguana in Curacao!

eating iguana in Curacao

Eating iguana in Curacao? Jaanchie’s Restaurant is the spot!

Eating iguana in Curacao is definitely within my Top 2 culinary adventures, only behind my adventure at the Essaouira fish market and eating fresh manta ray in Morocco. Not only was eating such a reptile was unique in itself, but the amazing friendly service and surreal surroundings of Jaanchie’s Restaurant added to the whole experience.

eating iguana at Jaanchies, Curacao

Miniature model of Jaanchie’s Restaurant, displayed by the entrance

Jaanchie’s Restaurant, located in Westpunt, was the lunch stop of the 6 hour+ All West beach-hopping tour I booked with Irie Tours. I reserved directly by using the phone number on a brochure I picked up in Punda. I must emphasize that I called the night before and offered to go with a friend, and when they told me their price, I said that was too expensive and bargained down a good $20/person when I stated we “couldn’t afford” their standard rate. Key here? Never book a tour through a hotel, but rather pick up one of many brochures at the tourist kiosk right across the bridge in Punda (by the clock!) and call the agencies directly – and always bargain! 😉 ps – no, they did not pay me to talk about them. I just had such a great experience that I had to mention them! 🙂

eating iguana at Jaanchie's, Curacao

beautiful dining area of Jaanchie’s Restaurant

eating iguana at Jaanchie's, Curacao

the walls in the inside dining area had wonderful quotes in different languages

Inside Jaanchie’s restaurant

Upon entering the restaurant, I loved the atmosphere. Open, full of bird houses by the sides, which in turn invites many birds to sing, but still stay away from your food 😉 then, the lively owner, Jaanchie, greets you with the biggest smile and best dishes of the house. He can speak like 5-6 languages (maybe more!?). What was so nice of him is that about 3 different languages were spoken by the 6-7 people on our tour, so he sat down besides the Latinas (Spanish), the Brazilian (Portuguese) and the Dutch girls to explain the run down of his menu and daily specials. And while the great atmosphere and hospitality surpassed expectations, the highlight, of course, was eating iguana!

eating iguana at Jaanchie's

Jaanchie (the owner) and me!

Personable service by the owner himself

What I loved the most about Jaanchie, the owner, is that he explained that he understood eating iguana was not for everyone and many people would fear asking for a dish and then risk not liking it. Thus, he always gives a decent plate per the table so everyone gets to experience eating iguana, but enjoy a different dish for lunch. Great Caribbean hospitality right there!

eating iguana AND seafood at Jaanchie's

seafood platter I ordered as main course at Jaanchie’s. Yum!

The food: Seafood and iguana for me!

To be safe, I ordered the seafood mix, which included shrimp and I believe grouper as main entrees. The iguana however, arrived swiftly! I found it interesting that I liked eating iguana more than my actual dish. Iguana tastes like chicken, in my opinion! Maybe a few extra bones, but they simply made me feel like I was eating wings. Most of the table found it downright weird or simply didn’t like eating iguana, so I got to enjoy a good 3/4 of the plate. It was deliciously seasoned, with that characteristic Caribbean kick and full flavor. Needless to say, Jaanchie was quite happy with my appetite! :p

Read: Travel without a plan: My Curacao experiment report

eating iguana process

jou know what I mean…

Is eating iguana in your travel bucket list ? 😉 Or have you had it before?

Christmas traditions around the world PT 2!

CLICK HERE for pt 1 of Christmas traditions around the world! learn about the FESTIVE customs and traditions of even more countries.

Christmas in Italy

Christmas traditions around the world, nativity scene

Presepe: Nativity scene in Italy (Photo: Davide Papalini)

Thought Christmas were longer only in Latin America? Think again! In Italy, Christmas officially starts on December 8th with the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception and then, families typically start to decorate their homes with lights. Gift giving, however, does not happen until January 6th or Epiphany, a tradition shared with many Latin American countries. That 12th day of Christmas is when it is believed that the Three Wise Men (aka Three Kings) visited Baby Jesus and showered him with gifts. As such, just like in Latin America, the main Christmas decoration is the Nativity scene, or as it is called in Italian: The presepe.

Christmas in Jordan

Christmas traditions around the world, beef and bulgur

Minced beef and bulgur, a traditional Christmas dish in Jordan (Photo:Wearenotmartha.com)

Christmas in Jordan is celebrated with great fervor by the Christian minority there. What surprised me the most, however, is the tradition of soaking dry fruits in rum, brandy, and cognac by women in early December! I can’t wait to go back to the Middle East an try those! 😉 Then on Christmas Eve, a cake is baked, while Christmas Day dinner consists of grilled eggplant, vine leaves in tomato sauce, stuffed turkey, and minced beef with bulgur

Christmas in Martinique

Christmas traditions around the world, shrubb

Clément Créole Shrubb, a popular one in Martinique (Photo:Scotlandstephenson.com)

Christmas in this creole tropical island is a mix of Caribbean and French flavors. Their most distinct Christmas tradition, however, is the making and drinking of shrubb, a fine liquor made of white rum, sugarcane syrup and dried peels of tangerines and oranges, which are abundant at this time of the year.

Christmas in Mexico

Christmas traditions around the world, posada

Posada procession in Oaxaca, Mexico (Photo: GoMexico.about.com)

Mexican Christmas (or “Navidades”) officially start on December 16th with a tradition called “Las Posadas,” which last all the way until Noche Buena or Christmas Eve. This tradition involves the recreation of Mary and Joseph’s hard journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, trying to find shelter to give birth. A different part of the journey is recreated every night, culminating with a party at a neighborhood. Children dress as angels, shepherds, and also as Mary and Joseph in such processions, with their parents following with lit candles.

Christmas in Morocco

Jemaa el Fnaa

Jemaa el Fnaa Square. Marrakech, Morocco

As a Muslim country, Christmas is rarely celebrated in Morocco. Yet, due to the strong French/European influence in the country, along with a growing expat community, you will find Christmas lights and decorations sprinkled throughout the big cities. Days vary, however, depending on the faith and background of that minority. For instance, members of the Orthodox Christian Church celebrate Christmas on January 6th; while the Coptic and Armenian Churches celebrate the holy day on January 7th. Last, but not least, the Catholics typically attend a special evening mass on December 24th to start Christmas.

Christmas in Panama

Christmas traditions around the world, Panama

Left: A traditional pollera dress; Right: Light show during Panama City’s Christmas Boat Show (Photos: Family-christmas-traditions.com)

Christmas in Panama is quite lively and several great events are held, specially in the capital Panama City. Festivities kick off the 2nd weekend of December with a big Christmas Parade. Gorgeous floats pass by and women dress in very bright, traditional dresses called polleras. Also, at night, an amazing boat parade showcase a light show that is truly spectacular!

Christmas in Puerto Rico

It is tough to decide what’s your favorite tradition of a Puerto Rican Christmas. Is it the fact that they begin on Thanksgiving Day in November and don’t end until the end of January? Is it the party after party throughout the whole season and how virtually everyone decorates their homes with hundreds of lights? Or is it the food and plena music?

Coming from the Island of Enchantment, I can tell you that the most unique and fun Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico is the parrandas! In essence, they are drunken Christmas carols! Learn more about Puerto Rican parrandas here.

Christmas in Spain

Christmas traditions around the world, Pavo trufado

Pavo trufado: A traditional Christmas dish in Spain (Photo: Cocina.org)

Naturally, Christmas traditions in Spain are very similar to those in Latn America. Thus, I have decided to switch it up a bit on this entry and leave ya with a recipe of a traditional Christmas dish in Spain: Pavo Trufado de Navidad (Christmas Turkey with Truffles)!

1 turkey of 4 kg.
œ kg. minced lean pork
1 kg. minced veal
Salt and ground black pepper
1 glass of brandy
1 large glass of dry oloroso sherry
3 tins (of 90g) truffles (mushrooms)
150 g “jamon serrano”
200 g belly of pork in rashers
6 eggs [click here for the rest!]

Christmas in Switzerland

Christmas traditions around the world, Swiss ringli

Ringli: Typical Christmas treat in Switzerland

A special Swiss Christmas tradition is to await the arrival of Christkindli: A white angel wearing a crown full of jewels, which holds a face veil over its face. This angel is the one that brings the presents. These, by the way, come in a basket, which is carried by Christkindli‘s child helpers. Also, another Swiss Christmas tradition is  to eat ringli (homemade doughnuts) with hot chocolate.

Christmas in St Thomas (US Virgin Islands)

Christmas traditions around the world, St Thomas sweet bread

Photo recipe: VirginIslandsThisWeek.com (click to enlarge)

One event to look forward to when spending Christmas in St. Thomas is the Challenge of the Carols outdoor concert. It is infamously glorious! While at it, grab some Johnny cakes (traditional holiday sweet bread). Click on the image above for a traditional recipe to bake at home!

Christmas in Vatican City

Christmas traditions around the world, Vatican

Vatican Christmas Tree (Photo: Sunshine city, Flikr)

Naturally, the Pope delivers his traditional Christmas speech and directs mass to thousands of fervent believers. This service, called “midnight papal mass,” actually begins at 10 PM on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s Basilica. The papal speech, however, is delivered around noon on Christmas Day.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions around the world? Why?

Christmas traditions around the world + photos!

In the Western & Christian worlds, we celebrate Christmas this weekend. In celebration, I decided to compile some unique Christmas traditions around the world! Since our globe has more than 200 countries, the list below includes only the ones I have personally visited and/or lived in. This way, we keep the number close to 30 😉 Hope you enjoy it!

Aruba

Christmas traditions around the world, ajaca

Ajaca: Traditional food eaten during Christmas in Aruba, it is made of plantains and stuffed with pork, chicken or beef (Photo:Mourinhospenis.tumblr.com)

In this beautiful Caribbean island, it is commonplace for families to go to church together on Christmas Eve. Then, families gather again for Christmas dinner the next day and sing Aruban songs as they eat ajaca (also eaten in Puerto Rico, but known as “pastel”), salted ham and salmon.

Austria

Christmas traditions around the world, Austria markets

Christmas market in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Manfred Werner)

While Christmas markets are very popular in several cities across Europe, they are particularly important in Austria. The most popular in this quaint country are found in Vienna (in front of the City Hall), Innsbruck (in square by the Golden Roof), and Salzburg (by Residenzplatz/the big Cathedral).

Barbados

Christmas traditions around the world, Barbados

Christmas Pantomime by St Winifred School, Barbados (Photo:Bajanchristmas.wordpress.com)

In the Barbados, a curious tradition is that children put on a pantomime show (instead of a traditional Christmas play) for school. This is also common Christmas tradition in Jamaica.

Curacao

Christmas traditions around the world, Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus) and his helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). Photo: Looi at nl.wikipedia

In the Dutch Caribbean (including the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao) they celebrate what it’s called Saint Nicholas Day. What’s really special in this region, however, is Sinterklaas: The Dutch Santa Claus! He makes an appearance on December 5th and gives out the gifts then! Oh, it is also feast day 😉

Dominican Republic

Christmas traditions around the world, Three Kings

"Los Tres Reyes Magos," meaning "The Three Magic Kings" (Photo: Studioporto.com)

While many Latin American countries celebrate both December 25th (Santa Claus/Christmas) and January 6th (Three Kings Day), only the latter is celebrated in Dominican Republic. There might be some exceptions to the rule, such as wealthy families exchanging gifts on both days. This, however, is rare. What, then, happens on January 6th? Children leave grass for the “camels” of the Three Kings to eat under their beds (not tree!) and then see their gifts there the next morning.

Egypt

Christmas traditions around the world, fattah

Egyptian fattah (Photo: Mylifeinapyramid.com)

Christmas in EGYPT? That’s right! While more than 90% of the population in Egypt are Muslims, there is still a Christian minority, called the Coptic Church. Also, as an Orthodox Church, so they actually celebrate Christmas on January 7th, a day after Three Kings Day in Latin America (Epiphany). Then, on Christmas Eve, everyone goes to church midnight service wearing a brand-new outfit, then goes home afterward to eat delicious fata (pictured above).

England

Christmas traditions around the world, Boxing Day

Keswick Boxing Day Hunt, Market Square, Cumbria, Lakes District, England in 1962 (Photo: Phillip Capper, Wiki)

Some peculiar Christmas traditions in England are the Queen of England’s speech (radio and televised) on Christmas Day and the celebration of Boxing Day on Dec. 26th, which nowadays involves giving small amounts of money as gifts to those who have helped you throughout the year (i.e. the mailman, the newspaper boy, etc.). When it comes to food, Christmas lunch includes a chestnut-stuffed turkey, Yorkshire pudding and roast beef or roast goose.

Germany

Christmas traditions around the world, suckling pig

Suckling pig: Traditional German dish eaten on “Dickbauch” feast day (Photo:Whydyoueatthat.wordpress.com)

As in several European countries, the day that German kids actually receive gifts is December 7th. Thus, on the night of December 6th, children place a boot or shoe by the fireplace (similar to the mistletoe tradition!) and wait for St. Nicholas to fill it with gifts! Another funny fact? Christmas Eve is called “Dickbauch” (which means “fat stomach”) and if you do not eat well on that day, you will be haunted by DEMONS! Say wha!? Interesting Christmas superstition indeed!

Iceland

Christmas traditions around the world, Yule Lads

Two of the Yule Lads on a billboard in Iceland (Photo:WikiCommons)

Icelandic Christmas is great, as it lasts 26 days and brings about 13 different “Santa Clauses” (also called “Yule Lads”) and they start bringing gifts 13 days before December 25th! The story behind them is that their parents are mean mother GrĂœla (who takes away the naughty kids in town!) and father LeppalĂșĂ°i, who is not that bad. Their children then are the infamous Yuletid, and each day of the Icelandic Christmas a different one comes to town, either bringing gifts or a prank, or both! 😉 on December 12th, children place a shoe by the window and expect one of the many “Santa Clauses” to leave gifts – but if you have been naughty, you get a potato instead! The major gift exchange and Christmas celebration, however, happens on Christmas Eve, when many Icelanders also go to midnight mass.

Israel & Palestine

While Jews celebrate Chanukkah around the same time, a minority of Christian Arabs do celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, on December 25th. Celebrations are particularly evident in Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity, where it is believed to be the location of the manger where Jesus was born more than 2,000 years ago. See the video above to get a taste of Christmas in the West Bank/Palestine!

For part 2, and many more traditions from other countries, CLICK HERE!!

What are your favorite Christmas traditions around the world? Why?

Travel bucket list photos & #TravelBL Holidays chat recap – Dec. 21st

To learn more about #TravelBL Wednesdays, click here

Missed #TravelBL aka the Travel Bucket List chat yesterday? We got your back! Here’s a recap of what happened on both sessions so you get what you missed and write it down on your own travel bucket list. Don’t forget the #TravelBL chat happens twice every Wednesday, at noon and 6:15 pm (EST). Also, always use the #TravelBL in your tweets to share your travel bucket list items, experiences and spread the inspiration!

This week’s theme was HOLIDAYS. Grab a pen and add your favorite answers to that travel bucket list of yours! **All questions formulated by yours truly, @latinAbroad =)

travel bucket list: Christmas in Vienna

Christmas in Vienna (Photo: Manfred Werner)

Q1. What holidays do you celebrate? Where?

“It’s not really a holiday but I plan a trip every year during my birthday. Always somewhere on my #TravelBL” -@emeraldcitytooz

“All of them….haha I will celebrate the opening of a letter if I get a day off” –@Mackinnontweets

“Any excuse to celebrate & travel – I’m there!” -@LolaDiMarco

“The usual suspects- Christmas, Easter, etc. – the ones that fatten you up and leave you with a hangover!” @marktravel

Q2. What are some traditions in your country for the holidays?

“In Puerto Rico we do PARRANDAS: Spiced up version of Xmas Carols that lasts til the next morning. Blog post comin soon! ” -@latinAbroad

“In Australia, kangaroos deliver the presents in the pouches #TravelBL… or, in this case… #TravelBS :)” –@goodtravellife

“Unfortunately it seems to involve stampedes and violence in walmarts #travelbl #saynotowalmart” -@2trucks1week

 “Because the US is a ‘melting pot’ country, there is a wide array of traditions!” –@RachelChaikof

travel bucket list, Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year (Photo: Nepenthes, Wiki Commons)

Q3. What holidays have you never celebrated, but would love to someday?

“A Chinese New Year especially if its the year of the dragon!” -@goodtravellife

“Just heard about the Loi Krathong festival in Thailand. I am hoping to go to Thailand in Nov to see it :)”  -@thetravelbee

“Would love to celebrate the ‘don’t overeat or drink too much’ holiday but haven’t yet- ‘making merry'” -@marktravel

“Australia Day” -@MiraCristine

travel bucket list, Las Vegas Christmas

Christmas in Las Vegas, NV, USA (Photo: Lasvegascityguide.org)

Q4. What Christmas-related items are on your travel bucket list?

“To see the holiday tree and lights and ice skating rink in as many big cities as possible” -@elatlboy

“Do you think you could visit the North Pole on the 25th of December or would everything be shut for Christmas?” -@michaelturtle

“Wouldn’t say no to these options #vegas #Miami #stbarts: http://yfrog.com/odesruwj http://yfrog.com/hwwx3mj http://yfrog.com/mg14hfsj” -@LolaDiMarco

“A flying sled would be AWESOME”  -@HitTheRoadca

travel bucket list, Ningaloo whale shark

Whale shark, Ningaloo reef, AU (Photo: NeilsPhotography, Flikr)

Q5. If Santa could grant one wish from your #TravelBL this year, which one would it be?

“A RTW plane ticket” -@KelseyIvey

“He could just take you on his sleigh this week @kelseyivey!” –@michaelturtle

“Snorkeling with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef is at the top of my #TravelBL. So Santa if you could work on that it would be great”  -@emeraldcitytooz

“Dear Santa: I want my own show with the @travelchannel !!” -@latinAbroad

Santa travel bucket list

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!

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Travel Bucket List of the Week: Holidays RTW!

To learn more about #TravelBL Wednesdays, click here

Happy #TravelBL Wednesday peeps! The items on this week’s travel bucket list are related to Christmas and the holidays. So grab a pen and keep expanding that travel bucket list of yours!

travel bucket list, Loi Krathong festival

Loi Krathong festival, Thailand (Photo: Robert Pollai)

Holiday travel bucket list item #1: Loi Krathong festival, Thailand/Laos/Burma

I had no idea of this Thai festival’s existence until I heard it was on one of my fellow tweeps’ travel bucket list yesterday at the #TravelBL chat. Happening on the full-moon night of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually sometime in November), krathong rafts are released into the water as a way of “paying respects” to the spirits of this element. Fireworks and a huge party are typical of this celebration as well. Who wouldn’t want to go?!

travel bucket list, Vienna Christmas market

Christkindlmarkt in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Manfred Werner)

Holiday travel bucket list item #2: The European Christmas markets

I have heard so many things about the wonderful, magical Christmas markets in several cities across Europe. However, the one that has mostly resonated around me has been the one in Vienna! Although also Luxembourg…and Prague…but they are all close by so I’ll probably cross them all off my holiday travel bucket list at once! 😉

travel bucket list, Australia Day

Australia Day fireworks in Perth (Photo: Nachoman-au, Wikipedia)

Holiday travel bucket list item #3: Australia Day, AUS

We all know that Aussies really know how to party. Then, imagine how it would be to celebrate the first settlement in Port Jackson (nowadays, part of Sydney) with them?! A whole different story! I plan Australia Day celebrations to be top-ranked among the best parties ever experienced once I finally crossed this one off my travel bucket list. When will this happen? I was planning for 2012 or 2013, but it seems that Egypt & the Middle East are calling my name strongly once more. But behold my fellow Aussies, I shall join you soon enough!

Holiday travel bucket list item #4: Christmas in Bethlehem

Some call it West Bank; others Palestine. Tensions keep rising. Regardless of your political views, a vigil on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day celebrations in Bethlehem will definitely take your breath away. The aura and air simply smell differently; the surroundings charged with spiritual energy. I was really close to crossing this item off my travel bucket list 3 years ago, but I ended up spending Christmas in Puerto Rico instead. I, however, plan on joining the solemn vigil & celebration at the place most believe Jesus Christ was born in the future. Can’t wait for that day 🙂

Holiday travel bucket list item #5: The Chinese Lantern Festival

I have always been infatuated with this Chinese type of lanterns–they are romantic and add spice to any room’s decorations. Now, put thousands together and let them fly up into the sky, all during a traditional festival that has been celebrated for more than 2000 years — now that’s just something else! Oh btw, it is to scare the ghosts away, too 😀 it happens on the 15th lunar day of 7th lunar month, which will fall on February for the next 3 years. I wanna go in 2014, just because it falls on St Valentine’s Day — how romantic would that be?!

Want your travel bucket list items featured next week? It is simple: Post your travel bucket list items on your blog, post the blog post link in a comment below, tweet that post with the #TravelBL tag and then cc @latinAbroad (moi!) on it. Y listo! I’ll RT and feature the post on next week’s Travel Bucket List Wednesday. What if you guys take a vacay and I don’t have any new blog posts and lists to feature? I simply go around the Internet browsing and reposting the best of the best for our travel bucket list. Moreover, don’t forget to join us on Twitter #TravelBL chat every Wednesday at 12 & 6:15 pm (EST)! 😀

What’s on your holiday travel bucket list?