Traveling through food: Ethiopian cuisine (photo essay)

Hope you guys had a great weekend 😀 as many of you already know, I kick off every week with Cultural Tidbits Monday. And so today, I decided to start a new mini series: Traveling through Food, starting with Ethiopian! On the series, I’ll be featuring some of my favorite ethnic foods and restaurants through educational (and quite yummy) photo essays.

Last night, I went to Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in Tampa, FL. I had heard about it several times and never found the time to go until this weekend. Please note, this was an impromptu trip while I was at a friend’s house watching football, so I didn’t have my camera with me. However, I did my homework and still found some pictures of the dishes we savored for your viewing pleasure 😉

Ethiopian food

Ethiopian platter by ethiopianrestauranttampa.com

It was my first time eating this exotic African cuisine, so I decided to go for the Appetizer sampler and The Queen’s Eight–just to get a feel of Ethiopian food. First piece of advice, by the way: Always order your Ethiopian food spicy. In my experience, asking for the dishes to be “medium spicy” was futile and actually made them quite bland (ahem, “Westernized”). I should have figured, asking for anything less than Ethiopian spicy would strip the meals’ original flavors. Lesson learned!

With that said, the meals were still tasty, if quite different from what my palate is used to. The appetizer sampler included:

Ethiopian hummus

Buticha, yellow dip on top, azifah & a sambusa by denalovesfood.blogspot.com

Buticha (aka Ethiopian-style hummus: Ground chickpeas mixed with olive oil, diced onions, garlic, hot pepper and mustard). Very mild

Azifah (Whole lentils blended with diced onions, green peppers, jalapeno pepper, mustard and olive oil). Ordered medium, which ended up being not spicy at all. Gotta go Ethiopian spicy next time!

Ethiopian food sambusa

Beef sambusa

Ethiopian beef sambusa (homemade thin flat bread hand-wrapped and stuffed with a blend of minced beef, fresh garlic, onions, peppers and ginger and parsley. Served hot) – my favorite of the bunch. So flavorful, even better than all the Indian sambusa varieties I’ve ever had! I think this little pastry in Ethiopian spicy would be a little too much for my tongue…but that’s just me

Injera (Ethiopian-style bread). Looks exactly like crepes, but slightly fluffier, brown, and rolled. You could either take the little injera roll for dipping or unroll it, which I found better for bigger bites. Fair warning: it is so filling! I almost didn’t finish my meal

Ethiopian food, injera bread

Injera bread by imonlyhereforthefood.com

Speaking of injera — no real utensils are provided, except for a little spoon with the appetizer. The point of the “Ethiopian meal experience” is to eat with your hands, using the injera to grab the sauces, veggies, and/or meat. Having lived in the Middle East fr 16 months, I was thrilled to have an excuse to eat with my hands again =D haha!

Vegetarian Ethiopian food platter

Vegetarian platter by hungryvegantraveler.blogspot.com

After our appetizer, my friend Will and I decided to go for the Queen’s Eight platter (a variation of it pictured above), just to sample several Ethiopian dishes and pick a favorite for next time. Our other friends chose the doro alicha (classic Ethiopian chicken) and yebeg tibs (Ethiopian lamb sautĂ©ed in berbere sauce). In all honesty, my favorite plate was the lamb tibs! So sad it wasn’t included on my combination platter–but at least I know for next time =)

My Queen’s Eight platter included a big spoonful of all of these dishes:

Ethiopian food, Doro alicha

Doro alicha Ethiopian chicken by imonlyhereforthefood.com

1. Doro Alicha (free range chicken, hardboiled egg stew seasoned with turmeric, garlic, ginger)

Ethiopian food, gomen

Gomen by hungryvegantraveler.blogspot.com

2. Gomen (steamed collard greens simmered with minced onions and garlic)

Ethiopian food, Keiy Sire (beets)

Keiy Sire (burgundy-colored cubes on left) by thespiceisland.blogspot.com

3. Keiy Sire (sliced beets sautéed with onions, tomato sauce, and olive oil)

Ethiopian Tikikl Gomen

Tikikl Gomen by hungryvegantraveler.blogspot.com

4. Tikikl Gomen (chopped cabbage, carrots and other vegetables in a mild sauce)

Ethiopian food, Ye Kik Alicha

Ye Kik Alicha by hungryvegantraveler.blogspot.com

5. Ye Kik Alicha (split peas simmered in finely chopped onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric)

chicken tibs

Ethiopian chicken tibs by midtownlunch.com/los-angeles

6. Ethiopian Chicken Tibs (free range chicken sautĂ©ed with onions, jalapeno peppers, turmeric, Ethiopian spices, and rosemary in a mild sauce) – ordered mild, so no jalapeños on my plate–adding them next time!

Ethiopian food platter by gojoethiopiancuisine.com

7. Atkilit Alicha (carrots, potatoes and string beans in a mild sauce)

8. Ethiopian Foul (fava beans sautĂ©ed with onions, garlic, jalepenos, fresh tomatoes, seasonings and olive oil) – can’t remember if this was the 8th thing of my platter, though! I am guessing…there were too many weird names to remember =P I do know for sure that the lamb chops my friend ordered also had some foul in them, which made me smile as I had the Egyptian variety (pronounced “fuul“) every day for breakfast when I lived in Egypt.

lamb tibs

Yebeg Tibs by culinaryannotations.blogspot.com

The yebeg Tibs (lamb) plate was bigger, plus had a side of foul, all placed on a thin layer of injera bread. And you guessed it–no fork provided! =)

Yum, it was quite a feast indeed! I must emphasize again though, I feel that asking for the dishes to be mild took away most of its distinct flavor. In my opinion, my dishes were a bit bland, which I doubt is the case of authentic, spicy Ethiopian food. So if you have the opportunity to savor an Ethiopian meal, gather the courage to eat it as-is! And don’t forget to have a full pitcher of water ready on your table before you begin to eat *wink*

That shall be it for part one of the new mini series, Traveling through food! I personally can’t wait to burn my tongue (and throat and ears lol) at Queen of Sheba restaurant next time! =D I must add, the servers were very friendly and accommodating–always a plus =)

Have you ever had Ethiopian food? What’s your favorite dish? 

Beach Thursday: Secret beach in Morocco

Since you’ve been hearing about Puerto Rico a lot lately (hehe), I decided to choose a totally different country for Beach Thursday this week. Below, a photo of a secret beach in Morocco, found during the first road trip I took while living and studying there in the fall of 2009. Ohhh man, so many great memories! =)

[click here for more photos of this road trip & secret beach in Morocco!]

secret beach in Morocco

secret beach in Morocco

Have you found a secret beach in Morocco? Tell me about it in a comment!

 

Travel bucket list photos: White Desert, Egypt (moon on Earth!)

Since I’m too busy enjoying the Puerto Rican sun (*wink*), I’m just going to feature one thing for Travel Bucket List Wednesday this week: The White Desert in Egypt. The amazing moon-like landscape is something you can’t believe from pictures–you gotta see it on your own! And so I did, crossing yet another awesome item off my travel bucket list, in the fall of 2008. Below, some awesome pictures to get you excited about making YOUR own travel bucket list a reality. Cheers!

* White Desert in Egypt – check!

white desert Egypt

Me (left) and Marine (right) exploring the White Desert

travel bucket list white desert Egypt

Margo (left), me (center) and Marine (right) seeking shade from the hot desert sun under a MUSHROOM!

Climbed to the top!

View FROM the top, at the moon on Earth - the White Desert in Egypt! 😉

[click here for more amazing photography of the White Desert]

What’s on your travel bucket list? What have you crossed off already?

Bathing in mud at a Dead Sea beach, Israel

The Dead Sea and its mud: My picks for this week’s Travel Tuesday! So many stories I had heard of its healing waters, the misery you find yourself in if even just one drop falls into your mouth or eyes, the vast and serene landscapes you enjoy simply by driving through the area. I was thrilled to finally go, for the first time, on December 2008 (as I studied abroad in Egypt). Yep: I just hopped on a bus and traveled the region! Several items were crossed off my travel bucket list 😀

We visited the Dead Sea public beach, which I believe is located in the Ein Gedi area. We bathed in mud, floated on our backs and our bellies. You know, the whole deal 😉 You come out as if you had just submerged from a fountain of youth, with your skin feeling as smooth as a baby’s butt (maybe even softer). Ahhh, how much I would give to have a little “miracle pool” with waters like these on my own backyard!

Dead Sea beach

the Dead Sea beach we visited on the Israeli coast

Dead Sea beach

me bathing in rich Dead Sea mud at Dead Sea beach in Israel

Oh and that black ball over my head? Just my hair in a bun 😛 trust me, you don’t want any of that Dead Sea mud or potent salty water to get anywhere near it. And considering how huge my afro is…even more so!

Israel mud beach

a (muddy) kiss from the Dead Sea!

Dead Sea floating

us floating on the Dead Sea!

Wish to read more about my first trip to Israel/Palestine? Click here!

Have you been to the Dead Sea? Tell me about it on a comment below!

The Tannery in Fez Morocco: Photo essay

So before I head to a gorgeous Puerto Rican beach today (bahaha! =P), I wanted to switch it up on cultural tidbit Monday! Today we are taking a break from The World’s Superstitions series and traveling to the Arab world in order to learn more about their culture. Chosen topic this week: The leather tannery in Fez!

leather tannery

When the tannery is colorful! Photo: Bernard Gagnon, Wiki Commons

I had never visited a tannery until I lived in north Africa back in 2009. In fact, I didn’t even know that tannery is the process of making leather, which does not decompose easily, from the fast-decomposing skin of animals. Interesting huh?

While the old medina of Marrakech also has one, I only visited the leather tannery in Fez Morocco (as it was only a 1.5-hour ride from the AUI campus). Oh well, yet another reason to come back to this beautiful North African country! Below, some pictures, history and overview of the process of tanning leather! =D

tannery in Morocco

Entrance of the tannery in Fez - yes, it is FREE! Photo: Matt Cherry

tannery in Morocco

Me on a balcony overlooking the workshop at the tannery

tannery in Fez Morocco

Me at a leather shop nearby the tannery

[click here to learn more about the leather tannery process and history]

Have you visited the tannery in Fez Morocco?

My travel bucket list: The R-rated version

Whether you call it a bucket list, or travel bucket list, or things to do before I die; or if you simply call them dreams or goals: Everybody has one of those “lists,” either written on paper, on a computer, in their mind, or in their heart. My bucket list has always involved traveling, and so I have called it the travel bucket list, and this shall be part 3! (click for part 1 and part 2). It contains my written dreams and goals yet to accomplish. Yet, in the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to cross some “items” out! And so here, for the first time ever, I make it openly public!

For Travel bucket list Wednesday this week, I have decided to give the usual list a little twist: And turn it R-rated. So anyone under 18, please stop reading. Mmkay?

Today you will learn a lot about me…intimately. I won’t get into details, but I am a quite sensual being (being a Latina just makes matters worse by default, naturally). And so ladies and gentlemen, I present you with my R-rated travel bucket list, aka all the crazy places I want to make love abroad (or anything somewhat sexual) whilst traveling. In no particular order (warning: Most are likely illegal, lol):

* On top of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

Great Pyramid travel bucket list

by Alex lbh (Creative Commons)

Ahhh, I’m still disappointed in myself for not making this one a reality when I lived in Egypt. I had a possible candidate, but he chickened out last minute, scared sh**less that he was going to be thrown into Egyptian prison for the rest of his life. I guess he forgot about the ancient art of…bribing. Hey, don’t get me wrong–I’m not talking ill of Egyptians. But hey, everyone knows bribes happen everywhere, and if to cross this one off that’s what it takes, I won’t lie, I might take the plunge or so to speak. This item, by the way, joined my R-rated travel bucket list when one of my good friends in Egypt completed the feat. Indeed, after a diplomatic party at the foot of the pyramids, in full dress (and her diplomat partner in full tux and all), a la James Bond style, they stumbled all over the place, distracting the guards and tricking them into thinking they were just drunk. Then, they waited for the party to be over and the complex to be closed. And so, in the pitch dark, they climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza and, you know it, once at the top they made sweet love to each other. They took several pictures of before and after- including some of the gorgeous Egyptian sunrise from the top of the only Ancient Wonder of the World standing. I have never envied someone so much in my entire life. But some day, oh some day, it will be ME! =D

* With a diplomat…better yet, inside the actual Embassy (anywhere)!

Embassy travel bucket list

by Foma, Wiki Commons

Another one of my half-crossed-off items. Indeed, I had the privilege to join the high ranks of government (or so to speak haha!) with a handsome New Zealand diplomat toward the end of my year living and studying in Egypt (what a closure!). Unfortunately, though, I wasn’t able to do it inside the Embassy…but, it remains on my list. Who knows: I think I want to be greedy next time and want to have the Ambassador instead =D (I told you I was trouble! lol)

* Inside a fairy chimney in Cappadocia, Turkey

Capadoccia travel bucket list

by Cybedu, Wiki Commons

This one should not be hard to cross off at all. The most charming hotels in the region of Cappadocia are carved into the rock, nestled inside those fairy chimneys from above, so this shall be a quite easy feat and (thankfully) all legal and “sane” =) Now thinking about it, this will be part of that 40-day Turkish delight itinerary I’ve previously mentioned on my travel bucket list…! Yay for making the epic Turkey trip even more epic!

* During a hot air balloon ride

hot air balloon travel bucket list

Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor.com

Speaking of Cappadocia…hot air balloon rides are quite popular there. Which got me thinking…and now I want to do it inside a hot air balloon, too. Now that is a thrill ride right there!

* On an helicopter while flying over the Grand Canyon, USA

Grand Canyon travel bucket list

Grand Canyon from helicopter - Brian Snelson, Creative Commons

I just made up this travel bucket list item (I’m not kidding either). I guess I’m just so, ahh, inspired this morning (lol!). I don’t know how feasible this would be, considering how small helicopters probably are, but I guess if I pay enough and bring a blanket this shouldn’t be too hard. And with the breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon just below us…talk about after glow!

* While camping (not so legally) inside the Great Wall of China

Great Wall travel bucket list

Camping inside the Great Wall - Jodi Ettenberg, LegalNomads.com

Thanks, Jodi Ettenberg (Legal Nomads) for this travel bucket list idea! OK, she most likely did not do it while there, but she did camp inside the Great Wall of China and I remember dreaming of doing this ever since I read it on her blog a couple of years back. And so I thought, dang, how awesome it would be to romantically make love while watching the sunrise at the Great Wall of China!? Oh yeah, I’m taking the word epic to a whole new level (I realize I viciously overuse this word, but I don’t care! =D)

* Samba dance in full attire (aka half naked) on the biggest parade of Carnaval in Brazil

travel bucket list Brazil carnaval

Brazilian samba dancer, Flickr Commons

Ok, I realize this might not be so R-rated, but to some folks, it can be. And with the Latina power I hold within (hey, my hips don’t lie), this would probably be one of the funnest (and sensual) times I could ever have. Something about wearing that barely-there outfit after days of tanning my olive skin under the hot Brazilian sun sounds sexy as heck. And I’m sure I’ll probably cross any other item off this R-rated travel bucket list with (any?) guy that sees me cross of this one. LOL!!!! *wink*

* At the Blue Lagoon, Iceland

travel bucket list Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon in Iceland - Sindre Jacobsen, Flikr Commons

A ton of you probably hate me right now and think I’m gross. But hey, it was more of a tease, lasting about 5 minutes due to a strong guilt trip and consideration from us (the other party shall remain unnamed lol). So no, the “deed” wasn’t finished (not even close!), but I guess we were just in it for those few minutes for the thrill and the bragging rights. I know, I’m bad

And that shall be it for my travel bucket list, the R-rated version! It is now an official series: Every Wednesday post will be about my never-ending, ever-long travel bucket list. Until next time!

What’s on your R-rated travel bucket list (bahaha)? What have you crossed off already?

My travel bucket list, part 2 (photo essay)

Whether you call it a bucket list, or travel bucket list, or things to do before I die; or if you simply call them dreams or goals: Everybody has one of those “lists,” either written on paper, on a computer, in their mind, or in their heart. My bucket list has always involved traveling, and so I have called it the travel bucket list, and this shall be part 2! (click here for part 1). It contains my written dreams and goals yet to accomplish. However, in the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to cross some “items” out! And so here, for the first time ever, I make it openly public! Btw, all crossed-off items on this entry are clickable! So if you wish to hear more details and tales about each experience on this travel bucket list, click on any bullet point (opens in new window, btw)! So I present you with items on part 2, in no particular order:

* Get diving certification aka PADI certified

my travel bucket list, diving in Egypt Red Sea

Elacatinus evelynae cleaning my teeth! @Canyon Gardens

After many years of hesitation I finally crossed this item off my bucket list in spring 2009. Diving in Egypt was definitely one of the highlights of my year living there. Nothing rivals the Red Sea and its vast beauty! Lucky me, I got to dive some of the top diving sites in the world as part of my PADI certifications: Open Water and Advanced! In less than 2 weeks and for under $600 US dollars, I got both PADI certifications, paid for accommodation and meals. Still can’t believe it!

* The Great Migration in Tanzania, hot air balloon in Kenya, Big 5 in South Africa..etc etc

my travel bucket list, Great Migration

Great Migration, Masai Mara from the air by T. R. Shankar Raman

At a very young age, I “digitally witnessed” the Great Migration from my living room in Puerto Rico thanks to National Geographic. But now that I am old enough, I wish to witness it LIVE through an African Safari. I wish to do a full-blown safari in Tanzania, while seeing the great Migration up from the air in Kenya on a hot air balloon ride. Also, I wish to go down south to the highly-acclaimed South African reserves and see the Big 5 down there on a different season. And, most importantly, kiss a giraffe, pet a tiger, etc. etc…can’t wait to do all this!

* Take a break and chill at Lake Malawi

my travel bucket list, Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi beach by JackyR, Wiki Commons

Continuing with my African dreams, after I do all of the above in one single trip, I’m sure I’ll be tired as heck. Thus, chilling around Lake Malawi will be the perfect break. According to a RTW Guidebook I read several years ago, this spot is up there with Dahab, Egypt (which happens to be my favorite spot on Earth) on chillaxation and guilty of trapping travelers for weeks to an end. Oh yes please, trap me. Seduce me. I’m so down

* Paragliding in Fethiye, Turkey

my travel bucket list, Fethiye paragliding

Paragliding in Fethiye, Turkey by turkeyholidaytours.com

OK, I’ll admit it: I don’t have the balls to do hangliding. Really, I think I would die. But gliding through the heavens was still a dream of mine, and as I looked for alternatives, I found paragliding! Yay for adding some risk to my travel bucket list! =D Don’t know what makes me feel safer about this, but I’m down! And Fethiye, Turkey seems to be the beautiful, perfect spot for the feat. Ahhh, one day!

* Make the 40-day Turkish itinerary I wrote down 3 years ago a reality…

my travel bucket list, epic Turkey trip

Turkey map by Thomas Steiner, Wiki Commons

Speaking of Turkish delights…I was supposed to go on a 40-day Turkish Odyssey, couchsurfing and road tripping throughout the entire country, circumnavigating it from west to east and back (and note: I planned all by myself for months) back in 2008. What happened, you may ask? Well, I was engaged and studying abroad for a year, so I thought, what most *delightful* surprise than to go visit my fiance for Christmas, when he’s not expecting to see me until June? Bought the flight from Egypt to America in October. Come December, exactly 10 days before my surprise flight–and fiance breaks up with me. Yeah, talk about major OUCH. Still, low and behold, I got my travel bucket list itinerary and months of research saved for when I finally go for the Turkish invasion!

* Dive submerged ancient sites, especially in Italy and Alexandria, Egypt

travel bucket list, diving Alexandria Egypt ancient ruins

Underwater ruins in Alexandria, Egypt by dailyscubadiving.com

So back to the water indeed. I love it, reason why my mom called me “little fishie” when I was young. Grew up in a Caribbean island, kind of expected! So yeah, another diving item on my travel bucket list is to wander through submerged ancient cities and sites. Mix water with history and I’ll get so wet without thinking about it twice (literally)

And that shall be it for my travel bucket list, part DOS! I think I’ll make it habitual and every Wednesday post will be about my travel bucket list. What do you think? =)

What’s on your travel bucket list? What have you crossed off already?

Egyptian Superstitions: Part 7 of series

So it is MONDAY, meaning we resume the already-popular The World’s Superstitions series! Today we travel to the sands of the Sahara, all the way through the Middle East and grab a list of Egyptian superstitions! The coolest thing about today’s feature is that I have included both ancient Egyptian and modern Egyptian superstitions to see how they compare. Cool huh?! So let’s do this! If you have any suggestions for future Monday cultural tidbits posts please let me know with a comment below! Any feedback is appreciated!

* Failed in a relationship or your studies? According to Egyptian superstitions, someone cast a spell on you (aka black magic)!

* In Ancient Egypt, newborns were not bathed for 2 weeks in order to ward off the evil eye

* Newlyweds: Want a pinch of good luck for your marriage (literally)? Then make sure the bride is pinched by all women on her wedding day!

Ancient Egyptian superstitions

Why all the blue turquoise on this pectoral of Ramses II? Keep reading!

* Ancient Egyptians believed that suddenly awakening someone was truly dangerous and had to be avoided. Why? There was a high risk that the person’s soul could leave the body in the process — yikes!

* Guess what? It was Egyptians who originated the belief that cats have nine lives! Not only part of Egyptian superstitions anymore, but rather worldwide superstitions nowadays!

* As in every other country we have previously featured, black cats are bad omens. However, as a unique Egyptian superstition, owls are also bad news!

* While it is universally believed that walking under a ladder is bad luck, ancient Egyptians actually placed ladders inside the tombs of deceased kings in order to help them “climb heavenward”! What a contrast, eh?

* According to both ancient and modern Egyptian superstitions, the figure of a blue bead, blue eye and a human palm wards off from evil. Sounds familiar? Of course, just like the Palestinian hamza! In fact, this belief is widespread throughout the Arab world (aka north Africa and the Middle East)

* Ancient Egyptian women believed that throwing some salt over their shoulder (or even gasp while broiling garlic!) prior to cooking a meal would make it taste delicious. I gotta try that one out…

* To an Egyptian, leaving scissors open or a pair of shoes upside down bring bad luck, so make sure you never do this in their presence!

* According to ancient Egyptian superstitions, blue turquoise protects you against the evil eye and bad luck. Thus, wear it all the time! (funny: This has actually been my favorite color since I was very young! Lucky me!)

* A general interesting fact? Most (if not all) modern Egyptian superstitions are “contained by faith in Allah”

And that shall be all for Egyptian superstitions, ancient and modern! Next Monday I shall have a new [surprise] country and its nice list of superstitions! If there is a particular country you would like me to research, tell me in your response so I take it into consideration! (Hint: I will write about every country I am provided ;))

Previously featured countries:
Puerto Rico
India
France
Australia
Palestine
Mexico

Got more Egyptian superstitions? Share them in a comment below!

My Travel bucket list: Manatees swimming, Abu Simbel temple, Rome!

Whether you call it a bucket list, or travel bucket list, or things to do before I die; or if you simply call them dreams or goals: Everybody has one of those “lists,” either written on paper, on a computer, in their mind, or in their heart. My bucket list has always involved traveling, and so I have called it the travel bucket list (part 1!). It contains my written dreams and goals yet to accomplish. However, in the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to cross some “items” out! And so here, for the first time ever, I make it openly public! Btw, all crossed-off items on this entry are clickable! So if you wish to hear more details and tales about each experience on this travel bucket list, click on any bullet point (opens in new window, btw)! Here they are, in no particular order:

* Visit Egypt and see all the Pharaonic temples, particularly Abu Simbel

travel bucket list, Abu Simbel temple

Egypt – check!

DONE! Some tough decisions, sacrifices and several drafts later, I won a $20,000-dollar scholarship to go live in Egypt for a year and study Arabic full time (2008-2009). It’s been, so far, one of the most challenging, yet most amazing experiences of my life. I learned so much not only about the world around me and Islam (at a particularly tough time), but also found myself there. Granted, the only thing planned about this was my dream of visiting Egypt ever since I first saw a picture of Nefertiti [CLS essay stuff here]. I prefer the modified package, though! *wink* =D

* Swim with Manatees

travel bucket list, swim with manatees

Swim with manatees – check!

You heard all about it the other day! This item was crossed off thanks to one of my best friends, Josh. We headed to Crystal River (Florida, USA), rented a boat, grabbed a map and went were they were! Gentle, adorable mammals who don’t mind being close to humans =)

* Swim with dolphins…and whale sharks and manta rays and seals and…

My list of swimming with marine creatures is so long that it could easily serve as my entire travel bucket list itself. While I could easily cross off dolphins by going to any aquarium it seems like these days, I do not want to condone keeping these creatures in captivity. Namely, I want to swim with them in the wild–wouldn’t that be more amazing anyway!? With the dolphins I plan to play with when I go back to Israel, as around Eilat there is a place where dolphins come and go as they wish and the love interacting with humans, called Dolphin Reef Eilat. As for whale sharks, I think I want to go far far away–like Palau or Indonesia =D for manta rays, I hear Manta Ray city in Grand Cayman is quite popular, but I may head to a different place where I could do it at a lower cost *wink* seals? Probably a good one to cross off while diving in GalĂĄpagos Islands. As for other creatures, I can’t think of all of them right now, but if you got some write them down in a comment because some might escape me!

travel bucket list, Old Jerusalem

The Holy lands: Check!

* Visit the Holy Land, Israel & Palestine

I know, disputed territories and decide what’s the actual “proper” name — I give the name to both and that’s it, people that want to fight can keep fighting if they want–I won’t! Anyhow, this item has been on my list ever since I first heard about Jesus and performed my very first prayers. Raised as a Catholic, but now a non-denominational Christian after some soul-searching, this is a special place for sure. In fact, no matter what religion you are or are not part of–Jerusalem and the Holy Land have a different vibe to it that makes it truly unique. Even if for history’s sake, these lands must be in several travel bucket lists I’m sure–and with a reason. I am so happy I was lucky enough to visit twice in 2009, and one of those times was during a special Muslim holiday, Eid el Adha. You may click here for details about my first trip or on the bullet point above to read about my experiences during both of my trips there on my Travel The Middle East website.

travel bucket list, Backstreet Boys cruise

Backstreet Boys? Check! Im in the white-and-blue dress!(click for full size)

* Meet the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and the Spice Girls

So you might be thinking, how is this possibly travel-related? Well, the way I met them! I went on a Backstreet Boys cruise. You heard right: A Backstreet Boys cruise. Not only did I meet all of them several times, but I also got called on stage during the beach party to limbo dance with them and had some, umm, intimate moments with one of the members, HOWIE! Yes, you can laugh and point at me and call me teenybopper all you want, because *makes Arnold Schwarzenegger accent* I don’t caaaare! lol. Unfortunately though, I haven’t met Ms Spears nor the Spice Girls; though I did go to a concert and see the Pop Princess pretty up close. Soooo, Spice reunion pending!

travel bucket list Colosseum, Rome

Rome – check!

* Visit Rome & as many parts of the ancient Roman empire as possible, sp Tunisia

I can’t begin to explain my obsessions with Rome. Just like the Egypt and its pharaohs, the Roman empire made its way into my heart at an early age as well. While the empire was huge, I at least have already made it to its center: Rome. Couldn’t have been any more exciting when I finally made it there! I traveled solo, as I usually do, and Couchsurfed for about 4 days. All in all, an unforgettable experience indeed =) still though, many other locales to go!

And that shall be it for my travel bucket list, part UNO! I think I’ll make it habitual and every Wednesday post will be about my travel bucket list. What do you think? =)

What’s on your travel bucket list? What have you crossed off already?