Egypt in 8 days

Egypt, locally known as Misr (मिस्र) is world-famous for its pyramids and ancient polytheist temples. I made a trip to Egypt in Nov 2020, during the COVID-19 era. Given the general lack of tourism, it was a great time to travel since I didn’t face any queues and in many temples, I was the sole visitor.

Very few people outside of the tourism industry understand English, so, it is good to make yourself aware of a few basic phrases. The equivalent of “hello” is  “As-salamu alaykum”.  To ask for a price, say “bekam da“. And of course learn the common numbers like five (hamza), three (thlath), ten (ashri), and twenty (ashrin) since these are what you will encounter on the street. And “I don’t understand Arabic” is “Ana mish fahem al Arabee”.

As a vegetarian, I did not face any problems finding food since Falafel and Ful sandwiches are aplenty and available for cheap (1-5 EGP per sandwich). The national dish Koshari is neither delicious nor nutritious. The Egyptian Pizza, Feteer, however, is darn delicious.

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Glacier National Park in 4 days

Glacier National Park, Montana is considered to be one of the most gorgeous national parks in the US. We went there in September 2020. It wasn’t snowing but the weather was still pretty erratic with random cold showers during the day. So, I would recommend going no later than August. Also, the east side, which has native American reservations were closed to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Dressing in at least three layers is highly recommended as the weather changes dramatically with heights and the time of the day.

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Things to do in Dominica – The nature island of the Caribbean

  1. Dominica, the nature island, is not easily accessible via the mainland United States. The airport is small and only propeller planes can land here.
  2. The island is beautiful and is the only Caribbean island to have a rainforest. It is known to have 365 rivers.
  3. The currency is East Caribbean Dollar (1 USD = 2.7 XCD). The USD has full acceptance, though.
  4. Kalalau is the national dish. Its a soup made from Dakshin, and I would recommend trying it out.
  5. Public transport is better than most other islands but is still limiting if your itinerary is jam-packed.
  6. There are two towns, Roseau and Portsmouth. I would recommend staying in Roseau if you don’t have a rental car since most tours, taxis, and buses depart from there.
  7. Most good activities are on the south side of the island. The south faces the calmer Caribbean sea while the north side faces a more turbulent the Atlantic Ocean.

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Three days in Cancun (Mexico)

Cancun, or, more precisely, Cancún, is a coastal tourist city on the Caribbean (eastern) side of Mexico. There are two significant areas, Punta Cancun (tip of Cancun), also known as the Hotel Zone and Playa Del Carmen. We chose to stay in Punta Cancun. The Hotel Zone is walkable and you don’t need to rent a car if you are staying there. Buses are always available to go to other parts of Cancun though you rarely will.

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In a remote village in Thailand…

After renting a moped in Thailand, I stopped at a small shop to ask for a petrol pump/gas station. Instead, the shop owner handed me a bottle of gasoline for purchase.

“Must be a peaceful country where they can sell gasoline in bottles.”, I said to myself, “In most parts of the world, people would use this as a petrol bomb during violent protests and riots.”

Petrol/Gasoline sold in bottles in Thailand

Petrol/Gasoline sold in bottles in Thailand

Things to do in Cusco (Peru)

Cusco or Cuszo, an Andean city in South America, was the seat of the Inca empire and is home to world-famous Machu Picchu. I would recommend staying near the city center of Plaza De Armas (“Parade Square”). Most tourist activities are in and around the area.

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Barcelona (Spain) in four days

Barcelona

  1. Public transport is good, get a Metro card with ten tickets, it can even be shared simultaneously.
  2. Beware of pickpockets.
  3. Credit card acceptance is high, but not 100%.
  4. Paella, a rice dish, is famous in Barcelona

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Madrid (Spain) in two days

Madrid, originally Myrit, was set up by Moors in about 700 AD, to fight against Catholic Spanish stronghold of Toledo which used to be the old capital of the Castile kingdom.

  1. Public transport is good, get a Metro card with ten tickets, it can even be shared simultaneously.
  2. Beware of pickpockets.
  3. Credit card acceptance is high, but not 100%.
  4. Churros + hot chocolate are famous in Madrid.
  5. The city has pedestrianized itself over time, so the city center is entirely car-free.

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