A day at Santa Fe

Continuing the drive from Carlsbad, New Mexico, we drove to Santa Fe. There isn’t much to do in Santa Fe. The drive is perfect. And the drive to Albuquerque is full of great hikes.

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A day in Phoenix Arizona

We started with the Wrigley’s Mansion. The mansion of the famous Wrigley’s chewing gum. The self-guided tour is free. And the paid tour costs 17$. Then head to Roosevelt street, the downtown area of Phoenix. There are lots of eateries and art galleries here. I would highly recommend having lunch here.

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A visit to Carlsbad Cavern

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is famous for the Carlsbad cavern. While Lava Beds National Monument is famous for its labyrinth of caves, Carlsbad is famous primarily for a single huge cave. There are several small caves around that require permits and specialized gear to visit.

I would highly recommend coming here early in the morning. You need to book a reservation in advance. The Carlsbad cave is huge. And while some people take the elevator, I recommend going down as well as up via the hike to have the fullest experience. It takes about 45 mins to hike up/down. And then there is a big room to explore at the bottom. There are ~50 marked stops to the bottom. Expect to spend about 3-4 hours in the cave.

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Dominican Republic in 5 days

The Dominican Republic is probably the most touristy Spanish-speaking Caribbean island. In my experience, it can be aptly called the tout capital of the Caribbean. We went there in the shadows of COVID-19.

  1. The island has pretty good intra-city and inter-city public transport.
  2. The local currency DOP, Dominican Pesos, is about 1/60th of the US dollar.

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Cave Exploration at Lava Beds National Monument

There are several caves at Lava Beds National Monument of varying levels of challenges. I would recommend starting with a few easy ones first before taking it to a higher level. The caves do get really shallow at times, sometimes, less than a foot in height, so, don’t go in if you get claustrophobic.

Gears to carry

  1. HeadLamp
  2. Helmet – even a bike helmet would work
  3. Knee Pads
  4. Good hiking boots
  5. A small chart summarizing which caves to do
  6. Detailed report with maps of the caves

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When can you count on public transport while traveling?

I love taking public transport while traveling. One, not only, gets a chance to see the lifestyles of the locals but also becomes more familiar with the new area. So, when can one count on public transport while traveling? Peru and Ecuador had great public transport, both short and long-distance. Dominica had mediocre, Aruba had just one bus going around the island’s outer road. Hawai’i has mediocre. The Dominican Republic has great public transport for both short and long-distance. So, why is this the case?

Here’s my general rule of thumb:

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Things to do in Aruba

Aruba, a small Caribbean island 29 km north of Venezuela, is a part of the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, which form the Dutch Caribbean and is a part of the Netherlands. It is famous for its white-sand beaches.

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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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