Getting to Slovenia from Italy

The easy easy way to travel from Slovenia from Italy via www.dtravelsround.com
For months, I looked for easy ways to get from Trieste to Ljubljana. I searched message boards, read heaps of blog posts until I just got sick of it and decided I’d wait until I got on the ground there to figure out the easiest way to get from Italy to Slovenia. All of the information I was reading was sending me in dizzying circles and frustrations.

According to the great Google and search results, it is pretty much not easy to get to Slovenia from Italy. There are no direct trains, and while the Slovenian Tourist Board does state that one can get to Slovenia via plane, train, bus and automobile, there are no details or links directing ould-be bookers onward.

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Driving in Israel

I tentatively press my foot on the gas in the black Mazda.

Oh so tentatively.

“Oh my god,” I saw to Giselle and Cody, who somehow have agreed to be willing participants in the Great Israeli Driving Experience (which I totally just made up). “I cannot believe we are renting a car. I cannot believe I am driving in Israel!”

And with that, I grip the steering wheel tight and pull out onto the little side road off of Hayarkon and the Budget Rental Car garage (although it really is more like an underground area with a few parking spots) and out into the gorgeous and happy Tel Aviv afternoon.

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What to pack for a month in Europe

What to pack for a month in Europe -- a complete packing list.

Confessions of a packer

I am a horrible packer. Like, the worst ever. I claim I am good, nay, great, at packing, but that is because I can manage to squeeze the most amount of crap possible into a backpack, each garment carefully and strategically rolled tight, sit on it, forcefully zip it, and then bitch and moan during my trip about how ridiculously heavy said backpack is.

Oh, and not only am I a horrible packer, I am a horrible packer with zero sense of style.

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Celebrating Passover in Chiang Mai

Rabbis clad in the Orthodox suits stand upon chairs, clapping their hands with smiles on their faces as our makeshift congregation of travelers and expats clap along.

Celebrating Passover in Chiang Mai

 

“Day-day-enu, day-day-enu, day-day-enu, dayenu, dayenu, dayenu,” we all sing together, accents melting into the chorus of the Passover song.

It’s the first night of Passover, the first seder, and instead of being with family or friends or out reveling in Songkran, which takes place simultaneously this year, I am sitting in a ballroom of the Centara Hotel in Chiang Mai’s red light district. I’m surrounded largely by Israelis who have come together on this special night to bring in Passover together.

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Tourists behaving badly: how to be PC in Thailand

Tourists behaving badly. It happens everywhere. I’m sure you’ve seen it: drunken bar fights with locals over a bill. Tagging an historic landmark. Taking smiling group photos in places which are disrespectful (like Auschwitz).

Living as an expat in Thailand, I am treated to this display of very non PC behavior/stuff to make Thais blush daily. It ranges from the minor no-nos (like ladies not covering your shoulders/knees at a temple) to the obscene (like men not taking “no” for an answer at a bar with bar girls). It really bothers me because a) visitors either don’t bother to read up on etiquette before visiting this amazing country and opt for a “head in the sand” or possess the “what works in my home country surely works here” assumption; or b) they know better but choose to disregard cultural norms, simply justifying their holiday as their holiday, which allows them to act however they deem fit (or unfit).

For those planning a trip to Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, here are some important things to keep in mind:

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10 things traveling solo taught me about life

Today is March 7 … exactly four years ago today I boarded a flight to London and embarked on a seven-month solo backpacking adventure through Europe and parts of Africa.

A London phone booth

First stop of the solo backpacking: London

For months before I booked the trip, I teetered … I dreamed of traveling, but was it the right time to quit my job, mid-career, to hop on a plane across the Atlantic?

As I grew more miserable in my job, my career, the answer became clear: GO.

So, around Christmas 2009, I got on the phone with United and arranged for my solo backpacking trip.

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10 tips for visiting Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai's moat

A moat surrounds the Old City of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand, is a far cry from the hustle, bustle and general chaos that is Bangkok. I’ve found that there are two types of people who come to the largest city in Northern Thailand — those who love the moat-surrounded city, and those who don’t.

If you’re looking for action, heaps of shopping and thrive on true urban life, then Chiang Mai isn’t for you (although we do have a total of five major shopping malls in the city). Chiang Mai is chill. It’s laden with coffee shops, adorable little restaurants with gorgeous patios, quaint guest houses, locals who will chat with you on a songthaew en route to your destination and a night life scene that isn’t truly a night life scene (but still heaps of fun). As someone who has lived here long-term, it is easy to see why travelers come through town and end up staying far longer than intended.

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Don’t hold yourself back from achieving your dreams

That man on the plane

I boarded my flight from LAX to JFK and saw that I had an aisle seat on the last row. Soon after my plane neighbor arrived and grabbed the window seat.

So, were you visiting LA, or do you live there?”.

Turned out his family was actually from Italy, but his parents moved to New York two years before he was born and he was now living in Santa Barbara with his (American) wife and kids.

Our conversation took off and we first got the typical questions out of the way: where did we live, what did we do for a living, did we have a partner, children, a house, a dog – no wait, I don’t think we asked anything about a dog.

Of course the man, let’s call him C., also wanted to know what I thought about Los Angeles.

I told him I’d absolutely loved it.

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Where to take photos in Puerto Rico

The US territory of Puerto Rico is a fascinating place to visit: It’s got folklore, bio-luminescent plankton, great diving spots and a unique cuisine. But whatever initially lures you to the island be sure to charge the battery on your camera. With scenic overlooks through winding mountains roads, rushing waterfalls and beaches in every direction Puerto Rico is one of the most photogenic islands in the Caribbean.

From the Plane

Even before landing in Puerto Rico the island shows its photogenic self. In fact, the entire plane ride from southern Florida to the San Juan airport lends itself nicely to stunning views. So be sure to request a window seat on the right side of the plane keeping in mind that the wing can get in your way of taking unobstructed photographs. From the perfect seat you can get great areal shots of Puerto Rican coastline.

Puerto Rico coast from the plane

Puerto Rico coast from the plane

Las Croabas

Just north of the city of Fajardo in northeast Puerto Rico lies the beach community of Las Croabas. This isn’t just any beach, however as it is surrounded by mangroves and a short kayak ride will take you to see the bio-luminescent plankton in the bay. It is also home to very delicious authentic mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rico dish. Due to much activity on the water, Las Croabas is the perfect place to get multi-layered pictures, with birds on the beach in the foreground, a small harbor with boats in the middle ground and the ocean and if you’re lucky even the moon in the background, creating the perfect postcard shot!

Sailboats at Las Croabas, Puerto Rico

Las Croabas, Puerto Rico

Ponce Beach

Located at the very south of the main island just off of Route 10, Ponce Beach looks out over the Caribbean Sea. In addition to its soft sand, the water is a beautiful shade of blue, very clear and sparkles in the sun. Sprinkled along the shore are small mangrove trees making Ponce Beach the perfect place to capture a serene beach scene. It may be hard to actual take pictures here though as you may find yourself compelled to put down the camera and just relax on the beach.

Ponce Beach, Puerto Rico

Ponce Beach, Puerto Rico

El Yunque Peak

What better place to get panoramic pictures than from the top of a mountain! El Yunque Mountain is located in El Yunque National Park about 50 minutes outside of the capital of San Juan. To reach the peak, park your car at the Palo Colorado Information Center and follow the trail marked Pico El Yunque. About two hours later you will be rewarded with watching fog roll over the mountains draped with lush green rain forest all set to the backdrop of the sea and Vieques Island in the distance.

View from the peak of El Yunque in Puerto Rico

View from the peak of El Yunque

Ruta Panoramica

A short 1 hour drive north of Ponce routes 128 and 129 are appropriately named Ruta Panoramica (Panoramic Route). These two roads will lead you on windy roads through the jungle filled mountains with scenic lookouts at almost every turn. Be sure to add more time to your trip to allow for pulling over and snapping shots of valleys and mountain ranges in every direction.

Gorgeous vista along Ruta Panoramica in Puerto Rico

Gorgeous vista along Ruta Panoramica

Viewpoint along Ruta Panoramica in Puerto Rico

Viewpoint along Ruta Panoramica

From the San Juan Fort

The San Juan Fort is strategically placed on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, making it an excellent vantage point for taking photographs of the vast ocean and the coastline. Although I’m sure the architects of this historic fort did not have picture taking in mind, the lookout points once used for military reasons, can easily be re-purposed for photographers.

View of the fort from San Juan, Puerto Rico

View of the fort from San Juan

Have you been to Puerto Rico or is it on your bucket list?

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