Methods of Travel

Methods of Travel

This trip has been revolved around getting from one place to another. We could not have done it without these different modes of transportation.

Plane:

Easy Jet and Ryan Air have become our favorite friends. America has not seen a budget airline compared to these folks. They have helped us get to many countries and have saved us a dime or two on the way.

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Train:

Unfortunately in Europe, trains are not cheap, but they are convenient. We had to maximize our train usage throughout Ireland and France mostly. Trains were one of the main reasons we needed to head out of dodge. They make for a lovely journey, but broke the pocket book quite quick.

train

Bus:

Can’t beat transportation and accommodation in one. Sometimes night buses are the best/cheapest option. You skip seeing the sights, but just one cheap bus ticket can also be the place you rest your head at night. Not to mention buses are the cheapest form of public transport.

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Taxi:

Taxis became accessible for us in Serbia because they were SO cheap. $2 will get you across town and at the front steps of your hostel. Can’t beat that service.

taxi

Boat:

This can really be a 4 in 1. It can be your transport, it can be your accommodation and it can be your food and entertainment. We needed to do Turkey on the cheap, this meant saving pennies wherever we could. We booked a budget sailing excursion (all inclusive) that ended up being cheaper than staying in a hostel and eating out for a week.

sailing

Water Taxi:

A little overpriced but with the Venice Card is quite nice. The water taxis provide transport and come in handy when you are water locked.

BeFunky_watertaxi

Car:

We definitely did not see this one happening. We rented a car to see all of Sicily. It ended up being much more convenient and made it possible to see all of the island. We didn’t have to rely on buses, and from what we learned were not very reliable or frequent.

carHitch Hiking:

Clearly, the cheapest option and to be honest the most fun. Hitchhiking is a great way to meet new people and see parts of cities and countries you may have never ventured out too. It can be quite exhausting. Some days you can wait many hours in the hot sun before you are offered a ride. But those days are the most fulfilling.

hitchhiking

Tandem Bike:

It doesn’t get any better than riding the coast with the one you love. A tandem bike is a fun way to get from A to B and if you are in the back you can even take a break everyone in awhile and your partner will never know. If you are headed to Vietnam you can pick one up for $1 per hour.

tandem

Mountain Bike:

Dare to be adventurous. We decided against the tuk tuk to get us to a beautiful waterfall in Luang Prabang. It was a 65 kilometer trek up windy, hilly roads. A great way to get in a decent workout, and you can stop where you want to take pictures of the beautiful scenery.

bike

Motorbike:

In most cities you can rent motorbikes for a very cheap daily rate. We did a fair share of renting from time to time. In Cambodia we took our Motorbiking to a new level and decided to purchase our very own. We rode from Siem Reap to the border of Vietnam. Unfortunately, our riding ended there as the Vietnam border patrol would not let us take our Cambodian bike over.

motorbike

Tuk Tuk:

Once you get as far east as India, the tuk tuk will be introduced into your daily world. A buggy attached to a motorbike. These are a very cheap way to get around town. Be careful, if they hint you are a foreigner they will try and get extra fare. We’ve been very thankful for tuk tuk all throughout the Asian countries.

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4×4 Truck:

You can’t get through the depths of the Thailand jungle without one. Our jungle trip started with a 4×4 journey into the heart of the jungle.

4x4

Elephant:

Make sure you do your research before jumping on the back of any ol elephant. Some elephant camps abuse and neglect their animals. We made sure to find a substantiate elephant camp that keeps very good care of their elephants. A slow, but surreal way to trek through the jungle.

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Jeep:

Sometimes it’s fun to get back to our American roots. USA may have invaded Vietnam 40+ years ago, but they also shared their love for jeeps and the Vietnamese have embraced it. We took a jeep tour of the Sand Dunes outside of Mui Nui.

Jeep

Camel:

The Sahara desert would not be complete without a full out Aladdin experience. No, we did not ride flying carpets and sing “A Whole New World” but we did take a camel ride 20 kilometers outside of the Algerian border. The camels kept us safe on our overnight stay near the dunes of the Sahara.

camel

Bamboo Raft:

The jungle locals build their own rafts and they use bamboo for everything. Why not build a boat with bamboo? We became one with the jungle and floated down the river on an authentic bamboo raft.

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Paragliding:

It may not be the most efficient way to get from A to B but most certainly the prettiest. We para-glided over the Turkish Riviera. We alter learn how dangerous this jump was and how 15+people die here every year. I guess sometimes it’s better not to research. No use scaring yourself.

paraglide

Sky Walk:

You usually have two options. You can walk the sky walk, some are longer than others or you can take a taxi/tuk tuk. We opted for the sky walk to check out the slums of Mumbai. The walk was enlightening, moving and a remarkable site. Sometimes it pays to take the longer route.

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Subway:

This is probably one of our favorite ways to travel, it’s usually pretty inexpensive and it is where all the hustle and bustle takes place in the bigger cities.  We always prefer to walk around cities so we don’t miss out on any of the sites but if it’s a long enough distance we will cave in a purchase a subway pass.

subwayDouble Decker Bus:

Most of the major cities offer tours around the city. They are usually fair decent prices and it allows you to go around the entire city, get off where you want, and hop back on. We took this option in Paris.
ddI am sure we will come across some different modes of transportation and embrace each one. Travel on…

Meg and David

A World Trip View

A World Trip View

That’s a Wrap!

2012……. We can’t believe it’s already coming to an end. It feels like just yesterday we were packing up the G6 to head to the East Coast. We are very excited to look back and see all the amazing places that we have been. Thank you to all who have supported, followed and stood behind us as we embarked on this incredible trip.

Cheers, Santé, Salute, živeli, Chok dee, Zum wohl!

January:

San Diego, California

This was the month that we embarked on our around the world trip. Our favorite friends in San Diego came together and had an “Around the World Bar Crawl” to say goodbye. We all had to dress up like a certain country. We went as US tourists.

February:

White Sands, New Mexico

Austin, Texas

New Orleans, Louisiana

Before we could head overseas we had to get from the West Coast to the East Coast. We were excited to visit some new areas of the US that we had never seen before.

March:

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Vero Beach, Florida

We made a pit stop in Vero Beach, Florida to make some extra cash and catch up with Meg’s family. Cocoa Beach was not far so we took a day trip to see the home of Kelly Slater.


April:

Chicago, Illinois

We booked our flight overseas and luckily had a long layover in Chicago. We spent a few days saying goodbye to family and friends and even took a night boat cruise around Lake Michigan.

May:

Ireland

Spain

Our first stop overseas was Dublin, Ireland. Although very rainy, we quite enjoyed walking up and down the streets and stopping in a local pub for a delicious Guinness.

May was also the month that we booked our $20 ticket to Barcelona, Spain. We spent the end of may hitch-hiking the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

June:

Morocco, Africa

Spain

Portugal

June was a very busy month. We decided to switch things up and head to a new continent. We rode camels in the Sahara desert near the Algerian border and hung out on the west coast of Africa.

We headed back to Spain and couldn’t leave without visiting Meg’s roots. Sevilla, Spain proved to be picturesque and beautiful.

From Spain, a quick hitchhike into the beautiful Portugal. (one of our favorite countries)

July:

France

Why not live in France for two months? That’s exactly what we did. Meg got a job working as a chef at a B&B, and David built a wonderful greenhouse. We traveled all over France and hit some hot spots. With our extra euros from the B&B, we were able to rent an apartment for two weeks in the center of Paris. (Bordeaux, Nantes, Brest, Normandy, Paris, and Tours)

August:

Italy

Next up…. David’s roots. We shot straight down to Sicily where his family once began. We rented a car and drove around the entire coastline. We also decided to make a few spots on our way to Eastern Europe.

September:

Slovenia

Croatia

Bosnia

Montenegro

Kosovo

Serbia

Bulgaria

September was dedicated to Eastern Europe. We wish we could have spent even more time in these fabulous places but the world is so big and we still wanted to see so much more.

Meg’s Birthday was spent in Croatia on a kayak trip around the islands.

October:

Turkey

India

We ended up extending our stay in Turkey because we had to wait in Istanbul for our Indian visa. This allowed us to couch surf for a week with a new friend. We also took a week long sailboat trip where we snorkeled, cliff jumped, and met some lifelong travel friends.

The second half of the month was when we made the trek to India. Oh India, how we love thee. We stayed with a friends Mom for a week and felt what it was like to live the Indian way. We even attended an Indian wedding. Taj Mahal, Holi Festival and unlimited yoga were also some highlights.

David’s birthday was spent in Rishikesh, India, an alcohol-free village. Fortunately our new friends from London smuggled some whiskey for us.

 

November:

Thailand

Laos

Mid-November we set flight for Bangkok, Thailand. We then headed south to Krabi and Koh Pha Ngan for a 13 day getaway to the coast. It was then time to meet up with some Aussie friends that we met in Turkey so we headed North to Chiang Mai. We both fell in love with Chiang Mai. We even got to participate in a local festival, Loi Krathong. We lit a lantern and sent it up to the sky letting go of any past regrets or mistakes. We also did a 3-day jungle trek which included elephant riding, local village living, and survival techniques in the jungle.

Once we met up with our new friends we took the 2 day showboat to Laos. We spent about two weeks in Laos, via the tourist track back into Thailand over the friendship bridge. The end of the month was spent on an island in the Gulf of Thailand.

December:

Cambodia

We arrived to Cambodia in the middle of December . Our first stop being Siem Reap. We love the people, the atmosphere and the prices. We rang in the New Year in Siem Reap and now it’s off to Vietnam on our newly purchased motorbike.

That’s our 2012 in a very small nutshell. It will be a year that we will never forget.

Slow Boat to Luang Prabang, Laos

Slow Boat to Luang Prabang, Laos

The one thing about long term travel is you always have to be thinking ahead to the next event or next country. In this case, it was planning our trip into Laos. Our Thai visa would be expiring soon and Laos would be the best place to regenerate some Thailand travel days as well as indulge in some beautiful country side.

This time the planning would be spread out amongst four travelers rather than too as we had met up with some Australian friends that we met on our Turkey Rivera cruise. Luke and Christine met us in Chiang Mai and the duration of their trip would be spent with us in Laos and Thailand. Lucky cats!

Our new Aussie friends!

The meet up started with some banter through Facebook messages and a slow boat idea got thrown out on the table. “A slowboat into Laos….that sounds fantastic!!” We hit the google search and found that you can pay almost 1700 baht ($55 US each) through a booking agency which will take you from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai (Bus), Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong (Bus) and then the showboat to Pak Bang, next day showboat to Luang Prabang. This “package” including all your food, transportation and accommodation in Chiang Khong.

Most people would jump all over this package because the travel agent will even explain to you how the slow boat ticket alone is 1200 baht ($39 US each). BUT, if you do a little research you will learn that this “package” can be done very simply yourself and for a mush cheaper cost.

This is how we did it and we even got to check out Chiang Rai in the process:

1.) Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai:

(they leave almost every hour)

The bus prices vary depending on what time of bus you book and what time you leave. We left around 9:30am and paid 120 baht ($4 US each). It wasn’t the cheapest but it wasn’t the most expensive. They range from 90-160 ($3-$5.25) US baht and I would imagine all buses are fairly similar.

2.) Chiang Rai Accommodation:

We decided that we would rather spend a night in Chiang Rai then in Chiang Khong as Chiang Khong is a very small border town and we read online that their is not much to do. We booked a cheap accommodation in the center of town for 200 baht ($6.50 US total for 2pp). In Chiang Rai we checked out the night market, visited the White Temple and walked all around town. It’s much smaller than Chiang Mai so you don’t need a lot of time there.

White Temple in Chiang Rai

3.) 6am Bus to Chiang Khong: (60 baht each: $2 US each)

We took the earliest bus because we wanted to make sure we would make it to the boat in time for the 11am departure. We ended up getting to the boat around 10am and it did not end up leaving until after 12pm. But better safe than sorry.

Early morning bus rides. Oh Joy!

4.) TukTuk to Border Crossing:

Once you arrive in Chaing Khong you will have to take a tuk tuk to the border crossing. 100 baht total 2pp ($2.75)

Tuk Tuk to border crossing

5.) Cross the border at Chiang Khong:

This requires a quick line to check out of Thailand and a short boat ride ($1 US) over to the Laos side. If you are a US citizen you pay $35 and make sure you have a passport photo.

6.) Tuk Tuk to slow boat:

A few kilometers away is the pier where the showboat leaves from. We were traveling as four and we paid 10,000 kip ($1.25 US) each. We thought this was a steep price for such a short ride but learned it was a standard tuk tuk price to get around Laos.

7.) Pay for the slow boat:

220,000 kip ($26 US per ticket)

Don’t worry about the boats filling up, if the boat is full they will fill another one right beside it.

*** Make sure you grab some sandwiches after the border crossing because there are only snacks and beers on the boat. You can bring on whatever you want.

Our slow boat was not a party boat, we shared a few beers but that was it. However, the boat next to us ended up being quite the fiesta boat. So…. select your boat wisely.

Also, don’t get a room from the man who comes on the boat. His prices are outrageous and you won’t have any problem getting a room in Pak Bang despite what he might tell you.

All aboard!

8.) One night stay in Pak Bang:

The slow boat is two days, you will stay one night in Pak Bang. We arrived in Pak Bang around 5pm. Walk up the hill and you will be in guesthouse haven. We stayed at a 50,000 kip guesthouse ($6.25 a night for 2pp). It was nothing fancy, but it was one night. Deal. There are plenty of cheap restaurants trying to earn your business and will even throw in a free drink or dessert pancake. There is not much to do in Pak Bang, so eat something yummy and chill out.

*** Buy your lunch in Pak Bang because the snack and drink situation will be limited on the boat.

Budget = – 1 Star!

 

9.) Boat to Luang Prabang:

The boat leaves at 9am so get up early, eat some breakfast and grab your lunch to go. We arrived in Luang Prabang at 4pm. We got duped into taking a tuk tuk into “town”. It;s less than 1km walk, easy flat walk. Don’t take the tuk tuk…just walk. The tuk tuk price will be 10,000 kip per person. ( $1.25 US each)

Beautiful views along the Mekong River

 

We all would highly recommend the slow boat and also recommend doing it yourself. It will save you around $25 bucks plus you get a night in Chiang Rai!

 

Total Cost per person doing it by yourself: $74.85 US

includes:

Visa Cost

One night in Chiang Rai and Pak Bang

Food (lunch both days on boat)

Transport (bus, boats, tuk tuk)

Total Cost per person with “Package” from Chiang Mai: $90 US

Includes:

Food (lunch both days on boat)

Visa (package does not include visa, but we added it to the total cost to show breakdown)

Transport

One night in Chiang Khong (with package deal you stay here rather than Chiang Rai)

Does NOT include:

one night in Pak Bang (you must pay this cost when you arrive to Pak Bang)

 

Email us if you have any questions!

Meg and David

Thailand Travel Budget for Two

Thailand Travel Budget for Two

View from our bungalow!


We’ve been on the road full time now for almost a year, and during this time we’ve learned a lot about the world, people, ourselves, and budget traveling.

We traveled across America with 99 hours of road trip driving time logged. We spent six months wandering Europe, both the west and the east, making it all the way into Turkey. We even spent a few weeks in northern Africa, specifically Morocco. We went skiing in Dubai, and spent a month exploring northern India. Now we are in South East Asia for the first time, and it’s been a huge relief for us. Finally our money goes a great distance for us, and though we are on a tight budget, we are able to live quite fancy here. We still have five months left til we head back to America, so our pennies have to float us for quite a while still.


A Daily Budget for two traveling Americans in Thailand


We usually wake up early, since it’s hot here and our accommodation is fairly modest (read: no a/c). We pay just under $7 a night (200 baht) for our room. We have fairly decent wi-fi, a western toilet, a fan, and hot water. This is fancy enough for us and we enjoy the location (old city, Chang Mai). We wander out for breakfast, which can be had on the street for as little as $1, though we often splurge and enjoy a nice sit down breakfast (eggs, toast, coffee or tea, fruit, smoothies) for under $7. Total. That means for two people. Sometimes we get a bit gluttonous and spend $5 a person, bringing the breakfast budget up to $10 for the day.


The Lighthouse Bungalows in Koh Phangan


The next few hours are usually spent meandering the town and markets. Mostly just soaking in the atmosphere. We may spend $2 on waters for the day, but we drink a lot of water (one big bottle is usually less than fifty cents). Another luxury item we indulge in daily are the fruit smoothies. Every street has food cart vendors making them fresh for $1.




Today we felt extra posh and went for Thai massages. A one hour massage set us back $5 each.
 


After a bit more wandering or an afternoon nap (it’s usually an exhausting day as you can tell) we may grab another meal. This is always cheaper than breakfast for us, since Thai food is cheap and delicious. We may spend $4 total, including two drinks (that’s $2 a person for those of you mathematically-challenged).


Somehow we have gotten on a two meal system, supplemented by snacks or fruits throughout the day. Fresh fruit expenses are usually fifty cents a day.


Our evenings usually end with a few cold beers, because as I mentioned, it is hot here. We may spend anywhere from $3-10 on a night of drinking, though it’s usually on the low end.


Peanut butter and honey pancakes…mmmm.


Total Daily Budget for two people: $40-50 (accommodation, food, beers, and massage)


So there you have it. A typical day for us in Thailand. And this is more or less the same everywhere we have been in Thailand. (For those interested, we have been to Bangkok, Krabi, Koh Phangnan, and Chang Mai)


If you really want to to stretch your money, you can. We have spent as little as $15 a day for two people. But it’s good to spoil yourself every now and then.


Meg and David

Kayaking Croatia

Kayaking Croatia
We kept hearing about how cheap Eastern Europe would be, and after a few months of traveling Western Europe, we were ready for the relief. Leaving Slovenia brought us into Croatia, which was slightly cheaper than other places we’d been in Western Europe, but still, it wasn’t going to be economical for us to stay long. Frankly speaking, Croatia just isn’t that cheap.


We caught an overnight train from Zagreb to Split. It was seating six to a compartment for us, which unfortunately meant sleeping while sitting. Our car eventually emptied out to just us and one other couple, so we were able to each take a side and sort of lay down/ sit on our partner for a somewhat strange sleep attempt. But this is budget traveling, and overnight buses and trains are part of the experience.



Arriving in Split, we decided to head to more interesting parts of Croatia. We caught a bus south, through a sliver of Bosnia & Herzgovina, to our destination of Dubrovnik. We had heard great things about this old walled town by the sea. And fortunately, we were not disappointed.


The bus station in Dubrovnik is in between the new town and the old town. When you get off the bus there, ignore all the old women trying to rent you a room. I’m sure there may even be some good deals to be had there, but you don’t need them. Catch the local bus just outside the station. It will head into old town, and everyone will point you along. You can probably just follow the other tourists.


A few minutes later you’ll pull up to the city walls of the old town. Hop off the bus and you’ll find plenty of options for rooms (sobe) to rent. We found a charming spot, with quite a large set up and views of the sea for €60 a night. Like I said, Europe isn’t cheap, but if you hustle you can probably find something cheaper. Since it was Meg’s birthday, and we had easily spent that on any given night in Europe, we were happy. Now that we are in SE Asia, paying more than $15 for a double room seems outrageous.



Dubrovnik is a charming old town. Everyone recommends doing the walk around the top of the old city walls. We were skeptical that it would be worth it, but of course, it was.


 The highlight of our time in Croatia was the kayak trip. You’ll see people standing in the streets with kayaks, trying to pull folks into a day trip. We found one, and since the water was still warm, we were even able to take advantage of some snorkeling in one of the coves. The trip we booked provided the double kayaks, snorkels, a few charming guides, and lunch, all for the price of €30 a person.



Meg and David

Review: La Bodeguita De Vero

Review: La Bodeguita De Vero

La Bodeguita De Vero
Location: 40 43rd Avenue, Vero Beach, FL 32968
For reservations call: (772)-562-7702
Price: $$
Check out the Menu!

Meg and Dad at La Bodeguita! (He introduced us to this wonderful place)

This hidden gem is a must eat restaurant if you find yourself on the central Florida coast. Located on the outskirts of Vero Beach, this family run Cuban restaurant is sure to tickle your tastebuds as well as leave you feeling full and satisfied.

The walls are covered with past customers gratitude and compliments and the staff welcomes you to write on the walls before you say your goodbyes.

If you are looking for authentic Cuban food with a great price tag then La Bodeguita is your place.

We went their for lunch two days in a row because we could not believe the tasty incredible food topped with exceptional family style service. Luckily, my Dad is close friends with the cuban family so we were showered with desserts and love. I promise you, your experience will feel very similar. Just mention you know the Neil Family and soon you will be brought in and able to embrace the Cuban culture and atmosphere that La Bodeguita provides.

 

David recommends: The sweet and sugary plantains as a side dish to any meal.

Meg recommends: The white fish that they offer on special is absolutely delicious, complimented with a creamy white sauce that makes the fish melt in your mouth.

Travel Tips: How to Avoid Border Shakedowns

Travel Tips: How to Avoid Border Shakedowns

 

If you’ve spent any time traveling overland between countries, you’ve likely experienced the nerves and joy of border crossings. New stamps in the passport excite every traveler, no matter how convincingly unimpressed some may pretend to  be. And so with many border crossings, here’s to the hassles, headaches, and potential shake downs that come with it.

 

This should go without saying, but check your visa requirements for each and every country- before you go. This should be obvious, but even we have had some fumbles on checking the visa requirements. These mistakes cost time and money, and are almost always avoidable. So, please, do a quick search before you go.

 

That said, sometimes armed with the correct knowledge, you may get hassled, asked for a border crossing fee that doesn’t exist (I’m looking at you Nicaragua), or be required to pay a fine (that may or may not be justifiable). Here is our story:

 

We arrived to Ireland sometime in the end of April. Now, Ireland is part of the European Union, but they are not part of the Schenguen Zone. This means traveling in Europe and surrounding areas often have different visa requirements, so you really gotta stay on your toes. We eventually made it to Spain, and therefore part of the SZ. We also then left for Morocco, which is not part of the agreement. As you can see, coming back into the EU, and specifically the SZ, it became increasingly important to pay attention to dates, lengths of stay, and visa requirements. All of which we did not do.

 

We rented a little flat in Montmarte, Paris for a week. As good fortune would have it, my friend Steiner from Norway was in town. He incidentally works for the Norwegian immigration office and often deals with people like us who do not pay close attention to such important matters like visa requirements. He did the quick math and realized we would be overstaying our 90 day visa allowance. Of course, this put a bit of a damper on our plans, but we figured we would sort it out later. As we would later find out, there are many threads that explain various situations, fines, and deportations that come with overstaying a visa.

 

Life as illegal immigrants wasn’t high on our list of things to do. Still, there were many things we wanted to experience in Europe. So, we kept traveling, ever aware of the days passing by, putting us further and further from the right side of the law. By the time we left France, we had traveled around Sicily, Italy, and Slovenia. We booked a train from Ljubljana to Zagreb, Croatia. And yes, we were slightly past our visa allowance.

 

Well, the border guards of Slovenia have to give you an exit stamp. And by exit stamp, this means they see just how long you’ve been in the SZ. Bad news for us. We were quickly pulled from our train at the remote border stop. Yes, our train continued on without us.

 

Initially the guards and police were kind to us. No, that is not true. They dealt with us like any common criminal. And to be fair, we were. So after demanding €500 ($650) each, we realized we were in for it. After many blank stares and shuffling about with our bags, we were brought into a detention room. No windows, no door handles, just an intercom and a bench. Oh, and nice bright track lighting.

 

We begged and pleaded with our captors. I mean, we certainly don’t have the cash flow to pay for our sins. They eventually lowered their ransom to €250 ($325) , since we explained that we are two unemployed teachers on our way to Southeast Asia to volunteer for four months. This is also true, but for another post. In the meantime, they left us to sit and reflect on the situation while they kept our passports and processed the fines.

 

After a few minutes, I worked up the nerve to buzz the intercom. The main officer came in and I asked if we were being detained or under arrest. He quickly responded with a ‘no’. I then asked if we could leave and go to the embassy, or at least to grant us a phone call to the American consulate or my family. He fumbled around for an answer and conceded that we would be allowed to leave. Still, they demanded their €250, which I assured them I did not have. After a bit more bantering back and forth, the head woman in charge appeared, asked us a few questions about our travels and itinerary. And then let us go. Two hours later we were back on the train heading towards Croatia with fresh exit stamps in our passports.

 

The takeaway lesson is this: keep nothing valuable in obvious locations. We had our backup American money very well hidden, and when they searched our bags they just saw dirty clothing and books. The appearance of having very little helped to confirm our story of actually having very little.

 

We also held strong to our story of not having the cash. They wanted us to go to the ATM, but I assured them we didn’t have the money, going so far as to ask them to call the embassy or let me call family. Of course, it didn’t get this far as they just wanted the money for themselves, not for a fine and a paper trail.

 

In the end, the best way to avoid a border shakedown is to be informed. Know your visa requirements, and any fees or fines that could be included. And if you find yourself detained, stay cool. Money makes folks do some silly things, but if you remain pathetic enough, they just may let you through.

 

Meg and David


Review: Adventures With Suleyman

Review: Adventures With Suleyman

All aboard! Turkey was supposed to be a quick trip on our way to the Middle East, but some unfortunate politics shifted our travel plans. We then decided to head straight to India, but since our Indian visas were going to take longer than expected, we had to extend our stay in Turkey. We spent a week or so in Istanbul in both the European and Asian sides and couch surfed with a very nice local named Tansu in the neighborhood of Beykoz. We didn’t want to spend all three weeks in Istanbul so we did some research and decided a “Blue Cruise” would be a nice escape. We headed to the nearest travel agency (across the street from our hostel) and booked a week long Turkish Riviera cruise through Ala Turka. It was 300 euros per person and it included all transport, accommodation, and meals. We did the math and if we stayed in Istanbul we would be spending more or less the same amount once we added up hostel, meals, and other expenses.

So off to the southern coast of Turkey!

We took an overnight bus to Fetiye (included in the total cost) and arrived just before 10am. A quick shuttle took us to the harbor and we headed to the Ala Turka office. We boarded the sail boat “Ocean” and received a brief orientation about our week ahead. Our cabin was extremely spacious for a sail boat and we even had our own bathroom.  Suleyman was our main man for the week- also known as our Captain. Suleyman along with Serkan and Utuk would be taking great care of us. They cooked every meal, cleaned the boat and bathrooms every day, and even served as nightly entertainment (it helps when the drinks are flowing). The entire week was filled with delicious meals (plenty of vegetarian options!), fun activities and an overall relaxing way to spend a week. We stopped in cozy little warm water coves, had plenty of time for cliff jumping and snorkeling, and we even had a chance to arrange a paragliding flight from the top of a nearby 6000 ft high cliff over the ocean.

Of course we also met some amazing people on the journey as the customer capacity was 16. Most were on a quick 3 day trip so we got two chances to meet some great people. We also had two birthdays aboard which meant birthday cakes and social drinking and dancing to celebrate. Don’t think you will be so lucky. This is a special gift that Suleyman provides out of his own pocket and he is not like every captain. So, if you are planning to take a blue cruise in Turkey, we highly recommend contacting Suleyman and making sure you get on his tour!

Review: Bourbon House Hostel, New Orleans

Review: Bourbon House Hostel, New Orleans

Bourbon House Hostel

Location: 660 Annunciation Street  New Orleans, LA 70130

Cost: $

 

We spent two nights in New Orleans and wanted to be close to the French Quarter, since we aren’t above being typical tourists. It was tough to find a reasonably priced hotel or motel, and since we hadn’t hit up anyone on couchsurfing, our options were slimming. Fortunately for us, Meg found the AAE Bourbon House Hostel. And it may just be one of the finest deals in New Orleans.

We paid $71.67 for our own private room, right off the front door. That was total, for two nights, two people. For those shying away from math, that’s $17.91 per person. Considering we were a 20 minute walk to the French Quarter, plenty of free street parking, and in a charming old mixed neighborhood of the warehouse district and the old English Garden District, we were pleased.

The walk to the French Quarter is partly filled with walking through the empty and old warehouse district, which can look sketchy. We had no problems at all, though after a few hurricanes and abitas, you may want to opt for the $10 cab, though we just hoofed it.

New Orleans is a city that could easily be in our future one day, at least for a little while. It’s certainly worth exploring, and it’s possible to do so on a budget. The Bourbon House Hostel is a fine way to do it.