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Do Not Miss Lists, Travel Tips

Traveling Europe Off the Beaten Path

Europe is a wonderful travel destination for most as it is frequently traveled, very well developed and normally presents the least amount of barriers to entry.

Simply put, Europe is one of the easiest destinations for travel.

Many travelers still hesitate either because it is heavily traveled or because they fear the costs will be prohibitive. While I do understand and can attest that both circumstances can be true, I can also provide you a list of places to visit to avoid both.

Here are my favorite, somewhat off the beaten path locations in Europe:

Each city has something a little different to offer, but they all provide a feeling of authenticity and are not overwhelmingly touristy. Some of these places you could actually get lucky and be the only tourist in the town. Don’t worry, there will still be English speakers around and it is quite easy to navigate each and every one of them.

I highly recommend the Eastern Europe route as Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are all neighboring and can easily be seen in a single trip. That region of Europe is also quite affordable, has a good mixture of nature, small cities, big cities and ruins – so you’ve got all kinds of travelers covered. I’ve personally taken several trips to this region of Europe in the past couple of years and am beginning to see them pick up as an emerging destination, so I would suggest you head there sooner rather than later 🙂

As always, best of luck on your journey!

Do Not Miss Lists, Featured

South Africa – DoNotMissList

SOUTH AFRICA – DoNotMissList

What to see…. What to eat…in South Africa

Let’s start by saying that South Africa is home to diverse breathtaking landscapes and a rich history that supports 11 official languages!

From the vibrant ‘Garden Route’ to the ‘Dragon Mountains’ you could take in all that the country has to offer without breaking the bank! The climate also supports general travel year round, although if you are interested in specific activities such as diving with great whites, watching the whale migrations, surfing, kite boarding, etc. you may want to check the best time of year for your specific interests!

South Africa, which is the southern most country within Africa is commonly renowned as The Jewel of Africa – and let me assure you, we agree with this sentiment. There’re various ways to get around – from public transport, renting your own car for less then $20/day, walking within all major cities (we tested out Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban) and a variety of well priced overland tours (Intrepid being our favorite).

Now for our South African DoNotMissList:

  1. Garden Route – stretches along the southeastern coast of South Africa and boasts spectacular scenery
  2. Kruger National Park – one of the largest game reserves in South Africa and home to the infamous Big 5
  3. Table Mountain – hike up or take the cable car to see Cape Town from above
  4. Diving with Great Whites in Gansbaai – hop in a cage and go face to face with huge great whites
  5. Boulder’s Penguin Colony – home to the tiny “African Penguins”, formerly known as “Jack-Ass Penguins”
  6. Cape Point – the most spectacular cliff side view
  7. Blyde River Canyon – the largest green canyon in the world
  8. Safari Ostrich Park – the only place I’ve come across that you can ride an Ostrich
  9. Circa on Jellicoe – a modern landmark in Johannesburg’s art district
  10. Stellenbosch Wine Route – a vineyard route outside of Cape Town that offers views that will blow your mind

South Africa’s World heritage sites: 

  1. Mapungubwe National Park – a national park in Limpopo Province, South Africa
  2. The Cradle of Humankind – draws visitors from around the world for the fossil record that lies in the network of limestone caves beneath the surface
  3. Robben Island – an island in Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years of his 27 year sentence

Grub to try in South Africa:

These are the iconic South African dishes that are proudly served to guests…

  1. Droëwors – a type of sausage popular in South African cuisine
  2. Morogo – known as wild or African spinach
  3. Chakalaka – a South African vegetable relish, usually spicy, that is traditionally served with bread, pap, samp, phutu, stews or curries

Thanks for visiting our DoNotMissList for South Africa – we hope you make it there and know you will not be disappointed!  It certainly ranks in our top ten of all time 🙂

Do Not Miss Lists

Egypt – DNM List

What to see…. What to eat… In Egypt

Let’s start by saying that we were adventurous enough to travel to Egypt not long after the revolution… Although it’s been a year since the revolution, there’s still turmoil and visiting during the anniversary of this revolution certainly showcased this fact… Some “amateur” bombs went off while we were there to mark the 1 year anniversary of the second revolution on July 3, 2013. Well we’ve lived to tell, and give you some pointers on what to see when you have your chance to visit this beautiful land, know that you need to take some safety precautions when visiting this spectacular country.

Egypt is unreal – it’s unlike anywhere else in the world you’ve ever been, because so much ancient history is well preserved – Go there to learn about pharaohs and get a feel for how people lived, how much work was put into making the ancient art, and get a taste of what Egypt is like today – It’s a place of amazing sites and structures, with lots of outdoor museums.  Some of the most incredible sites you’ve ever seen – much like Rome, but with underground additions and hieroglyphics beautifully carved into every column.

Keep in mind that after the Egyptian revolutions it is considered a dangerous place for travel, nevertheless we went there, and we promise it’s not that bad. We’d even say we picked the best time to visit, prices are down, people are extremely hospitable and friendly, and best of all, the sites are empty. We were practically the only people looking at the pyramids (Good time to visit?) it was easy to get amazing pictures and learn a fair amount about the history of the nation since there are more guides to tell the stories than actual tourists.

Egypt – What everyone who makes it to Egypt must see (on a short trip – there’s more if you have the time)

  1. In Cairo 
    1. Pyramids of Giza – there were 138 pyramids found in Egypt
    2. Sphinx – Located by the great pyramids of Giza
    3. Egyptian Museum
  2. In Luxor – 4000 year old open air museums
    1. Karnak Temple
    2. Hatshepsut Temple
    3. Valley of the Kings

Food Suggestions – Must eat:

  1. Toum – Our favorite thing of Egyptian Cuisine- Garlic Sauce/Spread – Recipe
  2. Baba Ghannoug – common Middle Eastern Eggplant based spread – Recipe
  3. Tahini – spread (paste) made out of sesame – major component of Baba Ghannoug and Hummus – Recipe
  4. Shakshouka – Tunisian Dish, commonly found in Egypt – Fried Eggs in a tomato sauce – Recipe
  5. Kofta – Meatloaf, usually made from lamb, beef mutton, or Chicken
  6. Kebab – meat on a skewer

Do Not Miss Lists

Israel – DNM List

DoNotMissList – Israel

Israel is a very small country jam-packed with a lot of history. To those of you who have heard of the Bible, a majority of the Old Testament takes place in or around Israel…Modern Day Israel still has some of the beautiful parts from Ancient Israel. Here’s our list of things you must see when you’re visiting the holy land. Also, make sure to try the cuisine, it’s some of the best in the world. Babaganoush, Hummus, Falafel, Shawarma, Tahina, just to name a few.

1. Jerusalem – An older city with a modern twist – See how the european influences of rebuilding Jerusalem helped this city modernize, without losing its historic feel.
2. Old City of Jerusalem – Visit: The Muslim quarters, the Jewish quarter, and the Armenian (Christian Quarter) See how all three religions coexist independently in the holiest city in the world. Visit the Wailing Wall – which is considered by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths to be the holiest point on earth.
3. Haifa – Baha’i Gardens – Beautiful gardens in the North of Israel, known as the world center of the Baha’i faith. It is owned and operated by the Baha’i community and Baha’i temple of Israel.
4. Dead Sea – You’ve probably seen Dead Sea skin products in the mall, the largest distributor is Ahava, products are even available online for purchase here. When you visit the dead sea, you lather your body in mud – let it dry out in the sun – and then emerge yourself in the water to feel the mud melt away, only to leave behind the silkiest version of your skin you’ve ever felt.  Take a swim in a sea that’s so dense you float, literally – the stones along the floor are actually salt crystals.  Do be careful though – you don’t want this water to get in any opening on your body (especially not your eyes), because the high salt content will cause a burning sensation.
5. Mount Masada – Ancient Archaeological site atop a mountain. It was a fortress that was built, and then conquered by the Roman empire.  The mountain is beautiful, located in the Negev desert, you will want to hike early to beat the heat, we recommend 5-6am as the optimal departure time for the hike.
6. Tel Aviv – Modern city and the biggest city in Israel. A fun night life, young crowd, feels like New York’s SOHO but in the Middle East and on the Mediterranean.
7. Jaffa – The old city in Southern Tel Aviv. Jaffa (Yaffa) was the port city that Tel Aviv was built from.  There is much to see in Jaffa, and you can rent bikes at any of the bike stands in the city to get there.  Bikes only cost 23 sheckles for the day (weekdays), which is currently the equivalent of $8.  The best hummus in the country is made by Abu Hassan (otherwise known as Ali Karavan) – which has three locations, one on Ha-Dolfin Street and two on Shivtei Israel near Yehuda Hayamit St.

Here’s a list of mobile apps recommended for use in Tel Aviv.

Scott Gibney’s recommendations in Israel:

1. Relaxation Pools

2. An amazing Israeli winery in Negev

3. A fun pub in Tel Aviv, near Ramat Gan

Thanks for the recommendations and support, Scott.