100th Post: Ten Places that have “Stuck with Me”


Skyline Ridge Loop at Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish, British Columbia

I was going to continue with my Laos series when I noticed that this is my 100th post. To celebrate, I decided to do a post about places that have stuck in my mind and in my heart. It was a tough exercise limiting this to only ten (there are many runners up). I took a broad approach to the word “place” and the list includes countries, regions, and provinces. A few of the places are from visits that happened long before I’d ever heard the word “blog” or even used a computer, and I’m happy to be sharing these “old” favourites. Thank you for reading, for your likes and comments, and motivating me to keep at it. Continue reading

Categories: British Columbia, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Namibia, Places, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

A Camping Safari in Egypt’s White Desert

White Desert Mushroom
Amazing rock formations in Egypt’s White Desert—Caroline Helbig

Many visitors to Egypt confine themselves to the pharaonic splendours of the Nile Valley. However, it’s surprisingly easy and undeniably rewarding to venture into Egypt’s White Desert. Only 500 km south west of Cairo, the White Desert is an incredible landscape of chalk monoliths carved into whimsical creatures by the relentless forces of sand and wind. The White Desert seduces visitors with its mesmerizing beauty. There’s no better way to experience its magic than on a desert safari.

Tourism has suffered greatly since the turmoil of the “Arab Spring”. Egyptians are desperate for visitors and they will greet you with open arms. Go now, and your White Desert adventure will be enhanced by the best choice of guides, competitive pricing and blissfully quiet campsites.

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Categories: Egypt | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

El Fishawy: Cairo’s Oldest Cafe

Smoking sheesha at Cairo's El Fishawy Cafe

Smoking sheesha at Cairo’s El Fishawy Cafe—Caroline Helbig

In the heart of Islamic Cairo, deep in the maze of narrow passages of Khan el-Khalili bazaar, El Fishawy Cafe has been serving tea, coffee, and sheesha to locals and travelers for over two centuries.

We had been mosque viewing, trinket bargaining, and death-by-Cairo-traffic evading for most of the day. We were tired and needed a break. I had read about El Fishawy, one of the longest running coffee and smoke shops in the world, and was determined to lead my family to Cairo’s most famous cafe. Continue reading

Categories: Egypt | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Tackling Cairo: A Survival Guide

Exploring the bustling alleyways of Cairo

Exploring the bustling alleyways of Cairo—Michael Sharp

It’s not love at first sight with Cairo. The city of over nine million (20 million in Greater Cairo) can be hell for those accustomed to rules, order, and space. Cairo is a polluted, chaotic, traffic-chocked mess. But, in a most peculiar way, Cairo’s unpleasantness is part of its appeal. Cairo bursts with vitality. I’d hate to live there, but it charged me, gave me energy, and provided me with some extraordinary travel memories. Give Cairo a chance, it just might grow on you…or not.

Here’s a lighthearted guide to surviving Cairo, and even enjoying it. Continue reading

Categories: Egypt | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Red Sea Diving: Awesome and Easy in Dahab, Egypt


Desert meets ocean in Dahab. Photo credit: Igor Klisov

The Red Sea resort town of Dahab is a wonderfully chilled-out spot on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Its clear water teem with fish and coral, making it one of the world’s premier scuba diving destinations. Dahab, and its glitzier neighbour, Sharm el Sheikh, have long attracted experienced divers to incredible wrecks, deep blue holes, and sites filled with large pelagics. But, Red Sea diving isn’t just for experts. Dahab also has plenty to keep the novice diver happy, safe, and bubbling for more. Continue reading

Categories: Egypt, Scuba Diving/Snorkelling | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Chill Out in Egypt’s Siwa Oasis

Siwa's Shali fortress—Caroline Helbig
Siwa’s Shali fortress—Caroline Helbig

Egypt’s vast Western Desert boasts numerous interesting oases, but arguably, the one that best fits the non-desert dweller’s stereotypical image is the Siwa Oasis. Think lush palm groves, bubbling natural springs, and an alluring old town. Around the oasis lie shimmering salt lakes and an endless sand sea.

Isolated in the far western reaches of Egypt, 800 dusty kilometers from Cairo, it takes time and effort to get to Siwa, but you’ll be rewarded with an amazing “off the beaten path” experience. While Siwa has some impressive historical monuments that are worth visiting, it’s really a place to chill out and absorb the oasis magic.

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Categories: Egypt | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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