Category: Travel

5 Best Cities to Live in East New Mexico

When people from outside of New Mexico think about the state, their minds tend to go to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, aliens, or “Breaking Bad”. Only one of those has to deal with the eastern part of the state, but there’s much more to the Land of Enchantment than that. East New Mexico offers a lot of great cities, many of which people would be happy to call home. Here are the five best cities to live in throughout East New Mexico.

5. Las Vegas

The city that has confused many travelers on their way through New Mexico, Las Vegas used to be two towns but merged into one and now boasts a population of over 13,000 people. Las Vegas has a rich history that was brought on by the railroad making it an important stop. That history includes many tales of outlaws and gamblers, but the Las Vegas you see today much more resembles small-town American instead of the other Las Vegas.

Home to New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas is home to memorable historic sites including the Castaneda Hotel and Carnegie Library. There are two major high schools in Las Vegas to cover each school district, and you’ll often spot movies and TV shows being filmed when studios need a perfect desert town to capture on camera.

4. Carlsbad

More than twice the size of Las Vegas is Carlsbad, New Mexico, though the two aren’t exactly close to each other with Carlsbad being in the southern half and only about an hour away from the Mexico border. The development of southeast New Mexico was highly emphasized during the late 1800s, and Carlsbad received more attention than most regions at the time.

Founded as a town named Eddy in 1888, Carlsbad officially got its name in 1899 due to the Carlsbad Caverns being rediscovered. The mining industry is a big one in Carlsbad, though the city offers many places to work. With multiple high schools and a branch of New Mexico State University, as well, Carlsbad has several educational options. 

3. Clovis

Clovis is another one of those East New Mexico cities that became a railway hub in the late 19th century and has ended up steadily growing ever since its founding. Clovis is around the same size as Carlsbad, and is home to the Cannon Air Force Base. Fans of classic architecture will love the city, especially the Hotel Clovis and multiple movie theaters that look like they were taken straight from early 20th century.

Situated on the Texas border, Clovis is known to have some hot summers, though they’re much more manageable than a lot of the state. The winters are also mild, making Clovis a great place to live year-round. Eastern New Mexico State is a close trip for Clovis residents, and having just one high school makes the city feel like a tight-knit community.

2. Hobbs

Tucked away in the southeaster corner of New Mexico is Hobbs, which boasts a majority of the population in Lea County. Hobbs was founded in 1907 and has seen its population grow to over 40,000 people thanks to the oilfields and Hobbs Army Airfrield. The opening of the University of the Southwest helped to increase the population in the mid 20th century, establishing Hobbs as a college town.

Much of Hobbs’ economy is still based on oil and mining, though there’s plenty to do in the city. Hobbs boasts one the largest casino/resorts in the state with the Zia Park Casinoo operating a racetrack. The city is also home to the Soaring Society of America with United Airlines offering flights to Denver and Houston.

1. Roswell

Of course, you can’t mention East New Mexico without mentioning perhaps the most famous city in the state: Roswell. Roswell is the largest city on the list with a population that hovers around 50,000 and is obviously known for its history with with rumored UFOs and the Roswell Army Air Field. Outside of that, though, Roswell is a fantastic city to live for a long list of reasons.

Roswell has some of the best food that you can find to go along with tremendous educational and employment opportunities. The city has been given the award of All-America City by the National Civic League on three occasions, and has a big city feel without having too many people. Sports fans will feel at home in Roswell, too, as the local pro baseball team (the Invaders) play at Joe Bauman Ballpark.

5 Best Attractions Along Route 66

If you were to ask someone in the United States to name the first road to come to mind, it would almost undoubtedly be Route 66. The highway which stretches all the way from the Chicago, Illinois area to Santa Monica, California has had songs written about it and plenty of movies and television shows filmed on it, as well.

Though it’s no longer the only major way to get from the central part of the country toward the west coast thanks to the advent of the Interstate Highway System, Route 66 remains a piece of Americana that many travel from around the world to see for themselves. If you’re making the trip and want to get your kicks along Route 66, here are the five best attractions to see along the way.

1. Cadillac Ranch 

In Amarillo Texas, along the 2,448-mile stretch of road that makes up Route 66, lies an intriguing art installation called Cadillac Ranch. Artists Hudson Marquez, Chip Lord, and Doug Michels formed a group they named Ant Farm in 1974. 

The group of artists took ten Cadillacs, splattered with an array of colors, buried front-first in the ground in a line reminiscent of the pyramids of Giza. Tourists and artists alike stop and take in the view of the interesting piece of art while on their way down the historic highway. 

2. Wigwam Motel

The historic Wigwam Motel along Route 66 is listed as being located in Rialto California, although its physical address is in the bordering city of Rialto California. The motel chain was constructed between the 1930s and 1940s, made to look like a group of tipis, tents often used by indigenous people many years ago. 

Although referred to as the Wigwam Motel, wigwams are mostly wooden structures built in a dome shape. The motels underwent renovations in the early 2000s and are a popular destination for tourists. In 2012 they were listed under the National Register of Historic Places.

3. Santa Monica Pier 

Santa Monica California is the last stop or commonly referred to as the “end of the trail”, on the western side of the historic Route 66. There lies the Santa Monica Pier, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The pier is a wonderful spot to end your trip or to take a break before making your way back East. 

There’s a small attraction, Pacific Park, within the pier, with a carousel, arcade, solar-powered Ferris wheel, and a roller coaster. There are also food vendors, places to fish, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, and much more to provide entertainment and fun while you’re traveling the iconic highway. 

4. Seligman

The tiny town of Seligman has a lot of history behind it. It also just so happens to be the inspiration behind Pixar’s animated film, Cars. In the heart of Route 66 is the barbershop owned by the man who founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, of which Seligman was the first to become a part. 

The following year, the rest of Route 66 joined.  Angel Delgadillo is the barber whose foundation and stories became the inspiration for Cars creator John Lasseter. The stretch of road is adorned with the old barber shop turned gift shop and is a must-see for those passing through.  

5. Oklahoma Route 66 Museum 

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, located in the city of Clinton, is one of many museums along the stretch of highway that is dedicated to its history. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and charges a small entry fee. 

The museum has a retro look and feels to it, transporting you to the days when the highway was first hailed as the “Mother Road” and scattered with attractions. It’s THE place to get your fill of knowledge and come as close to the retro experience as possible. 

5 Tips For Your Canadian Citizenship Test

Canada is a permanent staple of the world’s top ten in terms of countries where immigrants are heading to and applying for citizenship. With around 8 million people coming to Canada each year, the path to citizenship can be a difficult one with a lot of hoops to jump through.

One aspect of obtaining Canadian citizenship is to pass the test administered by the Canadian government. Many assume that the Canadian test is lengthy due to its neighbor, the United States, having over 125 questions on the test. However, the Canadian test is only 20 questions. That still doesn’t make it easy, though. Here are five tips to consider when preparing to ace those 20 important questions.

1. Learn Canada’s History

Canada has a rich history and was founded as a country on July 1, 1867. That gives potential new citizens a lot of ground to cover when studying for the test. The citizenship test includes many questions about Canada’s history, including who the Acadians descended from, who the Anglophones were, and how many Canadian soldiers served in World War II just to name a few.

The Canadian government has a PDF document that can be downloaded to study, as well as a booklet that can be sent or picked up from local offices. With the test being only 20 questions, you don’t need to know everything that’s in the guide, but it’s best to learn as much as you can before testing time.

2. Take Practice Tests

The best thing that you can do in any test situation, no matter how major or minor, is to take any available practice test that’s offered. Thankfully, there are plenty of online practice tests where you can get some of the questions that could be included on the citizenship test. 

Though they aren’t official, you’ll still get a good idea of what to expect. Another trick you can use is to take some of the highlights from the official study guide. Write questions down on flashcards and have someone quiz you. 

3. Know English and/or French

Most countries will have one official language (or even zero), but Canada has two. The citizenship test is administered only in English or French, so you’ll have to know one of them to obtain citizenship. There are some that may learn enough of either language to simply get through the test, but there’s more to it than that. 

Following the test, there’s an interview period, so making sure that you can communicate in the interview is just as important as being able to read and write in English or French. 

4. Study Canada’s Geography

Just like it is with any other country that administers a citizenship test, you’ll be required to know a lot about the geography of Canada. The main part that you need to know is that there are 10 provinces and three territories that make up Canada. You may be required to know the capitals of these areas, as well. Here’s a quick rundown of those provinces, territories, and their capitals:


  • Alberta (Edmonton)
  • British Columbia (Victoria)
  • Manitoba (Winnipeg)
  • New Brunswick (Fredericton)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s)
  • Nova Scotia (Halifax)
  • Ontario (Toronto)
  • Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown)
  • Quebec (Quebec City)
  • Saskatchewan (Regina)


  • Northwest Territories (Yellowknife)
  • Nunavut (Iqaluit)
  • Yukon (Whitehorse)

Keep in mind that Ottawa is the capital of the entirety of Canada. Ottawa is in Ontario on the border of Quebec.

5. Government, Laws, and Economy

After you’ve learned all about Canada’s past and its geography, you’ll have to know about how to be an active citizen. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you have a full understanding of how the government works, the laws of Canada, and the economy. 

These will be questions not only on the written test, but will also come up during the interview. This includes knowing about how taxes work, the branches of the government, and more. Those that have a good handle on things will get through the interview process easily.

Top 5 Clarion County Attractions

Though it might not be the biggest county around, Clarion County still has a lot to offer. Not too far from Pittsburgh, Clarion County is home to some great boroughs that include Knox, New Bethlehem, Rimersburg, and more. Clarion County also has a lot of attractions that people from all walks of life in Pennsylvania come to visit. Next time that you find yourself in Clarion County (or you’re a resident looking for something new to discover), check out one of these five top attractions in the county.

5. Clarion Mall

While malls in the United States are becoming a lost cultural icon due to the increase in online shopping, there are still plenty of places where they are alive and well. In Clarion County, you’ll find the Clarion Mall which boasts nearly two dozen stores in total. Among them are Maurices, Sally Beauty, and Q Nails & Spa.

The biggest attraction at the Clarion Mall, though, is the movie theater. AMC has set up shop at the mall, with the AMC Classic Clarion 7 showing the latest movies. Not only that, but AMC shows operas, sporting events, and has private screenings available to rent.

4. Clarion County Park

If you’re looking to spend a day just taking in nature or getting active outdoors, Clarion County Park has a little something for everyone. This park, which is open most days between 8 am and 9 pm, is a sports haven for the community. Not only is there room for horseshoes and archery, but more traditional sports have areas at the ready with baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, and volleyball.

If you’re not into sports, then simply walking around or taking the kids to the playground is also a great way to spend the day. With multiple pavilions and picnic areas, you could spend sunrise to sunset at Clarion Park and it would feel like no time passed at all.

3. Clarion Model Railroad Club

Located on Main Street, the Clarion Model Railroad Club is home to some of the most impressive model railroads in the country. The club meets each Wednesday night and has models on display for the public to see. 

Businesses from all around Pennsylvania tab the CMRC to come up with custom train cars, so if you see one across the many businesses of Western Pennsylvania, you’ll likely know where it came from.

2. Cook Forest Trails

If you’ve always wanted to ride a horse but don’t know where to go as a beginner, then the Cook Forest Scenic Trailride is the place for you. This dude ranch is a horse lover’s dream and is open from around Memorial Day week each year until around Halloween. People can bring their own horse or rent one from the ranch to go through the scenic Cook Forest trails that cover some of the more remote areas of the region so you don’t have to go on foot.

The trailride is one that you’ll want to do more than once. That’s because the route that’s taken is never the same twice in a row. You can expect to see a lot of different wildlife when on the trials, including turkey and deer. There are over 200 miles of trails in total, so everyone will keep coming back for more.

1. 9 Worlds Axe Throwing

Axe throwing is becoming increasingly popular in bars across the United States, and Clarion County has caught the fever at 9 Worlds Axe Throwing on Main Street. 9 Worlds focuses more on the axe throwing itself, though, rather than being a bar since patrons can bring their own food and drinks. 

At $10 per person, people ages 13 and up can try out tossing an axe for points to take down their competitors. For those that are a little more experienced, 9 Worlds also offers leagues that run over the course of eight weeks and cost just $99 with discounts for a pair.

How to Obtain an H-1B Visa

Out of the nearly 200 visas, there are two main categories of visas in the United States: immigrant and nonimmigrant. In the latter category, a temporary stay is expected, including work-related reasons. One of the ways that foreigners can work in the United States is through an H-1B visa. These were reasonably hard to come by when first introduced, but the cap on the amount that has been given has raised significantly over the years.

Through the rules of the H-1B visa, you have to be highly qualified in a specific field. This means having a bachelor’s degree-level education or experience in that field. An H-1B visa grants a three-year stay, though that time can be doubled if an exception is needed and meets all requirements. Let’s take a closer look at how to obtain one of these visas and some finer details that you need to know before applying.

Educational Requirements

Not every country will have what’s officially called a bachelor’s degree, but it’s required to at least have the equivalent to be accepted in most cases. Those that have furthered their education into having master’s or doctorate degrees are more likely to be considered first. A large majority of those that are granted an H-1B visa are those that have received several years of post-graduate education. Tech professionals, doctors, architects, etc., will all fall into this category.

Fashion Exception

While most of the successful applicants of an H-1B visa are working jobs that require years of education, there is one interesting exemption. Fashion models from outside of the United States are granted an H-1B visa for work, but it can’t just be any model with an Instagram page. Any applying models have to prove that they have a prominent career, but aren’t tied to the education requirements set forth by the US government. In fact, this is how former First Lady Melania Trump came to the United States originally.

Get Lucky

When all of the applications are sent in throughout the open season, the envelopes with these applications are placed into a lottery. The more highly educated applicants (master’s degree recipients) are given more chances for their envelopes to be drawn. There are two lottery drawings in total, with master’s degree-level entries placed into both. For those that have only a bachelor’s, the first lottery is their only chance of the year to get selected.

Find Work

To petition for an H-1B visa, you’ll have to have a job lined up for when you make it to the United States. Because of this, you should start applying for jobs before even considering an H-1B application. An employer will then be able to sign your petition to earn the visa, which goes a long way in being granted approval. The employer will fill out the necessary forms to get the ball rolling.

Have All Documents

There are a few forms and interviews that an applicant will have to go through to obtain an H-1B visa. From there, some important documents are needed. These include:

  • Previous and current passports
  • Proof of paid fees
  • Visa interview letter
  • Form I-129 receipt and copp
  • Form I-797 copy
  • Job description letter from employer
  • Proof of educational background

Apply Through US Embassy

The final step after qualifying, petitioning, and finding an employer is getting your United States Embassy or Consulate to sign off on you moving to the US for work. Each country will have different requirements to temporarily leave, so make sure that you know the process before getting too far into applying for an H-1B and paying the many fees that can pile up. Once accepted, you’ll be good to go and ready to work in the United States for at least three years and can start your path to becoming a US citizen.

The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real Morocco

If Morocco represents the kind of exotic travel you’ve always dreamed of, your dilemma may be deciding on how best to spend limited time in a country that is so diverse. Morocco is vast and distinctive, from the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert, from the magical blue town of Chefchaouen to the fishing village of Essaouira, which has become a modern surfing destination. What is the “real” Morocco? Here are five suggestions.

Dine with a Berber Family

Some Berber mountain villages welcome visitors and it’s possible to visit a family for mint tea, a simple meal, or even an overnight homestay. An ideal way to experience the unique culture of indigenous Moroccans, such visits are included in some tours. If you plan to be near Tagounite Village at the edge of the Sahara desert, inquire about visiting a Berber home at Draa Oasis.  

Visit the tanneries in Fez

Take your pick from three major tanneries in the city — all of them manually strip the hair from animal hides and dye them with color created from natural pigments, the way it’s been done for centuries. It’s “pungent,” done with natural ammonia (from pigeon poo), but tannery visitors are supplied with sprigs of mint to help temper the stench. Mint is used to produce green dye as well. The red comes from poppies, the blue from indigo, and saffron creates the rich yellow. Marvel at the colorful array from your vantage point on nearby rooftops. 

Experience a Hammam

This is a cultural experience, not simply an invigorating soak and massage for tired muscles. The cleansing and rejuvenating ritual has its roots in an era when private plumbing was unavailable, and both men and women went to public baths. It’s a pampering experience that no visitor should miss, whether you go solo, with a partner, or with a group of friends. Enjoy a steam bath, hot and cold plunges, skin exfoliation, therapeutic argan oil massage, or a rejuvenating full-body clay treatment, and emerge relaxed and refreshed. 

Roses — in Morocco?

You bet, the Kelaat M’Gouna Rose Festival is unique to Morocco, held for two days on the second weekend in May. At other times of the year, the valley is worth a visit to see its palm trees, clay homes, and traditional mosques, all with the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. The scenery is breathtaking and, if you’re lucky enough to visit when the roses are in bloom, you’ll never forget the scent — or the sight — of the spectacular pink flowers that are used both in Moroccan cuisine and for world-renowned lotions and cosmetics.

Make Time for a Prayer

The Hassan II Mosque, on the Atlantic seawall in Casablanca, the largest in Africa, has a striking minaret stands 690 feet tall, and is fitted with a laser beam directed toward Mecca. Remnants of other mosques, including the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalen, the Grand Mosque of Damascus and the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh were used in its construction.

Finally, try to spend at least part of a night stargazing, whether from a peak in the Atlas range, or from the desert dunes. The stars above Morocco just seem to be closer and brighter than most other places on earth. Study the constellations beforehand so that you can recognize them! It’s an experience you won’t soon forget, and it’s worth missing out on sleep!

The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting Italy

Oh, beautiful Italy, home to magnificent Florence, Rome, and the Tyrolean Alps. It’s a sight to behold and the home of beautiful villages, lakes, islands, and Mediterranean beaches. Italy also has some of the craziest drivers you’ve ever seen that take pride in their Ferraris and Turbo Fiats.

Italians are proud of their culture, which is often very dysfunctional, engaging, and sometimes challenging. A few things shouldn’t be done when visiting Italy, and we’re here to clue you in.

Never Commit the Ultimate Sin; Cheese on Pasta with Fish

Throughout history, numerous Italian leaders have been exiled from the country. Italians may change their governments as frequently as most of us change our pants, but they’ll want to exile you too if you put cheese on top of pasta that includes seafood. This is a culture that touts the wonderful flavor of its food and takes the greatest of pains to ensure every bite is an experience. The chef wants to know that you found the food amazing, not committed something tantamount to the ultimate food sin of covering the flavor of the fish with cheese.

Don’t Wear Shorts to a Church

The artwork in Italian churches is legendary. Walking into the Duomo in Florence, you see some of Michaelangelos’ most marvelous masterpieces. As the origination country of the church, Italians truly value their Catholic tradition, and it is important to respect it.

Jeans are acceptable but don’t wear shorts, tank tops, or flip-flops into these hallowed places if your wish to be respectful.

Don’t Plan on the Trains Being on Time

In northern European countries, trains always run on time; that is rarely the case in southern Europe. A more relaxed approach to life results in trains that can be epically late. In fact, don’t expect punctuality at all. Many shops and restaurants will close at lunchtime when Italians slowly savor their flavorful food.

Do Not Expect English to be Spoken

Almost everyone is fluent in English in Germany, as it is a compulsory subject in German schools. This is not the case in Italy, English is not widely spoken, and Italians don’t really have no desire to do so. Thankfully modern smartphone apps are available to help.

Whatever you do, please don’t yell English words. Yelling doesn’t make them any more effective or translatable.

Don’t Cut Your Spaghetti, Ever

Yes, there is pasta etiquette, and an Italian never wants to see their famous noodles end up in pieces. You will see looks of pure terror. The proper method is to roll your spaghetti around your fork with the assistance of the plate. By doing so, the essence of this dish is fully respected.

Don’t let these tips scare you away from Italy, though. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, filled with incredible, iconic art, amazing views, fashion, historical places, and tasty food. It’s magical and a little crazy all at once, making for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which is also why you’ll find yourself returning again and again.

A Beginner’s Guide to Breaking into Backpacking

Do you enjoy the outdoors? Are you looking for a new great adventure? Or, are you looking for a way to convince yourself to spend more time in nature? Backpacking might be just what the doctor ordered.

Backpacking is a super fun sport that allows you to really escape and enjoy nature at a different level. It can be a fantastic mix of relaxing, invigorating, and adventurous. But before you strap on a pack and hit the wilderness, there are some things you’ll want to know — especially if you’ve never gone backpacking before.

1. Start Short and Comfortable 

Backpacking is an extremely rewarding outdoor experience, but there is a level of risk involved that needs to be taken seriously. 

You are about to carry everything you need to basically survive in nature for a few days on your back, and you’re walking away from society. You’re also walking away from your car, from restaurants, from emergency services, from reliable cell phone service, and from the protective structure that is a house. 

For beginners, we recommend choosing a destination that is close to your home and that is short — just an overnight trip or two to get started. You’ll learn a lot about your comfort level, your gear, and your level of preparation during these few days. 

2. Do Your Research and Invest in Your Gear

There are a ton of backpackers in the world, and there are thousands upon thousands of how-to guides, blogs, gear reviews, and entire stores like REI that have experts available to help beginners. Don’t be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS!

Backpacking involves hiking for miles upon miles each day in all sorts of weather and across different types of terrain, so you want clothing and gear that’s appropriate for your hiking trip.

Two essential gear investments are going to be the backpack you want to carry and your shoes. 

You’re also going to want to think about the level of shape you’re in and how much weight makes sense. When you’re carrying food, water, overnight gear, etc. that adds up quickly and you’re going to feel those pounds as you’re hiking. 

A general rule of thumb for beginner backpackers is that a loaded backpack should not be more than 20% of your body weight.  

3. Plan Your Trip and Create Checklists

If you’re a beginner, one of the most important aspects of backpacking is actually making a plan. Making a plan though is not just figuring out where you want to go, where you’re going to park, how long you’re going to be gone, and how far you’re going to hike.

Planning also includes the following aspects:

  • Weather predictions
  • Water access throughout the hike (and the gear you need to ensure clean drinking water)
  • Meal planning (this is not just how many calories you’re going to consume during your backpacking trip, but ensuring you have the cooking gear, including a heat source)
  • Touching base with a service like the National Park, for example, to see if your hike needs a permit for being in the backcountry (for example, parks like Yellowstone have limited backcountry permits for safety reasons and tracking, so you just cannot show up)
  • Purchase a physical trail map if needed because things like cell phone batteries are not always reliable 

This is just a set to get you started thinking through things. 

4. Find Someone to Go With You and Always, Always Let Someone Know Where You’re Going and When You’ll Be Back 

We’re not trying to intimidate anyone, but backpacking is one of those things that you should communicate to your friends or loved ones. Shoot them a text or an email or even leave a physical note explaining what you’re doing, where you’re going, what your timeline is, and text them when you get to the trailhead and when you’re back to your car. Simple as that. 

The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real Egypt

Egypt today is unique and endlessly fascinating, and you’ll want to spend some time getting to know the 21st-Century personality of this ancient land. Yes, the pyramids and Sphinx are larger than life and certainly worth a visit. So, too, is the Temple of Karnak, near the site of ancient Thebes. But, forgive us — that’s ancient history.

Here’s how to achieve some balance — and breathe in the true spirit of this modern nation that once represented the center of civilization. Egypt’s modern face is at least as interesting as its past. 

Take a ‘Revolution’ Tour in Cairo

Imagine the passionate clashes between millions of protestors and Egyptian security forces during the 2011 protests that resulted in the overthrow of then-President Hosni Mubarak. Start your walking tour at Tarik Square. Imagine it being filled with thousands of “non-violent” protestors before the scene turned ugly. Dramatic street art on nearby buildings tells the story. The “25 January Revolution” that started here lasted only two weeks and three days, and spread quickly throughout the country before nearly 850 people were killed and 6,000 injured. It’s a sobering experience.

Visit a Koshari Restaurant

These eateries serve only Koshari, a traditional mix of brown lentils with rice and macaroni, topped with a spicy tomato sauce and fried onions. It may be an “acquired taste treat,” but once you’ve had it, you’ll want to have more. That’s almost a guarantee! Also, don’t hesitate to try Egyptian “street food” whenever you can — and sample traditional desserts like Umm Ali, basbousa, or baklava. 

Enjoy a Traditional Cairo Coffee Shop

Strong, sweet and foamy, Egyptian coffee is an experience you won’t want to miss. Even if coffee is not your drink, this thick blend of fine sugar and fragrant coffee beans is a palate-pleaser. Sip it and just watch the throngs of people from a sidewalk table. If you need an energy boost after a day of sightseeing, it’s traditionally served with a side of sugar cubes.

Catch the Sunset at Siwa Oasis

It can be a long drive through the desert, but once you reach Siwa Oasis, it’s a bit like entering heaven. With groves of palm and olive trees, mineral springs, and salt lakes, this is a place to refresh both mind and body. Plan your visit during fall or winter months — summer heat can be brutal. But it is said that Alexander the Great visited here and Cleopatra herself swam in the pool that bears her name. Book a guided safari, but return to your lodgings in time to watch the sunset over the western desert. It’s magical.

Go to the Beach

Sharm El Sheikh is where you’ll find young, modern Egyptians, along with coral reefs, kite surfing, sky-diving, and any number of other active sports adventures. You can also easily book a Sinai safari or a visit to the magnificent St. Catherine’s Monastery from this resort on the Gulf of Aqaba. 

When you visit Egypt, make an effort to talk to the people wherever you go. You’ll find them friendly and willing to tell you about their country’s historic past as well as its future. 

The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real Greece

Most visitors arrive in Greece via Athens, and Athens has plenty to offer travelers, from the stunning Acropolis to its lively taverns. It is, after all, known as the birthplace of democracy, and one of the oldest cities on earth. You’ll find great street food and a modern high-speed Metro, with a line that runs directly from the airport to downtown. But it’s a big city with four million people! So, get out of town, and get to know the rest of Greece!

Visit a Quiet Island

The number of inhabited Greek islands is disputed — it’s somewhere between 119 and 227, but only 54 have more than 1,000 residents. To find the “real” Greece, limit your time on Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini, and head instead to a smaller, lesser-known island. Tinos is the third largest of 24 islands that comprise the Cyclades Group. It boasts more than a dozen picturesque mountain villages, along with beautiful beaches, hiking trails, scores of churches, shrines, and monasteries, a tradition of marble crafting, and distinctive dovecotes or pigeon houses. Other unique small islands are Iraklia, Schinoussa, and Andros.

Take a Sail

Greece is an island nation, and there’s no place better to experience it than from the sea. Embrace the symbolism of blue and white, the colors of its flag, as you take a day sail in a blue-hulled boat and watch billowing white sails and the clouds in a blue sky. Book your excursion from any seaside village, or charter a boat to visit the Cyclades Islands, where the law, since 1967, has mandated that whitewashed buildings be trimmed only in blue!=

Eat, Eat, Eat — and Drink

There’s more to Greek food than souvlaki, baklava, and gyros — much more. It’s simple and healthy, prepared with olive oil and loaded with fresh vegetables. Desserts tend to be sweet, honeyed, and delicious! Ouzo, flavored with anise and typically served with water and mezedes (appetizers or finger foods) is the “national drink” of Greece, but you’ll find distinctive wines and strong black coffee everywhere! Be sure to stroll an open market and sample street food!

Enroll in a Cooking Class

Take some of Greece home with you, in the form of new recipes and the confidence to prepare taste-tempting meals for friends and family. There’s a wealth of opportunity, from gourmet instruction and a rooftop dinner with a view of the Acropolis in Athens to a small-group class taught by a Greek “grandma” in a family kitchen on one of the Greek islands. It will be a lasting, usable memory with meaning. 


Celebrations are part of everyday life in Greece. There are so many celebrations — religious and otherwise throughout the year — that you’re not likely to miss the fun. Party like a Greek during the celebration of Epiphany on January 6, at Carnival in February or March, Independence Day on March 25, Easter, World Heritage Day on April 18, the various panigiria — holy days that celebrate various patron saints, OXI Day on October 28, or during Christmas season. A bonus is free admission to museums and historical sites on many of the holidays.