Category Archives: Travel Tips

Phone Apps for your Travels

 

  1. Here Maps an offline-map application . Ever since GPS has been integrated with phones, I have been using it to
    • Find my way through cities with minimum preparation.
    • The fact that the map is offline, does saves me from Mobile Roaming costs
    • The GPS gives re-assurance when you are in a taxi  and you want to know if you’re in the right direction
    • In some countries if you are taking public transport, there are no “bus stops”, you have to tell the driver to stop when needed. The GPS comes in handy!
    • Caveat: Being discrete  with your flashy mobile might be of the essence in some cases, and besides it  really is   nice to ask people around for directions :)
  2. Roamer:  A Dual sim app simulator.  If you need your home mobile phone abroad and save on Roaming costs
    • Get a local Sim with Internet access, install Roamer and you’ll be reachable on your home mobile phone via Internet
    • Calls from/to  your Home mobile phone will be charged significantly less than  through Roaming.
    • The quality is good but of course this is dependent on the bandwidth allocation of the Foreign Mobile operator or on the Wifi connection that you are using.

    Continue reading Phone Apps for your Travels

The Machame route of Kilimanjaro

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Just a little bit more than a year now, me and my friends did the Kilimanjaro trek. We chose the Machame route knowing its reputation as the most scenic of all the routes. Contrary to The Marrangu route(Coca Cola route- the easiest) you are supposed to sleep in tents and the path does not have a gradual ascent. This is the reason why Machame is called the Whiskey route! Continue reading The Machame route of Kilimanjaro

Travel apps and Gadgets

Amazon 3g kindle  

3g Kindle
3g Kindle

At 189 USD, the Kindle comes in cheap for the functionalities that it offers. For the modern traveller its interesting feature is the  free 3g Access worldwide(At least in most cities with 3g Access).  Most modern e-mail websites have text only versions and this comes in handy with Kindle as its browser is not meant for graphical and interactive content. With Wiki travel and Wikipedia, you’ve got enough internet reading material without breaking the bank.

For the avid reader and traveller, buying a Kindle 3g is a no brainer: you could bring it by the beach and  read with your hearts content without the sun glare on the screen, high contrast — just like paper. You can even let it read the book for you. Having said that I recommend buying Amazon’s Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, not only is it classy, the light it offers is powered by the Kindle itself!
Wouldn’t it be good to centralize all your travel information in one place? Trip-it.com offers this cloud based system for free… ok no big deal. But, here is where Trip-it.com shines, you can actually send them e-mails of your plane itinerary and hotel reservations and they will automatically aggregate all this info in their system. Most of the time, you will not need to edit this. If you have Android or iPhone… Good news! They have an app for that, the great thing about it is that the info is cached in your phone. no need for Internet if you just want the cached info from your mobile.
With luggage excess fees skyrocketing this days,  at around 25 USD, this gadget is worth it for the peace of mind of bringing a maximum of luggage load  with out the penalty. A friendly reminder, please check the airline you have booked with for your luggage limitations. There is quite a difference between Europe and North America for sure.
I bought my first pair just a few weeks ago, a Bose Quick Comfort 15. At little bit more than 300 USD it didn’t come in cheap, but I am quite happy with this purchase — I have tested it on my recent long distance flights. I flew on a trans-atlantic flight with an old US Airways airplane on economy class and boy did that headphone save me! The cabin noise was unbearable and there was no personal entertainment system… good thing my the noise isolation worked really well!
Bose QuietComfort 15 ReviewImage by clintonjeff via Flickr
The noise canceling works well with constant noise like those that you get on planes and trains, if your neighbor or a cabin crew talks to you whilst you are not paying attention, you can still hear their voice because those sounds are not constant.
A word of warning though, the Quick Comfort 15 comes in with a very lightbackground buzz that is almost not perceptible, it didn’t bother me but I guess for those with sensible ears this could be an issue. If you live in the US they currently have a 30 day  trial period– that is a good incentive!  Another issue with the Headphone is that it is dependent batteries, no juice, no music. The specs mention around 35 hour of life span for a triple A battery which is large enough to cover at least 2 long distance flights.

The airport express is really practical if you find yourself in a Hotel offering internet access with an Ethernet network plug : no wifi. Plug in t

Apple Airport ExpressImage by La Ignorancia Mata via Flickr

he Ethernet plug to your Airport Express, and voila you have your wireless connection. I still see a lot of old school Hotels with no wifi, so my Airport Express comes in handy.

Aside for travel use, you can use it at home as a wireless hub, you could plug a printer to it for network share and of course with iTunes you could stream music to a speaker plugged in on your Airport Express

Going to Bethlehem from Jerusalem by public bus

On my second to the last day in Jerusalem I decided to go to Bethlehem. It wasn’t an easy decision because I’ve been hearing  some people saying that tension has arisen in the area —  the deadline for the Israel moratorium on settlements happened on the very day I visited Bethleehem.

As it was a last minute decision my options were limited, there are a couple of tours that organizes trips to Bethlehem but it was too late for me. So I went through Google to see how I could commute to Bethlehem from Jerusalem . Sure enough I found one which indicated what I needed to know: it’s just that in reality things are sometimes a little bit different. So here’s my take on this…
Find Bus 21 on  the Arab  bus station along Sultan Suleiman road. You could always have a chat with the driver to know if you’re on the right bus. To locate the station turn right after exiting Damascus gate and on the left side side of the road you’ll see a path where lots of buses go in and out, just follow that path and you’ll find the station.
A one way trip to Jerusalem costs 6.50 Shekels(1.80 USD) as of the time of writing. From Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the bus 21 does not get checked in a checkpoint. From Bethlehem to Jerusalem, it gets checked. But that’s another story.
Get off at the last stop of Bus 21. And from there look for the road with steepest ascent, go straight and in 10 minutes you’ll find yourself on Manger Square. Don’t get bothered by taxi drivers who will tell you it’s a 45 minute walk.
As I went there on an off peak season, there weren’t a lot of tourists, most tourists came by via guided-tours. From the bus stop to Manger square I was an easy tourist target. And so on my way back I was told that the bus doesn’t pick up tourists because of the checkpoint. I ignored the guy by  saying I came here by bus and that there is no way the bus driver is going to refuse me for the way back.
When the bus came the driver refused to let me in saying that there is a checkpoint… I am sure that the bus driver is cohorts with the taxi driver, as why would anyone refuse someone with valid passport. Nevertheless, I listened to the guy who warned me about this, he said he could take me to the checkpoint for 20 Shekels and from there I could take the same bus. Just for the fun of it I refused to go with him. I went straight back to the tourism office at  Manger Square and told them about the incident. Strangely enough the Tourism office did not refute what I have been told before. She said I could take a service-taxi or a taxi to the check point and take bus 21 after the checkpoint, she gave me a guide map for this. The price  for Service-taxi… 3 Shekels and for the taxi… not more than 15 Shekels. From the Check point to Damascus gate expect to pay 3.50 on bus 21.
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I have kept the Palestinian guide map in my luggage, and when I was being checked in the airport it raised a red flag to one of the controllers. I found it almost funny… the lady checking my bag changed faces as soon as she found the guide map! She had to show it to her superiors..All in all I had to wait in line for 1 hour and a half and 45 minutes for bag inspection.