Ethiopia Adventure

In November 2010 my husband and I travelled around Ethiopia for three weeks by public bus with a private guide. Travel (especially bus travel) is a real adventure and not for the faint hearted as there is long travel days (even longer if the bus breaks down) on poorly maintained roads. But it is an excellent way to get up close and personal and experience the life and culture of the locals.

Addis Ababa
We arrived at the airport at 3.30am. We had not booked any accommodation due to our early arrival so we stayed at the airport till about 7am. A taxi agreed to take us into the city for USD$10. We went to the Ras Hotel where we had to wait till 9am to see if they had a room.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Ras Hotel 3 times due to its central location. The price includes breakfast which is awful but lunch and dinner are good.

Bahir Dar
We stayed at the Ghion Hotel on Lake Tana and did a boat cruise to the islands to see the painted churches. The Blue Nile Falls area is pretty but not worth the long bumpy ride to get there. Since damming the river, the waterfalls are certainly nothing like the posters show.
Travel Tip: Check if a guide is included with your Lake Tana boat cruise. There was 9 of us on our boat. No guide accompanied us on the boat except for our private guide Samson. The first island we visited Samson acted as intrepreter otherwise we would have not understood what we were looking at. The second island we visited the church guide spoke English.

Gonder
The abandoned castles are very interesting and it is worth hiring the guides inside the gate.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Belgez Pension which was cheap, clean and quiet but the rooms were very small and cramped. They do your washing for a very small fee – give to the cleaners in the morning.

Simien Mountains
We did a one day 4WD day trip with another traveller and our guide Samson.
Travel Tip: We would have liked to have stayed overnight even though we are not trekkers, as the scenery is stunning.

Lalibela
We spent 2 nights in Lalibela exploring the amazing rock churches.
Travel Tip: Keep your entrance ticket handy as they will be checked at each church entrance.

Arba Minch
Arba Minch is a overnight bus stop between Addis Ababa and Jinka.
Travel Tip: Spend an extra night on one of the stopovers and do the lake tour.

Jinka
We hired a 4WD locally to tour the main 3 tribes in the area (Mersi, Hamer and Karo tribes). We shared this cost with 3 other travellers who were on the bus and stayed at the same accommodation as us.
Travel Tip: Buy your bus ticket to Addis Ababa early (at least 1 day in advance) so you can obtain a better seat number otherwise you will find yourself stuck at the back of the bus on the 2 day journey. Buy good ear plugs so that you can block out the noise of the loud music videos playing.

Transport
We used a variety of transport that included: public bus, minivan, 4WD and boat.
Travel Tip: If you find that quite a few of you are heading in the same direction, it will be more economical and comfortable to rent a minivan and driver like we did from Bahar Dar to Gondar (7 people).

Tour Guide
We used the services of a private guide. This was the first time we have hired a guide for the entire trip through a new country. The guide proved invaluable in keeping the touts away (worth the money alone), dealing with local tour operators and obtaining hotels.
Travel Tip: Use a private guide’s extensive knowledge and experience to enjoy Ethiopia through the eyes of a local.

Cruise

Are you planning on going on a cruise? Well if this is your very first time, you may not be very sure what to expect. Having a few tips to help you out can be very helpful to you. So, here are some important cruise to keep in mind when you go on a cruise.

Tip #1 – Have a Carry On Bag – The first one of cruise that you’ll need to remember if you’re going on a cruise is to make sure that you have a carry on bag. Once you get on the ship, you’ll want to visit your cabin but you can’t expect your baggage to show up for awhile. So, it’s a good idea to have a carry on that has some clothes and a few essential toiletries on hand.

Tip #2 – Get a Map of the Ship – Cruise ships are huge. You don’t want to get lost and a map can definitely be a huge help to you. Make sure you have the map and take a bit to look it over so that you’ll be able to more easily get around the ship.

Tip #3 – Walk to Where You’re Going – When you are going to dinner or you are going to a show on board, you may want to walk wherever you are going. You’ll find that the elevators are probably going to be full and often many people are trying to wait for an elevator and they may not be in a great mood. So, just go ahead and take a stroll and get a bit of exercise walking to wherever you need to go.

Tip #4 – Keep the Noise Down at Night – If you are out late at night, make sure that you keep the noise down. You don’t want to go around slamming the doors of your cabin, since it can wake many people around you up. So, have some courtesy and shut your doors as quietly as possible to avoid encounters with grumpy cruise mates.

Tip #5 – Avoid Wearing Expensive Jewelry – When you are on a cruise ship, don’t go around wearing your most expensive jewelry so everyone can see it. Of course there will be some formal dinners where you will want to look great, but leave the most expensive jewelry at home. You may become the victim or a thief if you go around flaunting expensive jewelry.

Tip #6 – Tip Generously, is the last one of the cruise listed here; When you are out there on a cruise, make sure that you tip generously whenever possible. Most of the people on the ship make very little money except for by your tips. So, make sure that you are kind enough and generous to give a great tip.

Finally, make your cruise travel memorable and all that you want it to be by doing a lot of planning before you travel.

Top 5 For Canada

Canada is a great vacation destination and has many things to offer to its visitors like the majestic mountains, beautiful winding roads, lush green forests, wildlife and the multicultural cities. I traveled to Canada last year in December using my air Canada miles, my trip was simply awesome. Here I want to share with you my five best for Canada.

First Tip – Purchase A Good Travel Guide:

When you are traveling to some foreign country, it’s always a god idea to carry a travel guide. Canada is also a no exception, if you don’t want to buy a travel guide there are always many good and guides present online which you can print.

You can find some good travel guides for Canada on top web pages like Fodor’s, Lonely Planet or Rough guides. A good thing about travel guides is that it provides you with an insight about the destination, like where to go, what to eat and drink, things to do and see, where to shop etc. Investing in a travel guide is not bad and it only helps you in knowing the place better.

Second Tip – Always Consider The Climate:

Before you pack your bags for Canada, don’t forget to consider the season you are traveling in. If you are heading for the Maritime Provinces then you must know that they tend to be more humid than the other provinces in the west. In Nova Scotia, Halifax, you can expect to experience weather that is temperate in summers and freezing in winters.

If you are staying in the mountainous areas of Canada, then you can expect to see a lot of diversion in the climate. Keep yourself layered up if you are staying in this region. On the other hand, areas like Victoria and Vancouver are more temperate and don’t usually see too much freezing temperature.

Third Tip – Plan To Cross The Border:

Traveling to Canada is not that easy anymore like it once used to be. The new restrictions have made it difficult to cross the borders, the documents needed for traveling to Canada are always changing from time to time. So it’s best that you check the documents and verify that you don’t need anything extra before you head for Canada.

Fourth Tip – Know The Currency:

Another important tip for traveling to Canada is that you should know the importance of comprehending the currency before you leave. Canada uses Canadian dollars, though you can also use US dollars. It is always wise to carry a traveler’s check in Canadian currency since they can be accepted anywhere.

Fifth Tip – Tips On Tipping:

Also remember when you are giving tip in Canada you need to know how the Canadians take gratitude. Tips are not included in the restaurant bills and a standard tip for good service is $12 to $15.