1.REASONABLE PLACE TO STAY IN ROME — writes Carina in New York City, USA — I love traveling solo, and I have been reading your newsletter for a few months now. I recently came back from my first trip to Rome, and want to recommend Casa Santa Sofia, a guest house run by Catholic nuns. For about $US50 a night, I had a simple, but clean room with a single bed and private bathroom. A simple breakfast (coffee/hot chocolate/tea, juice, bread/rolls, pastries, spreadable cheese/butter/jam) and free wifi (slow, but it did work) were also included. The location can’t be beat, only 500m from the Colosseum — you can see it down the street! A tip, the convent is located on the main square of the Monti district, the main gathering place of the neighborhood at night. Nice atmosphere, but very noisy at night. If you’re a light sleeper, definitely ask for a room at the back of the building. I loved the neighborhood, though, some great restaurants, gelatarias, and boutiques/vintage stores nearby. Also, may be hot if you travel during the spring/summer — there’s no air conditioning, although they do provide a fan. Traveling in the fall I didn’t have a problem with the temperature. There are definitely some cons, but for the price and location, it can’t be beat!
Also, the free walking tour by New Rome Free Tour was wonderful, a great way to be introduced to the historical center of Rome. My tour guide, Flaminia, was super informative and interesting, and also pointed out good value restaurants to eat at in the normally pricey and touristy area. Highly recommended!
2. PACK MINI ART SUPPLIES — writes Cheryll in Mojave desert, USA — I do a lot of travelling to volunteer but even when travelling as a tourist this is a great tip. I always take small art supplies, crayons, pads of paper, colored pencils and compact watercolor packs. I use them for art journals and children will always gather to watch you create something. I invite them to join me and in the end I give the supplies away. Of course, the kids are thrilled. Many countries do not have affordable art supplies. Once when working at a drop-in facility in Calcutta, India I was prepping the local workers to help me do art the next day with the kids. They were mesmerized and so enthusiastic. Only later did I learn that most of these local ladies had never used watercolors,ever. We take for granted the availability of resources in this country. We are blessed.
3. WHERE TO EAT IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND — writes Liz in London, England — I’ve just returned from Scotland and would like to share this tip with everyone. The World’s End Pub on the Royal Mile is a landmark in Edinburgh. With a rich long history and amazing food at a reasonable price you will be shoulder to shoulder with travelers and locals alike. Try the mac and cheese, and the dessert and the beer! Get there early because it can get very busy and it isn’t a big establishment. P.S. Television in this pub is minimal, allowing the pub’s capacity of around 140 to drink in peace!
4. FINDING TOLERABLE TOILETS IN INDIA –– writes Resmi in Kerala, India — In my country public and paid toilet facilities are not so common, so I’m sending along some advice for female visitors to India. Almost every restaurant and some tourist spots have toilets attached to them. Have a cup of tea at a hotel and take this opportunity to use the toilet facility available there. If you’ve had a meal at a restaurant, don’t leave without using their facilities (even if you don’t REALLY need to go). It might be a while before you find another proper toilet. Alternatively, if you are traveling by car and stop for a petrol fill, take the time and use the toilet facilities available at most petrol pumps. Always carry tissue and wet wipes. You’ll probably need them.
5. A GREAT GUIDE IN PETRA, JORDAN — writes Debra in Washington, DC, USA — I’d like to share contact details of a great guide my friend and I recently had in Petra, Jordan. Sami Moammar shared his knowledge and passion of Petra with us for 1.5 days and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide. Despite being a tour guide for many years he made us feel like he wasn’t just reciting facts and figures. He suggested various options for our full day in Petra and with our input, he developed a perfect itinerary for our day. Sami respected our pace and was very interesting to spend time with. In addition to being a great guide, he took time to pick up garbage left behind by other visitors and casually corrected another guide who was taking his clients down the wrong trail. Sami made our experience in Petra extra special and we hope to return. Sami’s contact details are +962 79 55 94 062 (including WhatsApp) and email@example.com. I hope other Journeywomen can enjoy Sami’s knowledge when they visit Petra.
6. CASUAL DINING IN TRESTEVERE, ROME — writes Jodi in Toronto, Canada — After exploring Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, we went across the bridge (oldest bridge in history) to Trastevere, a beautiful and happening neighbourhood. While there, we had an amazing dinner at Osteria Zi’Mberto, on the recommendation of our guide. The food is inexpensive and delicious. If you will be visiting Rome, I would suggest eating there. But make a reservation. The only reason we got a table was because we got there right as the restaurant was opening for dinner. They offer a smallish menu but everything we had was excellent. I choose house pasta with vegetarian sauce. My hubby had spaghetti with cheese and black pepper. We shared an appetizer of fried zucchini flowers and ended the meal by sharing a wonderful tiramisu. The bill for the two of us was 27 euros. Address: Piazza di S. Giovanni della Malva, 14, 00153 Roma
7. A UNIQUE UPSCALE RESTAURANT IN JERUSALEM — writes Yael in Beit Shean, Israel — I often recommend this big splurge restaurant to my tourism clients. It’s a stone’s throw away from the magnificent walls of old Jerusalem and is one of the most memorable restaurants one can visit. The Eucalyptus restaurant is owned by Chef Moshe Basson. This unique spot serves a modern interpretation of biblical cuisine. Chef Basson’s passion for biblical culture drove him to research and resurrect recipes, spices, and local wild herbs that were part of the traditional cuisine, and were neglected and nearly forgotten for centuries. Every one of his dishes has its origins in biblical scenes and all the spices and herbs used grow, as in ancient times, in the surrounding hills of Jerusalem and Judea. This is an adventure in eating. Prices are in shekels – 3.56 shekels per 1 U.S. dollar at the . Website: www.the-eucalyptus.com
P.S. Since I gave you one upscale Israeli restaurant, I thought I’d add a much more down to earth place. It’s in Jaffa, and it’s called Dr. Shakshuka (near the flea market) and this is THE place to come to eat the veritable Israeli food Shakshuka (the breakfast food that Israelis eat all day long). They have hummus etc. on the menu, but don’t be tempted, order what they do best. Shakshuka, which in case you don’t know it is a concoction of tomatoes, and eggs and it is delicious! Address: Beit Eshel St 3, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
8. LEAVE YOUR VALUABLES AT HOME — writes Beth in Orlando, USA — This is a reminder of something we all already know: LEAVE YOUR JEWELRY AT HOME! Here is my experience. The last day, the last afternoon of our South American trip, my Rolex was ripped from my arm. My arm was cut, and our guide’s nose was bloodied as she tried to stop the thief. It could have been much worse. Luckily, the thief dropped the watch (that I should have left at home). We believe that he and his partner had been following us, looking for an opportunity and they found it in me. Don’t be a victim.
9. A LOVELY HOTEL IN PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — writes Floris in Brisbane Australia — I’ve stayed at The Pavilion Hotel, an oasis of cool and calm within walking distance of the Royal Palace. Caring staff, beautiful rooms and a lovely restaurant. Very economical tariff with breakfast included. Also I recommend using tuk tuks for transport. We had an excellent driver who was proud to show us his city and take us anywhere we wanted to go. The drivers outside the hotel are all trustworthy although we picked up drivers anywhere and found them all responsible men. From the tuk tuk you can get a closeup view of everyday Cambodians going about their lives.
10. TRAVEL WITH A DIAPER BAG — writes Evelyn in Toronto, Canada — Wear a backpack and everybody quickly identifies you as a tourist and that includes the social deviants and pickpockets who are out to get at your valuables. Maybe it’s time you put that backpack away and started thinking of a diaper bag. Here’s six more reasons for every stylish traveller to make that change. Click here.
11. OR, USE A LOCAL SHOPPING BAG — writes Pauline Frommer of Frommer Guides in a Bloomberg News interview — Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman gave me one of the best pieces of practical advice I’ve ever heard. Because female travelers are more likely to be harassed in some countries if they’re seen to be outsiders, the first thing she does when she gets to a new destination is shop for something small in a very local grocery store or pharmacy. And then she carries the bag that her purchases came in around with her, because she knows that, no matter how different she looks from others in the place, the bag will mark her as a local—and possibly provide some protection. I used this trick recently in Chennai; I even insisted my teenage daughters did it when they went out alone. It’s kind of like a security blanket. I’m assuming it works, but it may just give me more confidence.
12. DO YOU KNOW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ISLAND OF ST. THOMAS AND IMPRESSIONISM? — writes Marilyn in Montreal, Canada — Pick up a copy of the book. ‘A Marriage of Opposites,’ a female-centered historical novel written by Alice Hoffman. It contains a not so juicy romance as well as a very juicy romance intertwined with travel and important art history. Beautifully written. Four of my pals read it on my recommendation and they loved it.
BONUS 25th ANNIVERSARY TIP — We know that Iceland has become a very popular destination. Not surprisingly, eating out here is very expensive – even just a bowl of soup costs twice as much as you’d expect ($US10.00). Best budget advice, ask a local where they eat and most often they will direct you to their favourite pizza parlour or subway takeaway. In Reykjavik’s harbour area look for the famous Baejarins Bestu hotdog stand. Their excellent steamed lamb, pork, beef combo dogs were a bargain at US$3.45. It’s so popular you’ll have to stand in line to place your order. We did and chatted with folks from around the world. Win-win situation.