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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

The Omnivore’s East African Dilemma

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A recent rabbinical revelation, which qualified giraffes as amongst those lucky, split-hoofed and cud-chewing animals deemed kosher, got me thinking about my personal meat consumption. From where I’m currently writing (in the American northeast), if I want to eat locally, I’m pretty much restricted to sheep, cows, pigs, goats, and various poultry (minus one if I’m eating kosher!). It thus seems my giraffe-eating opportunities, rabbi-sanctioned or not, are limited. (Full disclosure: I’ve been a vegetarian since the 8th grade…).

But while giraffe remains novel, I did eat zebra once. Well, not really, but I very seriously considered it. I had it on my fork, raised it to my mouth and everything. Alas, at the last second, I got cold feet and finished my meal with my vegetarianism in tact.

Where, you ask, did I have this unique opportunity to test the (narrow) limits of my gastronomical bravado? Certainly not in Philadelphia. No way. I’m afraid enterprising eaters must travel to Kenya to try such exotic and gamey culinary delights. There you must head to Nairobi to have a lunch or dinner at the world-famous restaurant The Carnivore.

While I can’t promise giraffe, you can certainly enjoy such carnal treats as crocodile and antelope. And for those of you with less adventurous palates, grilled and barbequed beef, pork, and chicken are also available.

My vegetarian experience of The Carnivore was limited to some pastry-like, lasagna-esque dish, which I shamefully ordered as my more courageous colleagues had wildebeest and ostrich shaved onto their already overflowing plates. I’m not kidding. Attentive, waistcoat-clad servers literally shaved the meat from spits using very large carving knives at the table!!! (And for the record, my veggie meal was delicious, if embarrassing to order).

After stuffing themselves with as much meat as they could handle, my co-diners surrendered to their protein-induced food comas by raising a white flag. These flags are conveniently left in the middle of the table and signal to the diligent servers/meat-carvers that their customers have had enough game and are ready to move on to dessert.

Okay, so perhaps you’re not down with eating giraffe. I don’t blame you. I prefer my blue-tongued, acacia-eating ungulates without barbeque sauce, thank you very much. If you’re like me then you might favor heading just outside Nairobi to the Ngong Hills. There you’ll find the former house (now turned museum) of Danish author Karen Blixen. Drawing a blank on this one? Think: Meryl Streep, and more importantly, Robert Redford <sigh>, in Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa, the movie based on Blixen’s life and work. In addition to re-living favorite moments from the academy award-winning film while touring the house and its bordering grounds, you get to visit the adjacent Giraffe Center. Here you will meet Daisy, the famous Rothschild giraffe, and also have the chance feed the center’s towering twiga, as the animals are called in Kiswahili.

Of course, there’s nothing like seeing animals in the wild. And for that, Kenya’s certainly the right place! After a few nights in Nairobi, head out of the city for a safari (Kiswahili for “journey” or “travel”) in any number of the country’s National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. In the lush landscape of the Masai Mara, you can see the majestic twiga in their natural habitat, not to mention simba (lion), ndovu (elephant), and kiboko (hippo).

The memories alone are enough to whet my appetite and start me dreaming about Landrovers and acacia-dotted landscapes. Sadly, from where I’m presently sitting in Philadelphia, these exciting meals and safaris are nearly half a world away. So despite the rabbis’ green-light on the ingestion of my favorite ruminant, until my next East African adventure I guess I’ll have to satisfy my giraffe-cravings at the local zoo.

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Exciting New Hobbies II: Hot Air Ballooning!

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I was never good at sports when I was a little girl. Always the smallest, always last picked, always first out. Always feigning injuries…

It’s weird: I was terrified of the fast pitch but never afraid of heights. Send me parasailing or put me on a plane, and I am the happiest girl in the world. Force me onto the playing field, and I still cringe.

If only Lewes Middle School had a hot air ballooning team, I used to dream, I would have been the coolest kid in town.

So Marching Band it was…

Seriously, though, how cool would it be if you could get your varsity letter in Hot Air Ballooning? And travel with your team to all of the best ballooning spots in the world?

I’d do it in a second. And here’s where I’d go:

 

BALLOONING AROUND THE WORLD.

 

1. Tropical Queensland

 

 

In Mareeba, Australia, the sun shines at least 300 days a year…

Imagine waking up every morning to an 85% chance of clear blue skies?

Or even better—floating into a seamless horizon as the sun rises over northeastern Australia?

This hot air balloon excursion begins in Cairns and will take you drifting over the lush greenery and fertile agricultural plots of the Atherton Tableland (famous for its food and wine trails, including a mango winery… yummmm…), landing just in time for a freshly prepared tropical breakfast at Tjapukai Cultural Park.

You will then continue your sky high journey on the world’s longest cableway as you coast through the jungle and above picturesque, rushing waterways.

End your day by basking in the late afternoon sunshine.

 

2. East Africa

 

Wings Over Kenya” …it doesn’t get much more poetic than that. My next ballooning destination of choice would definitely be the Masai Mara Game Reserve (also discussed briefly here), which boasts an abundance of lions, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, hippos, leopards, and, for the lucky adventurer, wildebeasts!

What better way to experience this world famous wildlife refuge than to soar above it with the vultures, marabous and pygmy falcons?

The ballooning segment of the safari ends with a “bubbly bush” champagne breakfast…most intriguing…

 

3. Angkor Wat

 

Only from far, far above can you come close to understanding the historical presence of Angkor, Cambodia, which was the largest pre-industrial society in the world!

On an awe-inspiring balloon ride over the remains of Angkor Wat, you will behold the powerful legacy of the Khmer Empire from a truly unique vantage point. An architectural masterpiece, the remaining, towering temples exude the religious and political purposes that they once served.

 

Fly Away!

Hot Air Balloon Tours

If you are aching for a new hobby (or want to pitch a “Diversity in Athletics” campaign to your school), I can only hope that you will indeed consider the exciting past time of…

Hot Air Ballooning.

 

 

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A GL/OBAMA TRAVEL ADVENTURE.

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The presidential candidate’s multicultural roots are all the rage. What could this fiery, young senator do for America’s international image? Does it matter that he was born in Hawaii, has roots in Africa, snapped some snazzy school photos in Indonesia, may or may not have absorbed some fragments of Muslim teachings between the age of 6-8 in Jakarta, and probably has a 7th cousin, twice removed from, I don’t know, northwest Mongolia?

I’m not going to get (too) political. This is a travel website! But, oh man, would it be an adventure to trace the life and times of the world’s most scrutinized political figurehead.

From Kenya to Kansas, it’s time to embark on the international, multicultural, hip, happening Globama Tour.

 

1. Ireland:

Surprise! You thought I would start with Kenya, but did you know that Obama’s great, great, great, great grandfather may have been an Irish shoemaker? (I know: stop traffic). Indeed, once upon a time, long, long ago, at a rural crossroads between Dublin and Limerick, Mr. Fulmuth Kearney awoke to the ways of the New World and abandoned his father’s trade for the land of the free. continue reading

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