How to Make your Personal Travel Map


Maria Shipley’s Travel Map

Maria Shipley has been to: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Faroe Islands, France, United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Morocco, Malta, Netherlands, Sweden, San Marino, Turkey, United States, Vatican.
Get your own travel map from Matador Network.

I wonder what destination #30 will be. I’ll keep you posted.

Notes from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Nobuko is in Israel at the moment and has this to share with her readers.

Israel was cool. Perhaps because I have friends here, and can see the local way of living in what appears to be a mysterious country. I stayed with Tamar, a women I had met in Thailand 11 years ago and I’m usually good at keeping in touch.

I took a side trip to Jerusalem. I think I have been on the road a bit too long, because I did not feel any excitement when I reached the city. It’s Jerusalem! Yet my reaction was “Ah… Rajasthan was much more stunning architecturally, Cairo retained its authenticity and decadence of a crumbling down ancient city”. See the lack of appreciation? It was super annoying to have many shop keepers yelling out to me “Ni-hao, China?”. The interactions never passed beyond BS sales. It just made me miss and cherish my experience in Cairo. I am sure others would enjoy visiting Jerusalem for a religious/spiritual purpose and in appreciation for its biblical history.

Jerusalem, outside of its walled-in old part, is very modern with well a connected system of buses and light rail. Malls, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and fast food shops fill the somewhat European looking streets. Being there had a déjà vu effect on me that I thought I was back in the U.S. The only reminder that I was indeed in Jerusalem was orthodox Jews walking around with winter suits and fur hats in 36 degree temperature…But wait, I see this in New York as well!

Back in Tel Aviv, I spent time resting the day and hanging out at night. Tamar invited her friends and we went out almost every night. I got to reunite with another Israeli whom I had met in Brazil in 2009. And he brought his friends, so I met even more Israelis. At one point, things take on a snowball effect. The number of people you meet keep multiplying by minutes. Luckily I was in a good state of mind and good physical health to enjoy such spontaneous situations, especially over beer and food munchies!!

Before coming to Israel, I was also in Aqaba, Jordan, by the red sea. The beach was beautiful, but local men were always approaching me since I’m alone. And since they are cowards and never have the nerve to do the same alone, they come in a pack, like dogs.  To avoid this, I found a woman sitting alone and went to talk to her. Turned out that she is an Argentinean from Buenos Aires – don’t know if I had mentioned it before – but I have second cousins there from my mother’s side, and I was there to meet them in 2010. So we hit it off. She is my mother’s age, but looks much younger. Her husband is also Argentinean and Jewish. They live near Tel Aviv. After spending a nice afternoon talking and her watching my bag, while I went snorkelling, we decided to meet once more in Tel Aviv.

So, she and her cynical but funny husband took me out today (my last day) to a very nice Italian restaurant by the beach. We shared a leisurely late lunch over white wine and talked, talked, and talked some more. They are the sophisticated kind of people who do not take themselves seriously, and have a great sense of humor. It makes me feel so good to connect with such people because it’s great fun, stimulating, and a big ego booster.

I feel a bit guilty that I didn’t enjoy being with Tamar as much as I expected. This is because I dropped in on her while she is unhappy with her life. The atmosphere was filled with tension (with her husband), her frustration that she lost her self in child rearing, so on and so on. She understandably prefers to hang out with male friends (it makes her feel attractive). One of them was a gentleman who paid for my beers when we went out a few times. But the tension followed because it was apparent to me that Tamar did not like his girlfriend. After the nights ended, each time she complained to me about the girlfriend. I didn’t like this since I saw it as waste of time to bash someone. in comparison, I had great time with Argentinean because they exude contentment, poise and sense of mature detachment.


One of the most amazing, yet challenging things during traveling is – meeting and dealing with people. Each one has his/her own preoccupation, issues, idiosyncrasies, and temperament. Many times I found myself in situations where I  and others had to endure each others’ company for reasons that were out of our control. And I think tolerance is the key to open the first door. If this works, then we have time to feel out the chemistry, then we decide how to behave toward each other. There have been more wonders than regrets, thus reinforcing my willingness to take chances – of course, except for obviously hopelessly stupid men.

Safety Code for Hotel Key Cards

A simple reminder for travelers:

Always take a small magnet on your holiday, they come in handy at the end. Just in case, you never thought about key cards containing anything other than an access code for your room

Hotel Key Card

What is on your magnetic key card?

a.  Customer’s name
b.  Customer’s partial home address
c.  Hotel room number
d..  Check-in date and out dates
e. Customer’s credit card number and expiration date!

When  you turn them in to the front desk, your personal information is there for any employee to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner. An  employee can take a hand full of cards home and by using a scanning device,  he/she can access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your  expense.

Simply put, hotels do not erase the information on these cards until an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest. At that time, the new guest’s information is electronically ‘overwritten’ on the card and the previous guest’s information is erased in the overwriting  process.

But until the card is rewritten for the next guest, it usually is kept in a drawer at the front desk with YOUR INFORMATION ON IT.

The bottom line is: Keep the cards, take them home with you as a souvenir, or destroy them. Never leave them behind in the room or room wastebasket, and do not turn them into the front desk when you check out of a room. They will not charge you  for the card (it’s illegal) and you’ll be sure, you are not leaving a lot of valuable personal information on it that could be easily lifted off with any simple scanning device card reader.

For the same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover you still have the card key in your pocket, do not toss it in an airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip.

If you have a small magnet, pass it across the magnetic strip several times. Then try it out on the door, it will not work. A magnet erases everything on the card.

Information courtesy of:  Metropolitan Police Service.

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