THE UPDATE: What’s in our Backpack:

When we left for our world exploration adventure we did a lot of research, thinking, and list-making about what we were going to put in our 46-liter backpack. After 9-months of traveling we have made some discoveries of things we needed and didn’t have, as well as, things we rarely used. Still feeling we chose the right bag, here is an update on what is now in our backpacks.

(click here to see what we originally decided to pack)

MISC ADDITIONS:

  • 1 x Note pad – It’s been great for taking notes about everything
  • 1 x Adult coloring book and set of map pencils – adult relaxation time! (ended up sending it home because we wanted to get the weight of our bags down to 9 kg)
  • 1 x Smaller Sling Bag – sometimes our 12-liter day packs are too big for just the essentials

SHIRTS

  • 3 x T-Shirts
  • 2 x Collared Shirts – Had 3 but realized we didn’t wear them as much as we did back home.
  • 3 x Tank Tops – Started with two but we added one since we have been in a lot of summer places!
  • 1 x Long Sleeve T-Shirt

JACKETS

These take up almost half of our bag…really wish we didn’t have to have these for the few times we were in cooler places. Probably would have bought when we needed and donated so we had more room in our bag…still debating whether to send clothes home. 

  • 1 x Hoodie (both got new ones 8-months into the trip)
  • 1 x Synthetic Down Jacket
  • 1 x Rain Jacket

PANTS/SHORTS

  • 1 x Jeans
  • 2 x Long Pants (zip-off) – had to replace 1 pair of pants (one pair was ruined because Kevin ironed his synthetic pants)
  • 3 x Shorts – We had 2 pair but added one – we are in more warm weather places
  • 1 x Comfy Shorts (for lounging around) – Added 1 pair of comfy pants, for the lounging times
  • 1 x Rain Pants –  We have been fairly lucky with the weather and haven’t needed to use them but a few times, probably would not have packed them. (sent home)

SHOES

  • 1 x Hiking Shoes
  • 1 x Flip Flops – Replaced after 8-months

OTHER CLOTHING

  • 2 x Swim Suites – Added 1 pair, because they were awesome and had to have them
  • 5 x Underwear
  • 5 x Socks
  • 1 x Hat
  • 1 x Belt
  • 1 x Gloves – Rarely use, probably would not have packed since we do not go to many super cold places (sent home)
     
  • ADDITIONS
    • 1 x oversized Scarf – great to use as a sarong for temples and scarf for chilly weather
    • 1 x beanie – the UK got a little cold and it was worth the few dollars. (sent home in summer)

ACCESSORIES

  • 1 x Travel Towel – rarely use because places provide them, but they are super nice when we do need them
  • 1 x Sleeping Bag – After 11 days we got rid of them (we knew we would)
  • 1 x Handkerchief
  • 1 x Sunglasses & Case – Lost and replaced multiple pairs…Kevin looses his all the time.
  • 1 x Water Bottle – Our collapsible one finally bit the dust. Currently using normal water bottles to refill.
  • 1 x Bag Rain Cover
  • 1 x Lock
  • 1 x Security Cable
  • 1 x Digital Bag Scale
  • 1 x Multi-Tool Carabiner
  • 1 x Eye Mask – rarely use (sent home)
  • 6 x Ear Plugs 
  • 1 x Waterproof Bag
  • 3 x Ziplock Bags 
  • 15 x Clothes Pins – a few broke along the way, but these were life savers for laundry days
  • 1 x Clothes Line
  • 1 x Sewing Kit
  • 1 x Toiletries (all the goodies)
  • 1 x Electric Shaver
  • 1 x First Aid Kit
  • 1 x Wine Bottle Opener – Spain’s equivalent to the TSA confiscated it from us saying it was not approved to travel with. It was a sad day.
  • 1 x Collapsible Silicone Cup 
  • 1 x Business Cards
  • 1 x Journal – Just purchased our second journal because we filled up our first one
  • 1 x Pen – We have back ups for when the ink runs out
     
  • ADDITIONS
    • 1 x electric hair clippers – we cut each others hair 95% of the time to save money

ELECTRONICS / GADGETS

  • 1 x Phone  (Brad’s phone died and we are still figuring out if we need a second phone for him during the last few months of travel)
  • 1 x Computer
  • 1 x External HDD 
  • 1 x Ethernet Cable
  • 1 x Camera, Extra Battery, & Extra Memory Card
  • 1 x GoPro, Remote, & GoPro Stick – Have never used the remote. We can get an app on our phone to use so the remote is obsolete (sent remote home)
  • 1 x Mini Tripod  (replaced with a new know 9-month into the trip, Kevin’s b-day present)
  • 1 x Rechargeable AA Batteries
  • 1 x Universal Power Adaptor – LIFE SAVER: It has worked beautifully. It also has two built-in USP ports. Only in South Africa did we have to purchase a separate plug adaptor.
  • 1 x Headphones
  • 1 x 2-Way Audio Amp (so we can listen to the same thing at the same time)
  • 1 x Jambox MINI
  • 1 x iPod Nano – LIFE SAVER: For those long, long journeys on busses and trains it is essential for listening to a good book or rocking out to music (plus side, it doesn’t kill our phone battery)
  • 1 x USB Car Charger & USB Battery Pack
     
  • ADDITIONS
    • 1 x computer mouse – Brad hates using a track pad when playing some computer games
    • 1 x external hard drive – we take A LOT of photos!
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GUEST BLOG POST: My Gay Night out in Frankfurt by Viaja Bi!

Germany is one of the most advanced countries in Europe and one of the most outstanding about acceptance to LGBT, specially its capital, Berlin. But the gay night in Frankfurt, though much quieter than Berlin, offers its options.

Note that there are two cities called Frankfurt in Germany. A not so well known is Frankfurt an der Oder, which borders the city of Slubice (Poland), in north-eastern Germany, near Berlin. The most famous one is the other, Frankfurt am Main, also known only as Frankfurt, It’s in the central-western area of the country and it is the one I’ll talk about here today.

I visited the city at the very end of January 2015, with my father, in a backpack trip through the four countries bordering the Czech Republic (Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria) and paying a quick visit to Hungary! All in 15 days! 

 Happiness on day one of the backpacking trip in Frankfurt!
Happiness on day one of the backpacking trip in Frankfurt!

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Frankfurt was our first stop and at the very first night, a Saturday, I left my dad at the hostel where we were (read here the review) and went to check the city buzz.

My father wanted to go along with me, but as we had arrived that day, walked all day and it was cold outside, he preferred to stay at the hostel and have a well slept night.

My Gay Night in Frankfurt, Germany

“Let’s shake that ass, baby! Ohhh, please!!!”

With a quick research, I tried to list what seemed to be the best options of the gay night in Frankfurt. I got the addresses, put the map on my phone, and there I was facing the German cold with courage. The gay district of the city is the center (Innenstadt), close to the street Alte Gasse.

Despite being a Saturday, do not expect from Frankfurt a very hectic scene. My choice was a circuit near Zeil street, the famous and posh shopping street in town. There’s a block there that brings together several bars and clubs for LGBT between the Alte Gasse and Elenfantengasse streets.

I started at the Central Bar (check the map). The bar was very small and I got the feeling that the people who go there are regulars. I ordered a drink and stayed a while there even though it was a “half dead” environment. It felt super weird. Not the bar itself, but it felt weird to arrive alone in a bar or club in a city where I didn’t live, not knowing the customs, and it turns out to be full of the “regulars.” 

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Gay night in Frankfurt: Kaiserstraße, the street from my hostel

The second bar was, literally next door to the Central Bar, but I cannot remember its name, nor found it in the research. Sorry, honey! As soon as you enter, you go down a staircase and the club/bar is below street level. It was not my scene, so, of course, I would not recommend.

Third place I stopped is called Tangerine and was more like a pub and was, perhaps, the most enjoyable of the three, having a more relaxed atmosphere, not so posh, but not so underground. I remember the clerk to be super friendly and the public more relaxed, although not so full.

It was pretty strange for me that nowhere was busy on a Saturday night, but from what I learned talking to the people there, gay night Frankfurt is really calm. Good for you to know before going out in Frankfurt, I didn’t.

Because I was looking for more upbeat, I felt a bit frustrated. I thought about going to Gibson, a club at Zeil and the most famous the city. It is not totally gay, but has a LGBT night called Delicious. Since it happened to be that night, I said to myself, “let’s go!”… But I was barred at the door! 😮

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It turns out that in Germany, it is common that the security guards standing at the door assess whether or not you can enter the club. I was in jeans and T-shirt, but on a more tidy footprint, and the sweater was smart casual. But he said I was not well dressed enough! It was an outrage, you know, but will I discuss in German? Of course not! My 1 year and a half of German classes helped me to order in restaurants, but not to argue how my presence was renowned and I would brighten up the place. Then I went away, right? LOL

What I had for the night was turn back to the hostel and rest well because Frankfurt is an amazing city (that I loved and want to go back), and has a lot to do during the day. 

Other Frankfurt Gay Night Options

You can’t get to know everything in such a short time, but in addition to the options already mentioned, on my fabulous research I found some other points around the city you can test if you’re there for a longer time. Shall we?

Gay bars in Frankfurt

You can try the Zum Schwejk, which is super traditional, or Babylon Frankfurt, which has karaoke on Wednesday nights. Lucky’s has karaoke on Tuesdays and is known for low prices. Halo is open every day from 8pm and has shows, warming up the gay night of Frankfurt. If your style is more of a pub, worth trying the Birmingham Pub, which is popular with gay clients.

But the Switchboard, besides being a café bar, is also a support site on HIV/AIDS, providing care to the public. On Sunday evenings, the locals usually go for coffee and cake there. During the year, there are some events and lectures.

Gay clubs in Frankfurt

Club 78 plays songs of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s on two floors and is recommended in the gay night for those who like to party, that’s why they organized a gay cruise last September.

The party Atomic, which takes place on the second Friday of each month at the club Nachtleben, offers a more indie/pop party for a mostly younger audience. Admission is €5.

Delicious, in Gibson, mentioned before, only happens 3 times a year and is your highlight if you want to know the selected people from Frankfurt. Each party has a unique theme with spectacular shows and outstanding production! The dates are posted on the official website.

Not totally gay but still fabulous

The Alte Oper Frankfurt is a historic building in Frankfurt. It is a venue used for musicals, concert and other posh events. Great for a sophisticated gay night out. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s very handsome! 😉 

 Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany
Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany

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And that’s not all! If you want to know more about the gay life and other attractions in Frankfurt, here is the translated version of what I told about Frankfurt at Viaja Bi!.

Hope I had helped you all and thank you guys for inviting me to write here! Loved it! See ya!

Rafael Leick is a Brazilian travel blogger at Viaja Bi! and Viagem Primata. Communication specialist and more than 30 years-old, have lived in London and São Paulo. Follow at Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

Guide to Visiting the Pyramids of Giza

Today we were reflecting on our day spent at the only remaining wonder of the ancient world. Some people would say that an entire day is entirely too long to spend seeing the pyramids, we beg to differ. Our approach was to take our time, explore every nook and cranny we could find, and soak it all in. Here is our guide on how to visit the Pyramids of Giza. 

Where to stay:

 View from our hotel room. Giza, Egypt 2016
View from our hotel room. Giza, Egypt 2016

The current climate of Egypt can be worrisome and because of this we recommend staying in a western owned hotel as close to the pyramids as possible. We stayed at the Le Méridien Pyramids which is a Starwood property so we knew we could rely on staying there. Most hotels near the pyramids will run you between $45-$75 USD/night. 

How to get there:

You can get to the pyramids by many forms of transportation. We recommend Uber. It’s the safest and easiest way to get there and will only cost you around 130 EGP ($7 USD) each way if you are staying in Cairo. The plus side is you do not have to deal with haggling a price with a taxi and then feeling pressured to tip or navigating the hectic public transit routes. However, if you are wanting to take the bus find the 355 or 357 route and if you are taking the Metro, Line 2 will take you to Giza and from there you would need to walk a few kilometers or hail a taxi. 

Cost to visit:

 Pyramids overlooking the city of Giza, Egypt 2016
Pyramids overlooking the city of Giza, Egypt 2016

The cost to visit is dependent on what you want to do. The general admission into the complex itself is 80 EGP (Egyptian pounds) per person, roughly $4.50 USD, a steal in our opinion.   You will also have to decide right then if you want to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu. This will cost you 200 EGP per person ($11 USD). There are some other sites you can purchase tickets to get into at the ticket counter, however, they were not open to enter when we went. We did some asking around and it turns out their is nothing inside of them anyway. The only one worth going into is the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

Getting around inside:

 Kevin navigating the Pyramid complex. Giza, Egypt 2016
Kevin navigating the Pyramid complex. Giza, Egypt 2016

Once inside be prepared to be harassed relentlessly by people claiming you have to show them your ticket (which you don’t), vendors trying to sell you post cards or souvenirs (which you don’t need), guides selling their services to take you around the complex (wikipedia knows more then them), and men on camels trying to sell you a camel, horse or buggy ride around the complex (maybe later). 

 Solace from the peddlers trying to sell us nonsense. Giza, Egypt 2016
Solace from the peddlers trying to sell us nonsense. Giza, Egypt 2016

After shaking off all of the people, we decided to first explore on our own by foot. We are both in good shape so taking on the task of walking the very large area of the pyramid complex was not intimidating. This also gave us the opportunity to get away from the crowds hitting the “hot spots” and the vendors that accompanied them.

 Horseback riding around the Pyramid of Giza complex, 2016
Horseback riding around the Pyramid of Giza complex, 2016

Other ways you can get around are by camel, horse, or carriage. At one point we ended up taking a ride on two Arabian horses for the experience. It was the best way to get back to the beginning of after we had walked across the entire complex. The cost for any of these forms of transportation should be 50 EGP ($2.75 USD) per person. Never more! The ride will usually include a stop at some photo destinations along the way. Of course we tipped the guide afterwards to thank him for a fun experience.  

 Hanging out at the Sphinx. Giza, Egypt 2016
Hanging out at the Sphinx. Giza, Egypt 2016

5 Dos and 5 Don’ts:

It is easy to fall into the tourist trap so here are the dos and don’ts to follow when visiting. 

THE DOS:

  • DO bring food and water. The pyramids are in the desert which means you will dry out quickly. With all the people who will pester you through the day, none of them are food vendors so be sure to pack a lunch or bring snacks for when hunger hits and water for the thirst.
  • DO wear a hat or sunscreen. Unless you want to hang out in the shadows of the pyramids all day, you will encounter a lot of sun. SPF is your best friend for a long day at the pyramids.
  • DO go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Climbing inside the inner chamber was a fun experience. This is the only time you may be at the pyramids so be sure to enjoy every moment.  
  • DO ride a camel, horse, or carriage. It seems touristy (and it is) however, the guide will take you out to the best photo spots and you will enjoy the wind blowing through your hair. 
  • DO take lots of photos! 
 Brad from inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu
Brad from inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu

THE DON’TS:

  • DON’T under any circumstance rush your visit. It’s easy to take a few pictures from the vantage points and say you have seen the pyramids, but truly experiencing them will be an everlasting memory to cherish.
  • DON’T climb on the pyramids. There are no climbing signs everywhere but people ignore that and crawl all over them. Respect this world wonder so they can be around another 4500 years.
  • DON’T let the harassers peddling stuff ruin your experience. As long as you do not say anything back to them and walk away, they will not bother you any longer. It felt like they had their own “turf” and once we got a certain distance they would stop following. The also are very intense near the entrance, as soon as you get away from that, they are fewer and farther between.
  • DON’T talk to anyone other than who you are traveling with. Usually you will be asked 1000 times “Where are you from?” The second you answer, they will continue to talk to you and give you advise, information and directions. They will expect a tip even after giving you information you did not want.
  • DON’T ride a camel, horse or carriage if it looks like the animals have been mistreated. We know it’s hard to tell sometimes, but when it is an obvious situation of mistreatment, find another person with a better treated animal. 
 Hieroglyphics from a tomb in the Pyramids complex. Giza, 2016
Hieroglyphics from a tomb in the Pyramids complex. Giza, 2016

At the end of the day the most important thing to remember to to enjoy the moment. Let the fact that the pyramids you have seen on TV, watched in Movies, and read about in books are within arms reach.  

We let our time at the pyramids wash over us and soak into our memories forever. We hope that they will be here for our grandchildren to see and enjoy just as we have. 

We are two en route to soak in life’s most amazing moments

 

How We Balance Down Time and Tourism

Have you ever felt more tired after a vacation? We sure have!

Being on the road we are constantly in new places with new sights to see and it is easy to fall into the habit of constantly go-go-going. We have found that it is important to balance the continual urge to see it all with the need for down time. Much like being at home, we sometimes need breaks during the day, relaxing evening, a good night sleep, and “weekends” to unwind from a week of doing.  

 Relaxing on the Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iclenad, 2016
Relaxing on the Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iclenad, 2016

We have learned how significant regular breaks during the day can be. Not only do we get to rest our feet, but we get to rest our minds. An easy way for us to do this is to find a café, have a cup of coffee, and people watch. Sitting in silence and letting our mind slow down gives us a second wind for more sight-seeing. 

 Coffee Date. Oslo, Norway, 2016
Coffee Date. Oslo, Norway, 2016

Every night cannot be a night on the town.  Sometimes the best remedy for a long day is a relaxing evening. Dive into a good book, relax in a park, binge watch a tv show, or even nodding off into an early sleep. 

 Kevin relaxing while listening to a good book. Ålä, Sweden, 2016
Kevin relaxing while listening to a good book. Ålä, Sweden, 2016

Another way we have learned to balance our downtime with our tourism is by allowing ourselves to not set wakeup alarms and simply sleeping in. Before traveling the world, we always heard how not getting enough sleep can effect many aspects of your life and it is very true. A good night’s sleep is essential for a good day of sight-seeing.

 Seeing the sights after a good night sleep. Iceland, 2016
Seeing the sights after a good night sleep. Iceland, 2016

Too many consecutive days of being on the go can lead to getting burnt out. After a few weeks of not having a day off from traveling and sight seeing it was time for us to take a weekend. Two consecutive days of hanging around with nothing planned was pure bliss. It reinvigorated us. From that point on we decided that allowing ourselves to have weekends was one of the most important ways of balancing downtime with our tourism. 

 Enjoying a weekend with nothing planned. Copenhagen, Denmark
Enjoying a weekend with nothing planned. Copenhagen, Denmark

We had to let go of being on a schedule to see everything, rather, experience the place we are visiting. A good way to do this is to balance being a tourist with simple being someone living on the move.     

We are two en route for balanced travel.

Choosing The Backpack

When we chose to live on the road for more than a year we realized one of the most important items we would have was the pack on our back. After some initial online research we knew this was something we would need to purchase in person.  We would need to try it on, feel the quality of the interconnections in the zipper, how the materials felt between our fingers and all the other feel goods the internet can’t offer.  For us that meant a trip to REI.

 Photo from  Preston Hollow Advocate
Photo from Preston Hollow Advocate

Since we are mainly “urban backpacking” those large monstrosities of outdoor hiking bags were immediately eliminated. Which unfortunately, is most of what is on the market. When it came to what options were still available, we initially had thoughts like, “there is no way we can live in anything less than 70 liters each.” Between needing outfit options, creature comforts, electronics, and toiletries, we felt 70 liters was even going to be hard. Keeping in mind that we plan to live out of this bag for over a year we wanted to have room for everything we would need, but also knew carrying extra unnecessary weight was going to quickly get old (and painful). It was time for us to do some serious research to figure out what was going in our bags before making a final decision.

Most people we spoke with and blogs we read had a general consensus that 20 lbs (all-in, filled to the brim) was the target weight for a pack. In order to stay around that weight, we knew 70 liters would be too big.  Filling 70 liters to the brim gets you well past 20 lbs, ouchies. Now that our backpack was shrinking, another question came up; did we want to have a carry-on size pack? We decided that this was a must. Not only would this make it easier to carry on our back, it would be easier on all forms of transit. As an added bonus, often times carry-ons are free while checking a bag costs extra and the more dollars we save the more days we travel.

Since we are going to be taking all forms of transportation in many different countries, another key feature we felt was a must was security. We wanted to make our packs appear to be hard to try and break into or steal especially since everything we own will be inside. Security features we looked for were tear resistant fabric, high quality construction, and lockable zippers.

  Image from REI website
Image from REI website

With so much security built into one bag, we wanted to make sure the bag was still easy for us to use. The last thing we want is to be in a situation where we need something quickly and are not able to get to it with ease. Some great features we saw on bags was being able to open them like a suitcase so you could quickly and easily get to everything,  smaller compartments to help with organization, and the ability to attach and detach a removable day pack for when you just need a few things with you and can leave the bulk of your items stuffed away someplace safe (not on our backs).

After we looked at what different backpacks offered and compared them to our must have list, we chose the Osprey Porter 46. It is a carry-on size, 46 liter pack with a suit-case style full zip opening for ease of use, great security, and the ability to attach a 13 liter day pack (Osprey Daylite). As an added bonus, the Porter 46 even has compression sidewalls that help keep everything snug and secure no matter what’s inside. Packs purchased!

 Image from REI website
Image from REI website

As is often the case, before committing to something long term it is a good idea to give it a short term trial. We purchased the Porter 46 and Daylite to take with us to New Zealand in April.  This allowed us to make sure the packs fit well, held up, and actually fulfilled our wants and needs. From storing them overhead on the plane to only taking the Daylite with us around town, they did great.

 Piha Beach with only the Daylite, New Zealand, 2016
Piha Beach with only the Daylite, New Zealand, 2016

We are two en route to backpack the world.