Saturday, July 26, 2014

Location: Cairo's best fast food falafel sandwich

I was told not to miss a falafel sandwich in Egypt, because it's supposedly one of the best. While in Cairo, there was a nice Middle Eastern restaurant at our hotel,  "Nubian", right out by the pool, facing the timeless pyramids. "Falafel" was calling my name, but to my disappointment, what was served at the Nubian was just the same I had tasted in other Middle Eastern restaurants around the world, and it was also... guess... overpriced!

So I was happy to find out that, on our Nile cruise, there would be an Arabian night-themed feast. Maybe now I could experience the Egyptian "falafel". Hmm... well, no falafel was included in the banquet menu, though. I had to know why. To my surprise, I was told that "falafel" is not exactly food for the Pharaohs, but a very popular meal for the masses (the equivalent of a burger), therefore, not fit for the feast buffet. OK, but I couldn't leave Egypt without trying their original falafel made for the people! What to do now? Since it's a popular food, let's try a popular place, not a tourist restaurant, I thought...

I noticed a place that looked like an Egyptian style fast food a few blocks from the hotel and decided to venture out of the safe "tourist zone" and mingle with the locals - although there was no mistaking me for a local though, since during the 10 minute walk from the hotel to the Egyptian "McDonald's", I received several solicitations from vendors trying to get me to buy their "made in China" plush camels! But I made it to the place, safe and hungry. It was full of local Egyptians and not one single tourist, and I was able to order my "people's falafel" sandwich! Which cost me the fortune of... 25 cents! No joke, it was really that cheap; it was actually the cheapest sandwich on the menu... and it was the most delicious falafel sandwich I've ever eaten!!!! So, when you're wandering around Cairo, don't forget to stop at their local fast food looking place for the 25 cent falafel sandwich. Don't be afraid to try this culinary adventure. You won't regret it... and you will be craving it for eternity!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Books: Angels of Abundance by Doreen Virtue

Book Review: Angels of Abundance, by Doreen Virtue

I was thrilled to receive this book and find the teaching and messages within, and it didn't disappoint me. It's the kind of message, though, that you need to read with an open mind. Even if you don't believe in the assistance of angels, heaven and the divine, there is no harm in reading words of positivity, messages of altruism and suggestions for higher self development and improvement. After all, we're always searching for help, and help that comes from within is the best kind.

This is a delightfully written book that can be read in one sitting, however, you want to take your time to absorb the peaceful messages and indulge in these meaningful stories and testimonies of people who have received the most needed guidance by the angels. Doreen and her son Grant, who co-wrote the book with her, were able to capture a nice collection featuring 11 messages to help you manifest support, supply, and every form of abundance. 

I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lifestyle: Hazards of Travel Insurance

It's never been a better time to talk about travel insurance than during the summer break, where the likelihood of taking vacation is the highest. We usually don't think that something serious or catastrophic can happen during vacation time; after all, it is a time to relax, unwind, and get away from the seriousness of life. However, lots of unforeseen situations can happen when we're traveling.

As a young adult, I used to frequently travel domestically and internationally for months, and never thought of buying travel insurance. In fact, I had never even heard of travel insurance. Once, while I was backpacking through the US Eastern coast for a few months, I met a German girl in New York who asked me if I had travel insurance. It was the first time I ever heard of it and I had no idea why I would need it for. When you're young and just traveling around, you never think about the unforeseen situations.

Having worked in the travel insurance business for several years, I understand now the need to have some form of insurance while away from home. However, here's one alert: if you're going to purchase travel insurance, make sure to read the fine lines and understand what you're going to be covered for before electronically signing the contract. You see, most people just click and sign it, and obviously don't read the terms and conditions, and when something happens... well, it's just not covered. Take a pre-existing condition, for example. If you already suffer from high blood pressure and the reason to buy travel insurance is to cover your medication, or a visit to the doctor to check your high blood pressure, think again. Most travel insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions. But if you get food poisoning from the fish street vendor in Thailand that smelled delicious, then your visit to the doctor could be covered, although you might have to pay upfront and then ask for reimbursement. Be sure to take some cash for unpredictable expenses even if you have travel insurance!

I used to get frequent calls from irate customers asking to have their travel insurance cover the cancellation of their trip because they didn't like the itinerary offered to them on a flight bidding site. "I can't travel at midnight with 2 young children and then return at 5 am 2 days later; I have to change this itinerary!!!" - guess what? Not covered! If you had read the fine prints before signing the agreement, you would know that dissatisfaction with the itinerary is not a covered reason to cancel a trip... You also get that shopper who only does the research after the purchase... yes, those exist. Once, the gentleman was screaming about the horrible itinerary that was, in fact, more expensive on the bidding site than if he had purchased it directly through the airline, demanding a cancellation. Really? You bought the most expensive first and then realized there was a cheaper way to buy the same flight? Sorry. Not covered.

Also, beware of lost luggage. Most suitcases end up being found by the airline, so in fact the luggage is delayed and not lost, which is a huge difference. You won't get money upfront. No need to call yelling that your business suit was in the suitcase and it cost you 2,000 dollars and you can't go to your business meeting in jeans. The delayed luggage insurance may cover just a few hundred dollars and you must first prove that the luggage was delayed for a certain amount of hours. In the likelihood it is not found, you will have to first obtain the claim from the airline with supporting documentation that it has been deemed lost, and then, after the airline compensates you for the loss, you can make a claim on your travel insurance.

Seems hard? Not worth it? May be not worth it for minor claims like that. But take the case of the businessman that fell and hit his head in the marble floor of a hotel in East Asia. In a coma for several days, he had to be moved by air ambulance back to the US. The cost of the air ambulance? A whopping $120,000.00. Luckily, his travel insurance benefit for medical evacuation covered up to $200,000.00.

The important thing about travel insurance is to make sure your coverage is ample enough to cover you in a real emergency situation. You don't want to be sitting at a hospital in a remote location in Africa, where the bed sheets are only changed once a month and you have to pee in a bottle. You want to make sure you can fly out of there as soon as possible to the most convenient hospital that can treat your poisonous spider bite! Have a great adventure and don't forget your travel insurance!