Women on the Road NEWS #41

First, some good news: the Women on the Road Facebook page is finally live! So before you do anything else, please head on over - and click Like at the top of the page. Write something on the Wall, and keep coming back for the latest news on solo travel and safety for women. I hang out there a lot, so perhaps we'll meet online!

Now that you're back from Facebook, lets talk about this month's theme. Are you a bit of a foodie? If you are, eating will be an important part of your travel experience. Do you check out local foods as soon as you get to a country? Try out-of-the-way restaurants?

I'm a self-confessed food-lover and I love eating out and in many countries this doesn't necessarily mean the usual restaurant. So if you like to try restaurants that are a little different, lets take a little tour.

Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #041

Offbeat Eateries or Sit-down Restaurants? A 7-country tour

If you're a vegetarian, skip this entry and go straight to the next one, because there's nothing like a Brazilian steak house, or rodizio. It's a grill house that serves all kinds of meat, from beef to game to fowl. It's an 'all you can eat' type of place, with a twist: rather than go to the buffet, it comes to you. Waiters weave among the tables with giant skewers or brochettes and slice slabs of meat right onto your plate. Just keep eating until you're ready to burst and then, turn the colored chip or card on your table over. Red means stop, green means keep going!

Few countries have such a distinctive national food as injera. It's a huge flat fermented pancake-shaped bread made from a tiny cereal called teff. Injera looks (and sometimes tastes) like a soggy towel. It comes on a huge round tray: just pull up a seat and dive in. The food is heaped on - chicken, meat, and yes, vegetables - just tear it apart with your hands, using the pieces to scoop up the topping. You couldn't use a knife and fork if you tried. And it's very social, since you're all sharing one giant injera. If you need help washing it down, there's nothing like Ethiopia's other staple, coffee.

What stands out in French cuisine, in addition to the tastiness and complexity of the food, is its sheer diversity. Regional cuisines, of course, but also an incredibly wide range of eateries. Try a bistrot for a simple home-cooked meal, a cafe if you want to sit for a while and sip and lounge, an auberge if you're off to the country, a patisserie or boulangerie for a quick quiche or sandwich, a bouchon in Lyon for rib-sticking sausage, a brasserie for a beer and all the food that goes with it, or a grande table for a meal you'll always remember. France holds the distinction of being home to the first 'real' restaurant, which opened in Paris in 1765 and to drive that fact home French gastronomy was recently added to UNESCO's world heritage list.

Some of the best food in Italy may be found in a tavola calda, a counter on which lie dozens of hot dishes, from lasagne to cotoletta milanesa to melanzane parmigiana. Get in line at the cashier, order your food, pay, then present your ticket at the counter for your food. Try a trattoria, a more homey type of restaurant, or buy your pizza in a hole-in-the-wall all'etto, by weight. If you do go to a 'normal' restaurant, remember to order side dishes like potatoes, rice or vegetables - or you'll go without. They're not automatically included with your main courses. My favorite Italian eatery? The gelateria. Yup, the ice cream shop.

You can't beat the bar if you want good food in Spain. Designed as appetizers, tapas are individually-sized portions of pretty much everything - ham, cheese, fish... taste a few and hop on over to the next bar for a few more. Each establishment will have its own specialty, along with a few standards you'll find everywhere: tortilla (potato omelet), ensaladilla rusa (tuna salad), chorizo (spicy sausage) or gambas al ajillo (shrimps in oil and garlic). Breakfast? Go to the bar for chocolate con churros, hot syrupy chocolate accompanied by deep-fried sausage-shaped pastries sprinkled with icing sugar. And all of it eaten standing up (don't worry, these days most bars have stools too).

Skip the restaurants altogether and head for the night markets scattered here and there if you want a real taste of Thailand. The market's potpourri of stalls serves everything from steamed dumplings to duck noodle soup and inferno curries, with aromas wonderful enough to make your heart skip a beat. You'll have to master a few words of Thai, or at least the art of pointing. If it's a menu you want, head for one of the more sophisticated restaurants where chances are it'll have pictures. And don't forget to push your food with your fork and eat it with your spoon!

This is another country in which I wouldn't have a full sit-down meal at a restaurant. I love Turkish cuisine but I'm inevitably disappointed when I go to a restaurant in Turkey - posh places feeding me food they think I want to eat. Instead head for the kebab stands for roasted or grilled meat slices or meatballs, a great snack but also a meal. And why not one of the many small borek stands, borek being a light pastry filled with cheese or spinach. If you're hankering for luscious food without the posh, you'll choose a lokanta, not unlike an Italian trattoria: plenty of ready-made dishes you can pick and choose from. You'll love the variety!

Connecting with Women on the Road

A great way to connect with women on the road is by sharing your experiences with the rest of us - we all love to read about each others' travels and every story contains something others want to hear about, whether it's great advice, insight or entertainment. So - go for it! And if you have pictures, even better.

This month's reader contributions include Di's groundbreaking solo travel to Goa and Maria's experiences in how to really live like a local.

Do you have a question about solo travel?

Are you wondering...
- how safe it is to travel solo?
- the best places to go on your own?
- how much it might cost?
- what to pack?
- how to meet people and ward off loneliness?
- about the most unusual destinations?

Here are some of the questions readers asked this month:

How safe is Thailand after the demonstrations in 2010?

What is the minimum age for volunteer work overseas?

What is the best kind of transportation to get around Brazil?

Travel companions and volunteer opportunities

Advice on solo travel in the Caribbean?

Please ask your own questions - right here! I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

And don't forget to...

Write on my Facebook wall at facebook.com/womenontheroad
Follow me on Twitter @womanontheroad
Link to my website from your own blog or site, post the link on your Facebook page, and click the LIKE button if you haven't yet.

Every link helps!

Do you know someone who keeps talking about travel...

...but never actually gets on the plane?

A copy of The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide, nicely printed and bound, might be just the nudge she needs.

Or perhaps it's you, ready in spirit but not quite sure where to start?

This adventurous little book will help you sort things out. The Art of Solo Travel by Stephanie Lee is a feisty, congenial, visual and intelligent e-book that will tell you and your friends everything you need to know about getting out that door.

Find out how to save up for your trip, break the news to your loved ones, take care of those last-minute jitters, and even how to deal with coming home. It's short, light and to the point - no padding like so many other e-books.

The author, an architect turned travel writer, traveled solo for a year and took plenty of notes along the way. Her advice is eminently sensible, from the obvious - don't walk alone in dark alleys - to using iGoogle for everything from location to translation.

Her central premise? "Embrace your individuality and sense of adventure."

Your chance to become a travel writer

If you're like many others who would love to see their names in print and if you love to travel, the thought of writing to pay for your travels may have crossed your mind.

Travel writing paid for my own travel across several continents so I know a bit about the writer's life and what editors like. I've put a lot of that knowledge together for you in a free online course called the The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of Women on the Road.

Just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily installments. Work the self-help assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!

Last Month's 10 Most Visited Pages on www.women-on-the-road.com

1. International Travel Nursing
2. Women's Travel Clothing
3. Female Travel Companions
4. Travel Accessories for Women
5. Volunteer Work Overseas
6. Very Cheap International Flights
7. Travel Money Belt
8. Overseas Jobs
9. Stay in a Monastery
10. Cheap Ways to Travel

English teachers sought in Thailand

I recently received an email from Igor Tasevski, Human Resources Manager of Teach to Travel. They seem to have several dozen jobs for qualified TESOL or ESL teachers throughout the county. I have no personal knowledge of the school but I did say I'd pass the information on. I know many of you have in past written about teaching English overseas so if you'd like to know more, email the school directly.

Travel News from across the Web

5 Destinations Under $30 a Day
The World's Most Fascinating Neighborhoods to Explore
7 Unique Study Abroad Programs
Nepal Voluntouring: Scams or Legitimate Social Programs?
The Joy of Solo Travel
How Couchsurfing Helped me Adjust to Life in France
How to Prepare for Travel in Earthquake-Prone Regions

For food lovers...

Seven Culinary Delights Not to Miss in Switzerland
Meet my Nemesis: Durian Fruit
Istanbul's Famous Beans
Take Two Curries and Call Me in the Morning
An Overview of Jordanian Cuisine
11 Cooking Schools for Travelers

...and lovers of other arts

A 7th Century Travel Brochure?
Museums for Museum Addicts - Paris Edition
Free Museum Days in the USA
Street Art in Argentina
Croatia's Museum of Broken Relationships
Bruges, Belgium: Great Art, Ancient Grandeur

If You're Visual

Electronics Mall in China
15 Beautiful Natural Destinations in the Middle East
Paris in 2000 (Time Lapse) Images
An Expedition to Nyiragongo Crater
The Other Tripoli (perhaps wait a bit before taking this trip!)

Destination Travel

Mexico City: The World's Most Underrated City?
Inca Trail Essentials
A Northern Ireland Primer: Moors, Mountains and Sea
Ethiopia's Somali Region: A Potential Adventure Travel Destination?
The Moorish Charms of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Paradise Squandered in Phuket
40 Reasons to Backpack China
How to Spend Three Days in Bangkok

And finally...

Where is it Safe to Travel?

Cause of the Month

Drug Resistance: When drugs don't cure you anymore

Have you ever taken antibiotics? Most probably. And they're hugely important because they fight bacterial infections that left untreated could kill you.

Tuberculosis is a disease many of us don't know but which is rampant in poor countries. Yet each year, nearly half a million new cases of TB don't respond to drugs anymore - TB is becoming resistant to them. The same resistance is being observed against malaria, hospital-acquired infections, and many other diseases commonly found in the developing world.

We should take note - misuse of medication increases the resistance of our own bacteria too. Someday, when we really need them, the drugs we've been popping carelessly may no longer work. This is why the World Health Organization decided to highlight drug resistance on World Health Day 2011.

This is especially important with antibiotics, which we often ingest through food products (meat) without even knowing we're taking them. And too often, we resort to antibiotics for simple colds or flus. Yet these are viruses, not bacteria, and antibiotics kill bacteria. In other words, many people take antibiotics needlessly, and uselessly.

This is definitely a case of 'ignorance kills'.

For more information on this increasingly important issue:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
And their great FAQ
Progess on MDR-TB, But Not Enough
Global Health Impact

Next Month in Women on the Road NEWS?

Ethical Tourism - Just What is It, Exactly?

(c) 2007-2011, Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.