Just after WWII the Japanese economy was in shambles and there were few Japanese products floating around. The area outside of Ueno Station in Tokyo quickly became famous for its ameya, candy, that represented the American black market products that could be bought there. Today the street known as Ameya Yokocho, or Ameyokocho for short (not that much shorter actually), is still a crowded and bustling market area. Besides the normal clothing, bags and electronics shops dotting the area there are still traditional market stalls selling assorted Japanese foods from octopus to dried seaweed. The whole area of Ueno is considered part of the Shitamachi (lower section of Tokyo) and was populated and frequented by the working class. While that distinction has faded with time, the liveliness of the area hasn’t and especially during the New Years Ameyokocho is packed with bargain hunters getting shopping for ingredients for the traditional Read full article…

Petra Jordan Photo Essay: A Walk Through History

I threatened earlier a photo essay of Jordan was on the way, well now I’m following through. Please take the photos in the context of my article Petra Lives up to Expectations, and be prepared for an upcoming wild video of my donkey into the surrounding mountains. Petra is one place that I can whole heartily recommend to anyone. If it’s not currently in your bucket list, throw it in and make sure it’s on top. There is of course way more to see in Petra. These are but a few of my pictures from a full day spent exploring the city. However, to truly see the full ruins you need about 3 days. A journey at night with the Treasury lit by candles is another sight not to miss. I couldn’t show you everything or you might not be tempted enough to visit! If you enjoyed this photo essay Read full article…

Child`s Mystery: Travel Photo Contest Friday 32

Update: The winner is Katrina…who guessed Naples, was wrong, but was the closest of anyone The picture was taken in  Florence, Italy! Thanks again to Travis for this challenging end to year.  Here is what makes this wall so special to Travis: “Florence was one of my favorite cities when I went backpacking through Europe in 1999.  The vibe of the city, the sites, the gelato and the food were all amazing.  It’s also where I had the best meal I’ve ever eaten, and I remember it quite vividly.  I was traveling with a friend and we went to a specific restaurant based on recommendations from other travelers and our guide book (remember “Let’s Go: Europe” ??).  Anyhow, every table was family-style seating, which meant our party of two would share our table with six others.  We ended up sitting next to a pair of young Italian girls our age Read full article…

The Backstory behind my New Blog: Travel Blog Challenge

As some of your already know I launched a new website on Monday December 20th called Travel Blog Challenge. Before I get into the specifics you may be wondering what the hell I’m doing starting another website. Todd’s Wanderings takes up a large amount of time, I’m writing 2 books, managing a third book for Lonely Plant, and I have a small full time job with the United Nations managing a large peacebuilding project in a very sensitive area. The truth is, the Travel Blog Challenge is a way to give back to the travel blog community. As Todd’s Wanderings has picked up in popularity I have been inundated with requests for advice on how to monetize a blog, how to build more traffic, and various other how to questions that seem to think I am a crossbow hunter! While I have no idea how to fish with a crossbow Read full article…

Christmas Special Recipe: Wreath and Peppernut Cookies

This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife! Time is flying! Christmas is just around the corner now. Like last year, my friend Laura and I decided to have a Christmas baking session with another friend of ours, Jasmin. Let me tell you how we started this baking session last year. We went to the Danish Military Camp in Mitrovica (northern part of Kosovo) for a Sunday Brunch sometime early December last year and found an advertisement for soldiers on Danish Christmas baking sessions at the cafeteria. I found it such a great idea that they offer this opportunity for soldiers so that they can feel Christmas! We were really jealous (as we were not eligible to join them) and decided to have our own. Last year, I baked gingerbread men cookies and Laura baked Peppernuts. Read full article…

Holy Mountain Pass: Travel Photo Contest Friday 31

Update: The winner is Jason…who guessed Thorung La Pass, Annapurna Circuit, Himalayas, Nepal. Well, OK, he didn’t say Nepal, but I think we can assume he meant it. Seriously, I’m not that inflexible! Thanks again to Connie and tranquil mountain photo.  Here is what makes this mountain pass so special to Connie: “Reaching the peak of Thorung La Pass at 5614 meters, after trekking through the amazingly beautiful Nepalese Himalayan mountain range for 12 days was an amazing accomplishment for me. I had never embarked on such a physically and mentally draining task and although it was certainly difficult on most days, not to mention absolutely freezing at the Pass, every single second was worth it! ” Jason gets the prize this week so please check him out at Alpaca Suitcase. Welcome to Travel Photo Contest Friday, wow that’s a mouthful! If you’re new or never bothered to actually read Read full article…

Review of Hotel Calculator.com

Site Review: I’ve been asked to check out, and review the hotel search engine Hotel Calculator, and share with you what I think. While this is paid gig, I made it clear I’d give you my objective option, as always. Many people ask me how I find great deals traveling the world. While I often try to save money by finding accommodation when I arrive, sometimes I don’t have time or need a safe place to sleep when I arrive late at night. When I was asked to review Hotel Calculator I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce you to a new internet tool. Save Time I’m a big fan of searching for deals online but I often get frustrated by having to search multiple databases. What makes Hotel Calculator nice, and different from other similar sites like Hotel.com, Booking.com and Wotif.com is that it searches multiple Read full article…

Petra, Jordan: When dreams live up to expectations

It is rare for our dreams and expectations to live up to reality. Often times we build a destination up in our minds only to be disappointed by cheesy touristic over development, or feeling cheated by travel writers and documentarists eager to oversell and hide the negative. As I drove along the barren coastal Dead Sea road my driver nonchalantly waved his hand, “This used to be Sodom and Gomorrah.” Twenty minutes earlier he had pointed to where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Amazed by how everyday his comment was I pushed to know more. “What’s the site called?” “Baptism Place.” He never took his eyes off the road. I thought he just didn’t know the name in English until I saw a large blue highway sign announcing the exit. It read simply, “Baptism Place.” Understatement was becoming common as I drove with friends for 3 hours to Read full article…

Autumn Skyline Drive: Travel Photo Contest Friday 30

Update: The winner is…No One. I really hate it when this happens, but know you get introduced to a new beautiful spot in the world. This photo was taken on the Skyline Drive (the blue ridge parkway) just outside Luray, Virginia. Thanks again to Chip for his challenging but beautiful picture. Here is what makes this skyline so special to Chip: “Shot this during my current bicycle tour around the United States. After a thousand miles or more of flat lands through the great plains, it felt good to be back on real hills again. Riding the parkway in the autumn was one of my big goals this year, and it was great to hit it during the peak of Fall colors. While the road through this popular destination was choked with RVs on the weekends, mid-week it was just me, the motorcycle touring folks, and day after day of Read full article…

Help one Man live his travel dream (no, not me)

How often do we get a chance to make a meaningful difference in another person’s life? How often is making meaningful difference as easy as clicking to show your support? Answer: pretty much never! But today I want to introduce you to Alex Lop, one of the semifinalists in the Paradise Hunter Contest. He’s in the running to host the new TV show and he needs our help. By voting for Alex we can ensure that: a) We change the course of one person’s life for the better (this is reason enough) b) Alex has promised to use the TV hosting duties to get involved with charities and good causes in each of the 12 places the TV show will send him (this alone is also reason enough) Two of the major themes of Todd’s Wanderings are: Do What you Love, and use your own happiness to help others. This Read full article…

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