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Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
A trip around the world has always been on my bucket list. I still can’t believe that Jeff and I finally did it. We’ve just returned home to our sunny island home of Phuket, Thailand and finally have a moment to look back on our amazing journey around the world.
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Before we started this trip, I knew that we wouldn’t have the space in our luggage for souvenirs as we were going to nearly 30 different countries. Even though we have been told we packed light, I can assure you that our bags were anything but light. This inspired me to think a little outside the box for souvenir ideas.
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My favorite part about traveling is looking back on my photos long after the trip. It is a great way to put you right back to where you were and bring back memories you had long forgotten about. I wanted to do something fun and different with my photos. So I thought, “Why not bring a chalkboard?” I decided to have a photo taken of myself  holding a chalkboard with the name of the country I was in. I wanted a way to visually see each country while having a reminder of myself in that place during that time. Even if I may have been up all night, had not showered in days or was only in a country for a few hours, I wanted to remember all of it.
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Now, 28 images later, I have a fun collection of pictures that for me, sums up our 159 day, 32,281 mile trip around the world!
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
CANADA:
Even though Canada isn’t too far from my home county, it was still really exciting to go visit! Two days in Vancouver and I was in love! Canada is a great country and Vancouver is a beautiful city!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ENGLAND:
Since we only had two rainy days in London, and as it was my first time to England I knew I wanted the cliché photo with a red phone booth!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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BELGIUM:
Brussels was a beautiful city and I was surprised at how modern of a city it was. We had one of our favorite meals of the entire trip in Brussels, an absolutely amazing beef stew. This photo was taken at the bus station before we boarded to Amsterdam.
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Chalkboard around the world
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ISRAEL:
With so much history in Israel, I had a hard time deciding where would be best to take a photo here. While we were driving with a guide through the desert we went to this cliff where you could see a beautiful monastery in the hillside. I thought that this would be a great reflection of this historical importance of Israel.

 

Chalkboard around the world
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IRELAND:
Green! I knew I wanted this photo to be green, but I struck it rich when we just happened to get some sunshine since it was gloomy and raining during most of our stay. Ireland may have been our first stop, but it was also one of our favorites. Read our “Complete Guide to Ireland” for our best recommendations!
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Chalkboard around the world

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MOROCCO:
Oh Morocco! We were here for just a few hours while stopping during a cruise we took early in the year. I had always imaged Morocco as a colorful place, however Casablanca was not what I imaged. This is at the Hassan II Mosque which is the 7th largest mosque in the world.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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AUSTRIA:
Innsbruck, Austria is a beautiful little ski town nestled in the mountains. We were lucky enough to stay with some wonderful friends here for 2 weeks!
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Chalkboard around the world

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SPAIN:
We were lucky enough to be in Barcelona on my birthday in January! Once again, this was a quick stop during our cruise so I can’t wait to get back to explore more!
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Chalkboard around the world

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CZECH REPUBLIC:
We met some great friends in Prague and had an amazing time exploring this beautiful old city. While Europe has some of the best beer in the world, I’d bet most of it can be found in Prague, and at a cheap price too!
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Chalkboard around the world

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EGYPT:
Egypt just may have been my favorite place on this trip! Not only did I fulfill a childhood dream of visiting the pyramids, but we also got to spend great time with some new friends!
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Chalkboard around the world

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HUNGARY:
Budapest is one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. It is a great city where history meets a modern twist. I would live here in a heartbeat! This was the first time we have used AirBNB and found ourselves in this old apartment complex trying to find which apartment was ours!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Even though we spent most of our time in Dubai, we were still able to get out and see the beautiful desert! Jeff and I were both really impressed with Dubai and can’t wait to get back to explore more.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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ESTONIA:
Tallinn, Estonia is a quant little old city and has so much culture and lots to see. We were only here for one night but enjoyed walking around the old town watching the snow fall.
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Chalkboard around the world

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FINLAND:
Finland is also on the top of my favorite places we’ve been to this year! Helsinki is a great design oriented town that is hip and embraces its rich history, although I had to take this photo while up in Lapland exploring the arctic circle and seeing snow fall for the first time in my life!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ITALY:
We went to many places in Italy, but it was in Venice during Carnival that I wanted to take this photo. Carnival was such a unique and beautiful way to explore all that Venice has to offer.
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Chalkboard around the world
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NORTHERN IRELAND:
While in Dublin, we decided why not take the 3 hour drive with some friends up to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway and while we got there right after sunset we were able to catch some light for this photo!
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Chalkboard around the world
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GERMANY:
Germany has always been on the top of my list of places to visit in Europe and this year it finally happened! Although we only had 2 days in Berlin, it was great to learn more about Germany’s vast history and how the city has transformed to a modern city with tons of artistic expression.
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Chalkboard around the world
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HOLLAND:
I didn’t know if I should write Holland or The Netherlands but in the end it didn’t matter since we had such a great time in Amsterdam exploring the canals!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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PORTUGAL:
This photo is in Lisbon near the port while it was pouring rain. We had to be quick since the rain just kept washing the chalk off the board, but it made for a fun experience!
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Chalkboard around the world

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TURKEY:
Although Istanbul has so much history and culture, it was this pop of color while walking around that caught my eye. I wanted to show a different side to such an old city.
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Chalkboard around the world

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SWEDEN:
Since we spent an entire night at the airport in Stockholm we though it would be fun to take photos in the nearly abandoned airport at 2 in the morning.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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VATICAN:
The Vatican is such a beautiful place and it was very surreal to see all the paintings and murals in the museum, but it was here that meant the most to me. It really is amazing to stand here and thing about all the people that come here to see the pope.
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Chalkboard around the world

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MALDIVES:
Holy blue ocean! The Maldives are such a beautiful place. There are 1,190 different islands so it is hard to pick just one. We stayed in Maafushi which is a local island, but as you can see we still had a resort like beach to spend our time.
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Chalkboard around the world
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FRANCE:
Paris is a place that every girl longs to go to at least once in her life and I was no exception, I absolutely fell in love with Paris. We had an amazing 5 days here with a good friend who was kind enough to show us around this memorizing city. I can’t wait to get back and eat some more macaroons!

Chalkboard around the world

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SINGAPORE:
While it was not my first time in Singapore, it was great to be back and see how much this city has grown. Singapore is a beautiful city which great people and beautiful architecture.
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Thailand
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THAILAND:
Phuket will always be a second home to me and it is where we began and ended our around the world trip. Living here has really opened my eyes and taking this photo was really important. This photo was taken in a little lagoon in Koh Phi Phi Ley near where the majestic beach from the movie The Beach was filmed. You can see another hidden beach in the background that we could swim to. Taking a long tail boat out to this preserved island and spending the day snorkeling and soaking up the sun is my favorite thing to do in Thailand.
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MEXICO:
Growing up, my family always spent at least once if not twice a year in Mexico. This year I was fortunate enough to get the change to travel to a new place in Baja called Loreto. It is a great little fishing town located right on the Sea of Cortez.
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SRI LANKA:
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located just southeast of India and visiting was a great treat for me. There are many elephants, beautiful landscapes and beaches. If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, take it!
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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 My First Time: Taking a Cruise Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

Visiting the Great Pyramids

Visiting the Great Pyramids, all you need to know

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There are few attractions on Earth that can be found on every single travelers bucket list, and visiting the Great Pyramids is one of them. Both Marina and myself have been dreaming of visiting Egypt and the pyramids since we can remember. Who doesn’t remember learning about the Nile and King Tut in elementary school and who doesn’t fantasize about wandering through the desert and coming across these mystical buildings? For Marina, visiting the pyramids was her number one trip on Earth and I was thrilled to be watching her face as we rounded the corner and she got her first glimpse of these amazing structures. So sit back, prepare to get excited, whip out that travel credit card and book a trip to amazing Egypt, you’ll never regret it.

Now, we were very fortunate to be staying with some great Egyptian friends of our in Cairo this time around and had the distinct advantage of visiting the pyramids with them over the course of two days. That said, we still figured out all you need to know to when visiting the great pyramids so hopefully any trip you make to the pyramids will be nothing but filled with great memories. Our friends live about a 40 minute drive from Giza, however there are tons of great hotel options in Giza if you want to be just a stones throw from the pyramids.

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“There are times we simply cannot believe what our eyes are seeing. Sitting at the Sphinx and gazing at the Great Pyramids in Giza is definitely one of those times…”

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First on our list? Camel rides! Riding camels and visiting the great pyramids sort of go hand in hand, that is if you were raised watching the Mummy with a totally westernized and semi warped view of what Egyptian history really was. That said, the Egyptians are happy to offer both camel and horse riding trips through the cast desert surrounding the great pyramids. As soon as you get into Giza and close to the pyramids themselves, you will be surrounded by Egyptian men who, rather boisterously, convince you to follow them for the best visit to the great pyramids. And while we wouldn’t suggest blindly following any man loudly shouting at you as a rule, these guys were nothing but helpful, energetic and ultimately showed us an amazing time. Also, it is worth noting that there is no information center, tourism office ore official tour guiding building. Don’t try and fined official licensed guides, you will just be wasting your time. That being said, the vast majority of those offering camel rides, guided tours, etc are well trained and more than capable of showing you a great time.

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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A two hour camel ride will cost you about 150 Egyptian pounds, which at about $23 is quite a good deal. The number of camels, horses, kids, goats and general livestock running around shouldn’t deter you, and while you might feel as though you are in the wild west, just go with it, jump on a camel and set out on one of the most memorable afternoons of your life. You can, of course, head out in the morning, or mid day, but we highly recommend either a sun rise or sun set trip, for obvious reasons beyond the heat.

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Now, as soon as you jump on the camel you will notice one thing very quickly, besides the fact that camels are super tall and extremely odd looking animals, you are heading AWAY from the pyramids. No you are not heading in the wrong direction, and yes it will all be worth it we promise. You will head through a traditional Egyptian neighborhood and emerge headed out towards the vast desert after about 15 minutes. The pyramids are almost completely hidden at this point but as you slowly ascend the sand dunes all three of the great pyramids become visible and the view is simply breathtaking. 

Once off the camels, you can rest, relax and take unlimited pictures of you, the camels, friends and of course the view. The afternoon light becomes quickly beautiful and the scene only gets better the longer you wait.

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Of note is that while on the camel trips you will be nowhere close to the great pyramids as the trip really focuses on the camel ride in the desert and the pyramids as a dramatic backdrop. You have a couple different options to fully take in the great pyramids while in Cairo. While all can be done in one day, we broke up our visit into two days and were glad we did as both days were exhausting, but they could easily be done in one. A visit to the great pyramids themselves is a completely different experience and totally different from the camel ride.

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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You can drive up, or take a taxi surprisingly close the main gate to the great pyramids. Once parked, a simple ticket building displays the various ticket options. A ticket to enter the great pyramid complex is 80 Egyptian pounds, about $10. If you want to go all out and buy the all inclusive ticket which grants you access to all 3 of the great pyramids as well as the Sphinx and various other tombs and ruins, it will set you back 200 Egyptian pounds, about $30. If you want to purchase a photo pass it will cost you 20 pounds ($3), but in our experience it is not needed at all, and we are photographers – meaning we had all of our gear and no one ever said anything about needing the pass. That said, there are some odd photo rules which we will go into further in a bit.

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We’d highly recommend just buying the total pass, spending the $30 and exploring all afternoon. Although there is security set in place which you must go through, it seems more of a formality as they didn’t seem to check what we were bringing in at all.

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As you enter the great pyramid complex you will undoubtedly be surrounded by hagglers selling everything from cowboy hats to plastic statues, bottled water and scarves. While a bit annoying to most travelers, we have found the hagglers in Egypt to be mostly pleasant and kind and not too harsh. We ended up buying multiple bottles of water as well as a scarf, all for a total of $5.

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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One thing that we did find very surprising was the sheer lack of any written information about the great pyramids and surrounding structures. This is when hiring a local guide really is a good idea. Not only do they speak English, but they are cheap, very knowledgable and will take you places and tell you things you would never be able to find out about on your own. A guide for the afternoon cost us $8, well worth it I’d say.

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TIP: You will definitely want to bring your cameras as you run up to the great pyramid an pose for a couple pictures, however, if you are entering the great pyramid itself, cameras are strictly forbidden. We promised we wouldn’t take pictures inside the passage ways or tombs but still had to walk our cameras back to the car until we exited. You can of course leave your cameras with a friend, guide, etc if you feel comfortable, but with all of our gear we felt best to place it back in the car.

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I’ve never felt more like Indian Jones than I did as we all, hunched over, ascended the 100meter passageway into the direct center of the great pyramid and emerged in a seemingly basic room, with an empty tomb in the center. While we were both expecting a bit more fanfare, the pyramids were simply a burying place, and while the main chambers were filled with remnants, the pyramids themselves were not where many of the artifacts were recovered from. The few that were, however, now lay a short drive away in the Egyptian Museum. Once inside the main chamber, the Egyptian crypt keeper as it were, offered to take our pictures and even posed us as he snapped away using our iPhones, flash and all. So yea, irony all around about the strict photo policy, so sneak in your smart phone and make sure to tip the crypt keeper. We only visited the biggest of the pyramids, Khufu, which was the largest and first built. The other two pyramids are nearly identical and were built for his son and his grandson.

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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NOTE: The passageways are small, tight, and hot so if you are the slightest bit claustrophobic consider what you are getting into. The trip into the tomb is not all that long but you will be in a dark passageway, possibly on your knees, crawling and ducking for fair portions, so be prepared for that. The inner room is about 20 feet by 10 feet and has tall ceilings, which feels spacious after the ascent. 

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Visiting the Great PyramidsOnce out of the pyramid, spend the money to hire a guide to take you around. You will learn all about the star ship, a 5,000 year old boat which used to be docked right next to the great pyramids, as the nile was right at the base of the pyramids for three months a year during their construction. You will also explore the tomb of the architect of the great pyramids, which for us, satisfied our excitement to see statues and hieroglyphics, which are not present in the actual pyramids. The architects tomb is shockingly detailed with precisely cut objects and symbols in the walls, some with the paint still visible. 

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The three pyramids were build over the course of 30 years by a force of over 25,000 workers, many of whom are buried in tombs in the complex. Remember, the complex closes at 4pm, so make sure to save time for the 10 minute walk to visit the Sphinx, which is stunning in its own right. Situated slightly below the great pyramids, the Sphinx was built out of a huge stone which was naturally located on the grounds. The pharaoh who had the first pyramid constructed saw the stone and didn’t want its massive size to distract from the pyramids so he ordered his workers to make it a beautiful monument as well. The sphinx bares the face of the pharaoh, the hair of the pharaoh’s wife to symbolize beauty and the body of a lion to represent strength.   

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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NOTE: Watch out for hagglers who try to give you “gifts”, as, of course, nothing is really free. You will be wearing a full head scarf and a necklace before you realize it, and while told it is simply a gift to you, a “gift” back to them (money) will be expected. There are some nice souvenirs to be purchased if you wish, but just do so on your own time, at your own pace. 

From the complex of the Sphinx you can clearly see all three great pyramids and can sit, relax and be in complete awe at the scene that your eyes are witnessing. As some of the most recognizable, misunderstood, timeless and remarkable works of art on the planet, no visit to the great pyramids will leave you wanting more. The pyramids are such an iconic symbol of Cairo that many Egyptian high school and college graduations are held at the pyramid grounds.

We were very surprised to find such few tourists during our two days around the pyramid grounds. We maybe saw two other western couples, but generally the grounds were very empty with only Middle Eastern and Egyptian visitors. Egypt has taken a huge cut in their tourism numbers since the revolution three years ago and they are simply happy to see visitors and very accommodating to their every need.

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Whether you spend an afternoon or a few days exploring the complex and surrounding areas, and despite the seemingly lack of organization, the hectic hagglers, wild livestock and possible hordes of tourists, nothing will take away the utter stunning beauty of these buildings. 

Marina and I were simply at a lack of words for most of the time we spent at the great pyramids and have witnessed few other natural or man made structures with such affect.  So now you have the tools and all you need to know when visiting the great pyramids. 

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COMPLETE PRICE GUIDE:

Camel/Horse Ride: Approx. $25 US (2 hours)

Great Pyramids Complex Ticket: $11 US

Ticket to go inside all 3 Pyramids: $30 US

Guide for afternoon: $8 US

Bottles of Water: $0.50

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WHAT TO BRING:

Sunscreen & Hat

Camera

Egyptian Pounds

Water

Clothes to get dusty

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Visiting the Great Pyramids

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

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