Our Adventures in Sri Lanka

Safaris to spot leopards and elephants, swimming in the Indian Ocean, sipping tea in the mountains, and several more!

Our Nile Cruise

Starting in Cairo, we sailed to Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Aswan.

Trouble at Sea: Our Red Sea Dive Trip in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea is one of the top diving destinations in the world, but Saudi Arabia is a very restrictive country to get into. That alone would have made the trip memorable...but then things went south and the Saudi Coast Guard and a hospital got involved.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Discovering Turkey

We emersed ourselves in Istanbul, explored the white travertines of Pamukkale, and traced history through Laodikeia, Hierolopolis, and Cleopatra's Baths.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kid-Friendly Baltimore

We spent part of Labor Day weekend touring Baltimore, primarily around the Inner Harbor area visiting the National Aquarium, Fort McHenry, Port Discovery Children's Museum, and the USS Constellation. While the places we visited were really quite worth the trip, I stand by my initial impression of Baltimore.

National Aquarium
Yes, fish in tanks. But the way Baltimore's National Aquarium is laid out is very interesting. In one area, you end up crisscrossing over one of the larger tanks, and you can still see massive sea turtles from above at the higher levels.


There is also a rain forest area in another section of the building with spitting fish. They spit water at crickets to knock them off branches and then eat them.
video

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Study Abroad and Internship Programs

There are several opportunities for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students to work or study overseas with the U.S. Department of State. There's even a "Which student internship is right for you?" info page that goes into detail about the opportunities that are out there. While it's not guaranteed to get you into the Foreign Service, I doubt it would hurt your chances.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Officially Listed as a Foreign Service Blog

All it took was a couple of emails and some (subjectively) awesome content, but The Passport Stamp Collector is officially listed on the American Foreign Service Association's Foreign Service Blogs page. You have to scroll down a bit to the "Both Spouses" category, but we're on there!
While I'm at it, I'll recommend checking out our About Us page and some curated posts listed under the "Summary" label. 

So my next challenge is how to get more traffic to my site. I'm still in the early stages of what might be called "marketing and branding." It's surprisingly hard to come up with clever, coherent, and memorable social media accounts...but I've settled on these two: Instagram's @WorldTravelRRR and the #TravelRRR hashtag.

Other than that, I've started reading through digital marketing blogs like Nomvo.com to learn about other aspects of digital presence.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia Reception

I spent this past Friday evening at an event organized by the International Club of D.C. at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. The evening was organized this way: Non-alcoholic cocktail quarter-hour, Video Presentation, Q&A, Fashion Show and Dinner. I arrived a little late, so I had to grab my unspiked orange juice and head directly into the FDR/Abdulaziz Room. This small auditorium is dedicated to the meeting between Ibn Saud (Abdulaziz)--the first King of modern Saudi Arabia--and Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 14, 1945 aboard the USS Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal.
Photo of Meeting between FDR and King Abdulaziz Feb. 14, 1945
It's fitting since this was the beginning of official diplomatic relations between the two countries. The video presentation had a bit of a propagandist feel to it, but wasn't worse than anything I've seen the U.S. produce. It covered a brief history of the Arabian Peninsula, Islam, culture, economy (including recent diversification) and modernization of the country. The city we are headed to, Jeddah, is very close to Mecca and the road between the two cities used to be one of the only paved highways in Saudi Arabia. (Jeddah is on the coast and a port city for the annual Hajj). Anyway, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling about moving the KSA.

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Monuments Men Day Trip to Bruges and Ghent

If you have an extra day in Brussels, Belgium and want to see some famous works of art, might I interest you in what I call "The Momuments Men" day trip option to Bruges (aka Brugge) and Ghent (aka Gent)? If you're not familiar with The Monuments Men movie, it's loosely based on a WWII mission to protect the treasures of the Western world from the Nazis. It also happens that both cities are within an hour's train ride from Gare du Nord on the same train route from Brussels. 
The Lamb of God: Van Eyck's Ghent Altar Piece
My plane landed in Brussels around 7am. I took the airport train into the city and dropped my bags at the hotel (and printed a map), and was leaving Brussels Gare du Nord (North Station) on my way to Brugge by 8:47. The train was nearly empty when I boarded but was totally full leaving Brussels Zuid (South Station). Not much compares to
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Saudi Arabia: So Far, So Good?

We're over two years in to our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It's hard...

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