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Today’s post is part of a weekly series called “Travel Toss-Up,” in which we ask you to take your pick between two amazing travel experiences.

This week’s toss-up offers a choice of two colorful shopping experiences.

Would you rather…

… wander through the chaotic souks of Old City Jerusalem, or …

jerusalem market old city



… browse the offerings at the Jean-Talon Italian market in Montreal?

jean talon market montreal


Jerusalem’s Old City is home to sprawling Arab souks selling everything from exotic spices and brightly colored pottery to traditional headdresses and ultra-modern T-shirts. In the heart of Montreal’s Little Italy neighborhood, Jean-Talon Market offers a mouth-watering selection of fruit, vegetables, bread, chocolate, maple syrup and other locally sourced foodstuffs.

Photos: 12 Delicious Destinations for Foodies

Vote for your preference in the comments below!

– written by Sarah Schlichter

burano islandMy parents just returned from two weeks in Italy. I visited them a day after they got back. In two hours, they only got through telling me about Venice, Florence and the Amalfi Coast (about half of their trip). They loved it all, but both got the most excited when talking to me about their day trip to the Amalfi Coast with their guide, Carmine.

Carmine is from Sorrento; he knows everyone in Sorrento and around the Amalfi Coast. His connections and knowledge of the area enabled him to bypass long lines of bus traffic, take my parents to lesser known — but equally lovely and less crowded — sites and give them real insights into local life.

11 Best Italy Experiences

So many of those insights came just by getting to know Carmine. After only one day, my parents knew all about him. They knew that all his siblings went to university for tourism, but that Carmine isn’t a school kind of person so he taught himself everything by reading. They met his boyhood friends, Mario and Luigi, who run a hotel in Sorrento. They could rattle off the names of countries Carmine has been to, how he wants to expand his guide business and how he’s having girl problems. The point is, when all was said and done, they couldn’t say enough good things about him and the memorable day he gave them on the Amalfi Coast.

Carmine isn’t the first great guide my parents have had. When I was 21, we took a family trip to Israel. That was 19 years ago, but I still remember our guide, Ron. It was from him that I learned the nickname native-born Israelis give themselves: sabra, a fruit that’s hard and prickly on the outside but soft inside. Ron took us to so many amazing places, told us the history of every place we went, introduced us to locals and even took us, very briefly, into the West Bank.

A great guide can make all the difference when traveling. Sure, you can take yourself around, using a guidebook and some Internet research, but without the color, knowledge and passion a local guide brings to the experience, it’s just sightseeing.

When Do You Need a Tour Guide?

Have you ever had a truly great guide? Where were you and what made him or her so wonderful?

– written by Dori Saltzman

Did you know that the first Wednesday in April has been declared National Walking Day by the American Heart Association? Well, now you do.

While the AHA aims to encourage more physical activity among those of us who spend hours upon hours sitting at a desk, we couldn’t resist putting a travel spin on the day — because let’s face it, most of us walk much more when we’re off exploring a new place than we do when we’re at home.

We recently asked our followers on Facebook to name their favorite city or neighborhood for strolling — and the list of places we got in response would inspire just about anyone to hit the pavement. Following are a few of our favorites:

“Assisi, Italy … peaceful, quaint & beautiful!” — Tracey Pino

assisi italy church



New York City — especially Broadway from Columbus Circle to the 80′s” — Beth Glass

central park new york city dog walking



“Old City in Jerusalem” — Rose Kemps

old city jerusalem souq souk market



“Definitely Sydney — from the Rocks all the way around to the Botanical Gardens” — Gill Harvey

botanical gardens sydney



What Not to Do in a New City

Which city tops your list of favorite places to walk?

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Every Monday, we’ll post the answer to the previous week’s Photo Friday quiz. Play along with future photo guessing games by subscribing to our blog (top right).

The correct answer to last Friday’s photo guessing game is Jerusalem! Pictured is the Tower of David, an ancient citadel that has protected the Old City for thousands of years. Visitors to the Tower can tour a museum documenting the city’s history and enjoy a 360-degree view of the Old City and modern Jerusalem. The Tower is named after King David, who ruled Israel between approximately 1003 and 970 B.C. Learn more about the city in Jerusalem Essentials.

Check back this Friday for another photo guessing game!

– written by Sarah Schlichter