Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dead Sea!!!!

Took an hour bus ride to the Dead Sea. When we arrived it was soooo hot! 42 degrees celsius... so we were carefult to consume plenty of water.

Jack and I made our way down to the water (mind you- no sandy beaches just big rocks covered in crusty salt) and dipped in a te. The water was hot as well and you could see it was murky with a film of salt on the surface. When you first walk in you feel a very weird sensation as the water makes your skin feel slick or slimy. You can see Jordan enveloped in a thick haze across the sea and Jack was convinced he could float there.

Before we arrived we got a few pieces of advice from other travellers:
  1. "Do not get it in your eyes! It burns like hellfire!"
  2. "Do not drink the water, you'll vomit"
  3. "Do not try to swim, it might splash in your eyes"
  4. "Most important thing I can tell you, do not for any reason pee in the Dead Sea or open any bodily orifice for that matter! Trust me."

Luckily, Jack and I, after our two dips managed to not succumb to any urges to gargle it or pee in it! All was well!
I just wanted to include few facts about the Dead Sea as well:

  • It is the lowest elevation on Earth (above water that is); and has been known as the Earths navel
  • It is 8.6 times as salty as the ocean
  • No animals orish can live in its environment
  • The Sea level is dropping as much as 1 meter a year
  • Large sinkholes form and can be dangerous near the shore due many different ecological factors

Anyways, heads up, Jack and I depart Israel tonight from the Ben Gurion airport and head back to Bucharest. The next few days we will try to scramble back to Germany...hopefully there will be many adventures in store! I will try to keep you updated....I have more exciting stories about Israel and the West Bank to come!

-Deeelllliiilllllah and Jack (who is sleeping ont he couch beside me :))

Free Tour of the Holy City

A view of the Western wall after passing all the security... A couple of orthodox Jews cruising by after a morning of prayer. If you look closely the right hand side is reserved for women. Many people leave special letters in nooks and crannies of the wall. Our guide described this as a kind of 'direct post office to God.' Also modern technology allows you to email, text message or twitter your requats to God....what is this world coming to! Do not get me to rampage about cellphones- the ban of my existence!

Anyways, Monday was free tour day! There is a company which runs free tours in Jerusalem and across many major European cities as well. It runs on a tipping basis, leave what you can afford if you enjoyed the tour.

Many of the major sites we saw included:
  • The old city wall and a view of the 'new' city
  • The Armenian quarter, the Christian quarter, the Arab quarter and the Jewish quarter
  • The Western wall, or wailing wall which is a very important Jewish holy site
  • The Dome of the Rock where Mouhammed (the Muslim prophet) ascended into heaven to barter with God
  • Al-aqsa mosque
  • The 13 posts, spots marked where Jebus carried the crucifix and places where he fell or his hand touched the wall
  • The Church of the Holy Seplchur where Jebus is supposed to be buried and resurrected
  • Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus
  • Temple mount
  • Tower of David
  • and Much more!!!!!
    The Brazillian woman on the tour. When everyone in the group introduced where they were from, her son and her were quite obvious as you can see by the brazillian flag vest she is sporting. She was hilarious!She was always wandering arounf muching on falafal and blowing on that horn thing (as seen in the photo). At one point the tour guide, Kobbie, was talking and she had made friends with some young Israeli soldiers. Before we knew it she was blowing that freaking horn again! The whole time her son (in his matching Brazillian flag t-shirt) was either looking for her or snapping photos of her wailing on the horn with the city in the backdrop.
    This is a plack dedicated to George Double-yeh Bush for being such a great friend to the Israelis! It is dedicated to him for being such a 'loyal partner to the state of Israel.' One interesting thing to note in a book Jack and I are reading called, 'Power Faith and Fantasy: American Involvement in the Middle East from 1776-Present' George Bush had a great uncle, also named George Bush, who was a pro-zionist and supported the resettlement of Palestine....who woulda thought?


Hitchiking to Jerusalem....

We set out for the holy city with our packs and two thumbs. We set out from the tip of the Sea of Galilee, or Lake Kinneret as it is known to the Israelis. After a restless night following the elderly party animals arrival, we went for a morning swim while I continued to stew. They even had the guts to invite us to coffee! Not impressed. If anyone is familiar with 'Bailey' my evil alter-ego please note Bailey was out in full force!

Anyways, made it into town after a trek up to the road and caught a ride with two young guys. Man it was hot! It was only about 8 am but we were pouring sweat. I think it was about 42 degrees celsius and humid. We walked to the edge of town to catchanother ride but we had some competition in town, as there were a few young Israelis also vying for a ride at the designated hitching spot.

"Pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead;I just need some place where I can lay my head."Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?"He just grinned and shook my hand, and "No!", was all he said." -The Band lyrics, The Weight [had to throw this in there, I love this song! If you have never heard it please youtube now!]

We managed to arrive in Beit Shean and waited at the junction with Nazareth. A few rides later, as the sun climbed higher and higher in the sky we found ourselves effectively stranded in the occupied territory of West Bank in front of an army base on highway 90 to Jerusalem. The one girl we were with caught a ride immediatly and we waited and munched on cookies. After a bit, a bus did arrive which was seemingly our only option as there were not very many vehicles on the road. A girl who arrived shortly after us lent us the three shekels needed to fund our ticket and we were off! Arrived in Jerusalem after a long and arduous day, completely exhausted.

Now about that Holy city...Jerusalem is one of the oldest, continuously occupied cities in the world. It is a crucial holy place for people from all three religious denominations: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the course of it's history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. So some people think it's worth killing and be killed for. Some people think it's beautiful, some say it's ugly, some say it's boring, some say it's fascinating. Some say it's holy. You can find here a mixture of people living in a harmony of love and hate to each other. Some of them say this city changed their life. Some went a little wacky.... [I will update you on mine and Jacks impressions!]

Jerusalem Syndrome is a mental illness thats onset is triggered by a visit to Jerusalem. It centres around religious delusions and psychosis, including a belief that they are the manifestation of the messiah, they represent the second coming of Christ or that God has communicated with them. If you do not believe me see Here!

Also, there is an interesting interview about the illness Here! from which the below quote has been borrowed from;

"The malady called Jerusalem Syndrome is no joke. Afflicted tourists have been found wandering in the Judean desert wrapped in hotel bed sheets or crouched at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, waiting to birth the infant Jesus."

Absolutely bizarre! Hahahahaha!

-Signing out, DDDDD

The Sea of Galilee

Another sunset....another sea....
Our shoddy campsite after we moved....
Hitched to a public beach after our arrival in Israel. When we arrived at the Sea of Galilee, we started to set up camp under a tree that afforded a bit of shade. After awhile Jack was making a fire pit when he turned over a rock and noticed a turd. He began looking around and noticing more, and more and more, "Theres poo everywhere!....Delilah, we are camping under the shit tree!" This beach was seemingly 'THE' spot to kite surf (which is crazy!) and the kitesurfers used this evry spot to do their business, and everyother spot with a tree. So when the sun retreated we moved to the edge of the water.
The Sea of Galilee is famous for its appearance in the Bible. Here Jesus delivered his 'sermon on the mount,' walked on water, calmed a storm and fed a ridiculous amount of people with some bread. Now the Sea is the place to party on weekends when it is bombarded with rowdy Israelis. We were rudely awoken to 'beats', aka shitty club music, not five metres from our forlorn little camp. There was another group partying far down the beach, but there was tonnes of space and two trucks decided to pull up right next to us at about one in the morning as we lay sleeping peacefully. Music blaring, headlights on about eight geriatrics poured out of the trucks. I was infuriated and prepared to crack skulls. Although Jack asked politely for them to turn down the music they never complied as they loaded their crap onto the pebbled beach. I slept fitfully, haunted by intrusive dreams that included a background soundtrack of 'Boom Boom Bamb Boom" that eerily made me feel as if I was asleep on the floor of a crowded night club.
The next morning, I grinded my teeth and managed to wave an offensive finger to a few of them. They were old! They should know better! I can't even think of it anymore because it make my blood boil....Grrrrrrr....
P.S. about the sea: it is perfectly calm in the morning and warmer than bathwater! In the afternoon to wind picks up and there are wave....then it dies down again as the sun sets.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our Trip Back to Israel...

Jack and I caught a bus from Wadi Mousa to the Jordan capitol of Amman. We hopped on the bus with our French-Canadian friend who seems to be following us- aka we have seen him in Egypt, at our hostel in Petra, on the bus and multiple times in Jerusalem now... Jack and I were sitting in the back seat talking with a young couple from Spain. After awhile, the bus made several stops in the desert, and we were joined by a young girl and a man (her father? brother? uncle?) who sat down beside us. They did not say much as the girl peered over the seat at a woman from our hostel listening to an Ipod.

Soon we made some small talk with the local Jordanians; the man was wearing the traditional headress (think Saudi king style), a long white robe and had a massive beard. In rudimentary english he asked us where we were from, if we were married (one day we said, but I think he interpreted 'yes'), and do we like Allah? He kept talking on his cellphone, and I think he was talking to someone who spoke english so they were translating a bit for him. He asked, "Baby?", "No, no, no Students!" we responded. When he asked about Allah we broached the subject tenderly... we were not sure if 'agnostic' translated. All and all it was an interesting ride. From what we interpreted of the conversation he was taking his little sister to visit his wife and baby in the hospitable. The funny thing about the ride is that he kept gesturing to the Spanish couple, "We don't like...not married." I dressed very conservatively for the bus ride, while the girl was wearing a sari exposing her entire leg and canoodling with her BF. The thing about Arab countries is number one: you have to dress conservative. The Jordanian women always wear the veil or the hajib or chador (black material covering everything except your eyes). Our Jordanian friend asked me, "You like the veil? You wear?" All I could do was laugh, thinking I might pass out if I wore that in this heat!

When we got off the bus, us foreigners stuck together. Instead of a bus station we were left on a roundabout island in the middle of the highway. After a moment, collecting our thoughts and looking around we were encircled by a group of men who had taxis waiting for us. "My friend! This way! I make you a deal!" Since beginning our travels we have had enough of cab drivers cutting us a 'deal' so we all loked at eachother and attempted to fnd out where we were. Jack and I were heading to a northern border crossing, so we left the others to fend for themselves and began walking. After a busride, a cab ride and finally another bus ride we reached a town where another cabbie cut us a deal to take us to the border as no buses ran there.

After a long and arduous day we arrived at the border where we discovered we had to pay another cabbie to drive us across the border (to our chagrin), and a bus to drive us 200 metres. When we arrived at the Israeli side, we were searched rigourously and questioned (likely due to Jacks out of control beard and having been in an arab country). We finally made it out alive and started walking. Luckily we hitched a ride and found a decent accomodation (although we literally slept in a janitors closet with a bathroom) for cheap, but the hotel had a pool! and my favorite thing...in the courtyard there was a 'Kitten!'

All is well that ends well in Beit Shean, the city we stayed in. We regrouped and prepared for our next adventure!

P.S I wanted to include a picture of King Abdullah II of Jordan as he is everwhere (a la Ataturk). On the backs of buses, in car windows, blown up photos adorn shops and homes. To find out more visit his official website here. My favorite pic in particular was one of him in army fatigues aiming a rifle on the back of a truck...priceless! Imagine a picture of Stephen Harper (our Canadian Prime Ministers for everyone out there taht might not know) like that! Hahahahaha!

Upon further research I discovered that Abdullah II stared in an episode of Star Trek: Voyageur while still prince....this is Priceless!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Slow Ride Home

In our hostel in Wadi Mousa we met this really cool Aussie named Ben, who unfortunatly we did'nt get to spend much time with. What we did find out about him was that he had a blog called the Slow Ride Home, documenting his motorcycle journey from London, England where he had been living and working home to Australia!!! Amazing!!! He gave us his address to check it out, and so far he has seen so many different places with so many more to go. We chatted about his upcoming trip to Iran and what else he had planned on the 13 month or so journey. I suggest checking out his blog because as our NZ counterpart Hamish would say "This guy is a LEGEND!"
-Over and out, more posts to come, D

The Bedouin

When you are in Jordan and Egypt you can camp and travel with a bedouin tribe. Many tribesmen work and live out of the caves surrounding Petra, making their livelihoods offering camel rides, Donkey rides, trips to the desert, and selling food and jewellery.

The bedouin we met, Ali, gave us this saying:

"The Bedouin are as strong as the desert;
Soft as sand;
Quick as the wind;
Free forever."
Check out the wikipedia article on Bedouin

Also, a site documenting Bedouin life in Petra specifically The Bedouin Tribes of Petra; which the photo above is courtesy of [the tea he is drinking is bedouin tea which we enjoyed in Petra and in Egypt, it is a sweet black tea with dried sage leaves....it is delicious!].

Our Donkey Friend!!!

HHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA....There were Donkeys everwhere! Our friend Eileen, who is German, kept calling them monkeys (as english is not her first language). Jack and I kept looking everywhere "Monkeys! Where!" but all we saw was this friendly fella'...

Petra and Wadi Mousa Part II

After our trek to the Monastery we befriended a bedouin, named Ali, who lived in a cave a couple of kilometres away. We spent the hottest part of the afternoon hanging out with Ali and listening to him play a rudimentray flute he fashioned out of a chair leg! It was amazing! Later we went to his friends shop and he dressed us up as Bedouin brides, complete with black kohl eyeliner. Jack looked exactly like Moses, hahahaha now that his beard is gettin out of control. He invited us to hang out at his cave later that night but we sadly had to decline as we had paid for dinner at our hostel (a delicious buffet!!!!) and Jack and I were catching the bus to Amman at 6:30 in the morning. Luckily, we will keep in touch with Ali via facebook, because yes, Bedouin tribesmen who live in caves have laptops and facebook...believe it or not!

I will continue to catch up on the blog- at the moment we are in the holy land!!! and we are going to attend a Shabbat lunch hosted by a local Rabbi who we must meet at the Wailing wall at 12:45...so we must vamoose!


Petra and Wadi Mousa Part I

I am so behind on the posts!!! So I am going to try to bring it up to date as quick as possible. We spent some time in Petra before heading North towards Amman, and crossing over to the Galilee in Israel...
"Hey, Wat up baby...nice donkey if I do say so myself..."
View from the top of a big mountain we climbed to see the monestary in Petra...I am pretty sure from this vantage point we are seeing Israel/ Palestine...

The monestary- If you look very closely, in the right hand corner that is myself (Delilah) and Eileen, the German girl we hung out with in Petra...Good times!
Puffing our way up the mountain..too cheap to pay for a donkey ride plus we felt bad for the poor asses lugging us up to the top... Some little Bedouin boys (riding donkeys) saw Jack, Eileen and myself and remarked: "Lucky man...Two wives!", to our amusement. Many Bedouin take as many as four wives as is customary. The Bedouin work and live in Petra, making a killing off of selling bottled water to thirsty tourists for as much as 3 Jordanian Donair a pop! 1 Donair is the equivilant of a euro roughly....
The treasury! It was beautiful! Amazing! and the camels who chilled in front of it all day... There is Delilah, slowly approaching to make friends with the camels.
Part II will follow....

Monday, July 20, 2009

A How To Guide...

Make that Camel sit down!!!!

I finally got to ride a camel!!!! I know it is a cliche thing to do in Egypt but it had to be done, especially since we were missing the pyramids. I just took a quick jaunt on one while we were at the blue hole snorkling, it was much fun! They are such peculiar creatures, hee hee.

When we went snorkling our new friend Moustafa (the 26 year old heart surgeon from Cairo)had an underwater camera. We snuck some bread in and wham we were attacked! hopefully got some good pics, he is going to mail them to us when they get developed.

The food in Dahab was cheap. We spent many evenings relaxing with our texan friend and our egyptian friend by the serene waters of the Red Sea (which is surprisingly reddish at sunset due to the reflection of the red tinged mountains in the distance). It was a sad departure when we finally left but we have finally arrived in Jordan! I am going to try and get a guest post from braedon who is heading towards Cairo as compensation of not going... and perhaps I will make a contribution to his travel blog, Coach Merril.

Also, below is a pic of the lovely letter and drawings Moustafa did for us....in Arabic as well! He stayed up all night working on the dragon...I love it! Going in the scrap book!

-Over and out, D

Black Hebrew Israelites

While in Mitzipi Ramon, we learned about the black hebrew settlement in the village. Apparently there was an influx in immigration from the United States, specifically Chicago, of a group of people who claimed to be descendents of the Israelites or of the ten lost tribes of Israel. Although officially identified as practicioners of Judaism, the black hebrews are not fully embraced by the jewish community. they posses their own destinctive traits and traditions. Mainly they are identifiable and known for the long, colorful robes; intricate hairstyles and headdress; vibrant music; adherence to a strictly vegan diet devoid of alcohol and pharmaceuticals and of course their chicagoan dialect....maintained even by second, third and fourth generation Black hebrews living in Israel.

The Black hebrews also settled in a place called Dimona, about a half hour from Be'er Sheva. It is known for its music festivals and vegan/vegetarian restaurants.

For more info I found a wikipedia link for you to check out!

African hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem

We might visit Dimona, if only for vegetarian cuisine, mmmmm!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eleven Easy Steps to Enter Egypt

After our stay in Mitzipi Ramon with Adi, and the last night with another couchsurfer Jenny (an english teacher from South Africa) with whom we took in the sunset and saw the hyena 'skulking' around as we decided was appropriate to term it at the end of the world. The end of the world is what Jenny called it when the road stopped. It literally turned to dust and a rough, rocky track descended into the crater floor.

The next day we decided to hitchhike to Eilat to try to cross the border, since hitchiking in Israel is common place in the South and safe. Mostly we saw young families heading on the one road that led to the resort town of Eilat. Jack and I crooned away on the guitar, danced and tried to get a ride. After we exhausted our efforts a white truck (everyone seemingly drives white vehicles) pulled up. A young guy, whose name I cannot remember nor pronounce, loaded us in and we set off. He spoke a bit of english and told us he was visiting friends in Eilat. He was a twenty three year old army officer who cammanded a battalion of tanks, even spending time in the war torn region of the gaza strip. At one point in the trip the traffic was backed up and we went off roading, bypassing the line of cars... and we made it in due time to Eilat and he dropped us off at the bus station.

As I mentioned above, it takes eleven exciting and easy steps to get to Egypt across land. (1) Catch a bus to the border area (called Taba) and walk a hundred feet; (2) Little taba snack bar and cold water fountain; (3) Passport pre-check; (4) Passport control booth, one has to pay 95 Israeli shekels to leave the country, 95! Ludicris!; (5) Israeli last pastport check where they stamp your passport; (6) Stroll through no-mans land; (7) Egyptian passport control- fil out entry form, get stamp; (8) Egyptian security (X-ray machine); (9) Past border passport check and entrance to Egypt fee; (10) You are now encircled by twenty bedouin tribesmen who bicker in arabic about who gets to drive you to your destination because the buses are done for the day, you try to strike a deal, the tourists in your group look either bored or confused, your luggage is loaded and strapped to the top of a random mini-bus so you get inside; (11) Welcome to Egypt! As you speed across the Sinai, taking bends in the road at a neck-cracking, bone crunching speed....you hold on for dear life! Plus pass a million border security checkpoints.....

Luckily, we arrived in Dahab unscathed....life is good and food is cheap! Unfrtunatly we cannot go to the pyramids, long story short, we did not recieve the appropriate visa to visit anywhere outside of the Sinai, nor do we have the funds to retrieve that visa, nor the time....

It is HHHOOOTTTTTT, more updates soon....plus I want to tell you about the Black Hebrews! remind me....


Watching the Sun Rise Over the Negev Desert

" The sun rises, and the sun drops away. While hundreds of years roll by. The desert is calm, bursts to storm, then silence steals back too its place."

-Chaim Nachman from 'The Dead of the Desert"

The Alpaca Farm and the Epic of the Lost Keys

The next day, we went to the visitor centre in Mitzipi Ramon and our host took us to see a movie about the desert. We enjoyed the fabulous vistas at a lookout point and Adi dropped us off at the Alpaca farm and left us to our own devices. When we arrived he was adament that he only had one set of keys which were lost by one couchsurfer, thus the blue lanyard attached, so "BE CAREFUL GUYS!". We walked around the farm, had a presentation about Illamas and Alpacas and why there was farm here. Above you can see Jack admiring 'Bambi' the Ilama who was used as a demonstration. Ilamas and Alpacas are indigenous to South America but the owners brought them to Israel after living with native peoples in many countries (such as Bolivia and Peru) and learning about the ways of the animals and their sacredness to the peopes there.
In Israel the Ilamas have begun to be used by the Israeli army to carry supplies. They can withstand extreme temperature, can carry a lot of weight on saddle bags and are very calm. They could be in the midst of war, with bullets flying overhead and will sit quiet and still, chewing their cud. The lady doing our presentation was very nice but did not possess all the words in english to describe some of the Ilamas habits, we had a great time trying to use words to help her describe their poo: "excrement?", "feces?", and we finally decided "turd" was appropriate...like a bunny, heh heh.
The Alpacas are smaller animals and like the ilamas are distant relatives of the camel. They are mostly used for their soft wool, and are a bit more excitable then the Ilamas. When the presentation was through, we were given a canister of food pellets and let loose to walk around. The Ilamas and alpacas mostly were given free range of the farm and ket in check by the border collies...to make sure they did not run away.

We wondered out among them when we heard a peculiar noise. "grough, grough, grough, spppp......", the alpacas had by this point encircled poor Jack as I jumped backwards nervously. He was trying to reach out and feed them, but when one animal was not getting its share it prepared to spit! Ilamas and alpacas spit their cud, food regurgitated from one stomache to another (similar to a cow). We both got spit on a few times but it washed off, although the smell lingered. By the bottom of the food canister we were more content to feed the ponies, donkeys, horses, ilamas and even the dogs...but nt the alapaca's because we prefered not to get spit on.
Afterwards we set off into the desert and walked back into town, had lunch and meandered. We were about to pick up some groceries and to our surprise the keys were missing!!!! An epic search ensued. We walked back to the patio we ate our falafal on, we walked back to the apartment, back to the watertower, we even had the audacity to sneak by our hosts place and peak in his truck to see if they fell on the seat! We felt horrible! After his implicite instructions to "NOT LOSE THE KEY!", back up the big hill to the visitor centre, Jack and I walked dejectedly in the glaring, mid afternoon desert sun. We searched the entire centre while one of the ladies working there diaed the Alapaca farm. The keys were found!!! Now we only had to walk all the way outside f town, about a five mile trek to the farm. We set out, with water in tow and walked along the crater edge, the Ramon Mahktesh. We met a nice dude bicycling and chatted, rested beside an army compound (where we saw an Ibex and two babies!), and began to cut through a rocky outcrop when a large blazing white landrover pulled into view on the road. We ran towards it and the lady asked if we needed a ride. "We are going the otherway"..."jump in" she said and she drove us to the farm, we picked up the keys and deposited us outside of a key cutting centre. She thought we were nuts walking out there without a hat! All is well that ends well, we presented the newly cut keys, our fantastic adventure and a botte of wine to Adi and his wife later that evening...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mitzipi Ramon and the Negev desert

We took the bus from Tl Aviv to Be'er Sheva and then jumped on another to Mitzipi Ramon (pronounced Mitz-ahh-peh Rah-Mone...Jack had trouble buying the ticket b/c no one could understand his mispronounciation!)

The bus was loaded up with soldiers heading to the huge army/ training base in the Negev and Jack and I stared out the windowin awe at the desolate and alien landscape that stretched before us. The bus driver was a young guy with a smile plastered on his face and was wearing a mint green shirt and black tie. He bopped along to the music as we hurtled through the rocky desert...I remember the song playing distinctly, it was the fifties classic "Its my Party and I'll Cry if I want To."

Upon our arrival to the tiny town of Mitzipi Ramon, we hunkered down for a falafal to find our bearings. All one could see for miles was rocks, dust, and an endless blue sky. We had arranged two couchsurfers in the town, and we dialed up our first host Adi. When he arrivd he excused himself to go into the corner store then drove us to where we would be staying. To our surprise we would be occupying Adi's mothers apartment that she frequented every few monthes, in other words we got our own pad! Out of the bag of things he bought at the store he pulled out chocolate chip-hazelnut cookies and a few beers. We got acquainted and Adi showed us around the place.
That night we went over to his beautiful house down the street. He gave us a tour of their garden in the back, full of herbs and fruit trees. Then we relaxed on the rooftop terrace with his wife, who served us tea (made from the garden herbs) and wraps (veggie for me and chicken swarma for Jack). They were the most hospitable hosts and we chatted for a bit. Adi is a theatre teacer at the local highschool and spends his summer vacation writing (currently a book of shortstories based inthe serene desert town of Mitzipi Ramon).
I gotta wrap up the post for now...we are going snorkling (we are in Egypt by the way)...but internet access is secure so more posts will follow shortly! I will regal you with stories about Alpacas spitting, the lost keys, traversing the endless desert, seeing a hyena, sleeping under the stars, hitchhiking, the longwinded process of trying to cross the egyptian border, the crazy bedouin drivers in the Sinai and all about Moses and the Ten Commandments! Phew, that was alot. I am going to get biblical on you!
P.S The weather in the desert was beautiful...imagine...it even got cold at night! It is a dry heat during the day- no humidity like Tel Aviv and nighttime was comfortable and breezy....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shalom שָׁלוֹם

Sorry it has been so long for a post! After our initial arrival in Tel Aviv we have been sightseeing and absorbing the Israeli culture! We have been staying with a girl named Noa from the couchsurfing community (if you have not heard of it check it out!) who had been so kind to host us for a couple of days. She tok us out with her friends, to the beach, a restaurant she enjoys and we have had many great adventures. It is extremely interesting meeting somebody from Israel, to recieve the inside scoop about the city and about Israeli life in general. Noa (not like Noah's ark she informed us...which is mispronounced when it is anglicized....it should sound like Noa(esh)) grew up on the Kibbutz and has been living in Tel Aviv for the last year.
Jack and I were excited to meet Noa. After we called we set up a meeting place near her house, where we waited for her after work after having a nice nap in the park. We walked to her place in a quiet and beautiful suburb of the city called Kiryat Ono. After introductions...and a much needed shower!.... we hit the town. We spent a few days traversing Tel Aviv...going to an outdoor antique market on Sabath (Israeli weekends span Friday and Saturday and the week starts Sunday unlike our own weekend), went to the beach, went hat shopping for her friend, visited an awesome indian restaurant (where we spent the night on the terrace roof for very cheap). We split up for an evening and Jack and I stayed in a hostel in the Old Jaffa District of the city and spent some time being smashed by the waves on the mediteranean coast plus getting a mean sunburn (Boo).
Last night we returned to Noa's for a farewell dinner and to retrieve our bags. We are planning a trip to Galilee for the weekend after next so we will meet again. I have to finish up the post as we are catching a bus to the Negev desert in the south...will update soon! Lots to say!!!!
The beach at sunset.....breathtaking!
The Port of Old Jaffa.

The crazy cats in Kiryat Ono, whom are fed by an old lady. There are so many of them, I could not believe it! When we went back to Noa's we remembered how to get there after seeing the cats milling about near dusk...heh heh...
A cool performance artist at the artists market that opens on Friday mornings....He was surreal.


Amazing Graffiti in Tel Aviv

Well Tel Aviv take ths prize for the best Graffiti we have seen on our trip so far. The walls of this city are plastered with amazing street art which reveals the cool vibe the city emotes. Some are politicized, some pose for pure asthetic purposes, and there are many identifiable artists who do multiple pieces around the city. We'll post more from around Israel as we head south!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Arrival!!! At Last!!!

We finally have arrived!

The last three days have been absolutely exhausting but Jack and I are ready to go explore the city of Tel Aviv...After a much needed shower that is. We notice that flies were suspiciously hovering only around us at the airport in Bucharest...hmmm...hope our smell did not offend anyone.

Our last day in Bulgaria we loitered at the train station aka laid on the floor and devoured our books until our departure time at 22:00. Side note: currently Jack is reading 'What is the What' by Dave Eggers and I am infatuated with 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' by Azar Nafisi. Anyways our last super cheap meal in Bulgaria was pizza and peanuts and then, as I mentioned previously, our destroyed loaf of bread that was better suited to feeding birds.

The train was a soviet era 1950's contraption, which had windows that would not open, despite the ferocity we used to try and crank them. I slept fitfully in the heat but at least it was a bed not the ground or an uncomfortable bus seat. The toilet on the train, when you flush it your excrement and pee goes right onto the tracks!!!! I personally could not get over that part! But I guess it is better, au natural.

The comrades arrived in arms in Bucharest at 6 am, a city not known for its good reputation. We meandered, we weighed our options and slept in a park. One was on lookout duty with the other caught some much needed shut eye. We only saw a few questionable characters, including a raving old lady complete with a cigarette dangling in her mouth and a two-litre bottle of the cheapest beer money can buy in Eastern Europe. Luckily she chose to bypass us in her ramblings, likely because she thought we were in the same circumstance as herself...sleeping on a park bench and all, or so we joked.

Arrived at the Otopeni International Airport and killed time playing Rummy and chess with our new friend Clara... a nice Romanian woman who could speak Spanish, Italian, Romanian, English and Dutch! She fed us traditional Romanian pastries and a green pepper (who she curiously ate like an apple)! It was amazing! She had a soft spot for Canadians as her husband hailed from Vancouver.

Our flight did not board until 21:00. It was a small Romanian Airlines plane; 737 Boeing. Eager to take off, Jack and I sat and waited while the engines revved up. We held hands as the plane prepared for take off when, all of the sudden a muffled voice came over the speaker phone. We could not quite make out what th voice had informed us of as we exchanged hesitant glances with the Romanian gentlemen seated next to Jack. The plane returned to the hanger. People stretched their legs as the lights cam back on. After a half hour delay, Jack and I held hands, tighter than before as I had become quite nervous about the flight by this point. The plane shuddered to life, we approached the runway, the pilot tested the brakes one more time and we ascended into the dark, starless night... A blood red moon hanging low on the horizon was creeping towards us, visible from the right hand window. It leant an eeriness to the whole experience. Anyways, we arrived in one peice after almost three hours. And to our delight, they fed us! The food was terrific!

Israel. Customs was no problem. We spent the night sleeping in the airport as it was past midnight by the time we arrived and we (a) were too cheap to pay for accomodation for the night and (b) were hesitant to go wandering around a city we knew nothing about in the dead of night. The chairs were very uncomfortable but we made do. Ventured into the city and here we are!!!

Arranging to meet up with a friend of a friend to see the city and get a tutorial in Hebrew...so far our impressions/ observations of Israel:
  • It's hot!
  • There are palm trees everywhere
  • The food looks delicious
  • There are soldiers everywhere (military enrollment is a requirement for both men and women)

Too tired to think of anymore, will update soon....

Shalom, Delilah

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Heading out today....

Quick update.... We are jumping on a night train to Bucharest, scrambling to the airport and flying to Isreal (Israel...I can never spell it!).... Next post will be from Tel Aviv!!!! We are starting to run short on funds so we are eating a loaf of bread for dinner, bon apetite....



Picture via Engage

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Back in Good Old Eastern Europe...

Where erotic sex shops are on every street corner and women can not only wear shorts (yeah I can wear shorts comfortably again without men Oggling me like in Turkey!) but they can wear pretty much any amount of cloths they desire! Women go topless on the beach!

We arrived in Varna, Bulgaria on Saturday. We wandered around for a bit, followed some dude from our bus looking for a hostel which was unsuccessful (a french canadian muscle man), had tea, slept in a park, and finally found accomodation using the internet at a gamer lair called DOOM. The initial thing we noticed is that it is so much different from Turkey here although it is only about an eight hour bus ride away...we noticed the culture is much more liberalized as I mentioned above the freedom women possess; women work in shops, go to bars alone etc etc....

Anyways we are having the strangest experience in the strangest hostel that I am not so keen on... we have a few days to kill before we have to get to Bucharest (Romania) to catch or flight to Israel. Yes! We are going to Israel!!! Woo hoo!!! So basically we have been relaxing on the coast of the Black Sea. There is not much otherwise to do in Varna except drink cheap beer.

We arrived at our hostel which is inhabited by S.African, British, American men who all like to drink. Here they serve Vodka for breakfast out of the 'famous' funnel while free beer and icecream is handed out at seven. I politely declined the funnel at nine in the morning before we were shown our room. The main hostel is full so we have been placed in another apartment about ten minutes away. The apartment is occupied by said men who work for accomodation. It is pretty filthy; think six single dudes who drink a lot of beer in one small apartment...hmmm... They are pretty nice I guess, but it is not my cup of tea for sure.

Jack and I are not sure of our plans for the next couple of days, we fly out Wednesday night... we will see what happens... it might be another beach day tomorrow.... I'll update soon....


Some more Pictures From Turkey...

We left Turkey...hopped on the bus and hit the open road! It was sad departing our little apartment, but we were itching for something new. Here are a few of my favorite pics from when we were traveling about with the units....

PPPPeeaaacccee, Delilah