Monday, July 27, 2009

First post... Finally

Hello hello,
So a few people told me to start a blog of my travels and I said that I would quite a few weeks ago. Well I finally did it.
As it's kind of a late start, I can't describe everything from the past month because it would take too long to write. So I'll try do it in short...

I graduated from Drexel University on June 13th and am going to start working with the Peace Corps in February somewhere in Latin America. That's a long time to wait so I decided that traveling around would make the time much more enjoyable. I started with 2 weeks in Europe. In Belgium I visited Brussels, Leuven, Liege, Gent, and Bruges and then I also spent some time in Paris. Some of my pics from these cities are CLICK HERE . In Belgium and Paris I spent some time with friends from Ecuador (IAESTE!!!) and with some friends from couchsurfing that stayed at our house during the past year.

All of these cities were really nice and the entire time it was 30-35 degrees and sunny. Belgium is really small so it's easy to travel around by train. I'm not the best at describing some things, but the architecture is medieval and I haven't seen anything like it in my past travels. Also what everyone says is true, the beer and chocolate are amazing! But watch out, even though the beer is tasty it's pretty strong too... They speak many languages here also. As I went from city to city, I heard French, Flemish, English and some Spanish (although most people here don't speak spanish).

In the past, I never wanted to goto Paris (even though I spent one night there before because Air France was on strike) but the week in Paris was really nice. My french is crap, but I learned a few lines while there, and spoke Spanish more than English. The city is huge with so many great places to see. Most of the time I slept on a small mattress under a desk in an architecture studio, but also spent 2 nights on the floor in another friend's house. Everyone I met was really nice and I'll probably come back to spend more time here in the future.

After Europe, I took a plane that left me in Tel Aviv, Israel. The first week I spent in Israel was mostly with my family. I hadn't seen some of them for many many years so it's good catching up. I also met some cousins that weren't alive the last time I was here. My family lives in Hod Hasharon, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Qiryat Ono so the first week was spent between those cities. So far I've just seen a bit of Jerusalem, but it's a nice city. My grandparents took me to the old city for the day and we walked around there. In Tel Aviv, my uncle and I went through all the city on bikes. I hadn't biked for a while but it's good being on wheels again. It seems that all of Israel is really hot, and some cities very humid also but hopefully I get used to it soon. oooh I forgot, I also met up with some couchsurfers in the first week and went out with them and met up with a friend that I know from Colombia. It's really cool seeing all these people again that I've met from past travels/couchsurfing.

Finally I started to travel after the first week. I met up with a girl from Lithuania, Aushrine (also from CS), and we CSed at someone's house in Yodfat, a small moshav that's kind of in the north. It was really nice there. We had a great host and most of the people in Yodfat are pretty interesting, it's hard to describe how people are there so you should go see for yourself. We made a daytrip to goto Banias park which is in the very north of Israel. To get there we had to hitchhike about 100km. It was my first time hitchhiking and all I can say is that it's addicting! It's fun, you save some money from buses, and can meet many people. Banias was nice too. We walked along the river until we came to the waterfall at the end. On the way there Aushrine lost her sandal in the river and ripped her pants... I guess that's why there's so many signs that say 'Do NOT enter the water'. Luckily my pants were ok and I still have both my shoes. On the way back we also hitchhiked. Another good thing about hitchhiking is that some people spoke almost no English so I got to practice my Hebrew. That's another part of my plan for this summer is to learn Hebrew. I'm not taking classes because it's a bit expensive and I don't study as much as I would like because I'm traveling. Even though I'm still learning a bit and understanding more than I can say, I'll have to come back here in the future to properly learn the language.

Right now I'm in Egypt. Last Tuesday, Aushrine and I hitchhiked from Petach Tikva, just north of Tel Aviv, all the way to Eilat which is right next to the Taba Border Crossing to Egypt. It took a looonngg time but we made it to Eilat by the night and we also learned that the desert is really hot. Thankfully we had lots of water, some food, and the cars that picked us up were air conditioned. When we crossed the border the next morning we waited for a while before heading to Cairo. The sign said there was a bus at 12:30, but after asking the guy at the bus station he said that it's the maybe bus... and this day maybe meant no. We eventually took a microbus, or a big van, to Cairo. In the microbus was some egyptians, a guy from barcelona, a guy from Rome, Aushrine and I and no air conditioning. Before I thought that Israel was hot, but Egypt is much hotter! we drove for hours through the desert in this van full of people with no air. And the window had to be closed because the air coming in was so hot that it felt like it was burning me. It was quite an experience. I slept through a few hours of the ride while flying through the desert and listening to Egyptian or Arab music (I wouldn't know the difference, but it's good music whatever it was).
Eventually we arrived in Cairo and our host from CS, Ahmed, took us to the CS apartment. An entire apartment just for people traveling through Cairo.... sweet! Ahmed spent the next few days showing us around Cairo. Him and the other people we met are all very kind and the time there was really good. He took us to the pyramids, Citadel, Egyptian Museum and some other places in his Audi S3 which was quite comfortable. Cairo is a HUGE city! I think 24 million people.
We were supposed to spend a night in Alexandria and Ahmed drove there with us. I don't know what happened but our host there wouldn't pick up her phone or return any messages so that night we ended up going back to Cairo. Alexandria is a nice city, we saw a museum and walked around the city a bit. All of us had only slept 2 hours the night before so we were very tired. There's very few tourists there which is good.

Now we're in the Sinai in a city called Dahab. Our host here, Maya, is very nice. She's from Slovenia but her dad is from Egypt and she came here I think about a year ago and married a Bedouin man. We're staying in their house but getting to learn some about the Bedouin culture also. Yesterday we went snorkeling and swimming on the beach. Saw some fish and some coral and at the same time got a bit burnt. SPF 15 sunscreen doesn't do anything for you here... At night we went to a Bedouin area in the mountains close to here and layed down while some people played music and there were a million stars in the sky. I think we'll spend another day here and then go to Jordan.

So for now that's all. Actually I wrote a lot more than I thought I would so maybe you're not reading anymore because it was too long. Future posts won't be so long so don't worry. But whoever is reading, hope you're doing well