Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Egypt

I arrived in Egypt on December tenth in order to meet up with RC again (we had previously met up in Malaysia and Singapore). Unlike in earlier countries or with previous traveling companions, neither of us knew what we were doing or how to avoid the hoards of scammers we were assured were about to pounce on us upon our arrival. Given those factors (and some planning fatigue), we decided to hire a tour company. Unfortunately, we did not end up with the best coordinator.



Now that I’m typing this, I wonder if this marks the start of a run of general bad luck for me. Upon arrival, before I had a chance to decompress from flight, before I had even seen the room, I was told to pick what optional activities we wanted to do over the coming two weeks (and pay for them in cash on the spot). With a list of strange names and no information, I picked a few cheap options and went on my way. The coordinator was perplexed that we weren’t doing something every hour of every day - both RC and I like to relax and, say, swim in the hotel pool every once in a while. Crazy, right?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Lebanon: Left too soon

One of my big goals for this around-the-world trip was to get to Lebanon. As some of you may know, my father’s father’s side of the family is from Lebanon; I figured I could go and maybe see the village they left when they came to America. (Spoiler - I was unable to accomplish this on this visit.) Add in the background of a revolution in progress and the whole build-up was a lot to handle.



My German friend and I arrived on the evening of December fourth and made our way to our hostel in Beirut. Despite what it says online (perhaps due to the revolution) there was no visa-on-arrival fee. It was a soggy day, but everything pointed toward a positive time in the country.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Short Stint on Cyprus

There exists a direct flight from Amman to Beirut - the only issue is that it’s way more expensive than flying to Paphos, Cyprus, and staying a few days. And, hey, you get to see a bit of Cyprus!



The stay on the island was so short, I'm not sure I can string together more than a couple paragraphs. My German friend and I visited in the off-season, so a lot of things are closed or close early. Most of the people you see out and about are retired British people. Everyone speaks English.

The island is beautiful - and is worth exploring if you have a car. The public transit options are nearly non-extant, which really hampered seeing the interesting sights. That said, I did a lot of walking and saw some more ruins (Tomb of Kings, &c.) and did the best I could.

The best part of the island is it’s relaxed attitude, the worst part is the traffic. I suppose it could be compared to Hawaii - though it’s certainly less expensive. It would be good to come back with more money and access to a car, but, given my constraints, I’m glad to be moving on.

Friday, January 3, 2020

RETROSPECTIVE: Sugar Bowl 2007

As with most of the other retrospectives, I'm transcribing from an older notebook. In this case, this is a write up from January 2015 about an event that happened at the end of the 2006 football season. 2019 Simon, sitting in a hostel in Tbilisi, will comment on 2015 Simon using [brackets].

Malicious Compliance?


29 January 2015: The Sugar Bowl

[I'm skipping my written introduction about a Maynard Ferguson playlist inspiring me to write a story about trumpets. For those just joining, I played trumpet in the marching band at the University of Notre Dame (ND) and got to travel with the band to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The exact date was 3 January 2007, for the record, so the events below occur a few days on either side.]

I don't remember travel arrangements being anything out of the ordinary. I flew down from Pittsburgh, sitting next to a couple of younger [high school?] teachers with whom I played a game of FLUXX. After arrival, I connected with friends and, of course, MB (my college girlfriend). Everything is a bit shuffled around (it has, after all, been eight years [almost thirteen now]), so I'll break it up into main sections.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Baptism in the Jordan

Ariving in Amman was an interesting experience - the flight from Athens deposited me in the airport at 2am. I’d taken the overcautious route of booking a hostel with a 24 hour desk and an airport shuttle. I’m not sure such measures were necessary, but how is one supposed to know beforehand?



After annoying everyone in the hostel room by my arrival at 3am (not my fault - they’d used the bed I’d booked as storage, which meant they had to move all their stuff), I annoyed them again by leaving the room at 7:00 to go meet my friends at 7:30am. I would have much rather slept until noon, but I was under orders.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

They say of the Acropolis...

As with several of my adventures so far, this starts with a new friend. While in Georgia I met someone who said “hey, would you like to visit Jordan?” - to which I said yes.



Since there is no direct flight from Georgia to Jordan, I had a slight dilemma - do I go through Kuwait or do I go through Greece? I think the answer is obvious - I booked a ticket to Athens for a “long layover” of four days.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Farewell, Georgia!

Well, it’s been about four months in Georgia and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. This is the longest I’ve been in one spot (runners up: Malaysia with three months and Australia with two). Before I scoot, however, I have a couple more cities to mention, as I finally made it over to the Black Sea.



As you may have noticed from previous entries, I don’t like to spend a long time en route. With this in mind, I split my Tbilisi to Batumi trip in half with a stop in Kutaisi. We’ll tackle that first.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Armenia Adjacent

Having spent far too much time in Tbilisi, I agreed to tag along on an excursion to Armenia.



As one might expect driving through the caucuses, the scenery was gorgeous… though the route was treacherous. We saw an accident where a car careened off a small cliff and our minibus driver and a few other passers-by went to help. The occupants were alive, but beat up - there wasn’t much for anyone to do except wait for the ambulance, so we continued on our own recklessly driven journey.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Georgia on my Mind

I'm not particularly creative. (Bonus - I have a podcast episode of the same name.)

Here's the real question - what's the point of this post? Detailing what I've done in Georgia, I suppose. Perhaps more categories? I've been here for about three months, so I owe you an update of any sort.



GENERAL

Museums immediately come to mind, though not for any specific reason. The National Museum of Georgia has some interesting exhibits - a whole ton of ancient coins, ancient artifacts, and traditional dress spring to mind. The art museum(s) hit me as standard art museum(s) - perhaps a bit too much to take in on any one day, as I was mentally tired after one floor. It was good to see local art though. I have yet to see the book museum, as it's part of the National Library and therefore guarded by very surly people.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Arriving in Georgia - An Overview

I arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia on 21 July 2019. That was a while ago (it's currently 12 October).

First things first: passport control. If you weren't aware, Georgia allows US citizens (and probably EU citizens & al.) a year-long visa exemption. They stamp your passport and you're good to go - no forms, no nothing. This definitely made things easy from the start.



I took the bus into the city and immediately felt at ease. I think I extended my stay at the hostel within twenty four hours of arriving, knowing I'd be in the city long term. As usual, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to write, so let's break some things down into categories: