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.


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:

Monday, October 14, 2019

Phase III: Westward Bound

A few words before I get into Georgia, specifically, following on this post.

Where Phase I was well-planned and Phase II was go-with-the-flow, I still haven't figured out the characteristic of Phase III. I've obviously not ended up in the Middle East or Africa (yet) as originally planned, so that theme is out. Perhaps I should make Phase III the "final phase" (everyone likes a trilogy, right?) and call it the friendship phase - two friends have visited me in Tbilisi and I've made friends who I plan on meeting all across Europe and the Middle East.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Interphase Gear Update Number Two

As I've traveled, I've gained and lost stuff (not weight, unfortunately - despite what you may see in pictures). To continue in a transparent manner, I wanted to detail a few things that have hopped in and out of my bag.

  • I finally wore out my flip-flops and bought a new pair in the Philippines (~$10 in Coron). This pair is currently falling apart as well, which is annoying, as I'd hoped they'd last longer).
  • RC left a nice gray quick-dry polo shirt with me in Malaysia.
  • My shoes also died and I bought a new pair in Adelaide, Australia. The shop I went into didn't have the exact ones I was wearing, so I bought a waterproof pair of the same brand (Keen). I'm so glad I did - especially with that waterfall hike in Indonesia. I kept the shoelaces.
  • My cargo shorts ripped, which meant I was down to one pair of "outside" clothes. I purchased two additional pairs of shorts (6 AUD) from a thrift shop near Brisbane, Australia. As a note, I'm going "all shorts" as I'm traveling in warm climates - it also saves a bit of weight in my bag, I suppose. I had to get one of the new shorts taylored to add a fly (100,000 IDR).
  • My least favorite pair of socks is dying. I'm debating replacing them, as I think I can make due with four pairs.
  • Aaron left a tote bag that folds to the size of a golf ball, which has proven useful.
  • I sent home three notebooks with Dan. Given that I'm only halfway through one big one after a year of travel, I don't need to carry them around.
  • I have acquired two plastic peanut butter jars which I've cleaned and put odds & ends in to stop them from rattling around. These seem to be working better than plastic bags and I might acquire a couple more.
  • I acquired a second lock - a tiny keyed luggage lock. It was necessary for a hostel that couldn't accomodate a normal lock (i.e. my combo lock). Now it's in my life forever, I suppose.
  • A new box of Pepto chewables! Thank you Dan. I had ran out upon reaching Georgia.
  • An even bigger quick-dry towel. I "stole" this from Dan. My other two were fine, but there were a few situations where a larger towel would have come in handy.
  • I acquired and immediately sent home a t-shirt from a Japanese baseball game.
  • Various pens have come and gone. I now have a red pen.
  • My friend in Brunei gave me a bunch of little souveneirs - some I've kept and some I've given to other hosts and friends.
  • I am in a constant state of having too much soap / shampoo or having too little. There seems to be no in-between.
  • Various medicines have come and gone. I generally keep something for pain and for a cold, just in case. I think I also have some seasickness pills too.
  • A waterproof "diving" bag with a hole in it. It's just the right size to keep toilet paper and a handful of things dry in the case of rain / splashes.
  • Six thin moleskines - one of which I've given away - which I will eventually write in.
  • One purple echidna stamp.