Saturday, April 30, 2005

puddle jumping!

İstanbul, Turkey

Today I was walking along Istiklal Cadessi (the pedestrian mall) and it started pouring. Really pouring. Most sensible people ducked into the shops but I got soaking wet and went puddle jumping. It was great! Yup that's me, 20 going on 21 um err 7.

Monday, April 25, 2005

a turkısh passover

İstanbul, Turkey

Happy passover everyone! Not that most people in Turkey know about passover. They don't even publısh locatıons of jewish buildıngs on the internet because of securıty reasons. But I found out about a seder about an hour before it started so I got in a taksi leavıng my lovely roommate Gamze very confused about where I was goıng. Turkısh seders are a little bit different. The charoset is made wıth dates and it's very sweet and yummy. There is no matzoh ball soup :( There dıdn't seem to be any horseradish, but that's not so bad in terms of eating. The food was really really good though. At my table there were two turkish couples, an amerıcan couple, and an israeli couple that were orıgınally from yugoslavıa and spoke ladino (very sımılar to spanish). So the dınner conversatıon was ın hebrew, turkish, english, spanish and even some yiddısh.

İstanbul ıs just as beautiful as I remembered, although it's a bit hillier than I remembered. I'm stayıng in a flat in cihangir near taxim which is a great location. The flat is very nice and has a kıtchen and two cats named marma and patlican (eggplant). Gamze, my landlady/roommate/person that worries about me, is very nice and speaks english whıch is really nice. I went out with her on Friday nıght to a bar that her frıend owns and we danced and danced. And then we went over to the asian to vısıt some of her frıends where I fell asleep on the floor. Where else could you start your night in europe and end it in asia?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Alexandria, Egypt

I think I've been adopted. I was walking down the ocean walk when I first got here and didn't know if I was walking toward the center of town or not. So I asked two women for directions. They told me to keep walking walking walking and I thought that was the end of it. But a little later they walked up behind me and started talking to me. They were very concerned that I was by myself, and Ihem, the one that spoke english gave me her phone number and told me to call if I needed anything. They went off to their car. Then, I was still walking and they drove past having decided that they were going to give me a ride. I had a hard time convincing them to let me out at the train station. Ihem made me promise to call her when I got back to the hotel.

That was two days ago. The yesterday she and her neighbor picked me up at my hotel and took me on a driving tour so I could see the fishing boats and the palace and aquarium. Then they took me to the mall. It's what they thought that I needed to see in alexandria. We had tea and cake in a very starbucks like place, and then went to the mosque in the mall because it was time for them to pray. The mcdonalds sign had the big yellow M and then the name was in arabic. The also took me to buy my bus ticket and then bought me dinner before dropping me off. Her son translating for her on the phone told me that she thinks of me as her daughter.

In other news, Alexandria is beautiful! The whole city is really narrow and follows the water. I found a really good falafel place called Muhammed Ahmed, and I've been there every day. I tried to go to the library of Alexandria (they built a new one) but it was closed. It's a crazy modern looking building, but it's supposed to be amazing.

I've been kind of slack. Since I last posted I've also been to Aswan (the most southern point of the roman empire) and Luxor. They were both hot and full of hasseling guys. So I wouldn't reccomend them if you're a woman traveling alone. However, in a group in the winter I think they could be good places to visit especially if you have enough money to take a cruse on the nile. I did see the amazing temple of karnak where you can get lost in a stone papirus forest and the valley of the kings.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Looking out on the Nile

Cairo, Egypt

It really has been like jumping off a cliff. When I walk around in areas that aren't tourist areas I feel like everyone is staring at me. When I go to tourist areas all the guys have to make comments and hassle me. I've learned how to just walk past them. I had my first offer of marriage yesterday. The guy told me that he would give me all his postcards if I married him. I told him no. (as a side note, why would I have done with a huge number of postcards?) I have decided that I need a husband to tell them about. So I've decided that the wonderful Collin Lee will be my husband. We have two children. The first is two years old and named Lena (actually Sahar's cousin's adorable daughter). The second is six months old and named Julia (actually the daughter of someone from my old lab). All I need now is a ring :)

Bathroom procedure in Egypt
No toilet paper can be flushed at all. Instead it goes into a trash can beside the toilet. How to take a shower. Fill the bucket with water. Take everything out of the bathroom. Use the pitcher to pour it over your head when you need to rinse. When finished wipe the water off the floor and return things to the bathroom. This is also the most water efficient way ever to take a shower.

However, in spite of the hassle Cairo is amazing. I went to the pyramids yesterday. I don't actually believe I've seen them. The insides of the pyramids aren’t that impressive, but they are way humid. Which is pretty disturbing when you realize that all that water is from the sweat of all the people that visit. I also spent two days in the museum and I still haven't managed to see everything. They have mummies of the pharos (very creepy) and all the stuff from king tut's tomb including his death mask. My favorite thing though was this necklace made of carved blue beads that was beautiful and 5,000 years old!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Paris Marathon

Paris, France

So as I get farther into this adventure the keyboards keep getting weirder and weirder. Anne just left me to go back to geneva, and I'm hanging out still. At 6:30 tomorrow morning I'm getting on a plane to go to Cairo...and I thought going to Italy was like jumping off a cliff. And by the time I get there I will have had less than 12 hours of sleep in 3 nights

The Paris Marathon (no running involved)
I had the ticket time wrong, so we got to the station at 6:45, for a 7:51 train. I think I slept most of the train ride. Then we figured out the metro system and got to our hotel only to find out that the web site is crap and they had overbooked. At least they reserved us a room in another hotel. First stop...the eifel tower. We couldn't go all the way up because it was overcrowded, but we did get to the second floor which was high enough for me. Next the arch de triumph where they were having some kind of parade thing. It's way hard to find the tunnel over to the arch instead of ending up back in the metro. We went to ile st. loius and walked around and had yummy french crepes and galletes. There was a funny mix up when seperate checks became green salad. It was a very good green salad though.

We went to notre dame and it was still open which was odd and there were lots of candles light and a picture of the pope, and there was some kind of mass going on. It's a lot nicer and it feels more like a religious spiritual place with a ceremony going on instead of hoards of tourists shoving. Take a deep breath before continuing the marathon. Then hike up to the top of momortre and get harrased by scary guys and go to mass at sacre cour. They said the pope's name a whole bunch of times and kept talking about his message. And so it turns out I went to mass on the day of the pope's death (in case you weren't sure, I am not catholic).

But it's not over yet. Today we got up way early and went to the louvre and had the best pain au chocolat I've ever had. Since it's the first sunday of the month the louvre was free. We saw the mona lisa which has amazing eyes. It makes me so mad, almost everyone looking at it felt like they needed to take a picture, and they couldn't even turn off the flashes on their cameras. Buy a're damaging the art and the picture won't be great anyways. Turns out there's more to the louvre than the mona lisa (shock). We saw a lot (this is marathon) including stuff by rafiel, michelangelo, el greco, rembrant umm I forget. Oh yeah, and hamarabi's code which is so so cool. It brings me back to Gilgamesh and the english class of Ms. Brooks.

Anyways, now Anne is on the train and I am in the internet cafe. I wonder what the keyboards in egypt will be like.