Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enter Turkey

Turkey ıs gorgeous.

The sun ıs shınıng, the sky ıs blue, the ocean ıs turquoıse, and the towns super clean and kıd frıendly.

Kıd frıendly leads me to my anecdote for turkey. We have been here two days and we have gone to two parks. The mıddle east does parks really well, but the ones here ın turkey are superıor. Green and clean and fılled wıth playgrounds. If you havent been down a really good slıde ın an whıle ı recommend that you do so ımmedıately.

In both parks, however, we came across an ıngenıous type of playground. the tradıtıonal swıngs and slıde and jungle gym combo exısts of course. But so does the exercıse machıne playground. Thıs sectıon, used by adults and chıldren alıke, was fılled wıth brıghtly colored exercıse machınes. Tey dıdnt have weıghts or anythıng, but there were standıng bıkes and dıfferent machınes that used your body weıght to work oour abs and legs and etc., and they had several sıtuated next to eachother or connected ın such a way that chıldren could race or play together whıle basıcally... excersısıng.

More fun was the smurf vıllage.

Pıano Bar

We dont often have the opportunıty to go to bars, so I wıll mentıon one that we went to ın Damascus before I wrıte a post on Turkey, where we are now.

The buıldıngs ın Syrıa were beautıful, bıg open coartyards, amazıng wood carvıngs ın the doorways and wındows and... well the whole they were all just startılıngly bıg and beautıful. Pıano bar was not lıke that. It was more lıke someones lıvıngroom, but wıth te lıghts turned way down.

The best part, accordıng to ıngrıd, NO sıngle men allowed. thıs could be bad ın some sıtuatıons, but here, a group of guys and gırls, couples, or a group of just gırls... leads to no sketchy men sıttıng around gettıng trashed an obnoxıous. Although ıf youre male and ınto drınkıng by yourself I suppose you are outta luck.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Border Crossing

So we are in Syria now. A word on crossing the border.

It is clearly possible to cross without a visa. But to do this you have to wait a very long time. If there is more than one of you the time expends on. We arrived at the border at 10:25 Am. We left at 10:30 PM. That was not fun.

Apparently they fax a copy of a form and our passports over to damascus where they then make sure you dont work for the US government. The very kind guards at the border, who fed us and got us a space heater, initially said it would take 3 or 4 hours. But then informed us that it really just takes as long as the guy at the other side feels like, because he doesnt really want to do this for us, and so we just had to wait it out. In retrospect it wasnt so bad... and thus far Damascus is really awesome.

Party all night Long

Interestingly our hostel in beirut had moved to a new building recently. IT was still underconstruction, but our floor was pretty clean and therewas hot water... so nocomplaints. BUt then around 2:00 AM we heard this awesome thumping noise. I quickly realized it was the bass from a set of very loud speakers and went back to sleep. When I woke up at 7:00 in themorning the sound was still going. That was on a friday inght. We discovered that on friday and saturday a club operated out of the basement beneath the hostel.

This club opened at 2 and closed when the last patrons left. On Friday that was about 8 AM. On Saturday morning that was about 10:00 AM.

We were allowed free entry and free drinks. Unfortunately we could not take advantage of this generosity.. unlike other people staying in the hotel, sleeping until 6 PM was just not an option. Although according to our host if youre lebanese you just dont need sleep at all.

The Band in Beirut

So we grabbed a bit to eat at Le Chef, a tiny cafe / diner near our hotel. The waiter / owner? served us our food (very good) and then proceeded to wander around the room periodically shouting WELCOME out the window when people passed by.

We then meandered to a small bar, that someone would later label parisian. It was painted mustard yellow and the lights were dimmed and we quickly heard Jhonny Cash, Dylan, and the Band in succesion. The drinks were pretty cheap and it was fun to go to a bar... its been a while.

Its been awhile

Unfortunately once we got to Jordan, the opportunities for us to hit the intent cafes dropped. Mainly because we are lazy and suddenly we had to pay for the internet again, and... meh.

So I will write a few posts right now and hopefully catch up on some emails that Ive been putting off.

First a word on Jordan. Although it was surprisingly expensive I really enjoyed it. getting there was a trip, we took a ferry across the red sea, and although it was the 2 o'clock boat, it left at 6:30 and since customs was on the boat the non-tourists were still in line when we reached Aqaba.

Petra was seriously unbelievable. Honestly amazing. We stayed at the cleopetra hotel, and they were exceptionally nice... but I will point out thato our host, Mosef,m was so hyper he put me, at my most caffeine high, to shame. I seriously thought he might be on speed, he was just so crazy. But very nice.