These past 40 days, I’ve seen places I’ve dreamed of since childhood, with a partner I could never have dreamed of at the time, while reconnecting with fantastic friends from various stages of the latter half of my life. I fully recognize that most people don’t get to do all, if any, of those things, especially not in the context of leaving home and travelling for 40 days. I’ve thrown out the word “blessed” a few times on this blog, but it definitely seems like the most appropriate.
Great little moment of patriotism.
Ten hours of functional driving, and now I’m at point B.
I don’t know that I would ever have sought out Fredericton as a tourist destination on my own. That said, as a place to be for a friends wedding on a long weekend, it was surprisingly nice.
So here’s a picture of the Fredericton Legislature, which is really the only historic thing we did or saw today.…
…the radio played the theme to “The Neverending Story”, which 35 days in, almost seems appropriate, even though the end is in sight.
Dating back to the 4th century BC, Ostia was Rome’s seaport, though thousands of years now sees it three kilometres from the sea. It has several well preserved frescoes, some huge black-and-white museums, a theatre, and an impressive sculpture museum within its huge, huge, hot, unshaded grounds.
While we were stopped at the first border checkpoint, my driver showed me the border line on the regular road via some app. It was substantial. I asked him for an approximate time of arrival at the airport, which he responded with “one”. Language was definitely a barrier, so I didn’t have much choice but to sit back and see if we’d get there in an hour, with me making my flight, or at 1 pm, at which point, I’m scrambling.
Since this was a long, self-propelled physical activity, all of it beautiful, I’m going with subtitles on this one to keep things organized. Here we go.
Back at the hostel, typing with worst writers block. Tomorrow will be a bit more of an adventure, promise.
The hostel told us about a way around, a switchback path next to the city that allows you to climb next to the walls, leading up to a window that you can climb through and BOOM, you’re on the walls. The walk up features cats, goats, other hikers and a cheese house that I didn’t stop at because I wanted to catch the sunset. And what a sunset!
Just based on today, Bosnia has earned a spot on the “Return List” at some point in the future. The stuff I’ve seen today has been beautiful, and I’m sure it’s just a sampling.
The gift shops and restaurants along the main strip definitely let you know that the secret is out, but it never feels as crowded as Dubrovnik.
I’m looking at my FitBit. I’ve taken 39086 steps, walked 31 kilometres, 142 steps, and burned 5688 calories. It’s been a monster day. A big, beautiful, monster of a day.
So out of the tours I saw going around today, all of them were talking about Game of Thrones and not once did I hear a guide talk about the history of the city itself. Pop culture has transcended actual culture here.
I’ve wanted to visit this place since I was a kid. Achievement Unlocked!!!
Final thoughts, recommendations and “bonus material”.
Cairo, we love you, but could this at least be easy?
“Do you realize we were in a car accident, a fistfight, and there was a mass shooting? That’s pretty much everything under the sun.”
So, we went back to the Platform Believed To Be Seven, and I was frantically looking and hoping for any indication that the broken-looking train was leaving. Some kind of a sign, either physically or metaphorically.
For the “Rick and Morty” fans out here, the Citadel reminded me of the episode where an Evil Rick was kidnapping Mortys and using their inferior brainwaves to hide his superior brainwaves. I know Daina is a great photographer, and I consider myself a pretty good one, but here, it’s drowned out by all the bad photography that surrounds you. Part of that bad photography was pictures of us.
At this point, we’ve been in Alexandria for only a few hours, and the place looks like it’s crumbling in on itself, but somehow, that adds to its charms.
Cairo doesn’t really care about your plans.
As much as I like cheap DIY, no way we could do it and fit in the rest of the things on our trip, so private car was the option.
…to drive home how much today isn’t about adventure, I’m doing bullet points.
We got off of the Go Bus in “downtown” Hurghada, did a rough negotiation for a cab (first guy wanted 100 LE each, we found a guy for 30 LE total), and now we’re at an all-inclusive resort in Egypt.
I know, not what you would expect.
It was at this point that friends of mine may have read a “Hey, LOL, police escort just taking us out of Abydos with masks on, OMG” type post on my Facebook, because even though I was pretty sure nothing was happening, I wanted there to be some kind of digital record.
“Your friend is rich enough to pay 300 LE for photos but doesn’t have enough to tip guards?”
So this is where the perspective piece comes in.
When the place you’re visiting has been considered one of the hottest places on Earth, it’s good to be able to get going early and avoid the heat.
Figuring that we’d want to spend a couple of days on the West Bank sites, and having heard that Luxor is the Hassle Capital of Egypt and that not of that takes place in the East Bank, I figured a 9.4 rated guesthouse on the West with a pool would be a solid bet.
We are REALLY far away from everything.
At this point, I got a bit loud and, in my best kindergarten voice said “NO! That is NOT how you do things! You do NOT push me! Good-bye!” Which shut him up for almost a minute before he went back to trying to sell me something as I was across the parking lot.
Gebel el-Silsila isn’t going to be overrun by tourists any time soon, mostly due to the fact that the bigger boats aren’t allowed to dock anywhere near it, so the ability to flexible was appreciated and a bit of a given.
I don’t know what other spectacular sights Egypt will present, but this experience may become the thing that defines it.
We arrived at Abu Simbel at 6:45 am and, already, the sun was baking the ground, coming in at what felt like the mid-thirties. There’s zero shade outside, and you immediately sweat as you pass over a hill to see the temple. You can understand why you wouldn’t be there midday, as it would just be too damn hot.
I had readied myself for Philae ahead of time, having read that the ferry negotiation was intense, the guards and caretakers would aggressively follow you or try to photobomb your shots for tips, and that there was quite a bit of hassle at the temple.
Well, ferry price came in at cheaper than Kalbasha, guards were nice and asked us where we were from before leaving us alone, caretakers asked if we wanted to take pictures of them, but nothing nearly as intense as what I had heard.
If you’re obviously not from here, you have a good chance of getting offered something, from a felucca to a horse ride to, today, hashish (which got an immediate no in the shortest of terms).
Soon after, another guy comes up to us and tries the same shtick, following us until I literally see people walking into the mosque and say “Oh look, it’s open”, at which point he says “It’s open! After, do you want some spices? Backgammon board? Anything you need!” Worst attempted save of a hustle ever.
It’s rare that you get to check two big items off the bucket list in two consecutive days. With the pyramids yesterday and the Egyptian Museum today, we were lucky enough to do just that.
I’ve started off with that long disclaimer to let you know that today was absolutely one of the best days of my life and that’s including the hassle and hustle that came with it.
I think the last time I was this excited to be on a plane going somewhere was Easter Island, and considering how strange, rare and wonderful that place was, that’s a big deal for me.
Once we got to the office, we found out that, yes, on the first Sunday of the month, admission to several of Rome’s major sites is free, so we would pay nothing for the Colosseum and Forum.