From the Holy Land to the Horny Land

Since AlItalia choose to put me on this direct highspeed flight to Amsterdam (with KLM), I have now 10 hours to spend in Amsterdam…. I have chosen not to sit at Schipol Airport, but rather to take the train to Amsterdam city.
The contrast, coming from the Middle East, suddenly finding yourself in a place like Amsterdam is remarkable…. The coffeshops, the cannals, the sexshops, the drugdealers and the Girls on display, seem even more crazy now, than I could remember….
I have walked along the cannals and ended up at Leidseplein, where my favorite Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop is. :)

Ben Gurion Airport

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After the usual “Werre have yoo biin in Izraeeel?” and the obligatory two hours with checking everything that’s in my baggage…. I am now waiting for my flight….

I was originally to fly from Tel-Aviv to Milano and then to Amsterdam, but for some reason they asked if it was okey if I go directly with KLM to Amsterdam instead of stopping over in Milano… :) HELL YEAH!!

That means I have a lot of time at Schipol airport, and hopefully I will be able to make a quick visit to the lovely city of Amsterdam :)

Problem is that it is 04:25 and I haven’t slept yet… Guess I’ll have to do that on the plane ;)

Last night in the Holy City


Everything comes to an end… trips to the Middle East as well… Today I have been packing up my stuff and preparing to leave. I guess I’m about ready now. It is always sad to leave a place like this, but it will also be good to come home now… Hope it is raining and that the autumn storms has begun… :)

Last time for a while I will be able to sit in one of the towers of St Thomas home watching the sunset… I made a little video… I will miss this…

The rest of the day will contain some hours of waiting, taxi to Ben Gurion Airport, and a couple of hours with interrogation by the always funny zecurity… I have a vague idea on that they might ask me…. :) Then AlItalia will fly me safly home via Milano and Amsterdam, before landing in Oslo tomorrow night.. Inshallah…

Kjøpe en iPod Nano


Eirik, a friend of mine, is pulling of this interesting little experiment.

Is it possible to get an article based on how bad the electronic companies know-how, service and marketing is, to be the first hit in Google, when you search for “Kjøpe en iPod Nano”? (“Buy a iPod Nano”)

You can read more about it at Eiriks blog www.eirikso.com
Good luck with this Eirik…. I think your little experiment will succeed! ;)

Dome of the Rock

Save the best part for last…. Today I finally got my ass over at the Dome of the Rock….

Traffic and Pyramids : The Egypt Round-up

After almost a week in Egypt it is good to be back in the calm and relaxing environment at St Thomas Home in Jerusalem. The temperature is also refreshingly colder than what was the case in the Egyptian Capital. Here it is possible to breath ;)

But one hell of a week it has been… Pyramids, Mummies, big rivers, long bus tours, 24h Hassle service, Lotus Hotel and last but not least: The traffic from HELL!

Despite all the great buildings, dead old people on display, magnificent Nile and old charming hotels… the one thing you remember best from Cairo, is just being in Cairo…. A city with 16 million inhabitants… Noisy, polluted, unorganized, scary, desperately hot, smelly, windy and at the same time charming…. Cairo’s got it all…. Just walking the streets of Cairo with all these ingredients makes it worth the trip. Women in Hijab flirting with you at McDonald’s, while other in full covered Burqa trying to eat shwarma under the “curtain”….

TRAFFIC
I guess the one sole thing that makes the biggest impression on a simple boy from Norway, is the Traffic… I have given up explaining this shit, so here is a video… It is insane… and I am very happy to have survived it…

And this is how the same insanity looks from the “other side”:

THE PYRAMIDS
Seeing the Pyramids is the one thing you HAVE to do while in Cairo. And they ARE great… climbing the tunnels inside the Khufu pyramid, is a very strange feeling, but something I am very happy I did… (even though it was pricey)

While shooting this little video, a guy approached me to tell me about his wonderful camel, his stepmother from Norway, how he loved all Norwegians, that nothing would cost me anything…. and that he was my friend… ENJOY :)

Since I am a very nice friend, I got on the Camel, got a scarf tied around my head, and went for a ride around the Pyramids…. When in Rome… act like a stupid tourist… :)

EGYPTIAN MUSEUM & THE NILE
In four days you don’t really get to see much of Cairo… it is HUGE… but two other thing I got to do was seeing the Egyptian museum, and taking a Felucca trip on the Nile… Here are some more videos:

Egyptian Museum being nice, but it IS a museum, and nothing that will really stick with me forever. Mummies on display where cool tough…

CROSSING THE SINAI
To get from Jerusalem to Cairo you can either fly or go across the Sinai with a bus… I choose the last option. Both because it is the by far cheapest, and also the one where you get to see the country and meet some local people.

Taking these buses are pretty special experiences… These are the regular buses for regular Egyptians. Egyptian music is played LOUD over the speakers, Egyptian movies are shown on the internal TVs and the Air condition is on for 15 minutes and then off for 15 minutes… INTERESTING IT IS

Here is a little video to show you what the entertainment sounds like… imagine this for 12 hours:

On my ride across the Sinai Peninsula the bus was stopped 12 – twelve – times on various checkpoints. Tourism is by far the most important business for Sinai, and preventing new bombings, as the ones in Sharm El-Sheik in 2005, in Dahab in 2006 and in Taba and Nuweiba in 2004, seem to be a pretty important task. Policemen checking ID’s on everyone in the bus at all of the 12 checkpoints, and then finally removing 15 passengers from the bus just before Sharm El Sheik… This was, according to the boys in the seat next to me, standard procedure for every Egyptian who visited Sinai for the first time: Get of at Sharm El Sheik for a couple for hours with interrogation… BEAUTIFUL

Anyway… this is what the Sinai looks like from a bus:

After a week in Egypt I am now back in Jerusalem with a couple of days to prepare for my departure to Norway….

Swimming?

In a way I am very happy to just spend 2 hours in this city…. It reminds me a bit about Las Vegas…. Only not…. It really just sucks…. (Wonder if they ever regret giving the Sinai back to the egyptians…. It IS pretty crowded in wannabe-Las-Vegas :) )

Here is a little video:

Dahab

After a really quick stop in Dahab I am on my way north towards Jerusalem…. Right now I am hanging out with more or less drunk jewish kids at the Beach in Eilat…. Little reminds you of the occupation a couple of hour further north…. But then again, war is not what Israelis seek when going to Israels own little Ibiza….

Dahab next

I just bought a bus ticket that hopefully will take me to Dahab…. Since all of the information is in handwritten arabic I can only hope that it is a ticket for Dahab and not Tripoli…. The guy at the ticket office was also a little limited in the english language, but if everything turns out the way I hope it will, I will be on a bus heading towards Dahab in Sinai at 1700…. Inshallah… :)
For the time being, I am sitting in the shade overlooking the river Nile…. There is actually something that can remind you of a breeze here…. since its 34 degrees in the shade, its 0930 in the morning, its more like sitting in a huge hairdryer, than actually being outdoor by a river…. Anyone telling you that the Middle East isnt hot during summer, have never been in Cairo in August….

Currency converter


I realized a funny little thing here today… You can actually use Google as a currency converter… Try typing “100 USD to NOK” in a Google search field…. Vioollaaa…. It does the currency converting for you.

Damn, I like these Google guys….

PS. You can also try with “40 celsius to fahrenheit“,”half a cup in teaspoons“,”5 kilometers in miles“,”1 pound“, “1 inch“, or the funniest of them all “1 stone:)

SHIT


I guess it was bound to happen… The last 24 hours I have spent partly in bed, partly on the toilet… I have no idea what I caused this shitty situation, but I highly suspect some chicken from my next door grill… Due to this little incident, my return to Jerusalem via the Sinai Peninsula, has been delayed at least one day… I am much better now, but I guess I have to see how I feel tomorrow before deciding to sit 9 hours on a bus… :) Today that trip was NOT doable… (The picture shows my hotel room at Lotus Hotel… or the place that I have spent the last 24 hours :) )

Before I had to crawl into bed yesterday, I visited the Egyptian Museum… This is where all the mummies and pharaoh stash that they have found inside the Pyramids are on display… Huge, Hot (there is NO air condition here) and OK interesting. The most interesting part was the Royal Mummy Room, where actual mummies are on display… kinda scary, but still interesting. (Guess this place is heaven if you happend to be a boring archaeologist, in which you all know: I am not ;) )

Taking photos, or even bringing a camera, inside the Egyptian Museum is of course forbidden (The one you see above is sneak photographed with my phone). This they tell you after you have passed through 3 metal detectors, and suffered yourself through 3 looong lines… Then you have to go back to the entrance, deliver your camera to a woman in the “Safety deposit box booth” and return to the museum through the 3 metal detectors and the 3 even looooonger lines…

MUSEUM – ARAB STYLE that is!!

If things get better, I head for Dahab tomorrow…

Pyramids


First chocking day in Cairo… It’s still hot.. Unbelievably HOT… It takes exactly 3 minutes from you leave your hotel room, til you feel like you need a shower… I don’t think I can ever live in a town like this for a longer period of time….

That said, the city is wonderful… Its big and chaotic, but still beautiful and extremely complex… Today I did the One thing you really have to do when visiting Cairo… I went to see the Pyramids… The last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the World are nothing but spectacular… Walking among these giants makes you wonder about a thing or two though: HOW THE HELL WHERE THEY ABLE TO BUILD THIS SHIT?? AND WHY?? (I guess there are answers to both these questions, but it still makes me wonder…)

Entering them doesn’t really give you the answer either, it just makes you wonder even more… I entered the biggest one, Pyramid of Khufu (also known as the “Great Pyramid” and the “Pyramid of Cheops”)…. For the kinnda ridiculous price of 100 Egyptian Pounds (125 NOK), you can enter the Pyramid and climb the extremely narrow tunnels that leads you to the Kings Chamber…

To climb the “stairs” in the 1.3m high tunnels, in the insane heat, is quite a sweat, but I was definitely not the one with the biggest problems…

Hordes of Americans, in which every single one of them was about to die from exhaustion, was trying to press their not-so-slim bodies though the tunnels… HILARIOUS!! :)

Cairo is also the world center of hassle… Already in my taxi on the way to Giza, a man jumped into the front seat, introduced himself and started offering me a GREAT deal on how I could see the Pyramids like no one had ever seen them… FAT CHANCE!!! Luckily my friend, The Lonely Planet, had warned me extensively about this kind of scams, so after about one thousand “La, shukran” the guy got out of the Taxi, and the driver continued driving as if nothing had happened… Wonderful people these Egyptians…

The hassle also occur frequently when you walk the streets of Cairo. With blue eyes and blond hair, there is no way in hell I can blend in, and I guess I am a easy target for all kind of hassling-people… The tactic I found working best, is to greet their “Welcome, where are you from?” with a simple “Goodbye my friend”, or even better “No speak Inglis”… Both seem to work pretty well :)

In Hebron on the West Bank, people wanting to talk to you is just fun, warm and welcoming, knowing that they are not after your money, but rather wants to speak to someone foreign…. Sadly that is not the case in Cairo… EVERYONE is after your money… and taking into consideration that there are 16 million people living in this city, the Welcome-How-Are-You’s can be a real pain in the ass…

Tomorrow “Egyptian museum” and a boat trip on the Nile is the planned activity… but then again…. you never really know what the day will bring here… :)

Africa – Egypt – Cairo


After something that should have been 4 hours on a bus, but turned out to be 6.5 hours, I have finally reached Cairo, the big Capital of Egypt…

I have booked myself in to one of the backpacker hotels in downtown Cairo… Not too cheap, not too expensive but definitely not too nice either…. So far Cairo stands out as a place so far beyond imagination I don’t even know where to start…

The heat and humidity is KILLING… Its midnight but I guess its still over 40 degrees outside… Luckily my room has Air Condition, otherwise I think sleeping would be very difficult… The Traffic, the hordes of people, the noise, the pollution, the Size… it’s all a bit overwhelming right now… Guess I’d better get some sleep… I bet it AINT gonna rain and be chili tomorrow either, so getting a good nights sleep might not be the worst of ideas :)

(BTW: The Royal Department of Telecommunication in Egypt doesn’t approve my attempts on sending mail from my phone, so I guess updating will need to happen from this Internet Cafe…)

Taba

It turns out that it IS possible to travel from Jerusalem to Cairo, with a stop at the Egyptian consulat in Eilat to get a visa, in one day. :)
I have been extremly fortunate with my traveling though…. In Jerusalem i caught the 9 o’clock bus to Eilat, despite the fact that I didn’t enter the bus station until 09.15…. Lucky. Then I arrived at the Egyptian consulate in Eilat at 13.45 without the necessary photo they require…. So after 5 minutes in a taxi, 2 minutes at the local photographer, and another 5 minutes back to the consulate, I got my visa issued at 14.10…. The consulate closes at 14.00 :)
Now I am sitting at the “busstation” in Taba, waiting for my 16.30 bus to Cairo to depart…. It is 43 degres celsius in the shade…. Hotter than hell….

On my way to Egypt

Rumors has it that it has been a large train accident in Egypt. Since I haven’t reached the land of the Pharaoes yet, there is no need to worry. I am, relatively, safe on a Egged Bus with bullet proof windows on the way from Jerusalem to Eilat. Just passed the Dead Sea, with all the Israeli Spa Hotels, and are now entering the Negev dessert. Attaching a picture of my new sunglasses…. Everyone else seem to think they are kinnda funny, while I find them classy…. (and cheap: $10)