Monday, April 21, 2008

Femke's parents visiting

Yesterday, Femke’s parents went home to the Netherlands again. It was nice having them here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join them to Jordan, I was to busy producing the next issue of Hypoxia, the paragliding magazine I am editing. But they had a great time, visiting Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra.
Otherwise, we just relaxed together, had some nice walks and went out eating at Pasha’s (for Jerusalem’s best mezes) and Mona´s (for a divine veal fillet).
Saturday, we drove to Hebron. That was there first proper West Bank encounter. Visiting the mosque and the sterile zone around the crazy Israeli settlers is always depressing, but unfortunately this is how things are here. We had lunch in Hebron, then a cup of coffee in Bethlehem on the way home.

In the evening, I got really sick – probably I ate something bad in Hebron. So I spent the day yesterday in bed. But today I am feeling a lot better!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Back from Egypt, on my way to Jordan

I know, I know, I am getting sloppy when it comes to updating this blog (as my dear readers keep reminding me of – something I like, because it shows that this is not only writing therapy). The excuse is the usual one – I have been traveling extensively, and been busy updating the MSN-blog (after all, I get paid to write that one, and I always try my best to do a good job). Do not hesitate to take a look there. I know it is in Swedish, but I post a lot of photos too, and they speak an international language.

So, last time I posted here, I was still in Cairo. From there, we (me and my dear Femke) ventured out in the Western Desert, visiting the beautiful Desert Oasis of Bahariya. Here, we met up with Jahia and Muhammed from Desert Ship Safaris, and continued by 4x4 Toyota Land cruiser straight out in the desert. First stop was the Black Desert, then Crystal Mountain. Both were OK, but not that spectacular (remember, both of us have become something of desert connoisseurs).

But next, we drove off road into the area called Agabat, and here, the landscape was simply stunning (see the photo with Femke and Muhammed, sitting on a sand dune in a perfect arched vault of white lime stone).
Further on, we had lunch in the shade of a palm tree in the perfect little Tintin-esque oasis of Ein Al-Wadi.

The night was spent under the stars in the otherworldly White desert, a lunar landscape of red sand and Dali-designed (it looks like it at least) splendidly white and weird rock formations. The full moon gave it an even more eerie look, topped up with the surprising and beautiful meeting with a little desert fox.

The adventure continued with a long drive via the Farafra Oasis to the very special fortified clay village of El-Kasr, in the Dakhla oasis. We stayed here (in a rather nice place called the Desert Lodge Resort) and discovered for a few days, before committing to the last long ride through the desert to Luxor.

In Luxor, we spoiled ourselves by staying at the very comfortable Club Med, highly enjoying their excellent food and soothing pool, all of it just next to the Nile. Of course we looked at lots of temples and statues from the Pharaonic time, but the real highlight was doing a balloon ride at dawn over the temples, desert and fields of the Western shore of the Nile. And sailing a felucca at sunset on the same eternal river.

The end of our trip saw us back in Cairo, where Femke put in an astonishing finish by visiting 15 or so different shops, spread out over this mega city. I countered with visiting a number of bars (although by far not as many), all in the name of research – what else?

You can find lots of photos from the Egypt trip here.

Now, I am back in Jerusalem again. Did I say that I quitted my job at ANERA?

On Friday, Femke’s parents are coming to visit us. The plan is to pick them up at the airport and then drive directly to Aqaba in Jordan for some snorkeling. Saturday evening, we are going to the famed (and rightly so) rock city of Petra. Then we’ll see.