Flying By the Seat of My Pants

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I have done absolutely no planning for Turkey. And it shows.

I boarded my plane from Tel Aviv without having done the slightest bit of research on even my first stop, Istanbul. I’d only barely managed to book a hostel — I had been about to go to bed the night before when I realized I hadn’t done that yet. Oops. Quickly searched the hostelworld app on my phone, found a dorm that still had availability on such short notice, booked it. Done.

I meant to buy a guidebook at the airport, but the only one for sale was an Istanbul-only Lonely Planet and it cost over 150 shekels. I’ll pass, thanks. My hostel had automatically emailed me directions, so I figured I’d be set to get there anyhow. Continue reading

Petra Day 1: the Treasury, the Monastery, and Slightly Pushy Bedouins

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That’s right, obviously I couldn’t come to Jordan without visiting this famous ancient Nabatean city. A lot of people do Petra as a day trip from Israel, but it didn’t make sense financially or time-wise for me to do that. First of all, the entrance tickets to Petra are exorbitantly priced: 50JD for a one day ticket (but then only 5JD for each additional day, so 55JD for a two-day ticket and 60JD for a three-day), and a whopping 90JD for day-trippers who are not spending the night in Jordan. I ended up purchasing a two-day ticket, but in retrospect I probably could have gone for the three-day pass. Continue reading

The Egypt Dilemma

When I was first planning this trip to the Middle East, I always intended to travel to Egypt as well. Israel-Jordan-Egypt — seems like the perfect combo trip, right? Neighboring countries, so crossing land borders would be easy and I wouldn’t have to worry about the logistics or costs of booking additional flights.

Of course, the political situation in Egypt has only been getting worse. Shortly before I left, my father and stepmother gently suggested that I drop Egypt from my itinerary and go to Greece or Turkey instead. I made no promises, but said I would consider it.

And I have been. I’ve been considering it for the whole month I’ve been traveling, and keep going back and forth. I’ve long decided that I would in fact be going to Turkey (a good friend of mine is in Russia now and will be in Istanbul at the end of August, so I plan on meeting him there), but Egypt was still pulling me as well. Continue reading

Maidreamin’

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As if a visit to a cat cafe wasn’t enough, I also visited a maid cafe while in Tokyo. Apparently the Japanese really like their themed restaurants and stores. I hadn’t planned on going (in fact I’d never heard of this phenomenon before), but some boys from my hostel wanted to check the whole thing out and my interest was piqued as well.

We ended up at Maidreamin in Shibuya, part of a chain.This location had vaguely Nintendo-themed decor, with Mario Bros. wallpaper and color-changing blocks hanging from the ceiling. That totally wasn’t the weird part, though, and actually the interior design seemed like a bit of an afterthought. It was all about the maids here, and ended up being one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Continue reading

Back on the horse

Predictably, life got crazy and I stopped posting.

BUT! I finally have confirmation in the form of a long-awaited plane ticket that I will be heading off on my next trip in just over two weeks. I’m about to age out of the Birthright Israel program, which I’ve been meaning to take advantage of for years. This summer is my last chance, so I’m finally going, and I’ve extended my return flight home by two months to allow me to travel independently around the area after the initial trip has concluded. Continue reading