Week in Israel (Days 23-28)

Day 23

Once we arrived in Israel, we got straight to work on a bride kidnapping.

Sophia and I were in Israel, along with much of her extended family, for her cousin Vika’s wedding. As is traditional not traditional at all, Sophia, her nine-year-old sister, and I “kidnapped” Vika and took her to a “forest” where we lit a fire and roasted marshmallows. Along the way there we left hints for the groom to find to lead him to us. The hints were taped on to bottles of beer. This is how traditions get started, clearly.



 ^ We walk around placing hints. The treasure hunt doesn’t look so impressive on the map, does it?

Days 24-26

Sophia and I went to Tel Aviv. In the course of last minute hunting for a wedding present, we discovered according to a rigorous study that the probability of someone speaking Russian in Tel Aviv was higher than of speaking English.

Somewhere near the Israel Trail (?), I think, heading to a beach
Somewhere near the Israel Trail (?), I think, heading to a beach

Walking along a beach in Tel Aviv

The wedding was in the evening, with some of us staying overnight at the countryside venue. Although it was lovely, I’ll spare you the details.

Day 27

Hiking amid old ruins near Emmaus!

There are two monasteries near there, but they were closed.

My GPS software is messing up and making it hard to show where we hiked…

Day 28

The beach in Tel Aviv is wonderful to swim in, but one application of sunscreen has the same result as none in any climate I’ve been shirtless before. So painful…

Posted from Istanbul, Istanbul Province, Turkey.

Days Twenty – Twenty-two: Barcelona (with pickpocketing)

Update: I did manage to get a replacement debit card and some cash, and am continuing on my journey.


To get it right out of the way: I was pickpocketed on the metro in Barcelona, which, because I stupidly had all my money and cards in my wallet in my pocket, seriously threatens the rest of my trip.

To sum up the lessons learned:

  1. Barcelona is well known for pickpocketing. Not knowing this was the first mistake. The entire rest of my itinerary is probably considerably less safe, in basically all senses of the word.
  2. Do not carry all of your cash in the same place.
  3. Even more importantly, do not carry all of your cards (credit/debit) in the same place, because…
  4. credit/debit cards are really difficult to replace while traveling, and it’s hard to live without them (because otherwise you have only cash, which means a lot of it; and it may not even be possible to buy plane tickets with cash).

Now I find myself in Israel (my next planned destination, as expected – more in other forthcoming posts) at the mercy of Visa [credit cards] International’s emergency card replacement service, which, thank God, promises to replace my debit card by two-day delivery (and I actually have a fixed address here for almost a week), but I’ll believe it when I see it. In the mean time I have zero dollars (ok, I have 15 euros) and zero ways of obtaining any.

Honestly, this experience ruined Barcelona for me and makes it hard to write about what else happened and show happy and touristy pictures of the place. I remember the fact that Park Güell and Montjuïc and the beach and La Rambla and other parts seemed nice at the time, and I have the photos, but so does every stupid American tourist who goes to a tourist mecca like Barcelona, so if you want to see those places, google them. All I can say is that if I make it to Stanland, I might be a little wiser now.

Posted from Kefar Sava, Center District, Israel.

Days Seventeen-Nineteen: Edinburgh sightseeing, and a Geocache

In which I visit two of Edinburgh’s attractions that are new to me: Holyrood Palace (and Abbey), and Calton Hill.

Along the Royal Mile, there are a lot of “closes”, or alleys, frequently to back yards or gardens.

Dunbar's Close Garden
Dunbar’s Close Garden

The Scottish Parliament building, probably a symbol of Scottish nationalism, is architecturally jarring. It’s not necessarily bad, but its modernism (sorry, architecture majors, I don’t know what I’m talking about) looks bizarre next to Holyrood Palace.

Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
More of Parliament, in situational context
More of Parliament, in situational context

Holyrood Palace is “the Queen’s official residence in Scotland”, although from the looks of it neither she nor anyone else ever inhabits it. Although Mary Queen of Scots’ bedchamber is probably of interest to fans of the Other Boleyn Girl series (hi Mom), all in all it’s not a great loss to this blog that photography was prohibited.

Maybe I just like churches, but the ruins of the Holyrood Abbey were better:

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The palace gardens are immaculate, but that’s because you’re not allowed to stray from the path, which is a let-down.

On the way back I saw John Lennon’s grave. But no, not that John Lennon.

If this was supposed to be art, I'd call it "Two Incomplete Structures."
If this was supposed to be art, I’d call it “Two Incomplete Structures.”

Next up is Calton Hill [day 18], home of the Nelson Monument, which commemorates the naval battle of Trafalgar, and the National Monument (of Scotland). It also hosts a small and mystifying (i.e., bad) art gallery.

Art, apparently.
Art, apparently.
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View of Nelson Monument
View of the National Monument from the top of the Nelson Monument
View of the National Monument from the top of the Nelson Monument
More views from the top
More views from the top
View as I fell off the Nelson Monument. Just kidding.
View as I fell off the Nelson Monument. Just kidding.

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Today [day 19] I went geocaching with Sophia. I was almost entirely unsuccessful (zero for two) when along came another pair of geocachers, who found the one I was looking for in about 30 seconds.  I’m obviously a newb…

Hint: it turned out to be within the frame of this photo. Spoiler: it was a thimble-sized magnetic cynilder stuck under the railing!
Hint: it turned out to be within the frame of this photo. Spoiler: it was a thimble-sized magnetic cylinder stuck under the railing!

This time tomorrow I’ll be in Barcelona! Now to pack…




Posted from Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.