My little list of longing

We’ve all got it I think, either on paper, electronically or in the privacy of our minds.. It can contain all sorts of things, but for me it’s a list of all the places I’ve happen to come over that I want to visit.

Every time I see an Instagram post about some dreamy place I write it down. Every time I come over an amazing travel pin on Pinterest, I write it down. Every time I read about an exciting place to visit in a book or a newspaper, I write it down. It might even just be when seeing a nice picture of a nice place while scrolling through my Facebook-feed. Regardless, if it awakens my curiosity, I write it down.

It’s nothing fancy about it, it’s simply a list in my notes on my phone. Practical and easy, because I always have my phone with me. But at the same time, that list holds big parts of my future plans. I hope. Because I fully intend to visit as many of these places that I can. Which is kinda crazy to think about..

So here’s a little taste of my list.

Asia

u3059p704t93d4086f3908dt20091112154405
Wuzhen Water Village, China
ind_dig_151-1024x685
Varanasi, India
03_palais_des_vents
Jaipur, India
kimono-forest
Kimono Forest, Japan

The Americas

85db64da6d575ac6c1893c5dec0a29ca
Havasupai Waterfall, Arizona, USA
las-coloradas-swimming-xl
Las Coloradas, Mexico
guatape_town_color_houses_street_colombia
Guatapé, Colombia
6986e0d1be187999adb9987e17fa9bfc
Frida, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Europe

blue_mosque_sultan_ahmet_mosque_istanbul_turkey_97393_3840x2160
Istanbul, Turkey
eltz
Eltz Castle, Germany
2005-2007
Versailles, France
88404
Reine, Norway

Africa

maroc_marrakech_medina
Marrakech, Morocco
bo-kaap-and-table-mountain-cape-town-1
Bo Kaap and Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
avenue-of-the-baobabs-morondava-madagascar
Morondava, Madagascar
rp2zov
Luxor, Egypt

Oceania

regions_fraser-island_2
Fraser Island, Australia
street-art-of-hosier-lane-melbourne-australia
Street Art, Melbourne, Australia
borobudur-sunrise-tour-16_
Borobodur Temple, Indonesia
hobbiton
Hobbiton, New Zealand
Pictures, in order, from:
http://travel.sina.com.cn/city/jiaxing.html
http://www.viaggiavventura.it/destinazioni/varanasi-l-essenza-stessa-dell-india/
http://www.directours.com/p/combine-inde-dubai-merveilles-des-hotels-oberoi-5-luxe-8686
https://notesofnomads.com/things-to-do-in-arashiyama/kimono-forest/
https://expertvagabond.com/las-coloradas-pink-lake/
http://mokumsurfclub.com/medellin-city-hope/
https://wallpaperscraft.com/tag/istanbul/3840×2160
http://www.amazingplacesonearth.com/eltz-castle-germany/
http://www.versailles3d.com/en/over-the-centuries/xxie/2005-2007.html
http://www.lefrancofil.com/16167/suede/maroc-33-marrakech-entre-mythes-et-merveilles/
https://www.theintrepidguide.com/top-20-things-to-do-in-cape-town/
http://beautifulamazingworld.com/?attachment_id=207
https://wallpapersafari.com/free-wallpaper-egypt/
http://www.visitnoosa.com.au/regions/fraser-island-amp-cooloola
http://www.remotetraveler.com/hosier-lane-melbourne/
http://www.boldtravel.com/borobudur-sunrise/
https://www.thecrazytourist.com/top-25-things-to-do-in-new-zealand/

 

Petra – Ancient City Of Stone

DSC04553 3

You might recognize this place from the movie ‘Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’, in real life this is The Treasury in the Ancient City of Petra, carved out of the Mountain itself. I just rewatched the movie  and suddenly recognized the temple in which the holy grail was hidden in – in a sort of ‘Wait! I’ve been there!’ realization. How cool is that!? Then, naturally, I wanted to make a post about my visit to Petra last December and maybe even share some tips!

(I’ll save the story of how I got to Petra through the border between Eilat and Aqaba for another blog post, as it was quite an adventure in itself!)

First order of business: Where to stay.

Petra lies in Jordan, right by the town of Wadi Musa where I recommend getting a room for the night. My sister and I got a room at Rocky Mountain Hotel for a cheap price. We came at night when it was dark, but were amazed when we woke up to this view!

DSC04486 3

As you can see, we actually slept in our sleeping bags just because it was sooo cold. We discovered that during wintertime you actually had to pay extra for the heating.. Despite that, if you are looking for a good price, I would recommend the Rocky Mountain hotel.

This might sound strange, but bear with me. Firstly, travel in spring or autumn and you avoid that problem entirely. We only travelled in December due to necessity, and as isolation and heating is generally poor in the Middle East you can safely assume everywhere will be cold in December. Secondly, you get an awesome view and location overlooking the Petra Mountains. Even if you don’t get a room with a view, you get a top floor dining hall with large windows and a balcony. And thirdly, nothing beats charm and authenticity in my book – here you get loads of it. It might not be a flashy hotel, but it has character.

As a bonus point the hotel is owned by a woman from New Zealand and her Jordanian husband – and she was more than willing to sit down and give us some pointers on our sightseeing. We even had a very interesting talk about the current state of Jordan with all that is happening in the Middle East at the moment.

Second order of business: What to expect.

Walking. Expect walking.

I’m not even kidding with this statement. Clothes-wise, we weren’t exactly prepared for a hike, so we gave up on reaching the Monastery at the top of the mountain. Who would’ve known Converse wasn’t appropriate footwear?!

Another important thing is to bring a lunch pack and water with you as the trip will most likely last all day. Our hotel was so kind as to provide us with it. We ended up having a really special moment when we, halfway up the Mountain, sat down for our lunch and a bedouin climbed up the cliff wall in front of us and began serenading us!

Third order of business: Enjoy!

Petra is truly amazing. The Nabataeans, a tribe of nomadic arabs, built Petra as their capital city around 300 BC. What is even more amazing is that there are still nomadic tribes living in the stone caves of the Petra Mountains to this day! Some of them you can see on your way through Petra, there are caves just on the side of the trail where women are making and selling their handcrafts. You might also get invited to come in for some chai. The men offer tourists horse and camel rides.

DSC04615 2DSC04726 2

Throughout our walk we saw giant structures cut out in stone. They are larger-than-life and rose-coloured, which is why another name for Petra is the Rose City. The whole area is really a perfect photo-op, so bring your camera and go wild!

DSC04596 2DSC04697 2

Do you see the camel in this picture? A hint is that it’s in stone.

DSC04629 2

Places to visit in Bethlehem!

The first three weeks in Palestine, I lived in Bethlehem (yes, the Bethlehem!). The place where so much biblical history took place!

It’s weird to think that it’s still a city to this day. A modern city with paved streets, honking cars and a giant separation wall running right by the centre. Bethlehem is in the West Bank and is now one of the cities where you can see the conflict between Israel and Palestine firsthand. That’s not to say it’s not also a charming city – it has cobblestone walkways and limestone houses that makes it easy to imagine what it must have been like in biblical times, like in the famous Star Street.

entrance-from-star-street
Entrance from Star Street

In the city centre, right across from the Mosque of Omar, you can find the Nativity Church where Jesus was born. You can even go down in the little crypt and touch the star that marks the exact place! But be warned, it’s often crowded and extremely hot down there! One time I got in just behind a group of tourists who were rubbing a bunch of scarfs and plastic bags all over the star. My guess is that they were going to sell it all later and make a nice profit! When I caught the eye of the Greek-Orthodox Priest supervising the crypt, he just shook his head and mumbled ‘not good.. not good..’. So clearly, even though it’s in the West Bank, it’s become a bit of a tourist trap.. Nevertheless, the birthplace of Jesus is of course a must-see when you are in Bethlehem. The square is worth a visit in itself as a harmonic symbol of co-existence. My favorite part of visiting the Nativity Church was actually just sitting in a cafè in the square outside, watching people and enjoying life with a cold beer! 😉

Be sure to make time to walk along the Separation Wall as well. The wall is filled with graffiti and even a Banksy or two – like the ‘Make Hummus Not Walls’ or ‘Peace Dove’-graffiti. It’s a powerful experience!

Anyone especially interested in the conflict should also make time to visit Aida Refugee Camp that borders on the Separation Wall, or at least walk along the wall on the outskirts of Aida (just not on a Friday!). I know this may seem a bit scary, but personally, I’ve never had a problem doing so.. The one time there had been a skirmish earlier in the day, we could feel the teargas from a distance and decided to walk along another part of the wall. A tip is to go to the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, they’re actually located on the outskirts of Aida by the main road and they offer a number of tours in the area! Or you can even just pop in for a cup of Chai and take pictures from their roof, like we did 🙂

http://www.alaslah.org/tours/

Finally, to really experience Bethlehem you need to make a trip through the Souk (marketplace). There’s such life there! The closer you get to the Nativity Church the more touristy the shops get, but if you walk the whole length you get to experience the hustle, bustle and haggling!

 

*If you have lots of time you may want to consider visiting Sheperd’s Field, Milk Grotto and Mar Saba Monastery, or eat at the beautiful Hosh Jasmin a short taxi ride away in Beit Jala.

I moved to the Middle East?!

Yes, I did! And you wouldn’t be the first person to call me crazy for doing so!

‘Why would anyone move to the Middle East with all that’s going on right now?’ you might ask yourself. And not in a million years did I think that I would be the person to do exactly that. Turns out, I am. I lived in Ramallah in the Palestinian Territories for the most part of the last half-year. And it was amazing!

I come from a small village isolated in between the mountains in cold Norway, it’s a long way from there to the sandy, bible-like landscape you find in the West Bank. To say that it was a fresh change of scenery would be an enormous understatement! More like ‘leave everything you know how works in your world, and try to understand a completely different way of life’-type experience.

But, of course, before I got that far there were so many things to consider. Would it be safe? Exactly how far is it from Syria? Would Israel even let me in to the Palestinian Territories, or would I be turned down at the border? Safe to say, me and my sister, who I travelled with, had a couple of long and intense phone calls while looking at the map and discussing all our concerns. I remember my sister saying she envisioned us being taken hostages and kneeling with black bags over our faces. Not a very encouraging image.

map middle east
Map of the Middle East. The red dot marking where I lived 🙂

Despite all our worries, we did decide it would be relatively safe for us to travel. I think what westerners often forget is that there is a day-to-day life in all places, and not just what we so infamously see on the news all the time. And of course, the dangers of for instance Syria and Iraq, would not be an issue for us. We were not going to go near any of those borders, and were going to live in a (kinda) different part of the region. Even then, the war in Gaza the summer of 2014 and the general athmosphere of a militarily occupied territory naturally made us nervous.

When we got to the Ben Gurion-airport in Israel, the first thing we had to ‘overcome’ was the Israeli border control. We didn’t have anything to hide and neither of us has ever done anything illegal in our lives, but still we were very nervous. We had heard about so many nightmare encounters with the Israeli border control – especially when they know you are going to the Palestinian territories. Therefore, we were not surprised when the guard straight up told us ‘You are going to die. They will kill you, because they do not like foreign people and other religions.’ I can only assume the guard was either trying to scare us from visiting and seeing how people in the West Bank live under occupation, or that he spoke out of prejudice and ignorance. Either way, this was our first meeting with the reality of the occupation, and I have to say, his prophecy of doom could not be farther from the truth.

After a bunch of questions about our background, hobbies, occupation and future plans, we had to prove our intentions regarding our visit with a written invitation from the Danish House in Palestine. Still the guard had to make a call before admitting us.

DSC01858 3.jpg

Finally, we arrived in Palestine after months of waiting and planning! If you want to read about what my stay in Palestine was like and what we worked with there, stay tuned and follow 🙂 I will soon write more posts about my Palestinian adventure, and even share some videos!