Australia, here I come!

In July I’m leaving Norway and moving to Australia! Yay! I wish I could just pack my suitcase and get on the plane right now!

I’ve been thinking about what to do next for what feels like an eternity, considering my options and doing a ton of research online. Finally, around christmas time, I decided that it was time for me to do my masters degree, and that masters degree would be in development studies. I applied for four degrees in both The US and Australia, and I got accepted by all of them! Joy! The choice was easy though, because I already knew which university was at the top of my list.

So to be more specific, Monash University, here I come!

The Master is called International Development Practice, and what made me decide on it is its focus on practical skills as well as academic knowledge. And it also doesn’t hurt that Monash ranks high, especially when it comes to an international outlook. They even have campuses outside of Australia (It would be so cool if I get to travel more as a part of my studies)!

For now though, all I can do is to prepare and daydream.
Luckily, I have one trip to France and one trip to Palestine coming up before I depart for Australia, so I really shouldn’t complain 🙂

 

 

 

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Petra – Ancient City Of Stone

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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 have been a stranger in a strange land

That’s my alltime favourite quote, and a quote I hope to live by. I love how it plays on perspectives and cultural differences, and it makes me really want to visit a completely different culture than my own, like right now!

While traveling it’s a struggle to keep up with all my social medias. So I tend to just post an enourmous amount of photos on my instagram whenever I have access to Wifi! >  instagram.com/hu.ayah/

Of course I want to keep updating this blog, but my posts here will be less frequent than my posts on insta. On here it is easier to sit down to write a proper post after I’ve come home. I want to spend a minimum of time on the internet, and as much time as I can on actually experiencing what is around me 🙂

Anyway, here is a little taste of my instagram account!

      

Books, books, books

I just ordered a new batch of books online, and I couldn’t be happier!

In the last 5 days I’ve read two books, each the first book in a series. ‘The Red Queen’ by Victoria Aveyard and ‘The Bone Season’ by Samantha Shannon. So first thing I did after finishing them was, of course, to go see if the next book in the series had come out yet. And lucky me, it had, and in both series too! Joy!

Both the books are in the fantasy genre and has a strong female lead character. Just the way I like it 😉 They both center around issues in a divided society, the lead character belonging to the minority and fighting for their people’s rights with their own special abilities. I really recommend them, literally could not put either of the books down when I had first started.

These are the books I just ordered:

 

Also couldn’t resist ordering the first book in another series, ‘The Young Elites’. Another fantasy series where a young girl plays the lead and overcomes the challenges of a broken society. I guess it’s a guilty pleasure of mine!

 

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And then I went ahead and bought myself a classic that I should have read ages ago.

 

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I can’t wait to start reading them all!

Beautiful Wales! (UK Roadtrip Part 2)

Me and Caroline take on Wales!
Fangirling at Cross Keys Pub (because Sherlock!), falling in love with Tenby and discovering St. Govans Chapel on the cliffs in the sunset!

I’ve made a youtube video all about it, so click the link to view it!

>> Norwegians exploring Wales! <<

Also, here are some pictures from that amazing day 🙂

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Charming streets in Tenby. All houses were painted in light pastel colours 🙂
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St. Govan along the West Coast of Wales
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St. Govans Chapel
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Me and Caroline in Tenby, Wales

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Charming British villages & Cambridge! (UK Roadtrip Part 1)

A couple of weeks ago now, I travelled to Wales to visit one of my best friends, Caroline, who happens to live in Cardiff. We have been on a roadtrip together in England/Wales one time before, and we decided to repeat the success. We’re both huge nerds in all things history, sci-fi and fantasy, so all roadtrips involving us two, ends up being a tribute to all movie sets and history-filled places along our route. This trip was no different!

In this post number 1 about our roadtrip, I’m goint to talk about Cambridge and the two small villages Castle Combe and LaCock.

We started out in Cambridge, where we of course visited Cambridge University. Sir Isaac Newton himself actually attended school here! And so did Stephen Hawking! Nevertheless, what actually impressed me about present-day Cambridge was the imposing, stern and self-important buildings. They just have an aura of magnificence and intelligence, somehow. Maybe it’s because I’m aware of all the history in the walls and all the great men (& in more modern years women!) who have wandered around here while studying.

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King’s College. It’s amazing that some students are lucky enough to study and live in such a historic place!

Next, we headed to a small village called Castle Combe. Castle Combe is known to be one of the prettiest and most stereotypically British villages in England! I expected small stone cottages leaning in all directions, a small pub with a decorative sign and a funny name, and that cosy rural vibe. I was not disappointed!

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I just love the charm of it all! The movie Stardust, which I also love, was actually filmed in Castle Combe, along with War Horse starring Tom Hiddleston (swoon!)

Just nearby Castle Combe, lies another litte charming village. This village is called LaCock. You might laugh, but that is actually the name of it! This was the second time I visited LaCock, and the second time around I actually learned how to pronounce the rather special name. It’s not pronounced as it is written (along with all other names of places in Britain, Sigh!) The correct way to say it is LeyCock, which makes the name a bit better, I guess..

What’s so extraordinary about LaCock is that a huge bunch of the Harry Potter scenes was filmed here. Especially in LaCock Abbey, where you can recognize the Hogwarts hallways and school yard. Also the Potter house in Godrics Hollow lies here.

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The Chamber of Secrets has been opened! I only looked through my camera the entire time!

 

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The Red Lion knows how to advertise to Potterheads!

For those who follow youtubers, a fun fact is that LaCock is the hometown of Zoe and Joe Sugg 🙂 Unfortunately, we didn’t bump into them while there. We did however meet another huge celebrity in Bath!! But I’ll save that story for the next blog post, I think, hehe!