Browse Month

May 2017

Roaming in Romania

If a 20 year old reads this headline, he/she would probably think: “Oh wow, is he in Romania sitting on his phone all the time?!”. The word roaming nowadays mostly means when you use the mobile data abroad. However, there is another meaning of it equivalent with wandering around. Since I’m in the European Union now and it’s a lot cheaper to use the phone again, you could say I did both here.

Europe wasn’t on the list at all for this big trip. Even though it’s probably the best continent to live on, it also find it the most boring and least adventurous compared to America, Asia, Oceanic and Africa. I mean, the nature isn’t as dramatic, it’s pretty homogeneous and the culture isn’t as strong as in other parts of the world. Don’t misunderstand me; there are many nice and unique places. The Dolomites in Italy or the coast of Croatia are two of my favorites, but it’s simply not as exotic and thrilling and when it’s so close to home it simply feels a little more boring. Nevertheless, I’m here and will do a Eurotrip for around 3 weeks and I must admit it feels great. It’s clean, civilized, you can get good food and high standards.

Romania is probably one of those countries people don’t know very much about – but still judge. I believe the people unfortunately have a bad reputation, but it’s often a big mistake. There are two groups of people in Romania: the Romanians, totally normal people and then we have the other one; the Romani’s – or better known as gypsies. These are perhaps a little lawless and don’t want to be a part of the normal society, but they are only about 3-4 % of the population in Romania – so most people are totally normal and friendly people.

You could say there were two reasons I chose to go to Romania. The Transylvanian mountains were one. I really wanted to do some hiking again which I did and it was nice, but far from the most scenic mountains I’ve been in. The good thing going hiking midweek and off-season is that you pretty much have the mountains to yourself. The other reason I went here was because a guy I met in Laos about 3 months ago. You obviously meet a lot of people when traveling, and even though most people are good people – that doesn’t mean you connect well with everyone. However, this guy and I shared many of the same interests and views of life. Travel, adventure, healthy lifestyle and investing. Many times when you meet people and spend a few days together, you maybe exchange Facebook but that’s it – so I must say it’s really fun to actually meet up several months later. It’s also a huge benefit to have local friends since they can take you to the hidden gems, sweet spots and what’s important for me: the best gyms. Romania was a nice visit with a great mix of nature, small cosy cities and some big city life in Bucharest. Bucharest perhaps wasn’t very charming, but it’s very cheap and offers good food and nightlife (for those who like that). I more preferred the smaller towns in Transylvania and the East-Block countries often have these open squares full with restaurants and coffee shops where it’s perfect to kill some time in the sun.

Speaking of meeting people; my next stop will be Vienna in Austria. I’m looking forward to it since it will probably be the most sophisticated, cleanest and place with highest standard I’ve been in a long time. Also, I’m meeting up with not just one but two people I’ve met on my travels. Later on my Eurotrip I’ll catch up with even more people and have friends and family visiting me from home, and I can’t wait to see them! 🙂

Israel and the world’s worst and most expensive kebab

There are two ways of showing a person that you don’t like them. The direct and simple way would be to just scream and tell he/she is an idiot and it can’t be misunderstood. Or, the more sophisticated way, you just turn your back at them and shut up – not giving them any attention at all. In the case of Israel, I would like to do both.

This was perhaps not the most positive of ingresses, but I actually was very positive going here. It’s been on the list for many years and for weeks I’ve dreamt of this “pearl” by the Mediterranean where I expected nice climate, a chill vibe, good food and some awesome days. You can say I overrated this place. The climate however was close to perfect. Around 25 degrees, blue skies and a light breeze kept you warm enough not be be the least cold and also not to sweat – even mid day. So, why didn’t I like this country?

A country never gets better than the people living there and of course how they behave. And there we pretty much have the answer. I had no idea before going here that Israeli were known for being rude and arrogant, but it didn’t take me more than my first breakfast to realize that. After a bad, but expensive, breakfast with no customer service what so ever – I chose to tip “only” 1 Euro (the bill was around 8-9 Euro, so I tipped more than 10 %). When I left the place, the waiter ran after me wanting my attention. I thought for a moment I had forgot something. But no, he wondered why I didn’t tip him more. I was actually shocked and this was pretty much my first meeting with an Israeli. And, my first meeting with Israeli food. Expensive and bad, and it was just the start.

After a week of poor service, arrogant, rude and and in general anything but friendly people I couldn’t wait to leave this place. I went around a little bit to Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and also down south to Eilat in order to visit Petra in Jordan. All over the service and hospitality was the same non-existing with very few exceptions. But before leaving, I went for what became probably the world’s most expensive kebab.

All over Israel they serve kebab (or shawarma) which I usually like, but here it didn’t taste much to be honest. Just dry and free from flavor. However, I eventually found a place where the prices didn’t make you feel like have been robbed, but still it cost 12 Euro without something to drink so you can imagine how much an ordinary dinner would cost. Anyway, in Israel the currency is Shekel and this shawarma cost 40 Shekels. I only had 200 Shekel-bills left, so I handed over one to the cashier. He gave me 60 Shekels back, and I said that now I think you mixed a little bit here. Mathematics was never my best skill in school but I still can manage, without a calculator, to solve the equation of 200 – 40 = 160. Not 60. It goes with the story that I’m also 100 % sure I gave him 200 Shekels, since that was the only bills I had left. Anyways, he said I was lying and that I gave him 100 Shekels. We argued for about 5 minutes and I was pretty annoyed I can tell you, and I usually never have a temper. I even spoke to the manager, but sadly ended up paying 35 Euro for the smallest and most tasteless kebab on planet earth. Perhaps I should call Guiness.

Anyway, this was only one of many things that happened during my 8 days in Israel. One thing is for sure; I will NEVER ever go back to this country and I encourage you not to go here as well. There are so many poor countries in this world but with great people and hospitality that really need and appreciate tourism and the money it contributes with. In Israel they didn’t seem to like either the tourists or the fact that it’s a big industry. So an advice to you (and myself) is to go to other countries instead. Save your money and spend them in a place where they are needed, deserved and people are grateful for them. Last but not least, it’s of course very tragic with all the war and conflicts that have taken part in Israel and Palestina. But I must say, that in such a small area full of so many idiots, I can understand that there will be conflicts. I am by the way fully aware of the religions situation as well, which of course makes it even more complicated when these people believe in things in old books written thousands of years ago.

If I was enthusiastic going here, I was 10 times more enthusiastic leaving. Next stop: Europe and the country of Count Dracula!

 

Picture perfect Petra – Jordan

As a coincidence, not planned at all, I’ve visited 3 of the 6 wonders of the world the last month. Taj Mahal in India, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and now also The lost city of Petra in Jordan. That means I’ve now visited 6 of the 7 wonders. It’s actually not a big thing, since these places are far from the most impressive places or best experiences I’ve been to. They are often crowded, busy, expensive and time consuming to get to. That being said; they are also fascinating and impressive and I encourage people to visit them.

I did Petra just as a day trip from Eilat in Israel – or actually a long-day-trip. They told me it would take 9-10 hours, which I knew was bullshit – but I didn’t expect 14 hours and I guess 3 of those were spent border crossing between the countries. A lot of bureaucracy especially when you have a passport full of stamps from every continent! Anyways, when in arriving to Petra after 3-4 hours in a bus, the fun began. A 2,5 kilometer canyon hike that got narrower and narrower the closer I got to the lost city. The last meters made me feel like Indiana Jones, for about 5 seconds, then I reached the Chinese crowds and selfie-sticks and felt like one of them walking around with my 3 cameras.

Petra was built around 400 years BC, which is amazing in many ways. First; the architecture and secondly also the location. It’s located in the Jordanian desert mountains around 1400 meters above sea level hidden in the canyons. The way people could live here for more than 700 years was thanks to a sophisticated water system supplying the city with fresh water from the mountains. 700 years is a long time and 3 hours was enough for me.

Don’t mistake coincidence for fate. In one way I could never dream of this lifestyle or these experiences, but on the other hand I’ve always been adventurous wanting to go high, low and beyond that next turn. It feels prewritten. One of the good things traveling on your own is that you have a lot of time to think, and maybe even more important, feel. Think about life, yourself, what matters to you, how you want to live the rest of your life and the list goes on. Some birds are not meant to be caged. Now, after 3/4 of the trip, I’m pretty certain I will never go back to a 9-5 corporate job. I have an idea of how my want to live, at least the coming years, of my life. This trip is an adventure, almost every day. And I like it – or love it. On the other hand I’ve found out that home means a lot to me, so a mix of adventuring around the world and spending quality time at home with the people that matter to me, is hopefully my future. Time will tell.