March 2017: Adventures & Expenses

What I Got Up To

This month I hit a cool milestone:  Jordan is my 30th country on the TCC list!

I spent the first half of March exploring a little more of Bulgaria with day trips to Plovdiv and Rila Monastery.  I also spent time enjoying Sofia with a trip to the National Gallery and an evening at the Sofia International Film Fest.

The second half of March was even more exciting-my first trip to the Middle East! I went to the TBEX International conference, which was held in Jerusalem this year. I used this work conference as an excuse to get off my ass and finally start exploring a new region of the world (conveniently located within easy distance of my new base).  All in all, I was in Jerusalem for a week (with a day trip to the West Bank) and I’ve been in Jordan for another week (split between Amman and Wadi Musa).

 

Pic of the Month

My most popular pic on Instagram was this one of an ancient gate from my trip to Plovdiv, Bulgaria:

My most popular pic on Facebook is this view of the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives:

Places Visited:

Highlights

  • Seeing Petra!

 

  • Having an entire ancient Roman village to myself while visiting Um er-Rasas.
  • Visiting the Dome of the Rock and seeing all the different groups of people visiting.
  • Attending my first conference specifically for travel bloggers and meeting awesome people who have the same interests (and headaches) as me.
  • Visiting Palestine. It was a heavy day, but very beautiful and rewarding.

  • Finally seeing Plovdiv! I had scheduled to go there three different times when I was in Bulgaria last year, but I never made it. In March I went for a day trip from Sofia and really loved the city. It’s over 6000 years old and has the most preserved ancient Roman Theater in existence. We ate a pleasant lunch outside on one of the first nice spring days, and then we did the free walking tour.

  • Seeing Hair at the Sofia International Film Fest. One of the stars of the movie spoke beforehand, and I was surprised how much the movie resonated with me.  It’s a super-hippy anti-war musical. I hadn’t seen it before, but I dug it. (Plus Norma from Orange is the New Black is in it and she talks!)
  • Going to the Al-Pasha Turkish Bath (my first Turkish Bath) while in Amman. I left with super scrubbed, clean skin. And it was wonderful getting a massage after walking around the cobblestones of Jerusalem the week before.
  • Smoking Shesha and drinking lemon mint at the Jafra Cafe in Amman. I hung out at this café three times because I loved the atmosphere so much (and the food was great too!).

Bummers

  • My first day in Jerusalem. I spent the entire day lost, missed my tours I was supposed to go on, and ended up having a minor meltdown. I’ll tell the full story in a separate post, but it was one of my worst days traveling solo. Luckily, everything was fine by about 9am the next morning.
  • My hostel in Jerusalem. You get what you pay for (and Jerusalem isn’t a cheap city to travel in).  The place was adequate and the employees were nice, but my room was so tiny and dingy, my bathroom (I had a single with a bathroom) was just a toilet and a hose (not even a hook to hang it from), and I accidentally set fire to one of my socks on the heater.  It felt like being in a thin-walled coffin.  The upside was that because I was there for a conference, I didn’t have much time to spend there anyway.

Good Morning from Jerusalem. Long night of traveling, but this chick finally gets to crawl into bed and grab some 😴

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  • Not understanding how Shabbat works in Israel. The public buses don’t run, so I ended up burning a day in Jerusalem instead of having an extra day in Jordan.  This meant I had to drop seeing the Dead Sea from my itinerary.
  • The town of Wadi Musa. This is the town that Petra is in, and I used it as my base for my visit to Wadi Rum as well.  I loved Amman, but I found Wadi Musa a gross tourist trap where nearly everyone I met was trying to scam tourists. This took away some of the magic of seeing Petra and Wadi Musa, unfortunately. I far preferred the people and atmosphere of Amman.
  • The way taxi drivers operate in Jordan. I’ve handled my share of scam taxi drivers in Bulgaria, Israel, and elsewhere. But Jordan was on a whole different level. One driver picked up a hitchhiker and didn’t tell me why, just talked to him in Arabic and only explained who he was after we dropped him off. Another spent a lot of time sexually harassing me.  A third spent eight hours (8 freaking hours) trying to sell me on the next job and took me to places I didn’t ask to go so he could get commission off taking me. It was just too much. One of these incidents wouldn’t have fazed me, but all of them combined at the tail-end of a two-week trip was exhausting and demoralizing.  (Although the taxi company that drove me from the Sheik Hussein bridge to Amman the first night was professional and pleasant).

Posts

My most popular post in March was Explore Brooklyn Like a Local: 18 Things to Do in Park Slope which covers all the amazing things to do in Park Slope brought to you by ten-year Brooklyn resident and my bff Ashley.

 

Other March Posts:

Park Slope 😍

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Travels with Lucy

This was the first month since April, 2016 where Lucy didn’t go on a trip with me. She stayed in Bulgaria while I went to the Middle East. Instead she got lots of time at the dog park and walks around the neighborhood. I think this is better for her at the moment, but she’ll go on some trips around Bulgaria with me this spring and summer.

Playing with the portrait mode on my new phone. I dig it. Lucy doesn't. #dogsofinstagram #hotelpics #sassmonster

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March By the Numbers

  • Steps: 172K
  • New Books Purchased: 13
  • Bowls of Hummus: 10
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 7
  • Kanafeh Slices: 5
  • Houses of Worship Visited: 5
  • Beds: 5
  • Countries: 4
  • Walking Tours: 3
  • Ancient Roman Theaters Spotted: 2
  • Airports:  2
  • Continents: 2
  • Spa Visits: 1
  • Mexican Restaurants: 0 =(

The Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall #tbexjlm

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Current Obsessions

Expenses

The courtyard at Rila Monastery. #sofiaadventures

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My Favorite Pic

Pictures of people always bomb on Instagram, but I like to share them because I want everyone to see what people around the world are actually like. I love this picture of a group of young women I saw visiting the Dome of the Rock.  Some people say women who choose to wear a hijab are choosing to be submissive and silent, fading into the background. But looking at these ladies, despite the fact that they’re wearing nearly identical clothing and headscarves, it’s impossible not to see a wide array of foreceful personalities.

Young women at the Dome of the Rock on Friday

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What’s Next

I have twenty days left on my Bulgarian tourist visa, so I’m going to chill in Sofia and catch up on the backlog of projects I have for this blog.  Then later this month I’ll be exploring Romania and Moldova. I also have some Bulgarian day trips planned to cities I’ve wanted to go for a while.

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March 2017: Adventures & Expenses
March 2017: Adventures & Expenses

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: My UNESCO World Heritage Sites Bucket List - GoThreeTwentyFour

  2. I appreciate you sharing the downsides of things, because it’s easy to think you’re doing it wrong when it seems like everyone else has these magical effortless travels. And your pics from the middle-east trip were amazing – I enjoyed seeing them on IG. But man, those are some definitely bummers. Being harrassed and having scam attempts pulled, and that hostel room. :/ But I’m glad you seemed to have an overall good trip. Lots of useful tips too. 🙂

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