Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Kali mera Elada!


Present time (November 30th, 2012):

Duty— You should have written every day!
The writer— I couldn’t, the writing would have been dry, just a bunch of facts, what we did, like a check-off list, no one would have been interested.
The child— Can we play now?
Duty— Now you have to write after almost two months; what would you remember now?
The writer—I’ll write, just leave me alone, don’t carry me to all these new places, give me some time!
The child—I want a roiboos tea!
Duty—We don’t have time! And plus, these new places have to be seen, they are a must, remember that you always wanted to see them!
The writer—OK, let’s see them, but then I won’t write!
The child—And I want to watch a movie!
Duty— You have to write! People are waiting for your blogs!
The writer— Are you kidding me? They live their lives, we’re just entertainment for them, if there is no blog to be read, they just go and find something else!
The child—Look at me! Look at me!
Duty—Then write for us!
The writer—I need peace, and time! Leave me alone, to find my muse, to process those feelings, to make them less personal, to bring a unified image of how it was there, and not the whole material. It was one thing to present Asia, where it was a first contact with a different culture, and another to show Europe. I grew up here, I can tell details, but then I have to explain them, and you don’t give me time!
The child—Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong! Let’s escape!
Duty and the writer—WE CAN’T! WE HAVE TO WRITE THE BLOG!

Two months ago and forward.

Kali mera, Elada! (kah-lee mair-ah) Good morning, Greece!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Some Egyptology

There are two kinds of people in the world. The ones fascinated about Egyptology and the ones who are not. I don't know where are we. We got tired of reading countless articles in National Geographics about Egypt, we have no desire of learning all about the thirty dynasties and all the names of the 332 or so pharaohs that we know about. But there is so much to imbibe from those three thousands years, and it is so simple to get the basics of it.

It all starts with the Nile. This is a river in Africa. The longest in the world. People spent a lot of time trying to figure out how long it is, they still don't know for sure. It crosses ten African countries, the last being Egypt.

There is a river in Africa called Nile

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Egyptian Brother

Egypt is a strange country. There might have been an adjustment period after we spent almost three months in the "civilized" first world, but I don't think we noticed that. We were returning to something familiar, like Madagascar, Indonesia, India or Nepal. Yet it is different and somewhat weird. I am trying to grasp it and I cannot. The weirdest part is the interaction with people. And even more weird is that I found a little brother in Aswan that I didn't know I had and we all came to accept him after a while.

Monday, November 26, 2012



“Wait there on the chairs!” says the security man from the airport. We sit for almost an hour, other tourists sharing the same fate. It is not because he has something else to do, he just talks with his colleagues, but I think this is a new policy (at least for me), they control things better in groups. We fly to Cairo to change the airplane (actually, it is the same one, with the same stewardesses, and almost the same passengers) so we could go to Aswan.

Again I have to face my fears, my own prejudices. This is a time of unrest, of social change, of political games. It is a Muslim country with 5-10% of Coptic Christians. Don’t we invite trouble just by being here? The number of tourists coming in is down, aren’t we a source to be ripped off? Are they really going to take us to the hotel or somewhere else? In whom to trust?

Outside the airport there are several taxi drivers, waiting for a client. Between them is Mr. Samir, who has in the middle of his forehead a crest, the consequence of many prayers (the Muslims pray by touching their forehead to the ground). That little voice in my head says “Him, you can trust him! No, no, no, no, I take it back. What if he is a fanatic?”

 But I don’t listen it anymore, Mr. Samir is talking politely with Mihai and he is inviting us in his seven seat car, a Peugeot from 1974. It is a long drive and from time to time he tells us that, somewhere in the darkness, we’re passing the High Dam, or the Philae Temple. We arrive at our hotel,

Thursday, November 22, 2012



Sabaah el her! (sub-ah-L-hair)

"You speak Arabic? Are you Egyptian?" No, I just like to use my limited knowledge and greet people in their language. Ioan and I, both have a darker skin, Mihai is sporting a beard, most of our skin is covered, our men walk in front, we, the feminine side, follow them, yes, we could be Egyptian. We’re not Muslims, but we could be Coptic Christians, or some other religion that doesn’t require  a woman to cover her head. “Tourist” cries from our behavior, but maybe we’re long time emigrated Egyptians, visiting our country. Sometimes I wonder, do we really have this plasticity to fit different countries or is just a way of the locals to brush our ego?

Good morning from the Sinai Peninsula! We’re here to rest, to dive into oblivion, to do nothing, to forget there is a world outside!



Of all the American feast days, Thanksgiving is closest to my heart. The first immigrants gathered with the Indians and gave thanks to God for helping them survive. Many times I thought it shouldn’t be just once a year, but then  I changed my mind; it is good to have an official day, in which one can think about all his or her gifts, received daily or in time. The words to come were written as I thought about them while we were traveling.

I give thanks to God; He helped us every moment.

I thank Mihai. He is the one who transformed an idea into reality. Step by step, innumerable hours, during the day and especially at night, he searched on the internet for the cheapest and most comfortable ways of transport. He read what others wrote and learned from their experiences. He found the ideal weather (you don’t want to be in India during monsoon time, when it rains for three months in a row) and made a schedule allowing us to travel with minimum clothes. He is the one who searched and found hotels and apartments, not only good, but cheap and close to the places we wanted to visit. He is the one who pushed us out of the house, when we wanted to sit and complain, saying there are still places to be visited, and in this way he enriched us.
Baobabs Avenue, Madagascar

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kidnapped in Egypt

I woke up at 5 am on Monday morning with the sudden realization that we've been highjacked. No, I wasn't dreaming, my mind continued to work during the night and put together many puzzle pieces. The only question was the correct term. I made my instant coffee and I got out on the balcony. The sun was rising behind the mountains of Saudi Arabia, across the gulf. It was quiet, nothing was moving, another glorious morning in Sinai. I checked the dictionary, we haven't been highjacked, we were kidnapped. I started to laugh. There were few questions left, I had to make a plan and organize our escape. The Internet wasn't working, so with no additional information I had to make several alternative plans and figure out a strategy. Kidnapped without even knowing. An uncomfortable feeling was settling in, but there was still something funny about the whole story:

With the Arab spring revolutions, security in Egypt has been in question. From outside, there are concerns about safety, but many travelers have reported a nice experience, "it is safe without the crowds," touts have sold their camels because of lack of tourists.
This is the Sinai peninsula from the air

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Birthday

To me, my birthday felt like any other day. Not very special. Maybe without the excitement of having all your best friends over, playing your favorite games together, getting a big chocolate cake, and unwrapping lots of presents. It isn't the day you look forward to for a full month. Sadly most of the above aren't possible here in Egypt. Friends are back at school in America or Romania, therefore we can't play all those games together, big chocolate cakes aren't found easily in Egypt, and traveling with as few things as possible means our bags don't have room for a present. Unless its a iPod/iPhone/iPad mini. But I already have an iPod so I don't need another one.
When everyone wakes up one by one, they tell me "Happy Birthday!" Instead of cake I got meringues. I gladly accepted them. While going down to my regular breakfast, I made a little rhyme: "Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me. I am 103, without the zero in between."
Good morning and Happy Birthday! here is your present...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Italy in Haiku


Italy; haikus.
(I need to write about it,
And prose behaved not.)

Wrote this post before.
Did not work at all. Into
The breach once again.

Milano's Duomo. 
Building since one three six four.
Samsung ads on walls.

Goofed around on rails.
Took photographs one and all.
Laughed till stomachs hurt.

(On the train whooshing
Past the countryside, playing
On electronics)

In Torino, met
with penpals— Federica,
A nice friendly girl

Her mom, Maria
Rosa, guided us around
This superb city.

(Eyelash in my eye
Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!
Couldn't get it out.)

Florence next, full of 
RAIN. Walked around in raincoats,
All day every day.

Statues, paintings, ceilings, WOW.
They all come alive.)

Then Venice, full of…
Pigeons! Eat out of your hand,
Cooing and preening.

Canals, with people
Pushing gondolas past us,
Frosty winter air.

Next, near Napoli,
Greek ruins; superstitious
Romans preserved them.

(Stayed up late to write
NaNoWriMo [LINK HERE] has arrived!
Sore fingers; HAPPY)

Pompeii, destroyed by
Mt. Vesuvius— walls still
Here, mosaics too.

Same story as Pompeii— but
Rich people lived here.

Capri: amazing
Coastline, scenery, and caves
Blue Grotto was closed.

Napoli: Dirty.
Like India but with tons
Of dead umbrellas.

Napoli pizza.
Not the best, not the worst— good.
Pizza boxes pile.

Vatican City:
Long, long line, wrote postcards near
St. Paul's Cathedral.

Sistine Chapel, a
3-D experience not-to-
Be-missed. Like, ever.

Rome's Colosseum
Cruel, needless torture… ugh.
Skulls of innocents.

Many other things
But my rhyming's broken… oops!
Other posts are here:

Thank you for reading!
Haikus are hard, but I tried.
(It's better than prose!)

Agony and Ecstasy

We board the flight to Milano. People are talking, the stewardesses are nowhere to be seen, while a voice says in Italian “to click the seat belt as it is shown”. It makes me laugh out loud, causing some heads to turn around like, “What’s so funny?” By the time they repeat the message in English (with a heavy Italian accent), the stewardesses are there to do their duty. After we take off, I think we have five minutes at the cruising height and then we start the descent, with a searing pain in my ears and hysterical cries from small children (why do they have to go down so quickly, not giving us time to equalize?)

And then, buon giorno Ee-tahl-eeah! Good day, Italy!

We have three weeks in Italy, and the plan is to visit Milano (only because the airplane takes us there), then we go to Turin, to see our pen pals Federica and Maria Rosa. From there to Florence for four nights, Venice one night, Napoli and surrounding area for six nights, finishing in Rome with five nights.

This is a touring marathon, a masochistic demonstration of how much one can absorb without getting sick of it.

The Boxer

Saturday, November 10, 2012

And There Was Italy

Fast, too fast, Italy passed from the list of future and present destinations to the one of the past's. We spent 19 full days and nights, changing beds seven times, Milan, Torino, Florence, Venice, Vietri sur Mare, Napoli, and Roma. We stayed in five apartments rented on and two hotels (for one night each).
Colloseum in the distance

We went on and on visiting a lot. Greek and Roman ruins, churches and museums, occasionally some amazing landscapes. We travelled by plane between Venice and Napoli, we rented a car in Catania for three days, we travelled the rest by train, boat and bus. We saw some of the most phenomenal creations in the history of the human race.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Middle Italy


We didn't like Napoli. We wanted to, we really wanted, but the place left me puzzled. We wanted to like it because we liked Marcello, Mihaela's boyfriend, he is from Napoli, in love with his city, he wanted us to stay here longer and he gave us advice of how to enjoy it. Antonio, the owner of our rented apartment, welcomed us to the "la città più bella del mondo!!" I think he and many other locals believe it, but raising the expectations like that is a sure recipe for disappointment. The city has some attractions and many significant problems that nobody can deny. It is dirty, crowded, noisy and dangerous. Probably the most unsafe destination so far, it didn't hold us back too much, but we kept the cameras inside, watched our bags and backs all the time, avoided most of the back alleys, crossed the street with extreme caution. At times it reminded us of the bad parts of India, maybe we forgot some things, but Napoli seemed worse. And lucky us we didn't even have a garbage collectors strike. The four huge containers across from our apartment were emptied Sunday afternoon and in a few hours were overflowing again. These people are able to produce unlimited quantities of rubbish and they don't even realize.

The gulf of Salerno