Dienstag, 24. März 2009

Since yesterday I am now in Damascus and I have a Syrian cell phone number:
After a pretty long silence now some news from me... Internetcafes were quite hard to find in Beirut, they charged extra for using Skype, and the only computer at the hostel was incredibly slow - so I decided not to post anything while being in Lebanon.
Sadly I had to leave Lebanon finally yesterday after spending 15 wonderful days there, meeting lots of Lebanese people and other travellers, hanging around in bars and cafes, going to crazy parties, looking at the incredibly good-looking Lebanese guys (yes, only looking!!), doing some interesting sightseeing tours...
It all started with a 24h visit of Nico from Paris, who came thanks to a friend who is working for AirFrance to Beirut - so we had to party hard during this short time. That evening I met the Lebanese boyfriend of a friend of Nico, and thanks to him a lot of others as well. They organised two different parties in these 15 days, which were both very crazy, funny, and I enjoyed being there. After two months without (almost) not going out, never being drunk and never having the chance to dance somewhere this was so reliving! Specially because these people I met were pretty much the same like for example in Cologne, listening to the same music, laughing about the same things, dressing the same way - it was very relaxing to just behave as I would do on a party in Cologne as well. Everybody who reads this and who has never been to beirut won't belive me probably, but go there, see that there is an alternative culture, people having art-projects, djs, people who travelled a lot or studied abroad and speak at least three languages... I was very astonished. Nico and Rachid, who have been there before, told me about what to expect there - but I thought it would just be like one of these very chic and expensive cities where you spend a lot of money but people care only about latest fashion, coolest restaurant or bar to be at - things like that. And yes, you find these things, but as well people like Rana, Faysal, Haitham, Mo... who are interested in more than that.
So all in all I enjoyed my time there very much thanks to these people, but also to other travellers and some archeologists who showed me several excavations and with whom I also went to wine tastings, parties, bars, concerts ...
My last day in Lebanon: wine tasting in the Bekaa-valley

we (Frank, Natalie, Kamal, Aaron and me) rented a car together

one of the caves where we went

to get a slight impression of one of the many "alternative" places in beirut: Club 43, bar, restaurant, showing movies on several days
A day in Southern Lebanon

spring at Chateau Beaufart

this fence is the border between Israel and Lebanon - in the background a typical Israelian settlement

in a museum run by the Hizbollah

Khiam detention camp which was destroyed by the Israelian army in 2006, nowadays a Hizbollah-run museum (guess in which direction the missiles point?)

Montag, 23. März 2009

A day in the mountains near Bcharre to see the famous cedar trees

A visit in the Palestinian refugee camp Shatila in Beirut - this is the memorial place where in 1982 about 2000 Palestinians, mainly women and children, were killed in a massacre by the Christian Phalange Army with the help of the Israelian army, good to see to get a feeling for the people and the place but very very hard and sad - specially because the Palestinians in Lebanon have almost no rights, no right to work, and they live in an incredibly dirty area without reliable electricity and water

A sunny day in Byblos at the coast and the ruines there (Lebanon)

Sonntag, 15. März 2009

What a weekend - you really can't imagine how crazy this place is - at least I couldn't before I came here. I met - thanks to Nico - some Lebanese people who organized a house-party on Friday which was just amazing. This party could have been everywhere else, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, - it was like a party in Germany, which was soooo good after two months without a single opportunity to dance (not because I didn't go out, but rather because the music was either only Arabic music or some very strange or very old western shit). So I had a very nice time there - and went afterwards at around 4:30 am into the club in the basement of the hostel where I stay at times. Everybody who stays at the hostel gets free entrance and all drinks free there because the music is so enormously loud that you can't sleep upstairs in the hostel anyway - and the manager is interested in good relations with the people staying at the hostel. This club is pretty much like any club in Cologne that plays Minimal - so again I was surprised - AND - it turned out to be mainly visited by gays. So I could dance and do whatever I liked even without being harassed, wonderful!
Yesterday I went there again with a German I met on the party on Friday and a Lebanese and again I stayed until late. Next Friday the same people will - as rumors say - have another house- party, so I think I stay another couple of days, finally also starting some sight-seeing here which I didn't do that much so far. Tomorrow Tripoli if I can get up...
I can't use Skype here - only in emergency-cases because they charge you like crazy here for using it. So don't expect me to call you until I reached Damascus.

Mittwoch, 11. März 2009

today on the way to the caves outside Beirut, unfortunately it wasn't allowed to take pictures inside

rocks at the coast in downtown Beirut

me, Remy, and Nico
Rana and Sharif

Faysal, Nico, and me

Crazy night in Beirut



Nico gets a birthday present

some Lebanese people we met thanks to Nico who got into contact with the Lebanese boyfriend of a friend of him

Sonntag, 8. März 2009

I'm in Beirut since today after an exhausting trip - arrived happily, only very tired now.

Freitag, 6. März 2009

at the Jordan river, down in this pool Jesus was baptised by John

view on the Jordan river

Friday at the Dead Sea at Amman Beach - lots of Jordanese people enjoying their weekend

the typical floating picture - Dead Sea

the mud is really good, I had a baby-like skin afterwards!

view from the crusader castle Ajlun in Jordan to the direction of Palestine

Jerash in Jordan, interesting and very well preserved roman city I visited yesterday

View from Mount Nebo which Moses had when he saw the Holy Land which God had promised to the Israelites. Somewhere close he must be burried but the site hasn't been discovered so far.

Mittwoch, 4. März 2009

Since sunday the 1st march I'm in Jordan now after quite an exhausting trip from Cairo to Aqaba which took about 26 hours because the ferry was late and on arriving in Aqaba I met an American couple and an Australian guy and we decided to take a taxi to Petra. On the way to Petra it became colder and colder and finally we had snow on the streets, it was enourmously foggy - and the road to Petra had been closed by the police. First the police told us to sleep in the police station because going back to Aqaba was impossible and the road to Petra was blocked. But then the boss of the station decided we could continue to Ma'an because there was less snow. But also no hotel, the only one we found was closed - so the taxi driver took us with him to his family and told us we could stay overnight without paying for it. On arriving there they had tea ready, some of his brothers joined us, they started heating the room with a gas heater (the temperature was around zero, but still they have only one heater for a whole house with at least ten people living there). They gave us blankets and we stayed there quite comfortable, had a small breakfast the next morning and afterwards the taxi driver drove us to Petra on another road which wasn't blocked. On arriving at the hotel which we had chosen we gave him 40 Dinar instead of the 27 we had agreed on because he drove around 100km more than we had planned, but he insisted on wanting more money because we had breakfast at his home, so we gave him 50 Dinar (around 50 EUR). Jaja, never trust an invitation in this area ... things like that happen too often! But well, finally we got to Petra...
This place is really worth a visit althoug entrance fees are pretty expensive (26 EUR for a two-day-pass). But trying to visit this old nabbatean town in one day is impossible - and so I decided to stay two days which was really good but also very exhausting because you keep walking the whole day. So on the pictures you get some impressions of how it is in Petra - but still reality is much better, especially all the colours of the stones.
The first day I walked around with the American couple and the Australian guy, but on the second day I climbed up several mountains alone which was really really nice because there were no tourists and the surrounding nature and landscape is wonderful. One of the close-by mountains has a mosque on its top - that's Djebel Haroun where - as legend tells - Moses brother Aaron died.
In the evening it was funny to see in the hostel that all people stayed in the entrance area where they have a heater - the dorms are unheated and you could see your breath at any time in there. So my first days "alone" on the road were pretty communicative - and I guess it'll remain like that because also in Amman, the capital of Jordan where I'm now, it's cold in the evening and the dorm has no heater. I arrived here today, still with the American couple, the Australian and another American guy - but they don't stay as long as I, I'm the most relaxed traveller of us. After walking around in Amman today, visiting the citadell and the amphitheater here I'll probably take an early bus to Jerash tomorrow to visit a crusader castle.
Think of me when you turn on your heater - I'm really badly prepared for this weather after two months in Egypt....
the monastery in Petra


storey for the Qumran rolls

in one of the small valleys around Petra

surrounding mountains

view on some tombs

on the way up to the high sacrifice place

early morning, around 7:30
surrounding mountains in Petra

view close to the monastery in Petra

the monastery

in one of the small valleys around Petra