May 26, 2019

The first stop of another multi-country itinerary was Budapest. It had been years since my previous visit, when the beauty of the city was tampered by a hot wave that kept me running back indoors every other hour. This time, it was colder than I expected, but I’ll take that any day.

Highlights: the amazing architecture, especially at night, food at the boat restaurant Spoon, and an amazing hour and a half Thai massage with a new friend called Nora. 

Speaking of new friend, this little squirrel is my new travel companion. I named him Hermes. 

May 26, 2019

After the wonders of Petra, what could be better?

Egypt! I went back for more. More Nile cruise, more stunning temples and tombs, more pyramids, more Kochary, more time with Daddy.

Different this time - camel riding by the pyramids, an incredible sunrise balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings, and a day in Alexandria. 

May 26, 2019

Jordan - and more specifically, Petra - had been on my wish list for quite a while. I maneuvered my travel itinerary to allow me a weekend in the country but it all came together at the last minute so I couldn't make arrangements beforehand. The minute I arrived in the hotel I marched to the concierge desk and asked about joining a tour the next day. Much to my dismay she informed me that it was too late to join a group, but she could arrange a private car to take me to and from Petra, roughly 4 hours away from Amman. The cost was astronomical so I gambled - did the concierge perhaps know of another solo traveler who might be interested in sharing the cost? She didn't, but took down my room number. 

Just a couple of hours later, she called me to say another American woman, traveling alone, had inquired about a tour to Petra. She...

May 22, 2019

It’s been a while. My last post was two trips and many countries ago. A quick recap: my trip after India was a mish-mash, starting in Turkey. Istanbul is lovely as ever, and I was sad to have so little time I couldn’t meet up with my local friends. Sorry guys, next time! The highlight of my quick visit was seeing the new Istanbul airport terminal. Not bad!

From there to Cyprus, another quick stop with not enough time for sightseeing. From there to Jordan! Oh yes, that one deserves a separate post. Stay tuned. 

April 2, 2019

My driver Charis is also a wonderful companion. There’s so much to know about Cyprus and once I confessed my ignorance beyond knowing there’s a Greek side (where I’m staying) and a Turkish side (where I landed), Charis happily shared his perspective on the unique situation of the island.

In 1974, when Turkey invaded, only 50,000 of the 700,000 island residents were Turkish Cypriots. 

Today the Turkish population continues to grow, fed by migration from Turkey, but the island is still about 65% on the Greek side. Things are much cheaper on the Turkish side and it’s common for drivers like Charis to make shopping runs . The checkpoints are an interesting experience, made a little unnerving by the fact that fir some reason the Turkish side did not register my arrribsl during the immigration process at the airport, and so the checkpoi...

March 14, 2019

The cold got worse. By the time they started boarding the Lufthansa flight to Munich, I was nearing desperation. Looking forward to a few hours of sleep (it was, after all, 2:30 in the morning!), I collapsed on my comfortable seat with a blanket... and kicked off a coughing fit that lasted several minutes. Followed quickly by another. I felt terrible for my seatmate, who smiled kindly and made a "don't worry about it" gesture when I tried to apologize between coughs. If I were him I'd have asked for a hazmat suit. 

In the end, I didn't sleep at all. Coughing incessantly, I was at least happy to see I wasn't keep anyone else awake in the cabin (coughing into a thick comforter does wonders for muffling the sound!). By the time we landed in Munich I was literally stumbling out of the plane. 

Lucky for me, the long layover allowed me...

March 13, 2019

Work is done and bags are packed. My cold is still awful, but I'm heading home tonight. My own bed, pillow, some NyQuil, and all will be right with the world. That is, except for the tiny issue of Pakistan.

The Pakistan-India conflict that flared up a couple of weeks ago resulted in Pakistan closing its airspace to flights to and from India. It caused a minor inconvenience on the way here, but it's more like a catastrophe for the journey home. It all started with a notification that my original return flight on Air Canada (DEL-YYZ) would now have a 20-hour duration instead of 14 hours. The detour around Pakistan was forcing that flight to stop in Copenhagen for refueling. I called United and they offered a better option on their own aircraft, DEL-EWR with a one-hour refueling stop in Frankfurt. Less than 10 minutes after that tic...

March 11, 2019

I always get sick in India. Period.

The first time it was severe err.. gastrointestinal issues.

The second time it was respiratory infection... and tuberculosis.

This time it's just a garden-variety cold, but still miserable. My throat is on fire and I just know I won't be able to get any sleep. So along with my room service grilled vegetable sandwich I ordered a cup of white vinegar and a bottle of salt. It's a failsafe way to kill every germ in my throat, at the expense of my poor gastritis-prone stomach. I would love to be able to read the mind of the woman who took my order. 

After a few minutes to gather some courage, I downed a good 1/4 cup of vinegar laced with salt. Then I spent the following hour cursing and clutching my belly. Sadly, it appears that vinegar in India isn't as powerful as the cheap white vinegar from home I...

March 9, 2019

My timing is, as usual, impeccable. When I booked this trip to India all was quiet on the eastern front. Just a few days before departure, tensions escalated between India and Pakistan and, as a result, Pakistan closed its airspace. The day before leaving, I received a cryptic message from United, citing "airspace issues" that would likely result in delays and cancelations. To be safer than sorry I changed my flights to the following day. 

Minutes after the rebooking, another message from United. This time, it was an approaching storm that promised to delay domestic flights and perhaps cause me to miss the evening flight from Newark to Delhi. My only option? An early domestic flight with a side of 12-hour layover. I've been to Newark airport many times in my life, and could have done without this one, but off I went. 

There are al...

March 9, 2019


It’s a few years since my last visit to India (when I suspect my souvenir was the great tuberculosis catastrophe of 2014). It has been a lot longer since my very first visit, which very nearly ended with a medevac for severe food poisoning. So it should be no surprise that I treat India trips with the same caution one would use to negotiate with a wild tiger.

The journey itself was uneventful, if typically tiring. Landing late in the evening can be wonderful since going to sleep right away helps to adjust to the most bizarre time difference in the world (currently 9.5 hours from home). Unfortunately I was already tired by the time the 15-hour flight left Newark and slept a full eight hours on the plane, almost a personal record. I am now fully awake in the middle of the night. With a punishing work schedule ahead it’s...

February 13, 2019

I’ve become a big fan of Virgin Australia. I love their “bid for upgrade” feature (have not failed to clear once!) and their premium service is really good.

That being said, the lounge has two annoying features: first, for crying out loud, turn on the air conditioner! It’s a good five degrees warmer inside than out on the street, and the humidity gives the sensation of walking into a sauna fully dressed and carrying luggage. 

Second, I recognize the advantages of having flight announcements but it’s getting ridiculous. There is a (loud) announcement every 30 seconds and since there is no “booth” for calls, conducting a conversation on the phone becomes downright impossible. Screens, please!

February 10, 2019

I've been in Brisbane for 10 days now. This is only my second visit, but they were both extended visits and the city isn't very big, so I've become pretty familiar with my surroundings. Last time I was here in June and the weather was warmer than expected, but still mild-ish. There isn't much of that going on in February. It's hot and humid, and only the strong wind makes it somewhat tolerable. 

This time I've tried to keep US hours, working during the night and sleeping during the day (when the high temperatures discourage me from walking around anyway). Unfortunately, what seemed like such a great idea back home has turned out not so great after all. I'm tired at night, wide awake during the day, with occasional wide-awake nights and sleepy days. I just never know from one day to the next what it will be. And the confusion has...

January 25, 2019

Ok, I totally suck at keeping this blog updated. 

Since my last post, I traveled to UK, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Australia, and Hong Kong. Didn't write a word about any of these places, but did take some photos.

June 16, 2018

9 days

6 countries

4 airlines

1 business trip

April 23, 2018

Today is the last day of this wonderful Nile cruise. The St. George is still docked in Luxor while our little group (minus our Canadian friends who departed early this morning) headed to Karnak. The temple has lost a tiny bit of its magic in the sunlight, but it is still the most impressive site of my entire Egyptian journey. Daddy presented us with beautiful little blue scarabs yesterday, and in exchange we gave him a signed photo of the group taken at Luxor Temple.

Although I missed part of the background story on this fascinating carving at Luxor Temple, I can report that it is in fact a fertility myth; that the depiction indeed includes a god's erect penis (which Daddy called "wallet"; and that, inexplicably, ancient Egyptians knew exactly what sperm looks like, even though there was no such thing as a microscope back then. R...

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ABOUT ME

"Not all those who wander are lost"

J.R.R. Tolkien

WHERE AM I ?
LESSON LEARNED

Connection times vary wildly between airports. After a near-miss at Heathrow (LHR) involving a mad dash across two terminals and additional security screening, I learned to budget at least 90 minutes for connections at that airport. I also study terminal maps and research average connection times at airports I will be flying into. This information is sometimes available on the airport website, other times it is posted in travel Forums or message boards. I am especially careful when different airlines are involved, because that often means different terminals.

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