Monday, August 31, 2009

Review of travels

Okay, so I was clearly quite terrible at updating my blog as I was traveling, but here are some bullets on the rest of the places I visited:
  • India (Pics: went to Ahmedabad for my friend Pranav's wedding (one of my former Atlanta co-workers). The wedding was AMAZING. Pranav had taken care of all of our arrangements, so our cars hotels and food were organized all weekend. And food and venues were absolutely incredible. Pranav's bride, Smita had an amazing home, which played host to the events two nights before the wedding and the night of the wedding. Two nights before, there was an awesome Indian pop group performance. It was a professional set and the group played some great music. There were 15 food stations (all Jain vegetarian food). The night before the wedding we had a sangeet on Pranav's farm, complete with magicians, traditional dancers, puppet shows, animals, and family dance performances. That was my birthday night, and it was a super fun night cuz there was a DJ and all of the young people danced the night away. PK had some great friends show up for the wedding and we all hung out and had a fabulous weekend together!
  • In the beg of March, I went to Yemen with Sabeen and Ali. We were visiting our friend Asif there and one of Sabeen's college friends who worked for the State Dept. Yemen was a city I would never go to unless I had someone to visit and I was going with people who knew Arabic. No one speaks English. And there aren't a lot of tourists or sights that you must see. It's a neat place to walk around in, VERY old and undeveloped, unlike any city you will probably ever see. There was a brand new mosque that was beautiful and apparently cost $60M to build, which is pretty crazy given the per capita income of Yemen. The city is wonderfully cheap. And I thought Yemen's food was some of the best in the Middle East. It had great spice and flavor and some uniqueness. I loved the kababs, fresh salsa, fresh pita bread, tea, and a stew. Bottom line on Yemen is that it's cool to visit if you want to be a bit adventurous and get off the beaten path, but I think there are a lot more "must-see" places in the Middle East... Pics here:
  • At the end of March, I went to Vienna to see my sister, who was studying abroad there. I had not been to Vienna, so it was a nice trip. We went to Prague for a night-- another city I'd heard a lot about but never been to. Europe really is a beautiful place and these cities were no exception. Gorgeous buildings and lots of fun walking around, sitting in cafes, and checking out the history. I really liked the Rathaus building and my tour of the Parliament in Vienna. The castle in Prague was also beautiful. I found out I got into Wharton on this trip, so that was some nice news. I also got to see Benedikt, as he'd come in from Munich to hang out for the weekend, so we also had fun together. And of course, it was wonderful seeing the sister. Pics here:
  • In mid-April, I went to the U.S. to check out Wharton. This was my only trip to the U.S. while I was abroad in Dubai. Philly was great. Won't spend much time on that...
  • At the end of May, I went to Beirut with Min and Nathan. Beirut is known as the party city of the Middle East, but I thought it was a lot cooler than that. It had tons of history from the Greek and Roman times that we visited in Baalbec and Byblos. Baalbec is the current center for Hamas, so that was cool to see too. And I thought the most beautiful sight was the Gaeta caves, which are trying to be one of the wonders of the world. The caves were spectacular. And you could walk up really close to all of the neat formations. In the U.S., a place like that would have been glassed up. The bar and party scene was also fun, so our Beirut trip was a huge success! Oh, and the shish tawook was delicious, too! Pics here:
  • My final trip was Istanbul in July with Sabeen. I think this was actually my favorite city of the ones I went to because I love cities that are set in water, and Istanbul is so well integrated with the Bosphorus River. You can take ferries everywhere. And the city is so lively! I had no idea, but there are 70M in Turkey and 13M in Istanbul! There was an area called Taksim that seemed to have about 1,500 shops, restaurants, and bars, and there were people walking around everywhere! I loved it! People were all eating and drinking outside, which was such a welcome relief from the summer weather in Dubai. The Blue Mosque and Hagi Sophia and Topkapi Palace were gorgeous, as expected. We also took a day trip to the Princes Islands and rented bikes, which was super beautiful and fun. And I went to a Turkish bath (hamam) for the very first time, which was quite the experience. Overall, this was a great final Middle East adventure. Pics here:
Anyway, I'm guessing no one actually follows this blog anymore, so I'm updating more for my own memory. If there is anyone still out there, enjoy :)

No comments: