A Travellerspoint blog

Ethiopia

First blog of many... I hope!

To date I have written over 90 letters and zero blogs. I could come up with a thousand reasons for my blog neglect… my site is blocked 90% of the time by the Ethiopian (word deleted), dial up internet connections are painfully slow at best, electricity is unreliable…but those are all just excuses. If I was to be honest with myself I’d have to admit the reason I haven’t written a blog here is because I don’t know how! I don’t know where to begin, what to say and more importantly what not to say. When I write letters to friends or family I usually picture the person/s I’m writing to then just let myself go; saying everything and anything on my mind. This had led to many funny letters but also very angry ones and depressing ones as well. Writing those emotions on paper is one thing, sending them out into the world wide web to be analyzed and scrutinized by all is quite another. So, I tried to draft a blog that excluded my babbling and emotional outbreaks and you know what…It was boring! Beyond boring! It was just events, people, places…an elaborate text book time line of my life in Ethiopia. So for a while I gave up on the idea. I’d live a blogless life and just stick to snail mail.
Obviously I changed my mind (hence the blog you are currently reading). I didn’t change my mind because of an extraordinary event or because I finally found something to say but because I realized all those letters I had been sending to close friends and family had been entertainment not only for them but for friends of friends, co-workers, family of friends, friends of family of friends! Instead of being embarrassed by the fact that my personal interpretations of life in Ethiopia had been read by strangers I was amazed; amazed that people who didn’t even know me could find entertainment and an understanding of my life. So, I figured what the hell. I’ll blog my silly little stories for all to see; judge if you want, I don’t really care. After 6 months in country I’ve got thicker skin than an African elephant!

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Posted by Gail B 03:35 Archived in Ethiopia Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Goodbye Good Friends and Good Food

Hello Ethiopia, my land of opprotunity!

Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Posted by Gail B 08:33 Archived in Ethiopia Comments (0)

Europe 2008

Ireland, France and Italy

24 °C

Okay I admit it, I couldn't stay away and an $800 round trip ticket to Ireland was just too good to turn down. So after Rancho HS last major swim meet and before the Napa District school kids were even out for the summer I took off with my little sister Anna to Europe once again. The trip was fast, intense and as always left me wanting more. I was so happy to once again see my Aussie friends that I miss so much while I'm in the States and create more memories to last a lifetime.

DUBLIN, IRELAND
Me, Anna, Adele and Ashleigh

I ended my last tour with the wild and crazy Adele and this year we decided to start it off with a bang and meet up in Dublin, Ireland. I was stoked that she made it over to Ireland and it was so great to see her (as always). So after meeting up on the streets of Dublin we started things off in true tradition...and got smashed! If there is anything to do in Dublin it is to bar hop and if there is anyone who knows how to do that right it is my girl Adele.
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During the days we toured the Guiness brewery (not a very good idea to do after a big drinking night!) and explored the city of Dublin. I think we were pretty much in agreement though that the life of the city happened after the sun went down and the drinks were poured. So why fight the system! Although after another night of bar hopping, a day of sleeping in a park and a few hours sleep in an airport and we were more than ready for some sun and rest down south. We said our sad goodbye to Adele and Asheley and headed down to Southern Europe.

SOUTHERN FRANCE
Me and Anna

Next stop Spain!....NOT! As usual traveling on a budget does not always go as planned so in my attempt to save $10 by printing our RyanAir tickets online I enevitably cost us a last minute ticket to the south of France instead (if you know the story you realize RyanAir sucks and if you don't know the story let me just save you the time...punch line is RyanAir sucks). Live and Learn. However, there is a silver lining to every storm crowd and ours was waiting in Marseille and Nice. These cities, although slightly touristy, were fun to explore and bum around in for a few days.
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This is a view of Marsielle from the top! The hundereds of stairs needed to get to this church lookout was well worth the breath taking view.

After moving up to Northern California in February I was itching to get near a beautiful beach again and just soak up the sun. I didn't get the memo though that beaches in Nice consist mainly of small rocks (not ideal for sun bathing) and that the water is still very cold in June. No matter, I'll swim and sun with the best of them.
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TOUR DE ITALY
Me, Anna and Joe

Anna and I kept cruising down the coast towards Rome stopping at a few little and big towns along the way. I think we were both in total agreement that a little Italian town beats the pants of big cities! Our stop in big city Genova was due to convient location (which turned out to be not so convient) and the anticipation of the largest (aka awesomest!) aquarium in Europe...it was not so impressive. However, our little town of Marina di Massa saved the day with the best hostel, a two story villa on the beach, even though we had a bit of a cat fight on the 3 km walk to the hostel. Oh sisters!
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On our trip down the coast we reserved a few minutes to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa...literally we left a few minutes. We attempted to run from the Pisa train station to the tower and back (probably 3 km round trip) in 30min, we made it just in time to see our train take off for Rome.
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Rome was incredible. It seemed that everywhere you stepped there was a piece of history to meet you there. Okay, given most of it is reserved for tourism and is crowded, littered and postcard played out; but you just can't beat the shear size and amount of history that is packed into one city. Anna and I met up with Joe in Rome and walked the city inside and out, said 'what up' to the Pope, and even had time for beer pong, Italian style!

After Rome it was time to say goodbye to my baby sis and on to Venice, Italy for me and Joe. Venice was so much more than I ever could have imagined!
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The Plaza de San Marcos

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I wish I could have stayed longer in Venice, just crusing the waterways, having a cafe in a local bistro, or simply sitting and people watching in a plaza. But after three days it was time to say goodbye; Joe and I were off to Paris for the biggest Aussie reunion to date!

Paris, France
Morten, Lilou, Joe, Pierrick, Elise, Heidi, Bianca and Me

Truth be told, I did feel a little guilty on my flight to Paris. I mean there I was 22 years old and on my way to Paris for a week for the second time in one year! No one should be that lucky but the fact is that it was a great central meeting spot for me and Morten (who had never been to Paris) and the added bonus of getting to see Lilou, Pierrick, Heidi, Bianca and meeting Elise was too good to pass up.
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Also, visiting a city with old friends is 100x better than visiting any other city alone. I enjoyed walking the streets of Paris again this time with great friends to laugh with and give me a new take on now familiar sights.
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We visited all the traditional Paris sights, the Louve, the Moulin Rouge, Pere Lachaise cemetary, and even had time to go up the Eiffle tower (although as Joe reminded us time and time again...not to the very top!)
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I had the most amazing week getting to spend some much needed time with Morten (be it eating a late breakfast of cheese and bread in a local park, bumming around the streets of Paris, or simply ignoring it all and just enjoying each others company) as well as seeing Aussie friends that I love so much. I truely wish that I lived closer to these amazing people. My time with them always seems too short and too far between.

Galway, Ireland
Me

For my last stop I headed back to Ireland and took a bus from Dublin to check out the other side of the country (a whole three hour bus ride away) and a city called Galway. It was great to ride on the bus and see a bit of the country side, felt much more like the Ireland I had expected than Dublin's busy streets. Galway was a beautiful little city with a lot of great local spots.
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I had a great time watching the Euro cup in local pubs, checking out the live music scenes, and inevitalby ending up smashed on a bus back to Dublin at 4am...just making it in time to catch my flight back to the States! Thus, another European adventure ends...Next time I'll check out Eastern Europe!

Posted by Gail B 18:52 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Europe 2007

England, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway

20 °C

For the summer of 2007 I decided to bum around Eruope visiting some of my favorite friends from my studies in Australia. I visited Lilou in her flat in Paris, Kathrin's hometown as well as Uni town, Marie and Anders showed me that there is much more to Denmark that can be expected, Heidi took me exploring in Finland, Morten introduced me to the fjords in Norway and Adele kept me up all night in Newcastle! Seeing Europes sights played a close second to seeing the friends I had missed so much. But pictures speak louder than words....(wish I hadn't lost most of them in England).

Paris, France
Lilou, Perrick, Miguel, Ashley, Olli and Warrick

I began my trip in Paris, staying with Lilou and even getting a chance to see Perrick, Ashley, Miguel, Olli and Warrick...quite the Aussie reunion. The first night I landed Lilou took me, Olli and Warrick out on a beautiful dinner boat that ran down the Seine river.
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Seeing the sunset from the river along with all of the sights, so romantic!

I spent most of my days touring the city of Paris by foot on my own while Lilou was hard a work. I walked from East to West, North to South and everywhere in between. The more I walked around the more I realized how little about Paris I really knew (especially when I realized I had been taking pictures of the back of the Louvre instead of the front plaza). I loved exploring this wonderful city as well as spending about 2 hours collecting my lunch...wine from the wine shop, bread from the bakery, cheese from the cheese shop.
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The week got even better when for Lilou's birthday Miguel, Ashley, and Perrick arrived. We spent the nights drinking and laughing, and the days walking around the city.
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Getting to spend time with these guys was priceless!

GERMANY
Me and Kathrin

After leaving Paris I took the new high speed Euro train and was in Stuttgart so fast I barley had time to catch a quick nap. There Kathrin picked me up and brought me to her home town of Esslingen. Our first stop was a handball game which I had been dying to see ever since her and Marie told me about it in Australia. The game was played down town and I loved the houses that surrounded the match...I really felt like I was in Germany now!
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Kathrin not only showed me around her home town of Esslingen but also drove me down to her Uni town to Tubingen. We went paddle boating down the river, toured the old houses and castle, and of corse had time for...
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I left Kathrin and headed to Berlin for what I imagined would be the greatest historic city touring of my travels...I was wrong. I had greatly underestimated the amount of damage that had been done to Berlin which resulted in the need to rebuild most of the historic city. So I climbed through construction sites and tried to drown out the sounds of cranes in search for the real Berlin. Unfortunately it was a very hot day so I did my touring in my swim top!
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The capital building was very impressive!
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And I definitly enjoyed see the Berlin wall
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But most I enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a beer!

AARHUS, DENMARK
Marie, Anders, Erik, Markus and Elin

Next stop was Aarhus, Denmark to stay with Marie and Anders. They showed me such a great time I may even consider moving to Denmark...well only in the summer :) We spent a day on the beach, BBQ and swimming in ice cold water.

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Then it was time for the Aussie reunion Dannish style! Markus, Elin and Erik fly/rode in for a great few days of riding bikes around town, laughing all night, great meals, and dancing...dancing...dancing!

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We visited the Queens summer house to play in her garden. Rode to the beach for a funny game with stick and lots of bending over (but only if your winning) and some footie. Played silly string games and made the most impressive drinks you have ever seen and drank till the sun came up! It was so hard to leave but there is just too many friends to see...nice problem to have.

TURKU, FINLAND
Me and Heidi

After stopping off for one day in Stockholm, Sweeden (one of my very favorite cities in Northern Europe) it was off to Turku, Finland by boat to see my sweet Heidi! I couldn't be more excited to arrive in Turku and Heidi got right to work showing me her Uni town and then whisking me away to her beautiful cabin outside the city. We rowed a boat out to check out the beautiful lake, sat in the sauna then ran into the freezing water, and just enjoyed the absolute beauty of Finland.

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Finland adventures didn't end in the woods though. We made it back to Heidi's Uni town to do a bit of physical work on the rock climbing wall! It was so much fun! And then Heidi was nice enough to take the ferry boat back with me to Sweeden so we enjoyed an extravagant seafood buffet and a beautiful boat ride with late night sunsets and cheap booze! (well cheap for Finland :))

Oslo, Norway
Me and Morten

"Reunited and it feels so good" hahaha A quick train ride from Sweeden and I arrived in Oslo, Norway. Me and Morten spent a few days hanging around Oslo, seeing the city and enjoy the bit of sunshine we got!
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Looking out over the port in Oslo

Then we took a ride North/East to see the famous Fjords which were amazing, impressive and breathtaking. Unfortunatley, I only have my memories and one photograph on the way up to the fjords to remember it by.
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Snow in summer...hmmm

Norway was wonderful and of corse it was great to spend some real time with Morten again but my trip was not done and there is only one person that I could imagine cheering me up after I had to leave Norway and that person is the crazy Adele!

Newcastel and London, England
Me and Adele

After a long month of bumming around Europe and one very long night of sleeping in the streets of Bergen, Norway arriving at Adele's house to a traditional English Sunday dinner was priceless. Adele's family couldn't have been better to me while I stayed and their house in Boldon Colliery.
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And in true Gail and Adele fashion we went out like rockstars and in the process lost my camera, wallet, everything but my passport (I guess I'm not completly unlucky). But hey the journey was fun! Adele also took me out to see the castles of England and see the countryside, the beaches and the city. It was amazing to see her and there is never enough time when it comes to my girl Adele!

My last stop was jolly ol' London. I had about 36 hours to see the city so I set out on foot to do a crazy walking tour of the downtown sights. I basically had run out of money at this point as well so taking the underground to help out was not even an option. No matter, if you have ever traveled with me you know I love to walk around a city!
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The next mornig I flew out of London and back to the US, never imagining that in 8 months I'd be heading right back!

Posted by Gail B 19:44 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Life Down Unda'

Living in Australia July 2006 to December 2006

20 °C


In my Senior year of college I left sunny San Diego and headed down unda' for what proved to be one of my life's greatest adventures (thus far). I lived/studied in Adelaide, South Australia and traveled the outback, the east coast and many of AU's amazing cities. I met some of the most incredible people who have turned into unforgetable friends. There are too many stories to fit in any blog but here are some of my favorite traveling memories:

THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Me, Joey, Andrew, Megan, Adele, Heidi, Gavin, Morten, Perrick, Olli, Dennis, Lilou, Joe, Erik, Henrik, and Markus

My 'spring break' trip with friends from all over the world. We traveled from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. An amazing trip, with amazing sights and tons of memories.

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Such as finally seeing Australia's 'big' things...the Big Lobster! Awesome! This was one of the first stops on our way to the coast. Just that day we had already seen a pink lake, walk 1 km to see the 'must see' well (not a must see) and probably had finished a bag of goon. It was a good start to the trip.

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Caving in Naracoorte. Who knew squezzing yourself through tiny rocks could be so much fun! We got all suited up and decended into the dark to crawl through rocks named "the key hole" and "the needle eye". It was so much fun that me and a few friends even ended up driving back to Naracoorte for the advanced caving trip; so tough and so worth it.

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This picture is the best representation of everyone on the trip (MIA= Adele and Megan). It was taken right before we hit the major Great Ocean Road sights and right after Joey and I had just gone swimming in the coldest little lagoon ever.

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London Bridge...it fell down :) n172006143.._907_1_.jpg

THE OUTBACK
Me, Lilou, Heidi, Perrick, Joe, Miguel, Ashley

Traveling from Alice Springs to Adelaide for 8 days proved to be a once in a lifetime experience! The incrediblely vast outback paired with one of a kind "tourist" attractions made for a road trip like no other.
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Sunset at Uluru was amazing, especially with my lovely lady Lilou to share a kiss with. Our group stood out a little with our bottles of beer and goon while the rest of the tour groups had appetizers and champagne. Luckly we had Miguel to run around and collect the goods!We sat there and watched the colors of Uluru change as the sunset and took probably 1,000 pictures.

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In order to watch the sunrise over the Olgas and Uluru we woke up for our first early 4am morning. It was totally worth it! I'm not sure if every early morning gave me the same "Yeah!" feeling but I wouldn't take any of them back! Well, maybe the one I woke up covered in dirt due to being punked the night before...ugh!

On the road we saw a lot of well nothing...empty, dry, nothing...untill we came upon this natural water hole. You could actually feel the water coming up from the ground. This defintly took care of my shower for the day.
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We spent about an hour pushing eachother down into the spring so that you could shoot back up through the mud. Okay it is a bit hard to explain, I guess you just have to make it out to the middle of Australia and experience it yourself :)

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On the road I got the lovely nickname of 'Dirty Gail' but I stand by my arguement that I was not the only one covered in mud...

EAST COAST ROAD TRIP
Me, Lilou and Heidi

We started our grand road trip in the North in Cairns and of corse scuba diving in the great barrier reef was on the top of our list.n218800212..3589_1_.jpg
We spent the day chasing Nemo, poking at giant clams and crusing with the fishes in the bright blue sea. The boat ride out was great, especially since the rain storm that had passed through Cairns just hours before we left. So the sea was calm, the sun was out and we were ready to begin our East Coast adveture

We continued our trip down the coast stopping in some great little cities (our favorite being Mission Beach) and moved onto sailing for three days around the Withsunday Islands.Amazing beaches and incredible sunsets, with nothing to do but snorkel and drink goon!
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The most beautiful beach in the world (actually voted on) is located on the Withsundays Islands and has the whitest softest sand you have ever felt (used in the hubble telescope). But since we were there during "stinger season" (jelly fish) we had to wear our stinger suits (basically just wet suits) to swim and just get to the beach from the sailboat. Hahaha we looked so silly in such a paradise!

Next major stop was Fraser Island for a 4x4 beach driving, camping with strangers (soon to be friends), late night campfires, cooking dinner in the dark (would you like charcoal with your potatoe?) and amazing beaches.
Team 2 (the best team on the island) Frenchies, Danish, Finnish, Germans, US oh my! n218800212..8498_1_.jpg
It was a nice suprise to have such a great time considering our pre-departure meeting made it sound like certain death was the only way of getting off Fraser Island! You either flip your 4x4, get eaten by a shark, get stung by a jelly fish, or get attacked by a dingo...who wouldn't want to go on a 3 day trip there with no guide and people you just met 30 min prior!
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The city of Brisbane was are only major city on the raod from Cairns to Sydney. After so much time in small towns and camping I think we were a little out of our league.

Team 2 staying strong! n218800212.._203_1_.jpg

BLUE MOUNTAINS
Me, Lilou, Heidi, Morten, Perrick, Joe, Miguel, Cameron, Marie, and Alina

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I had the great pleasure to not only see the Blue Mountiains once but twice while I was in Australia. The first time I went was when I was visiting Sydney on my own and the local pub (that I had quickly made my home base) told me it was a must see (best advice I have ever gotten from a pub). So a quick train ride east and I was out of the big city and into the woods.

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My trip in July was cold and a little crazy (I got lost for a good 4 hours...not fun) but in December I headed back with friends for a warmer, calmer trip through the beautiful blue mountains.
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We got a bit off the trail to stand on the edge of the world. n218800212..2164_1_.jpg

But nothing was as fun as boys vs girls pictionary games at our cabin in the evening.
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This cabin was probably the greatest find! Super cheap, with our own living room, kitchen, and best of all big beds!!! After a long road trip down the east coast it was a little piece of heaven!

CHRISTMAS IN SYDNEY
Me, Lilou, Heidi, Morten, Pierrick, Joe, Miguel, Cameron, and Alina

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Sydney, Australia

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Christmas in Sydney was amazing and I couldn't think of a better group to spend the Holiday with! Sight seeing, afternoon 'naps' and the funniest game of white elephant I have ever played!

My favorite holiday memory!4n508136577..7897_1_.jpg
Sorry Morten... Evidence!

Posted by Gail B 02:00 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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