Book Review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Ms. Gilber has really outdone herself with one of the best books I’ve read this year, feminist yet realistic, with a flare that few have, the story is one that will capture your heart up until the end. A book that needs to be read with an open mind and that will transport you back to a different New York. If there would be a book that I strongly recommend you to read this year, this is the City of Girls. Warning, the review might contain spoilers.

The narrator is Vivian, an old lady now that is telling her life story in a letter to a girl that asks what was the relationship that she had with her late dad. Unable to define it herself, Vivian gives the details of her life, for the conclusion to be taken by the readers. The story of the 19 years old girl, who is a college dropout, and sent by her parents to live in the New York of 1940 with her aunt Peg.

A virgin with no sexual experience, Vivian enters the world of the Lily Playhouse theater filled with burlesque dancers and showgirls, glamour, drama and low-cost tickets, the place is going to be her home in the next months. Since her talent included sewing, she volunteers to make the costumes for the actors in the plays.  She will stay in one of the apartments from the upper floors, one that belonged to Peg’s husband Billy, who she didn’t divorce although they were long separated and he lived in LA.

Celia, one of the showgirls, will be the one to guide Vivian through the process of sexual initiation, from staging, along with other dancers, where and with whom she will lose her virginity to nights of partying and meeting random men. Vivians life transforms, she becomes a dressmaker by day and party girl by night. It all changes when WWII starts in London and one of the best theater actresses joins the crew, also Billy the ex-husband makes an appearance in NY and they all decide to put in place a new show, City of Girls, that will take Lily in a new direction and the lives of everyone involved.

The moment when Vivian’s life will take a turn for the worst is when she is heartbroken and mislead into having an affair with Celia and the City of Girls’ main character’s husband. A mistake that will cause her to be expelled from the theater and sent back to her parent’s house.

The book has from the beginning a way of presenting the feminine sexual liberation as seen by the 20 years old girl and perhaps shows the way feminism was seen before and after the war. Even after falling in disgrace, she is still not taking full responsibility for her actions and doesn’t understand the harm she has caused up until the end when she is faced with the outcome.

I will not spoil the ending of the book, but I do want to say that it is not what you’ve expected. It will bring into light a different life path than you normally would have seen for that period and let’s face it, who doesn’t like to be taken back in time to a way different than now New York City. Perhaps I love this book even more, because of this place, but I do want to recommend you read it. I do hope they will make a movie out of it as well, so fingers crossed.

Traveling: Unlocking Hurghada, Egypt – Day Trips

If you haven’t yet read the article on Tips and Tricks regarding my trip to Egypt you can find if here. As a big part of seeing this country is going on trips to famous places, you will have to plan your days wisely. We only had 6 full days and the half-day when we got there, and 6 trips that we wanted to make. It was extremely exhausting but definitely worth it, here is how it all went down.

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As I mentioned in my previous article, we decided to go with a local agency, they sent us the prices and we paid for them as we went. I will add the price for each of the trips below, along with details on what to expect.

1. Sindbad submarine 55 $ per person, was also the single trip we booked with the hotel agency since it was not in the list of the other agency and it was the only place where they asked for more in dollars than euros, but again I do not recommend you buy it from them, seek local agencies or even contact Sindbad themselves.

You will be picked up from your hotel and taken to a meeting point. There you will get on a boat, sail for 30-40 minutes until the place you will be taking the submarine. A number will be given to you, with the place you will get to sit, this way there is no chance of people being all over you. If the places are respected, clearly not, many will switch and kids will be all over the place. Also, the submarine has two sides (duh!) so don’t panic if you don’t see the pretty area from the beginning, it will turn and you will also get to see it too.

A diver will be out of the submarine and will feed the colorful fishes, also there is a complete set of statues that you will get to see on the bottom of the sea. Unfortunately, due to the intervention made in the ecosystem the coral and the reef are mostly dead, possible because the fishes are now fed and no longer clean the reef.

As an experience, it’s great, going under the water and being in a submarine wasn’t something that I ever thought I would be able to do. So if you have a couple of hours to spear I think you can book your spot.

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2. Cairo by bus – 54 euros per person 

The most anticipated trip from my entire life was getting to see the Great Pyramid of Giza, I imagined myself standing next to it and looking at one of the greatest creation made by menkind. It’s safe to say that between what I imagined and the reality was a bit of a difference.

We left at 1am from the hotel and the bus drive was a long one (around 7hours). We took breakfast from the hotel and the ones organizing the trip also gave us some snacks and water for the road. Our first stop was the Egyptian Museum from Cairo where we got to see only a part of the artifacts that were present, probably the most important ones are Tutankhamun’s mask and treasure. My biggest regret from the museum was the fact that we didn’t get to see the mummies, because our guide told us they were not worth it and the ticket was an extra 10$. Since we ran out of time, I wasn’t able to purchase the ticket and left with the disappointment of missing it. Also in the museum, I observed the guides lack of respect for the monuments, since she kept on touching them with her hands and hitting them with a plastic bottle. I told her that it really bothered me and she stopped doing it, but I observed the exact same behavior on the rest of the guides. In the next couple of years, I don’t think there will be much left of the artifacts if they don’t change their behavior.

After the museum, we went to the pyramids and we were offered some choices with how we want to see them: first was spending 1.5 hours around the Big Pyramid and then walk to the Sphinx, the second was going by camel to see the panoramic view of the pyramids, going by bus to the pyramid and stay there for 30 minutes and by bus to the Sphinx and stay only 15 minutes, last option was to stay near the Big Pyramid and walk around it and even purchasing the ticket to go inside it, then by bus to the Sphinx.

We all went for the second option, the camel ride cost us an additional 10$ and the tip for the camel owner. Our guide recommends the tip to be 1$, but expect a show since they will try to force you to give them more, also the ride has one stop where they will take pictures with you and the panoramic view of the pyramids. All in all, the trip was fast, the animals abused and the tip part horrible, since they will be aggressive in trying to get more money from you. The view is indeed beautiful, but you have less than a few minutes to see it since they will rush you back. After the ride, the guide negotiated a few souvenirs, big scarf 2$, small one 1$ and 10 statutes at the price of 10$. Personally, I only got the big scarfs.

In the 30 minutes that we got to stay around the Big Pyramid, we were constantly annoyed by street vendors that didn’t really want to sell, but try to trick you or steal from you. We were advised by our guide to staying away from them since they are skilled in tricking tourists. We did manage to go into the small pyramid (this one is included, for entering the big one you have to pay extra) and we were disappointed by the fact that there is nothing left in them. My imagination of staying in front of such a masterpiece and really enjoying the view was ruined by some many people constantly trying to sell things to and the fact that there were others riding skinny hoses and beating them, along with the fact that many carved their names in the blocks and climbing on them even if that is not permitted.

We then went to the Sphinx were due to the fact that we requested extra time, we also managed to see it closer and not only from near the bus. Over here the story is the same, so many street vendors and people saying that they just want to take a picture for you, but as soon as you hand them your phone they start asking for money and might even refuse giving it back unless you pay them. All the beauty that this place is shadowed by the fact that you cannot let your guard down.

In the end, we were taken to a factory shop, where they presented how they make oils and perfumes and try to sell you some, the price starts at 25$. I didn’t buy any, but as I understood from others those are only a tourist trap. Also, this is the place we stayed the most from the entire trip, the mummies weren’t important to them, but the perfume shop was (!!!??!??!?!!!). Again, here in the streets of Giza, I saw the most disgusting and filthy place, garbage all over the place, people fighting in the streets, kids screaming, people on horses beating the animals that were so skinny it hurt looking at. I was so disappointed by the lack of respect they show to everything around them. Unfortunately, the Egyptians that created the pyramids are long dead and gone, they were conquered first by the Greeks and later after the 600BC by the Arabian people.

The Nill cruise is not impressive at all and I consider it not worth it, even if it’s just 10$.

As for Cairo, I have never seen such chaos and filth, the plastic is everywhere, it is smelly and disorganized. The cars look awful, the insurance is not mandatory and there is no such thing as driving lessons, they just have to take the exam. On the roads, if there are 4 lanes, but 6 or even 7 rows of cars can be fitted this is how it will be. Along, with cars, you will see people crossing the streets, carets, people riding horses or donkeys, people caring childer and so on. I understand that they are poor, but I cannot understand the way they treat their history, animals and even kids. To me, this is a place I WILL NEVER EVER step foot in again.

Lunch is also included in the trip, but I have to admit the food didn’t look very appealing and since we already had an upset stomack we avoided it. We were back at the hotel at 11pm at night. This trip is the longest and unfortunately also the biggest disappointment.

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3. Scuba diving in the reef – 28$

They picked us from the hotel and took us to the boat, where we sign some papers that we are in good health and we can perform scuba diving ( I suggest you ask your doctor in case you have any lung or back problems). One of the divers from the boat gave us a short demo on how this will do and how we should breathe and remove water from our glasses in case it enters.

We took turns on doing the dive and while we waited we were able to swim and do some snorkeling. I recommend you bring your own snorkeling equipment, the one that we got from the boat was pretty damaged. But the reef is still pretty nice and colorful, yet when diving the instructor insisted I touch the reef even if I refused it multiple times, also signs of the corals dying can be seen.

Probably the best part while here, it was a dolphin that decided to join and play with the divers. We got to see it up close and swim with it. The only remark here will be NOT to try to touch it, every time someone did it ran away (DUH).

Another thing to consider is not to throw anything in the toilet, not even the paper since it will go right in the water and you will dive among everything that goes out. Yes, it is possible to encounter some poop since all the boats are parked near and the diving is made right there.

We were offered food on the boat and a glass of cola. The trip took almost all day.

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4. Orange Bay island – 35$ per person

Once again we were picked from the hotel and taken to a boat where we sailed for Orange bay island. The water is beautiful but very shallow so you cannot actually swim, if you want to take pictures at the swings you will get to spend around 30 minutes to an hour in the line. On the beach, you can get a henna tattoo for 10$ and there are drinks available (not included) at the bar. Honestly, I think this place is only for taking pictures.

After the island, there are 2 stops for snorkeling (again, don’t forget your equipment). In the first, we followed the instructor and got to see the amazing reef, in the second we decided to go on our own and enjoy the view without having to worry about the others and have our own pace. Again, while here make sure you DON’T touch the reef, by mistake an idiot ruined a big chunk of the coral when he stood up in the water.

Same as for the scuba trip, they gave us food and cola, and we got back to the hotel after 6pm.

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5. Luxor and Valley of the Kings – 54$ per person

The trip is scheduled from 5am up until 9pm and was also by bus. Since the trip begins right at sunrise, it’s very beautiful to see this while driving between the rocky mountains from the Sahara desert. Keep in mind that in this area the temperatures are very high, reaching up to 50degress Celcius in the summer. We got around 40, yet the fact that the wind is not present, made it feel way worst. Also, while preparing for this trip don’t use any sweet or powerful perfume, since this can cause others to feel nauseous.

The first stop was the Amon Ra Temple, where we got to walk and hear the story of how it was created and what type of ceremonies were kept here.  It is amazing to see that even after 4000 years the colors are still visible. Apart from going with the guide and hearing the stories we also got around 40 minutes of walking and taking pictures.

The second stop was the Valley of the Kings, where we visited 3 tombs of 3 pharaohs named Ramses. This part is extremely beautiful, the paintings, colors, and beauty are beyond words. I will insert some photos but trust me those don’t do them justice.

The third stop is at Hatshepsut Temple, still beautiful to watch, yet not as impressive as the others. The fact that the heat was getting worse and we were tired from the last stops made us not enjoy the walk as much. Another rather short stop is made at Memnon Colossus, this time we only got to take some photos and got back into the bus to go to lunch.

There was an additional stop at a statues shop, where they showed us how they create the Alabaster stone, the prices were really big therefore we avoided buying anything.

Same as in Cairo, the food wasn’t very good looking so we only eat some rice and dessert. but we were cautions, most of the people did enjoy the food.

Before we left we were taken on a trip to Banana Island on the Nile, the cruise itself is not impressive and neither is the island, we got to see the banana and mango trees, some caged crocodiles and monkeys that were kept in small places and fed for the tourist entertainment. The good part is that in the end, we got to eat some fresh fruit. The cost of the trip is optional and is 10$.

From all the trips made in Egypt, Luxor is probably the best for anyone interested in this place’s history. I loved the fact that we didn’t have much interaction with the street vendors and that they were not allowed in the temples.

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6. Sahara Safari – 25$ per person

The last trip for our holiday included going on a Jeep in the desert, riding an ATV, a camel (again) and a beach buggy. Also, we got to see how the traditional pita bread was made by the Beduin people and how they used to create their rugs. For me, this was not really worth it, since we would have liked to have some extra time at the hotel, but we were curious about having this last experience.

If I were to recommend you to drop one of the trips, it will be this one, yet most of the men loved the fact that they got to ride the ATVs and the beach buggies, so I am guessing it depends on what you like.

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All in all, each trip has its own charm and visiting the history of Egypt should be a priority while you are here. If I were to do it again? NO, that is for sure! But it is a once in a lifetime experience that I am happy I had. It was very different from what I imagined it to be, and have to admit that it hurts to see the last remaining ancient wonder destroyed by indifference and hunger for money. Furthermore, I strongly advise you to visit this place soon if you have it on your bucket-list since in a few years from now the signs of heavy tourism will be even more visible.

 

Last Months Favorites: September 2019

September with the warm weather and the pumpkin spice late is officially over and we are now entering Halloween’s month. Before we add the cat ears to the basket and start trick or treating, let’s talk about the month that just passed.

Vacation time!

I have waited for my trip to Egypt since February, so you can imagine my excitement when I finally closed the suitcase and called the cab that took me to the airport. Naturally, I have a full post on my impressions for this country along with what we did prices and recommendations, here are some teasing photos and let me tell you that I had one of the best experiences from my life when I got to swim with a dolphin, a free one that came to play with us while we were snorkeling and scuba diving.

 

 

No shopping month!

It’s true that I was out for a full week on vacation, but including the other 3, I am happy to say that I didn’t do any shopping this past month. Clearly, I am not including the supermarket purchases, since I needed food to survive, but I didn’t buy clothes or shoes so I am happy that I stayed away from temptations and I am leaving this area blank.

End of XBody EMS training!

Well, if you guys remember a few months back I started this training to get in nice shape for my beach vacation. Finally, it is over and I don’t have to put myself through the worst type of training ever! Personally, it had 0 effects, my shape is exactly the same, and I hated every single session. Doing sport was always something that I enjoyed, yet the 20 minutes of the Electro Muscular Stimulation was hell, it is unnatural and honestly, without any purpose since for me, it was as if I didn’t go to the gym at all. If I were to give you a piece of advice, find a sport that you enjoy doing and go for that one, the only reason this is on the favorites list is that I was so happy that it was over, not to mention that is was crazy expensive.

Switching from summer clothes to the fall wardrobe! 

With summer officially over and the rainy season here, it’s time to do the big switch for the fall season. Don’t know about you, but I have to remove all the items from one area of my closet and move it to a different one until next year while doing this I am also removing any items that are either outdated or I haven’t worn in a long time, same goes for the fall outfits. Decluttering is part of transitioning to the fall process that I am happy to do since it’s giving me an idea about what I am still missing.

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Planning for a new adventure!

With September a new bucket-list destination was booked and I am more than excited for the trip we will make at the end of February to……………. ZANZIBAR! If at the first idea was to be there during my big 3o birthday, I had to let that one go, since in mid-March the rainy seasons starts, therefore we went for the end of February to the beginning of March to have a pre-birthday celebration. As a small kid, I am so happy I will get to check one of the places that have been on my list since forever.

I will lie if I would say that I love fall, yes it’s cute with the change of the outfits and the warm coffee, yet I am a summer person, therefore the vibe that I will have to wait for another 7-8 months to feel the summer heat again, makes me blue. Maybe that is why I love to travel to warm places and follow the heat. How do you feel about autumn? Is this your favorite season? Let me know in the comments below. 😉

Stop and Stare: When I First Realized the Footprint We Leave on Earth

It’s often said that one of the side effects of traveling is the fact that you get to see other cultures and understand how they live, maybe appreciate a little bit more what you take for granted or see a world very different from your own. My story will be about the effects that I’ve seen on the beautiful destinations affected by heavy tourism and what I try to do to make a difference.

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Probably the trip that opened my eyes, also the first (and only) exotic one was to Thailand. Flying across the globe to a country that I’ve only seen in pictures and also DIY, was a bit scary, but it was also the best way to see things below the surface.

As a kid, I’ve always loved animals, were part of my everyday life, from pets (3 fishes, 1 hamster, 3 cats, 3 dogs) to my hobby of horseback riding, I respected and loved every each and one of them, cannot imagine my life without them. Therefore, I was extremely happy that I would get to pet a tiger and even play with it. I have seen photos on Instagram and Facebook and I thought WOW! I am really going to have this amazing experience. Yet, when I started looking into the Tiger sanctuary stories and I’ve seen what really happens to those animals in order to tame them, I started crying. It is beyond anything that I have ever imagined, the cubs are taken from the moms very early, they are beaten and drugged in order for them to be unable to hurt the “public”. Even more, once the cubs are no longer cute and small, they are killed and their skin is sold for people to use it as rugs. Perhaps it is disturbing for everyone to read this, but it is the truth.

What is even worst, is that it all made sense when I got to think about it, the fact that tigers are actually hunting and killing people makes it clear that they are not pets, there is no chance in hell this can be natural. So, there is no such thing as the real sanctuaries, just a tourist trap where people give money to torture the poor animals. Clearly, I didn’t go to any of those temples, yet I saw that it was among the most desired trips and that even people who I know would not agree to what is happening behind the curtains are paying for it.

Since we are also on the topic, another popular trip is the one to the elephant sanctuary. I will not discuss the trekking since that is just cruel and can be seen right away, the cages are causing severe wounds and bleeding and the stick used to “make” the elephants walk is more like a hammer that is hurting the animal. Anyone who would go on trekking should be fined with 100k $ just because of their ignorance and stupidity.  If you did that and I offend you, GOOD! You deserve it!

Getting back to the sanctuaries where you can wash elephants, the story is a toughing one, all the animals were saved or inherited and now they are just pampering them (blah blah blah). Well, let’s get back to what I’ve said in the first part, is it natural for humans to go into the wild and wash elephants? If not, then you can imagine that animal has little to no interest in having a bunch of people around them, touching, petting and washing them. Another thing that needs to be keep in mind, is that the same story as with the tigers is present with the elephants, even if the Asian one is not as aggressive as the African one, it’s still a huge animal that can easily kill a human, therefore most of them are once again tamed and drugged.

The fact that those two trips are the most requested by tourists created a big industry that is feed with the pain of the animals. If the authorities are ignorant of the issue or they just like the cash that is coming from them it’s uncertain, the sure thing is that as long as the request is out there, the offer will be also present, so what I’ve learned is that every time I found myself attracted to any experience that envolves animals I do my homework.

Even if this was not part of my trip to Thai, it was another experience that I wanted badly, swim with the dolphins. Again with a little bit of research, the sad truth will emerge and that is the fact that dolphins are captured from the wild and trained to play nice with people, pose and so on. Luckily, this type of experience can be had in the wild, this year I had the pleasure to swim with a wild dolphin that came out to play, I was not able to touch it, yet it was amazing to see it up close.

The golden rule when it comes to experiences that involve animals is to ask ourselves if this is natural for them, if it can be harmful or if it deprives the animal of its freedom.  If the answer is no, then it’s ok, if you have any doubts look it up and try to avoid feeding those despicable industries.

Leaving the animals aside, another thing that shocked me was the amount of plastic that is thrown in the water, forest or streets by heavy tourism. If you think that you are not the cause of the issues, have a look at the amount of plastic that you use. When I was there I got a plastic bag for EVERYTHING, if I bought a dring, they will give me a bag for it, a banana would also get a bag, if you had multiple items from the supermarket then you would get more and more. Everything was single-use, and they were always giving them to you even when you told them that you didn’t want them. If I were to be honest, even if we gave our best, after the 14 days we spend there, there was a pile of plastic that we created, even if we put it in the trash, most likely it ended up in the forest or water.

I live in Romania and we can see signs of plastic thrown in the forest, water and so on also, but its nothing compared to what I’ve seen in Thailand. Probably the only place where I’ve seen worst is in the Sahara desert, where mountains of trash can be spotted everywhere, yet to see that much plastic in the forest, where everything is part of an ecosystem hurts. After my trip there I made it my religion to make sure I use as less plastic as possible, reuse what I have and avoid single-use items. If I am successful every single time? No, but I do try. Also, ever since I returned I also tried to post my experience on travel groups so that more and more people are aware of the impact they are having on our planet, related to animals or the waste that they are creating.

Making a difference is possible only by using your own example. Awareness can help other travelers avoid traps and misleading information, so I try to use my own story to show people what we are doing only by being ignorant. The experiences that I had in Thailand were amazing and the fact that I managed to avoid those places is just a first step, I highly encourage everyone to visit this amazing place (plane tickets can be searched through Momondo) and make a difference.

This is an article for Open World Travelers Ambassador Program @momondo. #owtravelers #admomondo

Traveling: Unlocking Hurghada, Egypt – Tips and Tricks

The most anticipated travel experience from this year and most likely from my entire life was getting to see the pyramids from Egypt. I was always fascinated by their history and have been on my bucket list ever since I knew there is a plane that can take me there. Unfortunately, due to the conflict area and the politic instability, I keep on postponing this trip up until this year. For more details about the trip, costs, and experience, read along!

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I am a big fan of DIY vacations but in this particular case, after I did some homework on the matter, it’s better to go for a safe way. Even if the situation is not as bad as in the past, it is still not a very nice one either. There are still check-points where there are military men with automated guns, the population is very poor and there is still a conflict area in the north of the country. Not trying to convince anyone that this is the best way, but given the circumstances for me, it was.

It all started in February when we decided to go to the tourism fair and talk to the local agency about the offers that they have for this area. The recommended for our first visit to Egypt, Hurghada since it’s closest to Cairo and Luxor, the other popular destination Sharm El Sheikh has the best reef and corals and is more focused on scuba diving and snorkeling. The price for 2 persons was 1200euros and it included the plane tickets, 7 nights in an all-inclusive hotel named Desert Rose, and the period was in the last week in September.

Before we left, we were told to buy our own snorkeling equipment and swimming shoes. For the first, I recommend the tube with a valve that prevents the water from getting into your mouth, trust me it makes a huge difference. Also, it will be really helpful if you want to dive and see the reef up close, the price for it was under 20 euros. As for the shoes, you need them when you get into the water, the area is pretty rocky and there are sea urchins.

They don’t make a difference between dollars and euros, so it’s best to have $ on you. Also, the smaller the bills the better, the fact that they ask for tips everywhere, usually the tip is 1$ so you will need a lot of those. Another fun fact is the 2$ bill, I have never seen it before, even if I traveled to the US 4 times. Now I got one and I am holding onto it.

Another thing that needs to be kept in mind, while packing is that you will need clothes from natural fibers, the temperatures are high and you will need your skin to breath. If you are curious about what I packed, you can find all the details here.

The visa cost is 25$, but if you will be traveling with an agency they will call you to go their way and make you pay more, 32$ to be precise. If I were to do it again, I would go to the regular office and I would get my visa stamp from there.

A couple of information for the smokers out there, after landing near the baggage claim area, there is a shop where you can buy cigarettes, the price per pack is less than 2$, but as our friend noticed those have a different taste ( cannot give more details since I am not a smoker). Also, if you plan on taking some packs for your return home, you should buy them now, the price at the departure is bigger. If you are traveling from the EU, you will be allowed to bring only 2 packs per person, this is the law at least in Romania, the fact that there are many who said that they brought a lot more and nobody noticed is not the rule.

Before leaving the airport, on the left side, there is an Orange shop, from where you can buy sim cards. We chose the 9$ option with 16GB of the internet, and only got one for 2 persons since we didn’t need more for the 7 days we spend there.

Our hotel, Desert Rose, was pretty close to the airport, around 15 minutes’ drive and I highly recommend it for the food, pools and the amazing reef. This was also the best place for snorkeling, the corals were healthy and colorful and you get to see so many beautiful fishes, even compared to the place we went for scuba and the Orange Bay area. The rooms aren’t that great, definitely not 5 stars, more like 3, but it was clean, we had AC and a beautiful balcony, but if you put your hope up, you will get disappointed.

Some things to keep in mind while here, the water is not drinkable and you shouldn’t use it at washing your teeth either, every day they will bring bottled water and you should only use that. Also, we were told to request all of our drinks without ice, since it might happen for this to be made out of tap water. Again, some say they didn’t have any issues, but in our case we did had some stomach problems, that were solved with some of our own medicine, but in case it gets serious you should talk to the hotel guide since you will need some of their pills if yours don’t work.

In the case of this hotel, we also had four A La Carte restaurants, but to get to those you would need a prior reservation. We only got to go to 2 of them, because the others were fully booked. Also, the reservation can only be made 48hours before, so keep that in mind. The best experience was in Fattoush Restaurant, the tradition Arabian food tasted amazing, highly recommend it.

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Most likely you will want to go on some big trips, the full-day ones are Cairo and Luxor. The day before leaving go to the reception and request breakfast to go, the ones organizing the trips will also give you food, but in our case, it wasn’t that great so having the sandwiches from the hotel was a good decision.

We decided to go on 6 trips, I will document them in full in a feature article, but just to mention them: Sindbad submarine, Cairo by bus, Scuba diving in the reef, Orange bay island, Luxor and Valley of the Kings, Sahara Safari.  We didn’t go with the hotel guide, but with one that we researched online, they sent us the prices that were less than half of what the others were offering and we didn’t need to bargain, for me this was a huge relief. To be honest, 6 trips in 7 days is a lot, so I would suggest you go only on 5 and enjoy a day at the resort. We were so sad when we saw that the best reef was there and we only had a few hours to enjoy it. Furthermore, you will see that in the resort there are many activities that you can do, from yoga to water sports, disco, etc.

Egypt was definitely one of a kind type of experience, the reef is still pretty beautiful in this area, but the signs of heavy tourism are showing. In many areas the corals and the reef is dead, most of the people are touching and even taking pieces of it with them back home, what is even more disturbing is that the local guides are encouraging this. The amount of plastic and waste that can be seen in the desert and in the water is a huge one, imagine mountains of trash. The two major cities that we saw, Cairo and Luxor were filthy, filled with trash, people on horses and donkeys, kids without shoes and people fighting in the middle of the street. The street vendors are all over the place, they are annoying and somehow aggressive when trying to force you to buy. The poverty level is the highest that I’ve ever seen in my life and even if I would like to sympathize with them, it is very hard given the fact that they have 0 respect for their history, monuments, animals or water.

The car insurance isn’t mandatory, therefore many cars look awful, if there are 4 lanes but you can fit 7 rows of cars, that is how it would be. Honking means you get to go first, and among the cars there are carets, people riding horses, people crossing the streets. Another thing here is that they don’t have to take driving lessons, they just have to pass the exam. I would never recommend driving there.

If you would ask me if it is worth it, I would definitely say yes, one of a kind and once in a lifetime experience. Don’t think I will ever go back, perhaps in a few years and in Sharm El Sheikh, would only go on the trips by boat and would stay away from the major cities. All in all, the experience was a good one, you will get to see the last ancient wonder and some of the best places in the world for scuba and snorkeling, the Red Sea. Compared to the trip made in Thailand, I would say it is far less beautiful if I would have to choose I would definitely return to Thai, yet in the case of Egypt, it will happen only if I run out of places to see.

 

 

Bridget Jones Diary – A Funny Yet True Love Story

Yes, I know I am almost 18 years late to the party and everyone already saw the movie, but being the late bloomer that I am, I recently decided that it will be a good idea to finally press play. Long story short, I was alone at home and I thought what better movie to look at than Bridget Jones. So here is what made me love it this much.

First of all, it was NOT a teenage love story. Nowadays all movies are aimed at teenagers, although that is nice and all that, romance is different in the ’30s and I feel like I haven’t seen that many movies for this particular category lately, or the ones that I did see, were unrelated to the subject of love after a certain age.

Bridget’s struggle with weight. Another subject that is now treated very differently is one of the women’s weight. I am not going to enter the debate of loving your body as it is, but I will say that many if not most of us keep a constant battle with the kilograms/pounds and yes, most of us love to add it to the New Year’s Eve resolution list. Another yes, is that we forget about the list as soon as January is over.

Parent’s obsessive questions related to personal love life. When you are single and no longer in your ’20s parents do try to find out why you are single and if you are trying to hide anyone from them. If there is none then they will try to set you up with a friend of a friend because they just have to try.

Men are rude. Just as the two male subjects of the movie, men are sometimes rude and say all sorts of mean things. Just as Darcy offended Bridget with his comments on the Turkey party and Daniel on the smirky comments from the work messages. Even if she tries not to get offended, the behavior is not ok. (Please note that the reverse scenarios is also true when women do it)

Getting cold feet is a true story. After agreeing to go to the party where her parents will be, Daniel gets scared and runs away to meet with the other woman, because why not. In the real world of dating, having someone get the cold feet is pretty common and also the part with running away to someone else.

Sometimes there is no love at first sight. Darcy doesn’t fall in love with Bridget in the first moment that they met, but after getting to know her, another real-life scenario. That whole love, at first sight, is sometimes only present in Hollywood movies, in the real-life, it might happen over time and once you get to really know the other person for more than 5 seconds.

Your friends are not perfect, yet you love them. Just as Bridget’s friends, our real ones are not perfect, they have flaws yet we love them just the way they are. Same goes the other way around, perfection and #squadgoals are not what you should value in a friend, but the ability to be there for you when you need them to.

Not knowing whom to chose. There is a moment when Bridgit didn’t know what to chose and who is right between the two men fighting in front of her building, well chances are in your lifetime there will be a time when you need to choose and you will never have the guarantee that you will take the correct decision. In the end, Bridget does, but chances are you will not and it will be ok.

Have to admit it’s been years since I’ve seen a movie so good, perhaps it is better that I got to see it now when the ’30s are knocking on my door and not back then since it’s possible that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. It’s a recommendation that I make to all my single girls out there who think they are alone in this, they are not BTW.

 

Last Month’s Favorites: August 2019

Fall is here, the hot and rainy summer made us all feel the changes that happen worldwide and hopefully made us more aware of our footprint on mother Earth. Leaving aside the world disaster, there are so many good things that happen in the past month, so let me dig in.

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Books

Perhaps it was the month of sad books, but I do have to say that Five Feet Apart, Under the Midnight Sun, An Apartment in Paris and City of Girls were some the best books I’ve set my eyes on this year. The first two have a similar storyline, but I consider them different and both will let you heartbroken for the characters, yet will make you understand how important it for you to live in the present and be glad that you’ve won the life lottery and your life is so easy.

The City of Girls will have an entire post dedicated to it, so you can already imagine how much I loved it. As a pre-spoiler, I have to say that if you are unsure wheater you should purchase one of the copies, I am telling you should definitely since it’s a story placed in the New York of the ’40s when the girls ruled the city.

As for An Apartment in Paris by Guillaume Musso, I have to admit I loved the break from the love novels so a thriller was exactly what I aimed for. With funny lines, the story was fresh air for my eyes.

The other 2 books PS I like You by Kasie West and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, I don’t have much to say other than you can do better. If the first one is just another teen romance book, the second one didn’t appeal much to me and I struggled reading it until the end.

TV Shows

Even if I actually started to watch them in July, those got upgraded to favorites in the last month, both can be found on Netflix: Lucifer and Riverdale. Let’s start with the first one, the devil decides to take a vacation and goes to LA to live his own life, away from hell. Apart from an amazing soundtrack that I highly recommend you listen to, the plot, the actors’ British humor (that will remind you of Dr. House show) made me want to watch multiple episodes in a row. Furthermore, what if Lucifer is not the bad guy after all, what if he is just as human as we are?

Riverdale is a different story, dark with lots of drama, I recommend watching it with breaks so that it doesn’t bring you down (it can do that). More or less a combination of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, the action takes place in a small town where evil makes its presence known with the death of Jason Blossom, the son of one most influential family in Riverdale. I have to admit that I really dig the combination of drama, crime, and teenage love.

Horseback riding

As I kid I practiced this for 8 years until I left for college, nowadays every now and then I go to my home town and get back on the saddle for old times sake. Unfortunately, in the last two years, I never made time for this and started to really miss the feeling I get when galloping. It was until this August when I went twice to my home town and I had the chance to remember how much I loved horseback riding. If you are on the lookout for a new (or old) sport that you want to try, you should definitely consider this, for me, it’s the best way to exercise while having the best time.

Hiking on the paths of Ceahlau mountain 

Another thing that I used to do a lot as a kid was the hike on a nearby mountain called Ceahlau (1,907 m) the cold air during the summer heat, the amazing view and the feeling of accomplishment you get when you reach to the top of it, are one of a kind. Even if I am out of shape and was extremely hard to get to the top, even on the easiest path, it was still an amazing experience. Even if I don’t get to do this as often, I still enjoy it when I get the chance.

The Fairy Castle near Sibiu  

 

If you find yourself wandering through the streets of Romania, you should think about adding a pit stop to a place taken straight from fairytales. Although small, the place has its charm and I consider it worth it 100%. The photos can speak for themselves.

While in this region, we also made a stop for lunch in my favorite city, Sibiu. Old and picturesque streets with buildings that have seen many decades, to me this place will always have a special place in my heart. Furthermore, the food here is beyond amazing and at every street, you will see gelato carts, what more to ask for?

Shopping at sale 

If it’s the end of August then it’s sales time, so you can imagine that I was unable to resist the temptation to get some of the essentials that I need in my trip to Egipt (YEY!) and some of the items that I planned on wearing in the fall as well. The items that I got were: a denim skirt and a pair of mom’s jeans, 2 cotton overalls, a top that I can pair with about anything, 3 pairs of shorts, two pairs of summer long pants, a pair of roman sandals. A pair of Converse shoes, a bathing suit, and coverup for it.

Since we are entering the fall season I also added to my shopping list a pair of classic black boots and a pair of brown flats. I am officially ready for both the vacation that I have planned and the season that has just started.

I do have to admit that I got a little too many items this month, but in my defense, they were really cheap and most of them I got from one of the outlets from my home town (yes, I know it’s a lame excuse). Maybe it is because of the upcoming trip that I have planned, but I am really happy that it’s officially September. Time for that Pumpkin spice latte, don’t you guys agree?