If I have learned one thing with all my travels it would probably be how important it is to get local friends in the country where you are staying. Not because of the social factor, but to really understand a place you need to understand the people, and to see how they are living their every day lives. This means, if they go to the church, do sports, have hobbies, go partying and so on, go with them, participate and be open minded. This is the only way to learn about the real culture and way of living in a region, and is also why I recently noticed I have lost all interest in travel guides or programs. These guides and TV programs are almost always made by foreigners with very short experience of the region, and who probably themselves read in guides what they should visit, see or do when arriving before creating their own guide. At the same time they are the result of only one opinion, and that is also why it is not only important to spend time with local people, but to meet a lot of them and with different local cultures and viewpoints of life.
Posts tagged ‘moving’
After living in Berlin for 1+ month I had to move to another apartment when the owner was coming back to the room I rented. Even though I really liked living in that apartment, not only because of the people living there but also because of the location, this gives me an interesting opportunity to compare how it is to live in two different areas of Berlin.
The first area I was living in, Friedrichshain, is the main clubbing area of Berlin and where a lot of tourists end up at least for the night when partying. Here you find famous night clubs like Berghain, Suicide Circus, RAW and so on… There is not one single night in the week where the Warschauer straße is not full of people, mostly foreigners, all the way to late morning. Here you find a lot of Asian restaurants, mainly Indian and Thai, together with the usual kebab places that is one of Berlin’s trademarks. There is not so much shops in the area, mostly second hand clothes, which makes it less crowded during the day times. At the same time it’s very near to tourist monuments like the Berlin Wall or the Oberbaumbrücke.
Yesterday I moved to Neukölln, which is the up-and-coming area of Berlin. This area has during the last five years become more and more attractive, and at the same time more expensive, to live in. Here you can find a lot of restaurants, bars and cafés combined with a huge Turkish area. Neukölln is more “ruff” then Friedrichshain and at the same time more social, probably mainly because of the mixed southern nationalities living here. As soon as our moving truck arrived to the street, a gang of people came to help us carry our things up to the 4th floor, and some even came back the second day to continue to help us.
So why do I need a moving truck to move, when everything I own is in my backpack? Actually, at the same time it was time for me to change apartment a German couple I met in Dahab about 4 months ago told me I could stay at their new place where they are currently moving into. So here I am, helping them to move & fix their apartment in Berlin and at the same time I get the opportunity to live together with good friends I thought I would not see again for a long time.
After having moved to Berlin and finally found an apartment which I share with four+ Germans, I went last weekend to the open air festival Nation Of Gondwana. This is a minimal techno festival which takes place just one hour outside of Berlin, surrounded by a beautiful forest and a small lake. The last 3 days before the festival had been cold and rainy, but just in time the weather cleared up and was perfect during the whole festival weekend.
To go to the Nation Of Gondwana, take the train (about 4 euro one way from Berlin) to Bahnhof Nauen and from there the free shuttle bus that goes about every 30 minutes to the festival area. If you are not travelling with a tent, Woolworth in Germany have a cheap 2-3 person tent for around 20 euro. Price for the two day festival is 30 euro, which includes a trash fee of 5 euro that you get back if you collect your trash and leave at the exit. If you like camping a good idea is to come one day before the festival to enjoy the beautiful area.
I took some days off to visit one of my new European favorite cities, Brussels. It was just 3 months since I was in Brussels last time, on my way to Dahab. After two months in Egypt it’s was very refreshing to be back in Europe. The contrasts were big, like the gray weather which I had missed so much and the quietness even though the city is big.
Brussels is very idyllic with green parks and beautiful streets. Most people are happy and smiling here, but at the same time they are “trapped” in their boxed every day lives not integrating with the people around them. Here, for example, people look strange at you if you start a conversation or smile to a person that you don’t know. While it’s very relaxing to be back in a “civilized” city I can also miss Egypt where you start conversations with random people on the street several times per day.
During the last years of traveling I have only lived with one or maximum two bags. The contents of the bags have been mostly the same, but some things have been added or taken away depending on my current living style and need. In general I have dropped a lot of winter clothes, and nowadays I only own some warm clothes to have for walking up the mountains. At the same time I have added more equipment that make my hobbies easier to do by owning it myself instead of renting or borrowing equipment every time. So, for the first time in this blog I here reveal my current belongings, packed into one 45 liter backpack and one small backpack for daily use:
Backpack packing list
Clothes & health
Clothes for about one week
3 pair of shoes (mountain + normal + sandals)
Basic hygiene products
Basic survival kit
Outdoor sport & hobbies
Climbing harness & shoes
Scuba diving computer, hood & snorkeling equipment
10″ computer for work
2 cameras (normal + tough)
2 phones (wifi/gps + cheap)
2 sleeping bags (12 degrees + silk)
2 thin towels
Hammock + ropes
Books for learning Spanish & Bulgarian
Notebook & pen
Small things for pleasure, like incense
Even though I am trying to live my life without paper, I still think it’s worth to have a regular notebook to write down thoughts easily in tranquil surroundings, which always is without a computer.
Sometimes I travel with a small tent but usually I give this away to somebody due to it’s weight or size, and then pick up a new one whenever I need it again.
The biggest space problem is the warm mountain clothes. Without these my backpack size would be reduced a lot. The same would of course be a problem while travelling in cold countries.
This was by the way my 100th posting in the blog =)
After about 2 months here in Dahab I today got my Divemaster scuba diving license. This is a really fun and rewarding education, and even though it is mostly for people who wants to work with scuba diving I recommend it to all scuba divers who wants to take their knowledge to higher level.
First of all, after having the PADI Advanced license you have to take the courses Emergency First Response (EFR) and Rescue Diver, which teaches you how to save people in emergencies both on land and in/under water. The Rescue Diver also makes you more confident under water and teaches you how to deal with different under water problems.
When you are ready with the Rescue Diver, the Divemaster course takes about 1½ month to accomplish. I highly recommend to combine the course with an internship, which will give you much more experience as well as a lot of fun.
Within the course, one of the things you need to do is to learn the contents of “The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving“. This is a really interesting book that covers way more about diving then you will ever need to know, but for the interested is the best dive book you will ever read. The book have 5 chapters, which covers different parts of scuba diving:
- The Underwater Adventure
- The Ocean Planet
- Dive Equipment
- Diving in the Material world (physics)
- The Physiology of Diving
With the Divemaster license in your hand you are ready to work professionally with scuba diving if you so choose. Here in Dahab for example, that comes along with getting a work visa, which costs around 600 euro for a year. Also, for a while the government were not giving out more work visas to Divemasters, but that might have changed now. If you get the work visa, you will probably end up working as a freelancer because of the economical situation in Egypt right now.
Two days ago I went to El-Tor to extend my Egyptian visa. This was even easier and cheaper then I thought. To start with, if you are in Sinai, take the bus from Sharm El-Sheikh to El Tor, which will take about one hour and cost around 1 euro. Then, take a taxi for less then one euro or walk 15 minutes to arrive at the place for all passport enquiries. Not so many people in this town speak English, so if you need to ask for directions you can show the note with text that I will put further down on this page (later).
At the passport office, fill in the English form which you can also find below, and leave together with a copy of your passport (the page with your photo + the page with your current visa). These copies you have to make before you arrive here, for example at the post office 500 meters away (costs 10 cent). The whole procedure at the government should take about 30 minutes and cost you 1 euro for a 1 or 3 month longer stay in Egypt. If you want to stay longer, it will cost less then 10 euro for up to a one year period.
The office is open 8 am to 3 pm every day except Fridays. When in El-Tor, take a random walking tour in this nice town. People here are incredibly friendly and the town reminds me visually more of India then Egypt.
Be aware that there are rumours in Egypt that after the new government, about a year from now, it will be more difficult to get a prolonged Egyptian visa. Also, it is possible you only will be allowed to stay for 1-3 months total within a one year period, depending on where you are from.
Things to take with you: Passport and money (maximum 5 euro in EGP currency needed)
I meet people almost every week that I fall in love with. It can be very chilled out relaxed people, or people with interesting life goals and missions, or just very individual people that are fun to be around.
At the same time as I am very greatful for the chance to meet all these people, it gets very tiring to keep saying goodbye to them, knowing it will probably take years, if ever, to see them again.
I could choose to stay in one place, or to only travel between the countries where I have friends who I should visit, but if I do this I know I lack out of so many future friends from different cultures and backgrounds. The choice is mine and already taken, but it’s not always an easy choice.
In a near future I will probably choose one or two “base” cities in the world where I can come back more often between my travels, and where I can take care of long lasting relationships.
“Nice one mate” – Sam
A lot of times I fall in love with a city within the first days. So was also the case with Belgium and its capital Brussels. This city is really multi cultural and hosts a lot of interesting and individual people. Also it’s very green, both with some beautiful parks and a lot of planted trees in the streets.
One funny surprise for me was the Balkan music trend that is big in Brussels right now, with festivals and private parties playing balkan music and people trying to imitate some of the dancing styles of the Balkan countries.
All in all what was supposed to be a long transfer just to learn a bit about Belgium turned out to really give me a wish for more!
After about two weeks here on Gran Canaria (in the Canary Islands, Spain) I have found a really nice apartment just 50 meters from the ocean and beach/surfing. Before that I was living on a hill with very nice view but not within walking distance to everything, which is really important when living in a place for a while.
Although it is almost the same weather here all year around it is possible to see the differences now with more rain and colder water. Some few brave people are going swimming but the surfers are out there every day as soon as the waves are right.