Day 290 – Storm

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Kuwait | Posted on 17-04-2010

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Saturday April 17th, 2010       Day 290 – Storm

Views from this morning taken minutes apart from each other.

Day 287 – Sakura

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Kuwait | Posted on 14-04-2010

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Wednesday April 14th, 2010

Photos of our fabulous dinner at Sakura’s last night.

We ate until overfull, but in no way did we beat our record: Day 86 – Sakura.

Day 286 – Ode to the Ostrich Egg

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Kuwait | Posted on 13-04-2010

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Tuesday April 13th, 2010

I was against this from the beginning; I said no; I put my foot down. My statement and my foot were refuted. We bought the sordid ostrich egg from the Sultan Center and gently carried the dead baby bird home. Poor baby bird.

If I think about chicks, I have trouble eating regular eggs. If I look at the ostrich egg, I get sad and remorseful. Why do we eat other living things? Poor baby bird.

This is the part where I began to dry heave in the kitchen waiting for a teeny ostrich form to fall out of what should’ve been its safe haven. This is also the part where Andrew laughs. Poor baby bird.

We apparently needed a much bigger bowl: 1 ostrich egg = 10ish chicken eggs. Poor baby bird.

Andrew and Shayne enjoyed the ostrich egg; I could not bring myself to eat it. Poor baby bird.

Day 285 – Philip Stein Watch

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 12-04-2010

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Monday April 12th, 2010

As I mentioned in my “Amman, Jordan” and “Mt. Zion Hotel” posts, there were not clocks in the rooms. I wake up at least once a night and glance at the clock to relish in the amount of time I have left to sleep or scowl at the numbers informing me I’ll be getting up soon. Doing that without a clock is rather pointless, unless, like me, you have a fabulous watch.

For my college graduation my sister gave me a Philip Stein Watch. The watch is wonderful for several reasons: it has two faces making it easy to know the time in both Kuwait and Georgia and it glows in the dark. I usually don’t wear a watch at night except when traveling so I haven’t known how well it glows until this trip. After being in complete darkness for over five hours the little hands were still glowing strong. I refrained from waking Andrew to show him – somehow I don’t think he’d be as impressed as I was – but he was informed of their majesty that morning, after the wakeup call arrived.

Day 284 – Crossing the Allenby Bridge

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 10-04-2010

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Saturday April 10th, 2010

Crossing the Allenby Bridge (King Hussein Bridge) from Israel to Jordan was much the same as crossing it from Jordan to Israel. After going through the numerous lines, dropping off our luggage, boarding the bus, and stopping at our first security checkpoint, our passports were checked one by one for a Jordanian visa. If you do not have one, you are escorted off of the bus and put on another bus back to the gates where you will have to get a taxi to the Sheikh Hussein Bridge that is two hours away and obtain a Jordanian visa there. This was the case for one weary traveler trying to get to his reserved hotel in Aqaba. He was not a happy camper having to travel four hours extra to get his visa but there was nothing he could do about it. I, again, thanked Andrew for being so thorough in his planning.

Crossing into Jordan was a much quicker trip than getting into Israel. We exited the bus at the King Hussein Bridge gate and shared a taxi with a fellow American headed to the Queen Alia International Airport – Easy peasy Parcheesi!

Day 283 – Mt. Zion Hotel

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 09-04-2010

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Friday April 9th, 2010

The Mt. Zion Hotel was absolutely gorgeous! It had a spectacular view and beautiful gardens. The people, for the most part, were obliging. The decoration was elegant. It was an oasis, except for the twin beds pushed together to form a double; and the fact that the pool closed at 5:00 because it was a holiday; and that dinner cost 265 shekels. Because of Shabbat, all surrounding restaurants were closed, but, they all assured us, tomorrow the pool would be open a bit later and the nightlife would be abounding. Yes, but that doesn’t help us one day Jerusalem visitors.

Andrew and I spent an hour, after resting our tired little legs, roaming around the city. It was an astounding sight to behold; although it was nearing 9:00pm there were multiple people out strolling as well: a father followed his two daughters riding their bikes down a cobblestoned street to a park and a newborn slept in her stroller while her mother and grandmother enjoyed the brisk evening air. No one rushed or turned to glance behind – no one but me that is! The park was full of children swinging and playing as their guardians stood watch. It was absolutely peaceful. Although our legs were burning again, we were hesitant to retire to our room.

The room, again, was lacking an alarm clock so we were awakened at 7:00 am by the ringing telephone. (I’ve always hated waking people up with a telephone call, imagine if that’s in your job description!) We packed our bags and ascended to breakfast, which ended up being the best meal of the entire trip. Our cab picked us up at the door and after many nos and no thank yous, dropped us off at another cab where we could split the fare with three other riders. Split isn’t the appropriate word, but we were given a reduced price for sitting in the backseat with a Japanese man while an Israeli woman sat upfront. We were dropped off at the entrance to the Allenby Bridge: the Israel side of the King Hussein Bridge, just after 9:00 am.

Day 282 – Jerusalem, Israel

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 08-04-2010

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Thursday April 8th, 2010

Jerusalem = busy, busy, busy! After dropping our luggage off at our hotel, we walked the twenty minutes back to Old City Jerusalem. Just like Amman, Jerusalem was hilly and green and gorgeous. In several ways it reminded Andrew and I of New York City: food stands, pushy/rude people, and people trying to make a buck or two or five or ten depending on what they could take you for; instead of hotdog and pretzel stands, there were bread and shish kabob stands; instead of yellow taxis, there were white ones; instead of New York accents, there were Israeli ones; but a bustling city just the same.

ATMs were difficult to find but “money changers” were everywhere – the exchange rate we were given varied from place to place. The prices, as well, varied from customer to customer. Inside of the Old City was a large market similar to China Town except filled with Jerusalem souvenirs instead of knockoff purses. We purchased a map of the Old City that was published in the 80s but got the job done. We were able to get near the Dome of the Rock, Pool of Bethesda, and Zedekiah’s Cave but for multiple reasons couldn’t go in them. Visiting Jerusalem for only one day that is Shabbat, results in a lot of things being closed and inaccessible. The Western Wall or the Wailing Wall was open for wailers and there were a plenty.

We were cussed out several times throughout the day, which I didn’t appreciate. We shopped and walked and ate and walked and shopped and walked and drank and walked and rested and walked. By 5:00 pm our legs and feet were sore and we headed for our haven from all the Holy City bustle. Because it was a holiday, the cabs were more expensive so we opted to walk the twenty minutes to the beautiful Mt. Zion Hotel.

Day 281 – Crossing the King Hussein Bridge

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 06-04-2010

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Wednesday April 7th, 2010

The taxi from our hotel to the King Hussein Bridge was roughly an hour trip. I enjoyed watching the hills sprinkled with houses, shepherds, and flocks of sheep, goats, and camels camouflaged in the shrubbery fly by our speeding vehicle. When living in a flat barren land, a variant from that is always welcome and glorious. The terrain was a pleasant surprise for me. Andrew, not so much; he took a snoozer trying to prepare for our long day. In his defense, he’d already visited Amman previously and took in the sites; I had not.

Our taxi delivered us to the entrance of the King Hussein Bridge just after 9:00 am where we proceeded through the gates and onto the bridge. Once inside, there were several buses and a little building where people collected our passports along with our money in order to cross the bridge. After boarding the bus behind Europeans, Americans, and Middle Easterners, our tickets were collected and our passports given back. We then began our trek across the King Hussein Bridge and into Israel.

If I have not mentioned before, I’ll mention now that Andrew is a wonderful traveler; he gets and prints out all the information we could possibly need before every trip we go on and it always helps us get where we are going. On this trip, as well as all our airline and hotel information, he had printed out several written accounts on personal King Hussein Bridge voyages. We knew, then, to expect at least a two hour time period for crossing and many stops at checkpoints. We did see all of the check points but for some unknown magical reason, we only had to stop and be checked at one. As we drove by the trail of awaiting buses at each check point, we received angry looks from not only the passengers but the drivers as well. I don’t know why we were privy to such privileges, but it was awesome. At our one check point a man literally checked every single one of our passports; they take this crossover very seriously; there are guards with guns and tanks and mirrors to check the vehicles – the whole shebang.

Once near the middle of the bridge, everyone exits the bus, finds their luggage, and unknowingly wonders from line to line attempting to figure out where to go. Where we went was to a line, and when I say line I mean a herd of very pushy people: most Middles Easterners are just pushy and then you have all the tourists attempting to fit in with their fair skin, loose clothing, and pashminas struggling to hold their place to little avail. We again offer up our sacred passports and our luggage for inspection. Our passports are quickly returned – except when sat down somewhere and forgotten and then found again – and we continue to an actual line; and then another; then another; and another. Our last line is to board a shuttle that will take us off the now Allenby Bridge and drop us near the Damascus Gate at Old City Jerusalem.

Day 280 – Amman, Jordan

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 06-04-2010

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Tuesday April 6th, 2010

Our flight left Kuwait International Airport at 9:50 pm on Saturday night, Easter eve, putting us at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan at 1:00 am. Because we live in Kuwait, we cannot fly into Israel so we flew to Jordan as a means to cross the King Hussein Bridge into Israel. On our way to the airport a man called to inform us that the Ibis Hotel, where we had booked a room, was oversold but that he transferred our reservations to another hotel of equal caliber: the Sadeen Amman Hotel & Suites (http://www.sadeen.com/). After getting our visa, that looked like the equivalent of letter stamp, we were greeted with a beloved “Haleys” sign – just a little glimpse into stardom, although a star would be recognized because of their stardom leaving the sign as simply a formality rather than, as in our case, a necessity – but I digress.

Our chauffer – or shuttle – driver attempted to sell us his tour guide services for the following day. He made a superb attempt but sadly it fell on very tired ears and was given absolutely no response; often, however, no response is the only form of no some people understand. We arrived at the hotel and were awaking to our scheduled wakeup call at 6:30am – not much sleep for two very sleepy people. As I croaked out my own mashup of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “Worship Christ the Risen King”, we got ready for our Easter day.

The room was nice but a bit dated, and lacking a clock of any sort. Breakfast was adequate as well, but nothing phenomenal. The lobby, however, was beautiful with a portrait of the current King and Queen: Abdullah II and Rania.

After breakfast we were escorted by a taxi to an ATM and then the King Hussein Bridge.

Day 279 – SPA Aquatonic Pool

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Kuwait | Posted on 05-04-2010

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Monday April 5th, 2010

My friend gave Andrew and me two tickets for the Crowne Plaza’s SPA Aquatonic pool in Kuwait City. I’m going to start by saying it was amazing. Everything about the place was relaxing: the people, the sounds, the colors. In short, the SPA Aquatonic pool is an underwater massage made possible by numerous jets, flows, and falls. Because we had never been before, a kind man walked us through the process.

Upon entering the aquatonic pool, you see multiple interconnected pools all flowing in and out of each other; all of which have varying temperatures and features. There are jets targeting each part of your leg, back, stomach, and feet, and giant swans that spew water from their beaks onto your back and other swans for your head and neck. There is a section with sensors and timed jets that spray hot water starting at your lower back and going up to your neck. They are continuous as long as you remain standing there. The aquatonic pool only had one cool water section and that was equipped with – wait for it – bikes and treadmills.

I rarely get massages because I don’t like random people touching me. This was a perfect option. I will be taking my family to the aquatonic pool when they come to visit. It was a wonderful relaxing experience.

A onetime visit is KD 15. Here is some information:
http://www.kuwait.crowneplaza.com/AxCMSwebLive/enSPAAquatonic.cms