Cairo – Day 1 -Hot

Cairo is hot and dirty and loud and crazy and busy and dry… on a level I really had not expected. It hit 39c here today, when I was arriving and I think my usual style of just wandering all day while traveling is going to have to change to more of a point and shoot style if this heat/dust/sand/smog keeps up. My eyes are already watering from the smog.

My hotel is on an island in the Nile in the middle of the city, it’s a little worn down but fine, not really any internet though so there might not be a ton of picture posts.

I got settled in around 7pm and went out to find an ATM, a market and some dinner.

A few blocks from the hotel I saw a sign saying “cafe” and stepped inside, I was in a tiny room, about 5×5 with a till and a kitchen, the guy at the till asked something I didn’t understand and motioned up an iron, spiral staircase. I started to climb, the smallest stairs in history, I had to bend my body around the staircase to get up.

I came out in what appeared to be someone’s living room… uh… there were two men, two ladies and two little girls, the men were on the floor praying, there were two tables, sort of in the living room. I was going to leave when one of the women motioned for me to sit and wait, I did.

Once prayers were done, the men asked where I was from and sat with me, we talked quite a bit, I ordered… something… and a coke, the owner/father brought me a bottle of water and said “drink this first”. We talked until my food came and they excused themselves, one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve had…

The meal was a sort of stuffed bread, full of chicken and artichokes and mushrooms, it was really, really good.

Sitting in their living room:

My meal, really good:

Athens – Day 2 – Parthenon and on and on

What can I say? It’s the Parthenon, it’s insanely cool. Today was hot (“zesti” in Greek!), around 30c but a cool breeze made things ok. I ended up spending 2-3 hours at the top, just wandering around and seeing the buildings and the city from different angles. Being in a city dating back 7000 years, being in a building dating back 3000 years…. I’m not nearly good enough with words to type out how I felt, but I felt a lot.








Athens – Day 1

It’s warm, it’s humid, I’m insanely happy, giddy.

My street:



31311322_1964540180254322_2588184645900173312_n.jpgMy place is gorgeous (a nice change after the creaky gross Moscow Airbnb) and has a washer/dryer, starting tomorrow no more stink!

I grabbed food and groceries as well as some Euro and am at home currently with a beer and the start of a plan for tomorrow.











My host is really nice, he made several comments about me as a “young person”, he’s no more than 55-60, I told him I think I am older than you think I am, he said “Oh no, I think you are about the same as my son, 25”, yay, I told him my age and he said “Come stand in the light, let me inspect”.

My place:

St Petersburg Cocktail Tale

I tried four different cocktail bars in Saint Petersburg, all ones that were recommended and supposedly good, three were complete duds, one, Apotheke Bar, was a home run.
I found the front door of the Apotheke Bar after a little searching and found it locked, Google promised me it opened at 8pm so I pondered and pondered and eventually noticed a button, pressed said button and heard a voice in Russian, I apologized for my no Russian and the door buzzed and let me in.
The bar is small and wooden, a horseshoe that holds maybe 12 people. Bar, walls and bar all the same wood.
There was only one other patron when I entered, a guy with an unplaceable accent, I overheard him telling the bartender that he was on the night train to Moscow that night and needed a drink or two to help him sleep. We started talking and playing a fun game of Where Did He Get That Accent, he said he was German but had been around.
Me “You spent a lot of time in America”
Him “Yes, a lot”
Me “And not New York or New Jersey”
Him “Correct”
Me “And not California”
Him “Correct”
Me “Ok, let’s go Philadelphia”
Him “Not bad, Pittsburg”
Turns out he’s German but had spent a lot of time in Pittsburg as a teen and also in Holland and the UK, explains the unique idiolect.
He was travelling alone, a similar route and similar path as me, we chatted a bit between us and the bartender (who told me his name, THREE TIMES, dammit). Eventually two younger Russian ladies came in and the four of us had a great evening trading stories.
I went back the next night and it was just myself and the two bartenders, I still can’t remember the head bartender’s name but he was awesome and sweet and a sort of a Russian Beck. That’s him in the top photo background. He knew what a Casino was too.
The other bartender was a Georgian Jew, Illyc (Alec), as goofy and silly as the head bartender was soft and calm, again a really, really nice evening, Russian lessons, history lessons, cocktail lessons, a great feeling walking to the train to Moscow afterwards.
I’m too tired to go through my full ranking system right now…. so Apotheke gets a… 35, sure.

Get out of Russia!


At the airport now, Russia was awesome but also a but grey and wet and cold. Never been to Greece!

Arrived at Moscow Airport (DMO) at my usual time… really early (had a reason, was hoping to catch up on some missing posts at the airport) only to find that I can’t get into the main airport until I check-in, I can’t check in because Moscow airport does not support any sort of e-tickets, I need to use the automated kiosk to print a boarding pass, I can’t print a boarding pass because literally none of the kiosks fully work, some let me get partway into the process but all error out eventually, I find one that lets me get all the way to the final screen before crashing and I try that one for ten minutes, nope I need to go to the check-in counter for my airline (Aegean), I can’t check in at the counter as Aegean isn’t listed on any of the 142 check-in counters, I need to find customer service, I can’t.

Eventually I just start saying “Aegean?” to random staff, no one speaks much English. Eventually a woman tells me that she thinks Aegean will be using counter 77-79 later, I ask when is later, she says “later than this”.

So now I am having coffee.

I did have a really nice interaction at the coffee stand, another patron accidentally took my coffee when it was ready and ran off, the barista was very apologetic, in Russian only, I told him I didn’t mind and pointed at my watch shaking my head, he smiled and when he brought my coffee there was a muffin there too, yay humans.

Helsinki – Silence Chapel

(yes I know my posts are all out of order, I’ve fallen behind)

In the middle of Helsinki there’s a small chapel, very Nordic, very warm and wooden and above all else very quiet.

The idea is you come in and sit, the room is designed for silence, and try to be as quiet as possible.

When I came in there were three or four other people sitting in silence. I took a seat near the back and tried to focus on my noise.

I stayed longer than I had expected, eventually everyone else in the room were people who had come in after me and it felt like “my” space.

Most people seemed to come in for just a few minutes, perhaps on a break from work. A couple times the room achieved total silence and it felt like I could understand why it was built. It was rare and kind of great to sit in utter silence with strangers.