Hashtag Egypt Is Safe

Apr 12, 2018

DISCLAIMER
You can skip this part if you don't feel like reading the whole story about how I f*cked up :)
 If you do, enjoy!

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Rule #1. Expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. And I’m definitely a testament to that. No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, miss your bus, get food poisoning... But the list of travel disasters on my way to Egypt seemed never-ending.

Long story short, holding a Belarusian passport comes with its surprises. As a rule, if you are traveling to Egypt as a tourist you can get a visa when you arrive at the airport. But I got refused entrance 2 times.

First I was denied boarding in Warsaw, as it turned out I was supposed to obtain a visa from an Egyptian Embassy prior to departure. I cried my eyes out as I gradually began to realize I was going to wave my friends goodbye at the airport and go back home. But I didn't. And this is the part of the story where I say thank you to the people I'm proud to call my friends, for not letting me suffer alone and for missing the flight all together :) The next step was to to calm down. We had to rationally figure out an alternative plan, put smiles on our faces and think of how this will make a great story one day.

We ran to the Egyptian embassy in Warsaw, understanding it was almost impossible to get a visa on Friday afternoon, but still hoping for the best. And surprisingly we got things sorted out. I was lucky to get a chance to talk to the Ambassador and explain how important it was for me to go to my best friend's wedding. And he kindly agreed to help me get a visa within a couple of hours! We still had to buy new tickets, stay in Poland for 2 extra nights, which resulted in spending more than we expected (see Rule #1), and instead of going from Warsaw to Cairo, as planned, we had to fly from Katowice to Hurghada. Fun fact: we also got abandoned by the bus driver on our way from Warsaw to Katowice.

But the only thing that really mattered was that 2 days late we finally landed in Egypt, thinking the worst was behind us. 'Nothing to worry about', I was thinking to myself, 'I have my visa, I see my friends passing the passport control and waving me from the other side. Everything's good, right?' ... - Wrong.

I almost got banned from entering the country. Again. As the airport was getting empty from the lines of tourists, I was told that I could only be traveling with a travel company, whose representative  had to meet me at the airport. I also had to have a tour/hotel booked, so visiting a friend wasn't an option. I spent about an hour sitting all by myself, with neither further instructions or explanations given, nor internet connection to contact my friends. I ended up paying a guy to help me get through the customs.

well that was fun

The point here is: if you want to avoid hassle and the risk of being denied boarding and loosing money, double check everything! Especially if you're a happy holder of a Belarusian passport. Praemonitus, praemunitus, kids.

That's being said, let's move on to the happy part, where I finally set my foot on the land filled with religion, architecture, monuments, and visual and spiritual richness - Egypt.

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SOUTH SINAI


Rugged and starkly beautiful, the Sinai Peninsula has managed to cast a spell on me. Here is a short list of what I consider must-haves:


- Be creative when it comes to transportation -

Take a ride in the back of a pickup truck with your friends, dozen or so people can squeeze! It's fun.. it's dangerous, but mostly fun :) On your way back, get on a boat, a camel, or a quad bike - where else can you have so much fun getting around? 





- Fall in love with a Hippie Dahab -   

Unlike Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab isn’t the nightlife hub or the top-notch resorts kind of place. Dahab is more of a laid-back and and low-rise, amazingly uncrowded and hassle-free town, where beach huts offer an affordable alternative to hotels, and smoking hashish is an acceptable recreation. Enjoy the sea, sunbathing, hiking, rock-climbing, drink Bedouin tea, or wave to Saudi Arabia - on most days you can see the Saudi Mountains on the other side of the sea!  







- Put on a snorkeling mask - 

Egypt’s Red Sea is blessed with one of the world’s healthiest reefs, it's a living aquarium, teeming with underwater life. See the Blue Hole with your own eyes! You can’t miss this 94m deep submarine sinkhole. No need to take a boat or swim far out, there's plenty to discover close to the surface.





- Take a quad-biking tour - 

Go riding across the sands at sunrise or sunset, when the amazing colors of the desert are revealed in all their glory. Climb a mountain to feel like a hero! (and then cry when you realize you have to hike downhill too). 



 - Do absolutely nothing! - 

Nothing, that’s right! It's one ne of the best things you can do in Dahab. Relax from a day full of activities with a shisha by the Sea, enjoy not caring about make up and embrace your dirty feet. 



CAIRO


As one of the largest city with nearly 20 million inhabitants, there is no way around it — Cairo is massive. Wander the busy, maze-like streets full of bustle, chaos, and perhaps more traffic than you’ve ever experienced, both during the day and the night, and you’ll find that this is a city that truly never sleeps. And the sheer amount of history in Cairo is beyond staggering. Magnificent mosques, grand European boulevards, the gorgeous Belle Époque buildings, humming markets and, of course, ancient sights – Cairo has got them all.


^ Koshary - a scrumptious Egyptian staple made of rice, macaroni, and lentils mixed together, topped with a spiced tomato sauce, garlic vinegar, chickpeas and crispy fried onions. It's sooo good! Also, make sure you order rice pudding after.

*And don't even get me started on how much I miss falafel and ful sandwiches!  



THE PYRAMIDS

The Pyramids of Giza - one of the most fascinating and majestic wonders that look like they jumped out of a story book from the old, old days. No doubt this is, at least in part, the reason you’ve come to Egypt. It’s hard to believe that such an amazing scenery is only minutes away from a bustling modern city like Cairo.



Aim for arriving early in the day - the mid-day heat gets too oppressive. Bring plenty of water, wear comfortable clothes and shoes and be sure to check out the Solar Boat Museum! 


THE NORTH COAST AKA
 SAHEL

This is what a perfect escape from a bustling metropolis looks like. A cool summer climate, soft white sandy beaches and clear turquoise water make for a vacation destination unlike any other. 





The very sight of these photographs makes me miserable and wish I was anywhere but stuck at my desk right now. 




THE BIG DAY

Never thought I'd find myself at an Egyptian wedding. But there I was, celebrating my best friends' big day, magical, romantic and crazy. A zaffa took place, and of course we started dancing once we heard the drums. Be prepared, because even if you don't WANT to dance, YOU. WILL. DANCE. And at one point during the night you will find most of your female friends barefoot - it hurts to walk, let alone dance in high heels for 5 hours. But you just have to flick your wrist a bit, and move your hips a bit. Shik! Shak! Shok!


I could talk for ages about this wonderful wedding, the people, the food (that deserves its own post), the culture and joy but will stop here so you can watch a short video-diary I've put together.




Where to next?

xx, V.

Playlist 6/17 - Ukulele & Chill

Jun 5, 2017


So while my brain and my writing skills (or lack thereof) were on hiatus from the blogosphere for 2 months, that's literally everything that's been going down: too much time spent indoors, experiencing a trial of confused identity, misguided purpose, and hopeless transition, accompanied by my undergraduate project not shaping up to be a 90-page magnum opus and me swimming in it (hoping not to drown). A quarter-life crisis at its finest. You know it for sure when a Bon Iver song comes on and you start crying. By yourself, around friends, or in the middle of a supermarket as strangers slowly usher their children away.

Anyways, my thesis defense is next week. As a means of forcing myself over the final hurdle, I visualised how amazing it would be on the ’other side’ and how relieved I would be to hand over the culmination of five years’ work. For those of you in the same boat, good luck and have fun! Below you can find some songs that will hopefully help you get through this. I'd spice it up with some new goodness from Papa Roach, but for the sensitive ears not to bleed I'm leaving it super light this time. And if you haven't yet seen the pictures of me holding ukulele and smiling on different social media, here you go with even more :) 


Please shuffle

 

For previous playlist, click -> here <-.



x,V.

Under the Florida sunshine

Apr 6, 2017

Miami

The tropical equivalent of New York, the new art and design mecca, brimming with pure energy. The city has so much more to offer than I ever thought possible. From the incredible beaches, which I expected, to the high rise Downtown area and of course - the oh so colourful Wynwood.



The Wynwood Art District is one of the most interesting examples of urban redevelopment. Before it was converted into an open air museum, this part of the city was an industrial area undergoing deep decline.

My happy face when I got free tacos / (and free beer, obviously)


Islamorada 

Having only decided to visit Florida Keys at the last minute on our second day in Miami and after the weather was a little overcast and breezy for our scheduled beach day, I couldn't have been happier with how the day panned out.

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Renting a car/getting behind the wheel all by myself for the first time in a foreign country turned to be quite a daunting experience. If, like me, you grew up with a manual, and then drove an automatic in traffic for the first time, you know what I mean. I had to remind myself to keep my left leg tucked away so I don't try to press the clutch and bash my face against the windscreen because I've accidentally stamped on the brake pedal, haha. Once I stopped stressing out, it turned out to be super easy to drive, park and manoeuvre :)
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We stopped at Robbie's Marina, an authentic Florida Keys roadside attraction, with the primary purpose of feeding the massive tarpon by hand.

(Fish tacos were also good).



*acai bowls* *acai bowls* *acai bowls*


So there we have it, Florida is all wrapped up. For this time, anyway. I also vlogged the entire trip which you can watch down below too.

Lots of love
x V



Niagara Falls and Rain Ponchos

Feb 2, 2017

Almost 2 months later, she posts again. Hi there! Hello! How are you? How's everything? Oh, me? I'm fine. You know, it's highs and lows here at the end of 21. Speaking of lows, guess who forgot she had edited a bunch of pictures from Niagara Falls and had them sitting in her "drafts" folder all month? This girl! Let's face it, I'm unreliable. An unreliable blogger. That's what you expect when you subscribe. Without further ado, take one of the complementary rain ponchos and climb aboard.









Let's take a moment to appreciate how jet black my hair was. After all, if you never used dish soap to fix an at-home dyeing disaster, you never really lived. 





xx
Vic