November 10, 2015 · 7:08 pm
Listening to the dismal news about the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh has me thinking back to when I was there in 1982, in the final months of its occupation by Israel. It was a very different place than it is today – no fancy resorts that I can recall. The Israelis were preparing to give the place, located at the bottom of the Sinai Peninsula, back to the Egyptians so it was a near ghost town, almost empty of life and people. (The number of resorts increased from three in 1982 to 91 in 2000, according to Wikipedia.)
I remember walking through a small supermarket lined with bare shelves; camping out on the beach with fellow travelers from the U.S. , England and Australia, an amazingly clear view of bright stars in the night sky; renting snorkeling equipment from a grizzled old shirtless Australian hippie who lived in a cave near the water and some topless young Australian beautifies who made necklaces out of shells. I remember snorkeling in the Red Sea (after gliding out to the edge of the reef , swimming carefully just inches above “stinging” coral) and barren dusty desert landscape. I remember the long bus ride back to Tel Aviv past bedouin camps in the Negev (and oddly, bumping into a guy I knew from college on the bus, who was dipping crackers into a plastic jar of peanutbutter.)
It felt like the end of the world, remote, wild – – no glitz, no resorts with fancy pools and ballrooms. But I did have a sense that I might never be able to return – but not for the reasons that have cropped up today, 33 years later. Back then, the thinking was that Jewish people wouldn’t be able to go there anymore because it would be part of Egypt, not Israel…which is why I went there just after arriving in Israel. “Go while you can,” Israelis told me.
Now, sadly, there’s another reason not to go there : the threat of terrorism, in the wake of the recently downed plane full of Russian tourists, which may have been caused by a terrorist’s bomb. For much the same reason, sadly, both Egypt and Turkey are off my list of places to travel (or in the case of Turkey, return to) for awhile.
August 11, 2013 · 10:51 pm
We took three visitors to the Iowa State Fair – two from Illinois, one from Israel – so we covered all the bases yesterday – six hours of wandering in and out of ag buildings, eating things we’d normally never eat, checking out the 99 county contestants in the Fair Queen Contest and watching an Iowa National Guard reserves band from Fairfield play that goofy gangham style song (“Do any of you speak Korean?” the lead singer asked before performing? After getting no response from the crowd, he said “Good” and started the song…)
Deep fried cheese curds anyone?
Along the way, we tried deep-fried cheese curds (too salty and greasy for me); funnel cake topped with powered sugar (delicious but you paid for it later with a slightly queasy feeling); pork burgers (too dry); ice cream from the dairy barn and Bauder’s (delicious); lemonade (solid but overpriced.)
Illinois and Israel in the house!
And we visited the usual suspects – the ag building to see the butter cow, butter Abe Lincoln, rose contest, produce contests, giant pumpkin; the animal barns to see the big boar and the big bull and all the hard-working farm kids; the sheep and horse barns; the varied industries building to see the winning cinnamon roll and winning ugliest cake; the culture building to see the winning photos. We also rode the sky glider, kicking our aching legs in the air high above the Grand Concourse. And we walked through the crowded midway past the carnival rides and games, bombarded by the squeals, screams, neon, flashing lights and tattoos.
Night on the Iowa State Fair Midway!
August 10, 2013 · 7:13 pm
The Iowa State Fair has lured several visitors our way this summer – this weekend it’s my stepdaughter E. and her boyfriend from Chicago, plus our houseguest from Israel. Next weekend, my son is coming from Northwestern with three or four (he wasn’t sure last we talked) of his friends – from Oregon, Colorado, New Jersey and maybe California.
The weather is perfect today – Sunny, 80-ish, no wind – so the fair is bound to be packed and in its full glory. We got a glimpse of what we may be in for this morning at the jam-packed downtown farmer’s market in Des Moines. And last night, our visitors reported lots of people hanging out downtown at bars like the High Life Lounge , designed to look like a 1960’s tavern, complete with formica, shag carpet and wood paneling…plus Miller High Life beer, of course, (see photo above) and El Bait Shop…
April 30, 2013 · 11:09 pm
So my trip to Poland (Gdansk, Krakow) and Prague this summer keeps growing – first I added Berlin. And then when I saw that I’d be flying home via London, I had to figure out a way to stop there too and see all my pals and the city where I used to live and will always love.
Then came a mad search to find those great cheap flights I’ve been hearing about from London to the continent – and I found several very reasonable flights from London to Berlin but the fares kept going up as I ruled out several airports to fly out of in London (no to Southend, which I’d never heard of – it’s in Essex – and which one English friend said would take as long to get to from central London as it takes to get from Des Moines to Heathrow; and no to Luton, which I did fly to Israel out of back in, um, 1982 and is also a schlep; yes to Gatwick and Stansted, which are reasonably easy to get to via public transport from central London) and as I ruled out very early flights (which would rule out getting to the airport via public transport.)
It looks like I’ll end up with a flight for about $98 – which isn’t the $40 I first thought it could be (although that hardly seemed possible) – but it’s not bad. That’s about what it costs these days to fly from Des Moines to Chicago one-way (thanks to Southwest Airway’s arrival in Des Moines.) I was tempted to take the train from London to Berlin but it stops in Paris where you have to switch trains and I don’t think I could bear to just pass through Paris. So plane it is!
Filed under airfare, London
Tagged as berlin, Chicago, Des Moines, easyjet, gatwick, gdansk., Israel, krakow, luton airport, ondon, paris, poland, prague, ryanair, southend airport, southwest air, stansted airport