Friday, March 12, 2010

Crazy,Pushy, Marrakech

Dana in the souk
Dana in Cyber Park
Steve infront of the Mosque
Dana in downtown Marrakech

On our bus trip down, both times, we met men who spoke english and were very hospitable by treating us to food at the rest stop and going as far as to invite us to stay with them if our plans didn't work out. Thankyou again Abdullah and Moonir. We have definitely found Moroccan people to be the most hospitable so far. We got a couch surfing host very last mintue when we emailed in Marrakech. Jon just moved there from London and was very nice to host us last minute. We all went to the large main square to eat supper in the evening. Marrakech is a lot more touristy than Agadir. We spent a full day walking around town, going to the souks (larege open markets).

Into the Desert!

Moroccan Stamp! Curry stain
Having breakfast in the desert
Riding our camels Bob and Jimi
Sunrise in the desert
On the way to Merzouga
Hanging out in a berber country side
Mohammed fixing the flat tire

In Khenifra we stayed with our host Mohammed. He helped organize a trip for us. Before we went on our trip, we spent the afternoon with Mohammed's family, a real berber family (natives of Morocco) She cooked us a very nice meal in their home. We spent the afternoon just sitting around looking over the mountains not talking because we were left with his family who did not speak english or french. The next day we drove to Merzougato his uncle's hotel where Dana and I rode camels at night into the desert, with our none english speaking guide Brahim. There we spent the night in a tent and had a huge and delicious tajine meal. We climbed the sand dune at 6 am for the sunrise but it was unfortunately cloudy. That day we went back to the hotel and then drove to Tienrir, to go and see the gorges. At one point crossing the road we had to get pushed across a section because water was rushing so fast over the road. That night Steve got quite sick so a little music playing with the locals after dinner and he was done for the night. The third day of our trip was spent just driving back to Khenifra. Saturday we took a 6 hour bus ride down to Marrakech.

Agadir, Morocco

Main strip in Agadir
Dana on the beach
Arabic in the hill side
Dana and Jamaa at the souk
Us in Jamaa's apartment

We went from a cool 5 degrees in London to 17 degrees at 8pm in Agadir, Morocco! After calling our host and waiting, we were picked up by Jamaa and his friend Brahim. We picked up Pascal and then walked around town by the beach and marina. Jamaa and his friends treated us to some good seafood. Everyone eats with their hands out here, usually a piece of bread to pick the food up with. And usually sharing from the same plate. In Agaidr we mostly walked around town, and spent one day at the beach. The waves were powerful and the sun was hot (30). Steve peeled and Dana received a bad sunglasses tan! We took a 10 hour night bus north to a small town called Khenifra.

Kiev, Ukraine

Statue in main square
Lovers bridge, locks everywhere
Can't remember which church this one is
Friendship Rainbow....awwww
Us infront of the that same church
From the train station we took a bus to out next host Kolya's apartment. The bus was only supposed to take 40 minutes, with traffic it took over an hour! We found his flat, and no answer, came back a little later and found out he had been there the whole time, he just didn't hear the buzzer! We dropped our stuff off and then headed back to the city center. There are some very beautiful and colourful churches here in Kiev. We walked through the park in the evening and saw friendship rainbow (yes it is as cheezy as it sounds) Dana did a little shopping before we headed back to Kolya's. The bus takes an hour no matter what time of day. Traffic seems to be bad all the time. The rest of the night we drank tea and hung out and talked with Kolya. The next day very similar; we walked around more churches, we walked through a park near the river. Spent some time looking for a good exchange rate to get money, and stopped in the expensive malls to take time to warm up. Dana made pasta for the three of us, and we just hung out with Kolya again before going to bed. Our last day was spent fighting traffic to the train station, and then catching a shuttle to the airport. Now we fly back to London to finish our help exchange in Whiltshire.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

L'viv, Ukraine

Tiny public buses
Dinner in the bunker
Andriy and Us
Dana and Andriy at the top of the hill
Fun statue
Open market we went to many times

We slept in the aiport Wednesday night because we could't get a bus or train to get us to the airport on time on Thursday. Our flight was delayed an hour so we were in the airport even longer than we had planned. We flew into Kiev just after 7pm and were greeted with white snow everywhere! We were also greeted to little or no english speakers, except for the persistent taxi drivers. We exchanged money and found our way into an old mini bus which brought us to the train station an hour away. Our next hurdle was trying to buy train tickets. None of the workers spoke english, luckily we had some english speakers on our bus and they helped us get our tickets. We also met a very nice guy on the train, Stefan, who helped us find our bunks and talked with us before we went to sleep. A better sleep than in the airport, but still not very restful. Stefen helped us phone our host Andriy (Andre) and we were able to meet half an hour later. Transportation is cheap here, the tram cost us 15 cents each. We hopped onto a bus back to his apartment, chatted for a bit then slept for four hours! It's a 30 minute walk into town, we met Andriy there and he showed us around while we also tryed to find the tourist office (which we eventually did). Andriy had a date so we parted and walked back to the apartment to make supper and relax. The few days were spent sleeping in and then walking into the city to see teh sights. It was only minus 1, but it felt colder. We went to see several nice churches, a weapons museum, a cemetary, the open market (many times), and we walked up a hill which overlooked L'viv. Andrey was a great host, very easy going.We spent a total of 6 days in L'viv, then caught a night train back to Kiev!

Whiltshire, England

snow drops.... all over the yard
Me and Ruben
Dana working in the polytunnel
Front yard, with river
Their house
Lacock village where they shot Harry Potter scenes
Dana in the Abbey

Our bus from London arrived in Salisbury in the afternoon. Ellie picked us up and we also got her two energetic boys, Joss & Ruben. We felt right at home immediately. Ellie and her husband John have a nice house in the woods. They have solar panels for electricity, and a generator when that isn't enough. On Sunday, Ellie took us to a village called Lacock. Some of the scenes in the first two Harry Potter movies were shot here! While we were at their place, we helped cut up and clear a tree. We used green engineering to help restore some of the eroded bank near the stream. We shoveled a lot of compost and organized a shed and polytunnel (greenhouse). Steve fixed a freezer door, and we both broke up large chunks of chalk to fill pot holes in the road right in front of their house. We hung with the family in the evenings. Steve went with John one night to a pub to wath a rugby match. We stayed for 5 days, but returned after our trip to the Ukraine.

Ellie picked us up from the Swindin, and we were very happy to see her after a long night and not a lot of sleep. We drove by Avebury which has a walking path along many large stones standing upright like Stonehege(which really isn't very spectacular). We were only back for a few days, but it was great. Also Ellie really helped Steve out by getting her son's school to supervise him for his written portion for entrance to University. We got the polytunnel ready and planted seeds one day. The other day we organized the big shed and also moved some furniture up and around in the attic. We really enjoyed our time and we were sad to leave. We took the bus to London on Wednesday, put our packs in storage and caught our bus to the airport to fly to Morocco!