Our Adventures in Sri Lanka

Safaris to spot leopards and elephants, swimming in the Indian Ocean, sipping tea in the mountains, and several more!

Our Nile Cruise

Starting in Cairo, we sailed to Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Aswan.

Trouble at Sea: Our Red Sea Dive Trip in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea is one of the top diving destinations in the world, but Saudi Arabia is a very restrictive country to get into. That alone would have made the trip memorable...but then things went south and the Saudi Coast Guard and a hospital got involved.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Discovering Turkey

We emersed ourselves in Istanbul, explored the white travertines of Pamukkale, and traced history through Laodikeia, Hierolopolis, and Cleopatra's Baths.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm not that thirsty

On my way out of Brussels, I saw this vending machine:

I'm not sure who thought it would be a good marketing strategy to show a little boy peeing onto/into your beverage container, but that's really not working...on so many levels.

As for my short trip to Brussels, I managed to experience Galler Chocolates, Leffe and Chimay beers, Orange Fanta (with sugar, not corn syrup), lots of wine, a couple of dinners lasting over 2.5 hours, two creme brulees, a flan, and even managed to pick up four new pairs of pants. Overall, a pretty sweet haul.

My flight home consisted mostly of editing and tagging my pre-scanned photos from my A99 travel albums to China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. For 6 hours. I think I processed some 400+ pictures, and I still have to go in and add captions. But it will be worth it once it's all up.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Brussels without plans

I think I've reached a point in my travelling (at least for work) where international travel feels as mundane as travelling to Cleveland. I had to pack two days before I left, since I'd planned to leave my bags at work and pick them up at the office on my way to the airport. So the day I actually left for the airport, I wasn't actually carrying anything with me when I left the house, so the entire flight over I felt like I had forgotten something. It didn't help that I was using a different bag and backpack than I usually do, so everything felt foreign...except the city I was headed to: Brussels.
I know, I should feel like a foreigner in a city where I can't speak the language, but the general vibe is "whatever," so I don't feel out of place. After checking in to my hotel, I headed over to the Grand Place for some Galler chocolate. I was told that if I went to Brussels and didn't bring back the chocolate, I might as well just not come back.
 It was, however, a great day for a stroll. And so I took advantage of the conditions to wear myself out enough to take a quality nap. I'm not sure where I got to, but I did come across several view that I'd seen before.

Yield to the Street Ninja!
I met up with my team for dinner, and we found ourselves at the delightful Les Petits Oignons. There were over a half-dozen of us, and one of the options for dining was a four course set menu. It was either have the whole table eat off the set menu, or order our meals a la carte. So, after almost no discussion, we went with the set menu: a light salad, broccoli soup, oven-roasted salmon, and chocolate mousse. Which would have been perfectly acceptable (I'd already decided that I would have the salmon when we saw it on the menu outside), but then the waiter did one of the worst things you can ever do for someone like me: he gave me options. On a set menu.

Over the course of our two hour dinner, I got to enjoy something akin to a true communal dining experience. I started off with a Leffe and some bread rolls with olive oil and a dish of olives with a peculiar flavor that I wasn't too keen on.  A salad with what I believe was pomegranate was the first dish from the set menu. However, I switched out the broccoli soup for some sort of shrimp bisque. Actually, all but one of us switched soups. The salmon was delicious, especially paired with the house white wine.  For dessert, I and two others swapped the chocolate mousse for some creme brulee, another group had some sort of rum-soaked cake, and ultimately only one person had the chocolate mousse. I will almost always opt for the creme brulee, unless a Sacher torte is on the menu (but that usually doesn't happen). Take that, set menu!
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Cherry Blossoms



What a difference a week makes! The cherry blossoms were out in full bloom, as were the crowds. Even though it was only minutes after sunrise, today's run felt more like a game where the objective was to dodge people and trees.
So, how was your commute today?



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Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Cherry Blossom 5k That Wasn't

One of the things D.C. is known for is the influx of tourists this time of year hoping to see a bunch of pinkishly white trees along the river. Last week, we tried to see them on a river cruise, but the cherry blossoms hadn't appeared yet...so we sailed for an hour looking at the District without foliage. Yay.
 So, in an effort to better gauge whether we should try to go downtown this weekend, I decided that I would run by there on my way to work. And I mean, literally, run. I took the metro in to the Smithsonian, stepping out on the Mall just after sunrise. From there, I ran to the tidal basin, only to see a staggering display of no cherry blossoms. The fact that it was just above freezing probably had something to do with it.
There were a couple of photographers with their fancy cameras on tripods trying to capture the early morning light on the Jefferson Monument, but let's face it, the trees weren't nearly as pretty as they could have been. I had planned on taking a picture to post here, but it seemed like a waste of time.
Here's hoping that next week's run is better.
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End Of Tour Summary: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

We spent two and a half years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State. As you migh...

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