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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Travel plans for the rest of 2015

Hi all,

So I wanted to write a post to just let you know what my travel plans are for the rest of 2015. Some are tentative and some I'm packing for right now!

Summer 2015:
- USA
- Indonesia
- Australia
- back home to Saudi Arabia

Fall 2015 (tentative):
- Germany
- Thailand (conference)

Winter 2015/2016 (tentative):
- Saudi Arabia - Red Sea side
- Qatar
- U.A.E. - mainly Dubai

That's what's in the works. I'm hoping to have some friends and/or family members join me on some of these trips. I'll try to post more often about these trips.

Lastly, I wanted to share that I BOUGHT A GO PRO HERO 4 SILVER! I'm so stoked to try this camera out on my summer travels and I can't wait to post the photos to show you.

Happy teaching and traveling!
- Christina

On a ferry in Istanbul


Finishing my first year of teaching in Saudi Arabia

Hi all,

So the end of the school year is fast approaching and I will soon be a second year teacher! I'm really proud of the growth I've made as an educator this year and I'll soon post some of my favorite stories, and photos (classroom and me, no students), including...

- lunchroom conversations in an international school
- why I'm glad I chose to coach soccer
- nurturing talent and seeing progress
- setting goals for next year
- why I'm so happy these students were my first class


GAFE Summit in Bahrain

Hi all,

So I realized after this conference in Bahrain that every month so far this year (2015) I've been to another country/used my passport.

January - Mexico
February - Jordan
March - Turkey
April - Bahrain

Admittedly Bahrain is pretty easy to get to since it's just across the causeway from Khobar, so many folks drive over there for a regular weekend, but I hadn't been since the Abu Dhabi/Oman trip in October, and that was just for a day.

The reason I was going to Bahrain this time was to attend a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit hosted at an international school in Manama. I went over with several other primary teachers and we met up with many other teachers from our school and district.

This was my first professional conference it was a nice start, just a 2-day event a few hours drive away. It was also nice to just have a break from Saudi and get inspired about ways to use Google in the classroom.

I'll add more about the ideas I really took away from this conference soon, and photos, including
- The Gulf Hotel is stunning
- Google is chockablock with ideas
- utilizing space for efficiency and effective teaching
- easy coding games that are fun for everyone / the right level of challenge and success
- teaching with YouTube
- inspirational schools setting the tone for education in the future


Istanbul, Turkey

Hi all,

So I've been wanting to visit Istanbul since I first flew through the airport on my way to Germany in 2012 (?). Actually, probably since learning about the Byzantines and Ottomans in school, but the sunset I saw at Ataturk Airport that first time got me hooked.

I flew into Istanbul and met my friend (funny story about how we met) and we went off to find our hotel and see the sights.

We spent a week in Istanbul so I have lots of stories and photos to post, which I will do soon, including...

- Sultanahmet has everything
- the best view of the city for dinner
- Hotwire is worth the "unknown" factor
- this is a walking city so I'm glad I wore sneakers
- exploring the other parts of the city
- day trip to Bursa
- ferry to Princes' Islands
- Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar
- finding the Hippodrome and meeting some locals
- public transportation wins

Ephesus, Turkey

Hi all,

So the second part of my first week in Turkey was spent near Ephesus, on the Mediterranean coast. I actually stayed in Kudadasi, which I recommend in the off-season.

I flew from Kayseri in the Cappadocia region into Izmir’s airport (on Pegasus Airlines). From there I had planned to go to a hotel/hostel I’d found on couch surfing .com . This was going to be my first experience with couchsurfing and I admit I was nervous about it. I’d originally planned to try it in Cappadocia but things didn’t work out. So I’d asked the host to arrange a shuttle and he’d said it was taken care of. But it didn’t show up. I was able to ask a very, very nice security guard to help me call the number and found that they were apparently coming but were running late. I waited another hour (this was around 10pm) then called back. They said they had come and no one was there so they’d left. Frustrated at this point, the security guard who had been helping me said that he could take me to where the shuttles into the towns were located. Once there I explained the situation to two very nice women also waiting for the shuttles to depart. They convinced me to not stay at the couchsurfer’s but instead let them take me to a nicer town and a hotel they both had used when family had come into town. Feeling the support of the shuttle group I agreed and one of the women took me to the hotel and got me set up. She also made sure we exchanged contact information so that if I needed something more we could talk. Overall it restored my trust in people and turned out to be much better than I expect the couchsurfing would have been.

The hotel was nice and right on the beach. Luckily I had the money to make up the unexpected cost. The following day I was still feeling stressed so I walked down to the fancy Double Tree Hilton and got a massage. (Tip: You often don’t have to be staying at the fancy hotel to take advantage of their services! Of course you have to pay, but they aren’t “guests-only”, which is great.) It was a wonderfully wonderful Turkish massage with a facial and a classic massage afterward. The Turkish massage (at least what I got) involved getting all soapy while laying on a hot stone table and having warm water poured over you. Then you get scrubbed really well. Very detoxing. I highly recommend going there for this service, best massage experience I’ve had a in a while. The cost was worth it. 

I had 4 days in this area of Turkey and my main objective was to see Ephesus. Pamukkale was also interesting to me but I knew it was farther away. I asked the hotel desk attendant about these sites and he arranged for me to take 2 day tours (which turned out to be with the same guide). Since the tours only went on certain days (being the off-season) I would go to Pamukkale first and then Ephesus the next day. 

The next morning started with the tour shuttle picking everyone up. The guide was an older Turkish woman who was from the Cappadocia region. She knew A LOT about Turkey and its culture. Most of the 3 hour ride to Pamukkale she told us about the different regions and it was interesting, but it was also like a lecture. Most people feel asleep. 

The site was really cool. We first went to Hieropolis and on the walk around I made a friend with this other single traveler girl. We talked about the site and took photos for each other, held each other’s stuff, etc. The group stopped at Cleopatra’s Pool, a healing site, and got to touch and taste the water (We didn’t swim, since it cost and we had limited time). Then we got out to Pamukkale which is just the ledge that Hieropolis overlooks. Seeing the calcium carbonate pools in real life was really interesting. Unlike the pinterest photos though, they weren’t full of people. You were allowed to swim in them but since it was still cold in the air most people were just wading. The water itself is warm though, unless it is sitting too long in a pool. Many tourists had their shoes off, pants rolled up, and were walking along the white edges of the pools, occasionally stepping into the blue water for a photo opportunity. 

My friend and I definitely misjudged the distance and time it would take us to walk all the way down to the bottom of the ledge. It was a fun walk but we had only about 15 minutes to get back up to the meeting spot with our group. Our first attempt was to climb up the steep path off to the side, but we were told it was closed. Next we tried to find a taxi. After about 10 minutes of waiting and having the site guards call one to help us, a taxi pulled up and basically race up the hill. We got to the meeting spot in time, but just barely and having to pay for the rollercoaster-esque taxi ride we could have avoided with better time management.    

Leaving the site we drove back to Kudadasi. Again the tour guide droned about Turkish history and I wish I’d been able to pay attention. A train heading to Izmir was the most interesting thing I saw out the windows and the green countryside rushed by. 

The next day the tour shuttle came around again, this time taking me to Ephesus and some nearby sites. We stopped first at the House of the Virgin Mary, which was quite a popular tourist site. Our guide told us there were 3 fountains by the house and whichever one you choose told something about your future. When we returned to the bus she told us the meaning behind the right, left, and center one (go find out for yourself!). That lead into a discussion of Turkish marriage customs and traditions. 

We got to Ephesus around midday and our guide tried to keep us together though everything was wandering around taking photos. It was a pretty nice day, just considerably windy. Most people in the group were good with helping each other take photos (see photos below). As we neared the library I couldn’t help but think that it looked very similar to the Treasury at Petra. Those Romans were all over the place, and you can read it and understand it, but until you see their architecture everywhere in the ancient world you don’t have that impressive realisation of the size and scope of Roman influence.   

The amphitheater at Ephesus was probably the most impressive and my favorite. From near the top you could see the valley that had been a manmade port, bringing the sea closer to the city for trade purposes. The whole site was very impressive and worth a visit. Shops were all along the exit and their owners weren’t afraid to try to convince tourists that a “I (heart) Ephesus” shirt was worth their money.  

My last day in Ephesus was calm. I just walked also the shoreline of the town. It was clear that during high season cruise ships would dock here and the place would become a buzzing shopping area with exciting nightlife. But for now it was just a seaside town with a nice view of the Mediterranean. Rain brought the night to an early close and I packed up for the next leg of my Turkish trip - Istanbul. 

Where I stayed: ─░layda Hotel 

Tour company:  __________________


Total time there: 4 days

Recommendations: Get a Turkish bath, facial, and massage at the DoubleTree Hilton. It is so worth the cost. 


Cappadocia, Turkey

Hi all,

So for Spring Break 2015 I had 2 weeks off. I had decided to go to Turkey and had arranged to meet a friend in Istanbul the last week. The first week though, I was on my own - my first REAL solo trip. My first stop was Cappadocia (transit through Istanbul). Basically it is a gorgeous area of the world, well worth visiting, and the Turkish people I met were very warm, welcoming, and helpful.

I flew from my home airport in Saudi Arabia to Istanbul directly. Normally I try to travel with just carry-ons (my purple “backpacker” backpack and a school-size backpack as my personal item) but I wasn’t sure about taking a nail clipper, tweezers, or a razor on the plane with me. I asked at the check-in desk and the attendant advised that I check the bag containing them. I was on this flight with two other friends so I didn’t want to waste time. I stuck the items and my keys into the top pocket of my purple backpack. A pocket that I hadn’t used before and will never use again.

The flight to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines was quick and easy. I like flying with them. My second favorite airline. I split from my friends since they were transferring and went to immigration. To purchase a tourist visa for Turkey you use a machine that takes euro cash OR card. I didn’t see the part about using card until I’d already taken euros out of the ATMs. Oh well, I decided to save them for a trip to Europe. I also took out Turkish Lira. Returning to the visa machines I used card (since it would count as a travel cost and earn me points) and got my visa. Two gentlemen then approached me and the one who clearly worked for the airport asked if the other gentlemen, a tall Egyptian man, could possibly use my card to purchase his visa since he didn’t have access to cash. He’d pay me back in US dollars. Since it made logical sense I agreed and got him his visa. The cost of the visa was $25usd but he handed me a $100 note. Though I explained that this was too much he said it was for being very helpful. Being nice earned me $100! 

After crossing through immigration I went to wait for my checked bag. It was at this point that I started to remember why I avoid checking luggage. It sucks to wait for it and worry about making it to your next point in time. Luckily I had about 4 hours to get to my next destination. Once my bag arrived on the carousal I noticed that the top pocket was completely unzipped. I dug inside and found the tweezers, but everything else was gone. Not on the carousal, not on the floor. The main worry was that my keys, containing my house key for my Saudi villa, were gone. It sucked to lose the keychains and such from other travels but I wasn’t that concerned. To solve this I went to the Turkish Airlines help area and filed a notice for the missing keys. I also emailed my friend who was still in Saudi at our compound to ask her to please contact the management and arrange for a new key to be left for me at the gate when I came back in April. (A few days later I got confirmation that she’d arranged it.) 

So far it was a weird start - $100 up but a set of keys down. My next stop was Istanbul’s other airport (SAW) across the city. I’ve given myself plenty of time but I still always get nervous about missing a flight so the sooner I got there the better. I went to find out my transport options. There was a cross-city bus but they estimated it would take 3 hours to just get to the city center, and no clue how much longer after that to get to the airport. (At this point I didn’t know about the Istanbul metro/train system but that could have also been a good option.) I decided on a private taxi, since the cost would save my sanity of worrying about making the flight and I wouldn’t have to guess which stops to make. 

The taxi driver was nice, an older Turkish-German man, but he didn’t speak much English so the drive was mostly quiet. At one point another driver called to him for directions while we were stopped on the bridge, that was an interesting exchange. Like I said, the taxi cost more but I got to the airport and was able to relax a little before my flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia. (I flew into Kayseri on Pegasus Airlines). 

The flight was fine and I arrived after dark. I had arranged a shuttle to the hotel and they were there waiting. However, we had to wait about 30 more minutes for the rest of the passengers who were on a later flight. This shuttle service wasn’t a great welcome to the area because once we were all loaded in (an hour after I’d been in the bus) we then meandered through 2 or 3 towns, dropping off 1 or 2 passengers. Basically the ride felt endless, and I was tired. We FINALLY got to my hotel, I paid for the one-way trip there, and got checked in. Here’s one thing all hotel managers, Airbnb hosts, friends hosting a friend, etc. should know: Let the guest have some alone time right when they arrive. Often they want to use the restroom, or change clothes, or have a shower. You can catch up or give them the grand tour or all the information when they reappear. 

The hotel manager was really nice, but I wish he would have let me just get to my room straight away. It was almost midnight. I’d also arranged for one of the mornings there to do hot air ballooning since that was a major tourist attraction in Cappadocia. The manager told me that this was scheduled for the coming morning - 5 hours away. He said it wasn’t certain but he’d call up at 5am to tell me if it was on or off (due to weather). Exhausted I finally got to bed. 

Turned out that the hot air ballooning was cancelled that first morning, and then next 2 after that. The winds were too strong or there was a forecast of snow/rain. Still I woke up early every morning to that yes/no phone call. 

While in Cappadocia I did 2 day tours with the same company, and surprisingly the same guide. The tours were fun and the people were nice, though I didn’t make any new friends. One of the highlight memories was the first tour day when we went to this old monastery on a hillside. The weather that day was snowy, like fat snowflakes and a constant wind. I had not expected that of Turkey in March but I was glad to have packed some warm pieces. Anyway to get up to the monastery you had to climb up this dirt path. Well due to the wet snow the path was muddy slush. Several of us slipped and fell on the way up and down, but it became pretty funny trying to help each other and keep the snow off our butts. The monastery itself was worth the climb and the snow gave it a very ethereal quality. Wet, cold, but smiling after the laughs we made our way down and into a small shop for some turkish tea (apple tea, you’ve gotta have the apple tea).   

So yeah, those first two days after the ballooning as cancelled I did the tours, which were full-days. See the photos for the other parts of the tours. The third day there was a potential for the ballooning so this couple and I rode out to the site and were then told that it had been cancelled (still too windy). Sharing the disappointment we then spent the morning chatting over a long breakfast back at the hotel. They were from Ireland and Poland and were here on a short vacation as a couple. Really nice people. I also talked to a waitress who worked in the hotel and wore the hijab. She was definitely younger than me and very spunky. The highlight of that conversation was her showing me photos of her in Ankara without her hair covered and asking, “Which is more beautiful? (with or without her hijab)”. My answer was diplomatic - that she looked beautiful in both. 

One of the last days there I also went horseback riding in the valley. There were nice views and the  horse was pretty obedient but the guide was a bit too physically helpful (helping me up and down from the horse when I didn’t want it, reaching for my hand when walking or riding, etc.) His unwanted attention kept it from being a good experience. At this point I was also sick of people, specifically older men, asking if I was married or single, and taking my answer of “single” as an invitation to flirt with me/compliment me/or ask the follow-up, “Why?”, often all together. So the horse guy talking about his lack of a wife and how he cared about his horses and could take care about people too was very off-putting. I did tell the hotel manager about his horse friend’s behavior and advised him to not take single travellers there again. My advice if you do go horseback riding in Cappadocia is to go with at least 1 other person. That shouldn’t be a thing I have to say, but it is. 

The last morning I had in Cappadocia I finally got to go up in the hot air balloon. There were a good number of other tourists also there, which was kind of nice since that meant there more lots of balloons in the sky. It was pretty chilly up in the air but it was just overall awesome. I chatted a little with a couple in the basket with me (there were 6 of us in the basket total, I think) and we took turns taking photos for each other. One girl did get sick over the edge of the basket and someone else gave her water. It was really cool to have the balloon fly low into the valley and then soar way up to give us this great panoramic view of the area. Check out the photos and then go do it yourself! Definitely worth the wait and the cost. At the end the company had champagne and a medal for each of us. Kind of cheesy but it was a good souvenir.    

The last morning before my flight it was rainy so I walked around the town a little. I bought earrings and then had pide from a local restaurant. I recommend you have apple tea and pide while in Cappadocia, as well as all the other local food and wine you can get.  

One last thing to say about Cappadocia. The town of Avanos was worth a visit (I went there through one of the tours) and the carpets in this part of Turkey had an interesting history. I don’t remember it exactly but part of the practice was that a girl would weave a carpet and then put it out on her balcony if she was ready to get married. Suitors would see the carpet and decide if he liked her work, then talk to her family, etc. The edges of the carpet also had meaning. Finally, there is a story with the dolls from Cappadocia being given as gifts and if you are given a doll it means you’ll have twins. Basically go learn these things for yourself by going there! It’s well worth the trip to see this unique part of central Turkey.  

My next stop was Izmir to see Ephesus! (Next post!) (I flew out of Kayseri to Izmir.)

Where I stayed: Old Town Stone House, owner: Mehmet

Tour company: _______

Total time there: 4 days

Recommendations: Put your name down for the hot air balloon ride even before you arrive, that way if the weather is bad you have every possible morning available. 

adding photos soon

Petra, Jordan

Hi all,

So in February our school had a 3-day weekend scheduled. Well what do international school teachers do with a 3-day weekend? TRAVEL! Two teacher friends (a couple) from the school are leaving at the end of this year so they wanted to take advantage of being in the Middle East for a few more months. They suggested going to Petra on the long weekend. "Why not!?" I thought.

I set about making the arrangements and it ended up being 5 of us going - the teacher couple, me, and two teacher friends I'd also traveled to Oman with.

I'll post more about our adventures and mishaps in Jordan soon (including photos), including...
- there is a snowstorm so no buses are going from Amman to Petra
- winging it at the airport
- a long, snowy drive
- we made it to Petra! The Treasury
Here's my video of The Treasury at Petra! It's awesome! Go see it in person!
- snowstorm = games by the heater
- Little Petra
Here's my video of Little Petra (part of it). Enjoy!
- Jordanian hospitality and warmth
- the climb to The Monastery
- back to Amman and home to Saudi


Winter in Saudi Arabia

Hi all,

So this post is about what "winter" was like in Saudi Arabia. I'm referring to November - February. Basically it was perfect temperature. Some days it was more windy, we had a few sandy days, a bit of sporadic rain (story coming about my first day of U14 soccer trials), but overall I was soooo glad to skip the grey, wet, cold winter I've been used to in Virginia.

It was also nice to get back to Saudi and just know what I was doing! I knew my students, I knew my classroom, I'd made some changes I was going to implement in January but overall I came back with an attitude of, "oh, I know what I'm doing." For instance, the first night back a group of us from the compound just went shopping at Panda, easy.

The last of the new teachers FINALLY arrived and we all had several outdoor get-togethers to hang out and enjoy everyone's company.

I'll try to post some stories and photos about winter in Saudi soon, including
- first day of U14 soccer trials
- unexpected day off

Mexico City and Vera Cruz, Mexico

Hi all,

So after Christmas 2014 I flew down to Mexico City to visit my best friend. This was my second time in Mexico City and it now feels like a second home to me. I stayed at my friend's house, enjoyed home cooked meals made by his wonderful mother, and hung out with his sister and friends. I also watched him play a lot of video games, haha. I rang in the new year at a friend of a friend's place in downtown. It was a really fun night that included a home cooked meal, karaoke, eating grapes and making wishes as we counted down to 2015, singing traditional Mexican folk songs, and greeting the sun on our way home.

  

 


Mexico City is definitely worth visiting. I always enjoy the great food options - various fine dining, GREAT sushi, and of course Mexican street food. There are many, many fabulous museums and the vast green spaces.

We (my friend's family and I) drove to Vera Cruz a few days after New Years to visit his cousins and their family. It was really nice being welcomed into their home and feeling like part of the family.

While we were in Vera Cruz with my best friend’s family and his extended family he decided to play a trick on me. Their family has a favorite restaurant near the beach so we went there for dinner one evening. As we were waiting for our drink order the waiter brought over a platter of salsas and baskets of chips. There was a white dip, a red salsa, and a green mixture. I say mixture because I didn’t look at it closely. I tentatively tasted the red, the white, and ignored the green. My best friend saw this and apparently decided to mess with me for his own amusement. He’d tasted it and knew that it was very spicy green salsa, and he likes to tease me that I don’t have much of a spicy heat tolerance (not like a born-Mexican). Basically he told me that the green mixture was guacamole, which is a favorite of mine so I was all “yum!”, got a big scoop on a chip, and then…spicy fire took over my mouth. He was rolling with laughter and I was just thankful that I had a water bottle in my purse. The lesson here is that while I trust him completely, I shouldn’t trust him to not take advantage of my palate. 

After that meal we went across the street to get ice cream. My Spanish is not very good, but I have learned how to order food (mostly due to my same best friend refusing to do it for me). I hadn’t used Spanish much this trip though, due to not going out to restaurants much at all. So I was really proud of myself when I went up to the counter, ordered an ice cream treat, understood enough to clarify the size I wanted, and paid without having an “uhhh…” language moment. Yay! 

We had a few days in Vera Cruz and one of those days we tried to go to the beach. However, it was crazy windy! Actually the weather the whole trip was pretty windy. So don’t pack skirts if you are going to Vera Cruz! (Or wear shorts under them like I do.) 


We went to the fort of San Juan de Ulua. This was really cool because I’d never learned this history in school. Actually, there is a lot of history you don’t learn in school (and a good portion of it is related to the US military in Mexico). The US occupied Vera Cruz and this fort first in 1848, but the significant involvement was in 1914, namely the Battle of Veracruz. I was quite surprised that this was the first time I’d heard of this extended conflict. The fort itself is now a museum and, while windy, it was nice to visit this historic site. 





The drive though central Mexico was also pretty nice.


  
On my last day in Mexico City we wandered around Chapultepec Park near the Anthropology Museum and happened upon the Danza de los Voladores, then we wandered the parks and main streets downtown. The weather in January is fantastic. For dinner we went to my favorite sushi place (Mexico City has GREAT sushi options). I'm sure I'll be back to Mexico City soon, considering it is my home away from home.





Thanks for reading, happy teaching and traveling!
- Christina

Colorado ski adventure, USA

Hi all,

So this Christmas I went out to Colorado where my Aunt and her family live. My little brother joined me there, taking his first flight! My cousins are into skiing and snowboarding so we went up to Silverthorne, north of Denver, for a ski holiday including Christmas. It was a blast. We even spent an afternoon painting!

So after a few days in Denver, my cousins, brother, and I packed up the SUV and headed up to Silverthorne. We left in the evening, planning to beat a snowstorm. Well the storm met us on the highway. If you’ve never driven in snow (which I luckily have, and I wasn’t driving, cousin #1 was), it’s basically like driving at warp speed (*Star Trek) - flakes flying and it feels like you are going faster than you really are. I’m thankful cousin #1 is a very skilled snow-driver, he handled it like the Colorado pro that he is. We actually made good time and the storm had faded by morning. 

I had missed real snow. Living in the desert it was a welcome sight waking up to this winter wonderland a few days before Christmas. Then we went ice skating!

 

The next day we picked up ski and snowboard gear and then drove out to the ski resort. Colorado is simply gorgeous. Photos describe it better than words. 
 









I have skied before (notably a “bunny-hills” resort in West Virginia, a premier resort in The German Alps, and a local spot in the Czech wilderness), but that was 2012. I definitely needed to get my ski-legs back. A few easy runs and I was back in the groove. My brother had never been snowboarding before (he’d opted for it instead of skiing because of his long-boarding experience), but after a few falls it was clear that he has some natural talent. He also really enjoyed getting used to it and had a great attitude about all the tumbles he took. 
video

video

video

video

I found a run that was just gorgeous. Very winter-wilderness. Silly one that I am, I took to playing “Let It Go” from Frozen in my head as I raced down it. Haha. 


We skied every day for 4 days, including Christmas. One day my brother and I went up to one of the top runs, a medium level one. He’d gotten up the guts to try it and I was certainly feeling confident in my skiing abilities. We took this photo at the top, and though he fell a few times, it was a great run down. I do really like skiing, though the boots destroy my ankles. My aunt recommended getting custom boots, so perhaps when I live in a more mountainous location I will. 

In the evenings we relaxed in the cabin’s hot tub, chatted about life, and just hung out. It was really nice to have this time with my cousins, especially since I hadn’t spent much time with then in the last few years. My brother being out there was also more fun. All 3 have very young, “enjoy life” attitudes and like to be active. I enjoyed having a white Christmas (since they are rare in Virginia) and the whole trip was a fun adventure. I’ll definitely be back to Colorado and I’d love to spend more time exploring the Rockies. 


Thanks for reading, happy teaching and traveling!

- Christina



Oman - Part 2

Hi all,

Sorry I haven't posted more about my Oman trip from WAY BACK IN OCTOBER! I hope to tell some stories and share some photos soon, including...

- driving up a mountain for the view
Here's the video of the view to prove it!
- lunch with a very helpful Omani man and his family
- Jabal Shams morning adventure
Here's the video I took while we drove down Jabal Shams. It was dark when we went up...
- driving into the sunset
- Al Ain is a very confusing city
- why I read on travel days