Packing list

As I am leaving Sunday after hopefully getting my passport back from the Syrian embassy tomorrow, I have completed my packing list.

I keep a packing list for the following reasons:

  1. Make sure I have everything I need
  2. Prevent the bloating effect by not packing something that is not on the list
  3. Check I did not loose something or am forgetting something while moving from place to place

I have been keeping packing lists for many occasions for several years (ski weekend, camping trip, scuba-diving trip or vacation trip…) so I had some experience before but I needed some help for such a long trip especially since I am backpacking and want/need to travel light. My main source of inspiration has been the great list provided by Doug Dyment at the One Bag website. Doug has been traveling with only one carry-on bag for many years and provide a lot of great advices for someone that want to travel light. I encourage anybody that left for vacation with a huge bag and came back with half the stuff in the bag not used once to read his website thoroughly. I did!
One constant theme in the choice of the items was to always go for the lightest, smallest and most compressible without sacrificing required features. As for clothing, an additional requirement is that everything must be hand washable and quick-dry hence polyester, modal and other artificial fabrics are preferred to cotton.

I created the list while still in California and purchased the items I was missing there and in Paris. I already had most of them since my trip to Peru last year so I was not missing that much.
The packing list has its own page so that I can print. Also, I can update it without changing this post.
The list is long but these are mostly small compressible items so believe it or not but it fits!

[3/31/2006] Moved the list to its own page.

Paris, c’est chez vous!

French people love their pets. My parents have a dog, a cat and around 15 lovebirds. And they call them their babies since my brother and I left the nest several years ago. It is not rare to see a Parisian whose only “family” is a dog. That said, maybe related to the destruction of the family cell I talked about last time, it is not surprising that Paris counts more than 200 000 dogs for a population of around 1 million people…

That many dogs leads to one serious issue that has been plaguing Paris and its streets for many years: dog poop. Parisians love dogs but do not like to pick-up after them (a case of incivility we could discuss later) hence the need to watch where you step while you walk in the streets of Paris! When I was living in Paris, there was this side street 2 blocks away from my place that we used to call dog-shit-alley because all the dog-owners of the neighborhood had decided to use it for their dogs. That street was the worst street ever and if you had to take it, it was better to walk in the middle of it than on the sidewalks.

hum, enough details… :).

To fight this, the cleaning services have been more and more creative including the “in”famous but now disappeared “motocrotte” (poopybike!) as well as the construction of special areas all over Paris.

But nothing is changing and Parisians, as French people in general and other nationalities I guess, understanding only when it hits their wallet, the town hall started a new campaign to remind them that not cleaning after their dog can cost them €183 (around $220 as of today). This new campaign is named “Paris, c’est chez vous” (Paris is your home) with TV commercials as well as posters all over the city like this one:


It is quite visual! But sadly I am not sure it will change anything except if people start to get fined aggressively and Parisian cops usually have better things to do than track dogs and their uncivilized owners.

Until better times, while in Paris, do not forget to watch your steps ;).

Moral lessons in 1932

Last weekend, as I was visiting the new house of my parents, I discovered in the attic a stack of old books and notebooks from the thirties that were left behind by the previous owner. There were well conserved school books on subjects like physics, mathematics, French litterature, English and other “normal” subjects as well as more surprising subjects like farming. Accompanying these were some notebooks written in a nice handwritting of the type I stopped using when I was 12 y/o. All except one dated from 1932.
Amongst these notebooks, I found one that particularly attracted my attention because of the nature of its subject: Moral. I took it downstairs and read through it. I found some good wisdom, interesting ideas and even an edgy warning representing ideas of that time. I took some notes and I thought it might be cool to share them with you. I will translate the best I can.

There is some good wisdom:

Will is the power that allows us to get into action – “La volonte est la puissance qui nous permet de passer a l’action”

Moral is the science of good conduct. It teaches to separate good from evil and recognize duty in all occasion – “La morale est la science de la bonne conduite. Elle apprend a discerner le bien du mal et a reconnaitre le devoir en toute occasion”

Conscience is a fair judge but not always a good adviser – “La conscience est un juge integre mais pas toujours un bon conseiller”

Some funny (but maybe true) statements:

Only lazy people or ignorant people know boredom – “Seul les paresseux et les ignorants connaissent l’ennui”

The lazy person is unhappy and sick – “Le paresseux est malheureux et malade”

The single-child family is incomplete. The single child is insufferable and unhappy. – “La famille a enfant unique est incomplete. L’enfant unique est insupportable et malheureux.”

And the pearl, the “echo of the time” statement for which I am not assuming any responsibility:

France, country of singles and single childs, becomes depopulated and is going straight to its death. In thirty years, the German population will be triple ours. The riskiness must be stopped. – “La France, pays de celibataires et de fils uniques se depeuple et marche a la mort. Dans trente ans, la population Allemande sera le triple de la notre. Il faut conjugerer le peril.”

Interesting! Funny! Isn’t it?

Ticket to Cairo

I spent most of my day yesterday looking for a plane ticket to Cairo. I had already looked before leaving California but I did not want to buy before knowing how long it would take to get my visa to Syria. Now that I knew, I was able to buy it.

When I looked last time, I had found a one-way ticket with Olympics for $350 but I did not really like arriving at 2AM in Cairo and also, reviews for Olympics are not very good. I also had found out that I could get to Luxor via Munich with Air Berlin, a discount airline based in Germany, for around the same price and with more confidence in their quality :). And I was entertaining the idea of staying a couple days there and go visit Neuschwanstein Castle at the occasion. But, looking again yesterday, there was no more planes scheduled from Munich after the 30th so this option was dead :(.

So, I started looking for more options.

After Olympics, the cheapest one-way tickets to Cairo are at least $650 with companies like Jordanian Airlines and Czeck Airlines.

I then investigated vacation package (that use charters to get you there) that are advertised as low as $415 but when you add the airport charges, taxes, single surcharge, fuel surcharge, compulsory tip(!) and other fine prints, it ended up being more like $800.

But then, I remembered that sometimes, roundtrip tickets cost less than one-way (if like me, you always wondered why, go read this) so I checked for that and found out many options for around $500. Some airlines I would prefer not to fly with but I liked the reviews of Austrian Airlines. As usual, I went on their website (less expensive than the portals like Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity that I use to identify options) and got rewarded when I found out that they had specials if you where flying on specific days. I ended up buying a roundtrip leaving Sunday 2nd for $400. Of course, I will not use the return ticket since it is for the 11th but well!
Only one more week to go with the great Parisian weather as shown on the following pictures… 🙂


Focus on your world

[09/02/2006: Sadly, the UNEP website does not exist anymore so no more links to the pictures! :(]
While I was in transit at London Heathrow, I noticed very cool photos all over the walls.

They are photos of cool landscapes or animals or people. I really like the idea of having all these pictures in an airport… makes you want to travel.

It is actually part of a program called focus on your world sponsored by BAA (British Airport Authority) and HP that presents a selection of photos gathered by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) in the 90s in the context of competitions named, you guessed it, focus on your world. You can [used to be able to] see all the winning pictures on the UNEP website. A lot of great pictures mixing joy and sadness, hope and despair… I really like some of them.

Some of these pictures are available for purchase in different sizes. Seems like you can get them shipped anywhere in the world.

Congratulations to BAA Heathrow and HP for sponsoring this program.