Egypt, here I come

Some news before I leave tomorrow for Cairo via Vienna :D.

I got my passport back from the Syrian embassy yesterday morning as planned so it means I now have everything I needed before leaving. My backpack is ready and as I wrote last time, it all fits and weights at 17kgs (38lbs).

The last few days have been very laid back as I was meeting with family and friends during the evening and doing mostly nothing but reading, watching movies and seating in front of a computer the rest of the day.

Actually, one thing stroke me. While I have no trouble doing nothing for the day, I have this strong feeling of guilt nagging me by the end of the day. I feel I should be doing more. So, I will have to work on that later. Not on doing more… but on suppressing this damn nagging!

Talking of the future, the next 2 or 3 weeks should be very busy since I plan on visiting very actively all over Egypt. I have two possible contacts in Cairo provided by Jacques-Alexandre and Raphaele so it should go well. Thanks guys! After that, the plan is to spend at least a week on the dead sea, tanning, scuba diving and doing nothing (this for my conscience).

Anyway. Paris has been great. It was really nice hanging out in family and with my friends but I feel two weeks is enough especially as the pastry shops around here are running out of pastries to try and I have been over the standard brasserie menu (crazy how all brasseries serve close to the same things) almost twice already ;).

Since starting from tomorrow, I will be in Egypt, I am not sure if I will be able to post as much as I have been posting in the last two weeks but I will do it whenever I find a place to do so. It has been great so far. I got some good feedback and exchange with some of you. If you read this site, do not hesitate to comment on my posts or send me an email even if it is only to say hi.

Alright, write to you soon from Egypt!

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.

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… 🙂



Alright, I cannot believe it. I started this site 2 months ago, I quit my job exactly 1 month ago… time has gone so fast because I have been so busy tidding up things here and there. And now, I am leaving tonight for Paris, France.

Surprisingly to me, people have been very supportive of my decision to take some time-off and go on a trip. So far, only my parents have been questioning it, they were a bit worried about the future… well, I guess that is what parents do! 🙂

I have not been to France for almost 2 years so it will be great to see everybody, my family and my friends. It will also give me a chance to explain what I am doing to my parents.

I heard there were large scale student manifestations right now in Paris. I guess moving around might be a bit slower than it could be but hey, it will give me a chance to practice patience and understanding and anybody that has travelled to a foreign country knows that they are two great virtues to exercise.
Well, I have 2 more weeks to complete my preparation. Moving from here to France is actually a good thing because it gives me a chance to see how things are fitting in the backpack I am planning to take for the trip. I do not have everything yet. Maybe 80-90% of my list. The bag is not too heavy so it should work out well once I have everything.

Anyway, I will arrive in Paris tomorrow 6:30PM local time (9:30AM PDT).

Hopefully, it is not too cold and dark in Paris right now. If it is, I will try to bring some sun. Seems like I already packed it in my luggage, sorry for the Californians! 😉


We came back from a weekend in New York with Ledi yesterday night so I did not do anything during the weekend. We had a very good time and it was nice to get out of the preparation mode and escape for the weekend :).

Tomorrow is the big day. I still have a long list of small things to do but I should be able to take care of them by tomorrow evening.

So today, I called AT&T wireless to suspend my line for the following 5 months. The guy is like “Sorry, we do not offer that option”! He offered me to lower my rate to the lowest rate possible: $20/month but it does not make sense to me.

I have been an AT&T wireless customer since 2000 when I got my first cell phone. I have been through a lot of crap from them including a big snafu with long distance overcharging while I thought I had a national plan…

But I sticked with the service because I had a TDMA phone and that was the best for my house. I actually refused several times to transfer to Cingular because they were not offering that service and wanted to transfer me to GPRS.

And now, suspending a line is not possible! Come on, what is the big deal with that, it does not seem like rocket science…

Well, thanks but no thanks so bye-bye AT&T Wireless/Cingular. I guess I will have to look for a new phone and phone number when I come back in August and you guys will have to update your phone book then ;).

Anyway, back to the to-do list :).