(Israel) Jerusalem >>> Tel Aviv >>> Eilat >>> (Jordan) Aqaba >>> Wadi Musa
11/26- O, Little Town of Bethlehem
11/27- Floating in the Dead Sea and Hiking in the Ein Gedi Reserve!
11/28- Bus to Tel Aviv, Walking Tour of Old Jaffa, Delicious Mexican Dinner!
11/29- Hang out and Research in our fantastic Hostel, Bus 5 hours down to Eilat
11/30- Snorkeling in Eilat, Cross Border to Jordan, American Food in Aqaba!
12/1- Aqaba South Beach Snorkeling Trip and Jeep Tour of Wadi Rum!
12/2- Minibus up to Wadi Musa, Petra Visitor Center and Museum
O, Little Town of Bethlehem
+ Had a nice brunch with Suzanne in her living room. Lots of the Thanksgiving leftovers and some other yummy snacks.
+ Then we left her place and hiked down to the main road where we caught a taxi to head into Bethlehem. Crossed the border between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The guards didn’t even really want look at us or our passport! They just laid back in their chairs and played around on their phones. Very different than what we had been prepared for since we heard about how alert and tense everyone would be!
+ The whole border area around the tall walls separating Palestine and Israel was like a ghost town with no other tourists and virtually no locals either! We honestly weren’t sure if we were walking the right way or if it was even open!
+ Once we crossed into Bethlehem, we haggled for a fair price with a local taxi driver who took us a few kilometers into Manger Square. He was very friendly and nice and gave us his card use for the return trip.
+ This was the main attraction we’d come to see, the Church of the Nativity where Jesus was born! Inside, we got to see the places where his Manger was once located and where Mary gave birth and the wise men and angels visited! It was really special to be standing in the same area where over 2000 years ago such an incredibly significant event took place that has shaped the lives of so many people throughout history!
+ We had planned to go ourselves but the line was really long and not moving due to all 3 processions (Catholic, Armenian, Greek) taking place back to back to back which prohibited anyone from entering until they were finished. So we paid a tour guide to tell us some info while we waited and also to get us to the front of the line. Not really fair to all the people waiting patiently, but hey, money talks! We seemed to be the only single people here. Everyone else was part of a large group tour.
+ This attraction probably had THE pushiest and rudest group of people and tour guides we’d ever seen! Deliberately cutting people in line by physically pushing past people! It really took away from enjoying the moment and was the opposite of the peaceful and revered place it was supposed to be. Oh well, we tried to focus on where we were and not the rude people sharing the experience with us.
+ When we finished, we briefly explored some of the other areas of the church before making out way back out of the literally 4 foot tall doorway. Then we wandered around the square checking out the sights (including the giant Christmas Tree!) before our taxi driver found us and we decided to head back. It seems so strange to see so many secular decorations at such a holy place! I suppose because both Israel and Palestine is such a mix of religions celebrating the Santa side of Christmas isn’t that strange.
+ On the drive back to the border, we talked in depth some more with our driver about life in Bethlehem. He said how he and his family feel trapped and that they felt there was no hope for the future. Very sad. We gave him a small tip with the fare and said we hoped things would get better.
+ Crossing the border this time around yielded the same lackadaisical indifference from the guards but this time there were many more locals returning from what we assumed was work in Israel. Very interesting that some people are allowed to cross and others aren’t. Again we were the only tourists in sight as we crossed back into Israel.
+ The original plan was to get another taxi from the Jerusalem side back to Suzanne’s, but when we crossed the border, there were no taxis to be found. Only semi-sketchy looking people hanging out and private cars dropping people off. So we decided to just start walking back and to try and flag down taxi’s on the way.
+ Well there ended up not being any good areas to stop for buses or taxis and we walked the whole way back! We didn’t mind too much though as the weather was nice and it gave us a chance to reflect on what we’d done so far and talk about the plan for the upcoming days.
+ Back inside Suzanne’s cozy apartment we all enjoyed a nice meal and then we had to buckle down and do a little more research and planning before going to sleep.
Floating in the Dead Sea and Hiking in the Ein Gedi Reserve!
+ Today we were headed off towards the Dead Sea! This was a place we’d always wanted to visit and that Liz’s parents had visited over 30 years ago!
+ So we said goodbye to Suzanne (who graciously packed us some nice to-go snacks) and caught a city bus to the main terminal and then the main 9 am bus headed south!
+ We had wanted to hop off in the northern area to hike the Ein Ge Nature Reserve first (to work up a sweat) and then go to the sea afterwards, but the bus driver never stopped and left many on the bus (including us) left scratching our heads. So we decided to just keep on riding for a bit until we got to the free public beach area of the Dead Sea.
+ There used to be a lot more public beaches to visit, but over the past 5+ years a bunch of sinkholes had caused significant damage and closure to the beaches since it was either impossible, or just unsafe, to get to them anymore.
+ The beach we actually wanted to get to we discovered was under construction and closed for the off-season, so we wandered down the promenade to some of the beach front hotels to inquire on using their beach or finding another free one in the area. We couldn’t afford the cost to use their beach but one lady was nice enough to give us directions towards a free one.
+ Well, we couldn’t find that free beach either so we ended up just sort of sneaking into the beach area for the Crowne Plaza hotel! Luckily, no one noticed or questioned whether or not we were guests. But this meant we had nice changing rooms, showers to rinse off, and beach chairs to lay all our stuff. Win!
+ The Dead Sea was wayyyy colder than either of us expected and it took our warm-blooded Floridian bodies a few minutes to work up the courage to hop in. There was an Israeli woman floating nearby and giggling at us as she watched us making a big deal about the temperature of the water. She said in broken English that during the summer the water is like soup!
+ Once we did sit down in the water, whoa! We knew it was salty but wow! Corey had never been able to float before in any pool, ocean, or sea but in this one, over half his body just floated up above the water with ease! You actually had to force your legs and feet down when you wanted to stand since they were so bouyant!
+ We floated around “reading” some of the leftover maps and papers we had from our backpack to get the obligatory picture of reading in the Dead Sea (although the salt destroyed the papers astonishingly fast!) and after about 20 minutes we decided our skin had probably had enough and we needed to rinse off. The extreme saltiness (combined with the multitude of other minerals) in the water actually caused our hands and skin to feel almost slimy when rubbed together.
+ After rinsing off the best we could and changing, we caught the next bus headed north and made sure the driver stopped at the Ein Gedi Reserve this time around so we could go hiking! The bus dropped us off and we walked to the entrance of Wadi David.
+ This hiking trail, while easy and paved, turned out to be surprisingly cool due to the abundance of wildlife around! We had apparently timed our visit correctly because not only were there tons of Hyrax running around (little gopher like animals which are actually related to the elephant!), but the resident herd of Ibex were grazing right along the path too!
+ This meant we got some incredible close-up photos of the Ibex with their giant horns grazing in the bushes and even standing up on their hind legs to chew on the tree branches! This was going on while the Hyrax ran around climbing trees and jumping from branch to branch, somehow not falling down. It was pretty cool to be only a few feet away from all the action!
+ We continued down the trail to the furthest point we were allowed to go this time of year, David’s waterfall! It was pretty tall and the rock canyon setting around it was really neat and made for some dramatic pictures. Then we turned around and hiked back out, stopping again to admire the Ibex for a good bit.
+ On the way out we met some friendly people from South Africa hiking the trail as well and we spoke with them for a while about their experiences in Jordan. Always fun to meet other travelers and hear about their adventures!
+ From there, we hung out at the bus stop on the side of the road until the bus picked us up and then reversed course all the way back to Suzanne’s, stopping only briefly in the bus station to eat some delicious Chinese food. It reminded us of the chinese restaurant in our local mall back home, except even better!
+ This would be our last night with Suzanne so we decided to just relax and enjoy our time together instead of work on our devices again. We wanted to watch a movie and Suzanne had a great recommendation to watch a film we’d never heard of called The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. It was a surprisingly good movie and afterwards we all retired to bed.
Bus to Tel Aviv, Walking Tour of Old Jaffa, Delicious Mexican Dinner!
+ The hostel we were staying at in Tel Aviv had a sister hostel here in Jerusalem and offered a shuttle service between the two. This left at 9:30 am though which meant we had to wake up around 8 to ensure we managed to ride the bus from Suzanne’s and make it there on time.
+ So after saying goodbye to Suzanne and thanking her for her very generous hospitality (putting us up for 5 whole nights!), we headed out the door to the bus stop and made it to the hostel in time. We even managed to make a quick run to the bakery to grab some breakfast before the shuttle departed!
+ Once we arrived at Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv, we couldn’t check into the room yet so we had to store our bags in their giant bag storage room. This hostel was huge and could house at least a few hundred people. And from the looks of it, they were probably at least 75% full.
+ There was a free walking tour advertised at the desk that was to start on the other side of town and if we hurried, we could make it! So after walking a few blocks, riding a local city bus, and the walking a few more blocks, we showed up at 11:01 just in time to join the group as they started the tour. Great success!
+ The tour was focused on the Old Jaffa part of town and lasted for about 2.5 hours. Our tour guide did a good job of maintaining a neutral stance on everything and presenting both sides of the story with all of the political and religious tension there was in this area. The architecture and history were neat too and overall we were happy we had the chance to see this area of the city.
+ Afterwards we grabbed some Shwarma and then headed north and walked up the promenade alongside the beach until we reached the Opera House. Then we caught a bus back down to our hostel that went a different way than we’d come tht way we got to see even more of the city.
+ We’d yet to actually explore this giant hostel so we headed up to their rooftop bar and took a gander out at the city and then went down to their absolutely massive 2nd floor hangout room. This place was huge and had enough room to fit a few hundred people! Luckily it wasn’ that crowded and we found ourselves some nice comfy chairs to relax in (Corey sat in one of those haning egg shaped chairs and spun around incessantly like a child!).
+ After a good chunk of time just playing around and browsing Facebook and Youtube, we forced ourselves to start doing some actual work like uploading videos and pictures, researching accomodation, and contacting different dive and tour companies in Jordan. We ended up hanging in the room until about 9 pm when we decided to take a break and go grab some dinner.
+ We asked the hostel reception for recommendations and they sent us down a popular and touristy road that did indeed have some restaurants to choose from, but they were all too expensive! One thing we’d definitely discovered by now is that Israel is a much more expensive country than we’d expected!
+ You can usually gauge how expensive a country will be by how much it costs to buy a beer (it’s true!) and in Jerusalem, beers coud be as much as $12 at a bar! Obviously this was much too expensive for our backpacking budget and the only 2 beers we bought the entire time were 2 of the local beers from a grocery store for about $2 each.
+ Anyway, back to dinner. With all the restaurants being too expensive, we remembered a mexican place we’d passed earlier on the way back from our afternoon tour and headed over there. We hadn’t had Mexican food in ages and were excited to see they were even cheaper than the other places.
+ Our food portions were huge and while eating, we spoke with 2 really nice locals who were sitting beside us. They were very friendly and gave us all sorts of tips on things to do and see in Tel Aviv before leaving town. Unfortunately we probably weren’t going to have time for a lot of them but we’d at least hold onto the list for our next visit.
+ Not able to finish everything, we took our takeaway bag back to the hostel and spent the next few hours before bed doing the same thing we’d done before dinner: researching and planning for the next 6 days or so we had before leaving this area of the world.
+ We were headed to Jordan next and we were trying to decide if we could manage the border crossing and transportation in Jordan ourselves or if we really did need to do a tour. The tours are just so expensive and we have a friend who did it on her own just a few years ago.
+ One funny thing that happened before we went into the dorm room was when we each used the restroom at the same time. Since the bathrooms here are unisex (and we were the only 2 people up at this hour using it), we ended up peeing in the stalls next to each other! That was definitely a first! lol. Then we climbed into our separate dorm beds, put in our ear plugs and slipped our eye masks on and passed out.
Hang out and Research in our fantastic Hostel, Bus 5 hours down to Eilat
+ Our dorm room stayed surprisingly quiet until around 9:30 when everyone woke up to head downstairs and grab breakfast before it ended at 10.
+ The breakfast wasn’t going to win any awards, but it was filling and best of all, the hostel had a Cappuchino machine!! Liz was super excited and managed to gulp down multiple cups before they covered back up the machine until the next morning.
+ Then we checked out of the dorm room and put our bags in storage and spent the next few hours hanging out in the common room doing work and research on the tablet and computer. While working, the staff all had their lunch (the cook makes these huge dishes to feed the staff of about 40) and then we were able to enjoy all the leftovers for free! Free breakfast and free lunch! Yes please!
+ During the afternoon, the monotony was broken up with a random model photo shoot that was taking place right there in the hostel hang out room/dining room! Seriously, there was a 20-ish year old girl modeling in a silver metallic bathing suit as a team of (seemed like way too many people) like 12 people photographed her, spritzed her hair, polished her make up, etc. It was pretty random! and very different from Jerusalem!
+ When we finished up with everything we needed to do and had a basic itinerary for the rest of our time in Israel and then Jordan, it was time to go. Choosing Abraham Hostel ended up being a great choice! We really enjoyed our time here and felt like it was one of our favorite hostels!
+ We got our bags and took off on foot through Tel Aviv to the bus station. Inside, we eventually managed to find our way through this massive 5 story labyrinth to the bus terminal we needed and loaded up for our 5 hour ride down south to Eilat.
+ One thing we noticed during our entire time here in Tel Aviv was that it was sooooo different than Jerusalem! Totally different people and atmosphere, you’d never think these 2 cities were so close together!
+ Along the way on the bus, we read a bunch of Lonely Planet and made a bunch of notes on our upcoming destinations in Evernote. We also snuck in an hour and a half nap before the twisting mountain roads made it impossible to sleep any longer.
+ Once we made it to Eilat, it was just after 9pm and we checked into our motel and set off to find dinner. Although this was a massive tourist town, the area we were in only had a few restaurants open and we ended up picking a place that offered cheap Shwarma and good looking hamburgers. Corey had the Shwarma and Liz got the hamburger and once the food arrived we realized we should’ve just split one as they were both very large and the Crunch chocolate bar we’d snacked on in the bus had taken away some of our hunger. Since we weren’t quitters though, we still managed to eat our whole meals and then practically rolled ourselves back to the hotel room!
+ When we’d showered and prepared our stuff for the next day, we finally crawled into bed at around 3 am.
Snorkeling in Eilat, Cross Border to Jordan, American Food in Aqaba!
+ We finally had a day where we could at least sleep in past 8 am so we took advantage of it and didn’t get up and check out until around 11. We stored our bags at the hotel and then set off the for bus station to get a city bus down the coast to the Coral Beach Nature Reserve where we wanted to go snorkeling.
+ Of course we’d missed the previous bus by about 10 minutes and the next wasn’t for about 40 minutes. So with time to spare and feeling a bit peckish, we went to the same restaurant as last night but this time we split 1 meal so we weren’t stuffed to the brim. Then we went back to the bus station and caught our bus south.
+ The weather had been sunny but by the time we were inside the Nature Reserve and standing at the end of the dock with our feet in the very cold Red Sea water, it was cloudy overhead. Still, we’d come too far to turn back now so after working up the courage, we hopped in and began snorkeling around.
+ The cool thing about this place was it had a designated snorkeling route you could follow which went alongside the reef and gave you great views in a place you knew you were protected from boats and such. It was a pretty cool snorkeling session and we managed to see a bunch of new types of fish, some puffer and burr fish, and a seahorse! We also saw the biggest trigger fish ever and 2 lion fish just hanging out together out in the open (normally they’re hidden) and even a new type of sea slug that looked like a really long snake with a filter feeder at the end. Weird!
+ When we were too cold to continue any longer, we got out and rushed back to the bathroom to shower off all the salt and warm up. Then we changed and caught the bus back north to our hotel. Reunited with our bags once again, we caught a taxi towards the border to cross into Jordan!
+ The crossing was pretty straight forward and smooth and we were the only tourists in sight in either direction. ON the Israeli side we did get approached by a government representative who asked us all sorts of questions in a departure survey they were doing which hadn’t happened to us before. We were so important! lol.
+ Once we were in Jordan (our 36th country!), we had to actually wait for the guy who handles tourist Visas to be called in since I guess there wasn’t much need for him this time of year! Then we had the fun game of haggling back and forth with the money changer who tried his best to completely rip us off. After a while, Corey wore him down enough to where he only mildly ripped us off. We guess that’s a win? The victory was only short-lived however as we then got taken to the woodshed by the taxi drivers waiting outside who way overcharged us to take us the 15 minutes into town. With no other tourists around however to split the taxi with and no other options, we didn’t really have a choice.
+ We were staying in the Al Quidra hotel right in the middle of town and were surprised to see that Aqaba was almost as touristy as Eilat! There were even some chain restaurants right down the road! Including Pizza Hut, KFC, and Burger King! We were pretty tired though and decided to hang in the room and knock off some items from our to do list. This eventually led to a short hour-long nap before we had to get up and go find dinner.
+ Although we probably should’ve eaten at one of the cheap local joints serving Shwarma or something, we’d had our fill of that and instead went to a touristy restaurant called Buffalo Wings and Rings. This was apparently a chain and it said they had a location in Orlando! We’d never seen it but it was probably on I-Drive, or had been built within the past year while we were gone!
+ The food was really yummy and we had all the wing sauce and unlimited refills of Coke we could handle before deciding we’d fulfilled the American stereotype enough for 1 night. Then we went back to the hotel where for the next few hours, we struggled with the extremely inconsistent wifi to get the necessary work done for scuba the next day. Then, we skyped with Corey’s mom for about an hour before going to sleep.
Aqaba South Beach Snorkeling Trip and Jeep Tour of Wadi Rum!
+ We were very tired once again after getting less than 5 hours of sleep but forced ourselves out of bed and downstairs for the free breakfast. We knew we’d need the energy for our long day ahead.
+ After checking out and storing our bags, we went outside to catch our free shuttle to the Red Sea Diving Center, where we’d planned on scuba diving. Along the way, we picked up 3 nice girls on holiday who were from the UK and Ireland. They would be joining us for the underwater adventures here at Aqaba’s South Beach.
+ When we showed up, we were informed that if we went diving, then we could not travel up to Wadi Rum later that day. We knew we couldn’t go further North in Jordan, but we thought Wadi Rum would be ok since it wasn’t that high in elevation. So we had to choose between skipping diving (and only snorkeling) or skipping Wadi Rum. Since this would only be a shore dive anyway and we knew there’d be a lot of reef to see just with snorkeling, we chose the former.
+ Thankfully they still gave us wetsuits and fins, which helped combat the icy Red Sea temperatures. For 90 minutes we explored about a 100 yard section of the reef and saw all sorts of fish we hadn’t seen before in other areas of the world. We also saw the biggest Burrfish either of us had ever seen hanging out in his own little underwater cave! No larger animals like turtles or eels, but still a fun snorkel trip.
+ When we got back to the dive shop and rinsed our gear, we said goodbye to our new friends and after a little bit of confusion with Dollar rental car, we managed to get a ride back to town and pick up a rental car we had reserved. We’d decided that renting a car was much cheaper than paying an exorborant amount for a tour and allowed us to go on our own schedule and fit both snorkeling and Wadi Rum into the same day.
+ Before we could depart however, we had to get our stored bags from Alquidra hotel and check into the Hilton Doubletree hotel we’d booked with some of our credit card points. It was much later in the day than we’d hoped (around 2:45), but we were finally on our way to Wadi Rum!
+ For the first time this whole trip we actually had an automatic rental car instead of a stick shift, but driving in Jordan was still a little difficult and confusing with it’s roads (and speed bumps) not well marked. A little over an hour later though, we reached Wadi Rum safely.
+ The same guy who rented us the car organized a guide to take us on a tour of Wadi Rum for a discount. When we pulled up towards the visitor center, all the local guides outside were actually waiting for us (they knew what car we’d be driving) and immediately directed us to where our guide would be 7 km further in at the Wadi Rum village. This would be best since we had very limited time before sunset and wanted to see as much as possible.
+ Our friendly guide was named Mohammed and after hopping into the back of his pickup truck, we went rumbling through the best past many care-free looking camels and giant orange mountains.
+ This place was made famous from the film Lawrence of Arabia and one of it’s main features was the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which you could see from the Visitors Center. More recently, The Martian, Transformers something, and even the newest Star Wars: Rogue One were all filmed here!! How exciting!
+ One of the most popular things to do here was spend a night in one of the many Bedouin camps with the locals and enjoy a night in the desert. This was not the ideal time of year to do so however, with the weather being much too windy, cold, and rainy.
+ So for the next 2 hours, Mohammed took us to see 4 different places- Lawrence Spring high up on the mountain where we had Bedouin Mint Tea, a giant sand dune you could climb up to have amazing view over the valley (which Corey successfully conquered), a cool little canyon we climbed through while scrambling to avoid stepping into the pools of water, and finally the famous Arch they had high up on top of a big rock formation. The arch actually reminded us a lot of Arches National Park in Utah, except here you could walk on top of and underneath the arch (not allowed in the U.S.).
+ It was a really cool tour and we finished up just as it was getting too dark for any more pictures. By the time we were back to the truck and on our way back to the parking lot (sitting inside the truck this time), the weather had taken a drastic turn and dropped 10 degrees with the wind increasing to 30/40 mph. We were in a giant sand storm! it was a pretty cool experience though and seemed to stay only in the desert because back at our car the weather was fine.
+ After making it back to Aqaba, we returned the car and headed towards the same restaurant as last night to grab dinner. We wanted to make it there before 8pm to enjoy happy hour since their prices for wings and appetizers were insanely cheap! We made it with 15 minutes to spare and much to Liz’s dismay, Corey ordered heaps of food and he pigged out for a while, also enjoying their unlimited soda refills! Delicious!
+ Exhausted and now stuffed from our long day, we went back to the hotel. There, we forced ourselves to do do a little bit of necessary work and planning before packing up our stuff and finally climbing in our comfy bed around 2 am. Another very late night!
Minibus up to Wadi Musa, Petra Visitor Center and Museum
+ It was time to say goodbye to Aqaba today and head north towards the main attraction of Jordan- Petra! But first, we were going to take advantage of the free breakfast buffet offered by our hotel. And boy, what a spread! We were definitely living the good life now! We wished we had more time but unfortunately we had to stuff our faces quickly and then head out to catch the minibus headed north.
+ So with full stomachs and our big bags strapped to our backs, we walked through town to the bus station and (eventually) found the right minibus. Today was a Saturday though which meant it was the Sabbath and a time of relaxation for many of the locals. So not many people were going to be utilizing the bus system today! This meant we had to hang out for an extra 20-30 minutes waiting for more people to arrive and ultimately paid an extra $4 each to cover the cost of gas with the (mostly empty) bus.
+ The ride up to the town of Wadi Musa (situated right next to Petra) was pleasant enough and Corey worked on the blog while Liz read Lonely Planet and tried not to become carsick.
+ Arrived in Wadi Musa and started hiking to our hostel. Even though we were carrying our bags the same way we always did (each of us with big one on our back with the smaller backpack on our front), a guy on street yelled at Corey something like “Carry all the luggage! You are a man, she is your woman!” He did it in a funny manner though and it made us laugh because we think he was kidding. We think?
+ We checked into our hostel and after initially choosing dorm beds like we booked, we decided to negotiate with the staff for a private room since they were so empty (and the dorm room was pretty crappy). So then we moved all our stuff up 2 flights of stairs to the private room and got ready to go to Petra.
+ First, we had to fuel up so we made a quick stop into a local pizza restaurant and split a nice large pepperoni pizza (our first in weeks!).
+ Along the mile-or-so downhill walk from the hostel to the entrance of Petra, a guy saw us walking and said to Corey “it is very cold and you are drinking coke!” Again, a pretty random and funny comment from one of the locals!
+ The weather was shockingly cold and windy considering we’d just come from warm and sunny Aqaba only a couple hours south. By the time we got to the visitor center, it was already much darker than it should’ve been this time of day and even starting to drizzle a little bit. So we made the decision to just thoroughly explore the visitor center/museum today and learn all about the history of Petra and the Bedouin people. That way we had all the knowledge and were prepared for the sites tomorrow!
+ When we left there, it was already night time and a taxi driver managed to talk us into a ride back up for only a couple of dollars instead of walking in the freezing wind.
+ Inside our room, we jumped into bed and pulled up all the covers to stay warm (the room had a heater but the hostel wasn’t going to turn any of them on! So dumb!). We watched a couple episodes of “Community” and then decided to take a nap!
+ Although we were nice and cozy, we forced ourselves to get up and head back outside around dinner time. We got some quick Shwarma burrito things from a nearby restaurant and then returned to the hostel hang out room on the 1st floor to use wifi, since it didn’t reach to our room. It’s so interesting how food deemed Shwarma can be totally different depending on which country you are in.
+ While working, the hostel owner tried to talk politics with us. He asked where we were from and then after our reply he stated how he didn’t like America and it’s government. This made us feel uncomfortable obviously. Then asked if we minded if he smoked which we politely told him we kind of did to which he replied we could move over to the other side of the room so there was space for when his friends came. Really!? Weren’t we the paying guests here?! Weird
+ Eventually we decided to escape to our room even though we weren’t finished working, just to avoid being around that guy, his friends, and the chain-smoking any longer. Then we watched some more “Community” to put us in a better mood before bed.