Sunday, March 31, 2013

Still here, family visiting

We don't have a lot of time to blog because Sam's family is visiting, but we're still here and still having adventures.  We'll have a ton to post next week!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Weird flowers in Tel Aviv

When we were there on Friday for the half marathon, we saw these weird flowers in Tel Aviv near the train station.  They fall off of a tree, and they're pretty for the most part:

Here's one up close:

But then they get trampled on the sidewalk and look really gross:

That's all, sort of a short post I guess.  But I bet you appreciate it after those epic India posts!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Munnar tea plantations

Our last thing in India was visiting the Munnar tea plantations.  There is no way to do them justice with photos, but here are some that I took anyway.  Sam already put some of these up, but I think they are so good that I will post them again.

Here are some monkeys that we saw.  One is a baby:

Here is a view of the tea plantations.  They are so gorgeous, and they just cover all sides of all the mountains in Munnar:

When we (finally) arrived on the afternoon of our first day there, we went on a hike to see what we could see just by walking around.  We found a path that led into one of the tea plantations, and it didn't say we couldn't go in there...

The sky was doing a cool thing:

We crossed this bridge on our hike:

And Sam pretended to drink some tea:

Then the next morning we went on an even better hike where we were able to get even closer to the tea plants.  See how close we were?  We could have just touched those plants!

You can see the workers in this picture to get a sense of the scale:

So beautiful!  This was another huge highlight of our trip.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Alleppey houseboat tour

One of the most fun things we did in India was take a houseboat cruise through the Kerala backwaters.  We went down to Alleppey to do it.  Here was the view from driving in to get to the houseboat:

Here is Sam in the bedroom of the houseboat, which was much bigger and nicer than we were anticipating:

They gave us homemade limeade when we first got on the boat, and we went upstairs (yes there was an upstairs!) to drink it and enjoy the view:

 Then the cook made us lunch, which as Sam mentioned in his earlier post was a bunch of stuff we had never seen before:


Especially these things:

We had so many amazing views.  Also, the moon was out:

Here is a view of the canal structure of the backwaters:

Here is a cool building we passed:

Here is an artsy picture that I took of a knot on one of the ropes on the boat.  I'm proud of it:

Here is some fried banana that they brought us for a snack:

And here is a banana that Sam picked when we stopped for the night.  It oozed some sort of sap and didn't seem ripe, plus I was being careful, so I didn't eat it.  Look how small it is!

Here is a view of the sun starting to set from our parking spot for the night:

Here is the tree that the banana came from:

Sunset over the next boat over from us:

We got off the boat at the parking spot and took this picture:

Here is Sam in front of our boat:

There were some geckos in our dining area, and we had a lot of fun watching them hunt little bugs.  They sneak up on the bug and then WHAM get it with their tongues.  And they were a very white color:

Alappuzha is the other name for Alleppey, and Kochi is the other name for Cochin.  The first one is the Indian name, and the second one is the British name.

We headed back in the morning, and it was very beautiful again:

This picture is out of order, but it was our dinner.  The reddish stuff is deep fried broccoli and cauliflower:

Here was breakfast, which was egg in the form of an omelet with no stuff in it, and egg pancake with coconut stuff inside, with pineapple juice:

This houseboat passed us on the way back:

This was one of the highlights of our India trip, and I would definitely recommend it!

Happy Birthday Louise!

It is Sam's mom's birthday today, so happy birthday Louise!  She is actually on her way here to visit us right now, which is probably the best birthday present anyone could want :)  Have a safe flight and we can't wait to see you!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Even more pictures from India

The end of our trip was in Kerala, which is a state in the south of India.  Our friend Jayson is from Kerala, so he had a lot of great suggestions for us.  Our other friends Sarah and Matt had also been there and gave us some more suggestions.  Here they are, in case you ever go:
  • In the south for food try dosas and idlis. Also try porotta which is the local bread (like naan but a little sweeter). Appam and pathiri are other breads usually eaten for breakfast. Appam is a little like injera of Ethiopia.
  • Get the Kati roll from Dal Roti in Fort Cochin.
  • See a Kathakali performance.
  • Go to Mattancherry Palace, which is from the 16th century in Kerala.  It was built by the Portugese right after they got there.  (No photos allowed inside, unfortunately.)
  • Walk around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry in the old part of the town (palace, synagogue, couple of old churches, wander around narrow streets).
  • Go to Munnar to see the tea plantations.  (This will be a separate post.)
  • Spend a night in Alleppey, which is the area with the backwaters and houseboats.  (Another separate post.)
We did all of those things, but not in that order.  Here are some pictures from each of them, or at least the ones I have.  Also, here are some of the goats that were wandering around all over the place in Fort Cochin:

Here I am standing in front of the synagogue, which is very old and not like any other synagogue I'd ever been in. 

They don't let you take pictures inside, so here is one I found on the internet:

All of the tiles on the floor are unique but very similar.  The area is (unintentionally) humorously called Jew Town:

Nearby is this cute arch:

It has writing in the local language, which is called Malayalam.  We didn't spend enough time in Kerala to pick out any letters like we did in Delhi with Hindi.

Also when we were wandering around Fort Cochin we found a cool little canal:

We saw some street art, which reminded us of Valparaiso in Chile:

I know I already posted this picture of the Chinese fishing nets, but I am so pleased with how it turned out that I am posting it again:

Behind the fishing nets there was this street art going on (but this time it is actually on the street :) ).

Right before we left we ate the idlis that Jayson had recommended.  They're the white balls in the bowl in this picture.  Also we were served our food on banana leaves, which was really fun:

We also got a giant dosa, which made Sam make this face:

Here are a couple more pictures of how Indian truck drivers decorate their trucks:

Here is the Kati roll from Dal Roti, and Sam with his food:

That was really tasty.  We also saw the Santa Cruz Basilica:

And here are some pictures from the Kathakali dance performance:

As you can see, Kathakali is very strange.  It was definitely a cultural experience, but I felt like we didn't have enough background to appreciate it going on for an hour and a half, with no words (just singing).  And apparently the real version that isn't for tourists goes on overnight, for hours and hours!