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Middle East See the Promised Land, the Red Sea, magnificient ruins and mosques, oil-rich metropoles. When you're done with that, go skiing and rock climbing !

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Old 01-21-2004, 02:00 PM   #1
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After my road trip around Newfoundland, I have started to plan for my next international adventure and have made up my mind on where I will go...

THE MIDDLE EAST

I have been thinking of it for sometime but with nothing really set in stone, now its starting to come togeather.

I will fly to England to see my sister for 2 days, the I will fly to Amman Jordan where I have been invited to stay with a friends brother for free in some sick huge house for 3 days, then I will make my way to Damascus, Syria for 3 days, and the to Beirut, Lebanon for 3 days and fly home from there.. On top of that I have 3 days extra in case of any side adventures I end up on. I am so excited about this, i can't wait. So 2 weeks total I will be down there for, and as always I will make the best of the short time I have.

Any advise or recommendatios from ANYONE on these places, PLEASE let me know, as this area of the world I know nothing about...
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:03 PM   #2
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Dude sounds like a super sick journey ya got planned! I dont know shite about that region either but I know ya better keep your ass safe bro
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Old 01-22-2004, 09:24 AM   #3
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Hi CD,

Wow, sounds like quite the adventure -- do you have a rough date set, yet? I haven't read up on Lebanon, but I've been to Jordan and have studied a bit on Syria.

My recommendations:
1. You might want to cash in your reserve of 3 days in Jordan to go to Petra. It is probably the Middle East's premier site, short of the pyramids. I thought it was amazing.

2. Another recommendation in Jordan is the Roman ruins at Jerash. Kind of like a Pompeii, but without the lava.

3. In Syria, I am dying to see two things:
-- The roman ruins of Palmyra, an ancient caravan stop city that ended up rivaling the Roman Empire in strength. Ruled by a queen (I think her name was Moccasin...no, wait a minute, it was Zenobia, I'm pretty sure), it rebelled against Rome and held it off for years.
-- The crusader's most magnificent fortress, Krak-des-Chevaliers. It never fell, and was eventually abandoned when their holdings shrank where they could no long adequately man its massive walls.

CD, this sounds like an amazing trip...!

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Old 01-22-2004, 12:42 PM   #4
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Great tips WWM!!! I knew you would come through for me with some wicked ideas on the Middle East. The temple was in Indiana Jones the Last Crusade!!! I will see that for sure, I am so excited about this, this is historic for me!!! I will leave on Sept 4 2004!!! I figure about 1300$ for my return ticket and thats with a stop in London for a couple of days and flying into Amman and out of Lebannon...
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Old 01-25-2004, 11:20 AM   #5
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Sounds like a hell of a trip CD... hope you have a blast. I would love to get to the middle east. I keep trying to fit it into my intinerary while in Europe but think I will just have to put it off for another adventure.
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Old 01-25-2004, 11:35 AM   #6
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Should we warn them about your arrival CD?! Just let them know you steel food from hotel's buffets, fight with people on the street and shit like that?! Hehehh
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Old 01-28-2004, 04:07 AM   #7
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It does sound like a great trip in the making, bro B)

This trip will definitely be a first hand full immersion history lesson! Will you be traveling with your wife this time?

What about that drive to Texas? Are you still doing that too?
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Old 01-28-2004, 02:20 PM   #8
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Slowly but surely this adventure will come togeather, Its on my mind all the time!!! Where can I go, what towns are there, What pharses should i learn, can I fit anymore into this trip...The cost is covered no worries, i will buy myu ticket in June.

No my wife will not be coming with me again this time, its just different ways of travel'n , I can't stay in a hotel every night, and she can't stay in a hostel or a strangers house for even one nioght, I respect that. So I will go alone again, the way I love to do it...I will miss her like before, and prob whine about it here, but hey, thats why she is my wife...

Na, the road trip to the USA is off for now, my wife and I could not get the time off togeather in Jan. so I went to the Rock in stead...no biggy, still on the list though!!!

ANYONE with any tips on the MIddle East, PLEASE help a brotha out!!!
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Old 02-02-2004, 02:27 PM   #9
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Hey CD,

I currently have two friends living in Cairo right now and one of them just took a trip to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. She wrote me a very interesting email about her travels through Syria and Jordan and I can forward it to you if you would like to read it.

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Old 02-03-2004, 08:23 AM   #10
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If you don't think your friend would mind, forward it to all of us (the Boards). I know I'd be interested! Syria is on my long range radar screen...

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Old 02-03-2004, 09:38 AM   #11
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Okey dokey, here goes (keep in mind the context in which this was written, to a bunch of her girlfriends "back home")

*********************************************
Well all,
I am now safely back in Cairo having had a great time travelling through Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
My last couple days in Lebanon were just as great as the first couple, and much less shopping oriented. Johanna, Safya and I checked out the fabulous club scene in Beirut on Saturday night. We managed to get lots of free drinks and a few photos taken of us for the social section of some Lebanese and Cairene magazinese (who knows if we'll actually make it in). The next morning we went off on a day trip (wake-up call at 7:30, ouch) to see the Jeita cave (natural cave with lots of stalagtites/mites, really beautiful, even with a hangover) and then up a Gondola for a great view of the sea and the Beirut skyline.
I left Jo and Safya in Beirut on Monday and headed on to Damascus, where I spent about a week seeing the city and making a few day trips out to other towns. I loved Syria, the people were really and genuinely friendly and made you feel very welcome. When they said "hello" and "welcome" to me on the street I felt like they really meant it, as opposed to Cairo where it comes off more as harrasment than anything else. The only thing I didn't really love about Syria was the weather, it's the middle of winter and it felt like it. It rained the whole time I was there and was in the high 30's and low 40's the whole time. I made a day trip to see the roman ruins in Palmyra in the desert. The guide books say it can go 2-3 yrs without rain there. Ha, ha, it sleeted the whole day. But it was still absolutely beautiful even with the rain.
I stayed in this great hostel with lots of other budget travellers and we wiled away the cold rainy evenings talking about where we'd all been and where we were going. (I met a few crazy people who were planning on heading to Iraq after they finished with Syria). My last day in Syria I decided I was going to kill two birds with one stone and go to the ruins at Bosra about 30 min. from the Jordanian border and head out from there in the early evening for Amman (theoretically about a 2 - 2 1/2 hr drive). If you ever go to Syria and want to do this, don't, it's practically impossible to get from there to Amman, you pretty much have to go back to Damascus and catch a bus from there. But, live and learn. I was determined to do it and just couldn't believe it would be that difficult. I eventually found a service (shared taxi) that would take me over the border where I would then have to take a taxi to another town and then hopefully be able to catch a bus from there to Amman and if there weren't any more running I would at least be able to find a not too sketchy place to sleep. But, one of the men I shared the taxi with, who was going to guide me through this whole process, then invited me to stay with him and his wife and 8 kids in Madaba, just outside Amman. So, after a bit of deliberation I said OK, thanks. This turned out to be a very interesting evening. His wife, his oldest son, and the 3 youngest kids came and got us at the border in their old, beat up car and we headed out. They lived in a small 3 room house (kitchen, tv room, living room) near the center of the town of Madaba. When we got home, Jamila his wife, made dinner which to be perfectly honest was less than appetizing, and they kept forcing me to eat more. It was fun, but also very challenging, sitting there talking with them all evening. Between all of them they only knew a few words of english so I was forced to use my Arabic and try and work through their heavy accents in order to recognize words that sound different in Eygyptian arabic. The sleeping arrangements consisted of mats laid out in two seperate rooms. I shared the living room with the 3 daughters, the two youngest sons (about 4 and 5 yrs) and the mother. And I kid you not, about 45 minutes after the lights went out I heard mother talking on the cell phone having phone sex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! with the full range of sound effects!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And most definitely not with her husband who was asleep in the next room. I'm not kidding, and yes I was extremely uncomfortable. I'm not really sure what she was thinking. Maybe she thought I was asleep, mabye she was trying to shock me, maybe she was taking the opportunity of sleeping in a different room from her husband for some quality phone time with her lover, who knows. All I know is I wish she hadn't.
For the most part staying with them was great, they didn't speak any english so I was forced to use my Arabic, I got to spend time in the home of a typical Jordania, they fed me tons, I drank tons of tea etc. The negatives; the phone incedent and I came away from it with $90 less in my bag, I discovered this in the morning as I was trying to figure out whether I should give them a gift, or offer them money or what, I don't know what the etiquette is in this sort of situation. But, discovering the money was gone solved that. (I think it was his wife, not him, who took it, she was just all around sketchy and she had a very guilty look the rest of the day). This has left me feeling a bit jaded, but I figure they definitely need the money a lot more than I do. And, as a result, when they showed me around the town and took me to Mt Nebo (with a view of the Dead Sea), I didn't feel guilty about using up their time, or them using their car and gas to take me there.
I only spent one day in Amman, there's not really much to see and it's hard to get around cause the taxi's are expensive and it's super hilly. I got there planning to spend two days, but just didn't get a very good vibe from the city and my hostel, recommended by a girl I met at the hostel in Damascus, turned out to be totally crappy. So I headed out to Petra which was the perfect way to end my trip. Once again it rained all day (and was freezing), but Petra is so amazing it just doesn't matter what the weather is like. I met this Australian girl Debbie, also travelling alone and we decided to see the ruins together. We got there at 9am and explored all day, getting back to the hotel at 5:30, totally exhausted. For those who don't know, Petra was a Nabateaen city built a little before and a little after Christ and it is really famous for the building-like tombs carved into the many-hued walls of the mountains, featured in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
And then I headed home to Cairo where it was a glorious 70 degrees (after the previous two weeks of cold I spent the whole day in a t-shirt, 70 in Cairo is usually light sweater weather for me, my blood has thinned. In the past couple months I've considered anything below 65 freezing and put on my wool coat, so most days in Syria and Jordan required two pairs of pants, a shirt, two sweaters, my wool coat and a wind breaker over that in order to stay warm).

*********************************************

I have emailed her to find out the names of the good & bad hostels so that I can pass that info along here.

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Old 02-04-2004, 11:18 AM   #12
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Thanks for the travelogue!

That sucks about the Jordanian family who stole her cash. I guess that is one of the reasons I always keep it on my person. No matter how trustworthy people you meet on the road seem to be, they are, after all, strangers. First time I've heard of something like that, though. I think it definitely violates the Arabic culture of "welcoming" and sheltering guests. That woman -- if those things were found out (phone sex, theft from a guest -- would probably be in some serious trouble...

Your friend had some crappy weather luck, too. I had a glorious sunny day in Petra (February, too, if I remember right). I'll keep Syria's cold in mind, too. You see that, CD? Of course, that'll be like a Canadian summer to you, won't it. Anyway, I also hear Tunisian winters can be wet and chilly (I'm reading a book on the WW II North African campaign...).

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Old 02-04-2004, 11:58 AM   #13
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WOW!!! Space Virgin, thatynks alot, that was one wicked play by play!! some of those those tips will com in handy. I am surprised about the phone sex thing..although i did kinda get a laugh..and the issue about the stolen money just another reason to be aware. Please trust me, anything above zero is fine with me...
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Old 02-04-2004, 02:29 PM   #14
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do you mean zero degrees celsius or farenheit? Big difference, ha ha. I used to live in Montana where it was not unheard of to get -50 f, with windchill down to -80. We used to take the batteries out of our cars and bring them into the house at night, no shit.

She had also sent me an earlier email about Lebanon but I deleted it; basically she said that Beirut was very fun and very modern, much more so than Cairo. I think you'll have a FANTASTIC time! And if you get to Cairo, let me know if you want to see a first-class belly dance show-- my other friend there is a famous belly dancer, and she's freaking BEAUTIFUL, which doesn't hurt.
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Old 02-04-2004, 04:11 PM   #15
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Belly dancer huh??? I might just have to alter my plans a bit..hahahaha

We don't bring our batteries in, alot of our cars come with block heater that we plug in at night..hahaha...gotta love canadian winters...

If i end up in Egypt I will let ya know, but as of right now, its not looking that way. But hey ya never know right, As long as I am in BEruit on the day I a suppose to leave , its all good!!!

Any more info you can dig up would be great!!! thax!
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