Page 5 of D MJ Binkley Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Switzerland » North-West » Lucerne March 13th 2016

Now, we’ll grant you that most people living in the Northern Hemisphere like to find somewhere nice and warm about his time of year. They tire of perhaps being trapped in doors, looking at gray skies that produce rain or even snow (not to mention bone-chilling winds). We on the other hand were looking forward to cooling off after a month in the Middle East, where the temperatures were running some 10 to 20 degrees F hotter than the norm. When it gets to be that warm and you didn’t bring your shorts and flip flops because it wasn’t supposed to be that warm and that type of dress is sort of frowned upon in some countries, you are not as comfortable as you would like to be. This can make a traveler kind of fussy ... read more
More cheese, please!
MJ on Lake Lucerne
Classic hotel on the hilltop

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem March 9th 2016

For those of you who have been holding off on coming to Israel because you are world travelers and still have some Muslim countries you want to visit, we can let you know that you don’t have to wait any longer. Israel has stopped stamping passports. When you arrive they print a small sticker the size of many visas we’ve had and hand it to you. They do not affix it to your passport pages; they do not stamp your book. We believe they realized their political and religious issues had negatively impacted tourism or circumstances and they were impacting people’s ability to travel to other countries. So – problem solved. They are not stamping the passports. The amazing thing about having the wonderful opportunity to travel is being exposed to the differences in nations and ... read more
Walling Wall
Viewpoint near St. George Monastery
Jordan River Baptisim

Middle East » Jordan » South » Petra March 2nd 2016

Amman From the minute we stepped off the plane and entered the airport in Amman, the vibe was good. We had a feeling that we were going to like Jordan. Amman is a big, clean, modern, progressive city, renowned in this part of the world for its universities and medical care. After the less than clean environs of Egypt, this was a most welcome change. Thanks to great planning by Brendan, we moved very quickly through immigration and sailed through customs. The two year-old airport had a Starbucks…..detour!! About thirty minutes later, we arrived at our hotel, which is named the “Toledo Hotel.” Ironic in that is the name of Dave’s hometown and not the most common city name around. We spent our first and last nights here, ensconced near the downtown area of the capital. ... read more
The Chef and MJ
The Monastery
Jordanian Lentil soup

Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt February 26th 2016

As our train rolled into Luxor we realized one of the advantages of hiring a local guide is that he or she has that extra shred of knowledge that can make life a lot easier just when you need it. As we neared our destination point, Ragab made arrangements for the train porter to provide an assist, as the train station at Luxor was “undergoing renovations.” On the surface a rather innocuous statement, but it turned out to be a gross understatement as the entire platform had its tiles ripped up, leaving only a sandy surface. Luggage on wheels would only provide good entertainment for the locals, watching the tourists attempt to drag their luggage for about one hundred yards through the sand. Two porters grabbed our bags and made a mad dash for the station ... read more
Great Columns
Nile River
Avenue of the Rams

Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Abu Simbel February 22nd 2016

Our return from the White Desert found us at the train station in Giza, which is on the west side of the Nile from Cairo. This was good, bad and good. Good in that it made the drive back from the White Desert a little shorter, bad in that we arrived some five hours before our train was scheduled to leave, and good in that Mohamed realized that without his guidance, we most likely would have missed our overnight train to the south. Hard to believe, but quite true. At this point, we were just coming off a night sleeping on the ground in the white desert, hadn’t seen a bathroom since we had lunch at Yasser’s house in Bahariya Oasis, and were in need of a shower, desperately in need of a shower. And we ... read more
Pharaoh Ramses II Temple
Wee hours of the night

Africa » Egypt » Western Desert » Baharia February 20th 2016

It was “Dawn Patrol” time again. Many travelers are aware of the scenario: up sinfully early and ready to go before the sun thinks about rising. It was our turn. We had many miles to travel this day and required all the sunlight possible if we were to see what the area had to offer. We were heading 600 km (350 miles) from Cairo into the desert. We were met by Mohamed and Gamel, tossed our belongings in the back of the ten passenger van and off we went, leaving early enough to avoid the morning traffic, which is a plus when you’re in Cairo and honestly we were more than ready to leave Cairo. This was the start of what was going to be a fantastic day, well two days, but at this point, frankly, ... read more
Peaceful Mountains
Nearly full moon
Stunning Sunset

Africa » Egypt » Lower Egypt » Cairo February 18th 2016

We left Alexandria after three days and made the journey south to Cairo. It was delightfully uneventful as we motored down the wide and not crowded toll road. That alone was different, as so far our brief experiences in Lebanon and Egypt were far too many cars and far too few roads to accommodate them. Part of the reason for the somewhat empty toll road was that there was a two-lane highway to our right that all the trucks were driving on. This road did not have a toll. We wished that this was the case in the States. Now Cairo is one of the most densely populated capital cities in the world with 17 million people, ranking tenth, just behind New York City and the traffic certainly proved it. As we rode into the city ... read more
Sunset on the Nile
Grand moment
Turkish lamb shank

Africa » Egypt » Mediterranean » Alexandria February 15th 2016

In between our time in Lebanon and the excitement of a rendezvous with BV Chef in Cairo, we descended on the coastal city of Alexandria. In all fairness, we didn’t know much about this city, given our somewhat hectic schedule leading up to our departure on this latest journey about the Middle East and Europe. We knew some key points; it is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and looked like a good place to slow down for a bit. Our subsequent discoveries uncovered a great many things in our abbreviated time here. This is no sleepy seaside town. Alexandria has over four million citizens and is the largest city directly on the Mediterranean Sea, founded by none other than Alexander the Great (which of course, makes sense) in 331 B.C. We chuckle because this ... read more
Alexandria in background
Along the corniche
Dolmas extraordinaire

Middle East » Lebanon » Baalbek February 11th 2016

Byblos To the north of the sprawling metropolis of Beirut is a small seaside town of Byblos. It is here where we are truly learning and embracing the concept of “old.” While it is only about 40 km away, traveling by car in this nation is an undertaking that requires patience and time. Simply translated: sit back and don’t be in a hurry because you will arrive as soon as you get there due to the fact that there are lots of cars on an overtaxed system of roads. On the surface, Byblos appears to be a nice resort town of about 40,000 people, but we’ve learned that this is only a best guess, as Lebanon has not taken an official census since 1932, due to what is explained as “confessional political balance.” As the system ... read more
Our Lady of Lebanon
Castle of the Crusaders
Byblos by night

Middle East » Lebanon » Beirut February 7th 2016

As we walk into the restaurant and give our name to the hostess for a table, we then move on as we always do….to the softly lit bar and grab a stool where Sami brings us a couple of libations. This place is all too familiar to us, with its fake, yet attractive grape vines hanging from the ceiling and all for that part, all around the room. It is our very favorite restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, Dave’s hometown. When we visit family we always try to spend an evening at “The Beirut.” It is one of those restaurants where you always feel at home. It is a restaurant with fantastic food. A standard that you hold all other Lebanese restaurants to…which may be unfair, but it’s our standard, after all. We’ve eaten our way around ... read more
Fresh catch
Psychedelic Walkway

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