Blogs from Middle East - page 10


Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai November 1st 2018

This morning I took a picture from my window overlooking the Jumeirah Beach resort area. There is a big Ferris wheel and, beyond that, the Persian Gulf. I took a taxi to the central mosque at ten o’clock so I could go on the popular public tour. I’ve been in a few mosques, sometimes with guides, but have never had such a thorough review of what Muslims do there. Specifically the presenter showed us how he performs ablutions before prayer and how, exactly, he prays - first standing, then bowing, then kneeling. He encouraged us to stare and to take photos, things I don’t feel comfortable doing without express permission. My next stop was the Dubai Museum, another busy spot - I would not have guessed that Dubai had so many tourists! The museum reviews the ... read more

Middle East » Cyprus » Famagusta October 30th 2018

Now, I've visited a couple of disputed territories, with some being much stranger than others. There is always something intriguing about them though, which is why Scott and I thought we'd check out what it's like in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We'd already seen the Turkish half of Nicosia, so we had some idea of what it's like; but we thought we'd venture into the territory a bit further to check out a couple of supposed coastal gems - Kyrenia and Famagusta. I don't quite know what I was expecting but the outskirts of North Nicosia are actually quite nice. They definitely aren’t poor. We got a decent look at them as our colectivo made its way towards Kyrenia. In look... read more
Lala Mustafa Pasa Camii
Old Town Kyrenia
Kyrenia Castle

Middle East » Cyprus » Nicosia October 28th 2018

It has been five months since I last wrote, which naturally and obviously, was the last time I travelled. Back then, I took a sneaky trip to Leipzigbefore starting my new job – five months later, it was time to get away for my first holiday since starting work again; the first time I have worked for almost three-and-a-half years. The holiday was well and truly deserved. About a month after I had started, I was put on a big project and the long hours, combined with the stress of delivering the project on-time and performing my job to high enough a level to pass my probation period, left me absolutely exhausted. This was on top of getting used to working life again, remembering how to do my job, settling into a new city, establishing new ... read more
Archbishop's Palace
Selmiye Mosque
Venetian Walls

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District » Holon October 24th 2018

. Holon - Third in a series of experiential, off the beaten path tours to encounter and appreciate other important religious communities in Israel led by licenced tour guide Rina Yellin. The city of Holon is located south of Tel Aviv. (See our blogs "Day around the Carmel in Israel - January 2016" and "Day tour of Minorities in the Galil - April 2016" for the two previous tours with Rina.) Our Samaritan (Shomronim) Holon tour began with a visit to the Samaritans during their Sukkot holiday. We started in the house of Benyamim Tsedaka, an elder and head of the Israelite Samaritan Information Institute ( ). As we walked in we were confronted with a beautifully decorated sukkah in the middle of the living room and greeted by Binyamim who said "call me Ben ... read more
Samaritan Institute & Ben Tsedaka’s home
paintings by Miriam Tsedaka
Mezuzah in Ancient Hebrew

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai October 23rd 2018

One would think that getting a visa would be easy. You fill out a form and submit it with your passport and “voila!” … you have a visa. Bah hahahaha!! Not in the UAE and not in Dubai. When entering the country you are giving a stamp in your passport (and it’s all about the stamp) that provides a 30 day tourist visa. That is nice for most tourists, as many don’t stay that long. If you are looking to become a resident, the process can be pain staking and challenging, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. The visa process for me could not start until Jennifer had her visa and we received an Ejari Certificate. The certificate is an official stamped document from the government stating that you have a place to ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District » Tel Aviv October 22nd 2018

We are looking down from the top floor of a converted Bauhaus cinema, now the cool boutique hotel where we are staying. Around Dizengoff Square, with its drum-shaped fountain, are a number of fine Bauhaus buildings. Characteristic long horizontal lines formed by smooth balconies and ribbons of windows, skinny verticals (including the classic “thermometer” windows of internal stair ways), gentle curves and occasional sinuous forms abound. There is over 1000 of these remarkable buildings remaining from the Modern Movement of the 1920s and early 1930s. They were built by European immigrants schooled in the International style and adapted for a hotter climate. They display an elegant simplicity and functionality of style. The majority are built from smoothly rendered white washed concrete and possibly result of the “poverty of materials” experienced by this city during its early ... read more

Middle East » Jordan » North » Amman October 21st 2018

So, back on the bus it was. You know, that once a day bus from Petra back to Amman? Well, there's certainly enough business to run a more frequent service because as well as those of us with booked seats and tickets there was a significant number of other people who were on 'standby', ready to fill any empty seats. What a scrum! And, yes, I do realise that queueing is not a concept that is understood or adopted everywhere but I do think the concept of fair play is, or should be. As soon as I realised that those on standby were just pushing to the front and sitting in any vacant seat, despite a chappie on the bus trying to get everyone into their rightful place, I stuck out every protruding bone I had ... read more

Middle East » Iran » East » Birjand October 19th 2018

This blog post has not just written itself and we found it hard to briefly describe our past month of travelling in Iran without using all the clichés, without sounding like a tourism promotion brochure and without sounding like we are all naive and don't see the more difficult side of the country and it is complex and difficult to understand politics. We simply love Iran and the Iranians. Travelling in Iran is an extremely positive experience. Iran has varied nature, a long interesting history, a beautiful distinct culture, architectural beauties and the most hospitable welcoming people of the world. The infrastructure and public transport is very good and comfortable, which makes travelling very easy and (currently with a very weak currency) very cheap. We have travelled from Tehran via the mountains of Qazvin and Alamut ... read more
Ramsar - Ashura ceremonie
Rasht - Kaleh Rudkhan
Rasht - Kaleh Rudkhan

Middle East » Jordan » South » Wadi Rum October 19th 2018

We'd checked out options for trips to Wadi Rum from Petra from home before we started our travels and they all came in at lots of silly $US prices. And I mean really, really silly prices. Surely it could be done cheaper once we were there? And indeed it could. Our wonderful hotel Mr Fixerman had it all sorted for us within minutes, though it all seemed a bit random - give the bus man so much, the jeep man this much and the taxi man that much and not a dinar more! OK then .... So, another early get-up (I was getting a bit fed up of these now but Steve had warned me the first few weeks of our travels would be a bit 'full on') and a 4.15 am alarm had us ready ... read more

Middle East » Jordan » South » Petra October 18th 2018

We had to get up early to catch the bus to Petra. Now, I'm normally an early riser but this was early even for me and it was still the middle of the night for Steve! The alarm went off at 4.15 am and were eating breakfast at 5.30. We'd decided to travel with a couple of holdalls rather than take the suitcases so we left those behind at the hotel and wandered down to catch the bus. The place was heaving, even at that time of day! We eventually left at 6.45 rather than 6.30 but I didn't really want those extra minutes in bed anyway .... The journey was uneventful on smooth-ish roads, driving through mainly rocky, sandy countryside. We saw some sheep and goats but very little agriculture. We stopped at the Half ... read more

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