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Middle East » Jordan » North » Amman June 27th 2019

Today we have a day of travelling from our mountain retreat here in Oman, to Amman in Jordan. We’re very sad to be leaving Oman, which we both think has now become our new favourite country. There seems to be more gunfire than ever coming from the army base across the canyon this morning, and we suspect that this is likely to get even worse when half the British Army arrives here in a few days time to join in with the training exercises. I wonder if any tourists have ever been hit by stray bullets while they were staying here. Maybe it’s just as well we’re leaving today. We take the long drive down the mountain and along the highway back to Muscat airport, and board our plane for the three hour flight to Amman. ... read more


The resort has installed glass barriers to make sure that none of its guests have their holiday plans disrupted by accidentally falling off the rim of the canyon hundreds of metres down into gorge below. I’m keen to get some happy snaps from a bit closer to the edge so I go for a wander to see whether safety standards might be a bit looser elsewhere nearby. I wander through the outskirts of Saiq and find a spot where I can get right up to the canyon rim above the villages we hiked through yesterday. The views are beyond stunning. I share the view with two European girls and their Omani guide. The guide looks a bit concerned that his charges might be getting just a bit too close to the edge for comfort, and yells ... read more
Downtown Saiq
The Chef’s Garden at the Anantara Resort
Terraces below villages in the canyon


I get up early to take some happy snaps of sunrise over the canyon. There aren’t too many people around, but I’ve got lots of goats for company. This morning we have signed up for a hike through three of the small villages that cling to the walls of the canyon. Our guide’s name is Maher, and we are joined by a Japanese lady and her two young sons, and a couple from Hawthorn in our humble hometown of Melbourne. We haven’t gone too far when we come across an elderly man in long white flowing robes walking very quickly up the steep hill towards us. He greets Maher enthusiastically, and they have an animated conversation in Arabic. The man laughs almost constantly. Maher tells us that he is over 100 years old, and he walks ... read more
Guardian of the Canyon at sunrise
Canyon from Jebel Akhdar at sunrise
Village on the edge of the canyon


Today we will be travelling up into the Omani Mountains where we will be staying for three nights on the Jebel Akhdar, or Green Mountain. We head off on the same six lane super highway that we drove out to the Wahiba Sands on two days ago, before turning off towards the town of Nizwa. We leave the main road and start climbing steeply. We arrive at an army checkpoint. Our driver Majid tells us that this is for “safety and security”, although it’s not entirely clear exactly whose safety and security he’s referring to. There is now almost no traffic, and we are perhaps slightly concerned that the first two vehicles we pass coming the other way are an ambulance with its sirens blaring, and a camouflaged military truck. Soon afterwards we pass a heavily ... read more
The locals, Jebel Akhdar.
Issy drying her hair.  She’s under there somewhere.  Really.
The Omani Grand Canyon from Jebel Akhdar.

Middle East » Oman » Muscat June 23rd 2019

This morning we have booked a half day tour of Muscat town. We are met by our guide who introduces himself as Hamid. First stop is the very imposing Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which was opened in 2001. The mosque has five minarets, a ladies mosque with capacity of 750, and a main hall which can cater for up to 6,500 male worshippers. Hamid proudly tells us that if the internal courtyards and corridors are included, its total capacity is 20,000. He preempts our question as to why the capacity for female worshippers is so much less than that for the men, by telling us that the ladies are not expected to attend the mosque as frequently so that they can be at home looking after their children and performing domestic duties. The main hall is ... read more
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Main hall, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Middle East » Iran » West June 23rd 2019

Na ubytku pohodlna postel, uz len ranajky chybali. Vonku ziadne otvorene jedlo. Nakonec nachadzam jednu pekarnicku, kupujem dva plnene chleby, take placky. No nez sa do nich pustim, vidim kopu ludi v malej miestnosti ako do seba nieco tlacia. Omeletu. Hned teda objednavam. Cakacka kym sa uvolni miesto, potom cakacka na pochutku. Prinasaju mi ju v malom hlinennom hrnci, k tomu chleba. Chut genialna, som si spomenul na maroko tam to bolo rovnako dobre. Napraskany pochodujem k severnemu bus terminalu (asi 5km). Minam istanbulsku branu. Nic extra. Taktiez nic extra po ceste. Akurat sa ku mne pridava mladik, co tlaci tacky. Na nich dake lahke mechy. Ang nevi ale co som vyrozumel pozyva ma na disco kde je aj alkohol a kurvy. Tez sa nemohol zjavit vcera. Furt cestou mele to iste, disco, znazornuje tanec. Velebi ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District June 22nd 2019

We celebrated our final Eucharist as a 36 member pilgrim group today. 1/3 from Holy Nativity Church, Florida, 1/2 from Diocese of Delaware, and the Shimers and Coerpers affiliated with St. James' Skaneateles, NY. We are at a Convent overlooking the valley beyond Jerusalem at a suggested site of the Emmaus story, where Jesus, after his crucifixion, reveals himself to Cleophas. The Dean of St. George's College, our host, preached on our pilgrim journey in life. Though this pilgrimage has just ended, we are encouraged to continue the journey and walk with Jesus, as He is always waiting for us to do. Where is He leading us? What is He calling us to do and be? In who will we see Jesus? Where will He be revealed to us next? I am reminded of verse 2 ... read more
emmaus final eucharist 2

Middle East » Oman » Ash Sharqiya June 22nd 2019

Today we have booked a full day tour to the Wahiba Sands and Wadi Bani Khalid, both of which are around 200 km south east of Muscat. Our guide for the day introduces himself as Ahmed, and we head out of town on yet another immaculate six lane highway. We comment to Ahmed on how great we think the roads here are, and he tells us that when the current Sultan came to power in 1970 there were only seven kilometres of sealed roads in the entire country. The previous Sultan, the current Sultan’s father, was very much against development, and was determined to keep Oman isolated from the rest of the world. No one has ever been quite sure why he chose to do this. What has happened since 1970 seems little less than economic ... read more
Bedouin camp, Wahiba Sands
Trinkets, Bedouin camp, Wahiba Sands
Bedouin camp, Wahiba Sands

Middle East » Iran June 22nd 2019

Po polnoci uz sme to valili po dialnici, tak ziadne spomalovace. Trochu som i pospal. O 4.15 prichadzame na juzny bus terminal. Nasledujem par ludi a vo velkej modernej budove sa ukladam na sedadla. Za hodinu prichadza sbs ale ludi nechava na pokoji, len pusta 4 tv, na kazdom iny program, to by nevadilo ale hlasitost je na maxime. Este sa prechadzam po terminale. Vsetky bus kancelarie pozatvarane. Obliekam mikinu, bundu a pesibusom asi do 5km vzdialeneho mesta. Vonku riadna kosa. V buse ukazovalo vonkajsiu teplotu okolo 20c. Okrajova cast cinziaky a ulice ludoprazdne. Obchodiky skoro rano pozatvarane. V bruchu mi uz dost vyhravalo, bo chuj som si nedal na odpocivadle veceru a este jeden problem, chce sa mi curat. To nakoniec vykonavam na nadchode nad cestou. Sa vodici mohli cudovat odkial prsi. V pekarnicke kupujem ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District June 21st 2019

We walked the ancient and original Way of the Cross with prayers and Scripture readings at each of 14 stations today through the streets of Jerusalem, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre situated on the stone of Golgotha where the 3 crosses are believed to have been and next and including the tomb where we think Jesus was laid. Whoa!!!! Pilgrims have been coming to this site since the 4th century and still today - we had to wait in line with hundreds of other pilgrims over an hour to see the tomb in which Jesus body was laid... An Orthodox Church from America sang chants while they were in line. We read the Passion reading on the rock of the crosses. And then the Holy Saturday reading for the Easter Vigil outside the ... read more
way of the cross
doors to Holy Sepulchre
church of the Holy Sepulchre




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