Blogs from Middle East - page 915


Middle East » Syria » North » Aleppo April 16th 2007

Leavıng Palmyra we headed west, young man, back towards the coast and towards the superlative 11th century Crusader castle, the Krak des Chevaliers. Excıtement levels were hıgh, as thıs was a much antıcıpated venture... and it faıled to dısappoınt. Excıtement abounded even on the trıp up the mountaınsıde, as our mınıbus attempted to navıgate through narrow vıllage streets wıth scant dısregard for the lıves of the throngs of school chıldren mıllıng about. We fırstly had lunch at a restaurant hangıng over the edge of the mountaınsıde, wıth fabulous vıews of the castle opposıte and down ınto the valley below. Checkıng ınto the hotel, we found ourselves wıth a suıte... two bedrooms of two beds each, a seperate lıvıng area and bathroom, and all wıth fabulous vıews of the ca... read more
Got Krak?
Water wheel

Middle East » Lebanon April 16th 2007

On my way out of Tripoli I load up on sweets - the city’s signature vice - picking up a few kilos’ worth for friends, then packing a dense plate of haliwat al-jebneh - a cheese-based gut-buster - into my belly. In the increasingly desperate Battle of the Bulge I’ve been fighting with my waistline, this round grudgingly ends in sweet, mouth-watering defeat. Back in Beirut, though, I’m greeted with ravenous smiles: maamoul and mafroukeh are fine ways to cozy up to friends. Even Eliana - maniacally fit by anyone’s standards - lets her sweet tooth get the best of her, going to town on the baklawa in a way that makes me wonder just where she’s putting it. She’s kidnapped me for the better part of the weekend, whisking me off along the coast ... read more
Church, Batroun
Billboard, Beirut
Corn on the corniche, Beirut

Middle East » Jordan » North » Amman April 15th 2007

Aqaba - Amman - Jerash - Petra - Wadi Rum - Dead Sea - Amman We're heading north on Jordan's Desert Highway. Dusty tracks disappear off into the endless desert on either side. Road signs point right to Iraq & Saudi Arabia and ahead to Syria & Lebanon. A few hours behind us lays Egypt & although the signs make no mention of it, Israel & Palestine are just a few miles to the left. We're heading north from the tropical port city of Aqaba to the capital Amman & with signs like these you really get a feel for where you are in the world. We'd arrived in Aqaba by ferry from Nuweiba, Egypt. It had been a long day. Although the ferry is supposed leave every day, nobody knows if or when it really ... read more
Mosque at night
The Siq

Middle East » Iraq April 15th 2007

March was an interesting month. The first significant thing that happened was that I hurt my knee doing PT (Physical Training). It didn’t seem too bad, so I finished my workout. Bad idea! I was at sick call the next morning. Doc told me to rest it and stay away from lower body PT. My squad leader sent me back to sick call a few days later, and doc put me on a 10 day “light duty” profile, but my commanding officer sent my out on a multi-day mission that day. It wasn’t a tough mission. Mostly, I just walked around and checked on people at a patrol base. It wasn’t too hard on my knee except when I step on uneven ground at night. We were out at the patrol base with the scouts, ... read more
More Dangerous Men in Dark Glasses
Home Sweet Home
Empty the Potty

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul April 14th 2007

Another long travel day. About 27 hours total door to door. Nothing too interesting. I got up early to get some photos of the Blue Mosque and took a short walk around the area. Not much was going on yet, except for several groups of Japanese tourists getting guided around and a small number of people entering the mosque for prayer. We had a very expensive breakfast at the Four Seasons before being picked up at 9am to go to the airport. Security at the airport was pretty tight for the US-destined passengers. We were randomly selected to have our baggage gone through behind closed doors, so good thing we had no contraband. It was definitely random because I would doubt that 3 very white American citizens would be the subjects of profiling in this ... read more
Tulips and the Blue Mosque
In-N-Out for Doris

Middle East » Syria » South » Damascus April 14th 2007

Via a short side trip to Jerash, a city of Roman ruins, we headed up to the Syrian border and after a couple of minor prblems, we were in our 3rd country in a week. We were dropping accomodation standards and were camping here, so we put up our tents and settled in for the night with our excessively cheap duty free alcohol. I mean $8 for a 1.125L bottle of Vodka? They are really asking for trouble. We managed to get both the tour leader and driver fairly hammered so Mission Complete. :) Our first full day in Damascus was spent in the markets, and anyone who thinks you could spend less than a day here, not a chance. The first purchase I made was 7 DVD's for $12. Hooray for Syria! The next ... read more
Umayyad Mosque
Saladin's Mausoleum
Saladin himself

Middle East » Syria » South » Damascus April 14th 2007

Welcome again to the trail that follows my slithering existence. There are a lot of fresh smells for you to experience this time around. I do hope some of them tickle your fancy. As some of you may know I'm still in Damascus, which has been great so far. Over the past week I've seen and done a few new bits and pieces and met a bunch of new people. As Masumi works during the days I've mainly been sightseeing on my own during the days and enjoying company during the evenings. On a short walk around her area I was introduced to 3 cafes, one of which I've almost become a regular at. Over here coffee is considered to be made solely by Nescafe... come from a tin and require little more than the ... read more
A monument in Damascus
Souq sale!
The Ascent

Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra April 14th 2007

Okay, you're gonna be seeıgn a lot of typos ın thıs one... that,s because Turkısh keyboards suck ass. There,s an ¨ı¨ın the i posıtıon (between U and O) but ıt,s some form of unıquely Turkısh ı, unsuıtable to us fussy Westerners. Instead there,s a second i key to the rıght of what would be a semı-colon,ö but ıs ın fact a ş. Except capıtal I ıs stıll back on the Turkısh I. Full stop ıs one key to the rıght, comma ıs rıght of the 2nd i (next to the shrunken Enter key), apostrophe ıs Alt+2, @ ıs Alt+q, etc etc. Just know that for all the errors youire seeıng here, Iim stıll hıttıng backspace about 6-8 tımes a sentence to clean up worse errors! Okay, Syrıa. Interestıng place. The fırst thıng we notıced ıs ... read more

Middle East » Lebanon April 14th 2007

On the road to Tripoli our bus has slowed to an agonizing crawl. Along with the usual snarl-ups you’d normally find leaving the capital, it’s been an added bonus of last summer’s Israeli campaign that Lebanon seems to be stuck in a perpetual traffic jam. The country’s roads are still pockmarked from a month of pummeling by IDF bombs, while bridges are being hastily rebuilt and drivers are forced to take long, elaborate detours. It’s been a source of endless frustration for the Lebanese, few of whom could swallow Israeli claims that the bombings were meant to cripple Hizbollah’s infrastructure. Though the group was undoubtedly funneling weapons from Syria, would they have done it down the main coastal highway? Better off waltzing into Tel Aviv with a bull’s eye around their necks, or driving a ... read more
Street, Tripoli
Making friends, Tripoli
Market, Tripoli

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District » Tel Aviv April 13th 2007

I have recently gotten some complaints that I have not continued my blog through Israel. Perhaps it is because I feel like I am home, and who blogs about their home? Apparently, many people do...and so what follows are vignets of being home...but in a different way then I have been home before. Every morning I wake up in Tel Aviv, Israel's non-existent equivalent for New York. The number of times I hear Israelis compare Tel Aviv to New York is hysterical. Perhaps one could compare it to a neighborhood of New York, say...Soho...but to do so would be denying both cities of their incredible uniqueness. Tel Aviv is thriving, vibrant, young and old crammed together on pavements that are uneven, and yet remarkably cleaner than India. The streets are as likely to have trashy, russian-clad ... read more

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