I entered Israel and wanted to leave immediately!

Two days ago I endured, but thankfully overcame, the three most incredibly difficult, unpleasant hours of my life. Take a breath folks for I have entered the Holy Land. I have entered Israel, by foot, via the most southerly land border. The bus from Dahab was nearly 45 minutes late. Bloody Egypt. We arrive at the Taba (Egypt) bus station 1.5 hours later. The journey was slow and relentless in mountain scenery (this it the ...

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Eilat, Israel: Like stepping into another world...

Eilat is the town you default to entering when taking the Yitzhak Rabin land border crossing. By the time I had arrived in Eilat's town centre, I felt like I had been transported back to the future, though only back to last year. You see, after six weeks in north Africa, the differences were both immediate and undeniable. So much so that I had begun to 'feel' the differences and not just 'see' them. This sensation felt far more profound t ...

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A big hole in the Negev desert

My stay in the Negev desert would also bring with it two new first experiences... So Israel's desert covers over 50% of its entire landmass! As such, it was almost inevitable I'd get to see or cross some of it on my journey throughout Israel. You know how back home it's often a case of getting to a destination as quickly as possible? Well here I'm hoping for the exact opposi ...

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Hanging out in Jerusalem

So if ever there was a post title to confuse and cause a little ambivalence, it's gotta be this one. I mean, Israel. Jerusalem. Hanging out. Those words can't possibly go together, can they!? Well, surprise surprise as Jerusalem really is quite the place to 'hang out' despite its religious significance, heavily disputed ground or that it's the cultural melting pot of all melting pots!  Considering just how many coun ...

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A day trip to Bethlehem

Bethlehem is very close in distance to the wonderful but heavily disputed city of Jerusalem. Such convenient proximity made it perfect to plan a day trip here rather than needing to stay over and look for accommodation for the night. That said, did you know that Bethlehem is actually a Palestinian city located in the West Bank? I didn't. This I came to realise makes a lot of holiday makers nervous which is partially why the hostel tour ...

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The Golan Heights and the Dead Sea

So I've been quite busy this last week (but in a good way) as you might have deduced from my lack of posts. Well, I'm hoping you thought to yourselves he's probably been busy having a  good time rather than the equally very real alternative of me being assimilated by a plethora of evangelical preachers! The fun started in the not-so-fun village of Nazareth. For those unfamiliar with Nazareth, it's said to be where Jesus spent ...

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A return and final farewell to Jerusalem

Reading back through my first Jerusalem post from a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the last line of my text was: 'Jerusalem, you and I have unfinished business...'.  Low and behold I have returned to this glorious city of old charm and modern wonder to try and accomplish seeing a few more sights that I previously missed. In fairness, the fact that Israel is a relatively small (but modern) country has made such gall ...

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Hello Tel Aviv, goodbye Israel...

Greetings from Tel Aviv, Israel's pseudo-capital city. Tel Aviv, however, is nowhere near the Negev desert but hopefully you'll find that image above taken just last week a lot more captivating than say, a random city skyscraper. Rather poignantly, this will be my final Israel post as the time has come for me to move on from this very welcoming country. To think that 18 months or so ago, I hadn't even heard of ...

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Ejected from a Palestinian bus

Today I was removed from a pubic bus but fear (or laugh) not for the title is more dramatic than the experience thankfully was. If anything though the circumstances that warranted my removal make the crux of the story and that was due to my own monumental stupidity. Ok, that's a little harsh, doopy forgetfulness. One of my reasons for returning to Jerusalem was that its central location would mean it would be easy to vis ...

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Crossing by foot from Israel into Jordan

The time was upon me to tackle another land border. Regular readers will know that I described my border crossing from Egypt into Israel as the worst three hours of my life. Whilst I'm relieved to say I would not encounter a repeat experience, I would still face some problems of a different sort by the end of the day. Speaking of which, it all began in Tel Aviv and would thankfully end, as hoped, in Amman, Jordan's capital city. T ...

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Discovering Amman: Part 1

At the risk of sounding supremely, historically uneducated (which admittedly I am), I did not expect the main focal points of the Jordanian capital city to be ancient Roman ruins! Would you? Of course I was aware that the ancient empire covered a vast amount of land but to have reached this far east without the aided assistance of Ryanair or Easyjet, well it really makes one pause for thought, does it not? One of these main sights was ...

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Petra: A seventh 'new' wonder of the World

There can be little doubt that the success and popularity of the Indiana Jones franchise back in the 80s has contributed to Petra's sore in visitors these last 30+  years. These days it is possible for 3000 visitors a day to reach this remarkable place - or so I was told by the guy at the ticket desk. These days though, with what is happening in the world and indeed, the Middle East, figures are not consistent and can be as low as a few h ...

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The Wadi rum desert down to Aqaba's Red Sea

These last few days have been great as they've offered up some fantastic 'first time' experiences and an 'interesting' one too. Put it this way, you remember Lawrence of Arabia? Well now there's 'Sheik Sami of Arabia' and I expect the related imagery to be of some amusement to many back home and perhaps to my global travel friends too. So originally I planned on providing you two parts to my discovery of Amman and its surround ...

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Beirut, Lebanon - "Paris of the East"

I guess landing in Lebanon calls for a 'hey surprise folks' opening line?  If indeed you have formed an expression of shock, confusion or disbelief, that's ok, I can understand that. Although with places like Israel, Jordan and Lebanon previously visited, I'm guessing that's the majority of the 'surprise-pie' now consumed? In fact, I honestly say that I knew nothing about Lebanon prior to booking my flight. That might sound crazy ...

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From green zone Beirut to red zone Lebanon

You might recall that in my previous post I mentioned that my first few days of exploration here were pretty much alone and how a lack of companionship would be a concern for my remaining stay? Thankfully that concern was quashed the very day I published 'Beirut, Lebanon - "Paris of the East" so in actual fact I've ended up with the best of both worlds; one half of the week solo-style and the latter half with new travel friends. ...

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Must all good things come to an end?

Dear friends, Many of you will have travelled with me for the last one year, albeit not continuously. In fact, its because of your continued, deeply-appreciated support that I feel I should be completely upfront with you so when I say this month of May will be my last month of travel, I very sadly mean it :-( In honesty, the majority of the reasons are out of my control as ...

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An introduction to Abu Dhabi - a United Arab Emirate

It's from here the capital but second most populous city of the seven emirates that I write to you. I did, however, actually fly in from Lebanon direct to Dubai and so it made sense for me to stay over in Dubz for a couple of days allowing me to try and form a plan for my remaining couple of weeks.  Speaking of Dubai, did you know that the first time you can admire the work and development that has gone into ma ...

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Why I did (but didn't) enter Ferrari world and Yas Waterpark?

I wish that opening image was mine folks but my helicopter was unavailable for the day :--) So I write the first portion of the post almost entirely with three good friends back home in mind; Alex, Steve and Ben. I know that I'm going to have to put a half good case together here in explaining the post title to avoid a public roasting. Saying it was expensive just isn't going to cut this time although at £70 fo ...

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Hello and farewall from Dubai

It might come as quite a surprise to travellers and tourists alike to learn that Dubai is actually a city that backpackers DO visit and in many areas of the city, it's surprisingly affordable! Its central geographic location has always made it a popular stop-off point for holiday makers trying to reach Australia or the UK but these days, that practice has reached backpackers too. This makes Dubai a popular, convenient final dest ...

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