Photos: Jordan, Syria and Lebanon

May 27th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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Photos: Jordan, Syria and Lebanon

I just returned from a visit to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Link to photos

I visited the following places:

Jordan: Amman and Petra

Syria: Damascus, Palmyra, Krak des Chevaliers, Aleppo, Dead Cities, Apamea and Hama

Lebanon: Beirut, Byblos, Baalbek and Anjar

Its surprisingly easy and inexpensive to travel around these countries, which I did by public transport -- mostly buses, but also minibuses (although I did have to hire a taxi to take me to Krak des Chevaliers). While I saw what I consider to be many of the highlights, there's much to see in the Levant and I would like to return in the near future to further explore.

I also found it very safe (contrary to some of what I was told before I departed), even in the Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon, where I traveled by public transport to visit Baalbek (in my view, Lebanon's most important historic site).

I would be happy to answer any questions.

thit_cho is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 10:29 AM
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Your pictures were great! I felt that I was there with you. Our next trip may be to Tunisia.
eezam is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 10:51 AM
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I just looked at these again Michael - I missed the "cheep tasticles" the first time around. priceless.

In the Beirut group, is that the famous Holiday Inn? I somehow missed actually seeing that when I was there, despite the fact that I was in the area and was on my list of things I wanted to see in person, just after hearing it mentioned so many times in books about the civil war. It's like I forgot to look up.
maxwell is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 11:02 AM
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Linda, yes, that's the former Holiday Inn -- I should add that title to the photos. Its right next door to the new Intercontinental Phoenician, and was as 15-minute or so walk from Hamra. You didn't miss much -- you can only see the facade, and they don't let you wander around the structure. Apparently, its built too solidly to easily destroy -- kind of like the concrete bunkers around Albania (too hard to get rid of, so they remain).

Eazam, Tunisia is a great trip -- I also posted photos from my trip to Tunisia on this forum.

If I had the Bizaar Food guy with me, he would have had a field day at the restaurant that served the offal.
thit_cho is offline  
Jun 7th, 2009, 11:18 AM
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I find it amazing that Petra appears to be so empty of tourists. It was packed during my visit.

Your pics are great for delivering a sense of place.

In one of the butcher shops in Aleppo there's a big mound of something on the table (with a guy sitting on the corner of the table). What is that?
Femi is offline  
Jun 7th, 2009, 11:51 AM
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Amazing how you manage pics, regardless of destination, devoid of people. Can certainly understand this at Palmyra and Baalbak, but at Petra? However, when we visted the latter, we managed to get some without humans interferring even though the area had many visitors. Some of best pics we have from Petra were those taken while walking thru the Siq and the outstanding colors of the sheer rock walls surrounding us. Thanks for sharing these.
sandi is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 05:46 AM
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Femi, I think you are referrring to rose petals, which were a lot more vibrant in person than in film. I think they are used to infuse liquids, and I was amazed at the quantity.

Petra was packed, but not during the early morning or late afternoon hours. I stayed at the Movenpick, which is right at the entrance, so I visited early in the morning and stayed all day, so I was able to avoid my least favorite aspect of traveling, namely the enormous herds that travel in packs, descending on sites like insects devouring a dead animal, following an upright umbrella. I certainly don't mind group travel, but only when they spread out and don't block sites or passages. But, I guess the upside is that they move like a school of fish, and when one moves right, they all follow. So while they arrive en masse, they depart likewise, and if you wait for them to finish their close examination of every minute detail, you can usually get some good photos.

Sandi, Palmyra and Baalbek had fewer visitors than Petra, but they still had some large packs maneuvering around the site, but again, they tended to cling to each other on an atomic level, never deviating more that 10 feet from the nucleus, so with patience, I was able to get some photos clear of large groups of travelers. And, again, I visited early and stayed late, avoiding the harsh sun.

Next up for me is Scotland, especially its Orkney and Shetland Island groups, in August.
thit_cho is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 06:59 AM
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Michael -
thanks for the Monday morning laugh - I actually - without realizing until after the fact what I had done - stomped my foot like a five year old at one point after being unable to escape large tour groups at Angkor Wat (I was there at the height of the tourist season and that was my first touristy type stop in a long time...I wasn't mentally prepared
maxwell is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 06:09 PM
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I visited Petra as part of a group tour, and swore to forever more appreciate every moment on every future trip that was free of the hordes of people. I've been totally spoiled by travelling with my own guide most of the time. I was very frustrated with the group. However, I wasn't willing to tackle the Middle East (and would not have been able to visit Saudi Arabia) on my own.

I'll be looking forward to seeing pics of the Scottish Isles, they've been on my radar for a long time.
Femi is offline  
Jan 17th, 2010, 09:32 AM
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Michael - the link to the photos is not working, any chance you can repost? I am going to Lebanon over Easter and woudl love to look at them.

Many thanks
wombat7 is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2010, 05:44 PM
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Did you arrange your Jordan trip on your own? Was it relatively easy to navigate the country once you're there? Do you speak Arabic or were you able to get by with English and hand/sign gestures? I'm thinking about a Jordan/Egypt trip in May. I definitely don't want to be part of a tour group. I would rather spend extra for a private guide some of the times if it's necessary. Thanks.
Axel2DP is offline  

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