Weekend trip to a Middle Eastern City

Aug 11th, 2016, 08:32 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 28
Weekend trip to a Middle Eastern City

Hello, I am studying abroad for 3 months starting in September in Barcelona Spain. I have never been outside of North America before so I want to see Asia and Africa outside of experiencing Europe. Some friends and I will be visiting Morocco after school in December, so I want to go Asia on one of my 3 day weekends. I am on a tight budget so it needs to be cheap and not too far from Spain. This basically limits it to the Middle East. I am fascinated with the architecture and history of the Middle East, however my greatest concern is safety. The conflict with the Syrian War and ISIS concerns me greatly and makes me considering spending the money for Dubai or Qatar or even India to be more aware from the trouble area. I am a architecture student and want to study urban design/planning, walk able cities, historic preservation and public space. Some friends and I decided on Istanbul, but with the multiple bombings and the military trying to overthrow the government we changed our mind. We have considered 3 days in either Amman Jordan (day trip to Petra), Antalya Turkey, Bodrum Turkey, Konya Turkey, Izmir Turkey (Ephesus), Haifa/Akko Israel, Nazareth Israel, Tel Aviv Israel, or Jerusalem Israel. I am open to anywhere, but it needs to be cheap, easy to fly from Barcelona, and not a large safety threat. I know that all of Europe and the Middle East is dangerous, and I don't mind taking risks, but I need to be smart about it. Thanks for any suggestions.
jritch is offline  
Aug 11th, 2016, 09:15 AM
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If you are interested in Islamic architecture and looking for some place affordable and easy to get to, then I would highly recommend Istanbul. Petra is well worth a visit too but may not fit your urban needs; there are a handful of places in and around Amman worth visiting, but I would not put it in the same category as Istanbul. Dubai and Doha are both barely a couple of decades old, so you won't find the history that you will find elsewhere in the region.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2016, 11:24 AM
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Thanks for the response. I will be traveling around the Mediterranean for 4 weeks after my program in December, if after the 90 day state of emergency in Turkey there has been no more major attacks in Istanbul, I will consider going to Istanbul for a week before Morocco. I am also considering Israel for a 3 day weekend or a week (depending on the political situation), but is it expensive? I heard that Tel Aviv and Jerusalem was pricey, but I don't know about now after the political turmoil the last few years.
jritch is offline  
Aug 11th, 2016, 12:55 PM
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All of Europe and the Middle East is dangerous? Compared to where? What an ignorant statement!
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 11th, 2016, 03:01 PM
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I have not traveled to Israel yet so I cannot comment on the prices there; hopefully someone else can. I was in Jordan in 2008, but I remember prices there higher than I expected.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2016, 05:50 PM
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Thursday's, why so harsh? This architecture student who is asking for advice on where to go to study history and architecture is hardly ignorant. Give her some slack with the poisonous and endless coverage of terror on both continents. Where is your travel advice for a travel forum?
Lolazahra is offline  
Aug 11th, 2016, 07:23 PM
Join Date: Nov 2014
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For a long weekend from Barcelona, Istanbul is still your best bet for architecture, though I can understand your trepidation about Turkey at the moment, and think monitoring the climate is a good idea ahead of booking.

I studied abroad in Jordan, and probably wouldn't recommend a 3 day trip to Amman, especially since Petra is too far for a day trip. But with 6-7 days, you could definitely add Petra and Wadi Rum (some of the best scenery and stargazing I've experienced) and make it more worthwhile.

Beirut meanwhile could be an option for a long weekend. You may also want to book last minute and check the current climate, and it's not as architecturally rich at first glance as Istanbul, but it's a great mix of urban, cosmopolitan, traditional, easy going, and dynamic as a metropolis.

Morocco is fabulous, so culturally rich. Some great architecture there as well, although my favorite bits were the juxtaposition of the relatively bland outer walls of the homes and hotels in the medina, and entering seeing the inner staircases and open roof, fountains, tiles, and beautiful wood painted ceilings.

Of course from Barcelona you should visit Andalusia in Spain for Moorish architecture, especially Seville/Granada/Córdoba.

If you have more time, I would strongly consider visiting Iran; it's a good time to visit relative to larger political climates, and some of the cities of Iran have marvelous examples of Islamic and Persian architecture (think Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd, etc). There are definite hoops to jump through in terms of visa and visit regulations, especially for Americans, but if you're interested in the Middle East/Near East, Iran would be a good option, though you'd probably need 7-10 days at least.
inspiredexplorer is offline  
Aug 16th, 2016, 12:07 PM
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Thanks for the comments. I will probably go to Istanbul for one week (If advised by the US Consulate) and one week in Jordan or the Turkish Mediterranean Coast along with 2 weeks in Morocco during December. I will look into Iran for and the US consulate because Persian history always interested me. Thanks again for all the comments.
jritch is offline  
Aug 17th, 2016, 04:18 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 270
I can only comment on Israel.

a. it is not inexpensive but if you stay away from high season you can find less expensive hostels to stay at. ( more like 3 star hotels than typical hostels)

b. Israel is safe. What is portrayed in the press and what is reality on the ground are two different things. You can look on Trip Advisor and find multiple accounts of tourists who were nervous about coming. Their nerves calmed within hours of being on the ground.

c. Israel has only one international airport--located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Three days is a small amount of time. Tel Aviv is the most modern city if you want to see new architecture. Nazareth you will not find much new. Jerusalem as small amount. It is really up to you.
Elkaz is offline  
Aug 18th, 2016, 11:12 AM
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I suggest visiting Malta for your weekend travel. I was particularly impressed by the architecture there and the fact that new buildings use the historic details of the old. I don't think I've ever seen such a harmonious blending of old and new and distinct from any other I've seen in Europe.
MmePerdu is online now  

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