Where in the Middle East?

Mar 30th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Where in the Middle East?

It has been two years since I've traveled in the Middle East and I am considering a return to the region in late-November/ early-December of this year as one of my next journeys. My previous trips have taken me to parts of Turkey, Jordan, and the UAE. Hiking in Petra and Cappadocia, along with my time in Istanbul and Dubai, rank among my top travel experiences.

I am considering flying into Istanbul and staying for 3-4 days and then moving from there. I've put some thought into places like Egypt, Oman, and Lebanon, and may wind up choosing one or none of these. I will probably have 2-3 weeks in addition to transit time and Istanbul.

Where would you go? What are some experiences that perhaps you may be interesting in sharing? I am looking for a discussion of what others have done and enjoyed to help me think about and formulate an itinerary.

Thank you as always.
SLChicago is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 01:04 PM
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Muscat is intriguing and possesses a great deal of history, for those who know where to look, but it's not the safest city for international tourists to travel in. With that said, if you're adventurous and know how to handle yourself (and I do mean handle) then it's definitely worth a look.
WilhelmSchmidt is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 01:07 PM
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Wilhelm, what do you mean about "not the safest"? I've travelled to Istanbul, Amman, and the Emirates, and found all of those to be safe. Is Muscat different in terms of safety?
SLChicago is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 06:52 PM
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Same question. My DH went to Muscat and did not feel unsafe at all.

Can you give some details as to the problems you (or others) have experienced?
Grcxx3 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 02:53 AM
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Maroc Atlas/Imperial cities are great for me that time of year

Some others might be ok if things stabilze a bit

monitor travel.state.gov

It is a powder keg in many areas over there right now.

insuremytrip.com always cheap wise.
qwovadis is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 02:57 AM
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In Oman Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the region. U.S. citizens in Oman are urged to maintain a high level of security awareness. The State Department suggests that all U.S. citizens in Oman maintain an unpredictable schedule and vary travel routes and times whenever possible. U.S. citizens are also urged to treat mail or packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. Unusual mail or packages should be left unopened and reported to local authorities. U.S. citizens with security concerns are encouraged to contact local authorities and the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Muscat.

Stay up to date by bookmarking Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
qwovadis is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 05:15 AM
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Regarding Muscat, I am not sure that the State Dept. information is what Wilhelm is referring to.

As for the advisories concerning terrorism, yes, the possibility exists, but the same goes for the U.S. and Europe. I would not let the overall threat of terrorism affect your decisions on destinations unless a more severe or imminent threat is there.

Also, Qwovadis, you mentioned Maroc/Morocco as a suggestion. Will it not be wet and cold in late-November/early-December?

Thank you all.
SLChicago is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 10:39 AM
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My top Middle East travel experience was Iran two years ago, an astonishingly lovely country, with warm, courteous people, world-class historical sites, interesting cities and towns and exquisite architectural splendor to discover. I flew to Tehran from Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, an easy, inexpensive and comfortable way to get there.

Here are some photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...3&l=6e661b21cf

And here is a link to my report: http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ome-photos.cfm

Throughout the report there are links to photos from my photo website which went down two weeks ago. I think I may be waiting in vain for it to return, as it's been two weeks now as I said, and there hasn't been a peep of explanation or hope from the directors of the company involved.

As in much of the Middle East, and Asia too, there are pockets of unrest in Iran which the news media tend to grab hold of, blow up out of all proportion, and use to characterize the country as a whole. When you are there, on the ground so to speak, you would have virtually no chance of actually encountering any of it. As I commented on another post when taken to task for traveling to Iran, "If I were scared off by the 'news' I wouldn't travel anywhere - no Thailand, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Myanmar, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and yes, no Iran or India - or New York City either, for that matter." Off to Morocco next week!
julia1 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 03:02 PM
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I would highly recommend a trip to Morocco. Our family did a two week self drive trip last December(we live in Chicago too) and we loved it! The scenery,food, people,culture,history were wonderful.
dutyfree is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 03:07 PM
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Dutyfree, thank you for the advice.

How was the weather in Morocco when you went last December? Morocco was on the top of my list until I was told it would be quite rainy at that time. If it is not terrible, then I would most want to do that. (I assume it cannot be as cold as Chicago though.)
SLChicago is offline  
Apr 1st, 2011, 06:30 AM
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Dutyfree, I also meant to ask where in Morocco you went?
SLChicago is offline  
Apr 1st, 2011, 05:48 PM
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Chicago-We left from the UK on Easy Jet as my daughter was graduating from graduate school there.We returned on Royal Air Maroc coming back.

We flew into Marrakesh and spent 3 days there before we picked up our rental car at the Marrakesh airport outside of town. Our itinerary was going from Marrakesh to Essaouria(the most wonderful city!!!) to El Jadida,Casablanca,Rabat over to Fez,back to Meknes and Villboulis(sp?) then back to Marrakesh.

I had prereserved a couple riads in Marrakesh(Loved the Riad Misria there) and Essaouria before we left but also booked some hotels like the IBIS in some of the major cities as we traveled via the internet.Trust me when I say that an IBIS hotel in Morocco is NOT like one in Europe. They were situated either on the ocean,in town near transportation and sights and had an unbelievable atmosphere with beautiful grounds,inhouse bar(which you will appreciate if you are craving a beer or wine!) and restaurant.We stayed at one in El Jadida(on the ocean)another in Rabat and one in Meknes.Seriously great hotels for great prices and amenities!

The weather was fabulous for the whole two weeks.It never rained and the temps were in the high 50'sF and 60'sF which for us from Chicago in December was a wonderful temperature!Lots of people were dressed in winter clothing and we were in short sleeved shirts with sweaters or windbreakers.Go figure?

Our family LOVED Essaouria on the ocean. We spent three days there and cannot begin to tell you how fabulous this city is. It is a small fishing city directly on the ocean but surrounded by ramparts with an old souk/new souk area.(Cat Stevens the singer actually moved there for two years in the 70's because he loved it so much!) The harbor is beautiful with the local boats going out every morning and bringing back the tastiest treats in the afternoon. There is even a section of the harbor where you pick your fish out from the restaurant markets and then have them grill it in a sit down area-too fun! The shopping is so much easier there in the souks than Marrakesh and the selections are wonderful.Restaurants abound and there is something for everyone.Had a traditional hamman(hot water/oil/clay massage) for each of us on Christmas Day and it was memorable!

On Christmas Eve day we drove 5 miles south(by a golf course and cannot think of its name now) out of the city to a beach that had less than 20 people on it walking-picture waves,some camels walking by and unbelievable sun.
Casablanca's big Mosque(one of only 3 opened to Westerners)looks like the Taj Mahal and is amazing.
The Roman ruins north of Meknes called Villiboulis(sp?)are definitely worth a trip.

Driving is easy throughout Morocco except in downtown Casblanca-think the Kennedy expressway in Chicago at rush hour with 8 lanes going down to 5 in the matter of a block? Most of the rental agencies in Morocco don't have automatics for rent too which is difficult for city driving.

Our family has done Turkey,Egypt,Jordan and Tunisia and we loved Morocco!
dutyfree is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2011, 08:12 AM
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Thank you, Dutyfree, for such an extensive post. It is extremely helpful for me as I plan for later this year. I've done Turkey, Jordan, and the UAE, but never Morocco. You definitely had me sold, and sounds like the weather is perfect compared to Chicago at that time of year. While I thoroughly enjoyed my other trips to that part of the world, I was in Jordan in July and it was very, very hot. Thanks again for the wonderful advice.
SLChicago is offline  
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