Posts with the category ‘Middle East’


In Praise of Serendipitous Travel or Seth Kugel Has It Right

November 17, 2018

It was hot as blazes, about 95 degrees, the October day I set aside to explore Muscat, Oman’s capital city.  Wiping sweat and chugging water, I ticked off just two of the city’s must-do activities before finding a shady spot to sit and consult Google Maps for my new must-do: find a beach. My 2017 trip to Oman to came to mind while reading Seth Kugel’s excellent New York Times Travel story How to Up the Spontaneity Quotient on Your Next Trip.  Like him, I firmly believe it is not the sites we see but the people we get to know on their turf that… Read More…


Weekend in the Palmyra Khaled al-Asaad Died to Protect

August 20, 2015

I hesitate to write this because Middle East politics is an unfathomable puzzle to me. I understand only the barest details of what is happening in Iraq and Syria. But hearing the news of the death of Khaled al-Asaad, the 83 year old archeologist who was guardian and custodian of the historic sites in Palmyra (Tadmor) in Syria’s northwest breaks my heart. In 2006, while doing a month-long Arabic immersion course in Damascus, I hopped a bus and spent a weekend there.  As luck would have it, it was the culmination of the Zenobia Festival with camel races by day and music and dancing by night. Tadmor… Read More…


Dancing on the Wrong Side of Doha’s Gender Divide

August 11, 2014

When the sun set and the temperature dropped from oh, say, 109 fahrenheit to something in the neighborhood of 85, I ventured out from my air conditioned airbnb to have a look around Doha, the largest city, heck practically the only city in the gulf state of Qatar. As destinations go, the desert metropolis is not to my taste with its showy architecture and “luxury” this and “exclusive” that. But on this evening of moonlight and temperatures moderate enough to allow a walk without risking heat stroke, I wandered into the Souk Wakif for an as-close-to-authentic experience as one can have in this capital of reinvention where 94%… Read More…


Stamps Prove An Air Travel Truth

October 10, 2012

I’ve written before about my affection for the photo series Earth from Above by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. So I was alert when I read this quote from Joseph Corbett of the US Postal Service. “Once you’ve seen the world from above, you never look at it quite the same way again.” He’s right of course. Corbett makes this observation by way of introducing a new series of postage stamps that show us the world as viewed from airplanes and satellites. The artists who put together this beautiful collection of stamps have taken familiar subjects and given us a new perspective by with a top down angle…. Read More…


Airbnb For Rooms and a Whole Lot More

September 22, 2012

I can’t believe it was just one year ago that my internet-savvy daughter, Marian Schembari told me about Airbnb. I was visiting her in New Zealand headed to the United Arab Emirates  and – as is my wont – had not yet booked a hotel in Abu Dhabi.  “Why didn’t I check Airbnb?” she asked, and I had to confess, I’d never heard of it. Simply, Airbnb is a web-based marketplace for people to rent overnight accommodations to travelers. These can be as modest as a bed in a shared room or as grand as an entire house. In additional to these conventional places, people… Read More…


Ahalan! New Flights to Jordan. What Could Be More Welcome?

January 8, 2012

With UK based budget airline easyJet offering service to Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, more visitors from Europe have an opportunity to visit this exciting country, which today’s New York Times Travel section includes among its list of 45-places to visit in 2012. When I saw Jordan on the list it stirred memories of my trip there a few years ago. I had less than a week so I did a quick hit of three important sites. The River Jordan – There’s not much water left in the Jordan River and what is there is brown with the silt of the earth at its… Read More…


Demanding Chocolate On Every Flight

November 12, 2011

Like the perfect hostess she is, Lina Abdo can see the connections most folks miss. God bless her. On Friday,  she found a way to link chocolate, Veterans Day and travel at the 14th annual New York Chocolate Show. Hundreds, nay thousands were packed in to the Metropolitan Pavilion for the show, sampling chocolates in every conceivable size, color and flavor. But the two marines who wound up at the display belonging to Lina’s little business, Les Cinq Amandes, were treated to sweets, sweet thanks for their service and made to feel like rock stars. Les Cinq Amandes, (French for the five almonds)  makes customized gift… Read More…


Flying at Zero Zero Feet

August 3, 2011

After six weeks of traveling on assignment – from the steamy heat of  Singapore to mid-winter in Christchurch, New Zealand, back to tropical Bangkok and then on to the Arabian desert –  I finally took two days off from work and plopped myself down on a beach blanket by the Indian Ocean in Dibba in the United Arab Emirates. I found the Holiday Beach Motel through bookings.com (which has a much better selection of hotels in out-of-the-way places than asiarooms.com, that’s for sure) and selected it for its great price and for the fact that it had a dive/snorkel shop right on the premises. Forget… Read More…


When Getting Lost Means Finding Something Special

July 30, 2011

When the road on which I was driving ended and by that I mean ENDED – once there was pavement and then there was sand – I knew I was going to have to ask someone for directions. Its not that I mind asking for directions, I’m very girly in that way. Its that the outside temperature was about 117 degrees and it would set the underpowered air conditioner in my underpowered Mitsubishi Lancer back to puffing out hot dusty air from the vents if I opened the door of the car for more than 30 seconds. I’d been on the road for four hours … Read More…


Food That Nourishes the Traveler’s Soul

July 15, 2011

When I worked as a correspondent for CBS News I traveled quite a bit. My husband Jim, who likes to travel but LOVES food, used to research my destination using the Sterns’ Road Food Good Food guide. Then he’d call me on the road and tell me where to eat. I know you’re thinking, “Well, where’s the fun in that for him?” But he wasn’t with me, so eating vicariously through me was the next best thing. There’s no book in which my dining experiences on my most recent trip would be featured, but if Jim had come along, he would also have loved my… Read More…


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