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Middle East Trip! - Transience Divine
November 12th, 2010
01:27 am

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Middle East Trip!

Last Friday, just a hours after finishing my application to the EPA, Flame and I bought tickets to Turkey for winter break! Flight Finder found the deal for one date, and Flame found it for the perfect span: we're leaving on Christmas from Boston (we're we'll be with my parents), and returning a few days before classes to New York. Minus a day of travel, we get 20 days to explore the middle east-- or at least, those parts of it that Flame, with her Israel-stamped passport, can enter.

Our plan is to spend a couple days in Istanbul, go down the coast (Troy and Ephesus are both there), and take a ferry to eat in Cyprus for a couple days. We want to spend time in Egypt, but there aren't ferries, so we need to go by way of Israel (which, conveniently, hops us over Syria, which Flame can't enter). After a few days in Jerusalem, we explore Cairo and Alexandria for up to a week. Then it's a flight to Athens for a spree, and a bus back to Istanbul. If we have extra time, we can take a side trip to Cappadocia.

Other ideas? We definitely are interested in recommendations within those cities; with this itinerary, we don't have much time to squeeze in other cities, but the itinerary is anything but set. In particular, if you know another way to get to Egypt cheaply or interestingly, tell us!

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From:mals13
Date:November 12th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
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since you're traveling from through Israel to get to Egypt, you MUST stop at the Dead Sea and get in the water. That was an experience unmatched by anything else I've ever done.
Then, from the Dead Sea before you get to Eilat (last stop before Egypt's border), try to make your way over to King Solomon's Pillars. One of the most amazing sights ever. EVER. ...well, I bet you saw some awesome stuff in South America, so this might be an overstatement to your experience, but still completely breathtaking.

And in lieu of this amazing trip you're going to take I leave you with an icon of a camel courting other camels ;)
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From:jrising
Date:November 12th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
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The Pillars look incredible. I really have no idea how easy it is to get around there, but I'll try! It looks like the Dead Sea might depend on how warm it is when we're there though.
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From:mals13
Date:November 12th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
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oh, it'll be warm. the water will be warm and even if it's not, you should do it anyway.
will you be backpacking your way around? hitchhiking is usually pretty easy in israel, 'specially if you don some military gear (read that as *Israeli* military gear, hat or jacket or something), course it's been about 10 years since I've been, so things may have changed, but we picked up quite a few hitchhikers, and as I recall the pillars are just a short hike right off the highway only about 20 miles north of Eilat. There isn't much between the Dead Sea and Eilat, so make sure you're not trying to hike that whole way, it's a lot longer than it seems. good luck! and take pictures!
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From:stars_gone_nova
Date:November 12th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
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Oo, yum! I wish I had something more helpful to say than just, "I'm jealous" ... but that's all I've got. ;) I would be begging to join you if I wasn't already planning to be in Guatemala in January! :)
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From:jrising
Date:November 12th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
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Great, now we're both jealous. The mobile school for kids sounds great-- I wish I could find something like that, so my trip doesn't just feel like a luxury.
From:veryhappykayla
Date:November 13th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
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Hi James!

You should totally come visit me in Haifa while you're in Israel! It's beautiful, and I'd be happy to host you and Flame for a few nights if the dates work out well. You can also leave a bag or two here while you explore the rest of the country, if that'd be helpful, and pick it up on your way out. (Haifa is a quick hour north of the airport by train or bus.) I'd be happy to help with Israel trip-planning, suggesting places to visit and to stay and helping with any logistical questions.

FYI, when visiting Israel you can easily ask for the entry stamp to happen on a separate piece of paper. Then you keep the paper with your passport during your stay, and after you leave the county you simply throw out the piece of paper (or keep it in separate place when you're visiting anti-Israel countries). This is quite a standard procedure, and sometimes the border people will even suggest it, and thus you can not have your Israel visit affect your future travel destinations. Flame, who you say already has an Israel stamp, could consider getting a new blank passport and avoiding the issue that way.

Another note -- occasionally Israeli security likes to extensively question incoming travellers. (This doesn't result in anything more serious than some questions, as long as you don't mention terrorist ties.) It sometimes helps to have a letter from an Israeli stating that you're coming to visit her, or at least contact info for said Israeli so that you project legitimacy and non-nefarious intentions (they don't consider visiting friends to be particularly nefarious). I would be happy to provide you with such a letter / contact info, if you would like -- just let me know.

Hope to see you soon!
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From:jrising
Date:November 14th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
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It would be wonderful to see you! Unfortunately, we're having a tough time trying to figure out if there's a cheap ferry to get from Cyprus to Lebanon or Israel, or if we have to go all the way back to Istanbul and take a plane. And if we do have to fly, we might go straight to Cairo, since Flame has already spent so much time in Israel. I'll tell you as we know more!
From:veryhappykayla
Date:November 14th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
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Hope you make it to Haifa!

<=$200 flights exist between Cyprus and Israel. Don't know about ferries. It's also very easy to get to Israel from Cairo.

Keep me posted on your plans, and hope you have a marvelous trip whether our paths cross or not.
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