Middle East preparation

Next Thursday, Ben and I will be off on our next adventure: 26 days in the Middle East.

We’ve needed a vacation together for a while now. Something about our shared adventures (and sometimes misadventures) abroad brings out the best in our relationship. And after a few years of toiling away at home (with the occasional joint sojourn to Utah or the Caribbean), we find we need some time to remind ourselves why we enjoy each other’s company. So, after some debate about whether we should spend a month in Southeast Asia or in the Middle East, we decided on the latter.

After a month of planning, our tentative route is as follows:

  1. Fly into Cairo after a 24-hour journey across the globe. We’ll be tired. Planning on spending a day in this enormous, dirty metropolis. Go see Giza, maybe the Museum, and then onto a southbound sleeper train.
  2. Luxor and surrounds. A few days to experience the Valley of the Kings, Temple at Karnak, etc. Hoping to spend a night on a felucca (sailboat) on the Nile before hopping a plane to the Sinai Peninsula.
  3. Dahab, Sinai Peninsula. 2-3 days of scuba and snorkel and beach time on the Red Sea. From there, we’ll hop a boat to Aqaba, Jordan.
  4. Wadi Rum and the ancient city of Petra (Jordan). Desert hiking, amazing city carved into sandstone cliffs. Enough said.
  5. Eilat, Israel. We plan to meet one of Ben’s family members there, who will drive with us around Israel.
  6. Dead Sea. Some mud bathing and floating.
  7. Jerusalem. So many amazing sights here. And we’ll likely be there for the end of Hannukah!
  8. Haifa, Israel. Family visit for Ben, exploration for me.
  9. Amman, Jordan. We fly out of Amman on Christmas Eve.

Some of you might be aware that Ben was born in Israel, and spent the better part of his childhood there. He still has some family who live there, and a few other family members will be visiting at the same time we are. It’s been a decade since he has been to the region, and he’s never been to Jordan or Egypt. So it will be a new experience for both of us, as well as a return for Ben after a lengthy absence.

We’re really excited for this trip. The sights, the activities, and of course the food! We’ve done our research, made some lists, and also left room for unplanned events or detours. We’re not the sort of travelers who plan everything out ahead of time, despite the tentative schedule above. Really, the only concrete plans are our flights there and back, as well as our hotel the first night in Cairo. Other than that, we will see where our fortunes take us! I have my “modest attire” ready for Egypt and Jordan, our passports are renewed, and our dog-sitters are booked. Ready!

But wait, you’re thinking, what about all the bombings and riots and kidnappings and…?!

Yes, Israel and Gaza just exchanged a week’s worth of bombs and air raids. Yes, quite a few people died. There is, as of today, a truce. And yes, there have been a handful of kidnappings in Sinai. And yes, Jordanians have been rioting to protest the monarchy. But no, we do not let fear deter us from going places. And no, we do not expect anything bad will happen while we are there. Besides, bad things can happen anywhere. Statistically, you’re more likely to be the victim of theft or other crime while traveling in Europe. Really.

Anyway, I’ll try to post here as often as I can while traipsing around over the next month. I’ll be taking lots of photos to share, I’m sure!

For now, وداعا (goodbye in Arabic)!

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