By Magda Sulzycki
Spontaneous travel always seems to be the most rewarding. When you have no expectations, it’s all too easy to exceed them. My latest decisive click on Expedia had me Middle East-bound for the latter part of the month of September. Leaving behind my familiar Europe/Americas trips, I was joined by my brother and four companions, on an adventure totally out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was not to be disappointed by my decision.
After losing about half a day getting to the Holy Land, getting through innumerable security checks, we finally arrived. As it turns out, September is
actually one of the best times to visit the Middle East. It’s not too hot (a balmy 35-45 degrees Celsius) or too wet (we got there just in time for the beginning of the rainy season, which turned out to be about 15 minutes of rain spread over one weekend).
We quickly discovered that there are two Israels to visit: the historical and religious one, and the contemporary, modern, pan-global one. We had the good fortune to experience both.
And having not-so-distant relatives guide us through the narrow, dry streets of Tel Aviv, most definitely made our visit all the more enjoyable. But getting along solo is just as nice and, believe it or not, safe. Though there may be a shortage of water in the region, Israelis are most certainly not lacking in sand, sun, hummus, beer, and good spirits. By the end of our journey, we were so tanned, we could comfortably pass as locals (so long as we didn’t attempt to speak any Hebrew). We even managed to make a quick day trip over to Jordan to see the City of Petra, a sight definitely worth seeing if you’re already in the area. Pictured here is the Treasury in Petra: dubbed one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, and the set of many Hollywood blockbusters, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
They say that “travel makes you wiser” and this trip certainly did. Coming home, I now have a different outlook on Middle Eastern politics and culture, and I’m left with a resounding feeling of wanting to go back again one day in the not so distant future.
The verdict: a must-see for anyone looking for something comfortable while taking in the extraordinary sights and sounds slightly off the beaten track.