Middle East2018-09-16T21:09:09+00:00

One of the world’s most troubled, yet fascinating regions, here’s a collection of Middle East travel stories.

Latest Middle East travel stories

2 Saida highlights: a photo-essay

A highlight of a recent visit in Lebanon was Saida. Sidon is the city's ancient, and possibly better-known, name. Legend has it, Sidon is named after the great grand-son of Noah (chap whose family had to repopulate the earth after a great flood, remember?) However cool that may be, locals today call it Saida, so I'll stick with that. If you go [...]

By |8 September 2018|Lebanon|

Baalbek, Anjar and wine: 3 highlights of the Bekaa Valley

Crossing Mount Lebanon, I'm now deep into the Bekaa Valley, in Heliopolis. You might know it better as Baalbek. This is Hezbollah country, visible by the militant organisation's characteristic flag - green logo on yellow background -  but not much else. My first glimpse of the legendary temple complex here in Baalbek is from the verandah of my charming hotel. [...]

By |31 July 2018|Lebanon, UNESCO World Heritage|

Hiking Qadisha Valley and the Cedars of God

Lebanon is a small country packed with sights and landscape of great variety. There's winter and summer in one day (ski Mount Lebanon in the morning, chill at the Mediterranean beaches in the afternoon), there's the bustling nightlife in Beirut, there's jaw dropping remnants of ancient Phoenicia and Imperial Rome, there's nectar from a number of wineries in the Bekaa [...]

By |9 July 2018|Lebanon, UNESCO World Heritage|

Yet another day out Beirut: Byblos, the world’s oldest city?

Is ancient Byblos the world's oldest continually inhabited city? Others make the same claim: Damascus and Aleppo in neighbouring Syria, and Jericho in Palestine, also in the general vicinity. Byblos was founded 7 000 years ago. Some say 9 000, some say 10 800. Either way, people have lived and loved here for a long time. So I'm in Jbeil! [...]

By |6 July 2018|Daytrip, Lebanon, UNESCO World Heritage|

Day out Beirut: Tyre

I'm in Southern Lebanon today; joined by 6 Brits and an American couple (the woman went to university in Beirut in 1964!) and our cheerful guide Pierre, all wanting to have a look at the Roman ruins in Tyre. Or Ksour, the city's present-day Arabic name. We've driven 82 km south from Beirut, a picturesque coastal drive. We're also 25 kilometres from [...]

By |3 July 2018|Daytrip, Lebanon, UNESCO World Heritage|

The Palmyra Hotel in Baalbek: Wacky, Weird and Wonderful

We don’t write heaps of accommodation reviews here on Sophie’s World. Can’t be just any boring old accoms, you see. It has to be unique, like a lighthouse, say. Or a shipping container. Or an exceptionally beautiful hotel. Or a combination hotel/refuge for asylum seekers/artists' workshops. Or haunted. Every once in a while, something special pops up. Palmyra Hotel in [...]

By |28 May 2018|hotels & lodgings, Lebanon|

In transit, the Lebanese edition: Not exactly my commute

Rafiq Hariri airport, Beirut 18 May 2018 Folks, today I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone, I might never find my way back in. ‘My Commute’, episode 2: ‘Not Exactly My Commute’. Now, the greatest danger in Lebanon is not armed lunatics (that’s a whole other place). Here, it’s... traffic!! There appears to be no rules, just honking. [...]

By |18 May 2018|Lebanon, Real-time|

On Damascus. And trust.

As I'm scribbling this, I'm sat at FRA, probably my least favourite airport. Doesn't help that I've had 3 hours sleep, and that my fave Eurovision tune (Ireland) ended up at 16th place, right behind my second favourite at 15th (I'm Norwegian, after all). But - I'll give you a proper look-over another time, FRA. Maybe you've changed. Hidden gems [...]

By |13 May 2018|Syria, UNESCO World Heritage|

#Emiratesairline Business Class Review

On a cold February day, I boarded an Emirates flight from Oslo to Dubai, to swap snow for sand for a few days. The 6.5-hour flight is served by a Boeing 777-300ER, on a route that has only been in operation for a few months. I was here as a guest of the airline to test the service. Seated in [...]

By |19 May 2015|Dubai, Luxury travel, Transport|

11 things you’ll love about Dubai

Curious about dashing Dubai? Well, here's a nice little list for you of things to do in the most famous city of the United Arab Emirates. 1. Travel from the past to the future in an abra A not-to-be-missed experience in Dubai is crossing Al Khor (the Creek) in a water taxi, locally known as an abra. These traditional boats will take you from [...]

By |25 March 2015|11 things, Dubai, UAE|

Where to sleep, eat and dance in Dubai

Wondering where to stay in Dubai? Where to eat and hang-out at night? Well, wonder no more. Here are my faves in all three categories: Eat Sass Café. In 2014, this sassy (pun intended) Monaco-restaurant opened up in Dubai's financial district to rave reviews. I loved the red, plush interior, mellow piano music, divine food (the burrata is delicious - and try the [...]

Al Bastakiya: Historic Dubai and Emirati culture

Dubai is perhaps best known for its futuristic skyline, its just-a-wee-bit-over-the-top shopping centres and luxury hotels, its record-breaking skyscrapers, and its slightly indulgent lifestyle. But there’s more to this affluent Arabian city than first meets the eye. If you’re interested in learning about Emirati culture, traditions and religion, I recommend visiting the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

By |17 February 2015|Dubai, People you meet, Traditions and customs|

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