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Special places in Lebanon: two full-day tours

Recently I made a short trip to Lebanon, despite a lot of “But is it safe?” from everyone I mentioned it to. I’ll write about the travel warnings at the end of this article, but first I want to report on all the special places in Lebanon that I saw in the two free days…

The Baalbek Ruins in Lebanon: an extraordinary UNESCO site

On my recent trip to Lebanon, I was just blown away by the Baalbek ruins: a magnificent set of Roman temples in the Beq’aa Valley and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. I saw Baalbek on a full-day small-group tour, which included other stops, but right now I just want to write about the Baalbek…

The Lost Chambers Atlantis Aquarium isn’t really about fish

The Lost Chambers Aquarium at Dubai’s Atlantis the Palm Dubai hotel is not your run-of-the mill aquarium. At any self-respecting large aquarium – think the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Boston aquarium – you’d expect to see a range of species from all over the world. The Lost Chambers has that. It isn’t a big…

Green Planet Dubai: a review

If you’ve ever been to a world-class zoo – the Bronx Zoo comes to mind – you’ll have seen an indoor tropical rainforest before. Visitors walk on prescribed paths and bridges, while the birds and other animals fly or roam where they choose within their building-sized cages. The Green Planet Dubai is one such indoor…

A Yellow Boat Tour in Dubai

For a moment or two, as the boat sped up, I wondered if this had been a bad idea. The rigid, yellow, inflatable hull plowed through the water, throwing up spray on either side. The slightest wave and the bow would rise up alarmingly, only to fall again with a spine-jolting bang. (Disclosure: I paid…

Al Ayn UNESCO site: A day trip from Dubai

“We go to camel market?” Nishad asked, glancing over at me. I had, contrary to custom in Dubai, chosen to sit in the front seat of the taxi, explaining that I could see the scenery better from there. “No, thank you.” “Souk?” “No, not that either.” I had hired Nishad as a driver for the…

One Day in Dubai: Things to do!

Dubai is a land of superlatives: biggest, tallest, first. I would also add: oddest. Dubai is often compared to Las Vegas, and I agree: its sheer brashness and artificiality are very like Las Vegas. Like Vegas, it’s a big, shiny city plunked down in a desert. And although there aren’t any casinos – at least…

The Dubai Frame, in this picture, looks like it's just behind the palm trees, and only two or three stories high!

A visit to the Dubai Frame

The Dubai Frame was not what I expected. In the flurry of publicity when it opened recently, the media showed just what its name promised: a picture frame. That’s what I thought it was: a large picture frame, outsized, like everything in Dubai. It was two or three stories tall, I figured, perfect for taking…

Hacı Bayram mosque in Ankara, Turkey. The small section under the minaret is the mausoleum, and looks older than the rest. One Day in Ankara, Turkey.

One Day of Sightseeing in Ankara, Turkey

The last time I tried to visit Turkey was more than 30 years ago, and my attempt failed. I’ll tell that story at the end of this post. I will tell you, though, that I finally managed to get there recently when I flew to Ankara to lead a workshop. I tacked on one extra…