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a market vendor in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Anita Breland of Anita's Feast.

25 Real Tips for Women Traveling Alone

A recent article from The New York Times has been making the rounds in Facebook travel groups. Written by Shivani Vora, it’s called “Tips for Women Traveling Solo, From Dining Out to Hotel Safety.” The title is misleading. Rather than a collection of tips, the article is an interview with Suzanne Randolph, founder of Alix…

The remains of a doorway with a view at Belvoir Fortress in Israel.

Defense (with a view) at Belvoir Fortress

The Crusaders, arriving in what is now Israel back in the 12th century, didn’t waste any time staking their claim. Their effort to dominate and control the “holy land” for Christianity was bloody and misguided and, in many ways, shameful. Yet it has left us some fascinating historical structures to study and enjoy. I’ve already…

The Torah ark at Um el Kanatir shows detailed carvings.

Um el Kanatir: ancient synagogue in the Golan Heights

When I write about off-the-beaten-path sights, I don’t necessarily mean that they’re hard to get to. I went to Um el Kanatir in the Golan Heights on the advice of Sara Zafrir, owner of Genghis Khan in the Golan, who insisted it was worth the effort. (Disclosure: I received two free nights in Sara’s hostel in…

Our first glimpse of the A380 in Dubai Miracle Garden.

Dubai Miracle Garden: Absurdity in the desert

The taxi ride promised little excitement. It was mid-afternoon and the traffic flowed smoothly past the shiny tall buildings. Impossibly green grass and brilliant pink flowers edged the wide highway, and beyond that we saw sandy vacant lots, parked cars, huge billboards advertising the next luxury development or flashy car, construction sites spiked with tall cranes….

Another mosaic at Zippori National Park

Zippori National Park and its spectacular mosaics

“Sixteen miles all around Zippori is a land flowing with milk and honey.” This sentence from the Jerusalem Talmud (Bichurim 71d) opens the text given to visitors to Zippori National Park, north of Nazareth. On the spring day when I visited, I could believe it: carpets of wildflowers covered the rolling hills in all directions….

In the center of the Kathmandu, everyone vies for space.

Surviving the roads in Nepal: a guest post

The following is a guest post by my husband, Albert Smith, about his experiences on the roads in Nepal last fall. [Beneden is de oorspronkelijke Nederlandse versie] My son and I are on our way back from a football [soccer] match between FC Groningen and AZ. We’re in a good mood: Groningen has won a…

a Mesopotamian matriarch from ca. 2000-1750 BCE in the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Bible Lands Museum: The history behind the Bible

The premise, or perhaps I should say the Unique Selling Point, of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem is to illustrate each and every civilization mentioned in the Bible. Unlike some Bible museums, this one is not dogmatic: it shows the actual history of each civilization. Here, the Bible isn’t just a religious document: the stories…

A man leads a donkey in Nazareth Village: Biblical Nazareth

Biblical Nazareth: my observations

In biblical Nazareth, a man, dressed like an extra from The Ten Commandments, wanders slowly by between the gnarled olive trees, leading a donkey by a rope. He lingers for a while near our assembled group. The camera-toting tourists, dressed in shorts and tank tops, crowd around. The effect of being in biblical Nazareth is…

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