Turkey, 1989

I spent about a month in Turkey in February and March, 1989. While it is a popular tourist destination for Europeans, especially Germans, it is not too well traveled by North Americans. This is a shame because it’s a country with a lot to offer to the visitor.

Turkey is ruggedly beautiful with many mountain ranges and there are great beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. Turkish food is quite varied and usually delicious. In addition, the country is chock full of fabulous historic sites.

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Jordan, 1989

ancient sculpture at Petra, Jordan

 

 

I entered Jordan at the port of Aqaba on the Red Sea in February, 1989. From there I made my way to the village of Wadi Musa which is a base for visiting the ancient ruined city of Petra.

Petra was established by a people known as the Nabataeans and it was an important hub along trade routes running between India, the Arabian peninsula and Rome and Alexandria. From Yemen came incense and aromatic plants such as aloe and myrrh. Spices were transported from India and dispersed throughout the Mediterranean world.

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Syria 1989

Syria is not what you could call a tourist hot spot. With a long standing reputation as a brutally repressive regime that lends support to various terrorist organizations , Syria just wouldn’t strike most people as a nice place to visit. Of course right now there’s a bloody civil war taking place in Syria so it’s most definitely off limits presently. Politics aside, I can only say that I really enjoyed my stay there which was long before the war now underway.

With the almost complete lack of foreign visitors I felt as if I had the place to myself. On top of that, I found the people there to be friendly and they were often quite curious about me as a Westerner. Because there were practically no tourists there was a very refreshing lack of hustlers looking to cajole a few bucks from naive visitors. Nobody was interested in over-charging me or treating me as a walking wallet. After a month in Egypt I really appreciated that.

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Egypt 1989

Feature image for Egypt post

Ever since I was a kid I dreamed about seeing the ruins of ancient civilizations. I was a history buff back then and I still am. No place offers more opportunities to explore the remains of long lost cultures than Egypt so it was a real thrill for me to arrive there.

My introduction to Egypt was Cairo. It’s a city that’s noisy, crowded, dirty, and generally chaotic but if you’re looking to escape the ordinary and explore around it offers some fascinating neighbourhoods. There’s an old Christian Quarter, a Muslim Citadel, and a camel market (not for the queasy). I really regret not making time to visit the City of the Dead which is a vast cemetery inhabited by both the living and yes, the dead.

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