Kayaking Through the Mangroves in Abu Dhabi

Mangroves kayak tour

A few minutes ago we were in Abu Dhabi, a noisy, bustling metropolis of high rise concrete, fast cars and muezzins. But here among the mangroves it is calm and peaceful, and there is no sound apart from the gentle swish of paddles. In Your Bucket … [Read more...]

Sleeping like Monks in the Caves of Goreme in Cappadocia

The Great Clash of Nature-001

As an independent traveler, it happens every so often: You find yourself walking beside a road in the middle of the desert, cars whizzing by you with little regard, no more than a bottle of water and a book in your bag. It was that way one afternoon … [Read more...]

Walking Istiklal Cadessi into the Heart of Istanbul

Looking across the Golden Horn

Standing at the corner of Taksim Square, I gaze into the multi-faceted soul of Istanbul: Istiklal Cadessi (Independence Avenue) is a wide pedestrian-only street that stretches about a mile and half, from Taksim Square to Galata Tower, and from about … [Read more...]

Negotiating Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili Market

Entrance to the Khan el Khalili market.

I am beginning to feel a little uncomfortable. My self-appointed guide -- he introduced himself only as Mohammed, which is not helpful in a country where Mohammed is the name of most of the male population -- keeps urging me just a little way … [Read more...]

Living Large at the Burj al Arab in Dubai

DUBAI_0705a

"Ah, not the elevator," my friend said in the lobby of Dubai's Burj Al Arab hotel. "We will ride the submarine to the restaurant." And indeed, we did. After entering a small capsule with bucket seats and fastening our seat belts, lights flickered, … [Read more...]

Bathing Turkish Style in Istanbul: The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami

Inside a Turkish Haman

"Come, come." The woman gently takes my arm and steers me into the large round room. "Come" is the only word she knows in English, which makes her one word up on me, as I don't speak a word of Turkish. But perhaps it's just as well we can't have a … [Read more...]

Drifting Between Continents on a Bosphorus Day-Cruise in Istanbul

Bridge from Europe to Asia in Istambul

Talk about Continental Drift: I am floating -- literally -- between Asia and Europe. To my left is familiarity, reassuring names like Paris and Venice, Vienna and Madrid. To my right are places like Kazakhstan and Urumqi: the exotic lands of western … [Read more...]

Shopping for Turkish Carpets in Istanbul

Turkish carpets are unrolled and piled for the customer to examine.

This is not my first rodeo, thank goodness, because if I had never been in an Oriental rug shop before -- in Egypt, in Thailand, in the suburbs of New York City -- I would surely have come out of the carpet store in Istanbul having hocked my return … [Read more...]

What to Buy in Turkey: Souvenir Shopping in Istanbul

Turkish glass lamps

Shops selling cell phones sit next to shops selling hand-made carpets, the kind that were once used by nomadic tribes living in tents in the desert. Bright piles of pungent spices send competing aromas drifting toward a store selling gold jewelry, … [Read more...]

Floating in the Dead Sea, Israel

Dead Sea

The water looks like nothing special. I walk out till I am thigh-deep, then lean all the way back and kick my feet out from under me. I find myself lying back as if in an (invisible, wet) armchair. I am one of the more than one million foreign … [Read more...]