Masada, Israel

After reading this blog entry, you may wish to review the current travel warning I have on Israel.

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Masada is an ancient fortress near the Dead Sea in the middle of nowhere. Pictured above was a bath.

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It’s at the top of a hill in the desert, easily accessible by a bus from the Central Bus Station. From there, one can choose to either hike or take a cable car.

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It’s what you would expect of a ruin.

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Typically, it’s hot and dry, but it was relatively cloudy, so it was quite pleasant. There are water fountains everywhere anyway.

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The landscape from the fortress, and indeed former palace, was quite impressive as well.

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It was first built as a palace complex, then turned into a fortress.

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In Israel, its cultural significance has most to do with it being the last hold of the Jewish revolt against the Romans, it taking place after the destruction of the second temple.

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No idea what those white things were.

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The Romans fought for months until they finally had a breakthrough after building a tower that towered over one of the walls.

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The c1000 Jewish fighters there then decided to commit mass suicide instead of being Roman slaves.

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As a result, it became a symbol of Jewish heroism after the story was rediscovered by the Jewish youth movement.

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The palace.

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The building had some exhibits and shops, including an Ahava outlet.

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A Byzantine gate.

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Petra, Jordan

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The lost city of Petra is one of the main tourist attractions in Jordan.

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It is a city that is basically a collection of temples, with a very nice landscape.

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It’s got some plants and is firmly in the desert.

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Bought another headgear. Bargained it down from JOD15 to JOD6.

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There were a gigantic amount of oriental tourists, although Japanese ones seemed to outnumber the rest.

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It has gotten plenty of Roman structures, too.

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Interesting rocks.

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It’s a pretty big place and there are many routes. But the hike up to the monastery is the main one. It’s around 1.5 hours for me from the entrance to here.

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Many people will try to sell you a donkey ride, telling you it’s an hour-long hike. Fake news. It’s around 20 minutes each way.

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To get to Petra by bus, you will need to be at the bus station before 6am, and to leave, be there before 3.30pm. It’s around 4 hours each way. They played a promotional short film with His Majesty The King taking an American journalist on a tour around the country.

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The only theatre caved into a rock.

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The ceiling of the main building of the royal tombs. It’s the only one tourists are allowed in. In the middle, you see the crack created by the major earthquake.

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The famous treasury.

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Amman, Jordan

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Amman, the capital of Jordan, is the seat of His Majesty The King, one of the current monarchs partly educated at Oxford University.

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Good views at the citadel. Certainly is worth the 3 Jordanian diners.

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The Roman theatre.

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If you are visiting Amman, I would advise against going out of this area. It’s safe, but it’s quite dirty (not as dirty as Egypt was) and there’s lots of dust everywhere.

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I was quite surprised by the fact that there were plenty of Roman buildings.

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A part of the citadel.

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The museum.

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City walls.

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Looking like Greece.

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The big flag is where the palace is at.

Rome, Italy

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Rome, where the Roman Republic/Empire started. Coincidentally, also my favourite historical city. It has everything I like – impressive, imperial buildings, ancient ruins, and everything’s reasonably close.

The structure above was my absolute No 1 in the metropolis. It’s extraordinarily well-maintained and you can go on it and get a marvellous view of the city.

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Proof.

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It was awfully hot though – around 35 degrees. Would probably have died had there not been literally water fountains everywhere downtown!

But it was so hot that despite the fact that I kept drinking and drinking water, I never really needed to go to the loo.

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The complex looked much better in the evening with the lights, even though it might have been more difficult to take good photos of them.

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Rome is a highly walkable city (you’d need to be a big walker tho), ever if you want to walk from the central station (where I stayed) all the way to the Vatican and back. It’s quite a nice walk too, with all the unique and stylish ancient buildings at every corner.

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One thing that stood out to me was the atmosphere in the city. The archaeological sites had all aged quite a bit, and they were all ruins beyond repair. Yet, Rome still felt like very much the seat of an empire, albeit one that had fallen a long, long time ago.

On another note, they projected videos and images on to some of the walls and that was cool.

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Still an impressive building but didn’t look as good as it was in the evening.

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The trouble with visiting Rome is that once you’ve got there, you won’t find Athens that special…

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The churches are all empty, btw. Very cool tho so good to visit during a heat wave.

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Apparently Italians are exceptionally sceptical of air-conditioning, so you can’t expect to have that in most places.

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