On this trip I visited Egypt & Jordan (with an extension to Saudi Arabia which I canceled) should have netted me 3 new countries and gotten me up to 74, but has me rethinking my strategy of traveling just to add countries that I have not been to. Or perhaps I should pay more attention to Ramadan, especially when it coincides with a major Christian holiday like Easter. Who can tell?
Frequent travelers will know that Ramadan works on a lunar calendar & so it changes when it happens on our calendar. Next year it is in March. Also, it lasts 30 days. And they don’t just fast all day & then eat at night. They celebrate all night. I asked one of the guides at a tomb at the Valley of the Kings & he said he got 3 hours of sleep the night before. This rather causes the “woke” traveler to feel bad for those poor folk who are trying to show you a good time while hungry & sleep deprived. (We call that REALLY hangry!!!)
Not only are your non-Christian members of the hospitality industry working at stress, but the airlines are very over loaded. Every single one of my 4 in country flights in Egypt were disrupted in some way. The first, to Luxor, was canceled without notice necessitating a sprint & ride through Cairo airport to a separate terminal to catch another flight with only 30 minutes to make it.
Think twice before booking with EgyptAir, but I can’t say enough good about Kensington Tours who hired my guides & made all the arrangements. When handed shit by the airlines, they got me on flights & where I needed to be – even if it was in Coach. Perhaps you could save yourself some trouble by just flying in the back of the plane, but I don’t think that would have been enough.
However, Egypt has some incredibly well preserved sites, so enjoy these pictures before I go on:
So, Jordan was much better than Egypt. They enjoy a higher standard of living & a lot lower inflation rate. They are also very moderate on the religion thing & have acted for years as a buffer between Israel & their less moderate neighbors. Also, Petra is great. It has not been as well preserved as many of Egypt’s treasures (and faces constant erosion), but it is beautiful & less crowded.
Still, I decided that I didn’t want to head right into the bastion of Islam, Saudi Arabia, right as Ramadan was ending – which was what was on my agenda. It just didn’t seem like a good idea.
So I went online to find direct flights to Europe from Amman & found Royal Jordanian flies directly to Frankfurt & Delta flies directly to Atlanta from Frankfurt! Win-win. As it turns out Frankfurt is a trade center for Germany. Of course, not much survived WWII in the city center, but what did has been well preserved. Modern buildings have been jammed right up against the few historic ones. And interesting juxtaposition.
I continue to look for opportunities to visit the Saudi peninsula. The country is trying to open itself up to tourism & Oman is a safe place according to our State Dept. Just not during Ramadan. Insh’allah.