January 4, 2009 lia

Middle East city breaks and weekend getaways

Cheap air travel and an abundance of accommodation alternatives such as Airbnb have resulted in a sharp increase in weekend getaways and city breaks. While living in Abu Dhabi, a 20 something takes full advantage of all the amazing destinations within a 3 hour flight. 

I’ve taken weekend getaways and city breaks all over the world — in Europe, North America, Australia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It’s a great way to break your daily routine, discover something around where you live, and create new memories and bonds with people — new people you meet along the way, or friends and family who join you on your trip.

Here are some unexpected city breaks and weekend getaways in the Middle East.

Lebanon

Electric street life and urban renaissance in Beirut, and my first Muslim- and Lebanese- wedding in Tyre.

Oman

Oman – legitimate natural and cultural oasis, with authentic historical culture and remarkable old, decaying towns to set up camp in.

Yemen

Yemen – one of the most extraordinary places I’ve been, with gingerbread-house-looking historical skyscrapers, beautiful landscapes, and a lot of able-bodied people chewing qat on the side of the road all day long.

Nepal

Nepal – pagodas and dim sum, hinduism and curry, experiencing extremes of funky ex-pat communities in Kathmandu, and a weekend local-style in the village of my tea boy with his family.

India

India – an emerging economy with all the comforts associated with having a middle class. The legacy of thousands of years of progressive civilisation, and an overwhelming excitment for the future. I only scratched the surface of Delhi, Agra (the Taj Mahal), and Mumbai.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – military offensives kept all the other tourists out, but there is just so much Sri Lanka has to offer. Preserved (and unexpectedly impressive) archaeological cities, stunning beauty, good food and crafts, and sacred buddhist sites.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia – where to begin? Ethiopia has been secretly succeeding as a great empire out of reach at 2000 metres for thousands of years. It’s the cradle of humanity, with many of the world’s earliest hominids surfacing in the Great Rift Valley, it has been a ‘civilised’ Christian empire with a developed writing system hundreds of years before Christianity ever reached Europe, 11th Century churches carved out of bedrock, natural beauty, excellent food, the headquarters of the African Union, the only sub-Saharan African country to have never been colonised by imperial forces. The list continues.Ethiopia – where to begin? Ethiopia has been secretly succeeding as a great empire out of reach at 2000 metres for thousands of years. It’s the cradle of humanity, with many of the world’s earliest hominids surfacing in the Great Rift Valley, it has been a ‘civilised’ Christian empire with a developed writing system hundreds of years before Christianity ever reached Europe, 11th Century churches carved out of bedrock (picture above), natural beauty, excellent food, the headquarters of the African Union, the only sub-Saharan African country to have never been colonised by imperial forces. The list continues.

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