After a number of years of travelling around the world there is an area that still fascinates me and that I keep returning to; North Africa and the Middle East. Reading Polly's blog has got me lusting over a return to this region again in the near future and I seriously feel the need to meet Polly for an afternoon tea and spa adventure in Doha. I love reading Polly's blog, it's quite literally filled with pages and pages of sunshine (sometimes I need to wear my sunglasses and slap on the sunscreen as there are a lot of sunny photos).
I thought while I have hijacked Polly's blog for the day that I would share some of my favourite places that I've visited in the Middle East and North Africa over the past 10+ years
Obviously Syria is in the news a lot at the moment however what people don't realise is just how beautiful this country is; from the gorgeous roman ruins scattered all around the country to the impressive Krak des Chevaliers, I was left breathless by the beauty of this country.
I should point out that the people are amazing as well; my favourite story that I have from my travels through Syria is when we were visiting Resafa for the night and some locals came to say hello; I took a selfie (don't judge me!) and he was completely shocked to see himself on my digital camera - he asked if he could show a friend, the camera then promptly disappeared into a car - my tour leader almost had a melt down but I knew it would come back and it did along with a number of his friends and family as they couldn't see the photo any more on the screen and when I bought the photo up for them all again they were fascinated on how their image was showing on this tiny camera. Travelling is all about having unexpected moments like these.
I travelled through Libya just prior to the revolution and the contrast between it's neighbours was an eye opener for me; no bartering and very calm. The roman ruins are probably some of the best I've ever seen while travelling but I was disappointed by the jigsaw that is Leptis Magna.
I have a great love affair with this country and am saddened by its recent decline in tourists as I saw first hand on our trip to Aswan and Cairo last year. Make sure you visit the Old Cataract Hotel at least once in your life; the location and sunsets are worth splashing the cash.
We ventured to Oman back in 2010 just as the country was emerging to be the luxury travel darling of the Middle East and stayed at the Shangri La Hotel where the service is impressive along with the conservation work to protect the turtles. Make sure you pop into the markets and buy some silver jewellery.
I'm hoping to visit Morocco for a third time this year as this is the country that is a sensory overload - the smells, sights and colours are mind blowing. Visiting in 2003 and then 3 years later, the changes to Marrakech were startling so I'm guessing my socks are seriously going to pop off when I see the changes that 9 years have bought.
One word; Petra! One of the most fascinating places to venture too in the Middle East and if you're planning a visit then I highly recommend reading Married to A Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen (Kiwi ladies like to travel!).
I've done the huge loop around Turkey twice now (it's huge in case you didn't realise) and the country has so much to offer for every tourist. Spending a few days people watching in Istanbul and getting up super early to do a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Goreme are definitely two of my favourite moments from our trip.
I've still got a few places in the Middle East and North Africa that I would like to visit; Algeria, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and of course Doha now thanks to Polly.
Thank you so much, Kelly for such a wonderfully informative post and for massively fuelling my wanderlust for the region! So pleased you now want to come to Doha now too. If you do, let me know when you're coming because I might be in Morocco, Oman, Turkey or Libya! Kelly writes an absolutely brilliantly witty, honest and informative blog about her expat life and travels, along with some gluton-free inspiration, called Around The World In 80 Pairs Of Shoes which has become one of my go-to daily reads. Head on over for a browse!