Jordan’s only sea port and beach resort is the city of Aqaba on the Gulf of Aqaba at the country’s most southern point. Jordan shares the gulf’s northern coast with Israel and Egypt. These waters have been vital for regional trade for millennia and are also known to divers for their clear water, coral reefs and great variety of sea life, including many endemic species. Located within a 2-hour drive from Wadi Rum and Petra, Aqaba is a great spot for a few days of R & R after a full touring itinerary.
The Gulf of Aqaba is a northern arm of what sea?
Can you name that sea?
See below for answers.
Not far off the well-beaten-path of ancient temples in Egypt is the Mandulis Temple, also known as the Kalabsha Temple for the island on which it originally stood. This temple is one of several that was disassembled and moved to higher ground in the 1960s, ahead of the creation of the massive Lake Nasser reservoir, which would have submerged them. The reconstructed temple now stands on New Kalabsha Island near the western shore of Lake Nasser, just south of the Aswan High Dam.
Mandulis is a late-Greek-early-Roman-era temple, built around 30 BCE. The temple is Nubian, not Egyptian, but Nubian assimilation into Egyptian culture was pretty much complete by this late date and the temple’s design is typically Egyptian. Mandulis was the Greco-Roman version of the Nubian sun god Merwel.
Lake Nasser cruises include Mandulis in their touring itineraries. Our Splendors of Ancient Egypt program includes a Lake Nasser cruise. If you’re not taking a Lake Nasser cruise, we can get you there by other means, just ask.
The artificial lake above is supplied by the wall of Atlas Mountains in the background and has been watering the surrounding groves of palm, olive and fruit trees, known as the Menara Gardens, since the 12 century. The elegant 19th-century pavilion is used for picnicking and gazing out over the lake and gardens. A shady, tranquil sanctuary from the summertime swelter and crush of the Red City, the gardens attract tourists and locals alike.
Can you name that country?
See below for answers.
DAY 1 DUBAI
Start at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), where you can have a traditional breakfast and learn about the culture of Dubai and the UAE in general. Tradition remains a strong current throughout UAE society, while it adapts to tolerate, if not embrace, some of the modern social mores of the 80-90% ex-pat population.
The SMCCU is located in an old wind-tower house in the Al Fahidi district (also known as Bastakiya) of Bur Dubai on the western side of Khor Dubai (Dubai Creek). The district is named for Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest standing building in Dubai. The residential area that grew up around the fort was planned to make life in the extreme climate as comfortable as possible. Houses were built around narrow, winding lanes to maximize shade and draw cooling breezes through. Towers on the houses drew air down past water, which cooled the rooms as it evaporated on the wind.
Take an abras (water taxi) across the creek to Deira, where you’ll find the souks. If you’ve been to souks in Fez, Istanbul, Jerusalem and Cairo, Dubai’s souks probably won’t blow your socks off, but they do have local charm and are well worth some poking around. The Gold Souk is really something to behold and many visitors to Dubai come just for the gold.
Then travel in a matter of minutes from old Dubai to the number-one icon of new Dubai, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. I like buildings and have raved about this one more than once in this blog: here and here. Take the At The Top tour for access to the observation deck on the 124th floor. Burj Khalifa is part of the Downtown Dubai development, which includes the Dubai Mall (for a completely different shopping experience from the souks) and the musical Dubai Fountain.
DAY 2 DUBAI
Start the day with breakfast at the Farriers Restaurant with views of horses during morning track work on the Meydan Racecourse. After breakfast, take a tour of the Meydan Stables.
Drive to the giant Jebel Ali port, about 20 miles south of Dubai city, for a seaplane tour. The aerial perspective really helps to take in the extraordinary evolution of Dubai. You’ll fly over the whole city, but birds-eye views of the man-made Palm Jumeirah and World Islands, the Burj Khalifa and the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab Hotel are especially astonishing.
Come down to earth with a tour through the art spaces on Alserkal Avenue in the industrial Al Quoz district. Since 2007, Alserkal Avenue has developed “organically,” as they like to say, into a hopping arts scene, with the city’s largest concentration of galleries and arts venues. It’s a good place to ground and balance out the hyper-commercialism that built Dubai and keeps it ticking.
Click to see Dubai tours on our website.