2015 West Asia
Expedition to West Asia 2015
West Asia is a large and diverse region, that’s why I get to know its new part every time I travel. Western Asia, also referred in the Eurocentric way as the “Middle East”, is a region of constant wars and conflicts. Fuel to the fire is mainly added by America and Israel, although Muslims themselves also don’t like each other and they fight for influence in the region. In 2013 I crossed the countries of the Caucasus and Iran. In 2015 I went to militant Lebanon, where I saw Roman ruins, picturesque landscapes, and I met Hezbollah. Then I traveled through the Jordanian desert, where I saw Petra and the Bedouin life. At the end, I went to Israel and Palestine to see the cradle of Christianity, and the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people by the ‘highlanders from the Mount of Zion’.
The route around West Asia 2013
The last time I went travelling was in 2013 and also to West Asia. I travelled for 3 months around the countries of the Caucasus and Iran, what proved not only be an unforgettable experience but it also opened my eyes to many things. Unfortunately in 2014 I didn’t organize any expedition because first I had a knee surgery and then a financial heart attack. However, in 2015 I felt that I couldn’t waste my life anymore and in spite of my circumstances I did everything whatever I could to go somewhere, somewhere where it would be quite close and where flights would be cheap. For those reasons I went to West Asia once again but this time of course to different countries. Western Asia (part of the “Middle East”) is a highly diverse region and even though I’ve already been to a lot of countries, in order to fulfill the traveller’s ambitions I still missed such destinations as Lebanon, Jordan and Israel / Palestine.
I chose West Asia because it was a very unstable region and I simply couldn’t predict what might happen in 2016. Maybe by then “democracy” could become so aggressive that all those countries might share the fate of Syria or Iraq and that’s why it was better to not to delay my trip. I’m very tired of constant wars but unfortunately the elite can’t live without them. I, as a traveller always wanted to see Petra in Jordan, I wanted to see how it really is in Palestine and in Israel and I felt that now it was the time for my next lone adventure. In the beginning my whole trip was supposed to last a maximum of 1.5 months but I had so much to see and I had so many adventures in transport that at the end my trip took me two months. According to my predictions I had some complications on the way because I travelled around challenging countries but fortunately everything ended up well.
Before I reached Lebanon I stayed in Athens for two days to finally see the Acropolis and the finest Greek monuments. I thought that if I was going that direction anyway and there wasn’t any difference in the ticket price than stopping by in Greece for a few days would be a very good idea. Athens was of course beautiful but I also liked local fruit and people were very helpful too. In addition to the ancient architecture I also advise to pay attention to the local art. Greek artists have painting studios where artists paint portraits of Jesus and the saints on wood in a different style than our, the Catholic one. I liked Athens very much because of its art, architecture, weather and food. The next time I will fly to Arabs I’m going to get off in Athens again. Prices were affordable.
Lebanon is a small country occupying just over 10.000km² what means that it is almost 8 times smaller than tiny Czech Republic. Nevertheless, in such a small area there are many interesting sights and natural beauty worth getting to know. Because of the small size a lot of tourists come to Lebanon only for one week, even though in my opinion an active traveller could spend there two or even three weeks without getting bored for a single moment.
Lebanon is located in Western Asia by the Mediterranean Sea and it is bordered by Syria and Israel / Palestine. The first attraction is the capital itself – Beirut which for a long time was off limits to tourists because of the its turbulent history. The most pleasant place in Beirut is the coast with its few kilometer promenade called Corniche and where people jump from the rocks into the sea. I went there many times at different times of a day to enjoy the sea breeze and a have a break from the noise of the city. In Beirut, there is also a Christian district of Achrafieh , Hamra shopping district, the historic centre with a beautiful clock tower and small but interesting streets near Hamra and Gemmayze. Although Lebanon is officially a Muslim country, Beirut certainly can’t be compared to the typical Arab cities such as Tangier or Marrakech. In Beirut some women run in tight clothes and they don’t wear head scarves while Muslim women wrapped in black sheets are a rare sight in the streets. Whilst in Beirut it is also important to not to overlook a very interesting National Museum.
Because Lebanon is a country of small distances and transport to the north and the south is well organised, to many places the best plan is to go for day trips from Beirut.
Travelling north along the sea we should definitely stop in the beautiful coastal town of Byblos, which has been continuously inhabited for over 7000 years. Today, apart from nice views there are also interesting Roman ruins by the sea and many good restaurants. Not far from Beirut there is also a shabby town of Jounieh which exists on the map because it is the Lebanese capital of striptease and therefore a tourist destination of “religious” Saudis. However, in Jounieh there is also a cable car that leads to the top of Harissa where there is a huge, 15-ton statue of the Virgin Mary.
Going further north I reached the Arab city of Tripoli which is very interesting because it has an impressive fortress on the top of the mountain, a traditional bazaar, traditional hammam (bath house) and the Mamluk period architecture. Although Tripoli is shrouded with a propaganda of fear I sincerely recommend this city and I consider it to be one of my best Lebanese experiences. Whilst in Tripoli I boarded a 40 year old Mercedes in which I felt like in a black-and-white film and roaming between palm trees and the chaos of the Arab town I arrived to the port of Al-Mina. Among many things there is a playground on the island, a restaurant and a non-functioning lighthouse which hasn’t worked since Israel invaded Lebanon.
The road south along the coast led me to the town of Sidon where on a small island there is a castle built by Christians and nearby there is an old Arab architecture, traditional bazaars, narrow streets and mosques. Sidon was one of my favourite places. Then I drove to the town of Tyre, which until recently was off limits to tourists because of frequent fighting with Israel and thus its military nature. Tyre is a packed with army, machine guns and barbed wire port town which is under control of Hezbollah but from the point of view of tourism it is very attractive because it has Roman ruins by the sea and the world’s largest Roman theatre. Apart from that there is also a good fruit bazaar and a promenade by the sea decorated with palm trees. I was stopped by Hezbollah only twice.
The most pleasant memories I have from my trip to the Qadisha Valley because of the natural beauty and its Christian culture. I stayed in the mountain town of Bcharre and from there I went on an expedition into the valley where after crossing forest trails and interesting rock formations I reached ancient churches built in caves and on the edges of the mountains. Nearby Bcharre there is also a water cave and the Lebanese cedar reserve. Qadisha valley is free from barbed wire and machine guns because it is Christian. There is also Bekaa Valley nearby where first I saw the ruins of the city from the Ummayyyad period in the town of Baalbek. That small Shiite town controlled by Hezbollah is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Lebanon because of some of the largest Roman ruins in the world built in honor of Jupiter and Mercury. I was also in a town of Anjar close to Syria to see other ruins but no longer the Roman ones but from the Umayyad period built in the early eighteenth century. Then I spent the night in Zahle, close to the famous Lebanese wineries.
From Beirut I organized a trip to the Chouf mountains which didn’t disappoint me with their beauty. After adventurous hitchhiking I got to the nineteenth century Beiteddine palace where I saw traditional Arabian architecture finished to the highest standards and a huge amount of money. There are ornamented chambers, gardens, corridors and mosaics on the walls. Then, also by hitchhiking I went to the historic town of Deir al-Qamar where I saw the Ottoman architecture surrounded by beautiful views and at the end I got to the cedar reserve.
Along the way I visited a few other places such as Jezzine where I saw a large canyon and I also went to smaller villages of minor importance to tourists. Among the many sights that I saw I enjoyed the war museum in Mleeta because it was built on top of the same mountain where fierce fighting between Israel and Hezbollah took place. To me, a tourist attraction in Lebanon were also Arabic sweets and hitchhiking.
Lebanon is a small and very interesting country where in a small area tourists can experience interesting adventures with a thrill. I recommend this country and I wish happy journeys to all. It is also worth mentioning that despite the fact that Lebanon is considered a Muslim country its religious division is: Muslims 60% and Christians 40%.
From Beirut I flew to Amman, the capital of Jordan and as soon as I saw the desert and palm trees all around I felt that this will be my great Arabian adventure. Amman was my base for a few days but from the variety of all the beautiful places that I visited my favourite was Petra and the mountaineering trekking which comes with it, the desert and canyons of Wadi Rum and the Dana National Park. I also swam in the Red Sea and was floating on the Dead Sea. In addition to he above I also saw spectacular castles and Roman ruins, including the amphitheatre in Amman and the very impressive ruins of Jerash. Transport was also adventurous because I hitched through a large part of Jordan what allowed me to see the country in a better picture. After completing my trip I can definitely say that Jordan was my favourite country because it was the calmest. I didn’t see machine guns or barbed wire but only peace, the desert, rich history and the natural beauty. Although I was physically tired Jordan gave me a mental break because in Lebanon and then also in Israel and Palestine it felt like under martial law.
Jordan is a small but a rich in tourist attractions Arab country. Despite its small territory, slightly larger than Ireland we can travel through deserts, canyons, mountains, enjoy the seas, try good food, and above all we can see Petra which is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Jordan is located in the region where war is a part of everyday life but fortunately the country is still safe for tourists and it becomes increasingly attractive. The historical richness and the natural beauty of Jordan does not leave travellers indifferent and it provides interesting experiences and beautiful memories. It is also worth noting that even though on one hand the continuous wars, conflicts and terrorist attacks in the region do do any favours to Jordan, then on the other hand every year Jordan gains new visitors because it is seen as a stable country in the region. A few times I also came a cross a comparison that Jordan is called ‘Thailand of the Middle East’, and I think that because of its attractions this statement is true to a certain degree. Either way I do not advise White women to travel alone in any Muslim country. The main travel path of Jordan is in the west of the country along the border with occupied Palestine, although a few travellers also set off to conquer the hot sands in the direction of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
The first tourist attraction of Jordan was the capital city itself – Amman. I lived in the old district near the Roman theatre and it was where for the first time I felt the true nature of Jordan. In the vicinity of the Al Husseini mosque there are a lot of fruit stalls, gift shops and counterfeit perfumes and cheap restaurants offering traditional Arabic dishes. The old part of the city was a convenient starting off point for the impressive Roman Theatre, the Hippodrome and the Citadel on the top of the mountain where there are views of the entire Amman. The city let me feel the daily life of Jordanians where I had experiences such as a visit in a busy eating house proudly called a restaurant and a very risky haircut done by an Arab barber who eventually able to shave goats but not people.
From Amman I organised two trips which I would like to recommend to everyone. First I went to the well-preserved Roman ruins of Jerash which are located about 53km north of Amman. Due to its large area and interesting sights such as traditional Roman theatre, impressive streets, columns and big gates I spent there whole day.
I also went on a two-day trip across the desert. I went west to the town of Azraq to see the sand castles built about 1,000 years ago. The desert and the hitchhiking were both great adventures but some of the castles that are worth seeing are Azraq, Qusayr Amra, Qasr Qharana and Qasr al Hallabat. Then, after passing through the chaotic Zarqa bus station I got to the cave of 7 sleepers and went back to Amman.
About 45km to the south of Amman lies the mosaic city of Madaba where the main attraction are the spectacular old churches with Christian mosaics. When in Madaba it is also worth to visit workshops where we can see artists at work and then buy a mosaic made from local rocks. Madaba however is not only the city itself but also the base to other interesting places. During my first one-day trip I went to Mt Nebo, the Christian place from which Moses saw the promised land and where today in good weather it is possible to see Palestine / Israel. Then by hitchhiking through the mountains I reached the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptised Jesus. It was also my first encounter with Israel because river Jordan is a natural border between the two countries. From there, through a sand storm I finally reached the Dead Sea but I was not happy because it was raining and the beach was extremely dirty. Apart from that I also went from Madaba to the Roman ruins of Mukawir where once stood the castle of Herod the Great and where from we can see Palestine and the Dead Sea.
My route further south led by an uninspiring town of Dhiban and the beautiful canyon of Wadi Mujib. After many hitchhiking options and many adventures I finally got to the city of Karak with its impressive castle built by the Crusaders in 1142. Because the castle in Karak is the only attraction I organised a one-day trip from there. I went through the mountains to the village of Mazraa and then by hitchhiking I reached the Dead Sea. Over it was clean and the weather was nice.
By an accident I saw Israeli fighter jets patrolling the border.
I also have very fond memories from the Dana Nature Reserve. Dana was a place where I relaxed in natural surroundings. I walked through the mountains and valleys, went through narrow canyons and saw flocks of sheep. Dana is a reserve of many beautiful views and trees wrapped around rocks of different colours that let tourists forget the stench of everyday life. Besides, I lived in the village of Dana constructed of rocks which was a very special place. Not far from there is also Shobak castle built in 1115 by the Crusaders. This castle was quite easy to visit because it was located near the road towards Petra and I assure everyone that it is worth a visit. Many tourists bypass it because they had already seen other places or they may not have the time but the built on top of the mountain Shobak castle is a great site and it beautifully presents itself from a distance.
Then I got to the tourist town of Wadi Musa which is the base town to Petra – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Petra is worth exploration even if it was located at the end of the world. It is a beautiful mountainous journey through the desert where we can admire the ancient temples carved in the rocks, caves and spectacular rock formations and canyons. Petra can be of course explored on foot but if someone has great style he can explore it on a donkey, a camel or a horse cart.
Another great attraction of Jordan is a desert trip in Wadi Rum. It was here the first time where I walked the desert alone experiencing its peace and beauty. I climbed sand dunes and mountains from where I watched the panorama of Wadi Rum. I had tea with Bedouins and I spent lonely nights in the desert warming up by my own fires. In addition to Petra which no longer needs to be advertised, the desert of Wadi Rum is a very special place that gives unforgettable experiences of our Jordanian adventure and helps to understand the identity of the Arab country.
Finally I hitchhiked to the town of Aqaba by the Red Sea. I saw the Citadel and the Jordanian flag on the high mast but in Aqaba I primarily swam in the sea and took a good rest after the hardships of the desert and mountain expeditions. In Aqaba I had to slow down to come back to my usual self. I had regular meals and I drank tea with bakhlava in Arab bars. Aqaba was my last place in Jordan which turned out to be a pleasant reward after crossing the whole country.
Apart from all the places that I mentioned it is also important to discover new places beyond the tourist trail. I’m talking about the places that provide good insight into reality of Jordanian life; the forgotten transport rat holes and all those dirty town that travellers go through without wondering about what a life of an average Jordanian looks like. I’m talking about places in Amman where no one usually sees a White tourist or a place such a Dhiban between Madaba and Karak where Arabs were so excited about one White man that they became very tired and began to very tiring. Another town of that kind was Al Qadisiya near the Dana Nature Reserve where I saw poverty, emptiness and boredom and where I heard loud Muslim propaganda from the speakers.
Whilst in Karak I walked through holey streets and talked with young Arabs about Islam what once again showed me that Arabs are professional liars who are able to say absolutely anything just to defend Islam. I remember a bus station in the town of Zarqa where chaos, poverty and garbage flown by the wind are indeed the real Jordan. These are the places that we would never see on postcards but it is important to remind about their existence because an average tourist arrives only to Jordan for a few days to see Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba and then he believes that he knows Jordan. No, he doesn’t. I know Jordan because I saw it with the eyes of a traveller who looks for realism in his expeditions.
I was going to spend up to two weeks in Jordan but in the end I was 3 weeks. My last day I spent in the Red Sea town of Aqaba where I was swimming, I was eating Arabic sweets and I said farewell to that beautiful, interesting country.
Israel and Palestine
My last countries were Israel and Palestine which I write about in one paragraph because they tragically sentenced to live together. I visited all the biblical places such as Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem and the Galilee but unfortunately I will also remember the whole country for its occupation, war zone, observation towers and the high wall separating Jews from Muslims. Palestine and Israel like no other countries during this year’s trip proved to be the most educational and not just because of the biblical sites. After three weeks of travelling around Israel and continuous movement from the Jewish to the Palestinian territories it became obvious to me that Jews are the occupiers and that Palestinians lost their land to the sidelock invaders.
Of course each party has its own version of events but if after 2,000 years Jews pushed the Palestinians away from their own country, then in the name of the Roman Empire Italians should kick out English people out of England and Mongols should take over the whole of Asia. This short story referring to a very unlikely alternative future seems to be a complete absurd but how tragic it is that it really happened in Palestine in 1948 and it still continues and has the blessing of all the “democratic” and “civilised” countries.
I am under no illusion that the problem and the cause of all the wars in the Arab world are not because of Arabs but purely because of Israel. However, let’s consider what would happen if there was no Israel? Analysis of alternative future is never certain but if Arab countries lived in peace and without any threats in the region they would surely arm themselves to the limits and use its war machine against the “infidel Europeans”. In other words, the history would be repeated what in some ways already takes place in Europe. This story does not have a positive character.
I believe that Jews and Muslims are perfectly worth each other and I even think that none of the two is able to live in peace. They simply like war and I believe that if one of the two was gone or if someone separated them I suspect that they would miss each other because hatred of one another is a part of their culture and this is exactly what identifies them as Jews and Arabs.
From a Christian point of view I just want to have both Jews and Arabs as far away from me as possible and when I feel that I want to experience the cultural differences than I know where to find them. How fortunate I am to be a Christian. If someone is interested in my opinion on this topic I recommend my article “Expedition to Israel and Palestine”.
“A powerful hostilely disposed nation is infiltrating almost every country in Europe. This nation is in a state of perpetual war with these countries and severely oppresses their citizens. I am referring to the Jewish nation”.
Johan Gottlieb Fichte
I have to admit that I felt very differently when I was in the Jewish territories and the Palestinian territories. In Palestine people wanted to shake my hand, they wanted to talk to me, sometimes they gave me a fruit and helped me to get on the right bus. Jews however never wanted to talk to me unless they had something really bad to say about Palestinians or when they wanted to push me away from their area. When I visited Palestinians I felt like a guest. Sometimes we drunk together and sometimes I was invited to taste baklava, while Jews just measured me up and down from head to toes and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. Apart from certain exceptions, when around Jews I felt as I if had been accused or a suspect, but this is because Jews have so much on their conscience that they approach everyone very warily.
Travelling around Israel begins with crossing the border and it became clear to me right from the start that those who have nothing on their conscience do not ask too many questions. I was held at the border for 6h and I was asked various questions, including those that didn’t make any sense. In general Jews didn’t like that I visited Iran and Lebanon and many other Muslim countries. Then I noticed that Jews were afraid to live in their own country and that’s why they see an enemy in every shadow and they suspect everyone who is not Jewish, although they don’t trust each other too. My sense of humour in Israel was destroyed by the local prices but also by the immigration officials at the border crossings who see enemies of Israel in a shade of every tree. Jews would not understand that but constant and cynical search for the enemy who does not exist has become their national paranoia. According to a sick Jewish mind someone who was in Malaysia was probably there to not to walk in a jungle or see orangutans but probably to “act against Israel”. Unfortunately Jews have very dark imagination.
Occupation of Palestine
Before travelling around Israel and the Palestinian territories (according to the official name) we must realise that the country is divided into the Jewish territories, and the West Bank which is the Palestinian Territories. In the Jewish part there are good roads, good cars drive in the streets and it is an area of many investments, as evidenced by expensive hotels and new facilities in the resort town of Eilat and Tel Aviv. It is clear that Israel is a place of continuous development, it is clean and there is good organisation.
On the other hand, in comparison with Israel the Palestinian Territories stand at a much lower level. It is a region which has minimum investments and its streets are often dirty and very crowded, because Jews pushed Palestinians from their own land. Attention should be also paid to the Palestinian refugee camps, where on several streets and in very poor conditions sometimes 30.000 Arabs or more are squashed together. I went to Aida camp in Bethlehem and to Balata camp in Nablus, what gave me a clear understanding that Jews have learned a lot from the concentration camps. In addition, Israeli F-16’s fly over refugee camps and make a lot of noise; and they do it just so the Palestinians could remain in fear.
It is also very interesting that the Berlin Wall was seen as an attack on freedom and democracy, and the fence surrounding concentration camps was seen as a crime against humanity, but on the other hand the wall in Palestine, although much longer and higher than the one in Berlin is kept in silence as if it didn’t exist. In my understanding it means that brutal occupation and walls of that type are perfectly fine, but only on a condition that they serve Jews.
However, putting the political situation aside Israel is a very beautiful and a very attractive country for travellers. I think the trip to Israel only with war on one’s mind is a mistake because Israel has a lot of valuable things to offer. In Israel and Palestine I swam in three seas, I was in a desert and most importantly I have seen places that in my opinion every Christian should visit. The walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and all the Christian sights are very impressive, the same as the military equipment of the security guards. I recommend Israel and Palestine as educational and a religious trip but I think that once is not enough because there is so much Christian history there.
My itinerary in Israel
I would like my readers to know that Israel is not only about the occupation, watchtowers, raids and barbed wire. There are also very nice, beautiful and historical places which are the true tourist destinations. My journey through the Jewish part of the country I started from the seaside resort of Eilat by the Red Sea. It is a very pleasant and a very expensive place full of wealthy Russians and due to my empty pockets I slept in a tent on the beach, I used to eat at the bakery and swam in the sea for free. From the shore I saw the city of Aqaba and the Jordanian flag where I had been before.
Then I went to see the fortress on top of a mountain called Masada and that was also a nice place to visit. First I spent a night in a tent and in the morning I went to see the ruins of an ancient fortress on the top where I had beautiful views of the Dead Sea and interesting rock formations. Then I went to the beach in Ein Bokek and I swam in the Dead Sea although I think that it would be better to say that I was laying on the water. When it started getting dark I took a shower on the beach and I hitch-hiked to Jerusalem which turned out to be my base for about a week.
I lived in the Old Town which is very interesting and which has immense historical value. I don’t know how people can spend in Jerusalem only 4 hours on an organised trip if I after 5 days still felt that I didn’t see enough and I was constantly discovering new places. Because of the great Golden Dome the most famous and probably the most photographed place in Jerusalem is the Al-Aqsa mosque but to me that building didn’t have any particular meaning. It is true that there is quite an interesting architecture and mosaics on the walls but I didn’t see anything holy in that place and Muslims themselves were not saint too. The most beautiful and the most valuable places in Jerusalem are the Christian places. Many times I visited the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is buried, where there is a stone on which he was anointed after his death and where there are the last Stations of the Cross.
In the Old Town there is also a Lutheran church with a high tower that overlooks the skyline of Jerusalem and there are many other interesting churches, a lot of tea houses, shops and huge stone gates. Out of the Old Town walls there is also a very attractive Church of All Nations and the olive garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was arrested. Just before it there is also a Tomb of the Virgin Mary and on the way to Mount of Olives a Russian church of Mary Magdalene. I also went to the room of the Last Supper and I saw the grave of Oscar Shindler, the Austrian industrialist who saved hundreds of Jews during the war.
A compulsory sight to visit is of course the Wailing Wall which from the cultural point of view is a very interesting experience to every traveller and a holy place to Jews, but to me it was rather an ideal setting for recording a horror film, not for prayers. I saw a lot of Jews dressed in their traditional costumes who jumped, danced and wobbled as if they were drunk while reading their prayers. The Western Wall with the Golden Dome of the Al-Aqsa mosque right behind it gave me very mixed feelings.
I also went to Tel Aviv where I spent two days. I liked the beach and the old town of Jaffa where I lived. When it comes to the centre unfortunately again I had mixed feelings, especially after seeing certain objects. Strolling near the Rockefeller street I went the Hall of Independence where David Ben-Gurion declared Israel an independent country. The film which I saw there was a naive story about the ever innocent and the ever suffering Jews who returned to their historic homeland, despite the fact that the same story could be told from the Arab’s point of view and then it would be called the Hall of Occupation and not “independence”.
A similar story I saw in the Haganah Museum which tells of Jewish partisans before the creation of the Israeli army (IDF). It is mainly a story about the “very bad Palestinians and their terrorism” because they defended their homeland from the invasion of “the chosen nation“. The museum also shows the influx of illegal Jewish immigration to the occupied Palestine with the approval of the British, and a way how Jews of the Haganah looted British trains. Jews used to steal British weapons and ammunition and then fought against the British using their own weapons, even though without the British there would never be Israel. Another words Jews robbed everybody and then got the support of the United States and still even the UK which quickly silenced the fact in the media that British soldiers were killed and robbed by Jews. Well, Jews are always “innocent”.
A beautiful and interesting place during my trip around Israel was also the Galilee. I had my base in Tiberias, just by the Sea of Galilee but the real adventure started when I was travelling around the lake. First I went to the Mount of the Beatitudes to the Catholic church in a quiet garden and then I walked down on a dirt road to Tabgha. There are two important churches there but first I walked down the Sea of Galilee where I sat down in the natural pool between rocks and I took a shower under a waterfall by the tributary to the Jordan river. Then I went to see the st.Peter’s church which is located just by the lake and after that I visited the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish. On the shores of the first church the apostles saw Jesus for the first time and in the other one there is a stone on which Jesus placed two loaves of bread and two fish that fed 5000 listeners. I also went to Capernaum where Jesus commanded his future apostles to throw their nets on the other side of the boat and he said to Peter and his brother that if they go with him they would be “the fishermen of people“. In Capernaum there are also two nice churches, including one Orthodox with beautiful paintings inside. For me, the whole area of the Sea of Galilee was a combination of natural beauty with a trip to biblical times. I therefore warmly recommended Galilee.
When I still had time and money I planned to visit the Golan Heights, the mountain station of Tsfat and the city of Haifa but because of my miserable economy I ended my journey around Israel in biblical Nazareth. I walked through the narrow streets of the Old Town from one church to another in a city where Jesus grew up and where Joseph once had a carpentry workshop.
The object dominating the skyline of Nazareth is the Basilica of Annunciation which I recommend partly because of the very special paintings depicting Mary and Jesus, donated by many countries from around the world. It is here where angel Gabriel flew on earth to tell Mary that she was pregnant and was carrying a son of God.
Although Qalandia checkpoint is not included in the tourist highlights everyone travelling from Jerusalem to the West Bank would surely have to go through it. Among many interesting things tourists can see over there a high wall decorated with barbed wire and watchtowers with snipers waiting for their lucky day. In addition to the above there are also concrete roadblocks, a lot of garbage, iron barriers and machines for scanning bags like at airports. Israeli soldiers who check documents are extremely rude but still very nice comparing to those who sit in the glass bunkers and press the green buttons. Qalandia is a very sad, depressing place which is a frequent venue of Palestinian demonstrations against the Jewish occupation. Next door there is also a Palestinian refugee camp of the same name.
Every tourist returning to Jerusalem, for example from Bethlehem or Jericho will surely experience that unforgettable and stunning experience which the Qalandia checkpoint definitely is. By the way, I also think that Jews could make quite a lot money by selling postcards from that place – postcards presenting concrete wall, watchtowers, barbed wire, soldiers with big guns and the inscription underneath: “Feel the realism of Israel.” Such souvenirs in Israel are still missing.
My route in Palestine
My journey around Palestine opened my eyes to many things. I went to all the biblical places but the thing which I will remember the most is the reality of the Palestinian lives and the fact that many of them want to tell their stories to tourists, as well as their dream of free Palestine. I saw a lot of poverty there, the tragedy of Palestinian people, the occupation, the Arab bazaars, I tasted Arabic sweets and I met a lot of business oriented people. I think that even under Jewish occupation Palestine is a very interesting and educational tourist destination and due to political circumstances the country can be compared to Tibet.
My first trip from Jerusalem was to the birthplace of Jesus – to Bethlehem. I went there primarily to see the Church of Nativity built in in the place of the holy family’s shed where there is an exact place of Jesus’ birth and the manger just next to it. Today however Bethlehem is an Arab town with important Christian churches and colourful bazaars which would be completely deserted without its Christian history. I however was mostly moved in Betlehem by its high wall that separates Palestine from Israel, the observation towers and colourful graffiti showing free Palestine and Israeli soldiers and violence against the Palestinians. I was also in “banksy” shops where I bought occupation art souvenirs and I went to Aida Palestinian refugee camp where once again I saw the brutal reality of the kosher democracy.
I also went to the city of Ramallah which I recommend even though it doesn’t have any cultural heritage. Ramallah is very good due to observation of people. There is a huge mosque and a bazaar around it even though Ramallah is a grand bazaar in itself . I also went to Nablus to see the old architecture and the traditional bazaar with good fruit and Arabic sweets. As before in Bethlehem, also in Nablus there is a beautiful church (which Arabs should be very proud of); and unfortunately there is also the Balata Palestinian refugee camp. I spent half a day in Balata talking to Palestinians, I had a dinner there, I bought fruit and took an interesting photo of myself inside a car after a bomb explosion. I wish Palestinians all the best but I think that escape to Europe is not the right choice. They should remain in the occupied Palestine and with the help of other countries they should fight for free Palestine.
From Nablus I went to the town of Qalqilya to see its small zoo and I have to admit that despite of its small territory and just a few animals the zoo in Qalqilya is one of the nicest experiences in the occupied territories. I was quickly surrounded by children because everyone wanted a free lesson of English, although they liked me too. I felt very uncomfortably when Palestinian girls picked up wild flowers for me. Qalqilya Zoo brings a little bit of happiness in the occupied territories and a smile on children’s faces. In the same place, in addition to many drawings on the walls depicting Yasser Arafat there was also a painting exhibition showing olive trees behind barbed wire guarded by Israeli soldiers. At every step in Palestine and on every occasion there is a strong reference to the occupation and that’s why Palestinian people remain strong.
I really enjoyed my trip to one of the oldest cities in the world – to Jericho. I saw interesting ruins in the ancient Hisham palace and I went up by a cable car to the Mount of Temptations where I saw the Qurantul Christian monastery built on the edge of the rocks and partly inside a cave. Of course there is more to see in Jericho than just those two objects. It is also about the lives of people, setting of the town’s main square with a park and many bars and workshops. But most of all Jericho is a city of history where first people settled around 10,000 BC.
At the end I relaxed by walking in the fountain and I bought a first quality box of Palestinian dates (not worse than those in Iran), salty mud from the Dead Sea and a date syrup.
Very interesting was also the city of Hebron where Jews and Palestinians regularly treat each other with stones, Molotov cocktails and gas of course. I went there to see the Old Town and the Ibrahimi mosque which contained the tombs of prophet Abraham and his wife Sarah. Of course all the small streets and local products were very interesting but most shops and even street was closed because of the Jewish occupation. Hebron is a very special city because about 4000 Israeli soldiers guard 500 Jewish settlers who live in separate ghettos. Whilst walking down the street I saw a metal mesh over my head with stones dropped by Jews on Palestinians. I also saw watch towers with Jewish soldiers over Palestinian territories and I visited Palestinian homes without locks and handles so that Jewish soldiers could always get inside without any problem.
Arabs in Hebron live in fear and are kept on a very short leash but to me it was an unforgettable experience where I even bought a sheep skin.
My opinion of the whole problem is as follows: I’m not going to defend neither Muslims nor their terrible religion because I know what they are capable of but looking soberly at the whole situation it is an evident fact that in Palestine Palestinians are those who are being harmed and terrorised by Jews and Palestinians are those who lose their own land. In contrast people such as Israeli soldiers are not needed in Palestine but in Europe for cleansing the White continent from traitors and the Muslim and Black element because good Muslims are those who live in countries of their ethnic and cultural origin and Palestine is such a country. My journey through Palestine opened my eyes to many things and I recommend this country for a visit. Moreover, contrary to Jewish lies Palestine is safe for Europeans.
From the 2015 expedition I have several thousands photos and incredible memories that will stay with me forever. This expedition, like no other showed me that I have made a very good decision that I don’t have TV at home, because my travels are the truth and nothing but the truth, whilst the media in England are lies and only lies.
- Aida Palestinian refugee camp
- Amman Citadel
- Balata Palestinian refugee camp
- beach in Tel Aviv
- Beirut Lebanon
- cedar trees in Lebanon
- Cornish Beirut
- Dana National Park Jordan
- expedition to Israel
- Expedition to Jordan
- Expedition to Lebanon
- Expedition to West Asia
- Hamra Beirut
- Hebron old city
- Jericho the world's oldest city
- Jordan Dead Sea
- Jordanian desert
- loss of Palestinian land
- Mleeta war museum
- occupied Palestine
- old city in Jerusalem
- Petra in Jordan
- Shia Hezbollah
- the churches in Jerusalem
- the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
- trip to Palestine
- Wadi Rum desert