The Jerusalem Series, Travel

The Secrets of the Wilderness – Hike with Dan!

Hiking in the Land of the Bible


What more can I say? I love to hike. It is a part of my nature. If  I see a mountain, I immediately want to climb it. If I see rough terrain, I want to challenge it. Combine that with the heat of the desert, throw in some of the lowest, most inhospitable terrain on earth and I am excited.  And what if this hike goes through land that has been talked about in the Bible for thousands of years? As a theological student and a student of the Bible, life doesn’t get any better than that!

Hiking with the Dead Sea behind me!


My name is Daniel. I have recently  lived in Jerusalem  for over five years.  On most free days, one could find me hiking somewhere in the desert. Mostly in the Judean wilderness, that swath of desert between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea,  the lowest place on Earth.

It is a geography that is unchanged from the days of the Patriarchs and the time of Jesus. 

As I explored this barren wasteland, it was often with the cherished biblical stories going through my mind. 


In the next several months I will be sharing some of these unique  hiking experiences from the Land of the Bible. Many of my hikes were solo. I loved going out with just a map, lots of  water, and the thrill of discovery around every bend.  As time went on and others knew about my hikes, I  would take people with me so they too could experience the land in a very almost intimate way. 


For now let me leave you with the following thoughts.

There is no place like the desert to remind oneself of your fragile humanity. Especially when water is almost depleted. Life’s priorities quickly become ordered. 

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1 – A Psalm of David (When he was in the Desert of Judah.)

I look forward to sharing more of my experiences with you in the near future.

Until then, Every Blessing.

The Amman Series, Travel

Jerash

The small country of Jordan, in the Middle East, is well known for it’s hospitality, culture and historical sights. From an archaeological perspective Jordan contains some of the most spectacular sites in the world including the world renowned tourist attraction that boasts over 500,000 visitors each year: Petra.

On this occasion I want to talk about the beautiful and historical aincient city of Jerash.

Jerash جرش ‎  is an aincient city located in the north of Jordan, only 48 kilometres north of Jordan’s capital city, Amman. Otherwise known as ‘the Pompeii of the East’, Jerash serves as a fantastic day trip for both adults and children.

The city of Jerash dates back to the Neolithic times and incredibly rare ruins and artifacts have been found which have dated back to roughly 7500 BC. The current site of the old city of Jerash includes beautifully preserved ruins of places of worship and other buildings from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and early Muslim periods.

Recommendations

When visiting Jerash you should wear sensible footwear; if you wish to see the whole site you will need to do a lot of walking.

Take a good camera with you; Jerash is an ideal location to photograph.

In the Roman theatre, two or three men will usually be ready to play wonderful traditional Jordanian songs as you walk in. The men will be happy to play songs for you, just be prepared to provide them with a tip afterwards as this is a cultural expectation.

Before going to Jerash, read about the history of the site, so that you can spend your time admiring the beauty of the ruins.

I would advise that you take water and snacks, just be sure to clear up after yourselves.

Travel

Wadi Rum

Jordan might be a small country, but it is filled to the brim with many breathtaking and beautiful sights. Whether you prefer the ancient ruins of the Rose City of Petra, or the hive of activity in downtown Amman, Jordan is sure to offer something to suit everyone.

If you ever find yourself fortunate enough to visit Jordan, I would recommend a visit to Wadi Rum – it is undoubtedly one of the most mesmerizing places on Earth.

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Wadi Rum  وادي رم‎  is a valley that is located roughly 60 km to the east of Jordan’s southern port city, Aqaba. Otherwise known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is currently the largest valley in Jordan.

Since prehistoric times, many cultures have inhabited Wadi Rum such as the Nabataeans who left their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. The West of Wadi Rum is most known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917–1918. In the 1980’s one of the rock formations in Wadi Rum, was renamed “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” after Lawrence’s book written in the aftermath of the First World War.

 “The hills on the right grew taller and sharper, a fair counterpart of the other side which straightened itself to one massive rampart of redness. They drew together until only two miles divided them: and then, towering gradually till their parallel parapets must have been a thousand feet above us, ran forward in an avenue for miles.”  – T.E Lawrence (Seven Pillars)

If you wish to loose yourself and escape the world of phone calls, text messages and life’s demands then take a trip to one of the many Bedouin camps. The hospitality that you will experience undoubtedly will be second to none!

My Recommendations: 

I would recommend that you travel to Wadi Rum with close friends or family, it is such a beautiful place to make memories.

Be prepared to ask questions about the Bedouin lifestyle and culture, your visit will be the perfect opportunity to learn more and listen to some fascinating stories.

You really should book a guided tour of the vast dessert and explore some of the most amazing sites and hidden secrets that the valley has to offer.

Sneak away from your friends and family and take a few moments to sit under the stars, I am sure that you will find it a breathtaking experience. I enjoy sitting and listening to the echoes of the valley or watching the sunset whilst listening to a good playlist.

If you are able to, try to stay in Wadi Rum for more than one night, it truly is a beautiful place to escape to.

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The Riyadh series, Travel

Riyadh Boulevard

The year 2019 was a fundamental year for the country of Saudi Arabia. Many would argue this because of the number of reforms that took place, such as the E-Visa (allowing tourists to visit Saudi Arabia for the first time.) Before the year finished I was able to visit The Boulevard and experience some of what Riyadh Season had to offer.

What is Riyadh Season?

Riyadh Season is a special series of events in Riyadh, designed to showcase some of the talent and beauty that the city has to offer. The season includes many new restaurants, cafes and international brands, car exhibitions, auctions, fashion shows, games and concerts.

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What about Riyadh Boulevard?

Riyadh Boulevard is one of the events in the season. An Old fashioned tram will transport you through a colourful vibrant street filled with so many shops to explore. Talented street musicians line the streets, singing and playing traditional melodies. For an additional fee and a spectacular treat, you can also attend the popular music concerts that take place every night.

There is also the option of visiting the cinema: a new addition to life in Saudi Arabia. Cinemas opened in Saudi Arabia for the first time in April 2018 and have been popular and in high demand ever since!

Why I enjoyed it?

From the moment I arrived I loved the vibe and the ambiance of The Boulevard. It was lovely to see families and friends having fun together. The excitement and energy of the event was contagious, there were activities for everyone.

When my friend and I decided to find tickets to ride the tram we were delighted to find that the tram was free! We thought that this was a brilliant touch and a lovely novelty for families and friends alike.

There was also a lovely variety of food trucks and restaurants so there were plenty of cuisines to sample. I really enjoyed the Kibbeh in Labaneh and the creamy hot Sahlab: the perfect drink for a cool winter’s evening.

If you have the opportunity, you must visit The Boulevard before the season ends!

Check out the video below to see more:

The Riyadh series, Travel

Diriyah Season

Saudi Arabia has been experiencing an immense ammount of reform and transformation in the past few years. Recently Diriyah Season and Riyadh Season were opened to the public. I had the opportunity of visiting Diriyah season (موسم الدرعية) in Riyadh and I have to say that the experience was nothing short of magical.

What is Diriyah season?

Diriyah season was a combination of international sports and entertainment events which were based at the beautiful UNESCO world heritage sight of Diriyah. The season opened from 4pm each day and stayed open until the early hours of the morning. Crowds poured in each evening to experience the fun and games.

Why I enjoyed it?

From the moment I arrived I fell in love with the colourful lights and the buzz of excitement. It was lovely to see so many families and friends having fun together. From the moment that I entered it was clear to see that Diriyah season had something special and unique to offer everyone. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be present.

Interesting activities that I loved

I really loved the upside down house and the water bumper cars. The butterfly garden was so colourful and was filled to the brim with flowers and trees. I really enjoyed the thrill of jumping off a platform onto a bouncy landing area: it made me feel like a stuntwoman for the first and only time in my life.

The restaurants and food choices were superb, and I even had the opportunity to grab a drink from my favourite coffee shop – Caribou Coffee.

Throughout the evening there was also a variety of interesting acts and performances from singers and entertainers from all around the world.

Who would love this event?

This event is perfect for families, friends, children and adults. If you love adventures or evenings in the cool Saudi Arabian winter weather then you should check out Riyadh Season. It may be better to attend the event on a week day or on a Saturday evening if you wish to avoid long queues.