Syria: Ancient sights

AT SUNSET, the Roman columns of Palmyra – lost in the desert, a five-hour drive from Damascus – look very romantic, the golden light highlighting the sandstone from which most of it is built. The main colonnade, lined with massive columns, stretches into the distance, its roadway unpaved so as to provide better footing for the endless camel caravans that once arrived here from the edges of empire.

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Marrakech: The spice of nightlife

“THE BEST analogy I can think of is fishing,’ says superstar DJ Pete Tong. ‘You put some hooks out into the crowd and see what they respond to.”

We are sitting on a sunny rooftop terrace of the exotic Riad Lotus Ambre in Marrakech, having a lamb tagine lunch and discussing his set at Pacha that finished a few hours ago.

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Mount Sinai: And, lo, there was light

I AM freezing cold, yet pouring with sweat, my heart is banging away as if about to burst and my legs feel like jelly. After three days of battling post-Cairo stomach problems (the details you don’t want to know) I’m already weaker than a decaf latte. And I’m still only 30 minutes into the three-hour climb up Mount Sinai. If I am to see the sunrise at just after 5am, I need to find some energy. Continue reading “Mount Sinai: And, lo, there was light”

Oman: Wadi you like?

I AM SITTING in an air-conditioned Toyota FWD, doing what feels like 70mph, when the ground ahead suddenly disappears from view.

The front end of the vehicle drops sickeningly, while girly screams echo from the people (not all of them female) in the back seat.

Then we hit the side of the massively steep dune, sliding alarmingly sideways, before roaring off across the soft sand for another go. This time backwards. Continue reading “Oman: Wadi you like?”

Beirut 2004: The good times roll

AFTER ONLY A few hours in Beirut, you wonder how these wonderfully warm and kind people could ever have fought a bloody civil war so recently.

Step outside your hotel and get into a taxi, or just try and cross the road, and that question might answer itself. Whether it’s homicidal or suicidal tendencies, Lebanon’s drivers literally live life in the fast lane. Continue reading “Beirut 2004: The good times roll”