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Egypt - the pyramids from the Giza Plateau

"From atop these pyramids, forty centuries look down upon you."—Napoleon Bonaparte to his troops before the 1798 Battle of Giza.

Even before Napoleon was set to battle, he stopped to appreciate the beauty here and for good reason. In light of pyramid complexes already built, Egyptian king Khufu (also know by his Greek name Cheops) saw there was no proper space for his own when the time came. He found a commanding rock cliff overlooking present day Giza, perfect for a towering pyramid, and today it is known as the Giza Plateau.

The plateau is located only a few miles south of Cairo and only a few hundred yards from the last houses in the city, where a limestone cliff rises sharply from the opposite side of the desert plateau. While our photo hints at the beauty, it is definitely a must see in person if possible.

Jordan—the Monastery at Petra.

At the end of a 856-step, 2,500 plus- foot climb at the stone city of Petra is a breathtaking (literally breathtaking as you will be out of breath from the steep climb) and immense building. The 150-foot-wide and 150-foot-tall tomb facade was carved meticulously from the stone mountainside by the Nabataeans, who were native to the land thousands of years ago. Like its smaller counterpart, the Treasury, located around the bend at the beginning of the 856-step journey, the structure consists of two stories topped by a magnificent urn.

Cyprus—Kourion Amphitheater

On a cliff overlooking the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, is this beautifully preserved ancient wonder of the world, a Greco-Roman amphitheater where Greek and Shakespeare plays are still being performed. As you watch the colorful hang-gliders riding above Kourion, and the sailboats and swimmers, imagine yourself lost high above the beach, strangely in tune with both the world around you and your inner most spirit.

The Cedars of Lebanon

The cedars were highly prized by the ancient Phoenicians and sought for their strong, fine wood—straight and incredibly scented. Centuries of poaching left the once thriving forest with less than 400 trees, now government protected.

A trek to the Cedars is a lonely ride to the middle of nowhere and not without reward. Adjacent to the national forest are ski resorts, incredible nature views and the cleanest air on earth.

Syria—Morning bread delivery in Damascus

Magnificent sights don’t have to be natural or manmade wonders. Some are simply everyday occurrences, but new to us.

When the sun rises on the bare streets of Damascus, the corner bakeries are preparing the daily bread for an entire city. As the sun splashes rooftops with golden rays, the streets begin to fill with shoppers looking for the right vegetables for their daily meals and shopkeepers turning the key on another day. Boys load the big baskets on their bikes with flat bread, while the older men hand carry larger orders to their destinations. A sight only seen in a handful of cities worldwide.

Iran—Tabriz Gold Bazaar

Walking in the center of Tabriz harkens you back centuries with its simplicity that collides with complexities. The large 15th-century covered bazaar is a wonderful place to get lost amid architectural splendor. While shopping at the bazaar, the eye candy rests in the varieties of precious stones and metals available to travelers or locals looking for the perfect wedding gift.

 

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