Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You Are Not Going To Have 196 Months To Travel


     I am so sick of people telling me what is enough time to visit a country! It always seems the answer from people I get is to spend one month there (sure no problem, let me just foreclose on my house and get fired from work). There are currently about 196 countries in the world (an ever changing and debatable number). I don't know about you but as an American we don't get that much holiday or vacation leave, it is extremely unlikely that in my lifetime I am going to have 196 months to see the world. Yet every time I ask friends, family, or forums for advice on short trips I'm going on somewhere, I get the same answer, "Oh no, that's not enough time!"

    I am born and raised in New York City, arguably one of the most touristed cities in the world. Most people probably want to go for at least a week, which is great. But I can EASILY make a great New York Itinerary for 3 days, 1 day, or even less! I wouldn't tell someone going to LA from Europe with a possible 12 hour lay over in New York City, oh no, don't go for 12 hours, that's not enough time, just sit in JFK for 12 hours and avoid seeing a piece of that great city, that's a better idea.

    I just got back from a 3 weeks trip to Greece, luckily for a great deal I was able to do a side trip into Israel for 5 days, but since I was greedy I saw that for FREE I could do a 19 hour layover in Istanbul, and threw that in as well shortening Israel. 4 days in Israel and 1 in Turkey. I asked several friends when I thought it was going to be 5 days what I could do in Israel, and rather than give me some ideas, they simply said, "Oh no, that's not enough time." With all due respect to my buddies, Greece was way too close to Israel to skip it. Then my 5 day turned into a 4 day because I knew I could do that kick ass lay over in Turkey.

    Let's use Israel as the perfect example, people will say that's not enough time, Israel is geographically the size of New Jersey!!!! How is it not enough time? I wouldn't dare doom someone to visit New Jersey for a month! This is not even a complete list, but here is most of what I did in Israel in just 4 days, and the last day was cut short from weather:
  • Toured old city Jerusalem
  • Did a midnight bike tour of Jerusalem
  • Walked around Tel Aviv for awhile (then got rained out and had to go to the airport)
  • Toured the underground Western Walls of Jerusalem
  • City Of David
  • Bethlehem
  • Jericho
  • The Dead Sea
  • Masada
  • Rode a camel through the Negev Dessert
  • Hung out in Mamilla 3 nights

     Notably the one common Israel tour thing I didn't have time for was Petra, which is not in Israel anyway. How did I do so much in so little time? I planned! And I saw the city,  I didn't waste time to read about what to do when I got there, I did that before. I didn't stop to check in on facebook back home, or text every single person I've ever known I was in Israel. Were some things rushed? Yeah sure, I was only in Masada for an hour or so. The same for the dead sea, notably, I actually read on several forums people saying 1-2 days for the dead sea. WWWHHATTTTTT????? It's a pond of salt, go check it out, float, and get lunch and leave. The power of research helped me so much! I also self toured half of this, at my own pace, I rented a car and drive through the Israeli dessert in a sand storm to get to the Negev (not recommended by the way!). But the point is that if you really research before you get there, then you can maximize any amount of time!!!

Oh and how was 19 hours in Istanbul including 5 hours for sleep??? Let's see:

-Toured Rumeli Fortress
-Toured the Blue Mosque
-The Hagge Sofia
-The Galata Tower
-The Grand Baazar
-The Basillica Cystern (below)

-Sampled some Turkish treats and got some souveniers
-Saw Tokapi Palace (only from the outside though)
-Sampled Turk Coffee and had a great lunch

    With the exception of Rumeli Fortress all the rest of that is the equivalent size of touring lower Manhattan, with the right research I knew it could be easily done, and Tokapi Palace is on the way back to the airport. 

    I am never going to forget Istanbul or Israel, and I am never going to regret that I didn't wait until I had a month to go, there are some places that I am going to want a month to go to, notably Italy, but for my family and me, we have deep roots there, which I will talk about quite in detail in later article. But I am so happy and so satisfied with my 5 days in the middle east, and couldn't more highly recommend it for those people who are not going to have 196 months to travel. Save travels!

Choose the continent!!!!


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