I just want to keep you abreast of what I am planning. After the semester ends here in Istanbul, I will find myself with at least 2 weeks to be able to travel before needing to return to the States, if not more (depending on the time of my last final exam). My friends that I had met at the hostel when I first got here have offered a suggestion. I can go and visit them in Israel, as their semester will also be coming to a close. Then, they will be able to show me the major sites in Israel. Plus, as an American, I can request that the border patrol not stamp my passport, but rather place a stamped paper in my passport, to be removed if/when I decide to go to other countries, such as Syria and Lebanon (the former of which probably won’t happen just because it’s impossible to get in on a normal day). I just looked at flights, and I’ve seen one for approximately $200 USD, which is not bad. I do want to keep looking and look into other means of travel (like the train) to see if I can get a better deal. Plus, as I am not yet completely sure when my last class ends, the day I choose may affect the flights too.
Other benefits to going to Israel is that I can visit another friend, who is currently working at the Bah’ai Temple in Haifah, I get to see Israel, and if it becomes possible to go to Egypt, then it’s a simple matter of crossing back over from the border into the Sinai. Further, this trip would actually help for my internship this semester, which will deal partially with the Levant. All-in-all this is a good, solid plan (if everything comes together…knock on wood). Wish me luck!