Set sail for exotic destinations in the Middle East. We join members of the Levante Basin Rally aboard cruising sailboats and motor yachts to explore the startlingly beautiful countries of the rising sun. The adventure begins with a passage from Turkey to Cyprus. Then on to ancient Mediterranean ports in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, where Crusader castles still guard the harbours and in Jordan where Nabatean temples guard the entrance to a hidden valley. A transit of the Suez Canal bridges the gap to the Red Sea where in Egypt we dive on shipwrecks, anchor off remote desert islands, and make a 3-day trip down the Nile River aboard a traditional lateen-rigged sailboat called a felucca to see the Pyramids. These episodes provide enlightening encounters as we approach the historic cities and temples of these Holy Lands by boat.
4-1 / #40
After an overnight sail from Turkey, the Shards face difficulties clearing-in to Cyprus and learn about the conflicts that divided Cyprus into North and South. They begin their visit by sampling local wines, many produced by monasteries, and a local potter introduces them to a Neolithic village.
4-2 / #41
Legend says that Cyprus is the home of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and while exploring the rural villages, the locals, in good fun, demonstrate some unusual recipes for aphrodisiacs. The Shards also learn traditional recipes for herbal remedies then sail to North Cyprus to see St. Hilarion castle and visit a church dedicated to the patron saint of tax dodgers.
4-3 / #42
The town of Kyrenia, now called Girne, was founded by the Myceans, and has a magnificent harbour and castle. Here at the Shipwreck Museum the Shards view the oldest recovered shipwreck in history. In a mountain village where the homes are built of mud and straw, the Shards learn how to prepare a traditional dish called "kleftiko", which is cooked in a mud oven.
4-4 / #43
The Shards sail next to Syria arriving in Lattakia where now they face difficulties obtaining a visa. Once cleared-in they drive to Ugarit, Saladin Castle, St. Simeon Monastery and in Aleppo visit the citadel, covered bazaar and caravansaries learning more about Christian and Muslim culture.
4-5 / #44
The Shards continue their cruise of Syria learning about Crusader history and visit Krak des Chevaliers castle. In Damascus, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, they visit the Omayyad Mosque and follow the path of St. Paul.
4-6 / #45
Before the 15-year civil war, Lebanon was considered the jewel of the Middle East, and sailing there the Shards discover Beirut is a modern city thriving in its recovery. They learn about traditional handcrafts and how they help Palestinian refugees, visit the ruins of Ba’albeck, a huge Roman temple complex, as well as the luxurious Beiteddine Castle.
4-7 / #46
Arriving in Israel the Shards are thoroughly drilled by security officials at the port of Haifa before being granted entrance to the country. With Haifa as their base, the Shards visit the Baha'i Gardens and the Golan Heights. Sailing to the ancient port of Acre, we accompany our Palestinian friend Salah on a tearful return to his hometown and the temple founded by his Grandfather.
4-8 / #47
From Haifa, the Shards sail down the coast to Herzilya where they leave their boat to travel inland. They follow the path of history and religion participating in rituals and visiting the monuments of Jerusalem, considered a Holy City by three of the world’s major religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
4-9 / #48
From Jerusalem the Shards make a road trip to Jordan meeting many delightful characters along the way including a camel driver who guides them through the Wadi Rum desert on camelback and a Bedouin tribesman in Petra, an ancient city carved entirely out of beautiful red rock.
4-10 / #49
The resort town of El Gouna in Egypt is a haven for water sports and Paul and Sheryl make it their base for exploring the out-islands of the Red Sea including scuba diving on the spectacular reefs and investigating historic shipwrecks. An encounter with dolphins is a highlight.
4-11 / #50
Paul and Sheryl help a friend take his motor yacht north from the resort town of El Gouna on the Red Sea, through the Gulf of Suez and through the historic Suez Canal. Along the way, they dive on a shipwreck, pass many oil rigs and tankers, learn about life in the coastal towns, and face war ships in the Suez Canal.
4-12 / #51
The Shards celebrate Easter and the ancient spring festival of "Shams el-Nessim" in the Egyptian town of Ismailiya on the Suez Canal where a local couple prepares them a feast dinner. Next they head to Cairo to take in the bazaars and explore the sights of Islamic Cairo. Finally they visit the Pyramids where Paul descends alone 100 meters to the ancient burial chamber.
4-13 / #52
Paul and Sheryl conclude their visit to Egypt with a voyage down the Nile River aboard a felucca, a small traditional river sailboat, travelling from Aswan to Luxor. Learning to sail the tiny craft and sleeping on deck under the stars they get close-up views of the diverse wildlife, temples and lifestyles on the river.