Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

TR Finished - Istanbul's Vialand on pg2! Nefeskesen!!
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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby bert425 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:11 pm

those photos are spectacular. . . thanks for sharing.

looks like you're having an amazing time, and so envious of your trip!
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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby Jakizle » Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:19 pm

I'm in love with this trip report - thanks for the excellent write up and photos. Can't wait to see more and be inspired!

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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby PKI Jizzman » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:51 am

You got some serious air on the jump!!! Well done 10/10 A+
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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby thrillerman1 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:36 pm

PKI Jizzman wrote:You got some serious air on the jump!!! Well done 10/10 A+


I concur! Amazing journeys and photos in this update. Your TR's are always packed with personality which I think sets them on a higher bar than most. As always many thanks for sharing a part of the world I will probably unfortunately never get to visit!

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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby 805Andrew » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:04 am

Wow! All those places look spectacular and I didn't know Lebanon had all those snow capped mountains. There's little most people here know about Lebanon besides what they hear on the news so its nice great another perspective.
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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby boldikus » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:37 am

Great report and incredible photography. Can't wait for more.
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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby jynx242 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:26 am

Danny - great to see a report from you. They are always just a treat and you and your wife both look GREAT! Thanks for taking the time to share with us.

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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby coasterer » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:39 am

Jordan & Israel

Our time in Jordan and Israel was not as open as our time in Lebanon, due to our work commitments, but we did have some time to explore. Additionally, timing and park schedules led to me missing all the major [*eyeroll* “major” *airquotes*) credits I had planned on hitting anyways, so I’ll bang this one out two in one.

Jordan was great in the way Costa Rica and Thailand are great. It is a very accessible and a somewhat more gentle introduction to the region, well-paved and well-traveled by many. For these reasons though, it’s a very easy country to enjoy, but it wouldn’t be our first choice of travel. That being said, both Petra and Wadi Rum are two of the more spectacular things we’ve seen anywhere. Jordan and Lebanon differed greatly in this way - where Lebanon doesn’t have the big-name stand out attractions, the in between is so fantastic. For Jordan, at least for us, it was all about Petra and Wadi Rum.

We did do other things but our time was somewhat more busy and thus constrained. We had a few days outside of Amman and Mafraq (near the Syrian border) where we were visiting teams, and took a car down the country to the Red Sea coast and back.

The first sights of the treasury at Petra are breath-taking, mostly because you have to walk in a pretty good distance to get to it, and you approach it through a narrow canyon, where it sort of looms out at you through the crack. It’s nice to have to work for your world wonders. The real reason the Treasury is so spectacular however, is its scale - most notable when you’re standing right underneath it. Some things look more impressive from far away, and less-so when you’re up close. The Treasury at Petra, however, was the opposite. You are absolutely dwarfed by the pillars and the double-decker facade. And what’s really amazing is how crisp and precise the detail work is, none of which was ever restored. Just amazing.

Beyond the treasury, crowds start to fill in really quickly (get there early), but the site is massive, easily requiring a full day if not more to explore, and a replacement pair of knees and hips as well - and you can dart off the main path, scrambling up cliffsides and exploring caves and hidden tombs on your own with nobody else around. Did you know you could actually Air B&B a spot in a cave actually in Petra??? Who knew. We met a few girls who were doing it - only downside is you have to head back by 3 pm otherwise you can’t find it in the dark - and then I suppose you’re stuck in a cave all night.

We then spent a good two days in Wadi Rum, which is heaven. Deserts are so beautiful. It’s the perfect time away from it all, in your little Bedouin camp with endless cups of tea and late-night hookah under the stars. I’m all about lounge life, and the Bedouins have it down pat. Explore the dunes and towering rocks in the day, watch the sun go down at night, and let the crackling fire lull you into another world, lounging around on intricately patterned cushions, the evening feast sitting heavy in your belly.

Honestly we could have stayed there forever and are half-tempted to go back and settle in to Bedouin living for a while. It was unimaginably charming. But there were other things to do. We spent a day in Aqaba and snorkeled in the clear blue waters of the Red Sea, across from the barren jagged rocks of the Sinai. Saudi, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan all converge at this point and were all visible, which was cool.

Then we darted back up to Amman along the King’s Highway, stopping briefly at the Dana nature reserve, the old crusader castle at Karak, and the view of the Promised Land at Mount Nebo. It was a rush trip, but we saw a good bit.

Coaster-wise, the options were pretty similar to Lebanon. There is a larger Galaxy model north of Amman at a park called Al Jubayha Amusement City, but upon arrival we were told the park wouldn’t be open for another couple months, and were rather hastily turned away from the premises, despite google saying they were open. Determined not to leave the country without a credit however, I, along with my friend Josh, went to City Mall, where a rather unusual Zamperla spinner was located at Jingo’s Jungle, looking like a somewhat junior-ish custom wild mouse. I’ve certainly ridden far worse.

---

Israel is a world unto it’s own. It is singularly unique in a number of different ways - the Hebrew language, the diversity, the intense political and social polarization, the religious history and almost pilgrimage status, the conservativeness of Old City Jerusalem, and the insanely contrasting end-of-the-magical-liberal-hipster Jewish rainbow that is Tel Aviv.

As a lover of culture and religion, I will never forget the first time we plunged into Old City Jerusalem, fighting a literal river of Arab hawkers, veiled women rushing their children by the hand, throngs of Asian/Ethiopian/everything tour groups and gaggles of older white folks, conservative Christian children leading their siblings by the hand through the sea of people – and then the crowds split and you see them – 4 Orthodox Jews no more than 20 years old, floating towards you all in black, laughing at each other with their hands in their pockets, draped in baggy black coats and the black pants slightly too high at the ankle, their tassels trailing behind them at their waists, their wide brimmed black hats and the long curled locks on the sides of their faces -

To say I quickly became fascinated is a gross understatement. It evoked the same feeling – the stomach drop and the short, internal gasp – that I had when I saw a fully covered Muslim woman for the first time some 6 years ago. Fancy that, me, reverting to a puddle of nervous giddiness and a dramatic bent of following every Orthodox Jew I could find and trying to talk to them. Where did they come from ?? Where are they going ?? What are they thinking right this second ??

Oh my my my. I have never been in a country so confusing and so confused. And please don’t take that badly, here’s what I mean - Every turn I took, every site I saw, every person I talked to had me rewriting my definition of what this country was. It is a hundred different things to a hundred different people, each layer more fascinating, frustrating, and painful than the one before it.

The word melting pot isn’t right at all, because things don’t really mix. You have a hundred different cultures and at the surface at least the three major monotheistic religions, each one arrayed in the broadest spectrum of adherence possible, and each slight difference and disagreement magnified by the weight of thousands of years of conflict, history, and religious importance.

We really enjoyed Tel Aviv – it was part Europe and part NYC and part California and yet completely its own thing. Narrow streets and a kaleidoscope of entertainment/dining/cafe options at every hour of the day make it a very lively, very immersive place to be. And we just love a good beach.

The Dead Sea was a highlight, as were the rich bouquets of Tel Aviv’s cheap fresh produce, the Arab hookah bars for me, and for the first time in about a month, a selection of craft beers!! But yikes, this country will clean out your wallet really quickly.

We spent time in the north too, in Galilee and Nazareth, traipsing around the country in search of obscure places of historical and religious significance, as well as signposts of what is happening right now at the social level and hints of what might be happening tomorrow. As repulsed as we are by larger tour groups, never in our lives have we been to a place where we so badly wanted to know what it all means!!!

And in the end, we feel like we are no closer to understanding this place than when we arrived. In fact, I think we even understand it less.

There were two major-ish parks on my radar, both near Tel Aviv, though at best they were both only open on Saturdays and it just didn’t work out in our schedule to be around Tel Aviv on that day. At worst, one of them (Tel Aviv Luna Park) was listed as ‘closed indefinitely’ a few days ago, but now is not. Sigh. Another conundrum. Tel Aviv Luna Park is in possession of a boomerang, and Superland south of Tel Aviv has an SLC, both of which I somewhat perversely like to collect. Lord only knows why. So I left Israel as credit-less as the day I arrived – a fitting end I suppose, to a tumultuous and confusing place.

We’re on the final stretch now, and will be home in just a couple days (after about 1000 hours of travel). In some ways, we had already started making the journey home yesterday when we left Galilee in the morning, dropped off the rental car in Jerusalem mid-day, got back across the border into Jordan, and are now waiting to catch our flights out of Amman later tonight. Needless to say, we, in our old age, are ready to be home :)

I should be on Nefeskesen by this time tomorrow if all goes well! Assuming I don’t pass out in the airport in a haze of dead of night G&Ts and miss it.

Thanks all for reading, and thanks for the extremely kind comments. I hope you enjoyed!
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On our way into the bowels of Petra. A beautiful way to start the day
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staring up at the Treasury in Petra, this thing is truly massive, and the immaculate detail is just stunning
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Worth the walk. Basically pick a mountain and keep climbing
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On our way to the Monastery, way in the back of the site
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Looking down the main road at some spectacular tombs in the rock face. Petra is so large!!
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Wadi Rum is everything your most romantic self has ever imagined it to be
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The orange sand, the staggering rock faces, the charming Bedouin culture...
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And I'm realizing now that half of this update are pictures of my wife's back
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As the sun set, we scrambled up one of the rock faces (they are PERFECT for climbing) and the twilight painted everything a hazy, mystical grey
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The sun sets, a perfect day
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The view from Mount Nebo, where Moses gazed out on the Promised Land. You may just be able to make out the Dead Sea to the left if you squint.
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Our friend Josh climbing the rock face near our camp
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Okay, here is your major Jordanian credit, as seen from the highway. We were told the park was closed for two more months, and hastily shooed away from the premises.
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Al Jubayha Amusement City - this is the only major credit in the country. A Galaxy model, from across the hhghway. This is the closest we could get.
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Our back up plan, at Jingo's Jungle in City Mall, on the west side of amman.
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A Zamperla custom spinner, with four mouse trains joined together.
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There are certainly worse things I've whored myself out on.
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In Israel - the Dome of the Rock is great, but the Wailing Wall is truly transportive, in the most sobering way possible
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Sheri got interviewed by a German TV program in the Church of the Sepulchre, where Constantine's wife built a shrine in memory of Jesus' crucifixion
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The Dead Sea may not look like much in pictures, but it is one of the most unique sensations! Feels like you're floating on air
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My wife doing the typical mud spa ordeal
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Our only picture from Tel Aviv, from along the coast. This city just oozes charm - none of which I captured on my camera
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This is worth the story. There is a site on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus fed the 5000 and then went out on a boat and preached to the multitudes. This site isn't marked, but this is a natural amphitheater along the coast - we trudged around for an hour before we found it, but if you go down to the center of the bay, you can literally mumble, and be heard over a hundred yards away all along the radius of the bay. It was really neat, and not a soul around.
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It's been a delight - one more update with Vialand (hopefully), and then I'll sign off! Thanks for reading!!
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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby coasterer » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:15 am

Turkey

We had a brief layover in Istanbul on our way back to the States, and while my wife met up with a friend over coffee, I rushed over to Vialand to snag Nefeskesen.

Vialand is in a very residential / urban part of town - a little coaster oasis on a hill in the middle of the city. The park is nice and there are some nice things, but there are definitely a few places that are unfinished or cheap-looking. The place is a few years old now, so I was surprised to see some things still left undone. It also doesn’t feel like they have much room to expand.

But really I was here for one reason only, and that’s because Intamin launched coasters and Turkish metropolises are a few of my favorite things. So needless to say, Nefeskesen is my ideal.

I was the first one in line, despite getting through the gate about 10 minutes after opening. But there were a bunch of school groups there that charged up the entrance ramp only a few minutes behind me, and we got on our way. The station was very nice and open, and the staff were more efficient than I was honestly expecting them to be. Very friendly people as well. I am always so blown away by the people whenever I’m in Turkey. Every time I forget just how wonderful people can be, and every time I’m pleasantly surprised.

The coaster looks awesome, perched on a little hill, and launching out over the rest of the park. From the station, the coaster looks a little smaller than I was expecting - very cute like, like you want to reach out and pet it. But from the rest of the park, the ride towers over everything due to its placement on the hill. I was a little worried the layout would be a little meander-y for my tastes, but was pleasantly surprised on that front.

The train rolls right into an impressive launch and the top hat is wonderful, a nice pop of air and a wonderful view, plummeting down the vertical-ish drop with some nice twisty action.

Through a tunnel and then a great pop of air, into the immelman. The ride is pure fun as you’re thrown into the overbanked turn (also some nice airtime on this element), and then a great roll into the brake run. It’s very well-paced, does a decent amount for a launched coaster, and has a great mix of air time and inversions. It’s intense without being difficult to enjoy, and overall is just a blast of a ride. I think I like it slightly better than Xcelerator, which I also love. The hordes of Turkish school children all seemed to love it as well. I love that Turkey has a few real rides now!!!

I rode it twice, enjoyed it just as much the second time, (rode front row and back row), and then ran down to the family coaster, which had more speed than I was expecting, and did a nice little jaunt around some low-to-the-ground turns.

With all the school groups, that was all I really had time for, and had to run out of the park and catch a cab back to the airport. But Nefeskesen was well worth it, and was a perfect way to end the trip. A great compliment to Flying Aces back when I started things off.

That’s it from this report! Thanks everyone for reading and I hope you enjoyed!
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Vialand from the drive up. Just an easy 20 minute cab ride from the airport.
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The quality level of theming is a little subpar in some areas, though the desire to go with any theming in the first place is very respectable.
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Nefeskesen as you enter the park! Looks great in the early morning sun with blue skies!
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I don't remember what this building was exactly, but this is an example of some of the cheaper looking theming throughout. Though some areas did honestly look really nice.
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The walk up the entrance ramp had a great view of the top hat, and actually crosses over the launch track, which was cool. Very i-speedy with the theming.
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Here's the view out over the rest of the park.
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It's a nice middle-sized ride - a little smaller than ispeed or Xcelerator, but larger than say Kanonen or Skycar or Atlantis Adventure. Actually, looking it up on rcdb, it's taller than I guessed it was (164 feet??) and I also realizing I am failing to differentiate properly between an Intamin Accelerator and an Intamin Blitz coaster.
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The general atmosphere inside of the station looks very similar to what I remember ispeed being.
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Here is a view from the main ramp into the station, with the queueing area mostly to the right.
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I loved this thing. It was a blast to ride. Great speed, great pacing, no dead spots, great airtime, and fun inversions.
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The last barrel roll is really fun, and it hits the brake runs without losing too much speed, but without feeling like you had a lot of wasted momentum
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Here's the family coaster down at the bottom of the park. Maceraperest.
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It carried quite a good bit of speed coming off the first hill, and then had a lot of low to the ground turns. The kids really enjoyed it.
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A la Millennium Force
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Nefeskesen towering over the rest of the park
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Here's one more example of some unfinished landscaping and scenery which I was a little surprised to see.
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This was a really nice looking area in the park, although I was short and time and had to just rush through
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One last look from the drive up on the way out. That's it from me for this trip report! Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed!
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Re: Photo TR - A month in the Middle East

Postby redfoot12 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:57 pm

Aweseome report on a part of the world where I have no idea if I'll ever get around to visiting!
Nicely done.
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