Author: Stephen Bugno

My First Nights in Nablus

They told me the gunfire only rings out at night. But this morning, after sunrise, I woke up to loud clashes across town in the Al Ein refugee camp and the upheaval continued until 11am. Then we checked the internet for the story: Ma’an News reported that one Israeli soldier and an 18-year-old Palestinian youth were killed.

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Evora and Tomar, Portugal

On the morning of the 21st, I left the Atlantic for the interior of Alentejo. Leaving Sines and changing buses in Setubal, I arrived in Evora at about 2pm, and had a bit of a problem finding affordable accommodation. My main reason for visiting Evora was to see the Chapel of Bones, a church entirely covered on the inside with the bones of monks. It was worth the trip since this is not something I had seen before. Evora is one of the touristic highlights of Portugal due mostly to its Roman history. Although I wasn’t as impressed as I should have been perhaps having been spoiled in Spain where these historically, culturally rich cities are a dime a dozen. After watching the disappointing outcome of the Turkey-Czech Republic match, I wandered into the enormous week-long St John’s festival. Around the old city I noticed how empty the streets were when minutes later I stumbled upon games, rides, food, music, exhibitions and a whole lot of people. So I grabbed a fartura and beer and cruised through all the activity. Past midnight, children and grandparents were still out having a good time. The next morning I caught the train to Tomar, which had an inconvenient stop-over in Lisbon. I arrived in Tomar on the summer solstice and just after sunset my couch surfing host drove to an observatory on...

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Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Hundreds of kilometers through the flattest, most desolate landscape I’ve seen, we rode south from Mersa Matrouh, the last city on the Mediterranean coast. This was the final stage of a nine-hour bus ride from Alexandria to the Siwa Oasis. The remote oasis is a depression that stretches 82 x 28 km and contains 310,000 palm trees and 80,000 olive trees. Besides tourism, dates and olive production are the economic mainstays. Siwa Oasis is different from Egypt’s other oases in the fact that it was never under Pharaonic control and Siwans speak their own language, Siwi, a Berber dialect...

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Berlin

I got a budget flight on the German carrier TUIFly from Cairo to Berlin for $60 US total. I was very impressed with the quality and service and would fly with them again. The first thing I noticed after arriving in Berlin were the electric signs at the airport bus-stop which told we when the next TXL bus would take me into the city. The cleanliness, organization, spaciousness, and efficiency of German society are clichés that became very apparent on my first day. The contrast from the Middle East couldn’t have been any more pronounced as I strolled down the cold, wide, open streets of the German capital. These sidewalks were made for cruising. The Brewer’s “Best of Berlin” walking tour was recommended to me and I do the same to you. Spend the entire day with the opinionated but extremely informative Terry Brewer who “hasn’t just read this history, but lived through it—before during, and after the wall.” Leaving Germany I left Berlin with a young guy offering a seat through the ride-share Web site www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de . Twelve Euros got me a ride an hour and a half up the highway in the sandy, back seat of his compact car next to his wake board. In Rostok it took me a few hours to find the ferry terminal, but by 3 pm I was sailing towards Denmark’s main...

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Liverpool

Liverpool played a major part in the African slave trade, serving as one of the angles in the triangle. Tropical goods such as sugar, indigo, and cotton would arrive in Liverpool and much of its 18th century prosperity was a result of the slave trade. Liverpool has been designated a 2008 European capital of culture. This gives the city a chance to showcase its cultural life and development. But on March 31st it was looking more like the European capital of construction. It seems like a quarter of the downtown is closed and under cranes. The maritime museum had a floor dedicated to the slave trade and another just on the city’s history. Here I learned why the Liverpool dialect is so different compared with any other in England. The reason: thousands of Irish settled in Liverpool during the potato famine. Even though the UK is one of the most expensive places to travel, the museums all have free entry. That afternoon I also checked out the Liverpool Tate. Stephen Bugno, April...

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The GoMad Nomad Travel Mag is an online magazine for independent travelers publishing original travel articles on popular and off-the-beaten-track destinations, volunteering and working opportunities abroad, and practical travel advice on long-term, adventure, alternative, and budget travel.


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