Snorkels and snores

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The Independent Travel
Swapping experiences with other travellers is one of the joys of a journey, particularly stories about the bottom end of the market, where the hotel rooms are rated according to the number of insects, rather than stars, they possess.

The Sunset Hostel in Petra (turn right out of the ruins and it's the third on the left) provides a useful service for visitors to Jordan and the Middle East: a big exercise book in which travellers can pass on tips. A couple of examples for Jerusalem: 'Free beer at the Arizona bar from 7.50- 8.10pm - not great stuff, but it has the desired effect, and you'll be in the company of more travellers than in the whole of Syria and Jordan put together'; and 'A clean place to stay is the Sisters of Zion convent on Via Dolorosa. The cubicles in the dorm are only dollars 14, but some of the nuns snore very loudly.'

Travellers who have not managed to do much research before setting off can get up to speed with comments such as this one from an Australian named Shaun: 'If you're sick of looking at historical sights, don't go to Syria - that's all there is there.'

Instead, visit Lebanon, recommends Stephanie from New Zealand, because 'Baalbek is gobsmacking'. She also advises that you should 'Visit the war ruins in Place des Martyrs in Beirut before they clean it up.'

Some travellers seem to have discovered the promised land - Dahab, on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula: 'You can eat like a pig and snorkel all day,' an anonymous contributor reports, 'then smoke lots of pot and opium.'