20:51, Sun 10 Feb
Even Jerusalem is not out of the question for a long weekend. I went in November and it was a great place to visit, I felt safer than in most of our cities to be fair! Also worth considering are Lviv, Kiev and Lecce in the heel of Italy, really unspoilt by tourists as it’s a bit harder to get to.

Russia is an interesting one. I used to go there for a project I was working on (minus 32c in January!). The people in the office were a real mixture, some really friendly, some really a bit unhinged! In Moscow we got fined on the street for not having the original entry card with us, only a photocopy. There was a queue of others getting fined and although we knew it was a scam you also knew that these guys have all the power and there’s nothing you can do about it - they are poorly paid and it’s how they supplement their income.

I said I would never go there again, particularly after being in Marseilles during France 2016, but then decided to go anyway for a few games in the World Cup and had a totally different experience in a good way in every city, particularly in ones like Moscow and St. Petersburg where a couple of times we cancelled a hotel room at the last minute and in both cases they refused to charge us, even though they were quite within their rights to do so. You wouldn’t get that in too many places.

So I have had really good and really not so good experiences. But on balance I think these cities are worth the effort but remember that they are different and that Russia is an enigma (didn’t Churchill have a longer phrase on similar lines about them?) and you are likely to experience some of that when you are there. And if that, and the hassle of getting a visa, puts you off, there are plenty of much less interesting places to visit!
21:06, Sun 10 Feb
I've also been to Moscow and recommend using an agency, I used one near Monument station in the City if you're based in the South?
21:21, Sun 10 Feb
bluepeter
Even Jerusalem is not out of the question for a long weekend. I went in November and it was a great place to visit, I felt safer than in most of our cities to be fair! Also worth considering are Lviv, Kiev and Lecce in the heel of Italy, really unspoilt by tourists as it’s a bit harder to get to.

Russia is an interesting one. I used to go there for a project I was working on (minus 32c in January!). The people in the office were a real mixture, some really friendly, some really a bit unhinged! In Moscow we got fined on the street for not having the original entry card with us, only a photocopy. There was a queue of others getting fined and although we knew it was a scam you also knew that these guys have all the power and there’s nothing you can do about it - they are poorly paid and it’s how they supplement their income.

I said I would never go there again, particularly after being in Marseilles during France 2016, but then decided to go anyway for a few games in the World Cup and had a totally different experience in a good way in every city, particularly in ones like Moscow and St. Petersburg where a couple of times we cancelled a hotel room at the last minute and in both cases they refused to charge us, even though they were quite within their rights to do so. You wouldn’t get that in too many places.

So I have had really good and really not so good experiences. But on balance I think these cities are worth the effort but remember that they are different and that Russia is an enigma (didn’t Churchill have a longer phrase on similar lines about them?) and you are likely to experience some of that when you are there. And if that, and the hassle of getting a visa, puts you off, there are plenty of much less interesting places to visit!

Jerusalem is ace, second that. I felt safe there and in Palestine.

I was in Kiev last weekend; February isn't the best time of year to visit but it's an interesting place and probably the cheapest I've ever been to.
Question for Bluepeter and Dan, and anybody else who can help.....

Having recommended Jerusalem, have you been to Egypt? I go quite often, and when I was in Taba, on the Israeli border, they were really funny about crossing into Israel, so have you encountered any issues like this?

I’m going to Hurghada in April but still looking for somewhere different to go for city breaks or long weekends this year.
15:30, Sun 17 Feb
Nothing really at Hurghada. There might be coach trips to Abydos. Have been to Egypt in 2013 and 2016, no problems other than zealous police anxious to make sure you don't take pics of official stuff. But security is conspicuous. If there are coaches running out of Hurghada, there will be an armed escort.

The main problem with using the Egypt-Israel border is it nixes travel to Arab states. If they see a stamp from any of the border crossings between Israel and Egypt/Jordan, they will see you've been to Israel.
15:57, Sun 17 Feb
bluearmyfaction
Nothing really at Hurghada. There might be coach trips to Abydos. Have been to Egypt in 2013 and 2016, no problems other than zealous police anxious to make sure you don't take pics of official stuff. But security is conspicuous. If there are coaches running out of Hurghada, there will be an armed escort.

The main problem with using the Egypt-Israel border is it nixes travel to Arab states. If they see a stamp from any of the border crossings between Israel and Egypt/Jordan, they will see you've been to Israel.

That’s my question. I go to El Gouna (Hurghada) often, and wouldn’t want to jeopardise that by going to Israel. Would it be a problem or is it just a border issue?

And Jordan is on my to do list too....
21:07, Sun 17 Feb
There's no problem with Egypt (or Jordan) with having been to Israel. The problem is with the other Arab/anti-semitic states. If you wanted to go to Dubai or Bahrain or Iran.

You can go to Jordan directly to Amman though. Jordan is a terrific country, seeing the Petra treasury after trekking through the Siq is a literally breathtaking moment.
22:55, Sun 17 Feb
Pearly Dewdrops
bluearmyfaction
Nothing really at Hurghada. There might be coach trips to Abydos. Have been to Egypt in 2013 and 2016, no problems other than zealous police anxious to make sure you don't take pics of official stuff. But security is conspicuous. If there are coaches running out of Hurghada, there will be an armed escort.

The main problem with using the Egypt-Israel border is it nixes travel to Arab states. If they see a stamp from any of the border crossings between Israel and Egypt/Jordan, they will see you've been to Israel.

That’s my question. I go to El Gouna (Hurghada) often, and wouldn’t want to jeopardise that by going to Israel. Would it be a problem or is it just a border issue?

And Jordan is on my to do list too....

I’ve been to Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Lebanon but never crossed a land border in that region on any of those trips, so can’t really comment on how easy that is. I know it’s pretty easy to get trips into Jordan from Israel so that can’t be too much of a problem, but I’m assuming getting into Israel from Lebanon or Egypt is more problematic.

When you enter Israel, they no longer stamp your passport but give you an entry permit on a separate piece of paper. If you fly into Israel from say the the U.K. or Cyprus, there will therefore be no record in your passport for another country to worry about. The problem may be if you enter overland, it’s not too difficult to work out you entered Israel even without a stamp in your passport if the neighbouring country stamps give that away.

So if you are at all worried, best advice is to fly to Israel rather than enter by land. I have been also to a number of other Arab countries and I definitely do/did not want an Israel stamp in my passport just to be on the safe side.
07:31, Mon 18 Feb
Tandy
Bucharest is EU so no issues.

I can recommend Budapest, Prague, Belgrade (really cheap, friendly people, and very few tourists), Sofia and Bratislava if you fancy somewhere a bit different.

Mu other half is Romanian.

Bucharest is an odd city. Plenty of hangovers from the days of communism, but plenty of western "things" to see and do too.

The locals can be moody, but Romania overall is pretty sweet place to go and visit. Transylvania is very very interesting.

Tarom (Romania's national carrier) is a good airline, and prices include luggage.
15:53, Mon 18 Feb
Thanks for the advice all. Interesting stuff.
14:09, Tue 19 Feb
Tandy
Bucharest is EU so no issues.

I can recommend Budapest, Prague, Belgrade (really cheap, friendly people, and very few tourists), Sofia and Bratislava if you fancy somewhere a bit different.

Looking at Serbia myself nice to see someone that reccomends it :) Anyone been to Estonia or Latvia? Both meant to be good too
14:47, Tue 19 Feb
I went to Belgrade a few years ago - surprisingly nice, very friendly people, though you might get a history lesson from the cab driver on the way from the airport! They seemed genuinely pleased that someone from the UK would pick to visit their city. Interesting to visit the 2 football grounds there too, which are very close to each other.

I have been to Riga and Tallinn too, both nice though I think Tallinn just edges it as a city though if you get chance when in Riga there are some nice beach resorts nearby (can't guarantee the weather though!).
15:14, Tue 19 Feb
I got the train into Belgrade from Budapest and that was a chore. 8 hours of the flat landscape of the Hungarian Plains on an old Russian train. And then on the way out to Sofia trying to get persuaded to smuggle cigarettes by some old Serbian guys and at the border the customs people come on, question us all and take all the roof panels off the train carriage to see what was up there.

I got the feeling it was a common occurrence 😆
15:20, Tue 19 Feb
😁

Think I’ll stick to the Rocky Mountaineer.