Program 323: Palestine Tourism; No Opportunity Wasted

Release Date: 04-27-2013

On Air Description

On this week's Travel with Rick Steves, Rick learns about tourism in the Palestinian Territories on the West Bank of the Jordan.  An American who stayed in Ramallah for two years when she visited on a backpacking trip explains what awaits, a few miles north of Jerusalem. 

And the host of The Amazing Race describes how a near-death experience at age 19 convinced him to make his travel fantasies come true.  Phil Keoghan (KOE-gan) tells us how leaving "No Opportunity Wasted" can add a lot of memorable adventures to your life.


  • Pamela Olson, author of "Fast Times in Palestine" (Seal Press)
  • CBS-TV "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan, author of "No Opportunity Wasted" (Rodale Books)

Related Links


  • Recommends visiting the last kaffiyeh factory in Palestine, in Hebron. "It's a great example of how the occupation affects employment and the economy. Also, it's fun to see the kaffiyehs in so many colors and designs."  (Debbie in Portland, Oregon)
  • "Before departing for an assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Israel, I was told 'the Israelis wouldn't know what to do if they didn't have the Palestinians around' (presumably as a foil). I told this to an Israeli taxi driver and he laughed heartily while affirming this observation. After living there for two years I think he was right. They just have too much history that they share." (Ed in Manassas, Virginia) 
  • In Web Extra: Caller enjoyed Phil Keoghan's film "The Ride." "As an avid cyclist, what has been the greatest cycling experience you've enjoyed during your many travels?"  (Scott in Reno, Nevada) 

Incidental Music

  • Amr Diab, "Khaleeney," Allem Alby / Mondo Melodia
  • Du'Oud, "Le Retour d'Ulysse," Wild Serenade / Label Bleu (France)
  • Yuval Ron Ensemble, "Rimonim (Pomegranates)," Tree of Life / (self-released)
  • Connie Francis, "Havah Negilah," Jewish Favorites / MGM
  • * Nass el Ghiwane, "Palestine," Double Best: Nass el Ghiwane / MLP
  • Sylvain Rappaport and Youval Micenmacher, ”Sabat (Turkish songs),” Les musiques du Sud (collection) / al sur
  • Nass el Ghiwane, "Alkassam," CöusCöusBeat (collection) / Nascente
  • Dania, "Leiley (Transglobal Underground Remix)," Arabic Groove (collection) / Putumayo
  • Amal Murkus, "Ta'alu," Israel (collection) / Putumayo
  • * Sheva, "Ashrey Ha'ish," Israel (collection) / Putumayo
  • Death Cab for Cutie, "Transatlanticism," Six Feet Under: Everything Ends, vol. 2 (soundtrack) / Universal
  • Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, "Kinna Sohna," Cross That Line (sampler collection) / Ryko
  • Jack Costanzo, "Inchworm (from 'The Garden of Eden Ballet')," Cocktail Mix vol. 1 - the Bachelor’s Guide to the Galaxy (collection) / Rhino
  • Kiri Te Kanawa, "Tahi Nei Taro Kino," Maori Songs / EMI
  • Saucetone, "He Aloha Noa Honolulu," Saucetone (digital download only) / Blue Pie Productions

Dated References

  • In his intro to segment A, Rick notes that he's traveling to parts of the Middle East that are not on the typical tourist route.
  • At 10:36, Rick and Pamela Olson refer to terminology used for the "occupied Palestinian territories" of Israel. At 11:25, Rick notes no tourist would go to Gaza, but that the West Bank has tourism appeal and the city of Ramallah is the de-facto capital of the Palestinian region.
  • Pamela says at 12:35 that foreign aid is not building an economy or helping needy Palestinians outside of Ramallah. She notes at 14:35 that there are Christian and Jewish citizens in Palestine, and that the struggle with Israel is less a religious issue than a social one. At 15:32, she adds there is a Christian-run microbrewery in the village of Taybeh, which is the only such one in the Middle East.
  • At 16:08, Pamela explains that Westerners do not need a visa to visit the Palestinian territories, but she cautions to not mention your intention to visit that region to border authorities when you enter Israel. She adds there are check-point lines to return into Israel from the Palestinian territories. She then notes an Israeli passport stamp will prohibit you from visiting Syria or Lebanon, and a Syrian or Lebanese passport stamp makes it difficult to enter Israel. Rick adds that Israeli border agents will put a passport stamp on a piece of paper, instead of on a permanent passport page.
  • Rick mentions, at 21:32, a de-population of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, but Pamela says that quarter remains overwhelmingly Palestinian. At 22:24, Pamela notes she feels less tension in the air in the West Bank than in East Jerusalem.
  • At 24:16, Pamela says Bethlehem is a majority-Muslim community, with a large Christian element.
  • Caller Debbie describes visiting the last keffiyeh factory in Hebron, and adds at 26:00 that most of the scarves are now manufactured in China.
  • Rick reiterates that he's planning a trip to the Palestinian territories at 27:48.
  • At 30:47, Pamela suggests spring is the nicest time of year to visit the West Bank. At 31:36, Pamela notes the entire Jordan Valley is administered by Israel as "Area C," and different license plates permit or deny access to driving on certain local roads.
  • At 54:40, Phil Keoghan describes sunset dining atop the erupting Strombolini Volcano in Italy's Aeolian Islands, and cooking fish on the volcano.

Program Extras

Program 323 Extra - Caller Scott from Reno, Nevada asks Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan about his most memorable experiences bike touring. Phil describes a cross-country bike trip to raise money for the Multiple Sclorosis Society, and how his film, "The Ride," is still raising funds for MS research. Phil also tells us about his plan for this summer to retrace an historical Tour de France route of a litte-known New Zealand cyclist who participated in the race in 1928. (runs 8:17)