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Fathomaway Compass

Fathom Questionnaire: Lee Smith

by Lee Smith

Hometown: Washington, DC

Occupation: Journalist/Political Analyst

Favorite destinations: Beirut, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Barcelona. 

Dying to visit: Buenos Aires.

Bizarre travel rituals: I am so used to traveling alone, it is bizarre, though recently lovely, to travel with another. 

In-flight relaxation regime: None really, though I watch more Kate Hudson movies in the air than I would otherwise. 

Always in carry-on: Close to half a dozen books, some regarding the place I'm visiting, and some to escape from where I'm visiting: e.g., Russian novels for a two-week stay in Lebanon. 

Concierge or DIY? Concierge.

See it all or take it easy? See some places, but meet as many people as possible.

Drive or be driven? You learn a lot from taxis, even if it can be a costly education. 

Travel hero: Alexander the Great, Napoleon — their travels became the world's tourist sites.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: a Green Bay Packers' cap worn by a horseman in the Egyptian desert. 

Best hotel amenity: roof-top bar.

I dream about my meal at Shabestan, a Persian restaurant in the Raddison Blu in Dubai, the slow-cooked roasted lamb, rice with dill, and a bottle of Shiraz. 

Everywhere I go, I check out the cats — an unfailing index of any country's standard of living.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by walking up the city's largest hill.

I always bring home some unsavory words in a foreign language. 

If I never return to the United Airlines counter at Dulles Airport it'll be too soon because it's more of a hassle than a Middle Eastern market. Unfortunately, I usually fly out of Dulles. 

I travel for the talk and cigars in the open-air at Nejmeh Square in Beirut. 

MORE LEE →
FATHOM Postcards
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Book: The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations

Lee is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard. He travels to the Middle East for the conversation and for cigars in the open air at Beirut's Nejmeh Square.

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