Jared E. Bendis


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – TikTok Playlists

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia TikTok Videos from Leap2023 in February 2023

Travel Prep

Packing Power for The Trip

Dying my Beard

Home Safe from Saudi Arabia

In Transit: Saturday

United Messes Up my Travel

United Failed Me on My Way to Saudi Arabia

I make it to DC

From Plane to the Hotel

The 5 Star Hilton

About Making the Connection in DC

About the Flight to Riyadh

Day 1: Sunday

To The Mall

At The Mall

Getting Groceries at the Supermarket

Day 2: Monday

Cut Myself Shaving and The ATM

The Epic Buffet at the Hilton

Nutella Pump at the Buffet

Date Shawarma at the Buffet

The Perfect Breakfast

Walking into Leap 2023

Water in the Speaker Lounge

Are You Canadian

From Leap back to the Hilton

The Uber Ride to Diriyah

Me at the At-Turaif District – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Diriyah

More of me at the At-Turaif District

Bad Decisions at the At-Turaif District

The Gift Shop?

Sunset at the At-Turaif District

Which is the Men’s room?

Middle Eastern Mall Food for Dinner

Day 3: Tuesday

Masmak Fortress

Pistachio Shake

Garment District

Business Attire

Gala Dinner

Dancing on the Circle

Lost in Translation

Day 4: Wednesday

On Networking at Leap2023

Hot Chocolate in World of Coffee and Tea

Leap2023 Show Floor

Leap2023 Robotic Rehab

Leap2023 Main Street

Lape2023 Water Access

Leap2023 Dates

Leap2023 SnapChat

Leap2023 Cool LED Stuff

Leap2023 Pepsi Pop Top

OMG Asian Fusion Dinner

Day 5: Thursday

Leap2023 Uncanny Valley

Leap2023 Roses

Leap2023 LED Corridor

Leap2023 Me Presenting

Leap2023 Drone Show

Quick Dinner

At The Mall

Airport Heading Home

TSA Fail at the Airport

Finally Home

Last Videos

Living in the Future

How did I get to speak at Leap2023 in Saudi Arabia

Thoughts on trip to Saudi Arabia including Difficult Questions

Summer in the USA

Having done all of these grand Castle adventures you can imagine how often people ask me: “Where are you going to next?”

But here is the problem – I am sitting on at least 2 documentaries worth of footage (that I am editing) so when it comes to travel I have two options:

  1. Go somewhere and don’t film
  2. Go somewhere not worth filming

Both of these scare the crap out of me.

And then it came to me – a trip I would want to take where I would take pictures but not video: The American West.

Now you should know that I am crazy and when I plan a trip – I PLAN a trip. (Alas life being what it is – I am NOT doing this trip this summer – but the plan was just to good not to share.)

So here is the idea:

  1. Fly into Bozeman, Montana – rent a care and drive…
  2. Yellowstone National Park
  3. Devil’s Tower
  4. Badlands National Park
  5. Mount Rushmore
  6. Fort Collins, Colorado
  7. Tent Rocks National Monument
  8. Roswell, New Mexico
  9. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  10. White Sands National Monument
  11. Petrified Forest National Park
  12. Monument Valley
  13. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
  14. The Grand Canyon
  15. Meteor Crater
  16. Montezuma Castle National Monument
  17. Hoover Dam
  18. Las Vegas, Nevada – gamble a bit – drop off car – fly home.

If you are more visual – this is what it looks like:


Google says it is 3,884 miles and 70 hours of driving.

Now there are some complications.

First – most car rental companies don’t let you drive one-way across state lines – in fact only Budget Rental Car appears to allow you to go from Bozeman to Vegas (and not the other way around – I checked).

Second – this is the American west – there aren’t hotels – let alone even cities everywhere.  So I went back and mapped out cities which had hotels such as Spearfish, SD and Tuba City, AZ.

All in all – a glorious 22 days of driving and shooting.

Budget Items:

  • Car Rental ~ $2600
  • Gas ~ $800
  • Admit Fees ~$300
  • Hotel ~$3,000
  • Flight to Bozeman, From from Vegas ~ $750
  • Food & Souvenirs!

I know some of you are thinking this would be cheaper and more fun in a camper but I am not that kinda guy – I need a hotel at night.

So there it is my grand tour of the American West – not this year but hopefully soon!



Things to do in Istanbul

One of my cousins asked if I could share with her a list of things to do while visiting Istanbul.

Funnily enough, I had just put together the itinerary for my upcoming book and film project: The Magic of Istanbul.

The following is a list of what I will be doing on my third expedition to Istanbul.
And yes I have already visited everything listed.

The Hippodrome: Serpentine Column, Egyptian Obelisk, The German Fountain, Constantine Obelisk

The hotel I like to stay at is right in the Hippodrome and it really is a park like atmosphere. The monuments are all outdoors and are fun (and quick) to see. I like to see them during the day and at night as the flavor of the area changes.

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art

The museum is fascinating and offers a really nice mix of things to see. The collection really rounds out things you won’t see at other museums. I missed it my first year though and felt really bad.

The Blue Mosque

There are many mosques in Istanbul but this one you can not miss! On both previous expeditions I went back several times. It is truly an awesome experience. You have to watch the clothing restrictions: be prepared to take off your shoes, women are given head covers and men can’t wear shorts. Some people really respect that this is a house of worship but don’t be surprised by tourists who don’t show it (or the rules) any reverence. Be offended by these people – just don’t be surprised.

The Arasta Bazaar

Right outside of the Blue Mosque is a small and very low key bazaar. It’s not a madhouse and very fun to look at – the prices aren’t great but shopping is as much looking as it is buying.

The Great Palace Mosaic Museum

This is located in the Arasta Bazaar and it has some fantastic mosaics. There is a lot to read and even more to see – though it is really just one big open space laid out so you can walk around and see it from above and at ground level. I’ve hard some people think its small but I include it on my must see list.

The Basilica Cictern

Not far from the Hippodrome is the Bascilica Cictern – also something not to miss. It is dark and cavernous, this underground water reservoir is a little hard to describe. It has some cool architecture (and a Medusa head). Plus they filmed parts of From Russia With Love in it.

The Hagia Sophia

One of the most important places in Art History and in Christianity – it was recently renovated and you can spend time just basking in the vastness of it. This is a universal must see. Expect to spend a lot of time here – it is big – and you don’t want to miss any of the nooks and crannies.

Topkapi Palace

This place is huge! You have to pay extra to see the Harem but it is worth it. Between the gardens, the Harem, the treasury and the reliquary you can spend a lot of time here. The reliquary even has the sword of David & the staff of Moses! There are also some amazing views of the rest of the city.

Hagia Irene

It’s in the outer courtyard of Topkapi Palace so if it’s open peak in.

The Istanbul Museum of Archeology

This museum goes on and on (and on). I think you need to pick your battles as I don’t think anyone can see the entire thing. At some point you will just start to survey. I have seen it all I just haven’t read it all. I tell people to go but not to feel bad if they get overloaded.

The Column of Constantine

Is a nice monument plus it’s on the way to The Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar

Everyone should go to the Grand Bazaar twice. Once to view – once to shop. You can get great deals or you can get badly swindled. You can get knockoff designer versions of anything. I also like to wander the streets around it – the farther you wander the better the prices. When I buy scarves I keep walking to where the Turkish women shop and the prices plummet to a few dollars each.

Sahaflar Carsisi – The Book Bazaar

I hunted this down because I really wanted to see it – it isn’t too far from the Grand Bazaar (but it isn’t too close either). They have some very nice print and book merchants but most everything of course is in Turkish. Prints are expensive and you need to know what you are looking at before you buy anything.

Suleymaniye Mosque

This is one of the most important mosque’s in Istanbul. It is a real pleasure to visit and there is a garden, cemetery, and tomb.

Dolmabahce Palace

Across the Golden Horn (but still on the European side of the Bosphorus) is the other big palace. Well worth going – the last room is one of the most breathtaking rooms I have ever seen in my life (and I have been to Versailles). Like Topkapi there are extra fees for the Harem and it also has a clock museum and an aviary. All of which are worth doing!

Taksim Square

Everyone ends up at Taksim Square because it is so famous – its just a square (though I didn’t go at night) and it has a Starbucks – I don’t drink coffee it’s just a sign of the times.

Istiklal Caddesi

The neighborhood right outside of Taksim is all upscale shopping and there is a trolly that connects Taksim to the Galata Tower (area) fun to walk around for a little but then I like to take the old fashioned trolley.

Galata Tower

Every panorama of Istanbul is taken from Galata Tower – it has great views and they offer a very expensive dinner/show which I have not been to. The area around it has a lot of musical instrument shops. The whole area has a really mellow vibe.

Galata Bridge

The bridge connects back across the Golden Horn. Underneath there are a bunch of seafood restaurants. Watch the prices and if what you are ordering is local fresh or just fresh fresh.

Sirkeci Station

While modern trains still run through the station it is the original terminus for the Orient Express and they have a nifty little museum. It really is a hidden gem and shows a part of history you don’t see in other parts of the city.

Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir

Not far from the station is the sweet shop that invented Turkish Delight. You have to go if just to get a free sample.


I like going to this sweet shop because it has a larger variety of items (and also more free samples).

The Spice Bazaar aka The Egyptian Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar is not very large but it is a completely different experience from the Grand Bazaar. Everyone will try and sell you Saffron and giant Jasmine flowers. The different teas are fun to get and they will vacuum seal everything for you. You can get your luggage overloaded pretty fast by bringing home a kilo of this and a kilo of that. Like the Grand Bazaar I like to walk around and see the area that has spilled over around it for amazing food and culinary supplies.

The New Mosque

Is attached to the Spice Bazaar so if you have a few peak in.

Chora Church

The church is a must must see and the mosaics and frescoes are breathtaking and even though it is harder to get to its really worth the trip. Some nice shopping right around it as well. There is nothing else like it in Istanbul!

The Theodosian Walls

The outer walls of the city – while you can see them everywhere – when you are by Chora you really get a chance to explore them. Every so often you find stairs that lead to the top of the walls – and if you aren’t afraid of heights you can get some awesome views.

The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus

Part of the wall (and near Chora) forms the ruin of a ancient palace – its right by a playground and a truck parking lot. I love architecture so I hunted it down – for most though it is just a different stretch of wall.

Bucoleon Palace

Just another stretch of the old city walls that has the ruins of some window openings of another palace long gone. It’s really hard to find – and not worth it for most. It is on the far side of the city walls by the water.

The Valens Aqueduct

It is a huge aqueduct running through the city – with traffic going under. I thought it was great – but again I’m into architecture – tricky to get to though – it isn’t near anything else.

Sehzade Camii – The Prince’s Mosque

Since I wander everywhere for architecture I visited this really nice Mosque.

Beylerbeyi Palace

Across the water (on the Asian side) is this little palace which I think is a real gem to visit. You take the train to Dolmabahce and then the ferry across the water (and then a taxi) sounds like a hike but it really is lovely.

Yedikule Fortress

Since I am a castle guy – I need to see the local castles. This one has 7 towers and is totally empty! Not for those afraid of heights (which I am) because they really let you explore the towers and walls. To get there you take a real train. It is not for most and I don’t imagine a lot of people go there but I think it is awesome!

Istanbul Cevahir

I have a thing for malls – and this is the largest mall in Europe and the 6th largest in the world. The 5th floor is one giant food court, the 6th is all restaurants. Why am I telling you this? Because sometimes when I am out of the country for a month I need to go to the movies! Plus fast food in Istanbul is much better than fast food at home.

A Bosphorus Cruise

There are many ways to see the Bosphorus and the best way is a cruise. Not a big fancy one – just the basic “Full Bosphorus Cruise”. While you can get on and off, I like to take it all the way to the end which is at Anadolu Kavagi a little fishing village – have a great seafood meal and then…

Yoros Kalesi

Take a taxi (don’t hike it) up the mountain and visit this really neat ruin of a castle. From here you can see a view that stretches out to the mouth of the Black Sea. They started doing a dig there so you can’t get into the castle anymore but it is a pretty spectacular view from outside. Plus its a ruin so there is not much to see inside that you can’t from the outside.

Rumeli Hisari

On the cruise you will see a giant three towered castle – the Castle of Europe. You get great views from the cruise but it is also possible to visit (with buses and taxis). As castles go – it is very well preserved, a nice fortification ,and a pleasant afternoon – but again I like castles. Some just enjoy the views from the cruise – I like going there – it has a great little outdoor theater. There is another little castle across the water called the Castle of Asia – it is barely visible from the water and not worth visiting in person (I did once and if you blink you miss it).

Cappadocia Day Tour

It’s not Istanbul – in fact it is not anywhere near Istanbul but if you fly halfway across the world why not go for a little more. Capaddocia is simply magical. Last year I did a one day trip – they fly you out in the morning, drive you all over, feed you, and then fly you back. In one day I saw: Devrent Valley, Pasabag/Monk’s Valley, Avanos Pottery Village, Goreme, and Uchisar Citadel. Its a slippery slope though because you can spend more days here and then start seeing the other sights outside Istanbul – but I feel one little excursion doesn’t hurt.

Other Things To Do

Eat! Shop! Listen to Music! Watch Dancing! Go to a Turkish Bath! Get a Shave! Shop for a Turkish Carpet (but don’t buy it).
So much to do!