Okie dokie Dr. Jones, hold onto your potatoes.. this is going to be a fun ride into some really cool stuff. We start this installment still in the land of Israel, Tel Aviv specifically.
Welcome to Eilat, Israel
Well I almost did it again with the getting to the airport on time. I had my choice of $40 USD by taxi or $2 USD by bus.. hmm… tough choice. So I’m waiting for my bus that is supposed to arrive at 7min after the hour and it’s now quarter after. After my Morocco experience I’m starting to wonder if I screwed up again. But then of course coming the other way down the street is bus 445.. my bus! Now I get to play Frogger dodging four lanes of moving traffic to make sure I get to the other side in time to catch the bus. Short story, I do and all is well but a little bit of a scare there. At the airport nothing monumental other than a shoulder to the vending machine to get it to accept my money so I can get my snickers bar. Oh and the plexiglass cubicle with holes drilled in the side for the smokers (see below) .. amusing!
Finally I get to Eilat, Israel and it is a brand spanking new airport. Beautiful, everything goes smoothly other than I cannot find an ATM so I have to negotiate a stop at an ATM with the taxi drivers. The one I get is dishonest as the day is long, I can tell as soon as I get in the taxi. He starts going off on Trump. I’m not getting into politics here, but I know as soon as a foreign taxi driver starts in on politics things are going to be bad.
Well we stop at a bank and of course the first three ATM’s I try don’t work and finally I get some money. Well when we get to the hotel, he tries to milk me for 50% more than the other taxi in front of him was going to charge me. I stand firm and get my price ’cause I already knew that was a “tourist” price that was ALREADY 50% higher than it should be.
Then the hotel .. wow.. I am SUPER pleased with the hotel. Spotless, I mean eat off the floor spotless. My room has a comfy bed, cold shower (yes this is a bonus to me), mini fridge and air con, what more could I want.
But now I’m hungry so off to find a meal (after of course being steered to every kickback location the front desk clerk wants to send me to). I find an amazing review on Google Maps for a place called Dolphin Baguette. I love it. Grilled Chicken with pesto and BBQ sauce all in a toasted baguette. AMAZING! So I got a second one for the road the next morning
He Chose… Wisely
So yes finally to Petra. Better known to most Americans as the set to the end of the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie (think “The penitent man mus kneel before God”). It is actually the home to the ancient Nabataeans and is located along the King’s Road that ran from Damascus to Saudi Arabia. Petra was a toll collecting stop along this road and as such it was populated with traders, merchants and travelers. But like most of the inhabatents of this part of the world at that time they were Bedouin so they lived in their tents with their camels and goats and sheep with them. The did not live in the magnificent carved facades that we see left today. These are thought to be tombs instead.
So the first thing you see as you enter is one of these tombs .. and it is impressive. But it actually is only a pale hint to what is to come. Most famously the Treasury (Junior, don’t take the cup past the seal!). However there is so much more, the Royal Tombs, the caves where people actually still lived up until 1984 when it was converted to a UNESCO world heritage site.
But my favorite was the monistary. It doubled as a really cool Workout of the Day (WOD). 900 rock hewn steps and 1000 meters up the side of the mountain to find another magnificent structure (Ad Dier) carved into the sandstone. I tell you this was a hike, about 90 degrees, no air moving and stairs stairs stairs .. not to mention crap on a shelf shops everywhere hawking their wares to you as you drip sweat. “Only one Dinar, good price.. you buy, help my day.. only one Dinar”
The worst part of all of this is I had to do it in return! LOL To get to my Bedouin camp for the night I had to hike back down the 900 stairs, about 2 miles out of the canyon and up another hill to the tour company offices. I’m not ashamed to say I was wiped OUT by the end.
Relaxing under the … stars?
Tonight’s accommodation was nice. They were Bedouin tents set up with beds. Let me tell you, when we got there around 6pm they were like sweat lodges! But the evening cooled off nicely to around 65-70 degrees and we sat around a fire, drank sweat tea and chatted with our companions. David and Gail (Dentist and wife) from Boston, Olaf and Anikka (daughter) and wife (sorry I can’t remember you name now… dang!) who live in CA work for Facebook but are good solid Germans from the motherland and Regula from Switzerland (not on our tour but sitting with us). There were about 45 people in all at the camp and it made for a lovely evening.
The food was mediocre to me so I’ll just say that. However nothing beat the feeling of a good cool shower that day.. It might have been one of the longest showers I have ever taken 🙂
So traveling companions, tomorrow we head to Wadi Rum for an experience in the desert. My trip just keeps getting hotter and hotter 🙂