It’s officially December, which means I have permission to go nuts on Christmas stuff. The outside of the house is already decorated – Denis and I spent most of Thanksgiving weekend putting everything up, including some new things that I made this year. We had a lot of issues of things being broken when we brought it out of storage. Most of our net lights were broken, one of my metal trees wouldn’t turn on, and we had a few strings of lights that were done for. Oh, and for some reason three of our pre-lit wreaths that we put in the windows didn’t light up. Very strange. Unfortunately, we didn’t discover they were not lighting up until AFTER we had installed them on the … continue on, dear reader!
On Day 10 of our trip, which was a Thursday, we had another leisurely morning since there wasn’t anything left to visit or do. As such, AJ and I slept in until 7 a.m. again, went down to the beach again, walked along the boardwalk again, chilled out in the room for a while, and then had some lunch at an outdoor cafe. At 2:45 p.m. we arrived back in the hotel lobby where we met up with our bus, which was to take us to the airport in Eilat for a flight to Tel Aviv.
At the airport it took our entire group almost 2 hours to get through security and then another 30-45 minutes for our flight to be ready for boarding. Then … continue on, dear reader!
Because of the over-active trip to Petra the day before, AJ and I opted to have a relaxing day on Day 9, rather than heading to Egypt to go to Mount Sinai.
Sleeping is was glorious. We both woke up on our own around 6 a.m., but then fell back asleep for another hour or so. We then got up for the day and eventually made our way down to get some breakfast. We discovered we were not the only ones who opted not to go to Mount Sinai, as we saw a few folks from our group in the dining room as well.
After breakfast we headed outside to go touch the Red Sea (upon doing this, I informed AJ that we had touched … continue on, dear reader!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but this trip was not for the weak. Every day we had to be down in the dining room by 6:30 a.m. in order to be on the bus no later than 7:30-7:45 a.m. to begin our day of touring. And then we’d be on the go all day and wouldn’t get back to the hotel until 4:30-5 p.m. It was non-stop every day.
So imagine our horror during dinner the evening before, when Ezer stood up and said, “For Petra we need to be on the bus by 7:10.”
The Jordanian border in Aqaba was only a few minutes from our hotel in Eilat, but we were told that the border crossing would take … continue on, dear reader!
Day 7 was a great day. I got to wear shorts! Woo!
No, but seriously, it was a great day, for real.
It was Monday, and we were a week into our trip. After packing our bags in preparation for changing hotels again, we had breakfast that morning with the very first people we met while at the airport in D.C. the week prior, before hopping on the bus to head to Masada and the Dead Sea. That sounds like a light itinerary – but let me assure you – it was not. Masada is NO JOKE. And we spent a lot of time on the bus as we drove from Jerusalem to our final destination in Eilat, on the far southern end of Israel.… continue on, dear reader!
So the morning of Day 6 I woke up praying that my white pants were dry (I had washed them in the sink the night before – my second time washing them in the sink with shower gel during the first week of the trip). They were, so I put them on, along with a peasant blouse, thinking that I’d be appropriately dressed to go to the Temple Mount.
Lon had told us that we would go to Temple Mount, but that there was no guarantee the leaders in charge would open it up to visitors – sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Fortunately, we were told they WERE opening it up to tourists, so we quickly began making our way through security. At some … continue on, dear reader!
I think Day 5 ended up being AJ’s second favorite day of the whole trip. When going through the pictures that I took (which we did several times to remind her of places we had been throughout the trip), it was this day that she commented on with such happiness until we reached Petra on one of the last days (that was her favorite day).
On Day 5 we started by visiting the Garden of Gethsamane, where we got to see olive trees that date back to the time of Christ. AJ was fascinated by these trees and spent many minutes just staring at them in disbelief. They really were interesting trees:
Friday we were up and hit the road early. We spent some time in the ruins of an old Kursi church that dated back the time of Empress Helen, the mother of Constantinople, and the one responsible for many of the churches built on holy sites around Israel and other parts of the middle east. Then we drove to the ruins at Bat She’an, where I took a great picture of AJ in the excavated amphitheater from the year 200 AD:
The city was destroyed by a massive earthquake in the mid-700s, and the ruins they have uncovered are extensive. AJ and I walked around quite a bit, admiring just how much has been uncovered.
From Bat She’an we began driving south through the … continue on, dear reader!
It is here in my talk of my trip to Israel that I will comment on some of the folks with whom we traveled.
As I said in a prior posts, during meals you could sit with whomever you wanted. But our bus rides were color coded. AJ and I were on the blue bus, with a tour guide named Dan. Dan was outstanding. His historical knowledge was on display during our entire 12-day trip and he knew a lot. When someone had a follow-up question to something he said, he always knew the answer. It was clear that he had been doing this tour for a long time (he said he was in his tenth year leading tours around Israel). He was warm, … continue on, dear reader!
So I mentioned in my post a couple days ago that I packed light since I knew I could do laundry at our hotels. I wore jeans for my two travel days, two pairs of shorts and a pair of white pants. On Day 2, our tour guide mentioned we needed to wear long pants, so I wore my white pants. Upon arriving at the end of Day 2, our tour guide mentioned we needed to wear long pants the following day (it is because sites maintained by the Franciscan orders had dress codes). No big deal, I thought. I can get away with wearing these white pants two days in a row.
Day 3 started with breakfast at the hotel, where we continued meeting … continue on, dear reader!
On day 2, I quickly realized just how jam packed this trip was going to be. This would not be a resting vacation in the slightest. On day 2, we went to Menza Christi, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, a viewing of the “Jesus Boat,” a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee – and all this BEFORE LUNCH (which admittedly was late – around 2:30 p.m.)
This is what actually started the day:
That is the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee as seen from the hotel dining room. Simply gorgeous. The land on the horizon is Golan Heights, a large swath of land that separates Israel from Syria.
After breakfast, the entire group group (about 150 people) boarded the buses to travel … continue on, dear reader!
And just like that it’s November. Sheesh, time is flying by. Next thing you know I’ll be talking about Christmas decorations on the house.
But first up, I can tell you that after my work project went live, work remained busy for a couple weeks and then I spent a week getting my stuff parceled out because it was time for me to go on VACATION. Back in April, my sister had called me to gauge my interest in accompanying her mother-in-law on a two-week trip to Israel and Jordan. Apparently her bucket list included going to see Petra in person, and this trip included a side trip to Jordan in order to do just that. Unfortunately, she was unable to travel by herself due … continue on, dear reader!