Israel and Jordan - Fall 2019
In the Footsteps of Jesus
|Lapping up the sun in Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey|
|Starting third from left:|
Dirk, Jim, Sharon, Helen, Andrea,
Ed, Cheryl, Rob
We were so close; it would have been a pity not to include it.
Israel Sunday October 27th, (Tel Aviv)
- We flew into Tel
Aviv airport and got through customs and immigration easily enough and were shuttled
to our lovely Renaissance hotel with gorgeous sea front views of the
Mediterranean. This was the first of a multiplicity of Mercedes van drives
which we were to have over the next three weeks. Folks in this part of the
world are clearly picky about what kind of vans they are willing to drive and
be driven in.
Lovely Mediterranean outlook
- We had decided to arrive a day early to give us time to catch our breath before starting our tour. Cher and I had planned to meet with Steph Oren (nee Baird) from our Zambian days. Steph had met and married an Israeli sea captain, Yossi, when we were first married, and they are now living in Haifa. We hadn’t seen Steph for over 40 years.
- Steph arrived soon after we checked in and we spent
a wonderful afternoon reminiscing and catching up. We took a walk along the
waterfront, which was teeming with people enjoying the beautiful weather.
Lovely atmosphere and a great visit with one of our earliest friends. Amazingly
Steph had barely changed in forty years and she assured us we were the same. Mutual
self delusion is a wonderful thing.
Israel Monday Oct28, 2019 (Tel Aviv, Joppa, Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, Nazareth, Tiberius)
- Our hotel had been designed to
optimize their sea views. We enjoyed a bountiful breakfast along with a
spectacular view. We sneaked 2 apples
for our lunch.
Joppa - the old city Tel Aviv viewed from Joppa
- 1st stop Old Joppa/Jaffa to meet our guide Rani and get oriented. Rani is an ardent Israeli with an interesting past. He has travelled widely, been an archaeologist, done some exploits rescuing Ethiopian Jews via Sudan and generally lived a full life.
- Joppa is the original ancient port of
Jaffa which we read about in the Bible and is the closest port to Jerusalem. Beautiful
views over sea and Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the centre of high tech, second only
to Silicon Valley. What the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and
Google) cannot develop they buy from Israel according to Rani. Every Israeli
mother’s dream apparently is for their sons to have a Nexit - develop a
successful idea and sell it to the USA for $1bn and go to the beach.
Caesarea - the site of Herod's the Greats' Palace
and Hippodrome - magnificent
- Next stop Caesarea, about an hour’s drive north – the place was swamped with tour buses and we are in the low season. Typical Greek theatre and Herod the Great’s palace and waterfront hippodrome (racetrack) complete with freshwater seaside rock pools. This place was visually stunning.
- Next up - Mt Carmel overlooking
Jezreel Valley alongside Mt Carmel nunnery. Views in all directions including
Megiddo plain of Armageddon. Met a Zimbabwean lady in front of Elijah’s statue
who recognized our accents. Turns out that she too, was an Arundel alumnus.
Great celebration. It’s always good to find a kindred spirit.
Arundel school in Zimbabwe
alumni, enjoying a reunion
- Mount Carmel was the beginning of a gentle tension that went on all week for me. I found myself lining up my “until now” imagining of the biblical story, alongside the often-overbuilt current view and then trying to reconcile the two to what it might have actually looked like all that time ago, now that I have seen it in person. Whew. No wonder I was tired by the end of the week.
- First impressions- some of the countryside is a bit run down and lots of litter. Ugly squat apartment blocks seem to be the building of choice. Roadside outdoor restaurants with plastic chairs. Israelis or Arabs?? Paid $5 for a coffee for lunch. Tour buses abound and squeeze into incredible spaces.
- Stop number 4 - Megiddo National Park (World Heritage Site). Amazing place. It is a hill comprising 25 layers of succeeding generations of civilizations. It overlooks the Armageddon plain. Megiddo sits astride a major entry point into Israel from the north, hence strategic for defense. It is mentioned in the Old Testament as a place that Solomon strengthened for strategic reasons. Meggido’s spring was initially outside the city wall. Occupants dug a tunnel into the city to divert the spring inside the walls, so that it could not be diverted by enemies. This tunnel is now walkable, but we did not have time to do it unfortunately.
- Moving along – Nazareth, Mount of the
Precipice. Beautiful spot overlooking the town and a precipice. This could have
been the site where Jesus was to be thrown over a cliff after he made his first
claim to be the Messiah. Nazareth is now 100% Arabic of which 25% only are
Christian due to high Muslim birthdate. Garbage everywhere is a sign of
different Arabic priorities according to Rani. Major traffic congestion slowed
Rani - on edge of precipice
in Nazareth area
- It was a long, dark, congested trip from Nazareth to Tiberius and our 5-star hotel, the Leonardo Plaza. We were pre checked in so saved a long tedious process. Lovely dinner with 5 choices of meat, followed by a walk around the waterfront and some of the real shops. Cher found a replacement for her watchstrap which we had been looking for. Thank you, Lord. Home for an early night - early start tomorrow.
- We are starting to notice groups of
people from all tribes and nations, visiting the various sites and making their
pilgrimages. It stirs something in me, to see the magnitude of what was given
birth to in this place. So much history. So much significance. Lord help me to savour
Israel - Tuesday 29th, October (Tiberius, Lake Galilee, Golan Heights, Caesarea Phillipi, Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes, Magdala, Tiberius)
Galilee from our hotel window - very special
- Our early morning alarm gave us time to watch the sun rise over Lake Galilee from our waterfront facing room. There were some folks in the distance swimming in the lake. There were three others on the waterfront below, singing praises to God with a guitar. What a treat. Thank you, Lord. These are unrepeatable events.
- Our group convened in the foyer at 8
am for a short walk to the waterfront to catch a boat to Magdala to see
something unique. En route the boat crew got us all singing USA, Canadian and
Filipino anthems. Then we learnt some Hava Nagila dancing. Our group is
Anthem singing got us loosened up Our group - pumped and ready for action
- We docked in Magdala to see the museum specially built to display Peters Boat, a boat discovered in 1987, by two brothers who were hobby archaeologists. Quite fascinating. Carbon dating dates it back to biblical times, so Peter may well have had a boat like this.
- Next up was a drive to Golan Heights en route to Caesarea Phillipi. Rani, our guide explained the significance of Israel needing to take the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war. The Golan Heights dominates a huge chunk of Israel’s eastern border endangering farmers and settlements to the west. They are also the source of two of three springs leading to tributaries of the Jordan river. The third one is in Lebanon. Prior to 1967 Syria had been planning to divert the two springs away from Israel. Capturing the Golan Heights assured Israelis of their primary water supply.
- Caesarea Phillipa arose from a spring
in a cave named Panyas after the Greek god Pan. This was later changed by Arabs
to Banias. Romans changed the name to Caesarea Phillipi. Jesus visited the area
(Matthew 16) and it was here that Peter declares Him as the Messiah and Jesus
names Peter as the Rock on which the church would be built. Nearby Mt Hermon,
Israel’s highest, is possibly the “high mountain “on which the Transfiguration
took place (Matthew 17). The Temple of Panyas was discovered by the Israelis
after the 1967 war and the area came under their control.
St. Peter's Fish Restaurant - for the masses
- Retracing our steps, we had lunch at St. Peter’s Restaurant for a mandatory fish lunch on the west shore of Galilee. Gorgeous location but a tourist trap par excellence literally pouring people in and out by the bus load. Service was fast- other bus loads were waiting. Tilapia compliments of Israeli fish farms were on the menu. Fish for lunch - Lake Galilee. Once in a lifetime stuff. Thank you, Lord.
- Next stop after lunch was Capernaum,
where Jesus did much of his ministry. Why did Jesus spend time there and not
somewhere else? It was away from Nazareth, where he was persona non grata. Next
north along the Nazareth Way was Tiberius, which was a Roman town, so not
suitable. Next north was Magdala home of Mary Magdalene, and then Capernaum.
Capernaum is the home of a large 3rd century synagogue along with Peter’s house
and a chapel built above it. The chapel has a glass floor overlooking Peters
house and the Sea if Galilee. Amazing. Onwards and upwards to the possible site
of The Sermon on the Mount.
Gardens overlooking Galilee at site of Mount of Beatitudes
Chapel with glass floor built over
top of "Peter's House"
- Mount of Beatitudes- overlooking the
Sea of Galilee this had beautiful gardens, and a restful chapel where people
were praying. It was easy to imagine this is where Jesus delivered these
history changing words. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to show us a better way.
- Onwards - next stop the village of
Magdala where a major archaeological find was made in 2006 when a hotel had to
excavate before building was allowed. A
whole first century village, coinciding with the time of Jesus, was uncovered, including
a synagogue along with homes, purification tanks and drainage systems. It’s
very likely that Jesus would have taught in this synagogue.
Glass front of chapel overlooks
Galilee with replica fishing boat
Israel - Wednesday 30th Oct, 3019 (Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, Beth She’an, Dead Sea)
Jesus forgiving and
Mensa Christi built over the rock
(altar) on which Jesus gave
the disciples breakfast
- Early start today - 1st stop was the
Church of the Primacy. The Franciscans claim it is the site of the Sermon on
Mount, Feeding of the 5000 and the Commissioning of Peter (John 21). Our tour
guide focused on it being the site of Peter’s commissioning. There is a chapel
built over a flat raised rock, now called Mensa Christi where it is believed
Jesus prepared the meal for His disciples after the resurrection (John 21). We
were able to go down to the water and walk in it, take samples, and “borrow a
rock from Galilee”. This place had a similar feel to the synagogue at Magdala.
Jesus had been here. Wow. Thank you, Lord, for these experiences.
Ed and Andrea renewing their baptism vows
- Next - Baptism site on River Jordan
at foot of Lake Galilee. About 15 of our group of 36, including three of our Canadian group opted to
do it. Two of the young women in our group who describe themselves as “ministers”
performed the baptisms. They did a wonderful job and were clearly doing it from
the heart. They ended by baptizing each other. The rest of the group sang “We
have decided to follow Jesus”’as each one came up from the water. Thank you,
Lord, for a lovely experience.
- Next up - Beth She’an. We noticed no
other buses were at the scheduled hole in the wall lunch stop so decided to
have an early lunch stop at 11.15am. This place made N. American fast food
joints look like they are asleep at the wheel. As we got our food about 15
other buses arrived in quick succession. Whew. A good call by our tour guide. We
walked to the 1980s excavation site. The excavation was done to provide work
for the unemployed in Israel. They knew there was stuff down there but had no
idea what. It has turned out to be a massive Greco-Roman city down at ground
level with a Biblical era town at the top of the Tel behind it.
Beth Sh'ean main street -
- Final stop- Daniel Hotel, Dead Sea,
1200 feet below sea level - lowest in the world.
Dead Sea - as close to weightless as we'll ever get
Oh, my goodness, what an experience? It is almost like being weightless. Who would have thought one could lie flat on one’s back and float comfortably? Try floating on your stomach? Forget it. It’s a formula for rolling over and getting very salty water in the eyes.
Dead Sea mud - reputed to be
good for one's health
- First stop - Fortress of Masada. It
is visibly impossible to attack, but at same time hard to comprehend how Herod
the Great built his get away palace there in the first place as the cliffs are
Masada - it took the Romans
three years to dislodge
the rebels who held it.
- En route to Qumran we paused at another
fast food marvel at a rather seedy roadside stop with dozens of bus loads of
other desperately hungry pilgrims. Qumran is an amazing story. We watched a
movie giving information re the Essenes and then did a short walk around the area to
understand how they lived. We took a close look at Cave #4 which is the only
one easily visible. None of the caves are open to the public. Rani, our tour
guide, caused some unhappiness with his comments about the accuracy of the
Jewish scriptures versus the “inaccuracies” of the Bible.
Israel in the background and Bedouin shacks in
the West Bank behind The Wall.
- From Masada it was a surprisingly short ride into Jerusalem from the East via the West Bank. En route we saw some awful hovels and shacks which are Bedouin homes. We also saw “the wall” separating parts of the West Bank from Israel. For all if it’s negative press it has been effective in curtailing terrorist attacks.
- Once in Jerusalem we drove to the Hebrew University where there is a look out point overlooking Jerusalem. It was our first sighting of the city and not that impressive. It wasn’t a good view as we were looking into the sun. No one burst into tears as does happen, on occasion, apparently.
- On to our hotel the Leonardo Plaza. Definitely a step up on our other five-star hotels. So much so that the elevator system was so clever we couldn’t figure out how it worked. We had to press our room floor and the computer told us which of the four elevators would take us there in the shortest time. The plugs in our bath and sink were still flaky though, apparently a necessary feature of Israeli 5-star hotels.
- After dinner, which was definitely five
star, our companions headed for bed, but Cher and I decided to do a bit of a
walkabout – our first opportunity in Jerusalem, the place we have read of all
of our lives. We were told it was perfectly to safe to go out at night, so we
enjoyed our little explore. We walked through an outdoor/indoor mall – it felt
like we were indoors, but the sky was open above us. It was very modern an up
to date. At the end of the mall we saw the Old City wall and decided to
explore. We entered the Old City by the Jaffa (Joppa) Gate. Once again it was a
shopping mall, but now the shops were little one man show stalls, packed with
colorful goods of all kinds on either side of a narrow cobbled stone street. It
felt as though we had stepped back in time a couple of thousand years. We
window shopped a bit, but it was getting late and the stalls were closing. We
didn’t fancy being stranded in the dark in a strange place so headed for home,
tired, but pumped for what we would see on the morrow.
Israel- Friday Nov 1st, 2019 (Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Bethlehem, Jerusalem Old City and Wailing Wall
- Off for another 8am start to take in the Mount of Olives and then
Jerusalem - so much history in such a small space
- Onward and downward- we walked down a very steep narrow lane to Dominus Flevit commemorating where Jesus wept.
- Then on down to Gethsemane and the mother of all crowds. Today there are 16 tour buses from a couple of cruise ships docked in Ashdod, a port just south of Joppa. Rani is in despair at the overloading of the city. The garden had a fairly narrow walkway around it which was standing room only all the way around to the church commemorating Gethsemane. One had to shove to push through the crowd to get in for a quick look see before shoving our way back to the bus. Whew, this pilgrim touring takes staying power. I guess there’s a sermon in there somewhere.
- Next stop was Bethlehem and shopping
for trinket essentials at a local Christian store which our guide tries to send
business to as they are a declining minority in the West Bank. Olive wood was
their specialty but prices were a stretch by any measure. They were also
offering a nice little diamond brooch necklace which I backed off from buying
for Cher when, even after a 20% discount and no tax, it was only $2600 (US).
Sigh, such is life.
Byzantine mosaics at top
at St. George's Cathedral
St. George putting the
dragon in his place.
- Next up was Bethlehem downtown and Church of the Nativity, birthplace of Jesus. As we were in the West Bank, we were required to be assigned a Palestinian tour guide. Our guide was Fayrooz, a Christian lady. We were unable to visit the actual “site” of the birth as the line up was 3-4 hours long, compliments of the cruise ship crowds. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see St. George’s Byzantine style church over the top, which has had an interesting history. We followed up with an authentic Palestinian lunch at St. George’s Restaurant. St. George, of dragon slaying fame, seemed to be a big feature, of this area.
- Back to the bus and then on to
Jerusalem and the Old City en route to the Wailing Wall for the end of the day.
First stop was the site of The Last Supper and also Pentecost. Once again it
was cruise line chaos. Our tour guide gave up apologizing for the crowds. We
were in the church when a large group started to get into the spirit and the
noise level became unbearable. A security guard came and asked them to quieten down,
but they ignored him, at which point he activated an ear-splitting siren. It
was a standoff, but the guy with the siren had the biggest toy and eventually
the noisy group conceded and vacated the building. Obviously, this kind of
thing had happened before.
Roman columns below
current street level
Roman roadway underneath new Jerusalem homes
- From there we walked through the Armenian then and on into the Jewish Quarters, observing the incredible multiple levels of ruins and excavations including new houses built after the 1967 Six Day War after the Jordanians flattened the Jewish quarter after taking it from the Israelis in the only battle lost by the Israelis in the 1948 war.
- Final stop of the day was the Wailing
Wall about 45 minutes after the Shabbat (Sabbath) siren went off at 4pm. We
noticed black coated, and large hatted, Hassidic Jews streaming down the lanes
and alleyways towards the wailing walls. Many were decked out in amazing
headgear, each of which are made of mink and cost about $2000.
The Wailing Wall. Hassidic Jews gather here
every Sabbath to pray fervently
- Finale - the dinner hall back at our
hotel was wall to wall crowded. Many of the Hassidic Jews were coming to enjoy
the fruit of someone else’s labor in having prepared a lovely meal. As Rani
says, “they always figure out a way around their own rules”.
Israel- Saturday Nov 2nd (Israeli Parliament, Garden Tomb, En Kerem, Via Dolorosa Jerusalem)
- Because of the crowds Rani has
suggested we do the 14 Stations of the Cross in reverse. We took his advice,
which by and large worked out, with one or two notable exceptions.
Giant Menorah close to
- We began with a visit to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset. We also saw the massive Menorah donated to Israel by a German Jew who moved to UK in 1933.
- Next stop - the Garden Tomb. This is
run by a Christian charity using volunteers from all over the world. Our guide
was Stuart Bell, a retired pastor from Wales. Man, he was a preacher par
excellence. He took us to the site of Golgotha and did an excellent job of
explaining why they believe this is the authentic location of the crucifixion versus
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which we’ll visit later in the day. Stuart
then took us to the tomb once again doing a great job of explaining why they
think it is the actual tomb in which Jesus was laid.
This could have been the tomb where
Jesus was laid to rest.
- On to En Kerem in the hills of Judaea to the site which commemorates the birth of John the Baptist including the cave where they hid baby John when Herod sent out his “kill the babies” edict. It is an Orthodox Church, but in process of being renovated so the visit was a bit of a dead loss.
- Back to Jerusalem for the final leg
of our tour to the Jaffa Gate and the Old City.
Jerusalem Old City
has a multiplicity
of small shops
- After lunch we went off to tackle the
Via Dolorosa in reverse. This is the route that Jesus walked to Golgotha.
Worshippers laying prostate over
- We ended our tour at St Anne’s
Church, commemorating the healing by Jesus of the paralytic at the Pool of
Bethesda. The church was built by the Crusaders about 800 years ago and had 9-foot-thick
walls giving it great acoustics. Group after group was coming to the front and
singing acapella. It was an exquisite way to end our tour of the Holy Land
watching the nations from every tribe and tongue singing God’s praises. Thank you,
Father God, for a wonderful pilgrimage to the where it all began and, as we
were reminded this morning, by Steve Bell, at the Garden Tomb, the church just
keeps growing apace. These memories we will cherish for the rest of our days.
Jordan - Sunday, Nov 3rd (Jerusalem, Jaresh, Amman)
- Sadly, we are departing Jerusalem. Our hotel had the cleverest elevator yet known to mankind- at least to this man. I may be a slow adopter of technology but am happy to be a distant admirer. In this case, my hand was forced. If I didn’t learn how the elevator worked, I had 20 stories to climb.
- We were met in the lobby by a rather grumpy older man, working for our tour company, who said one word and beckoned us to follow him. Turns out we are traveling with a bunch of South Americans and our “guide” seems to speak Spanish more naturally. We’ve done our fourth hotel pick up and are on our first 2.5-hour trip to the Jordan River border crossing with Jordan.
- Leaving Israel and getting into
Jordan has been a bit like moving from first to third world in the space of a
Hot, tired and frustrated. Israel and Jordan are
formally at peace, but you wouldn't know it
from their border crossing.
Rocky Jordanian countryside
- We took a very interesting drive on a short cut route through the Jordanian countryside. It was very pretty with the hillsides covered with olive trees and a variety of other crops. There are an unbelievable number of stones and rocks everywhere so much so that all of the farm “hedges” are built of three foot wide rock fences. Much of the countryside is just undeveloped bush.
- We arrived at about 3.15pm for our
lunch stop. We were expected. The wait staff were all lined up outside greeting
us like royalty as we filed in. We felt like lambs to the slaughter.
"Upside Down" dinner
- Due to the slow border crossing, by 4
pm we were rushing to see the Greco-Roman ruins of Jaresh as sundown was around
5pm. Also known as the city of a thousand columns it was spread over a massive
area. Unfortunately, we only got about halfway through when the guards turned
us back as it was closing time. Too bad as it was very impressive.
There were some grand ruins
at Jaresh - too bad
time ran out on us.
- Back in the bus for a 1.5-hour ride
to Amman to our very nice hotel in quite a nice upmarket part of the city. Our
guide has just announced we have a 7.30am pick up tomorrow morning. It’s a long
drive to Petra and we will have thousands of other keeners like us to wrestle
with when we get there.
Jordan - Monday, November 4th (Amman, Petra)
- Up early this morning for the great Petra adventure. We were asked to be waiting ready to go for 7.30 am. The bus was ready for us with the rest of the group from the other hotels by 7.20am. Well wouldn’t you know we were in the bus and waiting by 7.30pm - except for one couple who eventually turned up after 8 am. There was a deathly silence in the bus as they endured our scorn. I don’t think anyone is talking to them. They didn’t even have the good grace to mumble an apology. Grrr.
- By then our planned tour of Amman, which was supposed to happen yesterday was canned as Petra really is the goal for today. We drove through a few nice neighborhoods on our way out of town and then we hit the road for a 3.5-hour trip to Petra. Our tour guide, Aladdin, who is a very laid-back character, said he would now only allow one washroom break. Let’s hope his bark is worse than his bite.
- The landscape en route was flat and brown, dotted here and there with the occasional signs of settlements or factories and of course the mandatory mosque wherever people live. Occasionally we would see flocks of sheep being watched by a shepherd. A proliferation of litter, lining the road on either side, is the one constant throughout, apart from the upmarket area we went through this morning.
- We stopped for the promised washroom
break. The toilet I went into did not have a seat and the rim was splattered
beyond comment, along with no paper. I decided I wasn’t that desperate.
Hopefully Petra would hold more delights than just ancient ruins. I emerged to
find Cher in the shop in deep negotiations re a ring she had set her heart on.
The deal was done, and Cher was a happy customer. Happy wife, happy life.
These fine chairs can be had
for a mere $20,000 (US)
- We left our “five minute” stop after about 40 minutes with Aladdin announcing cheerfully that if anyone else needed the washroom before Petra he would be happy to stop by the nearest bush or rock. Cries of horror all around. Our daylight time in Petra is now nudging closer to 4 hours. We’ll see.
- Finally, we arrived in Petra about 12.30pm and leapt into action. We had come a long way and spent thousands of dollars for these few hours.
- Aladdin accompanied us about a third of the way in and then left us to do our own thing. Adjectives defy description as we walked down into the ancient city of Petra, but I will try. Grand. magnificent, spectacular, impressive and on and on.
......and then it merges and pedestrians
have to watch out!
Entering Petra starts with a lane
for pedestrians and one for horses.
The narrow canyon was easily defended
path is downhill all the way in. It is about 5 kilometers long all the way to the end, that is without detours and side trips. After about half a kilometer the cliff walls close in and we enter the Siq (canyon) proper. Visually it is breathtaking again and again. Probably the single biggest gasp moment was when we came upon the Treasury as we spied it through the gap between the rocks.
- At this point Aladdin left us to
explore. Time for a quick pit stop and a bite and then back on our way. It’s
unlikely we will ever be back. We had to make the most of our time.
The Treasury coming into view The top of the Treasury
Cher, performing a stunt at The Theatre
- On we went. The Theatre, Tomb of Kings, the Great Palace, Byzantine Church. Massively impressive. Such grandeur and in the back of one’s mind the knowledge of how the mighty have fallen. Is this our fate, or that of our children and grandchildren? Thank you, Lord, that whether we live or die we get to be with you for eternity. Whatever happens our story ends well.
- Exhausted, we ended the long uphill walk back with a 0.7 km. horse ride back to the Visitor Centre and time for a quick tour of the Museum. It is extremely well done and answered a lot of the questions we had had along the way.
- Further description is pointless. Save your pennies and plan to visit Petra. It is a bucket list must.
- On to our hotel in nearby Wadi Musa for what would prove to be the best stop-over of our trip so far. The hotel has been designed as a mini ancient village. No high-rise buildings. To get to our room we walked through streets of mini houses (rooms). The rooms were large and spacious and lacked nothing. The best was yet to come.
Dinner was a buffet that would give the average member of royalty pause. The
choice was staggering. We did our best but failed to empty the coffers of their
exquisite cuisine. The Maitre’ D stopped by to check if we were happy. We
showered him with praise, and he opened up to us. The hotel had been opened two
years ago and was now owned and run by the local community. His grandfather had
owned a plot of land where the hotel stood. All the staff are locals. A happy
and proud man - he announced that the buffet we had just enjoyed was one of
seven different menus for each night of the week.
Wadi Musa - Actual ruins
interpersed with hotel rooms
Wadi Musa Hotel - designed to look
and feel ancient.
- We took a walk around the hotel “village” to burn off our dinner. We came upon the indoor pool, gym and sauna, all deserted, manned by three young guys all looking bored stiff. The lifeguard, Aram, offered to show us around the property. He was another very proud Jordanian and showed us how the hotel was built around ancient ruins and how the ruins were incorporated into the design. Great fun listening to him and thanks to Google Translate, communication worked well.
- Towards the end of our impromptu tour
we spotted a little man in the hotel lobby making sprinkled sand bottles
This man's work was exquisite
- Jordan - Tuesday November 5th (Petra, Madaba, Mount Nebo, Allenby Bridge Border Crossing, Tel Aviv)
- Today is a long bus drive back to Tel Aviv via Mount Nebo. I for one am happy for a day to tune out and catch my breath. Israel and Jordan have been wonderful. Turkey for nine days is next. Could it be as good? Will we last the rigors of such high impact tourism?
- We pulled into the city of Madaba, near to Mount Nebo to see St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. Downtown Madaba was a zoo. Our driver got stuck halfway across an intersection as there was a parked Mercedes sedan blocking the way ahead of him. For about 15 minutes traffic in four directions was blocked while the driver of the Mercedes was located.
- We walked up through some touristy
shopping streets to the Church, where we got a brief lecture on the early
Mosaic Map of the Biblical world at that time (approximately 600 AD) which the
church is famous for.
Pomegranate squeezing - a common sight
- On the walk back our guide, Aladdin, had arranged for us to buy a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Madaba was a pleasant stop on a long drive. On to Mount Nebo.
- Next up was the Arts River Works shop
which specializes in modern day mosaic work but with lots of biblical themes.
They give work to 400 handicapped folk who work from home. We were given a 10-minute
display of how the work is done and then let loose to shop. Oh, my goodness the
prices were not cheap, so we fed our shopping need by window shopping instead.
Onward and upward.
Mosaic artwork technique
Tired, but not defeated
- Mount Nebo - the mountain top from
which Moses saw the Promised Land before dying. Unfortunately, the view was
very hazy, but he would have had a very good view from there.
The site from which Moses viewed
the Promised Land
- It was a long trip back to
Tel Aviv for our final night. The eight of us needed some supper so we ventured
out and finally found a pub nearby. It was sad to think this would be our last
time together, but it was good to review all we had experienced over the last 8-9
days, marveling at our good fortune at all we had opportunity to enjoy.
Our travel buddies - we shared some great moments together.
- The eight of us had a final breakfast together before heading for the airport and back to whatever came next for each of us.