Friday, April 23, 2010

Part 1 - Eilat and Petra

I'm back from our vacation to Middle East. This year my birthday (that was on April 12th) was really unusual - no guests, no cooking, no preparations,  away from home I did not have my friends and family to invite. There were only those transparent waters of the Red Sea and coral reefs, beautiful fish swimming around my feet, incredibly surreal submarine world, and I was looking at this world through the snorkeling mask under water. The reefs where we spent this day were next to the Princess Hotel in Eilat.
Princess Hotel, very close to Egypt border.

Igor, my husband, took my pictures this day, and he started when I was trying on the  gear. I didn't know he was doing this. It looks pretty funny next to the sink at our hotel room.

Eilat is a nice place to spend a vacation. Beautiful sea, a lot of hotels and restaurants, and, to my surprise, a place where you can hear Russian language all the time. After Israel canceled visa requirement for Russia, many Russian tourists rushed to Eilat on direct fights from Moscow. Service, accordingly, is in Russian language in many hotels, stores and restaurants.  Western Europeans like to come here, too. We met a couple from Netherlands, they were snorkeling next to us, and came for 3 (!) weeks.

King City and Jordan mountains in the background.

Night life in Eilat.

Bridge opening early in the morning at the marina.

After this perfect day in Eilat we were ready for the main goal of our trip, Petra. Eilat serves as  a gateway to both Jordan and Egypt. Here you can get a Jordanian visa directly on the border.

Petra, this famous world wonder located in Jordan, came up to our expectations. The border-crossing from Israel was done on feet, we just walked from one side of the border to another, and our guide was waiting for us with the bus at the Jordan side.

Border crossing.

 Ahmad, our tour guide. Knowledgeable, interesting, outspoken - we had fun listening to him.
After a couple of hours on a tour bus we approached Petra.  What is this place?

From Wikipedia:

Petra (Greek "πέτρα" (petra), meaning rock;) is a historic and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that has rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited tourism attraction. It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Agaba. Petra was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and a World Heritage Site since 1985. Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of "the 40 places you have to see before you die".


The horse carriages, camels and horses are used to transport tourists through the narrow passage leading to those rock cut architectural monuments. We walked, because we were taking pictures all the time, and also because the length of the canyon is only about a mile, not a big deal. The local name of this passage is Siq.

Bedouin girl selling her bead jewelry. My husband Igor, going to the rocks, in the background.

I am not sure I would like to go there and see this place one more time, it's beautiful and unusual,  but there are so many interesting places on the Earth that I didn't yet see.

(To be continued with the story about Negev Desert, Akko, Zefat and more).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jury Duty
I was summoned for the jury duty last week, spent last 5 days in court, was waiting until Thursday, March 26th, to be selected, and was chosen as a juror to participate in a trial in a State Supreme Court.
We (the jurors) formed a nice group of people,  we had plenty of time to talk and to get to know each other, while waiting for the lawyers and our honorable judge to do their work, and also during our lunch breaks. 

The New Jersey court provided us with drinks twice a day, they were ordering from the nearby courthouse restaurant, and we had a wide choice of soda, juices, coffee and tea. Every day I was trying to get a grapefruit juice and had no luck, it was always substituted by orange or pineapple juice. They should probably delete it from the menu...
By the way, our judge looked very much like Sandra Bullock, and the defense attorney looked like  Jim Parsons, who plays Dr. Sheldon Cooper on the CBS television series The Big Bang Theory, only 20 years older. 

The court worked very similar to whatever we see on the Law and Order, only everything was way too long and sometimes boring, it is a hard job to listen to the witnesses, especially when expert witnesses were digging deep into their professional matter.
One day we had observers - boy scouts who wanted to learn about the court work during their spring break, and one kid was an exactly Harry Potter, in those round glasses. No need to say that one of the boys fell asleep during a long testimony, which was not good because he made all of us sleepy...

At the end it was kind of strange that we had to go back to our everyday lives and possibly never meet afterward. I will keep in touch with several people, I guess. Facebook is a nice communication tool, after all...