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).

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