Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jerusalem, Israel & Petra, Jordan

These 2 places really sank in with me for a few reasons.  The Middle East is a travel destination that many people do not make it to, and for good reason with all the conflict that goes on.  There are high danger areas and when you couple that with a lot of Islamic or strong cultures, you take away the bumping nightlife and excitement that most people are looking for in a vacation.  Hell, when I left Eliat, Israel, Egypt tried to bomb it just five days later.  Also, for the whole time that I was in Israel for two weeks the Middle East was on high alert for attacks and Americans were warned to leave.  I stuck it out and saw these places still as they intrigued me.

I'll first start off with Jerusalem, "The Holy City".  When I think of Jerusalem, I think about those hours spent in CCD class (Catholic school until 8th grade) once a week, in addition to the masses I attended most Sundays with my family.  It is talked about over and over again in the bible, and has such a vast history associated with it.  Jerusalem is heavily tied in to religion, both with Jewish and Christian faith.  Due to this, you will see varying levels of Judaism displayed across the city.  I believe there are three tiers, which vary in the way one wears their hair and the style of their clothing.  Needless to say, it is an extremely religious city and a neat one to see.  I would not recommend it for nightlife of course, but it is a great see if one has the time and is in the Middle East.

As far as sites in the city, the main one to visit is the Old City.  It encompasses four areas that cater to different faiths in this tiny city area within the walls, they are the Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim quarters.  You can see the difference as you walk through and experience it on a recommended guided tour.  The main thing that you will encounter on the tour is the view across to the Western wall, which is arguably the most religious site in the whole Jewish faith.  It is where many Jewish people come to pray while on pilgrimage.  We did not make it down to it but I recommend giving it a go.

 A shot of the Western Wall from the Jewish Quarter

Apart from the Old City, there are a few other things to see in the city.  We made it to the top of the hill to get a view of the city, which is something I also recommend to do in each city.  Also, we went and saw the Israeli Museum where we were able to see a reconstruction of how Jerusalem and the Old City looked, as well as scrolls from the original Bible!

A shot of some romance and the city from above

A scroll from the original Bible

O yeah, they also claim Jesus may have been crucified here in the Old City in that tiny structure

 Afterwards, we decided to rent a car and drive to the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea was very neat, it is a vast sea is that is so salty that nothing can live in it.  In fact, with such a high salt content, it makes it so humans are buoyant in it.  It was certainly fun to lie in it and float for the first time in my life, and I believe the salt also cleanses your skin.  An interesting fact is that the Dead Sea shores are the lowest elevation of land on the entire Earth's surface!  It is a must to see if you visit Jerusalem.

This is view you get as you drive along it

Some ultimate relaxation w/ Jordan in the horizon

But be careful! You may run in to the swamp thing

A last few side notes, car rentals are not like the USA, they don't care if you ding it up a little so don't worry about them not inspecting the scratches thoroughly.  Second, be extra careful to not get this salt in your eyes, it absolutely burned like hell and hurt very badly.  I hate to go in twice to get a t-shirt to wipe them out, and the pebbles are very unforgiving and scalding hot.

Now on to the country of Jordan.  For those who do not know, the whole Middle East pretty much loathes Israel and does not allow anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport to enter.  This is not the case with Jordan, as they will allow you to enter from Eliat as it brings in money from tourism.  Also, it is still possible to get in to other countries but you may be scrutinized heavily or not let in, so please have them stamp another sheet of paper when you return to Israel as they originally did for us.  After Jordan though, they stamped our actual passports so now I may not be able to go to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, we shall see.

Our first impressions of Jordan were certainly different than what we had thought.  We ended up seeing well built buildings that were in good condition.  Next, we ventured to the beach where we saw a bunch of people in their swimming trunks which I did not expect from a Muslim culture.  We followed suit and jumped in for a quick rinse.  Following this, we stumbled in to Pizza Hut which is not common in Europe.  Thus, we indulged to get our fill and appease our American palates that go through cravings which are unattainable throughout most of Europe and the Middle East.  We came to Jordan for one reason though, and that was to see Petra, an ancient city discovered in the early 1800's.  It was truly one of the most unique and memorable sites that I have seen to date.

 The rather lame beach of Jordan

Petra was unknown to mainstream society until the early 1800's and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is now one of the list that comprises the 7 Wonders of the World.  They have also shot a famous seen from the Indian Jones: The Lost City movie at this site.  It is a massive site that is extremely well preserved and still requires much more excavation.  To travel here, I recommend a night right across the border.  The following day, have a private taxi take you to the site and wait to take you back.  This was not highly expensive at all.  I will be excited to return to this site with my future wife and kids in 30 years to witness the progress they have made.  The pictures speak for themselves below and make this a must see site on anyone's list that plans on seeing most of the World.

The most famous of the buildings, the Treasury Building (wear head attire at your own will)

A shot of the beautiful walkways you pass through

A shot of myself and my partner in crime for the trip, Thomas

You can just chill with donkeys if you climb to the top.  I believe they let people ride them up as it is steep.  They had many donkeys at the site and they used to not treat them right so I would not participate in this.  However, they have cleaned up their act and treat them better these days.

A derailed train we encountered on our drive out to Petra.

Leave any comments you have here, I hope you enjoyed this.


1 comment:

  1. Incredible Blog! Pictures of Petra is really beautiful and heart touching. I have heard about Petra from my friend .He told that it is a good place for tourism and also told that there was a best service for transportation and hotel facilities. He had taken rent transport and hotel service from So that I am interesting to travel Petra in December with my family.