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20081105-Jerusalem-112
Jerusalem...from a different point of view

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Welcome, to our site! After living for some time in Israel and then in the UK we've now moved to Germany. We'd like to share our experiences with you. We hope you have as much fun reading as we have writing.

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October 2020
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Petra

On friday the moment had finally arrived!!! Early morning we left, heading south. A short toilet brake in Mitzpe Ramon, where we had a quick look over the crater. And around 2 we arrived in Eilat. Through the internet we’d found an apartment with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms for a good price…of course it’s always a bit of a surprise what you’ll get…but it was all perfect! Both bedrooms had tv, and there was a flatscreen in the livingroom, we had a fully equiped kitchen to our disposal and in one of the bedrooms there was even a whirlpool… and all that within walking distance of the centre of Eilat and the beach.
As a city Eilat isn’t really that much. It consists mostly of hotels and apartments, shops, small stalls selling souvenirs and rubbish and restaurants; a real beach-holiday-city. But that doesn’t matter to us, we’re here for the attractions in the surrouding area anyway. Most of that afternoon we stroll past the shops and stalls on the boulevard. After diner we walk back to the apartment and get in bed early, because next morning we have to get up early…

…for Petra!! Since this means we have to go to Jordan, we can’t travel on our own. This because it’s not allowed to cross the border with an Israeli car. Plus the insurance of the car rental company doesn’t cover Jordan. So we booked a tour, including transport to the border, help with crossing the border and transport and a guide in Jordan. The border opens at 8 in the morning, but we’re there at half past 7, waiting in line. And it’s good that we came this early, as we notice in the next half hour. By the time the border opens some busses have dropped a load of tourists and the line has increased tenfold. Crossing the border to Jordan is an adventure in itself. We start with a note given to us by our guide on this side of the border. This note we show to the guard at the first checkpoint. Then we can walk on to a counter, where our passport is being checked. From there we walk to the next checkpoint, where we have to show our passport again. On the other side our Jordanian guide is waiting for us. He takes all our passports to get the visa. One last time we show our passports and then we can finaly enter Jordan. There a van is waiting for us to bring us (and 10 other tourists) to Petra. On the way there we make a short tour through Aqaba, the Jordan equivalent of Eilat. Our guide explains some things about the surrounding area and Jordan in general. Aside from that the 2 hour drive is only interfered by a short brake for coffee and toilets.

Petra was build by the Nabateans, who came to live here probably in the sixth century BCE. As a consequence of several trade routes that crossed in this area, Petra was able to become and stay for several centuries a rich city. You need at least a day or 4 to see everything (our guide was talking about 10 days!). Unfortunately we’re only here for one day and a large part of that day is lost to traveling… :cry: Before you can actually see Petra you have to walk a little more than 1 kilometer through a narrow gorge, here called ‘Siq’. Around you you can have a look at the first signs of the residents from long ago, among which the remains of the old road. Those who have trouble walking this distance can make use of the horses or the carriages walking up and down the gorge. Probably this only makes the tour more exhausting, cause the drive is everything except easy, with the uneven road… :shock: And besides that, the horses and the carriages take off with such speed, that you’ll miss most of the views down the road. :roll:

At the end of the Siq we can finally watch one of the most famous parts of Petra, the Treasury, unfold itself for us. Like a lot of the other buildings here it was build as a tomb. Well…build…everything you see in Nabatean Petra was hewn out of the rocks. So, not really build, rather sculpted… Besides that we have to realise that the part we see now is only a fraction of what must have been here… floods and time have destroyed a big part of Petra. And there’s also a part still covered by sand, brought here by wind and rain. For example the Treasury used to be almost twice as high as what is now visible. Excavations at the tomb have brought another layer of the building to light, of about 10 meter high…

The tombs for the richest in Petra were of course the largests and whealthiest decorated. The less whealthy have smaller tombs. Our guide brings us to one of these, hewn from an extroadinary part of the rocks. During our walk through the Siq we’d already experienced the wonderful colors of the rocks, but here all colors seem to join in magnificent splendor. Like our guide said, filled with pride and chauvinism: ‘no picture will be able to capture these colors, no painter can reproduce them’. Waves of multiple shades of blue, red and yellow make us realise that nature is still the worlds most able artist.

Our last stop in Petra is the theater. Not the first theather we’ve seen, but definitely one of the most special, since this too is hewn from the rocks. On our way back through the Siq we again enjoy the colours, now changing because of the changing light. Near the exit we have a nice meal before we head back. The same procedure at the border but the other way around. Instead of the note we got on the Israeli side we get a kind of poststamp, we have to put in our passports and then the cycle of checks starts again. My expired visa causes some questions, but after explaining that the new visa is being processed I get a new stamp for another 3 months. :razz:

In Eilat we have something small to eat before we head for bed. Sunday has been reserved for Eilat itself, especially the Underwater Observatory. But I’ll tell about that later…

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