Sunday, December 14, 2008

Post-Israel musings

Am now in the southern hemisphere and have recovered somewhat from the exertions of the last 2 weeks. I found the tour too hectic. We visited so many places so quickly that there was no time to digest all the information we were fed by the guides, nor process all the sights of the places that we had viewed (sometimes for only 10 minutes!). We also spent an inordinate amount of time shopping. As i am not a shopper, it was all wasted time for me.
That being said, the Singapore guides were excellent and the Jordan and israel guides were very knowledgeable.
We started our journey in Petra, walking 2.5km through the "Siq" (gorge), ending in a gorgeous view of the "Treasury" which is actually a royal tomb. After viewing more tombs of various designs carved into the red rock, we came to the acropolis (town centre) where there is an arena and some remains of Roman roads and columns.
The next day we took 2 hours to get through the checkpoint at the Allenby Bridge and then we encountered the Dead Sea. This was quite a pleasant surprise for me, as I had expected a murky-looking body of water. It was in fact a beautiful blue and a warm breeze wafted all around. We visited the oasis of Ein Gedi, the fortress of Masada, and the caves at Qumran where the dead sea scrolls were found. The colour and texture of the desert landscape and the dried-up bed of the receding Dead Sea were quite awesome.
We then drove north to the Sea of Galilee which I enjoyed best on the tour. We stayed in a Kibbutz hotel which has basic rooms but good food, and a wonderful site right on the Lake. We visited Capernaum and Corazin, 2 excavated cities from Jesus's time, and sailed on the lake as well. I spent a quiet day by the lake on my own while the others went off to the Golan heights. I missed a nice walk in a nature park, but the pace was starting to wear me down then.
A day of many stops brought us finally to Jerusalem. We passed through Mt Tabor, Cana, Nazareth, Mt Carmel, Caeserea in quick succession, leaving a blur of memories.
On our final day of the tour, we drove 45 mins from jerusalem to the Allenby bridge again, met up with our Jordanian guides, Went up to Mt Nebo where Moses viewed the promised land, and then straight to the airport.

I'm already planning for a return visit with a smaller group and a personally designed itinerary.

No comments: