Kathy and Melissa's Trip of a Lifetime! travel blog

Alexandria

pick your dinner and they cook it for you

Early in the morning at the top of Mt. Sinai

sunrise

bedouin and view from Mt. Sinai

on the way back down the mountain

Melissa and St. Katherine's Monastery in the background

Melissa looking up at the descendant of the burning bush

Aqaba (at the north end of the Red Sea in Jordan)

Traveling in Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum (where Lawrence of Arabia and Bedouin camped)

Bedouin living in Wadi Rum (oldest instrument used by the Bedouin, one...

Wadi Rum-Khazali

Wadi Rum-in Khazali Canyon

us, walking up hill in Wadi Rum

Petra-Siq leading to the Kazneh (Treasury)

Petra-the Kazneh (was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

Melissa trying to create picture of camel using sand, hers is on...

more of Petra

Petra

Petra-monastery

all the buildings were carved out of the mountains

Melissa and view from top of mountain where the monastery is

mosaic tiles at church in Petra

group photo at Mt. Nebo

map for next picture

the promised land

Symbol for health

Possible tomb of Moses

Small portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the clay jars they...

Oval Plaza in Roman city of Jerash

Colonnaded Street (horses and chariots on one side and pedestrians on the...

Nymphaeum fountain in Jerash

Temple of Artemis in Jerash

North Theatre in Jerash

yes, they are playing the Scottish bagpipes

the Dead Sea (Israel is on the other side)

Kathy floating in the Dead Sea

Melissa reading the paper


We've done so much in the past week that I am going to try and remember everything. We visited Alexandria for a couple of days and it was a beautiful city. Our hotel room over looked the Mediterranean. We spent the afternoon visiting the Greco-Roman Museum and some catacombs. We spent that night at a restaurant where you actually go down and pick out the fish you want them to cook. The spread on the table after everything is delivered could feed a small army. As we were eating the heavy rain and lightening started with the thunder booming right overhead. One was so loud and powerful it managed to cut the power to the restaurant and surrounding blocks. Everyone just opened their cellphones to illuminate the restaurant while we waited for candles. Nothing like progress.

We drove back to Cairo and met our new group which is much smaller, just eight of us. We headed off the next morning for an eight hour drive to Mt. Sinai where we spent the night waiting for the early wake up call the next morning at 2:00 am. We drove to St. Katherine's monastery where we started the two hour walk up to the top where Moses received the ten commandments. Judith we thought of you the whole way. At the top Melissa and I watched the sunrise. It was breathtaking. We then spent some time in the monastery where they advised that the bush in the middle of the monastery was a descendent of the original "burning bush" which lead Moses to the top of Mtn. Sinai to receive the commandments.

We drove to the town of Nuweiba where we took a hydrofoil over to the town of Aqaba in Jordan. Aqaba is a beautiful town that sits right on the northern tip of the Red Sea where Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia all come together. We spent the night there and then headed north towards Petra. Along the way we stopped at Wadi-Rum which is where St. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and the Bedouin fought the Ottoman Turks all the way to Aqaba during World War I (1916).

We spent the night in the town of Petra and then got up early the next morning to spend the whole day discovering the area. I have to say it was unbelievable. You remember the "Treasury" from the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It's actually a tomb for nobles. And Petra is more much than just the tomb. The pictures we included won't do it justice. The 2000 year old city is a legacy of the Nabataean Arab inhabitants who were once Bedouin. The Bedouin have continued to live in the empty tombs up until 1985 when Queen Noor negotiated with them to leave and the Jordian government built them a community right outside of Petra.

After leaving Petra we headed off to Amman and along the way we stopped in several locations, among them a fortress built by the crusaders and Mount Nebo which is where Moses was shown the promised land and later died. We have included a map of the promised land which shows the view towards Israel and the Jordan Valley. There is also a metal sculpture at the top which is a depiction of Moses's staff surrounded by a snake. When Moses faced the Pharoah of Egypt to ask to let his people go (Exodus), he threw the staff on the ground and it became a snake to demonstrate the power of God. This symbol of the staff surrounded by the snake has become the symbol for health and is the same symbol used by hospitals and doctors all over the world. We finished the day at the Citadel in Amman which has a museum exhibiting some of the clay jars and remains of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

During our last day in Jordan we spent the morning at Jerash, one of the largest Roman ruins outside Italy. That afternoon we took a bus down to the Dead Sea (the saltiest and lowest sea in the world about 400 meters below sea level) and got to experience what it was like to just float on the water without even trying.

I have to say that seeing the ancient ruins in Egypt was great, but the tension in the country is palatable. I am sure it was a combination of many things. We were two foreign women (seen as immoral) by ourselves without covering our hair. You really just don't see many Egyptian women out on the streets. From some men we received obscene comments, stares of daggers, and inappropriate touching, especially if we were out at night. It appears that they may also be tired of the tourists, but it is a two-edge sword for them because they need the tourism for their economy and jobs. And the war in Iraq just adds to everything. Now don't get me wrong, we met some very nice people, especially our tour guide, Teefa. We did not know what to expect in Jordan since it is actually in the Middle East. Melissa and I were pleasantly surprised by how warm and friendly everyone was. Jordan is neutral and a democracy. There is a lot of Western influence in this country and it is much more modern than Egypt. Jordan is rich in history and tradition and we got the rare opportunity to experience the places we've only read about. It has been absolutely amazing!!!

We have spent our last night in Cairo and have just arrived in Athens, Greece. It is nice to see all the Christmas decorations and lights. Reminds us of home!!!



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