Wadi Rum & The Dead Sea
Wadi Rum (May 8)
Wadi Rum is the largest wadi in Jordan and the name comes from the Aramaic meaning "high". Many groups have lived there since ancient times.
Once we arrived, we transferred to 4x4 pickups.
The scenery was spectacular with cliffs towering above a dramatic desert landscape.
Wadi Rum was an area which Lawrence of Arabia passed through several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917-18 and much of "Lawrence of Arabia" was filmed here.
Of course, given the opportunity, we had to ride a camel.
That's Kris at the back
It wasn't terribly comfortable and some more practice would probably have helped
"Empty" camels heading back to the starting point
But the best part was the silence. The camels were very quiet for most of the time, and just plodding silently along in the spectacular scenery
was a real treat, especially after the noise and smell of the 4x4's
The ride ended at a Bedouin camp located between two spectacular cliffs. We were offered tea before we were taken back to the bus.
We stopped briefly in Aqaba for an excellent lunch, before driving on to The Dead Sea resort where we were staying for the next two nights.
The Dead Sea (May 8 & 9)
We stayed at a luxury resort, The Movenpick, located on the banks of the Dead Sea.
The view of the Dead Sea from our terrace
Our terrace. Although it was very spacious, we didn't sit outside because it was very hot and windy.
We did try swimming in the Dead Sea which was, as you might expect, intensely salty and almost impossible to swim in. Floating was about the best you could do.
We took one side trip in the area to Bethany where it is believed John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The river at this point is little more than a muddy stream, as all the fresh water has been diverted for drinking and irrigation.
The River Jordan
Al Maghtas, the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist
Sadly, the river no longer flows anywhere near this spot, but there is a natural spring so some water still flows here.
The river actually flows about 200 yards away and there is a modern baptismal pool nearby, which can be reached from the Israeli side as well as from Jordan.
Israel photographed from Jordan.
The wall and steps are in Israel. The border runs between the two sets of floats. There isn't a lot of security visible on the Israeli side, although we could see video cameras. We were not permitted to take photographs on the way in, we stopped at an armed Jordanian checkpoint were our passports were checked and passed another checkpoint before we arrived at this site.
Just a short swim to (or from) Israel, although somehow I doubt if we would have got very far !
This is an important site for Christians, but because it's so near the border, it's not very busy. There is a small Greek Orthodox church near by.
The Greek Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist at the Jordan River
Once we had finished our stay at the Dead Sea Resort, we crossed back into Israel across the Allenby Bridge (no pictures of course) and then headed to Jerusalem, where we visited the Israel Museum and the Archeological dig (see the Jerusalem section of this blog for details).
Then we drove to Jaffa and Tel Aviv for our last night in Israel
Jaffa (May 11)
Jaffa which is not far from Tel Aviv is a very old port and has been in use since the Bronze Age.
The new city of Tel Aviv from Jaffa
The Jaffa Clock Tower in Clock Square built in 1906
The Setai Hotel (opening soon!) will incorporate the old jail building of Jaffa
The Mahmoudiya Mosque, with two domes
The port is now used mainly by pleasure boats
The Old Town of Jaffa is now a highly desirable place to live and is filled with shops and expensive homes.
The narrow streets of Old Jaffa
Our final stop was Sarona in Tel Aviv. Originally a German Templar Colony, the site is now a market in the middle of Tel Aviv's business and commercial district.
The commercial district of Tel Aviv
Outdoor restaurants in Sarona
And an indoor market - our last chance for shopping before leaving Israel.
Kristine smiles over our last lunch in Israel before heading home