A relatively spontaneous trip to Israel and Jordan was booked and organised within two days and despite the bankruptcy of Germania airline meant a new ticket with Turkish airline, everything was set.
Our base in Tel Aviv is the Carlton Hotel and the trip took us to Nazareth/Sea of Galilee, Masada/Dead Sea, Jerusalem and Jericho/Bethlehem over 4 days. The hotel breakfast had a great selection especially dairy products and only on the last day we noticed the lack of meat products because of Kosher law of separation of milk and meat product. The daily 720 am pickup involved a few changes and pick up before heading off to the destination. This meant we didn’t usually arrived at our destination until 10 am, although the time was well spent with background information by the guides on topic such as the 6 days war and dog ownership in Tel Aviv (man with a dog meets a woman with a dog, get married, move in together and now they have 2 dogs, as told by the matter of fact guide). Returning around 1800 every day, Tel Aviv is a pleasant city with a great restaurant and bar scene and made a perfect base.
For the tours,, the various sites related to Jesus were well represented: his birthplace in Bethlehem, childhood home in Nazareth, sites of his baptism in Jordan river, miracle around the Sea of Galilee, hall for the last supper, crucifixion, tomb and ascension around Jerusalem. All the sites are of course not necessarily the exact location but all are marked with a church without fail. These places no doubt brought the biblical stories to sharper focus and a sense of history is strong. It was surprising that it was not completely overrun with tourist perhaps explained by February being one of the lowest season to visit.
Masada and Jericho have some impressive archaeology and history and the latter and Bethlehem also brought the chance to visit Palestine which involved switching vehicles and going through checkpoints. An obligatory float in the Dead Sea despite a rather cool 19 degrees, visits to the western wall and the holocaust museum in Jerusalem complete the 4 days touring.
Wadi Rum was a 30 minutes flight to Eilat in the south and a short drive to the border across to Jordan. A two-hour tour of the awe-inspiring landscape and prehistoric rock inscription in Wadi Rum ended with a view of the sunset. The night was spent in a Bedouin camp with great hospitality and meat grilled in a sand pit. Although the tent was relatively comfortable, the lack of heating and hot water meant a rather chilly night sleep. The next day was the visit to spectacular Petra and its scale can only be appreciated by being there. The warm sun on a rather cool day made the weather perfect for the 4 km walk involved in visiting the site. Then it was an evening flight back to Tel Aviv, ready for the flight home the next day.
The trip concluded with the third significant delay/cancellation in the last six trips, rerouted through Frankfurt instead of Istanbul. Despite having not a lot of luck with flights, this was an insightful trip, I came away with a better idea of the geopolitics, tradition and history on the ground and a new-found love for humus and falafel.