This year I decided to celebrate the new Wizz Air route Luton to Eilat by booking my holiday to Israel and Jordan. Afterall visiting Jerusalem – the heart of the ancient world and a sacred city of three religions – has always been on my bucket list. Israel offers so much more than religious sites but the thought of walking on the ground that once was trodden on by Jesus Christ is simply mind-blowing. Also I have always found admirable how the Jews were able to preserve their language and culture without their own territory for many centuries.
Although Israel is a small country - you can cross it from top to bottom in 5 hours – there is so much to see and experience, it is a real melting pot of traditions and cultures. Its quite interesting to see how much cities within one country can differ. Take Tel Aviv for example – a young, modern, cosmopolitan city, with a fantastic nightlife and dining scene, with fashionable young crowd wearing short skirts. And yet only an hour away there is Jerusalem, where behaviour and clothing are as conservative and orthodox as could be. Come Friday/Saturday, the city comes to a standstill with most shops/restaurants shut due to Shabbat. Even roads get car free.
The Old City covers an area of only one square kilometer, yet the density of the shrines of different religions, attractions, monuments of architecture surpasses all expectations. Here are the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall - for the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Via Dolorosa (Path of Sorrow) - the road Jesus Christ walked before his crucifixion - for Christians, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque - for Muslims. But this is not an open-air museum - here ordinary people live ordinary lives.
Tel Aviv is a brilliant city break destination. It was quite interesting to learn that the city is very young and has been originated only in the 50s. It attracts visitors by its wide Mediterranean beaches, impressive dining scene and sunny weather almost all year round. I particularly liked cool little restaurants in the old port of Jaffa. In general I was really impressed with the local cuisine and its generous use of fragrant herbs and spices. Even street food was really delicious and fresh – homemade humus, falafel wraps, kebabs – all washed down with freshly squeezed pomegranate juice or local wine.
For those with health issues The Dead See might be the answer with its balmy medicinal air and water so thick that it appears oily. To those of you who want to visit I would recommend to go pronto – the water levels recede every year so in the near future we might lose this miracle of nature.
Eilat is a resort town on the opposite side of Israel, squeezed between Egypt and Jordan and thus located on the shores of the Red Sea. I found it to be a good winter sun destination, I travelled in the end of February yet the water temperature was quite swimmable and we managed to top up our tan levels nicely. Eilat may look all about huge hotels and concrete but its underwater world is rich and colourful and is diver’s paradise.
From Eilat we made our way across the border to Jordan.
Our first destination was Wadi Rum desert known for its fantastical Martian sceneries. Location really is out of this world, no wonder many Mars based movies were shot here, including the Martian with Matt Damon. We spent our night in a desert camp, in a dome overlooking the desert and the starry sky. Unfortunately we were not able to go on a hot air balloon trip as planned due to a poor weather, but a jeep safari was a good alternative.
Petra was our next stop. I think it is diffucult to find a person who hasn’t heard of this UNESCO heritage site. For me this was a classic case when I expected less but was completely blown away. First of all, the scale of it just bewilders. It is the whole lost city, not just the famous Treasury appearing on all photos. In fact the hike from the entrance to the farthest point, the Monastery is about 5 km, no wonder many travellers go for a two or even three day pass. The scenery around Petra doesn’t disappoint either, in fact some parts of it were really en par with the Panorama route in South Africa. A fantastic mixture of orange and green, with occasional bell sounds from grazing goats.
All in all it was a fantastic holiday saturated with sights, natuare and delicious food, I honestly cant recommend highly enough.
Maryna travelled to Israel and Jordan in February 2019 Please contact us if you would like us to arrange a bespoke holiday for you to Israel or Jordan.