Petra Day 2: The High Place of Sacrifice & The Royal Tombs

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My second day in Petra I started out with two goals: tackle the second major climb, to the High Place of Sacrifice, and avoid any sketchy too-familiar Bedouins trying to lure me into mule rides… or more. I had one lazy day of riding (and was slightly uncomfortable the whole time), so today I promised myself I would be working for that view. Continue reading

Petra Day 1: the Treasury, the Monastery, and Slightly Pushy Bedouins

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That’s right, obviously I couldn’t come to Jordan without visiting this famous ancient Nabatean city. A lot of people do Petra as a day trip from Israel, but it didn’t make sense financially or time-wise for me to do that. First of all, the entrance tickets to Petra are exorbitantly priced: 50JD for a one day ticket (but then only 5JD for each additional day, so 55JD for a two-day ticket and 60JD for a three-day), and a whopping 90JD for day-trippers who are not spending the night in Jordan. I ended up purchasing a two-day ticket, but in retrospect I probably could have gone for the three-day pass. Continue reading

I’ve been to hell… and it’s the King Hussein-Allenby Bridge Border Crossing

I’m aware that I’m way behind and still need to post about Petra and everything else I saw in Jordan, but ranting takes priority.

Today was without a doubt my hardest, most frustrating day on the road so far. I planned to cross back into Palestine from Jordan through the King Hussein-Allenby Bridge border, then take the bus from the West Bank into Jerusalem to spend the night there before flying to Istanbul in the morning. I was a little hesitant about using this border because it’s known for being very crowded (it’s the only border Palestinian citizens are allowed to use) and has a reputation for being extremely slow… but it was by far the most direct route for me to take. It couldn’t be that bad, right?

Unfortunately, it was. Continue reading

A Night Under the Stars in Wadi Rum

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My new French friends and I hopped in a taxi at the Jordanian border and set off on our 45-minute drive to Wadi Rum. While Etienne sat up front and chatted with our driver, I spent most of the time looking out the window at the vast, unchanging desert landscape. Though Israel has miles of uninhabited desert as well, this seemed different somehow. We saw almost nothing: lots of sand and rocks with one main road running in between, a single railroad track (that I later learned doesn’t carry passengers and is mostly for show), and power lines. An amazing abundance of power lines, though I couldn’t tell you where they led to or from. Continue reading

The Egypt Dilemma

When I was first planning this trip to the Middle East, I always intended to travel to Egypt as well. Israel-Jordan-Egypt — seems like the perfect combo trip, right? Neighboring countries, so crossing land borders would be easy and I wouldn’t have to worry about the logistics or costs of booking additional flights.

Of course, the political situation in Egypt has only been getting worse. Shortly before I left, my father and stepmother gently suggested that I drop Egypt from my itinerary and go to Greece or Turkey instead. I made no promises, but said I would consider it.

And I have been. I’ve been considering it for the whole month I’ve been traveling, and keep going back and forth. I’ve long decided that I would in fact be going to Turkey (a good friend of mine is in Russia now and will be in Istanbul at the end of August, so I plan on meeting him there), but Egypt was still pulling me as well. Continue reading

Road Trip to the Weirdest Hostel in the World

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After bumming around Jerusalem for a few days, I ran into two people I had met back in Tel Aviv, Jon and Jahan. Jon was on a mission to get down to Eilat for some diving in the Red Sea, and Jahan was looking for an adventure to fill her last few days before she flew back home. It was pretty easy for them to convince me to come along. (Actually they snuck into my dorm room one morning, stared at me until I woke up, and basically said “Are you in or what?”) Road Trip! Continue reading

O little town of Bethlehem

[This post got pretty long so I’m splitting it in two. Here’s Part 1. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.]

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Sunday around noon I took the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Florentine was almost too nice of a hostel… I could easily have spent another week there sitting on my butt on their rooftop doing nothing. So it was time to get a move on.

Almost immediately, I ran into two Dutch girls I had met a week ago, Esmee and Nina. They easily talked me into going on an ill-fated adventure of trying to walk to the Mount of Olives to see the sunset. Suffice it to say, we never ended up making it and instead found ourselves wandering through an ancient cemetery after dark. But we wouldn’t let failure deter us! We made plans to get up early the next morning and go on a day trip to Bethlehem, our first taste of the West Bank.
Continue reading