Falafel, falafel, falafel! I just wanted a cheeseburger. Unfortunately, in Jordan and Israel that was just not common. Instead, you would eat falafel, which is a lot like hushpuppies. It comes on flatbread with fresh tomatoes and peppers. It actually tastes pretty good, until you have it for the fifth time in as many days.
My family, including my grandfather and younger cousin, and I flew out of Chicago for Amman, Jordan on January 1st, 2009. We spent twelve days touring Jordan and Israel led by our guide who “ran where Jesus walked”. The flight there was a very monotonous twelve hours in which I hardly slept. We arrived at Amman about 5 o’clock. I was very tired and slept well that night until around four in the morning. I was miserable that day and the few afterwards, always attempting to sleep on the charter bus.
The average age of the 47 travelers with us was about 70. Thankfully my cousin was about my age and so provided much companionship. The older travelers were very interesting, and I did enjoy their company throughout the trip. I enjoyed learning from them and listening to the stories they told on the bus and at mealtimes.
We stayed in five different hotels in twelve days. It was interesting having to repack and reload the luggage every other day. The hotels we stayed in were: Regency Palace in Amman, Grand Court Hotel in Jerusalem, Golden Crown Hotel in Nazareth, Intercontinental Hotel in Jericho, and Petra Movenpick in Petra.
Everywhere we went was a tourist trap. Vendors were here and there selling antiquities and ‘authentic’ jewelry, blankets, paintings and more. They were all very insistent and would compliment you on anything you could think of; from your clothes to your accent to your camera to your hair color. The best thing I bought from a vendor was a fresh pomegranate for a dollar.
As far as food went, it was all pretty good. All the cheeses were strange, but there was usually something good to eat. I would advise taking peanut butter and ketchup. The ketchup there was very odd and bread by itself could get pretty old. The hotel with the best food was in Petra, but we only stayed in it for one night.
The absolute best part of the trip was when we were in Jericho. We had a sort of half day rest and got to the hotel a little after noon. The hotel boasted a Dead Sea pool and several other pools but none of them were filled. My whole family really wanted to swim and the Dead Sea was only about ten minutes away, so we called a taxi.
Upon arrival at the Dead Sea, we paid and my grandfather watched our clothes and cameras as we got in. It was the most amazing feeling. You could not sink and the bottom was covered in mud or rocks layered with almost an inch of salt. I actually cut my ankle on the salt. Everyone was very careful not to splash, but somehow I still managed to get water in my eye. It burned for so long and I could barely see for five minutes or so.
All in all, my Holy Land tour was very fun and interesting. I enjoyed the company, food, sights, and experiences. Many fond memories and pictures will stay with me throughout my life. I would recommend that trip to anyone and everyone. It’s something everyone should experience at least once.
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