Petra day 2; (mis)adventures in Israel.

Petra Travel Blog

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It's not that we weren't utterly exhausted from our 20 km trek through Petra the day before, because we were. But this was Petra! We had to head back.

And so we did. We trudged the 2.5 km back down to the gate and headed in to Petra for our second day. This time, though, we were going to try another route in and then climb up to some of the high places. Instead of venturing through the Siq, we headed off down a wadi (a dried river bed). This was like any typical river bed strewn with rocks for the first 30 minutes or so, but then the cliffs began to close in around us and we started twisting and turning a bit more.
Then the walls really closed in until we could touch both sides, and the "path" began twisting and turning and dropping all at the same time. This was great!

I started climbing up the walls by putting one leg on each side so we spent some time do various photo sets, me pretending that I was actually some uber spy 100 meters off the ground or something, a la Tom Cruise in MI2...or 3... whichever it was.

After an hour and a half or so, we emerged out of the ravine and started exploring some new tombs we found. Then we began our ascent to the High Place of Sacrifice, a ledge perched high above the main part of Petra. It took a while to get up there and we took some breaks for water and photos, but we made it and spent a good hour posing and doing handstands and seeing how close we could get to the edge of the cliff.
We got some of my favorite photos here and I was really happy we made the trek up. We were about 4.5 hours in at this point so we started heading back as we needed to check out and catch the bus south  to Aqaba, the port city that also serves as the border to Israel.

Here I made a bit of a blunder. Seeing as how we'd spent about 14 hours the previous two days hiking, I suggested we stay in Aqaba and try to go to the beach instead of continuing into Israel and onto Jerusalem as originally planned. Well, the public beach was awful but we relaxed a bit and were excited about the prospect of Jerusalem the following day. But that didn't happen...

We set off in a taxi for the border around 11 in the morning, hoping to make the 2 pm bus to Jerusalem.
After having my bag completely combed through at immigration and then having to repack it, we hopped into a taxi to go to the bus station in the town center of Eliat. And then...

Apparently, we had the "good fortune" of arriving on the day before the holiest day in Israel. What this meant is that there was only one bus that day, and it had left at 10. There would be no buses on Thursday, either, as everything stopped. No buses, no stores, no restaurants, no TV(!!), nothing! Crap. This meant that we were going to be stuck in Eilat for the next two days, with absolutely nothing to do as everything was closed.

Well, the "helpful" taxi driver started going on and on about what we should do, how all hotels were full and he had a good deal for us for about 140 bucks a night.
I'd already concluded that this guy was full of crap and was starting to doubt there even was a holiday. He finally took us to the center and then demanded 60 shekels (almost 20 bucks) for the 3km ride. HA! I pretended not to hear and handed him 30 (I had read and been told that the price was 20-25, but I only had 30) and he started arguing and threatening to call the police. I told him to do it! I pointed to where we were staying and told him to bring the police. He started ranting and raving and started dialing on his cell phone. At this point I pulled out Jiyoung's camera and walked behind to take a pic of his license plate and he then sped away.

By this point I was kind of freaking out and we frantically went into the first hostel we saw to determine if there was indeed a holiday, and if there were in fact no more buses.
Beach in Eilat.
Affirmative on all counts. We were stuck! We found an insanely priced room after all the dorms were full and were told we'd better hustle to a grocery store for food or we'd be hungry for the next day and a half! We went to the store and got a first hand look at how expensive Israel is as cereal was about 10 bucks, as was peanut butter, and even a bottle of juice was over 5. Yikes!

We wiled the day away yesterday at the beach, although we only swam for about 5 minutes because the water was freezing! All the Jewish TV channels were off for the holiday, but our hotel fortunately had CNN and BBC. I spent lots of time hearing about the economy collapsing, and learning that my 3 grand I have back in Korea is now only worth 2,100 because the currency continues to drop. Yay.

We awoke this morning and made our way to the bus station to catch the 7 o'clock bus to Jerusalem. After getting tickets I learned that Israel was in a different time zone (two days here and I just now figure this out!??!) so our 1 hour wait has morphed into two. We still have about 45 minutes before the bus arrives but we've had some tea and pastries and are looking forward to getting out of Eilat. Next stop: Jerusalem!

Until then...
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Beach in Eilat.
Beach in Eilat.
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photo by: vances