Welcome to the 
Red Sea

We took a quick trip to the Red Sea, in April 1998. While there, we pounded some brews, and captured some views... I'd like to share some of these with you now. (The views, I mean... don't be silly.)

On this trip, we visited Masada, went scuba diving with dolphins, took a bike ride to Egypt, and went for a trip in a yellow submarine. Read on...

Ben enroute Our goal was Eilat, at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba, where Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia come together...

It may seem counterproductive to go to a desert to chill out. But we didn't waste any time, and got started on the 5-hour flight from London.

Ben was hungry. Dan was thirsty. Certain things can be counted upon irrespective of national borders.

orchid The place where we stayed was called The Orchid. It's a simulated Thai village... not exactly what you'd expect in the Middle East.

Here is what it looks like from the Red Sea. You can see coral beds coral beds in the foreground.

Looking across the Gulf, the dry mountains of Jordan.
If you've ever run into one of these, you'll already know: they're big, they're mean, they're ugly, and they smell.

But enough about me. Check out the camel!

For one week, I became Dan of the Desert.

{short description of image} {short description of image} It didn't take the Twins long to work out where the pool was.

That provided a number of day's entertainment for them. Meanwhile, poolside, the grown-ups soaked up a few rays, soaked up a few beers, and learned about a thing called Israeli Hospitality.



On Tuesday, we took a rental car north to the Dead Sea, and Masada. It was a longer trip than we'd planned on... 220KM through a route that followed up the valley which separates Jordan and Israel. I guess the road wanders across the border in places. There are signs warning of borders and firing ranges... and various military installations. We didn't bother with the Dead Sea. We went instead for a visit of Masada.
{short description of image} This famous fortress at the top of the hill is now accessible by cable car. That's a considerable convenience in the desert heat.

Jacquetta visited 20 years ago, as a student... and had a long, hard walk.

The Romans visited 2000 years ago... and had an even harder time.

{short description of image} Although you can't really see any man-made structure, this picture gives you an idea of the natural defensive advantages of the site.
When the Romans came through 2000 years ago with 15000 guys, this was the last stronghold of 1000 Jewish zealots. The Romans built a huge ramp up the west side of the plateau. After an extended siege, it was apparent that the Romans would overrun the place... and, rather than be taken alive, the Zealots chose mass suicide. Both the Zealots and the Romans sought to destroy the place.
{short description of image} The ruined fortress was abandoned. This Byzantine church, on the top, was built around 500 AD, and (having not been subject of violent attack) is comparatively well preserved. After that, the site was lost to history for over 1000 years. {short description of image}
Here is a view of the northern palace. The Dead Sea is barely visible in the distance.

Looking the opposite direction from there, it was these ruins that were spotted in 1838 by telescope, leading to the rediscovery of this site. It wasn't seriously investigated until the 1960's.

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We found some shelter on top of Masada in the Negev. This was the store room next to the reconstructed synagogue. 
{short description of image} On Thursday, we thought it would be cool to bicycle down to Egypt. We spent a lot of time trying to explain to the customs officials what we were up to.

I suppose the captain of this boat, sinking within sight of the border, probably also spent a bunch of time explaining what he was up to. He might have been blown into shore by the stiff winds.

One of the joys of travel is the "random custom syndrome". How was I supposed to know that Passover meant it would be hard to buy beer in Israel?

Not many people would have thought to hop on a bicycle, pedal to the next country in 100F temperatures, go across a tight, militarized border crossing, exchange money, and order a beer...

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Robyn and Jacquetta in Egypt. We were only there for two hours to try Pyramid beer and ice-cream. We brought postcards and small souvenirs which Jacquetta called 'slinkies'. These were key-rings made of fur and had animal heads. Here we have a ferret looking slinky and an owl called 'hoot'.. 

Diving with Dolphins

{short description of image} There's a place along the coast near Eilat that has imported a number of dolphins. They have them in an area of the Red Sea protected by a perimeter net.

That area has 24 hour open access to the open sea so the dolphins can wander. I guess they are smart enough to know that getting fed is worth hanging around for.

{short description of image} We took scuba lessons here... really cool. It was a first for the Twins, and for me. {short description of image}
We were fortunate enough to see quite a few dolphins... they came close enough to touch on a couple of occasions. This photo does a pretty good job of capturing what they actually looked like.

The dolphins were only a small part of the "show": fish, various kinds of corals, an old shipwreck, anemones, etc.

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The Twins did a great job... as the happy faces testify. I'm proud of them for giving it a go! {short description of image} {short description of image}

The Yellow Submarine

{short description of image} On Saturday, we were feeling down... so we went, in this. {short description of image}
The sub went down to 60 meters. Nice views... {short description of image} {short description of image}
So, your honest opinion... were the sub and this fish separated at birth? {short description of image}
{short description of image} {short description of image} It wasn't a real shipwreck, because there was no Celine Dion music in the background.

This was at 50 meters (150 feet) below the surface.

Twins, scoffing We wrapped up the trip with a really fine evening at Mandy's, a Chinese restaurant run by a distinctly non-Chinese proprietor from Tel Aviv.

You don't tug on Superman's cape,
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger
And you don't take Ice Cream from the Twins.

The next day, it was 42C (108F) in the shade. campfire
We returned to England, where it was 4C (39F) and snowing. snowing

Home Ben Robyn Jacquetta Carina Cameron

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Material Copyright 2001 Dan & Jacquetta Holle