A Middle East Expedition
My wife Linda and I joined an Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) expedition to the Middle East for three weeks in March 2009. We began in Egypt, took a quick trip into Saudi Arabia, and finished in Jordan. It included a seven- day cruise from Port Said through the Suez Canal to Aqaba.
From a modern hotel on the western outskirts of Cairo, we visited the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Step Pyramid of Saqqara. We then flew to Luxor for a wonderful excursion through the Luxor and Karnak temple areas and the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. Back in Cairo, we tried to tie all the ancient Egyptian history together at the National Museum. All along the way we sampled the local food and tested the local handicrafts. And, I might add, we had armed guards protecting us every step of the way. Since Egypt depends on the tourism dollar, they are doing everything to keep the bad guys at bay.
We travelled overland to Port Said where we boarded the OAT ship M/V
Artemis. At daybreak, we entered the Suez Canal. This magnificent creation of man lived up to its reputation, and I can now check off the Suez Canal from my list of Canals To Visit Before I Die. Only a few more to go.
Artemis, manned by a crew from Croatia and Indonesia, sailed through the Gulf of Suez into the Red Sea and around the Sinai Peninsula. We disembarked at Sharm el Shaikh for a bus trip to Mount Sinai. We had seen the bulrushes, the pharoah's palace, and where Moses parted the Red Sea, so it was time to climb up Jebel Moussa to see the burning bush and the spot where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. I took a camel halfway up the mountain, then walked the last 760 steps.
The ship docked at Diba, Saudi Arabia, during the night and the next day we toured a small part of the country ruled by one of the Top Ten Dictators In The World. We were glad to be among the first few American tourists allowed in the Kingdom, but to say it lacked wonder is an understatement.
We left the ship at Aqaba, Jordan, across from Elat, Israel. At Wadi Rum, we visited the Seven Pillars described by Lawrence of Arabia and saw where he cut off the Turkish railway line to Mecca during World War I.
The Lost City of Petra! One of the great wonders of the ancient world! One of the most magnificent monuments existing today. The Nabataeans built it along the caravan route, the Romans conquered it, and after centuries of desolation it became home to wandering Bedouins.
We drove up Mount Nebo and completed our Life of Moses tour. It was from here that Moses saw the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the desert. From Mount Nebo we were able to see the Jordan River, Jericho, and Jerusalem… and feel Moses' pain. The next day we drove to a Dead Sea resort and played in the oh- so- bouyant water.
We made camp in Amman, actually the Toledo hotel, and took excursions to famous historic sites. Monuments at Jerash and Ajlun proved once again the Romans did indeed conquer and control all of western civilization known at the time.
For the next many weeks, I will take you, dear readers, on a day- by- day, adventure- by- adventure trip through the above- mentioned places. Please join me. I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as we did.