Israel, Palestine and Jordan – a journey through countries full of history, culture and beauty that warmed my heart with the most wonderful people and sights.
Truth time, prior to my impending two-week trip I was a bit anxious about the whole thing and I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. However, it turned out to be a fantastic experience, better than I could have ever dreamed, and I soon started to realize that prejudices had probably blinded too many pairs of eyes, including mine.
I hope these photos can both represent the beauty of those places and help others open their eyes, too.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
My journey started in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest and also most modern and vibrant city. The beach may be the main draw, but Tel Aviv is more than its famous strip of sand, and has recently become a real playground for all art and architecture lovers like me – not surprising at all given the flow of creative energy which runs through the city. A local and tourist favorite, the ultra-modern Museum of Art contains works by Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Jackson Pollock and the world’s largest collection of work by Israeli artists that provided awesome sightseeing opportunities.
One the most memorable moments of my trip was getting lost in Jerusalem, a kaleidoscope of ancient religious sites. It’s a uniquely powerful place, regardless of your beliefs, and while wondering through it you can’t avoid feeling overwhelmed by its significance.
Ridiculous as it may sound, the best way to discover the Old City is to get a little lost. I walked for hours on its cobblestone roads, observing the social interactions and cultural manifestations of its residents, seeing how similar yet different they all were.
At the heart of the Old City and just a stone’s throw beyond the Wall is the Dome of the Rock, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and one of the most sacred places for Muslims. It is a very sensitive place but probably one of the most representative symbols of Jerusalem. As I approached the shrine, I was amazed by the gorgeous mosaic tiles, the golden dome and the relaxed atmosphere. Then, off in the distance, I saw the Mount of Olives, and it finally hit me: I was physically standing on Temple Mount, one of the most world-renowned, iconic and marvelous locations in the world. I was absolutely mesmerized.
Floating in the Dead Sea was also truly amazing. With a salt concentration of 34%, your body floats in the water without effort. It’s actually difficult to swim and the sensation you get is quite strange and unexplainable.
While bobbing 430 metros below sea level, I let my mind wander. I watched the mountains turn purple and the water illuminate around me, reflecting the red sky. Across the lake, I could see the twinkling lights of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jericho in Israel. The scenery was magnetic. Floating in the Dead Sea at sunset was a magical experience that I will never forget.
Visiting Jordan was definitely a highlight of my winter adventure. I’d wanted to see Petra for so long I could barely sleep with the excitement the night before.
The thing is, every corner of the world is full of beauty and undiscovered mysteries, but Petra is one of those places that really manage to stand above the crowd.
I entered the city through an impressively narrow gorge called the Siq, almost 2 kilometres in length, with impressive 70+ meters rock sides. From the moment I walked into this spectacular red canyon I was dazzled by the majesty of the Lost City, and when I finally got to the ruins, all I could muster was a simple, breathless, “Wow”.
I’d wanted to visit Petra for so long I could barely sleep with the excitement the night before. It was incredible. It was everything it promised to be and more. It was like a shock of light, colors, fragrances and sounds that stretched the limits of my imagination.
From the moment I entered the red narrow canyon of the Siq I was dazzled by the majesty of the Lost City, and when I finally got to the Treasury, all I could muster was a simple, breathless, “Wow”.
It was about four in the afternoon when I started up the 850 steps to the hillside facade called the Monastery. During our hike, I passed by dramatic cliffs and rocks, Bedouins selling their goods, and many many donkeys. Soon enough I turned the corner and found the stunning Monastery towering over the rest of the area. The colors, the hand-carved details, the enormity, the history, the beauty. A few steps away, I saw two strange signs reading: “All directions” and “the end of the world”. My legs were instantly relinquished from tiredness and all my senses became completely captivated by Petra’s most colossal vision. Who knows , maybe I really was at the end of the world.