Booking a cheap flight to Israel was a quick decision. Amazing groups of friends, nice city and a country I have never been to. I expected a funny weekend trip but ended up getting a crazy adventure.
After a terrible strong-turbulence flight, we arrived to a very small airport in Eilat, located approximately 30 km out of town. All passengers started to take selfies in front of the sign “Welcome to Israel!” only to be taken aside by the military personnel a few minutes later and asked to delete them. Fact 1: You cannot take photos of military men or airports.
Passing through security was without any problems and we caught a bus to the city of Eilat. Eilat gets two rainy days per year that’s the reason it’s a favorite winter escape from all around. Aaand guess what. Sitting on the bus and spotting first droplets and then a huuuuge stormy rainstorm made us laugh/complain/swear. Though we had a limited view, it’s obvious that Israel is a desert-like land and the surroundings are unique and very different compared to Central Europe. I always like this change of landscape even though the infertile land may look depressing.
We rented a car for the next few days, as the buses do not run on Saturdays and also some roads were closed due to a city run. The guy at the car rental told us we surely don’t need a GPS in and around the town and so we left to grab a dinner – we ended up in place that can be described as Kosher KFC and had the tastiest Persian Kebab.
By the way, those people. We got to talk to many people, just spontaneous small talks on the street or in agencies. Their perfect English, willingness to help and especially – their hilarious sense of humor made my day, every day.
On Friday, our plan was to visit the Red Canyon. Beauty that cannot be missed, looking similar to the Antelope Canyon in the US. That’s where the mystery begins. The way was supposed to be simple – 4 roundabouts and then right. But after driving one hour without any right turn to be seen, we decided to try all roads leading out of the city. Of course, prior to the trip we checked all of the safety precautions and knew where not to go. After driving 10 minutes, we ended up exactly there. On the Jordanian border.
Spike strips, semi-automatic weapons, military men and women and our car lost in between. After they started shouting at us, my friend and I went to talk to them. In this serious situation, you don’t know whether to laugh or to stay silent. My friend decided to mention he wears a white t-shirt as a sign of peace and said Shalom to them. Luckily, those guys quickly understood that we were lost and told us how to find our way.
Situation solved, we headed there and realised that the Red Canyon is also a name for a shopping mall. Angry after wasting half a day, we decided to head to a close Dolphin Reef. Terrible weather, they say, you won’t see much. Great.
In spite of that, we actually saw the dolphins and even watched the feeding. It was so amazing! Being half-wild, the dolphins can decide whether they stay close to the beach or swim far away to the open sea. Beautiful encounter with these beautiful creatures. You cannot pet or touch them, though.
Changing our plans for the second time, we drove up the hill out of town to watch the sunset. That was definitely the best part of the day, seeing changing colours from above the town and sun setting down behind the bay over Jordan. The impressive Aqaba mosque in the distance on the other side of the bay towering majestically above the town.
We spent the whole evening checking the way to the Red Canyon on every map and app possible. The following day, we finally found it. The best time to go is definitely in the morning. You may well be the only tourist in the area. The Canyon is quite small, though it offers a beautiful walk with stunning views. It’s also free so a great thing to do when you’re on a tight budget. On the way back, we noticed many soldiers and bunkers along the borders. As soon as there was no huge fence, I wanted to take some pictures. Almost getting out of car to take that famous picture like from the Road 66, only my friends in the middle of the desert road, I realized the surroundings are infested with mines. Thank God, I noticed the sign at the last minute!
From there, we tried to find something to eat but due to Shabat everything was closed. We ended up in a pretty expensive Irish restaurant. After that, we decided to visit the Dolphin Reef again as we were promised free entrance due to yesterday’s weather. The guys kept their word and we spent some time watching dolphins again. Being there second day in a row, they seemed to know us and were really keen on being closer to us and splashing water all over.
There is a beautiful outdoor cafe located on the beach. Unfortunately, I forgot the name, but you have to try it! You can sit or lay there, under this awesome tree and bamboo construction while overlooking the bay and jumping dolphins. Jordan still looking amazing on the other side of the bay. A dreamy view!
Saying goodbye to Eilat, we went to a beach bar. The waiter was really kind and it was good fun until I paid 10 € for a single glass of wine. But the sunset was nice.
Sunday was a departure day. As we waited for our bus a taxi driver pulled out and offered us a ride. He was lowering his price every time we said no, until my friend exploded and said to him how many shekels we have left. He just laughed and quickly said BYE, BYEE! and disappeared, haha.
Sitting on a bus that drove along the Egyptian borders, for a change, we did not feel very safe again. Every time we spotted soldiers or weapons or tanks along the way, our driver sped up. On the airport, there was a guy holding a weapon pointing at tourists. Obviously, he was supposed to be a guard but he did not have a noticeable badge or a uniform.
Having my passport stamped in many countries and some of them in the Middle East, my security checks lasted for one and half hours. After almost missing my flight, I was happy to be on the plane! However, after the first minute of huge turbulences I would prefer to be back on the planet Earth again.
Thank you, Israel! I definitely fell in love with you. Your beautiful and kind people, stunning canyons, vast deserts and great food made me want to return again. Shalom!