International Expeditions CFO Elaine Woolsey just accompanied guests on our Wings Over the Nile journey. Follow the adventures of Elaine and her daughter Stephanie as they explore Egypt and Jordan. Catch up with Part 1 and Part 2 of their Egypt vacation.
The Sinai's St. Catherine's Monastery, one of the oldest active monasteries in existence, was our next destination via charter flight. Full of religious heritage, the Monastery has the tomb of St. Catherine, the Well of Moses and the Chapel of the Burning Bush with its collection of ancient icons and hanging lamps. Those of us into a little climbing were able to view the grounds from the opposing mountainside.
The following morning we were back in Cairo, leaving our Nile-view room at the Grand Hyatt and boarding our bus for the city tour which began with the Citadel and the Mohamed Ali Mosque. As we sat on the carpeted floor of the Mosque surrounding Bassem, he delivered a timely and appropriate lecture on the Muslim faith, drawing comparisons to other religions. We spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon at the Egyptian Museum, with the King Tut exhibit being the high point for me. After having seen the tomb at the Valley of the Kings, I was surprised at the sheer expansiveness of the collection. The quality and variety of the pieces and the gold and jewels were spectacular. We then had a wonderful lunch in the Khan el Kalili Bazaar followed by shopping for our many souvenirs. I was offered 5,000 camels for my daughter — SOLD. Sadly it was time to leave Egypt and say goodbye to our new friends, Bassem and Hassan.
On to Jordan. We landed in Aqaba and transferred to the perfectly located Petra Movenpick Hotel, joined by our entertaining and informative Jordanian guide, Michel. We spent hours the next morning on our walking tour of Petra, my favorite. The trail into the ancient city through the Al-Siq, the first peak at the Treasury through the narrow opening between the high canyon walls, and the many colored rock formations, monuments, tombs and structures were fascinating to me. No picture does it justice. When everyone had trekked and explored to their limit, some braved the spine-jarring horse-drawn carriage rides back to the entrance.
We finished off this day at the Petra Kitchen, a fun interactive dinner that was a highlight to all and the dishes we prepared were actually excellent! Stephanie was the particular favorite of the head chef. He had no camels, though.
We were now on the final leg of our trip. We toured the Church of St. George in Madaba, where the oldest map of the Holy Land extant was found, and then made a short stop at Mt. Nebo. Mt. Nebo, according to religious tradition, is where Moses was shown the promised land and was buried by God, and where the Ark of the Covenant was hidden. We arrived late afternoon at the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort and Spa on the Dead Sea. Stephanie and I made our way at once to the seaside where Stephanie took a mud bath and we both "sat" afloat in the Dead Sea, the salt content not allowing us to sink. We enjoyed the resort property and had our last dinner (we had to leave the group early to return home and missed the farewell dinner) with friends at a restaurant on the property that was excellent.
Our last day with the group was spent at Jerash, one of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world. We walked the city, trying to imagine the amphitheater full of people, chariot races in the arena, active temples, and the colonnade with busy shops and activities. We were also treated to one of the rarest sights in this part of the world — rain.
We had such a great trip; made so by the places we saw, the food we ate, the things we learned, the guides and staff, but also by our fellow travelers. Thanks for a great time and we will keep in touch.