Monday, July 20, 2015

Epic Family Trip Notes

There is no way I can articulate everything that we've been experiencing in this trip in a well-written, coherent manner (particularly at 3 am, the only time I found a minute to write the first draft of this post two days ago), so I'll go with slightly disconnected notes in bullet points. I'd love to share photos too, but I only downloaded them into the computer last night. Maybe I'll share some from my phone as well, just because it's easier...
  • We're six eight days into the trip and we've visited: Frankfurt (a group of us, very briefly, during our 7h layover); Cairo (2 days) & Mount Sinai (1 day) in Egypt; Eilat, at the Red See in Israel (2 days); and Petra and Amman, in Jordan (one night each, one morning in Petra - today). Still to come: more sightseeing in Israel, after two restful nights in a Dead Sea Resort, including Jerusalem, Galilee, etc. (then my family & parents will spend 14 rushed days in Europe).
  •  Cairo is pretty chaotic and fascinating. Priceless ancient monuments, ruins and statues on one hand, and trash piles and drab looking apartment buildings on the other, not to mention the chaotic traffic. In spite of that, one can't help but love the country and its people. I hope we come back to visit my brother-in-law & family soon! 
  • Visiting the Middle East during and at the holiday at the end of Ramadan had a good and a bad side. Good side: way less (next to none in places) souvenir vendors, emptier streets, and emptier tourist attractions too -- particularly in the early morning (8 am). Bad side: museum closing earlier (2:30-3pm) and Nile river cruise dinner starting either too early (5:30 or too late 9 pm -- we took the later one and went to bed really late that night). Another good side was lighter traffic around sunset (7 pm) and a bad side was that the Eilat resort in Israel was crowded because of the holiday weekend.
  • It was lovely to visit my brother-in-law's apartment and place of work, even if only for a short half-hour (before the late Nile cruise). Now we can picture where they live how how their lives are in Cairo.
  • Eating all those tempting "exotic" dishes is great, until it's not anymore for several people who get diarrhea or constipation (I didn't get really sick, but felt some cramps, and was kind of constipated for a while). My husband and several other people still had an OK appetite, but were or still are very "loose" for may days, some other people were full-on sick.
  •  Israel (Eilat and surrounding area is all I know so far) is very Western, but very much like Brazil in a way that is hard to explain. How the town is laid out, how the stores are, how people behave, etc. Of course ALL beaches in Brazil are sandy, not rocky like their nice (if small) Red Sea beach.
  • If you stay at five-star hotels you get very spoiled and then it's harder to stay at the simpler hotels (Saint Catherine - bare bones) & Petra (old building). All these fancy hotel stays also lead to youngest nephew in the trip (9) asking grandpa "How many starts is this next hotel?" and making funny disappointed faces at the suggestions that it's one, two or three stars. ;-) (it was four, BTW, and he thought that was OK).
  • One gets used to living off a suitcase after a while, especially because of the previous item. It's annoying, but feasible. 37 days is too long of a period and I'm sure I'll be sick and tired of my clothes and shoes by the end, but so far I think I planned well.
  • We desperately need to plan a trip to come back and snorkel/dive in the Red Sea. My dream used to be to go to the Caribbean and I still want to go, particularly to the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico, but now I know where I should come snorkel. The undersea observatory at the Eilat aquarium was one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen. It was INCREDIBLE! Too bad the pictures don't show the true colors of the fish. I will try to edit them, but I don't know how.
  • I knew from the start that we wouldn't have enough time in Petra. It was a bit frustrating, but with the really hot weather and having to manage 46 people in the group, I suppose I shouldn't complain having been there only from 8 to 11:30 am. The hardest thing is being so close to seeing so many wonderful things and being able to see only part of it. Sigh... Oh, and not visiting the Citadel in Jordan, only stopping outside its gates to take some photos wasn't cool either. But... whatever. 
  • It was very sad that one of my mother-in-law's four cousins who came on the trip had to leave last night. The cousins' dad is very sick and hospitalized and the mom is freaking out while all their four children were in this trip, so she left to go help them and had to cancel her husband's trip to meet her in Israel tomorrow and they are both going to Brazil. We're hoping their dad will get better and recover or else the trip will be ruined for the other three siblings. :-( So please keep uncle Williams in your thoughts and prayers (as well as my uncle Arlindo who is sick in Brazil).
  •  I'm getting several items of my Bucket List crossed out in this trip. The main one was visiting Petra. But I guess that one will be only half crossed-out (sigh). The second one would be the Pyramids, but I still need/want to go to the Valley of the Kings (Luxor), so I'll leave it a half too. ;-)
I'll try to post some photos next!

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