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Pete and Elaine's Travels

Hello all,
Welcome to our Travel page.
This is where we will try to keep a record of our travels beginning in 2011
-we will update it as often as we have time! Of course we are not continuously travelling, we come home after each journey!!!

Our first itinerary ;-
20th January to 23rd January, San Francisco
23rd January to 19th February, touring north and south islands of New Zealand
19th February fly to Sydney, Australia where we will be staying until 25th February,
26th February, land at Heathrow airport

Second journey;-
We took the caravan through Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, when we did lots of walking, sight seeing, painting and reading.

Third itinerary;-
To celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary, on Wednesday September 7th 2011, we fly direct to China, with a short stopover in Dubai. On arrival in Beijing, we join the tour with Wendy Wu, spending the next month travelling the length and breadth of China.
We finish off the holiday with a couple of days in Dubai, returning home on October 7th.

Fourth journey;-
29th January to 16th February, South Africa
16th February to 20th February, Zambia

fifth journey:-
USA, September 4th to October 7th 2012

sixth journey:-
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flying January 19th 2013

Seventh journey:-
India and Nepal, flying November 21st and returning December 5th

Eighth journey
Chile, flying January 22nd and returning 4th February

Ninth journey
Namibia, flying on July 24th and returning on August 11th

10th journey
would you believe it, the 10th and off to Western Australia on July 6th finishing off in Singapore on the way back

And so to the 11th adventure, Secret Lapland, January 20th to Monday 25th January 2016

Well unbelievably the twelfth journey, we fly 18th March to Myanmar via Bangkok, and cruise on the Irrawaddy until April 3rd

And onto journey 13, from October 7th to October 18th, the Silk Road in Uzbekistan.

Journey 14 begins on Monday 6th March, 2017 when we travel to Southern India.

Now Journey 15, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,
May 14th to May 22nd 2017

Journey 16, Copenhagen and Stockholm, September 6th to September 14 th 2017

Journey 17. Peru and the Amazon

Journey 18. Russia, September 29th to October 14th 2018

Journey 19, Armenia and Georgia, May 8th to May 21st, 2019

Journey 20, Alaska, July 14th to July 26th, 2019

Journey 21, Jordan and Jerusalem, September 17th to September 26th, 2019

Diary Entries

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Location: Dead Sea, Jordan

We had quite a long excursion today from the hotel. We set off along the east Bank of the Jordan and our guide pointed out Quram( not surehow its spelt)? Where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in some caves there . Only one is held in Jordan and that is 16 m long.
The Dead Sea itself is about 450 m below sea level and ears popped as we climbed.
We had full view of Palestine across the water. 48 per cent of Jordanians have Palestinian roots. Many Palestinians have stayed and cultures have intermingled as the government offered Jordanian residency.

The Dead Sea is shrinking by astonishingly 1 and a 1/2 metres each year. It is quite a large body of water measuring 80 km x 18 km.

Our route today took us back along the Great Rift Valley through the more affluent western side of Amman to Jarash. A poignant reminder of what lies locally was the passing of the roundabout dedicated to the murdered captured Jordanian pilot. How sad that was.
There was a lot of traffic. The only way to travel in Jordan is by private car, uber or taxi as there are few national buses and no trains. Nearly half the population live here and a million people from Madaba drive here daily for work. Not surprising then the traffic jams.
By law cars must use petrol and the price of fuel is surprisingly high.

It was quite an interesting and varied journey. We passed through the wealth of Western Amman and came upon gypsies multicoloured tents followed by a very poor Palestinian quarter before we got through the fertile valleys to reach the arcahaeological park of Jarash. This was a wonderful place of the ruins of a Roman town. 65 percent is still unexcavated. The Romans settled here because of the source of water from the river and there is abundant evidence of their way of life.
The park is known as Jordan's Pompeii. The remains are in a remarkable condition. We first had a guided tour and then spent some time wandering round colonnaded streets, temples, arches, race track and mosaic floored stables. There were 15000 people here twice a day for seven days in its heyday which indicates how many resided here. We even had a bagpipe rendering in the amphitheatre by two army veterans.

We weren't late back to the hotel as we had our unique floating experience in the salt water of the Dead Sea. At 37 percent you could certainly taste it and the water found its way into every slight abrasion younmight have. The beach is well set up for the experience with its towels, showers and life guards who have squirty water bottles to irrigate the eyes if salt water gets in. And they were certainly like gold as it really stung. It was a strange experience and took some getting used to. Bearing in mind that you are only supposed to be in the water for a maximum of ten minutes to avoid damage to the skin, we knew when time was up as the skin started to itch. It was quite difficult but by the time the ten minutes were up, I was just getting used to the motion of the waves. A lot of people were covering them selves in the mud but our guides said bear in mind the number of feet and bodies that have passed through it, it might not be the most hygienic thing to do. One thing that is recommended is to wear shoes as the floor was very rocky.
Certainly unique and something to try. Although Pete said never again!

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Location: Dead Sea, Jordan

We leave the 37 degrees of Petra to go north. It is probably the right time to visit as the crowds will be heaviest in October and November which is the peak period to come.

We are now travelling to the Biblical lands and to remind us, Aaron's tomb is visible from the top of the highest mountain in the area. Of course it cannot be verified that his body is really in there but it is a firm belief.
I didn't know that Moses had a profound stutter which is why he kept Aaron close.

So, we are off now along the Great Rift Valley which stretches from Eastern Europe to the Dead Sea at the lowest point.

Our first stop today was at a terrific viewpoint overlooking our initial destination , Ash Shabak, originally known as Royal Castle, which is an ancient Crusader Castle. It was a stunning view enhanced by the arrival of the goat herd, shepherded by young boys, donkey and dogs. We were warned by the guides not to touch the dogs. Dogs and pigs are thought to be unclean and a Muslim must wash his hands seven times to become clean again. Maybe this would originate from the distant past when dogs transmitted rabies, who knows!

We proceeded onto our guided tour of the castle which is still being renovated. In side the castle was ruined but the walls were intact because the locals couldn't remove the stones when the crusaders left.
It is in a tremendous position and easily defended. The Crusades themselves were know as holy wars to spread Christianity into Muslim lands but in fact there is a more pragmatic reason, i.e. The castles were built on the trading routes with very rich pickings.!
The crusaders had little difficulty in conquering the land as people lived in a tribal area and it was relatively peaceful until a trading caravan was attacked. Saledin then retaliated and this castle in particular was held in siege for two years. It only succumbed when the secret tunnel used for replenishing supplies was discovered and cut off and Saledin proceeded to defeat the Crusaders up to the Sea of Galiliee where they had their headquarters.

Once on our way, we had a fascinating personal talk from our tour guide, Osama who said his name had caused concern when visiting other countries for obvious reasons. It is this sharing of information that we relish as it gives such an insight into local way of life.
Osama described in detail a very complicated procedure for getting married. Nowadays many of the marriages aren't arranged. He met his wife on a blind date set up by a group of friends who had prodding from his mother! He knew his wife ten days before he was engaged. Because she was from a different tribe the two tribe leaders and co met to discuss and give permission before legal papers were drawn up, including the cost of the dowry. Seems very intricate, would we have bothered I ask myself!!!

Osama also gave us a demonstration on how to wear the head scarves... I have bought one and wore it to great hilarity and I must say it is very cool to wear. He showed that there are many different ways to wind the material round his head according to the message and the sex of the person. Mine was wound to a message I didn't want to give!

He then turned to Islam. The word itself means surrender to god.....three are 99 names for god in Islam. Many of the sources and origins and beliefs are the same as Christianity. We always thought that pilgrimage was a religion duty but it relies on wealth and health of the Muslim as to whether he goes or not. One fact Osama did mention was that Isis have killed more muslims than those from any other faith.

And so onto lunch. We stopped at a Jordanian house in the city of Madaba. The female owner has a grant from the government to convert his house into an eating place to cook traditional Jorfodanian food. The meal we had was called an upside down meal. First the chicken is put in the pot with spices, then the vegetables and then topped with rice. The whole dish is turned onto the plate so the ingredients are the other way round.

I must say it was quite a shock leaving the empty barren space of the desert to arrive in Masada. The city appeared like another mirage in the distance as a vast sprawling conurbation. This is a traditional Jordanian town where buildings are at traditional levels. It is a busy place where dress and customs are also traditional, many burquas in sight but few are full veil. It seems a poorer area and is not touristy although it is one of the recommended places to visit and the lunch stop was recommended on Trip Advisor. Is that a recommendation!!
Pavements were crumbling and there were many potholes in the roads. Traffic regulations here are seen to be merely suggestions so it is quite entertaining to try to cross the road particularly when in a big group.
In the outskirts we passed small encampments which seemed to be refugee camps. Every where there is litter and the government has acknowledged that the country has a big issue. So much so that next week there is a litter clean up campaign with schools and employment places closed so that everyone can join in.
So why come here. Forty per cent of the population are Christians as this is the place where Moses was buried, albeit in the valley of Moab, although in the scriptures it was forbidden for his burial place to ever be revealed. It is also the place from where Jesus went into the River Jordan to be baptised.

In this city is the Madaba Greek Orthodox Church of St George which is just a short walk from our lunch stop. This is the place where an ancient map is fixed into the floor. It is the original mosaic of the holy land and ancient Jerusalem and is superbly intricate and very well preserved.

It was just a short ride from here to the top of Mount Nebo. This was a beautifully peaceful place. We loved it here. On the top is a memorial church dedicated to Moses and was built and maintained by the Franciscan Brotherhood who purchased this and the surrounding land in order to keep it sacred. And it certainly did feel Sacred. A very quiet place. There were beautiful views of the Rift Valley and of the Dead Sea, with Jericho and Jerusalem visible beyond the West Bank. This is where Moses is first to have shown his people the Promised Land Stretching out in front of him. Moses did not reach it however as he died which was his punishment for disobeying the Lord when he struck the stone.
The memorial church itself was very plain on the outside and the body of the church looked a bit like a warehouse, once inside you realise how special this place is. The outer building is constructed over an original church and there are walkways over the mosaic floors dating from 535.BC. Once excavation started, it was realised that there was second layer of mosaic floor below the one seen. The top layer was taken up and hung on the walls revealing the floor below which has such intricate detail. An amazing feat.

And there was such a feeling of peace in what is still a working church.

Last today, we set off down hill to the lowest point on earth to our hotel on the Dead Sea, which has its own private beach.
It is the Holiday Inn Resort and is absolutely fantastic.
Dinner was a delight after happybhourcat the bar, very busy from tour members as this is the first alcohol they have encountered.
At the end of the meal there was a belly dancing show! Near the beach. Across the water 18 Kms away are the shores of the West Bank of Palestine and above in the hills shone the lights of Jericho.
It was all quite unreal.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Location: Petra, Jordan

What is there to say about today other than fabulous and remarkable!

The ancient archaeological site is just ten minute tea drive from the hotel and we set off at seven to avoid the 31 degrees of heat and the crowds. A good ploy although we did spend nine hours exploring.

The morning was taken up with a guided tour and it was just fascinating. Once through the dozens of hawkers, many of them children, and the dozens of camel, donkey and horse and cart drivers offering rides at extortionate prices, we were reasonably left alone to enjoy the monuments.

It is not known when the city was built but it began to prosper in the first century BC as the capital of the Nabatean Empire which grew rich through its trade in frankincense, myrrh and spices. It was later annexed to the Roman Empire and a lot of the original Roman Road remains in incredibly good condition.

Petra certainly could not ever disappoint anyone! It is a marvel worthy of its inclusion in one of the ne Seven Wonders of the World. It is a World Heritage Site and is such a memorable place. From the entrance, there is a half mile walk to the Bab Al Siq which is the gateway to the city. Brilliant for defence, this is a natural split in the mountain, about ten feet wide and 300 feet high.
Also known as the Rose red city because of the colour of the rock, there is plenty of colour in this gorge. Running along each side are cleverly designed water channels which divert the water down to a constructed basin in the city.
Here and there are monument, tombs and niches leading down to the main start of the necropolis area of the city where the Nabataens built tombs with intricate carvings to bury their dead. The main tomb is the remarkable
the Treasury which comes surprisingly into view with such a wow moment, appearing as a sort of mirage when the ravine can't get any narrower.
A spectacular place. The facade is forty metres high. The carvers were extremely skilful taking six years to complete. Work sensibly began cutting into the mountainside from the top. Archaeologists discovered a third layer thirty metres below the ground and some of this has been revealed. This proves that the floor of the ravine was originally so much lower (about thirty metres) but has been built up by debris deposited over time by flash floods.

We continued to walk down the ravine past numerous tombs towards the main area of the city where the people lived in the caves in the mountainside. There are even temples, churches, a colonnaded street, a Roman style amphitheatre.

The earthquake in 363 AD and changes in trading eventually lead to the abandonment of the city until it was rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer. And subsequently, the excavations and restoration began.

Thank fully. And we learned that we had completed an almost seven mile walk!!

And so we returned to our hotel very tired but very happy bunnies having survived and dodged the escaping, charging mules and donkeys along the way.

Our last night in this lovely hotel, which we have learned was originally the old village. The site was settled in the 1800s by the local tribe called Al Nawafleh who used abundant stones to construct homes and establish a village which today forms the hotel complex. Over a period of time the surrounding land was terraced and planted with olive and fruit trees and farmed by local tribes members ....the site was redeveloped and is currently run by the leader of the tribe after the villagers left in 1975 to resettle in the new city of Petra. The staff are all members of the same tribe and the income generated by the surrounding land and the hotel is used within the community for social help and support.

It is a lovely place and one we can thoroughly recommend.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Location: Petra, Jordan

Another story to tell today with the early morning camel ride, just fifty minutes but long enough. A very uncomfortable ride but we were glad we opted to do it. It's a very peaceful way to travel. We spent a lot of the time trying to identify the myriad of tracks in the sand from the camel's back, not noticeable when out in a 4 x4 drive. There were lots of animal footprints and insect tracks. Fascinating and fun to do but we have now done that one and it won't be done again! Our legs are still wobbling.

We travelled soon after returning to the camp as we needed to be at Little Petra this afternoon. The scenery was spectacular as we travelled north along the Kings Highway, the site of Moses journey into the promised land. Our coffee stop couldn't have been better positioned overlooking the gorges and Valleys. It is very hot indeed with not a cloud in sight.

We soon arrived into the archaeological site just outside the town of Petra and it was amazing. We loved the gorge with its Treasury, tombs, caves and water systems. An incredible place and this is supposed to be the precursor for the main archaeological site of Petra.
Can't wait. It will be an incredible day tomorrow.

Our hotel for two nights is in the Old Village Hotel set in the rocky hillside above the city of Petra. Here there are individual stone villas and courtyards set around ancient stone remains. This land was owned by a tribal leader and the tribe lived in the caves set in the hillside. They grew olive trees, some of which are still here. The leader decided to build this holiday village hotel from the original stone and it opened two years ago. It is a superb place. From the balcony at dinner there is a lovely view of the town which has lots of coloured lights, making it very pretty. It is a resort style place with its spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gym, restaurant s etc. And we have a fabulous suite of rooms with our own little courtyard.
Another 'dry' hotel but this is sheer luxury in traditional Arabic style. And the food was good as well withnplenty of choice.
It's location couldn't be better with only a five minute drive to Petra.
Just as well as we are setting off at seven in the morning to explore the ancient remains before the crowds arrive and before the sun gets too hot.


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Recent Messages

From sister again
One of the most fascinating, if not THE most fascinating accounts you have ever written. xx
Response: It's such a lovely country and am glad you are finding it as fascinating as we have. And a bonus is the sun but a bit too hot at well above thirty on some days
Xx
From sister
Absolutely fascinating account so far. xx
Response: Younwould love it here, such a fabulous place. It makes the situation in the surrounding countries all the more sad. We can envisage Syria being similar in many ways.
Xx
From angela
brilliant photos and such dramatic scenery. really enjoyed seeing them all
Response: Xx enjoy your visit to Canada
From Jayne
Living vicariously through your words. 😊
Response: We are glad that this has reached you across the water
Xx
From sister
Hope you have arrived safely and I look forward to reading the blog. I always enjoy my vicarious travelling. xx
Response: We are here and safe and sound, with lovely blue skies and a very pleasant place to be.xx
From Little babbie
Hello Parents,

Have you tried guinea pig yet. They were displayed on all the market stalls when I went. Usually with a red pepper or apple stuffed in their mouths. Sounds like you’re having a great time.

Have emailed several times but they are all bouncing back xx
Response: Hello babbie, we have seen several roasted and live guinea pigs, we plan to taste one before we leave, we have had alpaca, found that a bit tough!
From Sister
Glad you are safely there and look forward to reading your blog. XX
Response: A week gone already!!
From Your sister
Enjoying the vicarious travel, as usual. XX
Response: From inside of your dry home we presume
From Mike and Anne
Hi glad your holiday is going well. Enjoying reading your blog interesting as ever. Looking on the bright side a 'dry' March will help with the medication xx
Response: Dry and searing heat, but much better than rain although there was a terrific downpour in the night. Hope all,is well
Xx
From Sister
Maybe it is really me, accompanying you surreptitiously to keep an eye on you. I have never been called 'scary' before, even by students. X
Response: Mmm, how do you know that!!
From sister
Looking forward, as always, to accompanying you on your journey. XX
Response: We have an Aunty Dotty look alike with us in the group, mannerisms the lot! How scary is that!!!!!!
Xx
From Sister
Delighted to be back on my vicarious travels. Sounds fascinating already. XX
Response: It all seems a bit surreal to be standing in these historic places dating back to the first century BC!
From Kathy & Ken
So jealous - looks like you had another amazing adventure x
Response: Keep stashing away the money whilst you work!!!!!
From Angela and Gilbert
What an experience, can't wait to view the pictures
Response: It was indeed! Now waiting at Bangkok airport for the flight home
From KB
Hola parents,

You look like are having a fab time. Just catching up on your blog. Keep safe xx
Response: Hello babbie
Am trying to get blog up to date, wifi very iffy, hope you had a good easter
From Sue Brockwell
Happy Easter. Sounds a fascinating hol. Now in Isle of Man. House with lovely views out to sea. Drive across island and lunch out next plan. X
Response: Ooh, we liked the Isle of Man, it was like going back in timehope the sun shines for you. It has been forty plus degrees here and feels hotter!
From Sister
Fascinating. Look forward to seeing the photographs. I think I would have been annoyed at being kept back because I was a girl, though. That would have gone against the grain. However, we have to respect cultural differences if we are visitors! XX
Response: Fascinating is the right word to use. Something to see at every turn
Xx
From Sue and Les
We are having a BBQ tonight a bit nearer home in the illustrious Padstow. We now have full family complement so not a dull moment. Glad you are having a great time. We are enjoying reading the updates.
Response: I hope it's Aussie style BBQ with plenty of steak and fish. Hope the weather is staying kind for you all, you must be well into the school holidays by now, looking forward to seeing you when we get home.
From JB
Brilliant story on 29th July Mother; did Nana never teach you not to get in cars with strangers (particularly naked ones)!
Response: Nan never knew any naked men I am sure!! I can just imaging her comment!!!! And
Well, I wouldn't have minded but he was over seventy and every inch of skin was a chocolate brown colour! When he got out of the car when we got to dad, his comment' I hope you don't mind your wife travelling in a car with a naked man' Father's comment..'No'
You will be pleased to know that your father has tried to outdo you with the hobo look, as he refused to shave, except he didn't look suave, just a slim version of Santa Claus in the making. Once it got hot, it started to itch and it all came off!!!!'no staying power
From Sandra/Dave
Pleased to read you are enjoying yourselves. Nipped round to yours, everything fine, lawn green and neatly trimmed. Weather here not good at the moment, rained most of yesterday, slightly better today. X
Response: Ouch, rain not good, we are now in the heat, 35 degrees, this has been quite an adventure with lots of stories to tell!!! Off,East tomorrow, we are finding that Australia doen't like yahoo so we are finding it difficult to get and send emails. Thank you so much for popping round to the house.
From Anne & Mike
Enjoying your blog. Glad your having a good time xx
Response: Hello both, tried to ring you before we came away but I guess you had not returned from your travels..hope you had a great time. We are now in Exmouth, wifi very difficult, am sitting in the visitors centre with 30 mins free wifi, will try to update blog when I can, all good here, have had a problem with a broken windscreen, stone from a road train didn't like us, all taped up, trying to get to Broome to sort it out...britz tried to send us to the nearest repair place which was 500 miles from here in the other direction! Just going to book a glass bottomed boat trip over the reef, they are trying to get us to go snorkelling but we wouldn't look cool with the woggle under our arms as we are not that confident swimmers
From Lynne
Looks like you are having a great time. It all sounds amazing. We look forward to reading some more! Continue to enjoy x it was lovely to see Christine and Charles We had a good catch up xx
Response: Are your jaws aching then???
You would also like it here! Just finished the first leg of the holiday, now for the northern bit and the heat. Ironic to be away in the British heatwave!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating. Interesting that Elaine's ancestors may have been among the earliest emigrants-albeit compulsory ones. XX
Response: I think compulsory might have been right, dodgy stock as Pete says!!
From Clare & Mart
Enjoy!! xx
Response: A fab place, you would both love this lifestyle. We'll let you know what the Motorhome holds in store for us!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating! Hope you find a woolly jumper shop! XX
Response: Yep, entrance to fish river canyon sold a fleece, weather now much warmer!!!!!!