My last stop in Israel is Elate, a resort town located in south Israel on the red sea. From there, I went across the Israel and Jordan boarder to start my journey in Jordan.

It all went very fast, so I didn’t even have the chance to feel excited about seeing Petra in just a couple of days!

Wish I had more time to explore Elate and really enjoy my hotel room which has a big balcony looking right towards the Red Sea. Looking back, I’ve ticked off so many travel bucket list items in such a short period of time and it still feels unreal!

I caught a domestic flight from Jerusalem to Elate and experienced the most stringent security check at the airport. Arriving at the Jerusalem airport quite early alone, with a huge luggage, I quickly became a target in the eyes of airport security staff.

Firstly I was taken to a security officer and asked many many questions. The most asked questions were, “are you carrying any weapon?” “Do you have a gun?” Coming from Australia, where guns are illegal to possess, I don’t even know why to buy a gun if I want. So the answer was always a quick “No.” The second most popular question was, “Who are you travelling with?” I was travelling alone. I guess having a surname nobody could pronounce properly was another problem. I was taken to a second security office. Again they asked me if I carried any weapon. Then they proceeded to open my luggage to scan every single item using an electronic device.

By every single item, I mean literally every. single. item. From my flip flop to my dental floss. While I was waiting, a female passenger was asked to layout all her coins to be checked. She got really upset and offended. I wasn’t upset about being checked so throughly at all. I just worried about missing my flight and delaying the rest of my journey. And I felt a little embarrassed by a male officer going through all my personally stuff in my luggage. But hey, at least you know they take the airport security very seriously and the chance of a plane explosion is minimised.

It only took them two hours to finish scanning all my things in the my suitcase. I was the first to arrive at the airport and last to get onto that plane. But I got on just in time. And landed in Elate safely. How I enjoyed the view over looking the Red Sea from my hotel room:

I even started to take some bokeh shots because why not.

Views in the morning is refreshing. I did go in that big shopping centre and went through the most stringent security check entering a shopping centre lol. I wanted to be able to spend more time in Elate but in a way, it was ok to just do a quick stop over because it was just a little too difficult to go anywhere.

Here’s the boarder of Israel and Jordan! Once again, I answered the question of “Are you carrying any weapon?” departing Israel before heading to the Jordan side a couple of hundreds meters aways.

Entering Jordan! Guess what, it only took a couple of minutes to go through Jordan boarder. The security officer even smiled at me. I was shocked.

It was a sunny and warm day touring around the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River Baptism site.

I didn’t mind 30+ degree heat at all. And it’s always good to see the sun shine everyday. Sun makes people happy. It surely makes me happy. What I love the most about travelling in the warm countries is walking around in the sun all day and sleeping like a baby at night. Who needs artificial light all day anyway?

Oh look, isn’t this red roofed church the prettiest on the lake site? I first saw it while touring Capernaum.

Truth is, there are so many pretty things in Israel. Like those radom stones with chalk drawings on them, and the cute decorations in the restaurant. This must be the ONLY restaurant in the neighborhood. There were hundreds of people waiting to be fed during lunch hours! Despite the huge crowd, we didn’t wait for long to be served. I had the famous fried whole fish fresh from the Sea of Galilee, lamb kabab, a variety of salad. Then finished it off with large dates and black coffee. That was delicious and I could barely move after the meal.

After lunch and short break waking on the the beach, we went off to baptism site on the Jordan River. Plenty of people get baptised here everyday. If you are not religious and just here for sight seeing, you can still soak your feet in the cool and clean Jordan river. I did just that and it was super refreshing!

Want to see more photos? Here more photo posts from my trip to Middle East.

Capernaum used to be  a fishing village located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is said to be the home of Saint Peter. This is a modern Memorial built over the house of St Peter.

The foundations of octagonal 5th-century church, runs of the house of Saint Perter underneath the memorial. It’s also visible through a glass floor of the memorial:

Ruins of the Roman-period town:
Those squares of black stones were windows of ancient people’s houses. Above those black ruins are ruins of of the 4th-century synagogue. Remember I said I love ancient ruins? Capernum is ruins heaven!

Capernaum synagogue:

Look at that – how beautiful is Capernaum?

During the tour to the Sea of Galilee region, we visited the church of the Multiplication in Tabgha. Here are some photos this Roman catholic church. Of course there are lots of fish related objects because this is where 5000 people were fed:)

Wish I had read the Bible thoroughly so I’d be more knowledgeable about all the churches and Bible stories. But thanks to the tour, I picked up a lot along the way.

We travelled to Nazareth in northern Israel where the Church of Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph are located.

“The Church of Annunciation was established over the site where the Catholic tradition holds to be the house of Virgin Mary and where angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced that she would conceive and bear the Son of God, Jesus – an event know as the Annunciation.” – wikipedia

 Photos of the Church of Annunciation:

Different versions of Virgin Mary and the Son of God from different countries are displayed along the way to the church as well as inside the church. It was so fascinating to see how countries styled the mother and son in their own tradition.
This door to the Church of Annunciation dissipated Jesus’ whole life:

Inside the church: This the Australia version – without the sign next to it, I couldn’t figure out this is typical Australian. Maybe I’m still not Australian enough after 21 years?

Photos of the church of St. Joseph:

St. Joseph looked a bit sad here, do you reckon? The statues shinning knees reminded me the foot of John Harvard statue at Harvard University. I know why EVERYONE touched Johns’s feet so much at Harvard University but I’m not sure why people touched St. Joseph’s knees so much. Can someone tell me why?

On the way back to Haifa, I had the chance to explore the Ruins of Caesarea, an ancient Roman city on the Coast of Israel.

King Herod built Caesarea as a luxury city carefully planned 2000 years ago, with streets and monuments such as temples, a palace, roman bath and entertainment sites.

Roman statues out side the theatre:

The Roman Amphitheatre:

Caesarea Maritima-Columns and stones:

The stone of the columns were brought from all over the Mediterranean and Eastern coast, especially from famous quarries of Greece, minor Asia (Turkey) and Egypt.

A stone Coffin

Caesarea Hippodrome:

These are just outside of the entrance to Hippodrome. Guess what were these for originally?

Ready for the answer? Ok, these functioned as toilet back then, 2000 years ago. People went to release themselves in the open air and have a chat with each other before going into the hippodrome to watch a show. Ocean water was the natural flush… Way to socialise!

A fellow tourist offered take a photo of me sitting on these ancient toilet but I quickly picked a spot just in front of it and stood like a lady:)

People were fascinated by that ancient open air toilet

There are many places in Israel that I wouldn’t mind visiting again and spending more time to explore. Mediterranean coastal city Akko (Acre) is one of them.

Steeped in medieval crusader history, The Old City of Akko is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest ports in the world.

Wish I had more time to wander through these wonderfully decorated little alleyways, admire the well preserved stone architecture, try all the colourful deserts in the market, enjoy the sea breeze by the harbour and take more pictures of EVERYTHING.

As we rushed through the sites with our tour guides, I quickly took a snap of the map of Akko old city for future reference.

Here are some photos of major sites:

The harbour

The Citadel – Built on ruins of the Crusaders fortress

The Crusader City – inside and underneath Citadel

Map of The Crusader City

The court yard

From the court yard going underground

Underground Knight Halls

The Hall of Pillars

In the 17th century, a traveller who visited Acre (Akko) wrtoe on a staircase located on the western facade of the Pillared Hall:

“We descend a broad and magnificent staircase all made of stone, wide enough to allow eight persons to walk side by side. Below there are spacious and beautiful halls, supported by large, strong columns…”

I guess this is the said staircase, obviously tourists are no longer allowed to walk on them for preservation purposes.

The stone staircase

Khan al-Umdan

View to clock town out side Khan al-Umdan

Ahmed Al-Jazzar

Walls and fortifications!

Shame I didn’t have time to go along the coast and enjoy the full view of the walls that wrap around the old city from outside. But hey, I made it to Akko all the way from Australia!

The Suk (Market)

The narrow and decorative alleyways

They reminded me those wonderful and good looking alleyways in Tel AvivHow pretty is Israel? Unreal.


floating in the dead seaFloating in the Dead Sea was on my bucket list. Now I’ve ticked it off the list. Was I ecstatic about the experience? Hardly.

I know I could be too critical at times. There’s also a saying: the more you expect, the more disappointed you’ll get. Probably both true.

My floating in the Dead Sea Experience:

The Dead Sea looked deadly gorgeous high above from Masada fortress. It looked wonderful when we drove around it many times too. But the Dead Sea beach we went? Didn’t look inviting at all – sorry for not saying something more positive. I’m not sure if you could go floating anywhere in Dead Sea on your own. Somewhere less touristy, less crowded would definitely make the trip more pleasant.

In any case, this is just the account of my experience going with a tour company. The beach was obviously a destination that all tour buses would go to. It has a large souvenir shop that sells Dead Sea skin products as well as hats, tea towers, pouches etc with “Dead Sea” written all over them. There are a couple of bars on upper level and a changing place with bathrooms, shower rooms and a locker room. It costs 15 shekels to hire a locker. Everywhere was packed with people. People from all over the world.

It was around 42 Celsius degrees when we went to the beach. Normally in a hot day like that, I’d be dying to go to cool water. I didn’t have much desire to go down all the way to the beach that day. Instead, I felt hot and bothered. But hey, who couldn’t miss this maybe once in a life time opportunity to go floating in the Dead Sea! I travelled all the way from Australia to do this. “Don’t be discouraged so easily Yvonne!” telling myself off, I slowly worked out how to utilise the free time we were given.

Taking everything with me,  I went around and down to the beach to explore the whole area before going into the water. Someone yelled out: “Hey, where are you coming from?” Hmmm. I squeezed a very weak smile and walked faster, not in the mood to be friendly just with anyone.

floating in the dead sea

Trying to find the best angle to photograph this crowded, touristy beach. It looked decent from this quiet spot.

floating in the dead sea

After a quick orientation, I went up again, changed to swimming suits and hired a locker to put everything in it including my camera and phone. Feeling much lighter with only a towel and a bottle of water in my hand, I headed to the beach, this time, for a real dip and float.

floating in the dead sea

The beach was burning hot – you could grill your feet without wearing shoes. A fellow tourist kindly made room for me under an beach umbrella. I put my towel down on a chair, sat down and gazed at the water a little bit more. A couple of women fell on  the way back to the beach. It must be very slippery.

I walked towards the water sweating from the heat, took my shoes off right before the edge and went into the Dead Sea slowly. People have warned me to be careful not to get the Dead Sea salty water in my eyes. But sweat streamed down heavily on my face and flew into my eyes. I wasn’t sure which one is saltier, my sweat or the Dead Sea Water. It felt good to cool down in the water finally. Soon my exposed skin was burning like crazy because I didn’t put sunscreen on properly. I grabbed the slippery mud and put it all over my body. The best sun blocker ever! I lied on my back for a little float. It was super easy. You could totally relax on your back, stretch/twist your arms and legs without sinking.

After a while, I walked back to the shore, put more mud on my body and slowly made my way back. There were cold shower facilities along the way back up. I queued a little to have a quick one. The water was much cooler than the Dead Sea water. How refreshing was the cold shower! And my skin, how smooth it was after the mud! Back to the locker and bathroom on top. After a quick shower and changing to my normal clothes, I walked back into the heat. It didn’t feel that hot any more. The bar next to the tourist centre looked my inviting now. So I went in and chilled a little more before it was time to catch the tour bus back. My mood improved dramatically.

floating in the dead sea

Looking back at the trip of floating in the Dead Sea, it was still worthwhile though not overwhelmingly enjoyable. But I did what I’ve always wanted to do and understand the beach was packed because floating in the Dead Sea is OBVIOUSLY on so many people’s bucket list, therefore we’ve got to share the pleasure! 🙂

floating in the dead sea

floating in the dead sea

Israel the country as a whole is beyond amazing. Israeli people are so creative and artistic! Look at those abandoned workers’ houses near the Dead Sea Beach. Aren’t they adorable?

Want to see more photos? Here are many more posts about my Israel trip:

I loved taking a cable car up to the high desert and touring around the ancient fortress Masada.

Israel continues to amaze me and I’m so glad I made it here to keep on learning the rich history around this fanscinating region.

Masada is located near the shore of the Dead Sea, 450 meters above the level of the Dead Sea. To get into the palatial fortress high up in the mountain, we no longer need to hike all the way up through the snake path like ancient people did. A 3-minute cable car ride is all we need. Of course, the option of walking up the Snake Path is available for you if you choose to. I didn’t see anyone on the Snake Path in the 40+ degree heat though. These cable car are quite big but look rather small from a distance, you get a sense about how high the fortress is.

Enjoy the view to the Dead Sea once you step out of the cable car. The colours are so incredibly dreamy and I looked forward to a dip and float in the Dead Sea soon.

Masada was one of many splendid creations by Herod, king of Judea. It was built in the style of the ancient Roman East. “The camps, fortifications and assault ramp at its base constitutes the most complete surviving ancient Roman siege system in the world.”

I adore everything old and beautiful. People have different travel preferences. Some like watching wild life, some like going to beach resorts. I like exploring ancient ruins. Give me any old castle, temple or old side street, I could wander and get lost in time 100% content.

I’ve certainly learned a lot of about of King Herod from my Israeli trip. One clever man he was. Superbly clever. He built a luxurious palace in the middle of a desert, high above the ground. He used the geographically strategic advantage of Masada as  as refugee against his enemies. This palace was well – stocked with food and water, well – equipped for defence in case of a seige.

King Herod even brought water all the way up there to build a large Roman bath house! Imagine having a bath and sauna in the dry desert, 400 meters above the ground! My simple brain would give up the idea immediately but King Herod made it a reality.

Floor plan of the bathhouse. It is really huge!

Sauna room with water holes

As you walk around the site, you’ll find thick black lines run through the walls of those ruins. That is a mark to let visitors know that everything below the black line is part of the original construction while everything above the black line is done by later restoration.

The whole national park is simply stunning, I don’t think any picture could capture its really beauty but I was trying to capture it nevertheless. 🙂

Look how high it is. Ancient people used to climb up by foot!

Over looking the Dead Sea. Falling in love with the views again and again.

Visiting Masada is a must while you are travelling in Israel. In case you worry, the site is well – facilitated with bathrooms, free chilled drinking water, snack bars and a restaurant serving delicious buffet.

Open Hours and Cable Car Operation:

Apr – Sep: 8am – 5pm

Oct – Mar: 8am – 4pm

Most people commented “You are very brave” when they found out I was travelling to Israel on my own. Middle East, is unsafe for travellers in many people’s eyes. My personal experience in Tel Aviv speaks otherwise.

I was of course, a little concerned flying into Israel without knowing anyone but the airport transfer all turned out fine. My hotel room in Tel Aviv, to my surprise, had direct views to the beach. I could see the sun beaming, people running on the beach and colourful paragliders all over the sky, just like they do over beaches in Sydney. Best of all, I could watch sunset on the beach in my room! That was a perfect set up for a day dreamer like me.

My schedule was tight, there were so many places to see, no time for day dreaming. Everyday I was on a day tour to explore different parts in Israel and this country really fascinates me. One day I met Sharon, a (medical) Doctor from Cape Town, who’s been to Tel Aviv before. My trip turned out to be even better.

I was travelling alone and intended to keep pretty much all to myself. My plan for that evening was to walk alone on the beach, enjoy more sea breeze and another beautiful sunset. Sharon called me from behind on my way back to my hotel and asked if I’d like to go for a walk on the beach together. “Sure,” I replied. She looked nice and a company like that doesn’t hurt. But we didn’t just had a little walk on the beach, she took me to the Old Town of Tel Aviv and showed me around. Without her, I wouldn’t know how wonderful Old Jaffa is – that was like the best personal tour ever. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

Looking back to the new town from old town Tel Aviv – a mixed world of old and new:

Approaching the old town:

Iron cannons left from when Napoleon conquered Jaffa in 1799:

The iconic bell tower of Franciscan Church:

Keep exploring… We watched sunset together. There wasn’t a single cloud on the sky, which allowed us to watch the last bit of evening sun dipping into Mediterranean sea. And the wonderful, winding sandstone alleyways – I could walk in those for days! Israelis are such creative, artistic people. You’ll be amazed how beautifully decorated the doors and side streets are.

I’m not a religious person who could tell the religious significance of many old monuments, but words can’t express how much I appreciate the beauty and rich history of Old Jaffa!

Jaffa Port at night.

Tel Aviv is modern and fun with a brilliant mix of old and new. You can feel the relaxed, happy and romantic Mediterranean air in the whole city, day and night. No wonder it’s been such a popular holiday destination for Europeans.Note to people from Jerusalem who said there’s nothing in Tel Aviv: That’s not a true statement. Please don’t mislead your guests:). Old Jaffa is one of Israel’s most ancient cities and there are plenty to do and see. For people who are scared to travel to Israel, please don’t listen too much to the media. 🙂 It’s totally safe to travel to, even for a not so confident, single female traveller like me.

I didn’t know where Rosh Hanikra is; didn’t even have time to Google it before I went. I simple trusted the driver and the tour guide that they’d take me to somewhere rather amazing. They surely did. It was more than an amazing experience.

What is turquoise blue? The colour of sea water here is! Looking down from the top of the cliff, I couldn’t stopping thinking how impeccably, naturally beautiful Israel is.

Following along the board walk, we were about to take a short cable car ride down the cliff to see those spectacular grottoes that used to be only accessible by capable native swimmers and divers. This cable car is supposed to be the steepest cable car in the world, with a 60 degree gradient. One yellow, one red. They are easily the cutest too.

The steepest cable car in the world

The steepest cable car in the world

I was about to explore the grottoes in peace. All of a sudden, groups of screaming school kids rushed to the entrance. I was pushed in every direction inside the tunnel but it didn’t spoilt the spectacular sight.

Walking out of the tunnel, you’d be welcomed by those white chalk cliff faces and more stunning scenery. It felt like a dream.

My selfie skill sucks but who could resist a photo with this dreamy background?

Rosh Hanikra is right on the boarder of Israel and Lebanon. This sign clearly shows the distance to capital cities of both countries from this point.

Across the road from that wall, is the boarder crossing. Residing in a country so remote from any neighbour countries, it still fascinates me how close it could be from one country to another.

I’ve been wanting to see Egypt for as long as I remember, but never had a strong desire to explore Israel. Since I decided to go Jordan and Egypt and Jordan anyway, it’s logical to tag Israel along. This might be a once in a life time opportunity to see this part of the world. You know, Australia is so far far away from everywhere in the world.

My first day day trip started from Haifa which was different from my tour itinerary but somehow things got mixed up. It’s another story and all part of travelling adventure. By the end of the day, I was glad the tour started Haifa because it showed me how stunning Israel is!

I’ve seen the pictures of Bahai Garden on the internet before so I know it’s beautiful. On the other hand, places can look a lot better in photos than reality so I was prepared to be underwhelmed. Oh my. How pessimistic I was – the view to Bahai Garden in Haifa is simply breathtaking! I took numerous photos of the garden but wasn’t sure photos did its justice.:) From top down or bottom up, the garden is just picture perfect from different angles. Look at the amazing colour of sea water – true turquoise blue! I fell in love with the view immediately.

Israel is also a super technology advanced country. The tour bus was well equipped with USB cable charger, free Wifi. Those popular apps like Whatsup and Waze are all developed by Israel. As you can see, there are a lot of office buildings located here in Haifa. The bus windows were nice and clean so I snapped a few city shots of Haifa while we were driving away.

Bahai World Center – a UNESCO World Heritage Site

View from the upper terraces on Mount Carmel

Remind you of somewhere?

Can’t wait to share all the other amazing places in Israel!