Petra……Amazing!

We arrived yesterday afternoon and are staying in a beautiful hotel called the Beit Zaman.   Last night after dinner we did Petra by Night.  Absolutely beautiful!  The trail, which is a mile and half (downhill!) was lit with candles……very nice.  Then you get a peak of the Treasury through the siq and it truly takes your breath away.  I cried!

I’m so sorry that Ken couldn’t see this…..maybe he is somewhere!  Lots of tears last night…..

This trip has been incredible.  Everyone should have to visit the Middle East.  The people are incredibly lovely and are wonderful to talk to.

Internet has been iffy, sometimes the connections leave a bit to be desired other times it’s only available in the lobby or restaurant so not ever sure when and if I’ll be able to post.

They keep us very busy on this tour, which is OK, but very tiring really.  I would love to have some free time just to wonder around….it’s actually pretty safe most places.

I also haven’t had time to get anymore pictures loaded but will hopefully get to that tonight……after my cooking class/dinner.

Today we visit Petra by day…..it will be a long day but I can’t wait!

L.

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Hello from Amman, Jordan!

I really can’t believe I’m here sometimes!

So far everything has been amazing.  Political issues aside, in both Israel and Jordan everyone we’ve met or dealt with has been incredibly pleasant and helpful.  I have had my eyes opened to this side of the world……everyone should have this opportunity.

Masada was wonderful…..Ken and I watched that movie eons ago…..me mostly with my eyes closed!  It told the history of this place but to be able to actually see it was wonderful.  And with the Dead Sea as a backdrop!

shadow of my cable car to the top at Masada with the Dead Sea in the distance

shadow of my cable car to the top at Masada with the Dead Sea in the distance

Jerusalem was also incredibly interesting…..what a mix of old and new and the history of place overloads your brain.  The old city is a maze of narrow streets, squares and markets.  I couldn’t truly appreciate the religious significance of everything we seen but the atmosphere is consuming…..and the smells in the markets were wonderful.

There were church bells and the call to prayer all happening at the same time.  Visiting the Western Wall was quite the experience watching people so absorbed in their thoughts and prayers.

The Western Wall....separate sections for men and women.

The Western Wall….separate sections for men and women.

We arrived in Amman this afternoon after a rather long, but uneventful boarder crossing.   It’s very different here from Israel.  Tomorrow we do a tour of the city and also to Jerash which is one of the best preserved Roman sites.

The day after tomorrow we head to Petra…..finally I am going to see it.  I think this will probably be the toughest visit of the trip for me……it’s a place that we had talked about going to to more than once….WE had it on our list of places to go…..OUR bucket list!

There is a couple on this trip who both lost their spouses a few years ago.  Jeff started to tell me about losing his wife but someone else came along and the conversation changed direction…..maybe we’ll be able to chat again sometime as I would have liked to hear about it. He’s happy though which is good to see…..I guess he’s gotten “used” to it now. M, his friend is lots of fun too. I don’t know when her husband died.

This trip is really opening my eyes in many ways…..all good stuff to know!

L.

Day 3 Of The Tour

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee

Tonight will be the fourth night….so far so good.

A few people know now that my husband passed away….everyone says sorry to hear that. A couple have asked how and how old he was. It wasn’t that difficult but I also didn’t really want to talk about it either.

I find the hardest part is the nights alone in the hotel room. That is very strange to me. The only good thing is that I’m pretty tired and falling asleep hasn’t been a problem.

The trip has been incredible so far. The sites that we’ve visited and the history associated to them has been pretty incredible. If I were a religious person it would probably be even more incredible. There are many different church groups from around the world on tours here. Israel was conquered by just about everyone over the years….the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Ottomans just to name a few of the more recognizable ones. Today we visted Masada, which has an amazing history. The site is spectacular, including the cable car ride to the top but the views of the Dead Sea and Jordan on the other side are fantastic.

View of the Dead Sea from the cable car up to Masada

View of the Dead Sea from the cable car up to Masada

This morning I woke up in Tiberius, with a room overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Tomorrow we do our tour of the old walled city of Jerusalem. I can’t wait.

It would be so much better though if Ken were here too. I really miss him when I’m checking out of the hotel rooms. We had a routine of sorts for checking the room to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind….I try not to scatter stuff all over just so there is less chance of leaving anything. I’m not too keen on the “one night stands” either….I’ve only been taking out what is absolutely necessary otherwise just to much to have to put back.

We’re in Jerusalem for 2 nights so I can get some “shower” laundry done and it’s have time to dry before we’re on the road again.

We’re up and on the road by 8 each day, which I don’t mind. Dinner is later, usually around 8 as that seems to be when most people eat. That’s OK too but it’s late by the time we get back to the hotel, so long days and not really a lot of time for yourself. But busy is good!

Internet connections have been a bit iffy. It’s been free just about everywhere and I try and check in the with the kids each day but have warned them that if they don’t hear from me, not to worry, it’s likely because I don’t have wifi wherever I am.

Some other excitement too….our tour guide has been hospitalized with appendicitis….so we may or may not see her again. The local Israeli tour guy has taken over for now. Today our bus blew a gasket or something and could only go about 20 miles per hour and finally just packed it in altogether about 15km outside of Jerusalem. They were very good though in organizing another bus within 15 minutes or so and we were on our way again…..we looked like refugees at the side of the road with all our luggage lol….Ken would have enjoyed that little mishap!

L.

First Official Tour Day

Had a great dinner last night that was organized by our tour guide, Yvette. I think she’s going to be a lot of fun!

Met the whole group before dinner…all are people from BC except for two, one from Montreal (who is F our 4th traveling buddy) and one lady, R, from, I think North Carolina! There are 13 of us! More than we thought, but still a pretty small group. Most are a little older than us, except for R and one wife that I think is quite a bit younger. Seems like a fun group….definitely well traveled.

No one asked too many questions, other than where we were from etc., so that’s good. I didn’t want to have to say anything, at least not yet.

We’re off to Haifa today with stops at Caeserea, Akko and Migaddo (sp?) or also known as Armegeddon….great! I quite enjoyed staying put in the same place/hotel for 3 nights….but now we’re on the road with different stops each night until we get to Jerusalem, where we stay for two. We will also be on the road by 8ish each day, so this is when blogging might become a little iffy.

I’m really on my own now, or at least since the tour has officially started I have my own room. I love C and J, but 3 girls sharing a room….a small room with an extra bed….for two nights is more than enough. But it was company and it’s a little different tonight alone in a hotel room….but I will get used to it, right?

I know exactly what we would been doing before….Ken would be either in bed already or laying on the bed watching TV, I would be writing in my journal and reorganizing suitcases……I wouldn’t be sitting here writing a blog post, but it is what it is….my new normal!

I hope we have a big enough bus that I don’t have to share a seat. I usually wouldn’t mind chatting away but not sure if I’m quite ready for that just yet. I’m not sure what to say really…..I don’t want people to say “oh, I’m sorry” or whatever else they may say. But then again, maybe I’m thinking too much about this…..maybe no one will ask me anything!! I don’t want to be anti-social, but I’m not exactly sure what or how to chat about IT. It can be more uncomfortable for them than for me…..I think???

But, I guess I’m crossing bridges before I come to them aren’t I? I must remind myself to not do that!

L.

Another Beautiful Day

spices at the market....the smell is incredible!

spices at the market….the smell is incredible!

I’m finally getting my internal clock sorted out….10 hours time difference here.

Our 4th travel companion arrived yesterday, so got all caught up on her trip over and then walked into old town Jaffa for dinner. Lots of incredible seafood.

I’m not a religious person so some things I’ve seen have been very interesting and eye opening.

Our hotel is full of church groups from all over the world that are here for pilgrimages. Many are healthy, but many are not. It must have been terribly difficult for them to have travelled this far. After arriving here in Tel Aviv, they’ll be heading out by bus for long rides to get to which ever place they are going. Being able bodied, this trip was not an easy one so I hope they can accomplish whatever they set out to do.

Today we’re heading back to the market. The food has been great and we’ve been sticking with Israeli beer and wine, which is really good too.

My travel companions are not early birds, so I am able to have some “my time” each morning, which I’m enjoying. It’s giving me time to get used to being on my own….this is a good thing!

L.

Made It Safe And Sound

Tel Aviv from Jaffa

Tel Aviv from Jaffa

Arrived yesterday (Tuesday in Tel Aviv) around 11:30am. A rather long but uneventful flight.

Once I was on the plane in Toronto and really on my way, I started to feel a lot better about the whole thing. All the apprehension seemed to go….I felt much more relaxed…I was really on my way, no more decisions or thinking about it…it was finally happening.

The hotel is lovely…..right across from the beach. We had a bit of a rest and then headed out to explore. Went through the Ha Carmel market, which had some beautiful fresh produce and incredibly fragrant spices…..all mixed in with clothes and household goods.

Tel Aviv is not an old city so not a lot too see, we will go with our tour tomorrow to a couple of museums…..the place to go is yo Jaffa, a short 10 minute walk from our hotel. We went on a little underground walking tour with a guide from the info centre, which was really good. Then headed to the marina for a seafood lunch and a glass of wine.

It is NOT cheap here!

The internet connection is a bit iffy depending on where you are in the hotel…but better than not having at all, I guess.

L.

Bags are Packed….I’m Ready To Go….

that old table I used for staining came in handy for packing!

that old table I used for staining came in handy for packing!

Mostly packed that is, but am I really ready to go?

I do have butterflies this morning and they are sort of the old kind of butterflies that I’ve always gotten the day before holidays but there’s a few “moths” flying around in their too…..anxiety, nervousness and maybe one for guilt too. I don’t know why I should feel guilty about going on a vacation….maybe it’s not really guilt, I’m not sure exactly what it is I feel.

Tomorrow it will have been six months…..I still can’t believe it sometimes. I still think about him every day….I don’t ever want that to stop….I just need to get “used” to it…..

Maybe it’s too big of a vacation to go on…..maybe a week at an all-inclusive in Mexico would have been a better way to go for the first time…..but who would I have gone with….some of our “couple” friends? That might have been even more difficult.

Or maybe this big vacation is the way to go…..with two girlfriends….just a “girl” vacation. It’s kind of like mega vacation immersion……diving in head first…..that might not be a bad thing. At least I should be “used” to being on my own by the time this one is over!

What am I going to think when I see Petra? What am I going to think when I see Luxor and Dubai? Will I feel sad that Ken’s not with me to share that experience? I don’t want to feel that….I don’t LIKE feeling like that. All this kind of worries me…..one of those “moths” flying around with the butterflies. Maybe I’ll have seen enough before and will have gotten over this before I get to “those places”, those places that were on OUR bucket list….just maybe.

I have a busy day today, which is a good thing too…..it gives me less time to sit around and think about all this….I’m tired of thinking!

I’m off to the Pumpkin Patch/Fun Fair at the local garden centre with the kids this afternoon then out to dinner after. BIL is back from vacation and is coming over this morning to survey my work on the stairs…..they’re ¾ done and he said he’d get them finished for me…..so that will be a treat to come home too.

I’ve also made the biggest mess around here packing…..stuff seems to be all over the place….the kitchen counter, the bathroom counter, the spare room. Everything is plugged in somewhere and charging, shampoo, cream, brush, curling iron laying around ready to go after I use it today. I need to get this all cleaned up and things that I’m not taking back where they belong….I’m sure I’ll be racing around here at midnight tonight doing something.

I do plan to blog while I’m gone….all subject, of course, to internet connections. We’re supposed to have it all the hotels and on the ship but there’s a few days that we have to be up and about and on our way at the crack of dawn (hate that about “tours!!) so I’ll have to see how this is all going to work. And also the time difference….10 – 12 hours, so who knows when a post will appear…..this is after all MY journey after…..I have to keep track of how all this evolves. How and when I finally get “used” to my new normal!

This is going to be a great vacation…..a vacation of a lifetime….my ugly purple SMILE EVERYDAY journal is packed and ready for it’s first entry on the plane tomorrow. I WILL smile every day and I AM GOING TO ENJOY IT!

Journal1

Wish me luck……..

L.

Slowly Getting There

ah sigh......

ah sigh……

I’m just about ready…..no, that’s not true! I haven’t packed a thing, but it is just about ready to be packed. I have some running around to do this morning so I will get that packing done this afternoon. I have too because if I’ve forgotten something or decide I need something else, I only have tomorrow to get it.

I’m testing my iPad today to make sure I can get pictures loaded properly so I can post one or two on here. It didn’t seem to work for me the last time I tried, so we’ll see.

I do have to phone the airline….I seem to only have a seat selection for only one leg of my trip. I know I selected all 4 because I picked the same seat for all of them. I can’t seem to select it online either, so hopefully I don’t end up wasting half my day on the phone…..I like window seats, so I hope there is still one or two left!

I have to clean my house and change the bed…..I like to come home to a nice clean house and bed because I know I won’t want to have to deal with that.

I’m not sure why I just can’t get the stuff in my bag! I’ve at least brought it out but I have put it off and put it off…..I have to do it. It’s different….just so different……

The cats know I’m going away. They take every opportunity they can to lay on my clothes, the luggage or wherever there’s something that I don’t want then to lay on!

I can’t get sidetracked with anything today……I’m really going to have to stay focused!

L.

Hooray for Holidays!

After today I’m off for a whole month!

I’m excited and anxious about this trip. I know I’ll have a good time….I really do BUT it’s just going to be very different. This is my “new normal” so I’d better get it sorted out and get used to it!

I’ll be crazy busy at work today of course. I hate leaving my desk in a mess when I go away. It’s always inevitable that something comes up while you’re gone and someone needs to find something, somewhere in one of the piles on your desk. I hope I can get rid of most of it or at least get it put into some order so that if someone does need something, they’ll be able to find it.

Before when we had a big trip coming up, there were two of us to do all the packing and prep work…..now there’s just me and I’m feeling a bit of a pinch. Ken used to be the one to put the holiday money in our travel account….that bank was on the way home from work or even close enough that he’d pop over at some point through the day…I now have to find time at some point today or tomorrow to get in there.

Going to the exchange kiosk and picking up some Israeli shekels to get us through the first day….another Ken job.

Getting storage insurance on the Mustang….his job too. But it’s my car now so it’s up to me.

I will really need to plan a bit better next time. I’ve had months to do all this and here it is, just about the last day and I still have stuff to do!! I’m not sure why I wasn’t more organized….it’s almost like I’ve been dragging my feet a little bit…

I’ve still got some laundry to do….that never happens this late in the prep. I just don’t get it.

But I will be ready to go by Sunday…..it’s not an option not to be! I tend to work a little better sometimes when I’m under pressure or have a deadline so I’m sure that’s what’s going to happen this weekend.

I get so angry with myself for not doing things when I should have…..but that’s just how it is.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be up bright (probably still dark though…) and early to get everything done. Going to friends for dinner tomorrow night and I have to take an appy…Sunday is pumpkin patch day with the kids and then dinner at the same restaurant that we’ve gone to for 20+ years the night before any of us have gone on holidays……only once didn’t we go when our daughter was going to California and they had a car accident 5 minutes after leaving the house! No one was hurt, only the car which ended up delaying their holiday by a couple of days….call it what you like, superstition or whatever, but we make sure we go all the time now!

Had an email from the tour company that there has been an itinerary change for the cruise….no mention of what the change is only that they would advise as soon as they had more information. I hope it’s not Luxor/Karnak, but if it’s for security reasons, I’m not going to complain.

Even with everything left to do, I am starting to finally get a little case of butterflies….which I’m hoping is excitement and not anxiety.

It’s just so different……so different……

L.

Throwback Thursday

I love these! They make me go back through old, or some not so old, pictures and remember so much….so many good times that I think you just don’t really appreciate when they’re happening because you really don’t ever imagine them not happening forever….things we did and thought we were going to do so much more.

These pics make me happy!

Happy Days!

Happy Days!

This picture is not too old. It’s from 2004 and we had finally made it to one of our mega bucket list places. We had managed to get a good deal on a cruise in French Polynesia.

Bora Bora was where we really wanted to go, but it was pretty cost prohibitive for visiting just one island and the time it would take to get there just seemed unrealistic if we weren’t going to get to the other islands too. This cruise not only included Bora Bora, but an overnight there and a lot of the other islands too! I had never heard of “Huahine” before we booked this trip.

We went with our friends D & D and Ken’s brother and his wife and had so much fun on this trip. The weather was spectacular and of course, there is no place more beautiful, and almost unspoiled, than French Polynesia. The cruise was 10 days, on a smaller ship, which was great and the islands we visited were beyond beautiful. We went on motu picnics, we snorkelled, we swam with rays and sharks, we are poisson cru….it was one of the best vacations ever! After the cruise we spent 5 days on Moorea, which was incredibly relaxing….lounging around the beach and pool through the day, gin and tonics for happy hour in the evening before dinner with limes that we’d picked off of trees. We ate in a couple of restaurants that were literally in peoples backyards….some of the best food we ate the entire trip! Apple pie at a café that cost $18! It was not cheap there but it was worth every dime we spent….we definitely had plans to go back and just about did a few years later…..

Beer and the $18 piece of apple pie!

Beer and the $18 piece of apple pie!

These kinds of vacations, not necessarily the cruise part, with white sand beaches and lots of sun were Ken’s favorites.

I’m packing the same dress I wore on the “formal night” of that cruise. It’s old now, but a pretty basic black dress, rather timeless I think….and it still fits! The cruise part of my trip also has formal nights. I’m not sure if I will bother going…..but will pack my dress just in case I decide I do want to go to one….you never know!

I’m so glad we did this trip….I so wish we could do it again. But I have those memories and that is what counts!

L.