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In May of 1999, I went on a two-week trip to the Middle East, visiting both Jordan and Israel. The first week, I visited a good friend of mine from Jordan and we had an excellent time touring the country together. It has a lot to offer, very highly recommended!

Jordan has seen the birth of civilization, and has indeed seen quite a few civilizations come and go. I was absolutely awestruck by Petra, Jordan's premier tourist attraction. It is a city which was built by the Nabateans in the 3rd century BC. The remains you can see today are primarily tombs, carved out in the beautiful rose-colored rocks. It is situated very strategically surrounded by a gorgeous landscape of mountains and desert.

We hired our own guide, who showed us around and made sure that we took advantage of all of the best photo-ops. After entering the site, we walked through a narrow canyon that leads directly to the most amazing tomb in Petra, which is referred to as the "treasury". Obviously, not everyone was lucky enough to get buried in one of these so we also saw plenty of square little holes in the rocks for the ordinary folks.

The Treasury at Petra The Treasury at Petra
Facade of the "Treasury" tomb in Petra Photo-op pointed out to us by our helpful guide

I definitely had a thing for the camels, they seem to be immune to it all and riding them was quite an interesting (and a very shaky) experience!

Hugo on Camel
This guy did not hit a nail on the head, but this poor camel:-(
Petra Monastery
This is the monastery, well worth the climb of about 800 steps.
Camel's face
What are you looking at?

Sal on a Camel Regular folks' tombs
This is not how Sal usually gets around in Jordan ...his BMW is far too comfy! Here are some of the tombs for regular folks

Three Stooges
What do you get when you ask some stranger to take a picture of us in front of the monastery? A horribly slanted picture with no feet! Fortunately, Photoshop came to the rescue...

Besides Petra, we visited numerous other places, such as Jerash (a beautiful city built by the Romans, with amazingly well preserved remains) Wadi Rum (spectacular desert scenery) and the Dead Sea.

Hugo Floating in the Dead Sea
As you can see, it is very relaxing to float around so effortlessly!

Israel map

The next week it was time for Israel. The investigators at the airport were quite intrigued by my travel plans, my background, my job and my entire life, basically. They discussed all of these topics, and many more I'm sure, with me at great length. In the end, I was relieved that they did finally decide that I wasn't going to overthrow the state and let me in.

I made the pictures below on a guided tour to Bethlehem, Yad Vashem (the Holocaust memorial site) and the old city of Jerusalem.

The Western or Wailing wall, with the Dome of the Rock mosque in the background.

Wailing Wall Wailing Wall Messages between bricks
Wailing wall. Men are on the left, women on the right. This is the place where people put their wish lists.

Holocaust Sculpture
This Holocaust sculpture at Yad Vashem made quite an impression on me. I patiently stood in line for over an hour to reach this star under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.