Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

desert castles

Posted by Hippobean at 11:00 PM
My desert castles pickup did show up and on time. I was worried that i wouldnt have enough time to do the castles and get to the airport on time since I've changed my Tel Aviv flight to an earlier one, so I've called zaid tours the day before, to change the pickup time to 7:30. They were very polite and totally customer oriented.

The drive to the first castle took only about 1 hr. Qasr Kharana was a very small rectangular structure that was most likely used as an caravanserai, or an Inn, a resting place for traders, than a true castle. It had 2 stories and many archways. The architecture looked more moorish. We didnt spend much time there and hurried on to the next. Amra was even smaller but the inside was decorated every inch with frescoes. The small inner dome was beautifully painted. It reminded me of the painted rockhem churches in Ethiopia. However, the paintings showed secular art instead of religious. Amra, built in the 8th century, was both a fortress and a residence for the Umayyad Caliphs. It was interesting, different and quite impressive. Another half hour we reached a fork, iraq to the left and Saudi Arabia to the right. The driver asked me which way I preferred to go. Neither looked appetizing, so I said "let's stick with Jordan". We went left. 5 minutes later, we came to the town of Azraq, which meant blue for it used to have a lake with plenty of water. Qasr al-Azraq was a real castle built with black basalt. The biggest of the 3 desert castles on this tour, it contained an inner courtyard surrounded by rooms on 2 levels, and towers. All the 3 castles were very different from each other and from the crusader castles of kerak and shobak. I've enjoyed all the castles on this trip, but even the Hippo, a castle maniac, had had enough of castles on 1 trip. The driver bought me a very dark and thick Jordanian coffee and we drank it alongside the highway facing distant desert hills. He's from the desert. he told me he disliked the city but had to work, and he longed to be back to the desert. he drew me a map of Jordan on the sand to indicate where we were. "to the north is syria and lebanon. lebanon very small. and on the west is palestine." Hippo thought 'hee hee, yeah, palestine alright. I'll be there tonight'. "on the east, after all this (indicating the long arm of jordan), all this desert, is iraq. and here is saudi arabia.".

The flight to Israel was not full and the actual flight itself only took about 25 mins. Walking down the ramp at ben gurion, heart-felt memories resurfaced. I've been here before and walked on this ramp before. Israel, Israel! The drive to the hotel, zig zagging through the Tel Aviv highrises, showed that not much had changed in these years of my absence. The Renaissance hotel proved to be an excellent choice and decision. Although it's very expensive, it's right on the beach with direct beach access, and I was put on the 9th floor, facing south where I could see the tel aviv promenade all the way to Old Jaffa. At night the promenade was illuminated and so was the St peter's church on top of the jaffa hill. The view was spectacular, and smallLeo and I sat on our room balcony every night to admire and enjoy the view with a cup of tea. Below us, on the promenade and beach, people jogged, played volleyball, strolled on the beach and there were several restaurants right in front of the Mediterranean. I loved this hotel. The amenities were great, the service totally customer pleasing, location superb, with a supermarket, small grocery stores and a bakery just across the street, for water and snacks. Dont mind going back again.

Desert Castles photos:

Tel Aviv photos:



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