Trip Start Dec 12, 2007
13Trip End Dec 24, 2007
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Thankfully I did see some of the scenery including parts of the Judean and Negev Deserts. I have to say that I think the Negev is one of the most hostile looking deserts we have visited. It appears much harsher and less inviting thank any other desert we have encountered (yes, a desert can be inviting). This makes it even more amazing that the Israeli's have managed to not just "tame" parts of this desert but to actually cultivate it and have productive Kibbutzim and Moshavim (communal living and farming communities).
On our arrival in Eilat we took a taxi to our hotel. Unlike most cities, Eilat is actually built around the airport so our taxi ride was literally around the edge of the airport from the town side to the beach side to our hotel, the Neptune. We were wonderfully surprised as we walked into a freshly renovated, Mediterranean style hotel staffed by friendly people. We asked for and got a room with a view - on the 6th floor overlooking the pools and the Red Sea. Amazingly, when we went downstairs again, as we were walking past the reception desk the receptionist asked us if the room was OK! And if that was not enough, later that evening the duty manager phoned to see that everything was OK!!!
The sun was still shining so we wandered down to the beach and sat and watched the world go by. It was really busy and, a few days later we found out why. It was a national holiday in both Jordan and Egypt so lots of people had taken the short bus or ferry ride across the border for a weekend of freedom in Eilat. I say freedom as it really is a very free and relaxed society with a great deal of tolerance. Everyone from bathers in skimpy swimming costumes to Arab ladies completely covered from head to toe in their Muslim Burka's mingled happily along this beachfront.
That evening I went to Synagogue in the hotel where I met some more friendly people and later we joined one of the family's, who turned out to live in Kingston, London, for supper. Supper, where should I start, the food in this hotel can be summed up as INCREDIBLE. We had got a great deal on a dinner-bed-and-breakfast rate and each meal was more impressive than the last. The supper buffets had salads by the dozens, fish, chicken, stews, roasts, vegetables, breads and, in case you could cope (which we did :-) a fruit and dessert array of note! Breakfasts were similarly impressive with arrays of cereals, fruits, yoghurts, breads, sweet and savoury pastries, waffles, pancakes, eggs, salads, and so it went on and on and on... The food was all of a Sephardi style so a lot of different foods from what we normally eat as we are Ashkenazi, the other Jewish group, but nonetheless, DELICIOUS!
As you can tell, we would definitely recommend this as somewhere to stay, see www.rimonim.com/Hotel.aspx?Lang=eng&Hotel=60.