Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Middle East Top Three

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 15th, 2010

It’s that time again! We have just left the Middle East for Kenya, and as promised in an earlier post, I will give my top three list for the area.

This is a little different, though, as we only visited two countries (Egypt and Israel).

Top three favorite adventures:

1.)    Trek through the Sahara Desert

2.)    Swimming in the Dead Sea

3.)    Boating in Nuweiba

Top three favorite sites:

1.)    Valley of the Kings

2.)    Pyramids

3.)    Old City Jerusalem

Worst three moments:

1.)    Illness in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan

2.)    Taxi Ride from Tabe to Cairo

3.)    Staying in Jerusalem Hostel

Top three favorite places:

1.)    Aqaba Desert

2.)    Nuweiba

3.)    Jerusalem

Tel Aviv

Posted by Christy in Posts on 10 2nd, 2010

Well, we really enjoyed Tel Aviv, but I don’t really have much to say about it. It is pretty much like, well, America. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t know it was a beach city, but I guess if I looked at a map I could have figured it out.

Anyway, here are some pictures. Enjoy!

Small Country, BIG Problems!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 30th, 2010

Aww, Jerusalem. Rich in history, culture, religion, and one of core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has a lot of people REALLY pissed off.

As you all know, Jerusalem is a holy center for three major religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It is quite interesting to see all these cultures mixed together while this very tense conflict continues.

Anyway, all the key religious sites of Jerusalem are walled off in what they call the “Old City.” The Old City is divided up into four quarters: the Muslim quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Christian quarter, and the Armenian quarter (Why does Armenia get their own quarter of Jerusalem? I have no idea, and I am too lazy to look it up, so enlighten me in the comments section if you must.).

The most spiritual site to the Jews and the third most important site to the Muslims is the Temple Mount. For Jews, the “Holy of the Holies” lies there, which is where the Temple of Jerusalem stood, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the 10 Commandments given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai (Phew!). For Muslims, it is the site of Muhammad’s Night of Ascension, where the Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported from Mecca to Temple Mount, where he then ascended into heaven to meet previous prophets of Islam.

Jews will not step foot on Temple Mount, as they do not want to accidently tread on the area where the “Holy of the Holies” stood. Also, according to Israeli government law, no non-Muslim can pray at the Temple Mount site. Any non-Muslim seen praying at the Temple Mount will be thrown out of the site by police (no joke).

Since the Jews do not go onto the Temple Mount, they pilgrimage to their second holiest site, the Western Wall (You do NOT want to refer to this as the Wailing Wall, as many Jews deem this term offensive). This is located at the foot of Temple Mount, and it is a remnant of a wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple. Jews come to this site and place written prayers inside the walls. The notes are collected twice a year and buried at Mt. Olive. More than a million written prayers are collected each year.

Considered the holiest place on earth among Christians is the Holy Sepulchre, which has been the site for Christian pilgrimage for the past 2000 years. Not only is it the place where most Christian churches believe Jesus was buried and rose again, and they also believe it is where he has crucified and his body was prepared for burial.

Not gonna lie, Aaron and I had NO IDEA what the Holy Sepulchre was when we went there. We just kind of stumbled upon it when we were wandering around the Old City and noticed a big church with a lot of people milling about. We walked in and was everyone placing their hands on what looked like a coffin, so we decided had to do it as well. Good thing we found it, I couldn’t imagine coming to Jerusalem without seeing the most important site in Christianity.

As far as the atmosphere goes outside the religious sites, it is pretty much your modern city. The one thing I that really made the city stand out in my mind from others are the Hasidic Jews. I was surprised to see so many of them, as you can easily spot them in their black suits, black or fur caps and their long sidelocks. Not that there is anything wrong with that (a la Seinfeld), just one of those things that will always stick in my mind when I think about Jerusalem.

Oh, another thing that is unique to Israel is the security. You have to go through security checkpoints to get into the bus station, the malls, part of the Old City, etc., etc., etc. There are a lot Israeli military walking around with uzis, and that is a little shocking at first, but then you get used to it. Can you imagine people with uzis walking casually around the U,S.? I don’t think so!

All in all, a good experience, except we stayed in the second worst hostel we have ever been too (Fez, Morocco being the first). Good thing we are staying with Aaron’s Aunt Karen in Hiltons and Sheratons while we travel around Egypt! (Holla, Karen!)

Peace out, ya’ll!

I am the Best Wife Ever… No, Really…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 28th, 2010

So after over two weeks in Nuweiba, we finally left our new home away from home to explore Israel. Our first stop was Ein Gedi by the Dead Sea.

When we left Petra Camp, we made no plans as to where we would spend the night when we got to the Dead Sea. Why? Well, our new friend Katja, who was another guest at Petra Camp, told us that she and a friend just camped on the beach in Ein Gedi for FREE. Well, when Aaron and I hear that you can camp on a beach for FREE and that it is safe, we are of course going to do it!

Anyway, long story short, we arrived just before the sunset, set up our mosquito net as our tent and our sleeping sheets as our sleeping bags, meaning we basically slept on the dirt. So, I pride myself on being able to fall asleep anywhere, so if you’re asking yourself whether or not I fell asleep, the answer is yes. However, was I pretty much a raging bitch the next day? OH, YEAH! (Aaron can vouch).

After our very luxurious night of rest, we woke up at sunrise and went for a dip in the Dead Sea. Now, as you probably know, there is a lot of salt in the Dead Sea. It has almost nine times more salt than ocean water. The higher salinity in the water attributes to many resulting factors when swimming:

1.) You can’t put your head underwater. I will give you one guess as to why. I will tell you that we saw a young fella make this mistake, and he ran screaming out of the water to the nearest fresh water shower. It was hilarious.

2.) There is no life in the Dead Sea. That means I could swim without fear of sharks for once. (I have no idea when this fear arose. It did not, however, help when our friend Bart went into great detail about how his good friend was eaten by a shark off the coast of Australia. Thanks, Bart!)

3.) The level of salt is so dense, it makes you extremely buoyant. The best way to describe it is imagine swimming in JELLO that has not yet quite formed to a solid. It is one of the weirdest sensations I have ever felt in my life.

So, the Dead Sea was definitely worth the side trip. If you are ever in Israel, I definitely recommend it.