Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Jerusalem, Israel (Bnei Brit Street 5)

Wow! I was up and ready to pack at 3:30 this morning. Why? I guess I was ready to move on to the next destination. But then again, I look forward to being in new place and find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep the night before.

My driver was expected to arrive at 5:15 and I still needed to get ready (showering, coffee packing and cleaning). Though, because I was up early, I had time to write my travel blog for the day before. I was out the door at 5:17.

My Airbnb host made the taxi reservation to the airport while I was visiting with him and his wife on Saturday. I knew that when I went outside at 5:17 that the driver would be waiting for me, and he was. Of course since it was so early there was hardly any traffic and was at the airport in plenty of time to catch my 7:35 flight.

Security at the airport was just a bit different than in other airports. There was an extra security checkpoint before I was able to check into my flight. Other than that, it was the same process. I found it interesting that the bottle of water I had in my carry-on bag (and forgot to remove) didn’t get confiscated as I passed through security.

I was a little concerned, as I waited to board the plane, that no one was boarding as the time for our departure was approaching. Just at about the time when we were scheduled to take off we received an announcement that the Amman airport (our destination) was still fogged in, but we should be able to board “soon”. “Soon” turned out to be another 30 minutes later. I consider myself lucky that in all of the flights I’ve taken, there have been relatively few delays. (Knock on wood!)

The flight was very full and I found myself in a middle seat. The delay in my ability to check-in online also contributed to this outcome. Being in the middle seat is on par with being seated next to the restrooms in a restaurant. Thankfully, it was a very short flight. I probably could have taken the land route into Jordan, but I opted for flying into an international airport. In any case, too late to change now.

Getting through Passport Control was a little slow. I had purchased my visa on-line but I was confused by which line to join. I eventually got in the right line and was on my way to pick up my bag and join the driver that I scheduled to take me to the Hilton resort by the Dead Sea.

Mamoot was waiting for me when I entered the arrival lobby. He had heard about the delay and was happy to see me. I was a little concerned that he offered to show me some sites (for extra money) on our way to the Hilton. I declined. I confirmed that the pre-arranged cost for transporting me to the Hilton was what we agreed to the day before.

After that we got along fine. I asked if we could stop along the way and get a coffee. He knew of a place that had car service, where they would bring the coffee and water out to us. I thought that was a nice touch. I posted a picture of Mamoot and the guy from the coffee place on my Instagram page. We both had some very strong Turkish coffee.

It didn’t really take too long (about 45 minutes) to get to the hotel. After we arrived, I made arrangements to be driven (and back again) to Petra on Thursday. From what I understand, the driver will take me to Petra, stay overnight somewhere on Thursday, then drive me back on Friday. Perhaps a little spendy, but better than being on a bus for the three hours that it takes to get to Petra.

Then I met with the reception and guest services person at the hotel who checks in Hilton Honors members. I received an upgraded room with a view of the Dead Sea and also a tour of the facilities. This Hilton property is quite large and has several buildings on several levels, so I appreciated the tour. Tomorrow I’ll get my mud treatment and a dip in the Dead Sea. I may even do it twice, which is common among the guests, from what I was told.

After the tour, it was then mid-afternoon, and I was very ready for a nap. Given that I didn’t sleep well the night before, I was tired. Then I slept for nearly four hours! By the time I got down to the Executive Lounge, it was after 7:00. I had a glass of wine and a few appetizers then walked back to my room.

I was still a bit hungry so I ordered a tuna sandwich and a beer from room service for a late dinner. By this time I was ready for bed. In the meantime, I had made a decision where Barb and I will stay in Malta. It is a two bedroom flat in a high-rise, with balcony, overlooking the bay and the sea beyond. The rates in Malta are very low this time of year and we will each pay around $75 per night for this rather posh flat. This rate is even less than what I paid for my studio flat in Jerusalem.

I’m looking forward to my two mud and swim (or rather floating) treatments tomorrow. Also, my Hilton breakfast. I’ve written how much I enjoy my breakfast in the morning and I’m sure I’ll return to my room for a nap. This is the part of travel (and retirement) that I appreciate.

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