Saturday, October 24, 2015

Jordan and Israel: Day One of a new adventure

"The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move,
to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of
your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape,
to risk the unknown."

Sunrise on the Saturday morning of my departure in Salt Lake City

Several months ago, I received an email from my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Mike asking if I would be interested and able to join them and Mike's sister, Pat, on a trip to Jordan and Israel. Jordan and Israel?! I'll admit that while neither of these countries was on my radar recently for potential international trips, I was immediately intrigued. Wanderlust started immediately brewing inside me.

Uncle Mike and Aunt Nancy

How could I pass up this opportunity? The unrest in the Middle East seems to be growing and frankly, maybe someday we won't be able to go. So, after checking my work schedule and vacation bank, my bank account, and the fall weather in the Middle East (I just don't do touring trips like this if it's really hot... no, thank you), and a little hemming and hawing, I finally responded YES!

Uncle Mike with his sister, Pat

In the months leading up to my departure, when I would tell people where I was going on vacation, about 70% of the time they would ask me if it was safe or why would I want to go there right now. My canned response was something like, "Yes, it's safe. I wouldn't be going if it weren't, and who wouldn't want to go there?" Visiting Jordan and Israel at this time makes a point: there are good people everywhere, don't avoid an entire region based simply on what's happening in a few countries.

However, in the couple weeks prior to the trip, the news coming out of Jerusalem was filled with stories of increased violence and tension. Every morning when I'd wake up and take a look at my news updates on my phone, inevitably a news story about the increased unrest in Jerusalem topped the list. Scary? Sure. But honestly, I knew I would be safe. Even the U.S. State Department website reassured me that I would be fine, despite its warnings (emphasis added, by me):

The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and U.S. citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to these areas, particularly to areas described in this Travel Warning where there are heightened tensions and security risks. The security situation can change day to day, depending on the political situation, recent events, and geographic area. A rise in political tensions and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank has resulted in injuries to and deaths of U.S. citizens. In view of the ongoing security situation, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority make considerable efforts to police major tourist attractions and ensure security in areas where foreigners frequently travel. Although threat mitigation efforts by authorities are not 100 percent effective, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Israel and the West Bank each year for study, tourism, and business. 
And so, off I went. SLC>CDG>AMM

All set

The Paris flight was a red-eye, which was nice so that I could sleep. Delta Economy Comfort was really worth every extra penny on the long haul from Salt Lake City to Paris. After watching "Inside Out" and having my dinner meal, with the help of KDJ's BOSE noise-cancelling headphones, my trusty neck pillow, my homey blue scarf, my travel blanket, my fabulous eye mask (really, if you travel a lot, you have to get one), and a little Advil PM (doctor-approved), I got a very decent night of sleep before arriving in Paris.

And of course, arriving in Paris happened on Sunday. So read on to Day Two...

Since getting a FitBit, I've had a good time tracking my daily steps, distance, and flights of stairs, and challenging myself to do a little more. So for my right-brained reference, I'll be including those stats at the end of every post.

Saturday, October 24th, day one:
Steps: 4,539
Miles: 2.07
Stairs: 3 floors

No comments: