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A round the world trip in more than 80 days.

Why this blog ?

Our aim : travel and discover the world during 353 days and through some fifhteen countries. We are hoping that this blog will allow us to share the experience with our family and friends thanks to the posts and photos that we will be publishing and also thanks to their comments.

Currently ...

now. For the moment, we are gently readapting from nomadic to sedentary life.


The Holy Land : to the west of the Jordan river

Step by step, we reached the last stop of our trip. We can hardly believe that almost a year has passed since we left Paris, happy to have the chance to roam freely around the world ! We have certainly missed our friends and family and we long to see them, but the truth is that we would not mind leaving again to follow a different itinerary, after taking a little break for a month. Far from helping us get over the travel fever, this journey has increased our thirst for it.

Since Jerusalem is quite close to Amman and one of Karim's cousins lives in the outskirts of Tel-Aviv, we decided to split the 15 days left among Palestine, Israel and Jordan. Getting to our destination in Israel across the Jordan river and the West-Bank took us a full day. The trip involved several steps, as well as a rather long and tedious border crossing to Israeli. The process which is usually rather tiresome, was extra-long for Karim due to his Arab name, his Moroccan nationality and maybe his beard.

Israel is a multicultural nation, thanks to all the Jews that have come from all around the world. It is a developed country with good health and public transport systems and everything is quite expensive, with prices close to those of West European countries. As for the cities, while walking the back streets of Tel-Aviv, we had the felt to be somewhere in Spain or Morocco.

But in spite of the variety of the immigration, Israel still looks like many other countries in the area. Most basic restaurants serve the same kind of food as in the surrounding countries : hummus, eggplant paste, salads, olives, veggies marinated in vinegar, falafel, kebab and skewers (of course, in kosher version). Market stalls are packed with fresh produce such as tomatoes, eggplants, prickly pears, figs, peaches, raisins, dates and enormous watermelons.

In the street, we crossed many people able to speak Spanish, French, English, Russian and many other languages. On the other hand, most of the written stuff, including menus in most restaurants, is written only in Hebrew characters (looked like Chinese for me). In the streets, we came across a lot of Orthodox Jews in traditional clothes (that I find original, but not the prettiest in the world). There are also a lot of youngsters doing their military service. At the beginning, it was almost fun to see so many boys and girls, younger than my nephews, walking with rifles while shopping around. But after a couple of days it started to be irritating to see weapons everywhere and to have to go through a metal detector each time you are entering a public building, either a mall or a bus station.

Tel-Aviv offered the sight of a white sand beach and the charming little town of Jaffa. Karim's cousin, her family and neighbors were so welcoming and fed us with so much couscous, tajines and other delights that in just a few days, we put on back part of the weight we have lost during our journey. Through their anecdotes, we learnt many things about the life in this part of the world.

In Jerusalem, I felt that every single stone has some historical meaning and is venerated and coveted by the three big monotheist religions as well as by their many subdivisions : the Wailing Wall, the Holy Sepulcher, the Via Dolorosa, etc. It is a pretty town, well preserved, full of little streets, full of shops that reflect all the business around religion : you can buy crucifixes, crosses, Fatima eyes or hands, David stars and many other religious trinkets or anything with the smallest oriental flair. West Jerusalem is jewish, including a full Orthodox neighborhood where everybody dresses in black and white. East Jerusalem is Palestinian.

To get to the Mount of Olives and enjoy the panoramic views over the old city, we changed from the 'Jewish' bus to the 'Arab' one. We did not understand why some people riding the first one made a fuss about the dangers of going up there. In our case, we felt exactly like anywhere else in town. Maybe the place where we seemed less welcomed was the Orthodox neighborhood, since the inhabitants are fed up with tourists cruising around and taking pictures of them. It is true that their dress code is so photogenic that you would love to flash your camera around continuously.

We did not visit a lot of Palestine, since the time was short. We spent just some time in East-Jerusalem and we crossed the West-Bank on our way out to Jordan. From the little experience we got, Palestinians have more patience than the Saint Job, waiting for hours at check points, enduring the military presence in their territories and a foreign government imposing on them whatever he feels like.

Of course, we can not pretend to understand the complexities of the area, as we stayed there just for 6 days. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to visit it and see by myself these places that are mentioned so often in the news since I was a baby. I hope to go back there one day to visit more Israel, spend some time in Palestine and also in the neighboring countries.