Fairly typical breakfast in the Middle East. Tomatos and cucumbers at every meal as well as hummus and flat bread. Actually, now that I think about it, almost EVERY meal looked like this!
• Most hotels do not supply washcloths. Why? Who knows. We were told we might want to bring one with us, but I didn’t. Luckily I brought pre-moistened make-up removers and baby wipes, both of which, when rinsed with water proved to be good washcloths.• Even in a double occupancy room, you were lucky to get one bath towel each and 1 hand towel each. Several nights I used the bath towel to wrap up my wet hair and dried myself on the hand towel.
• All but one of the hotels we stayed in had the following: A slot you had to put your key card into to keep the electricity in your room on. When you pulled the key card out of the slot the electricity stayed on a few minutes, then everything turned off, including the heat. Dad discovered that you could put any old plastic card in there and it would work. You know, your AAA card or some such. Because it was cold most of the places we spent the night, we started asking for an extra key card or doing the AAA card thing so that our rooms wouldn’t be freezing when we went back to them after our bus dropped us at the hotel or after dinner.
• Everything is expensive or at least the same price as in the US. Don’t expect to get any true “bargains”. Yes, there are things there that we can’t get here or would be hard to find, but most things were not cheaper. One exception – pashimas. Several of our group found beautiful 100% cashmere pashima shawls for $10.00 each. Such a deal!
• Israel was the most expensive country we stayed in. A McDonald’s meal that would cost $5.00 here at home costs $15.00 US there. Of course, we didn’t go to a McDonald’s even though by the end of the trip we were salivating at any sign of “American” fast food.
• There are very few flat surfaces, especially in Jordan and Israel. Everything is built into the side of a hill. Because of this, there is a lot of uphill and downhill walking. Also, because of this, temperatures can vary substantially. We were there in the winter, so it was cool. Even though the country is a desert, it is mostly high desert. St. Catherine’s was the only place it was actually freezing, but we were at 5000 feet. I quickly learned to ask our tour guides what the elevation was of sites we visited and our hotels. Helped to know whether you could leave your coat on the bus or wear it.
• Vegetables are served, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mostly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes in a vinegary type dressing. One morning we even had Lentil beans that were mashed up at the breakfast buffet. We joked that they were like re-fried beans. Lamb is a very popular meat as well as beef. Very little chicken and absolutely no pork. There was lots of fresh fruit, especially apricots, melons, bananas and oranges.
• The morning drink is hot tea. The tea they serve is a black tea and is very good. Coffee was usually only available if requested. They did have Arabic or Turkish coffee, especially after dinner. I didn’t try any, but was told it was very strong. It was served in small cups sort of like demitasse cups. You would think with all the fresh fruit, there would be great orange juice in the mornings, but no. The orange juice was instant (like Tang) or canned. The only juice that seemed to be fresh was apricot juice.
That’s just some of the things I noticed that were different from the US about the trip. There are lots of others, of course, and maybe I’ll post a second list later.