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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eilat, Israel: SeaDooing, Snorkling, & Camel Trekking!

View from the balcony of
our room (656) at the Leonardo Plaza Eilat!

11 days into our amazing month in Israel, made possible by the American Associates of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Dan and I arrived in Eilat in the early evening before my birthday, and checked into our truly spectacular guest room at the Leonardo Plaza Eilat on the North Shore. I had booked it via as that's where I found the best deal, but it was the first time I had used that site and I was Very nervous! It was a paid-in-full, non-refundable reservation, and I had visions of arriving and having the desk staff say "Reservation? What reservation?", but it all went perfectly, the desk staff was charming, AND they gave us a gorgeous, high-floor room with a huge, wrap-around balcony overlooking the sea and the city- truly The best hotel room ever! (Room 656. Trust me: You Want This Room!)
Happy Dan, chillin' in Eilat!
Happy Elisse, at home in Israel!

Gold Beach Bar, Eilat
The first things we did were: find a cute, elegant cafe bar on Gold Beach, and then have a lovely fish dinner on the promenade overlooking the Red Sea...

A yummy dinner on the Red Sea...

Things that make me laugh...
The next morning, to celebrate my 52nd birthday, we went Camel Trekking into the Negev!
I'd done a full-day camel trek into the desert when I was on leave in Eilat while in the Israeli Army in 1985, and it was such fun that I wanted to share the experience with Dan! Camel Ranch only had a two-hour trek available on the day we could go, so that's what we did, but it was still a lot of fun (I felt 26 again! LOL), and we got to enjoy a "desert feast" of Bedouin bread with lebane yogurt and olives, and sweet nana (mint) tea, sitting on carpets in a Bedouin-style tent, surrounded by peacocks, just like I'd done "back in the day"! (If the foodie pix below don't make you drool, there's something wrong! I can still smell the delicious aroma of the bread on the hot pan over the fire...) You see the Negev from a whole new perspective when riding a camel, as your "ship of the desert" sways gently from side to side- it's truly one of THE coolest things!
Our "ships of the desert"- ready to ride!

Elisse & her Birthday Camel!

My Sheikh of Arabee!

Trekking into the desert...

The Negev- view from camel-top!

Mr. Peacock, ready for his close-up!

Making Bedouin Bread...

Bedouin Bread, ready for the fire...


Bedouin Bread "al ha aish" (on the fire)

Bedouin Bread: Ready!

Our desert feast:
Bedouin Bread, Lebaneh Yogurt,
Olives & Nana Mint Tea!

My Sheikh of Arabee!

Elisse: at home in the desert!

Dan and I decided to walk from Camel Ranch to the main highway, and it was quite a hike! We found another Very cool tourist attraction on the way: Roman Chariot Rides! MUST do this next trip!

Centurion Dan in a Roman Chariot!

Chillin' in the desert!
When we stumbled into "The Last Refuge" (Hamiflat HaAharon) for a cold drink, we were blown away by their fabulous local fish menu, including delectable things like grouper carpacchio!!! Woo-hoo! We not only had a delicious little gourmet lunch there, we went back for a fabulous dinner, outside on their dock-side patio!
Desert trek to The Last Refuge!

Grouper Carpaccio!

at the Last refuge!

Finger bowls! Woo-Hoo!

One of the things I Had to do was to take Dan snorkeling; Eilat not only has the great undersea museum, but Coral Beach Nature Preserve is still one of THE most fabulous places to snorkel in the world! We saw clownfish and other fabulous fish truly up close- the pinks and greens and blues and yellows of the tropical fish are amazing!
Snorkel Dan!

Snorkel Goldstein!

Undersea Museum, Eilat
 And then we found what was definitely the highlight of Adrenaline Junkie Dan's days in Eilat: SeaDooing! We found the "unofficial" SeaDoo beach (message me if you want to know where it is, as I will not be responsible for ruining everyone's fun), and we each took a fabulous ride all the way out to Dolphin Reef! I'm more a slowpoke than Dan, and he got to really "gun it" and fly on the waves across the Red Sea- he had THE best time and came back as happy as a die-hard adrenaline junkie can be!!!! Then we treated ourselves to G&Ts, seafood, and burgers at one of the great Eilat beach bars!

Next: Taking the train north to the Golan and Galilee! 

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