Tuesday 14 February 2012
Israel & Jordan - Day 4
We woke up at a (comparatively) leisurely 8:30 to a stunningly beautiful day in Eilat - sunshine and 25 C/ 77 F . Over another super tasty breakfast, we decided that the best plan was to take advantage of the weather and spend the day at the beach - and not just any beach mind, but "Coral Beach", the Israeli National Park dedicated to preserving and letting people explore the nearby coral reef.
We checked out of the hotel, drove over to the park, rented some snorkeling gear, and then spent the rest of the afternoon alternately basking in the sun and snorkeling around the reef. The fish were very obviously used to people and completely unafraid. I found this more than a little disconcerting, but Stephen had all kinds of fun getting the Sergeant Major fish to school behind him. The water was a bit cool, but once you were in and distracted by all the amazing underwater wildlife, it was actually really enjoyable. We did have to be a little careful of the jellyfish, because, while they weren't quite ubiquitous, were numerous enough to make certain areas no go zones. Since it was the off season though, we had the place almost entirely to ourselves (seems to be something of a theme, which is totally fine by us) and so could still enjoy large areas of the reef. After two extremely busy days sightseeing it was a great relief to be able to relax and explore leisurely. It was also good to finally rectify some of the pasty-paleness that living in London has reduced our complexions to.
a few people that way
No one the other way - we could get used to this!
Standing ankle deep - the coral reef starts less than 5 feet from water line
The boys, catching the rays
Stephen and I getting ready for another round
Stephen in a little bit of shock - me taking off
Hurry, sweetheart! You'll get left behind!
We intended to only stay until about 3pm so that we could see the scenery during the drive up to Mitspe Ramon through the desert. But one thing led to another (namely dinner at a fantastic local seafood place called The Last Refuge), and it was dark again. Fortunately the main plan for the next two days are hiking in the area, so not all is lost.
Unfortunately, Branson nixed us stopping near the army base to take pictures of the "Warning: Tanks" sign, but otherwise it was a pretty easy drive (although a bit curvy coming through the crater, which Stephen managed with great aplomb), filled with much laughter and riffing on some new inside jokes ("you killed muad'dib!").
I did manage to talk the boys into stopping long enough to get a shot of one sign that you don't see everyday. . .
We got to our hostel (The Green Backpackers) around 8pm, giving us enough time to plan the next day's adventures (and have a cup or two of tea).