This morning I woke and took a jog to the border of Jordan. Its port city, Aqaba, is adjacent to Eilat and serves as a vacation sport for Jordanians and other mid-Eastern countries. Just south of Aqaba is Saudi Arabia. Let’s just say the Jordanian border crossing didn’t look too welcoming, so I turned around and headed towards Egypt. Where in the world can you say that but in Eilat? At the main beach, the city was hosting an endurance swimming event. While there probably weren’t many Israman athletes participating, there were several hundred swimmers.
It turns out that Erin actually WON her age group at Israman, so we delayed our tour so that she could receive her trophy at the awards ceremony. We enjoyed hanging out with Lior and Patrice during the event. Afterwards we sent farewell to our hosts and piled in the van to Mitzpe Ramon, about a two hour drive through the rugged Eilat Mountains. Jeep trekking, mountain biking and ecotourism in the Ramon Crater and the production of Jerusalem stone makes Mitzpe Ramon a popular stop. Here we met our guide Gilead for a jeep tour of the Crater. Gilead is a colorful character who was animated in explaining the Ramon isn’t actually a crater but a Mahktesh—created by erosion and not a meteor. Except for the unsightly power lines, that run though the crater, the place is peaceful. The first and only Israeli astronaut for NASA, Ilan Ramon, is said to have loved this place so much that he changed his name from Wolferman. Ramon was an engineer aboard the fatal mission of the space shuttle Columbia.
We said farewell to Gilead and started our two hour drive to Tel Aviv, where we would stay at the Crown Plaza on Tel Aviv beach. The highlight of the day was our dinner at Kimmel Restaurant. Course after course of fresh salads, pate, pastas, steak, chicken curry and cabernet sauvignon arrived without pause. The service was absolutely excellent and we had a great conversation about our favorite music… the Eagles and Pink Floyd always bring strangers together.
Author Barbara Mica is a contributing editor to EverymanTri.com. Barb is a four time Ironman finisher and ITU Long-distance Championship triathlete. She has run more marathons than she’d like to remember. She and her family travel to many international race destinations and enjoy learning the lifestyle and culture of the host countries.