Sunday, January 22, 2017

Israel Travelogues: Arrival At Ovda, The Desert, Love At First Sight


Start and first impressions

This time I did not almost  miss my plane and there were no other complications. I arrived in time at the airport, passed the security check, found my gate and everything went how it should go. The only difference between travelling to Israel and travelling within the European Union was that everyone had to go through an extra passport control and before getting on the bus there was an other random security check.

I was flying to Eilat (Ovda) from Budapest and to my surprise the plane was completely full. The aircraft had thirty-three rows (2x 3 seats in one row) so there were around two hundred people traveling on it including the staff. The flight took three and a half hours which went fast because I was excited thinking about how the upcoming trip will be and was listening to people talking around me. I have never been to Israel so it was interesting to see how people look and how they dress. I guess it is a visual-person disease that one likes to dissolve in a new environment and soak in the new impulses.

We arrived at Ovda in time and when the door opened I was shocked- in a positive way. I will not lie: I knew that Israel will be different but I did not expect it to be so unique and beautiful. This statement is not only valid for Israel but also for the parts of Egypt I saw on the other side of the fence on the road to Eilat, and for the mountains of Edom in Jordan on the other side of the bay in Eilat.

If you have been traveling mostly within Europe this landscape will be surely totally new to you.

From Ovda to Eilat

After I got off the plane something quite funny happened. I was totally struck by the beauty of the landscape and started to take photos and videos. A local woman from the plane even came to me and asked if I want her to take a photo of me. I kindly refused saying that I would just like to take pics of the surroundings. I continued taking photos in peace when a couple of minutes later a guy holding a shotgun came to me. It was a soldier guarding the airport and asked me in a friendly but strict way if I could stop taking photos. A group of guys from the plane passed me by and explained to me that you should not take photos here because the airport is also a military base. As they said laughingly "It is a tough place. But not as tough as Hungary." Israeli people are funny lol.

The visa interview at the airport went relatively fast. It seemed long then because I was there alone and I could see that some people could cross easily while they were asking several questions from me. But when I compare it afterwards to the one and half hours interview of my friend at Ben Gurion Airport I think everything went quite fast at Ovda.

The shuttle bus was waiting outside the airport. You can book a trip for a shuttle bus before your arrival online or choose to take the local Egged bus (green busses). There is not much difference in the price. It is 8 euros for the shuttle and seven and a half something euros for the Egged bus.

The desert by sunset and moonrise

The trip from Ovda to Eilat was sixty kilometers which lasted for fourty five minutes. We drove southwards to Eilat by the Israeli-Egyptian border.

The bus drove through the Uvda Valley first and through the Eilat Mountains afterwards. I have always wanted to see the desert since I read The Alchemist from Paulo Coelho but I was always thinking of it as the Sahara and its sand dunes. It was a surprise to me to see the desert of the Uvda Valley with its red stone mountains. The scenery was beautiful as the sun was setting among the mountains on the right side and the moon was rising among them on the other side. On one side there was the red of the mountains, the oranges, blues and yellows of the sky. On the other side a smooth pastel landscape with a pale yellow moon, the pale blue sky and the yellow-grey mountains. I wish I could have asked the bus to stop and just stay there for hours to enjoy the view. As I heard many people arrange taxi drives to the desert from Eilat and I think if I would come back again I would take a cab here as well.

It was already night when we arrived to Eilat. The lights were flickering on the other side of the bay in Jordan. As the bus was dropping off passengers at their hotels the whole place gave me the impression of a Southern country with a Western touch or rather a Western country with a Southern touch. Later I went to buy my bus ticket to Jerusalem for the next day and had a dinner on the hotel terrace enjoying the view. And the next morning at 7 am I was already on my way to Jerusalem.

Next: In Eilat. On the way to Jerusalem. 

Remarks: I took mostly videos during the bus drive through Uvda Valley and Eilat mountains, I am going to cut the videos some time next week and on those it will be visible what I meant with those oranges, yellows and blues. The first photo in the post was taken by one kind co-traveler on the plane whom I asked to take a photo for me since he was sitting by the window. The post processing of the original photo was done by me.

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