Israel Road Trip 4: a day trip to Eilat

On the gulf there’s a beautiful spot

Where you can see what the tour bus brought.

But I’m not dissing the tourist

For I am no purist.

I just wanted to say thanks, Eilat. 

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. I followed 3 years Community Health Center work with further travel and adventures in temporary positions in Arctic Alaska, rural Iowa, suburban Pennsylvania, western Nebraska, Canada, and South Central Alaska.  I split the summer between hospitalist work in my home town and rural medicine in northern British Columbia.  After less time off than I planned, I did some more hospital work and am now vacationing in Israel.   Any identifiable patient information, including that of my wife, has been used with permission.

I have been to Israel twice before, on guided tours, seeing tourist sights and visiting tourist towns.

Beer Sheva (= Seven Wells) has archeologic sites, but education, computers, chemical plants, and health care dominate the economy.  It lacks a large tourist sector.

The city sports the longest building in the Middle East, five stories of gritty, functional architecture dedicated to incorporating new immigrants.

Signs in Hebrew, lower prices, a dearth of 5-star hotels, and locals speak Hebrew most of the time. Restaurant staffers rarely speak fluent English.

Tourists come to Beer Sheva mostly on their way to Someplace Else, usually Eilat, Israel’s answer to Miami.

Bethany and I took the bus south out of Beer Sheva, across the Negev (literally, desert), to Eilat, on the Gulf of Aqaba, hard by the Jordanian border.

We found town maps, a sure sign of tourist orientation at the bus station.  Outside, scores of shiny new hotels dominated the skyline.  An enormous cruise ship lay at anchor in the Gulf. We found most of the signs in English, a language shared by the hotel check-in staff.

To my surprise, Hebrew dominated the languages heard on the Promenade, followed closely by Russian, then Dutch.

In the morning we sat down to the way-beyond-sumptuous Israeli hotel breakfast, as much an experience as a meal.

At the hotel beach on the Promenade I pulled off my boots for a dip in the Gulf of Aqaba: surprisingly cold, crystal clear and calm with barely a ripple.  A school of tiny fish broke water next to me and went on their way.

An hour later we boarded the bus back to Beer Sheva for the air-conditioned trip across the desert.  We stopped at a junction with a score of other tour buses and faced lines at the fast food and restrooms. Bethany and I, stretching our legs,  came around the McDonald’s corner and found the drive-through lane blocked by construction trucks; those unwise enough to bring a passenger vehicle to the window turned the corner and faced the uncomfortable necessity of off-roading in the sand to get back to the asphalt.

I don’t particularly like tourists in large groups, but I enjoyed the short trip to Eilat. Because those in this life are just passing through, we are all tourists, and some of us are day trippers.

I’m Jewish and I’m visiting Israel.  I’ve written before about why I don’t write about politics, religion, or sex:




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