Mind-Boggling – Isreal & Jordan

I have just returned from one the most thought stimulating trips I have ever taken… Israel and Jordan.    Learning about the diplomatic, economic and cultural relations between these two allied countries and the rest of the world, by seeing it first hand was truly mind-boggling.   Without the confusion of the media and hearing perspectives from all sides, leaves one open-minded, compassionate and keen to learn!

I had the honor of meeting and talking with a leading Israeli doctor, a top Israeli journalist, and had lunch at an army camp with soldiers on the border of Israel – their tanks facing Syria.  The experience was eye opening.  The strong presence of the military had me feeling very safe during my visit, never scared or nervous.  Israel’s unemployment declined to its lowest rate in 20 years this August.  The country is home to major players in the high tech industry, and has one of the world’s most technologically-literate populations.  Its emergence as a hi-tech powerhouse with more venture capital investment per person than anywhere in the world, and the largest number of Nasdaq-listed companies after the US and China – and all because of the military.  The Israeli people are in the reserves for 20 years.  They begin with a compulsory 3 yrs of service followed by a month every year for the next 20 years.

Crossing the westbank border into Jordan, the feeling of security quickly faded.  The people were poor and the area felt very unsettled.  Unemployment in Jordan reached its highest rate in the past 4 years this August, a strong contrast to its neighbouring country.   Crossing the borders can be time consuming and expensive, but seeing Petra is a must.   The tombs and temples dug out of the side of mountains there are visually stunning!  In my opinion,  visiting Amman is not a necessity.

My terrific tour guides taught me both the ancient history of the area and also its modern comparison.  I learned of the division of faiths between the Jewish, Muslim and Christians, which promotes much of the tension between its people.   The teachings came first hand by having a Jewish guide in Israel, Christian guide in Bethlehem, and a Muslim guide in Jordan.   I found myself more able to try to piece together all the various sides of the story by questioning and challenging these guides to make some kind of conclusion for myself about what is going on there.  So interesting and truly mind-boggling – so much hatred stemming from religion!

On a more cultural side, Israel as a country has more meaning than anywhere in the entire world in my opinion.  There is so much history in this Jewish promised land where these always persecuted peoples inhabit.  From following the old and new testaments throughout Israel, to wandering through the excavation sites and gazing at the ruins from centuries past.  In ancient times, wars would destroy cities and a new one rebuilt on top of the old.  They are finding bathtubs still intact from thousands of years ago – incredible to see!  Following the timeline of history, it is all there for you to explore in Israel.

Such a beautiful country with so much to see and do.   The following are some of the things I experienced:

  • The Dead Sea is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water in which animals cannot flourish – hence the name.  People use the salt and minerals from its waters to create many products from cosmetics to herbal medications.  The density of the water makes swimming similar to floating which is a popular attraction for tourists.  For those adventurists, you can take a jeep ride or rappel of the cliffs in the desert close by!
  • Mt. Masada is an ancient fortification overlooking the Dead Sea where the Jewish rebels committed mass suicide with their families at the end of the first Jewish/Roman war.
  • Visited a Jewish Medical University where they are learning such innovative procedures!
  • In Tel Aviv I visited the old city of Jaffa, a vibrant modern city, so full of energy and life and situated right next to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
  • I kayaked the River Jordan on the border of Lebanon and Syria and into the grottos of Rosh Hanikra.
  • Visited the 4,000 yr old ancient city of Acco, home to many archaeological and architectural sites of interest including an underground city.

If you want to mix the mind with pleasure, and the fascination of history with the modernism of the future, contact Boulevard Travel.  We are putting a small group package together for 2014!

Pure Yoga Retreat: Enchantment Resort – Sedona, Arizona

This years Yoga Retreat will be held in Mexico at the fabulous Punta Mita Resort from May 3 – 6, 2014!

Boulevard Travel


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Kristine Murphy, Owner & instructor at Pure Hot Yoga in Calgary, hosted her second annual Yoga Retreat at the beautiful “Enchantment Resort” in Sedona, Arizona recently.  Attended by 18 enthusiasts, the 4 day weekend was boasted a huge success.

Upon arriving in Phoenix early Friday morning, the group enjoyed a 2 hr scenic drive through the desert to Sedona & the Enchantment Resort.  After a quick check-in process, we gathered on the lawn, shadowed by the stunning Red Rocks of Arizona, for a welcoming yoga session.  The evening left individuals to dine and enjoy the resort at their leisure.

A hearty breakfast was served outside in the glorious sunshine at the Village before heading to the Enchantment Circle, our outdoor yoga studio, for a very challenging and fun class lead by Kristine.  The incredible setting, amazing weather and superb instruction left students feeling peaceful yet energized for the remainder of…

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Pure Yoga Retreat: Enchantment Resort – Sedona, Arizona


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Kristine Murphy, Owner & instructor at Pure Hot Yoga in Calgary, hosted her second annual Yoga Retreat at the beautiful “Enchantment Resort” in Sedona, Arizona recently.  Attended by 18 enthusiasts, the 4 day weekend was boasted a huge success.

Upon arriving in Phoenix early Friday morning, the group enjoyed a 2 hr scenic drive through the desert to Sedona & the Enchantment Resort.  After a quick check-in process, we gathered on the lawn, shadowed by the stunning Red Rocks of Arizona, for a welcoming yoga session.  The evening left individuals to dine and enjoy the resort at their leisure.

A hearty breakfast was served outside in the glorious sunshine at the Village before heading to the Enchantment Circle, our outdoor yoga studio, for a very challenging and fun class lead by Kristine.  The incredible setting, amazing weather and superb instruction left students feeling peaceful yet energized for the remainder of the day!   Owner of Boulevard Travel, Karen Smith, led a group of willing participants on an amazing hike up Bear Mountain.  Only six hikers made it to the summit on that very hot afternoon, (Karen included) in record time!  From the parking area to the top of Bear Mountain is approximately 2 1/2 Hrs one way – for the average hiker… this crew returned to the pool for a welcome dip and cold Mojitos in under 4 Hrs!  This is quite a venture, as the total elevation gain is 1800 ft.  The picturesque vistas speak for themselves.

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Others attending the retreat relaxed poolside, roamed the quaint nearby town of Sedona, or pampered themselves in the resorts large spa area equipped with sauna,  steam room, jacuzzi and a variety of specialty treatments and services.

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A fabulous dinner was enjoyed by the group at a local restaurant before retiring from an adventurous day in Arizona.  After another delicious buffet breakfast of fresh fruit, Quiche,  exquisite pastries and much more, we gathered once again under the Red Sedona Rocks for a 1 1/2 long yoga class where the group found themselves attempting paired moves and mastering head stands – many for the first time!  Of course the photos are of the masters at work, Kristine and her sister Michele… there’s a great deal of talent in the family… the rest of us looked a “little” less elegant:

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After this energetic class, we hiked up to the nearest vortex, only a quick 15 min hike, to fill our souls with some pure Sedona energy.  Sedona is famous for its so-called vortex sites, spots where the earth’s energy is supposedly increased, leading to self-awareness and various kinds of healing.

The group dispersed afterwards to soak up the last rays of sunshine before heading home.  Such a wonderful retreat, leaving us all anxious for next year! Thanks “Pure” for hosting such an incredible retreat and choosing such a gorgeous location – couldn’t have been better!!!

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