Even tourists wanting only to gaze at the wonders of past milleniums are affected by today's political gyrations in the Mideast. Last summer, in an attempt to help out its national airline, El-Al, Israel closed the Allenby Bridge between Jordan and Israel to two-way tourist traffic. This stopped travelers from taking advantage of inexpensive roundtrip flights between the US and Jordan on Jordan's airline, Alia.
Recently, however, Alia took advantage of a loophole in the Camp David accord to get around the Israeli roadblock. Tourists now fly to Jordan, see the impressive ancient ruins at Petra and Jerash, then are bused across the bridge to tour Jerusalem. Buses next take them across the newly opened land routes through the Sinai to Egypt. There they take in the pyramids and take an Alia flight out of Cairo.
''They get Petra and Jerusalem and the pyramids,'' says a gleeful Jordanian travel agent. But one traveler warns that the Sinai bus trip is anything but pleasant.