Thursday, June 19, 2008

Israel - day 8

Sigh - the last day. Rani takes us to the old city.

Rani knows everything about Israel. He takes us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the upper room of the last supper, the western wall, King David's tomb, shopping in the Arab quarter (got some great jewelry!) excavations of ancient sites and so much more.

It is a fantastic day and we leave for Ben Gurian airport tired, happy, sad to leave and wanting to come back.

Israel - day 6-7

On to Eilat!! Eilat is located at the northern end of the Red Sea. It is a resort city with 5 star hotels, scuba, snorkling, wind surfing and a jumping night life. You can also stand on the shore and see Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia!!

The only problem is that you have to drive through the Negev desert to get there. Unlike the Judean desert, this one is mostly flat and boring. But we did find a McDonald's!!

We needed a rest from all the site-seeing. Eilat has a coral reef and gorgeous salt water fish. Snorkling in the sea is like being in an aquarium. The most beautiful fish are within arms reach. I will have to get the underwater camera pictures developed for you to see. We spent our time in the water and in the mall.

Before leaving, we traveled to the Egyptian border for a few pictures. Back through the Negev to Jerusalem. We stopped at a McDonalds at the Dead Sea - the lowest McDonalds in the world! Way below sea level. There was Ronald.

Tomorrow is our last day and we will spend it with our friend and guide, Rani, in the Old City.

Israel - day 5

We are back in Jerusalem staying with friends at their house in a new area just outside the city. It is a beautiful 'desert' house with a view to die for.

Today, our friend Rani will take us to see many Christian places of worship that commemorate times in Jesus' life. DS friend is Christian and we all want to see the churches. We visit the site where the Good Samaritan story takes place, where the Beatitudes were spoken and many others. We visit an ancient Roman site with shops and a theater. We see the Sea of Galilee adn the Jordan River. The river is very small - not the gushing waterway you would expect - it is the desert, after all!

Many pilgrims bathe in the Jordan - see the picture of people in white robes. Then we are off to the Golan Heights, once occupied by Syria. It is best to have a guide for this part!! We see a monestary built into the side of a cliff - talk about getting away from it all :) The road up to Golan is narrow and winding, but our trusty Kia minivan made it in fine style.

Back to our hotel in Jerusalem for the night, then off to Eilat for some snorkling.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Israel, Day 4

Today we spent visiting friends. Ofir and Nurit live on a kibbutz. A kibbutz started out as a collective farm, but now they are more free market. Ofir and his son, Rotem, took us to Rosh Hanikra. This town is on the Lebanon border. Relations with are fairly peaceful right now. Rosh Hanikra has some great caves where the sea rushes in with a boom. We toured through the caves and got a picture of the guys with their arms in Lebanon!

The British built a rail line through the caves from Lebanon to Israel prior to Israel becoming a state. The rail line was blown up during the war for independence by the Israelis.

After Roah Hanikra, we had lunch in an Arab town at a small cafe. The owners were friends of Rotem. We feasted on falafel ( fried chick peas in pita with salad - sort of like an Arab taco), hummas (ground chick peas), arab salads etc. The food just kept coming!

Then back to Jerusalem. Check out the pictures at

Israel - Day 3

Hi again!

Today we traveled North to Caesaria and Nahariya. Caesaria is a city built by Herod (the guy was a great builder) . It is an interesting combination of ancient ruins and modern use. The colosseum and hippodrom are still there and in pretty good shape for their age. The colosseum is also used for concerts! The sound is that good! Caesaria is right on the Mediterranean with a beautiful view.

We then took off for the resort town of Nahariya. The boys went swimming in the Mediterrnean. The rest of us found some great food - falafel and schwarma. We met up to watch some soccer (what else) at an outdoor cafe.

Catch the photos at:

Israel - Day 2

Today we headed out for Masada and the Dead Sea.

Masada is a flat topped mountain deep in the Judean desert. It is an excellent location for a fortress and that is exactly what King Herod did with it. Herod created a spa in the desert. There were baths, agriculture, mosaics and a sumptuous lifestyle - all created on the backs of slaves. After Herods time, Masada stood empty until the first century. Rome was attacking all the Jews in the area. A small band retreated to Herods fortress. They lived in the protected palace for years, dividing the great rooms into smaller houses for their families. Rome decided to eradicate them. To fo this, Rome marched our their armies and encamped around Masada. But the Jews, with their water and food could last forever. Vespasian decided to build a ramp to roll up their giant war machine and end the stand off. The night before the battering ram would knock down the walls, the Jews decided they were not going to be slaves. They drew lots. The men killed their wives and children. Those who drew the lots killed the men and the final men killed those left and then took his own life. The Romans entered to death.

The Dead Sea was our second stop. The sea has no outlet and so is chock full of awful tasting minerals. But those minerals also make you incredabley bouyant! You float way above where you would in fresh water. It is a unique experience. Even the boys, who have almost no body fat, floated.

Check here for pictures of opur second day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Israel - Day 1

We left Newark on the great adventure on Sunday and landed 11 hours later in Tel Aviv. There was 5 of us - 2 parents, 1 daughter, 1 son and the son's best friend. We rented a car and drove to Jerusalem. We were tired but didn't want to waste time sleeping.

We took off for the Old City Jerusalem. Jersualem in divided into 4 quarters - Jewish, Armenian, Arab and Christian. WE started in the Arab quarter with the shops. The Arab shops are along very narrow streets and the shops are outside. The smells are wonderful. We ate some terrific desserts at one of the stalls.

We then went to the Jewish quarter to see the Western Wall, the holiest spot for Jews. This is the remant of the second temple. We girls had to where skirts over our shorts and the guys had to cover their heads.

We also spent some time on the Via Del a Rosa or way of the cross. It is amazing how precious this area is to so many religions.

We collapsed at our hotel to rest for our next day. See pictures of our first day at: