Page 23 of Spurins Travel Blog Posts

Middle East » Israel » South District » Ein Bokek November 2nd 2017

I have not been looking forward to today’s journey, we are heading to Eilat down R90, an Israeli controlled road which runs through The West Bank. But first, the Roman town of Beit She’an. You can climb the hill behind the town for a great view looking back across it. We head out of Israel, and yet weirdly still in it, along Route 90. Security is tight; both on the ground and overhead, with MIGs speeding up and down the road corridor. The journey is without incident and we reach the other side of the West Bank. We know we have reached ‘civilisation’ when we spot a McDonalds in an oasis. We reach the ancient town of Masada, which lies on a plateau above the Dead Sea, where 1000 Jews attempted to defend themselves against the ... read more
Beit She'an
View over Bei She'an
R90 MIG flypast

Middle East » Israel » North District » Tiberias November 1st 2017

Today is our last Jesus-themed day with a drive along the west shore of The Sea of Galilee, which is in fact a lake. The place names are familiar from stories told at Sunday School, but I don’t recall anybody mentioning how utterly beautiful the scenery was. No wonder Jesus wandered around preaching love, harmony and sharing your picnic. Our first stop, is indeed the site of the Feeding of the 5000; Tabgha and the German Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fish. Here as if the labour the point, the church is fronted with a pond full of fish. Next, the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount. Here there is the octagonal church, each side containing a stained glass panel indicating whom Jesus said should be Blessed. The ... read more
Galilee (2)
Fish at Church of the Loaves and Fish
Mount of the Beatitudes

Middle East » Israel » North District » Nazareth October 31st 2017

Before departing Haifa, we take the Mount Carmel Cable Carfor the view and to visit the Stella Maris Monastery. We walk back along the beach, no humans – it’s off season but it’s heaving with cats, they appear to live among the rocks. Then onwards, stopping for lunch at Tel Megiddo (aka Armageddon), to check out the venue where the world is prophesied to end. A strange irony; it’s not where Google Maps says it is. A conspiracy theory; this is a deliberate and cunning ploy by Google to prevent the end of civilisation. We arrive at today’s destination, Nazareth - Jesus’s manor. The hotel, Villa Nazarath, is immaculate. It is in a converted school adjoning the Greek Orthodox Church of the Anunciation which is built over a spring where the Greeks believe Mary was visited ... read more
Mount Carmel view
Stella Maris Monastery
Cats on a beach

Middle East » Israel » Haifa District » Haifa October 30th 2017

On this morning’s itinerary is Caesarea, Herod’s port. The whole ancient town is now a National Park. In some places, such as the amphitheatre, the arichitecture is incredibly well preserved. In others, bits of statue and remnants of marble columns are sprawled around like a huge Roman jigsaw puzzle. Today’s ultimate desination is Haifa, a port city at the foot of Mount Carmel. Our hotel has overbooked and passed our reservation to the Templers Boutique Hotel. Their error is our gain as the hotel is immaculate, beautifully renovated and includes some very quirky toilets. The main attraction in Haifa is The Baha’i Gardens; 19 immaculate terraced gardens cascading down the mountain side. Our hotel is just metres from the bottom of the gardens. We try to enter, but are told the entrance is one level further ... read more
Caesarea (2)
Templers Boutique

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District » Bat Yam October 29th 2017

Time to collect our hire car and explore further afield. One last walk through the Old City to the Pool of Bethesda and the Rockefeller Museum, a building complete with bullet holes from the day it ceased to be the Palestine Archaeological Museum. The clocks really have gone back now. Apparently, although those picking up rental cars are aware of this, it has escaped the notice of those dropping cars off, resulting in a packed waiting room and no cars. Eventually our car appears and we set off. The journey to Tel Tel Aviv is easy, straight down the motorway but once there, we encounter a selection of intricate motorway junctions, a rather baffling one way system and astronomical parking charges. We decide to skip Tel Aviv and proceed to the ancient port of Jaffa. It’s ... read more
Rockefeller Museum
View of Tel Aviv

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem October 28th 2017

Today did not go as planned. We were going to the West Bank. The old man wussed out of independent travel so we booked a tour which departed at 7.30 am. I set my iPhone alarm for 6.30 am, giving us ample time to get up and make it to the meeting point, although it meant leaving the hotel before breakfast. Physically, East Jerusalem has been part of Israel since The Six-Day War of 1967, although this was declared illegal by the UN. A fact: Israel and Palestine both put their clocks back an hour in October, Palestinians on Satuday and Israelis on Sunday. So for one day, there is a time difference of an hour. It was that day. When we walked through the hotel lobby, breakfast was in full swing. It was 8 am. ... read more
Lowest place in the world (2)
Dead Sea

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem October 27th 2017

This morning, The Israel Museum, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a large sculpture garden (I have a confession – I have a sculpture fetish). We needed to take a bus across town. The bus system in Jerusalem is complicated; there are separate Jewish and Arab buses. We set off up the hill to the nearest Jewish bus stop. We thought we’d located it; a sign and a bench and some bins (quite a lot of bins with hindsight), but the bus sped past and stopped 100m further up the road. We were sitting at a recycling centre. Second time lucky, we caught the bus to the museum. Upon arrival we discovered an added bonus; an exhibition by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Each piece was accompanied by a detailed description of the thought process ... read more
Ai Weiwei - Sunflower Seeds
Henry Moore - Vertebrae (2)
Shrine of the Book and Ai Weiwei - Iron Tree

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem October 26th 2017

Yesterday Christianity - today Islam and Judaism. We started with Temple Mount, location of the Al Aqsa Mosque, where Mohammed ascended to heaven, and the Dome of the Rock. The queue was massive, and entry was complicated by the fact that the old man was carrying contraband (a tablet) but we made it in eventually. The Dome of the Rock was spectacular in the morning sun, as was the and the view across Jerusalem. But there wasn’t much else to do, as non-Muslims aren’t allowed in any of the buildings, so we descended. At the bottom, The Western Wall, remnant of the original temple in Jerusalem. Again, we had to enter separately. The Ladies’ section was quiet and demure. It was a lot more lively the other side of the fence, where there appeared to be ... read more
Western Wall
Cardo Maximus
Art loving cat

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem October 25th 2017

Following an excellent breakfast at the hotel (much to our surprise) it was time to explore Old Jerusalem, a city which just oozes history. We entered through Damascus Gate, part police checkpoint, part time warp. Fact: pilgrims are mental. I’m not sure if they start off this way or some sort of mass hysteria takes over, but it adds an extra element of entertainment to a trip to the Holy Land. First stop, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Jesus was crucified. Inside the door, the Stone of Anointing, where Jesus was prepared for burial. The stone dates from 1810, so a leap of faith is required, but there was a scrum of people desperate to kiss it and rub it with an oily rag to extract some stone juice (hence ... read more
Church of the Holy Sepulchre Stone of the Anointing
The Citadel

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem October 24th 2017

The flight to Ben Gurion was uneventful, despite the Cadburys special offers in Duty Free, meaning a plane full of people armed with 'Fruit and Nut'. We arrived at the airport and tried to follow signs to the Jerusalem bus without success. We gave up and took a Sherut (shared taxi). Our fellow travellers included a family who lived not particularly on the way to Jerusalem, but we made it eventually, but a somewhat circuitous route. We were dropped at the Metropole Hotel, which was unfortunate, as we were staying at the New Metropole. Luckily it was only a few doors away from our hotel, and we traipsed up the hill and checked in. Our hotel was in the predominantly Arab East Jerusalem. It had seen better days. The biggest issue was the leak from the ... read more

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