Blogs from Israel, Middle East


Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem May 10th 2022

The best part of my job while working on a cruise ship is, that once in a while I get to escort guest tours. Since I started cruising again last December I have been able to add a few new countries to my travel list. Yesterday I had the chance to visit the city of Jerusalem, a place that was not really on my list, but I was really excited to see the city. From Ashdod were our ship docked it was a 2 hour drive to the city of Jerusalem. The tour itself would take about 10 hours. We covered so much much during this day and a lot of walking was involved. We had 33 guest on board of the bus and while our tour guide was leading the tour I was staying in ... read more
View of the city of Jerusalem
Western Wall
Jewish cemetery

Middle East » Israel » Haifa District March 12th 2022

The pandemic has interrupted many, many things, and in my life, one has been a planned trip to Israel, the Holy Land. Finally, it is happening. This trip is with our church in Brentwood, TN, Brentwood United Methodist, led by the senior pastor, Davis Chappell and includes 50 other members and friends. Although the timing was delayed years, making this pilgrimage during the 40 days leading up to Easter could not have been better timing. Sophie and I left Pensacola Tuesday morning and after connections in Atlanta and JFK, we arrived in Tel Aviv Wednesday evening, and were then bused two hours north to our hotel in Tiberias, on the banks Sea of Galilee. Getting to bed finally at 11:00 pm, in spite of travel preparation and melatonin, jet lag set in and we were awake ... read more

Middle East » Israel » North District » Tiberias July 29th 2021

This was the last day of our break and we did not rush to leave. We had a leisurely brunch and went back to the room to pack. Check-out was simple and we put our bags into the car. A final bug bit Lesley as we walked out, as a goodbye remembrance? The drive home had a little more traffic than our outbound ride, but still not bad. Now being Thursday afternoon perhaps people were starting to travel before the weekend. Don was not paying enough attention as navigator, so even with Waze he suddenly told Lesley to change roads. Unfortunately that was the wrong turning and added 25km to our journey. Upon arrival home we unpacked and undertook another birthday tradition: laundry! Rather than end our break at this point, we determined to make a ... read more
garden path near our room

Middle East » Israel » North District » Safed July 28th 2021

Today was Don's birthday with some treats in store. Of course the first was Lesley singing Happy Birthday and giving him a birthday card. After a rough night with muscle cramps in both legs he slowly got his act together as we went to breakfast. Lesley showed him some helpful leg stretches and suggested that he have a massage so that was booked for the afternoon. As a benefit of membership in the Isrotel Sun Club, the hotel gave additional birthday discounts for his spa treatments beyond the usual member discounts which applied to everything in the hotel including the spa. Don found that moving helped his legs and eased the pain, so he casually walked around the area for a while. He also got up frequently when sitting and reading or sunning. Then the massage ... read more
Happy Birthday toast
never seen a meal like this
live stalk as kebab skewer?!

Middle East » Israel » North District » Safed July 27th 2021

After breakfast Don planned to investigate Alma Cave. This is north of Safed, about 20km from the spa. He expected to be gone for several hours. Meanwhile Lesley was free to lounge around the hotel, read her book, enjoy a facial treatment in the spa, to do whatever she fancied. Don describes his experience: Despite the hot weather (33C and above) I dressed in classic denim bluejeans and a long-sleeve thick cotton shirt. I also removed my sandals and put on hiking boots over thick socks. From what I had read, the terrain around and within the cave warranted reasonable skin protection and climbing leverage. I drove along a winding mountain road and passed Safed toward Rehaniya, following directions in an article I had read about caves in Israel. As directed, I turned onto an unpaved ... read more
signs on approach to Alma Cave
sharp foliage amongst rocky landscape
Alma Cave is down there, but …

Middle East » Israel » North District » Safed July 26th 2021

We had a late breakfast. Breakfast is open until 11 and the buffet was constantly being replenished. As expected a wide variety of fresh produce, cheeses, baked goods, omelettes (pre-prepared or made-to-order), juices, coffee, etc were available. We sat outside and ordered coffee. Then we browsed the buffet and found lots to choose. The salads and some of the dairy products are produced on the farm here or by other local establishments. After breakfast we drove half an hour north to the Ramot Naftaly Winery. This is located within the Ramot Naftali moshav and is owned by our friend Shivi and her husband Yitzhak. High quality wine grapes have been grown in the area known as the Kedesh Valley since ancient times. Yitzhak began making wine there in 2003. For nearly two decades the winery has ... read more
labelling Chardonnay bottles
home of the winemakers
premium Barbera grapes

Middle East » Israel » North District » Safed July 25th 2021

This was the second year of the COVID-19 corona virus pandemic and again our summer vacation options excluded travels abroad. (Although to be truthful, we took advantage of a temporary window of opportunity in June to visit our daughter in England after 16 months apart.) As we did last year we are enjoying more places in our own wonderful country - see our 2020 blog about the Kfar Blum area. Here we were spending 5 days in the northeast Galilee around Rosh Pina. Our base for 4 nights was the Mitzpe Hayamim spa hotel. Normally the venues in Israel are heavily booked by foreign tourists while many Israelis fly elsewhere for their holidays. This year the local population are filling the properties, which is good to help resuscitate our tourism business. In fact it was challenging ... read more
our room with balcony
good sized room with walk-in shower

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District February 2nd 2021 2nd February - Dream houses of Tel Aviv Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 and developed as a metropolitan city under the British Mandate in Palestine. The White City was constructed from the early 1930s until the 1950s, based on the urban plan by Sir Patrick Geddes, reflecting modern organic planning principles. The buildings were designed by architects who were trained in Europe where they practised their profession before immigrating. They created an outstanding architectural ensemble of the Modern Movement in a new cultural context. We walked along citrus tree lined streets with several interesting houses, through a pretty alley passed an old water tower. One house had an etched design on the facial, depicting the tree that sat opposite in the piazza. The Pagoda House built in 1925 is an impressive three-store... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 1st 2020

A large number of Persian Jews who came to Jerusalem at the end of the 19th century arrived in vain, and the lowliness of their situation led to an attempt to expel them from the country. The writer of the newspaper "Havatzelet" 12 Shevet 1894: "A spectacle of terror we saw on Wednesday of this week in our city, a play that irritates the heart and soul. Many of our brothers, the children of Israel, residents of Persia, came this month to seize our city, to escape it from the heavy exile that rests on our people in the cities of Persia. The public will love them, and the alms that were collected from us - the residents of Jerusalem, revived their lives. Suddenly a decree was issued against them by the exalted government to leave ... read more

Middle East » Israel » North District » Tiberias July 16th 2020

This was the last day of our break and we did not rush to leave. We had a leisurely breakfast and went back to the room to pack. Check out was simple and we put our bags into the car. All the closures since the virus outbreak meant that we had not made our usual spring trip to the Golan. In previous years the water level in the Kinneret lake (also known as the Sea of Galilee) was significantly down due to lack of rain. Seeing wide dry banks all around the lake had not been encouraging. Fortunately this winter had broken that drought cycle spectacularly. The Kinneret was filled and the authorities had even released some of the water to prevent overflow. We wanted to see the lake in its fullness. So we decided to ... read more
homebound lunch at Pagoda on Decks lido

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