Blogs from Israel, Middle East - page 5

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Middle East » Israel » North District » Acre April 26th 2018

Started today at 8am, first destination being Akko (Acre), site of a Crusader castle occupied by the Knights of St John (Knights Hospitaller). Much of this castle is still intact and houses a museum about the Crusaders. We had a good amount of time looking through the castle and then stopped for a coffee break. Before we went through a tunnel which connected originally to the castle of the Knights Templar. Mahdi had said in the bus earlier that he understood how all the middle eastern food like shawarma, falafel and hummus was exotic and different when you first arrive but after 2-3 weeks you’ve had enough and he promised to take us somewhere for lunch that didn’t have falafel and he kept his word and took us to a café in a shopping centre where ... read more
Akko Crusader Castle
Akko Crusader Castle
Akko Crusader Castle

Middle East » Israel April 26th 2018

Outside my window, not too far away, I can see the Dead Sea. It is a beautiful sight! I've floated in it twice, although after the first time most of us said one experience was enough. But yesterday Zvi offered a mud bath before bathing in this gorgeous lowest point on earth, so it was impossible to refuse, even though I have never - even as a child - enjoyed playing in mud. This would be a unique experience! Six of us appeared at the appointed time and walked down to the sea. Our outfits would have been remarkable in any other place: two were dressed as many other tourists chose to do, in bathrobes supplied by the spa; three wore their regular clothes, and I wore a towel over my swimsuit. I had received a ... read more

Middle East » Israel » North District » Nazareth April 25th 2018

Departing from Jerusalem today so met at 7:20am this morning to get bags into the bus and we got away at 7:35am. This is the first day we got some proper rain and the sky was quite an unusual colour. Took about one hour to get to Jericho where we visited Hisham’s Palace. This is an Islamic archaeological site from the 8th Century. It was destroyed by an earthquake. It is famous for it’s intact mosaic “The Tree of Life” but we were not able to see it. In fact all the floors were covered by cloth and dirt so we couldn’t see any mosaics at all. However it was still very interesting and one of the rooms had multiple columns reminding me of Luxor temple but on a much smaller scale. We then had a ... read more
Hisham's Palace
Hisham's Palace
Hisham's Palace

Middle East » Israel » South District April 24th 2018

Left hotel at 7:30 today for our trip to the southern end of the Dead Sea and Masada. Unfortunately my assigned buddy, Juliet succumbed to the cold she had been fighting and decided not to join us today. We got to Masada around 9am and stayed until 10:45am. We all took the cable car to go up but Pierre, Tash, Greg and Steve were keen to walk down so Mahdi said they could leave the guided tour and start walking at 10am. Masada is a fortress built on a mesa like plateau and King Herod had palaces built here around 39BCE. However it is most famous for a siege in 73 CE when Jewish rebels against the Romans are said to have committed mass suicide when it was inevitable that the Romans were about to break ... read more
Masada
Masada
Masada

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem April 23rd 2018

Started off today at 7.45am for our day trip to Bethlehem which is situated in the West Bank. This is the area that DFAT on their Smart Traveler website has listed as "Reconsider your need to travel". I understand the reasons for this but we are so glad we went because we actually felt good that we were contributing in some small way to the Palestinians who live here under some difficult circumstances. Before that however we had a couple of stops. First was a viewpoint overlooking the Mount of Olives where we had a marvelous view of Jerusalem and then a short drive to the Garden of Gethesame, where the Bible says Jesus and his disciples spent the night before the crucifixion. Next to the garden is the Church of All Nations, which is also ... read more
Garden of Gethesame
Church of Mary Magdalene
Church of Mary Magdalene

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District April 22nd 2018

Early start this morning at 7:15am as there would be a long line to enter the Courtyard of the Dome to see The Dome of the Rock. We entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate and our first stop was The Western Wall commonly known as the Wailing Wall before but Western Wall is now preferred. It is actually the only remaining part of the Second Temple. As it was so early there were not many men at the wall and we noticed that the women’s section was much smaller but had more women. Up close you can see all the messages pushed into cracks and Daisy did write one as well, that she pushed in. We then left the Wall and saw this very long line, not realizing that that was the line we ... read more
Old City
Via Dolorosa
Via Dolorosa

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem April 22nd 2018

Three of us left at 6:30AM this chilly grey morning to walk in the Western Wall tunnels; the other thirteen members in our group had chosen not to go, not to wake up and be out and about so early in the morning. Zvi drove our very small group in his car to a parking lot nearby, and then we walked in a downpour to the entrance of the tunnels. No people other than maintenance workers were in the tunnels so early, so we were able to walk through at our own pace, stopping whenever Zvi chose to offer us more history. I had thought Osama, our guide in Jordan, was exceptional, but Zvi, an Israeli, is an historian, not only knowing all about Israel's and Palestine's past, but also extremely knowledgeable about all the religions ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District April 21st 2018

Opportunity to sleep in today but still woke up early at 7am. We took our time showering, packing and having breakfast and checked out of the hotel around 10:15am. Short walk to what we thought was our Intrepid tour hotel, Holy Land but it turned out it was another Intrepid group booked, not ours. There was conflicting information in our tour notes, so I was half expecting this. Anyway, the Holy Land people were good enough to call the Azzahra Hotel to check that we were booked in there and sure enough we were. Fortunately just another short walk to the Azzahra. It was too early to check-in so we just left our bags there and asked the very nice lady at reception how much it should cost for a taxi to The Israel Museum. She ... read more
Israel Museum - Crusaders
Israel Museum
Israel Museum

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District April 21st 2018

After days of bright sunshine and clear blue skies, I awoke this morning to grey outside my window and dark heavy clouds. It rained, on and off, while we were in the bus heading off with only about half of our group on another optional tour, but the sun appeared before we reached Ein Karem, where John the Baptist was born. The statue in front of the Church of the Visitation of pregnant Mary meeting pregnant Elizabeth (St. John's mother) is graceful and strikingly apt. Zvi told us the story of Jesus and John rejoicing at meeting each other while they were still in their mothers' wombs, a very sweet thing to imagine. While standing in the courtyard listening to these histories we could also hear lovely singing behind us, in a little outdoor chapel where ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District April 19th 2018

Went down for breakfast at 7am and met up again with Mary, Paul and Susan. We had an 8am taxi pick-up and were a a little late but all good. Unfortunately we didn’t get the nice young driver from the night before but an older man who we found difficult to understand. He ended up stopping twice for water and then petrol and then he asked if we wanted him to take us to a bazaar but we politely told him that we just wanted to go straight to the border. The border crossing wasn’t as bad as we imagined, seems like they have streamlined it. I read that at one stage they take your luggage at the start and you don’t see it until the end of the procedure but in our case the bags ... read more
Allenby/King Hussein bridge
Jerusalem Old City
Tower of David Citadel




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