As If Time Stood Still

Israel Travel Blog

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Lobby King David Hotel

Israel is a country of contrasts--the old and the new.  The old city sitting on Mount Moriah in the center of Jerusalem like a jewel-- is surrounded by thousands of years of history and is in stark contrast to present day modern Jerusalem.  Let me back up a moment to our arrival in Tel Aviv at the Ben Girion airport where we then took a mini van taxi to Jerusalem.  Once on the road to Jerusalem the history of this land begins.  The road is littered with rusted bombed and burned out trucks and vehicles from the war of independence. Left there as a reminder of the price paid for a Jewish homeland.

Approaching Jerusalem (even as tired and jet lagged as we were) one can not help being moved by the glow of sun drenched hues of pink,orange, white, and mauve.

Hippodrome--Caesarea national Park
  Everyone in the van knew we had been transported back 2000 years and more.  When people tell you that Jerusalem literally glows--it is the truth.    We went in June for the Jewish Holiday Feast of Weeks or for Christians it is Pentecost.

The flight went OK and i was not as afraid as i thought. (however, don't like those puddle jumpers between Chicago and NY). I found out that Jet lag is very real.  Jerusalem was busy with Israelis and others making a pilgrimage to the Old City and the Western Wall (sometimes referred to as the Wailing wall). I was blessed to be going on this trip with an Israeli friend and not a tour which allowed me to see Israel up close and personal.

Our freedom of movement was curtailed a bit for the first couple days because our hotel had over booked and we were sent to a hotel in East Jerusalem.

2nd BC cistern
For perspective one needs to remember that when we went it was during the intifada which had began in 2000 and was still going strong in the summer of 2003.  Tourism for both Israel and Palestinian areas seemed to stop in its tracks in 2000.  Any and all tourists were greeted with a big Thank You.

Security was tight and there where guards everywhere. In fact, there are guards in front of every store, restaurant, hotel and public building in all of Israel.  It is this way even today but the odd thing is that even with armed guards all around we hardly seemed to notice. They are helpful and friendly and are simply a part of Israel.

We moved over to our proper hotel and due to the over booking they upgraded us to first class without cost. I have to tell you--we stayed in some awesome suites I in no way could have afforded.

Capernaum
This hotel was right outside the old city. We had a great view and we spent 6 days in Jerusalem and almost everyday in the old city. It was awesome, i don't know how to describe it. We where able to go to the tunnel under the wall and temple mount where it is believed the Holy of Holys is. I have all of it on video and it was so beautiful. The excavations have uncovered  stones and artifacts from the first and second temple period (going back 2000 plus years). They sit right where the slaves of the day had left them--waiting to be used!

The Kotel (another term for the wall) tunnel walk is 12 soccer fields long! Adrenaline is a wonderful drug lol.  From there we went up on the ramparts of the old city and did a bit of shopping :)  I will have to dedicate an entire paragraph for just the shopping. Anyone interested in a live Kotel view and a virtual tour of the Tunnels --follow this link.

Roman Cardo (Old City)
I will also be posting many pictures.  More later..................

Off to the Mount of Olives and a view of the Eastern Gate which was sealed centuries ago by Muslims because it is said this is where Jesus will enter upon his return.  There are many locals who will act as guides and in some cases it is a good idea to use one.  Our guide was an Arab Christian who took us from the Mount of Olives to The Garden of Gethsemane, The City of David, The Dome of the Rock, The Arab quarter where we had lunch(great Pitas) and shopped,The Armenian Quarter and the Church of All Nations. The Church of All Nations is said to be built around the rock Jesus prayed at before going to the cross.  The rock in the church is accessible to any that want to pray there or simply touch it.

When in Israel one walks and walks a lot :)  Our guide then took us to the Cardo an old roman road where pillars still stand.

Caesarea--Roman Amphitheater
Everywhere there is history.  Broken pieces of pottery and old roman glass just lay out in the open. Brush a bit of dirt away and you find treasures thousands of years old and we have yet to even leave the Old City and surrounding area! Later we took a stroll from our hotel to Ben Yehuda street famous for its night life and the open air markets (shuk) to do some shopping (did I mention the shopping? lol).

We spent the last two nights in Jerusalem at the historic King David Hotel where we bumped into faces one sees on the nightly news. The names escape me now but they were news people and those involved in the peace process.  I road the elevator with the then Italian prime minister--well I should say his body guards escorted me off ever so politely. 

Then of course there is the rest of Jerusalem.

Caesarea
Buildings are all in white and beige, keeping with the theme of the old and to combat the heat.
I went to Yad Vashem (Holocaust museum), one can not go through that dry eyed. Just the children's room of candles is enough!  It is an emotional journey and takes the better part of a day to see the whole place.    Modern Jerusalem is filled with Museums and we went to as many as we could. Then one last stop at the wall to put small prayers on small pieces of paper into the cracks already stuffed to over flowing per request of friends and family back home.

I loved Jerusalem, everyday at about 3pm a cool breeze just came out of no where and i have never experienced anything like it. It was so refreshing :) Jerusalem is known for this afternoon breeze that blows in off the Dead Sea and apparently there is some science behind it--not unlike the feeling people get after a turkey dinner--the release of endorphins or something.

Crusader Castle
All I know is it is really awesome!

Time to leave--we rented a car and headed north--off to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee!
We left Jerusalem one hour ahead of a suicide bombing of a bus on Jaffa rd--the only road in and out of Jerusalem.  More Later.....

A word about the bombings and safety. Except for that, Israel is actually safer than any city in this country. You can walk the streets at night alone.
In fact, it is a country that comes alive at night.
I was never afraid. We where cautious and aware. That's it.
The media really does not give the whole picture for either side
It is odd to watch CNN or Fox news while in Israel and know for a fact the distortions and out right bad information being given to the American people.

Ramparts Old City
   Before we ever left for this trip people would ask how we could go to such a dangerous place?   That's just it--it is no more dangerous than anywhere else.  I know much more has gone on since I went but Israel is still a safe place to travel to.  Two of my friends have gone back since our trip and one is there right now.  I met people there from every walk a life--Israel draws people to her.  They actually have quite a large population of illegals who fly under the radar.

The people--what can I say but that most simply want to live in peace.   Arab, Muslim, Jew, Palestinian and Christians do live in harmony in most of Israel.  Since we drove through out the country stopping at village after village meeting people we got a personal view of life in Israel one would not see on a tour. That's not to say life in Israel is easy--it isn't.

King David Hotel
  It is a contrast-- the modern and backwards side by side at the same time--something I can not explain at all.

Israel is a very tiny land and yet there are three to four climate changes. We left the more arid Jerusalem for Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee that is considered tropical. Hot and humid it was too. Palm and Olive trees abound along with Banana and oranges. Israel is known for their oranges and I can attest to this. We stayed two nights on a working Kibbutz ( the agricultural Maagan Holiday Village) that's sits right on the sea of Galilee.  I walked out my door and picked my own banana for a snack!  While their we went to the ancient ruins of Capernaum --a city where Jesus hung out.  The house of Peter is there along with the "White Synagogue" where Jesus taught.

Caesarea--digging for treasures
  The Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave his "Sermon on the Mount".   The Jordan River--the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.   Churches, ruins and excavations are everywhere and everywhere I went I picked up rocks, pottery, and pieces of roman glass. 

We jumped on over to Caesarea where one finds the Roman Amphitheater and Herod's Hippodrome as well as the Port of of Caesarea. "Caesarea was built as part of Herod the Great's ambitious plan to "Hellenise" the Holy Land in the 1st century BCE."  During Roman rule this was the capital and today it is a dream for any interested in archaeological digs.

Dome of the Rock
We spent an entire day going through these ruins and came up with some amazing finds!  Next we headed further north to the Golan Heights.......................


 

http://english.thekotel.org/cameras.asp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

homeres says:
wow!
Posted on: Oct 29, 2008
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Lobby King David Hotel
Lobby King David Hotel
Hippodrome--Caesarea national Park
Hippodrome--Caesarea national Park
2nd BC cistern
2nd BC cistern
Capernaum
Capernaum
Roman Cardo (Old City)
Roman Cardo (Old City)
Caesarea--Roman Amphitheater
Caesarea--Roman Amphitheater
Caesarea
Caesarea
Crusader Castle
Crusader Castle
Ramparts Old City
Ramparts Old City
King David Hotel
King David Hotel
Caesarea--digging for treasures
Caesarea--digging for treasures
Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
Eastern Gate--View from the Mount …
Eastern Gate--View from the Mount…
Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church
Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea.
Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea.
Old City (ceromony at the wall)
Old City (ceromony at the wall)
Jaffa Gate at the Old City
Jaffa Gate at the Old City
Jordon River
Jordon River
Kibbutz--Tiberias on the Sea of Ga…
Kibbutz--Tiberias on the Sea of G…
White Synagogue--Capernaum
White Synagogue--Capernaum
Jordon River
Jordon River
Port of Caesarea Mediterranean Sea
Port of Caesarea Mediterranean Sea
Old City at night.
Old City at night.
Port of Caesarea
Port of Caesarea
Rock where Jesus prayed before goi…
Rock where Jesus prayed before go…
Shopping in a 1000 yr old store in…
Shopping in a 1000 yr old store i…
Tunnel
Tunnel
Tunnel
Tunnel
Tunnel Entrance
Tunnel Entrance
Tunnel
Tunnel
Kotel Plaza
Kotel Plaza
Wailing Wall
Wailing Wall
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