As If Time Stood Still
Israel Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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