Tuesday, February 17, 2015
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Friday, February 13, 2015
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Friday, February 6, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Friday, November 25, 2011
10. The satisfaction in knowing we got to Jerusalem just in time for the big 50% off sale. "Big sale! Big sale!"
9. The almost impossible choice we faced each day: Falafel or Shwarma?
8.. The confusion in knowing Israelis have developed a fence that can sense where and when a bird lands on it but do not possess the technology to make a decent napkin.
7. Not that I wanna harp on this but the napkins are the size of a post it note and the wash cloths are the size of a football field.
6. The enormous and, dare I say, out of control, feral cat population.
5. Drinking a beer while on a church trip and almost getting away with having it charged to the pastor's room.
4. Dancing the Hava Nagila without creating an international incident by putting out our tour guide's eye.
3. Carrying around 300 pounds of change but never having enough to actually pay for anything.
2. Visiting Qumran and then wondering about the sexual preference of the Essenes - a sect of deeply religious men who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and spent a lot of time in ritual baths. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
And my Number One memory of my trip to Israel . . .
Never once getting lost while wandering around the Old City. Okay, that's a lie. ALWAYS getting lost while wandering around the Old City - but going back every day for more.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Gonna make this one shorter . . .
We hit the road at 8:00 AM and headed straight to the Mount of Olives - along with all the rest of the tourists in Jerusalem. The view from our starting point looks out over the old city and is pretty spectacular with the early sun on the golden Dome of the Rock. Beyond that we visited the Garden of Gethsemane and a few related churches along the way.
Then we went into the Old City and visited an archaeological park at the southern end of the Temple Mount. This is the spot where anyone visiting the temple would have come to enter the Temple Mount. it's one spot where we can be certain Jesus would have walked.
From there it was a trip to the outskirts of Jerusalem to visit Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the millions of Jews killed in the Holocost. It features the stories and artifacts of hose who went through it. Very powerful.
We headed back into the city to visit he City of David which is essentially the Jerusalem of David's time. This is a very controversial dig in East Jerusalem. It's controversial because Israeli's are literally digging in Palestinians back yards.
The purpose of our visit was to walk the 1,750 length of Hezekiah's Tunnel. This tunnel was dug to secretly bring water from the Gihon spring, the only source of water for the city, to the pool of Siloam on the other side of town. It guaranteed the Residents would continue to have water if their city was attacked. A pretty impressive engineering feat for its day.
We climbed down into a cavern and stepped into the entrance. The water quickly crept to our knees and then our thighs. After a few hundred feet it was only ankle deep. The tunnel is pitch dark but most of us had flashlights. It took less than half an hour but was very cool and Indiana Jones like.
After dinner A few of us made the trek to the Old City to see the Western Wall at night. It is very cool to see things at night. Shops are closed. It is dimly lit and feels even more like another world.
The Western Wall is always cool with lots of Orthodox men bobbing their heads as they pray. There is also a covered area just north of that section do the wall where even more men gather to talk and pray. We wandered into that space as well.
Our trip to and from the Old City resulted in us getting lost several times but that's all part of he fun.
Feral cat count: 13
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
We didn't have a wake up call this morning and didn't have to leave the towel until 9:30 AM. Ostensibly that was to give us a chance to go down to the Dead Sea to swim and take in the natural beauty. I spent the time sleeping and finally woke up about 8:20.
Our first stop was Masada, one of seven fortresses built by Herod the Great. It's a pretty impressive feat of engineering.
It's second claim to fame comes through a story told by Josephus, which may or may not be true. When the Romans defeated the Jews and destroyed the temple in 70 AD, a small band of 900 fled to Masada. The fortress, being on top of a mountain was isolated and fairly impregnable. The Romans came after them anyway and spent at least a year plotting how to get at the Jews. They ended up building a ramp to the top of the mountain and then rolled up a battering ram to bust through the walls. According to the story, on the night before the Romans broke through, the ledger of the rebels convinced his people it was better to take their own knives than to let the Romans kill them. So, with the exception of 5 women and 3 children who kinda hid out, they opted for the Jonestown method.
Then we tried to visit the En Gedi Nature Reserve but it was closed due to a flash flood warning. Flash floods are a big deal in the Dead Sea valley. While it doesn't rain much, when it does the water comes rushing down the adjacent hillsides pretty fast and furiously. It is such a freak phenomenon that folks drive down to the Dead Sea to see it. Kinda like driving to the Oregon coast to see a big storm roll in I guess.
We had lunch at nearby restaurant. Chicken leg and thigh, rice, corn, flatbread and a drink. I get to the check stand and she says, "$17 US." good grief! About twice what it seemed worth. On top of that, I handed her a $20 and got the equivalent of about fifty cents in change. Sheesh!
Then it was on to Qumran, the home of the Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1947 a Bedouin shepherd boy chased a sheep along a hillside. When it ran into a cave, he threw a rock in to scare it out. He heard something shatter and went in to check it out. What shattered was an urn that had been in that spot for almost 2,00 years. Inside the urn was a scroll. There were other urns and other scrolls. The boy gathered them up and took them into Bethlehem to see if they we're worth anything. A local shoemaker took a look and, while he was no antiquities expert, he knew enough to realize they were extremely valuable.. He bought the, for a song and eventually became wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.
From there we climbed our way to Jerusalem, going from 1,300 feet below sea level to 2,500 feet above. Along the way we stopped at an overlook to the st. George's Monastery, which looks to be hanging on a cliff in a very steep canyon. Some day I gotta go there.
We checked into our hotel about 5:30 PM and from there the daily battle for Internet access began.
Feral cat count: 6