A Travellerspoint blog

From Tel Aviv to Eilat

We planned to leave Gail and David's home by 9 a.m. in order to be in Tel Aviv by 10:00 a.m. But the best laid plans ... After getting lost and fighting heavy traffic we got to Tel Aviv around 11 a.m., dropped off our bikes at the Sheraton Towers and went for lunch at a lovely restaurant that overlooked the beach in Tel Aviv. The salads in Israel are quite wonderful.

After lunch we took a taxi to the airport in Tel Aviv for our flight to Eilat that afternoon. Unfortunately we overpaid for a taxi . I know that we had been told to only pay what was on the meter but we stupidly agreed to pay a fixed rate - the fixed rate was about double of what we should have paid. We live and learn.

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We then took the short flight to Eilat. Unfortunately the take off was quite rough and Rick was really not feeling well. I had never seen him so pale. His colour did come back when we landed and he was feeling slightly better. We arrived at a charming Bed and Breakfast called the Cactus Inn. It is great to stay in an area that is more residential and have a private room with a small kitchen and an outdoor area specifically for us.
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After a nap Rick felt better and we want towards the downtown. It was still hot - about 38 degrees C but it was dry. We had fun buying Rick a bathing suit and realizing that this entitled us to two additional free pieces of clothing. After spending over an hour looking Rick and I each got a piece of clothing. A bathing suit, a light jacket and a pair of shorts for about $40 seemed like a pretty good deal.

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We ended the evening with a chicken swarma dinner and a relaxing walk back to our B&B
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Posted by arick 07:24 Comments (0)

A perspective of Israel

A thank you to two very special people

sunny 38 °C

I believe that an important part of travel is to develop some understanding of the people- their values, their culture and the political issues they deal with. And although visiting tourist sites is interesting, exciting and educational I believe that by having the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with people who live in the country, enhances the travel experience.

We have been fortunate to stay with our cousins Gail and David who have served as our travel guides as well as giving us an understanding of the country. They live in a small community north of Tel Aviv called Kochar Ya'ar that is an extremely quiet community. We were able to ride our bikes there one morning without seeing more than 10 cars for the hour and a half we rode. So our assumption was that the safety issues we hear about in the news would not affect them. But we didn't realize that Palestine was not more than 200 metres from their home and although they are on the Green Line they are very close to the West Bank.

We learned from Gail and David about the relationship between the orthodox community and the secular Jews. Although it is a fascinating issue I will leave it for a discussion we can have when we get back to Toronto.

I wanted to thank Gail and David for enriching our experience and making us wiser about the people of Israel.
I also want to thank Gail for the countless hours she has spent researching travel options. As a result we have seen and done things that we probably wouldn't have done.

Today is Gail's birthday. Happy Birthday Gail and many happy returns.

Posted by arick 07:02 Archived in Israel Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Ein Geddi and Masada

sunny 35 °C

Ein GediRecommendations were that we get up at 4:30 a.m. to climb up to Masada to see the sunrise. Given that Rick couldn't get up at 7 a.m. the previous morning, I really didn't see 4:30 a.m. as even a remote possibility. And added to that my sleep patterns still have not settled down I am functioning on a few hours of sleep. So we had a leisurely breakfast and set out around 9:30 a.m. to go to the Nature Reserve at Ein Geddi.

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With the backdrop of the desert we climbed up to a series of waterfalls. Given that the temperature was probably about 40 degrees, it was the most welcome relief to swim in the pools
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at the bottom of the waterfalls and then to have invigorating showers under the waterfall. I felt great. I wish Rick could have joined me. But he chose to be the photographer and that is ok.

Some animals live in the desert. We saw hyrax and ibex. And cats everywhere
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For more about Ein Gedi look herehttp://www.jewishmag.com/54mag/ein-gedi/ein-gedi.htm

From there we went to see an Ancient Synagogue that was built in the 3rd century. It was amazing to see the structure and the beautiful and symbolic stone work.

Masada

Then onto Masada. After taking the cable car up we were able to walk through history. How wonderous Masada is. The palaces, the bath houses, the storage areas and the overall structure built at the top of a mountain was amazing.

Masada was built as Herod's castle on the top of a mountain. The views are spectacular, and, important for the time, very defensable as future events would show.img=http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/163357/masada_view.jpg thumb=http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/163357/thumb_masada_view.jpg]

The first room you see on entering is the commander's room. Not much left here.masada_com..rs_room.jpg

Other rooms had clourfull wall paintings, the evidence of some of which is still visible.
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Even the floors had inlaid ceramic patterns
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There were rooms for baths. A frigidarium for cold bath, a tepidarium for warm bath a room for hot baths (I forget the word). People would move from one to the other alternating between warm and hot baths.

Access to Herod's throne room was around the outside.
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Look at the columns carved into the rock face.
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For more about Masada look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masada

Another great day!

Posted by arick 05:56 Comments (0)

Jerusalem to Ein Geddi

A country of contrasts

sunny 35 °C

I got up at 6:50 a.m. with boundless energy and decided that I wanted to go cycling. Although the roads in Jerusalem are very busy during the week, there are very few cars on the road on Saturday and I was told that there were cyclist who rode every Saturday. Although Rick was not interested in going, I thought I would do some riding on my own. I started by riding around the block in the German Colony (where we were staying). Then I decided to go further afield. In the distance I saw some mountain bikes and followed them for a short time until they went off-road. I then was going to head back but saw 2 people with road bikes. I approached them and asked if I could join them. As it turned, they were friends of Joni, the person organizing the ride for Beit Halochem - what a small world. I stayed with them for about 20 km. - long enough to climb a mountain out of Jerusalem. It would have been great to continue on their 80 km ride but I felt guilty leaving Rick alone so decided to find my way back myself. It took conversations with a number of people who were more than happy to help by find my way back - this was just part of the adventure.

Upon return to the hotel, I was greeted by a very unhappy husband who felt sleep deprived. Thankfully he went back to bed and I was able to have conversations with some very interesting people as I ate my breakfast. One young man talked about his family's escape from Iran and final settlement in Israel. It was fascinating.

Luckily Rick woke up in a decent mood and we began our drive to the Dead Sea and En Geddi. The ride through the desert allowed us to see something totally different. There is a profound beauty in the desert. As we drove we jokingly discussed our ancestors walking through the desert for 40 years. No small feat!

Arriving at the Ein Geddi Kibbutz, the sharp contrast between the desert and this lovely oasis was profound. The Ein Geddi Kibbutz is so green and so lush. What a beautiful place!

On the way to the dead sea we saw the Judean hills in the background

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We had to stop for gas on the way. At the gas station, there was a shop for pottery jars and a camel you could ride on. ein_gedi_pottery.jpg dead_sea_on_the_way1.jpg
We stayed to have a fallafel there.

dead_sea_f..gkimpse1.jpgShortly after thar we caught our first glimpse of the dead sea

Including in our stay at Ein Geddi was access to the spa. We went there that afternoon not knowing what to expect. But after lathering ourselves with mud and having a quick bob in the Dead Sea, we were new people. Returning to the Kibbitz I had a swim in their almost olympic size pool and then a good dinner in their dining room. The end to a perfect day.
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Posted by arick 05:33 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Jerusalem

A perspective of Israel

sunny 31 °C

(To see larger versions of the pics, click in them)

We began the day by going to Yad Vashem, the museum that describes the Holocaust from Hitler's rise to power until the settlement of the Jewish in Israel. Although it was very hard to see and listen to it really gave a great description of Hitler's rise to power, the evolution of antisemitism, the ghettos and the concentration camps and finally the end of the war and the rebuilding of the Jewish community. It was extremely emotion for me when I walked our of the museum onto the terrace that overlooked the whole city of Jerusalem. This really will frame our entire experience in Israel.

wailing1.jpgFrom there we went to the Old City and the Wailing Wall. It wasn't what Rick and I expected. Somehow we thought that it would be larger and more imposing. It certainly was one of the experiences we wanted to have. Although it was not emotional, it helped give us perspective. But certainly seeing the Old City that it was built by hand so many centuries ago was awsome. Having seen the Great Wall of China, I felt the same sense of wonder. But this experience includes the human element in the present day. Seeing many religious groups living side by side in the city was fascinating.
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Posted by arick 05:12 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

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