A Travellerspoint blog

October 2019

Vilnius

Lithuania

Our next adventure took us to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. I must admit, Lithuania was not originally on our must see list, but I heard so many people say what a wonderful time they had there. I also read a CNN article about how Vilnius was a great weekend getaway, not to mention economical. We absolutely LOVED Vilnius!! It is such a cool city and reminds me of quintessential European cities with the architecture there. Not to mention any city that you can deplane, pass through customs/immigration, and be at your AirBnb in under 45 minutes, is amazing! Also, Vilnius has Uber which we used to and from the airport for under 10€ each way. It is a very walkable city and we walked everywhere and it was also extremely economical (breakfast for two was 15€!). Most entry fees to museums and sites of interest were around the 5€ point. Vilnius was also very clean and you saw lots of people out and about exercising or walking around.

CNN article: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/most-affordable-city-break-europe-2019/index.html

We stayed in a fantastic AirBnb in the heart of Old Town Vilnius. Our host had awesome recommendations for places to checkout and eat at during our visit. We spent two full days exploring the city and a half day before our flight left on departure day. Once again, we used Ryanair for flights and had no issues with our flights.

AirBnb: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3834725?source_impression_id=p3_1568645084_29wyXDPVlfxXRRFZ
Exposed brick of the AirBnb, really interesting. The place used to be an old monastery:
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A few fun facts about Lithuania before I get to the good stuff. Basketball is very popular in Lithuania. Cepelinai (dumplings made from grated and riced potatoes and stuffed with ground meat or dry curd cheese or mushrooms) is probably one of the most famous Lithuania dishes and it is delicious! And easter eggs are not brought by cute, fluffy bunnies, granny Velykų Bobute delivers them; bunnies just help her decorate the eggs and load her cart.

I will probably break the Lithuania posts up into separate posts due to the sheer volume of pictures.

Lithuania flag
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Views of Vilnius:
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Some of the many churches in Vilnius
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Overall, we had an excellent time in Vilnius and I would absolutely return. It is such an interesting city, so easy to get around and very economical. Onto Vilnius Day 1...

Posted by LCP 00:28 Archived in Lithuania Tagged churches town old vilnius lithuania basketball cepelinai Comments (3)

Israel Part 4

Northern Israel: Caesarea, Haifa, Rosh HaNikra, and Acre

On my last day in Israel, I took a tour of northern Israel. The tour stopped in Caeserea, Haifa, Rosh HaNikra, and Acre. We drove up the coast from Tel Aviv to Caesarea, the ancient Roman capital and port. I toured the Roman amphitheater, archaeological ruins and excavations. The tour then went on to the Baha'i Gardens at the summit of Mount Carmel where we had a beautiful view of the port and city of Haifa. The tour continued north to Rosh HaNikra and I toured the limestone grottoes and saw the Lebanese border. From there the tour ventured south to Acre where I toured the Crusader City and walked through the Old City market before heading back to Tel Aviv.

Caesarea. Fun fact, Kobi my tour guide mentioned about Caesarea. It is the most expensive area to live in, in Israel. Apparently the Prime Minister (Netanyahu at the time of my visit) has a mansion here.
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Baha'i Gardens:
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View of the port and city of Haifa from summit of Mount Carmel:
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Rosh HaNikra:
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Looking south from Rosh HaNikra:
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Looking east from Rosh HaNikra:
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View from the cable car down to the grottoes:
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Grottoes:
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Acre and Crusader city:
73b5ed40-ccaa-11e9-9b61-e7022a23cc42.jpg74f87f60-ccaa-11e9-9b61-e7022a23cc42.jpg74996f70-ccaa-11e9-92aa-ffbae21bee18.jpg7487e340-ccaa-11e9-8fcd-15053c188242.jpg74968940-ccaa-11e9-81d6-c1656068f662.jpgCrusader_hall_dining.jpg74012710-ccaa-11e9-9b61-e7022a23cc42.jpg7433a8c0-ccaa-11e9-92aa-ffbae21bee18.jpg7462a800-ccaa-11e9-81d6-c1656068f662.jpg744d7250-ccaa-11e9-8fcd-15053c188242.jpg7380d380-ccaa-11e9-9b61-e7022a23cc42.jpg74b9a1a0-ccaa-11e9-9b61-e7022a23cc42.jpg

This was a great trip! And I enjoyed my time in Israel. On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 23:53 Archived in Israel Tagged gardens israel lebanon grotto rosh haifa bahai caesarea hanikra acre crusader Comments (3)

Israel Part 3

Armor Corps Museum and Jerusalem Tour

In this post, I'll review my time at Armor Corps Museum and my tour of Jerusalem. The Armored Corps Museum is located in Latrun (which is halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). It is a memorial site and the main building is a British Mandate-era fortress. The fortress houses a synagogue and library and an observation lookout on the top of the building (this was closed during my visit). There is an impressive outdoor collection of Israeli armored vehicles as well as US, French, German, and Soviet equipment as well as equipment from other countries.

Armored Corps Museum: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/ent/yad-lashiryon-armored-corps-museum/

Latrun:
Latrun_Merkavas.jpgd2469c20-cc9f-11e9-86dd-ed6f6680454b.jpgLatrun_Achzarit.jpgd33cbbf0-cc9f-11e9-86dd-ed6f6680454b.jpgLatrun_armor.jpgd32674d0-cc9f-11e9-947c-1b4d460f44e8.jpgd37a3a20-cc9f-11e9-82a9-ef53e44c6c69.jpgLatrun_Namer.jpgd3e2bff0-cc9f-11e9-97fb-f11c7f321087.jpg

Entering the fortress:
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I booked my Jerusalem tour through my hotel that used Bein Harim Tours. I was picked up at my hotel. My guide Kobi, was fantastic. He was extremely knowledgeable and super friendly. My tour took me through the Old City and the new city of Jerusalem. We drove along the Kidron valley, saw the Garden of Gethsemane, the walls of of the old city and Mount of Olives. In the city of Jerusalem, there are four quarters: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and the Armenian quarters. We entered Jaffa Gate and briefly walked into the Armenian Quarter before proceeding onto the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, and ended in the Jewish Quarter.

Bein Harim tours: https://www.beinharimtours.com

Our first stop was the Elvis Station just outside of Jerusalem. Definitely a one of a kind, American diner experience.
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View from Mount Scopus looking at the Mount of Olives, Kidron Valley, and the City of David below the old city of Jerusalem:
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Church of All Nations next to Gethsemane:
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Entering Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate, briefly into the Armenian quarter:
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Church of the Holy Sepulchre:
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Stone of Anointing:
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Via Dolorosa:
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Reported spot where Jesus laid his hand while carrying the cross:
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Arab quarter:
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Western Wall:
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Jewish quarter:
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Views of Jerusalem:
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Knesset
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The final part of the tour was the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in western Jerusalem. This is was a very moving and somber visit. I was told no photography was allowed in the Museum. The Museum did an amazing job of capturing everything. Some of the presentations were difficult to watch, but overall it was a wonderful experience. The Museum is still actively trying to find all of the Jewish people who were killed in the Holocaust. There is a round room with a spiral staircase at the end of the museum where all of this work is being saved. The walls are full of binders of those Jews that the Museum staff have traced to the various camps. It was one of the most moving rooms in the museum, in my opinion.
Holocaust Remembrance Center: https://www.yadvashem.org
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Tree planted by Oliver Schindler.
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The Museum and Jerusalem were both great. There was a lot to digest in both places.

Onto northern Israel...

Posted by LCP 01:10 Archived in Israel Tagged city new museum old israel holocaust jerusalem yad corps armor remembrance latrun vashem Comments (1)

Israel Part 2

Golan Heights

In this post, I'll go over my visit to the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is probably one of the most controversial places on the planet (another is Jerusalem), so I will not get into the history or status today. The Golan Heights is bounded by the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee on the west, Mount Hermon on the north, the seasonal Wadi Al-Ruqqād (part of the Yarmūk River) on the east, and the Yarmūk River on the south. One of the things that the Golan Heights is famous for is wine. There are lots of wineries and wine specific tours. Agriculture is important in the area. I drove around with a friend who was familiar with the area. We covered the Golan from south to north and then cut across to the Israel-Lebanon border. I was able to see three countries in all during this tour day: Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. This was no short trip either, all of the driving and overlooking took about 13 hours, but in my opinion it was totally worth it. It took about three hours to get to the Golan from Tel Aviv.

For whatever reason, despite being sunny and very hot (reminds me of the climate in Florida), it was also very hazy.

I believe these are from overlooking the Jezreel Valley, east of the southern point of Lake Tiberias:
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Looking west to Lake Tiberias and the Tiberias area:
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Flowers at the overlook point:
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Destroyed Ottoman Valley Rail Bridge (looking into Jordan):
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Looking into the Israel-Syria-Jordan border:
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Derelict APC near Jordan River baptismal site:
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On top of Mount Shifon looking northeast:
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On top of Mount Shifon looking southwest:
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Memorial of a tree growing out of a destroyed M113 APC:
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View from tree/M113 APC site (Mount Shifon in the background on the right):
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On top of Mount Bental at Coffee Annan, looking into Syria:
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Found the sign for Trump Heights:
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Hula Valley:
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Nimrod's Castle:
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Villages heading west in the Golan:
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Sheep darting across the road:
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Israel-Lebanon border at Misgav Am overlook (eastern part of the Israel-Lebanon border):
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Looking into the Galilee from overlook:
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This was a really cool day of driving around. It was surreal peering into Syria and Jordan and being so close to the border. I felt the same way about the Lebanon border, literally a stone's throw away. Both being some of the most volatile areas in the world and I was right there!

Onto Latrun and Jerusalem...

Posted by LCP 02:51 Archived in Israel Tagged mount valley castle wine israel jordan lebanon coffee syria hula galilee golan annan nimrod tiberias shifon bental Comments (2)

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