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Israel

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.
0b583420-cca9-11e9-8fcd-15053c188242.jpgCaeserea.jpg0bd1a9e0-cca9-11e9-9c35-0f0cac0f03ce.jpg0b5267c0-cca9-11e9-9b61-e7022a23cc42.jpgCaesarea2.jpg0bbdacb0-cca9-11e9-8fcd-15053c188242.jpg0b8b7920-cca9-11e9-81d6-c1656068f662.jpgCaesarea4.jpgCaesarea5.jpg

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:
c7b52e70-cca9-11e9-92aa-ffbae21bee18.jpgc7e0f960-cca9-11e9-acc4-198a591de2b5.jpg

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:
Latrun_Museum1.jpg14b83140-cca0-11e9-97fb-f11c7f321087.jpg

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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Jerusalem.jpgJerusalem2.jpg

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)

Israel

The Land of Milk and Honey, Part 1

Greetings! The next adventure is a little different from the rest. I visited Israel for a few days and took a couple of tours around the Golan Heights, the Jerusalem area, and northern Israel (Caesarea, Haifa, Rosh Hanikra, and Akko). The Golan Heights was guided by a friend and I used a tour company for Jerusalem and northern Israel, which I would highly recommend doing. There are so many tour companies to choose from and so many different types of tours you can book. Like every place on earth, each has its own pros and cons and Israel is no exception. Israel has an interesting history and is often a controversial topic to discuss, so I will just stick to basic observations of areas where I visited.

Bein Harim (this was the company my hotel used): https://www.beinharimtours.com

General observations I thought were worth sharing:

The exchange rate is pretty good in Israel, 1 USD was about 3.4 NIS (at the time of my travels), but things are expensive, especially in Tel Aviv. Also of note, like in the US, you are supposed to tip drivers, tour guides, waiters, etc.

Driving: I wouldn't suggest doing that in Israel, at least in my opinion. Drivers drive fast, and move into a lane prior to indicating they want to move into the lane. I would stick to tour companies or friends who know their way around. In the two taxis I took (to and from the airport), I thought I was going to die on more than one occasion. Taxis from the airport were nice because attendants at the airport will give you the total cost of your ride (from the airport to your destination) so you know what to expect before getting into the taxi. Roads can be confusing and parking can be hard to find, especially in Tel Aviv.

Personal space: Forget about it in Israel. Queues for things are a cluster and people constantly invaded my personal bubble. I understand that this is pretty common all over the Middle East.

Fridays and Saturdays in Israel can be tricky because of the Shabbat. Shabbat lasts from sunset on Friday night until Saturday night and is a day of rest for the Jewish people. So, shops, restaurants, and other places are typically closed around Israel in observation of this. There are even special Shabbat elevators in hotels.

Sunsets: Absolutely stunning over the Mediterranean. The sky has so many colors...just gorgeous and best of all they are free :-).

Food: AMAZING...If you love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food. Fresh vegetables, all of the hummus you could want (and it taste so much better than store bought variety) and my personal favorite, falafel! Here are a couple of the restaurants I ate at for dinner:

Boccacio: http://www.boccaccio.rest-e.co.il
Jessica's (right on the beach): https://www.jessica-restro-bar.co.il
Prozdor: https://www.prozdor.co.il/en/

I stayed in the Sheraton in Tel Aviv, between the Frishman and Gordon beaches. It was in a central location and made it easy to walk around to restaurants, shops and the beach. There are tons of hotels along the beach and AirBnbs. I made my tour reservations through the concierge at the hotel. The concierge was very nice and arranged everything. The tour company even picked me up and dropped me off at the hotel.

Views of Tel Aviv:
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Onto Israel part 2...

Posted by LCP 00:14 Archived in Israel Tagged beaches driving tours israel mediterranean been sheraton harim Comments (0)

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