Monday, October 29, 2007

3 countries in 2 days

Went to Petra in Jordan yesterday for a day trip. Amazing. Go there.

About to return our rental car and take a taxi to the Egypt border to head to the Sinai. Hopefully in between diving we'll have a little chance to relax a bit and slow down the pace and do some more serious blogging and picture posting too.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Busy and no Internet

Sorry for the delay in blogging to any of our loyal readership. We've been from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, Haifa (and Akko and Ceaserea), the Dead Sea, Masada, back to Lachish, and now Mitzpe Ramon, and this is the first time we've had any Internet access since Tel Aviv.

I'll fill in more details later, but this terminal really sucks and the clock is ticking and we can't upload photos anyway, and others are waiting. But the bottom line is we're alive and well and having fun.

Pictures to come in the future. We promise.

Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

still jerusalem

rock, mosque, tunnels, wall, family.
'nuff said.
for now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jerusalem by day

Our first full day in Jerusalem, it was a pretty busy one.

Woke up early in the morning (I'm still quite not used to Israel time -- although they're kind of faking it anyway, since they're on the same timezone as Europe instead of the timezone of the surrounding countries, so sunrise and sunset are kind of ridiculously early) to the sounds of church bells ringing (we're in the Christian quarter). Walked along the Rampart's Walk, which takes you on (most of) the perimeter of the walls surrounding the Old City. In decidingly uncharacteristic fashion for us, we actually showed up a little bit before it even opened. So we were the first ones in and pretty much felt like we had the whole wall to ourselves, at least for the Northern section. (There are two distinct sections, we walked the Southern section later in the day).

Wandered around the Muslim quarter in the late afternoon, bought a bit of produce at a market (and had some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice -- it's pretty intense), then headed in search of lunch, where we found the best hummus in the world. Okay, that might be hyperbole, but we both genuinely think it's the best we've ever had. Try the I Kermawi restaurant just a few shops north of the Damascus gate, on the east side of Nablus Rd. just north of the intersection with Sultan Suleyman St.

Later in the day we went to the City of David, which is the original site of Jerusalem, circa thousands of years ago. (The walls of the current "old" city are "only" about 450-500 years old.) The coolest thing to see here is Hezekiah's tunnel. It's a 500 meter long underground tunnel used to bring water from a spring that was outside of the city into the city, to prevent invaders from cutting off the city's water supply during a seige. It's totally dark, and water still flows through it. Oh yeah, and it's about 2700 years old. It just boggles my mind how old stuff is here. Details about the tunnel are known because an inscription about its construction was carved into the stone. Although the actual inscription is no longer there -- it was carted off by either the Turks or the Brits (I forget which) when they controlled Palestine.

If you've ever read The Source, by James Michener, I'm pretty sure the water tunnel there was based on this. Although his one didn't have a group of screaming Israeli schoolkids right behind you in the tunnels. I was really tempted to shout "Shekhet bevakasha" -- I suppose it may have been the most practical use of anything that I learned in 5 years of Hebrew school ("Me is who, who is he, he is she, and dog is fish" hasn't come in that handy all too often) -- but I didn't quite have the nerve.

There was some other stuff, but those were the highlights. And once again it feels way late and I'm way tired from still being jet lagged -- I hope I'm not sounding too rambling and cracked out in these late night posts.

More of Jerusalem tomorrow, and then on Friday we're off to Tel Aviv, provided that we manage to get out of the city before everything shuts down for Shabbat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jerusalem by night

We spent the early part of the day in and around Lachish, touring some nearby caves. Beit Guvron, perhaps? It's late, I'm tired, and I may have the name wrong. Generally man made caves, different ones used for various purposes including water cisterns, burial tombs, and raising pigeons.

Then we took the bus from Kiryat Gat to Jerusalem. One word of advice -- taking full backpacks on a crowded local public bus is pretty stupid. We should've just taken a cab.

We're staying in the old city just inside the Jaffa gate. It's magnificent here. We met up with Lorien's parents for dinner. We were pretty tired and considering heading straight to bed, but we couldn't resist a little peek around the old city first. Wow. It's pretty spectacular at night. Most shops and restaurants are closed, and the streets are fairly empty. And while I'm sure I'll appreciate the hustle and bustle of the daytime, the beauty of the streets at night is something that I'm certainly glad we chose to experience. And it's all so compact. Without realizing it, we had made it all the way to the Western Wall.

And the cats come out to roam at night. Another bonus.

Way too tired now to write much more, but I felt like I just had to post a few of these pictures.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Around the world in 30 hours

After a long day (days?) of travel, we're now in Israel. I think it was something like 30 hours from the time we left our house in Berkeley until we arrived at my cousin Ziggy's house in Lachish. Things went reasonably smoothly -- I think the hardest thing I've encountered so far is trying to post some pictures to this blog using IE5 in Hebrew, and finding no way other than installing GIMP to manipulate the pictures to post them here. But after all of that I'm pretty tired, so I'll try to keep this brief.

With an 8 hour or so layover, we managed to have a reasonably full afternoon in Paris. We went to Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame, roamed around the streets and sampled some French food, and wandered outside of the Louvre (way too little time to head inside), which is where this nifty picture comes from.
In Lachish we've spent the day visiting with family and touring around the moshav. Even though it's past most of the harvest and the grapes may not allegedly be at their finest, I think my memories from my trip back in 1979 have indeed been fulfilled. The grapes here are great.

Anyway, that's about it for now. We're off to Jerusalem tomorrow, then on to Tel Aviv, and from there we'll see.
We'll try to keep posting when we have the chance and keep anyone who might be reading this informed about our travels.