Suitcase and World: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Day in New City Jerusalem.

Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem

Uri was due to pick me up from the hotel at 8:30a. I lingered in bed as long as I could. I then got ready for the day and headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. It was a buffet style meal and there was quite a large selection though I really wanted eggs and some sort of meat but that's not to be had in Israel so it was scrambled eggs, creamed potatoes and sardines. Yeah, it was a weird breakfast. The restaurant was large but it's obvious this hotel caters to large tour groups because the place was filled with tourists. I found a small table and ate my meal.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.

Greek Orthodox monks conducting afternoon prayer at the Church of the Nativity.

Back when Christ was alive, it probably took days to travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. These days, Bethlehem is pretty much a suburb of Jerusalem. I don't think it took us more than 20 minutes to get from Zion Gate to the military checkpoint in Bethlehem.

Last Day in Old City Jerusalem.

Iconic view of the Old City from Mount of Olives.

Today is the official start of my tour. The guide called me last night and said he would be at the hotel lobby at 8:30a to pick me up.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Shuk. The Mahane Yehuda.

The most intoxicating smells, in Mahane Yehuda, undoubtedly come from the bread bakers.

From the City Hall light rail stop, I rode the train for three stops to the Mahane Yehuda stop which is right outside the market.

More of the Old City.

A building in the Armenian Quarter.

After I finished the tour of the City of David, I headed into the Jewish Quarter to to visit the Wohl Archeological Museum. I knew or at least I thought I knew exactly where the museum was and so I headed in that direction. Heading down the stairs that led me to the observation platform, overlooking the Western Wall Plaza, where I was yesterday, I followed the sign marker to the museum. Unforunately, what I thought was the entry was actually the exit. :-(

City of David.

Ruins of an upper class residence at the City of David.

According to the map, the City of David sits outside the walled city.....makes sense.

It was about 9:30a. It didn't look like it would take more than 10 minutes to walk over to the City of David but I decided to just go ahead - better to be early than late and miss the tour.

Temple Mount.

Posing for a photo in front of the Dome of the Rock.  Okay, my pants are short and my shoes aren't pretty but I don't care. 

Last night, I had laid out my plan for this morning - to visit Temple Mount first thing in the morning and then to go on my pre-scheduled tour of the City of David at 10a.

Monday, February 25, 2013

More of Old City Jerusalem.

Hurva Synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter.

It's Shushan Purim today, a holiday. I think the whole city is on the move. As we neared Jaffa Gate, I reminded Hassan again that I was not going on to Bethlehem. He didn't believe me so he double checked his paper work and of course, I was right. I reminded him to drop me off at Jaffa Gate. He nodded back at me.


I had signed up for a 1/2 day tour of Jericho before I left home. The voucher said 8:30a pickup at the hotel. I was in the lobby by 8:15a and wondered who was picking me up and how they would recognize me. Around 8:30, I decided to head outside the front entrance. It was a beautiful spring morning - sunny, no humidity and perfect temperature. People were coming and going and so were vehicles. I just waited. 8:30a came and went and I decided to call the tour agent. The hotel parking attendant or maybe he's the concierge. In any event, nice guy named Michael. I asked if there was a phone I could make a local call with because I didn't want to use my cell phone with its exorbitantly high roaming charges. He asked if it was a local call and I replied, "Yes". I gave him the sheet of paper with the number on it and he dialed on his cell phone. The call connected through to a voice message so I hung up. As it turns out Michael was a really nice guy. We chatted for a few minutes and he asked where I was headed and I told him that I was going on a tour of Jericho. He then pointed to a smallish man standing nearby and said, "He's going to Jericho too, maybe you're on the same tour."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Purim and I'm in Jerusalem!

The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock

Happy Purim!

My flight landed into Ben Gurion airport at about 9:15 this morning. The flight over was uneventful which is a good thing. I didn't sleep much on Friday night, deliberately waking myself up at 3am on Saturday; I wanted to get a head start on beating jet lag.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dead Sea Scrolls.

Great Isaiah Scroll
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 that consist of biblical manuscripts from what is now known as the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name. The scrolls, considered by many to be the most significant archaeological find of the 20th century, have shed light on the development of the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Christianity.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The City of David.

Artistic rendering of what the City of David looked like in the 10th century BC.  (Image from Who Moved the Temple)
The City of David is the birthplace of the city of Jerusalem, the place where King David built his palace and established his kingdom.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Birthplace of Kabbala. Safed.

Old Safed (Image by צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר)
On this trip, I will get to visit the town of Safed. Located in the mountains, with views of the Sea of Galilee and Mount Hermon, Safed is a picturesque city. Since the 1600's it has been a center of Kabbalah (also known as Jewish mysticism) and in the 1950s and 1960s, Safed was known as Israel's art capital.  I can handle the art part and will enjoy wandering through all the galleries.  The Kabbalah part?  Not so sure I will even understand it but I will remain open minded.'

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Happy Purim!

If all goes as planned - that is, I don't get derailed, by bad weather, leaving DC, then I will land in Israel on Purim. Fingers crossed I will be there because I really do want to experience Purim and in Israel nonetheless!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Packing List. Israel.

Image from Travel Philippines | Entertainment
Who says you can't cram a lot into a backpack? :-)

As with my past few trips, the backpack is staying at home and I'm taking my Eagle Creek wheelie with me. It's a soft sided suitcase, small enough that I can put it in the overhead compartment. The trick is to not to pack in so much stuff that the suitcase is too heavy for me to lift, above my head, into the compartment.

Since I'm only going to one country and the weather will not change much from one location to another, I should be able to keep things light.

The plan will be to bring mainly lightweight clothing that I can wash and dry overnight.....the usual travel gear for me.  

I will need some good walking shoes though as I'm hoping to make a side trip to the Judean desert and that will entail doing some walking on unpaved ground.

The weather won't be terribly cold in either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv though nights will be chilly.  I think a thick cotton sweather and my lightweight winter coat should do the trick.  Worse comes to worse, I will have to buy some warm clothing.