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Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

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Michigan
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Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

So, at this point I'm going to go rather slow in recalling the trip. I'll say this about our trip- it was EXHAUSTING. My wife and I are in our 40's and have to health issues but I think the time change and all of the excitement and walking put us in bed by 10pm every night.

We arrived Thursday night and after an effortless check in at the Inbal walked to the Olive and Fish for a bite to eat. Great food.

Friday we got up early and walked to the old city. Through the Jaffa gate, straight into the maze of stalls that reminded me of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. We managed to find our way to the Christian quarter after a few wrong turns and being rudely turned around because we were heading towards the moslem area of the temple mount. We walked into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the first thing I noticed was the smoke and incense- thick and caught in your throat, you could taste it. We made out way through the large groups of people, one thing you'll notice quickly is that people forget to look in the direction they're walking. The building is fascinating and it's important to really look at it, not just what it symbolizes.

We made out way back to the hotel and realized it was shabbat. PLAN AHEAD, make some reservations or you'll be waiting at the few places that are open. We opted just to eat at the hotel. Salads, nothing hot. The menu had stars next to the items that are not served on Shabbat.

Saturday

Day for a small group tour, "business" class, about 15 people to the dead sea and Masada. We dropped about half the group at the dead sea and continued to Masada. The tourist center is a large, modern building and impressive. A cable car ride to the top is quick. I'm not going to go into my opinion of a group tour like this but I'm sure many feel like they skimmed through the site. There was much more to see but because groups of people are like herding cats it's difficult to see everything. We could have spent an entire day at Masada, if you can, do it.

The Dead sea

Interesting but we should have skipped it. Think European beach meets health spa, it wasn't what we'd expected.

After this we decided not to do another group tour, yes we are blessed to be able to do it. I suggest anyone going take at least 1 private tour.

More to come...............

Michigan
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21. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

OK,

Thursday...Private tour

Nazereth.

Unless you're catholic or really want to, we would have skipped it . A large mostly arab population with a new church. lets just say that there is some subtle clashing of religious ideologies there.

We drove through Tiberius on the way to Galilee, it reminded me of a resort town on a lake.

Galilee

The first thing that almost shocked me is it's size. When you hear "sea" you think big, this is a lake. None the less beautiful in it's own right. We ate at a touristy place took a few pics. I thought about stepping out on the water just to see if I could do it (you Christians know where I'm going with it) but I didn't want to disappoint myself, besides it had a sign that said No Swimming.

On to Capernaum

Interesting place. There's a monestary on the site with a church that's elevated over the ruins of the 5th century church. Being out that way it's worth a stop.

The Jordan river

This almost bothered me by it's commercialism and tourist trap feel. The baptismal "site" reminded me more of a carnival ride with the guard rails. While getting baptized you could be recorded on camera and buy the dvd to remember the experience . After you could go into the gift shop for souvenirs or the restaurant . The area was pretty, I'm betting by design, very "garden of Eden " like.

On a side note we noticed this accidently turned into a "wet robes gone wild" show. Please if your going in the river wear a bathing suit underneath. Thin white robes, water...you get the picture.

On the way back we drove through the west bank. Very interesting along with the political discussion. The landscape the entire day was fantastic especially considering the condition of the country before 1948. Truly a miracle .

Israel
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22. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

Thanks for continuing to share your experiences.

And on a side note - please don't feel that you need to apologize or justify anything, I don't think anyone was criticizing you - obviously on tour with limited time you are not going to go search for the "best" price for a bottle of water - and yes, many day to day products are more expensive in Israel (not just Jerusalem) - I'm still hoping for Costco to get here:)

Michigan
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23. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

Friday

We decided to hire the guide again since we had a noon checkout but our flight didn't leave until midnight. We figured it would be a brilliant idea. We would have our luggage, be on a tour of Caesarea and Telaviv, and then he could drop us off at the airport.

Even though they closed the gates to the area of Ceasarea you go into early, but we went further down and walked the area where shops and restaurants are. Very neat if you like ancient sites. I was actually picking up pieces of pottery that were sitting on the ground in the walking path. Do this. We left and went to the area where the aqueducts are, again, go. Very neat especially considering they're some 13 miles long.

Tel aviv

Neat place, very modern. We walked area where Peters church is. I bet it's a really neat area during the day, but we were there and it was cold and raining. Many places to eat in the warehouse area near the water.

I'm sorry to abbreviate the last day but it was very long.

I saved this for the end, partially because how it made me feel and partially because I think it deserved to be spoken of by itself.

Yad Vashem

I think everyone should go, period. Make sure you have a way to get back as taxi are grab them when you can.

Very well done, modern, and it will leave you thinking about many things . Everyone needs to see this.

My final thoughts on our trip

I was amazed to realize what the Jewish people have created out of nothing. I'd known and herd, but you need to see it to believe it- even then it's a bit mind boggling to think of the trees.

We felt Jerusalem is a city of extremes, and I guess it should be considering its place in the world, I'm not going to say larger than life because the history is there to prove it.

I think we went at a fantastic time although the weather was less than cooperative, it was cold and rainy. Cold enough to see your breath. I know they need the rain so I'm glad it rained for almost 3 days straight.

I didn't include any links to pics, we took about 160/day and I'm still sorting through them. I can answer questions if anyone has them, I'm no expert in Israel nor do I want to pretend to be-it's a very complicated country.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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24. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

I enjoyed your reports and your frank observations. Thanks for sharing your experiences -- and for understanding the need for the rain!

Douglas Duckett

Jerusalem, Israel
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25. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

Thanks for sharing - it was very enjoyable to read your report. I hope to see you in Israel for another trip sometime!

Exeter, United...
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26. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

Thank you for your reports and thank you for using the terminology 'period' and 'neat'.

All three have made me smile :)

Falls Church...
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27. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

thanks for your candid observations. We are leaving in about 7 weeks & appreciated your truthful reports. I was glad to hear about the prices.

We'll make sure we get a case of water since we will have a car before we arrive in Jerusalem.

Anyway know what a bottle of wine costs in a supermarket for a reasonably priced bottle? not too expensive but still good.

Falls Church...
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28. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

thanks for your candid observations. We are leaving in about 7 weeks & appreciated your truthful reports. I was glad to hear about the prices.

We'll make sure we get a case of water since we will have a car before we arrive in Jerusalem.

Anyway know what a bottle of wine costs in a supermarket for a reasonably priced bottle? not too expensive but still good.

Michigan
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29. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

70shekel in the little SOS store by our hotel

same bottle in the hotel was 70 dollars

Israel
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30. Re: Just returned, 8 days in Jerusalem

If you can get to one of the larger supermarkets you can get some good wines for about 30-50 NIS a bottle.