Visiting Jersusalem and the Dead Sea in Israel.
The "Sherri Tour"
When my wife unexpectedly passed away, I dedicated a portion of her life insurance policy to take our children to places she loved. This is the first of 7 blog posts about our 38 day trip.
Jerusalem: 5 nights and 4 full days.
We started our trip from Eugene and flew 13 hours from LAX to Istanbul Turkey. (The ONE downer of traveling!) While there we tried cold goat milk (ehhhh) and Turkish delights (super yum!) and Turkish Coffee (like mud, but it could probably grow on you.) Later than night we flew on to Tel Aviv.
My daughter was afraid to go Israel due to the conflicts she sees on the news. Having visited twice before I told her she didn't have to worry.
The Jewish taxi cab driver reinforced that statement in our 45 minute drive at 1am from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Why? Close monitoring of those with suspected ties, male and female armed guards with machine guns are everywhere and several local Arab citizens told us they like living in Israel due to the freedom and social and economic benefits they have from the current system and abhor any violence towards their neighbors or tourists-so I'm sure they help keep it safe as well. Certainly less risky than many other places in the world. To even get INTO the Tel Aviv airport, you have to show your passport and airline reservation.
But I digress.
We stayed at Christ Church Guest House, just inside the old city a stone's throw from Jaffa Gate. I stayed there as a single guy and years later with Sherri. Ironically, we were housed in the same floor (5 rooms total)where we had stayed 32 years before....
It's a great place to stay because you meet people at breakfast from all over (in this case: England, South Africa, Holland, Scotland, Slovenia and China) and it is very central and even haunting at night when the Mosques issue the call to prayer.
Israel is fascinating. There is so much history at the confluence of Jewish, Christian and Muslim Cultures. Buildings hundreds of years old are considered new in the old city.
Highlights (besides staying at Christ Church and exploring the local tiny shops nearby):
- Walking through Hezekiah's tunnel . This tunnel of spring water was built 2700 years ago as a means to get water that was outside the city walls into the city. It is considered an archaeological wonder. Being 1700 feet long, two groups started on different ends, but had to weave around various tombs to meet. Somehow they met perfectly. It was fascinating walking through the cold water (sometimes up to our thighs). The first section was wider but I had to stoop many times. Once we met the other tunnel (no "opps we are off by 2 feet" sections BTW), the ceiling was much higher and more narrow. Well worth the cost.
- Visiting the Dead Sea. Try not floating! We also put the local mud on us as well. Queen Cleopatra considered the mud of the Dead Sea very therapeutic and even had it brought to her in Egypt.
- Taking a walking tour of Jerusalem. My third time doing this one. Our guide showed us examples of new construction tying into Crusader era arches, and was quite educated of various architectural and historic elements that a passerby can miss.
- Going into the Tower of David. Right across the street from where we stayed. It is a remnant of Kind Herod's Fortress that had 3 towers. Known as uite and builder and brutal killer, on whom Augustus Ceasar commented: "Better to be a pig in Herod's house than a member of his family". (Herod killed 3 of his sons, his brother, a wife and of course the children in Bethlehem among many others.) Views from our bedroom window:
- The Davidson Museum (near the Dung Gate...so named because excrement was transported out of the city through it.) In the museum not only do they have a pletoria of interesting exhibits from the worlds' oldest coin-over 5,000 years old-but excavations of the temple including recovering steps to the South entrance from 2,000 years ago. The very steps that at some point, Jesus certainly used.
- Exploring the Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane. While it has certainly been changed since Jesus' time, nevertheless some of the olive trees here are over 2,000 years old and the Catholic Church there is gorgeous.
Here is a short trailer video of my other favorite images:
Next Post: Santorini Greece