Mel and I came across a lot of interesting street art on our adventures in Israel. Most of these images were taken in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. We had a great time walking the streets and stumbling on these pieces.
We ventured around the medieval city of Akko. The city is right along the Mediterranean. We explored caves and then strolled into the city. We made a quick stop at the Ein Hod artist colony, before heading to the former Roman capital of Caesarea. We learned about Caesarea and explored the ruins of the city.
We woke early and drove North to the city of Tzfat. It is a medieval mystical city. We toured the city, shopped. Kobi set us up with a great lunch at a Yemenite food stand. After a lunch and learn session we toured two synagogues.
The next stop was visiting Avraham Leventhal an artist originally from Southfield MI. He focuses on graphic design and mysticism. He told us about his journey and inspiration of his art. This was a definite highlight of the trip.
While we were visiting with the artist, Kobi was picking up snacks to give to the soldiers we were going to visit. We drove to the border of Israel and Lebanon. We met up with the head of security for a kibbutz. We transferred from our car to his jeep.
He took us to meet up with the soldiers patrolling the border. We got to stand with them overlooking to line from one country to another. It was pretty amazing to see it first hand. As they liked to say, on the Israel side you see green and on the Lebanese you see fields of Opium and desert.
We finished off the evening driving to Akko, and having a fantastic dinner at Uri Buri fish restaurant.
Lauren and Sam arrived in Israel late last night. We packed up the car and headed South West to visit the Judean Desert. We got to visit Masada and the Dead Sea. The drive through the desert was amazing. As we passed the sign that marked the sea level, there was not much around us but mounds of dirt. From the car we were able to see the Dead Sea to the left. Kobi told us about the massive evaporation and as a result the huge sink holes that were plaguing the area.
We arrived at Masada. We watched a quick movie to help us understand the stories of Masada. It was hot and sunny as we entered the tram to take the express way up to the top of the mountain.
We ventured around the top of Masada all morning. It was incredible to see the vastness of the structures that were built on the top of a mountain so many years ago. We explored the palaces, storage areas, water cisterns, bath houses and more. The Roman tile work was of particular note.
To cool off a bit we then headed back North to the Dead Sea. We all had a great time floating around in the water. On the way back to the hotel Kobi took us to a great overlook of the city. It was a great day!
Danielle and Gilad were married on a beautiful night in Tel Aviv. The event was held in a really cool facility filled with their friends and family. The food was great and the dancing went all night. We are so excited for them to officially start their lives together! Congrats.
We started the day off at Latrun the Israeli Tank Museum & Memorial. There you can see the evolution in the tanks used by the Israelis and try to get a feeling of what is was and is like to be part of a tank unit. The museum also showcases a wide variety of tanks they have conquered and a memorial to those who have fallen during each of the Israeli conflicts. Kobi told us just a few stories of those soldiers.
Our next stop was a drive to a tell for an archeological dig. It was a site from the Maccabee time over 2,200 years ago. We arrived and were greeted by our guide. We learned about how people of that time lived. Why they were in caves and what we were to expect. Shortly after, we entered the caves to find a dimly light and cool temperatures for the dig. Traversing stairs and large empty rooms we found our way to the bottom of a ~6 room cave with a 40+ foot high ceiling ready to dig. We received instructions on how to dig. One bucket for important finds and one for dirt. We were given a pick and shove,l and we were on our way. After digging, we headed back up to the surface with our buckets of dirt to sift to see if we had found any treasures we may have missed in the darkness of the cave. Last, we took a tour of a much larger and interconnected cave system. What a fun and messy afternoon.
We then drove to Sderot to the best hummus possibly in the world. It was amazing! This town is incredible. They are situated on the West part of Israel next to Gaza. We are told they have only 15 seconds from the time the sirens sound to get into a bunker to be safe from rockets flying into their town. After lunch, Kobi took us the Police station were they keep some of those rockets that come across the border. It was pretty scary seeing all those rockets that had landed in Israel and a stark reminder that the conflict is very real. We then headed to the most Western point in the city to stand on a mound of dirt just yards from Gaza and to our backs the town of Sderot. Leaving the town for home we saw a piece of art built out of rockets that have fallen in the town.
The morning started off with a drive West from Jerusalem to Sataf forest. We hiked around seeing old ruins of one of the first successful Jewish communities. We learned how they farmed and controlled water in the region. Kobi got us into a cave from where they dug into the mountain to create the cisterns. It was a really cool experience seeing how civilizations long ago were able to harness their environment.
Fig trees, grapes and wheat grew here. They were known for using terraces to reduce the challenges of cultivating the lands on a hill. Some of these terraces date to 4,000 BCE. It was a wonderful hike.
We had a great lunch at a restaurant. They are known for their goat cheeses. We had brochette, pizza and pastas. It was fantastic!
That afternoon we walked around the neighborhoods adjacent to the Machane Yehuda outdoor food-market and then adventured and ate our way through the market. The neighborhoods were amazingly diverse and full of history & stories. Kobe then took us on a food tour through the market. We tried cheeses, fruits, nuts, Yemenite food and so much more.
The flight in was long, uncomfortable and not much to write home about regarding the food. It seemed the slight uncomfortable situation was a payment for what we were about to experiance on our trip, a fee we were all glad to pay. A few hours later, we set foot in Israel. We gathered all our bags, passed customs and were on our way to Jerusalem.
We found ourselves a taxi driver who was a true Israeli, he was rough on the outside but a really nice guy, and a bit of a crazy driver. We arrived safely at the hotel just in time to go grab a nice dinner down the street at the old train station. The area had been converted into a bunch of shops and restaurants. We later learned the importance of the train station as it was a central hub connecting much of the Middle East, Africa and Europe.