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Saturday, February 15th 2014, 4:53pm

*Looks outside at 3 feet of snow covering everything. See Alberta, you're not so bad after all.*


Saturday, February 15th 2014, 6:43pm

Home, and slept in my own bed at last. I'd been awake for most of fifty hours with only a few fifteen or thirty-minute naps.

Maybe later today I'll write up a summary of my trip, with pictures.


Saturday, February 15th 2014, 6:52pm

Home, and slept in my own bed at last. I'd been awake for most of fifty hours with only a few fifteen or thirty-minute naps.

Maybe later today I'll write up a summary of my trip, with pictures.

Welcome home!


Saturday, February 15th 2014, 6:59pm

Yeah. It's good to be home.

256 photos on my phone. Presumably there's a few half-decent ones there, though for good photos I'll depend on my wife's good camera and her photography skill.


Saturday, February 15th 2014, 9:03pm

Okay then! Having had my Rare Old Mountain Dew (Mt. Dew is apparently not sold in Israel, leading to my suffering of a caffeine withdrawal) and some photo-editing, I'll explain a bit of what I did over the last two weeks.

Our itinerary was pretty hectic, but we ended up seeing a lot of sights around Israel and a bit of Jordan. We started down in Eilat, the Israeli version of Las Vegas (minus the casinos): a town in the southern desert with lots of glowy lights. It's right across from Aqaba / Akaba on the northernmost tip of the Red Sea (and the Gulf of Aqaba). From Eilat we visited Petra before going to Masada, En Gedi, and the Dead Sea, then traveling to the Galilee and Golan region. From Ben Tal, one of the mountains in the Golan Heights, we looked down into Syria; later that evening we heard artillery fire from the Syrian Civil War. We visited Caesarea Philippi and En Dan, where the Jordan River bubbles up from the ground, then headed down to the coast at Caesarea By the Sea, where Herod had built the Romanesque capital of ancient Judea. From there we went back up to Jerusalem, and saw as many of the historical and archaeological sites in the Holy City as we could - Hezekiah's Tunnel, the Cenacle, the Herodium, the Israeli National Museum (where they keep the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Citadel, and the Temple Mount.

Second, some impressions for those who haven't traveled to Israel or the Middle East.
- Herod the Great was a really nasty guy who did some of the most astounding ancient architecture projects of all time. We don't give the Ancients much credit for some of the genius of what they could accomplish, and you don't really recognize this until you see some of the things they built.
- Due to Jewish dietary injunctions, you cannot eat a meal that has both meat and dairy. Unless you know where to find the Arab-run "cheeseburger speakeasy" in Jerusalem.
- Bathrooms in the Middle East are very small and usually a bit dirty. I did like that they have two levers on the toilets, one to use for a number one, and a second for a number two; saves water. Why doesn't the US do something logical like this? That's right, we're extravagantly wasteful...
- Prices throughout the country are astoundingly high in comparison to the US. Buying food from a street vendor ran my wife and I around $25 apiece per meal before you add in drinks.
- You can always tell the difference between a Muslim neighborhood and a Jewish neighborhood because the Jews follow the zoning laws and the Muslims don't.
- The Palestinians seem to be very friendly people... but they really hate the Jews, and their situation is based entirely on their own choices.
- Jerusalem is city where everything is up a stairs or road, never down. My wife ended up developing a lot of pain in her knees as a result of constant climbing on very rough streets and stairs.
- I'm tired of walking through tunnels. I'm stick-thin and never had much of a problem with them side-to-side (unlike my father-in-law, who got stuck like a cork once and nearly lost some skin in Hezekiah's Tunnel) but I'm also a whole lot taller than the Ancients, and that made all of the tunnels very irritating to me. Amongst the tunnels we traversed: Hezekiah's Tunnel (I took the newly-discovered dry tunnel because it was chilly); an excavated road and sewer tunnel which runs from Siloam Pool to the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, and the Rabbi's Tunnel which runs along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.
- I wish all cultures would dress as modestly as the Israelis.
- Israeli roads are a madhouse, and Israeli bus drivers earn every bit of their pay to get through most of those places.
- The better the Israeli hotel, the more expensive their wifi internet.
- "For you, my friend, one shekel / dinar!"

Now, photos.

Our introduction to Israel was Joppa, the port where Jonah fled from:

Our second day was at Petra. The Tomb of the Obelisks:

The Grand Treasury:

The facade:

Dead Sea:

The high waterfall at En Gedi used to be in a cave, where David hid from King Saul.

At Caesarea By the Sea - my wife walking under the Roman-era aqueduct.

The remains of the Lower Level of Herod the Great's palace.

Mount Arbel has one of the best views overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It's where Jesus went to pray alone just prior to the walking on water incident. Unfortunately I didn't photos on my phone from the scenic overlook, just on the approach; my wife's knee was starting to bother her already, and so I took her camera for pictures, climbed out to the promontory, and neglected my phone-camera.

Tel Megiddo is an ancient fortress of Solomon at the crossroads of the Ancient World's trade routes. A "tel" is like a city in layers: the first ancient city is destroyed, then a second built over top. Then the second city is destroyed and used as the foundation for the third city. Tel Megiddo has eight known layers.

The Church of Dormition in Jerusalem.

We were alarmed by the idea of a one-way crypt.

You need either Mad Skilz or a small car to drive on the Via Dolorosa. Lest you doubt, this *IS* a two-way street.

The remains of Hezekiah's Wall from the Old City of Jerusalem.

In the Citadel, the old Crusader fortress in Jerusalem, there's a museum with this sand table of Jerusalem, made in the 1870s by a British chap. This is right about the time the Jews started moving out of the old Jewish Quarter into the "suburbs" which became the modern city: what is shown is now called the Old City.

The southwest corner of the Temple Mount. In Jesus' day the wall used to be higher, and the ground used to be lower. (The Wailing Wall would be around the corner to the left.)

Around the corner to the left - the Wailing Wall or Western Wall, where the Jews go to pray. The rabbis have determined that this is as close as they can get to the site of the Holy of Holies. The only Jews allowed closer are the security police on the Temple Mount plaza itself. This plaza was constructed following the Six Day War when the Jews retook the Old City of Jerusalem (lost to them during the War of Independence). The guy front and center in the hat is Steffan, one of the guys from our tour, who proved exceptionally talented at pushing to the front of the tour group and getting in everybody's way during the photo sessions.

You can't see it all in this photo, but this is the largest stone discovered in the construction of the Temple Mount. Forty feet long and nine feet high and wide, it weighs an estimated seven hundred tons... and was quarried somewhere else. Modern engineers can't determine how the ancients moved a stone this big and lofted it thirty feet up into the air to its place in the wall.

The Dome of the Rock was built in the late 600s on the site the Jews believe once held the First and Second Temples. Beneath it, according to the Jews, is the Foundation Stone, which God created the earth around; and where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac (Mount Moriah), and where the first and second temples were built. Trivia: the golden dome was not added until the second half of the 20th Century by the government of Jordan.

This stole stele is the oldest written marker mentioning the kingdom of Israel: a marker found at En Dan, made by a pagan king who wished to celebrate his victory over "The House of David". It's ironic that the relics of the people who tried to destroy ancient Israel are now the things which prove ancient Israel's existance.

I saw this restaurant in one of the Arab neighborhoods in northern Israel. Looks tasty.

I have been to a Better Place.


Saturday, February 15th 2014, 9:21pm

An interesting collection of photos. :thumbsup:


Saturday, February 15th 2014, 11:31pm

Thanks for sharing Brock.
Humanity historical & our roots.



Saturday, February 15th 2014, 11:57pm

Glad you enjoyed the photos. :)


Sunday, February 16th 2014, 5:54am

holy! this are good photos!


Sunday, February 16th 2014, 7:56pm

Really nice pics !!!!


Sunday, February 16th 2014, 8:14pm

Thanks. My wife and I really had a great time, and I do desire to go back for another visit in two to three years. It's really an amazing experience.


Tuesday, March 11th 2014, 9:46am

Sorry Guys .....

i was off for a week. Skiing in Austria .... but now i'm back !!!!


Tuesday, March 11th 2014, 3:06pm

RE: Sorry Guys .....

i was off for a week. Skiing in Austria .... but now i'm back !!!!
Welcome back! :)