Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aleha HaShalom

Matt and I just got back from Israel late last night, and we had a ball!  Though the hubs had to work most of the time, I got to visit Jerusalem and Masada, the Judaean Desert, as well as the Dead Sea.  It was the most incredible journey of my entire life, and I cannot wait to return!

In Jerusalem I saw the Via Dolorosa (where the Christ walked to his crucifixion), The Church of the Holy Sepluchre, The Dome on the Rock, Al Aqsa (Temple Mount), Mount of Olives, Western Wall, and much more! 

I just happened to be in Jerusalem the same day Mitt Romney was - talk about nuts!  I prepared a short speech, should we have a chance encounter.  Alas, he was much too busy to entertain an American taxpayer.  It was still cool to get pictures of him and say I was there on such a monumental day (at least to Americans - 99.9% of Israelis could have cared less).  

We were also there during Ramadan and Tish'a B'Av, so that was pretty cool to observe, as well.

The second day our tour came within meters of the Palestinian border, as we drove along the West Bank.  An unexpected surprise, indeed!  Masada, the fortress of King Herod within the Judaean Desert, was spectacular, though wicked hot.  I photographed structures that have stood since 66 CE, and partial ones that were built before.  

Afterwards, I covered myself in detoxifying mud at Mineral Beach and floated in the Dead Sea.  Holy moly, what an experience!  

The morning before we left, Matt and I roamed the streets of Jaffa - the port which the biblical character Jonah supposedly sailed out of before the fish swallowing incident.  It was incredible!!  We wove in and out of streets and alleys looking for the perfect gifts to send home.  I must say, we were pretty lucky.  It was the ultimate Middle Eastern bartering/bazaar experience.  I told Matt when we become millionaires and/or build a house, we must return to Jaffa to furnish the house.  He rolled his eyes, of course.

Hopefully we will be back before then, as I would prefer a trip sooner than later.  It was the ultimate vacation and learning experience.  Hands down, it is the most phenomenal place I've ever visited.  Everyone should visit!!

 Cutest men ever playing backgammon in the Arab quarter.  Fasting is rough!
 A father explaining the story of the Christ's resurrection to his daughter at the Church of the Holy Sepluchre.
After covering myself in mud at Mineral Beach, wishing my love were with me.
Placing my prayer in the Western "Wailing" Wall. 
The stunning Judaean Desert.

For more photos, click here and here!