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Old 08-06-2011, 07:10 PM   #1
sayhello
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Trip Report! Israel after the ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Part 10 - IMAGE INTENSIVE!

So I was reminded this weekend that it's been well over a YEAR since my DCL/ABD Med cruise and I never posted the "final chapter" of my Trip Report, covering my visit to Israel. Figured I'd best post it before I go on my *next* ABD (3 weeks! 0_o)

It was a relatively short visit to Israel, mostly intended to visit my sister & her family. She's lived there since the late '70's. She's been here to visit many times, but I hadn't been there since 1979, so I figured it was ridiculous to go all the way to Spain and not go the rest of the way to Israel for a visit.

Since we spent the majority of the time in Jerusalem, visiting my nieces & nephews, that's really the only part of the country I have pictures of. Jerusalem is amazing and awe-inspiring, if for no other reason than because it is so ancient, and has SUCH history. I saw some amazing, incredible, historic sites in Italy and France, but there is just something about the Old City of Jerusalem. I'd forgotten how powerful it is.

I left off Part 9 of this Trip Report with the short flight to Madrid, and the fun, fun, fun I had in the Madrid airport with the ultra-tight security of El Al. As I said there, it was a hassle, but considering the absolutely amazing safety record that El Al has, I was totally OK with it. I felt so much more secure getting on that plane, knowing what people had to go through to get on it.

I arrived at Ben Gurion airport in the wee hours of the morning. I guess it's pretty normal for folks to arrive there at odd hours. I connected with my Brother-in-law, and off we went to their home! I installed myself in their guest room, and crashed! The next day was pretty laid-back. My sister had made plans for us to meet up with her kids and the grandkids in Jerusalem.

On the way to Jerusalem, we passed this memorial. Several jeeps had been attacked, and left by the side of the road. They'd been turned into a memorial. It was really pretty cool, even if we only saw it while driving quickly past.



This really amazing, crazy suspension bridge is in Jerusalem. It just really doesn't look like it should work. Seriously. But it does. Freaky! It's really quite amazing. (Sorry for the quality of the last 2 pictures, but it was really seriously foggy in Jerusalem that morning!)



Suffice it to say, my sister's extended family took over almost the entire pizza parlor where we ate! It was a lot of fun, although only a portion of them actually spoke any English! My sister's kids all speak English, but it's by no means the rule there! It was loads of fun seeing all of them, and meeting my great-nieces and -nephews.

The pizza parlor was in an interesting Mall. It was a modern building, and yet somehow managed to look like an old market with open stalls. Not like the Malls you see here in the US.






After lunch and a lot of chat, my sister and I went to Yad Vashem, the Museum of the Holocaust on a picturesque hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

http://www.yadvashem.org/

Photos weren't allowed, and honestly, I don't know that photos would convey the emotions of the place. The museum has several sections. You travel through the history of the period, view artifacts from the period, see photos and videos of the people and the places in a historical context. The one thing I can really say about this museum is that it puts the Holocaust into such a personal, *human* context. Real people, people like you and I, who were sucked into a nightmare that so, so many never escaped from. Extremely powerful and extremely moving. We were there for several hours, and I could have spent several more there (we got shoo'd out of the museum at closing time, pushed from exhibit to exhibit as we tried to view as much as we could as we exited.) There was one point where you were confronted by a life-sized photo of the end of the train tracks in front of the imposing gate at one of the concentration camps. It was hard to look at. This was the view all the people hauled to the concentration camps saw as they were herded out of the train cars where they had been packed like cattle.

There is also an Exhibit called the Hall of Names, where you are surrounded by notebooks filled with millions of pages containing biographies of those killed in the holocaust, with plenty of shelf space left for those who hadn't been memorialized yet. It's topped by an imposing circular ceiling adorned with photos of some of those victims. (These aren't my photos, but I thought I'd include something here).







I don't want to get into a discussion of the Holocaust here. Suffice it to say that it was incredibly powerful.

From there my sister took me to the Old City of Jerusalem. This is the old Walled City from biblical times. Her GPS wasn't too clear on one of the turns to take, so we ended up taking the long way there. But it was an interesting detour, because it took us through Mea Shearim, which is the ultra-ultra orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem where you routinely see signs like this:



(When I was last there in 1979, the signs were a lot more threatening!)

It was fairly late in the evening at this point, and folks were walking everywhere, like it was the middle of the day. I was quite impressed by the bustle and activity of the area. Very different from the stereotyped idea I had of the neighborhood.

It was quite dark by the time we got to the Old City. It was lit up quite effectively and beautifully. We parked nearby, and walked up to one of the Gates into the City.





As we walked up to the outskirts of the old city, you could see areas where they were still excavating. Makes you wonder what they'll find.





This picture is a bit dark, but you can see the staircase in the far-right middle of the photo. It leads to a walking ledge that circles the city. We did see occasional soldiers walking up there.



There's really no way to describe the feeling of turning a corner, and finding yourself walking up to the Wailing Wall -- the remaining relic of the Second Temple on Temple Mount, built on the site of the destroyed Temple built by King Solomon. It's also known as the Western Wall.



You can just *feel* the history and ancientness of the Wall standing before you. You have to wind your way through several people standing and praying at the Wall. But once you get up there, and stand physically touching it -- it's really quite powerful. You can see the thousands of tiny pieces of paper stuffed into all the cracks of the Wall.



There's a tradition that prayers written on a piece of paper and placed in a crack in the Wall will be answered. I guess it's kind of a direct pipe-line. :-)





Me at the Wailing Wall.



We then left the secure area around the Wailing Wall, and climbed up to an area that looked back over where we'd been.

Looking down at the Security entrance to the Old City.





An old Menorah.



As we walked along in the Old City, into the Jewish Quarter, we came up to an area that I later realized I remembered from my previous visit to Jerusalem in 1979. My sister described to me how there was a synagogue on this spot that was destroyed during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. A commemorative arch (which matched an arch that adorned the destroyed synagogue) was erected on the site when control of the area was regained in 1967. I have a distinct memory (out of context) of that arch. (Here's a stock photo of the arch). At the time in 1979, I thought the arch had been all that was left from the bombing.



The synagogue was finally rebuilt recently (styled to look like it had before), and had been re-dedicated just a couple of months before I visited. Here's some photos of the synagogue, you can see where the arch is in the architecture.







Continued below.
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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)

Last edited by sayhello; 08-07-2011 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:12 PM   #2
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There was apparently an account of the synagogue that a woman had written that described in detail the paintings on the interior of the synagogue's sanctuary. They were faithfully reproduced in the new structure.





We then decided to grab a little something to eat in the Jewish Quarter shops. It was getting late, so not a lot was open (although there were a lot of students and a tour group walking through the area). We found a little bagel shop and got some sandwiches, which we ate in the courtyard in front of the rebuilt synagogue.

A street shot of the Jewish Quarter.



The next day (Saturday) was the Sabbath. As my sister and her family are very observant, all we really had planned for that day was heading back to Jerusalem to spend the Sabbath at the home of one of my nieces there. I took this photo from the room I stayed in in Jerusalem. I thought it was interesting how all the apartments were using solar heating for their hot water.



I wasn't able to carry or use a camera on the Sabbath, so I didn't get any photos from that day. But my sister and I spent Saturday afternoon walking up to a Memorial Park, I believe the name of it was Mt. Herzl. There are numerous memorials to various groups and people, along with a military cemetery for Israel's war dead (I've seen it referred to as Israel's Arlington Cemetary). It was a really beautiful park, very interesting. I really do wish I'd gotten some pictures. Guess I'll just have to go back some time!

These photos (obviously) aren't mine, but, again, I thought I'd post a few photos I found of Mt Hertzl.







That was pretty much the end of my visit. I spent Saturday night packing, and flew home *really* early in the morning. I had the same fun time going through security at Ben Gurion. I flew back to Madrid. I'm really getting to hate that airport. We got off our plane from Israel, then crossed a room to go through security and customs. I got in line behind a group of Spanish tourists who had gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (I could tell, because they all had red baseball caps on that announced that!) And people kept coming up and pushing in front of me because they were traveling with the people ahead of me. I got pretty pissed off. I didn't have *that* long of a layover, and there was no reason for them to have to be together to go through customs. But they kept piling in front of me! Finally, their tour guide saw how pissed I was, and moved me in front of her group. It was really pretty rude of them.

The flight home was pretty uneventful. I had a bulkhead seat which, for the very first time, turned out *not* to be a good thing! They had actually installed *air bags* into the seat belt on all the bulkhead seats! It was bulky, and kept the belt from bending naturally, and was just totally uncomfortable. I have to admit that I sat with it unbuckled most of the time, which kind of defeats the whole purpose.

I finally made it home, and was picked up by a friend and her whole family. They'd been to their younger daughter's dance recital, and picked me up on the way home.

I felt fine that night, but, unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I'd managed to pick up a stomach virus on the flight home. I spent the next few days feeling *VERY* lousy.

But all-in-all, it was a fabulous trip! I loved the Med, loved Israel. Wish I could go more often without the awful flights (when is someone going to invent the transporter???) ABD really did things right on this add-on. I did realize I'm more of a land-tour person than a cruise person, but I know cruises do have their pluses and their own advantages.

I can hardly wait for my next trip! (Knights & Lights the end of this month!)
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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)

Last edited by sayhello; 10-19-2011 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:44 PM   #3
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Thanks for posting the conclusion of your trip. I might have more questions for you as my planning gets further along if that's ok. Sounds like it was a great trip.
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gailg3horses View Post
Thanks for posting the conclusion of your trip. I might have more questions for you as my planning gets further along if that's ok. Sounds like it was a great trip.
Ask away! I'll be happy to help with what I can!

Thanks for the push!

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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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Old 08-07-2011, 01:55 PM   #5
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Sayhello -

It's so nice to read about your trip to Jerusalem -and thanks for posting all the pictures! We were there in the spring of 2010, and it was amazing. It was my family's first trip there, and it was without a doubt very powerful. I would have liked more time to spend there, without being moved quickly from place to place (we were there for 9 days but the tour tried to cover many locations, of course). There was so much to see and think about.

I echo your wish for more travel with easier flights. I'd love to return to Israel (and Italy, for that matter) but given what a pain it is to get there, it probably won't happen any time soon.

Take care and have a great time on your next ABD - we're skipping an ABD this summer in exchange for a Disney cruise from Orlando, and a few days at Disney and Universal (primarily to see the Harry Potter section of the park).
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:36 AM   #6
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Thanks for sharing your final segment of your adventure! The pics were awesome and it sounds like the entire trip was amazing. I'm looking forward to the Knights and Lights trip report after you return.
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassslipper2004 View Post
Sayhello -

It's so nice to read about your trip to Jerusalem -and thanks for posting all the pictures! We were there in the spring of 2010, and it was amazing. It was my family's first trip there, and it was without a doubt very powerful. I would have liked more time to spend there, without being moved quickly from place to place (we were there for 9 days but the tour tried to cover many locations, of course). There was so much to see and think about.

I echo your wish for more travel with easier flights. I'd love to return to Israel (and Italy, for that matter) but given what a pain it is to get there, it probably won't happen any time soon.

Take care and have a great time on your next ABD - we're skipping an ABD this summer in exchange for a Disney cruise from Orlando, and a few days at Disney and Universal (primarily to see the Harry Potter section of the park).
Thanks, glassslipper2004. I'm really looking forward to Knights & Lights in a few weeks... but I am SO not ready. I may be skipping ABD next year, too, depending on what they announce. I was really hoping to do Hawaii next year, and it just doesn't sound like that's going to be offered by ABD. We shall see!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diskidatheart View Post
Thanks for sharing your final segment of your adventure! The pics were awesome and it sounds like the entire trip was amazing. I'm looking forward to the Knights and Lights trip report after you return.
Thanks, Diskidatheart! I can't believe my K&L trip is 3 weeks away!

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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)

Last edited by sayhello; 04-11-2012 at 04:35 PM.
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