Twenty-three days ago my family and I set off on an adventure. Sure it wasn’t hiking the alps, riding elephants, or bungee jumping, but it was an adventure.
Twenty-three days ago my family and I stepped into an airplane to head to Israel.
Twenty-two days ago we arrived in Jerusalem.
And let me tell you that it was incredible and worth the money I spent, and my parents and sister spent.
We aren’t Jewish, we believe in Jesus as our Messiah, but we also celebrate the biblical festivals that you read about in the Bible, including Sukkot, which is what we were doing in Israel.
I really don’t even know where to start. (Ooh, but I’d like to point out that I’m finally the one who took the pictures for this post, instead of using other sources)
First of all, airplanes are horrible, horrible places. I had only flown once when I was seven, so what I was expecting was different from reality. We had a three-hour drive to the airport, the first flight was 4 hours, the next leg was 9, and the next was three. I was either really tired and grumpy or really hyper and restless. No in between. And I couldn’t, for all I tried, sleep on the plane. I slept on the floor of the airport, but not the plane.
When we arrived it was about 8:00 Israel time so we split up to up to head to the two apartments the four families were sharing. Everyone was already there our family was the last to come. My sister and I stayed at one apartment with three of the adults, while our parents and brother stayed in the other with our hosts and all the boys.
To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what happened which day because they are all mixed together in my head, with no chronological-ness. But I do remember the first day we just chilled and took a walk.
So during the festival of Sukkot, there are several additional sabbaths (days of rest) and of course there were the regular Saturday sabbaths. We were staying in the Jewish quarter of Israel and everything shut down and there were very few cars (you can actually see in the picture above that we crossed on a red light because there were no cars for miles).
The Western Wailing Wall was amazing, not like I pictured it but very cool. Pictures weren’t allowed there, but here is a picture of us walking to it. (Can’t see it in the picture)
Markets there are very, very awesome. They are huge throngs of people shouting and purchasing food, spices, souvenirs, candy, flowers, tea, etc.
Very sadly my memory card that stored the most pictures (I had several hundred pictures on it) is refusing to download, so my best pictures aren’t going to make it onto this post :””(
We went to En Gedi, which is a place with tons of caves, the place where David hid from Saul. There were a couple of waterfalls there, too, it was very cool. We also saw Masada, where the very sad story of the Jewish soldiers who jumped off the cliffs in order that the Romans wouldn’t get them.
The Dead Sea. My goodness! This place was… well, salty, that’s for sure. We got there a bit before sunset and got to see a very beautiful pink sunset go down above the mountains. So our luggage arrived later than we did so I only had flip flops for the first day, so when we went to the Dead Sea, I had horrible blisters between my toes, and getting into the water was soooooo painful. Like very, very. Everywhere stung for quite a while but then you got used to it. So floating took no effort whatsoever, which was very interesting. Your feet would just kinda pop up. The water was very oily feeling. It was an odd feeling.
There were these really cool stairs in this one area that went along the top of the walls, we didn’t go on much of it (so many stairs, ya know).
The Sea of Galilee was incredible. It was by far my favorite thing we did/saw. I took some really great pictures but again, my memory card is being a pain, so I can’t show you them [:””””( ]. We had an amazing experience and went out on these very beautiful wooden boats that are replicas of the boats that would have been used during Jesus’s time, with silent motors, so it felt very authentic. The men who sailed the boats, David and Judah, were very nice and informative, David looked just like a sailor on a wooden boat in Israel should. Afterward, Judah very kindly drove us to a restaurant that had no tourists (except us) and they served us so much food. It just kept coming and coming. There were these huge piping hot naan breads brought out and perhaps 15 or more dishes of dips/veggies/salsas to dip them in. By the time our actual food came, I was very full but managed to eat some anyway.
We got gelato so often, it was kinda weird since that isn’t really something Israel is known for. But gelato is amazing, so I didn’t complain 😀
We ate a lot, but we also walked a lot. The apartments were a thirty-minute walk apart, so we did that several days, back and forth. We walked to the Wall several times, and the markets and squares. As I already mentioned, the markets were a lot of fun, there were a couple different ones and one was really small and the salesmen were like ‘come in!’ ‘We have the real McCoy’ and other phrases they thought were cool. Lots of scarves and clothes hanging, it made for a pretty picture.
The hills covered in graves, Jewish and Arab, were stunning. The walls there and all the buildings seem to be made of the same tan stone material.
It was so interesting seeing Jews everywhere, it was cool. There were the Orthodox with the payot (curls) and black and white clothing with the hats, there were Russian-Orthodox, and there hats were hilarious. Then there were the men who just had kephas. Also, a lot of the women dressed really modestly and they looked well dressed all the time.
One night we went to a big ‘craft fair’, and on the way, we passed a Jewish man singing loudly on a band stand with speakers and some guitars, and there were all these men dancing in a circle shouting and singing, jumping around and kicking there legs, some would carry another guy on there shoulders, there were older men and little boys and all the ages in between, and it wasn’t just Jewish men dancing. An elderly but strong Jew came up to two of our friends and dragged them in. They only danced for ten minutes or so but when they were done they were sweating really hard. It was really fun to watch.
And things were not expensive there. I got a good deal of souvenirs but could have afforded more. Shekels and NIS (New Israeli Shekel) were the currency. Shekels are worth about 26 cents, so if something was a hundred shekels it was about 26 dollars. But I don’t think I bought anything for more than 30 shekels.
Oh and we went to an old dig site, called City of David. In the city of David was that in the picture below, and also a tunnel called Hezikiah’s Tunnel, which was narrow and dark and had water in it. That was a cool place, but the day altogether was one of the worser (is that a word?) of the ten.
Jerusalem was pretty, and some of the places we went to were lovely, but a lot of the places we drove through could be considered ugly. It was kind of odd, some places really showed a ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ while others showed the curses of man.
Oh and here is a picture of one of the many amusing signs we saw that when translated into English sounded weird.
I thought the buildings there were really beautiful, but just wait till my Italy post 😉
I had a truly amazing time, it was great hanging out with friends, making memories, having new experiences and seeing so many places that I’ve read about for years.