A Travellerspoint blog

Eilat

Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia-Oh My!!!!!

Sunday morning-5:00AM-Getting ready for a trip to the Negev. The weather, 104 degrees in the shade. Eilat is on the Red Sea, in the southern part of Israel. Israelis love to spend their vacation there, because the water is clear and cool. We arrived at the bus station at 8:00 for our 5 hour trip. This was definitely going to be an interesting experience. This was the first time we were traveling to the Negev Desert and in the summer yet. After about an hour and going south, the land became very rocky. As I said before the landscape changes as soon as you leave Jerusalem and the Judean Hills. Cream colored rock formations dotted each side of the two lane road. If you asked me a week ago about the desert, I would have said we will see huge sand dunes with Lawrence of Arabia riding his camel into the sunset. Well, no Lawrence of Arabia and no sand dunes. There were some camels on the side of the road, though waiting for tourists to take them for a stroll in the hot summer heat. Well enough said for imagination. As we continued our journey, we noticed that the Israelis once again made the desert bloom, by adding water and planting tall fruit trees. As we traveled further south, we noticed high mountains in the distance. The mountains had a reddish glow. This was our first look at Jordan. The mountains continued into Eilat. Now for paradise on Earth.
Israel owns only 10km of land on the coast of the Red Sea, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia own the rest. Huge hotels line the coast with a harbor and small shops. We made a reservation in an Israeli owned hotel, before our journey. When I made the reservation, the agent quoted me a price with half-board. I was really not sure what that entailed, but found out very quickly, that a dinner and breakfast buffet were included. Our room with a balcony faced the sea and the mountains of Jordan. WOW!!!!!! I hope the pictures do it justice. We spent two days swimming and eating. What could be so bad!!!!!!
On Tuesday- we planned to see Aharon in the afternoon. He wanted to take us to mini Israel, but first we wanted to visit the Yitzhak Rabin Center. The Rabin center tells the story of Israel with an emphasis on Rabin's life. It was very informative. Here is the website, so that you can take a virtual tour. http://www.rabincenter.org.il Mini Israel are small buildings the represent the country. I felt like if there were any areas that we missed, I had a bird's eye view.
Wednesday-Netanya on the Northern coast. Huge cliffs facing the ocean and great swimming.
Thursday-Our last trip to Jerusalem. We started the day at the Israel Museum. The Israel Museum houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Scrolls are in a huge room that is darken. It is amazing to see a document that old. The scribes wrote the scrolls in Hebrew and it is interesting to see the same letters and words that Israel uses today. Of course, Israel actually uses a modern Hebrew as we use a modern English. Next a trip to the Knesset and a tour of how the Israeli government works. The highlight of the tour was the actual room that the Knesset meets. We learned that the formation of the chairs are actually a configuration of a menorah. At the end of the tour, there was an amazing mural designed by Marc Chagall. We left the Knesset and took a bus to the main shopping area for Jews in Jerusalem. It was crowd with people getting ready for Shabbat. We walked the streets and were able to smell the foods of Shabbat and of Israel.

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Ein Gedi

Now, I really know what they mean by oasis.

Wednesday morning we headed for Jerusalem to take the bus to Ein Gedi. Ein Gedi is an oasis in the desert which is opposite the Dead Sea. Leaving Jerusalem the landscape changed immediately. There were vast areas of white sand with very few trees. Here, the land was irrigated and fruit trees were planted in certain areas. In one respect, it is mind-blowing to see how the Israelis have made the desert bloom. Our journey took us on a road along the Dead Sea. Amazing, one side, the Dead Sea and the other side the hills and valleys of the desert. Then, after about an hour the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere. We looked around and noticed that it was just white sand with a nice view of the Dead Sea. How could this be an oasis??? I did not see any fresh water,or even any trees except for a big building that said, Ein Gedi Field House. Now, we were standing in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, for us some boys who had gotten off the bus with us explained that it was about 1/2 mile from the bus stop. We started walking along the road and approached what seemed to be a huge tent made of dry grass. That was supposed to be the entrance, but still not the oasis that I imagined. After having a much needed lunch break with tons of water, we entered the park which looked like a creak in a rock formation. (Hopefully my pictures will do it justice) We walked up the side of the formation and there in front of us were beautiful falls and lush vegetation. We dived into the pools that the waterfalls made and sat and enjoyed the scenery. Wow!!!!Ein Gedi rocks and it instantly became a highlight of our adventure thus far.
Next day- Akko. Akko is a small city north of Haifa. We got up early again and made our way to the train station. We bought a ticket to Akko and made the trip to this beautiful city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Akko is made up of an old and new city. We, of course wanted to see the old city. We walked to the port and noticed a beautiful area with many mosques. There were also many Christian churches. Akko has a long history and if you are interested you will have to pick up a book and read it, because it would be too long for this blog. We took some incredible pictures, but alas when we arrived home, our camera was gone. That evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner with Aaron and Rifka and watched a rally of young people who are protesting the high rents in Tel Aviv. They have camped on Rothschild Blvd. to show the government that they are very angry. Tel Aviv is like all major cities, something happening all the time.

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Yad Vashem

Sunday: Yad Vashem. It has been 35 years since we visited the most famous Holocaust Museum in the world. It seems that you must get yourself ready for such a place, especially if you are Jewish. Yad Vashem sits atop Har Hazikaron(the Mount of Remembrance) in Jerusalem. The site covers 45 acres and includes many different exhibits. It was established in 1953 by an act of the Israeli Knesset. The Knesset wanted a museum that would commemorate the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. They believed it was imperative to preserve the heritage of the thousands of Jewish communities destroyed, pay tribute to the heroic stand of the fighters and ghetto inmates and honor the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews.
Yad Vashem has several buildings and sites, each with a different emphasis. As we entered the complex, we realized that it was not the same museum that we had visited before. It was reconstructed in 2006. As we entered the first part, the Holocaust History Museum, we walked underground to nine galleries. These galleries tell the story of the Shoah from the Jewish perspective. The chronological and thematic narrative is punctuated by a look into the worlds of Jews who lived and died under the Nazis. These actual videos of survivors telling their stories made the experience very real. There were many people including myself, who needed tissues to wipe away the tears. We visited most of the sites and other museums there, but you will just have to go to Israel to see it for yourself. I will leave you with what one survivor said, though, " It is just inconceivable that the nations of the world and their governments stood indifferent to the annihilation of the Jewish people and that they actually tried to put an end to the flourishing cultural Jewish centers in Europe. We will never forget."

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Mishpacha (Mishbucha)

Long lost family

Shabbat Shalom, We were invited to Shabbat dinner at Yossi's house, but unfortunately this did not come to pass. So as night came, we decided to have a quiet dinner near the beach. After dinner, we walked by the sea and watched the sun set over the captivating Mediterranean. Saturday afternoon, Louie's cousin, Aaron picked us up to have an early dinner at his house. We arrived at his apartment with Rifka waiting in the kitchen. She had a beautiful table set for eight guests. We were introduced to two of Aaron's three sons and then Aaron's first cousin Shula came with her husband. Shula's husband was a retired general in the military. We sat at the table and discussed Israel and the differences between the two countries. He didn't want to volunteer any information about his service in the military, but did mention that he worked with NYPD. Rifka is an amazing cook. She made homemade Chopped Liver, Gefilte Fish, Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Cauliflower, Kraplach Soup, Yogurt Soup, Baba Ganoush, Tongue with mushrooms, Mash Potatoes, Schnitzel, Cauliflower pancakes, and to top it off peach cake. After dinner, Aaron showed us pictures of his family and we finally figured out how Louie and Aaron are related. Aaron's great-grandparents are Louie's great-great-grandparents. It is amazing that we could go back that far, but with figuring out how Aaron is related to Aunt Adele, we made the connection. We discussed that we would like to go to Caesarea together, because Aaron's best friend knows a lot about the area and he will be our tour guide. We are so lucky to have them to help us get around Israel. At this point, I feel like this is the best way to see a country. I don't think I could do a tour, because I like to take my time and enjoy meeting people and know what they think about the world.

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City of David

I can't see the flags behind that camera

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