We’re home! The trip was long, but uneventful. We had to leave our hotel in Tel Aviv at 2:00 a.m. for our 4:00 a.m. flight. That was brutal! I fell asleep immediately after we took off and neither Clifford or I even heard breakfast being served.
The first leg was from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam; then we had only a one hour layover before leaving for San Francisco. We now fly business class, when we can, on the longer flights and what a treat. Although the total trip was about nineteen hours, we were very comfortable and caught up on sleep missed during our hectic almost three weeks.
The best part was being greeted by our yellow lab, Gabby. Lots of wiggles, kisses and bringing us her toys! We’ll talk with the family tomorrow.
Macro Moments returns next week as well as my participation in various photo challenges. Stay tuned for our next trip! Now it’s time to sleep again!
Today is the last full day of our trip. We fly out of Tel Aviv at the ungodly hour of 4:50 a.m. tomorrow morning.
A couple of days ago a gentleman at the pool suggested that we visit the Weizmann Institute of Science located in Rehovot, about 30 minutes outside of Tel Aviv.
The institute is a multidisciplinary research center, with around 2,500 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. and M.Sc. students, and scientific, technical, and administrative staff working at the Institute. Departments within the institute include Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics, Department of Science Teaching and Scientific Archeology.
Three Nobel laureates and three Turing Award laureates have been associated with the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The institute is on a beautiful sprawling campus and there is a wonderful interactive exhibit for visitors, explaining the history of the institute and the work taking place in layman’s language.
On display are experimental and recently developed drugs developed here. These are to treat MS and Type 1 diabetes (my field prior to retiring). Click on a photo to make it larger.
We loved our visit here and highly recommend it if you are in Tel Aviv. Call ahead and you will be given a tour of the visitor’s center before being allowed to wander through the exhibits and grounds on your own.
Next we taxied to the Carmel Market near our hotel. We had fun wandering around and bought some sea salt scrub and baklava. Click on a photo to make it larger.
For our last dinner we walked to a neighborhood bistro named Hakovshim and had a very nice dinner. We met a lovely woman from Calgary who is volunteering and studying in Israel and we really enjoyed talking with her. Coming and going we passed a dog park nearby in which there were quite a few dogs and their people, but I didn’t manage to catch any in the shot that I took with my phone.
Dog Park in Tel Aviv
This has been an absolutely wonderful trip, maybe the best we’ve ever taken. We can think of only two things that we might have done differently, skip the traditional Dutch restaurant in Amsterdam and stay closer to the airport when we arrived in Tel Aviv at 2:30 a.m.–completely insignificant in the scope of things. Otherwise, everything was perfect! We feel incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity and to be healthy and able to keep up a vigorous pace day in and day out. We will return to Israel!
However, we are tired! Ellen and I were young when we started out and here we are at the end of the trip 😊😊!
We have two days in Tel Aviv before we fly home. We started our day today with a lovely walk along the promenade across the street from our hotel and a couple of hours by the pool.
This afternoon we took a city tour which provided a walking tour of Old Jaffa and an overview of the city of Tel Aviv. It was sponsored by the diamond exchange so we had a tour of the diamond market and they tried to sell us diamonds. We knew that going in and actually had a good guide and the tour was informative, so it was o.k. Click on a photo to make it larger.
From Jaffa we were driven around the city and ended up at the diamond market where we had a tour and learned how diamonds are mined, cut and graded.
We left the diamond market and taxied to Sarona Market which was very upscale and fun to visit. I was a little nervous about visiting this spot because there was a terrorist shooting there in June, but was very glad that we went because I do not want extremists to “win” by causing people to avoid going about their daily lives. There was tight security entering the market.
We returned to the hotel and met back up with Ellen and Neal. We went back to the same restaurant as last night and then had to say good-bye as they fly out early tomorrow morning, a day ahead of us.
We have had a ball traveling together for almost three weeks and began planning our next trip today.
Yesterday we said farewell to the enchanted city of Jerusalem and our cabbie, Eli, picked us up and drove us to Tel Aviv, the last stop on our trip.
We checked in to the Intercontinental David Hotel and walked across the street to the beach. We had salad and falafel in a little beachside cafe and then walked back to the hotel to relax by the lovely pool–a nice change of pace from our hectic schedule in Jerusalem!
I captured these shots of the sunset from my hotel room on the 16th floor.
And this view of the city–
We had a glass of wine in the hotel and walked to a wonderful restaurant, right on the water, called Manta Ray. It is has been very warm here in Israel, and was still 82 degrees at 10:00 p.m. We ate outside with small waves lapping below and then walked backed to the hotel on the promenade along the water.
Yesterday we had lunch at Machneyuda Restaurant. This is a very well-known restaurant with a prize-winning chef and we expected upscale and fancy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a little hole-in-the-wall with lots of character and delicious food; my favorite kind of place when traveling. Ellen and I shared chicken livers (something you never see on a menu at home) and black rice risotto. It is great fun to watch the action in the kitchen and the servers racing upstairs balancing plates full of food. Click on a photo to make it larger.
How the bill is presented
Not fancy, but delicious food
From the restaurant it was a short walk to Machane Yehuda Market (The Shook). We had great fun strolling through the market picking out food for the evening. We bought nuts, pita, hummus, eggplant cheeses, halva (a sweet sesame candy) and wine.
Scenes from the Shook-Click on a photo to make it larger
Halva in the Shook
In the evening our cousins, Janet and Myra, came over and the six of us visited until late in the evening. It was so wonderful to spend time with them here and we will miss them when we go home. The Old City Night Marathon was taking place right below us and it was great fun to watch and listen!Today we leave this enchanted city and head back to Tel Aviv and the beach for a few days before heading home.
Yesterday, Saturday, I took a day off from touring and caught up with my posts. Last night we had a wonderful Italian dinner at a tiny neighborhood restaurant called Cielo.
We were up bright and early this morning, Sunday, and were picked up by a new guide named Shimon for our trip to Masada and the Dead Sea. The landscape changed vey quickly from urban Jerusalem to the desert. Shimon gave us a lot of information and history on the way to our first stop, Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
Wait, where are we on this vacation? Particularly funny since we go to Hawaii every year!!
Click on photos to enlarge.
Our next stop was Masada. We took the cable car to the top and Shimon guided us through the ruins. Masada was the site of Herod the Great’s palaces between 37 and 31 BCE. The siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire ended in the mass suicide of 960 people – the Sicarii rebels and their families hiding there.
We had lunch when we returned to the bottom and then headed to Ein Getti, an Oasis in the desert. Clifford and Neal walked to the Oasis while Ellen and I had an ice cream.
Shimon then drove is through a kibbutz. I didn’t get very good photos because the car was moving.
We then we arrived at a beach where we could swim in the Dead Sea. Ellen and Clifford decided to pass on the swim and Shimon took me and Neal down to the water. I walked in, carefully because it was very slippery, turned over and floated in the water. It was an experience! The place was teeming with tourists, not in the water, but the waiting areas an dressing rooms.
We headed home, rested for awhile, and then walked to a wonderful restaurant called Dolfin, suggested by Shimon. They served about six different Israeli appetizers and fresh-baked pita before the meal. I skipped the main course and just ate the appetizers.
This is my third post for today. Please look for Days 11 and 12 in your newsfeed. There’s lots there! It is Shabbat (the Sabbath) and Jerusalem shuts down until sundown. Some of the museums stay open so Clifford, Ellen and Neal are at the Israel Museum, but I opted to stay home today.
Yesterday we toured again with Toby. This tour was called 19th century Europe in Jerusalem. It included all the stories of the different empires that made their way here trying to establish their presence: Russian compound, Ethiopian church, British head Quarters at the King David hotel, French district….Politics of the past and present and how and why they influenced Jerusalem’s mapping as a city.
We bade our wonderful guide, Toby, farewell in the central shopping district and had a wonderful lunch of shawarma (carved meat in pita) and falafel. We did a little shopping and walked back to the apartment. We were all so exhausted that we fell sound asleep for two hours!
In the evening we walked to the Great Synagogue and attended Sabbath services with cousins Janet and Myra. The synagogue is orthodox so the women sit upstairs. They have a beautiful choir (all men because the men and women cannot mix). From the synagogue we walked to Janet’s home where she served us a wonderful turkey dinner with several kugels (a type of pudding), vegetables, salad and cake. All strictly kosher, of course, as must be anything that we bring into our apartment. Clifford was in heaven with the kugels. One of his favorites which I rarely make because it is so rich and my recipe makes so much. It was wonderful spending Sabbath with dear family and friends!
Thursday was the beginning of two whirlwind days with our tour guide, Toby http://tobyabrams.com . Toby was a fabulous guide; extremely knowledgable, energetic, and entertaining! And, oh, by the way, seven months pregnant.
Our first tour was called Back Alleys of the Old City. We made our way through the back alleys of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish quarters. Toby discussed the history of the area, visiting sites and sects that are less well known.
On our way back to the apartment we encountered a Bar Mitzvah procession make it’s way joyfully through the streets.
We enjoyed the view of the Western Wall from our balcony before heading out for dinner with Janet and Myra and our evening tour with Toby.
Our tour that evening was, for me, the most fascinating. We walked through the different Ultra Orthodox neighborhoods that are less known in Jerusalem. Toby discussed the history of the area and the different dress codes that separate between the sects.The tour touched upon Israeli politics today, daily customs, Army issues and how the Orthodox, Reform and Conservatives broke off from these groups. We ended with a visit to local bakeries in the area which stay open all night on Thursday, baking for the Sabbath. We got to watch the bakers work and taste, fresh from the oven, Challah (Sabbath bread) and pastries. There was a protest going on and garbage cans were being burned in the streets. That part was a little scary! Click on a photo to make it larger.
Faces of Jerusalem
Needless to say, we are exhausted at the end of each day. We track our steps and walk 5-6 miles/day!
We arrived in Tel Aviv from Amsterdam on Wednesday at the the ungodly hour of 2:45 a.m. We taxied to the Marriott Hotel to catch a few hours of sleep before moving on to Jerusalem.
We awoke late in the morning to a view of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and the beach. We had time to take a dip and lay on the beach for a while.
Later in the afternoon we took a taxi to Jerusalem. We had a very nice driver named Eliyahu who pointed out points of interest along the way.
We arrived at the apartment that we have rented for the next seven days and it is beautiful! It is located in the Mamilla district which is very conveniently located and a five minute walk to the Old City. We have a lovely view of the Old City from our balcony. Here is what the apartment looks like! Click on a picture to enlarge.
Our cousin, Janet, who lives here, came over with some food to stock our refrigerator. That evening we had our first tour scheduled-The Kotel Tunnel Tour. Thank goodness Janet was here to walk us to the start of the tour, or we would never have found it. This tour is through the ancient tunnels which are on the inside of the Western Wall. They are excavations which go back 2000 years to the time of the First Temple.
After the tour we stopped at the Western Wall and Clifford and Neal went inside. Neal has the turquoise yarmulke (skull cap) and Clifford is behind him in a blue shirt. We, then, made our way back to the apartment through the Shook (marketplace) to the apartment.
Cousin’s Janet and Myra joined us and we had a fun and delicious dinner at a restaurant call Fish and Olives.