Friday, August 28, 2009


Last weekend we took a short trip to Israel. Since we flew out of Frankfurt into Tel Aviv, we had to first take the ICE train to Frankfurt. This is the second time that we have taken the train between Cologne and Frankfurt. It only takes about an hour and it's top speed is282 km/hr (~175 mph). Yes, that's really super fast. The train stops right at the airport. I love convenient.

The Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv is possibly one of the nicest, cleanest airports I have ever visited. To be completely honest, I expected tons of Israeli military wandering about in their fatigues and carrying machine guns. I did not see a single person with a gun. Check out this cool water feature in the middle of the airport. Please note, this is not my picture (I found it on a Google Image search) but I was so impressed with the airport, I wanted to share it with you.

Tel Aviv is right on the Mediterranean Coast and that was our first stop after checking into the hotel and meeting up with the rest of Ben's family. Our plan was just to walk along the beach and then search for a suitable place for dinner. But even the best laid plans are easily derailed by a young child. We walked down to the water and Carter had so much fun playing in the waves. In no time his clothes were totally soaked and so we stripped him down and let him run around naked for a little while.

A side note about the sand. This was the softest, finest sand I have ever experienced. With each step your foot would sink right in . There was no moisture in this sand and so it didn't pack down under your weight. It was also ridiculously hot. I think I actually burned my feet.

On Sunday, we took a day trip to Jerusalem. The old city was amazing. What is amazing is that this is still a living, breathing, functioning part of town. And it's the center of 3 of the largest religions in the world. It's not just a museum or a historical hot spot (like much of Rome). Nearly all the streets are merely narrow alley ways, often covered. These alleys are like a labyrinth through the city and with all the vendors it's like a giant flea market. It was very crowded and very hot.

We did manage to find our way to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. I had wanted to walk the Stations of the Cross (yes, the actual stations, not just pretty stained glass windows like in many churches) but the heat got to me. After several hours of wandering the alleyways, I was feeling lightheaded and weak. I think I was getting close to heat stroke and so I can only imagine how poor Carter felt.

On Monday morning, Mel took Carter to the beach again. Rebecca took Ben and me to the Carmel Market. This was was amazing...and overwhelming. I am still kicking myself for not bringing my camera because words cannot describe this place. It was like the best farmer's market and flea market in one. I spanned several blocks. You could buy absolutely anything there. One of the most amazing things were the spices. I was a little weirded out by the fact that they are just sitting in huge buckets, open to anyones hand and/or germs. But the colors and the smells were incredible. Thanks to Urban_Hipster at Flickr for allowing her photos to be used.

I am so glad I went to Israel. So many people who have never been think of it as an unsafe place. Though there are many places in Israel that I wouldn't visit (Gaza Strip), Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are safe and enjoyable. Besides, would thousands of Jewish mothers allow their high schoolers to go with Temple Youth Groups every summer if it wasn't safe?
I would like to go back sometime during the spring, when the desert is in bloom and the air is cooler and fresher. I would like to spend a lot more time in Jerusalem, perhaps even get a guided tour so that I could get more details and history.

No comments: