The flight was long! We are about 180 miles away from Tel Aviv right now. I am sitting in a window seat because Greg, one of the people in our group, was nice enough to let me sit here. The view isn’t that great though. All I can see is clouds and blue sky (and the wing). We have started our dissent and are currently at 35,500 feet above the ground (actually above the Mediterranean) The movies I watched were “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and “Ransom”.
Jesse commented on the fact that we were going to “get bread”. Greg asked what he meant and Jesse said, “get bread, lots of it, from peoples hands… Just give them a dime and BREEEEAD!” (Jesse is kinda a big guy so you could tell he would like some bread. Yum.
We have arrived in Israel! The airport check-out went smoothly and I loaded onto the bus eager to see the sights. Our tour guide explained to us that our weather looks pretty good and that on his last tour it rained the whole time. He also explained that the sites we have seen on CNN will not be on our tour.1 The countryside is beautiful. It is very green here. I have already seen soldiers with their guns. Some other places we passed our Golan Heights, and the place where Joshua lost the battle of _____.2 We are on our way to Jerusalem and past the point where the road was cut off in 1947 when Jerusalem was under siege during the war of liberation. We are climbing the mountains (hills) of Judea or the Mountains of Jerusalem. There are a lot of rocks and stones in the soil here. (Limestone). I just saw the first camel here. (eating grass in an Arab village).
We are entering Jerusalem from the west side so we can’t see the old city yet. After 1967 and the 6 Day War, Jerusalem was able to double its size. Right now it has about 1/2 million people. There are many terraces (steps on the mountain) for growing food / vegetation. Some of the terraces are from biblical times. Welcome to Jerusalem! We are going to have “Porters” carry our bags in. OK just regular bellboys. We are at our hotel now. The hotel is nice and very big. It is a very orthodox/Kosher hotel.
After almost an hour to get set up and cleaned up we took a bus to see Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is a park honouring the lives of those who were killed in the holocaust. One of the most beautiful things I saw there was a very tall room (more like a long, tall hallway) that was dimly lit by the reflection of only five candles. Although there were only five candles they were reflected millions of times giving the appearance of candles leading into infinity. In the background a tape recording read names of children who were killed in the Holocaust. To hear the same name twice you would have to come back to Yad Vashem in 2½ years.
After we left Yad Vashem I was very tired and fell asleep on the bus.
The next place we visited was the model city. It was so cool. (I have lots of pictures.) It showed a 1 to 50 scale representation of the city of Jerusalem during the year 66AD. The detail that was put into the model is really amazing.
Before we went to Yad Vashem the tour guide took us to Israel’s answer to the greasy spoon. “Clean” in the Middle East actually means “Clean enough. The North Americans will eat off anything.”
So we all got in line for some food. This meal was not paid for ahead of time. I got up to where the food was and it dawned upon me that I would not like ANY of the food. I had already grabbed a Sprite so I opted out for the rest of the meal. 600 shekels, or some sort of Hebrew currency anyway, round up on the machine. I said, “American money”. He said “two dollars”. Ouch I thought.I had already grabbed a Sprite so I opted out for the rest of the meal. 600 shekels, or some sort of Hebrew currency anyway, ran up on the machine. I said, “American money”. He said “two dollar”. “Ouch,” I thought, “for a can of pop?” Luckily, I didn’t order any food as the rest of the kids did. Theirs cost between $10 and $12 USD and they thought it was the most disgusting thing they had ever eaten. Live and learn I guess.
1. During this time there was intifada in Israel and some places were not safe for travel.
2. I think this was left blank in my journal because I couldn’t keep up writing as fast as the tour guide was speaking.